Day 191: You have a dream that you’ve murdered someone. Who is it, how and why did the murder happen, and what happens afterwards?

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I didn’t recognise the face of the man across the table. We were alone in an empty restaurant, where phantom plates, piled high with all manner of things, were passing us by. The man across from me is telling me a story of some kind.

“In the beginning, there was a word. A single word, floating out into the void where it began to fester and grow, forming sentences and paragraphs that conglomerated to become, well, everything. The paragraphs became stories and the stories grew and changed and got retold.” A plate was put in front of me, a silver platter that was completely empty. In front of him, between his liver spotted hands, was a blue willow china plate on which sat a single egg. He took a silver spoon and slammed it onto the top of the egg.

The restaurant shook, plates and food tumbling to the floor as cracks spread across the ceiling. Everything lay where it fell and silence spread through the place like treacle. The man across from me frowned, lines stamped into his forehead from a long life, full of hardship and pain and his hands shake as he plucks the egg from its cup. “The world is an egg and inside lies all possibility.” He took a shattered piece of shell that was clinging to the soft skin below, lifting it away gently. Above me, a piece of the ceiling lifted away to reveal a patch of blue sky. “Now, the only thing that can go wrong is the fact that this whole sorry mess lies in a loop. The words get erased, the stories no longer get told and the whole world tumbles down, leaving just a word. Then it all starts again.” He picked up the egg, holding it in the space between us, focusing on it with bright blue staring eyes. “Do you remember the last time we had this conversation?”

I shook my head. This place was alien and new to me, from its shifting scenery to this old man across the table. He sighed, then wrapped a fist around the egg. I could see it starting to bulge from the missing part of its shell, forcing its way out.

“There’s only one thing to do!” The old man had started shouting in response to the thundering that had begun. It was as if the restaurant were shaking itself apart. “You have to break the cycle! There’s only one way to do that!” The lights flickered on and off, plaster fell form the ceiling as the whole place trembled. I watched in horror as the man snapped his fist shut, pieces of egg and shell exploding in the sudden motion.

Then, there was silence. My companion and I were standing in an open field watching a sunrise. “You have to break the cycle.” He said again, holding an intact egg in the palm of his hand. Then he hurled it away and threw himself at me, ancient fists pummelling my face and my body, all while crying at me to fight back, calling me a coward. “Break the cycle! Close the loop! Coward! Bastard!” I was throwing my arms up to defend myself when I realised I was holding the knife. My knife. The knife that my Dad had given to me as a present on our first camping trip.

My companion was still attacking, oblivious to the knife in my hand. I had to make a choice. I could keep taking the beating, or I could fight back.

I chose to fight back. With a roar, I plunged the blade into the old man’s chest. He looked shocked, but satisfaction flowed into a smile as he fell backwards. He lay there, fighting for words amongst quickening breaths. “Remember. Break. The. Cycle.”

The heavens opened and everything was white.

***

I woke up as I fell from my bed. I’m not sure whose idea it was to go for hardwood in these flats, but I’m not a fan of them. I checked the alarm clock to see that, as usual, I was late for work. These nightmares were getting ridiculous. I’d slept through four alarms this week alone and if I was late much more, Johnson had said he was going to fire me.

I quickly threw on some clothes, completely ignoring the odd socks element to the outfit, then thundered down the stairs, barrelling past the old man who was waiting there. He frowned at me,  lines stamped into his forehead from a long life full of hardship and pain. He shouts something as I go past, glaring at me with bright blue eyes. “Sorry Mr Williams” I call. I’m sure I know Mr Williams from somewhere before I moved into the building, but I just can’t place him…

Who is Mr Williams?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 150: You are a serial killer. What TV shows are on your DVR list? Why?

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‘Sweetie, I brought dinner!’ Joseph said as he walked through the door. Two bags hanging from his hands, struggling as the scent of freshly fried chips wafted through the house. He could hear the kids playing in the sitting room, cries about lava and who died this time floating through the hallway. He kicked the door shut with a tan brogue, the bag of chips just catching against the charcoal trouser of his suit and leaving a streak of grease. ‘Aww man, I love this suit.’

