Sunday, 29 January 2017

Reaping Death

Chuck has us writing about rebellion... I thought this would be easy. It wasn't. I hope this works out; it was more difficult than I thought. 


It’s been so long since I dodged my Reaper – 1996 in fact – and he’s been following me around for a good part of my life.
I’ve dreamed about him. I’ve watched him while driving past car accidents as he reaped those poor unfortunate people who lost their lives.
Nobody else can see him but the ones about to die – and, well, me – and it’s a creepy thing to admit that I see the Horseman himself every day. But he’s not scary or freaky. He’s just an old dude in a suit with an ivory walking cane. He could be any old dude walking down the street; but he had a kind of dignity about him... there’s something in his stride that says: ‘Don’t screw with me.’

And when you dodge your Reaper, and you survive accidents, diseases and other major health issues, you feel kind of weird. It’s as though you’re out of step with a line dance – and you just can’t catch back up again, no matter how much your try. The only thing you can do is stand on the sidelines and watch until the party ends.

But the party doesn’t end.

Life is the party you’ve come to – the party you’ve crashed – and you never get back into the step of it. You either feel as though you’re three steps ahead or five steps behind. You’re never in time with anyone there.

It’s really depressing.

This brings me to tonight’s events.

The accident on the bridge wasn’t my fault. But I was in the car when my Reaper showed up in the backseat with me, grabbed my hand and got me the fuck outa there just before the shit really hit the fan.
“I knew you were going to try and survive again... and it would put out the natural order again.” His voice reached my ears as the wail of the sirens filled the air, along with the acrid smoke from the fire.
“You didn’t want me dodging you again?”
“No. But you’ve seen me many times and it seems, Amy that you’re not scared of me.” He rested his hands on his cane, one on top of the other, and sighed, “That is a good thing; and I am headhunting for somebody new to train.”
“My other Reapers are old-fashioned and I need some new, young-looking ones who don’t frighten people.” He smiled as the fire crew put out the flames and the police stopped traffic. Looking up, Death watched with fascination as the search lights moved over the accident scene, “It’s time to leave.”

Time moved on and Death trained me to Reap.

It’s not hard. 

You wait for a person to be ready. 

They are usually on the list – as every Human is given a certain number of years to live – and you stand nearby to wait until it’s their time. Even criminals are reaped the same way as innocent people.

It’s amazing what a touch can do.

I did notice that Death never let me touch him though.
Then, one day, he brought me to a place I knew. It was one of my old stomping grounds, where I used to visit an old friend.
“This is the ultimate test for you.” He said, “There’s a person inside that house who’s about to die.” He pointed to red brick house. The yard was overgrown with weeds and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned up in years, “You know that person really well. And I want you to Reap them. You will be able to work on your own then.”
The next minute, we were inside the house watching a woman with long, lanky hair fixing herself up some heroin. She tied off her arm, found a well-used vein and stuck the needle in.
As she did, I caught a glimpse of her eyes; and I knew who she was!  I turned away.
I just couldn’t watch as the sounds of her overdosing reached my ears – the stench of her shitting herself and vomiting filled the room as her last heartbeat sounded in the ether has haunted me.  I ... just ... tears filled my eyes, “You bastard!”
“What?” he asked, “You will be reaping people you know in the end anyway. And besides, you have been looking for her. Reap her!”
I looked at the lifeless body as the needle fell out of her hand and onto the crappy carpet, touched her clammy wrist and... “Oh god, no...”
“What in the hell am I doing here?” her voice asked behind me.
I stood and looked at her. She was just as she had been when she was in her thirties, “You died.”
“Amy?” she asked, “I couldn’t have... not really... what happened?”
“You don’t remember?”
Death stood by me, “Tell her how she died.”
“You were on drugs.” I whispered.
“No way!” she shook her head, then I moved out of the way to show her her body, “That can’t be me.”
“I’m afraid it is.” I said, “But it’s time you went ... you have somewhere to be.” I held out my hand, “Come with me.”

