Tag Archives: change

Change. Short Story.

Hope everyone has had a good week! I’ve lost a bit more weight which isn’t that great, but I’ve an appointment on Monday with my GI doctor so hopefully more will be revealed then, though I expect it’ll be mostly getting tests done.

My sourdough starter should be getting to the point where it’s almost done, I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to try make some bread over the weekend or let it go for a little bit longer before I start keeping it in the fridge.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Percy kept his head down as he walked through the streets, he missed the comfort of his hood, how it helped make him another nobody. They’d been banned in July of the last year after there was a terrorist attack in a local market, anyone caught outside with a covering on their head would be summarily arrested and sent to prison under suspicion of being a terrorist. He ducked and weaved through the thronging crowd, not wanting to stop and listen to the agitators, men standing on wooden boxes and shouting their ideology into the din. It wasn’t a good place to hang around but unfortunately for Percy his office building was just on the other side of it. He snaked his way out of the bulk of the crowd and felt himself relax a little, he eyed the black face masks of the police as they stared impassively at the crowd. Percy walked past one, nodding as he went, it seemed polite to greet them, after all he passed the same one every day. Or at least he thought it was the same one, the uniforms were made of heavy body armour that made it impossible to distinguish them from one another, they were even the same rough height. All part of regulations to keep anyone from figuring out who the police were after the last rash of police killings three years before, where almost a thirty police men and women were murdered in their own homes along with their families while they’d been sleeping. Percy felt himself relax a little more as he entered the building, the most dangerous part of his day was over, for some reason the revolutions always seemed to happen in the mornings rather than at night or the afternoon. Not that it was much safer being outside in the evening.
“Good Morning.”
“Morning.”
Cassandra didn’t look up from her computer, she rarely did. Percy entered the stairwell, ignoring the taped up lift doors. The elevators had been decommissioned after the last attack, they were too much of a safety hazard apparently. Percy didn’t care either way, he always took the stairs, he could never stand the cramped space of the elevator, the crush of people cramming themselves in and the reek of perfumes, cologne and body odour, all competing to drown out the others. When he reached the sixth floor he was just starting to breathe a little faster, he opened the door to his floor with his eight digit code and carefully closed the door behind himself. The office had been open plan when it first opened fifty years ago, now it was a strange maze of bullet proof half walls that were just that little bit too tall to see over comfortably. He made his way through the corridors calling good morning to anyone he spotted as he went. He entered his small cubicle and sat down on the chair, he waited for the computer to boot then entered his login. While the computer loaded his profile he pulled his mug from his desk cupboard and placed it under the small coffee nozzle, he pressed a button and watched as it filled. It was supposed to have an automatic cut off but that hadn’t worked since he began, despite repeatedly flagging it with maintenance. He stopped the coffee and pressed the button for milk then added half a packet of sugar. When he was done doctoring his coffee his system had loaded, he opened up the programs he needed then went straight to the internet browser. He scrolled through the mornings news stories, everything seemed OK for the moment. He checked to make sure the alert system was still working then he minimised the page and got to work.

At noon the alarms went off and the shutters closed down on the windows, plunging them into gloom for a few seconds while the rest of the overhead lights kicked in. An alert popped up on Percy’s screen, “Please stay calm while the situation is resolved.”
Samantha popped her head around the side of Percy’s cubicle wall, “I heard it’s the New Reformation. They’ve been planning this for weeks apparently.”
“Are they the ones with the leader in the mask?”
“No, the New Reformations leader is a woman, she’s about fifty, severe face, short grey hair?”
Percy nodded, he vaguely remembered seeing one of her speeches somewhere. He didn’t particularly agree with what she was saying, but then he didn’t agree with most of them.
“So what do you think of their chances?”
“Well pretty good I think. She seems like the type to get things done. Though we might have another Walt Ingram on our hands.”
Percy nodded, pretending to know who that was, there were just too many names to keep track of. One government was barely settled before a new one was muscling its way in.
“Do you think we’ll get out of here before close?”
“Hopefully, last time it didn’t take long at all, only an hour or two.”
A voice came over the intercom, “Please note that you are still expected to work your normal hours during this emergency situation. Thank you for your understanding.”
Samantha sighed, “least they could do is give us the day off.”
Percy snorted, “if they did we’d never get any work done.”
“I’ll see you later. Hey, would you mind if we walked home together tonight? You’re close by me and you know how crazy people can get.”
“Yeah, of course.”
Samantha smiled, “thanks! I’ll see you later!” she turned and Percy caught a glimpse of her ass, he sighed to himself as he looked back at his screen, her wife was very lucky. He opened his web browser and was greeted by a not so friendly reminder, “All internet activity has been suspended for your safety. Repeated attempts to get online or attempts to circumvent this block will be met with disciplinary actions.” Percy clicked out of the browser.

Three hours later there was a high pitched whine as the shields over the windows were raised. Percy stood from his desk and stepped out of his cubicle, joining the stream of people going to the windows. He found a good spot and peered down at the square below, the police still stood guard, it looked as though there were still speakers though a worker was spraying down the area with a hose. He moved from the window, letting someone else take his place. It didn’t seem to be too bad this time, he hadn’t spotted any broken windows and while there was blood there were no bodies.

By the time he’d finished work he had the whole story, the New Reformation had neatly and quickly killed or arrested most of the Main Government officials, taking control for themselves. The news didn’t go into the nitty gritty details of how they did it, which was unusual. Most of the groups were falling over themselves to tell everyone how they took over. Perhaps their leader was smarter than the others, who knew, maybe they’d be the government that lasted, though it seemed unlikely. He met Samantha at the door to the stairwell and together they joined the line of people leaving. Outside the air was cold and held with it a faint tinge of copper. Who ever had been in charge of hosing the place down had done a slapdash job, there were still puddles of blood tinged water. That would be gone by the morning though, the cleaning crews would come out after the celebrating was mostly finished. Percy and Samantha walked side by side, heads down. They chatted as they went, the layout of the new data spreadsheets, that jackass Tom from accounting who always seemed to lose files. Nothing personal, nothing inflammatory, it was safest. Samantha stopped outside one of the buildings, “this is me, thank you so much.” She glanced around quickly, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but thank you.” Small groups of revellers were shouting and drinking but they seemed to be leaving passer-by alone.
“It’s no bother, it was on my way, if you want someone to walk you home let me know anytime.”
They shook hands and Samantha entered the building, pausing only to enter the code. Percy waited until the door closed safely behind her then resumed his journey. As he walked he kept his head down, not looking at those celebrating. He passed a group of men and women jeering at an old man, he saw one of them push the old man to the ground, the shouts grew louder. Percy kept going. If he got involved he’d only make it worse for the old man and himself. The police would be making sweeps through the city as the night wore on, calming things down as best as they could.

Percy let himself into his building and went to the stairs, the elevators were still functioning, the dinged open and a young woman stepped out, a young man followed her and grabbed her ass. The young man spotted Percy and pumped a fist into the air “We did it man, we did it!” Percy ignored him and stepped into the stairwell. He climbed the stairs quickly then slowed as he reached the third floor, if the young man hadn’t started after him yet, he wouldn’t. No doubt the young man would get himself into a few fights in the coming hours. Most people intelligent enough to avoid that behaviour also avoided advertising their political stance. Percy himself ignored politics all together as that seemed to be the safest bet in general. Sometimes the new governments liked to crack down on political opposition and the only way to avoid it was to just simply not get involved. He opened the door to the ninth floor after punching in his code, then he walked down the corridor to his door. He unlocked it quickly, stepped inside and closed it behind himself, feeling his shoulders relax as he leaned against the cold metal of the door.

The Change. Short Story.

I think I’m doing a bit better, the stomach cramps have eased off a bit so I’m hopeful! Still really tired but then what’s new there really! I’m going to try and get my next appointment with my GI doctor moved up anyway, if it’s just a lull or if it’s passing no harm in getting looked over!

