Friday, 12 December 2014
Bernard Hardy stared into the darkness, stared at the curtain-less window. A faint, barely perceptible tinge of light was evident, dawn was on the way.
The dining chair felt like concrete beneath his buttocks. The hours of immobility had taken their toll on his muscles and joints. He ached like a bitch, but still he remained motionless. They would hear any movement.
Hardy sat without moving, without blinking, and strove to sit without even thinking, as the light grew, crept to grey, crawled to full daylight. Then, and only then, did he feel safe to move.
They couldn't see movement in full light. Couldn't hear movement in full light. The day brought them deafness and blindness. They shut down until the fading day came around again, renewing, revigorating.
Hardy stuck to his routine. He had survived where most had not. His routine gave him life, continued existence.
He ate, bathed, then slept. His alarm would wake him before dusk. He would replace everything back exactly where it had been. Nothing must change. A place for everything and everything in its place. They would notice the difference, would investigate, would discover him.
Hardy had no idea how much of the town's population still survived, he hadn't been out of the house in a while, not since his last supermarket scavenge, but he suspected it would not be many. If the initial TV reports were to be believed the situation was global, so Hardy supposed that the world population had dwindled somewhat too.
The TV reports were no more, of course. TV was no more. Radio was no more. Traffic was no more. Electricity was no more. Muchly most of everything was no more.
Except them. They were more. They were everywhere. Watching, listening, snuffling... eating.
Creatures of the shadows.
When they first came they were like foxes in the chicken coops. Glutting out on the abundant flesh.
Now most of the chickens were gone they searched for change, for sounds, for anything that signified food presence.
The smallest things warranted attention. A fuller trash can, a recently closed blind, a fresh footprint.
Hardy awoke to the ringing of the clockwork alarm, the sound jarring his senses.
He forced himself to a sitting position, his brain struggling to become fully aware, to take In his surroundings. His almost constant depression made his first hour of consciousness the worst of the day, the hardest to deal with.
He sometimes wondered if he should just end his routine. Just give himself to them, but his fear always won out, and every evening saw him walking the walk, checking that everything was just where it should be. Just where it was when they first came.
As the light began to fade again, Hardy placed the chair back into its exact spot, sat in it in the exact same position, and tried to think of not moving.
Winter is coming, and the nights are getting longer.
Hardy stared unblinkingly at the window, watching the darkness creep back in, and did wonder to himself how much longer he could carry on doing this.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 14 November 2014
Madeley sprinted down the corridors, his heart thudding in his chest, breath rasping in his throat.
Barging through gaggles of lab technicians, physicists and virologists without apology. Ignoring hostile stares as he shouldered his way through, leaving a wake of red faces and strewn paperwork.
He had been in reception when word had come through to his personal phone. Carson had called. His voice sounded tight and nervous. “..Err... there's been a spillage in the isolation lab Sir, I'm afraid it's...”
Madeley hadn't waited for Carson to finish. Panic swept through him. He snapped his phone shut and set off running.
Madeley's mind raced as he sped down the corridors. The present projects were robust, elegant, dangerous beyond comprehension.
Rh704, a rapid spreading virus with a ninety percent fatality rate, very nasty.
Even worse was BGX1402. An air-borne virus with a ninety eight percent fatality rate, a three day incubation period, and an agonisingly slow death for anyone coming into contact with it.
“Oh please god, don't let it be THAT one, anything but THAT one.” He silently prayed to himself, all the while, knowing in his heart that it would be THAT one.
He skidded round the corner towards the elevators, hesitated for a split second, then continued on, ploughing through the waiting crowd and punched through the access door and down the stairs, deciding it would be the quicker option.
Almost faint with oxygen starvation he reached the Level Seven security door, swiping his card through the reader and punching in his personal code.
The door hissed open and he stepped quickly through, chewing his lip impatiently as the the door closed and the lock cycled before the inner door opened.
What greeted his eyes did not herald good news.
The three technicians before him huddled together in a primal act of communal safety, they trembled in their white coveralls, staring at him with wide eyes.
There was an almost overpowering pungent aroma in the air, an all too familiar smell that Madeley's panic-stricken mind immediately connected to a worst case scenario.
Madeley glanced at the grille in the wall, the cold tendrils of sheer horror danced down his spine. The green light on the panel told him it was in active venting, his heart sank. It was too late, whatever had been spilt was out, vented into the world. It was probably a matter of weeks, or maybe even days before everything started to come apart.
Madeley sank into a nearby chair, he was close to tears. He reached for his phone, the sooner Operation Exodus got under way the more lives would be saved.
His voice was on the verge of breaking as he spoke.
“Wh... Which one was it? BGX1402? ...Rh704?”
“Err... what do you mean, Sir?” Ventured Carson, hesitantly.
“The spillage, you moron, the goddam spillage! What the hell else would I be talking about?”
“Err... it was ...err … tea, Sir.” Stuttered Carson, shrinking back into the embrace of the other two.
“Tea? TEA?” Said Madeley, staring incredulously at Carson.
“Y... Yes Sir. Th ...the special blend you had imported from Ceylon. It was an accident Sir, Janet tripped while carrying the tray and the packet split spilling all over the floor, the milk jug smashed and milk soaked into all the tea leaves Sir. I'm afraid we had to bin the whole lot.”
Madeley let his head sink into his hands and he sobbed uncontrollably. That tea was expensive, and it would be weeks before he would be able to get more shipped in.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 24 October 2014
She lived for her art.
The pride swelled within her each time she browsed her gallery.
Each one a masterpiece.
Each one a unique complex of curling swirls and whorls. Intertwining patterns interspaced with fine carvings and vignettes.
She surveyed her latest, her best to date in her opinion.
The memory of composition still fresh in her mind. The glint of bright light off steel still fresh in her eye. The feel of red swab still fresh on her fingertips.
And not an inch of skin without pattern.
Beautiful, just beautiful.
Yes, she lived for her art.
That others had to die for it mattered not.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 3 October 2014
“One point seven... eight... nine... Two. The bid is two million. Two point one... two... three... four... Two point four... I have two point four... Anyone else? Two point five at the back there, six... seven... eight... Two point eight... The bid is two point eight... Anyone else at two point eight? Going once... Twice... Sold to the man in the green jacket for two point eight million credits.”
Zaphor strolled out of the auction room clutching his newly-purchased document feeling rather pleased with himself. Two point eight mill' was a small price to pay for the twenty first century. The price would have been much higher if any of the regular hunters had been bidding.
Luckily, Baphram and Peoren were at present on safari in the first century, plenty of swords and sandals escapades to get themselves involved in there.
Duggle was somewhere near the beginning of the twentieth century, slaughtering his way through some sprawling trench-based conflict. Zaphor shuddered at the thought of wading through all that mud and barbed wire.
Rumour had it that poor Genevieve La Rouge had been having fun in the middle of a civil war in England somewhere around the middle of the seventeenth century, and had been tried and found guilty of witchcraft, and was burnt at the stake. “She always did take risks did that one. I blame her father for giving her too much self confidence.” Thought Zaphor. But he still made a mental note to look up a fellow named Matthew Hopkins if he ever found himself in that era. Zaphor and Genevieve had never been really close, but they were still in the trade, and he felt her loss.
Zaphor studied the paperwork closely. Exclusive rights to one year's unrestricted safari in the twenty first century. He rubbed his hands in excited anticipation.“Yes!” Thought Zaphor. “Fortune has certainly smiled my way today. Two point eight mill', a snap at twice the price. Boy am I going to have myself some fun.”
His timeleap car was in for service until tomorrow, so he would spend the rest of the day packing clothes and weaponry, picking out a few choice twenty first century conflicts to get himself involved in. Oh boy, he could barely wait.
Zaphor hummed happily to himself as he stepped onto the conveyor walkway that would take him homewards.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Saturday, 13 September 2014
The lyrics were by now burned deep into my psyche, an integral part of my very being, an essential component at the very core of my existence.
“I can't see my reflection in the water.
I can't speak the sounds to show no pain.
I can't hear the echo of my footsteps.
Or remember the sound of my own name.”
I must have dozed off with exhaustion, for I awoke to the weight of the guitar still on my knee, it had been there for a very long time.
My whole body jerked and shuddered as the strange energy flooded through me one more time.
My left hand automatically sliding the length of the neck, fingers positioning to form the opening chord. My right hand hung loosely above the sound hole. The fingers twitched, spasmed, then began to pick at the strings.
I opened my mouth involuntarily, and began to sing.
