Playground – Daily prompt

Caleb looked up from the floor, head spinning and the metallic taste of blood in his mouth.  He breathed in deeply, wiping his bleeding lip against the back of his hand.  Ben towered over him menacingly, almost willing him to stand up.  He was a foot taller and more than that wider and he had a short fuse and a mean right hook

“Get up Caleb!” he roared.  “Not got such a big mouth now have you!”

The gathered crowd chanted Ben’s name loudly, cries of “hit him again” and “Kick him” could be heard above the general hubbub.  It wasn’t that they particularly disliked him or liked Ben, kids are just like that.  No explaining, they just side with the bigger kid sometimes – perhaps out of fear – and on this occasion Ben was definitely the bigger kid.

“Ben please” stammered Caleb, his fists clenched and his heart pounding wildly in his chest “I didn’t mean anything by it honest”.

A tall boy in Blue jeans a black tee shirt leant in and whispered something in Ben’s ear.  Ben smiled and took a step closer to Caleb.  Caleb stayed down, his eyes fixed intently on his adversary expecting another blow any moment.

“Come on” he said, reaching out a hand to help Caleb up, “get up its fine I won’t hit you again”.

Caleb breathed a sigh of relief, he couldn’t take another shot like that.  His mouth hurt like hell and he was already welling up and on the verge of tears.  He wanted to go home to his mum and to forget this day had ever happened.

“Thanks Ben” he muttered, taking Ben’s hand and letting him pull him to his feet.  “I really didn’t mean to…”

Ben hit him another almighty blow this time square to the nose, his head snapping back and his knees buckling as he fell to the ground.  He started to cry, blood now running from his nose as well as his lip.

The Children were silent for a moment as he fell into a crumpled heap, holding his face and sobbing until they suddenly erupted into a cacophony of howls and cheers.  Some patted him on the back, others acting out the punch they had just witnessed.

Ben stood over him again, a vicious smile on his face and nostrils flared.  Caleb didn’t look up.

“See you at school tomorrow Mummy’s little cry baby!” he snarled.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/savage/

 

 

 

Armitage – Part 4

It’s all good and well gallivanting to heavens knows where wearing only a thin summer jacket” she shouted, “but what if it’s cold.  What then?

“Because the council receptionist said so” was apparently in no way an acceptable explanation for Mrs Shanks as to why her husband would be setting off to his almost certain doom shortly after a hearty breakfast.  She though of herself as rather tolerant of her husband short comings, and not especially demanding but this was wholly unacceptable.

***You may notice a change from 1st person.  Ill go back and change the other three parts tomorrow – proving a bit messy and restrictive to do it that way***

Hysterical as she may have become she was also a practical woman.  He didn’t even have a decent pair of walking boots,  never mind whatever else one requires to enter a space time fracture!  What about the children?  What was she supposed to tell them?

“It’s all good and well gallivanting to heavens knows where wearing only a thin summer jacket” she shouted, “but what if it’s cold.  What then?”

Armitage wrapped his arms around her pulling her close.  17 years they had been together and despite all the reasons they both had to dislike one another they still made each other happy enough to still be together and were for the most part a rather good match.

“Kate, we both Know how things work”  he said.  “Since when does anything make sense anymore.”

Armitage put his hands on her shoulders.  She looked tired, her eyes red and her face  pale and drawn.

“I’m doing this for you and the boys, they’ve assured me you’ll be looked after while I’m away”.

Armitage had some vague recollection of the receptionist making a promise along those lines.  He also recalls more clearly her offering to cast him into the rift with his family if he preferred, which of course he did not.

They’d been up all night going through the same things over and over, and getting precisely nowhere.  They had decided that they would not be telling the children, but beyond that none of this made sense.  There were endless rumours and speculation about what had come through the rift, and what they were, but none of it ever made what passed for news these days.

“I’ve a mind to go down there and give her a piece of my mind” she said, though Armitage knew full well that she wouldn’t.  He shuddered at the thought of her confronting the receptionist.  It was pretty obvious to him that there was something very unnatural about her and he made it quite clear to his wife that in no way was she to go to the council offices.

“Lets just have breakfast before the boys wake up” he said, taking her hand and heading to the kitchen.  “I could do with a cup of team and some toast.  Do we have any marmalade?”

