She stood by her husband’s grave. He was being buried next to his father. The bump in her belly kicked. Generation war. From father to son to yet unborn.
Hello blank page, where are we going today? Hello…blank page? Blank page……. Hello? Hello?
A true story of urban terror.
Don’t get old.
Don’t get tired.
Don’t get weak.
Don’t get victimized or harassed.
Most of all – don’t fight back!
I was formally arrested and charged at 23 57.
It had been a long night but now it was over and it would be over forever.
I was taken to the police station.
I couldn’t lie in my statement.
Everything that happened that night was filmed.
I stabbed someone.
And it was all because of the lights.
They were children, boys and girls. Young and unsuspecting. As the lights moved among them they took them, their images filmed and frozen for all time. They stole them.
Thieves in the night.
Then they found my house, the house where I live and care for my father. Care as in buy him whiskey, clean up after him and give him his meds. It was easy, we were old, and no one bothers about the old. They knew we wouldn’t fight back, those with most to lose don’t fight back.
And the lights got closer and closer.
Eggs hit the windows, then stones. A tile rocked off the roof. The rear gate to the garden was kicked off its hinges. Outbuildings were broken into. I thought it was just petty vandalism and it would pass. I didn’t know the lights had found us and they would be back.
I never found a reason in the past. Nothing that would trigger the onslaught, nothing that would make us a target. Did we stumble by accident into a game? We were fun? Had someone at last found a use for two people past their use by date?
I didn’t know what to do but at last I made a decision.
I would go out and confront the lights.
It was the only thing I could do.
I wouldn’t hide any more.
I saw the lights; there were only two of them. I had walked around the outside of the house. I walked among them. I came face to face with them. Masked and mean, young and nasty, feral, dirty. Dangerous. I was braver. My heart raged and my breath caught in my throat. Sixty years of living caught up with me.
I said nothing but listened to the threats. Then I walked away.
The victim bully relationship had been established. The hierarchy was set. I was the victim and like all victim’s I had most to lose.
The lights knew it.
The nights are getting longer now and the lights are getting braver. They trespass and come and go as they please. They sense our weakness; they seek our discomfort. They are winning. I confronted them again. I wished for power. I wished for courage, most of all I wished for youth.
I didn’t realize how this would turn out.
The lights knew though.
The door was kicked, over and over again. A rain of missiles hit the windows at the back. My father didn’t know what was happening. A bottle of whiskey had seen to that. One bottle drunk in one day. My attempts to water it down had failed. I helped him upstairs cursing his violence and mean spirit. I envied him though, he went to a place the lights couldn’t touch him.
One night my father woke me mumbling and cursing.
Who are all those people?
That was what he asked me when I went into his bedroom.
Who are all those people?
There aren’t any people I replied as I looked out on the deserted streets.
He didn’t believe me and became more agitated. People, people, who are they?
I looked at the clock and told him it was three in the morning, they’ve all gone now I assured him. All gone. I tried to comfort him.
He shook his head and didn’t believe me as he slurred and slobbered and insisted they were still there.
It’s three am and they’ve gone now I said again with a better smile, trying to put his mind at rest.
He thought about it for a while.
Then he spoke again.
They must be ghosts he said.
No, they weren’t ghosts.
They were the lights.
They had returned.
Was there a war last night?
That was the question my father asked me a few mornings later as he sat in his chair holding his head. He told me he had heard some shouting…and then shooting…some people were killed. He insisted it had happened.
I looked at him and shrugged. The only war was the one going on in his mind, split apart by drink, the two sides drifting further and further away.
What was the war over?
What was it about?
I had no answer for him but I knew.
It was the lights, circling, getting closer, and growing in number and power.
Despite his delirium he was an early warning system.
It was destroying him.
My father begged for a doctor. I relented and doctor Nanda came. A small slight dapper man. Busy, elbows going. He wanted to know about his drinking, it was either drought or deluge I lied. What time did he start drinking? I shrugged, early morning I mumbled, in truth he didn’t start drinking because he never stopped.
Why was he drinking so much?
Again I shrugged.
How could I explain the lights to anyone?
