Tag Archives: creative writing

Out in the Darkness. Short Story.

Nancy pulled the blanket tighter about herself as the wind shook the trees against the sitting room window. She made a mental note to talk to Hanna about getting someone in to cut the trees back a little, then promptly forgot about it. The fire crackled in the hearth, providing heat that Nancy just couldn’t seem to feel. The heating had been on all day and she spent most of the afternoon in the sitting room, doors closed and fire blazing, blankets layered across her lap. She had a sip of tea, now only lukewarm, and changed the channel on the TV. Outside the tree tapped on her window again, the sound reminded her of something, though she couldn’t quite place it. Nancy dismissed the feeling and pulled the blanket closer. She’d have to have a talk with Hanna, maybe there were some drafts and she hadn’t realised, she couldn’t even remember that last time she was this cold. A voice spoke up at the back of her mind, soft but with a hard edge, “that isn’t true, you do remember.” she frowned at that. The weather had taken a turn about three days back, the mild, wet winter they’d been experiencing giving way to the freezing winds. The scent of snow hung on the cold air, fresh and promising, Nancy always loved that smell, ever since she was a little girl. The tree hit against the window again, only this time it was a gentle scratching sound, it sent a chill through her already cold body and she remembered the last time she had been this cold.

She had been fifteen and finishing up her shift at the store, outside it was already dark and the store was mostly empty. Keith, the manager, was somewhere in the back. Nancy didn’t mind working in the store too much, it was easy enough work and most people were nice enough. The only thing she hated was walking home during the dark, winter nights. Nancy buttoned up her coat and shoved her hands in her pockets, she’d forgotten her hat and scarf in her rush to make it to the store on time. It hadn’t been too noticeable then when the sun was shining down on everything and the wind had fallen still. Now the wind was blowing steadily and the air was frigid. She stepped out into the street and for a second found it hard to breath. The feeling passed and she took a deep breath, smelling the snow on the air. She smiled, Nancy always loved the snow and as she started to walk a few solitary flakes started to fall.

Ten minutes later and Nancy felt frozen to the bone. Snow was falling steadily around her, thick flakes drifting to the ground. Her ears were burning with the cold and she had a strange feeling that she’d never feel warm again. She paused at the intersection then turned down the alley, it would cut off a good ten minutes of her walk, her parents didn’t like her going down it but on a night like tonight she wanted to be home as quickly as possible. The alleyway was poorly lit and seemed darker than usual. Nancy kept a steady pace, ignoring the pounding of her heart and the sudden bloom of fear. She wasn’t a child any more and it was just an alley, she knew there weren’t monsters lurking in the dark. A figure lunged out of the darkness and she shrieked arms going up, Mr. Franklin from down the road stood in front of her, his eyes wide and staring, alarm replaced by concern Nancy touched his arm gently, “Mr. Franklin? Are you OK? Did something happen?”
“It’s coming again. I have to warn them. Have to warn everyone. It’s coming.” he looked at her, his eyes suddenly focusing, “Nancy? What are you doing here? Get home, now. Don’t talk to anyone on the way either it isn’t safe.” his head whipped around, he let out a strangled yell, “it isn’t safe. Get home and stay there!” and before Nancy could say anything else he took off, half running, half stumbling through the alley and out of sight. Nancy stared after him for a few seconds, torn by indecision, should she go after him? He didn’t seem to be in his right mind after all and if he was lost or confused. A freezing wind tore through the alley with a howl, Nancy stiffened, the cold stole that last of the warmth she had, shivering she turned and started to walk again. He would be fine, of course he would. She’d let her parents know when she got home, they’d know what to do, she wasn’t dressed for this weather and Mr. Franklin had been dressed warmly.

That night Nancy lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Her parents had rang the police and last she heard they’d found Mr. Franklin, he’d been going through the town raving at people and was currently safe and warm in the local police station, sleeping off whatever he had drank. She shivered beneath her heavy blanket, the cold had gotten into her bones and she couldn’t seem to get warm again.

Nancy slipped from her bed and put on her slippers and dressing gown. Normally she brought a glass of water to bed, but with all the excitement of the night she’d forgotten and now her mouth and throat were dry. She crept across the landing and down the stairs, avoiding the parts the creaked. She didn’t bother turning on the lights as she went, she knew where everything was. In the kitchen she grabbed a glass then went to the sink. She peered out the window that was just above it, into the darkness and the sheet of falling snow in front of her. It was still coming down pretty heavily out there, maybe school would be cancelled tomorrow. She turned on the tap and started to fill her glass, listening to the pipes gurgle. Outside something moved amongst the snow. It was too dark to get a proper look, but it was large. Nancy frowned and squinted, trying to see something, anything but it was too dark. Then something was pressing itself against the window, Nancy stood frozen as she looked at the creature. It tapped on the glass gently, almost as though testing it. It had two dark eyes, a cruel, hooked nose and a short gash of a mouth. Its eyes met hers and it grinned, even though it looked like a man Nancy knew in her very soul that it was anything but. The thing winked, then it was gone from the window. Nancy’s glass overflowed, bitingly cold water washed over her hand and she dropped her glass with a startled gasp, it clattered as it landed in the sink.

