Day 207: Tenth anniversary

pexels-photo-179078.jpegIt’s been ten years. Ten long years since the fall of the Paragon Dam. I thought about what had happened during those years, all the trials and tribulations we’d been through. That the world had been through.

I always drive in silence on this day. Usually, I’d have my music loud, letting the beat take me away. But not on this day. Today, the reigning sound was the wind rushing by. I wanted to think.

It was brutal, that day in ’88. Six of us against all of them, that whole bunch of rebels and criminals. And we were winning. We were pushing them back. The dam was the perfect place to fight.A shining symbol of unity between the districts, hiding the best excuse for rebellion. A chokepoint, throttling them into a narrow line for easy pickings.

A prison camp, hiding inside sixty stories of gleaming marble, full of slaves.

Of course, we had no idea about any of that when we were standing on top of the damn thing, laying down fire to keep the rebels back. We were just six men, holding a position for eight days after we’d been told reinforcements were arriving in twelve hours.

I slammed my hand against the steering wheel. Every time I made this drive, just as I passed Hawley Rock, that’s when the memories really hit. Cutting deep like knifes, kept as sharp as ever by the whetstone of remembrance. As I hit the steering wheel, Job’s weathered face appeared on the screen.

“We’re here.” Direct as ever. “Timings?”

“Five minutes. Just passed Hawley Rock.”

“Hurry.” Then that was that. He’d cut me off and I was in silence again.The road disappeared quickly after that.

I arrived at the dam in four minutes and checked out the assembled group in the courtyard. Dayton, Maxwell, Job. They nodded their greetings, then turned to climb the stairwell. I know those damn steps off by heart. They’d set me to be the runner, picking supplies from the cache and taking them back up top. Carrying weapons, ammunition, food, all of it up every single one of those steps.

Walking up those steps every year, just made it more clear to me that old habits really do die hard. Job, still taking command of everything even though he’d been a civilian since the Dam. Maxwell, scouting ahead, always the first one up to do anything. Then Dayton. Strong, silent. More like a part of the furniture than a person.

“Still hanging behind back there?” Maxwell shouted. He hadn’t aged a day in the last ten years, full of vim and vigour, practically skipping up the steps. He breached the top and stood in the sunlight, sharp eyes flashing around to take it all in. Then stood around tapping his foot until the rest of us hauled our aged bodies up there. Job was suffering the most, wheezing and spluttering. His years since the Dam had been far more unkind, stealing the colour from the man and leaving a withered thing in its place. But he was still in command with his hoarse voice.

It was as if the man had done all of his shouting years ago and finished its quota. He never spoke above a gruff whisper these days. But we still listened. Dayton especially, whose abs had deflated into a soft podge of fat.

We gathered at the top of the stairs and looked out over Paragon Valley. It was beautiful, still. Then we cast our eyes across the chasm before us.

“We are here to remember our friends.” Job began, removing a bottle and four glasses from his pack, pouring a small measure of the amber liquid into each and passing them out. I took one from his frail hands and held it between my own.

“We are here to hold their memory to this place.” Maxwell followed, nervously shifting from foot to foot as he took his own glass.

“We are here to drink in their honour.” Dayton rumbled, seeming to shake the ground just as it had shaken ten years ago when the dam fell. He raised his glass, Maxwell and Job following suit.

I lifted my own and let them clink. We took a long, slow draught, then I finished our ritual. “We are here to avenge them.” In unison, we hurled the glasses from the dam, watching them tumble and spin in the bright sunshine. Just as Job had done when we first got the intel that the rebels were on their way.

The bridge had shone with such majesty that day, as I’d been sat by the radio. I’ll never forget when they called it in. “Echo Zulu, Echo Zulu, this is Overlord. Come in, Echo Zulu…”

Well, not a romance story. The anniversary of a disaster, as opposed to a romantic one. But I like where this story is going, so I may well be returning. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 206: The last time you were betrayed

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“Hello, boy. How are the bracelets holding out for you?” I asked, turning to look at the reprobate in the back of the cart. He glared back at me, eyes burning above the gag. He raised his hands in their cuffs and raised his middle fingers. “Nice and comfy then?” I turned back to the road and started whistling. I could see a pull in up ahead, somewhere I could have a little chat with my new pet.

