Coriolis. A short tale.

He stared at the mirror, at the composite he had become. It held a reflection capturing his bitterest Hyde and Jekyll moments. He placed his hand firmly on the vanity, turned on the tap and watched the water spiral down the drain.

“You f$&@ing, arrogant, conceited prick,” he said. In the mirror his other self sneered, spitting vitriol. “Who do you think you are? Do you think you’re better than everyone else? Do you think you deserve more? Are you entitled? Who gives you the right to think you should be f$&@ing happy?”

The unblinking visage stared back at him. He was eye to eye with a ghost, a soliloquy made real. “She doesn’t even know you, you stupid, f$&@ing idiot.”

And there it was. The source of all his ire, ensnaring and holding him hostage, his personal Stockholm Syndrome. The one thing that kept him awake every aimless night. The thing that kept him longing insanely and losing himself sanely.

He thrust his finger at the mirror accusingly. “Why would you even attempt to believe that she was right for you? She doesn’t know you from a bar of soap.” He grabbed the slimy soap block from the vanity and threw it hard into the bathroom wall, where is clonked and slid to the floor. For dramatic effect? He didn’t know. He didn’t know anything anymore.

Tears welled in his eyes. He wiped them away with the back of his hand. “I’m giving her up,” he said. “I’m tired of loving and hating how I feel when she’s around. I’m tired of never being able to let her know how I feel. I’m tired of fooling myself anymore.” His mirror self slumped, the weight that should have lifted now magnified a thousand fold.

He looked at the empty eyes—the hollow, skeletal black holes were event horizons from which only sadness could escape. “It’s better this way. Who needs hope, anyway? There’s no point in purpose. It’s just another anchor to drag you down.”

The room seemed darker now, the embodiment of his thoughts. He slid to the floor, pulled down into a personal ocean of despair. He turned his back to the wall and collapsed into himself like the singularity he had become.

“It’s better this way.” But there was no one else to listen, and the whisper of his voice sounded even more hollow in the tiny tiled room that was just as much a cage as his head. Better this way, he thought.

The tap kept running, the stream of his pain a twisting coriolis, swirling downwards to a confusion of pipes and an endless, empty sea.

.

Actually, a true story. But if you’ve been following my posts you’d know that, lol.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Wait. A short tale.

She waited as he wasted away.

She watched and pined. He watched as well; sometimes TV, sometimes her.

She fed him hand-to-mouth. Eventually he refused to eat. As he grew thinner, the drip in his arm pulsed like a marathon runner, sucking exhausted breaths as it neared the finish line.

He smiled painfully. She did, too.

She cried when he slept–never when he was awake. Her tears fell gently on the back of his hand, where they ran off the edge in random segues before fading away with nary a whisper.

She knew when the day arrived. There was no announcement, no symbolic continuous beep on the machine, like on TV. She just knew. So did he.

They held hands.

She waited as he went away.

 

If you would like to read more of my flash fiction, click here.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Real News. A short tale.

Here’s a post I did for a recent uni course. The course is over so I can post it now. The idea was to take a news story and extrapolate what it was about.  

 

A man attacked a woman in a Victorian Shopping Centre. Although the news story was light on details, it was inferred in the report that the two may have known each other.

I am not a fan of these types of news stories, especially when there is no further information, meaning any further claims (i.e. via Twitter and Fb feeds, also mentioned in the article) are generally hearsay and conjecture. Having said that, this is a creative writing course, so I am going to make some wild and potentially bizarrely inaccurate conclusions.

I think the man (whom we shall refer to as Escobarn, to protect his identity) was a spurned lover, and he used an axe as he was a firefighter who trained with axes regularly at the axe throwing range. He was a neighbour of the woman (forevermore known as Juliannis), and they had known each other for years, secretly harbouring a passionate desire for one another and a shared love of axe wielding. Juliannis was saved by Escobarn when her backyard BBQ mysteriously caught fire while she was cooking one evening.