By the time Nancy slipped back into her bed she had convinced herself it was just a trick of the snow and her overactive imagination. As she rolled over she heard a gentle scratching against her window. She nestled deeper into her blanket and squeezed her eyes shut. She had the urge to look, to get out of bed and walk to the window, the pull it open and let the cold night air in. Her stomach twisted, nausea building, the urge turned deeper, into a maddening need, an itch that she refused to scratch and still she heard that gentle sound that seemed to fill the entire room. There was a loud bang on the window, Nancy jumped her eyes opening. The scratching had stopped, she needed to know. She swung her legs from bed and stood shakily, goosebumps rippling across her skin. She walked to the window and gently pulled back the curtain revealing her empty window. She let the curtain drop back into place and went back to bed feeling foolish. She was just a little jumpy from her scare earlier. That was all. Nancy repeated it to herself again and again, but still she couldn’t’ seem to believe it. Eventually she fell into a fitful sleep filled with dark and violent dreams.

When she woke the next morning her parents had been sitting at the table in the kitchen, clutching cups of black coffee, her mother was pale, her father looked angry.
“Schools cancelled today.” her father’s tone was sharp.
“Snow day?”
her mother and father shared a look, “No, something happened last night, there was-”

“Joseph!” her mothers voice was high and slightly scandalised.
“What? What happened?”
“She’s going to find out sooner or later. It’s all the kids will be talking about, hell it’s all anyone will be talking about.”

Her mother was silent, “some people were attacked last night. Killed they think. They’re not sure.”
Nancy frowned, “what? How are they not sure?”
Her father looked at his coffee, “they didn’t find any bodies, but there was blood. Lots of it.”
Nancy sat at the table, feeling light headed. “Who? Who was it?”
Her parents shared a look, “we’re not sure yet, they haven’t released the names, but we know three of them were kids.”
Nancy felt her stomach clench, “Three of them? How many were there?”
Her mother slammed her hand on the table causing them all to jump, “That’s enough I don’t want to hear anything more about it. It was just a drifter, that’s all. The police will catch him and everything will be all right.”
An image flashed in Nancy’s mind, the man she had seen last night, maybe it wasn’t a dream. She opened her mouth to speak and her mother gave her a hard look, Nancy closed her mouth again.

In the end twelve people were killed, six children, six adults. Nancy didn’t know any of them personally, but she knew of most of them. The killer was never caught and the bodies had never been found. Most people seemed to think that Mr. Franklin had been involved somehow, he kept raving about the killings, he always seemed to know the nights something would happen. After the seventh victim a mob, consisting of the family of the victims went to his house. Mr. Franklin hadn’t been seen after that and the police were too concerned about the murders to worry about a crazy old man going missing.

A log in the fire popped, startling Nancy out of her memories, it was happening again. She could feel it. What ever that thing she had seen was, it wasn’t human and it was coming back. She stood from her couch, disentangling herself from the blankets. She needed to get to the phone, needed to warn someone before it happened again. She didn’t know how she’d get people to believe her, but she’d find a way. The scratching at the window came again, but it was different this time. Nancy froze, then slowly turned around, he was standing at her window, he raised his hand slightly in a half wave, around him snow was falling steadily. Nancy let out a shriek, she turned from the room and ran. Panting, Nancy stood in the kitchen, searching for the phone, it wasn’t in its cradle, as she searched she curse under her breath. How many times had she told Hanna if she used the phone she was to put it back in the god damned cradle? She could hear it tapping at the window in the kitchen, she refused to look, some part of her knew that if she just didn’t look everything would be fine but that need was back, that itch she knew she shouldn’t scratch. She felt herself turning, eyes rising and meeting the gaze of the thing on the other side of the window. It smiled at her, a slow, lecherous smile that made her stomach drop. Nancy started moving forward, unable to stop herself, she moaned as her shaking hand reached towards the latch, her hand gripped it, feeling the cold metal beneath her fingers. It turned and opened, the lock opening with a gentle, light click that filled her ears. The wind caught the window and blew it open, ripping it from her grip, thick heavy snowflakes blew into the kitchen, melting as soon as they landed. The creature was suddenly inside, she hadn’t seen it climb through the window, it was just there, in front of her. It nodded at her, the gesture was startlingly friendly and familiar, a quick “nice to see you again.” then it lunged. Nancy started screaming, a high shrill sound that was suddenly cut off.

Hanna let herself into the house, she stepped inside and stopped, it was freezing in here, did something happen to the heating? It had seemed fine yesterday. “Nancy? Everything OK?” Hanna didn’t bother stripping off her jacket or gloves, she opened the door to the sitting room and peered in, it was empty. She moved into the kitchen, Hanna pushed the door open and stopped. The window above the sink was open letting in the cold air and there was blood, so much blood, it seemed to have covered everything. Hanna fumbled for her pocket, wrestling to grab her phone with fingers that felt numb and somehow too large at the same time. After what seemed like an eternity her phone was finally in her hands and she called the police, fighting against the vomit that was at the back of her throat. She left the kitchen and stumbled into the sitting room, half collapsing on the couch where she’d remain until the police arrived, phone still gripped tightly in her hand

Life. Flash Fiction.

Patrick took a sip of his coffee, in front of him was a croissant, he picked it up and took a bite, the buttery flavour filling his mouth. Across from him Sherry drained the last of her coffee from her cup in one large gulp, “I’ve got to get going, see you later tonight?”
“Yeah, do you want me to cook dinner?”
“That’d be great, I’m don’t feel like eating out again.” Sherry stood and after giving Patrick a quick kiss she left the coffee shop. Patrick took another bite of his croissant and another sip of coffee, he felt a strange pang in his stomach, a second later a small flashing icon appeared. Sighing, Patrick stood and wound through the tables of the coffee shop, he stepped outside into the bright sunlight and began the walk home. It was a short walk but he was feeling antsy, he kept looking around himself as he went, wondering if people could tell, if they knew. He made it back to his apartment without seeing anyone he knew, which was a bit of a relief. The flashing icon was red now, he had to hurry.

