Friday, 14 June 2019
Another day... or night?
Sun burns... or moon?
Hard to tell. Blinds closed.
Bottle to lips. Throat burns.
Cigarette to lips. Lungs burn.
Ash falls to carpet.
Vehicle goes by. Time goes by.
Dead TV. No power. No energy.
Bottle to lips. Cigarette to lips.
Needle to arm. Veins burn.
Rat slithers past. Time slithers past.
Bottle to lips. Cigarette to lips.
Pills to mouth. Tongue burns.
Thoughts of you. Heart burns.
Picture of you. Eyes burn.
Bottle to lips. Cigarette to lips. Needle to arm. Pills to mouth.
Moth flies by. Time flies by.
Empty bottle. Empty pack. Empty needle. Empty pill box.
Sleep. Dreams burn.
Wake. Soul burns.
Love burns. Hate burns.
That's all there is.
©2019 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 7 June 2019
In the beginning there was much debate on where the music originated. Many different theories and opinions. Some said Latin America, others China, Russia, The Philippines, West Indies, the list was diverse and endless.
There were many conspiracy theories too.
Some believed it was the government's doing, which was laughable really, unless every government in the world were all involved in the same dark plot together. I can just see North Korea and the USA getting round the table with the Russians and the Chinese to pull this one on the people, and besides, the politicians were affected just as much as the man in the street.
Other favourite scapegoats were The Illuminati, dissidents, radical factions, the alien conspiracy, which was my own personal favourite, was quite popular too.
The question of where the music had come from was soon to be overshadowed by other, more important issues.
The beat and tempo of the music seemed to shift and change subtly, making it difficult to define as one particular style or another, and not everyone who listened to it seemed to hear exactly the same tune.
The first DJ to play it on the radio swore he played the rock classic “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, but that was definitely not what came over the air.
Before long the music had infiltrated television and radio archives, internet scores, juke boxes, and even private collections, under the guise of almost every genre of music imaginable.
The one thing that was undeniable though, was the effect...
This music was poison to the mind.
No-one played this music intentionally, in fact no-one knowingly owned any, but the infiltration was deep now, hidden and unpredictable.
And when the notes played...
People wept openly, uncontrollably. Depression, anxiety, and anger ran rife. The murder and suicide rates increased tenfold. Families and friends turned on one another.
The hospitals and prisons were soon overflowing, and governments commandeered schools, warehouses, and even churches to accommodate the overspill.
Many thousands of temporary, barely trained nurses and police were drafted in to help cope with the crisis, but these too were also affected, severely limiting their effectiveness.
The music was analysed in studios and laboratories throughout the world. No subliminals were found, no hidden messages, no vibratory notes that may affect the central nervous system. Nothing!
One by one the music radio stations shut down and went off air. Youtube fought the system but eventually went under after some military intervention.
There were CD and cassette bonfires in the streets. Tech companies soon began to fall by the wayside due to lack of custom. Games consoles, stereo systems, PCs, anything that was capable of producing the sounds disappeared from the stores, which in turn led to rapidly escalating unemployment, and of course, all of this had a massive knock-on effect on the national, and global economy.
The world was sliding towards anarchy.
The slide became an avalanche. Unstoppable, irreversible.
I was only young when the fall came, but somehow I survived.
That was seventeen years ago.
Now, as I squat by the entrance to my cave, the carbine resting across my knees, an old, half-remembered tune drifts into my mind.
Involuntarily my fingertips begin to tap along on the butt of the rifle...
And I feel the tears rise in my eyes...
©2019 Stephen. J. Green.
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
It's strange the thoughts that pass through a man's mind when he is about to die.
I mean, there's Bernie, knelt on his lounge carpet, staring into the end of a .45 barrel.
Now, if the positions were reversed, my mind would probably be racing along avenues of pleading, begging, crying, bargaining... maybe even threatening.
But not Bernie, all he said when I asked if he had any last words was “Who will look after my hamster?”
I looked down at him, trying to work out if this was some kind of joke or not.
I've been in this game for a long time now, clipped a lot of guys along the way. Mostly crims and hoodlums that deserved what I delivered. A few corrupt business men who thought they were untouchable, and some corkscrewy politicians. Hell, some of THOSE guys I would have done for free too.
I have to admit, this is the first time I ever had a response like this. Almost to a man, the only thing the marks I offed were interested in saving was their own skin. I would have put Bernie in that class too until now.
Bernie stared up at me, there was no fear in his voice when he spoke. “I don't have the money.” He said. “I know the rules, and I guess I knew it was gonna go this way. But please, when you leave, take my hamster with you. He's kinda... special.”
The only thing I heard in his voice was concern, not for himself though. Who would ever guess a tough guy like Bernie would spend his last breath pleading for the life of a hamster?
