Category Archives: Fiction

2241. A snarling snake

When Alison got the tattoo on her right buttock she was terrified her parents would find out. The tattoo was of a snarling snake crawling in and out of a skull. It was to let her ex-boyfriend know what she thought about him. How he would find out is anyone’s guess.

Alison’s parents had absolutely forbidden her to get a tattoo – “You can get a tattoo when you turn eighteen, but at present being only fourteen is too young to know what you want permanently on your arms.”  But fourteen year old Alison took things into her own hands and got her buttock tattooed where no one could see – well not her parents anyway.

It was quite fun for a week at school, sharing with her friends and giving friends a peek. Rather quickly the admiration wore off.

When she turned eighteen Alison paid the earth to get the tattoo removed.

2240. Did I mean to kill her?

The judge asked “Did you mean to kill her?” What a stupid question. Of course I meant to. Why else would I have sharpened the knife to the finesse of a razor? Why else did I have on hand a big sack that they use on the farm for pressing wool into? Why else did I dig a big hole down the back of the property? Why else did I borrow the neighbour’s truck?

Some people are just straight-out thick and this judge was one of them. Did I mean to kill her? Bah!

I didn’t know it was the neighbour’s pet goat. I thought she was just a stray that kept wandering onto my property these past few months.

2239. What’s in a name?

When Mr and Mrs Flowers had their first baby they thought it would be cute to name their daughter after flowers. They called her Rose Violet Flowers. The second child was also a girl, so they named her Iris Holly Flowers. Three further daughters followed. To be consistent they stuck to the flora. There was Myrtle Cherry Flowers, Poppy Jasmine Flowers, and Lily Daisy Flowers.

When Mrs Flowers was expecting her sixth – “This is definitely going to be the last” – she hoped for a boy. And a boy it was! They named him Rock because it was a good strong masculine name and offset a little the perceived femininity of the surname. He had no middle name; just good solid Rock.

Needless to say, the plot didn’t work. He was known at school as Pansy Flowers and he hated it. Others taunted him with Rock-a-bye-baby Flowers. On the day he turned eighteen he officially changed his name to Jack Gunn. After that he didn’t know who the heck he was and went around bullying everyone. He twice got sacked from work and was going to do himself in. That’s when he met Annie.

In the end Annie got her Gunn. They named their three boys Top, Hand, and Six.

2238. Island resort

My husband left me just over two years ago. He simply disappeared. Perhaps “disappeared” is not the right word because he left a note saying he was going. He never said where to. He’d had enough. To all intents and purposes I might as well have been a widow. Except a widow has a dead body and can start the grieving process. I was still waiting for him to come back months later.

Now I realize I have to face the cold truth. I grasped the future with both hands and booked a two week vacation to an island resort. Imagine that! Golden sands, palm trees, coral reefs! I can relax for the first time in ages. Besides, now that I am up to facing reality, who knows if I might meet Mr Right? Wouldn’t that be fun? As they used to say before it became a cliché – “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”

Now at last I’m here. It’s not raining! It’s warm, sunny, and beautiful. There is the pool just out the French doors of the apartment I rent. One can get meals delivered to the door, but at present I prefer to go to the communal refectory. It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Every time I go – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – I say to myself “I wonder if I shall meet Mr Right this time!”

But now I’ve just come back from the refectory. I’m packing. I’m leaving this tropical paradise. I know it was him. It was my husband. He was helping himself to a generous spoonful of scrambled eggs plopped on lashings of butter on toast. I don’t think he saw me; he was too intent on his food. It was definitely my husband. Unquestionably.

So on the day he left me who the heck did I shoot in the back?

2237. Island stash

We didn’t even tell our wives. In fact we told them a little fib. Arnie, Tom and I told our wives that we were driving into the country to a farm where they brewed malt beer and we wanted to learn how to do it. We wouldn’t be back until evening.

But that wasn’t our plan at all. We had just bought a small boat in common and apparently it was meant to get inspected and registered. We were dying to try the boat out but our wives hadn’t been told as yet.  We thought, unregistered or not, we’d take the boat for a little secret spin to the island. It was an uninhabited island full of nesting sea birds and seals.