A nice cup of tea and a few slices of toast and lime marmelade later he kissed his wife, reminding her of how much he loved them all, popped on his light summer jacket and headed out the door.  He didn’t look back but he knew she was watching from the window, tears streamlining down her face.

He reached the end of the street and was about to turn down towards the bus stop when a battered old VW beetle pulled up next to him.  The driver rolled down the window and called him over.

“Mr Shanks” the man said, a long thin finger beckoning him over “Please, get in”.

He was a middle aged man with blonde hair and a head that seemed to be too large for the body it sat atop.  His piercing blue eyes were also more widely positioned on his head than you would expect, so much so that the combination of the two gave him the look of a startled gold fish.

Little did Armitage know, but that was precisely what his driver was.  Or had been.  Many things had come through the rift and even more things had gone into the rifts that were scattered around the globe.  Mr Goodwin was the result of one of the earliest experiments.  He went in a fairground gold fish and came out the creature that was now revving the mustard coloured Beetle impatiently.

Armitage climbed in the passenger seat pulling the door closed, the seat belt clicking reassuredly.

“Call me Goodwin” the fish headed gentleman said, putting the car into gear and pulling out into the road.  He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie.  He smelled a little damp, like a towel that hasn’t been hung up properly after being used.  “You really must have upset somebody to get this gig”

Mr No Jangle – Daily promot

I have nothing. There is no spark, no chord struck, no glimmer of an idea that will take shape and become something that was not.  If I ponder, reaching deep,  there is perhaps an ember of a thought lurking in the back of my mind but that will not be formed today.  Elusive as it is.   Sounds of the sea will occasionally surface and shimmering silvers and golds are whispering somewhere far off but the more I listen the less I hear.  Reaching out for a note that will resonate I understand there are things to know, to see and to experience but for today, they are not for me.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/jangle/

Armitage – Part 3

If I were to believe in the biblical fire and brimstone version of hell (which I do not) then I am quite certain that in it, perhaps somewhere near the back where the sulphur is particularly thick and the gnashing of teeth especially loud, there would be a special corner reserved for council office officials.  I am also of the mind that in that particularly hot and fiery corner there would most definitely be an area of exceptional unpleasantness reserved for the receptionists which greet you as you enter most government premises.

A letter received earlier in the week had asked that I appear in person at the council Department for Local Amenities to confirm that I was still alive, and that I should bring identification and proof of residence.  Given all we had been through you would be forgiven for thinking that the local officials might be understanding over such things as a misplaced drivers license or lack of a recent bank statement.  They are not.  A global apocalyptic event may have been enough to bring down some governments but the trusted English council had prevailed throughout and if I wanted to continue to receive the family rations then I had best turn up, and I most certainly had best ensure I had the correct paperwork.

Having clambered onto the number 548 bus which,  with the exception of a rather bland looking gentleman wearing mostly beige and carrying a small brown brief case, was completely empty I had held high hopes for an uneventful trip into town.  Like most of us, the bus had seen better days and would under normal circumstances have been scrapped long ago, but it remained in service and its damaged body work, faded red paint  and torn and battered interior still ran it’s route three times a day.  As it spluttered and lurched along the winding road towards town we passed through areas of complete desolation,  buildings ramshackle and burned out and then through others which were untouched by what had happened- pretty stone dwellings with pristine gardens and rose covered arches soaking up the late summer sun.  The juxtaposition of the two a stark reminder of just how quickly things can change.

The only thing of real note e- route was the American diner which hovered about 3 foot from the ground on the final bend before entering the town centre.  It hung there in just the way that a diner should not.  A neon “Belle’s” sign buzzed and crackled in the window and a smaller “Open” one fizzed away happily just below it.  The diner had simply appeared one day, fortuitously appearing just where nothing else was and was then immediately declared an out of bounds ‘Rift Event’ and cordoned off  by the local constabulary.  Despite that,  day and night People can be seen inside eating whatever it is people eat in diners and by all accounts having a jolly good time.