Patrick sat on the comfortable couch and closed his eyes, a second later he opened them. The room had changed, gone were the carpet and soft furnishing, instead he was in a small room, about five feet by five feet. The machine whirred and ticked as he stepped out of it, already hating the way everything felt. The cold grit beneath his feet, the shiver of goosebumps across his body. He stumbled to the door and pulled it open, revealing a larger room, this one had a small table and chair, in one corner there was a sink, across from it was a toilet, a fridge had been shoved into one corner, Patrick went to it, muttering to himself. God damned machines always breaking down, his feeding tube had gone offline about two weeks back and they still hadn’t fixed it. It had been hell keeping it a secret from everyone, how would they react if they knew he wasn’t important enough to have his tube replaced immediately? It happened to Gary, his and Sherry’s neighbour, a year back and his had been replaced within the day. Patrick pulled open the fridge and grabbed out a meal pack. He tore the foil wrapping on it and started eating the flavourless block. His stomach growled as he ate it, wolfing it down as quickly as he could. That was one of the great things about Life, the food there was flavoured and delicious. He finished the bar and let the wrapper drop to the floor, joining the other wrappers strewn across it. At least the company were giving him food blocks to keep him going until they fixed everything and the waste disposal unit was still working too, thank god for small favours. He glanced out the window, the sky was a flat, lifeless grey, everything here was a drab, lifeless grey, the sky, the ground, the buildings. He caught sight of a clump of green, probably weeds. Tall towers were dotted across the landscape, buildings just like his filled with hundreds of thousands. Most people lived in the small room that contained their access Pod, Patrick, being wealthy enough, had the luxury of this extra room. He shook his head, it was always so ugly out here, but then why did that even matter? Hell most people never see it anyway. He turned from the window and went back into the room with the pod, quickly getting back into it. It took a second for the machine to start then everything went black. A second later his apartment appeared and he felt the soft couch beneath him. He went to his computer and wrote another email, maybe this would be the one that would get them to hurry up. He had to get this fixed before anyone found out, if Sherry knew she’d probably leave him and he’d lose all of his friends too. They’d be afraid that his lower standing would infect them. It was funny, how much he’d taken it for granted, he was wealthy, of course he was, but he hadn’t nearly as much as he thought. It had seemed that over the years the fortune had been slowly drained away. As it was there was a danger of them moving him to a new place in the Outside, he’d be stuck in one of those small boxes, like all the other poor people. The thought of it made his skin crawl as he imagined being in just a small room. He pushed the thoughts away, he had to act normal and remain calm. It would be fixed soon, of course it would. He went into the kitchen and started pulling out ingredients, he had spent longer Outside than he had intended and Sherry would be home soon, it was time to get started on dinner, he still hadn’t gotten another job and she wouldn’t be impressed to come home to an empty table. Things had to be normal, he had to be normal.

Exodus. Flash Fiction.

Margaret leaned back, tilting her head up towards the sky as she watched the ships launch. She held her breath as they rose through the sky, then finally she released it in a long sigh. She could hear people shouting and screaming on the streets, cheering at the rockets overhead. Margaret didn’t feel their joy, Owen was on one of those ships. She always thought there’d be more time, that they could take things slow. They signed up for the lottery together, dreaming of a life built among the stars. They never thought that only one of them would be picked. He had tried to back out, give his spot to someone else but she insisted, she didn’t want him giving up his future just for her. It wasn’t fair or right to ask that of him. The planet was too full, to make life possible for everyone, some people had to go, that was just how things were. New planets were being seeded across the galaxy, the rockets would ferry them to the great ships and from there they’d start their journey. For Owen the journey would pass in a blink of the eye but she would be long dead when he finally reached his new home. Part of her understood those celebrating below and she did want to join them, all this space, this freedom. Almost half the population were leaving the planet, maybe now those left behind would have a chance, after all the earth could support their numbers now.

Margaret heard the door behind her open, she didn’t turn to look, she couldn’t seem to take her eyes from the sky. She felt hand on her shoulder, “He’s better off up there.”
“I know.”
She heard him sniff, “you’re mother would have loved to see this. She’d have loved to be up there, going on such an adventure.” Margaret didn’t look at her father but she reached up and took his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. She felt a sudden wave of guilt, she had been so focused on going she hadn’t spared much of a thought for who she’d be leaving behind. In all her fantasies of life on a new planet with Owen, her father had just been there, part of the scenery. He never signed up for the lotto, he said he couldn’t bear to leave behind their small apartment, the memories there. He sat down beside her and pulled her into a hug and together they looked up at the stars.

The Sickness. Short Story.

John walked down the empty street, his breathing was slow and heavy, each breath came with a wheeze. Occasionally he would stop and hawk up a lump of phlegm, spitting it onto the ground. He ignored the twin streams of mucous running from his nose. He’d been sick for two weeks now and it seemed like he was the last person left in the city. When rumours could still circulate he’d heard the other cities weren’t fairing much better, at this stage he could be the last man anywhere. He was tired, so very tired but he kept going. Around him the street lights began to grow brighter, it was dawn. He started coughing, each cough tore at his chest, his vision started to swim, John stumbled forward then dropped to his hands and knees until the fit passed. He spat on the ground again, ignoring the flecks of blood that streaked through the mucous. Slowly he got to his feet, that alone took almost all of his strength, but he was nearly there now.