To cut to the chase we tied our boat up at the island – there was an old rickety wharf there from a bygone era – and went exploring a bit. When we returned our tied-up boat had sunk and there was another boat moored behind it.

At least we should be able to hitch a ride. There was no one there that we could see. The next thing we had three rifles pointing at us, with three masked men, and we were taken to a cave on the island – about 100 yards from the shore. We were hand cuffed. I’ve never seen so many guns in my life. Stacks and stacks of guns. Stashes of ammunition and grenades. And so on.

We said we wouldn’t tell anyone if we were taken back to the main land. And they said they would take us back and we’d get shot if we ever spilt the beans. Then half way on the return trip Arnie and Tom got into an argument with one of the pirates – or whatever they were. Arnie and Tom were shot dead just like that in the head and I was shitting myself. When we were about 200 yards from shore they threw me overboard and start firing a gun at me. So I lay there like I was dead and they moved away.

I drifted to the shore – sort of. I’m only an average swimmer but got lucky this time.

The police have never been able to ascertain whose boat it was and who those men were. When the police went to the cave there were no guns there. The place had been cleared out. The police chief reckons I was probably lying about the guns. He said I was nuts. He said he’s watching me.

I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying a damn thing to anyone, but the police chief looks remarkably like one of the men.

2236. Strange things

I glanced at my digital alarm clock to see how much longer I had before having to get out of my cosy bed. It said it was seventy-four minutes past twenty-seven (27:74). What the…?

I turned on the bedside light and jumped out of bed. My clothes weren’t there; only a great green gown with a hood. I put it on because I sleep naked and had to put on something before walking around the house. And then I noticed…

This wasn’t my room. This wasn’t my bed. This wasn’t my house. I didn’t know where I was. I drew the bedroom curtains apart and gazed out the window. It was pitch black. Not a star. Nothing. No dark shape of anything.

I began feeling my way around the house, rubbing my hand against the wall in the hope of finding a light switch. There was no switch to be found. Only the dull light from the bedside lamp cast a small glow through the bedroom door. I was in some sort of corridor. Suddenly the bedside lamp…

went out.

I was in total darkness. I could no longer even find the wall to grope along. And then…

I touched it! I touched it! It felt a bit slimy and warm and bristly. I estimated it was about the size of a human but not a human. Not that I really stood there at 27:82 in the pitch black wearing a green hooded gown finding something slimy and warm and bristly and deciding to do a logical analysis. I was petrified.

Next thing my wife was there with her phone with the phone light turned on. I was in our meadow next to the house patting our cow. It would have been funny if it wasn’t surreal. And I had to wash my feet before getting back into bed.

(Footnote: In 2235 stories I have never resorted to a character being in a dream as a resolution to a plot. It’s an easy way out. But it’s only fair that in 2236 stories at least one should end in a dream!)

2234. Grandma’s photo album

A lot of photos in my late grandmother’s photo album have some person cut out with scissors. I asked my mother about it and she didn’t have a clue why. She said she thought the pictures were complete when she got the album when grandma died.

I went through the album carefully trying to find two photos the same or similar; one with a person cut out and one with the whole photo intact. I couldn’t find any. And then I found two that might be of help. It looked like they were both taken on the same occasion. It was someone’s birthday because a man was blowing out candles on an outside table. In the first one the figure standing behind the chair of the candle blower had been cut out. There are four other men in the photo counting the candle blower. In the second photo they are standing in a row. I can be certain that four of them are the same because of their hats and scarves. The fifth person could be the same as the one cut out but I can’t be sure. I didn’t know who any of them were. The one cut out is the only one wearing a hat without a noticeable hatband.

I showed the photo to my mother and asked if she knew who they were. She looked at it and said she didn’t know.

“Where did you get that photo from?” she asked. And I said it was in grandma’s album. Later when I went to look at it again the fifth figure in the photo had been cut out. It could only have been cut out by my mother because grandma is dead. I didn’t like to ask my mother about it because she sometimes gets quite cranky when I ask too many questions. She brought me up on her own. Apparently I was an “accident”, but I’m certainly pleased I’m here! I often wonder who my father might have been. A picture would be nice.

