Saturday, 9 June 2018

The Food Connection Network

Chuck wants us to write about food and its connections in a tribute to Anthony Bourdain today... so here's my connection to food. I hope you all enjoy it. I've used my real memories and real names. 


From when I was a little girl, I remember my Granmother’s house being a place where there was always something to eat, something of grand smells emanating from the kitchen, of learning how to cook, stir, taste and enjoy the end result of at the very gentle and experienced hands of a dear, plump, and sweet old lady in a blue house dress and an apron.
Yes, my Grandma’s house was the place to go when you wanted to be fed to the very brim, the pussy-bow, to the state of almost being sick, because my Grandma Killips was one of the best cooks in my family ever! From the moment the door opened, you inhaled that delicious scent of her baking – yes, she had been baking all morning just for us grandkids with Grandpa in the front parlor reading the paper (well, making out he was) and hoping he’d get a good feed of the freshly turned out Date Roll or at least one or two of the Sticky Cornflake Biscuits (which he loved but they stuck to his dentures and he had to go and run them under hot water to get the honey off them).

And it was those Sticky Cornflake Biscuits which were always made for me – especially for me – as they were nice and soft, filled with peanuts and chewy, warm sultanas and sticky all over with honey and treacle, binding the cornflakes to each other, and to the tray; as well as to anything that came in contact with them... oh yes, they were so yummy as they came off the tray and were laid out one by one on the grease paper-covered wire trays lining the counter along the wall, where Grandma kept her old Tupperware containers of tea and coffee and drinking chocolate. In the above cabinet were cups, saucers and the dinnerware as well, all nice and old and hard-wearing, with an old-style carriage on the plate itself being pulled by four grand horses.

It wasn’t just her sweet foods which made the visits to Grandma’s house all the more fun. She used to make a roast lunch to die for; I mean, the roast vegetables alone were a meal within themselves! The potatoes were gorgeous and crunchy on the outside and lovely, light and fluffy on the inside – all the way through! – and even more delectable when you added butter! And the pumpkin was cooked so well, you could eat the skin; which was so sweet, nobody left that on the plate; and if you did, Grandpa gave you a horrified look and took it off you!

The one thing I didn’t like eating there was Brussel Sprouts. No matter how Grandma cooked them I would gag on them; and they smelled horrible. My brother and I were not allowed to have dessert or leave the table until we ate our brussel sprouts. So, Grandma would tell Grandpa that she’s stick around and make sure we ate them; and the minute he was in the living room down the hall, she’d scoop them off our plates and eat them and plop down our bowls of triple-layer jelly with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in front of us and whisper: “A secret between us three, okay?” and then she start clearing the table. I think deep down inside, Grandpa knew all about our ‘secret’, but didn’t let on, but really, I never liked those little cabbages – even now in my forties – they just smell and taste horrid.

Cooking has been a big thing in our lives because of our Grandmothers. Oh, yes, I also had a Nanna who was alive when I was younger. But she wasn’t as liberal when it came to us kids with food as Grandma Killips was. Nan Parker was always one who kept the sweets hidden high and out of reach, told us to not eat the plums in the fridge (and yet they vanished without us touching them) and wouldn’t let us eat so much as a Milky Way before dinner. She forced us to wait the whole six hours between lunch and dinner, thinking us kids – who lived most of our lives on pure sugar and junk food when we were at school and at home in between meals – could survive the afternoons in the back yard, when really we wanted to be running around half of Moorooka and Annerley with the other kids.

It was nice to be around Nan Parker, but she had her ways when it came to food. If you didn’t eat your carrots one meal, when you were 16 years old, you never got them again for the rest of your life – ever! It happened to me. I love my honeyed carrots – especially Nan Parker’s honeyed carrots (I still don’t know how she did them to make them ooze honey on the plate, and wish to hell I did) – and one night, I didn’t eat the honeyed carrots, some potato and beans because I was full. Well, the next meal, I didn’t get any carrots... I thought she didn’t have enough. But nope, I never saw another carrot grace my plate for the next decade. When I asked her about that, she said, “Oh! I thought you hated them! So, I took the hint and didn’t give you any.” I was stunned! I shook my head, “Oh your honeyed carrots, really??? I love carrots! I was full and couldn’t fit in another bite that night; that’s all.” After that, Dad said to his Mum to ask people about why they left things, or if they’re full, not just assume they hate things.

