The Rats in the Canal

Trolley in Canal

There’s a trolley in the canal that has joined the antique collection of dead pests and drowning shopping bags. The canal can be smelt before it’s seen. People scrunch up their noses and walk faster round here. No one wants to fix the problem. I used to hate that. Everyone complains but no one wants to help. Now I have to pray they never do. I hope they never drag up what lies at its bottom making the water foul. But he’s where he belongs now, with the rest of the rats.

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They’ll Never Stop Staring

She had always liked her nails. She didn’t consider herself vain but she always felt pride when her nails grew long enough to draw beautiful swirling patterns over to mesmerise the eye. She smiled whenever she caught someone admiring them.

Now, she mused, no one would ever stop staring at them. Her thought was cut off sharply as the hammer came down again, cracking the nail of her index finger and rivers of red bloomed against mountains of white bone.

The New Queen

They cheer for their new crowned queen. The crowd that cascades down the mountain is showered in white confetti, the same white of her dress and veil. She is brought to her husband, tears dripping down her neck.

Be happy, the crowd chants, be pure.

A priest in blue awaiting beside her husband. From her head, he plucks her silver crown and throws it to the crowd. They scream again, passing it slowly back down the path she walked, the crowd swarming it, each person wanting to touch a piece of her.

She lets out a choke noise that turns to alarm as her priest pushes her into the claws of their king. He bites down on her in one go, crushing on her bones. As he rears up, he splatters the nearby people. They delight in smearing it across themselves. He lowers his scaled head again and growls lowly at priest.

He turns and calls out, “take the king’s next bride.”

Man in the Mirror

The man before me only has one arm. It’s the most striking thing about him, for other than that, he is nothing of note. He wears a worn in fleece and blue jeans, a belt wrapped tightly around them. He must have been around thirty, but despite that his hair was already greying. His brown eyes stare into my own, looking for something. I don’t know what it is but I want to help him find it.

“Sir?”

The man looks around to the nurse speaking behind her and I do as well, stepping away from the mirror.

“Sorry, I thought I might at least remember my own face.”

Ignorance is Bliss

It still amazed him, the imagination of the young. He remembered playing with his older brother when he was three or four. They always played in the house as his brother wasn’t allowed outside, their mother had insisted. They fought on pirate ships and slayed dinosaurs. He would laugh all day, every time he was allowed to play with his older brother.

His father had always hated letting them play, but he didn’t notice. He didn’t notice a lot of things. Like how much older he appeared than his brother. How he never spoke, had to be carried everywhere, why he had to be kept away from the cats.

Hey, ignorance was bliss. He wished he could have remained ignorant and not have to stare down at the little mummified baby and have his childhood of joy tarnish by a morbid obsession of his mother’s.

Until Death Do Us Part

She could smell her. Rotting sounded too kind a word to describe it. Rot sounded too dry, too…natural. Festering decay was what crept under the golden door and sunk into the very stone of the palace.

There was something else in the air, a humid bite that made her eyes water and clung to her skin. No shower would remove it, for now it plastered her lungs. She didn’t know what that was. She didn’t want to know what that was. She scrunched up her nose and tried her best not to breathe as she walked forward.

The guards either side of the door didn’t seem to notice, but that was their duty. They had stood there when their Queen died and they continued to stand there when their King refused to let her leave their royal quarters.

It was horridly morbid and disgusting. The Queen should be-must be buried. She knew she was in the right, so why did she feel so guilty?

“A bit of advice my Lady.”

She jumped, forgetting for all their stillness, the guards were not statues.

“Don’t disturb him, unless you want to join her.”

Truth is What We Make it

Court

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

“I swear.”

I mean what would happen if I didn’t. Come on, seriously, who doesn’t swear, whether they are telling the truth or not.

“Where were you on the night in question?”

“I was at home…alone.”

I was standing over a dead man’s body in the middle of some dimly lit street.

“And can anyone testify to that?”

“Only God as my witness.”

He gave up on me a long time ago.

“Did you know the victim?”

“No, never met him.”

Well at least that is true.

“And so, you do not know of any reason why you would attack this man?”

“No sir.”

Simple, I wanted to know what it would feel like.

