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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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

The Jailed Advisor

Jail

“You know,” Edward started loudly when Jon walked in, “I gave myself up willingly. You’d think I’d be treated a little better.”

He gestured to the stone slab he was lying on and the bars that separated the two of them.

“Prisoners who admit their guilt are still prisoners.” Jon sat and didn’t speak for several minutes, hesitant, “I need some advice.”

Edward scoffed, “I can tell you my advice did get me in prison.”

“Edward,” Jon scolded.

Edward sighed, sitting back and plastering a smile over his face. A fake one and Jon knew it.

“How do you do it?” he asked.

Please narrow that down.”

“All of it. The politics of it all,” Jon gestured wildly around them.

“Ah yes. Well, you shouldn’t get into it.”

Ben laughed, it was a horribly pitiful sound as he hid his head in his hands. Jon used to hide behind Edward when they were children as if his twin could protect him from the rest of the world.

“And,” Jon lifted his head, “if I can’t escape…this.”

“Don’t trust anyone.” It was probably the best advise Edward could give him, yet it hung heavy between them. Edward had yet to forget how he had ended up in this cell.

“Surely I must trust them somewhat,” Jon asked, “I’m not exactly knowledgeable on…well anything.”

That hurt Edward as if it was an insult to him.

“Perhaps trusting is the wrong word. Everyone has a goal, a motive, a dream and believe me, no one’s dream is to just serve you loyally. At least no one’s who matters. But yes, you should listen to men with more knowledge than you. I’m sure there is quite a few of them.”

Jon chuckled, and Edward smiled bitterly.

“I shouldn’t have done it,” Jon muttered quietly.

“I quite agree, but here we are.” There was silence and Edward asked the dreaded question, “do you regret overthrowing me?”

“I did what I believed was right.” His answer hadn’t changed.

“Brother, good Kings don’t become old Kings.”

“Well,” he stood, “time to prove that wrong.”

WTF!?!?

GunsWhat the fuck! It was the only thing he could think, on a loop. What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck. He could barely see where he was going. the world around him blurred and cloudy. He blinked hard, yet this did nothing to help, only producing a speckle of bright white spots.

He was running: that was one of the two things he was sure about. That and that who he was running from was trying to shoot him. There was shouting from behind him, men yelling incoherently and gun fire. He remembered gun fire. He remembered causing it.

He didn’t want to die. But what did he want? Fuck if he knew. The world around him was still blurred into streaks of light and dark greys as he raced past. The world twisted and caved in on itself like crashing waves. He slammed into a wall, unable to stop in time, his head banged hard against the corner bricks.

A bullet clipped the back of his neck and planted itself in the wall with a phut. He started running again, with blood dripping down his ear.

The world was now darker; a claustrophobic sense fell upon him. It wasn’t until the world brighten again, did he make the realise he had been in an alleyway. He didn’t think he’d been this confused beforehand. But he didn’t remember what had been occurring beforehand. Nothing. He tried to think back, strain and reach back in his mind. The world turned white as he tried to think of anything.

He shook his head. What had happened? Where was he? Who was he? That question scared him more than any other. He should remember who he was, and he knew that at one point he had been someone, he just couldn’t think who he had been. Come on, what the fuck! How could he not know who he was? He was him! Who was him?

He shook his head more violently, the grey world turned ninety degrees and hit him in the chest. His body started flying up the floating pavement, his hair being torn, his palms scraping against it as he tried to cling on as he was taken off his feet. He clung tightly to the floor as he hovered for a few second before the wall righted itself and he slumped ungracefully on the hot tarmac. He closed his eyes, the blankness in his head making the sounds around him ear-achingly loud.

From the sound of people, chatting and yelling, he could tell he was on a crowded street. People muttered as he lay on the ground. This wasn’t normal, he knew that deep inside, they didn’t like what he was doing. He didn’t care, he was too exhausted from- there was no gun fire. He pushed himself up quickly, making a woman behind him shout and swear at him. He turned around, staring up at the sky, but he couldn’t see shit. But he definitely couldn’t hear anything and given how long he’d been staying still they would have shot him by now. So where had they gone? Who the hell had they even been?

“Excuse me?” a sharp voice snapped.

He looked down at the small woman glaring at him. When he didn’t move she pushed past him. He wobbled over to the nearby wall and slid down it, panting. What the fuck! What. The. Fuck. He hugged his knees as he sat on the hot and sticky ground, still trying to catch his breath. They must have stop shooting given the amount of people.

He sat more comfortably on the ground, cross legged. If he stayed here, he’d be safe from them, whoever they were. He rubbed his eyes, pain gathering behind them. Had he hit his head? Was that why he couldn’t remember anything? He couldn’t remember doing that. Well he couldn’t remember anything.

“Excuse me,” this voice was gentler and deeper than the other one. He looked up and blinked, a man wearing thin black glasses was hunched over him. Did he know him? Did he know anyone? He must, it would be silly not to know anyone. And yet…

“You’re bleeding,” the hunched over man said thickly, gesturing to the side of his face where the blood was running down. He touched his cheek with his left hand. It came up wet.

