strange

Forever Autumn

Forever-Autumn

The slime was at least a foot deep. The layers of death stagnant with unwilling time. Her boots only just managed to stay on her feet as the ground sucked them in like hungry mouths. The naked trees whispered in worried breaths. They knew this wasn’t how things were meant to be.

The silence of the outside deafened her mind. The unreplenished foods it had once provided sang no more. Her weakened body felt the pain, not only of the loss of abundance but of the choice she would have to make when survival poked at her last will.

She held onto his hand. A hand once so tiny only a few years before, when creation still made the world and the Gods gave equal reign to the cycles so required for a life to live. His hand wasn’t chubby, but still it held some flesh. Some meat. Some sustenance. Could she stop herself? A question for the soul, that was.

The ground sucked at the feet that trod upon it. Hungry. All hungry. Thanks to the test of the Gods. A game that would have its end, for them and for their Earth.

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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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Halloween Ghoul

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It’s Halloween! At last! At last! The night Sam had been waiting for.
He’d practiced hard his howls and grrs, terrified they’d be, he was sure.
Grease painted jowls, hollow eyes, holes cut into a pillow case.
He was such a chilling site, such a fright, with his spooky bestest scary face.
Clutching his plastic pumpkin basket, his high-vis trainers on his feet,
His mum took a photo for the mantelpiece, then followed him down the street.

They went to Mrs Bumblebam with her wobbly feet.
Her cat sat in the window, looking nice and neat.
She would be scared, she would be shocked. How she would quiver.
Her legs would wibble, her feet would wobble and make her all a shiver!

Sam knocked on the door, once, then twice.
As it opened he howled into the night.

“Oh, here’s some toffee apples my lovely little man.
Now mind you eat them nice and slow,” said Mrs Bumblebam.
“Isn’t he lovely? Isn’t he sweet? By far the cutest ghoul I ever did meet.”

His mother’s face proudly swelled, indeed her son was the cutest in the world.
But Sam wasn’t happy, not one little bit.
He wanted to be the scariest ghoul on the whole street!

They went to Mr Fartheroy, who was mostly skin and bones.
His garden guarded diligently by his little red nosed gnomes.
He would be scared, he would be shocked. How he would shudder.
His bones would shake, his skin would flake and make his fudder judder!

Sam knocked on the door, once, then twice.
As it opened he howled into the night.

“Oh here’s some chocolate mallows my tiny little boy.
Now mind you eat them nice and slow,” said Mr Fartheroy.
“Isn’t he lovely? Isn’t he sweet? By far the cutest ghoul you could ever meet.”

His mother’s face proudly swelled, indeed her son was the cutest in the world.
But Sam wasn’t happy, not one little bit.
He wanted to be the scariest ghoul on the whole street!

They went to the Sorrowglads, a couple without child.
Past their gate the air did freeze, where the others had been mild.
They would be scared, they would be shocked. How they would bellow.
Their hearts would thump, their nerves would jump, their knees would turn to jello!

Sam knocked on the door, once, then twice.
As it opened he howled into the night.

“Oh here’s some fudgy yum yums my small little lad.
Now mind you eat them nice and slow,” said Mr and Mrs Sorrowglad.
“Isn’t he lovely? Isn’t he sweet? By far the cutest ghoul we ever will meet.”

His mother’s face proudly swelled, indeed her son was the cutest in the world.
But Sam wasn’t happy, not one little bit.
He wanted to be the scariest ghoul on the whole street!

‘Alas,’ thought Sam, but in different words, ‘I shall never scare.
There must be no ghost spookier than me. It just isn’t fair!’
But then, Sam looked once, then looked twice, but no, it couldn’t be!
It was! A figure in the dark, just behind the maple tree.

