A letter to the council – An Armitage Tangent

Secondly, and perhaps more obviously, I would again press as to why my husband is now on what is quite obviously a dangerous undertaking.  He did not take either a proper coat or sturdy shoes,

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The Cottage

79 The Crescent

Little Norwood

West Yorkshire

 

To whom it may concern

I would write to you in the strongest terms with regards to the recent treatment of my husband, Mr Armitage Shanks, of the address noted above.

Two days ago My husband attended your offices and was informed by the receptionist that in order for his family to continue to receive our support he would need to support one of your apparent operations within The Rift.  This really is most unacceptable and not how we should conduct things as the last bastion of organised civilisation.

To this point I would ask a number of questions.

Firstly, who the devil is this receptionist.  Whilst the world may have gone to hell (please forgive my language, but this matter has me most vexed), surely one would require far greater authority to compel my husband to risk life and limb that that possessed of a mere receptionist.

My husband is a weak willed man and I can only assume that she is one of these modern liberated types who, feeling empowered per some council agenda, feels that she can order people to their doom willy nilly.  This simply will not do and on that matter I would ask that you escalate my concerns to the highest possible authority.

Secondly, I would again press as to why my husband is now on what is quite obviously a dangerous undertaking.  He did not take either a proper coat or sturdy shoes, instead choosing a light summer jacket and a pair of tan brogues.  Can you assure me that you have provided his with suitable apparel.

Lastly I would again insist that you return him home as soon as is possible.  He is in no way prepared for an endeavour of this basis and not capable of a great deal more than some light gardening and the occasional trip to the pub.  He has also not yet fitted a shelf in the kitchen over which he has been procrastinating for some time and I must insist that should anything untoward happen to my husband then I will hold you responsible for not only the welfare of me and my family but you will also need to put up that shelf as I currently have nowhere for my pans.

I anticipate your swift response.

Yours Sincerely

Katherine Shanks

 


If you want to read more about Armitage Shanks please take a look here.

On being really fat

They say one should write about what one knows, so I I think I shall perhaps write about being fat.

They say one should write about what one knows, so I I think I shall perhaps write about being fat.

Now, I don’t yet know if it will be a cake and pork fuelled celebration of my wobbly belly and chafing thighs or whether I shall use this as a shameful catalyst to stir me in my eternal attempt to lose weight.  I haven’t quite worked myself up to a commitment one way or another yet having only just penned the thought, plus I have a rather nice hot beef and mustard sandwich that needs to be eaten before I do any sort of serious decision making.

Now if I was to attempt to lose weight, which I indeed might but let’s not be too hasty as we are still working through the premise for this piece, then It obviously goes without saying that typing will not help me shed a single chin.  I am also pretty sure that a few of the particularly energetic amongst you may well be thinking that I should simply stop typing right now, wipe the quite delicious beef juice from my chubby little fingers and get myself on a treadmill or go for a nice walk.  I won’t argue against that point, and the matter of the treadmill is one I will address another time most likely, but for now I think I shall  either, but I shall persist with writing something first at that was my aim when I sat down.  That and to eat my rather delicious sandwich which I have done whilst typing this.

So where to next I ask myself.  I am not certain yet but how about I float a couple of ideas to see whether any of them stir me as to my preferred course of action:

·       When bending over to pick things up became an embarrassment to my children.

·       Why my jeans need pulling up whenever I stand.

·       Failing at not being fat.

·       Stamina, what stamina.

·       I woke up with a lollipop stuck to my jumper

·       What do you mean I have piles!

·       Late night eating by refrigerator light.

·       Please put a shirt on the neighbours might see you.

As much as that feels like Weird Al album track listing,  I think I might have enough ideas to take this somewhere you know. 

Perhaps I will see you next time when I tackle the difficult subject of ‘Why my bathroom scale hates me and lies just to make me feel bad about myself’.

 

 

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

Footprints – An AFA Challenge

“Hey Boss, have you seen what Mary’s been writing?”

“That footprints in the sand woman?”

“Yeah her”.  Jonah scratched his head and laughed.  “Did you have anything to do with it?  I know what you’re like, whispering in their ears like you care”

“Look, I never asked to get stuck on this planet ok, I never asked to be immortal and I certainly never asked to be anyone’s lord and saviour. He continued, quite vexed, “2500 years I’ve been here. I get bored.  Not once have those upstairs even bothered to so much as pop in and say ‘Good Job’ or  read one of my reports.  I’m sorry”

“What did you do?”

