Not Going Out

“Hey, I was thinking of going out drinking with the gals. You free?”

She looked to her thick blankets and fluffed up pillow waiting with her woolly pyjamas.

“Afraid not…my sister has just died and I’m still processing it.”

Bed

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Art of Small Talk

“Why are you so obsessed with the weather?”

George huffed and fiddled with the newspaper across his lap. Sam had finally agreed to come on holiday. Actually, Sam had agreed for the first time since he had moved in, to go outside.

Sam looked normal. That was all George could say with certainty. He looked like the most generic human out there, and to different people, that could mean different things. He could appear as a kindly old lady or a beret wearing hipster. Sam to George had looked like a red-haired and freckled boy when they first met, sixty years ago. He had kept his red features through their lives, though he had jumped in age and height as George had grown up.

Because Sam wasn’t human. He didn’t really know what Sam was. When Sam had first tried to explain what he was George had assumed that when he said ‘I’m not human’ he had been referring to his homosexuality. That night had involved George hugging him tightly while Sam fumbled through explanations that never went anywhere. After that Sam seemed too embarrassed to try and talk about it again and their lives continued with the knowledge sometimes, Sam ate plastic and random strangers would think they knew him. It was why he preferred to be inside with George, Sam didn’t have to hide in front of him. But the holiday was for George and they, (or maybe just George), weren’t getting any younger.

“People are not obsessed with the weather its just…a conversation starter. You know, everyone knows what the weather is…most of the time.”

Sam slapped George’s thigh.

“Did we ever talk about the weather?”

“No, but we were children, that’s different. Its…small talk.”

“I thought that was whispering.”

“No, no, its what conversation starters are called, asking about the weather or current world events.”

“Ah.” Sam stared across the pool. “LOVELY WEATHER WE’RE HAVING.”

The woman in the deck chair across from them jumped, though George found it surprisingly unsurprising.

“No,” he said quietly, “that’s…not quite right.”

“Why not?”

“Well, you usually ask people who are close by, also you don’t normally ask about the weather…inside.”

“Well what else do you talk about if not the weather. You know I have no idea about the news.”

George sighed and stood up ready to swim.

“Well you usually talk about stuff you have in common. Now,” he kissed Sam’s forehead, “don’t get into trouble.”

He dived in and did about two lengths before there was a loud scream and a splash. A woman was now flailing fully-clothed in the pool. He swam over as fast as he could.

“Are you alright?” he said, hooking his arms under hers.

The spluttering woman gladly accepted his help as he swam her to the edge of the pool. But his heart sunk as he realised Sam was crouched where the woman had fallen in.

‘Pushed,’ he corrected himself, ‘pushed.’

“You and my husband are both soaked in water, how do you feel about that?”

George definitely deserved a spa weekend alone.

Beach

My Lovely but Dangerously Flirty Wife

SniperIt’s grey overhead and up here the wind is strong and howling, making the building move beneath me. The cold has turned my face red and raw. The one thing you learn in this profession is that thick clothes are everything.

Looking through a scope for hours requires a level of comfort. Both the comfort of three million pounds if I just lie fucking still, but also the comfort of padded knees. I’ve been here for four hours going on five, but I’ve waited longer.

It doesn’t take long, all I know about my target is that they are meeting with my client’s wife today. She’s meant to be left unharmed, (hopefully having learnt her lesson). She comes out of the fancy restaurant across the street, wearing a wide brim hat and sunglasses despite the overcast day.

The target has an arm over her shoulders and a smile dripping with poison as the wife laughs at whatever the target has just said. I know its probably funny as I’ve heard enough dry wit from that mouth. It’s my wife.

“Shit,” I mutter. I still look through the scope at them, but my hand is far from the trigger.

Well. This is going to be an interesting conversation with May when I get home.

My window of opportunity closes quickly, though the five seconds for them to cross the road would have been plenty of time to take a shot. When they are almost directly beneath me, I look away from the scope, taking a shaky sigh. I have to get down there to warn her. I begin to dismantle my gun when something catches my eye.

There’s a glint from the roof of the building across. Shit. People just don’t put enough trust in hired assassins these days. It was a two-storey building, hardly worth the sniper rifle they have, but who am I to talk on my three-storey building. They have a clear shot and could be lining up sights as I randomly narrate this to myself. I settle back down, fumbling to reassemble the gun but my fingers shake, and I swear so loudly that it echoes into the leaden clouds. Not enough time. Well fuck, sometimes we have to take risks for love.

I draw my handgun from my belt and shoot down at the roof. The people on the street began to scream and the sniper on the opposite building rolls over, hiding as best he could. But of course, the bullets were coming from above not below. My handgun’s accuracy is shit and it takes the full round to get a hit to down him. It’s no double tap, but he ain’t pulling any triggers with a hand half blown off. He’s screaming and so are the people below. I lean over, May is still there, sheltering her lady-friend beside a van.

