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Gabriel's Horn

Awaited Meal

The Major looked me up and down with a smirk. He scoffed at my appearance dramatically. The sun’s harsh light radiated off my forehead, my pale skin red and raw. I was sunburnt in awkward patches where my khakis didn’t quite protect me. His reaction was a clearly rehearsed performance… It may have worked to put down yuppie journalists and foreign correspondents but I was made out of tougher material.

“You are not ready for Rwanda’s heat,” he said. And it was easy for him to say as he sat under a shaded pavilion with a frail boy cooling him by waving a palm leaf.

It was true nonetheless, I had only taken two steps out of the plane and was sweating through my shirt in which dark patches of sweat were ever increasing in size.

His entourage laughed after a swift glance back by their leader. Late to the cue. They were obviously not as rehearsed in this performance. Scratching my itching collar, I looked backed to the Major who now approached with an outstretched hand which I shook. His fingers were held jewels of every type, but it was his eyes that held my attention, his eyes were like glittering diamonds illuminated by the violent inferno that lay behind them. I could see he was as intelligent as my dossier had theorised. I let go of his hand as I realised he must equally be weighing my character.

“Please come inside, my guest,” he gestured towards the concrete bunker.

I followed him into his lair, a half destroyed aircraft hangar that had belonged to the government two regimes back. In a futile attempt, I tried to count the numerous military bangles and medals hanging off his chest. The garb would look ridiculous on anyone else but he seemed comfortable in the regalia he inspired. I made another investigation to identify which country he had stolen the ceremonial military outfit from, the nation no longer officially existed. We sat down in plush leather seats.

“Major Bosco, thank you for your hospitality. You must know why I am here, I am Be-“

“And I am hungry,” he interrupted, “for food of course, but other things to…”

I made a note to kick myself later, I was a fool to try get down to business straight away without the customary pleasantries, I had lost face. First operation nerves, I guess. He glared at a man standing in the doorway who scampered hastily out of the room, who returned shortly with a gala of scantily dressed women carrying baskets of fruit.

“Are you hungry, Ben-jah-mon?”

He mouthed my name with a curious humour, perhaps with glee that he knew my name before I had even introduced myself. I contained the surprise from showing on my face but could feel a hot panic growing up my spine. Something was off about this.

“For food, yes,” I replied smiling. I would play your game for now, Bosco.

The rickety electric fan moved with an annoying click from side to side as it scanned the room. A laughed echoed up his thick neck, “And other things?”

He wrapped his large hand around the waist of one of his female servants, whose eyes remained impassive even as she smiled, while he plucked a pear from her basket.

“Just food.”

“This is fortunate that God has given me someone hungry.” He stood up, “For I am the greatest cook in North Rwanda.”

“I hadn’t heard that about you, Major.”

Perhaps the fact had been swallowed by the numerous violent atrocities had committed in the last decade.

“Oh… I have testimony from the Kagazi people, I brought them the best food they have ever eaten. They say this meal I delivered to them saved lives, can you believe that?”

I couldn’t.

He left his chair and looked out the concrete slit which was riddled with bullet holes from a skirmish long since passed. He remained staring out into the savannah until I broke the suffocating silence.

“Well, I hope we are having the same food as the Kagazi people.”

“Oh no.” He grinned flashing his bright teeth, the men standing guard started chuckling. “We are not having stale bread!”

“Stale bread was the greatest food?” I asked uneasily.

“The Kagazi people decided they didn’t want our protection anymore. We have no enemies, we won’t pay you anymore, they told me. I warned them of dangerous bandits but they still declined.

He scratched his chin and smiled to his comrades.

“The next day ‘bandits’ took their grain, killed their beasts and threw the rotting bodies into their wells. Unfortunate, but I warned them. So of course they returned and I cooked up a feast so magnificent they cried at my feet and thanking me for the richness and beauty of my mouldy damp bread.” He broke into a fit of obnoxious laughter.

I was uncomfortably aware again of who I was dealing with after being lulled by his pleasantries, the man known locally as Shetani; the devil. A warlord who served under the previously ruling Free Rwanda Fighters (FRF) dictatorship Bosco eventually came to power with a brutal civil war that he had won but ultimately ripped the country apart. Surprisingly things were developing now, though slowly. Bosco’s harsh treatment of unauthorised journalists had kept the majority of his atrocities from reaching the hears of the public, this fact coincided of why I was here in the first place.

I am Ben McGregor part of Black Swan Rescue, this is my first international operation to negotiate for the release of American foreign correspondent Harrison Turlock, normally I wouldn’t come alone but Bosco has requested it, though using the word request is an understatement. He had sent us Harrison’s ear with further threats if his requirements weren’t met. The Major had taken to a disliking to Turlock through his numerous articles exposing explicit actions by the Bosco led FRF.

“You see Ben-jah-mon, hunger is the secret ingredient to all great meals. Just as pain is the key to pleasure. Just as how good wouldn’t exist without evil. Hunger is an important spice to life.”

The Major inspected the pear he held briefly before sinking his teeth into its flesh and wiped the dripping fluid from his chin.

“And I am a very hungry man, Ben-jah-mon.”

The main meal arrived on a silver platter covered by a traditional dome cover, it was rolled in on a trolley by the same frail boy I had seen on the airstrip.

The Major lightly tapped on the silver dome cover with the heavy jewels on his fingers.

It stood there spotless, like a reflective beacon in this rusting shelter.

“You are a liar. You are hungry for the journalist as well.”

“Yes,” I admitted, “-that is my purpose here.”

He didn’t move at all, and hardly seemed to breathe.

He finally became reanimated.

“Cup of tea? You are English no?” Again he gestured to the boy who left us.

“Scottish.”

He erupted from his chair to study a globe in the corner of the room.

“Hungry for knowledge?” I inquired.

He smirked at me with genuine amusement.

Gripping the globe with one hand he lifted it to my face and proclaimed as if he could be counted among the likes of Alexander and Hannibal.

“This is mine-“ I nodded.

“My father gave this globe to me when I was a boy. And yes I have a hunger for knowledge.

When I was a boy, I wanted to go to Cambridge. But of course, a boy has to grow up, and realise what he is.”

The boy returned with the tea.

“-Isn’t that right boy?”

I took the cup. Okay, now I really have to force the issue and get down to negotiations.

“So you are here for Turlock?” The Major asked as if reading my mind.

“Yes, his safe return and delivery to his family.”

He went still again and stared at the tea in my hand.

I raised it to my mouth to sip when nothing but a horrible bitter taste filled my mouth and sinus as I spluttered.

“Boy!” the Major shouted.

Obediently the lad ran to him only to receive a backhand across the face that flung him to the floor.

The cup was wrenched from my hand.

“You call this a cup of tea?” he splashed the remaining bile into the servants punctured and bleeding face.

“I-I’m sorry sir,” He grabbed him by the neck with one hand and squeezed “I didn’t meanee…” his words came out in a high-pitched wheeze.

“So Ben-jah-mon,” the Major turned to me, “you are here to save a life, because I would very much like to kill that liar Harrison.”

“Stop this Bosco, I’ll have none of these fucking games. I am here to do a business.”

“No games. Your business is to save a life. I have one in my hands.”

“I am here for Harry.”

“I’ll tell you what, you can take this boy right now and hop on your plane.”

He smiled and squeezed tighter. I need to calm him down, but first I need to calm down.

I need to be anywhere but here. Home, I’m back home. The green highlands stretch for miles. A cold the mists breath outs, spreading out across the loch like a white blanket.

I open my eyes.

“Okay, Bosco. That’s enough, we’ll talk. I am certain we can find a solution.”

“It is not certain, what is certain is I will kill this boy.” The boy squealed like a pig at the realisation and looked at me for mercy. I avoided his terrified eyes.

“Put him down, please…”

“I will if you agree to leave, you can even take this boy, is his life not equal to another? You seem reluctant. Is it the colour of his skin, or is it because he is poor and uneducated?”

“I’m here for Harrison.”

“The boy or Harry,” he used the nickname vindictively, it was what his family called him. I can see his little daughter tugging on my sleeve and begging me to bring her Daddy home.

I felt as if I was going to implode under the pressure.

“Choose. Time is ticking…”

I took a step towards the major but the butt of a rifle collided into the nape of my neck.

I fell to the floor and craned my neck to the see the boy having the life strangled out of him. His face was going purple, and his eyes were turning from terror into an acceptive glassy stare.

An impossible choice, I can’t do this. I am weak. The click – click – click of the fan taunted me with the passing of each critical second.

“STOP, I’LL TAKE THE BOY!” I shouted with my voice cracking as I crumbled under the pressure. The devil smiled and dropped the limp body which spasmed as the lad came to.

“A very wise choice. Now let us eat.”

The Major raised the silver dome from the dish and there lay the severed head of Harrison Turlock. The same dark brown eyes that his daughter had now stared down at me. I looked away from disgust and the shame as if the dead man was judging me.

Bosco simply laughed.

“Oh god…” I flinched as the head was thrown to my feet.

Bent over I dry retched as the Major put a hand on my shoulder.

“Was that not worth the long wait? Are you going to eat your meal?” he exclaimed.

I simply shook my head in disbelief.

“Good. Stay hungry, Ben-jah-mon.”

ESTRELLA

I used to laugh at the Hispanics behind the fence, and they smiled back.

I was just a child but the bitter irony hasn’t been softened by the fact. Now we all sit behind the wall looking at the far off city lights.

The wall has been moving faster these days. Not that mattered, I was on the wrong side and that was all that mattered. My Pa worked the mines and when we came back his eyebrows and the corners of his faces stained with about seven different types of dirt, I used to think he looked like a character from one of my comic, normally confident and out-going he’d go quiet and stare at the wall whenever we approached it. Perhaps deep inside he knew it was coming closer. That’s why he told me off for laughing at those behind the wall, he knew we’d be joining them. But no, why wouldn’t he tell us, and save his family from that fate. Perhaps he knew on a primal level but could never find the words to express his innate fear of that ever approaching wave of chain link fence that would eventually swallow us all. I could see it easily and plainly, a talent common in children. “The big wall was behind that house yesterday,” I’d tell my mother, who would give a crooked smile and tell me what a big imagination I had.

