Saturday, October 23, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #178 for Oct 22nd, 2010

How long had it been? It had to be 200, 300 years at least since the last official kill. “What the hell did they think they were playing at?” Jonathan mused As he deleted the encrypted order from his communicator and asked the car to close and merge with the general traffic. He almost couldn’t believe  the two short words that gave new  purpose to his existence.
It was a simple yet satisfying thing to merge with a population, after all, he was still classed as human on most of the worlds he commonly visited. All he had to do was maintain the behaviour expected of someone of the relevant class and profession; order the right things via his link, go to the right places at normal times, and generally conform to the multiplicity of local customs and bylaws governing the precinct in which he was ‘living’. Easy. The real challenge lies in disappearing at the right time, because with every part of your life under CC TV and recorded on the public record it took a great deal of forethought to subvert the system in such a way as to be undetectable or at the very least unremarkable.
It was not only that the authorities would be alerted by any subtle change in behaviour, because the human condition dictates that there will be aberrations and exploration no matter how strict code imposed upon it. Instead it had become a game in order to extract yourself from the mundane day to day existence without being noticed, and to resume the routine in such a way as to avoid the attention of the police.
On this occasion Jonathan chose executive clause # 325 whereby a citizen is allowed 7 minutes of unmonitored space for the purpose of toilet in any 12 hour period. Yes, I know, seven minutes is an unusual designation. The precise time was decided by a panel of 22 experts, and took an incredible 32 months of deliberation. Though rumour has it that in the end they just drew straws, but either way that is a bloody long time to decide how long it takes a man to take a crap!
On this occasion, seven minutes is all that was required to bring everything back online, dust himself off and get to work. They wouldn’t even miss him.
That is why they call him “the Hunter”. In the 32 centuries since he attained sentience there had never been a time where his abilities fell short. Unquestionably Jonathan was the master of his art. He would only receive a call when the keepers had no other alternative and all conventional means of resolution had failed. This in itself was most remarkable because the keepers were to most, god-like in their ability to manipulate time and space to maintain order, regardless of individual cost or localised concerns. Then they had been silent for such a long time. But enough about Jonathan. He would not appreciate this very personal scrutiny, and would certainly not condone any aggrandising of his abilities.
 Jonathan stepped out of the elevator into the seething mass of foot traffic flowing through the central business district. With cool precision he began matching data files in alphabetical order, cross-referencing faces and names. Bodies began to fall 30 seconds in his wake, their faces going blank after the silibent whisper of his concealed air pistol ended their existence with its fast acting neurotoxin. They never knew what hit them.
Deep in the Central Museum on sub level IV,  the school excursion continued.  12-year-olds William and Timothy  tossed the ancient mobile phone back in its display case. Some of these old devices were amazing yet baffling - the packaging said it was called an “iPhone” and the application was named “Assassin”. The boys could make no sense of the instructions and with a giggle  Timothy flippantly keyed-in the title of the obscure action film they had just watched in another area of the exhibit. “Kill Bill”. Their unqualified assessment of the device? “Harmless.”

This week’s prompt: Include this theme in your story… After a long night, a hunter sees something he/she cannot believe.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #176 for Oct 8th, 2010

Your Main Character is a time traveller. He/She arrives at a destination but not all is as expected….
“Inside out” is my first impression. If there is an up, it’s upside down. Somewhere behind me there is a rhythm. It’s a sort of tapping sound a bit like footsteps, but I can’t be sure because my ears are inside out as well. I would be surprised, but surprise isn’t strong enough to capture what I’m feeling. Raindrops. That’s what that sound is. Really big raindrops falling on the surface of the water, and I’m under there somewhere. I can’t see anything, but I feel pink. Really pink, like when you shine a torch through your fingers and see the bones inside. My heart is beating somewhere in here with me. Beating is too strong a word though because it’s more like a squelch that makes each part of me quiver every second or so.
It isn’t all bad. I’m moving now, and I can actually feel things going past my skin. It’s nice that they don’t hurt when they bump into me, being inside out and all. I’d like to scratch that bit at the nape of my neck. I really would. No, I really need to because it’s driving me spare. Oh god, my arms! They’re gone; and my legs! I’m like an unrecognisable piece of road kill sealed in cling wrap.
Bloody Museum. They told me the HG Wells Time machine wasn’t just a replica. Since when has their information actually been correct? When I read the book, I’m sure he push the lever downwards to go forward in time. Didn’t he?
I think I went backwards. A long way backwards. Its going to be a wait. A long wait for evolution to put me back on track.  A long way back to vertebrate for this little amoeba.
To view the other responses to this prompt go to:

