death

Stupid Bitch

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Her mates had laughed as hard as she had as they’d watched the flames take the house. That weird house with its weirdo occupant. She deserved it. Stupid bitch.

The day before she’d screamed at them to get lost from her porch, threatening them with some law or other, which they’d laughed off. They’d threatened her back and she’d huffed at them before slamming the door, as if she didn’t believe they’d do it. Ha! Silly cow. Now she’d know what they were capable of. They’d ran to the fields as the fire engine had approached. Too late, as it turned out.

She remembered now how she’d felt then. No remorse. The joint satisfaction between friends at a job well done. How her mangled body would have been burnt to a crisp in her dilapidated house. How they’d justified their actions to each other, made up their alibis, and vowed to keep quiet. She had deserved it. Stupid bitch.

But as she lay in her bed, unable to move, unable to cry out for her mum, unable to defend herself, she realised there was no way she could make amends for what she’d done. The smell of it permeated the bedroom. The smoky waft of crispy skin. The scratchy sound of its half burned bones as they creaked around the bed. As it hovered above her she could see the charred form in the bright moonlight. The red eyeballs bulged from the still glowing blackness of its face. The body was still burning, but from within. The fire, fuelled by rage, wanted its next victim. A charcoaled hand reached for her. An ember fell from the tip of its finger and landed on her throat. She tried to scream but the shock caused a delay long enough for the ember to burn through her skin and onto her vocal chords, through her neck, her spine, and onto her mattress. Terror filled silence was all she could make. The figure’s skeleton cracked as the jaw widened and it laughed with a croak and a wisp of smoke, “Stupid bitch,” it said.

 

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The Extra Hour

The-Extra-Hour

The way your hair sparkles in the moonlight while the twisted breeze plays. The blue of your eyes always melts my mind. The touch of our skins. My flesh has hungered for you, the same as it did when your heartbeat walked with mine. When we dreamed and planned and held each other together in this world. Before you went away. The familiarity of you never fades, even with these days apart.

Why we are given this moment once a year I do not know. I do not question something so precious, even if it is inexplicable. The clocks adjust, and our hour begins. The extra hour. The only hour I live for. We just stay here. Remembering when our days were spent together. Remembering when the universe took us from each other and you began your new existence in some other time, some other part of space. Time has no master within your smile. I know what forever feels like now. Even though it ends.

Once a year is all we can have, and that fleeting time is nearly up. The clock edges to the end of these anomalous minutes. Until the next time when the hours cross and I can exist with you once again.

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The Last Fall

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“But I don’t want to go!” wailed Chester.
“You have to,” said Lea.
“But it’s so far down, and I like it up here.”
Chester stared fearfully towards the damp grass below. He felt the breeze tickle his underside. The underside that was once bright green, now orange with tinges of yellow. He likes his spot. His mid-branch. It was comfy.
“I shan’t go!” he said defiantly. “I just won’t! I’m staying here and that’s that.” If Chester had arms he would have surely folded them. He curled his slightly crispy edges instead.
Lea sighed. “If you don’t go the master will be angry,” she said. “It is your fate. It has been since you were a bud. You know that.”
Chester curled even more, as much as a leaf could anyway.

The rumbling began from the roots. A squirrel forgot his half dug hole and ran for a nearby ash tree. The peeling bark began to break up. The first branches shook with terror, and Chester could almost hear the screaming rustle of his friends below.
“Chester, come on!” Lea rattled against her branch, trying to dislodge herself, like the good little leaf she was.
“I’m not going anywhere!” shouted Chester. “You can’t make me!”
The rumbling grew, the vibration rushed to the top of the tree’s trunk and every branch, every twig, every leaf quaked under its wrath. Then Lea fell.
“Byeeeeee Cheeesterrrrr!”
Her voice fell away from him and Chester felt alone. He watched as his friends dived to their last resting places, ready to be blown and kicked, trampled and crumbled until nothing of them was left. One after the other the rainbow of dying comrades left him. Until he was the last little leaf on the whole tree.
“CHESTER!” a booming voice said. “YOU NEED TO GO NOW.”
“But…” said Chester, quivering from his tiny midrib.
“IF YOU DON’T GO,” said the voice from within, “I CANNOT MAKE ANEW. IF YOU DON’T GO THEN LIFE CANNOT CONTINUE.”
Chester drooped. His curl loosened.
“IF YOU DON’T GO,” boomed the voice, “I WILL HAVE TO MAKE YOU.”
Chester considered himself. But he considered himself for too long. Then he felt his branch shake, hard. As suddenly as it had begun, the shaking stopped. Then silence. Then a prod, right in his petiole.

