The intergalactic language of tea – Daily Prompt

Now as it turns out, across the collective 11256 recognised civilisations registered at the Central Galactic Office for Sentience more than two thirds have something culturally equivalent to a nice cup of tea. 

Zarb turned on her clan mate, his blue fur ruffling as she roared her disapproval at again being lost in some awful backwater.

“I swear by the many moons of Tarlex” she bellowed, “If we run out of fuel and end up marooned here waiting for a repair service I will rip out your throat and leave your carcass in this god forsaken place!”

“Now now dear” said Malen, attempting to calm her.  She was half his size again and had such a frightful temper, “I know exactly where we are” he paused for a moment before adding “…more or less.”

She scowled at him, her claws twitching and her tail swishing impatiently.  “My mother told me that you were an inferior mate” she snarled, “but no, I let you woo me with your throbbing brabnar and your eloquent songs of dal-bur”.  She pushed him aside, reaching for the Navigation console.

“Zarb, my sweetness” Malen pleaded, “trust me, we are only a mere 4 quintels astray and we will soon be back on …”

Malan never got to finish explaining how they would soon be back on course following a diversion to avoid a rather nasty solar flare, because he was quite rudely interrupted by a loud alarm and a series of flashing lights emanating from the bridge.

“Malan you useless spawn of a fargon!” She cried, clubbing him across the side of the face and squeezing her ample rump into the not quite large enough chair in front of the console.  Furiously she stabbed away at the illuminated buttons with her long fingers. 

He looked over her furry blue shoulder as she plotted a new set of navigation coordinates. 

“You’ve taken us too far out of range of that sun!” she growled, we’re going to need to spend a couple of cycles on the nearest planet to recharge the cells!” 

Malan knew it was best to say as little as possible at this point.  “How about I make us a nice cup of tea?” he offered apologetically as she continued to mumble insults about his mother’s cooking and the unimpressive girth of his father’s jarbul.

Now as it turns out, across the collective 11256 recognised civilisations registered at the Central Galactic Office for Sentience more than two thirds have something culturally equivalent to a nice cup of tea.  The people of Karpisal V have a beverage almost identical to a refreshing Earl Grey taken each morning as a cleansing tonic whilst the amassed hordes of Qualik have something more akin to a soup of battery acid and pig trotters which is apparently quite invigorating on a summer’s day. 

The idea seemed to calm her somewhat and she grunted approvingly. 

“I’ll tell you what else we can do when we get there “ Malan said with a hint of excitement in his voice.

“What’s that?” She asked, her interest piqued.

“Probing!” he exclaimed.

“Ooh ooh yes please” Zarb cried “It’s been far too long.


To find out a little more about our furry blue friends take a look here

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/probing-a-cautionary-tale/

 


Or you could see if you like any of this

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/24/screw-you-haiku/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/03/first-blog-post/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/we-unlikely-few/

 

 

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

Screw you Haiku

On Mondays I like to allow myself a little more freedom from the discipline of the more structured writing schedule that I have set for myself and simply do something stupid.

On Mondays I like to allow myself a little more freedom from the discipline of the more structured writing schedule that I have set for myself and do something different.  I normally like to dabble with a variety of fiction pieces but Not on Monday, oh no

The challenge of packing emotive imagery into 17 syllables is quite a test, which is perhaps why they seem so daunting and often so very serious.  A limerick on the other hand is quite the opposite, filled with such joy and whimsy.

Today I shall attempt to write some haiku that are not serious at all serious.


 

Hot spicy curry

Arse like a Japanese flag

oh no not again


 

In the house naked

Wife and kids on vacation

Beer for breakfast


 

Leaving work in shame

Stomach flu going around

Gambled on a fart


 

Wife screams in horror

Dogs humping in the garden

Cover children’s eyes


 

Loud knock at the door

Dancing in the house naked

Police “Close curtains!”


 

Want to read more of my stuff?

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/probing-a-cautionary-tale/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/03/first-blog-post/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/we-unlikely-few/

Armitage – Part 6

“Imagine the world as a sheet of double ply toilet paper.” Ichabod continued, “This world is one sheet and the other sheet is one of countless others.  I exist in-between those two sheets.”
“As scientific explanations go” Armitage snapped, “that is bloody awful!”  His breathing quickened, his head started to pound and he started to feel sick again.