I called the horses to a stop and jumped down from the cart. He was breathing heavily, nostrils flaring as he tried to get away, but I grabbed him by the ankles and dragged him onto the dirt.

“Now then. I’m gonna take the gag off and you’re gonna tell me what happened. Deal?” There was more glaring, but he nodded eventually. I reached around his head and pulled at the know.

“You fucking sh-” I punched him in the face. God, but it felt good.

“You’re gonna be polite. Ain’t ya?”

“Whatever man. Just let me go!” He was looking a bit scared now, his eye already showing signs of a bruise. “Look, I’m sorry about…”

I raised a hand to silence him and his mouth snapped shut. “We’re not going to talk about that just yet. First, you’re gonna tell me where you put the money.”

“Starr took it. He took it all, said he was gonna let us all know when it was safe to collect. I mean, he was the guy in charge, it was his idea to fuck with you, I’m innocent. It was all Starr.” He’d even started blubbering. “Please, I don’t want to die.”

I walked over to the cart and reached below the seat. I took the rifle out, made sure he could see the gleaming metal in the sunlight as I grabbed the powder too.

I took my time loading, letting him squirm. “Alright, boy. Stand up.” He started to cry, great gulping sobs as he struggled to his feet. I took a step towards him. And another. Every step sent him shaking with fear like a leaf in the breeze. I kept going until I was in arm’s reach. “You’re never gonna mess with anyone else like you guys did to me, are ya?”

He nodded vigorously. “No, I won’t, please, I swear, nothing.” I took the handcuff key from my pocket and unlocked the cuffs.

“Fair enough then. On you go. Philly’s that way.” He just stared at me, jaw hanging loose as he tried to process what I’d said. I leaned in close and whispered in his ear, “I suggest you start running.”

He did. As fast as his little legs would take him. I raised the rifle, sighted at the shrinking figure, then pulled the trigger. He went down like somebody had tripped him.

“Like I said,” I said as I dropped the rifle, “You won’t be screwing with anyone else like you did me.” I spat on the ground and headed back to the cart. I placed the rifle on the seat, then took a moment to try and stretch my shoulder. Damn thing still ached where the ball had gone in.

But at least now I knew which of those fuckers had organised the collective backstabbing. Jonathan Starr, Bastard-in-chief.

Revenge is a dish best served with a dash of hope. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 202: Put two people who hate each other in an elevator for 12 hours. What happens?

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At 12:38 on the 8th October 2016, Simon Hoskin is walking towards the elevator on the twelfth floor of his building. In his hands, he holds the minutes for the four meetings he has sat in that day, the projections for Callahan for the next six months along with three sandwiches for Liz, Truss and McKinnon on seven. Liz always smiles at him, so perhaps this time he can actually ask her out for that drink. He balances everything carefully in his left arm and reaches for the elevator button.

At 12:38 on the 8th October 2016, James Franklin West, Frankie to his friends, is rushing down the twelfth floor hallway. He’s holding a mobile phone to his ear with one hand, clutching a sandwich, bag of crisps and a cup of coffee in the other. He’s attempting to tuck his shirt in as he rushes through, trying to swagger, saunter, smile at the HR girls as he goes by and fails miserably. The person on the other end of the phone reminds him that they’re meeting on Eight, causing him to suddenly stop and swerve back around towards the elevators, hurling expletives at the phone, his lunch and the various people around him.

It is at this point the elevator arrives with a cheery ding. Simon steps inside and sees Frankie rushing towards him, shouting to hold the door. He mimes reaching for the button to hold the doors, remembering the mountain of work that Frankie had piled onto his desk yesterday. And the day before. There was the time that he’d been put up for the promotion too. And that was as far as he got through the laundry list of issues before the juggernaut that was Franklin crashed into the small cabin and Simon himself.

“Cheers for holding the door, Stuart.”

“Simon.”

“Yeah, cool, whatever. Hit eight for me, would ya?” He lifted his cup to his lips to find that the lid had flown across the lift, along with most of the contents. Frankie’s dark eyes rolled around the lift and settled on someone to blame. Simon. “You didn’t have to spill my coffee. I’m nothing without my morning coffee.”