As Chester fell through the air he knew that his end was necessary. He resigned himself to his required death, and landed gently on the moist grass. The squirrel returned for a final look at his half dug hole, then relieved himself with a satisfied smirk.
Chester sighed.

 

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Days of Dreams

Days-of-Dreams

His crooked fingers curled around themselves like hundred year old twigs. He let out a breath that filled the air with rancid rotting mists and dust of decay.
“When will it begin?!” he cried.
He could only dream.

The brightness of Summer’s smile hurt his eyes. He squinted into her domain, still strong, still full with creation. The bees buzzed about him. The ladybirds sipped on aphids’ guts. The hover flies taunted the breeze, flitting and flirting to there and here. Sprouts of life shouted at the sun, announcing their presence with open faces. Their roots pushed into the bed he’d prepared in a time before now. His time.
Frustration rumbled beneath his cracked veins.
He could only dream.

Then he felt it. The cool waft of Death’s call. The ache of Mother Nature’s wish. Summer’s smile loosened as she watched her children fall limp. Her bees searched for a place of rest. The ladybirds sought cover within crevices and cracks. Preparations for the long sleep began.
Now she must dream.

He stretched away his enforced slumber and readied himself for his duty. The beginning of the end. He must prepare the world for its death.

 

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Billy

 

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Outside the corner shop, lookin’ for my pot. Couldn’t find it. I was so out of it though I couldn’t find my own feet! Louise was there, and Zoe. Zoe felt ill, what with being six months’ pregnant. Not sayin’ she’s easy. Maybe a bit keen, and she still ain’t got no rock on her finger. But why not? Girls can have fun too. While Louise went to get some booze Zoe went to the hat shop doorway opposite to be sick. I was still trying to find my pot, and enough money somewhere in my pockets so I could buy some cigarettes. That’s when Billy turned up. He asked if I was going to Captain Zeez later. I really wanted to, but didn’t fancy it on my own. Zoe wasn’t coming, that’s for sure, and even if Louise came she’d always wander off. I think she was embarrassed to be seen with me. She can be frosty sometimes, and I know I can be kinda gloopy sometimes, too. So I said yeah. To Billy, that is. Louise came out of the shop. She gave me some money for cigarettes and ran to look after Zoe in the hat shop doorway. I think she was annoyed with me. Again.

I went in to buy cigarettes. I was so woozy, I can tell you. That pot was good! I swear I nearly collapsed on the floor. Somehow I came round a bit when I got to the tall counter. I nearly had to stand on tiptoes to reach it. It helped that they were changing over cashiers and I had to wait a bit for them to sort out the cash in the till. I smiled at them too. Always wins people over. I knew the woman behind the till with the downturned eyes. I don’t know how.

When I came out Louise and Zoe were gone. Billy was still there, leanin’ on the phone box with his red neckerchief below his double chin and full toothy grin filling his happy round face. His bit-too-tight t-shirt was printed with dark comic book scenes and his protruding belly made the stretched material shine under the streetlight. He kept his hands in his jeans’ pockets, ruckling up his brown leather jacket. His dark hair danced in the warm breeze. I said I needed to go home first. He said we should go to his first so he could drop his Triumph off and have something to eat, his dad will have made something.

I was sat there with Billy and his dad watchin’ some show on telly. I wanted to watch the show but not tonight. Tonight I wanted to go dancing. I told Billy, and then I said to his dad that we’d have to go because we were going out and we’d be late. His dad didn’t seem to mind. He’d made extra beans on toast for me, which was a shame because Billy hadn’t touched any of his. As I left I heard his mother say something and his father replied.
“She’s just a nice girl needs some comfort, let her alone.”
“You shouldn’t let her in,” I heard his mum say as his dad shut the door.