The days inside the bounds of the fence seem so distant now, as it were a dream. Passing through the membrane was like being born again. I must have been about 8 years old, it was a sweltering hot night. The chain link scrapped alongside our timbers, knocking roof tiles off which woke up my Pa but it was too late and we were squeezed out like the beads of sweat of a night fever.

The first morning on the wrong side we awoke to the same smiling Hispanics whose grins towards me were especially wide. But what does race matter now? We all sleep in the same gutters and crowd around the same stinking garbage fire.

It’s not all bad, today was alright, I caught a nice plump rat. You ever tried to go to sleep hungry? It’s not an easy thing, especially with all the moaning and groaning that crawl out from the half-built shanties. Disease is rampant over the wall, but with a nice meal in my stomach, I can get to sleep and dream of hot water and microwave meals.

Basic necessities were always in low stock, clean water, food, etc. But there was another resources that was consistently of low quantity, ideas, I don’t think I’ve heard an original thought in years. I’m guilty of this as well. Men are simple creatures when we’re brought down into the caveman realm. Eat, fuck, sleep and how to get back over the wall. No one’s done it though, gone back over, once you’re here-- you’re here. There are no heroes, there’s no Superman or Batman of the slums.

More people are flooding in every day. Each new group looks slightly better than the last. But soon we all look the same, I can’t remember the last time I saw my family, I don’t think I’d recognise them if I did. Not that I’d want to either, it would just be a remind of easier days.

And now I smile as I hear laughter coming from behind the wall. I don’t smile at much else, but it’s a pleasure seeing the same faces not in the shit with you. The wall’s small progress was comforting in a way even though it was the cause of my imprisonment. Slowly inch by inch, we were approaching the city lights.

The far off lights were the only sort of hope that we had. Watching them glitter in night warmed my heart more than burning polystyrene in a dumpster ever could. They never moved, unlike everything else here. Everything squirmed, wiggled, moaned till it died, the maggots, pathetic diseased animals and most of all we humans. I never slept in the same place twice and rarely recognised another person. I have made friends in the past but all we could relate to each other was our mutual suffering.

But we’re getting closer, and that’s what really matters.

Finally this night I can lay my eyes on the lights and they are attached to a great tower that stretches to the sky. Some sort of construction is happening at the base of the tower. And we’re getting closer and closer now. It seems the fence is converging on this tower, like a tightening noose. We can walk the full way around in half a day. I made several laps in the proceeding days and find that my lap time becomes shorter by a half hour every day.

Not even the builders are safe from the wall, soon they started sifting into our ranking. I spotted one by his bright orange west and asked what his job was.

“Demolitions. Say do you know how I can around this fence?”

I smiled and walked back to my hovel.

The Hispanics are singing loudly tonight, I only know enough Spanish to beg for food, water or cigarettes but I can tell the song is a happy one.

“Adiós mi estrella, adiós mi amor…”

I drift off into sleep. I had a strange dream, through the night; I could see the tower rise. Its lights grew closer and closer to the stars. When I awoke my muscles felt the same stiffness I have endured for years but this morning it had flared up. It was a sweltering hot day, and I was disorientated. I wandered around for several minutes lost until I figure out that I’ve lost my bearings-- the fence was gone. I make several full turns and climbed up onto a hill to search for it. I felt an intense loneliness but then I spotted that the great tower. No fence was restricted us from it now. I begin to run towards the base of the tower and notice several others have the same idea. Soon the entire waking crowd began sprinting towards the tower.

I spot men up on a balcony drinking champagne and laughing, but no one takes the time to smile now. The entire base of the tower has been mined away, the workman wasn’t lying it really is being demolished. I have to stop this. One last lonely construction worker is at the centre of the base, next to a single steel beam holding the tower up. He swung once at it with his sledgehammer. A painful thud erupted from the struggling metal.

“Stop! Stop!” the crowd shouted at him in a dozen languages, but he couldn’t hear over his ear protection. We were almost upon him as he swung again and an enormous boom seemed to silence everything. The steel beam was dislodged. I looked up and waited for the structure to come crashing down on us. Instead, miraculously it floated fifty feet off the ground. We cheer and hugged each other and simply enjoyed still being alive. And though I felt I had never truly had a family nor loved another person, in those short moments I felt like I belonged and I had a purpose. But soon these tears of joy became tears of despair as the tower floated up like a boat that had lost its mooring, that steel beam. As it gained speed we could hear the festivities going on inside.

We threw bricks as if to shoo it away but we all secretly wished that the bricks would weigh her down and bring her back to earth. There was nothing we could do, the great vessel was leaving and we had been left behind.

I found the last workman and asked him why he cut the great tower loose.

“It’s my job mister. Do you know where the nearest bus stop is?”

I ignored him, lied down and watching the lights rise into the night sky, waiting to die

Eventually, I dreamed I was flying, a great big cape on my back. I was free. I flew up to the escaping tower and blew out her flames and watched her rocket down through the night sky towards the earth.

And then all was dark, there was nothing at all, no sights, smells, or sounds. I knew at once, though it was impossible, that I wasn’t dreaming anymore.

A short tempered stereotype

What am I doing with my life? I questioned, as the dishwasher spurt scalding water up my naked back.

My name is Chester and I have been a dwarf entertainer for 6 years… It was supposed to be a stepping stone but like so many before me I’d been lured in by the easy money. The financial security came with a price, however; dignity. It was something I was especially short of.

Fuck, I did it again. In my line of work, I’m around so many height puns every day (and every one of those insensitive dicks thinks they’re original). Stuck inside the darkness of the kitchen appliance hatred burned deep inside me, hotter than the scalding water. How many more cream pies to the face would I have to endure? How much more forced laughter would I have to put on? The drunk customers were the worst, hence my current predicament.

What would I do when I was finally released from this watery prison? Kick their shins and waddle off in a temper! Brilliant, that’ll show them.

Show them what a short tempered stereotype I am. The dwarf in need of anger management, a classic. I doubt they would even think I was legitimately angry, it’s all just part of the act: the tears and screaming as they showed me in a fucking kitchen appliance.

All part of the act… I had wanted to be an actor since I was a boy but now I saw that it was the wrong dream for someone like me to have. Where would acting lead realistically? A remake of Wizard of Oz or a part as an Oompa-Loompa. What was the alternative? Playing Macbeth on a milk crate?

Even if I could find a serious gig as an actor, like that Game of Thrones prick I’ll just be known as “Chester, the serious dwarf actor”, actually no I would be “the second serious dwarf actor” part of an overall movement Fox News, CNN and fuck knows who else would cash in on for a few days.

Screw that.

I was born just to be a jester. A laughing stock to the lords and ladies all through history and onwards for eternity. What was the point of living like this? I’m too angry to go out without a bang. I remember the hunting shotgun hanging on the wall. A big alpha male type was the host of the party and the owner of the gun, he took it down at one point in the night and pretending to fire at me, no loaded obviously but I could find some ammunition around here somewhere.

It’s a big fuckin’ gun. A dwarf with a big fuckin’ gun… Shit, I would look ridiculous. Another stereotype. I would kill them with laughter long before I pulled the trigger.

“I am still human,” I tell myself. I’ve told myself that many times, especially through my sour time in school.

“Make lemonade when the world gives you lemons, Chester,” Mum would tell me.

So that’s what I did and high school wasn’t as bad. They were still laughing, but laughing with me not at me as long as I was laughing as well. That’s how it works right?

My laughter at myself was never genuine, there was always a feeling of animosity in the background.

The world had done me wrong. What did I owe anybody?

It’s because couldn’t defend myself from a pack of kittens and people only respect power in this cruel world. I’ll take this world and destroy it and create another, I know I’m smart enough I’ve even been called a genius.

Yeah, that’ll be me, an evil genius with dwarfism and a chip on his shoulder with plans to take over the world. Sounds like Mike Myers movie.

I’m a stereotype whatever I do. I take up professional poker I’ll be the short fella with the big bets or if I take up dancing I’ll be the ‘4 foot man with 2 left feet’. It will be hilarious no matter what. Everyone will love it. Everyone will have a good laugh. Except for me, because they’re laughing at me, not with me and they never were. No matter what I try, people will fawn, ooh and aah, “Oh good for him, he’s really trying even though…”

Even though fucking what? I don’t know… Maybe I just need to…

Then it came to me, a beautiful idea. You know the feeling when you get that perfect, delicious thought, unique and utterly yours as you add more and more to it. It’s growing in size now, like a snowball rolling down a mountainside picking up speed.

They didn’t have to know that I was a dwarf. It wasn’t hiding who I was, it was the opposite. It was a way to truly express myself. I was going to become a writer. When had there been some sort of stereotype about a dwarf writer? Never. It’s perfect, no stereotypes. I would be judged by the quality of my prose and characters. It’s not their fault that people are stupid, beautiful people with terrible depravities will always be treated better than a repulsive looking dwarf with a heart of gold.

Beep. Beep. Beep. The eco-wash cycle was finished. The doors opened and I stepped out a new man, laughter greeted me but I just walked past them straight out of the house.

I laughed as, but not with them.

Trim, or the microscopic narrative of a leaf

I heard it but didn’t quite believe it, a loud thump that seemed to come from all directions. I’m sure it was just something bumping into us. Our leaf was strong… we kept it strong. There’s no way it could have happened so soon. Autumn was a distant event in the future, something that bothered us little until it was actually time to pack up shop

Yet here I was feeling the panic set in. We were homeless, our ship was adrift. Would the mother tree miss us? No, I suppose we were just a single leaf. But we were helpful, day after day waking up at dawn and opening the stomata, producing glucose till night fell and clocked out. I don’t know, but I’d like to think even if I wasn’t remembered I can get the satisfaction a job well done.