Little did Juiliannis know that Escobarn had rigged the BBQ to catch alight, thus setting his torrid plan in motion. After a very brief (3-minute) affair, Escobarn stole the six-foot marijuana plant Juliannis was growing in a patch of her backyard, hidden in a small grove of trees. Despite his short comings (yeah, that’s a pun), or perhaps because of them, Juliannis, suspected her short-term lover of the robbery. She was desperate to recover the tree as she had a huge gambling debt with Father Macc at the local Church Bingo.

Juliannis called on Father Macc for assistance. Father Macc utilised some of his geriatric bingo toughs to beat up Escobarn and return the plant. Unfortunately, the toughs all died of old age before they could complete the job. Escobarn, upset about the dead people on his lawn, took his trusty axe to Juliannis’ place of work. The rest is news history.

There are a number of crimes perpetrated here, some real, some wildly fictitious: Attempted Murder, Cultivating an illegal drug, Illegal BBQ tampering (carries a 20 year sentence in Australia. We’re very attached to our barbies), Illegal Gambling (depends on the type of bingo – this particular one was  body parts trading and money laundering), Geriatric Gang Violence, Public Littering (dead bodies on a lawn are an offence if not cleaned up).

There are many crimes committed in the big city. This is just one of them. Or ten.

Regards

Steve 😉

Sucker Punch. A short tale.

Here is another piece I wrote for a recent course that is now finished, so I’m free to post it.

 

I feel the fist as it hits me hard in the jaw. My head shakes violently; I hear the soft crack at my jawline and a seeping pain overwhelms my thoughts. I stumble sideways, my arms up, guarding my skull. His blows come in a flurry, faster now but imprecise, attempting to break through my defences. At times, he varies his attacks, all of them with self-righteous fury but a lack of finesse and no other purpose than to pummel me into submission.

I feel his knuckles crunch my nose, sharp pain smashing straight through and my skull snapping back and forth like a bobble head on a spring. It gives him an opening and he smacks the side of my head just below my brow, where a ring he is wearing cuts deep. Blood flows freely, down through my eye (sticky, stinging), down my face, along my neck and soaking into my shirt collar. I stumble, my vision blurring, arms still up and aching from bruises that seem to echo through my bones.

Time has slowed, and I sense others pulling him back as I fall to my knees. I’m lucky. At this point he could have taken me out, killed me if he wanted. My mind is adrift in a haze of shapes and motion and as darkness closes in I barely feel the pavement as it greets me with one last sucker punch.

The Spell. A short tale.

I saw you again today.

You hadn’t changed at all, but of course I shouldn’t have expected you too. After all, it had been but a few weeks, and nobody can be expected to change much in that time. Your beauty outshone everyone else in the room, like a lighthouse between hazardous reefs. I could only glance for a short while, lest I be blinded by your light; I was far too unworthy.

You didn’t acknowledge me at all, and although I was saddened by this apparent rebuke, I understood. You were so infinitely far away, and yet only a few steps lay between us. I was distracted by others, by casual, innocuous conversation, and by the time I looked back again, you were gone.

I smiled grimly as I left that place, knowing that you were a pipedream, an illusion beyond the power of choice. As my eyes moistened, I wondered if I would ever be free of the weave of your magic. Perhaps not.

But if never, then what a fine spell to be under.

Drifter. A short tale.

I am shapeless, without form or feature. I float in the ether between worlds, a wisp of aimless consciousness, searching for convention. Twisting, turning, the eddies of astral winds cycling like water down an infinite drain. Drifting in and out of reality, an incorporeal whisper.

I sense a gateway, hovering above me, yet below. I reach with fingers of mist-like curlicues, wondering if there is depth beyond the vision. I look through into a vast horizon of potentiality. But the way is just out of reach, tauntingly distant and seemingly insubstantial.

I drift on, the astral breeze pushing and pulling me away from here and there. Perhaps another day…

The Wet Street Shuffle. A short tale.

