Short Story: Commercial Break

The streets were packed, all ages and backgrounds enjoying the bright afternoon. Most were bundled up against the cold, which was almost knife-like if you stood in the wind. The seasonal celebration decorations were long gone now. The crushed white grass where the local church had raised a marquee for an extended craft fair was the only sign that something had happened here.

Today, commerce was the priority of the crowds. The bargain season may have come and gone but there was always reason to come to market, or to frequent shops and bars. Some of those shops were desperate enough to have employees outside their doors, trying to entice visitors in. Whether it was leaflets or free samples, the goal was the same: bring them in, get their money.

Ashmerrian, the Angel of Profit, turned to Garrashin, the Demon of Bargain-Hunting, and blinked all six of his eyes in disbelief. “I’m sorry?”

“Want to swap jobs for the afternoon? Spice things up a bit?”

“No! What on earth has prompted that? – I’m hoping it’s earthbound influence anyway…”

“I just thought you’d fancy a challenge?” Garrashin flashed his beautifully even teeth in a dazzling grin that made a nearby nun look thoughtful.

The pair were standing in the crossroads outside the busy shopping centre, observing the mortals around them. You would be forgiven for wondering how it was that an angel and demon could manage to not be the centre of shocked attention. The depressingly familiar reason of course was that people just didn’t want to see them. A handsome devil may be one thing, but a seven foot winged serpent quite another. Far simpler to ignore them and go about your day.

Ashmerrian folded his wings and fixed the demon with his best icy glare. “Hardly a challenge for either of us, especially here. Besides, haven’t you got a quota for deceptive deals to fill?”

“Maybe? I was hoping you could show me how it’s really done.”

“Oh get thee behind me.” Ashmerrian snapped.

“Worth a try.” Garrashin muttered. “Well if you’re going to be a spoilsport about it, I’ll be off.”

“Back to the Pound Shops again?”

“No, I know they’re your favourite.” Garrashin pouted and disappeared in a piqued cloud of brimstone. Ashmerrian shrugged and tried not to feel put out. He decided to move on, and did so in a frankly mysterious way.

Posted in Fiction, short story, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story: A Landlord’s Bemusement

Henry could always tell when Jack Frost had had a heavy night by the carnage in his garden. For years his Inn had seen an increase in what he called “distinguished guests”, ever since the incident with the drunken elf lord and the cast iron frying pan.

Once Harriet had demonstrated both disdain for the antics of anyone or anything that disrupted a good evening, and an aptitude for swift and effective justice, the more unusual ‘people’ passing through had started to relax their glamours.

Henry had learned to calmly serve hobgoblins alongside loup garous, and not worry that either would harass the bar staff any worse than drunken farmers from the next village. Every now and then, an old and grizzled one-eyed man would sit in a corner with a youth with winged sandals and no one would comment unless their inebrietated friend turned up with his sozzled followers.

As long as they spent coin of the realm, or at least coin-like objects that could be exchanged for proper money, goods, or services, then everything was fine or at least recompensable.

The only problem that regularly exercised Henry’s normally affable calm was that layabout Jack Frost. He was of no fixed address that anyone knew, and always in a hurry. He regularly painted the windows and garden furniture overnight, even out of season – and if Henry left some glasses out to chill for drinks for the morning he would usually oblige as part of his payment.

But there were mornings where Jack had obviously had a trying time – usually where people had put a lot of salt down in preparation. It was usually Henry’s garden that took the brunt of his frustration.

He tutted under his breath, and started sweeping away the blocks of smashed and fragmented blocks of ice around, on, and in his flowerbeds. If it didn’t allow him to top up the icehouse, he mused, he’d be more upset.

Posted in Fiction, short story, writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Last, Time Off

Between swapping weekends last week and an unexpected day of training last week, I found that my work week contained a few more hours on the Rota than I had previously anticipated.

At one point I was double booked for places to be and people to see, and so had to send an email to one of the managers expecting to see me to say that while I was very good at delegation and time management, my ability to attend two geographically diverse locations simultaneously was sadly not as good as I might wish.

Fortunately I have a good working relationship with said manager, and so my snark was met with wry acceptance and alternative arrangements made. I may be, to paraphrase Lady P, “the king of salt”, but I do know how to pick my moments most of the time.

Now, before the chorus of readers points out that I work part time and so really can’t complain about a few extra hours, I shall bid you a lofty dismissal and say: hush, I don’t care, this is my blog and my working week, and the minor irritation of extra hours so I don’t decompress when I usually do is enough for me to comment and make up snarky ramblings.

The lovely reward for this concentration of working hours and swapping round of weekends has been an extended weekend and an extended visitation from the beauteous Mre B. So we’ve been a happy little triad enjoying each other’s company with food, TV shows, and long walks in the park.

I’ve branched out into vegetarian recipes for the weekend – I’ll write up the risotto-style dish later, and have worked out how to make cheesecake flavoured with Baileys. So we’ve eaten well, and drunk lots of hot chocolate. Can’t complain at all.

Posted in household, idle musings, letting off steam, library, poly, relationships, work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story: The Pursuer

The dread was almost paralysing by now. The lights of the carpark were bright in the gathering gloom ahead of them. Their pace was already erratic, but the sight made them pause. John held his hand out, stopping Pam and Lisa in a sudden stumble beside him. “Wait.”

He scanned the view ahead of them. It all looked clear. Common sense said they couldn’t have been beaten there. Common sense said there was a clear path between them and the safety of the car. Common sense said there was nothing to fear. Common sense said don’t turn round.

