Tag Archives: Sunday Scribblings

Missionary

Image via Banpo Neolithic Village Museum

She felt the soft touch of the wind against her skin, carrying with it the smell of baking bread, the promise of civilisation, the threat of retaliatory violence. She knew the importance of the work she did here, the one-day promise of another society, embraced into the fold. Unite and conquer, that was the goal; to unfold the myth kit and prepare these barbarians for the return of men and women long-forgotten. The rocketeers would return, eventually.

 

Her name would be forgotten. Her work here would not.

 

The sky blazed, tangerine, eternal. Overhead the wind tore into the cloud-banks, twisting and rending them into the caricatures of old gods, soon to be abandoned. She had been working on overdrive to transform a world full of the bombastic energy of youth into a society of whispered words. Into a civilisation. Trying to infect their dreams with an all-conquering yet mild-mannered god.

 

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Barber-shop Blues

 

“Couldn’t tempt you with a perm today, Hardy?”

 

One of the things I like most about Horatio’s is the banter. The way he tends to take the piss, just a bunch of blokes having a laugh. It’s coming up on forty years that he’s been trimming, shaving, hot-towelling in his Art Deco salon on the corner of Victory Parade. Near on forty years of sweeping the clippings, of rough, calloused fingers parting and combing their way through greying columns of men – each of us needing something different to drag us through the day, each of us getting the same short back-and-sides week in, week out.

 

Paint peels from the walls like skin from sun-burnt shoulders, the buzzing hymn of the neon tubes blazing, casting misshapen shadows eerie across the cold marble floors. Dust bunnies bounce, ignored behind the cracked leather of couches – Horatio’s own personal failure, the women’s annex mouldering, clamouring for un-given attention in the corner of the room. Each Friday my eyes skitter and bounce, trying to avoid the conversation trap awaiting us.

 

It wasn’t Horatio’s fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, as far as we could tell.

 

Didn’t stop the pogroms though. Didn’t stop the flames licking at the edging of the world.

 

We reached an unspoken agreement, in the end – after the beast welled up inside the collective chest of mankind. There was nothing we could do but carry on.

 

Stiff upper lip and all that.

 

There were some who shouldered the blame, in the beginning. The mercantile mansions and chemical factories set ablaze, throwing long tongues of fire into the sky, pouring ever more pollutants into the night.

 

“Couldn’t tempt you with a perm today, Hardy?”

 

I shrugged gently, so as not to disturb the lurking beast we knew lived within all of us. I shrugged gently, so as not to break the illusion. With a flick of the wrist he spun the heavy plastic sheet around me; I felt him come closer.

 

It had been twelve years since all the women died, twelve long years of seeking solace where it lay – not my sort of thing, for mine it was a relief when they left, finally we men could get on with our business unhindered, it left us solidly grounded, I thought.

 

I felt him move closer, felt his lips against my ear.

 

“Kiss me Hardy.”

 

How could I refuse? It wouldn’t be fair.

 

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Ambassador Gern’s Report

The Szechuan smell of garlic and peppercorns, the fiery red flavour of chilli, balanced against an eruption of ginger and sesame – Gha’l Zhauo. Flame-tongued is the nearest translation.

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Following in Famous Footsteps

The early morning cling of gunk, the shadowy embrace of dreams – the hollow fingers of sleep stroking at her mind, tempting her back into unconsciousness. She was operating on automatic after the brisk flight, what had felt like a bad night’s sleep was in fact two decades spent deep-frozen. Janice was the first awake, flitting between the other sleep-pods, squeezing light-footed between the droids reviving her crew.

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The Jungle Reclaims All

The biggest problem with time travel isn’t the journey, it’s the arrival. The jarring, absolute silence as you tear through the space-time continuum, the draining loneliness as your cerebral comms go dead for a heartbeat. The impotent panic that something has gone wrong, that you’re the only survivor. It’s been thirty years since a catastrophic re-entry, but as static envelopes your brain you can never remember just how long it has been in meat-space.  It’s unpleasantly like being drunk – from the glass of water’s perspective.  But you go where you have to, nestling into the fabric of time. I understand, but that doesn’t mean I’d do it all again if I get a reset.

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Monster Hunter, Second Class

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His eyes shone red. Through the swirling shadows, cast long by the guttering torchlight, I saw his chest rise and fall, through the eerie silence I heard his heavy breathing. The mist lay, a heavy, goose-feather blanket slung over the swamp. I stumbled, over the moss-slicked corpses of once-mighty giants, seeking the dry scraps of land between murky pools. The stench of decay rose from the mud as my heavy iron boots sunk ankle deep beneath the surface. The death of the cicadas’ songs – I knew my quarry was near.
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Desire

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Thursday was out to get me. It was the only answer, the only possible reason for all this shit going down around me. The only answer I could think of. How else could things have gotten this bad? My skin crawling, that psychosomatic fire raging beneath my veins. The stone lions roared their empty challenges at the slate-cloaked sky, the blood red tori gates like pillars propping up the pressure of those boiling heavens.
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Sacrifice

Josiah scurried through the half-light of the alley that sat, cramped between the Altar of Sacrifice and the Chamber of the Machine. The electric lights flickered, their buzzing drowning out the scuffling of his bare feet on the cobblestones. He flicked his eyes about the passageway, expecting the worst, hoping for the best. It wouldn’t do to be seen running in the House of the Holies by one of the Brothers – it was undignified to run. Had the Good Lord ever been known to run? Often he walked, certainly the Scriptures made note of his pedestrian humility.
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Sauro-Puss

He could feel the thunder echoing through his bones, a great, trembling wave rising through his legs, announcing the storm before it arrived. The hills, he thought, and his graceful, loping strides a steady contrast to the slapping of his feet against the muddy earth. The river would surge when the rains came, would throw its serpentine coils loose from the muddy confines of the banks as it swept the floodplain. His meal, hard-won though it was, would be carried away – but food was the last thing on his mind. Safety was the most pressing issue, and the smaller prey-beasts flocked around his ankles as though mocking him, as though they were aware of his distraction. The mud pushed between his toes as he powered forward, oblivious to all but the urgency of his escape – he alone of this crowd was safe from the panicked stampede erupting beneath him.