Perhaps we haven’t left, maybe a stem is just broken and patch that up for sure!

No… no, I am just giving myself false hope. I feel dry, my membranes are shrinking.

I slowly shut down my organelles as I was trained to so long ago.

The cold hard ground pressures against me, I can feel myself being crushed into it.

The decomposition is remorseless; I feel my body torn to pieces by alien creatures that dart so quickly here and there. Slowly what’s left of my sinks further into the dirt. This is death. I cry for what seems like years, I have nothing and no one.

With all hope gone suddenly a hard object protrudes into what’s left of me, I can’t even bring myself to be terrified of this new horror, how could things be worse. I feel a force pull me towards this strange object. This is a root.

I can’t believe it, I ‘m back to the mother tree, I was remembered, they rescued me. I am loved. Old friends welcome me back as I feel my nutrients surging back through.

After an eternity of the cold dirt, the warmth of the hearth is ecstasy. I’m home.

PR1NC3

“Money can buy anything,” thought the Prince of Nigeria, “why can’t I buy love?”

He stared blankly at his eHarmoney profile; ‘Prince of Nigeria looking for love and someone to share his life and wealth with.’ Maybe I was coming across too strongly, he thought.

0 hits, several messages though.

[You’re a joke mate] from a blonde in Sydney

The second from Vienna [As if people still fall for this]

Confused and feeling the sting of reject, he refused to open anymore. Placing his face in his palms he remembered the words of his uncle: Expand your horizons nephew, the world is waiting for you. His worldly uncle could not provide wisdom in person to the Prince now, he was either hiking the Himalayan ranges or relaxing on a tropical beach, taking full advantage of his royal allowance. Closing eHarmoney he brought up his web diary/blog ‘In Need of a Princess’ in which he had taken quite a likening to writing mediocre poetry about the hardships of his life.

// I could fly to Sydney or Vienna in seconds

This was an exaggeration, he calculated it would actually take 3 hours and 47 minutes in his father’s concord.

// but who would be there waiting for me

The world is not waiting for me Uncle, he thought to himself.

Closing the blog he decided to indulge in a slightly more pleasurable form of self-pitying. A quick click from his favourite tabs later, and pornography filled the screen.

The Prince’s eyes glossed over [daddyissues.com] when for some reason he was attracted to an advertising banner. Local Sluts NEAR YOU! It was like a lightning bolt hit his head, “Why didn’t I think of this earlier? I will not expand my horizons, I will compress them. He clicked cautiously, but soon his suspicions were cast aside as he saw a woman on a webcam was already messaging him. Hey sexy, I live near you at AREA CODE: 3493-B2, and I’m lonely!

“Wow, that’s my area code. I needn’t travel around the globe, I can tame myself a common woman right here.”

With a flurry of hand movements, he entered his name and credit card details (don’t worry it’s free!) and began.

Pr1nc3 [This is an amazing coincidence that you live so nearby]

Candy [wtf? You actually replied?]

Pr1nc3 [I can’t see how someone could resist ur beauty, my lady]

Candy [Your cute :) um this has never happened before but do you wanna meet up?]

And just like that, he had found his princess. They organised to meet at a café round the corner from his palace, he had seen it from his limousine once or twice. With glee, he reopened his blog and finished the post as he went out the door.

// The world may not be waiting for me, but AREA CODE 3493-B2 is!

“Now, the Mercedes or the Lamborghini?” the Prince was presented with hard alternatives often. Deciding not to appear boastful he wisely chose the Mercedes. Needless to say, the Prince didn’t actually know how to drive any of his sports cars which he had spent an upwards of 12 million dollars to purchase. No, instead he spent more money on a driver who was more than pleased to drive his luxurious cars for him.

He hopped into the passenger seat and off they went to the café. “Will she be there?” he wondered gazing out of the tinted windows. They arrived quickly and he checked his reflection in the mirror. Pre-emptively squinting his eyes and shielding his face from the paparazzi, he walked out into the street. To the Prince’s dismay, the street was deserted save for a beggar sleeping under a store front. No one was here to find out the juicy story of why he had left his room at last.

The café was small and there seemed to be no one there. The Prince’s eyes began to water as he realised it had all probably been a joke. But then he saw her, a beautiful full bodied woman, relaxing alone at a table, he caught her attention with a click of his tongue and she stared at him with her bright yet aggressive eyes.

He walked over, his knees going weak, “H-Hello there, Candy?”

She stood up looking surprised, “Oh wow are you a prince or something?”

The prince reflected on the royal velvet cape and gold trimmed crown he had chosen for the event. “Yes I am,” he sat down.

Candy held a confused look on her face ,”Wait. Are you that prince who never leaves the palace?”

“Um well yes I but I do leave the palace, you know to play Croquet occasionally.”

“Oh my god, well yes I’m Candy, nice to meet you.”

“So you live locally?”

“Yep I’m just round the corner, do you want to see my place?”

“I thought we were having cof-“

She interrupted him, “Oh we can get some coffee at my place.”

They got up and left out the back of the building. The Prince looked down the dark alley, this looked like a place you would be mugged three times faster than you could say ‘please don’t hurt me!’ Yet he uneasily followed along even though he felt he was being watched.

“Hey don’t be scared I’ll protect,” she rubbed his arm seductively. He delicately removed her hand from his Armani suit jacket (its outer layer was sensitive to the slightest human touch).

Candy’s apartment was a shabby mess. “I’ll go get that coffee, my king.”

“Prince,” he corrected her as he ran a finger on a dust mantelpiece, “I should send my cleaner over here, looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in years.”

But before he could phone for a germicidal purge of the apartment Candy had appeared back at the doorway… wearing nothing at all.

“Oh gosh woman you’ve lost your clothes! Cover yourself!”

She laughed and ran towards him.

“Away!” the Prince commanded as he scampered into a closet and locked it from within with a mangled coat hanger. He wasn’t afraid to give himself to this woman it was just that he couldn’t easily summon the ‘royal staff’. In his moment of stress and in his confused erotic state he once again opened up [www.daddyissues.com] for the second time this day (though this wasn’t even close to his daily average). The white light from the phone dispelled the darkness of the closet. Candy was trying to break in now, “Make me royalty my king!” she shouted.

“Prince!” he shouted back.

He looked back to his phone but once again he was distracted by an ad banner from a Mr Ron Jeremy…

Have a pinner? Feel the bulge with this one simple trick!

“Oh God, thank you!” he exclaimed clicking without hesitation.

“Wow, it really is that simple!”

Candy pressed her ear to the door as she heard the strange sounds, like knuckles cracking and joints popping.

“I’m ready!” he shouted as erupted out of the closet. Already out of his clothes and did a front flip and landed perfectly on all three legs.

“What a magical evening,” the Prince sighed.

Candy still lay on the bed out of breath. He checked his phone for the time and found more offers from Ron Jeremy popping up on his phone. “Who was this elusive benefactor?” he wondered, “And what else will he help me with?” Time would tell.

“I must be off, my favourite tunic is in the wash,” he announced.

Candy simply moaned in reply as the Prince swung his cape on his shoulder and put his crown on at an angle as he strutted off into the night. Just as he was approaching his car a shadow jumped from the darkness at him.

“TAKE EVERYTHING!” the Prince squealed.

“Uh okay. I just wanted to ask you if you had any spare change but-”

“DON’T STAB ME, JUST TAKE IT ALL.”

By now the driver was out of the car, scratching his head at the public scene.

“Okay sure, I’ll take this stuff off your hands,” the beggar smiled to himself. “The driver shouted to his Prince who was still petrified with fright and blinding handing over his crown and royal gown, “My Prince he is simply a beggar there is no need to give up everything.”

“No no, my life is more valuable,” the Prince muttered through frightful sobs.

And with that, the beggar shrugged his shoulders and hopped into the Mercedes and sped off.

“I’m lucky to be alive! Quick, call another car and we’ll make our way back to the palace. I need a bubble bath,” the Prince commanded to his driver. No reply came from the driver who was talking on his phone. “Unbelievable rudeness, I am firing you!”

The driver turned around with his hand over the receiver, “I’m afraid I don’t work for you anymore.” And then continued listening to the voice before promptly hanging up, “Well looks like I am fired anyway, turns out the new Prince is happy to drive his own supercars. This is unfortunate; I do not know how I will provide for my family. The kids will-”

“UNFORTUNATE!? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, I HAVE BEEN USURPED BY A PEASANT!” shouted the ex-Prince. The driver wrung his cap and looked down to the ground, he was already feeling the shame that the inevitable conversation with his wife would bring on. She worked so hard, looking after the kids every single day while I was having fun joy riding in expensive cars and I can’t even do that right. His shame felt was so intense that it burned his cheeks with such heat that he didn’t notice the tears dripping off his chin. This would be the last straw, she would move back to her parents and take the kids…

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is protect and love my family, and now”

“Oh come one, try and not think of yourself all the time,” the Prince snapped but then came to a realisation, “Family, that’s it. My father will sort this out.” The Prince ran full pelt to the palace only wearing beggar’s garb. He tried in vain to convince the Royal guards to let him through the main gate, only to spot his father and the dirty beggar sharing espresso martinis on the balcony. “Father that isn’t me,” he shouted his voice cracking.

The King of Nigeria chuckled, “Of course it isn’t. I like this Prince much more, he has got guts you know? He takes what he whatever he wants, your crown, your money, hell he has even changed the décor of your room.”

“No. No, you can’t. The interior design of that room was designed with both the Fibonacci’s golden ratio and the ancient concepts of Fung Shui intertwined!”

“I am afraid I already have ex-Prince. And a lot of other things are changing around here as well!”

“This is terrible Father! What about my endowment?”

