The Empty Box

Empty Box

This story is dedicated to my dentist who unwittingly gave me an almost empty box. Note that any resemblance between him and Hans is a mere coincidence.

“Do you know the one about the man who was balding?” George asked, setting his empty beer glass down on the table. It was early and the pub was still quiet. Apart from the bartender checking racing results in the evening paper, they were the only people there.… (read more)

Mr. Hammer’s spell

Mr. Hammer

Mr. Hammer thumped his fist on the local newspaper sprawled across the kitchen table. The blow made a satisfying thud. If there was one thing he couldn’t stomach it was bad spelling. Like an insidious illness, it undermined the very foundations of his world. Every time the slightest mistake crossed his path he pounced on it. Naming and shaming was an art with him. He had a knack for ferreting out the most public forum in which to point a bony finger at each mistake, calling all to witness.… (read more)

Loooser

The jagged edges of the corrugated roof snagged a plastic bag that had blown against the bus shelter. It flapped like an enraged bird. George knew what it meant to be enraged. He gripped the tiny box in his pocket with clenched fingers.

The pane that backed the shelter had shattered, scattering shards that scrunched underfoot as he paced. The local Council had wedged a plastered panel where the glass had once been and someone had sprayed Loooser in blurred letters across it.… (read more)

Umbrella people

Umbrellas

Rain patters on the flagstones that pave the square. Rivulets of water converge forming ever growing puddles, till the place resembles an immense lagoon bordered by a forest of pillars curving upwards, arching protective over tables huddled like bedraggled lambs.

A poster clings to a pillar flapping like a trapped bird in the wind. In a moment’s respite, a sketch of an umbrella unfurls, beneath which is scrawled in childish script: Derided by our fellows, cast out by our parents, hounded by the police, we protest by exhibiting our beautiful bodies, so abhorred by those who fear that which is not like them.… (read more)

Her

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Time to crack open my eyes, to yawn and yawn again, to stretch, to scratch, then pounce on the ball of wool sending it shooting under the bed. And I’m off, skidding on the carpet, slithering past the ball, almost colliding with the wall. Arching my back, I spring again, digging my claws into the woolly prey. It clings to me and we struggle. I roll on my back, splaying my legs, and wool tumbles over my belly.… (read more)

The Light Knows No Secrets

Light-2

“What did you say, Sandy?”

“I didn’t speak, my love.”

“Then who said that about the light?”

“What light?”

Please don’t tell me I’m hearing voices. That’s what happened to mum. Although she was much younger than I am now. She claimed a soldier came to her every night, it was a secret she said, he talked to her about the great war, how they got buried in the trenches, stumbling in the dark amid the stink and smoke, and them clawing at the mud trying to free the wounded, moaning and praying to God, without the least medical help and all the while shells showering them in sods of earth and broken bones, threatening to bury them amongst the dead…

“You look deathly pale, dear.”… (read more)

The Chapel

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The latch clicks shut as I pull the porch door closed and feel my way in the dark. A faint hint of incense hangs in the air, vying with distant memories of flowers. I catch sight of the stone font in the gloom and run my hand round its worn rim then, tracing the curve down and across its depths, I encounter water. Drawing back, I glance around, but no one is there to see.… (read more)

A Voice in the Storm

Storm

The sun’s rays burst through the clouds and skim the ruffled waters of the lake. At the sight of a large villa, they prize their way between the half drawn curtains and splash light across a table set for two.

Eyes downcast, an old man ruminates, his boney fingers smoothing creases from the cloth. The roast lamb and potato gratin have hardly been touched. He picks up his glass, swills the red wine, sniffs it, then replaces it with a sigh.… (read more)

Encountered

Encountered

The whir of colour wheels settled and a familiar sinking announced the return to gravity. Ahead the docking station took shape. AT381. Home. He let out a deep shuddery breath. He was almost there. Out of habit, he glanced at the screens. No one was following.

Docked, he was about to undo the airlock when a second craft drifted into the next bay. His hands froze on the crossbar. Cast off you fool, get out of there.… (read more)

Flowerpot scientists

Flowerpot

“No. I insist. They hide under flowerpots,” she says, draining most of her cup, turning it upside down and placing it dripping over a solitary sugar lump.

“What are you talking about, my dear?” She can have such wild ideas at times that I find it hard to keep up. And if I can’t keep up, whoever else could? Somebody has to accompany her in her wanderings. She might get lost forever.… (read more)