“I can't see my reflection in the water.....”
And as I sang the tears came. The words were discordant, barely distinguishable through the sobs and racking cries.
How it came to this I can't recall. When the pleasure turned into obsession, and that obsession turned into... something else.
I absolutely loved the song. I use the past tense because what I have now become makes it impossible for me to love anything any more.
In the days gone by I practised the song over and over, savouring every lyric, absorbing the vibration of every note. I wished I could just play and sing forever.
Those thoughts came back to haunt me with a vengeance I could not have foreseen.
I now play constantly. The same song, over and over and over again. I feel like a marionnette, my strings being manipulated by unseen hands, an unseen power.
I have been sat here so long my body has started to diminish. Where once was muscle there is now sagging skin, the bones easily visible, joints angular and protruding.
In places I have disappeared completely. A small gap has appeared in my left forearm, yet still the fingers continue to flow from chord to chord, the neuro responses from brain to hand somehow able to bridge the gap.
Both my right index and ring finger are missing completely, and still the rhythm is perfectly picked.
The song came to an end with a final six string strum on the G chord and I slumped forward onto the guitar, hoping, praying that something would change now.
Please, just end this nightmare. Let me die, or let me live, just please don't make me play any more.
I glanced at my right hand, only the thumb remained now. I Thank god I couldn't get to a mirror, I don't think my mind could take whatever sight would stare back at me.
I felt the frisson again, the pulse jerking my body upright, my left hand once more found the opening chord. My fingerless right hand began picking at the strings with invisible digits.
And the hell began all over again...
“I can't see my reflection in the water...”
In my heart I know beyond any shred of doubt that this curse will go on forever, until the guitar has rotted away, until the strings have rusted into nothingness...
Until I am just a memory.
And still the song will remain.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Author's note:- The words at the top of the page are the lyrics of the second verse from a Bob Dylan song entitled “Tomorrow is a long time”. This is one of my all-time favourite Bob Dylan songs, one I learned many years ago, and still enjoy playing to this day, unlike the unfortunate character in this story.
And the song will of course always remain, as it should, a beautiful gift from a very gifted man.
P.S. The "Walking Dead" Theme on the video link has no connections to the story, but the version of the song played on the link is the one that I am familiar with.
Thank you for reading.
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Hi, and thanks for stopping by.
This week I'm taking part in the September challenge at John Xero's 101-FICTION site.
The challenge is to write a flash of exactly 100 words, plus a 1-word title, and the prompt for the September challenge is the word “Blue”
You will find John's 101 blog here:- 101-FICTION.
My own 101 word submission is here:- BACTERIMELANCHOL
I hope you enjoy it.
Anyone who is not familiar with John's work are missing something very special, he is an excellent writer, mostly of genre fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, and is always well worth the visit.
John's main blog where he posts his longer fiction can be found here:- XEROVERSE.
Thank you for reading.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Melancholy virus had taken just seven weeks to overrun the planet.
Bacterimelanchol, or Bluebug as it came to be known, was aggressively infectious. It could make the jump from electronic circuitry to biological with horrifying ease, affecting machine and animal with impunity.
Soon the germ was hooked into everything. Television, internet, satellites. No system, or system operator was beyond its reach, or control.
Doom and gloom were spread through every possible media.
Until the whole world was wrapped in the black cloak of depression.
And ultimately, the button was pushed.
And then, oh my, how that bug did laugh...
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
My, but how it has grown.
How strong and healthy it has become.
This was the first time she had been to this corner of the garden since... that evening.
This corner was always... his corner.
His to plant, his to nurture... his to not share.
This was the first anniversary, how the months have flown.
She had smirked as they dug up the patio, quietly chanting “How green you are” under her breath.
She had sung it even quieter when they prised the floorboards, when they searched the attic crawl space.
They finally accepted her story of abandonment, and her tears.
It was in full bloom again now. All those red droplets brought the memories flooding back.
Images flickered. A sneering smile. A raised spade. And all those red droplets.
More than one person had remarked what a good-for-nothing piece of manure he was.
They were wrong on one count. He was good for something.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 15 August 2014
Anyone wishing to read Part 1 can find it here:- A stillness in the air (Part 1)
A STILLNESS IN THE AIR (Part 2)
Before long the red glow thickened, took on form.
The air rapidly grew hotter and heavier as the cloud approached. The thrumming reached almost ear-shattering levels.
Blake buried his face in the ground, his hands clamped tightly over his ears, fear and anger flooded through him as the very earth shook and trembled beneath him.
His whole world became an energy-draining cacophony of howling, whipping winds and deafening, shrieking, bone-shaking vibration. A blinding kaleidoscope of swirling reds and purples, spangled with diamond glints and sizzling blue flashes.
He clung to his sanity for what seemed like an eternity. His screamed prayers snatched from his mouth by the turbulence.
Eventually the assault on his senses lessened as the cloud passed his position. He rolled onto his back and stared at the enemy.
The monstrous, multi-hued, vaporous cloud a hundred feet or so from the ground rolled inexorably toward the citadel.
Blake raised his Minigat and took sight, then faltered indecisively.
There was nothing to shoot at, nothing tangible to target. How do you fight something that has no substance?
Several yards to his left a weapon opened up. The thousands of light pulses per second thrown out by the multi-barrels appeared as one solid stream as it arced up and into the cloud, spraying back and forth in what should have been a murderous firefield.
The cloud just absorbed the rounds and continued on toward the citadel unscathed.
A narrow red beam sliced down from the cloud to touch the shooting soldier. Blake watched in helpless horror as he vanished. No blood spray, no screaming, just a momentary red flash and the soldier disappeared.
Blake watched, transfixed with fear, as the same scenario was repeated time and time again all along the ridge. Hundreds of weapons sprayed into the cloud, and rapidly the army on the ridge vanished beneath a hail of red needles.
The cloud rolled on across the plain as if the engagement had never happened.
Blake dragged himself to his feet. Fighting this thing was futile. Whatever it was, these weapons were useless against it.
There was only one thought on his mind now, Sulya and his daughters, if there was any chance he could save them...
He shouldered his Minigat and set off toward the citadel. After only a few paces he saw the immense Spitlights open up, pouring billions of pulses into the cloud. Even from this distance he could feel the heat from the incredible amount of energy piercing the air.
Hope crept into Blake's heart. Surely nothing could withstand a barrage like that?
Blake watched unbelievingly as once more red beams lanced down. They grew in number until the whole citadel was sheathed in a massive scarlet cloak. The bright light pulses rapidly diminished until there was only red. Bright arterial red.
And then nothing.
No sounds. No firefight... No citadel.
Blake slumped to his knees, allowing the tears to fall freely. There was no-one left to see them, to witness his humiliation.
The cloud seemed to gather in on itself, as if compressing and centralizing its energy. It became smaller, shrinking in on itself until it became a solid red orb. Slowly, slowly it began to rise. Gaining speed and height it flew straight up into the sky until it was lost from sight.
Blake continued on to the citadel. Hoping against hope that Sulya and the girls had somehow survived. They would have been in one of the safer, lower levels, far below ground. They would still be there, there would be more survivors. There had to be.
As he walked he reflected on the other incidents around the planet, the other citadels. No contact had been made with them once the cloud had reached them.
Blake refused to give up hope. The cloud must have destroyed the communications systems in all the citadels. That would be logical, that would explain the lack of contact.
Sulya was still alive. His precious children were still alive. He knew it. With unshakeable certainty Blake knew his family waited for him in those lower levels.
He quickened his pace, his heart soaring. They would flee to the forest, live amongst the trees. His children would grow healthy and strong in the beautiful outdoors.
Two hours later found Blake at the lip of the crater, staring down into the depths of the massive hole in the ground.
Of the citadel nothing remained. Not a brick, shard of metal, shred of flesh. Not a molecule to say there had ever been anything there but earth. The building was gone, right down to the lowest foundation.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was three days later that the first craft landed.
Blake watched from cover as the huge silver machine settled onto the plain in a whirl of wind and hissing of retro motors.
A ramp slid down from the ship's belly and angled to the ground.
Several small, humanoid creatures walked down the ramp, gathering at the base in a huddle. Conversing animatedly.
Large eyed, blue-skinned heads stood on long necks. They wore grey uniforms, but the lack of helmets told Blake they must find our atmosphere breathable.
He understood now, the cloud was a weapon, not the enemy. This was the enemy.
This was something he could target, something he could shoot at, something he could kill.