Armitage awoke from a rather pleasant dream where he was not in a military compound waiting to pop into a space time rift on the whim of a council office receptionist.  It involved cups of tea and pottering around the garden for the most part.  There may have been croquet at one point but he was too busy tending to his roses for that.

He opened his eyes slowly and realising where he was mumbled an “oh bugger me” before closing them again in an attempt to at least pretend that he was still asleep.

“Excellent, you’re awake!” Came a reply.

It wasn’t Goodwin.  This was a new voice and one wholly more friendly and upbeat than either Goodwin or Koala.  It sounded excited almost, which Armitage found most annoying.

“I was just about to wake you” the voice continued quite chipper.  “You need to get ready, it’s nearly time”.

Armitage sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes.  He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, he had intended to try and get hold of his family, protest loudly but politely about his current situation and try and get hold of a tooth brush as he had neglected to brush this morning.

“And you are exactly whom?” he asked turning towards the source of the voice.

“Turner” came the reply, “Ichabod Turner, please to meet you”.

There was nobody precisely where this somebody ought to be.

“Why can I not see you? Armitage puzzled, already fast acclimatising to the new ridiculousness of his post-council-office-trip life.

“Oh yes, sorry I do forget sometimes” came the disembodied reply, “the easiest way to explain it is that I exist in a place between your world and a million others.  Went into into a rift a few years ago and came out like this.”

Armitage said nothing, waiting.

“Imagine the world as a sheet of double ply toilet paper.” Ichabod continued, “This world is one sheet and the other sheet is one of countless others.  I exist in-between those two sheets of toilet paper.”

“As scientific explanations go” Armitage snapped, “that is bloody awful!”  His breathing quickened, his head started to pound and he started to feel sick again.

“Yeah my wife said something along those lines when I told her” Ichabod replied. “Well, in between the screaming and the crying and the insisting that she had told me something like this was bound to happen if I insisted on wandering onto rifts.”

Armitage thought he sounded like he was smiling.  He wondered if his own wife was destined for a similar fate.

“I probably need to rethink how I explain myself to people” Ichabod continued, then paused for a moment whilst Armitage put his head in his hands.  He really needed a nice cup of team and another lie down.

“Come on Armitage” he insisted “we can’t be lingering here all day we have places to be.  Lets have you, chop chop.”

Armitage struggled to his feet, head spinning.  “Ok, where are we going?”

“Oh this is going to be fantastic”.

“I very much doubt that.”

Ichabod laughed.  “Do you want to put on those fatigues?”

Armitage had no intention of putting on the fatigues and boots laid out on the green trunk at the end of the bed.  “I was supposed to be repotting my azalea today you know!” He complained loudly. “It isn’t flowering and it really needs looking at.

Ichabod didn’t reply.

“You know what” he said, “I think I shall remain in the clothes I am wearing thank you very much.”  He folded his arms in as much of an act of defiance as he could muster.

“Suit yourself, follow me” instructed Ichabod.

Armitage followed Ichabod’s voice as he was lead between the tents and to a small door in the side of the stadium.  There were surprisingly few people to be seen.  He had seen a couple of heavily armed thick set men milling about outside one of the large green tents and a small squad of around a dozen men could be seen running at the far end of the row of tents but that aside it was by no means busy.

“Could you get that?” Ichabod asked.  “I seem to be struggling with my hands in this reality a little today.”

Armitage pulled the door open and they passed through inside, Ichabod leading him through a series of winding corridors until they appeared at another door.  Armitage pulled it open without being asked.

The first thing he saw when he passed through the door, hearing it clang closed behind him, was Koala Jackson deep in conversation with Goodwin.  They were just a few metres away on the edge of what was once the pitch inside the stadium, but the grass was mostly gone now and more tents were scattered across it’s surface, with one particularly large one squarely in the centre.  Masses of heavily armed troops littered the place and there was a real thrum of activity wherever he looked, with crates of what he assumed were weapons and ammunition being moved about.  Much of the seating in the stands had been removed and what looked like sand bag emplacements and bunkers took up much the space where the seating had once been.

“Good heavens!” he exclaimed loudly.   “What the bloody hell is this?”

“Armitage, Turner, over here” boomed Koala Jackson.  “Front and centre, sharp!”

Armitage really did not like being barked at.  It made him feel most uneasy given that he was by nature a more collaborative sort, prone to problem solving through the sharing ideas and the exchange of dialogue.  Judging by the look on Koala Jackson’s face she didn’t seem to be in the mood for anything other than him being front and centre, so he hastily obliged.