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Brad held his hands out to the fire, letting the warmth seep in. It probably wasn’t the safest idea they’d had but it was too damn cold, their options were to light a fire or potentially freeze to death. After a few minutes debate they decided the risk was worth it. They were far from any cities or towns and hopefully far from people. A lot of people were doing what they were, striking out for the wilderness, it was the safest thing they could do. The threat of changing was getting worse every day, they’d waited as long as they could then packed their car and started driving. They’d abandoned the car four days back, they’d run out of gas and the last few gas stations they’d passed had hand written signs saying they were out. Well, that wasn’t true, the very last one had a large sign proclaiming that there was still gas and to “Come on in for a bite!” that sign had seemed too suspicious to them both, so they kept driving. For Brad the strangest thing about it all was that to a casual observer they might not notice anything was wrong. You could gloss over the stores with dwindling supplies (they couldn’t seem to keep the shelves stocked no matter how hard they tried) or the sight of someone frantic and running down the street, hell you could even ignore the way that people would watch you out of the corner of their eyes. The news was useless, blathering on about celebrities and the usual fluff, like it still mattered. The internet was being censored, occasionally you would come across a post about a family member changing, about the way everyone was on edge, but almost as soon as it went up it was taken down again. Brad and Helena had hit the road after the last call from Helena’s parents, they’d sounded bright and cheerful, far removed from the quiet, anxious voices that they had heard previously. Brad’s own parents had gone over about a week back and had been aggressively inviting them over for dinner since.

They’d ditched their phones with the car, it wasn’t like they had anyone to ring, it seemed like almost everyone had gone over. Part of him wished it was all more dramatic, that the people who changed were flesh eating zombies or weapon wielding maniacs. At least then you’d have a chance, you’d know to defend yourself. They looked like normal people, acted like them too for the most part, but they were different, changed. He couldn’t explain it properly, even now, but there was a subtle wrongness to them, something that was just off. He hadn’t managed to pinpoint it, whether it was the way they moved or sounded or smelled. Sometimes it was obvious, the personality change or the sudden insistence at meeting up, but other times it was subtle. Subtle enough that you could miss it. So they’d did the only sensible thing and ran.

Helena poured hot water into two cups, neither of them particularly liked tea but they’d run out of coffee yesterday and hadn’t been able to resupply yet. They’d need to do it soon, their food supplies were dwindling rapidly, much faster than either expected, and they had no idea how to even begin hunting or foraging. Brad popped a hole into a can of spaghetti and put it beside the fire, it was only a few days and he was already sick of canned food, they had both thought themselves reasonably prepared and believed that they could pick up the rest on the way, it was only now he was realising how unprepared they really were. A branch snapped nearby, Brad’s head whipped around, a voice called out, low and frightened, “Hello? I’m sorry if I scared you but can we warm ourselves by the fire? Just for a minute, please, my wife is pregnant.” Brad glanced at Helena, she nodded slightly, “Yeah. OK. But don’t make any sudden moves.” They had no weapons with them, save for an old baseball bat, but the new comers didn’t know that. A man and woman emerged from the trees, the woman moved slowly, her large stomach protruding in front of her. Their faces were red and they were both shivering from the cold, both had light jackets on. “Jesus, you’ll freeze to death out here if you’re not careful. Where are you coming from?”
“Livington, it’s about fifteen miles east of here. We weren’t planning on leaving.” They sat down, holding their hands out to the flames. “My brother attacked us. We barely got out of the house.” he looked at Brad, “I just thought people were overreacting, that it was just in peoples heads.” his eyes were pleading, as was his voice, Brad thought the man was hoping he’d agree, tell him that it wasn’t really happening, that it had just been a mistake. “Do you want some tea? It’ll help heat you up.”
“That would be great, Thanks. I’m Patrick, this is Francine.” Francine nodded at them both and gave a half smile.

An hour later and they were all talking like old friends, Brad was surprised at how much he missed just chatting with people, without worrying whether they were still people. What ever was replacing people was sticking close to the towns and cities, carrying on their scheduled humanity, going to work or school, doing the shopping, they weren’t out in the wilderness. Patrick finished off his tea, his second cup, “We should probably get going. W just wanted to heat ourselves up and we don’t want to intrude.”
“Nonsense, you’ll catch your death out here. Besides us humans need to stick together.” Brad nodded, Helena was right, they’d be better off in a group. It would make keeping watch easier, bother Brad and Helena had managed to fall asleep the night before, leaving them entirely exposed.

Helena poured more tea into Francine’s cup, she clutched the cup tightly, enjoying the warmth radiating through her hands. “Thank you. You know I never thought I’d experience this again. Drinking tea with friends” she sniffed, Brad looked away awkwardly as Francine wiped away a single tear.

The muffled gasp woke Brad, he was groggy, how long had they been asleep? It was still dark out, there was a low moan, his first thought was Francine, that the baby was coming here in the cold, dark woods, he sat up and looked across the faintly glowing embers, who was supposed to be on watch? The fire shouldn’t have died down that much. He saw something in the dark, a hunched shape over where Helena was sleeping. He shot to his feet and charged at the figure, just as he took his second step another shape hurtled out of the darkness, knocking him to the ground. He landed hard, the weight on top of him driving the air from his lungs, it took him a second to make sense of the shape on top of him, it was Francine, her pregnant belly hanging above his face. She was holding him down, her hands wrapped around his shoulders with a painfully tight grip, she leaned down, an angle he would have thought impossible, then her lips were over his creating a seal. He felt something oozing into his mouth, he bucked and writhed as he felt the liquid moving, pulling itself down his throat. Suddenly there was pain, bright hot at first but quickly becoming dull and far away.

The next morning they packed their bags in silence, Francine and Patrick had left during the night. They shouldered their bags and started walking, they knew the woods held more people, they just had to find them.

The Change. Short Story.

Jeff could feel it in his very blood, calling out to him, telling him to just relax and let it take over. He slapped himself across the face, hard. The sharp pain helped ground him. He couldn’t give in, wouldn’t. He took a deep breath, the feeling of itching deep in his bones subsided a little. He longed for a drink, something strong that would burn its way down to his stomach but he couldn’t. Not now. The drink would make it that much harder for him to resist. The others were out in the fields, feeling the air on their face, feeling truly alive while he was stuck inside, inside this stuffy room where the walls seemed to press in on him. He walked to the window, his hands already moving to open it before he stopped himself. No, it was a trick. If he went outside he would lose himself completely. Feeling the grass beneath his feet, the moonlight on his skin, the fresh air carrying the scent of prey. No it was his job to remain in his full senses.

He gasped, it felt like his blood was bubbling in his veins. He longed to itch and scratch and tear at his skin. Outside someone called out, he could smell it, the hot coppery smell of blood, he knew it well. But it wasn’t coming from outside, it was from somewhere in the house. He opened the door before he could stop himself, already caught up in the hunt. He ran through the halls, excitement building, he rounded the corner and slammed into someone, Lucy, his younger sister, too young still for the changes. She looked up at him, eyes wide and full of fear. His breathing was heavy, harsh, “Go back to your room.” The words were spat out, full of hunger and rage. Lucy scrambled to her feet and ran. He could feel the tug, the desire to chase after her, to run her down, but the smell of blood was still in the air, stronger here. He started moving again, this time cautiously. His mouth started salivating, he remembered the story of the maid. The poor maid who cut herself on a night like this. Nothing would have saved her. Perhaps some juicy morsel had made a similar mistake.

He opened the door and stopped. Blood was splattered across the room, the floor, the walls, even the ceiling. Towards the middle of the room was a pile of meat, that was the only thing he could think of it as. Whatever it had been before was almost impossible to tell, it had been torn to pieces. He stepped into the room, his nostrils twitching at the intoxicating aroma of blood. He didn’t notice the saliva drooling from his lips and down his chin. Something had happened here, he needed to focus, to be aware. Whatever it had been was human, that much he knew. Outside he heard another cry, but this time it was closer to the house. Those outside were fully in the grips of the madness, they wouldn’t be rational, thinking people. Even he was having difficulty staying in control. If they got into the house everyone inside would be doomed. He stalked from the room, longing to return, but he had to check.