Simon said nothing and pursed his lips, reaching out and pressing Eight and Seven respectively. He kept his files close to his chest, wishing that the ride would be over so that he could be away from this odious man. “It’s afternoon.”

“What ya got there? Callahan’s reports? He did want me to look over them first, but I’ve just got in. You mind taking them on to him?” Not like that thought had crossed Simon’s mind and it was where he was going already. “Sorted. Cheers buddy.”

“Simon.”

“Yeah, cool.” They stood in silence as the numbers counted down. The red light changed from ten to nine, then everything went dead.

Little known to Franklin and Simon, in the basement of Callahan, Willis and Woods, a young man by the name of Eric Weedleton was prowling through the parked cars until he came to a steel door marked with the classic picture of a man being struck by lightning. He smiled to himself, then withdrew a set of picks from his jacket pocket. He expertly picked the lock, then let the door swing open. With a final look around, Eric took a small round object out of his pocket and rolled it into the room. He blinked twice, then began running at full speed. Caution had been thrown to the wind.

Impending explosions tend to do that to people.

But this isn’t Eric’s story. It isn’t the story of the explosion, or the robbery that occurred. It isn’t a buddy cop story about Detectives Paolo and Ricker who show up to investigate, or even Simon and Liz’ future romance when he finally plucks up the courage to ask her on a date.

This is a story about two guys stuck in an elevator. This is the story that began at 12:38 on the 8th of October 2016.

Definitely an opening this time. I love the idea of a story within a story, such as this. A consequence of something bigger, just two people in the middle of everything who are completely oblivious to what is going on. A side arc, as it were, that becomes the story. 

Again, my napping trick succeeded. Caught the bloody fairy as it tried to sneak past me while I dozed on the sofa. Thankfully, I had half-formed ideas swimming around my head in just waiting to be written. Landlady says I’ve got to nap earlier though. Damn size 12s! Anyway, time to take a lesson from the inspiration fairy and sneak away.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Milestones: Day 200? Already?

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Wow.

200 days since past me (occasionally known as arsehole me) decided that it would be a great idea to buy a writing prompts book and do a piece every day. For 642 days.

Couldn’t have gone for “The Twelve Days of Writingmas”, could I? Though if that isn’t a book, anybody want to pair up to write it as a stocking filler?

Also, if anybody has seen my inspiration fairy and can tell me where she wanders off to between the hours of 2000 and 2400 GMT, that’d be great. Because she keeps coming back at half 12, sloping in with her tail between her legs telling me it’d be a great idea to write this story she’s come up with. Which means somebody doesn’t get to sleep until stupidly late, much to the irritation of my landlady as me and my size 12 feet clomp up the stairs.

We count as separate because we make so much noise. I’d be a rubbish ninja.

On the plus side, 200 days of writing. Some of it’s even good, much to my surprise. So thanks for sticking with it.

Keep reading, keep commenting and if you use any of the prompts, let me know how it goes.

The (Sleep-Deprived) Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 200: You’re confined to your bed for three months due to a serious illness. What do you miss, and what’s the first thing you’ll do once they let you outside?

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Swine flu. Except, being Jonathon Macavoy, resident screw-up and general causer of problems, I got some weird variant that nobody’s ever seen before. That’s right. Here’s Johnny, test results coming soon to a hospital near you.

It had come on quick. I’d been at work, hammering away at my keyboard in the standard mindless drone fashion, when my fingers had started going numb. I mean, more than the standard numbness from working in an office for barely over minimum wage. I remember, very clearly, lifting my hands to my face and getting confused as to why they were blurry. I’d started to call to Ed in the next cubicle, but my mouth was also refusing to work. I managed something along the lines of “Flub” as I stood up. Well, more failed at standing up seeing as my knees buckled within seconds of being subject to gravity again.

I vaguely remember someone asking if I was ok. Dumb question, but it definitely got asked. Then the next thing I know I’m waking up in a quarantine ward at St Mary’s with tubes out of everything and everywhere.

I mean it when I say everywhere. It wasn’t pretty.

“Mr Macavoy! Good to see that you’re awake.” A tinny voice came through a set of speakers hanging above the plastic… Do I call it a curtain or a wall at this point? Either way, there’s two speakers, some freaky deaky doctor man talking like a robot and me with tubes coming out of everything I hold dear. “How are you feeling? Patient has awoken from coma on the 12th February…” That last part was quieter, him saying something to an assistant nearby.