Cooking in Nan’s kitchen was another thing too. I asked if she’d like me to bake a batch of scones in her kitchen; and Pop Parker jumped at the chance that somebody else was going to ‘have a go’ at making something in the place! He was all for it and sat at the kitchen table watching me eagerly as I pulled out my cookbook I had brought with me (I had gotten it for my birthday that year) and Nan followed me around like a bad smell, double guessing my measurements, turning down the oven when I turned it to the correct heat (then Pop went and turned it back up for me when her back was turned and put on some tea). Well, as I was washing up and cleaning the counter, with the egg timer going, Nan just wouldn’t leave the oven door alone! She kept opening it and checking on them, letting the heat out! Pop ended up leading her out of the kitchen and telling her that I was baking, not her. The kitchen wasn’t going to catch fire and they were scones, not a huge experiment going awry. She was so flustered that somebody was using the kitchen and not her that I ended up just letting the scones be the way they were – not adding on any time as I should have – and when they came out of the oven, they were undercooked and Nan blamed me for it. 

I never cooked in her kitchen again.

That’s not to say I never cooked again.

At high school, we had a great catering course which my brother took up... but I was just as good at Home Economics. We had to make an apron before we were allowed in the kitchen though. And once we all did – or most of us did – we were asked to cook our first meal; and for a lot of us, it was the first time we had ever been in a kitchen. I learned a lot from my Home Economics teachers; and since then, I have learned a lot from my brother and my Mum as well.

My brother went in and started out as an apprentice chef at some of the big and snooty restaurants around Brisbane, like Two Rooms (both locations) and there’s a nice little place in West End he worked at as well. And, he may not have finished his apprenticeship, but he learned a lot about cooking and how a kitchen runs.

So, when I moved out home, I started out with the crappy powdered food and eating take-away food, all of which made me very sick. But over the years, I’ve learned how to cook through recipes in great books. I started buying recipe books I wanted to learn from, writing my own recipe journal and relishing in the moment when I have adjusted a recipe enough to call it my very own.

I have learned a lot through experimentation, looking at herbs, and working on my own recipes and what food goes with what herbs and seeing how far I can push the culinary envelope. My Cold-Buster Soup is one my family has tasted often; and I have made for them when they’ve really needed it. It wards off the harshest cold, and busts the flu out of their system. My vegetable soup is a great stodgy soup filled with everything I can get my hands on along with pasta - and occasionally chillies for a great kick, or some curry powder as well. My favourite foods to make are Italian foods; as they’re the most delicious and rich. My Pumpkin, Spinach and Mozzarella Cannelloni is the best one I’ve experimented with – even when I’ve changed it to eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini.
My brother has often phoned me just as I’ve put something into the oven and asked me, “Hey, sis, what are you creating for dinner?” I’ve told him and he’s written it down and made it; then called me later on asking where in the hell I got that recipe. I’ve told him, “Aaaw, well, I made it up last week, and wanted to see if it was the same this week; and it was.” Yep, gotta say, experimenting with your cooking with great, fresh food is always a fun thing to do! But you have to have the previous knowledge of what food goes with which herb beforehand, or it’ll all taste like dirt.  

Food connects us all – from the youngest of our memories to the time we have had with each of our family gatherings – it will always be there to pull us together in one way or another. It’s a connection no matter where you are in the world, what language is spoken, what culture you’re emerging yourself into – food is the connection to everyone and everything everywhere. I have learned that the best food in your life takes more than an hour to prepare; and only minutes to eat. Prepare with the best ingredients, and use the best utensils on hand. Your kitchen need not be a massive one, but it must be a useful one; and that’s all which matters; as I’ve made the best vegetarian stews, pizzas, soups and tofu burgers in my very own kitchen; and yet it’s not the best place in the world to cook, it’s not very impressive, and it’s not filled with character, or the most expensive equipment around... but it’s got me as it’s cook with my cookbooks – and really that’s all my kitchen needs, that’s all I need in my life as a writer. So long I know how to cook good food, I’m going to be okay; and considering my Grandma, my Nanna, my Mum and my brother are all great cooks, I think I’m going to be okay. It’s the connection to these people which I can pass onto my niece and onto my friends as well – the food connection network.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Dreamers Door

Chuck gave us 10 different titles this week to pick from. I picked this one and wondered what would happen if I took us on a journey of where we went before we hit the REM status of sleep? Well, it was weird... strange really. 