I throw the gun away, it’s useless now anyway. Six finger Harry (named before he lost three more fingers) hated working with partners. “When there’s two of you, there’s just enough people to shoot you both dead. Best to go with three.”

Perhaps the client had the same idea.

I looked down the street carefully and then I lean down again to check over the edge. Everyone on the street is either running away or hiding. Except for one man. Speak of the devil: Six Finger Harry is coming to kill my wife.

“Shit,” I say again because I know what I have to do.

I swing my legs over the edge and jump down as Six Finger Harry runs underneath. I land with a crunch. At first, I think it’s my leg as pain shoots through it from the bad landing. But then I realise it’s Six Fingers Harry from the way his spine is bent backwards.

May opens and closes her mouth in shock as I wiggle a finger in her face.

“We’re going to talk about this later.”

I take out my phone and walk away as it rings.

“Hello?”

“The targets down, I’m coming for my money.”

***

I step into the car, my client isn’t even looking at me, instead out the window, a suitcase across his lap.

“Is she dead?”

“My target? He’s about to be.”

My handgun is out and pressed against the client’s head before he realises. In fact, he even jumps a second later. Frankly I am doing the client a favour if his reflexes are that bad.

“Please! No, no, please! I’ll give you anything!”

“You sent me to murder my fiancée. Bad idea.”

“She fucked my wife.”

“So? I’m sure your wife enjoyed it, she’s a lovely woman!”

“You’re insane.”

“Maybe.”

He pulled the trigger and brain matter splattered across the windscreen. I sigh and get back out of the car. I pause and pull the door back open taking the suitcase with me.

For Love

Michelle counted her tip from the last table and scoffed at the shrapnel, but she’d take what she could.

“Shelly,” ‘What a ridiculous nickname.’ “can you see to table six?”

“Sure thing Ronny!” she called back.

‘Two can play at that game Sharon.’

She worked in a fancy little restaurant, not that that made a difference to her wages, she still got paid next to nothing. Table six was two gentlemen, laughing loudly and already red-faced from lager.

“Can I get you any starters gentlemen?”

They looked up at her and her reaction was instant: “Shit!”

Probably not the best thing to say to customers but she thought it would be okay for her fiancé to hear.

“Umm…” was the only sound Ross made.

A few facts ran through Michelle’s head: A) this was her betrothed who B) didn’t know she worked in a restaurant and so C) she needed to get away as quickly as possible.

“Michelle?”

“Nope.”

She began walking away. Where to she didn’t know (she had two hours left) and with Ross following her it wasn’t like she could hide.

“Honey?”

“Nope,” she kept repeating as if Ross would give up and think she just had an evil twin sister. Through the restaurant they raced, Michelle now lightly jogging as other patrons watched.

Finally, she reached a storage cupboard and hurried inside slamming the door behind her. However, given the door obviously didn’t lock from the inside she was soon joined by Ross.

There was an awkward minute with Michelle staying on one side of the small cleaning room and Ross on the other.

“So…what are you doing here?”

Michelle was already biting at her nails.

“I don’t work in an office,” she whispered.

“Are you a waitress?”

“No!”

“Then why are you dressed like a waitress?”

There was a pause and her mind drew a blank.

“…Because I’m a waitress.”

He laughed and she covered her face with her hands, sitting down on an upturned bucket.

“Hey, it’s okay if you’re a waitress. How…long have you been a waitress?”

“Umm…since I was fourteen.”

“Since we’ve been going out!?”

“Well you have such a fancy sounding job and I got so worried you’d not like me unless I had an office job too.”

“And so, you lied?”

She nodded.

“For the six years of our relationship?”

“Well the longer I left it, the harder it was to…you know, tell you the truth.”

Ross laughed again, and she winced.

“Please stop laughing.”

“Why not? This is such a you thing to do. To be so awkward to keep up a charade for six years.”

She scuffed her work shoes and they left a black mark on the floor.

“Do you really think I’d hate you for being a waitress?”

“Well not anymore…now I think you’ll hate me for lying.”

Ross chuckled again, shaking his head at the ridiculous situation. He strode across the small room and kissed her.

“I’m marrying you because you’re crazy enough to lie. Just…no more secrets Michelle.”

“Well if we’re not having any more secrets then you probably should call me Amy.”

Mix-Up

Wagging tail? Check.

Tongue lolling? Check.

Waiting excitedly for the first visitors…where were they?

She looked hurriedly down the brightly lit corridor. Across from her, other dogs were anxiously waiting for the families and couples to come in and select the lucky few who would be taken home.

