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Local fisherman, Yugoslavia. CC photo by GothPhil.

Local fisherman, Yugoslavia. CC photo by GothPhil.

 

Subaqueous Homesick Blues

Seb adjusted his footing on the undulating rowboat as the net taunted his callused grip. His shoulders complaining from hauling another seaweed slick disappointment up from the depths.

‘Nothing?’ Arch asked.

Seb shook his head.

‘Fuck it,’ Arch spat into the sea, ‘so what’s that today? Ten fish, some plastic shit!’

‘The Senate will understand.’

‘Yeah and one day they’re going to get their hands wet. No, reckon the lash this time.’

Seb slumped, the boat rocking in response, ‘we could go …’

‘Where precisely? Hell boy if its not the lash its exile, now stop talking stupid and grab an oar.’

The rhythm of wood slicing water broke the silence as they followed the meager assortment of vessels that comprised the scavenger fleet. In the distance the Senate’s oilrig lay squat on the horizon.

Weary and anxious, Seb gazed at the dark shadows that glided beneath them. Daydreaming about living within submerged towers that had once pierced the sky.

 

 

The Waiting Game

Now watch me cast.

Christ I feel sick.

Notice how the rod reacts as the line dictates?

Breathe, its okay, a routine emergency cesarean that’s what the nurse said. Happens all the time.

Now we wait hoping for a bite.

A name. A name so they both live.

Shouldn’t be long I reckon.

What did Emma want … Thatcher, not going to happen, far too Tory.

Hmm, can feel something teasing.

Something else. Damn where is she?

Ah a bite, now gently we reel it in, gently, teasing.

What’s the nurse carrying, is that my son? Bloody hell he’s so small.

Easy now, this one’s struggling.

Emma should be out by now, then she can meet … Elliot … Elliot that’s what we’ll call him.

Gentle.

Where is she? How can I cope alone?

Gentle.

He’s so beautiful. Must stop crying onto him.

Easy now.

Please, where is my wife?

There, isn’t she a fine specimen?

 

What is it that we find when we look back at the road we’ve walked along? That was the thought circulating within my mind as I forged this short flash fiction inspired by the photo prompt from The Angry Hourglass weekly flash fiction competition.

As with most of my writing these days, the photo took me down a darker path than that i initially wandered along (my word there seems to be a lot of path, road metaphors in this post) but I hope you still find some enjoyment in the tale. Oh and the tale/title was inspired by The The’s Infected, an album that has long cast its influence over me.

best

IR

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

 

Twilight of a Champion

The crack of bat upon ball momentarily silenced the gathered masses. Flint peered up out of the bullpen, watching the white meteor arc across the perfectly blue sky. He turned away as the swelling roar of the home crowd confirmed his fears.

Home Run!

Flint didn’t watch the runners jogging their way around, high fiving, punching the air. The bases had been loaded, that ball the final nail in his coffin.

He threw his mitt to the floor, walked away, down the corridor, past the locker room. Out of the stadium.

There was nothing else to do.

The next morning, sunlight blasted away the cobwebs spun by beer and whisky chasers. Head pounding, he dry swallowed two aspirin as he stared at the bloodshot eyes of the zombie lurking within the mirror. As Flint ambled down the hallway, the headlines that his mother framed when he was first drafted only worsened his mood. Headlines that declared him to be the Messiah, the boy who would one day become a Goliath destroying all.

Goliath, the name had stuck. As a young man he had enjoyed the sensation it created, the posters of him smiting down inferior rivals, wrecking havoc. Indeed in that first season he had set the strike out record for a rookie. He was a god amongst insects. Then, as injury and abuse clouded both body and mind, so it was his waistband, not his trophy cabinet, that filled out.

Now he was not even a player, just a fat old balding guy with a dodgy elbow and nothing else. By the front door stood old faithful, the bat that, as a kid in that dusty diamond, would smite everything thrown his way. He examined the initials scratched into the handle, how the polished wood still felt right in his grip, an extension of his very being.

They were waiting in the kitchen, the table laden with a breakfast that made his stomach boil with resentment. They were there, his young family, mocking his failure with their patronizing smiles.

He hefted the bat in his hand.

Maybe he just had one innings left in him after all.

a-passing-moment

The photo above was a recent prompt offering from the Angry Hourglass which inspired the flash fiction below:

The Offering

‘You reap what you sow.’

‘Sorry?’

‘Nothing.’

Archie looked out beyond the wire fence of the viewing platform to the dead city that surrounded them. The icy chill of the polar vortex, that had once been dismissed as an anomaly but now was ever-present, made being outside almost unbearable. The icy wind biting deep through the blankets they had wrapped around themselves. Dawn was rising, cloaking the icy cityscape in an illusion of warmth.

As if birds disturbed from their roosting by daybreak, the song of the choir filled the world. It wouldn’t be long now. Archie leaned over, looking down at the two steel crosses set into the centre of Wall Street far below. Someone was moving to and fro, adding more wood to the pyre.

‘You hear them?’ Annabel said.

Archie nodded, taking her hand in his. His finger tracing the red dollar tattooed on her cheek, matching the one etched onto his. The Mark of Judas the Preacher had told them, as resolute hands held them down, allowing the tattooist’s needle to sear judgment into their flesh.

They were meant to have been safe in the zone. Secure behind soldiers and walls. Yet the power failed, money became worthless, their guardians deserted. The promise of a safe haven proving as false as the capitalist dream he had once sold too gullible fools.

The Preacher, a man of brimstone and Old Testament beliefs had recognised what Archie once was. As his gang returned Archie and his peers back to Manhattan the Preacher scolded them for their wickedness. Telling them that Yahweh demanded restitution, that only then would the coldness pass.

The door shook, the metal strut he had scavenged from the penthouse suites holding firm. Angry voices cursing.

Annabel let go of his hand, scaling the wire fence that surrounded the viewing platform. Archie knew that he should follow, that the choice was the flip of a coin with two heads. Yet his feet refused to move. He slumped down, Annabel pleading.

Finally she blew him a kiss, then leapt out into the silence.

He closed his eyes, muttering a prayer as the door finally gave way.

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The fine folk at The Angry Hourglass, a hot bed of talented flash writers, always set an intriguing prompt. Yet this week had me completely stumped, a porcelain lucky cat sat in a restaurant. For hours I tried to imagine what the cat was about, what story would unfold … Yet nothing, no hint of a tale, a character, a situation.

To compound things my twitter feed kept updating to the entries being submitted by writers far more talented than this humble scribe. I turned off the computer and walked away.

It seemed the best thing to do.

An hour before the deadline I was helping one of the jnrs with their homework, in particular how to use a line-jump technique to add numbers (they are only just beginning their own academic journey). The linearity, the jumping forward and backward, the sense of one thing led to another.

I apologised profusely, rebooted the Mac and started typing …

A piece I entitled Cause and Effect.

Oh,

and it came first ….

hope you enjoy it

best

IR

(image courtesy of Ashwin Rao)