The duvet was nice and warm as my mind relaxed, the chill of the night was kept out and the humming of the neighbour’s air-conditioner started up. My last momentary thought was: ‘How in the hell would somebody need an air-conditioner on a freezing night like this?’
Then, I was walking along a forest pathway, with the tallest trees vanishing into the mists above, the moonlight pushing through the grey mist overhead and greenness of the surroundings seeping into the pores of my soul. The pathway crunched under my feet, a cool wetness pushing up through the souls of my feet making me shiver as I took each step towards a sound.
It wasn’t as though I knew where I was going, but I didn’t feel in danger of being eaten by anything. I knew nothing was hiding in the fern surrounding me and spreading around to my left, downwards into the darkness where I couldn’t see too far.

Water was gurgling off in the distance.

Turning away from it, I kept walking along the path. 

My feet were no longer cold and I looked down to find I had my favourite shoes on – how did they get there? I didn’t put them on. Shrugging, I didn’t worry too much about this too much – I wanted to find the sound I was walking towards. It seemed to be moving further away from me as I moved towards it.

Was this a dream?

Was I actually in a forest?

Was I still in bed under the safety of my duvet on the freezing cold Winters’ night?

I wasn’t sure, but I was really beginning to wonder where I was as there were no sounds coming from the forest: no birds, no night creatures – nothing. This was putting me on edge as I picked up my walking pace and looked behind me to find there was darkness in my wake.
As I took a step forward, the forest and its path, the moonlit mists above and everything surrounding me vanished into a pitch darkness of nothingness which seemed to vanish off the face of the planet....

Was I still on planet Earth?

Was this a dream?

Was I still in bed under the safety of my duvet on the freezing cold Winters’ night?

Was I...?

I stopped walking.

I was dreaming, but this dream wouldn’t end or begin unless I...

Looking around to my right, I saw a door carved into the darkened shadow of a tree trunk. Exactly how long it had been there, I didn’t know, but – I broke from the path, stepped through the greenery on the side of the path and started towards it.
My jeans were soaked by the heavy dew all over the plants, twigs snapped under my shoes and I pushed branches out of my which fell down in front of me to block my view.
But I didn’t take my eyes off the tree trunk or its shadow-filled doorway; and I knew if I even so much as blinked, it would vanish and I’d be lost forever in this pre-dreamers landscape of nothingness, darkness and surrealism forever – well, until I was awoken by my alarm in the Real World.
I stepped into the shadow of the doorway and found I was right! There was indeed a door carved into this tree!

But ... was it the right door to the right dream for this night?

Was this Dreamers Door mine or another’s to use?
Well, I’d never know until I tried it out, right?
I grabbed the carved wooden handle and gave it a good, hard shove.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Best Served Cold

Revenge is the name of the game here - and Chuck has told us to play it any way we want to. Thought my story was going to be plain and simple... well, that's how it started out.


It was going to plan... everything was.
I was where I was supposed to be – on the roof waiting for back-up – and the rest of the group were going to ‘put to sleep’ the guards at the main gates and surrounding building.

This was until it all went wrong.

The plan?

Nah, you’ll think I’m being (jealous, childish, horrible...) ....


Yep, that’s it... it’s revenge.

My life was going well.

I had the house, the wife, the two children, the car... I was what my Mum and Dad wanted – and expected – of me.
I worked my arse off and got where I wanted to be – needed to be – in life to make a good life for us. I put my children into the right schools, lived in the right suburb, knew the right people, socialised in the right circles, attended a wine club, went to squash once a fortnight at my local gym, joined the country club and got into the right back pockets of all the right people to get a foothold into the job I wanted where I was... besides, my boss had made sure I got into the country club.

How was I to know that country club was owned by criminals? It looked like it was on the up-and-up – it really did, but then, most places which look like they’re legal, aren’t.

This is how revenge came into play.

I arrived home one evening to find my front door kicked in, my wife sitting at the kitchen table and my kids were gone. She looked as though the men who were standing around her had smacked her around.
“Honey?” I put down my bag in a nearby chair, which normally she’d yell at me about, but this time, she just cried, “What’s going on.”
“You’re the new one, right?” one of the beefier men asked from the fridge, poking around in it for something to eat or drink, “Dontcha have any beer?”
“We don’t drink alcohol.” I said, “What’s going on here?”
He turned from the fridge, slammed the door and opened a small bottle of Mountain Dew, and guzzled it down in one or two gulps, belched and left it on the counter, “Well, aren’t you demanding?”
“You’re in my house, beat up my wife, and ... where are the kids?” I looked around, straining to hear for the laughter from upstairs of my two children.
Her hand touched my arm, “They took them... sweetheart... oh god, they...”
I almost stopped breathing as I watched my beautiful wife crumble, tears streaking her face as she shook in the dining room chair. Touching her hand gently, she jumped and I knew they had done something horrible to her, and cast all three men a baleful look: “Tell me what you have done to my children. I have a fair idea what you’ve done to my wife.”
“One thing at a time, sport-o.” The beef-cake smirked, “Now, you’re kids are fine, so long you follow the rules.”
“Which are?”
“We make them and you’ll follow them as they happen.”