“I’ve had better days.” I began to pull the oxygen tube out of my nose. It was the twelfth already? I’d gone to work in January and I woke up on the twelfth of February?

“I would not be doing that. You have been sleeping for quite some time and will probably need some time to adjust.” I yawned as he spoke, with no idea of the time or what the hell is going on. Distinct lack of windows in a plastic box. “It would appear that you need more sleep. I shall talk to you soon, Mr Macavoy.”

And talk he did. Every day, for the next month. Told me I was confined to the box, being given my meals through a tiny slot, some kind of airlock. Every day, same thing. Chicken, broccoli and mash potato. I mean, it’s great for a gym bunny but I’m far better at running across Azeroth or through Rapture than the real world.

I asked the doctor, one time, why I couldn’t see anybody. He told me that there was a shortage of HAZMAT suits. “Indeed. Some kind of problem at the factory is what I am told.”

“Great. Any news from my family?”

“I have been informed that they are out of the country. Morocco, to be exact.”

“They choose now to go on holiday?” I leaned back against the four white pillows. I’ll tell you this, white sheets in a room with white walls and white pillows and white flowers in the corner and white and white and it gets so repetitive. I’d been around every inch of that room and nothing. The door must have been behind the wall somewhere but nope. No access to it for me. Twenty seven petals over four flowers though, that was about the only interesting thing I had.

I slept. I woke up. I chatted with the doc. I slept again. You get the picture.

“You know what I miss, doc? Apples. I mean, Barbossa had it right in Pirates of the Caribbean. Apples are the way forward.” I imagined my teeth breaking through the skin of a rich green apple, the juice running down my throat and washing away the taste of broccoli. That and fresh air. The air in this place had been through so many purifiers and filters it was cloying and sickly.

“You will be out soon. I am assured of it.”

More sleeping. More waking. Endless cycles. Honestly, it felt like years I’d been in this box.

“Hang on a second, Doc.”

“Yes, Mr Macavoy?”

“Who’s informing you of this stuff?”

I feel like this is an abrupt ending to this piece, but I’m still deciding where I’d take this next. Hopefully, I’ll revisit this or investigate it some more in a later piece, but for now, who knows? I’ve got 442 more days of this stuff!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 199: Everyone has a special talent. What’s your special skill?

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“Dani, you need to come round. Now.” I didn’t even give her time to answer before I snapped the phone shut. Yes, I have a flip phone, I am majorly uncool in that respect. Go eat a bag of… Whatever. It started ringing again, but I ignored it. Pushed my finger down onto the red phone and held it there, watching the screen fade to black. I followed suit with every other light in the house, leaving me in darkness.

Perfect.

I sat down  in the middle of the hallway, cross legged. Started watching my breathing, focusing my energy on every breath in and out, letting it fill my lungs all the way. It was something I’d learned after the third time I’d been sent to the Head’s office for fighting. They’d sent me to counselling. I mean, it’s ridiculous. I didn’t need counselling, I needed to punch David Gorman’s stupid bloody lights out, but that’s a different story.

So, I’m sat there, focusing. I can feel it then, like an itching at my fingertips. It’s as if there are spiders beneath my nails, clawing to get out. I wait until the feeling’s worked its way up my arm to my elbow, then I release it. From every fingertip, converging onto my palm, then away. May have taken out Mum’s favourite vase, but she’ll live. Especially when she sees what I can do.

Someone starts hammering at the door. “Alex! Let me in, dickhead!” That’s Dani. She’s always been one for the niceties. “I mean it! Call me saying shit like that then turning your phone off! Open this damn door!” Well, I wasn’t getting my focus back until I’d let her in. But that was why I’d called her. I had to show somebody.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” I cracked my knuckles after I stood up, they always felt stiff after I’d been practising. I grumbled all the way down to the door. Checked the peephole, just in case, and there she is. Blonde hair, cut into a bob. Angry blue eyes and –

“I said let me in!” She slammed a fist against the peephole.

“Fine!” I opened the door and she barged through, heading straight to the kitchen. “Nice to see you too,” I mumbled.