The doors and windows were all locked, but he could see them, outside running around the garden, ducking into shadows. Whatever had happened in the house had happened after everyone was outside. Lucy. She had been inside. Had she had blood on her? He hadn’t noticed. The smell of it had been thick in the air at that point. He turned and went towards her room.

He knocked on the door gently, something inside slammed against the door. Jeff’s heart beat harder in his chest, either Lucy had made the change or she was dead. He would find out in the morning, for now whatever it was was trapped and it was safer for everyone that way. When the young ones changed for the first few times they were dangerous. Savage and new they delighted in torment and pain. There was no control in it, there never could be, but as they aged the change wasn’t as severe, they didn’t feel the same gnawing need and hunger deep inside.

When the morning came Jeff felt the dawn wash over him. He sighed in relief, finally that maddening itch inside was gone, as was the need to run, to eat, to kill. He was tired, more exhausted than if he had allowed the change to take. Everyone outside would be there for a few hours yet. It was summer and they would sleep in the morning light until they woke.

He opened the door to Lucy’s room, it was destroyed. the mattress had been ripped to shreds, great gouges in the walls and floors, and in the centre of it all was Lucy, sleeping on the tattered remains of her duvet. Sighing Jeff moved in and lay down beside her, feeling sleep take him. The change was terrifying the first time. She would wake up scared and disorientated, he would need to be there for her.

Jeff yawned and stretched, they had spent the day cleaning. The woman who had been killed, for it was a woman, was one of the newer maids. No one knew why she had stayed behind when the others left. She certainly knew she wasn’t supposed to be in the house after 5 P.M. Jeff suspected she was planning on breaking into the safe during the night and slipping away, but he had no real way of knowing. Others had disposed of the gristly remains outside, with the others. There had been many accidents over the years and the family had to keep its secrets. Lucy had spent the day crying but now she seemed to be doing a little better. She knew it wasn’t really her that did it, no one ever remained themselves when the change took over.

The Coffee Shop. Short Story.

Hope everyone’s weekend went well. Mine was pretty relaxing. I have been cat sitting for my sister for the past three weeks. She’s was being kept in my room as the two dogs are not fans of cats. It was pretty ok for the first two and a half weeks. Then she decided it was ok to wake me up at night for attention. How do you wake a sleeping human? Oh, plenty of ways. You can walk on the pillow, or their head. You can meow lots, perch on their shoulders, poke at their face with your paw. The only thing stopping you is your imagination!

Yeah.

Despite that she is a pretty nice cat. She’s friendly and gentle. I was scratched once the entire time, and that was trying to get her into her carrier when she was leaving. Even then it was less a “fuck you” scratch and more of a “oh god, oh god no!” trying to get a grip on something scratch.

Despite her being nice and the room seeming quiet and empty, I’m fairly happy I was able to get a good nights sleep last night that was pretty much uninterrupted.
It was also nice to have a quiet weekend.

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Jane sat against the wall, hands wrapped around her coffee cup. She brought it to her lips and took a sip, as she did so she glanced around the coffee shop, then she placed the mug down and looked at her book. Occasionally she would turn a page, but she wasn’t reading it, it was a cover. She was sitting in her usual spot, on the bench that ran along the wall, and scanning the people who entered. She knew them all, by sight if not personally. Those who actually knew her wouldn’t bother her, everyone knew she took the time for herself, a little break. They wouldn’t interrupt that, not with all the stresses she had at home. This was her third day of observation and she was starting to feel more confident. They wouldn’t notice that she wasn’t actually reading, why would they? She needed to be subtle, discrete. Something was wrong and Jane had to figure out what it was.

She noticed it a week before, some of the people she saw and talked to were slightly off. It wasn’t extremely noticeable, an extra beat before answering, a faraway look they had. It had been going on for a few days but she had assumed that people were just having an off day. But the off day continued. Slowly more and more people began to exhibit the same quirks, the same pauses. They looked normal, like their every day selves, but something was different, something was wrong. Once she had noticed it properly, she began to feel it, these weren’t the people she knew, they weren’t the people she had come to recognise in the street. No these people were different, at the very least imposters, if not something more sinister. Once she had realised that it didn’t take her long to notice the patterns. There was Pink Housecoat, bringing her dog for a walk, sure, nothing unusual about that, except that it happened every day at 1.07 P.M. on the dot, they would pass the tree and wave at someone across the street. Now, that wouldn’t be all that odd if it happened once or twice, but it happened every day for the last week. Every day at exactly 1.07. Before Pink Housecoat would be walking sure, but some days she would be running a little late or a little early and others Jane wouldn’t see her at all. Jane didn’t know what she did during the day, but she always looked a little dishevelled, hair messy, a quick swipe of make up across the cheeks. The outfits changed, sweatpants or jeans, plain, bright t-shirts, but she always wore that pink housecoat. She still looked dishevelled, she still had the fly away hairs and changing outfits, the same pink housecoat, but something was wrong. She was too exact. The person Pink Housecoat waved at was Leather Briefcase. Jane thought that perhaps he was some kind of lawyer. He certainly had the look, perfect suits, shined, leather shoes and that black leather briefcase. Every day for the past week he would be leaving the bakery at exactly 1.07, the door opening with a faint ding as he stepped out with a coffee cup and a bag of pastries clutched in one hand. The hand he always raised in return greeting. Before it wouldn’t have been unusual for Jane to see him every second or third day, but now it was every day at the same time for a full week.

And they weren’t the only ones, Homeless Bob, Half-Naked Jogger, Poodle Skirt, they all seemed to be following the same routine, every single day like clockwork. And there was no way that was possible unless something about them was different. Changed. Maybe they were working together for something, though that was unlikely, she had seen them about the place for months, if not years in some cases. All these people who occupied her neighbourhood, who she didn’t really know. It wasn’t just them either, the people she knew were doing the same thing. Johnny, Clara, Sammy, the baristas at the coffee shop and, as each day passed, it seemed more and more of them were changing. Acting oddly. So far she hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, why would she? They would think she was insane, hell, even she wondered if everything was ok up there for the first few days. But now she knew, she knew that something wasn’t right, that everyone was changing. She didn’t know how or why, but she knew she had to keep a careful watch to make sure it didn’t happen to her. So, she continued with her little ritual, every day. She left the house at around one and she walked to the coffee shop, book tucked into her small bag. She would enter the coffee shop, order her coffee and tea, then sit in her usual spot and take the book out and begin to read. Then, once she had enjoyed her coffee and following cup of tea, she would leave the coffee shop, wishing the staff a good day and having left her money and a few coins for a tip on the table.

She took another sip of coffee and glanced at her watch casually. There was Owl Man, taking a bite of his muffin, at exactly the same time as yesterday. She frowned at the page slightly, he had been normal until the day before yesterday. Something had happened to him. He was switched out or changed seemingly over night. The sound of a cackle cut through the dull murmurs, Jane didn’t wince, she had been expecting that laugh. Lipstick always laughed like that. Jane looked up slightly, and there it was, Lipstick gently placing her hand on the arm of Larry, one of the baristas. He smiled back at her, then moved slightly to get her drink started. Lipstick turned and weaved through the tables, it was even the same path! Then she plopped down onto a seat, took out a mirror and checked her make up. Jane looked away, already knowing that she was going to dig through her bag for three seconds, no more, no less, and retrieve a tube of bright red lipstick, then she would carefully apply it to her mouth. Just as she finished, Larry would place her drink onto the table and smile at her, then he would say something annnddd…Right on cue, that cackle again.

The first few times it happened Jane questioned her sanity, then she questioned time itself, perhaps she was just in a kind of loop that they sometimes have in TV shows or movies, but the day kept changing, Monday moved into Tuesday as it should, yet still she saw the same things happening again and again. She had dismissed her theory that they were spies, spying on someone, maybe even her, because their movements were so repetitive that if someone like her noticed, surely a spy would see straight away that something wasn’t right.