Well, the rules changed from day to day. My wife disappeared and the cops didn’t want to know about what was happening. So, I had to do the rescuing myself.

I quit my job, disappeared from the area I lived in, cashed everything I owned and joined a vigilante group and trained up to the point where I could get in and out of a building without attracting attention to myself. The guys were ready to help me after a few jobs were successful with me in the team – and they knew I was there for a reason.
We were all there for our own personal reasons – and each of us were mainly there to either rescue somebody, avenge a death, or needed a cause to make our dark lives meaningful. When they heard mine, they knew they had to help me get my wife and my children back – and if my family was gone? Well, at least I’d know and not be left in the dark.

Gunshots popped and people shouted.

A siren slowly started going off as lights swung around the compound.
I stayed put on the ruin of the building on the outskirts of the place, waiting for the signal – so far, this was not it.

Then I saw it!
The hot pink streak of a flare shot high and bright into the night and exploded into a single fireworks display!

I don’t remember exactly my movements – I normally don’t – as I fought my way towards the compound to find a vehicle, the guys I was in with and – finally – my family.

But this isn’t how it worked out.

“Your lawyer’s here.”
I turned around from the small window overlooking the grey day outside, “Okay.”
“Are you going to behave yourself or do we have to cuff you?” the screw asked.
“I’ll be okay.” I nodded.
The door unlocked, slid opened loudly and he let me out of my holding cell.

I wasn’t in prison, I was the compound’s holding cell.

He led me to a room where I saw my wife standing behind the lawyer without a scratch on her. The bruises she had on her a few months back would have left scars, but she didn’t have any.
I tried not to show that I noticed this, but it was hard.
“Sit.” The screw pushed me into a metal chair.
The lawyer who sat across from me was my boss, “What happened to you?”
“Everything went sideways. I had the perfect life, worked for you and joined that damned country club, and then suddenly everything screwed up and now you’re asking me what happened to me?” I glared at him.
He sat back smiling, “You don’t understand.”
“Where are my children?” I looked up at my wife, “And she was so beaten up, it would have left scars.”
“This is all a game. And the rules are complex, jack... so the sooner you catch on, the better.” He snapped.
“And the name of this game is?”
“Revenge... now, this is your wife... trust me, she’s been in hiding. But now, there’s a completely different lot of rules to finding your kids.”
I leaned across the table, “And the next lot of revenge?”
A grin spread across his face slowly, “... is best served ice bloody cold, my friend.”
“They took my family too.”

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Soul Real Estate

Chuck has us talking about Real Estate - but there's different types of that isn't there? So, I did some soul searching; and after I recently found out that one of my friends committed suicide last week... this really does make you wonder what happens to our souls.


“So, which one do you have in mind?” her voice interrupted my thoughts as I looked through the book open on the table.
“Um... will it make a difference once I’ve chosen?” I looked up at her.
“What do you mean? Once you’ve picked one, we’ll sort through them all, find it and install it – and you’ll be home and hosed.” She shrugged, “Nobody’s ever asked me this kinda question before.”
I sat in the cramped quarters of the visitors room where my lawyer was permitted to talk to me while my parole hearing was being looked into next door.

They were taking their time.

This made me nervous.

But there was real estate to look at – and if my lawyer was offering this up, I guess it meant it was going well.
There was a knock at the door and she turned, stood and walked to answer. The guard whispered something to her and I looked back down at the book of choices I had in front of me again.
The door closed and she sat across from me again, putting another book next to me. She’s never done this before – and I wondered how that came to be, cocking my eyebrows in question.
“They’re taking longer, which means you have more time to look; and I can offer you more options. This is good.” She smiled warmly.
I could almost see the knife in her hand. She was going to smile and grin and get me on her side then stab me in the back, telling me had no options and they were going to throw me back in – no real estate options, no job, no nothing! “Right... more options.”