We left the diner behind us and I was soon off the bus, taking the long way round to pick up a newspaper and heading over to the council office.  They were mostly what you would expect from a council office.  A cold stone façade housed a series of perfectly acceptable but wholly unremarkable windows behind which could be found an array of equally unremarkable and wholly officious individuals.  Paper was shuffled, files were filed and tea was enjoyed at exactly 10.30 am and 3 pm every day.  Biscuits would be enjoyed once a week by rota and dunking was frowned upon but not expressly forbidden.

Ahead of me in the queue was the beige chap from the bus who was hurriedly stuffing a pile of papers back into his briefcase.  He hastily tucked it under his arm and head down scurried past me, dark rings around dark eyes set into a gaunt face, accentuated by the paleness of his skin.  Stood waiting, somewhat nervously I will admit, I was summonsed to step forward.

The woman behind the high counter possessed an uncanny ability to make the word “NEXT!” sound like a challenge to a knife fight after a rather pleasant and leisurely few pints down at the local pub after work.  You’d swear there had been an innocuous misunderstanding over who’s pint was who’s, and she was now ready to show me who was boss out in the car park.  I’d had dealings with bureaucratic and immovable  individuals before but her summons was a wholly jarring and difficult experience from anything I had encountered.

Not that she wasn’t pleasant to look at, she was.  So much so that her appearance threw me in the same way that the ghastly thought of a good stabbing had.  Classically beautiful, with striking green eyes, sharp cheek bones and long straight blonde hair.  She stretched out a hand to take the paperwork I pushed towards her.  Something about her very presence filled me with foreboding and the knot in my stomach urged me to make a hasty exit.  Something felt wrong.

She said nothing, staring intently at me for somewhat longer than I was comfortable with and as I averted my gaze my name was called.

“Mr Armitage Shanks, how very nice to meet you”.  She seemed to boom loudly, like a pompous headmaster might bellow at an unruly pupil,  yet there was a chilling coldness to her voice which I felt in my bones.

A small diamante piercing in her upper lip caught the light as she pushed the paper work back at me.  My first thoughts were that a piercing in such a prominent position was surely not compliant with council dress code.  That was followed by one which wondered why she had not actually looked at my documents to know my name.  A third followed soon after, puzzling why at no point had she actually opened her mouth to speak the words I had heard.  Thinking back I couldn’t recall her speaking even when she had called me over.  I’m pretty certain that I had heard her, but what I had heard was in my head.

“We have a job for you Mr Shanks” she spoke.  I say spoke but obviously I’ve made it quite clear that I am hearing her in my head at this point.  I don’t wish to labour it but it was rather off putting

Confused, I mumbled something about needing to be getting home it was pie night and not wanting to miss it”

She boomed in my head again, pain shooting between my ears.  I thought I was going to vomit.

“It was not a request Mr Shanks, it is an order and I was simply being polite.  If you wish to continue feeding your family and availing yourself of the wonderful facilities the council so generously provides then you will do as I ask”

From that point on things get a little hazy.  The pain was excruciating – that I recall, and I must have agreed to her request at some point as the pain did eventually stop.  I remember the bus and the trip home vaguely too.

The one thing I am certain about though is that tomorrow I’m apparently going to The Rift.  So that could be the end of this.

 

 

 

 

 

Scratch – Daily prompt

Only the incessant scratch scratch scratch of quill on parchment breaks the stony silence.  Head down, failing eyes squinting the gnarled hand grips the long gull feather with aching fingers.  The thick leather bound ledger, with its yellowing pages, drinks in each slow and deliberate mark he makes.   Each page filled with names, amounts, dates.  Simple transactions in a ledger.  A dark celebration of the efficiency of books well kept.  He looks up as the door swings open slowly, wincing  as the late afternoon sun streams through illuminating the room within.  The scratching stops.  Both the sunlight and the stranger are not welcome, and already he knows what happens next.

The dilapidated stranger stands before him, cap in hand and eyes filled with a sadness he has seen so often in so many men in these recent years.