He danced down the hallway, stepping gingerly through the maze of children’s toys and various pieces of parenting debris. ‘Joseph, honey? I’m in the kitchen.’ Monica yelled from the kitchen, straining her voice to be heard over the cacophony from the children. Clearly the lake of lava had spread through to the tiled floor where she was standing. ‘Can you come and distract the kids? I’m trying to bake the fairy cakes for the PTA meeting.’

He blustered in, dumping the chips on the table as he scooped up his children in a bear hug. ‘Rargh! The lava monster rises!’

‘No! Not the lava monster!’ Joanna and Edgar ran from their father. ‘The monster, the monster!’ He chased them from the room, sweeping them from beneath their mother’s feet. She paused from her baking to kiss her husband on the lips, before kicking him back through the door.

‘Do you want to dish up? I’m just going to go and change, managed to get grease on the suit again.’

‘Fine, but don’t forget to put your suit in for dry cleaning tomorrow!’ He smiled at her, shouted through to his children that he’d be through in a minute and made his way upstairs. He took off his suit as he did everything else, carefully and methodically, staring into his reflection.

Slightly greying hair, framed his wrinkled face from which two green eyes stared back. He raised a hand to his greying eyebrows, smoothing them down from their wild attempts at escape. A wholly average man living a wholly average life.

He turned to the plasma TV hanging on the wall, raising the remote like a pistol. Flicked through to his recordings, scrolling down the list past all of his wife’s crap, Desperate Housewives, Say Yes to the Dress and all of those period dramas. Reached the history portion, the battlefield tales, flicked through to the million episodes of NCIS and CSI. He started pulling on tracksuit bottoms as The Who’s Baba O’Reilly started flowing from the speakers.

‘I’m here in the field…’ He sang, pulling an old t-shirt over his head. Doing a little dance around the room when Monica yelled up the stairs.

‘Joseph! All dished up!’

He put all thoughts out of his mind and headed back down to his family. Chewed through some time before retiring to his office.

Turned on his DVR and flicked through. ‘Harold Winters, 12th December 1989. Baseball bat.’ H paused for a moment, relaxing back into the black leather chair, letting it swallow him into the darkness. ‘Yes, that was a good one…’

Serial killers. Just like us, but more killer-ey. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 135: A moment of forgiveness

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Kiyoshi Fukuyama blinks in the pale sunlight. He steps, gingerly, and raises his scarred hands to call for a taxi. He is here for one reason and one reason alone.

He is going to kill J Robert Oppenheimer.

It has been twenty years since Little Boy and Fat Man fell from the sky and crippled the glory of the Japanese people. Twenty years since the Americans slaughtered soldiers and innocents alike.

Twenty years since Emperor Showa betrayed everything the Japanese people have ever believed in and capitulated under the American onslaught. The unnecessary onslaught.

All down to Oppenheimer. Sure, his cronies had helped but he had been the mastermind, the puppet master holding all the strings. Now time had come for him to pay for all the hurt he had caused. One life for the two hundred thousand of Kiyoshi’s people that perished in the blast that day.

He got in that taxi and asked it to take him to Princeton University, curtly. His hands stole into his briefcase to play with the weapon waiting inside, a weapon almost as  ‘Ahh, you are in town for the lecture, no? Father of the atomic bomb, talking about…’ His speech slowed as he took Kiyoshi’s race into account.

The forty-eight remaining minutes of the journey were spent in silence.

They arrived, miraculously unscathed, at the McCosh Hall. Kiyoshi paid, with a generous tip, before beginning his long walk to vengeance. Three hundred and twelve steps to my allotted seat.

‘I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’ The voice, oddly high and hoarse, creaked across the audience. ‘That’s what I said after I witnessed the Trinity Test. The awesome power of the atom bomb.’ He coughed, staccato and cutting in the rooms dry air. ‘But now take a look. The world stands on the brink of war and those who truly understood the atom bomb are reduced to lecturing in public theatres.’ He stood, thin and hunched over by the podium.