Blake stepped out into the open and sighted his minigat. The creatures appeared not to notice him, his Invisuit hiding him from their view. Blake hesitated, concealment would be a precious weapon in his arsenal.
These creatures look physically weak, soft skinned, vulnerable.
Blake grinned widely, a grin that wouldn't reach his eyes, couldn't reach his heart.
He had nothing but time, plenty of ammo, and carried more hate than a man should be capable of.
He would wait, let more come, let them settle, become complacent.
Then he would turn their newly acquired world into a nightmare.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 8 August 2014
There was not a whisper of a breeze. Not a rustle of leaf or twitch of grass.
It felt like the world held its breath.
Possibly the last breath it would ever hold.
Blake scanned the valley and the distant low hills, flicking through the spectrums with each pass of the scope. Nothing.
If there was life out there the scope would have found it.
Nothing. Not an insect, a bird, a rabbit.
They knew. They all knew something was coming.
Blake slid the scope into its sheath. He glanced back over his shoulder at the squat slab of the citadel in the centre of the plain several miles away.
Even from this distance the massive walls looked impregnable, unbreachable. Bristling with weaponry. The huge, multi-barrelled Spitlight cannons could take out anything known to mankind.
But it wasn't men that were coming for them.
Of one hundred and sixteen citadels scattered throughout the planet, this was the only one left.
One by one they had all been crushed.
Blake checked his weapon one more time. A miniature, hand held version of the massive Spitlights. A devastating weapon, proven in many campaigns, but it brought him little comfort now. At least wielding it meant he would die a soldier's death.
He sat down on the grass and breathed deeply, forcing himself to relax.
The stillness in the air felt unnatural. It had the aura of an animal frozen in fear.
Even so, Blake took what he could from the peace and quiet.
A slight tremor ran through the ground, barely detectable. The air began to thrum.
Blake flicked his commset. “Base, this is Scout Delta niner, they're coming.”
His earpiece crackled. “Roger Delta niner. Hold position, let them pass, then engage at your discretion... And may god be with you.”
A rapid staccato stabbed the quiet as the men all up and down the line locked and loaded.
A slight shimmer briefly distorted the ridge as Invisuits were switched to full camo mode.
Blake reached into an inner breast pocket and pulled out the picture of Sulya and the girls. He looked at it for several seconds, feeling the emotion building in him. He kissed the photo then replaced in his pocket, the one next to his heart, storing the love there alongside it. He wiped the single tear from his cheek as he switched on his own camo.
Blake gazed at the horizon, a faint pink glow appeared, slowly darkening toward red.
The storm was a long way off yet.
But it was coming fast.
Bringing them with it.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Continued in:- A stillness in the air (Part 2)
Friday, 18 July 2014
I am aware.
It shouldn't be possible for me to be aware... of anything, but I am.
I am aware of the anaesthetics when they flow through the catheter, and the nutrients that keep me alive.
I am aware when they harvest my dreams, and of the contract that brought me to this living hell.
One year of my life they said. One year's worth of dreams, then a full pardon and freedom.
I am also aware, somehow, that the year has long ago come and gone.
They will never let me wake up, never let me go.
When my dreams die, I will die with them.
Yes, I am aware, and that awareness itself is my punishment.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 11 July 2014
On the ledge (Part 1)
On the ledge (Part 2)
ON THE LEDGE (Part 3)
I shouted up at the guys at the top of the cliff. After a few moments the faces reappeared.
“Ah... look guys, this might sound crazy, but I can't leave the ledge yet, I have to stay here until morning.”
“What? We have to get you out of there man. There's blood all over everything up here, and whatever did it might come back.”
“No worries, the killer's all broke up at the bottom of the cliff, but I think I got an infection from him, a real nasty one, and if I have I don't intend to let it leave this ledge.”
“But we need to get to the cops, man.”
“I know, but trust me on this, if this virus gets out there'll be even more deaths, best to play it safe.”
The pair looked at me dubiously. I knew their phones and internet wouldn't work out here, so they couldn't call for help, and it would take them several hours to make it to the nearest town.
“Well okay man, it's your call. We're camped a couple of miles north of here, we'll come back in the morning, but after that, whether you come up or not we're gonna go find the cops. Is there anything you need down there to see you through?”
I reeled off a list. Food, water, toilet paper, clean jeans, tee shirt, boxers, and my kindle.
Before long the gear was lowered down to me in a rucksack. The rope slithered back up again once I had untied it.
“Sorry about the blood stains on the jeans.” One of them said. “They were the cleanest pair we could find.”
“That's okay, blood stains are better than the ones I'm sporting right now.”
After ensuring that I would be okay until morning, the two left me alone. Understandable really, no-one in their right mind would want to spend any more time among the mess at the top of the cliff than they had to, and I was pretty sure they weren't convinced that the gore-spreader wouldn't return.
I stripped, washed using up one of the three bottles of water, and put on the clean clothes. I then ate a whole packet of chocolate digestive biscuits washed down with luke warm water. I eyed the tins of corned beef, beans and peaches hungrily, but since I stupidly didn't include a tin opener in my list, and they stupidly thought I must already have one with me, they were off the menu.
I pulled the kindle from the bag, flicked it on, and settled myself down to read while I waited for the sun to go down.
The kindle turned out to belong to one of the other guys, not mine. So I resigned myself to not finding out if the butler had, or indeed had not done it in my current book, and feasted my eyes on the available titles.
Dark side of the moon
The joys of camping
Wuthering heights... Wuthering heights? Sheesh!
I tossed the kindle to one side, closed my eyes and leant back against the rock face.
Kate Bush dancing in that ghostly, flowing white dress swam into my mind's eye..
“Heeeethcleeefff... it's meee Catheee I've come ho-ome I'm so co-o-o-old...”
She stared straight into my eyes as she danced her way closer.
“Let me in at yo-our windo-o-o-ow”
The dress slipped from her shoulders.
“Oooh it gets dark... it gets loneleee...”
It hit the floor.
“On the other side from you...”
She leaned right over me.
“I pine a lot... I find a lot...”
I was mesmerised by her naked beauty.
“Falls through without yoooou...”
Her fingers touched my cheek, caressed, tickled... annoyingly so...
I jolted awake, slapping at her hand, and dislodged a massive spider from my face. The creature fell to the ledge and disappeared down an impossibly small crack. Ugh!
The sun was almost down into the sea now, spreading its red skirts through the sparse cloud cover. Beautiful, I just love sunsets.
I stared at the horizon until the red faded, and was replaced by a darkening grey.
Although I couldn't see it, I knew that on the opposite horizon, the one behind me, the moon was on the rise. A gloriously full, beautiful, bad moon rising.
I knew it because I could feel it in my bones. The very bones that seemed to be growing, pushing my hands and feet further away from me.
I could feel it in my lengthening fingernails and protruding jaw. I could feel it in the very hair that was rapidly covering the whole of my body.
But most of all, I could feel it in the primal howl that was building up inside me, like a massive dam on the verge of rupture.
I stepped to the lip of the ledge and snarled down at the rocks hidden below in the dark.
My tee shirt and jeans ripped open as they succumbed to the growing pressure of expanding muscles.
As I stepped off into space, I was still human enough to feel the annoyance at the unfairness of it all.
But then again, no-one ever said that life was supposed to be fair.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Many thanks to Kate Bush for the words, and the images in Wuthering heights.
Friday, 4 July 2014
For anyone wishing to read from the beginning
Part 1 can be found here:- On the ledge (Part 1)
ON THE LEDGE (PART 2)
Before long my injured arm began to throb rather painfully. I pulled my tee shirt over my head, and with the aid of my teeth managed to tear it into several strips and fashion a crude bandage around my elbow and upper arm.
My stomach lurched again, so I retrieved the wrapper, folded it around the wad of gum and put it back into my pocket.
I leant my head back against the rock face, closed my eyes, and tried not to think about what was waiting at the top of the cliff,
A tap on the head caused me to open my eyes. Christ! I must have dozed off. The filtering light told me it must be nearing dawn now.
Another tap on the head, then a shower of dust hit my scalp. I looked up, shielding my eyes as best I could, and was panic-stricken to see a pair of long, hairy legs amidst the powder avalanches.
Jeez! The thing was climbing down.
A massive shower of dust and small rocks hit me in the face blinding me. A long, primal howl joined the cacophony of scrabbling claws and rattling debris, culminating in a rather loud thud as something big, heavy, and very pissed off landed in a thrashing heap on the ledge beside me.
I furiously rubbed the dust from my eyes and when I saw my new neighbour, wished to god I was still blinded.