The beggar laughed, “Looks to me like you’re already well-endowed, my friend” who then shook his head and retreated into the palace with the king. Now the Prince began to cry as he sat on the gutter watching the cars go past. The smoke choked his already taut airways, it took him everything just to get his breath back as he was glimpsing distorted reflections of a sobbing lonely man in their reflective surface. Not before too long the driver appeared in the distance still sobbing with his tie hanging loosely off his neck.

The Prince remembered how harsh to the driver earlier in the night. He grabbed the gutter and tried to pull himself up but was amused to find that the bulge in his pants had still not retreated. He laughed to himself quietly, and then went silent and grabbed his phone without hesitation. “I still have you… Mr Jeremy,” he whispered to the moon shining brightly upon his teary eyes.

He skimmed through the messages and found exactly what he wanted.

Make $800 a day from the house.

“It’s easy!” –Rich Woman

“THANK YOU RON!” he shouted as he spammed the button.

Nothing happened. “Where is my $800?” He frantically checked his pockets and ripped off all his clothes but found no cash. The driver looked at him condescendingly, “Put your clothes back on!”

The Prince laughed with a slight glint of madness in his eyes, “Of course it won’t work. I need to be in a house!” Running to the nearest shack, he kicked the door down. A nearby woman screamed as she lay witness to an embarrassingly out of shape man clothed in nothing but his briefs suddenly, and materialise money out of thin air without warning. The Prince laughed as cash poured over his body. He hoarded the money, piling it into his underwear. By now the woman was in hysterics, so he threw her some money from which she fainted. The Prince’s concern was distracted by another message on his phone.

What is the first letter of the alphabet? A, B, or 5?

“This is easy!”

The driver scoffed, “Of course it is. It’s a sca-“

Before he could finish a bar of solid gold dropped from the sky and knocked him out cold.

“Look who’s the smart guy now,” he said to the unconscious driver, “Me, I’m the smart guy.” The Prince pocketed the gold but then had a change of heart and tucked the gold bar into his jacket. The Prince spent the next two hours answering ridiculous quizzes and then walked to the Treasury Office, paid off all the debt and promptly bought the country of Nigeria.

Jeremiah as it is now called, in honour of the newly elected King’s glorious mentor, greatly prospered with their main export being… money itself. The King felt sorry to dethrone his father and newly adopted street beggar/son so sometimes he forwarded them some of the sources of his wealth, which he had so far had received no reply from.

It wasn’t all princesses and butterflies, however, several attempts were made upon the King of Jeremia’s life such as by the notorious

Little girl with no eyes will kill you if you don’t send this to 20 of your friends.

Luckily, he had the wisdom to follow the assassin’s instructions and no harm befouled him.

These days the King spends his days with Queen Candy and being driven around his old companion whom he reemployed. He spends little time with friends as most were killed by little girls with no eyes. Ghastly stuff.

Soon another disaster struck with the dollar being driven into the ground as international authorities became aware of the massive fraud. The country of Jeremia still survives however with the King’s clever operation of keeping the imports and exports running through secret networks of emails running to 1st world citizens lucky enough to receive one of these opportunities.

So now that you know the truth, be on the lookout. Remember to check your junk folder. And perhaps you too could become one of the lucky few.

Charity Is A Big Stinking Scam

Local man Albert Tony here,

I’m 42 like most men my age, and I take a great interest in the happenings of the world. Not because I want to bring change or development but just because I like to have a strong opinion on a lot of topics I have no stake in. And it has occurred to me that we are all being afflicted with a terrible disease. This is a disease of the mind and is commonly called charity. Let me explain further; Africans aren’t really human.

Don’t get all uppity, let’s be honest with ourselves; they couldn’t be.

Sure the more weak minded members of our community might donate a goat or two to Africa, but in reality, this is nothing compared to our resources. Large portions of the African continent have been destroying themselves through conflict and civil wars and it is clear that the western world has no intention of helping. As one human would help another. They’re not human, and I don’t see any other possible scenario in which our actions as fellow human beings would be rational.

After all, what do they expect from me, to sell my jacuzzi or my third car? I worked hard to be born white, male, straight and in a first world country. I’m not giving away my piece of the pie so that Timon and Pumba can eat for a week! Maybe at Christmas time we decide to donate and then for the other 364 days we can feel good about ourselves. It’s unfortunate that the starving and impoverished can’t fill up their stomachs for the rest of the year, unlike the western world’s moral conscious.

It wasn’t always like this, however, this affliction of charity. Somehow the public have been bamboozled by the dirty liberals into this ideology. The filthy lie provided by the 1% of the population who truly care about the unfortunates, who have convinced the 99% hard workers of Australia to donate. There’s a name for this situation, which has a distinct German flavour, I'll give you clue it is where the few rules over the many a.k.a. fascism.

Enough of those trickster Africans though, and to the more urgent threat of “boat people.” I used to watch cartoons on Saturday morning, my favourite show was transformers or as I used to call it “car people”. But don’t get these Fuzzy Muzzys mixed up with the Autobots, these Arab buggers are more like the Decepticons. Taking our jobs and our women, the Muhammadan robot scum!

Instead of welcoming them to our beautiful country as our national anthem would suggest (For those who have come across the seas / We’ve boundless plains to share) we put them on Christmas Island and merrily forget about them.

Are we filming some sort of Survivor show there? I know the ratings usually bomb by the end of the season but this is bringing it to a whole new level. Enough is enough. No more half measures Canberra, only full measures can be used in an invasion such as this.

We got to bomb the boats, that’ll be a clear message. If they try and sink their own boats or any other dodgy tricks we’ll shoot them right there and then, save them the trouble of drowning.

Man the fuck up Australia. This situation is much bigger than just Australia however, the entire 1st world is on the fence. We can’t have it both ways, being charitable and completely well off. It is either one or the other, and I say screw Africa.

SEX, DRUGS, AND CHARITY INDUCED EUPHORIA

I hear a dial tone in my dreams. Each ring grazes my psyche. These nightmares always end the same, “Hello, I can’t take your call at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep.” Then I wake up and get to work.

Working at a call centre is hell. ‘It’s just a job’, you’d tell me. Just a job.

And what is a job but just a way to obtain money? Fuck all the deadbeats who told me through highschool that “money can’t buy happiness.” I’m not saying that I prefer those on the other end of the spectrum, all those sociopathic wall street types always blathering about “Time is money.” Their attitude isn’t entirely wrong, but they’ve got it the wrong way round. Money is time. And for me, it is time spent talking to pensioners about their problems in my depressing cubicle.

Times have changed for men. I wish was out in the fresh air chopping wood, exercising my body with each swing of the axe under a clear blue sky. In my mind, I can hear a gentle stream and birds singing simply because they enjoy life.

Then I open my eyes and I’m brought back down into reality. The sound of the gentle stream was just Gareth loudly enjoying his coffee.

We aren’t volunteers; we’re fundraiser paid on commission to get donations. There is no real work going on here, we produce nothing. I have no axe to swing and there is no need, we humans have technologically ‘advanced’. My fingers are well defined from tapping all day while my back is slowly deforming from sitting at a computer all day.

It’s not like outside of work is much different. Each night I arrive home exhausted despite doing nothing and eagerly throw myself into the warm hole of Youtube, Reddit, and Facebook. It’s all escapism of course. Same with video games, why go out to the club when I can rescue the princess with no risk to ego and esteem.

The only purity in my life is the walk to and fro work. As well as being my sole source of vitamin D- it’s in those precious 30 minutes that I feel most alive. I am moving and can feel the world: dirt grass, trees. Not the lifeless plastic of my keyboard and mouse. As I arrive at the centre we start off the shift with a motivating talk. As if I’m meant to feel good that we are fundraising for charity.

We are worse than the door-to-door salesman, at least with them you get an ‘absolutely amazing’ 16 knife set. With we sell to some poor sap all they end up with is a nice feeling and a tax receipt. That nice feeling wouldn’t last if they found out we took half of their donation.

I’d like to construct some Robin Hood fantasy, taking from the rich and giving to the poor while in actuality our donors are the poor.

And the sick.

And the old.

The irony isn’t lost on me that the great pay is what attracted me to the charity industry. It’s true- charity is big business- and I can’t speak for the results of our fundraising but I can speak for the people we take our money from.

It takes a certain type of person to donate:

First- capacity, having money.

Secondly- they need to be fragile. Emotionally malleable. This is why our donors most consist of women and the elderly, we pick the bones of society to help those at the bottom. Like advertisements, we create a problem that didn’t exist before in the victim’s mind- some earthquake on another continent, a rare disease. It’s really irrelevant what it is. Not only do we try to pull their heartstrings, we tune their heartstrings and then strum a heartbreaking song on them.

We just a need something to band the masses against. For the Nazi’s it was the Jews, but the terrifying thing is that it could have been anyone. Modern society doesn’t understand the truly terrifying nature of the Third Reich was in it’s constantly morphing moral ambiguity. The tragic history of the Jews is nothing to dismiss. However, the horror of the holocaust resides in the sheer heartless practicality of Hitler’s takeover.

In the same way, we fundraisers persuade the minds and hearts of own prospects/prey. We are admittedly, the lesser of the two evils, in that we manipulate people to act out of love and compassion – as opposed to hatred and indifference. However, it is equally manipulative and underhand.

I wonder if humankind will always be at the whim of the man at the speakerphone. There is a scene that comes to mind from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’, just after the famous speech which the film is mostly known for. Just after delivering his inspirational speech he strangely takes of a face of pure hopeless as the crowd wildly cheers. This is not explained explicitly however I am drawn to the theory that Chaplin is horrified at the crowd cheering in equal fervour as they did just previously for Hitler’s ideas.

It is this same cosmic eternal horror that I constantly find myself in. Our office’s own ideology is split between two major schools of thought. On one hand, we’re encouraged to feel happy that we are doing this for charity and are simultaneously bombarded with salesman propaganda (Always be closing, Glengarry Glen Ross type stuff).