He swallowed finally speaking, “I…I don’t…I don’t know where I am. Who…somethings happened,” he stumbled over his words as if he had not spoken in years. For all he knew that could be the case. The man standing over him straightened up then slowly looked round before nodding. He pulled a large plastic device from his purple suit. He burrowed his eyebrows, purple seemed wrong to wear. How could he remember fashion tips and not his own name? The man was speaking into the device, yes that seemed right, he remembered others doing that. He suddenly felt wary.

“W-what are you doing?”

“I’m calling you an ambulance, you look hurt,”

No shit. It wasn’t at all like blood was running down his face.

“What’s an ambulance?” he asked, the purple suited man just shook his head, smiling quickly, before continuing to talk to himself.

The ambulance, it turned out, was a van with loud and flashing blue lights that made him jump up in fear until the man told him it was alright. He also had to be assured by the man when two green suited men tried to put him in the van.

He didn’t want to be left alone with them. Still when the doors were shut, and they set off the men did was wipe his face clean and ask him questions. None of them he knew the answer to anyway; What was his name? Where did he live? Did he have any family? Any close friends? He just shook his head to each of the questions.

“Well if you can’t tell us anything then-”

It wasn’t like the other gun shots. It came from under the truck and was louder. It shook the van taking it off their wheels. The equipment littering the shelves above him scattering to the floor but as the van tipped the bottles and bandages floated mid-air along with the two men who had been helping him. As they screamed in terror, he clutched onto the shelf above him as the van continue to spin. He was flung from side to side, his legs being slammed repeated into the side of the bed he had just been sitting on, the men toppling around him their pained moans echoing with the crushing metal as the van fell. Finally, it came to a screeching halt and shook once more making him fall onto his already bruised legs. He bit his lip and looked at the devastated inside of the ambulance. It was smaller now, the walls bent inwards. Bottles of medicines had burst open, the tablets littering the floor and the stench of chemicals filled the air.

The two green suited men were leant up against the walls as he was, only they were covered in a lot more blood. Behind him he heard another gun shot. He sat straighter, though his legs still hurt. They had shot the driver, whoever they were.

He stumbled to his feet as the doors were kicked open. These men were wearing black, just like him, though had a mask covering their faces. The one that stepped through the door looked familiar, despite his face being covered. Though it was hard to trust a man who was holding a gun.

“Help,” one of the ambulance crew said feebly.

For one moment he thought these black masked gun wielding men were here to help. The thought was put to rest when the masked man shot the green suited guy in the head, his chin lolling on his chest with a final groan. The masked man walked over to the other paramedic who was unconscious, blood dripping from his nose pooling as dark red in between his lips. He watched wide eyed as the masked figure shot him as well. He fisted his left hand, slowly standing up.

“Ah so you can walk.”

He froze, pressing his back against the wall, “who are you?”

“A friend.”

He looked down at the bodies.

“Hey if you can walk out of here, then I won’t have to shoot you.”

“Some friend.”

The man just shrugged. He stayed by the wall, some part of him believe that he could easily defeat the man, something told him he knew a bit about fighting. But he couldn’t remember if that was true or not. He was also outnumbered and out gunned three to one. The masked man raised his gun, and he put his hands up to surrender, shuffling as best he could past the bodies. The two men outside also aimed at him, yet when neither of them shot he thought they might be keeping their word.

Why did he always have to be wrong? He felt a sharp pinch in his neck and in panic swung his arm at the man behind him. But he hardly got through the movement before his arm felt twice as heavy and he stumbled to the side under its weight, falling, his bruised knees colliding with the deserted roads. He started panting, the air feeling thicker. The fucker had done something to him, God fucking dammit, what the fuck was going on? He was so tired, but something would happen if he closed his eyes, he had no fucking clue what, but something.

“Wait,” he mumbled his lips feeling numb and thick, “who am I? What are you?”

Their only reply was to tightly grab his aching limbs and practically dragged him away, refusing to answer his persistent, yet quieter questions before he was forced asleep. What dickheads.

Not Exactly Time Travel

clockIt happened when he was sixteen. He was a few days off seventeen, not that meant anything now. They just…stopped.

Every person.

Every animal.

The sea froze mid-motion and the day never became night. He remembered crying out for several hours as he had run from his house screaming for someone, anyone to tell him why his mother wasn’t moving.

He’d cried a lot in those first few weeks. Especially when his seventeenth birthday still came around. He had moved his mother and sister into the living room, not that it mattered, there was no TV to watch, the electricity no longer worked.

He no longer needed to eat. He no longer felt hungry nor thirsty. It was like he had frozen as well. But he was not frozen, as the years waned with no days to count his hair greyed and his skin wrinkled. He had been everywhere in that time, he had walked across oceans and stayed in golden palaces. Though he soon realised what was the point of being the riches man in the world when no one was to see him in his throne.