He stopped outside the door, it was smaller than he remembered, less imposing, about eight foot tall and ten feet wide. John went to the small computer screen at the side of the door. He’d soon find out if he was right or not. He pressed a few buttons before he found the option he was looking for. He clicked open, a woman’s voice spoke from the wall, startlingly loud in the quiet “Opening the door will expose you to harsh conditions outside and may mean your death. Should the doors fail to re-engage it would mean the destruction of this city. Do you wish to continue?” he clicked yes. His throat was sore, each time he swallowed it felt like he was swallowing razor blades. He hadn’t spoken since Matilda died a few days before, he wasn’t sure if he still could, most people couldn’t at the end. A siren started blaring from the door as red lights began to flash, “I require identification from the highest ranking member of the community. Please look directly into the camera for your retinal scan.” John moved closer, here went nothing. The computer scanned him and quickly located his profile, “John Henry Adams, you are cleared to open the door.” he stared at the screen, he didn’t expect it to actually work. So it was true, he really was the last one left. There was a loud, high pitched whine followed by a deep grinding noise, the ground around him trembled as the door opened. How long had it been sealed? Someone somewhere must have known but he didn’t. He knew what had been outside, before the bad things happened. He knew that there had been life, animals and trees and plants but now there was nothing left but great desolate plains, filled with nothing but ash and death. Still, he wanted to see it, before he died, feel wind on his face, see the world that they had come from. Besides, what did it matter now? He was dead already, he was just waiting for his body to get the message. The door revealed a large room, thirty feet by forty, it was brightly lit by intense flood lights, empty biohazard suits lined the walls. He stepped into the room and as soon as he crossed the threshold the door started to close again. The voice spoke, “Warning: Once you leave the city limits you may not be able to re-enter depending on your level of contamination.” John ignored the voice and shuffled across the room to the final door, it was as large as the first, there was another computer pad here, “please confirm retinal scan.” John moved closer to it. He was feeling weak now, he didn’t have much longer. He leaned against the wall as the computer scanned him, “Retinal scan confirmed. Door will open in five minutes.” John let out a surprised gasp that turned into a coughing fit. Did he even have five minutes? He shuffled to the edge of the door and leaned against the wall, letting it support his weight. Slowly he began to slide down it, he didn’t have the energy to stop himself.

As he waited he wondered what outside would be like, no one had been outside since the city had been officially opened all those years ago, when the doors had been sealed and humanity had been saved. He could be the first human to go back outside since then, all transport was done underground via railway and they had everything they needed in the cities. A siren started blaring, startling John from his thoughts, had it been five minutes already? There was a rush of cold air as the door opened and the air flooded into the room. He breathed deeply then started coughing. His vision swam, darkness crowded the edges of it as bright spots of black and red danced across everything. Finally the coughing slowed, then stopped. He felt light-headed and dizzy, but he wasn’t done yet. He tried to stand, but his legs quivered and shook before coming out from under him. He waited for a moment, getting his breath back, he rolled onto his stomach and started to crawl. His hand reached outside and hit something cold, but surprisingly soft and slightly wet. He peered out at the expanse of green in front of him, it was magnificent. He dragged himself from the doorway, feeling the wind on his face, flowers dotted the grass along with trees, reaching towards the heavens. The sun shone down, warm and comforting.

John rested against the tree trunk, he couldn’t go any further, this was it for him. He ran his hand through the grass again, how long had it been like this? How long had they been kept cooped up in the cities? He wondered if anyone else knew but that didn’t matter, he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone anyway. He closed his eyes, each breath coming with a wheeze and phlegmmy rumble. Nearby he could hear something moving towards him, he was too tired to feel fear, what did it matter now? A large creature appeared, walking on thin, almost delicate legs. It had brown and white fur, large eyes and slightly pointed ears that stuck up form the top of its head, it leaned down towards him, sniffing curiously. Slowly, gently he reached out and placed a hand on its side, feeling the warmth of it through its fur. He smiled, then closed his eyes for the last time. A second later his hand dropped from the creature sending it bounding off with a graceful leap. John’s chest fell still and with the sound of birdsong in his ears and the feel of wind across his skin he slipped away into the darkness.

Entering the Void. Short Story.

Brenda scowled as the cameramen moved around the room setting everything up. To her right a reporter was chatting with Johnny. The last time Brenda had seen Johnny he’d been full of excitement and ceaseless chattering, now he was pale, his eyes seemed slightly too wide and his shoulders were hunched. She smiled to herself as she passed them by, going out her way to do so, as she past him she leaned into Johnny and muttered “if you’re going to throw up get it in the bin, thanks.” and continued on before Johnny could reply. She felt immense satisfaction at the look on his face, the reporter either hadn’t noticed or chose to ignore her remark. Brenda may have had some of her power wrestled away from her but she could still kick out anyone she pleased. Anyone that was, except Johnny. She looked at the computer screens in front of her, her team were working steadily, checking and double checking everything. She wasn’t concerned with a malfunction or a mistake, the team knew this procedure by heart and could do it blindfolded if needed but still she felt a faint thread of unease winding its way through everything else. This Johnny character was a wild card, he hadn’t been chosen specifically, hadn’t been vetted as the best candidate for the job, no he was here because of a god damned internet contest. She shook her head in disgust feeling the old anger rising again. It should be her god damn it. She pressed a few buttons, fingers slamming into them. She turned from the computer and stepped over a few wires to check the two metal doorways, they were arched, looking almost like empty Gothic window frames. The metal on them was thin, only a an inch thick, but it was more than enough.