You see, I was sent to prison for something I didn’t do. And I’ve been sitting here rotting away for the past decade – being up for parole every two years – and they’ve yet to let me out. However, it’s the future, and in this day and age, they can take your soul away from you and make it so you don’t care about what happens to you.
But, I’m not exactly Human. I never had a soul to begin with, and what they took from me wasn’t my soul – it was my Grace. Yep, I’m an Angel, and it recharged over the years I’ve been here. They took away from me what they thought was a ‘dangerous weapon’ – it was my Angel Blade – and I couldn’t show what I was in case I was spotted by the demons in the prison (yes, I can see them and they can spot me as well).
However, now, they want to put a soul into my vessel and it won’t work on a being such as myself; and how am I to explain this to my lawyer? I looked up at her as she rubbed at her wrist painfully, wincing at it.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
She looked up at me, “My last client broke my wrist – I think. He was being an asshole.”
“I used to be a medic, let me have a look.” I put my hand out and she allowed me to touch her arm gently, and I could feel it wasn’t broken, “It’s badly sprained.” I really wanted to fix it for her, but I couldn’t, not with a camera in the room; and I sighed.
She looked at me, “What?”
“You want to give me a soul; when I really don’t need one.” I said.
“They took a soul out of you when you were brought in.”
Slowly I shook my head, “No, they didn’t. I never had a soul. My vessel’s soul has already gone home.”
The look of disbelief crossed her face before she pulled her arm back, she leaned back in her seat, “What are you?”
“I can fix your arm... but,” I glanced up at the all-seeing camera in the corner of the room and back at her, “...I don’t want it shown to everyone on the news.”
Her eyes widened, a whisper fell from her lips: “You’re not Human, are you?”
I didn’t know what to say which would scare her, so I looked to my hands, then back to her, “I can fix your arm.”
“How did you get incarcerated?”
“Wrong place, wrong time.” I half-smiled, “And I didn’t want to freak out the cops, then before I knew it, I was inside for all this time.”
Standing, she walked over to the camera and unplugged it from the wall, the red light blinking off. Then, she sat across from me again, sliding her sore arm over to me, “Show me.”
“What are you going to do for me?”
“I’ll get you out of here, get back what they took from you.” She whispered.
“Don’t worry about the Grace, I’ve recharged... it’s not like a soul, I just have to stop using my powers and it’ll come back.” A smile touched my lips, “I’ll be okay.”
“But the Grace they have of yours, is it dangerous?”
I nodded, “I will need it. But a phone call to the Soul Keeper will suffice.”
“Soul Keeper?”
I looked up at her, “Yes. If a Grace or soul needs protecting, a Soul Keeper of God’s Garrison is called upon to care for it.” When she didn’t reply, I continued, “You didn’t seriously think all those souls your government have in cold storage back there were hidden, did you?”
“You know where they are?”
“Of course. But first things first, you must get me out of here, then I’ll fix your arm.”
“But a soul...”
I closed the book, pushing it away from me, “I have no interest in a soul I no long need. I need my Grace and you are going to help me get it.”
There was knock at the door and the lawyer jumped at the noise, “Yes, I will.” She stood and answered the door. The guard handed her a piece of paper and closed the door. She read it, looked at me and smiled, “You’re parole has been granted.”
“I know. Who do you think was on the board? Now, give me your arm as you’ll need to be in better shape than you’re in.” I stood and walked to her.
Looking at the door, I didn’t want to tell her, but I did: “Because the guard out there is possessed by a demon and his main job is to kill you. Mine is to protect you.” I touched her arm, and felt it fix and mend as I spoke, then looking up at her, and her shocked expression, I smiled a little, “Are you ready?”
“For what?”
I put my hand on the door knob: “To save some souls – but really to save yours in particular.”

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Life On Mars

Space Opera... hmmm... Well, I hope this isn't too serious for us on this theme for May the Fourth Be With You - and you see, Chuck set the theme, and I've never really understood space operas. I hope this one is okay. And, yeah, I channeled a bit of David Bowie here too.