Into the forest.
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WreckingBall Records

A thin blue ribbon of smoke rises, twisting and winding its way toward the ceiling – the ceiling, left unadorned, with exposed steel beams and cracking plasterwork. The acrid smell of incense, masking the subtle sweetness of the marijuana smoked here moments before. That much hasn’t changed in all the years. That much has stayed the same.
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Ghost 2.0

They never tell you how different it all feels in the beginning, about how you start off feeling almost solid – you still feel how you used to. I still do, almost; I used to be me. It seemed such a trivial, minuscule thing – to leave my corpse behind in the hollow earth, to be free from the ever-tightening shackles and ever more agonising aches and pains of aging. Now I can feel what is left of me slowly leaking away behind me, like how the smoke will trail from a chimney pot. Like yet another reminder of all that I have thrown away – a reminder of the warmth and security of the living in their various, personal stages of suspended reality.
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Last Man Standing

It was her lips that had called to him first, her soft, full lips and those caring eyes.
He had long given up his search, had won her more by accident than design.
It wasn’t quite the same as he remembered, but at the same time he knew it would never get better.
They were all gone, there was no one left to judge him now.
He was the last human, and she shared at least 95% of his DNA anyway…

This story was inspired by an accidental Wiki-search, an epic two hour quest, randomly clicking on interesting sounding links. I ended up here. Oh, and I also used one of the InMon prompts: Never Better as well as an old SundayScribblings prompt: Search.

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Sociopath

It’s not my fault; I never wanted any of this – I never expected these things to happen. I can never see what exactly happens until it unfolds before me – in my mind’s eye – they always seem quite as happy as anyone else does. Then terrible things start to happen. It’s completely out of my hands.

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Bergman’s Folly

The falling rain spat once more onto the slickening bitumen – another day, another town, yet another thousand doors to knock on. Such is the life of the itinerant salesman, a life spent in a kind of self-imposed solitary confinement, a life spent as a denizen of coach stops and train stations. Each temporary home another degenerating step away from society, another plunging dive toward the gutter and away from the endless rat-race and volte-face of permanent residency. He still needed to own property, to have at least signed a rental agreement on a shoebox apartment; he needed a postal address to keep receiving the bank cheques. His apartment, a postage stamp that stood as an empty and unrewarding testimony to a lifetime spent having doors closed in his face, of having promised subscriptions cancelled. A life dragged across an uncounted number of scuffing pairs of $10 shoes, a life of one thousand quotas left unfilled.
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The Void

“Try not to scream,” I told her, “screaming will only excite them, will only serve to make them angrier.” She was sobbing hysterically by this stage, not far from where I found her, lost and alone in the scrub. I stumbled across the trail of blood leading through the bushes. She had tried to work her way along the track, I suppose, although only a fool would tread such a path, slick with moss – it was too obvious a path, too obviously a trap. She was bleeding as though a razor had slashed her flesh, the bougainvillea slicing its autograph along her spine.
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Order Breeds Chaos

Runa sits, hunched over her desk, obeying the dictates of pleasure. The pleasure she has always held close to her chest, her only weapon angled against the uncertainty of the world, lurking outside her door. The scratching of her pen only ever punctuated by the slow rise of her coffee mug as she waited for the delivery of each perfect word. She had always lacked control of the cryptocracy of the world outside her door; but as the ink spilled onto the page she felt as though she had gained a grip, no matter how temporary, on her life.

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A Short Story

He held me tight against his waist, pulling me closer to him as the waves crashed, ebullient and festive around us. Held me in the belief that he could ever prevent me from slipping away from him in the riptide that embraced us. I was rumpled and creased where his fingers clutched at me, crushing me in his grip. Holding on as though his health and his frail sense of self-esteem depended on my staying by his side. But as the breakers dumped him beneath their heads of white foam I made good my escape, and he stood, naked and exposed in the shallows. His voice tumbled against the roof of his mouth as he tried to shout in a whisper, so as not to draw any attention to his nudity. “Somebody, please…my boardshorts!” He dropped onto his knees. An embarressed fourteen year old boy, left naked and alone in the warm Pacific breeze.

Just a quick little story while I’m on my break at work, thanks to Sunday Scribblings, 3WordWednesday and Trifecta for their prompts: Health, Belief, Rumple, Festive and Roof (of your mouth) in that order. Thanks again guys, and there should be (at least) one more story this week!

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His Father’s Son

He had never known her, but he would always love her. His mother had given her life for his, her only son. She had died, holding him in her arms, still covered in the afterbirth. They had torn him from her womb. There had been complications, his father told him. There was nothing the doctors could’ve done. It wasn’t his fault, though the other children still enveloped him in their malicious mind-games and their too transparent efforts to shame him. It was a miracle, of the kind that happens every day, that his father had managed to raise him. The old man, wizened and blinded though he was by the weight of the years, showed him where to find his feet on the path of life. He was eager to learn, always obeyed his commands. “Like father, like son,” the villagers would say, as his father taught him both his trade and his gift for reading faces – a gift often unlooked for in the blind eyes of the inventor.

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