The huge, dusty furball beside me began to unfurl. It pulled itself to its full height, and shook its head confusedly.
I tried to sit even lower, making myself as small as possible, shrinking back against the rock face, holding my breath, maybe it was too dazed to notice me?
I should be so lucky. Yeah, that's me, just like Kylie bleedin' Minogue. Lucky, lucky, lucky. For some insane reason I found myself humming a few bars of the song under my breath.
Uh... Oh! Bad idea,
The creature's ears twitched. It's head slowly swivelled in my direction. Yellowed, malevolent eyes glared at me. A mouth, lips drawn back to reveal finger-length incisors snarled menacingly.
“Err... Nice doggie? I croaked, hopefully.
The snarl deepened and more teeth were bared.
I felt the blood freeze in my veins as sheer terror washed over me. My testicles fought with each other in a futile race to hide inside my stomach. The crap I had earlier managed to keep in let loose and with a warm, liquid splurge filled the seat of my pants. Wonderful... just bleeding wonderful!
The first rays of sunshine hit the ocean as the creature raised its head skywards and opened its jaws wide.
What began as a deafening, throaty howl, gradually diminished over several second to become a squeaky whimper.
I watched disbelievingly as the creature literally shrank before my eyes. Claws retracted, hair receded, limbs shortened and thinned. The snout flattened and the ears rounded.
What now stood beside me on the ledge was a slightly podgy, naked, middle aged man.
He sank slowly to a sitting position, his back against the rock face, holding his head in his hands. Almost mimicking my own position.
We sat side by side like that for a few minutes, the silence growing like a tumour.
He was the first to break.
“Errr... I don't suppose you have a cigarette you can spare?”
“No... sorry. I don't suppose you have any toilet paper you can spare?”
“Err.. no, sorry.”
We both lapsed back into silence again.
I don't know what was going through his mind, but I was wondering what would happen if we were both still on the ledge when the moon came out again.
When he spoke again, the sudden noise, quiet though it was, startled me out of my thoughts.
“Look... I'm err... sorry about your err... friends.”
“It's not your fault.” I replied. “You can't help being what you are. No hard feelings, eh?” I said, and offered him my hand.
“Well, that's awful decent of you.” He said as he reached sideways and clasped my hand in a soft handshake.
I gripped his hand tighter, rose half-way, and putting all my strength into the action, dragged him up and around in a swinging arc, letting go just as he reached the tipping point. I watched dispassionately as he sailed, arms flapping, off the ledge and disappeared from view. His shrill scream ended abruptly as I heard the crunch when he hit the rocks at the cliff base.
I looked down, his body was draped over the sharp rocks, all odd angles and over-jointed. Well, that was one problem taken care of, and I had the ledge to myself again now, a bit more room to spread out.
I must have fallen asleep again, because the voice seemed to come from far away. A distant whisper that grew in volume until it dragged me back to reality.
“HEY!... HEY!... HEY YOU DOWN THERE!”
I looked up to see two faces peering over the cliff edge.
“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” One of them called.
“My arm's injured.” I replied.
“Hang on, we're gonna get you out of there, just hang in there.”
I almost wept with relief, salvation was at hand. How the hell I was going to explain all this, I don't know.
The stink coming off me was kind of self-explanatory though.
My arm began itching annoyingly. I lifted the bandage and took a look. Impossible as it seems, the wound looked almost healed, and poking out from the skin were several thick, bristly hairs.
A sudden, chilling thought hit me like a hammer blow. Was I infected?
I think the moon is due to be full again tonight. I guess I'll find out then.
Continued in:- On the ledge (Part 3)
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 27 June 2014
I was reasonably comfortable sitting on the narrow ledge, despite my left arm being torn and shredded, that was sure gonna hurt when the shock wore off though.
I could hear the thing pacing about at the top of the cliff some twenty feet or so above me. The stealthy silence it used before the attack unnecessary now as it prowled about impatiently, a horrible symphony of snapping twigs and clickety claws, overlaid with deeper growls and incisor-gnashing snarls.
At least these noises were easier to deal with than the earlier ones of snapping bones, tearing flesh, and slurping mastication as what was left of my friends were disappearing down its throat.
The camping holiday of a lifetime, yeah, a beer and a laugh around the camp fire had changed rapidly into something else the moment John's hand slapped me wetly in my face, just his hand, the rest of him was hitting other places as he was torn limb from limb.
By the time I had recovered enough to run the creature had almost finished with Paul and Billy. I caught a slashing blow from one massive claw across my upper arm as I dodged around it, just before I tripped and went headlong over the cliff edge.
Something warm dripped onto the top of my head, then trickled its way down the back of my neck and under my collar, cooling as it slimed its way down my spine. I ran my hand over my scalp, then looked at my fingers, slick with globs of drooly, blood-slicked saliva. I didn't need to look up to know the thing was staring down at me. I could almost taste its hunger, and rage.
Occasionally the clouds would part slightly allowing the full moon to peep through and reflect yellow off the dark sea below. It had been a beautiful sight earlier in the day with the sun glinting off the water. We had sat drinking and joking as the sun had gone down, making plans for the morning.
Well, those plans were in the bin now.
I considered my options, such as they were.
I couldn't climb back up, although I guess the creature at the top of the cliff would be absolutely delighted to see me. I couldn't go downwards, the view from the cliff was magnificent during the day, affording a beautiful seascape, also a grand view of a sheer, two hundred foot drop onto the rocks below.
Ah well, I guess I'll just wait.
I rummaged around in my pockets. Keys, comb, a stick of gum, two hundred and sixty dollars plus change. Ha! Maybe I could buy my way out of this mess?
I unwrapped the gum and stuck it in my mouth, chewed on it slowly as I put the wrapper back into my pocket. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. I suppressed a hysterical giggle. Yeah, leave nothing but footprints, and bloodstains, and friends.
I felt my stomach lurch slightly as the sugary spearmint worked its way down. I was gonna need to take a crap soon. Jeez, could this night possibly get any worse?
I know one thing for sure, whatever happens I won't coming back here for another holiday.
Continued in:- On the ledge (Part 2)
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 20 June 2014
“She's not the only pebble on the beach. Once we're married I'll be rolling in it, then I'll have my choice of any pebble that takes my fancy.”
Rachel had slipped back out of the bathroom to grab the forgotten towel and overheard David on the phone. She froze in shock. Her mind refusing to believe what she had just heard.
She returned to the bathroom and climbed into the hot foamy water, tears of grief rolling down her cheeks. How could he? Why would he treat her this way? He loved her. Her money didn't matter, he would love her just the same if she had been penniless, that's what he had always said.
As the water cooled, so did her feelings for David, she felt hollow, empty inside. A seething anger boiled up within her, filling the void.
By the time she had finished bathing and dressed she had retained her usual composure. She walked into the lounge smiling as if nothing had changed between them. Her voice betrayed no trace of the rage she was holding inside.
“I want to go down to the beach this evening and watch the sunset, it's so romantic, don't you think?”
“What? Uh... oh yeah.” David pasted an interested expression on his face that didn't quite reach his eyes.
And so before long they were strolling side by side, their shoes crunching deeply into the shingle.
After only a few minutes Rachel stopped suddenly, and fixed David with an icy stare that would have frozen lava.
“What's wrong?” Said David.
Rachel didn't reply, she bent down and selected a pebble from the beach, she placed it in the flat of her hand, holding it out so David could see it clearly. Pushing it up right under his nose.
“Take a good look at it David. Don't you think it's beautiful? Do you see the patterns? The way the different shades of grey follow each other? They look so much like a heart within a heart within a heart. Do you see it David? Do you?”
“Yes, yes I can see it. What of it? It's just a goddam pebble.”
“Oh, this isn't just any old pebble David, this is a special pebble, a very special pebble. Look at it.”
David stifled a yawn. “ I am looki...”
“LOOK AT IT!”
David started, alarmed at Rachel's sudden temper, and the snarl of her lips. He had never seen her behave this way before.
David stared into her eyes as Rachel drew her arm back and threw the pebble as far as she could along the beach. He heard the faint chink-skitter as it landed somewhere far behind him.
Rachel turned her back on David and began to walk away, the last rays of the setting sun pinkening her ivory blouse, she called over her shoulder.
“Bring it back to me before dawn, or the wedding is off.”
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 13 June 2014
Even though he was under heavy sedation Richard was still vaguely aware of the sensors and probes working their way through his subconscious mind.