Caught in the middle are us fundraisers who come from all walks of life. From students looking for quick cash to middle-agers looking for fulfilment in their twilight years. And we’re all looking for that Margaret with her juicy pension that she is just ready to give away for that sweet ticket to heaven. A younger Margaret would have laughed in our faces and hung up. Time has come to the rescue, 80 years to be exact, and now she’s asking herself, “Will they let me in when I get to the pearly gates?”

And I answer that thought, “Absolutely… with only $20 to the sad shit foundation you can find salvation.” And then again I’ll call in a month and this time, it’ll be a “Wonderful $30”. Next month it’s $50. Once you show that precious weakness we won’t stop until you’re bankrupt or dead. Without a doubt, doing charity work has been the most depraved job I’ve done.

But that’s not entirely true. I try to think of a job that would be morally ‘good’ or philanthropic. That query is beside the point when faced with the greater question of what defines a selfless act at all?

My personal reasoning is that many of the selfless acts we celebrate are in fact not different from regular acts. We’re all chasing that good feeling, looking for a fix whether it be sex, drugs, or charity induced euphoria. All motivations are essentially selfish.

We jump in front a bullet for our lover because our life would be unbearable without them. In conclusion, the only real selfless acts are either done by accident and not acknowledged or are done in a neutral fashion where you don’t get that warm fuzzy feeling.

I’ve come to a realisation that this essentially defines my job. I’m neither Mother Theresa or the Wolf of Wallstreet but rather reside in a neutral zone. Perhaps I can feel good about getting this money to the extremely unfortunate but I am taking it from the unfortunate. It balances out, I am in one of the few jobs that allow me to do truly selfless deeds of charity. Not that feel anything about that fact if I did it would cease to be selfless.

Unfortunately, I am actually kind of feeling proud about this strange twist of logic so I suppose I was right the first time. My job is depraved, in a beautiful way.

If…

If you can ignore the cruelty inflicted on beasts

for strong meat on your plate,

If you can hide your faults

and resist the temptation to be yourself;

Or avoid attachment to any one woman

and forget love for the trap it is:

If you can bury your head in the dirt

while those in poverty live in it,

If you can save up for the latest phone;

but not save the homeless something to eat,

Or help a grandmother across the street:

If you can nod with news anchors

as they condemn countries on which we war,

If you can laugh as we butcher;

and weep as they lash back at us,

Or just change the channel to the football and cuss:

You’d be a modern man, my son!

The Suit, Horn Rimmed Glasses, White Skin and a Beach Tan.

And let’s not forget my boy,

have a cigar

you are going to go far.

Laugh, Gasp

It all started with a hiccup.

Linda was sitting in the live audience of ‘Getting Chatty with Davey M’. This was Linda’s thirteenth live viewing this month. There was something comforting about the illuminated prompters which glowed with a warm, yellow light. The sense of belonging drew her to the viewings, it was addictive. She loved being indistinguishable and invisible to persecution and confrontation within the audience. Linda suffered from social awkwardness her whole life where social cues were not as obvious as the delightfully simple commands: Laugh, Gasp, and Boo.

Occasionally the camera panned over her during the intro, she would wince and hide her face as if her schoolyard bullies would find her once again hiding in the toilets at lunchtime again. However this fear turned out to be justified, she was about to be found.

Two celebrities were chatting about the latest fashion trends when it happened. Hic-cup! Linda covered her mouth, but it was too late. The entirety of the room swung their heads in her direction. Linda was now different.

The clock flashed *0.00*.

Linda cheered as she was pushed onto the stage and wedged between the two celebrities on the velvet couch. She looked perplexed but the rest of the guests acted naturally.

“What’s your name love?” Davey asked with a tad too much enthusiasm.

“Linda.”

“Lovely name Linda, that’s my mum’s name,” one of the celebrity guests said.

Linda blushed, “Oh, t-thank you, I didn’t choose it though.”

There was a silence across the audience, they hadn’t expected the slight humour. Beads of sweat dripped into her eyes as she blinked away from the harsh limelight that shone on her.

Suddenly the pale yellow light was illuminated on the audience’s face. They burst into laughter; Linda joined them with a delay. More than anything Linda wished she was back in the audience to have a better view of the prompters. Davey put his finger to his ear.

He raised his eyebrow, “Well, well. What is this?”

The audience was on the edge of their seat.

“I’ve just been told you’re a singer, have you been hiding this?” he asked with a smirk.

“Uh, I’m not a very good one… hic-up … though.”

A yellow flash, more laughter. She loved them and they loved her.

The clock blinked *5:00*

It slowly dawned on Linda that the laugh command corresponded with her hiccups. The thought was mind-blowing. More than just being able to fit in with other people, people were fitting in with her. They were laughing at her and because of her… not at her. With each successive hiccup, she grew bolder. The nervous butterflies in her belly become a hot flush of euphoria which rose like in an eruption out of her mouth. Hic-up

More questions came her way which she answered easily enough.

“Yes, I studied at Baldwin High school from 1996 to… -hic-… 2003.”

“Excellent Linda.”

The orange spray tanned woman with the puffy lips asked Linda to sing a song.

“Well, o-okay…”

Linda started singing ‘When I’m a Star’. As she sung a hiccup interrupted her every twenty seconds, and then forty seconds, until eventually it was only once a minute. The laughter subsided and she stood there for a moment with a hopeful smile but terrified eyes, waiting for just one more hiccup. Her throat clenched as she attempted to force one last hiccup. It finally came out a pathetically quiet. She smiled and waited for the prompter to flash. It remained off.

Davey stood up and broke the silence, “Thanks everyone, we’ll be back after this short break.” The lights dimmed and a quiet murmur took hold of the room as the audience members restlessly squirmed in their seats. Davey approached Linda and led her to the guest’s room. He pointed to the minibar and winked, “That might help with the old hiccups.”

She found some champagne and drank a glass. Linda realised as she was looking at the bottom of the glass that she hadn’t hiccupped since she had left the stage.

She poured another glass .

The clock winked *10.00*

The hiccups were now only supported by Linda’s alcohol habit, which had become very apparent the moment she walked back onto the stage. She sipped from a miniature bottle of chardonnay and belched. The laughs were stifled by the foul stench. She smudged her eyeliner as she struggled she see straight.

“Linda, can I ask you just one thing?”

“Whaat?”

“How did it come to this love?”

“I’m… -hic- … fine,” she slurred.

“We had such hope for you. Didn’t we?” he gestured to the audience.

The prompter flashed from him without hesitation.

“Yeah!” the audience said in a monotonous blur of voices.

Linda went blank she didn’t know what to do and was slowly sobering up to the nightmare. As she opened her mouth she became distracted as commotion came from one of the studio exits, she bright white flashes under the door. One of the celebrities put her hand on her shoulder to comfort her, “We’re here for you love.”

Linda shrugged her hand off.

“I don’t need any of you!” she screamed at the audience.

Linda stumbled up from the couch in a rage. Dave’s face went stern, “The media are going to absolutely crucify you if you don’t pick up your game. They had never truly loved her Linda thought.

“FUCK YOU!” she screamed through tears.

A red flash illuminated the audience’s innumerable faces casting dark shadows on their murky features.

“Boo!” they droned.

The abysmal booing continued, Linda stumbled backwards. Suddenly silence overcame the room as the red light turned off. She interrupted the quiet with an abrupt hiccup. Linda looked up to the prompters, begging and praying to the studio executives for one last flash of that friendly yellow light. Just a fix for the road, just to belong one more time. Nothing.

The quiet was only interrupted by her quiet sobs. She slunk out of the studio to the exit sign.

The clock danced *13:27*

The doors swung open into the dark night and hundreds of reporters bustled around Linda their microphones prodding into her face. She tried to push pass them but more and more surrounded her blinding her with the bright flashes of their numerous cameras.

“Is it true you dropped a year in high school?”

They clung to her clothing which was being ripped to shreds.

“How many months have you been pregnant? Or are you just fat?”

More pictures were taken of her scantily clad body imprinted themselves upon the film that would be headlines tomorrow. “Local celebrity also local slut,” the intoxicating nudity and violence was too much for any journalist to resist. If it bleeds it leads and this was a hot mess just leaking out.

Hordes of journalists swarmed in like sharks at the smell of fresh blood, the mob carried her up the street. Delirious she caught sight of her destination which they were dragging her to.

A neon crucifix loomed in the distance, its bright colours contrasting against the night sky. They propped her up against the cross, the hot luminescent glass burning her fair skin. She screamed and was silenced with a stab in the ribs with a sharpened boom mic before falling silent again. They had set up a press conference podium, on top of the crucifix. They placed a crown of microphones on her head from FOX, CNN, Sky, ABC, while all of their corresponding reporters ravaged her with questions. It was all a blur but she caught the end of one question, while her gut wound bled out.

“What do you want to be remembered for Hiccup Woman!?” A man shouted

“My name…”

14:58

“is…

14:59

“Linda…”

Her body went limp and dropped forward. Linda’s lifeless eyes absorbed the camera flashes with no reaction.

The clock grinned *15.00*

As the journalists dispersed from the scene a voice echoed from the TV station.

“Coming up next. Remembering Linda: A downward spiral.”

Century Stench

“In a mad world, only the insane are sane.”
-Akira Kurosawa

Another day working at this fucking accountancy and I will hang myself in the broom closet. That is if it wasn’t occupied by my boss who had been having an affair with the receptionist for the past two months. When he wasn’t giving the receptionist a raise he was watching YouTube (just like me I suppose). My boss doesn’t, the printer doesn’t work, and I don’t work. Everything in my life is operating under some sort of digital lag, a waiting time that is always just long enough to annoy me, but not to prompt any sort of action towards a solution. The cruellest fact of all is that I’ll be back tomorrow to do the exact same thing. It’s closing time and cheerful goodbyes are said (this is the only time the place is ever filled with a sense of cheerfulness) and at the back of every other employees mind, there is a sacred hope the cursed building would burn down over night. But ah well, it pays the bills, right?