I led my friend away from the corpse with Death by our side. At least I know she’s at peace. The moment she was across – the moment the light vanished. I looked at the Horseman.
He knew exactly what I had going through my mind as he raised his cane high and it morphed into a scythe, “I know what you’re thinking girl! Nobody can reap me!”
“Nobody but your protégé.” I said as I pressed my palm to his forehead with one hand and grabbed a hold of the handle of the scythe with the other. Lightning flashed as our powers clashed against each other!
I raised the scythe high as he smiled, “You kill me, who will be the next Horseman?”
“Who else? Me.” 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Last Hope

Chuck has us writing about 'hope in the face of hopelessness'. This is my attempt - after my first 2 crashed and burned terribly.


I ran through the deserted landscape of the city, where nothing grew, where very little hope lived, where...

...I ran as fast as I could to get away from the footsteps I could hear gaining on me.

They were getting closer and I was lagging quickly.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and yanked me around to meet that face, that horrible old face of a man who had seen something in me I didn’t want him to see. His voice was haggard, “You are our last hope.”
“Get off me! Where did you come from?” I shoved him hard and he fell down wheezing, repeating that line which made me sound like I was some stupid character out of a George Lucas movie from the 1970’s.

I ignored him as I turned and kept running.

I had to get away from him.

I had to get out of the city.

I had to...

A truck screamed around the corner, lights on high beam blinding me. It almost ran me over as it stopped metres in front of me. I had fallen into the broken, dried-up, hot street. With the sun beating down all around me, I was short of breath, my lungs burning as hot as the broken road beneath me – feeling the weight of my pack on my back.
“You!” A strong voice called from the driver’s side window, “Get up!”
I looked up into the glare of the midday sun, squinting did nothing to help me, “Who’s that?”
A door opened and closed and gentle hands helped me to my feet, “Come on. You need help before anything else happens to you.”
I heard a door on the side of the truck open and I was assisted inside to the coolness of what turned out to be a van. The interior light turned on as my pack was removed from my back and my hands were looked at carefully by a young girl next to me, “Who are you?” I asked.
“They found me too. They thought I was the Last Hope, but turned out I was just another girl who could join the city.” She started cleaning the burns on my hands gently after turning on a headlamp I hadn’t noticed.

I don’t remember how long we were travelling for.
I just remember arriving at a place where it looked like people had been working since...

...since everything fell apart.

The door opened. The driver helped me out, “Welcome to The New City. We don’t have a name for it yet.” He looked down at me as he removed his gloves and wiped his face with a handkerchief he had pulled from his pocket, “I’m sure you’ll tell us your name in due time. Without any computers, records or anything hi-tech, we’re well and truly on our own. So, you can make up your own name or give us your birth name.” He turned to walk away, “You can call me Rae – like rays of the sun.”
“Okay... I’m Hope.”
Rae turned and walked back to me, “We don’t have anyone with your name yet.”
I shrugged on my pack, “Where can I sleep?”
“Shanni can show you. You’ll be in the women’s quarters.” Rae said as he turned and walked off.

A day or so passed and I had a doctor look at my hands. I surprised the woman when she pulled the bandages from my hands and found the burns were almost healed.
“These were really badly burned from the road.” Shanni said, “How can you heal so fast?”
“I have to take blood as well. We have to start our blood bank again, seeing everything went off-line during the Environmental Planetary Change.” The doctor took out everything she needed for a blood test, “We have to know what blood type you are, if you have any illnesses and if you’ve been in contact with anyone with any diseases you might have caught before coming here.”
I nodded, “No problems.”