I mean... Jeez, what the hell was Bernie doing with a hamster in the first place? I would have tagged him for being a rottweiler or pitbull owner.
Faint squeaking and scratching sounds came from my left.
“Don't move.” I said to him. I kept the gun pointing in his general direction as I walked over to the hamster cage sat atop the coffee table under the window.
Well, I tell you, this is the weirdest thing I ever did see. The hamster, a cute looking brown and white piece of fluff was sitting on its haunches staring back through the cage bars at me, it's front paws pressed together in front of its chest. I swear, for the life in me, it looked like it was praying... or begging.
And then I looked into the hamster's eyes...
I felt my senses drift as I was drawn into the honeyed, caramel depths of its stare. Now you may think me insane when I say that I felt I was being hypnotised... by a hamster?
Despite being aware, I was powerless to resist. Down, down and ever deeper down I sank through treacly thoughts and flittery imaginings.
Until I hit soft bottom.
I felt I was lying on the silty bed of a molasses lake.
Something inside me shifted, melted, rearranged itself.
I began to rise, slowly, slowly, until I broke surface and found myself once more staring through the cage bars at the hamster. No longer praying, but both tiny arms extended toward me, sharp tiny claws undulating, like a continuous minute mexican wave.
A sharp click of claws brought me back to the present.
I shook my head a few times to clear my thoughts.
What the hell? It felt like a different person talking when I opened my mouth to speak.
“Bernie.” I said. “The contractor doesn't know I've been here yet, so I'm gonna go home and get some sleep, when I come back tomorrow and find you gone, well... I never missed a mark before, but there's a first time for everything, right? sometimes they get away, you follow me?”
I slid the gun back into the shoulder holster as I walked out the door, and just before the door closed behind me there came a few quiet squeaks from the window side of the room, and I swear to this day that they sounded awfully like a very high pitched “God bless you”
©2019 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 27 March 2015
Oh, how we loved.
Hard and fast.
In any place or where.
In any when.
And as we loved, the world fell.
But not for us.
It wouldn't dare.
Our love was feverish.
Unlike the virus.
Cold and creeping.
It took most everything.
From most everyone.
A world left weeping.
Our only tears were ecstatic.
Post orgasmic crying.
The world was dying.
But still we loved.
With maniacal fury.
As was right.
As was our right.
As we wanted to be.
As it fell.
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 20 March 2015
There was no real need for me to visit the recycle centre today, other than it was warm and sunny, and I just felt the need to get out of the house for a while.
The few items in my shoulder bag chinked and rattled slightly as I made my way the couple of hundred yards from home to where the recycle skips sat in the corner of the supermarket car park, luckily no-one heard, or if they did they chose to ignore.
I slipped the bag from my shoulder and began posting the items through the holes into the separate containers.
A Coke bottle, a coffee jar, two crushed beer cans, a tuna tin, a soup can, and two corned beef tins.
Hardly worth the visit really, but it certainly was a beautiful day to be out and about.
I slung the bag back over my shoulder, glanced at the ruined mass of the supermarket. No point in even looking in there for anything. Nothing left in there but inedibles, armed scavs, and rats the size of dogs.
I set off back towards home, quietly making my way from one burnt out car hulk to the next, keeping low, eyes and ears working overtime.
There was no real need for me to visit the recycle centre today.
Maybe I am insane.
I prefer to think I'm clinging to the hope that maybe one day everything will go back to how it used to be, and someone will turn up to empty the skips.
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 13 March 2015
When Daddy passed away I let him sink into the deep part of the swamp, right alongside Mommy's marker.
It's not very far from the shack, but it was hard pulling him there. I did it 'cos I think he would have liked to be next to Mommy again.
I don't remember Mommy, Daddy told me she passed away when I was born, but Daddy always told me what a good and kind person she was.
Sometimes he would tell me stories about the things him and Mommy used to do.
Where they lived before they came to the swamp they had things called Sinny Mars, and Dry Vins, and Daddy told me he used to hold Mommy's hand in these things sometimes, and watch something called Moo Vees.
My Daddy used to cry sometimes when he talked about Mommy.
I don't understand why he used to cry, no-one was hurting him, there was no smoke or nothing, and the marsh gas don't do that to the eyes.
Sometimes he would kiss me and hold me real tight. He used to cry then sometimes too.
The fire don't work no more now Daddy's gone. I miss those flames, and it's cold in the night.
I caught a snake yesterday, ate it without even pulling its head. It squirmed some, but quieted before I finished.
Last night I heard the splish-splash as one of those Zom Bees went by. It seems they come by more often these days. Maybe Zom Bees like the water. Maybe they like to eat snakes too.
I ain't never seen a Zom Bee. Daddy told me him and Mommy came to the swamp so they didn't have to live next to them.
Daddy told me that Zom Bees were people who are different from us, and he always told me to cover my eyes and lie very still and quiet until they had gone away. I don't know why 'cos they don't make much noise, and they don't bother us none.