I wanted tranquillizers for my father. The doctor said no. Given his prescription meds and the level of his drinking they wouldn’t work and could be dangerous.
The doctor went and the lights came again that night.
They were dangerous too.
They were getting closer, but then I noticed something odd.
They were growing in number and power. Dazzling pinpoints that I could use to track their destination and that was a house with two people in it, old and tired.
Waiting for the end.
We live in a house of silence, a house of darkness.
We kept it that way because we feared the shadows cast by the lights. They sought us out. My bravery was failing, old bones and spent muscles. I never asked how it would end, trapped in that bleak urban bunker.
And there were the lights, always the lights.
My father lay in a quart of whiskey slumber. He was half in and half out of the house. It was the middle of the night. The lights had been earlier but then they had gone now. They could return at any time. We had to be prepared.
I looked down at him.
He was doubly incontinent. I rolled him onto his front and he dribbled and cursed, spat and fumed. He had never been this bad before.
All I could do was to take his trousers and pants off, bundle them up and bin them. I did all this without uncovering any of his nakedness. Bit by piss and shit stained bit he moved into the house and I could at last shut the door against the night.
And the lights.
There was nothing I could do except leave him to sleep it off for a few hours until he was able to move. I got an old duvet and covered him up with it.
He was lucky.
He could escape the lights.
I watched and waited.
They would be back.
It is a terrible thing to see.
I never felt sorry for my father, a foul man who had given nothing to me.
That night I felt sorry for him though, I ached for him.
My father, an ex marine, bull necked and tattooed, a man who had killed other members of the human race was lying on his back on the floor.
He was crying.
He shook and tried to curl his old bones up into the ball they wouldn’t go in to. He wanted to escape.
The front room window had cracked, rifle shots in the dark. Wars, and he had seen them, did not do that to him.
The lights did.
We have so little, now that is being taken from us. The right to live, to not be imprisoned in our home. To not fear. All that is being denied. We have no peace of mind. We don’t count nor do we have the voice to make ourselves heard.
I knew the lights were taking everything and they came closer.
This time there were even more of them.
I looked for reasons in the past. It was a past of hot days and sultry nights before the lights found us. I guessed but was I right?
They hold their lights aloft in the darkness. They were voyeurs. Filming into kid’s rooms. Did I disturb them one time without realizing it and then we became the next game for them? We were the only old people left on the street. Maybe that was our only crime.
We got old.
We can’t do the things we used to do, we got old, but I wanted to say, so will you.
The lights were strong though, glowing with money and youth.
They would shine when we had dimmed.
Damn the lights.
We see the police. Sexy police. They’re on TV. The latest siege, sexy maybe but we never see them on our street. We see their guns, their armour, their power and we see our frightened faces reflected in the mirrored visors of the battle helmets they wear. We see their uniform of more than black. We are not them nor do they protect the likes of us.
The lights know it too.
They grow and come ever closer.
We are not articulate. We are not assertive. We are silent in our suffering.
More cracks and bangs as the lights penetrate our darkness. The only noise in our house of silence is the noise of glass and wood, windows and stones. Crashing and smashing. Other sounds too, of swearing and threats, of people who have sensed our torment. Of people who laugh.
Then there are sounds of fear, of crying, then silence as bated breath is held.
Then slowly exhaled.
The lights have multiplied and grown ever stronger. They now seek us out at will, not once but many times as darkness comes, the better to show their menace.
They move among dark shapes. Normal houses. Families. Lights and laughter. They ignore them. We are the ones they seek over and over again.
I confront them again. But I didn’t realize how they had grown in power.
They dazzle. Disorientate and what holds the lights aloft hits and spits and punches and kicks. Movement, fast and agile, young and threatening.
I move away. Real fear overcomes me. And then the lights come again in ever greater numbers. They know now we are old and weak and cannot fight back against youth and malice.
I cannot fight them. They have grown too strong. Feeding on my weakness, feeding on my fear. And age. The lights are young and fit. I am not. I am weak. And afraid. I have no fight. I have never had cause to fight but I now must. I must learn. I tell myself it is easy to be tough. To be in command. To take control.
The lights make me too frightened to go out and confront them again but I know I must one day as they get closer and closer.