Across the room a reporter nudged a cameraman beside her and nodded towards Brenda, “What’s her problem?” The cameraman shook his head, “How the hell do you not know who that is?”
The reporter shrugged, “I don’t need to know, I just need to say the line and that’s it.”
“That’s Brenda O’Connell. The one who invented this machine? The reason why we’re all here.”
“Huh. I thought she’d be older.”
The cameraman shook his head, letting Karen’s inane ramblings wash over him. She was right, she didn’t need to know anything, she just needed to look pretty and say the lines. It didn’t stop her from being any less infuriating, at first Victor believed the whole stupid cute reporter thing had been a shtick, something to get her more fluff pieces but after working with her for two years he’d found that she was exactly who she presented herself as. A pretty woman with nothing between her ears and no desire to be anything else. He knew why they’d sent her here today, they expected failure and wanted a pretty face to soften the blow, to tell the audience they can’t get it right every time. No one here really expected it to work, he’d chatted to most of the other cameramen and reporters, standing around the large table filled with stale pastries and lukewarm coffee. He wasn’t so sure though, someone was backing this with an awful lot of money and a good deal of publicity, why would they bother if they didn’t think it’d be a successful test? He suspected that this wasn’t the real first test, they’d have to have done it before to iron out any kinks and make sure it wasn’t fatal. Johnny broke away from the reporter he’d been talking to and seeing her moment Karen went over, expecting Victor to just follow. He sighed and went after her.
“So, are you nervous?”
“Well, yeah I guess. I mean who wouldn’t be? The first person to be teleported anywhere! I just hope all the pieces come out right!”
Karen chuckled softly, “So, Johnny what made you enter the contest? Did you ever think you’d win?”
“That was the goal, after all it was a competition, but no never in a million years did I think it would be me. I thought they’d choose someone with a background in science, maybe someone in better shape than I am. When my name came up I could barely believe it.”
“You’re married right? How did you wife feel when you won?”
“She was thrilled but a little worried, Anna is always so supportive of everything I do…”
Victor tuned out again.

Brenda pressed a button and felt herself relax a little as a gentle rumble started beneath her feet, the machines in the depth of the building were running smoothly, she scanned the screen quickly, looking for anything out of the ordinary, but all systems were fully operational. She smiled again, this time it looked almost predatory. She went to Johnny and pulled him away from some blonde reporter, interrupting them babbling at each other. “I’ve just started the machines, it will be time soon, are you ready?” He nodded, “Good. Please stand in the staging area for now, it won’t be too much longer.”
Johnny went over to where she had pointed, a small area marked off with strips of tape. “We’re about to see the first attempt at teleporting a human being, if this is successful it will revolutionise the modern world.” Brenda ignored them, of course it would work, what kind of idiot would she be if it hadn’t been tested all ready. As far as anyone outside of the project was concerned Johnny would be the first human through the teleportation gates. They’d never hear of the men and women who had been paraded through it, one after another as they worked out kinks. All in all twelve men and three women had gone through, none of whom had been Brenda, much to her annoyance. She should be the first officially recorded person through the gate, all those cameras should be pointing at her, after all it was her invention, her discovery’s that allowed them to get this far. She knew she’d be remembered but that wasn’t enough, it burned that Johnny would be the first person through, his idiotic smiling face immortalised in textbooks and film for the rest of time.

Brenda looked over the screens again and seeing that everything was optimal pressed the final button. A hush fell over the room as the doorways either side filled with blackness, spreading from the top down, one of the cameramen gasped. The darkness didn’t shimmer or shine, it just was, Brenda looked away, it still made her eyes water a little, her brain trying to make sense of that impossibly black doorway. “Johnny, we’re ready when you are.”
He nodded to himself, then took a deep breath and approached the door.
“The teleportation should be practically instantaneous, it will take the same time no matter how far apart or how close together the gates are.”

Brenda felt a faint thrill of anticipation in her stomach, everyone else who’d gone through it had described it as a little disorientating but it truly was instant. Johnny paused in front of the gate, “Here goes nothing.” Brenda winced a little, that was what he wanted to say? Nothing about what a leap forward it was for mankind or the start of a new chapter? She shook her head slightly and looked down at the computer screens, trying to hide her disgust.

Johnny stepped forward, he expected to feel something as the darkness hit his skin, some kind of resistance, maybe even a wetness, but there was nothing. He strode forward and through the doorway. Johnny found himself surrounded by the darkness, a ripple seemed to spread through it, like water hitting a puddle. The darkness came alive, millions, no billions of things writhed over one another, glistening in the darkness as they reached upward with grasping hands, their heads turned up towards him. Their mouths opened wide as they moaned and screamed, one looked at him, two empty eyeholes staring up at him and then he started falling towards them. He hit the writhing pile of things without feeling anything at all and then he was through. Light, sudden and cleansing, the darkness around him began to break apart, it shattered instantly and he saw the wall of the lab. Around him people were shouting and cheering, Johnny raised his fists in the air and jumped, already the memory of the journey through was gone, leaving nothing behind but a sense of exhilaration, it had worked, it had really worked.

Resurrection. Flash Fiction.

Catherine woke from the blackness confused and disorientated, a nurse was standing over her, her face was twisting, features expanding and contracting, swirling around her face. “Just take it easy. You need a few seconds to adjust.” as the nurse spoke her features moved back to their rightful places. “How are you feeling?”
“What happened?”
“I’m afraid there was a terrorist attack again.”
Catherine closed her eyes and groaned, “How bad is it?” She’d seen the bodies of those in terrorists attacks, the thick, twisted scarring that criss crossed their bodies. The nurse smiled a little, “Not that bad, you weren’t caught up in the blast. You, um,” the nurse was trying and failing to suppress a smile, “You slipped on a wet floor just after it started, we’ve the surveillance video if you want to have a look?”
Catherine was groggy still, but she nodded. The nurse pushed a few buttons on the small electronic pad she carried with her. An image appeared and the white wall to her left, it showed Catherine running, a look of terror on her face, then her legs going out from under her, her face a mask of shock, then her head connected to the ground. Catherine winced slightly and felt the back of her head, running her fingers along the scar, it was still tender, the nurse was trying and failing to hold in giggles. After a second she calmed down, “this is one of the best ones I’ve seen all week. Would you like a copy of it for your feed?”
Catherine’s cheeks were bright red, how could she show anyone that? It was so mortifying. “No, thank you, I’d prefer not.”
The nurses face fell, “OK, though would I be able to get your permission to-”
“No.”
The nurse nodded, “Well, you’ve used up one of your free resurrections. You’ve got three left. You’re going to feel a little bit disorientated for the next twenty minutes or so.” she pulled a tray from a cart nearby, it had a glass of orange juice and a sandwich, “once you have something to eat you can be on your way.”