The rain was hard that night, like little daggers on the back of my neck. I made it to the overhang, drenched, and shook out my hat like a wet dog. Traffic moved begrudgingly in the street, the occasional horn breaking the murmur of engines struggling against repression. Despite the rain’s ferocity, people rushed this way and that, like insects threatening to be washed away.

There were several strangers with me under the overhang. Pedestrians taking cover from the weather; faces cowed and muted in the damp dimness, almost like they were hiding from the reality of their own existence. I nodded ingenuously, an acknowledgement of our shared, wet fate. 

Within minutes the torrent had ceased, leaving the streets shiny in the moonlight. My short term compatriots went on their way, mysteries and enigmas better left unsolved.

The Diff. A short tale.

Here’s another short piece I recently wrote for uni. The exercise was to create some realistic dialogue. Hope you like it.

“So, you’ve finally met a girl?” Josh grinned.
Matt lowered his eyes. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“About time. I thought after your divorce you’d never get out there again. Tell me all about her. Is she a good sort?”
Matt smiled. “Yeah, she’s very attractive. She likes all the things I like. We can talk for hours about books, movies, art, comics, you name it. It’s like she was made for me.”
Josh rolled his eyes. “Nerds. So, what’s wrong?”
“There’s a bit of an age difference.”
“How much?”
“About fifteen years.”
“You old cradle snatcher, you. How old is she, eighteen or something?”
“Twenty-five.”
“Twenty-five? How old are you, anyway?” Josh did a quick calculation on his fingers. “Like, forty or something? You don’t look that old.”
“I’m scared to ask her out,” said Matt.
“You’re scared of rejection? Geez, mate, get over it and ask her. Then you won’t have to do the old ‘unrequited love depression session’ every time we chat. You can just be regular depressed like the rest of us.”

Session. A short tale.

“Back again,” says Ms Therapy, reclining in her chair.

“Yes,” I reply, eyeing her curiously. “Every month, as you know.”

Ms Therapy sighs, grabs a pen and notepad from the desk behind her. “Yes, I know.” She sighs again and my anxiety level rises.

“So, what would you like to talk about this time?” Ms Therapy taps the pen impatiently on the pad. She glances at the wall clock. By this point I’m feeling a little put out.

“Do you have something you’d rather be doing?” I say. “I can always come back later.” The last words via a thin smile.

Ms Therapy grins; it’s a little forced. “No, no, you know that I’m here to listen, help you with your problems…” She trails off. Her eyes are distant, and I could swear she’s starting to tear up a little.

“Are you alright?” I say, leaning forward in concern.

“Yes,” Ms Therapy says, putting a hand to her trembling mouth. “No. I’m sorry,” she says. She starts to cry, suppresses it, fanning her face rapidly with one hand, like she’s swatting away imaginary butterflies. Or maybe killer bees.

“How about I come back another time, maybe when you’ve had time to…adjust.” I start to rise, she holds up her palms signalling stay. I glance at the door – if I’m going to get out of here this is my last chance.

“I’ve broken up with my girlfriend,” Ms Therapy says. This is a surprise, as I wasn’t aware she was gay. Not that I know much about her, but I guess my gaydar is as non-existent as the rest of my people-reading skills. Before I can respond, she continues in a torrent of tears and sputtering speech.

“We’ve been together five years. She’s my everything. We are so good together. And last night, all of a sudden, she says ‘it’s not working’ and that she needs to find herself. I mean, what’s not working? She’s never indicated anything was wrong before. Then she leaves and she hasn’t come back and I’ve been worried sick and she’s such a bitch but I love her…”

I’m glad she doesn’t notice how uncomfortable I’ve become; the occasional squirm and nervous tic. “Umm…do you need a hug?” is all I can think to say. Ms Therapy graciously accepts, and for the next half hour I listen to her travails and placate her with “it’ll be alright” and “she’s a stupid woman, she’ll be back when she realises what she’s lost”.

Eventually, the tears subside and Ms Therapy composes herself. “Thank you,” she says. “I just needed to talk to someone about it. I feel so much better now.” It’s a shame I don’t, but I guess I didn’t really need a session, anyway.

