Tag Archives: prose fiction

1961. An exclusive club

Although it might appear as rather arbitrary, and in fact it was, Heaven was divided into multitudinous groups of people. The membership of each group was determined by the last words they uttered on Earth. For example, the members of the “I-Love-You-Darling Group” had experienced a fairly run-of-the-mill death in which they were able to utter a reasonably civil statement as they passed on. The “Goodbye Group” and the “I’m-Going Group” were other examples. The “Au Revoir Group” was made up mainly of foreigners but the occasional person who spoke proper English made it into their ranks.

Most groups had many, many members, and for a millennium or so St. Peter at the Pearly Gates had wondered whether or not other criteria might better suffice.

There was one group that was the envy of all. It was known rather jovially as the F Club. Very few belonged to it. The members were the victims of some sudden accident when their plane dropped out of the sky or they saw a huge articulated truck plunging headlong into their vehicle. Their last word was an exclamation of surprise, as you might imagine. So sought after was the desire for membership to this group that St. Peter had to slightly stretch the rules. He had to allow for different parts of speech that used the word. For example, some people may have turned the word into a verb and not finished the sentence before expiring. However, a line was drawn if the F word was followed by “heck”. It reeked a little of Hecate and was considered vaguely inappropriate.

No one was surprised at the small affiliation in the F Club. Most in the circumstance of final accident had exclaimed a naughty word. They had, naturally, been cast into Hell. But those more lily-tongued had screamed at the point of accident not an unacceptable curse, but simply “Flip”. As stated, those whose final “Flip” was forever wrecked by a verb plus Hecate – “Flippin’ Heck” – were cast aside. As was “Freakin’ Hell”.

So here’s to the three members of the F Club. May they forever rejoice.

1951. Daylight saving

Delores hated having to change all the clocks in the house just because the government had decided to tamper with the time. Summer time, daylight-saving – call it what you will… Surely most adults were old enough to decide for themselves if they wanted to do things earlier or later. Meddling with the time was a scheme invented by lazy politicians who liked to sleep-in in the mornings.

The change always came on a Sunday. Sunday was a day for relaxing and Delores, with the change of time, managed to feel tired all day. Monday tomorrow would be different. By then the body had almost got used to eating at the wrong time.

The first thing to do on Monday was to get the kids ready for school. They were grouchy because everything was earlier. Hurry, children! Hurry! At last, they were installed in the car and on their way.

They arrived near the school. This change of time was so confusing. For some reason she was an hour too early. They waited in the car. Children will argue! At last they could be released. It was then that Delores realized she hadn’t changed the clock in the car.

1924. Only one miracle allowed

Nina-Marie had recently died and was thoroughly enjoying looking down from above at her loved ones. There was her husband Clive, her cat Maisie, and her dog Wolfgang. They certainly missed her.

During life it had always been Nina-Marie who looked after the pets. It’s not that Clive wasn’t interested or didn’t like them; it was just that the task had fallen to Nina-Marie almost accidentally years ago. Nina-Marie fed the cat and dog; Clive brought in and stacked the firewood. They were the two marriage-allotted chores that occurred most days in early evening.

In her last hours Nina-Marie had said to Clive that if she was permitted, if it was at all possible, she would give some sign that she was doing well in eternity. It would be some little thing; some surprise perhaps; something that Clive would recognize.

Upon arrival in Heaven Nina-Marie was informed that she would be granted one request regarding life on Earth; one prayer to answer. Wistfully she gazed upon her earthly family. She didn’t want to waste the single wish she could grant.

I know exactly what it will be, thought Nina-Marie. The little apple tree, the one we planted several years ago, has never borne fruit. This year it shall have fruit. Not too many apples, that would be wasteful, but just enough for Clive to say “Aha! That’s Nina-Marie’s doing!”

Nina-Marie was about to make arrangements for her “miracle”, when she noticed something; something serious. The cat and dog’s water bowls had dried up. Clive hadn’t given them water since the funeral. It was an oversight. This was an emergency. I wish he’d give them water! Give them water!