I really miss that fire.
I wonder if Zom Bees know how to make the fire work again?
I really miss my Daddy too, more than the fire even.
I wonder if one of them Zom Bees would like to be my Daddy?
Next time one comes by I'm gonna go and say hello.
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 6 March 2015
I was inspired to write this story after reading a short, and powerful piece written by Ally Atherton entitled “INCHES” which was Ally's debut story on the Friday Flash site, and it carried an impressive punch. I liked the story very much, the concept was somewhat offbeat with an underlying darkness, it stuck in my head and rattled around in there until I decided I just had to create something with it.
Although “WIDENING THE GAP” is not a clone of “INCHES” and takes a different direction, it was Ally's story that provided me with the spark.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
WIDENING THE GAP
I used to love him... I was supposed to love him, and he to love me. That's the way things should be... Isn't it?
It is... Isn't it?
The bond between flesh and blood to bring unconditional love, the embrace of father and child strong and comforting.
As the years passed I began to realize that his was not love, not affection, not how things should be... not how others lived.
Some days were harder than others, but none of them easy, none of them painless.
Yet still it took time to break those feelings. To finally accept that maybe... just maybe, I was worth more than the life I had, the life he allowed me to have.
I fled to the only haven I could, inside my own mind.
I don't sleep much now, outside time is too precious to waste in slumber.
I spend every moment I can in my own special place.
There, I am far away, untouchable, free to be... whatever I want to be, to live the life I want to live. Though that is imaginary too, for I have never seen that life... I can only imagine.
At first I was often dragged from my special place, jolted back by the sound of the door slamming open, and the rapid, heavy footsteps, the alcohol breath, the shouting, and the sting of his palm.
And the other things...
Each time I visit my own special place I feel further away from this world.
Further from him.
But not closer to anything else.
Closer, it seems, does not become me, closeness being something never shown me.
And so with usage, the skill grew, the gap widened.
I could look down on the room, on myself, experience the detachment, savour it even.
Came the night that he went the step too far, and took the life from me, the gap between what I used to be and what I had now become was so wide, that had he known about it, he would have made his own distance.
But what he had, is now gone. It lies lifeless amid a tangle of soiled sheets.
I am still here. The gap that kept this part of me safe from him now serves to shield him from me.
I will soon be leaving my special place.
I am angry...
My turn is coming now.
And the gap between us will be closing.
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 20 February 2015
Dyson sat on the edge of the cliff, swinging his legs and savouring the cool breeze.
His headgear lay on the scorched ground several feet behind him, and beyond that trailed the rest of his protective clothing, discarded over the last few yards of his existence.
He held the pistol between his hands, much as he would have held his wife's hand over the table sometimes.
A long time ago. How long ago? He couldn't recall. A tear trickled down his cheek, forging a meandering path through the encrusted dust
He couldn't even recall how long it was since he last saw another human being. A month? A year? A decade? Maybe he never had.
He wasn't sure how to tell the difference between memory and imagination any more, or even sure if he ever was able to.
Behind him the sun was setting over the mountains. A beautiful sunset, multi-hued with every shade of red, pink and purple.
He knew this without the need to turn his head to see it. Every sunset was the same now, the contamination had seen to that. What it took in life, it returned in those sunsets, the one beautiful gift it gave.
Dyson checked the load in the pistol once more, then laid the weapon down on the ground beside his thigh.
He listened intently for a while. No birds chirrupped, no insects droned, just the faint lap of the ocean on the rocks far below his feet.
And the feel of that cool, cool breeze on his skin.
He had been wrapped in the sweaty confines of the suit so long he had forgotten just how it felt. Just how so, so good it felt.
He was paying for that cool breeze with every exposed second, with every unfiltered breath.
He didn't mind.
He wouldn't suffer like so many had before him. He had the pistol.
He allowed himself to fall backwards and lay on the ground. He stared at the sky. The brightness of it hurt his eyes. The blue of days gone by replaced with an almost unfettered harsh glare. There were no clouds any more either, another contamination casualty.
Before long the heat from the ground began to burn into the bare skin of his back. He pushed himself into an upright position and stared out to sea once more, the cool breeze flowing over him.
He leaned forward and glanced down at the sharp rocks far below, considering whether to just close his eyes and lean further forward until he reached tipping point.
The sea would welcome him, he had no doubt of that, just one more piece of dead meat to mingle with all the other dead it already contained. Another ingredient in the soup.
Dyson breathed a deep sigh.
He stared out to sea until his vision blurred.
Until his thoughts wandered.
Until his mind's eye found what he had lost. What had been taken from him.
For the last time in his life he experienced the love of a good woman. The joy of holding his new born baby. All happy, beautiful memories flooded his thoughts, coursed through his very being, bringing the deepest joy he had felt for such a long, long time.