He couldn’t listen to common sense. He looked back at Pam and Lisa, and the terror in their eyes. Then his gaze was drawn further back into the evening’s gathering dark. The eyes reflected the carpark lights. They were closer, always closer. Every time they turned round, they were nearer. No matter how far they’d walked in their attempt to lose the owners of those eyes, they were there every time they turned round.

The eyes were yellow in the sodium lights, like slits looking into an inferno. All else was lost in the darkness. Their stalker was silent, unmoving, and relentless.

He tried to control the jolt of fear and the waver in his voice. “Come on girls, let’s get going.” He took Pam’s cold hand in his and drew them with him as he started towards the safety of the lights. He ignored what sounded like movement behind them. He knew what he would see.

It was their own fault. They’d seen the signs, and they’d been warned. In the moment though little Lisa had been unable to resist breaking the rules. When nothing bad had happened straight away, he had done the same. Then, when they’d tried to leave they had realised why the signs had been so specific.

The slow pursuit had been immediate. At first they’d laughed it off. The slow pursuer was always behind them, always watching, always getting closer. Nearer and nearer it had got, and now the final distance was about to be closed.

They stumbled into a ragged run as soon as they hit the tarmac. Behind them they heard the pursuer running after them. Keys were ready, the safety of the car was close. As he practically bundled his family in, he looked back once more.

The deer stood at the edge of the light and walked slowly towards him, hunger, or at least appetite, clear in its body language. As he jumped in and started the car to escape, they all vowed never to feed the deer in Bushy Park again

Posted in Fiction, short story, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story: Parachuting

The Union Jack design on the parachute was a little ostentatious, he had to admit later. It wasn’t entirely his fault: it had been in the locker when he was sorting out his escape route, but there had been plain designs there too.

He looked up at its canopy above him and decided not to worry about the bullet holes. The fabric was holding, nothing was on fire, and there didn’t seem to be anything else being launched after or in pursuit. For now the strident colours fluttered boldly and as thrillingly as they ever had.

Now all he had to do was not steer into the side of the mountain, or get tangled with the cable car, or get shot – that last one was very important. They’d kept drumming that one into him over and over. This could all go very sideways, but his first duty was to not get shot. It was why he’d ended up taking the leap over the cliff in the first place rather than try and barrel through the guard post.

With deft twitches on the guide ropes, the parachute was safely guided around an unexpected rock ridge and a clump of fir trees. His feet nearly brushed the tips of more foliage, so he pulled his legs up a bit and banked away for clearer space.

Somewhere below, he could hear engine motors and excited shouting as more guards joined the chase, tracking him by the flag’s progress. He concentrated on his landing. It wouldn’t do to end all this with a broken limb. If you’re going to do such things, it should be with style, not a whimper.

He landed safely in a closing circle of guards. They ordered him to remove his helmet, and under their watchful eyes and aimed weapons he did so. The intake of breath when they saw his face was gratifying.

“”Who the hell are you?” Their leader shouted.

“I’m the decoy.” He replied. And high in the mountain behind them, something went bang.

Posted in Fiction, short story, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story: Kittens

You might think that it’s an easy life, living with two determined kittens, but let me tell you it definitely has its moments. The purring is very cute, but I swear they’re in competition for how loudly they can trill at each other.

It’s all good natured, and you could be forgiven for forgetting they’re natural born killers, but the way they sometimes circle me can make me suddenly understand what a bird on a bird table feels like. All attention is on me, and every move considered.

All things considered they’re pretty low-maintenance though. They keep themselves occupied in the day, though they definitely have their distinct territories. It’s not like they fight when they enter each other’s places, there’s just an enhanced attention, for lack of a better description.

The competitive purring is definitely a distraction though. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, though there’s certainly communication going on, because sometimes it sounds like a call, or a challenge. At times I swear it’s a tease as one or the other distracts the other to settle in place before they can gather themselves to leave.

It doesn’t work on me, they didn’t need telling or any kind of demonstration. They have other ways they can distract me, it didn’t take them long to work that out. Instead when I have to go out, they just call my name as they bid goodbye.

I’m still getting used to the purring though.

Posted in Fiction, short story, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

That Damned Journal

A while ago I wrote about a journal I had rediscovered, which was full of the ramblings and diary entries that I had made in the early stages of a very bad time for me.

Depression had me firmly in its grip, which was a bit of a bugger, and dipping back into the journal has reminded me that I ranged in this journal from delusional meanderings to deathly dull recitations of each day’s minutiae. 

If it were just daily minutiae, or just delusional rantings it somehow would be better. The problem is that they feed off each other in this journal, and it is painful to read. I’m not going to unbox all the fun and games from that period again here. The people who were there at the time will no doubt thank me for that.

I did put the book to one side for a while to see if my visceral distaste for it became less overwhelming, but it hasn’t worked. I picked it up this weekend and just felt revulsion as I re-read it. That was… unexpected.

It’s a window on a version of myself that was very flawed and very ill. It’s part of my history, but at this point it now feels counterproductive to keep looking back at it. If anything it’s a painful marker that evokes shame and remorse and I don’t need it any more.

So I’m going to destroy it. The journal cover is lovely, and I may try to get a fresh replacement for it some time, but I need to let go of this remnant now. I haven’t decided how I’m going to destroy it yet – but I suspect fire and a toast with select company may be involved

Posted in depression, idle musings, mental health, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment