Tag Archives: Flash fiction

1906. The old shrub

That hideous shrub, that camellia you planted near our front door, is thankfully dead. You’ve no idea how pleased I was. I’ve never liked the thing as you know. It flowers white with dribbles of pink, like God had been cleaning his teeth and dribbled pink toothpaste all down the front of His white shirt. It’s always been bordering on the grotesque. And now thankfully it’s dead.

I never had the heart to chop it out. You planted it, and liked it, and when you passed away I thought it could stay there as some sort of memorial. Every year, for the past fifteen years, I thought, “That goddam thing is in flower again”. Well! It died, and without any help from me. At last I could dig it out and plant something – in your memory of course – in its place. Only yesterday I went to the plant shop and bought the most beautiful rhododendron. It’s white with a pink throat. I intend to plant it in the same spot. I shall call it “My beautiful rhodo”.

You’ve no idea the trouble I’ve gone to rid myself of that old camellia. The trash collection no longer accepts “garden waste”, so I’ve had to cut the shrub into tiny bits and hide them in black plastic trash bags. It’s amazing how much wood there is in an old camellia shrub. It’s taken four weeks of trash collections, but at last it’s gone except for the stump and roots which I intended to dig out and trash today before planting the rhododendron.

Except this morning when I went out to begin the task I saw the stump had sprouted. I’m sorry, my dear.

It’s gone.

1905. Norton’s apparently useless invention

Norton thought that his invention would be as popular as billy-O. It wasn’t popular at all. In fact it sucked.

“This invention sucks,” said Gerald the Gadget Man on his television gadget show. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen an invention as useless as this. It’s a special garden stake for holding up the parsley plants.”

“Parsley doesn’t require staking,” said Nora on the Gardeners’ Breakfast Show. “This is the biggest waste of time and money that I’ve ever come across.”

“This is the most bizarre invention in years,” said Arnold on the Goodbye to the Morning Lunchtime Special. “At least it has given us all a good laugh.”

“I got given one last Christmas,” said Angela on the late-afternoon-between-reality-shows slot. “It comes in handy, especially if I want to prop a door open on a breezy day. A parsley stake! Ha ha ha! Now that’s funny.”

Only Jonathan had anything nice to say about Norton’s invention. “I think it’s excellent,” he said. “And it’s not a parsley garden stake. It’s a Dancalonator.”

Oh! What an embarrassment! Suddenly everyone felt quite silly.

1901. Some things don’t change

There can’t have been that many in the world with the name Clauderic Winslow McPherson; let alone many with that name living in the little hamlet he came from. Strawfordton-on-Tiddleswing had decided to erect a monument to honour the local folk who had died in the war. There were three names, and Clauderic Winslow McPherson was one of them.

The trouble was that Clauderic Winslow McPherson wasn’t dead. He certainly got the surprise of his life when he saw his name. As the only survivor of the village folk who had gone to war he was asked to lay the wreath when the monument was declared open. The mayor pulled the rope that released the flag that covered the engraved names, and there it was: Clauderic Winslow McPherson.

“But I’m not dead,” said Clauderic Winslow McPherson.

There was much muttering going on among the village aldermen, and among the considerable village crowd of twelve for that matter.

“Who does he think he is? He must have got his wires twisted. That fellow can’t be Clauderic Winslow McPherson. Clauderic Winslow McPherson’s name is engraved on the monument and therefore he is dead.”

Clauderic Winslow McPherson was arrested and thrown into the local jail cell. Impersonating a war hero! Goodness me! The level some people descend to. Clauderic Winslow McPherson was kept in the jail cell. It was a lot cheaper than having to redo the monument. And the town council was a bit short on the funds, which is why they kept Clauderic Winslow McPherson’s war pension that came in every month.

Some things don’t change.

1891. On talking to a telegraph pole

I’m constantly amazed at how stupid some space aliens really are. The other day I caught one having a conversation with a telegraph pole. A telegraph pole!

I said, “You’re talking to a telegraph pole you stupid idiot. It’s not a living thing; it’s just a pole for holding up wires. It’s inanimate.”