Catherine stepped out into the fresh air, it helped clear her head, more so than the bland sandwich and bitter orange juice. The hospital opened out into a large plaza, covered in concrete and dotted with small areas of greenery. People lounged about, drinking coffees outside cafes, browsing ramshackle market stalls that had been hurriedly thrown together. Catherine wove her way through the crowds, feeling like everyone was staring at her, that everyone knew. Already they were blasting news of the latest terrorist attack on the view screens, a grim looking anchor recounted the final death toll. Seven true deaths, fifty people resurrected and another hundred injured. Catherine didn’t look at the screens but the voice still boomed from them. She always knew how serious it was going to be depending on the anchor, when there were no true deaths they had a giggling blond on, showing a best of compilation of the funniest or most painful looking deaths.

Catherine let herself into her apartment, the walk home felt like it had taken her hours though it was only a twenty minute trip. The feeling of being watched didn’t go away until she closed her door behind her, sealing herself from the world. She went to the small kitchen and turned on the kettle, as she did so she looked down at her hands, they shouldn’t be moving. She shouldn’t be moving. She shook her head as she started to make herself a cup of coffee. Get a grip, she hadn’t died, not really. Besides she was still a long way off from her true death and she still had three free resurrections left. She sipped her coffee and moved into her living room. The living room was almost as small as the kitchen with just enough room to cram in a couch, a two seater table and a few shelves against the wall. She sat on the couch and turned on the TV, they were still talking about the terrorist attack.

Catherine reached up and felt the back of her head, fingers running along the thin scar, her mother said no one would notice it beneath her hair and so far that proved to be true enough, no one had noticed the scar. Still that didn’t stop people asking about her resurrection, they’d all gotten the alert “Catherine Jenkins has just been RESSURECTED thanks to Glaston Industries, talk to your doctor about resurrection today!” They didn’t seem to get that she just didn’t want to talk about it, it was just too embarrassing. Everyone else bragged about their resurrections but Catherine’s didn’t seem like theirs. They talked of bravery and heroics or funny stories but none of them talked about the cold darkness that wrapped around her completely, the endless dark that became her world. So she did the only thing she could, she’d mention the terrorist attack, tell them it was awful and that she was running away when it happened, that seemed to stop the questions, at least for a little while. Still it couldn’t get rid of her memories or what she knew, that there was nothing after death, no heaven, no hell, just that cold, suffocating darkness.

Preminition. Flash Fiction.

Elena stood at the stove, spatula in one hand, frying pan tightly gripped in the other. Behind her sat Daniel, her husband of eight years and their 5 month old daughter Jessica. Jessica let out a shrill laugh, Elena scooped up a piece of bread and flipped it, “OK, careful I’m coming around with the pan.”

Daniel cupped his hands around his mouth and called “hot stuff coming through!” Elena moved past him, rolling her eyes as she smiled at him. Elena scooped up the slices of bread and placed them onto Daniels plate, then she was back at the stove. The morning light shone through the window on her left, sparkling in the stainless steel kitchen sink. Elena dipped two more pieces of bread into the egg mixture and put them in the pan, they sizzled as they hit the heat. Elena froze, it lasted less than a second, more of a stutter than a pause but to her it seemed endless. She gripped the frying pan tightly, she could feel the warm plastic handle digging into her palm, the heft of the pan in her hand. Elena spun, with a strangled yell she brought the hot pan crashing into Daniel head, he fell from his chair, he let out a groan “what…what hap-” Elena brought the pan down on his head again, he lay on the ground, one arm twitching wildly, his breathing was shallow with occasional hitching gasps, Elena raised the pan up “I’m sorry.” She brought the pan down, Daniel lay still. Elena dropped the pan, it landed with a loud clatter. She felt sick, her hands shook violently, but she couldn’t stop. She looked at Jessica whose face was red and streaked with tears and the shrill cries suddenly came into sharp focus. Elena ran to Jessica ‘s high chair and pulled her free, trying her best to sooth her daughter. Elena turned from the kitchen and walked down the short corridor, painted a nice muted green, Elena felt a horrible stabbing in her gut she remembered how difficult it had been for them to decide on a colour, such a silly argument but it had gone on for weeks. She’d do anything to have that stupid argument again. Elena opened the front door and stepped out into the corridor, she walked down it in her bare feet, the carpet was surprisingly soft. She walked past the elevator, still trying to sooth Jessica, and in to the stairwell.

Elena’s breathing was heavy, her arms felt impossibly tired, and Jessica was still sniffling. It wasn’t that much further she’d already gone seven floors. Elena didn’t pause at the top, she opened the door and walked out onto the roof. For once she was glad she lived in a place where the manager liked to let things slide. The maintenance workers had been bitching about the broken door up here for weeks. Elena shivered as the cold wind stole her warmth, Jessica started to cry again. This was the fastest way, the best way. Elena walked up to the edge and without hesitation stepped off. Together she and Jessica fell.

