The Hole

9 September, 2011 at 14:47 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

Sam was angry. Sam was very angry. She was so angry that she had taken off the pretty party dress that Mummy and Uncle John had brought for her birthday and she had run up the garden in her vest and knickers. It would make Mummy shout, she knew, but Sam was so angry that she didn’t care.

Daddy wasn’t coming to her birthday party. Daddy had phoned to say that he had to stay on the rig for another few months. This hadn’t made Sam angry, this had made Sam upset and she had gone to the living room to have a little cry in front of the balloons that Uncle John had blown up. Mummy hadn’t known where she had gone, or else she hadn’t realised how loud her voice was, or how well Sam could hear, or, or, or she hadn’t cared.
Mummy had said to Uncle John that she had known that Daddy wasn’t coming and that Mummy and Daddy had decided not to tell Sam beforehand but to wait to phone her up on the day to say that Daddy had to stay on the rig. Sam was angry because they had lied and Sam was angry because she had been looking forward to seeing Daddy and now she felt stupid for doing so.

Sam was angry and she was running up to the fence at the top of the garden and she was climbing over it and running across the field in just her vest and knickers. She hoped that that would upset Mummy a lot, and, just as she hoped that she tripped. She fell over her own feet and tumbled, down and down and down, much further down than the ground because, it turns out that what she fell over was the edge of a hole. She fell right into the hole and tumbled and scraped herself going all the way down, it was a very long hole.

As she picked herself up she heard sounds, pleasant, gentle music, like her older sister Kelly playing the harp, but much nicer. She saw lights down the tunnel that it seemed she had fallen into and walked towards them. The tunnel widened out and she could see hundreds of people in beautiful clothes dancing and dancing to the beautiful music. To one side were tables upon which were set piles and piles of fruits and foods in a multitude of colours.
It occurred to Sam that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast and that she wasn’t going to go to her party so she edged close to the table.

A bearded man, a little shorter than she was, was filling his plate. He turned to her, “You s’posed to be here?” he asked.

“Um…not really,” admitted Sam.

“Ahh,” he said, nodding wisely and tearing into a chicken drumstick with his teeth. With his mouth full he continued, “If you eat any of this, you won’t be let leave.”

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise.

The man continued, “You’ll have t’stay here and dance with us’ns and you’ll never see your Mummy and Daddy again.”

“Good.” said Sam, who was still angry, and immediately swallowed a grape from the table.

Much, much later the ambulance crew were explaining that it might help Uncle John if he went on a first aid course.

“All that was needed was the Heimlich,” said the ambulance driver. “You’re lucky we got here when we did.”

Uncle John nodded in agreement, looking at his sister holding his tiny niece very protectively.

The driver continued, “You shouldn’t really serve such small grapes at a kids party, they’re so small they really are a choking hazard.”

Uncle John nodded again, “Yeah, I don’t really remember putting them out.”

“Kids eh.” said the other paramedic walking back from Sam and her mother. “Who’d have ’em, they find the darnedest things.”

“Yeah,” said Uncle John, dazed.

“Anyway, she’s safe and sound,” continued the paramedic, stroking his beard. “We’ll be getting off in case there are other little kids to save.”


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2 September, 2011 at 23:52 (Flash) (, , , , )

She sat on a tree stump, on top of the rise at the edge of the wolds, surrounded by corn. She gazed over the flatness of the fens that stretched out into the blue of the distance. Above her the wide sky pressed down.

Soon she would have to get up off the stump. Soon she would have to turn around and walk back the way they had come. Behind her sprawled, pressing down upon the golden stalks of corn, lay the bloodied form of the man she had killed.

Whilst the sky pressed down on her and she looked into the distance for some hope of salvation she could ignore his blood feeding the dry earth. There was no forgetting him though, and no getting past the number of people who had seen them come out here.

She blinked as she gazed out over the fens and into the distance, soon she would have to turn around and go back the way she had come.