“Oh yeah,” it said. (I’m not sure with the aliens if it’s a girl or a boy. Possibly neither. I read, apparently they breed like mushrooms. Sort of clouds of spores. I’d better watch out! Ha ha!) It continued: “Perhaps if you tried talking to a telegraph pole yourself you’d realize they are not as inanimate as you might think. Here! Try it!”

“Hello telegraph pole. How are you today?” I said.

Suddenly there was a cloud of spores floating all around me. I said that these spores were like mushroom spores, but really it was like a pollen explosion in a pine forest. I was so immersed in the all-pervading floating pollen that I could hardly see the alien. It was smiling in a ghostly manner; it was mesmerizing. Quite frankly it was grotesque.

Anyway, I had to dash off home. I was so excited, as was my wife. I just realized something then and there. Poof! In a flash! We’re going to have a baby! Possibly tomorrow morning.

1890. A spelling competition

Once upon a time a coven of witches were having a spelling competition. These weren’t the nice witches that one finds in real life; these were witches one finds in fairy tales; bad ones. For example, Noratia Cacklebother had been involved in the abduction of Hansel and Gretel. On this particular day it was raining and all the witches were sitting in a circle bored out of their tree. Rutterkindle Not(e)worthy suggested they have a spelling competition, and since she was the only one with a dictionary it seemed wise that she be the compere and ask the questions.

There were many interesting words thrown up for consideration. Noratia Cacklebother got stuck on spelling “Handkerchief” because she pronounced it without the “D”. They had gone around the circle three times and everyone had got things right except for Noratia Cacklebother who also misspelled “pharaoh” and “cassowary”. She was embarrassed. She was enraged. She stood. She proclaimed.

“You want to know how to spell?” she screamed. “Then I’ll teach you how to spell.”

By the left eye of the crocodile,
With a little nip of parsley and a slither of snake,
By the tuatara’s middle eye,
With a dash of nutmeg and a wriggling worm half-baked.

All the witches were completely caught off guard.

WHOOSH! waved Noratia Cacklebother with her wand. All were turned into frogs. Permanently.

Good riddance, I say. They were a nasty lot. But be a bit careful if you bump into Noratia Cacklebother. She’s still in a fluster.

1885. Kent’s gabions

Kendall suggested to Kent that what his (Kent’s) back garden area needed was gabions. Kent’s back garden area was susceptible to flooding. By putting up gabions along the stretch of creek that ran along the bottom of the section, when it rained heavily the creek wouldn’t drown the garden he had so lovingly tended.

Gabions – in case you don’t know the word, as the writer at first didn’t – are basically a pile of rocks stuck inside a wire cage. They can look quite pretty. Artistic even.

Kent went even further. If he slightly dammed up the creek he might be able to use the water in the heat of summer to irrigate his plants. The dam wouldn’t be big of course. And he would be able to open it so that during a storm the water could flow naturally.

It was a lot of hard work, but Kent, with the help of his friend Kendall, created a flood-proof backyard complete with a little irrigation dam. It not only was practical, it also looked good.

One weekend, when Kent was away attending a gardening convention, it rained heavily. Kendall was on the ball. He went over to Kent’s house and opened the floodgates, just in case things flooded.

By evening the creek was a raging torrent. The gabions held the water at bay. There was no flooding in the garden! But my word! The streamlining of the water flow meant the water shot past at a terrific rate. It couldn’t spread out, so it sped up.

The neighbour’s back garden was completely flooded. The raging waters had simply washed all soil away to the sea or somewhere. There was nothing left but stones and rocks.

Rather quickly, Kent (with the aid of his friend Kendall) removed the gabions and dam and no one was the wiser.

1863. Late winter

It was winter – late winter – and Athol went walking. The trees were bare; the ground had mounds of rotting leaves.

Athol kicked the piles of leaves as he walked. It may have still been winter but a mellow breeze blew the loose leaves in swirls. Athol sat on a log and thought. Just before the leaves began to fall his world was a different place. He was secure in his job; secure in his family; secure in his life.

Now all had gone – no job, no family, no life. The world had changed in harmony with the season. There was no hope. He should stop pretending that things would return to normal. Things wouldn’t. He should try to move on – but how and to where?

In front of him was a broken branch. It must have snapped in a winter storm. The snapped branch looked like the head of a crocodile! Ferocious! Fearful!