And today, she would be taken home.

At least she thought so, just like she did every day.

Finally, people started walking down the hall and she wagged her tail hard, wanting for someone to stop and look at her. Like usual they gave her a couple of looks, but no one came to stop.

The first person to stop for her was a young girl and she jumped up to the glass, her paws slipping down the window. The little girl giggled, this could be it. But when the girl’s parents joined her, they gave her one look before smiling and dragging their child away.

Her tail drooped. She didn’t understand, this worked for everyone else around her and they all seemed pretty impressed with her as well, barking and jumping at her cage.

Someone new had come to stop: an old man peering down at her through thick lenses. She wagged her tail slowly. Could he take her home? She spun around chasing her tail and when she stopped the man was laughing and gesturing someone over.

It was the shopkeeper. They talked for a minute or two before the shopkeeper lent down and opened her cage and oh, oh! Someone was taking her home!

She bounced around, wagging her tail furiously. She let the shopkeeper pick her up and hand her to the old man who she began to slobber with kisses.

She was going to a home!

***

cat

“She acts very strange, doesn’t she?” the old man said to the shopkeeper.

“Well she was raised with dogs. She’s not very catlike I’m afraid…is that going to be a problem?”

The man laughed again as the cat licked his face, “no, I don’t think so.”

New Parents

Nest

The red sofa cushion is probably not providing the egg any warmth and the bedside lamp certainly isn’t either, but no one exactly gave me any incubation instructions. What else were you meant to do with eggs you just found lying at the side of the road?

It was a pretty strange egg. For one, its purple, and for two, it’s the size of my head. Right now, me, Max and Andrew are watching the egg. Though its quite hard to see through all the smoke. The hotboxing probably isn’t helping either.

“I bet it’s a marrow or something,” Andrew mumbles, his head lolls back onto the opposite sofa to the egg.

“It’s wobbling, what kind of marrow wobbles?” I say but I’m not too sure if marrows wobble or not.

“Okay…maybe it’s like a children’s-”

“Bet it’s a dragon.”

Andrew closes his mouth with a click and we both look to Max. He gets giggly when he’s high and hasn’t stopped laughing since I barged in with the egg. True, I may have been close to tears for not being ready to be a parent, but the weed sorted that out quickly.

“What?” I say.

“A dragon, I bet it’s a dragon.”

“Dragons ain’t real mate. If anything, it’s going to be a dinosaur.”

Andrew scoffs at our argument over dragons vs dinosaurs, but honestly, what else is it going to be?

“But dinosaurs are extinct, give me any piece of proof that shows that dragons are extinct.”

“Dragons have to be alive before they can go extinct.”

“Exactly!” he points at the egg as if it proves his point. I sigh and lean back as well; the egg is still wobbling.

“I bet this is just a prank or something, like it’ll just spew confetti,” Andrew mutters to himself, “and then we can all stop worrying.”

“I’m not worrying.”

It takes Andrew a minute to realise I am talking to him.

“…Aren’t you?”

Before I can answer, Max hisses, “shh, listen.”

Sure, enough we hear a loud crack and jump. Max rushes across the room to the eggs side and we follow slowly behind. This is it. This is when we become parents.

“I’m not ready,” I say but the egg isn’t listening. It rocks violently as a crack slowly appears across the top.  Out of the crack comes a blue scaled clawed hand attached to a muscular arm, that begins to tear at its own shell. We all sit their mouths agape, Max’s joint hanging from his lips. Only when a red eye glares through its confinements do me and Andrew jump back.

A demon, oh fuck why didn’t we just fry the egg?

“Oh fuck, shit, the devil cunting bastard,” Andrew mutters though his curses become quieter until he’s only muttering them to himself.

“We should kill it,” I say dumbly, unsure if I even spoke but that’s what you’re meant to do with demons right? Stone them to death? Or maybe crucify them, I haven’t exactly read the bible recently. Maybe I should after this.

With another loud crack, the egg shatters and the tiny blue demon stares up at Max. The demon baby reaches out for the blunt hanging from Max’s mouth and takes a long drag. Max turned back, grinning from ear to ear.

“We’re keeping him.”

Man’s Best Friend

“Come on we need to get out of the building!”

“But Rufus!”

“Are you seriously going to risk your life for a dog?”

“Clearly you have never owned a dog!”

***

“And is there anything else you want on his gravestone?”

“Yes, can you write ‘died for a stupid dog’.”

“I mean I’d die for my dog.”

She hung up.

Corgi

Art in Dying

Hell

There is dignity in dying,

If you do it right.

Some find it amongst loved ones

Or in the middle of dark night.

 

I love it most of all,

When it’s that’s of a stranger.