Jane finished her coffee, then placed the empty cup down, she looked back at her book and started the countdown, when she reached one Karen picked up the coffee cup and placed down a mug of herbal tea. Jane looked up from her book and smiled, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, do you want anything else?”
“No, thank you, the tea is plenty.”
Then Karen would turn and clear off the table to her right.

Jane picked up the tea and took a sip. As she placed it down a sudden thought struck her. What if it was through the food and drink? What if they put something in it. She looked at her tea, it looked normal. Could she trust it? Sure, she had been fine, but what if what ever they put in it had a cumulative effect, taking a few days to happen?

She glanced around quickly, no one was watching her, no one was making sure she drank her tea. She left it where it was.

As Jane was packing up to leave, Karen came over again to pick up the empty tea cup, but it wasn’t empty. Karen frowned slightly, “Was the tea ok? If there was something wrong I would have made you another cup.”
“No, it was lovely, I just wasn’t in the mood for it today.”

Karen shrugged, then glanced around, “Ok, then it’s on the house for today.” she winked.

“No, that’s really not necessary.”
“I insist. You come in here every day, really, it’s the least we can do.”
“If you’re sure then.”
“Definitely”

Karen took the cup and walked away. Jane placed her money onto the table and left, leaving enough to cover the coffee, tea and her usual scattering of coins for a tip. As Jane walked home, she didn’t pay too much attention to what was happening around her. It had been different today, she had caused a change in the behaviour of someone. She had never set out to try and disrupt anyone before, but now that it happened it lead to some questions. Karen didn’t seem to mind that Jane didn’t drink the tea, so it was probably safe enough to drink. Unless it was the coffee. The interaction struck her as vaguely important, though she couldn’t pinpoint exactly why she thought that.

Jane let herself into the house, “I’m home!” There was no response, though there never was. She felt better here, safer. There was no danger, no risks of being changed like the others. She had been feeling the stress build up the last few days. The coffee shop was supposed to be her time to relax and unwind, but now that was gone. She leaned against the closed door and took a deep breath. It was fine, tonight she’d take a bubble bath and relax a little then.

As she approached the back room, she could hear the machines beeping. She found it reassuring. She opened the door and entered, the machines kept up their steady rhythm. Jane walked to her husbands bedside and kissed him gently on the forehead, “I hope I wasn’t gone too long.” She didn’t know if he could understand her, but she still said it every time. She moved around the bed, checking that everything was still in order. Francine, the nurse entered the bedroom, “I just checked, everything is fine.”
“I know, I just wanted to sit with him for a little bit.”
Francine hadn’t changed. Yet.
“I’m just making myself some tea, do you want anything?”
“Yes, I’d love a cup, thank you.”
It was always the same. The nurse would sit with her for a little while, they’d chat, talk about concerns, then Francine would be off to her next patient and Jane would be left alone with her husband. The thought of it still worried her, despite being prepared in case something should happen.

She sat, holding his hand until the Francine popped her head in again, “The tea is ready.”
Jane squeezed his hand and left the room. As she walked to the kitchen, Jane wondered if she should tell Francine about what was happening. Surely it would be good to tell someone other than her husband of it. Particularly if something happened to her. But she held back. What if Francine thought she was crazy and had her committed? Then who would look after Mark? He’d be left in some hospital, alone all day. She wouldn’t let that happen to him. Besides, she wanted to be there if something happened, if he changed. The doctors had told her it was unlikely, that there was too much damage but still, Jane knew he would get better if she just waited long enough. She just had to have faith.

Jane sat down at the kitchen table, hands wrapped around the hot cup, not drinking any of it. They talked for a while, mindless chit chat. Towards the end, Francine reached out for Jane’s hand and squeezed it slightly. “You’d tell me if you weren’t doing ok, right? It’s a lot of pressure and stress on you, looking after him as you do.”
Jane opened her mouth to speak, to say something, anything, then the moment passed, she smiled, “Of course I would. I’m fine. Really.”
Francine gave her hand another light squeeze. “If you have any worries or concerns, you have my number. I know I say it all the time but really, do ring me if you need to, about anything at all.”

“Thank you, I will.”

 

Nothing for Free. Short Story.

Antibiotics all up in this bitch. (or is it bastard, do gendered curse words trump sayings? Or vice versa?)

Still sick, in case you couldn’t tell from the above rambling. It’s moved steadily down my throat and into my lungs. Awesome. Still I caught it fairly early which is both terrifying and reassuring. Thankfully I didn’t wait till today to go to the doctor.

I didn’t get up to much this weekend. I should be talking about how my friends 21st was awesome, but instead, I spent it wrapped in blankets, feeling like I needed to sneeze, constantly.

What a way to end the summer.

Speaking of, it’s really cold the last few days, I’m hoping that means we’re in for a freezing winter, fingers crossed for some snow. (might be a be premature, but hey, I have to hope, at least until I can afford to move to somewhere like Greenland or Canada.)

on with the show!

_________________________________________________________

Life hadn’t been that great for Henry, he was overweight, ugly, and his intellect left a lot to be desired. He worked in the same dead end job for shitty pay while his equally shitty manager made his life well, shitty. He had no friends and certainly no romantic engagements to speak of. Had he had friends, he might have been embarrassed that he had never actually kissed  a woman at thirty five. His life revolved around getting up, going to work, coming home and watching television. That’s all he ever seemed capable of doing. It had been drilled into his head from day one. He shouldn’t expect too much, he wasn’t capable of much, why aim high? What? Did he think he was better than everyone when anyone with a lick of sense could see he wasn’t even close. He could read, but it was always done slowly, almost painfully, with a frown on his face and his teeth clenched in concentration. He didn’t see the point of reading. He didn’t see the point of most things.
He had never been the lucky sort, he had never won anything, never found money, never got two items instead of one at the vending machine. His life was set to be unremarkable and he was fine with that. He’d live and die in obscurity and he was happy enough, well, he would survive with what he had. Then one morning that changed.
There was no bolt of lightening, no great trumpet signalled what had happened as it so rarely did. Everything changed without a word or hope of recognition. Reading came easier, not something he noticed, after all, why would he? The  greatest change, at least the first one he noticed was around midday, when a woman, an actual woman, tried to flirt with him. His face had reddened, big blobs of sweat rolling down his face and back, and the more she  flirted the worse it became. But she didn’t seem to notice any of that. She didn’t see the way his teeth overcrowded his mouth, jostling one another for space, she didn’t see the way that one eye was slightly lower than the other, as if his face was slowly melting. She didn’t see the random, scraggly hairs that sprouted from his face and neck.  He first suspected it was some sort of cruel joke, but there was no tormentors in his life, other than his boss, who seemed as shocked as he was. She had left the store after giving him her phone number.
Henry spent the rest of the day in a daze, unable to concentrate on anything and trying to figure out what exactly had happened. His thoughts plodded through the events again and again and he couldn’t figure it out.

He was walking home, having missed the bus, and was out of breath. Sweat ran down his face in thin rivulets, every ten minutes he had to stop to catch his breath. He wished, for the first time since he was a child, that he wasn’t so fat. He was aware that he was large in the way a person is aware that there are starving children, rarely thought about until someone mentioned it and then promptly forgotten again. When he finally made it home he sat down in his chair with a massive sigh, thankful to be off his feet. His evening passed as usual and eventually he went to bed. The next morning he woke an went about his normal routine, not noticing there was anything strange until he stepped into the shower. Normally it was cramped, his body hitting against the cold tile of the stall, but not this time, it was as though the shower had doubled in size, but it hadn’t changed. He had. He looked down at himself and realised, for the first time in his life, he was skinny. At first he panicked, thinking that he must be sick, horribly, terribly sick. Then he remembered his wish. He had wished that the woman would find him attractive, it had been a small thought, one quickly pushed away, but there none the less. He stepped out of the shower, thinking in his slow way. He must be magic. It was the only thing that made sense. He could change things, wish them into reality. He thought for a moment, then wished he had a pizza. There was a quick knock at the door. He wrapped a towel around himself and went to answer it.