Friday, October 1, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #175 for Oct 1st, 2010

Shad looks with longing out over the bay. The soft green of the Pacific, with its gentle white meringue wave tops blown along by the barmy South Sea Island breeze sparkling beautifully below a storybook blue sky. On the air, hints of seaweed, shell-grit, brine and coconut. Such a rich agglomeration of tastes and he wishes for the time to sample them all. Limping his way down the worn path from the high promontory there is no way to ignore the subtle fragrance of gardinia taitensis or the heady aroma of durian ripening on the ridges, and he stops many times, savouring the completeness of the experience. “The boss would love this” he thought, and setting out again carefully favouring the bruised ribs showing through his left side, he continues downward toward the lagoon.
Panting with the effort, he finally comes to rest just below the series of ageing mounds that represent his former crew. Over some the earth has settled almost level with the ground while the most recent, that of First Mate 'Dusty' Jones is so fresh it does not entirely contain the putrescence within. The taint of scurvy and gangrene unmistakable. Dusty had been a good mate and many times they had walked together contemplating the sea and all that surrounded her. His favourite stick now broken and made into a cross that stands at his head. How quickly turns the world.
Turning inland Shad makes his way to the tiny spring bounded by strelitzia that had so amazed and delighted the boss when they had first swum ashore. Several times a day each one would make their needy way to the brackish little pond, thankful that at least this one essential element had been easy to find.
There would be no rain tonight. There are none of the tells in the air today and it will be a long time before the monsoon comes again. Just as well, because he has decided that rain washes the fun from everything. When everything is clean you don't know you're alive. You may as well be made of stone, sitting there with no purpose instead of being out there in a fit of life brushing against it, touching and smelling, literally rolling in life. Like down on the beach when you dig and find that every moment holds some small creature or the remnant of one. Myriads of little lives spending themselves to make this paradise one shell at a time. 
With that thought Shad begins to use what energy remains to reach the spit where the boss lays still and bloated in the sun. Not far to go, only a few steps that cost a hundred miles. He wills his atrophied limbs to move until finally, with his last breaths labouring their way from punished lungs, his tongue dry again in its insatiable way, he crawls on his belly the last inches to his still captain's side.
Shadow licks his masters dry, swollen cheek and, resting his chin on his paws the breath goes out of him and he is gone. High above, the lonely cry of a seagull hails a small sail on the horizon.

Today's prompt “Lonely in Paradise”
Read more [Fiction] Friday stories at :

Friday, September 24, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #174 for Sept 24th, 2010

The Prompt this week was:

Use this lyric from Shore Leave to flavour your story: "Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban Heels" ~ You don't need to know or even hear the song - just use that lyrical imagery.  

Henrietta took a very long pull at the 'old fashioned' she had specially made in a highball glass. She blew the smoke from the pistol tip with relish.

The glisten on her painted lips gradually faded to be replaced by a trembling half smirk of irony. Tasting the remnant tang of gun smoke imprinting itself on her memory, she began a languid descent of the grand stairway feeling a great consanguinity with Mae West. Except there was no longer a man coming up the stair to see her anytime soon.

“I'll have to get the carpet cleaned” she observed, stepping across the blood soiling the last three treads. Stepping over the crumpled figure of a man, she let the revolver fall from her fingers and drop bomb–like onto his right cheek. Without looking back, Henrietta walked out the front door, slid into the driver's seat of the '56 Lincoln convertible, and drove away.


Lewis sat up slowly feeling like he'd been hit by a bus. He's right eye wouldn't open and feeling around he realised it was caked with dried blood. Exploring further, he was amazed to find that a graze across this temple and bruising around his chest and collarbone the only damage. He tore his shirt open and released the fastening of his bullet-proof vest, amazed again at what a lousy shot she was. Luckily.

It was raining again. He hoped the convertible had filled with water. She would have no idea how to raise the top, the dizzy bitch. A pity though, it had taken months of work to restore that white leather interior panel by a panel. By now she would be halfway to Atlanta if she had any sense, though somehow he knew she would have had to stop to buy clothes, or a hat and gloves. The lure of all that cash would be too much for her and he was certain she would be caught in no time.

Stepping to the veranda Lewis looked at the long wooded driveway, imagining himself trudging through the wet afternoon. He'd be lucky to reach town by dark and he began to wish he had worn better shoes; this pair he picked up in South America were strictly for show and will be lucky to last 20 minutes soaked in the roadside slush. At least he was finally rid of her. She who had stalked him across four continents claiming to have borne his child in an attempt to weasel her way into half his old family estate.