He felt his imagination being stretched ever so slightly. The occasional frisson as a stray negative thought was terminated. A slight tickling here and there as some of his emotions were enhanced and others dulled. From time to time he experienced a prolonged cerebral itchiness as major re-routing or rewiring work was in progress.
Richard awoke to the beaming smiles of the doctor, and technician. He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes.
“How did it go Doc?”
“Oh, extremely well.” Replied the doctor. “You see, happiness has absolutely nothing to do with possessions or achievements, it is purely a state of mind. Now, if you would just sign these papers, here... here... here... and here. And then you can be on your way. The new, happier you.”
The doctor's grin grew even wider as he passed the pen to Richard.
Richard scanned the main points on the document. It would mean selling almost every possession he owned to pay the initial medical costs. House, car, electrical equipment and such. Forty percent of his wages would be deducted at source until he reached state retirement age too, but Richard did feel deliriously happy as he scribbled his signature.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Monday, 9 June 2014
Today I am very happy to say that I have the honour of being the SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE guest on Nickie O'Hara's very successful blog TYPECAST.
The “Soundtrack to my life” slot is a regular Monday feature on Typecast, an extremely popular post that has been running for over two years now. Guests have to choose five of their favourite songs that have particular memories or emotions attached to them, and write a short note explaining the story behind each each song. Nickie then adds all the Youtube videos for everyone to watch, listen to, and enjoy.
Anyone can be a guest on “Soundtrack to my life” so pop on over to Typecast and check it out.
Nickie is an excellent writer and blogger, and Typecast covers many different topics and issues. Some personal, some comical (Nickie also has a razor-sharp wit too), and sometimes controversial and debatable issues. So while you are over there have a good browse.
Nickie also occasionally puts her talents into fiction writing, and some of you may recall her guest post on The Twisted Quill to celebrate its first birthday, she wrote a short piece entitled “AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME” The post was very well received, and enjoyed a massive amount of readers.
Nickie is the person almost solely responsible for my venturing out into flash fiction writing almost four years ago, and hence The Birth of The Twisted Quill. Thank you for the support and the confidence boost that started me down the fiction writing highway Nickie, I've had much enjoyment and met a great many nice people along the way, and thank you for giving me the guest slot today. It's been quite a while since I was on Typecast, and it feels really good to be gracing those pages again.
Best wishes Nickie.
Friday, 6 June 2014
“This ain't over yet.”
Those were the words spoken by Rory McHat when his eldest was brought to him, the blood still drying on his clothes, the life gone from him. It had been a fair fight Rory heard, but he never saw that, he only saw the husk of his son.
That was the start of it. Twenty three years later and the feud had claimed almost seventy lives. Coyfields and McHats had perished in equal numbers. The hatred for each other bred into them from infancy, and nurtured throughout their lives, sometimes their very short lives.
The pointless, senseless slaughter had reached out into their homes, sometimes met them on freeways or in bars, occasionally even into the classrooms.
And now it was down to this.
Jason McHat glared over the table at Raymond Coyfield, his eyes burned with hatred.
“Well, I'm here, like you asked. Is there anything you want to say before I tear your throat out?”
A tear trickled from the corner of Raymond's eye. Jason watched unbelievingly as it wove a meandering path down Raymond's cheek, hung from his chin a moment then dripped to the floor. He had never seen a Coyfield cry before.
When Raymond finally spoke his voice was gentle, compassionate. “After all the years, all the waste, there is only you and me now Jason, the last of our lines. There was a time I had a wife and four children, and like your kin the feud has claimed them all, one by one they've all been taken. This ends here, now, today.”
“It ain't over yet.” Snarled Jason. “Not while one of us still lives.”
“I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine.” Said Raymond quietly. “Someone I met not so long ago, she showed me another way to be, a way I never thought I could be. You treat this lady nice now, you hear me? Listen to what she has to say.”
“Bring her on in then.”
“I can't, you'll understand why when you see her. She's waiting for you in the parking lot.”
“What, and ten more waiting in the shadows?”
“No, just her, you have my word. We need an end to this thing. Too many lives have been lost, too many graveside gatherings. Too many brothers, sisters, children. All gone to a cause that never was, that never should have been. It ends here, today.”
Jason rose and followed Raymond outside. In the centre of the parking lot stood the fattest woman Jason had ever seen. Jason was built like a quarterback, but she must have outweighed him by at least a hundred and fifty pounds. For a fleeting moment he wondered if she were a threat to him, but quickly dismissed the idea, the aura of serenity about her made the very idea seem ridiculous. She smiled at Jason, and the whole world seemed to light up.
“Okay, say your piece lady, but this still ain't over yet.” Said Jason, and he fired a flinty glance in Raymond's direction.
The lady opened her mouth, but instead of talking she began to sing. Her voice beautiful, angelic, echoed around the parking lot. The nearby buildings began to shimmy as they thrummed to the sweet vibrations.
As the dulcet tones reached Jason's ears and drizzled into his brain, something changed inside him. He felt his whole body relaxing, softening as the hate inside him shrivelled and died. His shoulders slumped and he tried in vain to wipe the tears from his eyes, but failed to keep up with the flow as a lifetime of venom, heartache and suffering poured down his cheeks.
Jason walked over to Raymond and they grasped each other tightly. There was real love in that embrace, a forgiveness for the past, a hope for the future, for all the futures to come.
“Yeah.” Whispered Jason. “I guess it's finally over.”
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 30 May 2014
“Come, come forward, follow the path, follow me, there is nothing to fear, come.”
The voice was soft, gentle, almost hypnotically so, the honeyed tones beckoning, promising.
The reply was tenuous, nervous. “What will I find on the path?”
“On the path you will find love, trust, compassion. The twists and turns will reveal many acts of kindness and selflessness. Amongst the wayside rocks you will discover humility, patience and peace of mind. Beneath the overhanging branches you will be able to lead the way of life that has been denied you.”
“But I have done some very bad things in my life, I won't be allowed to follow the path.”
“No-one is denied.” Came the gentle response. “It is never too late to change, to see the light.”
“People will not accept me because of my appearance, they will be repelled, and scorn me.”
“That will not be so, they will see beyond your outer self, they will look into your heart, seek the beauty inside.”
“Will I find any chocolate on the path?”
“I said, will I find any chocolate on the path?”
“Err... yes... yes... I believe you may find some chocolate as you follow the righteous path.” Came the slightly dismayed voice.
“Lots of chocolate?”
“Well... err... it's difficult to say just how much chocolate a soul may come across on the road to redemption.” The honeyed tones of the voice began to harden slightly.
“Look, I'm not embarking on any path, road or trail, to redemption, righteousness, or anywhere else unless there is going to be plenty of chocolate on the way. So will there be lots of chocolate or not?”
“Yes, I believe there will possibly be lots of chocolate.” The voice took on an edge of impatience.
“You promise? That there will be chocolate, and lots of it?”
“Yes!” A tone of anger crept into the voice.
“Say it then, say you promise me that there will be lots and lots of chocolate. Enough to make me sick.”
“Very well then. I promise that on the path you will find lots and lots of chocolate, enough to make you sick. Enough to fill your belly thousands of times over. Enough to choke you, you greedy, self-centred, sweet-toothed, gluttonous git. Now get on that goddam PATH!!”
“Ah, what the hell.” Said the demon, and took the first step.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 2 May 2014
“So, how's the interrogation going Jackson, anything we can use yet?”
“No Sir. Nothing! Zilch! Zippo! De na....”
“Okay, okay, I get the idea. No success yet then. What methods have you tried?”
“Well, firstly we put him through four days of sensory deprivation, to soften him up a little. He just sat cross-legged with his eyes closed the whole time, with an annoyingly serene smile on his face.”
“Did you try wiring him up?”
“Yeah. The electric shock seemed promising at first, he moaned and writhed a lot, it took us several hours to realize he actually found it sexually stimulating.”
“What about water boarding? That always does the trick.”
“Yeah well, we poured several gallons over his face, he just slurped it up through the towel as fast as we could pour, the end result being we had to mop up several gallons of piss too.”
“Done it. He's a bit thick skinned, it just bounced off.”
“Awkward standing positions?”
“Done 'em. He just looked bored the whole time.”
“Threats towards his family and friends?”
“He's an orphan, and if he has any friends we don't know of them.”
“The comfy chair routine?”
“Er, no Sir, I haven't heard of that one.”
“Jackson, that was a joke, you moron.”
“Oh, uh, right Sir.”