I wasn’t allowed to walk around the city for a while. The doctor had come back to the women’s quarters with guards and asked me to ‘follow’ her without an explanation; and I was in the hospital section of The New City.
Rae was called to have tests done, so was anyone in the van who had been with me. But he was permitted to be with me in the room while they ran the tests – just in case we both had something which was the same.
He glared at me as I sat on the wide window sill, “What did you do!”
Looking over at him, I shook my head, “I don’t know. I don't remember too much before you picked me up.”
“What do you mean?”
“How long has the world been like this?”
He looked outside at the dim and dead world, “About a year or two.”
I don’t remember anything before you picking me up. I was running away from somebody. They called me the Last Hope... but I thought they were mad.” Looking over at him, I saw his face change as he sat on the end of bed slowly, “What is it, Rae?”
“It is you.” A smile grew slowly on his face as tears glimmered, filling his eyes and ran down his cheeks, “I can’t believe I found ...” he looked down to his hands sniffling, “My god, you’re really here.”
Slipping off the window sill, I walked to him, “I’m just a girl.”
“No.” He looked up at me smiling through his tears, “You are the only girl here in The New City with the name of Hope. You have an extremely rare blood type which had cured three patients of diseases we’ve been battling since the city opened and there’s no candles in this room because you’ve been using it. The rest of the hospital has no electricity – just this room.” He pulled off his gloves to reveal he had eczema scaling up his hands. Looking at me, he reached out and touched my arm. Almost immediately, his right hand cleared up at that gentle touch, “Where did you come from?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know.” Turning from him, I wished I knew what happened to the world, when I only had a few days’ memory of it, “I’m new to this planet, to life like this. I don’t know how all of this works.” I looked outside as tears blurred my vision, “But I want to go home.”
Thunder cracked outside as clouds quickly gathered towards The New City. Rain began to fall against the window as I felt as homesick as I’m ever going to feel.
Rae knelt beside me, “I know why you were running.” He looked out at the rain falling from the sky, “And I haven’t seen it rain like this in ages. But you are Hope – the hope everyone needs here. You are the last hope for the planet; and that last hope is rain.”
“No, actually, she’s not the rain.” The doctor said from the door, “But I’d be very careful about Hope.”
I looked up at her, “Why be careful about me?”
“Because, Hope, nobody has seen you eat anything since you arrived; and I know why.” She smiled, “We have before us the very spirit of the planet – I believe your real name is Gaia, but you go by the human name of Hope.”
I nodded, “Yes, hope is less weird. But I haven’t been here for so long.” I looked outside again at the rainstorm I had created, “What happened? I left you all a planet which was going so well.”
“How long has it been since you have been here?” Rae asked.
“About a million years.”
He smiled, “A lot happens in a millions years.”
“Well, Humans weren’t here.” I muttered touching the glass and making it rain harder, “You badly need rain. Can’t do much about the bees.”
“Was that our fault?” the doctor asked.
“No. Evolution... bound to happen.”
“So, what are you doing here?” Rae asked.
I smiled, “You live here and you need help. God’s left the building; and I’m here to clean up his mess.”
“So, you really are our last hope in all of this.” Rae said.
I touched his other hand, clearing up the rest of his eczema, “Yes. But I can’t stay here in The New City to do my work.”
“But we need you.” The doctor blurted.
Rae turned on her, “Don’t be selfish... Hope isn’t here to garnish your needs, she’s here for the planet.”
“Rae, I’ll be needing your help first.” I smiled.
He turned, “What’s that?”
“After I’m gone from here, you will be the last hope the place has.” I said.
“No I’m too old.”
“When I cleared up your skin problem, I handed on my powers. Once I’m gone, you’ll have them all.” I smiled, “You will have all the know-how to keep this planet on its feet right from The New City.”
“I thought you...”
“Now, you are the last hope for mankind to get it right this time.”

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Losing My Mind

Chuck has us talking about what we fear the most. I have Epilepsy; and the one thing I fear the most is the other diseases that come with this disease as I age - the ones I have absolutely zero control over when I get old. I don't fear death... never have. After so many seizures, an overdose (which wasn't my fault)and being a person who just accepts what goes on in her life... I've found that the one thing I would hate the most would be to forget my nearest and dearest.

The ward is full today.

It was empty yesterday – but it’s full today.

It’s full of voices, people, noises and colours... oh! So many colours, colours and waves... too many to look at, so many I have to look at the blank, smeared tabletop to make the colours...



That’s better.

Closing my eyes, it’s time to breathe again.

The door over near the nurse’s station opens and closes. Oh! Visitors! It’s 10am already? I look over and see three people. They’ve looked my way and one waves at me. I have no idea who it is but wave back.