“Ok I did pop into her dream and I gave it all that ‘I was carrying you ‘ business.  I also gave her cancer.”

“Boss, you’re such a dick.”

 

Inpired by A Frank Angle at

Footprints in the sand

 

https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/on-footprints-in-the-sand/

 

 

Sail – A Tenuous Daily Prompt

Today I shall sit in my chair

and write a poem of despair

or something deep or maybe sad

but nothing fun and nothing glad.

 

With teenage angst perhaps I’ll write

of when my jeans became too tight

or of my hair when it fell out

or of last Saturday’s beer drought.

 

Ill dim the lights and play whale songs

and bemoan all the world’s wrongs

and type about my slow net speeds

of morning traffic hell in Leeds

 

Ill hug myself and watch the rain

wear baggy clothes and spout my pain

That time TIVO missed GOT

or of my boats main sail ripped in ’03

 

My pain is shared so now you feel

the things I do that make me real

Perhaps you’ll like to show you care

my tale of woe, pain and despair

 

 

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

Fences – FFfAW Challenge – 11th of July

“You’re not really thinking of going down there are you”?

“Why the hell not, it won’t matter soon!  I just want to say hello to her.  Please.  We arent that different.  She wont realise.”

They so obviously were though.  In just about every way imaginable.

“It’s not right Joshua.  Why can’t I?” His voice was tinged with sadness. He scratched his head ruefully and ran his hand through his long dark hair.  “Are we really so different?  All I want is to say hello.  Just once.”

“This isn’t our world Abel, you know that.  You know the mission.  We observe and take notes and we never get involved with the humans.”

“Always the sensible one aren’t you!” Abel snapped.

Joshua smiled.  “Come on my friend, let’s go file our report.  For what it matters.  This time next week the asteroid the governments arent telling them about will hit the earth and she will be gone. They all will.”

https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/fffaw-challenge-week-of-july-11-2017/

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of Grand-Sud

Moxie – An Armitage tangent.

“I do not for one minute” ranted Jones, his face quite beetroot in complexion ” believe that all people are created Equal”.  A large vein throbbed above his right temple.  “And I will tell you another thing while I’m at it”  he continued, jutting out a sausage like finger and spitting as he spoke “there is no way we are taking in any more of those confounded Illegals!”

He seemed rather convinced of his point.  Out of breath he plopped his portly frame back into his chair and folded his arms defiantly.  As usual though,  he failed to acknowledge that these were not solely his decisions to make.

“Now come on Arthur, you know full well this is a decision for the council and not for you alone” Alastair Brown reminded him.  Alastair was the local milkman and had known Arthur for as long as he could remember and was quite adept at calming him down.  He was in most aspects larger than life and with a will that was seldom swayed.

Arthur let out what sounded like ‘harumph’ and attempted to fold his arms even tighter in defiance,  but this simply served to push up his chest until it looked like he had a rather full pair of breasts.

Alastair surveyed the room, and all the other council members eyes were fixed firmly upon him.  Anderson, Smith, Wesley and Carpenter were going to let him deal with this one.  They backed him, but they weren’t going to let Jones know that.

“All I’m saying Arthur, is that we can take more.  We have room.  We have resources.”

Arthur didn’t respond.

“The world has changed Arthur, we cannot keep resisting.  They need our help, we need to show compassion” Alastair pleaded.

Arthur unwrapped his arms and stood slowly, heaving his considerable frame out of the chair.  He had always been a bully, from very young,  and being bigger than the other children he learnt from an early age how to use his size to his advantage.

“I will not, and cannot, tolerate one more of those ‘things’ in our village!”  He drew himself to his full height and puffed out his chest.   He continued, now ignoring Jones and addressing the room “the world may have changed but we are not for changing gentleman.  We belong to this village and this village belongs to us!”

Alastair tried to speak but Arthur was not for listening.

“When the rifts opened and those things came through, feasting and destroying and ruining our flower beds they didn’t show us any compassion.  They didn’t show us any kindness!”

“Now come on Arthur”, Alastair exclaimed, “That was nearly 20 years ago.  They need us, they have nowhere to go.”

“That is not true, they can go home!”

“Their home is dying, you know that.  That’s why they’re here”.

Carpenter was about to speak, and noticing Arthur immediately pointed a finger at him “Giles, you surely don’t expect us to take in anymore given what happened to your Mary.”