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Out Of The Frying Pan

26 August, 2011 at 12:31 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Frying Pan was not your typical greasy spoon cafe although it liked to play upon the image. Ma, behind the counter, looked just slightly too young to be anyone’s actual mother, certainly not any of the patrons of The Frying Pan. If you looked closely at her you might suspect that was because of judicious botox rather than actual youth, nevertheless, Ma was what it said on her namebadge rather than a friendly nickname. It was all about image at The Frying Pan, a real greasy spoon would never have survived in the heart of The City, a real greasy spoon would have had the bankers and the PAs and the enthusiastic cyclists up in arms talking about health and safety or trans fats. The Frying Pan was talked about, but in glowing terms, terms that embraced it’s image and liked to extend it’s pretense that a family run, greasy little cafe had been in The City for generations patronised by those bankers who were down-to-earth and real men’s men.

The Frying Pan had been open nine months. ‘Ma’ had stood behind the formica counter and called unrecognisable terms to ‘Pa’ everytime one of the smartly dressed customers ordered.

The Frying Pan liked to play upon the image and did it very well. Ma liked to pretend that it wasn’t The City outside her plate glass window, on somedays it was Manchester or Leeds or even Sheffield and her shout backs would affect the trace of a Northern accent. The days she pretended it was Manchester her accent was better than the days she pretended it was New York, New Orleans or San Francisco.
Ma’s real accent came from the Home Counties but she didn’t use it much. Ma’s real hair was brunette but she hadn’t seen it in years. Ma’s real name was a lot less obvious than her real accent or real hair and hadn’t been used for half a decade before the brunette had vanished. Ma would quite happily have told anyone that she was a ‘Total fake, but a real fake, like Holly Golightly’ and she didn’t really think that much of herself.

This is why she was surprised to find herself inching along the ledge of the window in her bare feet. “I have my limits,” she’d say, her ‘northern’ accent oscillating from Lancashire to Yorkshire and back again. But her limits appeared not to matter today. She took a deep breath and readied herself for what must come next.

Ma had come in, around four thirty as she did every morning. She had expected Johnny (Pa’s real name) to come in around five, but for once he hadn’t shown up. She’d called his mobile and his home and then she’d gone into the kitchen to work out how to turn the ovens on so they’d be ready when he did turn up. Whilst inside the kitchen she’d been vaguely aware of a pouring sound, like water running in the next room over, but she hadn’t thought anything of it. Ma didn’t have much in the way of a sense of smell and so the fumes didn’t hit her as soon as they might have done a younger woman who’d never smoked. She also hadn’t heard the lock of the front door being forced, it had been done quietly, professionally, so that was understandable. Later she would be very glad that Johnny hadn’t come in to work on time or she’d have been in the front when it had happened. As it was she was in the kitchen in time for the sudden rush of hot air to hit her followed by the unmistakable roaring sound of flames.

Ma turned and the nylon in her skirt crinkled back, showing more fear than she did as years of lectures and training actually hit her. She dropped to the floor as the petrol fuelled fire roared above her across the ceiling. She scuttled, crablike, backwards as fast as she could across the tiled floor. Her shoulders hit the fire-exit door harder than she would have liked, but she knew she bruised her knees when she knelt up to push the bar to open the double-doors. She couldn’t fathom why they wouldn’t open, only that they didn’t and her exit route had been cut short. Side to side her eyes flicked, aware that outside was a few inches away if the door had not been blocked, the flames looked like some vast hot liquid in front of her, racing across the tiled kitchen, then she saw, to her left, the stairs leading to a small staff toilet upstairs.

The tiny staircase was hot and smoke-filled, back smoke that she tried not to breath into her lungs. As she crawled up the stairs the wood grew hotter under her palms until she felt that they were blistering, the nylon on her skirt had melted solidly together with the net petticoat.
It was the sanitary bin that she used to smash open the window in the pokey little toilet, it was solidly full and on the second try broke the glass with it’s weight. The high-heels she tried to use to clear the broken glass away from the edges of the window as she’d seen on television but it didn’t work so she flung them out. That was the first clue that the gathered onlookers had to her being in the building. The second was her eventual emergence onto the window ledge.