“I am looking for my wife and children” he states quite calmly, voice trembling.  “You sold them 7 years ago and I need to know where they are”

He won’t remember the face of the man standing before him when he has gone, the conversation will melt away like all the others, and for that he is grateful.  Only time can now release him from the things he has seen and done.    He picks up the quill, the scratch scratch scratch resumes as the door closes, and at last he is again alone.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quill/

 

Would I want more? – Daily prompt

If I consider the things that tie me, the things that bind me and the things that control me I think of how I am drawn to the comforts of the life I have made for myself.  Family, friends and the familiarity of the everyday shine more brilliantly than the lure of things that I do not have.  That said, on the odd occasion I would gladly swop some of those things that I treasure for the tranquillity of a hammock in the shade and an endless supply of strawberry daiquiris enjoyed somewhere that is not here.  But shhh, obviously though I would not admit to it…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tether/

Abandoned – Daily prompt

The eternal glow and flicker of neon flashed across the wet streets as it did every day and night.  Not that the two were discernible.  Time stops mattering when the skies are forever black and incessant rain falls onto a once vibrant world washing away all hope and joy.  Cloaked figures scurry from one place of refuge to another, dodging puddles with hoods pulled close over sallow faces.  A world drowning – floundering and gasping for breath drifting through the blackness of space waiting to die.  In the shadows the damned whisper tales of a different time, a time when the palette of life with its grey and brown was vibrant and alive but those days are lost now to all but a few.  So they wait, clinging onto hope that the exploration ships will return to take them away, that they will be rescued from the planet that has rejected them and that they will be part of a new future for humanity.  But it has been so long – beyond memory now – since the ships left.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pluck/

Armitage – Part 2

When we eventually dusted ourselves off and sat down with a nice cup of tea to discuss with our visitors what next we were one of just a few nations that were able to do so. 

Leaving the house is not something I look forward to these days.  Since the world went completely and utterly mad you never really know what will happen out there.   We’re not just talking your regular run of the mill low level straight jacket kind of mad here.  This is not even your talking to lamp posts,  remaining unbathed and obsessive hoarding level of insanity.  This was full on global hysterics and for the most part a complete melt down of rational society and a failure of the majority of global infrastructure and government. 

When the rifts opened It took about a week for the major religions to take up arms, and despite the best efforts of those nations less inclined to hacking up one another with machete’s the conflicts escalated and spread.  Governments intervened,  and obviously that did not end well.  Its quite terrifying to see what happens when a planet’s belief system is thrown out of the window.  As it turns out it proved rather difficult for the devout to insist that we were alone in the universe when the things coming out of the rift provided evidence to the contrary.   They didn’t respond well.  No one did really and it wasn’t our finest hour as a species.  We should have been embracing our new horizons and looking to skies but instead we were setting fire to one another, stealing flat screen televisions and throwing quite fabulous end of the word parties.  Rumour is that there is still one raging in London that has been going on for nearly half a decade.

By the time a semblance or normality returned the world was a very different place.  Large swathes of the planet were uninhabitable, the majority of the planet’s population lay dead or dying and for those that remained…well we contend with this reality in the best way we can.  Fortunately the British were less affected by the events than most nations.  Being an island helped isolate us from the chaos that engulfed the majority of the globe and our reserve and general lack of outward enthusiasm for most things coupled with an aversion to organised religion most certainly helped dampen the hysteria.  That isn’t to say we didn’t suffer, we did.  We lost nearly 35 million to conflict and starvation and most of the major urban centres lay in ruins afterwards but somehow we survived.

When we eventually dusted ourselves off and sat down with a nice cup of tea to discuss with our visitors what next we were one of just a few nations that were able to do so.  They explained that as It turns out they were frightfully sorry about the mess that they had made of things and that the rifts that were opened across the globe were something of an experiment gone wrong and that all they really wanted was to not have met us because we seemed like a pretty awful lot.

We in turn explained that that was rather rude of them and that it really is difficult to maintain law and order and rebuild your country when the contents of the universe is  randomly spilling out onto your planet like celestial flotsam and the least they could do would be to accept a degree of responsibility and to help us to clean up the mess.  Eventually they agreed and provided technology to stabilise the tears in time and space to prevent them spreading but once done they helped themselves to all of our tea supplies and the majority of our biscuits and went back to wherever they came from without so much as a “have a nice day”. 

And that’s why I don’t want to go outside.  I have no idea just what will be out there today and the last time I ventured to the council offices it took me a week to get home due to getting caught in a localised time loop.  I complained to them about the matter but I am pretty sure that they didn’t care.  I know that because the unhelpful woman on the reception desk informed me of that very fact.

Welcome to Afterwards

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody. Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody.  Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.