It just that it goes on and on, again and again. And here I am on a barstool again. Friday night, the same people, who I am glad to see, not because they are particularly clever, funny, or friendly, but because of some sort of Pavlovian response to the weekend arriving. Gwen, my girlfriend, said she was a few minutes away, but she’s still only on Facebook, so she clearly hasn’t left the house yet.

I wait another fifteen minutes, Gwen says she is not feeling well, we will go out another night. I say goodbye to the dour bartender who simply nodded.

The night was cold but a swift pace was enough to keep me warm against the freezing wind. Driving home drunk was a tempting idea, wrapping myself around a tree and never having to worry about any of this again. Little did I know, my decision to walk home was going to be just as dangerous as crashing my Toyota shitbox. These walks were usually uneventful except for the routine murder/suicide fantasy involving my boss and an AR15 assault rifle. Don’t get me wrong I am not a violent person though I am physically imposing.

I am almost seven feet tall and usually find myself confident in my surroundings because of boxing three nights a week, and I didn’t feel nervous walking home late at night by myself. Despite this, I found myself unsettled as I spotted the short man up the road. His strange body language deterred me from making eye contact. I could handle myself normally… but this man wasn’t normal. It went beyond the usual characteristics of your everyday weirdo due to a combination of several off-putting details, his gangly arms which were too short and thin for his wide muscular shoulders. Like useless appendages, they swung without purpose at his sides like loose sleeves of flesh. Closer and closer I came towards him on this lonely street, my jaw clenched with anticipation of a possible confrontation. Nothing will happen, I will pass by and think myself an idiot for being so worried.

“Stop,” like a razor his words cut through that delusion. He stood only a few walking paces away. It was close enough to smell his musk which pierced through the dank woodland mist, a blend of cheap whisky and rotten eggs. Probably homeless.

“You good, mate?” No point getting confrontational immediately, he might need help- but his posture said otherwise.

The shadows that were cast on his face shifted into what I could only assume was a smile, “Oh I have finally found something good.”

“T-That’s great.”

Hold it together, just cross the road. I turned to cross but something collided with my foot. I knew it was metallic from the scrapping sound it made across the concrete. I looked down to see it was a knife, its blade shined in the yellow fluorescent street lamp.

“Pick it up boy,” the fiend was holding a second knife, casually he held it hanging between his thumb and pinkie, playfully swinging it back and forth.

All those moments of bravado in pubs across the country were nothing compared to this insanity. Adrenaline burst throughout my veins, pulsating up my neck, the blood pounded my inner like a war drum with every heartbeat. Fight or flight battled within the chemical confines of my brain, at that point flight had the upper hand.

“If you run I’ll cut you down like the last boy, no gift was given to him,” he said as if reading my mind. I’ve got to placate the lunatic.

“A gift?”

“Ascension”

Several moments of stress went by before I controlled my breathing, “To what?”

“The chain which spans the universe… Now it is your turn to choose child: Death, or woke from the dream of life.”

What a complete nutter. I weighed up my options. I had drunken myself into a bit of a stupor in bitterness from being stood up by Gwen and now came to the realisation I wasn’t going to be able to stay upright if I ran. I picked up the knife. I won’t use it, I promised myself. A quick hook to the side of the chin and I’ll put this fucker onto the pavement.

“Nick work champ!” the madman said with the fervour of a demented coach, “We have a winner!”

What the fuck am I doing in a knife fight? Before I could answer myself, he charged like a banshee, he held his own knife high above his head as he charged. His greasy black hair blew back, revealing his fiery enraged eyes which would only be quenched by my blood. He bared his yellow teeth at me as he swung his knife in a downward arc towards my face. I skipped backward with my hands ready to retaliate. Again, he swiped and I ducked out of the way. His stubby arms swung around flaccidly but with unnatural precision and strength. Like a viper he darted back and forth as I grew tired, I managed to kick him away but up again he rose, never seeming to grow tired himself.

My legs felt strained even in my adrenaline fuelled state, I had to finish this now. Like I had done almost a dozen times before, I darted left as he stabbed right but instead of backing away I pounced. Like all men who have committed that terrible sin, it comes down to survival, it’s you or them. I gripped the knife and shoved it into his leg. The knife’s point ploughed through his stained jeans and slide easily into the flesh of his thigh. The knife was completely enveloped into his leg which began to wobble and squirm. It was as if his skin was paper thin, handfuls of loose muscle and tissue poured out of the thin wound. His thigh deflated like a grotesque inflatable limb filled with blood, but he only laughed. The knife was completely enveloped in the wound.

Astonishingly, with only a minor hesitation the fiend let out a roar and ripped the knife from his leg knocking me away. “It isn’t human… it can’t be,” I remembering thinking to myself. I rolled to the kerb but once again he was upon me, slashing and charging with the same intensity. Crawling away in desperation, I felt a blow on the side of my chest that knocked over onto my back. I wheezed and suddenly felt wet. I got up and ran a distance before I fell down, my legs simply collapsing.

Had I fallen in puddle? But the liquid was warm, must be blood but whose blood? I looked down to see a 6-inch blade protruding from my ribcage. This is it, I resigned myself. I remember my mind racing over all the useless problems I had been worrying about and realised they were all solvable, all my problems could be fixed, except for this knife jammed in my chest. I stopped worrying all of a sudden and laughed. Despite everything I was laughing, I would try to survive. I don’t know where this decision came from but in that moment I knew I was going to fight to the end.

My abstract thoughts were interrupted by mad cackling that became louder and louder. I was grabbed by the shoulders as the maniac squatted over my broken body.

“You are worthy, don’t cry now, you are worthy, worthy!” he shouted over and over again as I drifted in and out of consciousness, “We’ll be one.” In a purely instinctive reaction, I thrust my head forward to vomit out of fear, only to have my forehead collide with his mouth. Several teeth fell from his gangrenous gums releasing a stench of sulphur. He didn’t give a momentary indication that he felt a thing and continued chuckling himself while choking on his own blood.

“Down to business now, my boy,” with a quick movement he slashed my face above my left eye. I don’t know if my perception can be trusted as my sight was obscured, but in those moments I saw indescribable horrors. Fleshing splitting, inhuman screams, erupting fountains of bloody gore and the stench: that terrible stench.

But it wasn’t long before a dark mist rolling in from the outskirts of my vision, and thankfully I passed out to the soft whisperings of my murderer.

A burning sensation in my skull woke me up suddenly. It felt as if something was hatching out of the top of my head. I clung to the sheets writhing from the pain that struck across my face.

“Up the dosage,” someone said and once again I sunk into a drug-fuelled slumber. The next time I was conscious I could almost rise out of the bed.

“Whoa, whoa. Easy there,” someone gently but firmly pushed my chest back into the bed. The whole interior was blindingly white. I was in hospital that was clear. The bigger realisation that immediately followed, as I recalled my last conscious memories, was that I was alive at all.

“You have been the victim of an attack, Mr Garett,” said the Doctor was recording figures from some sort of medical device. “My name is Dr Bhaji and I will ensure you are fit and healthy before you leave my care.”

“I remember bits and pieces, but what happened to the man?”

“Ah just a second sir, I believe some officers want to speak to you about that.”

“Yes but I need to know if-“ but the Doctor had left before I could get a word in.

I felt angry at his rudeness. Angrier than was justified, I wanted to throw him out of the window and even though I was aware my level of anger was unjustified this awareness didn’t calm me down.

With great effort, I propped myself up as the two police entered the room. I attempted to smile but the facial expression tugged on the stitches holding my face together.

The female officer sat next to my bed and took out a small notepad, in the process she damaged the stem of one of the sympathy flowers. “Okay, we’ve just got to ask you a couple of questions.”

“Okay, go ahead then!” I barked.

She looked taken aback by my aggression, as was I. Defensively the male officer took a step forward, “We just need to iron out some details, we don’t think you’re a murderer of anything but…”

“He’s dead…?” I asked half to confirm that the beast was truly gone and half because I didn’t believe he could be killed.

“Yes, and it looks like you put up a hell of a fight. We linked him to another murder that happened in the area prior to your attack.”

I felt like crying out of the sudden relief that my attacker would never be able to find me again. “It all happened in a matter of seconds I didn’t mean to… You understand that it was either him or me.” They continued to ask me trivial questions which I answered truthfully except for details concerning my attacker’s behaviour. I was overly modest. I told them he wasn’t as intermediating as he seemed, why was I trying to be the big man here? I should tell them the crazy shit that went down. My tongue stirred not. I let the officers confirm the story they had already formed in their mind. A few minutes later and they left me alone with my thoughts.

I felt different. I didn’t feel like a victim. There was a sense that I was fragile, I felt it with the doctor and the police who acted cautiously around me like I had been fucking raped or something. Perhaps I didn’t feel like I was the victim because I had won, it almost felt like the opposite. Either way, I needed to get out of this room… this cage.

When Gwen got here everything would be sorted out.

My agitation slowly grew over the hours as I waited with nothing to do but feel my wounds slowly heal. At first, it came like an almost unrecognisable vapour but soon because aware it was the same smell of rotting fish and sulphur I had smelt on that fiend. My heart rate rocketed, he was here. Without hesitation, I ripped the bedside curtains aside to reveal my old attack only to greeted with empty space. Relax, he’s gone. Nonetheless, the stench remained, and with it brought back memories of the vicious assault I had survived. Although my life seemed to be back on track, the sink followed me everywhere. Out of the hospital into my apartment, at work, it followed me everywhere. It was infuriating, and it had an effect on my mental health. At a specific low point, I scrubbed my skin till it was red and raw seeking. Nothing alleviated the stench which no one else could seem to smell.