Giles fell silent.  No one spoke until Alastair broke the silence.

“That was low Arthur.  You really didn’t need to bring that up.”

Alastair felt he was losing the battle.  They had all suffered when the rift opened, they had all lost someone and they had all fought so hard to rebuild their village.  The others were too afraid of Arthur to stand up to him, and he felt rather isolated.

Arthur didn’t care how Giles felt.  He didn’t care how anyone felt.  “So that’s decided then, we don’t take in any more of those confounded blue furred creatures.  Let them rot I say!”

The other said nothing.

Arthur sat slowly, savouring the moment.  He took a slow drink of water from the glass in front of him.  “Moving on to point 2 on the Agenda then, Donations for the summer fete raffle…Giles, I believe that was one for you.”

 

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

Probing – a cautionary tale – Daily prompt

 

I woke one day only to find

Aliens probing my behind

Imagine if you will my shock

Lying undressed bar just one sock.

 

Now I’m not the type of chap to moan

but I’d only just set off for home

from work when there to my surprise

An alien vessel fills the sky.

 

And after that it’s quite a blur

I recall a creature with blue fur

and a cold insertion twixt my thighs

and tears streaming from my eyes.

 

Then nothing until I awoke

On a metal slab with another bloke

who struggled wildly to get free

and looked just as surprised as me.

 

And there we lay for quite a while

imprisoned by these creatures vile

until they entered fur and claw

with tails that dragged across the floor.

 

I blurted out “I must protest

I need to get this off my chest!”

They simply blinked big eyes and peeked

inside my new friends bottom cheeks.

 

“Now please forgive my attitude

I do not mean to be so rude

but bloody hell this is not fun

please do not rummage in his bum!”

 

No response, they weren’t aware

it was as if I was not there

they seemed intent on exploration

to my compatriots consternation.

 

“Now come on really must you poke

inside the bottom of that bloke?

What is it you hope to find

secreted inside his behind?”

 

I felt an anger from way down

that they’d picked me when leaving town.

Who would believe a humble tailor

with tales of an alien Impaler.

 

“I’ve hear you lot are so obsessed

with getting people quite undressed

then delving into their hind quarter

is that what your mother taught ya?”

 

I’m riled, enraged, my dander rising

“Please just stop my butt cheeks prising

and let me go back to my wife

I’m late, not called, and in real strife!”

 

I know not if it was my words

but my request it seems was heard

and soon they would to my pleas yield

and drop me off in a corn field.

 

I know not why they chose to take

folk such as us and prisoners make.

Folk laugh when I of my tale speak

how I cold not sit for a week.

 

One day perhaps I’ll understand

why people all across the land

are probed by these fowl creatures blue

today was me, tomorrow you?

 

Take heed in case one day you find

an alien in your behind

your wife doubting just where you’ve been

accusing you of deeds obscene

 

with strangers you picked up in town

finger pointing face a frown

“Think of the kids, please don’t get drunk

and let folk fiddle in your trunk”.

 

 

Https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/Tailor/

We unlikely few – An Armitage tangent

In a world gone mad, where nobody is safe and danger lurks at every turn, there are men who will answer the call to stand up for what is right and to defend the innocent in the face of impossible odds.   Here tonight, in a quiet village pub in an unassuming English village, you might just find those men.

That is to say you might, but you won’t.

The men in this pub are like those men, just not quite as courageous or as athletic.  They don’t possess the chiselled jaws or the superhuman powers of those other men and those other men possess a certain confidence with the ladies that these gentlemen most certainly lack .  Here in this pub you will find men who would very much like to fight crime (given the right circumstances and good weather) but these men also recognise that a game of dominoes and a pint is a wholly safer endeavour and considerably less exerting. and pretty much never results in one losing a limb.

The last of the regulars had left and the landlord of The Three Pigeons had kindly closed up for the night and popped upstairs to bed asking them to lock up when they were finished and pop the key through the letterbox.

Trevor rapped his meaty knuckles onto the table loudly, “Order Gentlemen, Order please!”  Silence fell and he continued.  Physically he was a rather average and underwhelming man by most standards, other than his inordinately large hands.  “Firstly, I would just like to thank you for coming this evening, these are dark times indeed and in times such as these it is incumbent on the likes of us to stand up and be counted.”

He paused for a moment, in his mind rather dramatically, staring at the ‘us’.