Anyone will do,

As long as it isn’t me in danger.

 

To experience the magic,

Of cutting the strings from the puppet.

To watching the horrid sight,

Before they enter hell’s pit.

 

The choke of shock,

That shudder of fear to come next

Hopelessly crawling away (for which I mock).

But they never stop until their fingernails are in wrecks.

 

The skin is a canvas,

Ocean blue and deep sunset red

At the sight their eyes’ bulge as if it is heinous,

As if this work of art, is something to dread.

 

Slowly their pants become sniffs,

And their limbs, once riled,

Fall cold and stiff.

But the eyes remain wild.

 

Looking to me, begging me, for what who knows.

But then the light drains and I stare into empty holes of shadows.

 

And one day death will come for me,

But my only wish is this:

That I can give someone else this gift.

This experience of true bliss.

End of Days

Asteroid“Well fuck.”

It probably was the best two-word phrase to sum up the situation.

Well fuck.

Ann nodded solemnly putting on her sunglasses on. It was the part of the Armageddon that the films didn’t cover. After the discovery, the initial panic, the news sites running 24-hour coverage of the meteorite and after every failed missile attempt there was the lull, when everyone was just waiting. That had been the last two months, businesses were liquidated, frantic last-minute holidays were booked. Everyone had got an ‘end of the world’ bonus and sunglasses had sold by the bucketful.

The meteorite was in sight, looking hot white with a glare of red surrounding it. It was unusually quiet, for some reason Ann had expected it all to end with a bang.

“It’s like that old question,” Ted continued, “‘if I was the last man on Earth, would you sleep with me?’”

Ann scoffed, “is it really, dearie?”

“You’re not answering the question.”

“I’ve been sleeping with you for thirty-two years dearie.”

This wasn’t exactly how she wanted to go: curled up on the sun lounger, watching their incoming doom. She wanted to say as much, but for some reason it hardly seemed like the place to do so. They were English after all and English to the bone and the apocalypse wasn’t going to change that.

But in truth she was clutching to his chest as if her husband could save her. Couldn’t he? He had from everything else in their life why not this? But she knew that he was holding her in his shaking arms from that same childish want as well. And she knew she couldn’t save him, she had failed him as a wife.

She buried herself closer.

“Do you want to?”

“Hm?”

“Fuck that is. You know one last time underneath the sky?”

She looked up. It no longer looked like there was even a sky to fuck under. It rippled like the sea coloured in purples and oranges, set alight by the meteorite. And still all was quiet, no animals were nowhere near anymore. Tibbles had long since ran away.

When she felt tears on her cheek, she thought they were her own, until Ted’s shoulders heaved.

“Hey now,” she lifted herself up and cradled his head.

“Oh,” he sighed, a long exhale that shuddered, “I do love you, do you love me? – Stupid question- I just didn’t want to see you go.”

“Well…the feeling is mutual. But…I suppose if I am to go, I’m glad it’s with you.”

Ann closed her eyes, the hell above too bright to look at, even with her glasses.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

She scoffed, “I love you too.”

Famously

Interrogation Room

The woman spat blood to the floor, the tears now falling much heavier down her face. Her shoulders heaved once again as sobs shook her head and the creak of rope strained against her.

The blond man shook out his hand, hissing as he did.

“She’s got a tough face,” he noted to his black haired companion. The red head was now drooling pink spit falling to her blouse as she continued to sob.

“I don’t know what you want from me! I’m not Hiza.”

“Of course not,” the Black-Haired Man said, his voice dull and grey. He sighed and folded his arms across his chest, “hit her again,” he said in the same tone.

The Blond Man sighed as well but stepped towards the Red Head again.

She screamed, what little movement her legs had she used to try and push herself away from the two men. It didn’t work, and his fist fell with a dull thud. The Red Head sniffled.

“I’m not Hiza!”

“Sure.”

“Do I even look like them!?”

The Blond Man joined his companion with his arms folded.

“Well famously no one knows what Hiza looks like.”

The Black-Haired Man let out a long sigh.

“Well why do you think I am them!?”

The two men looked at each other, at the sight of his partner’s arms the Black-Haired man shook his arms out.

“We have good information that you are Hiza.”

“No, I’m not I’m Caroline Hansen.”

The woman’s sobs became louder, crying into her chest. The two men stood frozen for a minute,  making the woman rock in the chair, her sobs becoming screams.

“…As in Fredrick Hansen’s daughter?”

She sniffed, “you know my father? He’ll kill you when he finds out what you did to me? He’ll break every bone in your body! He’ll burn you alive.”

The men looked at each other for a long time.

“If he finds out,” the Blond Man repeated.

The Black Haired man nodded and drew his gun.