Family Curse

Plague

Jack died first. He was three and the youngest of the four siblings. Of course, they’d mourned, no one, not even the doctors knew what had happened. It was horrible, of course and so painful.

Then Sam had died. He was the oldest, twenty and a rugby player. How could he have fallen so ill, his skin turning blue within hours, sweat steaming from his forehead?

It’s a terrible thing, to feel so helpless as a parent, to lose two children. But they still cooked dinner with them, helped their two remaining children with their homework and kissed them goodnight. But in the night while staring into the darkness they knew, deep down, their suffering wasn’t over.

When Tom caught a fever, they knew what was to come. They held their breath because the doctors had said again and again, it was just a coincidence. He couldn’t die. They’d taken him to the hospital, the best doctors with round the clock care if anything went wrong

They buried their third son the following week.

Ben seemed to know what was coming, he was the last one left and even if he was only eight he cried and sobbed all day and night. Three torturous days past. But Ben was wrong.

His father died first. They had both been stressed and traumatised with the ordeal, he had been allowed to feel under the weather. So, his wife had woken, hugging a cold and stiff body.

When Ben finally fell ill, they didn’t call the doctors, instead his mother had curled around him in her bed and the two stayed together, defeated by this curse until Ben went limp in her arms. She realised she no longer had tears to cry for her last child, putting him in the bed as she grew numb. The end would come for her soon as well. She took comfort in that.

But after a week she realised, her own curse was to live.

For Family

She was dead, though more than that her body was almost unrecognisable. A pity, Sara had once been pretty. Pretty dim. Pretty low ranking. But pretty beautiful as well, he supposed. Edward brushed his thumb over her cheek. It was dripping with thick blood, coming from what had been her mouth, now was a gaping hole. He let his thumb slip in. They’d removed her tongue. Interesting. When he removed it, it was black with blood. He sucked it clean as he looked over the scene happening behind him.

The traitor (he had forgotten his name, it was hardly important now) was on the floor, his left knee broken, the white bone visible through his cloth slacks and he was cowering in front of Jon. Though Edward could see why, his towering brother was fury and thunder alight in a single body and sword, quaking with anger. It was disappointing Sara was dead. Not much made his meek brother this blood thirsty.

“Please,” the traitor begged, “my King, my Lord,” Edward flinched at that, a lowly title to have succumbed to, “have mercy, I surrender.”

Jon moved back but an inch, fury still in his eyes. Edward decided to help his brother slightly.

“You know…we’re the only ones in here.”

“And?” he said through gritted teeth.

“Well…I didn’t hear him say he surrendered. He fought to the bitter end…on one leg as well.”

“No, please no, I surrendered!”

Jon was no longer listening to the traitor instead watching Edward intently. He raised his eyebrows and stroked Sara’s blood matted hair. Disappointingly, it didn’t help stoke the burning anger, instead seemed to put it out. Jon‘s shoulders slumped, and he sheathed his sword.

“I accept your surrender. You will be tried in my court for treason. You will pay for what you did to her.”

He came to the bed, Edward moving for Jon to pick up the corpse, the pool of blood on the bed a lot larger than it appeared Jon was expecting. He inhaled sharply, and Edward came to his side.

“I’ll take care of him,” he said gently, squeezing his brother’s arm, “you just get her away from this horrible place, it’s the least we can do for her.”

Sorrow had seemingly overtaken his brother as he didn’t even question Edward’s motive.

He practically skipped to the traitor once they were alone. He reached out a hand as if Edward would help him to his feet but instead Edward unsheathed his sword and impaled his right shoulder. The scream was music to his ears, but he hoped the best was to come. This was mostly pain and shock, but the most beautiful sound was when they realised their doom.

“I surrendered,” he spat.

“Yes, yes,” Edward dismissed with a flick, taking out a dagger, “but you only need to be alive to be tried and executed. I might as well enjoy a little revenge before then.”

“What did she mean to you!? Didn’t you murder your queen?”

“Yes,” he said, bringing the dagger to his chin as if thinking, “she was annoying and that one was…worse,” he gestured to the bed. Slowly he knelt, grinning, “but this isn’t about them. This is because you made my brother cry.”
King and Throne