Goodness, thought Clive almost instantaneously, they’ve run out of water. And that was Nina-Marie’s one miracle all used up.

1882. Hovering space craft

There is no doubting the certitude of some things. It took only a couple of drinks at a party and Warwick would corner any and every one and talk about Unidentified Flying Objects. Tonight he had buttonholed Brandon.

One of the more concerning things about UFOs – said Warwick – is that they are always seen hovering near military establishments. Military bases of various kinds. Or if not, at least an air force plane or an aircraft carrier. It implies that these UFO aliens are snooping on our military. One would think that aliens would be interested in Nature – our mountains and lakes, our trees and animals. Even our weather. But no! They snoop around the military bases, and this implies that their intentions are not friendly. Don’t you think?

Brandon felt trapped. He clearly had to respond, because there was no one else in on the conversation. Just him and Warwick. So he said that Warwick’s point was very perceptive. Yes, it did look like these cosmic aliens were preparing for an Earth take-over. One would think that if the aliens were going to surprise the Earthlings they would cover their intent by making appearances at less war-prone environments. Why not be furtively seen in the sky at the Chelsea Flower Show, for example?

Quite true! Quite true! said Warwick excitedly. The signs certainly point to an imminent attack.

Brandon made a mental note to pass this observation on to his headquarters, somewhere in the vicinity of Proxima Centauri.

1881. Cross that bridge

It was inevitable, when Zelda said she didn’t believe in trolls, that something terrible would happen.

She didn’t have to say it just prior to leaving for a bicycle ride with her twelve year old daughter and ten year old son. We shall cycle up the valley on that old dirt road. There are three ancient bridges and wild terrain to see. And what is more, it might be uphill on the way there, but it’s downhill all the way home.

“But what if there are trolls under the bridges?” said ten year old Mario.

“I don’t believe in trolls,” said Zelda. And that was the invitation to disaster.

Off they went! Heading for the hills! Heading for the old dirt road with lots of ancient bridges and no trolls!

They had barely crossed the first bridge when Chiara got a puncture in the back tyre. “That’s no matter,” said practical Zelda who had brought her puncture-fixing kit in her haversack.

Before long the puncture was fixed. Off they went! The second bridge was a little more dangerous. It was a very old bridge used years ago by the forestry trucks. It had no sides. It crossed a narrow ravine with a ribbon of river far, far below. Mario’s wheel got stuck in a crack between the bridge planks. He fell off his bike and almost plunged over the side. Thank goodness he didn’t plummet into the ravine. His jammed bike was rescued. Off they went!

The third and final bridge was crossed without an event.

“Time for the homeward journey,” said Zelda, turning her bike around. “See! No trolls!”

Will that stupid woman never learn? Apparently all hell broke loose somewhere between the third and first bridge.

1879. Really, really dumb

Let’s face it: Melvyn was dumb. Even his teacher, who tried her best to be nice, thought he was dumb. “Your child is dumb,” she said to Melvyn’s parents. “Really, really dumb.” It made no difference, because Melvyn took after his parents. They were dumb too.

His teacher would spend half an hour explaining to her students why grass was green, and at the end of all this Melvyn would put up his hand and ask, “Miss, why is grass green?” Not just dumb, but aggravating. Away with the fairies.

His exercise books were incomprehensible. They were a mess of doodles and numbers. Call that arithmetic? Goodness gracious! The sooner this child left school and got a job clearing the city’s sewerage system the better.

Then one day, Melvyn put up his hand and asked the teacher, “What happens if, when you loop one quantum particle around another, you don’t get back to the same quantum state?”

The teacher told Melvyn to get back to doing his work.

Let’s face it: the teacher was dumb. Even Melvyn, who tried his best to be nice, thought she was dumb. “My teacher is dumb,” Melvyn said to his parents. “Really, really dumb.”

And indeed she was – in more ways than one.

