Archive for August, 2010

‘“Unknown sensor mast”,’ said Kakariko, reading the ground.

‘That’s what she said,’ said Rolf.

Kakariko turned and struck him hard across the face. ‘This is no time for jokes, underling!’

‘Sorry sir.’

‘“Solar Powerd”’

‘They spelt it wrong.’

Kakariko nodded and removed a banana from his pouch. He devoured it in one go but hung on to the skin. ‘That was their downfall all along.’

Rolf shuffled his feet and looked around. Kakariko had sounded excited, as if their quest was at an end and this sensor mast was their final goal. Rolf was not so sure. It looked – displaced.

‘I think this is it, Rolf. I think this may be it.’

‘There might be others,’ he suggested, before adding, ‘sir.’

‘But this one,’ he said, pointing a liquid arm, ‘is labelled.’

‘But its “unknown”. Even they didn’t know what it was for.’

‘Stupid race,’ said Kakariko spitting a bloodsac into the sky. Rolf watched to make sure it didn’t come back down on his shell. It sailed behind them and landed on an overturned bus, setting alight immediately.

‘How can we know for sure?’ asked Rolf, already knowing the answer.

‘Snap it in half. If the signal stops we will know.’

Rolf sighed. His arms and claws were sore from chopping lampposts, trees and telegraph poles in half and yet Kakariko insisted that this was the only way. He stepped forward, swung his central arm and connected with the unknown sensor mast. The top half sliced clean off and fell to the ground with a clang.

Kakariko arched his back and sent out another ultrasqueal. The pleasant tone that filled the sky moments later was, as ever, in the negative.

‘Hm. Shame. Really thought we had it this time.’

He shrugged and tossed the banana peel aside.

‘Too many human foods. Turning your brain to mush.’

‘Come along, Rolf,’ came the biting reply. ‘Jodrell Bank won’t wait forever.’

Words: 319

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On my first day at the Hades branch of Ladbrokes, Perseus turned to me and said…

No one would even notice if Icarus crashed through the earth and landed here. If he smashed down through the polystyrene ceiling tiles. If he hit the chairs that sit in front of the thirteen identical television screens sending a shower of losing betting slips and little plastic pens into the air. No one. Nobody. Would bat an eyelid. These zombies would continue to pace between the form and the counter, chasing long lost dreams.

Could they ignore the corpse? Oh yes. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard that one. Some old guy comes in, breathes his last, has a heart attack and crumples to the floor a hushed collection of old cloth. The rest of them will just step over him as if he wasn’t there.

Nothing matters except the next race. The next bet.

Admittedly this time will be different. There will be blood and cracked plumage. There will be bone jutting out of home-made wings. The air will dance with feathers. Be heady with the scent of molten wax and eiderdown. It won’t make a difference. You will be able to map their meandering by the ruby-red footprints that spread out from the Rorschach diagram seeping from the quivering figure in the room’s centre.

Prometheus will still chase his money and shout obscenities at slow horses and unreliable dogs. Ajax will still stare for hours at the Racing Post waiting for answers to rise from the cipher of the text. Athena will still sit in her corner in a royal-blue ball gown, an unlit cigarette in her frown, pondering the remains of her inheritance. Nursing a long empty sherry glass that is wrapped in the racing pages of a free newspaper she might, at best, look over to the scene of the previous day’s tragedy and mutter something about another dumb malakas who should have flown Olympic.

Words: 330

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I’m in Weaste, waiting. Waiting for the turn-off, which will be at right angles to the trembling tramlines and this long straight road that seems to go on forever, maybe even to the sea. You never know; I think it stretches out as far as Warrington. I still have a fair distance to cover before Stott Lane, so rural sounding, but I’m cycling directly into the wind and not getting anywhere fast. Still, I’ve passed the church tower without a church. Passed Frank Wong’s Chinese chippy. Passed the TA base, where local lads beat their despondency, their dependencies, maybe even their desperation. Now I’m going past My Street, an address more difficult to get home to after a night on the tiles than you’d think.

I probably look like a statue, at a standstill, standing upright on my pedals, pushing for more power. I say I probably look, because I know lots of people are looking; I’ve picked up on the jeers and cheers, the you’re-not-from-round-heres. I don’t fit, I’m out of place on my Dutch-style bike in my stripy sailor’s top and my Real Straight jeans neither stonewashed nor studded. I’m breaking the regulation uniform of sportswear for non-sporting activity (unless you count snooker at Rileys, or horseracing at the Tote, or legging it from Tesco).

I know lots of people are eyeing me up, weighing me up. The eight-year-old girl with the off-the-shoulder dress and a face older than the Quays. The rotund man with the rotund dog, pulling him along the pavement, tongue lolling. The professional lady, suffering no embarrassment, not even the cold, in her ultra mini skirt and head-to-toe gold. Even the lanky couple, both hoods up, screaming blue murder at each other, take a breath and glance my way. How long will she last in the Weaste lands?

I don’t meet anyone’s gaze; I don’t answer anyone’s cries; I carry on, head down against the gusts, heading towards Hope. It’s all I can do.

Words: 330

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In the weeks before she gave birth, Vanessa drew every breath of life from out of her visitors. Friends, relatives and medical personnel all had to leave some vital part of themselves with her, as though the viability of her pregnancy depended upon gifting her with a soul piece.

In return she gave nothing.

No joy for the grandparents, no insight to her twin nieces, Janie and Olivia whose young minds were eager to learn what the expanding bulge Vanessa carried felt like. More likely they would have liked to know what the baby would mean for them; specifically the frequent cinema visits they had enjoyed up until a month ago and which were, like everything else, cut short.

Nobody had thought to explain things to them. Nobody considered, they supposed, that cinema visits were important. The towering adults just passed them in the corridor, their sombre figures shrinking into her room with increasing regularity.

That room swallowed everything. The twins had listened, once, at its olive drab door and heard nothing. They had expected to hear plans which they wouldn’t understand. They had expected to hear their aunt, bedridden as she was, asking their uncle how they were. That had been, after all, what they had heard the last time she had fallen sick and they had waited at the top of their grandmother’s staircase.

Instead they were gifted with the silence and the flow of visitors towards the horizon of this most
recent event.

It was only after the birth, after that vortex of life finally spat out the wailing child that the twins heard voices once more. They heard of plans and practicalities as the family were, finally, irrevocably freed from Vanessa’s all-consuming situation.

The child would grow and their aunt would be put to rest.

Words: 299

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