2233. The Candy House

The horrible witch pushed Hansel and Gretel into the refrigerator and the light went out when the door was shut. They had a terrible time trying to stay cool.

The witch was busy heating up the cooking range to roast Hansel and Gretel when the woodsman turned up and pushed the witch into the oven. He then went on his way.

Oven doors can be pushed open from the inside, so that is what the witch did and she stepped out back into the kitchen. Fridge doors are not like oven doors; they need the outside handle pulled to open the door. Hansel and Gretel pushed their shoulders to the door – WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! – and the refrigerator fell over on top of the witch and killed her.

Now the door of the fridge was face down on top of the witch’s corpse and there was no hope of escape. That was when the woodsman returned because he’d forgotten his axe. He saw the fridge on top of the dead witch and said “Good riddance to bad rubbish”. He pushed the fridge upright and in doing so accidentally opened the door.

Hansel and Gretel stepped out and the woodsman said “What the heck are you doing in there?” Everyone was very happy because the woodsman was Hansel and Gretel’s father.

He said to his kids, “Just leave your dead stepmother on the floor. Let’s go outside and eat some candy off a drain pipe.”

2232. Aunt Josephine’s painting

I’d always liked the painting Aunt Josephine had on her dining room wall. I don’t know why I liked it, but I did. It was simply a portrait of an unnamed woman. It was painted in oils, waist up. Her eyes stared out directly into the room. I was delighted when I was left the painting in Aunt Josephine’s will.

I too hung it on my dining room wall. It was on a side wall behind where the head of the table would sit – not that we followed such a custom. We sat where we liked. On one of the longer walls was the fire place, and on the wall opposite the fireplace was an expansive window. The lady of the painting overlooked the table; the fireplace to her right; the window to her left. It was as if the portrait had been painted especially for the room.

Not long after I had hung the painting, my sister visited. She knew I had been given the painting. Where is it?

“It’s in the dining room,” I said. “She overlooks the table.”

We went there, and the lady’s eyes were no longer looking straight ahead. She was looking out the window. It was creepy.

I soon took the painting down. I didn’t like to store it in the attic for who knows if it would go bump in the night. It was possessed.  I burnt it in the fire. Bit by bit. I remember especially burning the piece with the eyes.

That evening, when we sat down to eat, the picture was back up. Entire. Complete. The eyes were staring steadfast and cold at the fireplace. And her lips had a smile that wasn’t there before.

2231. Cemetery shortcut

There was someone, or something, watching me. I felt it. That night I shouldn’t have taken a shortcut through the cemetery. It was to change my life.

I had been working late at the law office. I was going to grab some junk food somewhere on the way home (I would go to work on foot and lived alone) but then I remembered some left-over soup in the fridge. Waste not, want not – as my granny used to say. It’s a motto I’ve lived by. So I was hungry and eager to get home. That is why I took the shortcut through the cemetery. I normally wouldn’t do that because to be honest I don’t like cemeteries, let alone at night.

I got goose bumps. The hairs on my arms and back of my neck stood up. I wanted to turn around and look. There was no sound, no footsteps. I was telling myself, “Don’t turn around! Don’t walk faster! Stay calm and quietly walk forward and you’ll soon be out of here.”

And then I heard it. A little sound. Very quiet. Very soft. “Help! Help!”

I stopped. It seemed to be coming from a tall gravestone monument – a pedestal with a marble angel on top. “Help! Help!”

My first thought was to wonder if this was a trap. But what if it wasn’t? What if the child was in genuine need? (I presumed it was a child because the voice was so small). I decided to investigate. It was a child indeed. A little girl. I asked her what was wrong, but she would answer nothing but “Help! Help!”

“Come with me,” I said, and she followed. We went home and I contacted the police. Over the next few weeks messages went out about the little girl. It drew a blank. No one knew a thing, and the little girl spoke but would never say her name or where she came from.

That was fifteen years ago. As the years went by I realized something: it wasn’t the little girl who was watching me. It was someone else.

Tonight we celebrate Sasha’s twenty-first birthday. We made up the age and date and name. I know that Sasha and her boyfriend Sam are going to announce their engagement. She has been the joy of my life.