1877. The time had come

Murder was what drove Jephthah on relentlessly. The thrill of a murder was exciting enough to last several years, but once such a thrill had worn thin Jephthah would select another victim.

The last victim had been a little old lady who was in a back street looking for her cat. Jephthah had offered to help, and when she turned her back he smashed her over the head with the weapon. What the weapon was perplexed the police. They discovered neither the weapon nor the murderer.

It didn’t greatly matter to Jephthah who it was got killed. It was the act of murder that caused the delight. So far, over the years, he had done five people in. The gap between each victim was getting shorter. Clearly the gusto these days didn’t last as long. Indeed! The time had come! Jephthah seized his umbrella that disguised a heavy metal pipe and set out.

He had to find a lone person in a back alley; preferably a person who was utterly pleasant and happy to stop and chat a little. There’s a little old lady now! Ah! She’s looking for her cat. Same as last time. That would be boring.

There’s a man dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. He looks like a lawyer. Now, that could be thrilling!

“Nice day,” said Jephthah.

“Isn’t it,” said the lawyer.

They got talking. The awful thing was that Jephthah couldn’t get the man to turn his back so he could strike him over the head. So Jephthah decided to walk away in search of another.

That was when the “lawyer” walloped a massive blow on the back of Jephthah’s head. What the weapon was perplexed the police. They discovered neither the weapon nor the murderer.

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?

1855. Fate deals the cards

Olga stumbled across a free online webpage that would interpret the four tarot cards clicked on. The entire deck of cards was spread out, face down. Things hadn’t been going well for Olga recently and she was searching for something positive to cling to. She had been threatened by strangers several times in the past week because she had been seen going into a fast food establishment that was no longer considered woke.

Olga clicked on four cards, even though she thought that such things online were bogus hocus-pocus. The four cards when clicked on turned their faces up. An interpretation of the selected cards was proclaimed by a computerized voice.

The first card shows that you are insecure and do not know whether or not to accept a recent invitation to a birthday party. Go! Go to the party!

That’s true, thought Olga. I have been invited to Elaine’s birthday party at the solstice and I wasn’t keen to go.

The second card indicates what sort of gift you should bring to the birthday party. Nothing too expensive; nothing too ostentatious. Just a pleasant gift that the person would enjoy.

How right that is, thought Olga. I am so pleased I bought Elaine a simple peace lily in a lovely pot.

The third card indicates someone else at the party whom you meet for the first time. It could be a person of the opposite sex. The card indicates that they will become a significant person in your life.

That is so exciting, thought Olga. I’m well into the marriageable age and have yet to find Mister Right.

The fourth and final card indicates…

It was then that Olga’s phone rang. Hello. Hello, said Olga. It was Elaine. Could Olga email her the online address for party games she had told her about? Sure she could. She would do so immediately.

What a shame that Olga never heard the reading for the remaining card she had selected. Otherwise she may not have been murdered at the party by “Mister Right”.

1839. The truth about fairies

Jacquitta took her two children, Vinny and Patience for a walk. Patience was four and Vinny was seven.

“Let’s see if we can find where the fairies live,” said Jacquitta.

“I don’t believe in fairies,” said Vinny.

“Oh, but they’re real,” said Jacquitta wanting to protect little Patience from the reality of an imagination-derelict world. “They live in little mushroom villages. They are usually kind and lovely, but sometimes, if you are mean to them, they can get annoyed and then horrible things can happen.”

“It’s not true,” said Vinny. “My friend said that his mother told him that fairies were made up.”

“I’m sure they live around here,” said Jacquitta. “Oh look children! There’s a mushroom ring! It’s a fairies’ village!”

“It’s not a fairies’ village,” said Vinny. “It’s a pile of poisonous mushrooms.”

Vinny kicked the mushrooms with his foot. He smashed them to smithereens. “See,” he said, “no fairies.”

Little Patience burst into tears. “You’ve hurt the fairies and broken their houses,” she said.

“You are a naughty, naughty boy,” said Jacquitta.

The next morning Vinny woke up with a club foot.