Time was running out, we needed those answers. I opened the door to his cell and walked inside. He was sitting on the chair, hands clasped in his lap, he looked rather calm for someone in his predicament.
“Okay Bozo, you are going to start talking, now I'll start off nice and easy, where is the safe house they took our man to?”
“It's on the north side of town, in the Crawford district, number thirty seven Bempton Close, the house with the blue door.”
I stared at him in disbelief, they had been working on him for seven days and hadn't got a shred of information out of him, and here he was singing like a canary just because I asked him.
“What security is there in the house?”
“Three men armed with Glocks, two downstairs, and one in the bedroom with the prisoner. The number for the alarm system is 4906, and there is a spare back door key under the plant pot beneath the window.”
I couldn't believe how easy this was. A thought suddenly struck me, I walked back out of the cell.
“While you've had this guy here, have you actually asked him any questions?”
Jackson started back at me, a blank expression on his face.
“Well... errr... errr...”
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 4 April 2014
I used to view the world through rose-tinted glasses, enamoured with everything I saw, with everything it was and could be. I had hope for the future, contentment for the present, and forgiveness for the past.
Somewhere along the way the lenses turned to green. The subtle, slow change from one hue to another barely perceptible, until the transformation was complete, and the iron fist of envy had me in its clutches. I began to crave what other's possessed, to hate them for having what I did not, and the colour was everywhere I looked.
It was a smaller step down to the blue, but decidedly more noticeable. I no longer wished for what was not mine, instead I spiralled down into the deepest depression, the darkest of blues coloured my every thought. Happiness was elusive and slippery, impossible to grasp.
Just lately the glasses have taken on a more pinkish colour again, not the warm rose-tinted pink of days gone by, but a more sinister pink that is rapidly darkening towards red.
And I can feel the rage building inside me...
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 28 March 2014
“We're not gonna make it, are we?
His voice was weak, his breath ragged. He was giving up.
“Shut up and keep running.” I snapped back.
We had managed to stay ahead of the pack, but they were close behind, I could almost feel them breathing down my neck.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw him stumble slightly, he was going to go down. I reached out and grabbed his hand, pulled him roughly along, forcing him to keep up.
I squeezed his hand tightly, grinding his knuckles inside my own, hoping the pain would give him that extra ounce of fire in his belly, that one more molecule of determination.
I was not leaving him behind, if he failed, we would fail together.
This was it, I gave a final burst, dragging him along with me.
I punched our clasped hands forward, using them to break through the tape.
A few yards further we both collapsed to the ground.
Less than a second later the rest of the pack followed, some falling to the ground as we had, some running on a little further before coming to a standstill, hands on knees, gasping for air.
I reached out and grabbed him to me. We clutched each other tightly as tears rolled down our faces. Exhaustion, relief and euphoria all adding to the moment.
We had competed against each other all our lives, as twins do.
Last year I had taken Silver in the marathon, and he the Bronze. The year before, the positions had been reversed. This was our last year, we were both retiring from competitive sport, and it felt good to be going out breaking even.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 21 March 2014
I have heard that over the years scientists have sent many radio messages into space, in the hope that someone may be listening. Eventually some of them formed the opinion that anyone, or anything, that had the ability to track these signals, and the capability to travel the vast distances involved to get here may not be coming with benign intentions, and that it may be wiser to cease broadcasting the messages... In case someone may be listening.
Are those radio waves still travelling?
And more importantly, have they been heard?
* * * * * * * * * *
THE VACUUM OF SPACE
The being had been travelling for many years now, following the tantalising scent, flowing with the undulating waves, feasting on the delicate flavours as it hurtled through space. The tastes and aromas strengthened as it neared the source, its hunger burned fiercely.
It slipped effortlessly into the atmosphere, and there it found a new taste to savour.
It began circling the tiny blue planet. Faster and faster it went, absorbing, devouring, feeding ravenously. Stripping the air and the surface of the planet of the delicious ingredient until there was barely a morsel left.
Its ethereal body, unhindered by liquid or solid, combed the oceans, then beneath the world's surface, seeking out every last drop of food, until there was none remaining.
Its hunger still burned.
Stretching out its senses it tested the surrounding star systems, searching, hunting.
A strange, new flavour came its way.
Once again it began following a distant scent, it left the blue planet behind as it hurtled once more through space, continuing its never ending quest for sustenance.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In a concrete bunker far beneath the surface of the Mojave desert, a corporal stared at his computer screen, unable to understand the figures he was looking at.
“Major? You have to look at this, Sir.”
The officer walked over, and looked at the screen over the Corporal's shoulder.
“According to the readouts Sir, the radiation levels have disappeared, none of our sensors are picking up traces, not in the air, or on the land, even the oceans appear clear, I know this sounds crazy, and impossible, but it's as though the war never happened, somehow the planet's clean again,”
“There must be something wrong with the sensors Corporal, the surface of this planet will be uninhabitable for decades yet.”
“With respect Sir, it's extremely unlikely that thousands of sensors are all malfunctioning at the same time, I've run a systems check too, the hardware's working okay. It's as though something's sucked all the radiation from the planet.”
The same scenario was being repeated in many other bunkers in many other countries.
Before long, the survivors of the world war three apocalypse would tentatively emerge to a new beginning, to a new, clean world. Time would tell if they could keep it that way.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 14 March 2014
I drove past her house every morning, she was always there. She was beautiful, and I fell hopelessly in love with her.
She must have been over forty years old, but looked much younger. Probably high maintenance, but I didn't mind, when she was mine I would care for her, cherish her.
Most people would consider us an odd match, me being so much younger, but I wouldn't care what other people thought, I just had to have her, and I would, in time.
At night I dreamt about her, her curves, the proud way she stood.
I was filled with fear that someone else would love her too, I just had to do something, I had to be brave and ask the question.
Today, I would do it today.
I pulled to a stop outside her house, climbed out of the car and walked straight up to her, I felt an overwhelming urge to touch her, but decided it would be a shade forward and presumptuous, better to ask permission first, I just ogled her, almost drooling.
I walked around her, brushing against her as I did, I didn't mean to, I just couldn't help myself.
I walked up to the door and knocked timidly.
A moment or two later the door opened a few inches and the face of an old man appeared.
“Yes?” He asked me.
“I... I... h..hope you don't mind me asking sir,” I stammered, “but the Cortina on your driveway, would you possibly consider selling it?”
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 7 March 2014
The first time it happened I blamed my brother, two days later he slipped on a roller skate on the first landing, he fell headlong down the stairs, breaking his neck along the way.
The second time it happened I blamed my parents, before the day was over an unattended frying pan caught fire, which rapidly spread through the house claiming both their lives.
The third time it happened I thought it must be a government conspiracy, within hours an accusatory email landed in all of the ministers' in-boxes, the ensuing ass-covering, in-fighting and back stabbing brought about a political bloodbath that resulted in their downfall.
The fourth time it happened I blamed society itself, a few days later a lab spillage released a contagious bacteria which rapidly spread throughout all of humanity, killing everyone it touched, at least the bug must have taken care of the guilty party this time.
And now there is only me left... And it just happened again.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 28 February 2014
The night was nearly over and the DJ shouted out for everyone to grab their partners for the smoochies.
Over the course of the evening I had tried my chat up lines on a few of the girls, all to no avail, it looked like I would be ending the night as I had started it, alone. Nothing new there then.
I glanced around the room, and noticed the girl in the blue dress.
I had spotted her earlier at the bar, all by herself for some reason, she was a looker too, probably wouldn't be interested in the likes of me but what-the-hell, nothing ventured nothing gained.
I walked over towards her, my shoes rattling on my feet, goddam online company had sent me nines instead of eights, but they looked super cool, and were rock bottom priced, so I decided instead of mailing them back I would wear two pairs of socks, which resulted in much sweatier feet, with a barely noticeable reduction in slackness.
I reached the bar and sidled up close to her, asked her if she danced, she told me she didn't usually as she wasn't very good at it.
I told her I wasn't much good myself, so we would probably make a good match. She slid off her barstool, smiled, offered me her hand.
We walked together into the throng, hung our arms over each others shoulders, and began that end-of-the-night shuffle that everyone seems to do. Mostly swaying from side to side, moving a bit around the floor.
After a few steps she trod heavily on my toes, I yelped, we both giggled.
Several more toe-crunching, yelping, giggling minutes later, her hand slowly slid the length of my spine, and she took a firm hold of my backside. I looked at her in surprise, she smiled mischievously at me.