Lewis bent carefully, feeling every battered muscle, and gathered up his Chief Petty officers cap from where it had landed on the mouldy stoop. He never seemed to escape the rain, everywhere he went it was wet. On his last tour, bearing down through the South China Sea he had thought to retire to his old place in the South, imagining the warm sunny days of his youth. But the reality of this deserted old plantation was a far cry from those halcyon days. The bubble was burst and the dream over. Some shore leave this turned out to be!

With a sigh he stepped off onto the wet moss pocked gravel, too heart-sore to care about the rain as his mind swung to plan B. “I should've stayed in Hong Kong” he mused, his feet falling into steady rhythm, the shush of gravel in time with the aching pulse in his head forming their own blues riff. In his thoughts he was already back in the grey streets of the old city, the irony not lost on him as he found himself in a Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban heels.

Friday, September 17, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #173 for Sept 17th, 2010

Prompt: Why did the Tooth Fairy fail to deliver coins one evening? (follow the link to [Fiction] Friday's other responses! 

With a splintering crash the Tactical Response Group brought the operation to a close. Through the haze left by smoke grenades, James could barely recognise the interior of his newspaper's press room. Embedded with the local TRG he never thought his reporting would take him back to his own office or that he would face the possibility that anyone he knew could be embroiled in such an incredible tale of organised crime. In fact when he first took the assignment, he thought it would be a bit of excitement to keep him from a boring week of reporting banal suburban life and trivial small-town gossip.
Ainslie Buxton, chief editor of the Oldstown Herald was the quintessential newspaperman with half spectacles teetering precariously from the tip of his crooked nose and the piled up ash tray by his elbow bearing the weeks old butts looking for all the world like a small pyramid of animal droppings. The musty aroma surrounding Buxton also left much to be desired and any way you looked at him he was not in the running to win a popularity contest. He did however have one redeeming feature; the uncanny ability to spot a good story and sniff out the possibility of a scandal from 100 miles. As editors go he was decidedly old school and though the reporting team were terrorised by his constant screech for copy and his obsession with deadlines, there remained the grudging respect given a senior journalist who could wring a headline from thin air if necessary.
At precisely 5 AM every morning Buxton pushed his chair away from his desk, stubbed out his last cigarette of the night and donned his rumpled old hat, before heading out to the stairwell and making his way to the basement where he kept a private corner amid the floor-to-ceiling stacks of archived files. A leather chair, a cigar box and a small beer fridge had been fitted in around the assorted detritus of 110 years of newspaper production looking for all the world like they were growing there. 

On Friday the 17th however, he didn’t slump into his seat or prepare and light a cigar, or open a Guinness stubby from the fridge as was his custom. Upon entering the basement, instead he turned left and exited through a fire door into the narrow alley filled with the smells of inner-city garbage collection.
James came to the corner of the building and did his best to become an imprint in two dimensions against the rough stone alcove where he waited, etched into the shadow like a duotone graffiti print; just as cold and just as still. Then a movement at the far end of the alley, where the disused backdoor of The Herald discharged a weary, disheveled figure looking very much at home among the discarded rubbish and empty boxes.  James was jogged from his revere by the sound of a BMW that  coming to land like a Learjet, blocking even more of the light from the cross street to his right. Four Jag-clad thugs disembarked and made their way down the alley in the jingle of gold chains and glinting Rolex.
To James' surprise the four paid deference to the rumpled figure, then passed over a slender black briefcase which the surprise Don opened quickly and, glancing at the contents closed again with a snap. Peering through the muted halftones of the streetscape, James struggled to recognise the old man. Even when he disappeared back into the building he could not make the leap to consider it to be other than a strange intruder. It was when slipping back toward the side street that the resemblance struck him with a blow more devastating than if he had actually suffered violence. Mr Buxton.
Surely not, he thought. Then the pieces fell into place. It had shocked him when the sting's location was disclosed. The authorities had revealed little, despite his probing questions. He was mystified by the task-force code name “tooth fairy” - their droll name for the gangland figure who was rumoured to be ordinary by day and a ruthless autarch by night. If this were true, James wondered where the devil he found the time? Of course, he did have a small army of reporters to send off on information gathering expeditions, and he had great contacts inside the local police. In fact, all things considered, it was the perfect position of power. With a jot of his pen he could end a career, choose what was published, and what the population knew. He could rule the history of the town by wit and publicity. But not today. James broke into a run as the black SWAT van arrived and he followed the helmeted and kevlar swathed cops into the stair well, then onto the second floor. The door was locked from inside. A battering ram came forward. Two sharp pops of grenade launcher and then with masks down and automatic weapons leading, the squad stormed in.
On the floor, like the spill from a charity bin, lay Ainslie Buxton, AKA The Tooth Fairy and former chief editor of the Oldstown Herald. A fortune in gold coins, recently stolen from the museum, spilling across the floor from the briefcase in a luminous cascade.

