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.




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.