While his mother and the Sorrowglads babbled into the night,
Sam slipped away, past the tree, and found a boy so white.
“What is your name?” Sam enquired, “I have not seen you before.”
“I am Tom, and you will not, as I did die years afore.
I have watched your anger grow and grow,
Your failure does frustrate.
But let me tell you, Master Sam, being a ghoul is not so great.
No more treacle pudding and custard.
No more warm bed for me.
No more present on my birthday.
No more hugs from mum to me.
No more friends or play time.
No more fishing trips.
No more trees for me to climb.
No more Friday fish and chips.”

Sam’s mother called, “It’s time to go, where are you little Sam?”
A ghoulish glow came from the trees, and Sam said “Here I am.”

That night, after Sam had brushed his teeth, and hugged his mum so hard,
He snuggled in his Batman bed and his mum read to him out loud.
When she’d finished she said goodnight and kissed him on his head.
“Mum,” Sam said, “I think next Halloween I’ll be a robot boy instead.”

 

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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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The Interview

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“And what’s your favourite colour?”

The question was a weird one, Mikey thought. But then the whole interview hadn’t been exactly normal up to now. The room was very…well, very vague. It seemed the more he tried to look at the details the less the details stood out. He thought there was a window, but every time he looked for one he couldn’t see it. He knew there were walls, but he couldn’t quite make out their colour. He felt that he was sat on a chair of some kind, his buttocks were telling him so, but he didn’t know how he’d sat on it when he didn’t remember actually seeing it.
“My favourite colour?” asked Mikey.
“Yes,” said the interviewer. “You know, red, green, purple, that sort of thing.”
“Um,” said Mikey, “Blue, I suppose.”
The interviewer wrote something on a brightly coloured pad in front of him, with an oversized pencil with a big fat pink rubber on top.
“And do you get angry easily?”
Mikey felt his eyebrows gave away the confusion he was feeling at these strange questions. The interviewer stared expectantly. Almost intimidating in his demeanour. At least he would have been if he wasn’t wearing lime green dungarees and sitting in what seemed to be a high chair, with wipe clean plastic table.
“I don’t think I do, no,” replied Mikey.
The questions continued, mostly about how he liked to play, places he liked to visit. Did he like zoos and slides, did he like ice cream and cola cubes. He answered. He felt somehow it was important.
“And Cheshire Cat grins. I hear this is an issue for you.”
The interviewer’s eyes bulged. Mikey felt this was a make or break question, the answer of utmost importance. He felt his heart rate rise. His palms starting to sweat. His eyes darted around the incoherent room, trying to make sense of the fuzz that surrounded him, this strange interviewer, this even stranger yet very important question. Cheshire Cat grins? What did that mean?
“Well, no. Not really. Not that I’ve ever noticed anyway.”
“Not a general aversion to Alice in Wonderland or any other made up fantasy world then.”
“No.
“Ah good. Good. Good.” The scribbling of big pencil filled his ears and the darkness took him once again.

***

She woke him with a cup of tea that only she could make. The first thing he felt that morning was love. He’d felt that every morning for the last year and a bit.
“We’re going for ice cream today, remember? At the zoo?”
“Oh yeah!” he said, and kissed her forehead as she lay on his shoulder. But there was something else. Something in that cheeky look, her eyes that shone slightly brighter than usual.
“What?” he laughed, holding her close.
She giggled back. She had that grin on her face. The one that she could sometimes keep for hours before she’d tell him why. She said she enjoyed the feeling and wanted it to last, the feeling of knowing something exciting and that she would be the first one to tell him. It wouldn’t feel as good if she didn’t love him as much as she did, she’d said. It was like the cat that got the cream. A Cheshire one maybe.
“Oh I can’t keep it in much longer,” she laughed, beaming a smile that exploded across her face like a supernova. Mikey couldn’t help but do the same.
“What? Tell me.”
“I’ve got something important to tell you,” she said, smiling with her big brown eyes. “It’s finally happened, what we’ve been waiting for.” Her soft hand cupped his cheek as she brought her glowing face to his.
“We’re going to have a baby.”

 

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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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