As with all disasters, the relief of surviving wearing off slowly as you become acquainted back again with the little problems which fill the day. However, I didn’t remember always being so annoyed by them. Gwen tried to cheer me up, especially when we were in public and I was found myself causing scenes by having arguments waiters and other minimum wages workers. Gwen was helpful, but ultimately her efforts were only emasculating and angered me more.

Some things don’t fade, his face for example. Not that I was horrified by the memory of it, but as is the running theme; it was annoying. His gloating smug face. He had won the fight, but I had survived how was that possible. It set me off thinking about death a lot and the afterlife.

I found the topic intriguing to think about at work, probably because of the lack of life I saw around me. I should be happy to be alive, that’s what the doctor said. Sometimes I wish I had died on that lonely woodland road, in the filth of that gutter. At least then I wouldn’t have to deal with the bills. Fucking bills, the constant wolf at the door. That’s the thing with modern life, there isn’t any finality. Things just go on and on and on. That’s the reason I hate that smug little face, he’s free from the tediousness of daily life.

It’s not all gloom though, there is a glimmer of hope in this dark patch. It appears the night air soothes my short temper as well as blowing away that incessant sulphurous smell. I think about the history books I read in high school. I think about a lot of things as I take my night walks but history interests me especially. I wish I could travel backwards into the times of legends and myth. The trouble with society is that we have forgotten the virtues of the past. Instead, we value new technology, but it doesn’t really solve anything, it isn’t truly technology in the terms of how the wheel and fire helped humankind but is instead another type of vanity. A new gadget comes out and then a newer one. Same thing with magazines and newspapers, the new issue comes and suddenly the last one is worthless. And the stories in it are useless as well: last month tomatoes caused skin cancer and now they cure it. Gwen loves these sorts of cosmopolitan publication, she loves to do little quizzes and put peoples in boxes. Apparently I have PTSD and then next week (according to the next issue) I am a “fucking psychopath”. She’ll come back from her mother’s with the latest Women’s Weekly feature which will show, according to the scientific data of some yuppie journalist, that I am a fucking unicorn. Fucking bitch, I never liked her anyway. Doesn’t she know it is too late? You can’t turn back time , the river flows in one direction, downstream. I am living in the stagnant backwash. But I am climbing out using the something the modern world has forgotten. A warriors code: my survival was a disgrace and a dishonour, I should have fallen upon the sword. It was his right to slay me as he beat me in martial combat but… Argh, that incessant smell haunts me again!

But he let me live and he knew what my life would be, a curse. How do we fix a curse? Even a child knows how, through a ritual. I look in the mirror and see the same face as my attacker. Tortured and alone. The same cast across my face. But he was smiling in the end, he was happy. I need that.

I feel like a night walk. An end can be achieved, and I have known this all along. All it will take is two knives and a brave opponent. A champion, I understand now. I am watching the sunset and the smell is overwhelming, there is no point resisting it anymore.

The sickly sweet stench must spread and I will be its deliverance.

Homage to Human Nature

Day by day,

I shoot and play.

In the desert

I hide in the soil

causing pain and hurt.

Blood and oil,

reward for our toil.

The homeland in denial

when a Muslim dies,

a reason to smile.

The war machine

milks them clean.

Breaking arab necks.

Forever God Bless

The Military Industrial Complex.

Promise of Pain

My imagination is a canyon,

streams of consciousness carve through the tributaries

eroding with each flood.

One path is deeply cut and the pain is an old acquaintance.

Vivid particulars spark between neurons

decades in prediction I can see

my mother lying on a spotless white sheet

an IV dangles from a breathless being.

A stifled whimper from a boy,

who knows death is life’s goal.

It echoes into the present,

the river of thought reaches the delta,

tear ducts dilate with tight fists.

I can’t fight this battle.

There is nothing I can do to stop an end for those I love.

The bedridden face is replaced by friends, family, lovers,

wrinkled and grey the inevitable fate for some,

but Death awaits all.

Why man fears his own death is a mystery is to me,

it is the final consolation in the face of grief.

An end to suffering

but a bleeding wound to those you leave behind.

Flesh Life

Bury me under a tree,

So I may be free from fake tears

and let the sun burn clean my melancholy

Cast my ashes upon the sea,

So I may care for nothing

and nothing to care for me.

Drop me in a tomb,

Let me be forgotten

and my name fade into dust.

Six Foot Slumber

A gravestone is the desperate scratch marks of a man dragged tooth and nail by the Reaper.

Remember me, he begs.

Dates, beginning and end

and quotes said by better men.

The ether takes all, your pattern is not long nor honoured in this world. So set out your ripples in the stream and be content.

What is that I hear from the crowd? Is Life overrated?

Why wouldn’t it be, it is all we’ve ever had.

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R.E.L.

He was a coward and he let stronger men die for him.

I didn’t say that out loud to the curious boy in front of me,
looking so hopeful for tales of adventure and fun.

I thought of the innocent question again, what was his grandfather like in the war?
I can’t think of anything but of that craven hiding in the dirt while the brave dropped around him.
Telling the truth was out of the question. How could I disappoint this boy?
He didn’t need to know or fear that he had the blood of a gutless man in him.
I lied.

“I was… lucky.”

But that wasn’t a lie. I look now at the precious innocent life in front and my beautiful family surrounding me, I am lucky.

Gabriel’s Horn

I begin this diary out of sheer necessity. I fear I will forget certain facts which may be crucial for determining the truth behind my abnormal discovery. In order to leave no stone unturned, I will tell my story from the very morning I came in contact with it.

The journey to the Scottish coastline where my new home lay took a night and a day, the weather was fine and I read the majority of the trip. The house stood precariously near a high cliff, where the waves crashed with ferocity a fair way below. Everything about the place felt stoic, though I felt the very opposite. As I approached the house I felt some internal flicked on that tugged at my cowardly tendencies. They’re going to hate you for leaving, a meek voice whispered. It was a voice I had once followed. I will return back and be drafted in some war I don’t believe in. The war was far away now; I had a fresh start in this cottage by the sea away from harassing army recruiters. My acquisition of the cottage was a mystery until I found further clues to its benefactor within the cottage, specifically a curious letter. I’ll delve into what was curious about this letter later, but first I want to give my impression of my new home.

The doors, walls and windows creak a welcome greeting as I enter the living room. Part of me tries to resist labelling it a complete dump, I need to make the most of my opportunities from here on out and compromise with my negative thoughts; we’ll say it has ‘room for improvement.’ And so does its new owner I admitted to myself.

Throwing my clothes in the least decrepit cupboard I settled onto the stiff bed. The last owner had been as decrepit as his home. He was my distant uncle, a Mr Eastman, who must have taken a liking to me even though I can barely remember meeting him as a small child. He was the black sheep of his family, and he escaped the pointless war of his generation as well… which is why he probably liked this secluded corner of the world. The same reason it appeals to me. When I first arrived I found the letter he had left me, its white paper was obvious among the drab. It read as follows:

Dear nephew,

[_ You have by now entered my humble hobble. I hope the road up was not too difficult for you, I have a lot of hard feelings for that long road which was especially tough on my ancient legs these past winters. I have no hard feelings for this house, it is here that I have found true happiness despite solitude. From what I have heard of you I think you will too. I will cut to the point, and so disprove the notion most old men don’t know when to shut up. My end is coming soon and I have talked enough. Enjoy the house, but try to free yourself from those fetters that have held you down before you exiled yourself from society-- do not downplay it, this is an exile. Free yourself especially vanity, cease to put value on how you look to others. Do not look deeply into the mirrors other than to remind yourself the colour of your eyes, especially not here. _]

[_ I never had any children but I hope that you will think of me as some sort of guardian to you. Like you I also escaped here during the war of my time, and now it seems you are about to do the same. I know how cruel my brother could be especially when he sensed weakness in others, be strong. You may feel sorry for yourself and what others will think of you for fleeing the war-- but at least you are alive to feel sorry. _]

[Good luck,
Your Uncle Eastman.]

The letter summoned raw feelings from the past. I felt strangely despondent after reading it, I decided to look towards a hopeful future. The first task in building a better future life here was alleviating the haunted manor vibe surrounding the house. And the first job for that task was to remove that god awful mirror that almost takes up a whole wall. It was an old fashioned golden frame mirror, the cobwebs draped over were obstructing the reflection showing a view of the churning ocean behind me. Something was missing in all this. And I couldn’t pick it, the disturbance in the room had increased tenfold. Before I could determine the cause of this sudden and unnatural feeling, a man entered the room behind me. I froze, knowing with utter certainty that I was the coward I have always feared I was (despite my constant mental burial of the fact). I couldn’t will my body to move, attack him, or at least run! The intruder surveyed the room and seemed to look straight past me. And he turned to the mirror and his face became visible, I let out a scream as I looked into the face of the man whose face belonged to me. He was practically identical.

With a brief surge of courage, I spun around to witness this impossibility with my bare eyes. The room was empty. I looked back to the mirror. This doppelgänger seemed to only exist in the world reflected by the mirror. He was just exploring the room just as I had done moments earlier. And with that, a new equally terrifying realisation hit me, the source of my previous original unease, before the doppelgänger appeared, was that within this mirror I hadn’t a reflection of my own.

My face contorted to an expression of horror in the mirror. I still couldn’t comprehend, but the fact remained: somehow, my reflection was slow. I was watching myself become aware of this very concept. I winked at the mirror and then counted in my head to measure the delay. 20 seconds slow. I cast a moth eaten blanket over the bewitched mirror. With no light entering the cursed object I felt safer. At length and with great effort I convinced myself that this was some peculiarity science could explain. However, the logic I used was twisted and contorted upon the impossible facts that lay before me. I went to bed that night but tossed and turned the whole night, not only did the discovery disturb me but also my own appearance. For the first time I saw how others perceived me.