We walked up the street, all the cats were out in the sharp suits and duck-butt hair, piling out of the dance halls, off up to Captain Zeez. I was so cranked up! But I had to go home and get changed first. Billy said I looked fine, but I wanted to. So we found a bus. It was one of those bar buses that served drinks, with seats around the edge facing the middle. Billy sat on the opposite side to me, next to two mums. I shouted to him to come sit next to me, but he didn’t seem to hear me. I heard one mum say his name within a whisper, “Billy Ray Beans,” Cool name, huh? I sure thought so. Their whispers mingled with the clang of sherbet cocktails and the fizz of soda water, “That young lad. Poor soul. His mum works in Laycocks, that little corner shop down Miley Street.” Fizz! Fizz! “They say she looks awful sad all the time.” She said somethin’ else in a sad tone, but I wasn’t paying attention. Billy had disappeared. Couldn’t see him anywhere. I looked all round the bus. When I got back he was sat there, right where he was before. We got off the bus and I made it clear to him this was nothin’ like a date. I was only going to the dance with him because he’d said I was a bit of an oddball and he liked my kookieness, and I felt the same about him. Pure coincidence. And I liked banana and peach smoothies with lime. So did he. That was the only reason. Nothin’ else. He agreed it was too. I couldn’t see his face when he said it, but I think he sounded a bit disappointed.

I got changed and we went to Captain Zeez. It’s always a blast at Captain Zeez. I danced on top of the plastic boat. I could feel my petticoats swinging around me, and with my yellow fitted shirt I must have looked amazing up there. People tried to bash my ears, but I didn’t want to stop. Why should I? I told them to get bent. The music was still playin’. Billy was still there, watchin’ me on top of that plastic boat. No gingles for me! The song finished and I slid down the boat on my petticoats. My shoes had gone though, so I went to find them, and Billy. I couldn’t find either. I was still lookin’ when they found me, all concerned eyes and soothing voices.

I will always remember that night at Captain Zeez. It was only a few months after the accident, so the nurses told me anyways. Billy had said it was okay, so I knew it would be. When I flew through the air it was like slow motion. Riding on the breath of the world. The nothing of our lives. The nothing that Billy filled. I don’t remember the funeral, but everyone said it happened. I stopped going round to see Billy’s dad once the doctors took me over. I wonder now what he must have thought, sitting there with his beans on toast. I miss Billy. But he’ll always be with me, on the bus, or outside the corner shop, or watching me on that plastic boat.

I never did find my shoes.

