He took the role reluctantly and with a heavy heart. Events had sliced open a vacancy and duty required that he step to the plate, but such undertakings were not meant for family men. As the mantra bludgeoned:
They come for you via your children.
So he gathered them together, his little ones, and told them of his quest, and then he kissed them goodbye.
The path was not straight and he become entrenched in subterfuge and recrimination. Years passed, till one mundane morning he glimpsed his eldest daughter through armoured glass. He prayed she would see the number plate and recognise its significance; follow its clues and find what he had left for her…
Written for: Friday Fictioneers
It was a decade or more since the Faraday’s had sealed themselves away from the world, and the pathway that led through the trees to their ramshackle pile had long-since succumbed to the ravages of time.
Locals looked upon their solitude with derision. They had always been a strange family – naive and simple-minded – favouring books over apps, and community over networking. Their disinterest in all things technological morphed through time and gossip until it garnered cult status. The children who ran about in the fields with gay abandon were seen as unplugged epsilons – kept from their true potential by Luddite parents.
The very last sighting had been by a parish priest who witnessing the patriarch, Aldous Faraday, erecting a signpost on the boundary line that stated: ‘The ways of old fail to satisfy.’ With a weary smile the middle-aged man retreated over the brow, never to be seen again.
Their were rumours of course – kids venturing onto the grounds on a dare and disappearing, long finger-nailed savages, and claims of perpetual joyous laughter on the wind.
Away from prying eyes something truly terrible of fantastical was occurring…
Written for: Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers
The reading of the will gave Julian the final confirmation that his mother had hated him. His sister got the house and his brother inherited the business ‘…and to you, my first-born, I bequeath the shoes I was wearing when I met your father, my favourite tan satchel and two volumes on Mesopotamian art.’
He was incensed.
‘I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, she knew how much I hated that satchel, and what am I supposed to do with high heels?’
His siblings presented an alternative view. ‘Have you any idea how important these items were to her? She cherished them above all other possessions.’
Many embittered years later Julian rediscovered the items in his vast attic whilst searching for something of greater worth. A slip of paper slid from the between the two volumes.
‘My darling. Not everything can be expressed in monetary terms. I poured my love into these trinkets, just like I poured my love into you… ‘
Written for: Friday Fictioneers
I eavesdrop on the couple sitting next to me. Two things become apparent:
…They are planning the ultimate holiday.
…They hate each other.
It is the hatred of familiarity – barbed leaping impatience that turns what should be joyous into something tense and spiteful.
Their plight is fascinating to me and I begin typing out their story – small and discrete at first, but then, possessed of a curious desire to reveal my voyeurism, I increase the font size so that they cannot fail to see.
‘Why are you always going off on pointless tangents? Don’t close the itinerary! I hadn’t finished…that man’s writing down what we say…Look…I want you to do something about it…Because it’s creepy…God you’re so weak!’
In even larger font I type:
‘…THINK THEY’RE ONTO ME.
THEY SEEM SO SAD.’
My phone rings which has the effect of shielding me from conflict
‘Hey…Nothing much…Sure, I’ll pop around.’
As I chat the couple leave separately.
I have been immeasurably cruel.
Or I have done them a great kindness.
The trees that grow in Perdition have the structure of tortured souls seeking to escape the scorched earth, reaching or hanging ashen like expended husks. They are the product of neglect and malice; of half-remembered dreams – places endured and wandered through in a distressing deja-vu.
I happen upon the clearing again. It is part of my punishment to relive the hollow discovery time and time over. I cannot remember what is it that I did to deserve such terrible retribution, or why the concept of duration should fill me with dread…
I have the suspicion that I have been here forever.
A fire has ravaged my throat and my mind. Blurred corporeal entities vie for attention. Thoughts break apart under scrutiny.
Up ahead – the outline of a figure. How long is it since I conversed with another? Silent words form on my lips and I plunge forward through tearing thorns. Despite my passionate pursuit the figure slips further and further away. I emerge alone in a clearing where hellish limbs claw their way out of the…
Written for: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
Treacherous little Philip – slipped across the great divide and crowned me ‘Last man standing’. The funeral brought matters into sharp focus. When my time came there’d be no one left to see me off. Jeffrey would’ve marvelled at how fat I’d become, but alas drink took him in the 80s, and Shamus would’ve positively pulsated at the possibility of swearing in church, but a black ball of mutated cells multiplied him out of existence a few seasons back.
My family were in attendance. They’re waiting for funds to be released.
I thought back through my greatest achievements: A bunch of semi-estranged kids, fourteen pairs of bosoms successfully manhandled (if memory serves), a brief stint as a deep-sea diver. Everything else paled…
As they carried out the coffin a leather-clad grandson spoke at me as though I was deaf, dumb and incontinent (Am I the one who failed his driving test four times? Stupid little shit!)
They’re all itching to have me declared insane (which indeed I am for putting up with their sponging ass-clownery for so long).
At the graveside I made a pledge:
I’m getting out of here Philip. I’ve cleaned out the bank accounts – Seventy grand! Should keep me in viagra and hookers for the better part of three years. As for the rest – one call to Montegues (I declare that I am of sound body and mind) and it all gets liquidated.
It’s a Catch-22 that my pursuit of a better life will be seen as dementia. I’ll just have to be a ninja at covering my tracks. I’ve given enough to these terrible people. Time to hit the road Jack. Good luck and God speed. The cash machine is no longer is service.
My eldest, Jacob, owns (or should I say owned) a convertible.
I’ll raise a glass to you Philip when I get where I’m going, but between then and now there’s a pressing need to open up the throttle and blast some air through the ole comb-over…
‘We’ve been over this a dozen times Gregory. I grow tired of repeating myself.’
‘Yes, and I apologise for the inconvenience, but surely there’s a more mutually beneficial way of sealing our union than a duel to the death with an opponent famed throughout the land for being able to pull a man’s arms out at the sockets. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that you’re not ‘fair’ enough fair-maiden…’
‘Now Gregory, you know how I despise double-negatives!’
‘Yes…but under the circumstances of my imminent, garish dismemberment one might expect to be granted a little leeway?’
‘To win my hand you must prove your worth.’
‘But why must I be the greatest warrior? Why can’t I bake you the greatest cake? or sow you the greatest quilt?’
‘The crowd grows restless my love.’
‘OK…well, in that case…let me just go…check…that…my sword has been sufficiently sharpened.’
‘…And you’re not going to leap onto the fastest horse you can find and gallop away like the last lot?’
‘Upon my honour fairish maiden…’
Written for: Sunday Photo Fiction