Were they here yesterday? Last week? Last month?

No idea.

I put my hands on the table and find they’re shaking; but I can’t stop them. Damn it, I wish they would. 

It’s just a tiny tremble, but...

“Hey sis.” He says, “It’s me, your brother, my wife and your niece. We came last week to see you.”
Oh good, it was last week, “Hi. It’s good to see you.”
His smile falters as he realises I don’t remember the visit, “We thought to bring some photo albums to show you. Get your memory going again.”
“Okay.” I smile.

They were there for a few hours. We have lunch downstairs – where I’ve never been on my own – and I found their visit wonderful. My niece gave me a photo album she had refurbished with everything from my life, their life and other photos from outside of here. It was to remind me of good things.
The thing is: I don’t remember losing the memory of these things.
My life just started fading like the old photographs – like those receipts you get from the store. You know the ones: after about a year, you can’t read what’s on them, so you end up throwing them away. That’s how my memory has been lately.
That’s not all either.
I’ve been forgetting how to cook food. I nearly burnt down my house one day when I didn’t know how to turn off the stove. Strange how it was that I knew how to turn it on. I also took one look at my car and – with the keys in my hand – had no idea how to unlock it, or drive it. It was just for a few minutes, but it happened a few times.
But the one thing that really hit home – bothering me – was when I arrived home one day and I pulled out the house keys and didn’t know what they were used for. I still have a set of them; and still have no idea what the big ‘Hawks’ key is for – but it looks impressive.
The doctors said that my mental decline was more sudden than they expected as such a young age. However seeing how many seizures had damaged parts of my brain, they were surprised I had been able to live on my own as long as I have.

So, here I am in a nursing facility.

One minute I’m good. I’m fine. I can talk to you about philosophy and the big sciences of the world. 

The next? I’m wondering what my name is... all within about two hours.

I’m not insane.
Epilepsy patients have this problem. When they get old, their condition changes. It changes them and their brain as well. They have a high chance of dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease – or if they’re unlucky enough, all three. I unfortunately, scored the first one. This was my biggest fear; that this would happen to me.

And now it has, I wish I had travelled more in my 40’s...

Am I in my 40’s?

The ward is full today.

It was empty yesterday – but it’s full today.

It’s full of voices, people, noises and colours... oh!
Hi... what’s your name? 
My name is... um. 
Oh darn, I knew it before, when... I have some photos here. I don’t know where I got them from, but they have some people in them I think I know.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Sounds of Silence

And we're back to writing Flash Fiction Fridays again! This time, Chuck has us writing about our own Unusual Apocalypse... the one we didn't see coming - or won't. 


It’s spooky to be around this near-silent world you know, when you’re not a part of what everyone else is doing. I’ve walked down the street with a trusty book in my hand to the bus stop, sat down and wait with a group of what passes for humans these days.

They’re all glued to their handsets, tablets and have everything plugged into their ears – and they just sit there in complete silence. There’s no looking up to talk to the person next to them, no verbal conversation; nobody seems to realise if it’s raining or if the sun is out.

It’s creepy I tell ya.

But I’m sitting there with a book, reading with my glasses on and I have had a strange look from time to time.

 A frown is caught just as they turn away.
I wonder if they’re all talking to each other, gossiping at the retro-person sitting nearby.
I have had one or two people get up and move when they see my hand move up to turn the page of the book; as though the movement freaked them out and they couldn’t stand being so close to somebody who moves so much.

Strange, right?

Well, that happened the other day, and now, I’m not at home. I’m supposed to be, but I’m not. I’m in a little room somewhere away from my house with a camera in the corner of the room watching my every move.
I’ve been here for around twenty minutes with them watching me in total silence... waiting for me to do something.