I woke in the morning with ideas on how I would proceed. One thing that was a certainty would be the massive attention, and since I do legally own the mirror, there could even be profit to be had. People would flock for miles to see themselves in the “Delayed Mirror”, it will be famous, I will be famous. Mulling over my grand plans I decided to check the mirror again. I pulled off the sheet to reveal my own surprised face, (in the present). It was if the enchantment had worn off. Had I simply dreamt the events of yesterday?

Although disappointed that the reflection now seemed to be synchronised with reality, a sense of relief soon followed. I would be spared from dealing with an arcane mystery it seemed.

Perhaps I had jumped to the conclusion that object was somehow divine too quickly. There’s the possibility it is some sort of mechanism, working through smoke and mirrors like a magician, though it is unlike any trick I have seen. Cautiously, I pressed my hands around the frame of the mirror for any signs of trickery. There was no sign of any hidden apparatus that I could see, I flipped around the mirror so that I was looking at its back. The rear was strange in that the golden frame was engraved on the back as well as the front, there was no practical point to this. Another peculiarity was the back seemed to be plastered with some sort of hardened plaster that looked to be gypsum. Pieces crumbled off it as if it had been placed long ago, I wonder if this was my Uncle’s doing, and if so, what was he hiding? I found a loose piece of the dried gypsum about the size of a keyhole. A glimmer of light shone through. Before I could speculate on this, I gasped with fright when I noticed single eye peering out at me.

I couldn’t believe my eyes and swung out of the eyes gaze. I dared not look in the eye again for several moments, fearful of its gaze. Finally plucking up the courage I marched over and looked through the small hole. I could see the same room I was sitting in, there was a figure rummaging through the back drawers who I could barely make out. I decided on the spot to make the hole bigger by piling off the hardened plaster piece by piece. The figure came into view, it was me. So this backside was a mirror as well, and it was also out of sync with reality. However, it was not projecting the past, for I had only pressed my eye to the hole after I had witnessed myself doing it. The inevitable conclusion: this mirror seemed to be projecting the future before it even occurred.

I decided to swing my hand up to test my hypothesis, as I swung my hand I noticed my reflection’s hand was already up in the air. This couldn’t be a trick. I couldn’t resist blinking incessantly as my reflection blinked a fraction ahead of me. There was no earthly explanation for this, it was the work of God… or perhaps his counterpart.

My fixated thoughts took a turn into the philosophical. Was I truly in control of my fate if this mirror could predict my actions, did this miraculous object destroy the concept of free will? Before I fathom the effects this would have on humankind’s perception of the universe, my reflection seemed to be horrified at something.

I seeing further and further into the near future and whatever was there seemed to horrify me. The distance between the reflected future and the present was growing. I watched closely into the prophetic mirror, witnessing my face become suddenly blank. I tried to calm myself as it became obvious that I was scaring myself. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, the mantra calmed me down.

I was about to walk away from the mirror lest I work myself up into a panic again when I couldn’t help but take one little glance back. It was greedy of me and I have paid dearly for that greed.

My reflection was staring intently into his own future reflection, his face went pale as he gasped in horror. This wasn’t simple paranoia, something had happened. I watched and waited as the tension gnawed at my insides. What could have possibly caused me to have such an extreme reaction?

My reflection rushed at the mirror with a terrified expression petrified upon his face. The image projected from the mirror suddenly was tilted. I must be moving it, but for what purpose? A view of the outside cliffs came into view and then the ocean. Another violent tilt through the world into a blur, the image shattered showing a variety of fragments of the seaside. Slowly from the edges of these fragments blood dripped down the surface. There was no doubt this was my blood.

A wild panic took over my body I could no longer stand having this evil creation in my presence, I ran over and grabbed the mirror while being careful not to look into its image. I would throw this horrid thing off the cliff, dash it against the rocks and into the sea.

Never again would I lay eyes upon this miscreation. Running down the sloping path to the cliff my foot fell under a loose rock, I tumbled down the hill with an almighty crashing the mirror shattering around me. I tried to get up to complete my task only t0 realise the mirror had been shattered. A trail of jagged shards led from where I tripped to where I tumbled. I tried to get up but a sudden shortness of breath caught me off guard and I collapsed back to the ground. I looked down to inspect myself and saw to my horror multiple shards sticking out of my bleeding body.

I can taste rusty nails under my tongue. I’ve been screaming for help and if there was somebody nearby I would have been rescued by now. Instead, I am hopelessly writing my last thoughts into this journal, a last testament to the madness I have witnessed. I struggle not to look at my wounds, not because I scared of gore or blood but the shards of the mirror are still projecting their magic despite being broken. I can’t help but look to see if perhaps I can see a prophesied future in which I am saved from the cold grip of death I can feel tighten over my body. But to no avail, the reflection has reached further and further into the future and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I see my face go pale, the glimmer of life leaves my eyes as the bugs enter. The maggots burrow into my eyes and then skin which has turned into a brown husk as the cretins feast. My sickly pale corpse bloats my chest cavity inflating like a balloon, faster and faster I see into the future of my inescapable fate.

However, watching my own body decompose was not the only disturbing vision I had to suffer through. To say I was in a panic is an understatement, I desperately tried to remove some of the shards out of their wounds but more reflections came into view, namely from shards that projected the past events. They too seemed to increase in power, looking further and further back into the past. The vision became worse shards from both sides of the mirror reflected off each, past and future. I saw infinite versions of reality stretching into both the past and future.

Day and night flashed by, the sun rising one second and then the moon, until there was nothing left my but my ghostly white skull. And even my skull turned to dust but in another reflection the flesh rebuilt itself upon my bones simultaneously. I saw a great bomb drop to the east then several more to the west and all was still as the sky sickened. I saw the great fires of a volcanic eruption that created this cliffside a millennium ago while in another vision the ocean eroded the jagged rocks to sand in a distant era. The cottage fell into the ocean in a silent catastrophe. The sun grew in size and becoming brighter and brighter, until finally it went dark.. The stars rolled out like a rug across the night sky and then eventually turning off one by one until finally there was nothing but darkness. I saw a great flash and the world came into creation. I saw it all the Judgement Day, the Rapture, Ragnarök. Before the great flash or after the great darkness, perhaps both, the hydrogen mists parted and I saw a huge figure, his entire being seemed to be made of light. He was crouched over as if deep in work at an anvil, he raised his hammer for a final strike to his grand creation but instead went still, he knew he was watched and began to turn to my direction. But I covered my eyes before I saw his face, I couldn’t bring myself look into those eyes. I feared what I would find there. When I looked again I found only a dark abyss staring back and a deep hatred of myself. I will never know but perhaps those eyes would have held mercy. I doubt it. If there’s anything I have learnt in my craven life, it’s that God hates a coward.

The Hound and his Man

The man stripped off his wet fur loincloth, the last of his clothes. Tenderly he added it to the fire, it burned for a few moments of ecstasy. He sat starving and naked. Outside a dark swaying forest battled with the ferocious blizzard.

His hound leant against him conserving what little warmth they sustained. The man cradled him like he had so long ago when he was but a sniffling pup. Another twig crumbled to its fate among the dying coals. Their stomachs had long stopped grumbling and now screamed for food. His dog sniffed the air and went deep into thought. Now with death looming the man reminisced of the beginning of their friendship, which was the bloody affair of cutting the pup from its mother’s womb. He wrenched up the pup and brought his spear point to its throat, but something stopped him. The same spear which pierced the mother’s womb now sat idle and frozen against the wall, long icicles hanging off its shaft.

The man often wondered after all this time if there was an ancient grudge that the hound held deep inside. His dog whimpered and shook off the man’s weak grasp. The man attempted to pat him. He shot up with a guttural growl and paced the room. Without the fur his master had the scent of a stranger almost forgotten. The freezing man shouted angrily. The dog bared his fangs in terrorised delight and paced faster- warming his aching muscles. A terrible realisation came to the man in a flash of innate instinct. He went silent.

The man stood exposed, and it became clear to him. Only one victor would leave the gloom to meet the morning sun. The man tried the spear but hadn’t the strength to pry its frozen place. Their eyes met with cold isolation, both slowly circling. There was no more room for rational thought; fantasies of hot flesh being clenched beneath their jaws were the only occupants in the minds of both the wolf and the man.

The man imagined slipping into that warm fur once again. Within the wolf vengeance plotted against the monster that ate his mother and wore her skin. The man leapt, the wolf pounced. He sank his fangs into the sluggish thigh with glee. The man grasped a nearby rock and beat down with it. A brutal blow impacted on his paw. The man kicked the wolf off him.

He knocked into the spear, shattering the ice. The man despairingly reached for his weapon, the wolf pounced again. They tumbled and turned over the long dead fire pit, flinging soot into the air as they shouted and snarled.

A moan cut through the screaming blizzard.

The dust settled.

A single silhouette panted.

A figure emerged.

A warm breeze blew across the bloody fur on his back telling of the coming spring. He limped out with the broken spear jutting at his side, his gullet filled and his heart emptied.

Leaving a track of three prints in the snow with every step, he went out into the lonely wilderness.


Gabriel's Horn

There are classic questions we all love to ponder. Who was on the grassy knoll? Was the moon landing faked? What are they hiding in Area 51? Why doesn't she love me anymore? In this book you won't find any answers, there is only more questions and a lot of fun. Contains the classic stories: - Awaited Meal - Estrella - A short tempered stereotype - Trim, or the microscopic narrative of a leaf - PR1Nc3 - Charity Is A Big Stinking Scam - Sex, Drugs, and Charity Induced Euphoria - If... - Laugh, Gasp - Century Stench - Homage to HumanNature - Promise of Pain - Fleshlife // Six Foot Slumber - R.E.L. - Gabriel's Horn - The Hound and his man

  • Author: C Ross
  • Published: 2017-03-23 13:20:08
  • Words: 17301
Gabriel's Horn Gabriel's Horn