Friday, 28 September 2012

Pocker lips

I was very small when Pocker lips came.
I don't remember people falling.

I remember the beautiful black snow.
I remember the colourful stripey skies.
I remember playing sliding games on the shiny glass beaches.
I remember crunchy cockroach dinners.
I remember being found by big people.

I have been taken to live underground now.
I wish I could go outside and play.

©2012 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The short cut (Part 3)

Anyone wishing to read the first two episodes of this mini-series can find them here:-

The short cut (Part 1)
The short cut (Part 2)


I shoved open the grille at the top of the ladder and clambered out onto tarmac.

The grille slammed shut with a clanging finality that told me it wouldn't open again even before I tried it.

The road looked familiar... but unfamiliar at the same time. It was definitely the road that led home, but there was something wrong about it, something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

I started jogging up the white line, I just wanted to get home, go to bed, and hope that all this lunacy would be gone when I woke up again.

When I topped the last rise before my house I stopped for a breather, a few yards down the slope there was a sign in the centre of the road...


Just beyond the sign a strange-looking military vehicle was angled across the road and beside it an armed soldier, his back to me. There must be some emergency in progress, a bio-hazard or something, that would possibly explain some of this oddness. I didn't care, it was help, someone to take control and sort this mess out.

I ran towards the trooper, skirting around the sign as I went...

“Hey! .. Hey! .. I need help... Hey!”

At the sound of my voice the soldier spun on his heel to face me, instead of the fresh-faced grunt barely out of his teens that I expected to see, what poked from the uniform collar was a chittering clickering insectoid head...

Fire spewed from the barrel of its assault rifle and as the rounds impacted my world went black.

* * * * *

I woke up next to the CHECKPOINT sign in the road. I rose to my feet and looked down the slope.
The vehicle was still there, the insect soldier too, stood with its back to me just like before.

Walking as quietly as I could, and sliding the tyre iron from my belt, I crept toward it, I was almost there when my foot scuffed gravel.

The creature turned and fired in one smooth motion...

* * * * *

Awakening once more next to the signpost, I began to see a pattern emerging.

It sounded real crazy, but this was like being a character in a video game.

It took me six attempts before I managed to reach the mandible-mouthed asshole without it hearing me, I put every ounce of strength I had into laying that tyre iron into the back of its head, when it crumpled to the floor I laid into it several more times for good measure.

Green slime oozed from its skull and pooled on the tarmac.

The creature was the weirdest thing I have ever seen, a chitinous, but humanoid body with seven-digit clawed hands, and a face like a praying mantis. One ugly bug if ever I saw one.

I searched through the uniform and found two more magazines for the assault rifle, I threw these into my shoulder bag, which strangely didn't seem any fuller or heavier for the extra bulk.

A glance inside the vehicle squashed any ideas I might have of commandeering it, the controls looked so alien I wouldn't even think of trying to drive it.

Shouldering the assault rifle I set off in the direction of my home.

* * * * *

That was what seems now like a lifetime ago.

Many miles, many buildings, and many skirmishes ago.

Since then I've killed countless thousands of these “Buglies” as I've come to think of them.

Occasionally larger ones appear, great eight-legged brutes with massive firepower, sometimes it takes dozens of reincarnations before I get the measure of these things and find the weakness that brings them down.

I've battled and slaughtered my way to LEVEL 7 now, I have no idea how many levels there are, or if I will ever see my old life again.

Yeah, my old life...

My crappy job that I absolutely detest, with the jumped up little Hitler of a supervisor on my case all day.

My shitty home life of lonely TV dinners, and repeat shows, and getting drunk alone just to deaden the pain of it all.

Yeah, my old life.

Y'know what? Screw it, I don't even want to go back.

I click-clacked the slide, chambering a round into the breech of the combat shotgun, my favourite weapon so far. Oh yeah, the RPG and the sniper rifle have their uses, but when it came to close-quarters work this beauty could really spread that green slime across the walls.

I took a pace forward and kicked open the farmhouse door...

From inside, the loudening sounds of clicky-mouthed screeching came from multiple directions.