The ‘us’ mostly sat and waited to see what would come next.  Trevor had always had a flair for the dramatic, it went back to his days in the local am-drams club.  After a drink or two  he could quite often be found recalling with much fondness , to anyone whom he might corner, details of his finest hour as Tony in West Side Story performed at the local church hall for a crowd of nearly 50.

“Our village is under threat from outside forces Chaps” he continued “and it is perhaps time for us to do something about it.”  He stood quite still, legs akimbo, hands on hips.

Gerald, the local post master, was suddenly filled with the urge to sing ‘I’m a little tea pot’.  He did not, but he was next to speak.  “Trevor, don’t you think that we’re rather past it now?  Is it not time for us to leave this sort of thing to a younger generation?”.  A number of the others nodded and mumbled in agreement.  Johnson, the cricket club chairman and first team captain, even managed as much as a “Too bloody right!”

Trevor looked rather hurt as he liked to think he was something of a local leader.  “No, I think it is precisely that attitude that has got this country in the mess that it’s in to be honest and …”

“Now hold on Trevor” Gerald interrupted, suddenly somewhat vexed.   “This country is in the mess it is in because a sodding great space time rift opened up and the majority of people went completely bonkers, the government collapsed and we…” he took a deep breath “and we have god knows what spilling out of the rift and making a jolly great mess of everything!”

“Here here” mumbled Johnson., now starting to feel somewhat braver, probably down to the three pints he’d enjoyed earlier.

Trevor drew himself up to his rather average full height of 5 foot 7 and puffed out his chest.  He looked rather ridiculous.

“Well I for one am not willing to stand back and watch our village go the same way as the rest of the places around here. I am willing to fight back!”

“Fight against what Trevor?” Asked Alan Benson the local grocer, “you reckon we’re in the sort of shape to take on the likes of some of the things the local Rift Police have been tackling lately?”.  He took a swift drink of his pint and slammed down the glass.  “It’s getting worse Trevor.  Just yesterday they had to rescue Mrs Billings the librarian from her prize winning rose bushes which had apparently grown sentient and were attempting to prune her arms off!”

“Good lord ” said Johnson.

“Bloody hell man” exclaimed Gerald.

Trevor was not to be deterred and pressed the point.  “That is exactly the reason why we need to get the team back together and do something!”  They other sat stony faced.  “We cannot rely on the council or the Rift Police to protect us we need to look after our own.”

“Trevor, the team haven’t seen light of day for nearly 5 years now, what makes you think we still have it?”

Trevor felt he was making head way now.  “You never lose it Alan, you know that.  What we did and what we achieved is legend in these parts!”

“There is no way my suit is going to fit me anymore Trevor ” Alan protested.  “I’m sadly more than the man I once was”.  He looked down at his waistline.   Time had been rather unkind he felt, given the food shortages and rationing they’d been subjected to since it all started.  “I promised the wife that Id given up on all that super power business”.

“You cant avoid destiny Alan” said Trevor.

“Destiny? Good god man – we were sucked into and then spat out of a rift on the way back from a boozy weekend watching darts in Blackpool and ended up with the world’s most ridiculous super powers.  That’s hardly destiny!”

Alan took a deep breath.  He knew things were getting worse, he had hoped these days were over though.  They weren’t particularly effective super heroes, in fact they were rather poor and far too fond of tea and biscuits to really commit fully to the endeavour.

“Do you know there’s a chap in the next village along that can breathe fire Trevor ” he asked “Fire.  From his mouth.  Like a bloody great dragon!”

“We may not breathe fire Alan but by god man you’re The Bee!” he exclaimed dramatically.  “You strike fear into the heart of those who would do us harm!”

“I can hover four foot off the ground wearing a striped yellow suit Trevor!” he shouted “that is absolutely no use unless you have a cat stuck in a very small tree”.

Trevor knew that if he could get Alan on board the others would follow.  “Alan, our suits may not fit but we are still those self same men we were five years ago.  We made a difference, and surely we have to try.”

“Oh bugger” interrupted Johnson, knowing that this was a losing battle.

“All I’m saying is let’s give this a shot eh” Trevor continued.  He knew he was nearly there.  He needed this, he needed to feel what he’d felt all those years ago.  He had always believed that they had been chosen for greater things.  “How about we get together tomorrow morning at half 9 and…”

“I cant” said Johnson “I need to take the cat to the vet.