I heard the tap running, meaning that Dani had sorted herself out a drink. Saved me a job at least. She flounced back through into the lounge and sprawled onto the sofa. “So, what’s so important?” I figured that it was easier to show than tell, so I sat cross legged on the floor. “Fantastic, I assume you’ve found religion. Is that what’s so important?”

I raised a hand to shush her, then got back to my breathing. In, out. In, out. Let the wallpaper fade into nothingness, let nothing exist but the breath. Certainly tune out whatever tripe Dani’s going on about now. Then you get the itching, the building up. This time, I let it go when it reached the third knuckle down. It had taken a lot of experimenting to get this much control. No, I’m not going to talk about those experiments just yet. You’ll have to wait for the prequel comic. I heard the smashing, then Dani’s gasp.

I grinned and opened my eyes. “That’s what’s so important. How about that?”

“You got something too?” Her eyes widened the same as mine.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 197: “Let’s go, sugarbeet,” he said and snapped on the light. He was holding two duffle bags, one very light, the other very heavy. It was her car, and she had slept with the keys.

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Alison winced as the light attacked from the naked bulb. Shark was standing at the foot of the bed, with the two bags in his hands. She hated when he called her sugarbeet. It was her dad’s pet name for her and hearing it from the mouth of this monster in human form felt like sacrilege. She’d slept with the keys in her left hand, taped on so that he couldn’t get to them without waking her up. In her right was her knife, in case he decided to try.

“I said let’s go.” Shark kicked the bed, then turned towards the still open door. He’d just barged into the room, just as he had every night for the past two weeks.

“Just, give me a minute,” she replied. It made Shark pause in the doorway, still facing out into the cold winter’s night. She started peeling the tape from her hand, wincing as it tugged at her scarred skin. “I didn’t sleep very well, I just -”

“You’re not here to sleep. Five minutes, be at the car.” He stomped out into the night. He had the grey duffle bag over his shoulder, visibly bent against the weight of it. The black duffle bag in his left hand, however, didn’t faze him at all. For some reason, whatever was in the black duffle bag scared her far more than the grey one full of the things that clinked and clanked.

Alison sighed as he walked out into the night. She thought about making a run for it, the same as she had every night for the last fortnight. She could make a break for the police station they’d driven past yesterday as they looked for the motel. She could claim a kidnap, or a robbery gone wrong. She grabbed a handful of her flowing red hair, pulling it tight enough that her soft grey eyes began to water. She got herself ready to rip out a chunk, as if she’d escaped an attacker.She began to count in her head, down from three.

But she couldn’t remember which way they’d come in, the fog had fallen thick and fast, taking visibility down to six feet or so. It was like something out of a horror film. Deserted small town and thick fog. Shame that the monster was sat in the car with her instead.

She peeked out of the doorway to the motel’s office. No movement, no lights, no sign of escape. “Come on, sugarbeet! Moonlight’s burning!”

“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch.” She muttered, grabbing her knife from the table where she’d discarded it. She took one last look around this newest addition to her motel hall of fame, then shut the door behind her as she walked out into the swirling fog once more. Back to her little Nissan.

Back to Shark.

Just a short one to pique your interest tonight. Posing more questions than answers, that’s for sure. Rest assured, I’m fairly sure that Alison and Shark will be turning up in later shorts. 

Can I just check, how do you spell duffle? I’ve got the prompt saying ‘duffle’, my own knowledge saying ‘duffel’ and the internet saying both. Anybody know for certain?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 196: The road to hell paved with good intentions

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“If you go down to the woods today, take a moment to consider what happened.” The screen had turned on when I walked into the dark room, bathing everything in a sickly glow. Broken beakers lay scattered on the tiles, cracks running amongst them like rivers flowing to the sea and everywhere you looked there were shoots, the tiniest patches of green fighting their way through the grey. “My name is Doctor Jerome Flynn and I am leaving this as my last will and testament. And, I suppose, as my full and unedited confession.”

“What the hell is this?” I asked, taking a step forward towards the face on the screens. The glass crunched underfoot and I paused, casting my eyes from left to right. Just in case.

Nothing.

