Short Fiction

Week 411 – Heavenly Flying Rats, The Gartferry Revelation And No Contraception Isn’t Too Late.

Sometimes when I start these posts I’ll have a look at the number, birthdays, events in history, that sort of thing, to see if it inspires.

I started reading about the year 411 AD and, to be honest, it was very fucking boring. I then found something about the Missing 411 but couldn’t make head nor tail of it as there were more than a thousand, so fuck knows why it was called that. I finally found this doozy – Seemingly if you keep seeing the number 411, it means that you are being taken care of by a divine being from higher realms. Now what that means, I haven’t got a Scooby.

I remember a person who worked with me and was ‘spiritual’ in a very dubious way. They came to me one day and stated, ‘Look, I’m being looked after by an angel’. They had found a white feather where they were sitting. Maybe this could have been an angel??? Who am I to pooh-pooh (I hate that phrase and I haven’t a clue why I used it!) them for believing in this divine protection. Well, I have my reasons. The doors and windows were open and there was a young seagull stuck in the alleyway where our work was. He walked around, screeching and picking at his feathers. I pointed out the seagull…Without mentioning that he may have been the cause (Not sure why I thought he was a he??) and do you know what the daft bastard said…’The young seagull will be fine because my angel is here.’

…I reckon I could have got away with murder that day as a mercy killing!

I began to think on what I believe in – Angels not so much. However…

…Before I relate this event, I do want you to know something. We are a story site and a lot that I write is exaggerated and twisted but not what I am about to tell you. I will even swear on my first love – A litre of Bacardi (Gwen knows and has accepted this for years!) that this is true.

Gwen’s mum died in 1987 a month after Gwen had turned 18. As a lot of folks do, she was looking for answers and went to a few mediums, soothsayers, spiritualists, whatever you want to call them. She did this for a few years. We got married in 1990 and she was still doing this. In 1991 we had the worst year ever. (HAH! Which has now been bombed out by 2022) Our heating blew up. Our window fell out. Our 100 yard boundary wall fell down. And I wrote off the car. Every fucking thing cost us more money than we had.

Anyhow, at this time she went to a spiritualist and a few bits and pieces were said, some right, some wrong and some indifferent.

But when I saw in her eyes that there was something, (Oh – I was in the bar in the hotel where the guy had set up, waiting for her) I asked her.

Seemingly the fellow had said that he didn’t understand why he was looking out from a house and seeing nothing but fields. (Our wall had been pulled down and that was what we were looking at.) Gwen is an old hand at this and she gives nothing away. She even sits on her hands so no-one can see her rings or what type of rings so she just let him speak. He then stated from that house he could see her husband driving and that he was a very safe driver. (Which I am due to my friends three year old kid being killed on a road by a reckless wank!) He then stated that I was in a bad crash…I hadn’t really considered it bad but my tyre blew out, I think the car spun and I ended up in a cow’s field which had an eight foot drop from road to field. The car stayed up ended. But the thing that did make me shiver a wee bit was the roof and the sills either side of the wind-screen. There were barbed wire indents about half an inch deep all around. I honestly don’t know why the car didn’t topple or the barbed wire cut through.

Anyhow my point is, the guy stated that I was being looked after that night because I deserved it. He said that there had been a kill on that road before and that was the guy who was looking out for me.

I must admit, it did put, not so much a shiver through me but a weird feeling. When Gwen told me all this, I got us a drink and raised my glass.

The one thing I know though – I wasn’t saved by a fucking seagull!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, onto this week’s stories.

We have four new writers and one fellow who is now up to story number four.

We welcome all our new writers and another wee nod to Jim Bates, whose tenacity and courtesy we have admired from day one. We are delighted to see him on the site.

As always our initial comments follow.

First up on Monday was Phoebe Mullen whose first story for us was called ‘Beach Walk.’

‘This thing is hell weird!’

‘Active and strange.’

‘Brilliant tension and the weird was good.’

Our next new writer was Spencer Levy with the very descriptively titled, ‘Arm Milk.

‘Unpleasant, gritty but sincere.’

‘Grim and sad.’

‘A very real piece of writing.’

The newbies keep on coming!

R.W. Maxwell’s ‘Skeleton Crew‘ broke the back of the week.

‘Excellent flow and pace.’

‘The spookiness and underlying threat all the way through is well done.’

‘This has the right balance between weird and sense making.’

Peter O’Connor has found a good run lately and I think Revamp is story number four for him.

‘It’s a sort of sarcastic shot at those home improvement shows.’

‘Really funny.’

‘So readable!’

And we finished off with the gentleman that is Jim Bates!

Emil’s Magic‘ completed the week.

‘I like that he can be caught out if not careful.’

‘Overall great tone and pace.’

‘Perfect timing regarding the ending.’

Well, that is the angelic posting 411 completed.

Please keep the comments coming. And if you did before and haven’t for a while and fancy coming back, we’ll be delighted to see you!

Just to finish, well before the obscure / shit / brilliant / all of those, music section:

I don’t watch much TV and over the holidays, I watch even less. But ‘Two Doors Down’ is brilliant and I sought it out. But that wasn’t what I want to share (Although seek it out. Maybe a wee tad too much Scottish ideals but it is stunning!)

I’d like to share a line that I heard throughout the festivities. There is also a wee lesson here as per the genius that is Billy Connolly – Never steal a line, always mention who said it and you will still get a laugh. He quoted the late great Chic Murray so many times (That man is as literal as you get) and always told you when he was doing so.

I give you this belter from Brendon O’ Carroll and his amazing creation ‘Mrs Brown’s Boy’s’

Mrs Brown:

– We thought about not having children.