Athol moved on; he couldn’t sit and mope forever. He kicked another pile of leaves. It exposed a little frog nestling itself from the winter. It was asleep. It was waiting for the warmth of spring. It would die once exposed to fierce winter elements. Athol covered the frog over with protective dead leaves.

He went on his way.

1862. Large family

Hi. My name is Nona. My mother named me that. My father apparently didn’t like the name much because it means “ninth” and I happened to be only the third.

“But I want a Nona,” said my mother.

“Who the hell is going to pay for all those babies if we have nine?” asked my father. So my mother, not to be stymied by silly particulars, named me Nona even though I was only number three.

These days Nona is not a very common name, mainly I suspect because people don’t have large families anymore and to get up to nine children could be scorned upon by the disparaging masses. I like having a not-so-common name. I have a younger brother called Octavius and an even younger sister called Decima.

Once my father abandoned the family, not long after I was born, my mother met my stepfather. By the time my mother and stepfather had reached number nine they couldn’t use Nona so they named number nine after the number three because three hadn’t been used. That is why I have a younger sister called Triana. Strictly speaking I should have been named Triana and my sister named Nona.

People these days stare if we all go out together. Just the other day my mother took all ten of us to the zoo and we went by bus. No sooner had we all sat down than an old lady asked my mother in a very loud voice, “Are they all yours, Sweetie?”

My mother said, Yes” and the old lady said “Goodness, that’s a lot. Aren’t you embarrassed?” I was so mortified.

When we got home from the zoo I heard my mother ask my stepfather what the Latin name was for Eleven.

1860. An obsession with porn

Neville knew all the online addresses of porn sites. At least he thought he did; only the free ones, mind you. He wasn’t going to pay for all that rubbish.

His wife of course had no idea. She thought he was engrossed in a computer game, or maybe some intelligent reading. After all, he was interested in animals, and when he could drag himself away from the internet he would watch National Geographic on the television, especially if it was about animals that weren’t so common. Every second animal program was about lions or elephants or giraffes. He wasn’t that interested in that sort of program. Those programs were so common they had become boring. His interest lay in the less common fauna on the planet. The program on the Australian Gulbaru Gecko for example was fascinating.

“You’re addicted to the animal in you,” his wife joked.

For a while Neville thought his wife had caught him watching the porn on his computer, but thankfully she was talking about his choice of television watching.

As time went on, things began to creep up on Neville. Was that a touch of Alzheimer’s? Was senility starting to set in? Indeed it was, and in the end rather quickly. It wasn’t long before his wife was at the end of her tether. He had to go into an environment that was both safe and secure.

In the Care Centre Neville’s lifetime obsession with porn became apparent. Looking at porn sites was all he did. Everyone could see it. It’s all he would talk about. His wife tried to get him to take some interest in the Australian Gulbaru Gecko, and other skinks, lizards, and geckos. All to no avail. For Neville it was porn or nothing.

Until the day he died.

1857. Magic mushrooms

Cameron was wandering through the forest for no particular reason when he came across a little collection of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He knew they were hallucinogenic because he’d seen photos of them in a woman’s magazine in the dentist’s waiting room. There was an article in the magazine about how not to touch these mushrooms, because although they were very pretty, they were also dangerous.

However, the article did narrate how some people used the mushrooms to undergo an out-of-body experience, and others had used them simply to provide a kaleidoscopic in-your-face state of mind. All in all however, the article had said “DON’T TOUCH”. It was that warning that came to Cameron when he first saw and recognized them in the forest.

When he got home Cameron searched for more information and discovered they were called psilocybin mushrooms, and the effects of psilocybin mushrooms come from psilocybin and psilocin. When psilocybin is gets in the body, it is broken down to produce psilocin, which is responsible for the psychedelic effects.

The online information was most educational and in the end Cameron knew with certitude that what he had found in the forest were psilocybin mushrooms. The only thing the information didn’t say, and Cameron couldn’t find the information anywhere, was whether or not he was meant to dry the mushrooms first and then smoke them, or ingest them the way they were, or dehydrate them before eating. In fact, was he meant to cook them like regular mushrooms?

These mushrooms have a short shelf-life, so if anyone out there knows?