“You are standing in our main research facility. Officially, it was known as Section Seven, Horticulture. We always called it the Orchard. We were investigating reforestation techniques. Richards was working on a chimera of the English Oak tree with the common bindweed, trying to isolate the genetic markers for the increased growth speed of the weed, along with the hardiness of the weed.” The man on the screen smiled sadly and raised a hand to his glistening forehead, blinking his sad brown eyes against the spotlight. His face distorted as the screen erupted into a sunburst of pixels before settling back to the picture again. “Any chance we could turn the light down, Marika? I’m going blind here.”

I whirled around as I heard a noise behind me. It could have been glass shifting on the floor, or a rodent snuffling around for food. Either way, it just added to the creepiness of the whole affair. All I’d wanted to do was find out what the light was, luring me deeper into the wood. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not stupid. But I had to know.

“Thank you, Marika.” Doctor Flynn lifted a glass of water to his lips and continued. “Richards’ work was groundbreaking. The computer models located the gene within months. Then it was trial and error until we found one that took. If you look into my office, you should see subject Oscar-Tango-Six-Three-Three. A bonsai tree, as long as it’s still there. Our very first Bound Oak.” He smiles at somebody off-screen. “We threw one hell of a party that night.And the next night after we discovered the Six-Three-Three had produced saplings.” His smile faded as whatever painful reality had come forced its way into his memories. “The saplings grew quickly, grew tall and strong. We planted the first forest just outside the Orchard and it doubled in size within two months. We planted more forests, believing we could contain the growth.”

I looked out into the forest outside. “I guess you couldn’t.”

He echoed my sentiments. “I know now that we couldn’t. But that’s not where the problems ended.”

There was the noise again. Was that something breathing? Or just my blood in my ears?

“There’s a reason that nearly every society has stories about the woods. Stay safe, whoever is watching.” I watched him lift a pistol to his temple and heard a scream, then screen cut back to static and this time, it stayed that way. I reached down into my boot and wrapped my fingers around the handle of my knife. I held my breath and listened closely.

All I could hear was the thudding of my heart.

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

“If you go down to the woods today…” I bolted. I was out of that place quicker than you could say woodland. I could hear Doctor Flynn’s recording trailing off but I wasn’t paying attention to it anymore. All I could focus on was my panic.

I didn’t stop until I’d made it all the way back home.

So, let’s go for a little more wishy washy science. I know that my idea as I’ve described it here isn’t possible, but I am curious as to if this could work in any form. What do you think is waiting in the woods? 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 194: A rationalisation of bad behaviour

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The glass shattered as the baseball bat slammed into it, a spiderweb of cracks emanating from the epicentre before the the myriad of pieces fell to the tarmac. The legend “Manny’s Electronics” disintegrated into a field of stars, casting light like a Jackson Pollock onto the surface of the pavement.

“Welcome to the break down of society, kid!” Albert said to me, beaming through his beard. “You see, when society breaks down, all that is left are the basest urges. The urge to steal, to rape and pillage and do whatever the hell you want. The only urge that remains is to survive, to thrive in the new world. You see,” he said as he leaned into the window, pulling out bundles of wires, digital cameras, anything and anything that he could fit into the backpack, “you’ve got to consider it this way. When you take away the rules, the only thing that’s left… Is the urge.”

He whistled as he plundered, raising a mammoth hand occasionally to scratch beneath his eyepatch. He’d lost the eye in the first few days of the rioting, said it had been one of the baton rounds that the police had started firing wildly into the crowd, trying to slow that inexorable tide of people.

The good old days, back when it had been police with non-lethals. Back before they’d brought the army in and ordered them to use live ammunition. It only took a quarter of them to obey the order and it meant that everybody knew somebody who died that night. I’d got away, somehow. I never even saw Jonathan get hit, but I’d been scared to begin with.

It all started with the protest. That’s a generalisation of course, as tensions had been growing for months, if not years. General Keenan’s death. The taxes, all to fund King Cadwaller’s war against the Arrogan. The food shortages. The backouts. Everything piling on top of one another until, as expected, it all came tumbling down.

The protest built to a riot. The riot had escalated and become a battle against the council. Then, in no time at all, it was an all out war. Bodies piling in the streets because nobody could get close enough to clear them away.

“So, Danny my boy, now is your chance! The government lies behind that thin green line along with all the laws. This world is yours!” He passed me the bat as we walked past an intact window. Designer clothes, somehow missed in the last few weeks. “You want it, boy, you take it.”