Another doctor. Midnight Sunday.
We help my father into a chair from where he had collapsed on the floor. Why is he like that?
Doubly incontinent again too and dribbling sick. He has found somewhere to escape the lights if only for a few hours.
I cannot escape them. Like a true torture the expectation and horror is great in those moments of fearful anticipation. They have won.
We are cowed and beaten.
Why do they come?
I see the lights closer. On my territory. Trespassing now, getting braver for two old men present no threat.
I am sixty and my father a quarter of a century older. I look after him. I am officially his carer. So I care for him. His heart, his lungs, his stomach are in my hands. The whiskey bottle he keeps to himself. I crave oblivion too. Even sleep. It does not come. I will not let it. I dare not rest.
The lights will find me.
The ambulance came and went. They don’t want my father either. They could test him but all the tests would be dripping in alcohol and would tell them nothing. It didn’t used to be like this.
But then the lights came and changed everything.
These are the last years of his life. To be lived in warm contentment. Instead he fears. It is painful. Drink kills the pain. In the past he had fought back. Killed even. Inside he feels it more than me but drink is his crutch.
I have none.
The lights come again.
Who am I?
Who is that girl with me?
Why are we living on a boat?
Questions from my father.
He has sailed away from here. The sea is smooth and blue and islands shimmer in the distance, inviting and warm. The sun shines.
All is well in his new world.
The lights will never find out where it is.
The alcohol has not only shrunk his brain it has crystallized on his bones. He does not move now. He cannot. His chair is his table and his toilet.
The old fear the strength of others and the weakness in themselves, brittle bones, thin bleeding skin, a pulse erratic and a heartbeat too fast and the effort to breath exhausting.
Slow and labored.
The diaphragm hurting.
There is always the breath.
Once more into bursting lungs.
Once more into a shaking body.
The lights know it too.
In my mind I’m tough but my body denies it.
The years have trickled through my fingers like coarse flint edged sand with each leaving its own scars.
The scars of the past, of failure, or rejection. A past of pain.
I despise my father.
He killed my mother many years ago.
In that hatred I must protect though.
His old age is not his fault.
The lights will return again.
We know it.
Always the lights.
The silence has ended.
Banging at the front.
Then the back.
A door being forced.
Then I move through the kitchen towards the sound.
Someone is trying to get in.
Lights are trying to get in to this house of dark.
I move quickly, exhausted and strained.
I go outside to confront them.
The knife is in my hand.
These are a few moments of fuzzy headed fear.
I scythe wildly…..
Lover’s will trace the lines on your face and know that the scars are there in your heart.
She cheered. When I won first prize she cheered. She said she was pleased for me. Really pleased. Truly – some doth cheer too loudly!
The applause and cheers rang around the hall as he took his final bow. What life! What a performance!
Then slowly the curtains closed and the flames consumed.
I loved the spotlight but they never told me. What shines a shadow also casts.
It’s like wow, like wow, really wow ‘cos like, someone, like, wow, someone stole my thesaurus.
4 am dead time. A time of suicide. A time of silence. The lee of life. The dead of night.
He was a married man with a wife and children and she was seeing him tonight. She knew everything about him of course, she knew he was the one.
And tonight he would be hers forever.
Damn. Time was not on her side. She was running behind again. Everything was a mad rush to get ready on time. She had a hot date. She just couldn’t be late.
Baby had gone and headbanged the fridge. Toddler was climbing all over her demanding a bribe, candy coated. She could use one too, get her sugar up. Just in case.
She had arranged a babysitter for tonight. She had five minutes to get here. Or else. Or else plenty. Like her date for a start.
Baby kissed better and toddler bribed she got up and took her gun from the dishwasher. It smelt clean and fresh. Bullets. The right ones this time. It was that sort of date.
Eventually the babysitter arrived and she could leave. Then she remembered something and went back for her gun.
At last she was on her way, weaving through the traffic, the gun now safely tucked into its holster under her jacket.
When she got to work she showed her security pass and was escorted into the empty room, almost empty that is except for her computer console in the corner.
She struggled into her seat, a few too many shared candies she chided herself. A quick call home. Baby and toddler were just being put to bed.