Friday, September 10, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #172 for Sept 10th, 2010

Pressing the button more firmly this time, Jose waited nervously breathless, knees knocking inside her pressure suit as the portal's corroded servos began screeching their protest into the void. The facets of the sphincter finally begin a laborious expansion into their housings, protesting their arousal from retirement by the few solar cells still working. 
Jose could feel the torture of the alloy vibrating through the superstructure and braced herself against the shift in pressure to fight the drag of cold space while beginning her decent with practiced grace through the wreckage. This old crate wouldn't have been worth squat if the price of copper hadn't spiked again but now that the 2000 credits per kilo price point had been reached, every scrap-rat and scavenger in the solar system was scouring the junk in near earth orbit for the priceless metal.
Of course Jose was no exception. After all, who was she to judge those who were now her peers? She had secretly bargained, bluffed and plundered her way across every inch of known space in the five years since the united world council was overthrown and the corporations had finally taken charge. Now it was every capitalist for herself and Jose fully intended to be one of the winners. 
But this was no time for sky dreaming and she was brought rudely back into the present in a blast of compressed air and hydraulic fluid as the overstressed rams burst spewing their intestines outward in an embrangle of torn wiring, tubes, conduits and lines of razor-edged lagging. Jose was punched brutally into the framework and pinned in the writhing springy mass now caught precariously in the crook of an outer strut of the forward bridge of the abandoned hulk.
Quickly running a systems check for vital signs and peripheral damage, Jose gingerly brought two of her arms forward into the light of her photoluminescence visor. A gash as long as her forearm leaked plasma and alkaline film in a stream of droplets drawn outward in frozen ovoids. Damn but that hurt. Still, not the worst she had suffered and nothing a soak in her cocoon wouldn't fix but for now it was all she could do to free one more prehensile limb and get the medikit out to apply to the wound. 
The cool liquid feel of the nanos flooding out into the exposed cells to mesh in a chemically synthesized response to the damage was almost erotic in the wave of relief it brought. Jose glimpsed however briefly the world of the med addicts who lived only for the thrall of pleasure and pain as they at once severed then healed themselves in evermore narcissistic search for higher sensations.
There she was, sky dreaming again. Better check the… ah, there it is, of course, the increased blood endorphin levels from her extremely physical day had not only reduced pain but provided a euphoric high. "Ah, snap out of it" she said to herself out loud, then chortled at that as well before getting back to work stripping the threads of copper from the dangling veins of the old space station. Her first million credits wouldn't earn themselves.

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #172 for Sept 10th, 2010
Use one or more of these words  in your story (but resist the temptation to look them up first!)
  1. Periapt
  2. Vilipend
  3. Embrangle

Friday, September 3, 2010

[Fiction] Friday - #171 Albert is Dead

Ryan rolled over and kicked the sheets off his tired limbs. Feeling the lead in his legs as he sat wearily on the edge of the bed and clasped his head in his hands at the sound of King's bark. It was hard enough coping with being a single dad since Sophie died, but with their poor old dog continuing to bark because she had not come home from work, the pain was all the more intense.

The girls were coping well enough, in the resilient way of the very young. Ryan could not help but wonder how things would be for them as they grew older though, without their mother. He had no idea how he was going to cope once they reached their teens.
“King! King, knock it off” he yelled, and the dog finally came away from a fly screen door, padded down the hallway into his room and leapt heavily onto the bed beside him. “Good boy, good dog. There's a boy.” Ryan patted the big square head affectionately and found his tears flowing again.

“See you Mister Dunn” called Amy, their babysitter as she clattered out the front door. “Tomorrow” Ryan called back as the sound of flip-flops disappeared down the drive. "Afternoon shift isn't too bad" he thought, "at least it means I can spend more time with the girls in the daytime". Still, he really missed tucking them into bed the way he used to.

“Woof” said King, charging down the hallway again to scratch at the screen. He got up and followed King down the hall way shuffling his way past the kitchen door while rubbing his sore eyes. “Come on mate” Brian took the dog by the collar and lead him into the kitchen to make some breakfast, “thank God it's Friday”. Although with some reluctance Ryan remembered that he agreed to go to the local karaoke bar tonight with neighbours Marco and Alana Torreisis, and Linda, the quirky blonde from across the road.
Linda was sure she was being watched but continued the pretence of walking to the shops to please her husband and though it made her quiver with every fibre of her being, she went over her plans for the evening one more time. She felt bad involving poor Ryan like this, but there was no other way and her therapist assured that he would suffer no lasting damage. It it just had to be done. As she rounded the corner the police car door opened and she sat down into the back seat. The day had finally arrived and she would soon be free. She watched through a haze of tears as the SWAT team crept its way through the shrubbery toward her house, three officers splitting off from the rest of the team to approach the back.