As the happiness inside him strengthened, so did the feeling of violation in his skin and bones.
The pain within him grew as his organs strove to function effectively.
Dyson resolved to carry those happy memories and emotions with him on the last leg of his journey.
As he reached for the pistol he called his wife's name over and over.
No-one would hear him.
Just as no-one would hear the sound of the shot as it was carried away on that cool, cool breeze.
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 13 February 2015
I have heard it said that everyone can remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, anyone who is old enough to remember that is.
Well, I imagine you could say the same for the day the colours disappeared, anyone that is still alive to remember that is.
One minute there they were, in all their myriad glory, unappreciated for the most part, taken for granted, just a part of everyday, humdrum existence for all to see. The next minute they were no more, ripped from the spectrum. Plunging mankind into a drab, monochromatic existence. A world of black, white, and varying shades of grey.
At first there was confusion, bemusement, bafflement, even panic, as scientists futilely searched for a cause, for a remedy, for a way to put things right again.
If they had known why the colours had disappeared, they would have spent their time more fruitfully, preparing defences, arming themselves, barricading doors and windows.
The reason why was soon to manifest itself in all its horrifying glory.
Taste was the next casualty, followed closely by the sense of smell, then hearing.
In the gigantic mothership, presently in orbit on the far side of the moon, Second Commander Qairt argued for immediate invasion. Slavering in anticipation as his trident tongue flickered over row upon row of needle teeth.
“Patience, Qairt.” Said Commander Pzeen. “We want to make this as easy as possible. We will add another beam frequency to remove their sight next, leaving them virtually senseless, then we can go down there and eat our fill. There is an abundance of food available, and we can stock our freezers to bursting point before continuing our journey.”
First technician Zaphon looked up from his instrument panel. “The beacon is now fully installed on the moon's surface, Commander. We can now switch these senses on or off at will. Awaiting your command to remove the menu's sight, Sir.”
Commander Pzeen beamed at the technician.
“Thank you Zaphon, you may commence immediately, I am feeling rather peckish myself.” Said commander Pzeen in accompaniment to a mighty tummy rumble.
“We must remember to restore their senses before we leave this system though, we don't want to inhibit their breeding ability do we? This place will be an ideal refreshment stop when our intergalactic budget tours reach this quadrant.”
©2015 Stephen. J. Green.
Friday, 12 December 2014
Bernard Hardy stared into the darkness, stared at the curtain-less window. A faint, barely perceptible tinge of light was evident, dawn was on the way.
The dining chair felt like concrete beneath his buttocks. The hours of immobility had taken their toll on his muscles and joints. He ached like a bitch, but still he remained motionless. They would hear any movement.
Hardy sat without moving, without blinking, and strove to sit without even thinking, as the light grew, crept to grey, crawled to full daylight. Then, and only then, did he feel safe to move.
They couldn't see movement in full light. Couldn't hear movement in full light. The day brought them deafness and blindness. They shut down until the fading day came around again, renewing, revigorating.
Hardy stuck to his routine. He had survived where most had not. His routine gave him life, continued existence.
He ate, bathed, then slept. His alarm would wake him before dusk. He would replace everything back exactly where it had been. Nothing must change. A place for everything and everything in its place. They would notice the difference, would investigate, would discover him.
Hardy had no idea how much of the town's population still survived, he hadn't been out of the house in a while, not since his last supermarket scavenge, but he suspected it would not be many. If the initial TV reports were to be believed the situation was global, so Hardy supposed that the world population had dwindled somewhat too.
The TV reports were no more, of course. TV was no more. Radio was no more. Traffic was no more. Electricity was no more. Muchly most of everything was no more.
Except them. They were more. They were everywhere. Watching, listening, snuffling... eating.
Creatures of the shadows.
When they first came they were like foxes in the chicken coops. Glutting out on the abundant flesh.
Now most of the chickens were gone they searched for change, for sounds, for anything that signified food presence.
The smallest things warranted attention. A fuller trash can, a recently closed blind, a fresh footprint.
Hardy awoke to the ringing of the clockwork alarm, the sound jarring his senses.
He forced himself to a sitting position, his brain struggling to become fully aware, to take In his surroundings. His almost constant depression made his first hour of consciousness the worst of the day, the hardest to deal with.
He sometimes wondered if he should just end his routine. Just give himself to them, but his fear always won out, and every evening saw him walking the walk, checking that everything was just where it should be. Just where it was when they first came.
As the light began to fade again, Hardy placed the chair back into its exact spot, sat in it in the exact same position, and tried to think of not moving.
Winter is coming, and the nights are getting longer.
Hardy stared unblinkingly at the window, watching the darkness creep back in, and did wonder to himself how much longer he could carry on doing this.
©2014 Stephen. J. Green.