He talked, solidly for two hours. All the while his punctuation was enhanced by his coughs, his voice holding strong despite the reedy quality. Two hours on the state of the world, the growing conflict.

Two hours in which he apologised no less than fifteen times.

By the end, Kiyoshi could do nothing but cry. He was not alone in that audience, though he was the only one with radiation burns on his hands. A thousand apologies wouldn’t cut it, but one…

Perhaps Kiyoshi could forgive one man. In this second, in this moment, he could forgive this man who was so clearly on a direct path to an exit. One moment of forgiveness.

The events of this story are purely fictional. To my knowledge, no such lecture as described in this short happened. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 62: Being chased by a killer

I can feel them chasing me.

I’ve been running for days now. I thought I’d lost them back in the woods, but they’re still coming. They’re relentless, like fucking dogs.

I thought it was just one, but every time I’ve caught a glimpse they’ve seemed a little different. Then again, that might be my RAGING PANIC that’s doing the seeing.

I am taking what feels like a hundred breaths a minute, none of which are giving me any of the oxygen that I need. My heart beats as if it’s trying to escape, to break free from my ribcage and run, further, faster than I ever could. It is a cruel mimicry of the feeling when you see someone you love, the pulse, the breaths. I even have the sweats. But nothing remains but the terror.

Was that a twig snapping?

I’m going to kill whoever thought ‘Yeah, let’s go off the grid for the weekend. Let’s just up and go, live free like man’s supposed to.’ Apparently living and dying free are very similar things. I don’t even know where they came from. One minute we’re sat, casually around the fire, the next Spacey has a hole where his face used to be and there was an almighty bang.

No, bang doesn’t do the word justice. Funny how I’m focusing on that. Hope you’re happy Mrs Kipple, primary school English is coming in so handy now! It may be onomatopoeic, but it means nothing. You need a grander word, a larger word, something all consuming and horrible, drilling into your very core.

That was definitely the snap of a twig. I try to still my beating heart, will every cell, every atom of my body to be still, to stay hidden, to not move, to be safe. I can hear them snuffling.

Snuffling, good word. No, stop it. Concentrate. Just stay still. Stay safe.

I can practically hear the sound of the tear rolling down my cheek. My nostrils flare under the strain of not breathing. I’m fighting so hard.

Part of me is considering giving up. Just standing there waving like those dickheads in front of aeroplanes. ‘Here I am, come get me, it’s all good. I just want to die.’

Don’t be stupid. Just stay quiet. Stay safe.

I miss Spacey. He was an awful guy, so high on god knows what he sounded like Confucius reincarnate, but at least he was someone who wasn’t trying to MURDER ME.

I hate camping. I’m never doing it again. Assuming I live.

Pink ponies, happy sky. I’m sure I can manage that, just distract myself.

I think I can hear a siren in the distance. I can’t be that far from the rest of civilisation.

Wait, was that a twig snapping?

Oh god, I can hear them again. Their footalls, heavy but dancelike. They are contradiction incarnate.

I don’t want to-

A hand breaks through my shelter, grabbing me by the scruff of my neck. I am lifted bodily from the bed of leaves and begin to scream. I shit myself hours ago, fight or flight making em as light as possible, but that didn’t stop them going again.

‘Aw jeez, kid?’ I looked up. It wasn’t them. All I could see was a beard and teeth. A smile. ‘You’re alright kid. What happened?’

I couldn’t manage words. I just held tight to this man, a friendly face after… ‘Hwlog?’ I managed to force out between sobs.

‘If you’re the kid from the news, you’ve been missing about three days. If you’re not, then fuck knows. C’mon, I’ve got some cocoa in the truck.’

We stumbled to his truck, a beaten up, white pickup truck. It had rust stains all over the front, and a fading signage painted onto the side. ‘Hector’s Removals and Tow.’

He deposited me on the tailgate, and moved around to the drivers side door. Heavy footsteps, but dancelike. I rolled my aching body over and saw a shotgun lying next to me.

I started crying even before the axe slammed into my spine.

The Idiot In Tin Foil