She fired up her computer and waited for the feed to come in. she had a long wait in front of her but then he was suddenly there. Her hot date was right on time.
She looked at the model on her desk. A small copy of the real thing. She’d painted some tiny flowers on it with pink nail varnish, feminized it. She liked it that way; besides, it annoyed the rest of the team.
She was here on her own in the small secure room; the only light came from her monitor carrying the pictures from the satellite in low earth orbit.
An eerie glow. She reached out and gripped the joystick. Her date was right on time. She liked a man you could rely on.
Suddenly she saw it on the screen. A bright silver SUV. She caught her breath. Her date.
He was plowing through the sand thousands of miles away in the Middle East.
She yawned, impatient for her shift to end. She’d been yawning all day, the air-conditioning did that to you, looking at the desert did that to you, wishing you were some place else did that to you too.
So did missing your kids.
She lined her drone up, it was a mile high, and she could just pick out the SUV below her, a ghostly gray shape against the darker desert.
Again she made a quick call home, this was a secure site, she shouldn’t really do it but she wanted to know her two kids were OK.
Yes, they were still sleeping.
She played with the joystick some more. As the drone came closer she could make out some more people in the SUV. A man and a woman in the front, some children in the back. Two, about the same age as hers.
She focused on the man. That was her date she thought with a smile as she stared at the screen. He was becoming clearer with every second now.
The SUV grew larger on the screen as she lined her drone up for its attack. She smiled, the couple and their kids would not know what the hell had hit them!
Some people sure as hell got in the wrong place at the wrong time she thought as she steadied her shooting hand on the joystick.
She followed the textbook from now on as she took a deep breath, held it and gripped the joystick.
Her thumb flicked the cover off the top of it and rested gently on the FIRE button.
Damn, she would have to get a manicure some day soon!
As she exhaled she pressed.
A missile the size of a sedan and the price of a diamond ring sped towards the vehicle.
It hit it and exploded in a ball of flames.
She didn’t know it at the time but the first shots in the Two Thousand Year War had been fired.
The babysitter called.
Her kids were still sleeping peacefully.
I love little fiction, you make the beginnings and ends up, strange slight stories, and you think more than you read.
He looked like a big pink teddy bear sat in the car in the garage; she wanted to cuddle him. Take one last shot of them together. Rose tinted. And cold.
Carbon monoxide poisoning.
I hate little fiction. Little fiction forces you to count every word and space to make sure you don’t run ou
Without creativity we are just a collection of cells.
4 am dead time, a time of Internet shopping, and buying all the things you don’t need and can’t afford.
Can’t get your money back either.
They were still now, silent and watchful as if waiting for the next person to come to them. Many had come in the past, more would come. The answers they sought they would find in this place.
It was a once in a lifetime trip, an experience to end all experiences and I was almost there.
I was giddy with excitement. I had made the decision a few days ago and ever since then I had been happy.
I always wondered what it would be like; it really was the trip to end all trips. Something I would do once and never do again.
This was where I wanted to be.
This was the place. It felt it draw me to it. It made me come. We belonged together. I stepped into its shadows, relieved I was here.
I had heard it spoken of as a place of enchantment, a portal almost, happiness awaited all those who entered. I took a deep breath; I went deeper into the darkness. I knew I wouldn’t see the light again.
I hadn’t brought much with me.
I didn’t intend staying long.
Just long enough.
I would do what I had to do then be gone.
All I would leave would be memories.
I was once here.
I went deeper into the woods. They said they were haunted. They were right. Soon another spirit would join them.
An empty tent. A note in a bottle. A frayed rope. Sneakers and bone feet. Everywhere I looked it was the same, a place of sanctuary. I knew I had made the right decision.
I checked I had everything with me, drugs, over the counter painkillers, a bottle of cheap wine and a batch of my favorite songs. I had my memories as well, that was what had brought me to this place.
This is the suicide wood. It is just outside of town and the place people go to kill themselves. This was where I was meant to be. I was going to commit suicide. I had made my decision a week ago.