– (Winnie, her friend) What changed your mind?

– No-one would take them!!!!!

Hugh

Ahh fuck it – It’s New Year and I have a few sentimental memories about this regarding my dad and my wee Great Aunt Georgie!

Image by günter from Pixabay 

All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

Emil’s Magic by James Bates

He was standing off to the side of the city Greenway looking at the sky when he felt a tap on his shoulder. “Hey buddy. What are you doing?”

Emil turned. It was a policeman on bicycle patrol. “I’m just looking at the clouds, officer,” he said, politely. “That one over there reminds me of a bunny rabbit.”

Continue reading “Emil’s Magic by James Bates”
All Stories, Humour

Revamp by Peter O’Connor

“We all remember what this house was like just three long days ago, dim, dum and dire.  A space that forced the family apart instead of wrapping it in a comfortingly casual caress.  Let’s take a peek at what miracles our team have managed to accomplish. Come on in.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Skeleton Crew by R W Maxwell

All things are equal when a ship is a ship and her crew is a crew.

So I say, “This here ship ain’t a ship, ’cause her crew ain’t a crew. Not even a skeleton crew, like Bucktooth says. Though I admit, ye won’t find a skinnier bunch of skeletons than us.”

And the crew laughs.

Then I say, “’cept for Fat Norton.”

And the crew don’t laugh so hard.

They looks at Fat Norton, who’s stroking the handle of his flintlock, and he’s looking right scared ‘n’ red ‘n’ round ‘n’ ripe ‘n’ juicy ‘n’ plump —like a tomato what’s ready to burst— and the crew’s looking right hungry and he’s looking real afraid.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Arm Milk by Spencer Levy

Tin men play their kazoos too loud. Like having an annoying ass bee trying to drill into the deep part of your ear. It’s Sunday and it’s the boardwalk. Sea spray that you’re not supposed to touch or it’ll leave a nasty pollution rash. Gregg doesn’t care, though. His arm is messed up anyhow from all the lousy skateboarding.

Gregg rides and I walk and the waves shove against the wooden thing beneath our feet. Some people call it an embankment, but that sounds too much like a place where loose-tie fathers coax children into cashing checks in exchange for thin lollipops. Gregg grazes his lousy arm against the slippery arm rail, catches some sea spray in his mouth.

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All Stories, Fantasy

Beach Walk by Phoebe Mullen

He hears the call, a long, low wail like a loon calling across the grey water.

The Kelpie is restless. The Kelpie has sat with him on long nights, soothing his hot, teary face with its cool tendrils. Its dark form will creep up on the beach again today, because he has been neglecting it. He’s been with his girlfriend now almost two years to the day, and she’s been the one to sooth his tears, wrap her arms around him when his shoulders shake.

But the Kelpie has been there always. He owes it. It is restless and eternal, vast and unending, a constant low murmur in his ear, like the sea. It is lonely, hungry. So now it calls him back. Calls him to make his choice.

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All Stories, Literally Reruns

Literally Reruns—L’Erin Ogle—How to Raise a Monster – chosen by Shawn Eichman

Shaming works. I can no longer bear the terrible weight of Hugh pointing out every week how no one ever offers to take on the challenge of suggesting a story for Literally Reruns. I’m going to pull myself out of my narcissistic reverie on my own stories long enough to break the chain. And throw down the gauntlet to the next person. And any other hackneyed phrases that might offend all you literary readers enough to prove that you can do better.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction, Writing

WEEK 410: Will You Still Feed Me; A Brave New Year; Mistaken Identity

2023 looks more like an address number than a year to me. Yet when I see 1985 as an address, I think of the year. I liked 1985 for the most part, yet I have already developed a distrust of 2023, though we are just a few days into it.

Racehorses have New Year’s birthdays. As I have since childhood, I still imagine them wearing leftover New Year’s Eve party hats in the stable, eating birthday apples. I identify with the Horses because my birthday happens very close to the start of the year. But unlike a three-year-old Mare, I didn’t don a party hat because I am suspicious of 2023’s intent.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Iceberg by Paul Kimm

Saturday night. They were round at Robbie’s getting ready. Paul was doing Robbie’s hair. An hour offloading a full can of hairspray, backcombing his dyed-black mass of candy floss that increased his height six inches and was broader than his shoulders. Mel, sprawled back on the bed, was ready, and had been since Paul started Robbie’s hair. The television, on top of the chest of drawers where his mum kept her extra clothes, was switched on, the volume turned to zero. Mel had his green jeans on, a Bauhaus t-shirt with the arms sawn off and triple-buckled boots. The hour working on Robbie’s hair was double the time Robbie’s mum used to take, but she refused to do it anymore. Robbie had on his mandatory black suit and a purple paisley shirt. His mum was already out somewhere so they had the record playing close to full blast on the turntable. Paul was mid-backcomb on Robbie’s fringe when he jolted forward from him pointing at the television.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Climbing by Antony Osgood

For the fortieth memorial picnic, Egon Frankl had prepared ditalini with tomatoes smothered in oil. The food shimmered beneath an airless Viennese sun as he waited for his brother, who adored the dish. Not once did Egon sneak a bite. He’d long ago learned to go without so others might eat. Whilst his brother was normally late – Egon’s disappeared wife, Hilde, the person to whom the afternoon was supposedly devoted, once said being late was Ignaz’s chief characteristic – that day Ignaz excelled himself by failing to make any appearance whatsoever. Egon occupied himself by admiring the tattered life for which the city park was home. He ardently wished for his brother’s Copernicus moment, when it would dawn on Ignaz that the universe did not revolve about him. Younger brothers – even one aged eighty-two – seem duty bound, it seems, to disappoint.

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