First thing Armitage noticed was that she seemed to be carrying an inordinate amount of weapons, which surely did not bode well for the rest of the evening.  Not that he knew anything about armaments, but they certainly looked rather dangerous and not something you would need were you pottering in the garden or making jam.  There were Pistols in holsters on her belt, those he could recognise, and there were a couple or large pointy ones on her back which looked most unpleasant and which might take an eye out if you weren’t careful with them.   Add to these the one strapped across her chest and the one in her left hand and she looked prepared for something that he was not.

“Is all that not heavy?” he asked, the words spilling from his lips without thought.  Jackson didn’t bother with a reply.

“Gentlemen” she said with a certain menace that Armitage had not noticed earlier “Inrift into  exactly ten minutes time we shall be entering Rift 1979.”  Four heavily armed men in worn fatigues had joined him and Ichabod and they stood waiting for Jackson to continue.

Armitage felt sick again

Jackson stood to her full height, addressing the group but speaking to him directly.  “Armitage, you are our key and are going to help me and my team pass through Rift 1979.  Once inside the  Rift you will remain with us whilst we complete our mission at which point you will accompany us back through again.  Is that understood?”

“Well actually…” Armitage began before she interrupted him.

“You don’t need to ask questions” she snapped “you simply need to do as I tell you and stay close to Mr Goodwin.  He will ensure nothing terrible happens to you.”

Armitage did not like the word terrible one bit.  He had once spilled paint on the stair carpet, and that was about the extent of his definition of terrible. He feared her definition was somewhat significantly worse.

“Ichabod will be our guide between dimensions and the 4 magnificent specimens you see next to you are there just in case we need to negotiate with the locals.”  Armitage looked at the one closest to him and he had to agree, he was rather magnificent.  Not the sort  you would have round for a spot of brunch but he hoped most certainly suited to something as ridiculous as whimsically popping into a space time rift.

“Now, if you all want to follow me we really must be going” she said sharply and headed off towards the large white tent in the middle of the pitch.

Goodwin grabbed his arm and pulled him after him as he hear Ichabod proclaim “Oh I love this bit.  You’re going to love this Mr Shanks, just you see!”

Armitage doubted that very much.  Approaching the large white tent he noticed Jackson’s team visibly tense.  “What happened to your previous key?” he asked cautiously.

They looked at one another but didn’t reply.  He was about to protest most vociferously when he suddenly found himself inside the tent, Goodwin’s hand still around his arm.  He had anticipated a head quarters of some sort, or perhaps an information desk where he cold lodge a complaint, but this really was not what he expected.

Standing in the middle of the tent, the only thing in the room, was a door.

Now as far as doors go this one was for the most part a rather regular and unassuming door, the type you would find on any street. It was 8 panelled with a  brass handle, letter box and knocker and painted jet black with a number two positioned slightly off centre to the right about three quarters of the way up.  That was it, just this door.

He wanted to ask why there was a door, it seemed the natural question to ask, but given how the last few days had panned out he waited as someone would tell him eventually.

“Welcome to Rift 1979!”  Jackson seemed rather proud suddenly”Oh yes, baby!” Ichabod exclaimed.

“I expected something a little more…” Armitage paused. “Well a little less door like really.  Maybe a little more Hollywood.”

Jackson glared at him.  “The door is a containment field Mr Shanks.  Our alien friends were so kind as to leave us with this before they disappeared with our tea and biscuits.”

“Very kind of them” he mumbled.

Koala took his arm and pulled him towards the door.  ” Now all I need you to do is to open it for me and step inside.”

This was all happening way too fast he thought.  This sort of thing did not happen to people like him.  People like him tended their gardens and contributed to the general well being of the village and drank beer and played darts in the pub on a Friday .

“And how exactly do I do that ” Armitage asked, hoping that there would be some complex ritual which he could make a mess of to delay what felt like the inevitable.

“Its a Door Armitage” Goodwin interrupted.  “Turn the handle.”

“Well I could” he said, “But I really do not think that …”

“Open the bloody door Armitage!” Jackson demanded.

She scared him into action and before he knew it he had reached out turning the handle.  It clicked, just as one would expect of a door and slowly he pushed against it.  Before he had time to ask whether he might perhaps remain behind given his splitting headache he felt was a shove in the back and he tumbled through the door, the others bursting past and stepping over him.

After that it all got a little weird.

 


Want to read more of my stuff?  There’s a few links below you might like.

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/probing-a-cautionary-tale/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/03/first-blog-post/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/we-unlikely-few/

Scamper – Daily Prompt

“BRAINS!” demanded Chuck, teeth gnashing and arms flailing as he thrashed to extricate him from the tangle of barbed wire around his legs and waist.

“Hey Chuck, do you remember when we young?” Brian asked, his mind a fog and a hunger in his belly that made him want to scream.

“BRAINS!” demanded Chuck, teeth gnashing and arms flailing as he thrashed to extricate him from the tangle of barbed wire around his legs and waist.

“You used to be really active you know” Brian continued, “You were always…what’s that word..?”  He trailed off into silence, thinking was getting more difficult and the hunger was unbearable.

“BRAINS!” Chuck demanded again, more forcefully this time.

Chuck had no recollection of much other than the fact that he really wanted some brains right now.  If he tried really hard to not think about eating brains there was occasionally a flicker of a different world, but it all seemed like a …like a…something,   He didn’t really have the words anymore really, he was just so hungry.

“I’m trying to have a normal conversation with you mate!” Brian snapped.  “I know this is all very upsetting but …” the words failed him again.

He looked down and noticed a rather large hole in his military fatigues, and an equally large one in his chest, crawling with flies. “You used to …oh what was that word now…” he said, looking across at his old friend.  “You used to love to…”

Chuck had managed to get one of his legs free and celebrated with a rather hearty “BRAINS!”

For the briefest moment of moment Brian felt a clarity of thought and a million thoughts flashed through his mind.  He remembered everything.  The outbreak, the war, family , friends and so much more.

“Chuck” he said slowly, “I think we’re undead mate!”  He felt his thoughts escaping him, like sand slipping through clutching fingers.  The hunger was overpowering, he had to fight for every word.  “I’ve remembered Chuck” he said excitedly, “I’ve remembered what you used to love to do!”

He looked over and noticed that Chuck had dragged himself free of the barbed wire, leaving much of his right lower leg behind.  “BRAINS!” Chuck exclaimed joyfully.

“You used to…it was…you…we…” His voice trailed away, eyes glazing over and his head falling to one side.

“BRAINS!” was all he could muster.



 

Fancy something a little different?  Try one of these maybe…

https://afterwards.blog/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/18/soil-an-armitage-tangent-daily-prompt/

https://afterwards.blog/2017/07/14/probing-a-cautionary-tale/

 

 

,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Passenger – An Armitage Tangent

Alex stood frozen.  Looking across the empty lanes of the motorway he could see his brother’s red Mustang,  crumpled and twisted, steam billowing from the radiator.  His first thought was  “Mum and dad are going to kill him!”, and it never occurred to him that everything wouldn’t be ok, because when you’re 15 everything usually is.

“Weird” he thought, scratching his head through a mop of dark curly hair, something was nagging at him, his thoughts very much a fog.   “This is a dream right?”  He asked himself.

“You know, that’s usually what you lot ask at this point” came a response out of nowhere  “and then I tell you it isn’t” it continued, “and then you freak out”.

Alex turned to the source of the voice, seeing before him a small bald man with a warm smile and piercing blue eyes.  He wore a sharp well fitted dark suit, crisp white shirt and a black tie tied with a Windsor knot and despite his stature had all the air of someone who could quite easily do you harm if you forgot to pay him for whatever you might own a man like him for. 

“Calm yourself curly locks” he said, a thin smile breaking out on his face “I know this is all a shock and you want to run over and see what’s going on and blah blah blah but we really need to get moving”.

Alex indeed wanted to run over to the scene where a fire truck, lights flashing and horns blaring had just pulled up, but he couldn’t.  His head told his body to ignore the small bald man and do exactly that but he simply remained where he stood.  His thinking was so slow, words escaped him, concepts too.

“I need to go over! My brother’s still in there” he mumbled.  That he knew, foggy headed or not. 

The Bald headed man remained unmoved. “Hate to break it to you kiddo but you’re dead”  he said dispassionately.  “You aren’t going anywhere other than recycling.”  It was simply a fact to him.  He had done this so many times that he found it far easier to just get right to the heart of the matter rather than to try flowering things up. 

Early on in his career he had developed a real flair for the dramatic, and relished these moments.  He’d dabbled in poetry and religious imagery and had even used props for a while but it soon wore thin.  