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Bloody Flies

bloody-flies

She licked her feet, one by one, watching the spider on the opposite wall. If it went anywhere near her babies she’d be able to take it on, she thought. It was bigger than her. Maybe twice her size. But she knew where to hit them hardest. Right between the eyes, which were a fairly big target considering there were eight of them. She’d stick her tongue out just as she was about to hit, try and get one of the middle ones, give it a good poke. That would at least buy her some time. If it recovered before her babies were ready then she’d just have to rally the other mums into forming a barricade. There were quite a few other mums around while she was giving birth so it would be in their interests too. She had got the best patches though. She felt satisfied at that.
The human had changed colour from pink to blue, then purple with a greenish black marbled effect. He was much bigger than she remembered too. And he occasionally made loud squeaking noises which he hadn’t made before. She’d learned that whenever she heard these noises the human had supplied more food. It was like an audible smell. The food conveniently oozed out right next to where her babies lay. She’d tasted its foamy goodness herself. No point in letting good food go to waste. Her babies got it all now they had pupated, and she had watched with such pride as they’d moved from the foam to solids, raking their way through the food, shredding and gorging, growing so quickly. She had provided a good nursery, and her babies would be strong and healthy because of it. Thanks, in part, to the human, of course. Every darkness, when he’d moved about more than he was now, the human used to leave her food out before he went through the wall. She’d spend some time on the rims of the plastic containers, regurgitating and supping at the contents before sleep time. He went through the wall regularly, usually when he removed the light from the flashing box that he’d been transfixed by as the inaccessible outside changed from light to the darkness. He always came back though, not long after the inaccessible outside darkness faded into the light again.
He didn’t do that anymore.
He’d begun in the lightness as usual, moving all his pink wobbly bulk around the room, opening the lightness blockers, fishing down the back of his seat for the knobbly lump that made the flashing box start on its cycle of flashing. As he was on his way to the hole in the wall – probably to make the mist liquid that he drank so much of – she’d bumped into him, quite by accident. He’d picked up his killing stick and started swatting at her. She played with him for a while, darting this way, that way, around, about, over and up, and the human moved about so jauntily that one of his only four feet caught the tall purple mist making glass tube he was always consuming from, and then there were two thumps. The vibration of the second thump almost knocked her from the ceiling light. He hadn’t moved since. After a while the smell became overwhelmingly good and she knew this was her opportunity. She used her remaining sperm, collected from a nice fly she’d met on the geranium a while ago, and found lots of lovely moist spots for her babies. The last ones she laid in a particularly seepy hole next to one of the jellied nests in the human’s head. It had lots of sticky red slime around it, and she’d spent ages getting it off her feet. There was more sticky red slime on the corner of the flashing box too. She’d accidentally landed in it on her way to look at the inaccessible outside for a bit. The substance had made her feel good.
Happy, even.
Relaxed, definitely.
As she clung to the inaccessible outside, mesmerised more than usual by the white fluffy creatures floating serenely along against the large blue up there, she found herself wandering inside her mind’s eye. She knew humans were sometimes irritated with her kind, but her kind are important recyclers of organic matter, and she knew the humans were trying to be good at recycling the inedible matter that they made, so that’s something we have in common. If only they would think about that when trying to beat the crap out of her with killing sticks, or trying to boil her from the inside with the metal tubes that sprayed the white death. She’d heard about her kind being imprisoned by humans, made to breed so their young can be taken from them. She’d heard that sometimes they were hung on hooks straight through their little bodies, and the horror stories about being fed alive to the creatures that live in the wet, only for them to die to be eaten themselves. Humans, only humans, could do this. Babies bred to die to cause death. Babies bred for killing. Her babies wouldn’t have to go through that. Ever. She was adamant. Her human had provided life for her babies. She’d watched him fill himself with his food; the golden sticks, the colourful circles, the various mists, some of which made her feel very relaxed, a bit like the red sticky stuff. She’d watched him shed his flimsy outer skins with relief and squeak the rounded end of his pinkness into his seat, usually when the fire ball was just disappearing from the up there. She’d watched him wait until the darkness came, staring at his flashing box, and then hide away until lightness arrived again. Apart from the odd near death swatting with the killer stick, he was a fairly amenable human. And now, even though he hadn’t moved for a while, he was giving life to her babies. Some humans are okay, see?
A loud bang interrupted her train of thought, and four humans entered from the inaccessible outside. There were two in white outer skins that covered them from their heads to their feet. They went straight to her human, where her babies were. Another human with an outer skin of mostly black with a fuzzy sound coming from a box on his chest stood by the door, in front of a flustered red human who was trying to see over the black human’s shoulder.
“Is it him?” said the flustered human. “Oh god, it is, isn’t it?” The flustered human became even redder and started leaking from her eyes. “He’s not a bad sort. Bit of a loner, but always paid his rent on time. Oh dear God! How am I going to rent this place out now?!”
She didn’t listen to what the black human said in reply to the now shaking human with the leaky eyes. She was too busy watching the two white humans who were hunched over her babies, prodding around with long white sticks.
“Been dead four or five days at a guess,” said one of them to the black human, and a sob came from the shaking human behind him. The white human picked up the remains of the tall purple glass tube. “Looks like he may have been intoxicated. Fallen and bumped his head on the TV here.”
The white human was prodding at the red sticky stuff with his white skinned finger. Then, without enough care, they rolled her incubator over. Her babies! She flew over to the wall with the hole in it. The crusty wound on the human’s skull was more in the open now. She could see some of her children squirming about in there. She watched intently as the four humans examined her nest sites. She was sure one of them had put some of her babies in a plastic container, but she couldn’t see past his big white head to be sure. She flew to the celling light as they gathered white sticks and containers. As all four of the humans left she flew to her nursery. She crawled into the red sticky hole and told her writhing babies not to be afraid, trying to keep the fear from her buzz. She told them they were nearly ready to leave the nest and to hang on. Just hang on.
The loud bang triggered her instinct to fly off and the two white humans returned with a big black bag which they spread out on the floor.
“Watch your back now, Kevin,” said one of the white humans, and they picked up the whole mass of her human and put him on top of the black plastic bag. She panicked. Her wings chattered in disbelief. They were! They were putting her human inside the bag, sealing it up. Taking her nursery. Her babies! They picked the bag up, one white human at each end, and made towards the barrier to the inaccessible outside. Her frenzied buzz carried across the room, but only the spider flinched. She flew as fast as her wings would carry her, towards the barrier to the inaccessible outside, which was closing slowly. The two white humans were on the stairs, the barrier was closing, closing, closing. The gap looking nearly too small for her to fit through. She flew, hard. The gap squeezed. She was nearly there. Just a few more hard flaps…
The barrier shut.
She flew down the stairwell and found the two white humans strapping her imprisoned babies in their black bag to a moving table. It glided along, into the outside, helped by one white human. The other white human was already in the outside. She had no barrier to contend with this time, and into the outside she went for the first time in a while. No time to appreciate the cool air, the endless space, the slight breeze which she would normally have enjoyed floating within. Entirely focused on the direction of her babies, she shot towards the two white humans. She darted around them as they put everything into a larger version of the killing machines only found in the outside. It was white too, mostly. Then one of the white humans got in and started closing the doors. She darted towards the closing gap, but she’d been spotted. The white human whacked her with his limb, but this only gave her the propulsion she needed to get nearer to her babies. She buzzed her arrival to them, hoping they could hear that she hadn’t lost them. She was still here.
She hid on the roof of the white killing machine as it rattled for what seemed like ages. When it stopped, the white human opened the doors, and pulled the black bag through them. In a frenzy she flew into the outside, being swatted again by one of the white humans. Left. Right. Swirling her way around her babies, she followed over them, shrieking at her attackers to let her children go. They moved quickly. They were going towards a hole in the wall of a huge inaccessible inside place. All the humans around her were wearing an outer skin of white or blue, and they smelled like a no food area. The barriers to the inaccessible inside were opening by themselves, sighing as they did so. They were like the inaccessible outside she used to cling to, except they moved out of the way. The light of the fire ball in the up there reflected off one of them. It almost blinded her, but she carried on. She dived at the white humans. They fought back, swatting with massive limbs, knocking her off course. But she held her momentum. Determined. Focused. Ignoring the blinding fire ball glare fuzzing her path. She wouldn’t let them go. She wouldn’t let her babies down. She would give her…