 

“Large pizza, yeah?” “Uhh, yeah…Thanks.” He took the hot box, then remembered he’d have to pay. This wishing thing wasn’t as easy as movies made it seem. He went to grab his wallet, “hey, wait I need you to sign this receipt.” The delivery guy handed him an small machine, Henry signed it “thanks.” The pizza guy pulled it back from Henry then turned and left. Henry looked at the box, on the label it stated that the pizza had been paid for by credit card. Shrugging, Henry closed the door and sat down. He needed to be able to think and for that he needed food. Of course he had to be careful, he couldn’t just go about flaunting his new ability, that would be dangerous. He needed to be smooth, secret. Like a spy. Like James Bond. His face lit up, then fell. No, that would be a stupid wish. James Bond might sleep with beautiful women all the time, but he was also always getting shot at. No, he’d wish for something else.

Once he had finished eating the pizza he made another wish, this time that he was rich. He opened his eyes  to the same apartment, he didn’t panic though, no doubt the money would be in his bank account. He looked at the place, it was filthy. He needed it to be clean. There was another knock on the door, “Spring Fresh Cleaners, where would you like us to begin?” “Um…where ever is easiest.” The perky girl at the door nodded and three people entered.

 

When the cleaners left the apartment was spotless and looked better than it had in years. He could definitely get used to this. He thought for a moment, then wished he was handsome. He went to the mirror and was disappointed to find that he looked exactly the same. Trying to stay calm, he remembered that the weight loss happened over night, maybe his face would be the same. While he was at it, he wished he was muscular and had a magnificent body. Feeling good, he picked up the phone and rang work, then he hung up. No. He just wouldn’t turn up. Screw quitting, he hated the place anyway. This was far better. He sat down again, trying to figure out what exactly he should wish for next, his life was going to be perfect.

 

He stood from his chair, tired from thinking so much, he turned, then screamed. There was a man in his apartment, “who are you?” “No one of any great significance, but then neither are you. I’m afraid there had been a mix up.” “Mix up?” “Yes, you see you were an unfortunate recipient of something that my people need.” “Your people?” “Yes. We work for a small company that makes sure that everything in this dimension is kosher.” “What?” “We keep everything right on track. Make sure the world keeps plugging on without too much interference. Our operatives are given a little leeway, they supply their own income and can shape the world around them. You have accidently received that ability. It wasn’t meant for you.” “Well, I have it now, so-“ “it doesn’t work that way and I’m afraid I’m going to have to take it back.” “What? You can’t.” “Already done.” The man started to fade, “wait!” “What?” “Aren’t you supposed to like wipe my memory or something so I forget?” “No, that won’t be necessary. You are not equipped to shape reality. There are numerous tumours riddled throughout your body. You have a short time left. We are certain you won’t be able to cause us any damage.” “Tumours? But” Henry collapsed, seized, then lay still. The man looked down at the body, “poor bastard.” After a few seconds he was gone.

Transformation. Short Story.

Hope everyone’s week is going well. I went to the doctors on Monday for my bi-yearly check up. Everything is fine, apparently. Well, my internal organs haven’t managed to kill me yet, so that counts as fine. I’m still kinda tired, though not nearly as tired as I was last week, which is a big, big plus. I was also in and out of the doctor’s office much faster than I expected, it only took an hour, normally it takes at least an hour and a half,  sometimes slightly longer. I got to do some reading though AND fill in a survey/study thingamabob. It was explained to me at the time, but like most things, I’ve forgotten most of what was said.

I don’t think I’ve been up to too much, mostly because I couldn’t really move very far without wanting to collapse into something soft and comfortable. There has been a weird craving for rolls lately. Dunno what the hell that’s about, but it is delicious, so I’m not too concerned.

On with the show!

—————————————————————————————

Transformation.

The drugs were kicking in, they had to be. Large balls of colour swirled about the room, dancing and mixing. She stared, transfixed by their bright, shiny movement. Her fingers reached out, trying to touch one, but they always deftly avoided her touch. She smiled, a child’s excited smile, and let her hand drop back to her lap. Whatever this was, it was good stuff, very, very good.

She had taken the pill an hour ago and was starting to resign herself to the fact that it just wasn’t working when it finally hit. Her best friends’, cousin’s boyfriend’s sister-in-law was the source, apparently, and through the passing of hands, someone forgot to mention exactly what the pill was and what it was supposed to do. Of course, rather than worrying her, it only tempted her further. It wasn’t anything dangerous, she knew that much, it was recreational and she had thought it would probably just end up being ecstasy, a drug she had dabbled with before, now through her haze she wondered if it was LSD, though she could still think, weren’t thoughts supposed to stop on LSD? That’s what she had always thought though it was one of those drugs she had never gotten around to researching.

 She had decided to try it by herself in her apartment, with some soft, classical music in the background. Soothing and relaxing surroundings would help ensure she had a good time and, if she freaked out, other people would only be a hindrance, at least that was always the case in the past. There was only a limited supply of whatever it was, but she’d have to get some more for her friends, they’d get a kick out of this too. The classical music that was playing stopped suddenly, replaced instead by a gentle humming, she wasn’t sure, but she thought she was making the sound herself. The orbs started to spin and bounce into each other, their state becoming more solid. She giggled as one knocked over a lamp and seemed to shake itself. They moved faster and faster, slamming against the walls, a framed picture fell, it’s glass front cracking, she stared at the photo in dismay for a moment before the colours distracted her again. When she returned her attention to them, she realised there were less now, but the ones that remained seemed to be larger, as she watched, two crashed together and melded, forming one ball. She stared transfixed as they continued to join, until finally, there was only one, spinning, bouncing ball. It froze in mid-air and started to spin faster. It moved slightly up and down, then stopped spinning. It appeared as though it was searching for something. She watched, fascinated. The ball stopped moving completely then it flew towards her, she squawked in panic and scrambled backwards, her back pressing against the couch she had been leaning against. The ball slammed into her chest, pain, so much pain, she opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out, her head slumped against her chest, just below her chin was a large hole.

She woke several hours later, feeling groggy and confused. That was one strange trip. Her hand shot to her chest, but everything was normal. She stood, muscles sore from being in one place for so long. It was fun enough until the end, even then the pain and fear had only lasted a few seconds, not that bad for a few hours of fun prior to it. Her hand slowly massaged her chest, as though trying to soothe the non-existent pain. She wouldn’t be trying it again but she might convince some of her friends to give it ago. Hell, it might be a bit of a laugh to film their reactions at the end. It must be the same for everyone else. She was fine, completely calm and happy until the end. There was nothing that changed her mood. She went to turn off the music, then noticed it wasn’t playing. Strange. The C.D. must have stopped. She grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and sat down on the couch, she was feeling quite thirsty, once she had drank half the bottle, she realised she was hungry too, not just hungry, but famished. Ah, the munchies. At least she recognised this feeling. Standing again she began to gather food. It wasn’t long before she had made herself some burgers and oven chips. She ate quickly and when that was gone, she went in search of more food. At least the fatigue had worn off, she wasn’t feeling lazy or anything. All in all it had been a pretty fun trip. Hell, she might even try it again if she could lay her hands on some more.