“Glad I could help,” I say. My halo glows with new found, smug self-confidence.

“This one’s on the house,” she says, shrugging. “Least I can do.”

“Gee, thanks,” I say as I exit.

I can hear Alpha Girl now: “Hah! You can’t even get a therapy session right!”

Doh.

Missing. A short tale.

Something was missing. Every time I looked, I thought I saw it, but like some mote in the corner of one’s eye, when I looked again it was gone. I was starting to doubt my own senses.

I clambered around the room, searching up and down, turning things over and tossing them about, trying to find the missing thing. I wasn’t sure what it was, just that I needed it. Right now. I felt like a junkie itching for a fix, but not knowing exactly what hit he needed.

If it wasn’t in my room, maybe it was online. I flicked on the laptop, checked a few regular pages, a few irregular ones, and eventually gave up, my chin resting on my open palm as I scratched my head. It had to be around here somewhere. But what was it that was missing? What was it that proved so elusive and mysterious?

And then it came to me, like a lightbulb flickering on in pitch black.  I was missing a life.

I guess I needed to get up off my arse, get out of my room and find it.

 

Cat and Mouse. A short tale.

This story is the prequel to a poem I wrote on my blog a while back. You can find it here.

I wrote this brief story for Uni. Now that the course is over I can post it.

 

The cat sat on the mat. She preened and purred, purred and preened. She watched the mouse. The mouse sat across the room, just outside his hole-in-the-wall. He did not preen, or purr. He watched the cat.

The cat had never eaten a mouse before and wondered if he tasted good. If you’re not sure of these things, it’s always polite to ask.

“Are you tasty?” she said.

The mouse seemed confused. “Tasty?” he replied. “As in, ‘my, you are one hip, cool and funky mouse’?”

She smiled. “No. As in, are you good to eat?”

“I guess that depends on your perspective,” said the mouse. “I would say definitely not.”

The cat yawned, rolled on her side and pawed the carpet aimlessly. “Are you fast?”

The mouse’s eyes narrowed and he rubbed his tiny paws together. “Do you want to chase me and find out?”

“Not really,” said the cat, drifting off to sleep.

Letter to a Facebook Friend

This is a uni piece I wrote some time ago. It was meant to be a letter to a friend about something I was very serious or concerned about, using real referenced materials. I went with satire and irony. I’ve removed the referencing from this version.

 

Dear Matt,

I’m writing to express my concerns regarding your increasing addiction to Facebook. According to your news feed you hardly ever leave your room anymore, don’t respond to texts or phone calls and were recently fired from work – all over your constant need to stay in touch via Fb.

Each of my Facebook friends (all 1524 of them) are concerned about your circumstances. I read on your mother’s feed the other day that you are now refusing meals and that you have barricaded your bedroom door (and blocked your mother on Fb).

In 2014 Facebook had well over 1.2 billion users, making 41,000 posts per second –  I assume that you were responsible for a good portion of those. Although Facebook remains a wonderful place for social connections, news and advertising profits, it is also a source of increasing cyberbullying, social reclusion and distraction. For example, British companies are impacted by billions of dollars of productivity loss each year because their employees spend so much time on Facebook.

Matt, my Facebook Friend, your other Fb friends only want the best for you. We’re not saying you should give up the ‘book, just detach yourself occasionally to eat and drink. And perhaps work for a living.

Looking forward to your next post!

Regards

Steve

Date Night. A short tale.

The mirror image was unflattering.

She had been trying on dresses for the last hour. They always looked better on the rack and in the fitting rooms before she bought them. She knew there was something about the mirrors in stores. Like the ones at carnivals, but warping everything to look better (maybe she should get one installed…).

It looked like jeans and a blouse were a better option. Three changes later and she was satisfied. Black skinny jeans (almost a miracle needed to get them on; not quite the parting of the Red Sea, but almost) and a billowy white shirt, untucked (why did her ass and thighs look so big? Where was that carnival mirror…) over a black tank top (she was sure it was bigger, before. Had her boobs grown? Maybe the top shrunk in the wash. That’s okay, it emphasised her cleavage more, now. She would just leave a few extra buttons open to show ’em off. Face palm: that was so slutty.)