Reg was glad the day was nearly over. This was the last pair of doors. The last pair of 46 doors and 24 emergency exits, to be exact. He always left the mortuary doors till last. They were nearest his locker, and therefore nearer home time. Although a lucrative gig, the window cleaning of an entire hospital was knackering. It builds up an appetite at least, thought Reg, and he smiled to himself. He’d got a large steak and kidney pudding from the butcher on the precinct at the weekend and tonight he was going to share it with the lovely Linda. Linda Morgan, from number 12. So pleased had she been when Reg offered to fix the front door to her flat, and for free, that she positively glowed when he asked her round for a bit of dinner. She’d even made him another cup of tea. A sure sign, felt Reg. He sloshed his squeegee in his bucket of bubbly water and thought of Linda tucking into his pudding, the oozing gravy pooling around the Smash mound. Hmm. As the squeegee squeaked its way down in neat lines on the door window Reg thought of the bottle of pink Lambrini chilling in the fridge, and how impressed Linda would be with his new wine glasses, four for a pound, specially bought for her visit. The squeegee bumped away from its line of squeeg, so Reg started from the top again. Yes, the wine should do the trick, he thought. Especially the pink. Again, the interruption of his glide. He took his cloth from his pocket and inspected the point that seemed to be causing the problem. He folded the cloth in half and pushed his finger deep into the middle, and, with precision, he rubbed, hard.
“Bloody flies,” said Reg.

 

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