I ran inside, looking for targets...


The end:

©2012 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The short cut (Part 2)

Anyone wishing to read Part 1 of this mini-series can find it here:-

The short cut (Part 1)


I started the engine, and drove along the lane in a blind panic, although the twists and turns belied the fact, it soon became obvious that I was still travelling in circles. Passing the oaks, crossing the bridge, time and time again, just hoping that this nightmare would end and I would suddenly reach the main road, or wake up in my bed to discover it was just that, a nightmare.

Eventually the car, which had been low on fuel to start with, ran dry. I left it in the middle of the road, and I began to walk.

The slower pace gave me more time to take in my strange surroundings. I discovered that walking into the woods led nowhere. A few yards in, and on both sides of the lane, an impenetrable barrier of sharply-thorned briar ran the full length of the short cut. There was no escape.

The second time I passed my abandoned car I gave it a thorough search, looking for anything that may be useful.

My small shoulder bag containing a packed lunch was still on the passenger seat, I ate the sandwich and drank half of the orange juice, then slung the bag onto my shoulder, the apple and chocolate bar I would save for later.

In the glove compartment I found a small torch, kept there for night-time emergencies, not very powerful but the batteries were in good shape. I threw this into the bag alongside my half empty lunch box.

In the boot the only thing apart from the spare wheel and jack was a hefty tyre iron, which I slid into my belt, god only knows what I intended to use it for but it gave me a measure of comfort just knowing it was there.

I trudged once more along the narrow lane until again I came to the bridge, stopping in the centre of it I took a long look in all directions.

Of course! Why didn't I think of it before? The briar didn't grow across the stream, there was my escape route, my salvation.

Deciding it would be easier on the calf muscles to go with the flow, I waded into the knee-deep water and set off downstream.

The overhanging foliage dappled the sunlight on the water, a sight I would have appreciated the beauty of had it not been for the seriousness of the situation.

Trout swam lazily in the bright water, they would have been easy to catch too, it wasn't the thought of eating raw fish that prevented me from grabbing a couple, it was fear of the sign. “POACHERS WILL BE PERSECUTED” I wasn't entirely sure what that entailed, but it certainly didn't sound like something good.

On and on I went, my feet were cold and freezing, but I was driven with the expectation of discovering a break in the dense foliage on one of the banks, any moment now I would find the way out of this predicament.

There... A hundred yards or so downstream... A structure of some kind... Something!

I quickened my pace, pushing my tired legs harder through the water, eager to get to whatever it was that I could see.

As I neared the structure my heart sank, I felt like weeping, it was the bridge, the same one I had set off from.

I sat down wearily on a jutting mid-stream rock, exhaustion and despair were taking their toll.

That's when I saw it!

A tunnel! From my low vantage point I could see underneath the bridge, and there, built into the bank beneath the wooden support beams was a concrete pipe, about three feet in diameter, and heading off in the direction of the main road... and home.

The sense of relief was overpowering. I stared long and hard at the opening before plucking up the courage to approach it.

I shone the torch down the tunnel, the light penetrated a few yards, revealing a perfectly straight, and spotlessly clean tube. There was something strange about that too, I mean, I would have expected the tunnel to be slimy or muddy, or insect-infested, but no, it looked as though it had been built yesterday.

Holding the torch in my mouth I climbed into the tunnel and began to crawl.

I tried not to think about the pain in my knees or the ache in my back as I made my way along the pipe, I just concentrated on keeping moving.

After what seemed like hours, but was probably only several minutes, I thought I could see a speck of light a long, long way off. I switched off the torch, I might be needing what battery life was left later.

Yes, yes, there was light!

I moved faster, eager to be out of the claustrophobic confines of the tunnel. It had also struck me that I couldn't turn round in here even if I wanted to, which also meant it was an ideal place for someone... or thing, to attack me.

I crawled along toward the light, which grew larger and brighter by the minute.

Reaching the end of the pipe I emerged into a brightly lit but small concrete room.

I stood upright, stretching the knots out of my aching back and limbs.