Once she had finished eating she felt quite content in life. Better than she had felt in a few weeks really. Her outlook on life had always been positive but now it seemed to have been kicked into overdrive. Everything would work out, not because it had to, or because it was deserved, but because it simply would. She knew this with certainty, everything that happened was for the best, no matter what it was. She could see that so clearly, it was obvious really. She had been in an odd mood recently, not happy or sad, just kind of average and now that was gone. Obviously whatever she took had changed her disposition for the better. Really, it was awesome stuff. Ok, there had been the whole pain at the end thing, but even that wasn’t that bad, not really. It was only like getting a swift pinch. Over before you really knew what was happening. She’d definitely have to get more. She’d find a way, if it was scarce now it wouldn’t be in a few weeks. She would get a few of them, then herself and her friends could have a little party. They’d see what a benefit it had on her and they’d be eager to try it, of course they would. They would have no reason to avoid it, after all she wasn’t going to tell them about the end. It might not happen to everyone either. It might have just been her. Maybe she had some panic or stress she hadn’t known about and it had just come to the surface.

As soon as she was under the covers she was asleep, she didn’t have enough time to marvel at how tired she was. Normally she would lie awake for at least an hour before her brain would finally shut down and allow her to rest. The night passed mostly in peace, until around two A.M. when she started to shift and turn, then cough. She coughed for a few moments, still asleep, until a small white pill flew from her mouth and landed on the floor with a faint noise. It rolled underneath her small bedside locker and in the morning, she never knew it was there.

It didn’t take her too long to locate some more of the pills, same source, and she was surprised at not only the speed she had acquired them, but also the price. Usually when something was classed as rare it was so the price could be driven up, but not these, these were twelve pills for a fiver. Definitely worth it. She had been guaranteed it was the same thing, she didn’t need twelve, but hey, it didn’t hurt to have a few extra’s lying around.

Her friends were gathered in the small room, joking and laughing while they waited for the pills to kick in, she had warned them of the long wait time. She herself had taken one after a moment of deliberation. Just as the hour mark passed, she felt something strange in her stomach, a weird twisting sensation that, while unpleasant, was not exactly painful. It grew and quickly began to move up her throat, almost as fast the sensation grew painful. Her eyes rolled in her head, she couldn’t breathe, she felt like she was about to vomit. Her hands clawed at her bulging throat, but none of her friends noticed, they were too busy watching the floating balls. Her jaw cracked as it dislocated and broke, from her gaping mouth three balls emerged and joined the others in the room. Her body shuddered and convulsed for a second before lying still. Her mouth moved back into place slowly, the bones and skin repairing itself. She coughed and opened her eyes, they were a light green and seemed to shine lightly. She watched the idiots giggle and laugh at the balls, at her brothers and sisters. Soon they would have bodies again. Soon they would control the entire world. She smiled and left the room, she wanted to get started already. It would take a few days of incubation for them to hatch, while she waited she could make a few more of the pills and distribute them around the campus. As she worked she hummed to herself, a soft gentle hum. In the living room something banged against the wall and soon, screams followed.

The Switch. Short Story.

He was nervous but he had made his choice, there was no going back now. Well, he could try to back out if he wanted, but that was a death sentence. That was made abundantly clear when he started the whole process. He didn’t have enough money to pay the full fees, if had it would have afforded him a back out clause, where he could back out at any time, but that was the point wasn’t it? He didn’t want to back out, he couldn’t back out. It would make his life better. Of course it would, there were so many testimonials saying so, it had saved so many people’s lives, why wouldn’t it save his? He took a deep breath and stepped outside of the offices, into the normal world. People walked by him without a second glance. Why would they care about him, he was after all, a nobody. He wasn’t attractive, he wasn’t smart, there was nothing special about him. The only thing that stood him apart from others was that he knew this about himself. He was just as dull as everyone else, but no one else seemed to realise it about themselves. He had tried to blend in, pretend that it was worth living this meagre existence he had eked out for himself, but the longer it went on the harder it became to lie to himself. He was stuck in a shitty job, where he was passed over for promotion five times. Five. He was the most senior man in his department, working in that place for the last ten years. God. It seemed so long ago that he had started there, just out of college, all optimistic. What a fucking idiot he had been. His apartment was in a shitty neighbourhood, he couldn’t afford better. The pipes leaked, something the landlord always promised to fix and never got around to, and junkies congregated at the front door. He had no hobbies, no friends. He had moved to the city, expecting it to be exciting and full of life only to find it was as boring as the small town he had fled. There were no ready made friends, no social gatherings, at least not ones he was invited too and no women interested in him. He had been steadily gaining weight over the past few years, not all at once, no that might be noticeable, it was insidious, an ounce here and an ounce there. So slow he could convince himself that the dryer had just shrunk that t-shirt slightly. Now he was pushing thirty three and had a growing pair of man tits. No one would want this life, least of all him, yet he was stuck with it. At least that was what he had thought.

He was wrong.

He wasn’t stuck with it after all. Soon that would all change and things would be better. He’d have to clean up the apartment a bit, it would still be a shithole, but it would be less obvious how shitty it really was if it was tidied up a bit. He could splurge a little. He had some savings, money that he was always too afraid to spend. He could buy a new TV, but what if he needed medical attention? He could get a better apartment, but what if there was another flood? None of that mattered now. Not anymore. He smiled for the first time in months. It was a real smile, not those fake ones you gave to others so they thought everything was fine. It felt as though the world had been lifted from his shoulders. All his worried seemed so small and insignificant. Who the fuck cared if he had no friends at work? Not him, not anymore. He felt bad for the poor sap that would be taking over everything, but that wasn’t his problem.

He had to wait a week, an entire week, doing the same old shit every day. Not that it was so bad now, he had something to look forward to. He didn’t feel like such a loser as he ate his take away in front of the TV, his only real hobby to speak of. He used to read, but then his books were destroyed by a pipe leak. He always intended to go buy some more books, but the act never quite occurred. He had lived in the same apartment for seven years now, and it still looked mostly the same. There was nothing in the place that was uniquely him, nothing that made it seem homey. He looked at the information packet he had been given, he was supposed to destroy it the first day, but it didn’t matter, he’d get rid of it soon. He looked at the pictures, admiring the body, the face, reading over the hobbies, lists of friends. It was all so perfect.  Soon it would be his. That’s what the company did, switched your consciousness with someone else’s. Both parties agreed on the person they were switching with and boom, whole new life. He didn’t know why this guy wanted to switch with him, but he didn’t care, with a handsome face and a body like that he could do anything he wanted. He didn’t know how much the guy was worth, not really, it listed attributes, but not much about finances or where they lived. That information was apparently given on the day. You could do what you liked with the person’s life after the switch. You were free to change as you wanted, there were no emotional constraints to stop you, no worries to make you pause. You could live the life you always wanted. It would be amazing. He knew it would. Hell, worst came to worst he could probably get a modelling job somewhere, the guy he was switching with had the body of a god. After reading it through again, he started to put it away, then decided against it, he’d get rid of it now, before he forgot, he couldn’t screw this up for himself. He wouldn’t. He brought the package over to the sink, opened the window and carefully burned it. He doused the dying flames in water, then threw the clump of ashes in the bin. There was no way anyone would be able to tell what it had said before. Even if they could see it, they probably wouldn’t understand what it was for, after all, it was just a picture and some details.

He walked out of the office confidently, it was his last day in the place, they’d never see him again. Well, they’d see his body no doubt, but he wouldn’t be in it. He left the office and went straight to the company. He didn’t want to be late for his appointment.