“Jump!” they shouted to her. “Jump! Ma! Jump!”

She looked down, through the smoke and the flames and knew that she’d have to do it. She knew that she’d break her legs on the street below, there was nothing to catch her, but it was either that or stay here and suffocate or burn.

She took a deep breath, then Amy jumped.

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18 August, 2011 at 21:52 (Flash) (, , , , , )

The day of peace would come upon me, this I knew. I who haunted the night with my moanings, I who walked the creaking boards of the old house for countless nights, I would achieve my rest. Rather, another would achieve it for me and on that longed for night I would sink into the arms of a sleep so deep it cannot be named.

I awaited that day in the wee small hours of the morning when I would look out from the window across the moorlands below. I would hear the howlings of the wind and my own cries would add to it.

I awaited that day going for long walks in the late twilight, I encircled the house that I called my own as the wind whipped my long hair into a frenzy. I walked until I could walk no more and returned to the house on the moor ready to sink into death’s embrace.

Then the blessed day arrived. My saviour arrived on the moor in a white van with a hippo on the side. He carried the object of beauty up my stairs and replaced the mattress on the bed.

Now, finally, I could sleep.

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Watch The Stars (#Fridayflash)

12 August, 2011 at 13:08 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , )

Come here, behind the swimming pool block.

It’s dark beneath the trees you need to clamber under to get here but right back here, between the breeze-block edge of the swimming pool and the red brick of the school wall, the light dances. It’s blue and shimmers in water-reflection making the space just that little bit weird.

Now sit right here with your back against the red brick wall.

You can see the slightly open window now, smell the occaisional splash of chlorine in the air, if it were still open for business you could hear those weird echoes that make it sound like children are playing in the pool even when it’s just grown-ups doing lengths. But it hasn’t been open in days now and it’s almost silent back here.

Raise your head slightly, look out over the roof, you can see the stars in the gap below the leafy canopy made by the trees. In a couple of days there’ll be falling stars, a meteor shower. They’ll look amazing from here.

He and I planned to see them together, creeping in here after dark when it was all closed up. Sitting together in the weird blue-tinged light. We always used to come back here after swimming club before our parents picked us up from town. Just a few minutes in this strange little space looking out at the stars. We were excited about the meteors and watching them fall from here.

We went swimming a few days ago, you might have heard about it. The truck that delivers the chlorine had a new driver and he didn’t know the road very well, or at least that’s what all the papers have said. He came down it too fast and he smashed right through the big glass windows.

I was showing off, doing a handstand. It’s funny how different you feel when your feet are above the water and your head is below. I saw the strange reflections and moving lights above me but I didn’t put it together as broken glass, not even when the droplets of red from my legs started splashing down into the pool. I didn’t really feel it, it all happened a bit too fast. I couldn’t see him, he’d been watching my handstand, timing me. I’d said I’d time him afterwards and we’d see who could do it longest. We were the only two in the pool, they’d said how lucky we were when we came in, to have all the space to ourselves. Then the truck smashed through the windows and it’s cab ended up in the pool.

The newspapers said the driver drowned, he couldn’t get out of his cab. I drowned too, not that I remember it, I remember falling over from my handstand but I don’t remember the rest. I didn’t see him, but the papers say he got out of the pool and then dived back in. I think he was probably trying to get me out but he couldn’t see the glass in the pool. The papers say bloodloss killed him.

We’d planned to watch the stars fall from our little space at the back of the swimming pool. Sitting with our backs up against the red brick of the school wall we were going to bring a chocolate bar and share it whilst we watched.

Now you know where the space is. On Saturday, when they fall hardest, will you come back and watch them for us?

Bring a chocolate bar.

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