All this crap for a blind date. And what if he looked worse than she did? What if he was some loser, no job, aimless? She shook her head. Her best friend wouldn’t match her like that. All her fears and insecurities were rising to the surface. Best push them down, keep them buried, like they usually were. “Yeah, real healthy,” she said to the empty room (hmm. It was pretty empty. Maybe she needed to get a cat? Hold on a minute – that way lay long term spinster-dom and more cats…)

Makeup applied, not overdone, but not sparingly (less whorish, more Watergate cover up. Big sigh). Her phone alarm beeped. Time to face the music, she thought. She pouted to the mirror, mouthing silently “it’s so nice to meet you”. Tilted her head. Silent pretend laugh.

She rolled her eyes and headed for the door. One last glance back. Maybe she would get a cat…

 

What is this flash fiction stuff? I only started it recently (and maybe my short tales are a bit too long to be called flash fiction. I don’t know). This one is a bit clichéd, but that’s okay – nobody’s perfect.

Not even with the benefit of carnival mirrors.  

 

Awake. A short tale.

(I exit my room. The sun is shining through my open window, bright beams illuminating me from behind as I stretch and face the world. I imagine a choir announcing my return, like a second coming, of sorts.

“So, where have you been?” says Alpha Girl, sprawled on the lounge and not looking up from her magazine. My choir slurs and stops, like a wind up record player reaching its end.

“Yeah,” says Beta Max, not taking his eyes off the TV as he plays Xbox.

Scratching my unruly head, I yawn, waddle sleepily to the kitchen and pour cereal into a bowl. “I’ve been working on my blog,” I say. “And sleeping.”

“We haven’t seen you for a week,” says Alpha Girl. “Thought you’d moved out. Or died. A good outcome, either way.”

I stick out my tongue, but she doesn’t see it. “Did either of you think to knock on my door?” I say. “I suffer from depression, you know.”

Beta Max moans as his onscreen self is killed again. He looks over at me and grins. “If you died, we would have smelt it by now, dude.”

“It’s nice to know I’m surrounded by such caring, sharing people,” I respond, smiling and flipping him the bird.

Alpha Girl, still engrossed in her magazine, flicks her hair. “You told me you made a commitment to your family not to commit suicide,” she says. “And I know how responsible you are.” For the first time, she looks up and smirks. “Besides, whenever you isolate yourself like that, you put yourself through hell. And I love it when you torment yourself.” I can almost hear the sinister orchestration in the background. Thunder booms. Lightning flashes. A glint of predatory canines as she sneers.

Beta Max throws down the controller as he dies again. “I hate this game,” he says. Loping over to the fridge, he drinks orange juice straight from the bottle. Alpha Girl gives him a death stare. Suitably rebutted, he pours a glass of juice and meekly places the bottle back. “Dude, you know we’re always here for you,” he says.

I laugh. “I’ll remember that the next time I update my will,” I say.)

The Player. A short tale.

Steve picked up his guitar. It was an old acoustic: earthy, time worn and weather beaten, with thick gauge strings slightly out of tune. He plucked the neck harmonics and adjusted the tuning heads, listening intently as each tone wavered and steadied. When he finished, he strummed an open G chord, and, satisfied with his efforts, commenced  playing a song he had written long ago.

As usual it was a tale of woe and forgotten love. Blues, but not quite blues; some jazzy sevenths and ringing open strings brought a gentle dissonance to the melody.  Lyrics breathily whispered to the night.

Steve drifted lazily back to bars long since closed and audiences long since forgotten –  he could almost smell the drifting smoke in the room. Gently rocking, his left foot tapped out a rhythmic beat in time to his strumming.

Then it was over, as if it had never been.

 

This is a uni piece I wrote many months ago. Everyone had to write an introduction for themselves. The final assignment has been marked, so I can post it now.

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