These days he was a fan of a nice suit over the effort of a hooded cloak.  They were rather more uncomfortable than one might think and forever dragging on the floor and needing to be washed.   and as menacing as a scythe is it’s a real nuisance to cart around all day

Alex stood, saying nothing because some part of him knew he was dead.   There was a feint recollection of a party – perhaps someone’s birthday – and rain, lots of rain.  After that there was a horn, loud noise and then …well then he was stood where he found himself right now. 

After a while he spoke “Is he ok?” he asked.

“Id not worry about him for now kiddo” bald man replied, “come on, follow me.  You’ll like this.”

Alex turned slowly to follow, his head swimming.  “Where are we going?  What will happen to him?“

“Always with the questions” the bald man mumbled under his breath.  “Just follow me, I’ll explain everything in a bit”.

The bald man led him up a small path and just over the brow of the embankment that ran adjacent to the motorway.  “Keep up” the bald man called, disappearing inside an open door, “Ive got places to be.”

Now as far as doors go this one was for the most part a rather regular and unassuming door, the type you would find on any street. It was 8 panelled with a  brass handle, letter box and knocker and painted jet black with a number two positioned slightly off centre to the right about three quarters of the way up.  What made it wholly unusual though was the way it simply stood unsupported just alongside a busy motorway where he had apparently just died.

Bald man popped his head around the door. “Are you coming or not?” he shouted, and disappeared back inside.

As Alex approached he could see inside into what looked very much like an office.  There was a large empty hall, white floors and walls and the bald man seemed to be stood at what looked like reception desk.  Bald man looked over beckoning for him to hurry across as Alex stepped through the door.  He felt it close behind him and a lock clicked.

“Alex” he said, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him over, “this is The Receptionist, she’s been looking forward to meeting you.”

She looked a bit like the woman his mum didn’t like his dad talking to at work he thought, the one mum described as “that hot home wrecking blonde” and dad always described as “harmless” and “just really friendly”.

Alex heard a voice in his head, it seemed to cut through the fog.  “It’s very nice to meet you Alex” she said, “If you want to take a seat on one of the chairs behind you I will be with you in a short while.  I just need to have a word with Mr Goodwin”.

He had a million questions going through his head but he felt compelled to do as she had asked, and nodding he turned on his heels and walked across to the chairs and took a seat.

He watched Goodwin and the receptionist for a while, him speaking and her simply looking directly at him.  He nodded once or twice, made a few notes in a small notebook which he then tucked inside his breast pocket and with that he was gone, pausing only briefly to look back across at him before exiting through the door they had passed through earlier.

She beckoned him over with a long elegant finger.  Stood before her he heard her in his head “Well Alex, I guess you are wondering what exactly is going on.” He nodded.  “Mr Goodwin should have explained but alas he has a tendency to neglect his duties sometimes.  I really must have a word.”

Her voice was cold, he felt it not only in his head but in his bones.

“You must have a lot of questions” she continued.  He nodded again.  “All in good time Alex.  For now you need to know this.  So listen carefully.”

He nodded.  It was all he seemed capable of.

“You’re dead I’m afraid Alex, and Mr Goodwin has just left to fetch your brother who did not make it despite the best efforts of the emergency services.  You and your brother are very special, and possess certain qualities that I value most highly and because of that I asked him to being you back for recycling.”

She could see from his face that he was confused.  Understandably so she thought, these people with their antiquated belief systems really had no idea of just what lay out there in the universe.  The universes.

“Is this heaven?” he asked.

“No Alex, this is not heaven” she replied, “You’re in the council offices.  We are here to recycle you and get you back out there because there is something you need to do for me”.

That was not what he had expected to hear.  He had always gone to Sunday school and was pretty sure that if he were dead he really ought to be heading off to heaven and ot stood at the council office reception.

“No such thing as heaven or hell I am afraid.  Regardless of which of your many god’s you root for” she explained “Though from what I read neither sound particularly interesting. You really need to just forget everything you may have been told and trust me that this is the best place for you.  You got lucky really today Alex, we could have simply let you dissolve into nothing but you’re here so let’s get on with the job at hand shall we.?

Her tone was suddenly less friendly and that was not a question.   Alex nodded again as Mr Goodwin burst through the door, his brother in tow. 

“Justin!” he exclaimed, waving him over.  Justin had the same foggy look Alex had had just ten minutes prior. Mr Goodwin lead Justin over to stand with him.