Elena and her family weren’t the first to die that morning and they weren’t the last. Elena and others like her had seen what was to come, the foul things clawing their way into the world and they knew that there was only one escape.

The Ring. Flash Fiction.

Jenny held the ring in a beam of sunlight, watching as the afternoon light glinted across the diamonds. It really was a breath-taking ring and she wasn’t surprised she’d never seen her grandmother wearing it. Her grandmother seemed to favour subtle jewellery, nothing more than a pair of small, diamond stud earrings and little else. Jenny slid the ring onto her finger, marvelling at how perfectly it fit. She, unlike her grandmother, loved wearing jewellery the more it sparkled the better as far as she was concerned. She moved her hand about in the light, this ring would definitely be added to her rotation, only for special occasions of course, she didn’t want to lose something so beautiful and so precious. She considered the ring on her finger for a moment, it wasn’t a special day, not really, but the ring was just too perfect to take off.

Jenny reached for her coffee, ring shining in the harsh lights of the coffee shop. A man nearby smiled, Jenny didn’t notice as she doctored her coffee, adding a splash of milk and a dash of sugar. Without looking she left the coffee shop, the man stood and followed, hardly able to believe his luck. He had been searching for that ring for years, decades and here it was, in some unremarkable coffee shop worn by an unremarkable girl. Sure, she was pretty enough if one noticed those kinds of things but as the years went on the man found himself noticing them less and less.

The man followed her through the day as Jenny wound her way through her errands. He was finding it frustrating how she never seemed to find herself alone, not even in the aisles of the grocery store. He just needed a moment that was all, just long enough to snatch it from her finger. Jenny exited the store, arms laden with shopping bags. She walked through the car park, she reached her car and put the bags down, seeing his chance the man lunged. He pulled her down and kept her close to the ground, “Don’t scream, don’t make a sound and I won’t hurt you.” His breath was hot against her face and carried with it a fetid stench that reminded her of spoiling meat. His hands scrabbled at hers as he stripped the ring from her finger. She realised what was happening and snatched her hand away, but the ring was already gone. She moved to hit him, before she could he struck her hard across the face, an open handed slap that disorientated her. “it isn’t worth your life. To you it’s just a thing.” With that his crushing weight left her body and he was gone. Shakily Jenny stood and looked around the car park, people were milling around but there was no sign of the man. Her hands were shaking and her heart was beating heavily in her chest as she scrabbled to open her car, once inside she locked the doors. After a moment she burst into tears, once she had calmed herself she turned on the engine and pulled out of the spot, not remembering the bags of groceries she left on the ground.

The man looked at the ring in front of him, he had actually found it after all these years. He slipped the ring on and felt a rush of anger through him. The man glanced down at the ring, “I’ve missed you too sweetheart.” with a small smile he stared at the ring, it was almost as beautiful as the soul of the woman he had made it from.

Settlers. Short Story.