I hefted the bat in my hands, feeling the leather handle rubbing against my palms. “Do it, Danny. Smash the glass.”

“Do it.”

“Smash it! Now!” He commanded. THis was a man who was going to end up one of two things. A leader, or dead.

I swung the bat and watched as the glass, along with the life I used to know, shattered.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. 

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 193:You are a camp counselor. Make up a story that will scare the bejeezus out of your eight- to ten-year-old campers.

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You’ve all heard the story right? The clown statue that hides in the corner of the room and the babysitter calls the parents and says “Yo, that statue in the kid’s room is hella creepy” and then the parents just start screaming down the phone to get the kids and get out because guess what, turns out that they don’t have a clown statue and it’s a serial killer, or kidnapper or even just some random fucking lunatic that likes to stare at kids.

Well, you realise that story’s based on truth, right? Only it wasn’t a clown statue. Not in the slightest.

It was a night a lot like this. Halloween, when the fog was flowing in thick and the trick or treaters were out in their droves, tiny little vampires and monsters scurrying around, bags full of sweets in their hands. With their parents, of course, because on a night like that, with the darkness swarming in and the sodium glow failing at cutting through the fog, who’d let their children out alone?

You see, the best decorated house at Halloween was always the Bastian’s. It was down at the end of the lane, a little bit further on than the last of the terraced houses. Mr Bastian had this huge front garden and he’d fill it with plastic gravestones that sat under the oak tree, green and purple lights to get an ethereal glow to the place. He’d add something every year. There’d be animatronic spiders, or huge rats that would leap at you. One year, he even had a zombie hand that would burst from the ground when you walked up to the door.

So, the Bastian’s were going out for Halloween this year. Some of their friends from university are having a party and as such, they can’t take their children. They ask this kid I know to babysit Jenny and Murphy and the kid wholeheartedly agrees. He’s too old for trick or treating and too young for the parties, so he might as well get some money for it.

He arrives around eight, just as the Bastian’s are headed for their taxi. They’re hurrying, dressed as Gomez and Morticia Addams. He’s always had a crush on Mrs Bastian and teh costume is playing to her slender figure. All he gets is a quick hello, the briefest of rundowns on what time the kids should be going to bed, followed by the actual time they’re supposed to go to bed.

The taxi pulls away with gravel crunching beneath it. This kid, Danny, he watched as the taxi pulled away, then turned to go into the house. The plastic body swinging from the oak tree, Mr Bastian had really outdone himself this year. There was one swinging from the oak tree and another collapsed on the floor looking partially decayed. Danny took a minute to appreciate, then he goes inside.

The kids are there, eating far too much chocolate for kids about to go to bed. So Danny shoos them up to their rooms and tells them that he doesn’t mind how long they actually stay up as long as their lights are off when their parents get back. This goes down like a house on fire and the two of them disappear upstairs, leaving Danny with the fifty inch plasma TV.

Murphy comes downstairs at about half past nine and says that dad’s halloween decorations are at his window. Danny just brushes this off and tells him he’s eaten too much chocolate. Then Jenny comes down and says that the decorations are trying to get in. So Danny heads upstairs to have a look and there’s nothing, just the figure in the tree and the figure on the ground, nowhere near the window and just where they were when he came in.

He went back downstairs. He turned on the TV and he watched the next horror film that came on.

That horror film was still playing when the Bastian’s returned. They walked past the empty boughs of their oak tree, past their plastic gravestones and multicoloured lights. They saw their children’s rooms in darkness and when they went upstairs, both of their beautiful children were sound asleep.

When they came back downstairs, they found the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.

Inside that oven, staring without staring, was the eyeless face of Danny McIntyre.

Were they decorations come to life? Or real people, just waiting for the perfect moment to strike? Perhaps…

At this point, one of my fellow counsellors in Halloween make-up, matching one of the decorations,  would sneak up behind the kids and go boo, scaring the pants of them.

The clown statue creepypasta has always freaked me out. Partially because I can absolutely imagine it to be true. I toyed with the idea of making my storyteller one of the “decorations” but it didn’t gel in my head. Oh well, perhaps next time.

Well, happy Halloween everybody!

The Idiot in Tin Foil