When he arrived they were already set up, he had expected to meet the person he was switching with, George R. but George was apparently already in his room. They lead him into a large room, inside there was a single chair with wires snaking from it, at the top a helmet stuck upwards. He was feeling nervous now, jittery. What if it didn’t work? Hell, what if it killed him? He took a breath. If it did he wouldn’t be worse off than than he was now. He sat into the chair, it was warm. The technician pulled the helmet down over his head, as she did she explained what was going to happen, but he heard none of it. It didn’t matter, all that mattered was the end result. He sat in darkness, breathing slowly. A blinding flash was followed by dancing, rotating lights, it wasn’t nearly as bad as he thought it would be. His breath caught in his throat, pain, indescribable pain, worse than anything he had ever experienced. His body started to spasm and convulse then, nothing. No pain, no body. Just weightlessness. He couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t see anything. He was moving, he knew that much. Pain again, less this time. His breathing was ragged and harsh. The lights dimmed slowly. “Ok, I want you to stay where you are for a moment.” The chair started to tilt backwards. The helmet came up and a different technician was standing before him. “How do you feel?” “Um.” How did he feel? “Strange.” “That’s to be expected. Any nausea? Dizziness?” “No…Nothing.” She handed him a glass of orange juice, “Drink this.” He brought the cup to his mouth, the rim hit against his chin. Damn. He tried again, this time he succeeded. He drank it quickly, then she handed him a bar of chocolate. “Now, eat this.” He ate dutifully, then a cup of water was pressed into his hand. “Sip.” He sipped slowly, waiting for something to happen. The seat started to move until it was upright. “Ok, now please try to stand for me.” He got out of the chair slowly, trying to adjust to everything. He felt taller, he looked down at his hands. They were tanned, a web work of veins barely visible beneath them, his forearms were muscular, with just a hint of hair. His hands went to his stomach, it was hard and smooth, curving in and out. He looked down at his abs. “Please walk around the room.” He did as instructed, trying to find his balance. Finally he was able to walk freely and with ease. “Good. Please sit for a few moments, then you will be free to go after signing some paperwork.” The technician disappeared, he went over to a small seat. He felt hungry, hungrier than he had felt in years actually. He’d have to get a sandwich or something on the way home. He tried to think if this body had any allergies, there was none that he could remember. He thought about home, but he couldn’t quite remember his apartment, a different address kept popping to the front of his mind. He’d find it quickly enough. He could remember some things, not much, but some. His parents were dead, it was just him, him and the woman he lived with. Girlfriend. Janice? Jenny? Jessie? Something with a J. The technician reappeared and thrust some papers and a pen at him. He took it and signed. After signing he realised he signed a new name. Huh, he was left handed now. He looked at the signature, it looked nothing like his old one. “Thank you, you are free to leave when you feel ready.” She handed him a card. “Any problems or concerns just go ahead and ring that number.” He nodded and pocketed the card. There was a jacket hanging on the back of the chair, apparently it was now his. He slipped it on then stood, he wanted to get to a mirror, to look at himself properly. He’d wait until he got home though. That would be best.

As he walked he felt his stomach growling, god damn he was hungry. He stopped into a shop and bought a sandwich. As he started eating, little alarm bells started sounding in the back of his mind. That wasn’t good for him. It wasn’t healthy. He’d get fat. He pushed the voice away. Once sandwich now wouldn’t make a difference.

The apartment was a penthouse, the doorman greeted him with a smile and let him through. It all seemed so surreal. The place was larger than the house he had grown up in. He was still peckish so he went into the kitchen. There was no pre-prepared food, he would have to cook something. He never really liked to cook. His hands seemed to move of their own accord, grabbing out food. Soon he was cooking, really cooking. He knew exactly what to do without even having to think about it, it wasn’t long before the food was plated and in front of him. Steak, rare, with steamed asparagus. He ate it all quickly, enjoying the taste. He put the dishes into the dishwater and felt a strange, uneasiness. There was the nausea. He ran to the bathroom and dropped to his knees in front of the toilet, everything he had eaten came back up. When he was done, he flushed and went to the sink. He rinsed out his mouth and looked at himself in the mirror. He smiled, looking at the white teeth. He took off his t-shirt and flexed, looking at the muscles. It was insane, he had changed so much so quickly. “Vain much?” A woman walked into the bathroom, he blushed slightly, she wrapped her arms around his body. Jessica. “Hey Jess.” She moved around in front of him and kissed him gently. “Don’t forget we’ve to hit the gym in about an hour.” Fuck. “I might give it a miss tonight. I’m not feeling great.” She frowned, then looked at him. “You can’t afford to miss it. I didn’t want to say anything but you’re looking a bit chubby.” He glanced at the mirror. “I think I look ok.” “You’re opinion doesn’t matter. I’m the one who’s going to have to look at you, I don’t want to feel like throwing up every time I do.” She kissed him again. “So, Gym. Tonight.” He nodded. God what a bitch, he’d have to dump her. She went into the kitchen, he trailed after. “So what did you eat so far today?” “I skipped breakfast. There was a chocolate bar in there somewhere, some OJ, a sandwich.” He didn’t include the steak, after all that was currently flying through the sewage pipes. “Jesus. That’s a lot of food. You’re gonna have to put in extra effort.” He felt his cheeks bloom with heat. She was right, he was nothing but a fatty. He paused. That wasn’t him. He didn’t think like  that. That was ridiculous, he wasn’t fat at all. No. She was right. He was getting chubby. He shook his head slightly. It was starting to hurt, a steady throb that was growing larger. “I might lie down for a bit before we go to the gym.” “You feeling ok?” “Yeah, have a headache.” “Oh, poor baby. Drink some water. It’s probably all the food you ate.” He nodded and left for the bedroom. It was cool and dark there. He sighed in relief as he lay down. His head was really starting to hurt. He’d have to give those people a ring, make sure there was nothing wrong. The was out there somewhere, where it was bright. He’d do it in a bit. He closed his eyes, trying to orientate himself in Georges life. Jessica seemed to be a right bitch, he’d have to do something about it. He was going to have sex with her, after all he hadn’t been with a woman in a long time. No. That was a lie. He was with Jessica last Saturday. That wasn’t him. He put his hands to his head. That wasn’t him. He was here now. There was no one else, just him. He was himself. He was. God why didn’t he purge after the sandwich? That was so stupid of him. That’s why he felt so shitty. He was so tired, so very tired all the time now. What had he been thinking, he couldn’t dump Jessica, she was all he had. His friends didn’t even like him, they only called him when they wanted something. The money was running out too, soon there’d be no one left. He’d be alone.

The headache suddenly stopped. George opened his eyes, what had gotten into him? He had eaten so much crap today. That was why he was feeling off. He got out of bed and went into the kitchen, Jessica was off somewhere else, probably picking out her clothes for the gym. He considered going to the wardrobe and checking if she was in there, but first he’d have some water. He was feeling better now at least. He was looking forward to the gym, he’d be able to work off some of what he ate. He was feeling fairly shitty lately anyway, maybe he was doing too much. He’d sleep late tomorrow. No, that wouldn’t work, Jess was staying the night, she’d be up at the crack of dawn and force him up too for their morning run. He drank some water, then he put the empty glass down on the counter and went to find her.

The Carnival. Short Story.

So Florence and the Machine was amazing, as I expected. It was pretty awesome and we were really close, like 3-4 people away from the barrier, there were only two really bad things, one was a girl behind us that was screaming, but I hear you cry out that it’s a concert, everyone screams! Nope. Not like this. The first time I heard it I thought she was getting stabbed or raped. It wasn’t a concert scream, or an excited scream, it was one of pure fear and terror. Apparently, that’s how she shouts at concerts, as far as I and the people around her could tell, that’s just what she sounds like. The other was a drunk girl behind me who was jumping up and down, but basically using me as a wall to keep upright, I think she was too drunk to jump and not fall down. As I said she was using me as a wall, that is if you stood as close to a wall as possible, your entire body pressing against it, and began to jump up and down. Other than that thought the concert was awesome. In case you were wondering about the catsuit tweet (if you saw it) she was wearing a catsuit that was too tight for her to bend over to pick up some of the things the crowd were throwing, she apologised and assured us that she wasn’t actually joking, then asked the guitarist to pick them up for her.

I would definitely go see her again when she returns and I can buy a ticket/get someone to go with me. The two bands before her weren’t that great, The Specters were better than The Horrors, the lead singer really needed a haircut. I spent most of the time wondering how he could see and their last song was like ten minutes of instrumentals.

Also, a girl from the class below me in primary school was there and she recognised me, she came over and said hi (reassuring me that what she was going to saw was a little weird, but did I go to a school in x?).

Anyway, on with the show!

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The Carnival.