“How about half ten then?  We all ok with half ten? You can come to my place, we’ll have a nice cup of tea and work out a bit of a plan.”  Trevor already had a plan though.  He had spreadsheets and rotas and maps and schedules all lined up.  This time “The Accountant was ready.

“Fine” said Alan sighing.  “Let’s see how it goes but no promises ok”

The others nodded in agreement

Trevor grinned.  “Bee, Stretchy Legs, Frog Boy –  I think this deserves another pint!”

 

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

 

 

 

Pile them high – Daily prompt

Breathing heavily Bjorn leaned on his bloodied battle axe, surveying the carnage before him.  The smell of war and death filled the air and screams of the dying could be heard from every direction.

 “And what exactly are we supposed to do with this lot?” he pondered, crows already picking hungrily at the dead.

Helgar laughed.  “Don’t look at me my friend, they can lay here and rot for all I’m concerned.”  He scratched his thick beard, matted with blood.  “And besides” he continued, “My back is killing me and there is no way I’m piling up the dead.  And besides have you seen this blister!  Digging holes like this Christians prefer will make a right old mess of my hand” Helgar thrust out a bloodied hand, a large blister forming on the webbing between thumb and fore finger.  “Look, it really hurts!”

“Oh don’t give me that about your back” Bjorn replied, heaving a large scarred shield from the ground “you’re always going on about it.  It looked perfectly fine when you were hacking that Goth’s head off!”

Helgar wasn’t a fan of manual labour. Pillaging and raping were all good and well but fetching and carrying wasn’t for him.  “Oh how dare you, you’re one to talk!” he replied, “Were it not for me and my axe you’d have been crow meat by now!”

“How about we just finish off some of the dying and decide then, how does that sound?”

Helgar loved finishing off the dead.  It was one of his favourite things, that and ale.  And women of course – apart from those British ones he’d encountered in Britannia – they were a rather unpleasant lot.  His blue eyes twinkled and a broad smile spread across his bloodied face.  “I think I’ll use a sword today though, given how my back aches.  It’s a bit less wearing than swinging an axe you know”.  He winked at Bjorn playfully.

“Oh will you shut up about your back! “Said Bjorn, swinging his axe casually into the chest of a young Goth warrior who lay groaning as he clutched a rather nasty stomach would.

“Ooh look at this” Helgar exclaimed, reaching down to snatch a gold pendant from around the neck of a fat corpse.  “This will look great with that cloak I took from that priest last week!”

“Oh I like that“, said Bjorn, slowly pushing his thick blade into the heart of a young shield maiden “it’s a bit like that one I wore to Tobar’s wedding.”   

Helgar remembered it well.  “Oh now that was a great night!  That roast they had was gorgeous.   I’ve never tasted anything like it.”

“I think it was the salt and garlic you know” said Bjorn.  “I spoke to him afterwards and he said the fellow for Aarlsberg has a chap who gets it for him”.

Bjorn pulled out a small knife and bending down slit the throat of an older Goth chieftain.  “Funny you know Helgar, I like to send off the older ones a little more intimately.”

Helgar snorted “you’re all heart my friend”.

Bjorn wiped his blade and put it back in it’s sheath on his belt.  “You know what else I was thinking?”

“What” said Helgar.

“I was thinking about doing some poetry”.

“Whooooo” exclaimed Helgar excitedly as he removed the head of a chap who was already missing an arm.  “Poetry you say?  I did a bit when I was younger you know.”

“Did you Really?” Bjorn responded, “I never had you down as the poetic type”

“Oh yeah, did a great piece about a long boat once.  I painted a rather vivid picture apparently”. 

“Hmmm” Bjorn mused.  “I’m definitely going to have a go when we get back to the village.  I always get a bit bored when pillaging season is over”

“Great idea” Helgar replied.  “It will help you relax.  Lately I’ve been doing some basket making.  Helps immensely with the creative urges”.

“Well you are a dark horse aren’t you“.

“Oh yeah” he grinned, stabbing a thrashing horse in the eye and driving his blade deep into its brain until it lay still on the blood stained grass.  “What a waste of a bloody good horse!”

Helgar adjusted his armour; it had a terrible habit of riding up on him. “You hungry?”

“Starving” Bjorn replied, “Have you got anything to eat? “

“No but I left some bread up with the rest of my stuff up on the hill.  Shall we go get something to eat and carry on with this later?”

“Sounds good to me, we can finish this later they’re not going anywhere”.  He smiled.  “We can take a look at that blister as well”.

Https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bury/

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”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.