There was a bang, and a flash followed by lots of shouting. Sounds of shelves falling over and a cascade of clattering plastic that she knew to be over 1000 DVDs. She could imagine them sliding like an avalanche across the floors. More shouting, then she heard Albert bellow like a bull in rage. The shouts rising to a crescendo followed by three very loud shots! Linda grabbed the door frame “Oh my God” she began to run.
“Missus, wait!” called the young officer behind her, but her mind was in a spin as she tore down the pavement. She stepped through the splinters of her smashed front door and pushed her way down the hall through the heaps of plastic canisters filled with years of receipts and other 'important' documents her husband hoarded. Everything was quiet in the house now but this made her even more afraid. “ Take him in for questioning” they said, “help us with our enquiries” they had said.

She rounded the corner into the kitchen and there was blood, frothing on his mouth, spattered across the wall and pooled like shiny resin flowing out across the vinyl. But worse, the stench of piss blending with the metallic tang of gunpowder and blood. The black-clad police standing guard and holstering weapons.

Sound of running. “Is everyone all right!” Ryan called pushing past the police, followed closely by King's shaggy form. “Holy shit” he exclaimed coming to an abrupt stop before the huge corpse. 
"Yes" said Linda in a daze. Before he could be stopped, King began lapping at the edge of the sticky pool. Linda collapsed into Ryan's arms.

Story inspired by the Fiction Friday response at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Love in Spring

Spring is back with budded head flaring
Bare ground aroused with colours soon blaring
Broken stem and close pruned roses
Exploding outward in outrageous poses
Crusted bough under lichen and mould
Softened by green as fresh leaves unfold
Sap running tide-like through stems newly hatched
Blossoms appearing with honey bees attached
Time when young boys grow more gallant inside
And Gals feel a buoyance their faces can’t hide
For great loves begin slowly the way this year’s buds will
From the stems of old roses that are blossoming still

A Date With Cinders (An Elizabethan Style Sonnet)

Get in my car with me, I’ll take you out.
We’ll have a super time till midnight’s chime,
when you should go, you mustn’t hang about.
When you’re half naked there lies six months grime.
We’ll leave the dance and get you back home quick;
I wouldn’t want step-mum to catch us here.
You know the sight of me will make her sick
Now that the prince’s wedding’s gettin’ near.
Oh Cinders, curse that stupid little fairy
who waved her wand to get you to the ball.
She got you hitched up with that lisping Mary;
A prince or not, he’s got no brains at all.
I’m sorry love to make you feel so bad,
My first love lost, I’ll always be this sad.

Under Stones

Lonely together
In orderly terraces
They commune in silence
Across the discarded slope.
Gravely they ponder the hours
Awaiting visitors who
Arrive in dribbles of conscience
Or just to steal the roses.
Her moss is coating the words
Her lichen has changed
Her middle name
To smith.
His special text
Has succumbed to the decay
Of sixty winters of frost
And is forgotten.
Laying there
Under their bleached stones
A whitewashed memory
Has a name and a life.
They are watching us
Argue with our time
Believing what we do
Is so important.
They can smile
When we forget them
They understand
In a heart beat
We will be them.


While sipping Beach House brutt the other day
I dreamed of mundane things and their beauty
My nefarious past drifted by on clouds
Like boats and bikes and stripy topped bathers
Of splish splashing children’s heavenly smiles.
My father’s picture in fair haired tight curls
hung over the doorway of Gran’s parlour
telling of his childhood just like mine; where
his father told him of his fathers time.
Their history unnerves me, their home is lost.
The wine lowered slowly, shortening the
rise of its bubbles the same way our time
for living is lessened with each passing
of the clock’s hand by twelve. I live in short
bursts of inspiration; champagne foaming
to be consumed by time’s lips, tounge and teeth.
My ancestors rejoice, their bain cast off
as I am swallowed; “fitting end for fools.”
late arrives to break my fearful mood
Its taste reminds me of days yet to live.
Chef’s specials waft into my deep revere
The wine has gone where temporal things go
swelling my stomach with its glowing buzz
because it does that for me when I dive
too deep into the past. I reach for
the strong coffee to quell the allergy 
I have to my history and its faces
like asthma it takes away my breathing
unlike coffee, which hits me as a wish
granted by the genie of the future.