“Thank you Mr Goodwin” the receptionist said, her gaze fixed on Justin.  “Very nice to meet you, I’m terribly sorry about being dead and all but it really is nothing to get too upset about.”

She looked at Alex now, he was pretty sure that they were all hearing her in their heads.

“If you would be so kind to explain to your brother what is going on I shall go and prepare you a couple of nice new bodies and we will have you back out on there in no time at all.  We have a lot to get done today.”

***I started this piece about the death of a passenger in a car then thought I’d explore an idea for the Armitage stuff I am writing so kind of just went with it.  It probably slots into the Armitage story somewhere, just not really sure at the moment. – Michael***

 

 

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

Soil – An Armitage Tangent

“A scotch egg is not a fruit!” Wednesday insisted forcefully, “it is an egg wrapped in sausage meat then crumbed and deep fried!”

 “A scotch egg is not a fruit!” Wednesday insisted forcefully, “it is an egg wrapped in sausage meat then crumbed and deep fried!” 

“All I’m saying” replied Thomas, “Is that if you use your imagination, and think of it maybe as a meat apple then it maybe could be.”  He paused for a moment.  “Don’t you think?”

Wednesday did not think.  Not for one moment. 

“Why do you insist on being so completely ridiculous?” He ranted, face flushed and his jaw clenched.  “I swear you do it just to annoy me!”

“What if I gave you an apple flavoured one?”

“That’s a bloody apple!” Wednesday raged.  “We’ve got a job to do here – stop going on about scotch egg flavoured apples and apple flavoured scotch eggs and dig!”

“What about an orange flavoured one?”

“Ok, you know full well  that an orange flavoured apple flavoured scotch egg is a bleeding orange!”  A vein pulsed just above his right temple.  “Just keep digging and stop being an idiot.”

Thomas allowed himself just a little smile.  He loved Wednesday deeply but he was a frightful bore at times and took things far too seriously.  No imagination at all sadly.  “It’s nature’s goodness Wednesday” he grinned, attempting to push the large brown pork ball into his friend’s hand.  “Here”, he said “Take a bite they’re delicious!”

Wednesday hit Thomas’ hand away and the scotch egg fell to the floor “Stop it!” he shouted, “I don’t want a bloody pork apple!”

“So you admit it then!”  Thomas laughed in delight, picking up the scotch egg from the floor “Oh Wednesday, you are funny.  You won’t grow if you don’t eat your vegetables” he teased.

Wednesday did not find any of this funny at all.  His sense of humour was not his strong suite.  It served very little purpose in his line of work.

“Just keep digging the hole and then we’ll get out of here” he said thrusting a shovel into Thomas’ free hand.

“I don’t see why I always have to do the digging “ said thomas “you could help”.

Wednesday rolled his head, bones cracking in his neck.  “You dig because I do most of the killing” he replied curtly.  “If you want to do more of the killing then I will quite happily dig but if you insist of eating scotch eggs and being an idiot then you get to dig.”

“I only asked, bloody hell mate” Thomas said “This should be deep enough anyway, drag him over I’ll get him covered up.”

Thomas shovelled the majority of the soil over what was quite obviously the body of a rather portly gentleman, a single polished shoe protruding from a thick white wrapping that did very little to hide what was inside.

“Job Done” Thomas said satisfactorily, brushing the dust from his clothes.

Wednesday smiled “You got any of those scotch eggs left, I’m starving.”

 

 

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

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/

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/

Armitage – Part 5

Koala Jackson was consumed by exactly none of the fear or trepidation that filled Armitage whenever he considered what lie before him.   In fact, she possessed mostly none of the attributes which made Armitage the opposite of whatever would likely pass as perfect for this mission.  Not to say he did not have admirable qualities, he did, but the ability to work with spreadsheets, support charities or put up a small shelf in the kitchen were highly unlikely to be required at any point in the near future.

With Close to two dozen rift missions under her belt, Koala was as close to a veteran of these things as you were going to find.   At 6 ft 2 she posed a striking figure, especially for a woman – which she quite obviously was.  Throw in piercing blue eyes, broad shoulders and a rather intimidating yet situationally perfect crew cut she was not to be trifled with.  Drop her into military fatigues and pop a couple of weapons in her surprisingly elegant hands and trifling was the furthest thing from Armitage’s mind.  This was most certainly a non trifling situation.