But that’s the thing: I’m totally comfortable in my own mind without being attached to a computer, a mobile phone or the internet... and this is bothering them.
The door opens and a man walks in with a thick folder, a phone and box with a new phone inside it. He’s dressed like that – Agent Smith – out of ‘The Matrix’ and sits across from me, “We have been watching you closely, Miss...” He checks the front of the folder, “... Anders. And your activities online aren’t right.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
Flipping the folder open, he clears his throat, “You don’t have a Facebook page, or a MySpace or anything to do with social media... you haven’t told us anything about yourself.”
“I don’t have to.”
He looks up at me, “Everyone else has.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to.” I said.
He regards me for moment before continuing, “You are one of a few people in this city who have blatantly refused to get with the program, Miss Anders.” He flipped over the page and it flickered a little as it landed soundlessly on the other side of the folder, “You actually go out to the store and buy your shopping, you don’t have a credit card, and never have anything delivered to your house... not even a pizza.” He looked up at me, “Why is that?”
“I like picking out my own groceries, I like driving a car and I like cooking my own meals. And I like saving money; so I don’t need a credit card... just because everyone else has one doesn’t mean I have to get one.” I replied.
He flipped over another few pages, “You have some large collections of things we don’t approve of.”
“You’ve been through my house? Why am I not surprised?”
“You have a room filled with books... real, traditional books. They were put onto The Cloud years ago. You don’t need them.” He said, “And you have cd’s and vinyls of music in your possession as well as a turntable... you need not have those. All of that music is also on The Cloud on the internet.”
“Next thing you’re gonna tell me that I’m not allowed to have a Christmas Tree or send out Birthday Cards to my friends; because we can do all of that online.” I smile, “Exactly what is the harm in all of this?”
He closed the folder with a dull thud, “You don’t understand, Miss Anders, you are already in a matrix. What you are doing by ‘going retro’ goes against the rules of this matrix, so we need you to catch up or you will be rejected from it.”
“Aren’t there other people like me here?”
“There were.”
“Where are they now?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does. You must know where we go once you reject us.” I leaned my elbows on the table and stared at him, “I know you’re being told what to say, but I want you to tell me exactly what happens to us, because you know what happens to people like us – people who don’t want to take part in the future, who stick around in the past like I do.”
“They look stupid.”
“No, they’re doing what they want because nobody is forcing them to do what the rest of the world is doing. Now, tell me where do you send us? Do you kill us?”
“No. We...” he pulled at his ear-wig and let it fall onto his shoulder, standing, he took a deep breath, “There’s a place we send you; but none of your things are there... you’re left there until you beg to come back. But ...” looking at me, a smile hinted on his face, “You have ‘The Boss’ 5-album box set on vinyl... how did you find that?”
“You were like me.”
The door opened as his face flushed and he looked down as another walked into the room, “Agent, step down.”
“No.” He turned and looked at this next agent, “I have done this to them so many times, I can’t do it anymore. Why can’t they have their own things that make them happy?”
“Because happiness isn’t how the world works.” The other agent said, “If there was happiness, the Computer Apocalypse we’re planning would falter.”
“Computer Apocalypse?” I whisper.
“Yes. From the very first time one was invented decades ago, governments planned on making the world into the idiot nations it is now... but there had to be a few people, like you Miss Anders, who just wouldn’t go with the program.” The new agent took a threatening step forward as I stood from the table, “Sit down.” I almost did, until the first agent grabbed my arm and pulled me up to stand, “Agent, you’re out of line. You are to be reprogrammed.”
“No.” He said, “After I removed the ear-wig, I knew exactly why I was here; and it’s not to punish Miss Anders for her ways of living.”
“You have it all backwards. The Human Race isn’t to be programmed into a world of silence so as to make them do as they’re told – they’re not cattle.”
“Yes they are.”
“Who told you that?” I ask.
The second agent stared me, “What do you mean?”
“Who told you that we were cattle and were to be reprogrammed to do as we were told?” I ask.
He hesitates, “I don’t understand.”
The first agent sighs as he rips the ear-wig out of his collar, tearing the soft plastic from the back of shirt, showing it to the second agent, “Who’s blabbing instructions to us through here?”
“Oh! It’s our superiors.” He says.
“And who are they?” I ask.
The second agent slowly pulls his ear-wig out, “Oh shit. What have we done?”