I pulled her closer, held her tighter, she stood on my toes heavier, I yelped louder, we giggled longer.
And so it went on for the next five tunes, until the DJ called time, and the main lights came on.
She asked me back to her place.
When we walked out of the club towards the taxi rank I leaned heavily on her for support, my poor swollen feet hurt like hell, but I was smiling broadly.
Not only had I pulled and was on a promise, but my shoes now fit me perfectly too.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 21 February 2014
You know that feeling you keep getting, the feeling that you are being watched? That certainty that someone else is in the room with you, even when you know there is not?
And those times when you experience the sensation of fingers running lightly through your hair, then wipe your hand across your scalp thinking you might dislodge an insect, only to find there is none... but the sensation lingers?
Those small movements, shadowy movements, right on the very edge of your peripheral vision, haven't they been more frequent lately?
All those nights when tiny sounds have dragged you from slumber, only to be replaced by cold silence the moment your eyes open, doesn't the fear trickle down your spine as you stare into the darkness?
I am the watcher, the toucher, the shadow, the bringer of fear.
Soon things will change. I only passed over very recently, and I'm still learning. When I've had a little more practice you won't even know I'm here at all.
But I will be...
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Saturday, 15 February 2014
The very kind and talented lady Cindy Vaskova has nominated me for The Pink Liebster Award.
Cindy, congratulations on your own award, I enjoy your writing very much, and it is very well deserved, and thank you so much for thinking of me when you were composing your own list of favourite writers. It is always heartening to know that I am amongst someone's favourites, thank you.
I would also like to mention that just recently Cindy has been the winner of not one, but TWO writing competitions, absolutely awesome Cindy, Bravo.
Now, there are a few rules to accepting the award :-
1) Link back to the person who nominated you.
2) Answer the 10 questions they gave you.
3) Pick some favourite bloggers of your own to nominate.
4) Pose 10 questions of your own for them to answer.
5) Make sure that the people you nominated know about it.
And have fun.
Here are the questions that Cindy set for her nominees to answer.
1) Who's your hero?
I have had many fictional heroes over my life, and there are just so many to choose from, but probably Ripley from the Aliens movies is one of my all-time favourites.
2) What gave the beginning of your writing experience?
I really got into short story/flash fiction writing by an unusual sequence of events, if anyone would like to read about it they can find it here:- The birth of The Twisted Quill.
About three months after starting my blog I was encouraged to post my stories on the Fridayflash site by two lovely lady writers Rebecca Emin and Maria Protopapadaki-Smith.
The first story I posted was entitled “A Zombie's tale” and the heartening comments it received gave me the confidence to continue writing and posting.
Thank you Rebecca and Maria, three and a half years later, and I'm still here.
3) How do you engage on a story? Do you outline or are you a more of a discovery writer?
Most of my writing is done “On the fly” so to speak. I have an idea rattling around in my head, I chew it over for a bit, then sit down at the keyboard and type away. Or sometimes I will do a bit of free thinking, playing with words and catch-phrases until something pops up. Most of my stories are posted more or less as they are first written, with very little or no editing. There have been stories that I have chopped severely, or filled out too, but these are among the minority of my posts.
I tend to produce in the 100 – 500 word area mostly, but my longest post at 3,000 words was a three -parter entitled “More than dreams”, and the shortest at only 28 words was “From the stars”.
If I ever decide to write anything of any length then I may find it necessary to outline first, but I only write short fiction, and up to now haven't felt the need to.
4) In what genre/s do you write, and why?
I don't stick to any particular genre, and have probably covered most genres at one time or another, and written pieces ranging from silly to serious, comical to heart-wrenching, and mild to gory. Although I tend to write more darker pieces than lighter ones I generally try to blend humour in with them too, although sometimes it may be a rather dark humour.
5) What's the one line you're really proud of?
That's a really difficult question to answer, but one line I quite like from the story “Zweetmeat” pops to mind.
“Trudging along, glass from shattered store fronts crunched beneath his shoes, the fragments shining like rubies in the mixture of coagulating blood, bits of flesh, and body fluids.”
6) You get to bring to life one character for 24 hours, which one is that, and why?
If you mean one of my own characters, it would probably be the shopkeeper Mister Godfrey from the story “Slice of life”
We could really do with people like him on the planet, even if it is for such a short while.
7) Do you regret reading a book? Which, and why?
I have read countless books in my life, and don't feel as though I regret reading any of them really, if I'm not enjoying a book I will just stop reading it and start another.
8) Pick a childhood favourite book, which is it?
I first started reading books when I was about nine or ten years old, and my first book was an Enid Blyton book, one of the Famous Five ones, I don't recall which particular one, but it hooked me on the reading bug, and before long I had read all of them, and so I would say they are my favourite childhood books.
9) How many books do you plan to read in 2014?
I don't read as many books these days as I used to, and tend to read a few chapters on whatever current book I am reading on my kindle each night before going to sleep. Also during the warm weather I go fishing, and take along a book to enjoy in the sunshine while I'm busy not catching anything, so I will probably read somewhere in the range of 10 – 20 books over the course of the year.
10) You have been given a one-way ticket offering to any fictional destination, which one would you choose?
I would love to go to Pandora, the planet in the film Avatar, if I could come back in another life I want to be one of the Na'vi.
* * * * * * * * * *
And now for the difficult part, nominating other writers for the award, there are so many good writers to choose from, and it is difficult to choose one over another, and so I have decided that I am going to nominate just two writers, both of them relative newcomers to the #fridayflash community, who have posted stories on there that I have read and enjoyed.
Claudia. H. Blanton.
Instead of posing 10 questions for Claudia and Casey I am going bend the rules a bit, and ask them to post 10 random or unusual facts about themselves.
Have fun people, and thanks again for thinking of me Cindy.
Friday, 14 February 2014
It happened only yesterday, I know this for it was light, then dark, and now light again.
They say time flies when you are having fun, I know now beyond any doubt that it certainly crawls when you are not.
I know it was only yesterday, but time is passing so slowly it seems like months ago.
The Harley lay across my back and shoulders, eighteen thousand dollars worth of scrap metal mingled with a priceless amount of scrap flesh and bone.
The leaf mould and soil beneath my cheek feels cold and damp, the small creatures scurrying over my face serve as a reminder that I still live, from the neck up anyway.
I hear a car pull to a stop, a door slam, footsteps, loud on blacktop, softer on the slope of the ditch.
Salvation, of a sorts.
I cannot look towards my tomorrows, I am afraid for what they may bring, and for what they may leave behind.
I wish for only yesterday.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 7 February 2014
I only moved into the town a few months ago, and before long took to frequenting Harry's, the bar just around the corner from my house.
The place was friendly and laid back, and I spent many a Saturday evening propped against the bar chin wagging with whomever I happened to be standing next to.
One night I called in to Harry's, and settled myself at the bar with my usual bottle of Bud.
I glanced down the bar, and the only other customer was a guy named Waxy. Although I had never actually spoken to Waxy I knew his name through hearing the locals talk to him. “Hiya Waxy.” they would say, and always got the same reply. “How's it goin' wit' you?” That was always Waxy's response, no matter how anyone greeted him the reply was always the same “How's it goin' wit' you?”
“Good evening.” I ventured.
Waxy turned to look at me, smiled. “How's it goin' wit' you?” Came the amiable reply.
“I'm good.” I said. “Can I buy you a beer?”
That was the start of a strong friendship, me and Waxy got to be real close over the following months.
A few weeks ago me and Waxy were chewing the fat at Harry's bar, curiosity getting the better of me I had asked him about his name. I thought maybe his surname was Wax, or Waxon, or something similar.
“Hell no, my name is Bill Thornton, everyone calls me Waxy because of what I do.”
“You mean your job? Do you work with wax, or keep bees or something?”
Waxy found this extremely amusing, and it was some minutes before he could talk around his laughter.
“No, I'm unemployed right now, I used to work in the chilled food warehouse, but the jumped up dick of a manager started getting on my wick and so I popped him one, he fired me right off. They call me Waxy because of that thing that I do.”
“Thing?” I asked him, wondering what on earth he was talking about.
“Yeah, that thing. You got a lighter on you, I'll show ya.”
I reached into my pocket for my Zippo, and passed it to Waxy. My mind refused to believe what my eyes witnessed next.
Waxy flicked the Zippo into life, then held his forefinger over the flame. After a few moments his finger began to drip. I continued watching in open mouthed amazement as the drops pooled on the bar and began to solidify. Waxy flicked the lighter shut, then scooped up the semi solid goo from the counter and moulded it back onto his finger again.