The bright flashing lights of the circus reflected on the lakes gently rippling surface, glittering and shimmering in the water. She sat near the waters edge, listening to the laughs and screams and shouts of enjoyment as vendors called out to passer-by, the smell of cotton candy and frying foods gently wafted toward her. Bright explosions of colour as the rides lights rolled over their surfaces, igniting the great skeletal structures for scant seconds before plunging them into darkness again before once more rippling in fantastic and ever changing shapes. It was the same every year, every year they rolled into town and set up by the lake and after a few short weeks they were gone, leaving nothing behind but litter and trampled grass as proof that they were not just some fantastical memory. She had always been lured by the bright sounds and the warm, inviting smells, but this year it was different. It was cold. Cruel. Those glittering lights, tempting young and old alike cared little for anyone or anything but their own gratification, proving there is still use for them. Before she had dragged her parents here, begging and pleading in the weeks prior to the carnivals opening, both her and her parents knowing they would go no matter what, but not this year. This year she hadn’t mentioned it at all and her parents dragged her here, despite her protests, she didn’t want to go. She was too old for it now. Her parents had chided her, telling her she was just being a teenager, they believed she thought she was too cool to go with her parents, that it would be lame. She didn’t think that at all, she loved them both dearly and loved spending time with them. She knew that age wasn’t a factor when it came to circuses, lovers walked hand in hand, married couples celebrating decades together had the chance to fall in love all over again as the lights danced across their faces and laughter danced in their eyes.

She plucked a pebble from the shore and tossed it into the water. The reflection shattered into a thousand wavering images, distorting the carnival behind her. She knew that in a few moments the image would solidify, return to its mirror like state, but she was pleased it had disappeared for the moment. She herself did not know why she was so reluctant to return to what had been a source of amazement and wonder for so many years, the cavorting and capering clowns held no allure, seemed almost threatening in their thick, greasy make up, hiding their faces from the world. She could hear the vendors shouting, boasting prizes, but she knew they were false promises, designed to lure the gullible, naïve and hopeful. Some would leave with prizes tonight, large stuffed animals, small teddies, trinkets but many would not. She heard someone walking behind her in the darkness, the aura of light surrounding the carnival not reaching the lakes edge completely. She wasn’t worried, there were hundreds of people only a short distance away. Besides, they probably couldn’t see her, she would blend in with the stones. Why would they see her anyway, for she was no one. No one at all. The noise stopped a little way off, she glanced to her left and could make out a vague shadow of what might be a person standing, looking at the lake as she was. She dismissed them and went back to staring at the lake and its mirror surface. The moon was blocked by a bank of clouds, cutting off the night sky. The air was cold, but she knew the water would be colder, its deep, dark depths not yet warmed by the summer sun. Soon people would come, diving in and out of the water to escape the heavy heat, laughing and talking, having picnics and walks along the rocky shore. Beside her there was movement again, the person was coming closer, she could see them moving toward her from the corner of her eye. They kept coming, then stopped suddenly, letting out a squeak of surprise, they laughed, “you gave me a fright, I didn’t see you sitting there.” She didn’t answer. “Tryin to get some peace from the noise to eh?” “I suppose.” “Do you mind if I sit?” “I can’t stop you” they sat down beside her, a man, one she didn’t recognise. “You came here with the circus, didn’t you?” “That obvious huh?” He grinned, teeth glinting in the reflected light. “So what are you doing out here?” “I just wanted to sit for a moment.” They sat in silence, both looking at the water, as it gently lapped at the stones. “I get ya. Sometimes it can be a bit much. Imagine how I feel, having to live with it all year round.” she nodded slightly, not knowing if he could see it in the gloom. “So kiddo, what’s the matter?” “What do you mean?” “Everyone loves the circus.” “Not me.” “Didn’t win the prize you wanted? If you want, I could get it for you, talk to the stall owner.” “That’s not it.” “Then what?” “I don’t know. I just didn’t want to come.” “You should try enjoy it. Get in the spirit of things.” “I tired that but it didn’t work. I’m waiting here until it’s time to go.” “Come here with your parents?” “Yeah. I’m meeting them in a bit.” “Well, how much time do you have?” “What time is it?” he pressed a button on his watch, the watch front flaring to life, “It’s a half nine.” “I’m meeting them at ten.” “That’s loads of time.” “For what?” “For me to change your mind about the circus. C’mon I’ll show you something amazing.” “What?” “I don’t want to ruin the surprise” “I don’t want to.” “We’ll be going back to where everyone is, you’ll be safe, I promise. It will only take a few minutes.” She sighed, the heavy sigh of the world weary, “Ok” they stood and they began walking back towards the tents, the light, the noise. He walked slightly ahead of her, preventing her from seeing his face clearly. He walked through a gap between two tents, leading them into the main thoroughfare of the carnival. “This way” turning quickly, he brought her through the maze of tents, it seemed to go on and on, but he knew exactly where he was going. “We’re almost there.” They passed a man selling cotton candy, wrapping it around paper cones and handing it to bright eyed children. They passed a clown, leaping and frolicking, doing mocking impressions of those passing by. They passed games stands and attractions, her guide ignoring every single one. They began to pull away from the main carnival, moving deeper into a sea of tents, the noise of people fading behind them. Finally, he stopped in front of a tent. “It’s in there.” She looked around, they were alone. “Don’t worry, trust me.” He grinned, his teeth where white and large, crowding his mouth, though he was clean shaven, he looked scruffy, his clothes were slightly worn, his eyes dark from lack of sleep. He moved closer to the tent and lifted up a flap, pulling it away, he gestured with his free arm. She hesitated. “If you want, I can go in first, prove that it’s safe.” She shook her head, feeling scared and a little excited, she knew he was telling the truth, there would be something amazing inside. She took a step toward the inviting opening, a thousand wonders flitting through her mind, trying to decide what she was going to see. A scream pierced the air, making her jump, someone on one of the rides. she laughed nervously, the tension broken, he continued to smile.

She stopped at the opening, peering into the darkness, there was a lamp lit in the tent, but it didn’t provide much light, she looked at him questioningly and he nodded, “go on.” she stepped inside and the flap closed behind her, she looked around, he had stayed outside. Unease began to grow, what if she was attacked, the noise of revellers would drown out the sound, no one would hear her, if they did, they would think her screams were ones of excitement. She began to turn towards the door when she heard a noise, from the corner of the tent. A low rattle. Peering at the corner, she could see a shape, but not discern exactly what it was. Carefully she stepped closer, then, another few steps. It seemed to be an orb. A dull light began to shine from its centre, she realised it was glass. Stepping closer again, the light grew brighter, illuminating the room and her face, her eyes widened slightly as colours light flowed across her body. She was drawn to it, there was something inside, something playing. She walked to the orb, staring into its centre, watching as the swirling lights began to take shape. It was magnificent, glorious, she tried to take her eyes away but couldn’t, tried to move but she was frozen, then she realised she didn’t care. Something was pulling at her, something deep inside. Slowly, she could feel it draining away, but the sensation was dampened, obscured by the orb in front of her, she watched the dancing, morphing colours as something indefinable, but fundamentally important was taken from her. The orb went dark, the lights stopping. She straightened, then shook her head slightly. Something happened, but what she wasn’t sure. She looked around the dark tent, trying to figure out where she was. The carnival. That’s what she was. She moved slowly, groggily, toward the entrance. Once outside the man was gone. She began to walk towards the shouts and screams, following the noise until she was suddenly surrounded by people. She began to walk, feet moving on their own, carrying her toward something. Her parents. They met her at the entrance, just as planned, together, they walked to the car, her parents talking about what they had done. She felt different, changed, numb.

The got into the car and, after a few minutes the heating warmed it up, warm air blowing against her face, but deep down, she still felt cold. As the car pulled away she looked back at the carnival, the sparkling lights, the noise, the people, knowing something had changed, but unable to figure out what.. An image flared in her head, colours bright and exploding, but it faded as quickly as it came, its cause unknown and its source forgotten.