I already had all my notes written out. I wanted them to feel the way I had felt, I wanted them to hurt and to live the rest of their lives knowing they had killed me. I did all I could gut it wasn’t enough, now I want them to share my pain.
Mark this time and mark this place because I will never pass this way again.
One pill then another, then some wine, music, more pills. Then I lay down in the calm of the wood. This would be where it all ended.
I felt funny. Was I dying? After all I’d been through, was this it? Is this what death was really like?
I looked around. I knew I was in hospital. My father and mother were there. Father stony faced, mother concerned. They were angry with me. They always had been.
They shouted at me, raged even as I lay there. I hadn’t died. My head hurt and my back hurt too. I was connected to machines; they hummed and bleeped, regular and comforting.
No one smiled back at me.
I was sorry.
Not sorry I hadn’t died but sorry for trying to kill myself.
They said they had found me in the wood. They got to me at dawn. I had lay there for ten hours full of painkillers and cheap wine. It should have killed me but it didn’t.
This was where I wanted to be. I was safe here. Still they shouted at me though, angry, demanding to know why I did it. One day I would tell them. One day.
I like it here, I’m safe. I didn’t die. I’ve been here for a couple of hours now. I don’t know why I wanted to die.
I don’t know.
The doctor stood at the door. I smiled at him, lopsided, tired and guilty. I was still glad I hadn’t died.
I went to the suicide forest and came out of it.
Not many people could say that.
I had my life in front of me I heard my parents say. I had everything to live for. I guess I did I thought but my back ached, my stomach too. I
couldn’t wait to get better and get out of this place.
I had a life to live now. Once I wanted to die, now I wanted to live.
The doctor came over.
I ached everywhere now and felt sick. My parents looked at each other and followed the doctor out of my room. At last I could get some peace but I was aching all over. And I was still alive I thought with a smile.
Ten hours earlier I had been in the wood trying to kill myself but I had survived. Then the doctor came back in. I tried to smile at him.
I looked at my parents. They had done everything they could to kill me. Now they weren’t angry any more, just sad. They looked at the doctor and me and then at the machines keeping me alive.
Keeping me alive?
Both my parents rushed up to me to take a hand of mine in theirs, they told me how sorry they were, how sad. They began to cry some more. Why? I was alive.
I was hurting now. I was in hospital. Why didn’t the doctors take my pain away? Why didn’t they do something? Then I heard the doctor speak.
It’s too late I heard him say. It’s too late.
For ten hours the drugs had been in my system. For ten hours as I lay waiting to be found they had been inside my body.
I was dying, really dying. They found me too late. The damage to my kidneys and liver had been done during those ten hours. This time I was really dying.
Please don’t let me die. please. I don’t want to die.
I’m sorry I won’t do it again. Please don’t let me die.
The shadows grow, the laughter fades and the voices grow faint.
So very faint.
We all go towards the light. We call out. Why does no one ever reply?
A bit of everything and a lot of nothing.
Widows weeds and wailing waifs silent by the lych gate wait and ‘neath the beams unbending bough slowly slowly swinging now.
Cursed fate had brought him to this place and the judge his sentence passed. Now he will swing here until dead and blood red and bible black will be his epitaph.
Rivers of blood will rise and run, so many tears, so many more to come.
Glory veiled red white and blue, my love my last night with you and never again that sweet goodnight kiss.
Together this one last time, a widow by dawn’s early light and like this night life’s soon to pass, just a little more time was all I asked.
I wish your death so sweet and merciful, so swift and sure you never knew. I’m so proud but I’m so so angry.
How did you die I need to know, comfort from friends or all alone? Was there a hand you feared to grasp leading you from war to peace at last?
My love it hurts so much inside as chilled by your casket now I lie, remembering your face remembering your smile.
And so now by dawn’s early light walk with us, give us strength in life. By shadows blue and shadows gray I leave so bitter the best was yet to be.
They don’t believe me.
I lie there, I tell them I can hear them. They don’t believe me.
I can hear them all around. I ask them to listen and they just laugh and walk away, but I can hear them.
They are not gone, those who came before, their voices still echo around the walls.
Listen, and you will hear them.
Just like me.
5000 WORDS. microfiction. A collection of short short stories.