“That is absolutely amazing.” I stuttered.
“Well, truth is, it's kinda stood in my way, all my life all I ever wanted to be was a firefighter, bummer eh? Anyway, I gotta dash, I got a date with a hot lady, so catch ya later my friend.”
Waxy regularly left early to meet some hot lady or other, he never said who, and I never asked.
Waxy never showed up at the bar again after that evening. No-one saw him or heard from him. Despite police enquiries and searches he was never seen again, it seemed he had just melted into obscurity. Waxy was the best friend I had in the town, and I prayed that he was okay, wherever he was. It was just possible that he had skipped town ahead of some vengeful husband of one of his 'Hot ladies'.
Yesterday as I was walking home from work I passed a garage and garden sale at the late widow Clarkson's house, sad about her, she died suddenly of a heart attack, only in her forties too. I called in to see if there was anything that would help brighten up my rather spartan home.
I knew the widow's son Frank, a pleasant, hard-working young man that always seemed to struggle to make ends meet, and I thought it would be a neighbourly thing to do putting a few dollars his way.
As I browsed the clutter of pictures, furniture and assorted bric-a-brac I came across a huge lump of wax, it looked like some kind of weird sculpture, there was definitely a face in there, fingertips and elbows poking out at odd angles.
Suddenly the face twitched, the mouth moved slightly. “How's it goin' wit' you?” came the familiar voice, accompanied by a slight wink of one misshapen eye.
I nearly fainted. “Waxy? Is that you in there?” I whispered. “Jeez you look a mess, I gotta get you home.”
Acting as nonchalantly as possible I carried Waxy over to where Frank stood near the fence.
“How much would you like for this?” I asked him.
Frank glanced at the sculpture. “Whatever you think it's worth.” He replied, smiling broadly.
I pulled fifty dollars from my wallet, offered it to Frank.
“That's about forty nine more'n I expected.” Said Frank, looking a bit unsure of himself. I insisted that fifty dollars was a bargain for such a work of art, and he reluctantly accepted the money. He found me a large cardboard box to put my purchase into, I bade him goodbye and set about the task of carrying my friend back to the house.
Once home I pulled Waxy from the cardboard box and placed him on the kitchen table.
“I got a blowtorch in my toolbox.” I said to him. “With a bit of work, and a lot of luck I'll see if I can get you somewhere near back to your old shape. What the hell happened to you?”
Waxy chuckled. “Well, ya know all those hot ladies I kept making dates with? Last time I saw you I was going to meet the widow Clarkson, she was one hell of a hot lady I can tell you, truth is, she was just a little TOO hot for me to handle.”
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 31 January 2014
He was the first.
He just couldn't stop laughing.
He laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
He laughed until he died of mirth, and the laughter echoed around the room, bounced off the walls, ricocheted off the window, then flew out through the gap under the door.
The laughter hit a passing cleaner, who then laughed all the way to the bus stop, and all through the ride to her job at the airport, infecting everyone she passed along the way.
Soon, the whole world would be laughing... and dying.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 24 January 2014
Friday, 17 January 2014
He rarely dropped below ninety five percent, and was rather alarmed to find that he was under eighty percent and still decreasing.
“Cerebra, run a systems check, there appears to be a malfunction in the life support system, or maybe a fault in the monitoring circuits.”
“All systems functioning at optimum, no faults or malfunctions to report.”
“Cerebra, I am at less than eighty percent, something has to be wrong.”
“Negative, all systems functioning at optimum.”
He squirmed slightly in the confines of the pod, the small movement giving a little more comfort.
All around him the ship hummed and thrummed as it streaked its way through the star system.
“Cerebra, how do you account for the drop in life force?”
“The passage of time is having a melancholy effect on your thought processes, resulting in a lowering of psychological and physical resistance.”
This was a cause for concern, if he dropped below fifty percent he would lapse into deterioration and gradually drain away into non-being.
“Cerebra, do you have any suggestions on how to halt the drain?”
“You need to have less wake time, you need to return to sleep, to recharge.”
His digits flickered over the keypad built into the arm rest, programming in for eighty light years of dreamless hypersleep.
Minute motors came to life, liquids ran through tubes, the catheter twitched slightly as it fed the corrupted juice into his bloodstream.
Sleep came, and with it came dreams.
He dreamt of home, and family. He dreamt of the seven suns and the blue landscape.
With the dreams came sadness, a longing for what he had, for what he would never regain.
As the dreams stretched through the years so his sadness deepened.
His life force trickled down to fifty percent, then below, and continued falling.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 10 January 2014
Harringbow came with his band
And laid waste to the demon's land
Put to the blade his kith and kin
Burnt and slaughtered all within
Then eastwards travelled on his way
Happy with his deeds that day
The demon returned from darkest doings
Saw his home in flames and ruins
Then set off in a fitful rage
Harringbow's band to engage
Whomever he did chance upon
When asked for answers, they had none
He ripped them screaming limb from limb
For secrets that they kept from him
Someone must tell, someone must know
The whereabouts of Harringbow
And forward on, he searched still more
He tore his way, with tooth and claw
The whole night long, through man and beast
'Til sunrise came upon the east
Then looking back to whence he'd came
Saw none still standing, shrugged the blame
For all the slick grass in the field
Oiled by those who didn't yield
He turned his back, continued on
Ever eastwards, sparing none
'Til all around the world he'd been
And nought but slaughter had he seen
No sight in any when or where
Of Harringbow, not hide nor hair
From the west returning to his land
Full circle, searching for the band
A second time he trod the path
Created by his awesome wrath
And still a third time, and a fourth
And then he turned his fury north
He cleft his way from pole to pole
And of mankind he took his toll
But Harringbow, unto this day
Has never crossed upon his way.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 3 January 2014
Daniel had heard the story of the Finkle woods monster many times, the tales of horror and disappearances, mutilations and partly eaten victims. All codswallop as far as he was concerned. Oh, the monster existed alright, he was absolutely sure of that, just as sure as he was of the gold and diamonds that were hidden in the woods, the riches that were protected from treasure-seekers by the horrific tales.
Daniel had done his research, had read all the books and documents concerning the Finkle woods monster, the truth was there for anyone who could interpret the words. He had nothing to fear from it, the creature relied on the folk tales and superstitions to protect itself and its hidden hoard.
For several days now Daniel had been combing the woods, digging at likely spots, at tree bases and rock formations, and eventually his perseverance paid off.
There was a loud metallic CLANK as his spade glanced off something just beneath the soil surface. A few minutes more earth clearing, and Daniel pulled out a large steel chest, which he prised open to reveal a fortune in gold coins, diamonds and jewellery.
“You must put that back, it belongs to me.”
The gravelly voice had come from behind Daniel.
Daniel rose and turned to face the speaker, a rather frail looking, wrinkly old man wearing an ankle length grey robe. He almost laughed out loud when he saw the pathetic figure that was the Finkle woods monster. “Or what?” He said.
“Or I will just have to eat you.” Said the man, a trickle of drool dripped from one corner of his mouth.
”You won't eat me.” Said Daniel. “I've read my stuff, that's just bluff and bluster, you couldn't possibly eat me.”
“What makes you think that?” Came the reply. Daniel thought it must be his imagination playing tricks, because the old man didn't look quite so wrinkled now, or quite so old, or frail, he looked slightly taller too, and heavier set.
“I know for a fact that you're either a vegetarian or a vegan, and so you couldn't possibly eat me.” Said Daniel. As he spoke the man seemed to grow even taller and heavier looking. A yellow glint tinged his eyes, his teeth seemed longer and sharper, his mouth drooled faster.
“A vegetarian or vegan? What on earth gave you that idea?”
Daniel stared at the man, starting to feel a little unsure of himself now, his confidence draining from him at around the same rate that the man was growing.
“It... It said in the book of lore that you wouldn't eat anything that has a face.” Stuttered Daniel. By now the creature loomed over him, emanating a stench of pure malevolence, its mouth a grinning cavern of needles.
“Yes, the book states the truth, but I fail to see how that knowledge alleviates your predicament.” Snarled the creature as it produced an extremely vicious-looking curved knife from the depths of its robe.
“Well... I have a face...” Spluttered Daniel.
The creature grabbed Daniel by the neck with one of its massive clawed hands, and lifted him several feet into the air.
“Not for much longer you won't.”
Daniel screamed and screamed and screamed as the sharp blade sank deeply into his forehead and began slicing its way down towards his chin.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.