He lost use of his voice and memories of movement became whispers. He wondered if he had just imagined it.

He returned home to die. He couldn’t remember which had been his house, nor even what his parents had looked like. All of it was gone. But it was still a sunny midday here.

Now old and frail he could no longer move. He remembered long ago, stories about people being eaten alive by wolves and bears. But there was no longer animals to eat him alive, he would not starve, only rot into dust. Perhaps then the world would start revolving again. Just this time without him.

Burning at Dawn

The sounds he made were disgusting even to his own ears. But he couldn’t help himself, the taste was too much. The blood dripped down the man’s side and his tongue chased after it, his claws ripping in deeper into the flesh, holding down the prey as if the man was still moving. He was definitely breathing, his pounding heart bringing fresh warm blood to the vampire’s mouth.

HighwaySuddenly the trees exploded in red and pink. He tore himself away so quickly, a little bit of flesh came up with his teeth. The sun was blooming far off in the horizon. If he still he needed to breathe, it would be getting stuck in his throat.

Terror wasn’t an emotion he was used to, surprisingly there wasn’t much that could scare the undead, not many people carried stakes nowadays. But the sun and its rays of pure light was an ever-present danger.

He stood, letting the half-dead man roll over. He couldn’t care about that right now. He’d chased his game over several acres of farmland, with no shelter in sight. He started to back away. Was he really going to try and outrun the Sun? Looking over his shoulder at the rolling hills he realised yes, yes, he was.

***

No one could work out what had happened. The bodies were far away from each other, though it seemed like the biggest coincidence of the century for them not to be connected. The first man looked like he’d been torn apart by a savage animal and quite a big one at that, which was unlikely in the middle of Coventry. The other…well the other was the real mystery. Spontaneous combustion they called it. And it was apparently a thing. But usually the victim wouldn’t know it was happening until it was too late. And if that was the case, why had the nearby residents heard screams and sobs as he had ran through the fields.

You Only Had to Ask

This Flash Fiction was inspired by Rachel Poli’s Writing Prompt

***

“I thought we agreed no more secrets.”

Michal’s words echoed. The tall sunlit archways of the stone corridor should have made it impossible for such a thing. But in the aching silence left when Evan’s sword had sliced through his chest, the words rang around them.

Michal was looking down at the sword that he was impaled on with raised eyebrows only mildly shocked at the betrayal. Outwardly, he didn’t seem to be affected by it at all, still standing and talking as if going about their normal duties. Yet Evan’s arms were beginning to shake on the sword’s handle as Michal’s legs had given out. Only his old friend’s blade kept him standing.

“If you wanted to kill me, you only had to ask.”

Evan laughed, but it caught in his throat making it sound more like a sob. He’d never cried over any of the people he’d killed. He wished it could have stayed that way. Michal always brought out the worst in him but he supposed that was because Michal was the best out of all of them. Even as Evan murdered him, Michal was only upset that he hadn’t told him of his impending doom prior to that moment.

Evan couldn’t hold him up any longer and wrench the sword from Michal’s chest, the sword grating against the hard gristle that it had pierced. Michal was brought into his arms with the force of the action and Evan held him up even then, with his own legs trembling beneath the dead weight. Blood was not an unusual sight to the old soldier but the feeling of the hot thick blood, seeping through his clothes and soaking his chest filled him with shock and fear. As if he hadn’t realised what his actions would cause. Like Michal would walk away from it, like they both always did.

“Orders,” was all he could say, his guilt threatening to close his windpipe. He’d let it, to pay for what he’d done.

And so he held his breath waiting as Michal’s arms fell limp and his voice grew softer, all the while he kept repeating, “you only had to ask. You only had to ask.”

Unemployed and Bored

If she thought about it, this was like a game, potion making if you will. The constant boil and cooling, making sure everything was at the perfect temperature so it was just right. And with the smell coming from the bubbling pots and pans she could understand why many called cooking an art.

But if she didn’t think about it she realised how shit this was. Four pots covered her stove not to mention the bowl and stacks of jam jars that covered every surface of the kitchen and disgusting gloop seemed to follow them wherever they were sticking to her lovely clean worktops and somehow her ceiling.

Oh well it would give her something to do tomorrow.

She stepped back from the steaming concoction she was making and huffed as if she had been running. Her forehead was certainly sweating, perhaps this was a workout. Though, she was sure there was so much evaporated sugar in the air that it would give her diabetes.

She sighed, there was no turning back now. She wiped her forehead and felt cold jelly stick to it. Shit.

The door opened and shut.

“Honey I’m – oh…”

“Hey dear.”

Dan surveyed the kitchen while she refused to look back.

“So,” he said slowly, “did we have too many strawberries?”

“Yep, and apples and gooseberries.”

“I’m not even sure I know what a gooseberry is.”

She tittered, stirring one of her pots again as Dan backed out.

“You need to get a job!” he called out as he ran up the stairs.

“Are you hiring?” she called back.

Strawberries