Sandra pulled the door open, she ignored the squawking voice of the secretary to her left as she barged into the office, President Grayson was sitting behind his large desk, framed by a larger window that looked out over the valley, the green lie framing him perfectly. He looked up from his work, startled from thought, his pen freezing mid-stroke. “Sandra, what’s-” before he could finish his question she slammed down the basket of vegetables, the top of it was covered by strands of wheat, their golden colour was spotted with dark red and black spots. “It’s spreading. It’s still spreading and you’re doing nothing about it.”
His receptionist was standing near the door, “I’m so sorry President Grayson, I tried to tell Minister Williams that you were busy.”
“That’s OK Amanda, I have some time to meet with her, thank you.”
Amanda left the room, closing the door quietly behind herself.
She grabbed the wheat and slammed it onto the table, then she started pulling fruits from the basket, apples, pears, carrots one after the other and each had those same red black spots. “We’ve been trying everything to keep this stuff under control and nothing works.”
Grayson sighed and put the pen down, “I know. We’re looking into it and working as fast as we can but we’re not set up for this kind of research or development, not yet. There will be an announcement about it today. I am well aware of how bad the problem is, look.”
He gestured at the window behind him, they were standing at the highest point in the valley, Sandra stepped around the desk and looked out, she felt her stomach drop, first at the height then at what she saw. She put her hand to her mouth, she could see the infection from up here, the dark stains against the green of the trees and the gold of the wheat.
“It isn’t just you and your farm, it’s the whole valley. Hell, probably the whole planet.”
She turned to him, face pale, “How? I thought this kind of thing was tested for”
he shrugged, “The planet was seeded about twenty years ago, since then everything has been growing without problem. All the tests showed it as perfect. We don’t know what this is or why it’s spreading. It isn’t like any fungal or bacterial infection we know of on Earth. They may have similar colourings but they act in a completely alien manner, its spreading pattern is unlike anything we’ve seen before, it spreads against prevailing winds, it spreads to fields miles away. Tonight we are introducing a new measure, any crops found to be infected will need to be destroyed, it’s the only chance we have for stopping its spread, conventional methods just aren’t working.”
Sandra stumbled from the window and sat down heavily, “How fast does it spread? It only started appearing in the last week or so.”
President Grayson shook his head,, “It was first discovered two and a half weeks ago, Elena Jacobson found it in her strawberries and it has spread like wildfire since.”
“What if we can’t stop this?”
“Well, we’ll still have the animals so that should keep us going until we can get to the bottom of this. I’ve sent a distress call to Earth, it should arrive in a year. We just need to survive two years and we’ll have a solution.”
“I don’t know if we’ve got that long. I’ve heard rumours that Jensen’s cattle showed some signs of the infection. I went to go check but he denied it, I just thought it was rumours but what if it isn’t?”
“Jesus.”
“If this has spread to the animals then we don’t have two years.”
President Grayson shook his head, “Tonight I’ll announce the introduction of rationing. I’m also calling for people to can and store any fruit, vegetables or meat they can. The more we can stockpile before the rot gets to it the better.”
Sandra looked at him for a moment, “Do you think we can survive this?”
“What choice do we have?”
“How did something like this happen? Why didn’t it show up on any tests?”
The President laughed, “Do you know how expensive this mission was? Sending humans to a habitable planet? They sent out machines to test the atmosphere, to test the ground, they planted seeds and once they confirmed they were growing and growing well that was all they needed to know. Everything else would be learned on the fly. Those tests looked for anything that might immediately endanger human life, that was all. Hell, on the other side of this world there’s a species that look similar to wolves, only they’re the size of elephants. This was simply the safest spot for humans to build up a community and build up our defences. We weren’t given the supplies or equipment to deal with this kind of threat.”
“Well why not? Shouldn’t that be the first thing to be sent with us?”
“The more advanced equipment is to come with the second wave in ten years, once we’ve tamed this place a little, we’re just here to clean the house and turn the heating on.”
“How could they have missed this?”
“It could be a long life cycle, like the Cicada’s back home. Sure it’s poisonous to us, but maybe it isn’t poisonous to the local inhabitants. I’ve already been sending out foraging missions, we’re still testing to see if they’re edible but that’s a slow process, it wasn’t to start until the next wave and we won’t fully know if it’s safe or not until someone eats it. Even then what kind of problems could it bring down the road? Disease? Cancer?”
Sandra sat back in her chair, “What will we do? What the hell can we do?”
The president shook his head, “We can hope, we can try to survive. Nature has a way of balancing itself on earth, perhaps the same is true for here. Maybe the infection will stop on its own or we’ll stumble on a solution. We’re not out of options yet. I’ve already sent for help, it will take a while to arrive, but it will arrive. We have safe drinking water, we still have food supplies, there are still plenty of earth native plants in the area that are uninfected. We do have a fighting chance, no matter how hopeless it might seem.”
The buzz of the intercom startled them both, “President Grayson, you’re three o’clock has arrived.”
“Thank you Amanda, I’m just finishing up here.” he released the button, “I’m sorry Sandra, but I can’t miss this meeting, I should be done around four if you would like to wait. I’m going to announce this to the Ministers at five, then to the rest of the settlers at seven tonight.”
“No, I have some things I need to check on now. I’m going to go see where else it has spread to.”
President Grayson nodded, not bothering to point out he already had people do that. Sandra was stressed and when she was stressed she needed to keep herself busy.
Sandra stood, as did President Grayson, as she reached toward his hand her eyes moved past him to the valley below. It had only been a short while she had last looked out but it seemed as if the rot had spread even further. She felt a wave of nausea building at the back of her throat.
She left the office, already planning where she would go next. President Grayson glanced out the window, he tried to put a brave face on it for Sandra as he would for everyone else, but from what he’d been told so far it wasn’t looking good for anyone. He pulled his eyes from the large spots of blight in the green of the valley, he could feel the tightness in his chest and a small squirming snake of anxiety constantly moving inside his stomach. His next appointment walked in, “please for the love of God tell me you’ve good news.”
The man glanced down at the ground, “nothing particularly promising yet but we’re exploring some new avenues that we think could be effective in-” it would all be in the report later, he knew Kevin, knew by him that they had nothing. He nodded at all the right places, pretending that Kevin’s fake jocularity was working, that he truly believed they would be saved and still that snake writhed in his stomach.

From Above. Flash Fiction.

Woo! Friday! Hope everyone has had a good week. Still not feeling the best, but definitely better than I was, still feeling pretty wrecked. Had a good week though despite that, my sister, brother in law and niece were over to visit for a few days so was great seeing them.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

________________________________________________________

Roberta watched in silence, the camera panned around the large metal cube. It had appeared just hours before, slowly descending from the heavens. Scientists and military were already cordoning off the area and running tests. An announcement had been made confirming that it was of extraterrestrial origin but that there were no life signs on the ship. The news had been playing that same few statements on a loop as they circled around the cube. Roberta felt the breath catch in her throat as she watched a long, thin panel open in the side of the cube, the reporters were squawking about something happening, but they weren’t sure what yet. As she watched the people in the vicinity of the cube started to fall, they writhed and clutched at their throats, then they lay still. The screen switched back to a pale and frightened looking anchor, “We are getting reports that people within close vicinity to the cube have collapsed and unconfirmed reports that those in the vicinity have died. Again at this point we do not know-” the screen went black, “Our ship is badly damaged, we are on a direct course with your planet, we do not have the resources to repair our ship. You do not have the resources to repair our ship. Our atmosphere is poison to you, your atmosphere is poison to us. If we do not terraform your planet our species will die, terraforming will be complete in twenty four hours. We are sorry.”

the screen switched back to the anchor, she was staring wide eyed at the camera. She looked off screen for a moment, a thin sheen of sweat appearing across her face, “We have confirmed that the message just played was from an extraterrestrial source. We have also confirmed that those close to the cube have died.” outside there was a screech of tires, then a loud crash. Roberta ran to the window and looked out on the street, she could see the wreckage of a car, people were collapsing on the ground, writhing and struggling to breath. She felt a faint tickle at the back of her throat. Roberta coughed, then started wheezing, her head started to spin, she stumbled from the window and collapsed onto the ground.