“Shanks!” she shouted over as Armitage stepped from the car, “Front and centre.  You too Goodwin!”

Goodwin scurried over, pulling on Armitage’s sleeve to hurry him along.  He’d seen enough television to know what she meant by ‘front and centre’ he just never quite imagined he’d need to be either front or centre and the confusion showed on his face as she barked again.

“Move it Shanks, we don’t have all day!”

“I really do think there has been a terrible misunderstanding ” he said gingerly, his feet shifting uncomfortably as he spoke.

“Did the receptionist send you?” she asked

Armitage confirmed with a nod and mumbled unintelligibly about clerical errors and voices in his head.

“Then there is no mistake.  The receptionist does not make mistakes!”

It was at this point, looking about, that he realised that a couple of slices of marmalade on toast and a cup of tea were not going to get him through the day.   He knew where he was, but it was very much changed from the last time he was here.  The Local football team ground had been commandeered by the Rift Police and the large car park to the front of the ground, where he now found himself, was now home to row upon row of military green tents.  Large stacks of crates were dotted about here and there and the place swarmed with gnarled looking , heavily armed, military types.

“Don’t look so worried shanks!” barked Jackson loudly, “What’s the worst that can happen eh?”

Armitage was pretty sure that she was making a joke, but the stony look on her face quite the opposite and he wondered for a moment whether this was a question.  Armitage had a good imagination, and right now he could picture plenty of things that would be considerably worse than that which he would have imagined were he asked the same question less than 24 hours earlier.

Jackson continued, addressing both Armitage and Goodwin jointly.  “Now I imagine you want to know why you’re here”.  She did not wait for him to respond.  “You have been  been chosen by the receptionist to accompany me and my team into the rift at 18 hundred hours. ”

Armitage felt suddenly rather unwell.  His brain insisted, quite elegantly and persuasively,  that it was simply a ludicrous idea to even consider such a thing, and who the devil did the council think it was to be asking perfectly unassuming members of the public to undertake what was quite obviously a military mission.  It was not on and he would like to speak to whomever was in charge because this simply would not do.

Unfortunately, all of this came out as a rather unconvincing “Mnneeegghh”.

“Excellent” she said, “well now that that is all squared away Goodwin will show you to your tent and get you settled” and with that she strode off purposely towards the tents and disappeared.

Armitage stood for a while then looked across at Goodwin.  “This way then Armitage” he said, almost cheerily, and set off in the same general direction as Jackson.

Entering the large green tent it was everything he had ever seen on television, back when there was any television to speak of.  Two rows of four beds lined each side of the tent and to the right of the head of each bed there was a small metal cupboard and at the foot of the bed a large green metal trunk.  Piled neatly on the end of the bed was a sheet, blanket, pillow and pillow case.

“Pick any one ” instructed Goodwin, waving a hand towards the beds “might be worth making up the bed too in case you want to grab some sleep before things get a bit crazy.”

“Why am I here?” Armitage asked emptily.

Goodwin chuckled and sat on the edge of one of the beds, his hands folded in his lap.  It was always the same routine.  The Receptionist picks them out, lands him with them and he has to explain why some poor regular run of the mill nobody is about to pop into a rift in time and space.

“Pretty simple really ” he answered, “Turns out you’re most probably genetically predisposed to rift travel.”

Goodwin paused for dramatic effect, his slightly too apart eyes not blinking to heighten the tension.  This was his favourite part.  “I say probably because it did go wrong once and …” He paused again.  “Well lets just say that should this not go well your wife will receive a rather nice bouquet of flowers and a card expressing the council’s sincerest condolences. ”

Armitage thought he was going to be sick again.  He seemed to be feeling this way a lot today and he was pretty sure that it was nothing to do with the marmalade.

“There are things to see and places to go in this universe Armitage,  well beyond that which you could ever comprehend” he continued, “and we need your unique genetic code unlock the rift to allow Jackson and her team to pass through.”

“Oh this is bloody stupid” he replied, the combination of nausea and confusion overwhelming him somewhat.  That was all he could muster other than “I really don’t feel well at all”.

“Lie down a while” replied Goodwin still smiling “It will be fine.” He paused again.  “Probably”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image :https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=e48dXtHN&id=A5ABBE65EF8506F45F1B27322227D48F9A7408A2&thid=OIP.e48dXtHNxGyT3KHbFDIFngEkEs&q=another+dimension&simid=608012592998056987&selectedIndex=77&ajaxhist=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.