The room was illuminated by a single neon light set into the far wall, to my left a vertical steel ladder rose to the ceiling and continued its way upwards through a square shaft.

I gripped the rungs of the ladder, and began to climb.

Continued in:-

The short cut (Part 3)

©2012 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The short cut (Part 1)

I had found the short cut completely by accident.
Feeling nauseous, I just had to get out of the crawling rush hour traffic, and had turned into a narrow lane not much wider than the car.

After switching off the engine I climbed out of the vehicle, the space to breathe in a little fresh air calmed my heaving stomach, and before long I felt well enough to continue.

I travelled on along the little lane looking for somewhere to turn around, passing beautiful glades and greenery along the way.

After a couple of miles I came to a quaint wooden bridge spanning a shallow but rapid stream. The sign at the side declared:- “TROUTBROOK CROSSING … POACHERS WILL BE PROSECUTED.”

I drove over the bridge, and after another quarter of a mile or so the road emerged onto a major A road which I recognised immediately, I was only about two miles from home, the short cut down the lane had taken fifteen miles and the best part of an hour off my commute, oh this was indeed a gem of a discovery.

I wasn't really surprised that I had seen no other traffic on the little lane, it wasn't on the map, and both entrances to it were so hard to spot from the road a person would just drive straight by totally oblivious to their existence, as I had been doing for years now.

I used the short cut every day from then on, the time it saved me enabled me to have a leisurely breakfast instead of dashing to the car with keys in one hand and a half-eaten slice of toast in the other.

After a few weeks I became aware of odd changes taking place along the lane, unnerving changes.

There was one particular spot where three oak trees stood side by side at the road's edge, their leafy branches overhanging, and diffusing the light for several yards. One morning when I passed there were only two trees, this in itself, although noticeable did not seem particularly strange, one of the trees must have been infected and had to be cut down, but in the back of my mind a little voice said, “Well, where is the stump then?”

The tree had reappeared when I passed the spot on my way home, convincing me that I had imagined it in the first place, until the next morning when I passed and there was not three, but four trees.

Alarm bells started ringing...

Another day the sign at the bridge said “TROUTBROOK CROSSING … POACHERS WILL BE PERSECUTED.”

Some days a bend in the road would be sharper or shallower than before, other days flowers by the roadside would have changed colour overnight.

Although these changes were strange, there was nothing threatening about them, and so I continued to use the short cut, only now I tended to actually look closely for anything that was different or out of the ordinary.

When I actually looked for it, there was always something to see, sometimes a large, sometimes a minute difference to spot, but still something, every day.

I began to see this as a kind of game, and each day eagerly awaited my journeys, playing “Spot the difference” and I was happily thrilled once I had discovered the change.

Until today, if there were something different I couldn't spot it, feeling cheated I turned the car around when I reached the major road, and set off down the lane again in the opposite direction, I must have missed it, it was there to find, I just needed to look a little closer.

I had crossed the bridge and almost reached the far end of the lane again, and was feeling frustrated that I hadn't noticed anything different when it dawned on me I would probably be late for work.

I glanced at my wristwatch, jeez, I was due to start in twenty five minutes, this wasn't good.

I pressed the accelerator harder, driving as fast as I dare on the narrow twisting road, I would reach the end soon and be able to turn around. With luck, and a bit of risky driving I would just about make it in time.

The car hit air as I took the bridge too fast, bouncing on the springs as it landed heavily on the other side...

A chilling thought crept into my brain...

“That's the second time I've crossed the bridge!”

I drove faster still, the trees a passing green blur, the four oaks flashed past, and before long I was speeding towards the bridge again.

“What the...?” I was driving round in circles, how the hell could that be happening?

I glanced at my wristwatch again, and my heart went suddenly cold.

My hand looked different, the fingers seemed shorter, more stubby than they should.

Panicking, I slewed the car to a stop and cut the engine.

I tilted the rear-view mirror and took a good look at my reflection.

The face that stared back at me was that of a complete stranger.

Continued in:-

The short cut (Part 2)

©2012 Stephen. J. Green.