“Well, what do you think?” my little brother asked.
“Do you think there’s life on Mars?” he laughed.
“Dunno, little bro.” I linked my hands behind my head as we laid out on the back lawn looking up at the stars in our pyjamas, “I guess we’ll have to just imagine it for now.”
He looked over at me, “But it’d be fun to get up there in space ships, to zoom around like in ‘Star Wars’, right? Like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo?”
Laughing, I sat up looking at him, my back wet from the dew on the grass, “Yeah, I guess. But it’s late now, and we better get in. Mum and Dad would hate it if they come and check on us and find us gone from out beds.”
“Aaw, do we have to?” he groaned thumping his feet on the ground, “I wanna stay for longer.”
“The last time we did that, we both caught a cold.” I held out my hand to him, “And Mum cracked it at us.”
Brian sat up and grabbed my hand, “I guess so.”
I walked him back to his bedroom, sneaking past our parents’ room, and tucked him back into bed, “Now, don’t worry, we’ll do that again when there’s a lunar eclipse – won’t that be fun?”
He rolled onto his side away from me, “I s’pose.”
The moment I stepped out into the hall, closing his door quietly, I found Dad standing there, “And what were you two doing out of bed?”
I was going to lie, but knew Dad had a built-in bullshit detector nobody could get past, “Well, Brian wanted to see the meteor shower.”
He smiled, “Of course he did. You’re a good big sister, but I have to talk to you. Come downstairs and we’ll chat.”

I sat there at the dining room table where Mum had set down a cup of tea in front of me, but I didn’t touch it as Dad told me that they had been offered a transfer to another company.
“I don’t expect you to leave the home, but I’m going and you can see me – your mother is going to stay here to look after you and Brian.” He reached across the table and touched my arm, “I’ll be a Captain – it’s a great thing.”
“But Dad, how long will you be gone?” I asked, moving my now cold cup of tea out of the way, “I don’t understand how you can just leave.”
He exchanged puzzled looks with Mum, “I’m don’t understand why you wouldn’t be thrilled with this news, Lana. You’re at the academy, you know how hard it is there; the expectations.”
“But Brian is only seven years old, will he remember you?”
“You see, honey, she understands completely how this works.” Mum soothed, “Lana knows you might be away for a long time.”
Dad ran a hand over his stubbled face, his fatigue showing from not sleeping all that well, “I was hoping to do this for the family. We need the money.”
“How long are you going to be gone for?”
“My contract is for a year, but I can see if the family can come along.” He said.
Mum crumbled into tears, “And then we lose the house?”
He smiled, “Not necessarily. We could get the house moved to the final destination.”
I stared at him: “Which is?”
“Mars.” He smiled, “Look over the past thirty years, they’ve improved the atmosphere, made sure it grows everything we need and people are moving their houses there all the time. So, why not us?”
Mum stood, walking to the window, “Will it look the same as here? I mean out there.” She pointed out into the darkness of the night.
He walked over to his wife, rubbing her shoulders: “There’s suburbs where they’re taking houses – with proper blocks of land with them, plants and all – to Mars. I’ve been assured it’s safe.”
She looked from him to me, then back, “Okay, then let’s do it.”
Dad looked around at me, “You okay with this?”
“What about the academy?”
“They’ve got one there too. You won’t miss a single class.” He picked up the phone and called a number, “Hank, we have better news than expected. Yep... the whole house and land to Mars. When can we have a transporter?” he grinned: “Before dawn? Great! So, we’ll be there by sunrise. This is wonderful.” Dad walked around to the front door and opened it as a group of people walked through to the kitchen and waited until Dad finished the phone call.
One of them, an older man, said looking around, “Thought you had a son.”
“Yeah, Brian’s upstairs in bed.” I said, “Best you leave him there.”
He nodded, “We’ll cover his bed over with a hyper-sleep cover-all – as we will all do with your beds. And then, it’ll begin.”
“Well, I’ll get to bed and you guys can begin on me first. My folks have papers to sign.” I smiled.

I woke to my alarm and pushed back the covers. Looking outside, I saw there was something different about where I was compared to where I went to sleep last night.
“Lana! Lana!” Brian’s voice screamed from the room next door, “Look outside, there’s a dust storm!” he came racing into my room, forgetting to knock (but I could forgive him this once), “Look! Look!” he pointed out my window.
“Brian, hey stop.” I walked over to him, “That’s not a dust storm. That’s the sunrise.”
 He sat in my big over-stuffed reading chair next to my window, staring out there at the dawning day, “What do you mean?”
Sitting in the bay window, I glanced outside, then back at him, “Do you remember when you asked about whether there’d be life on Mars?”

Saturday, 28 April 2018


Chuck asked us to write about the complexities about being a super hero. I thought this would be a good back door way of looking at it... or would it? 


Super Heroes Anonymous – Group One

Second Session

Wonder Woman
The Thing

Today’s Session:

For the first half hour, none of them wanted to talk about how their status in life had affect their personal lives. 

I stayed quiet, but then, Spiderman started talking about how it all it took was being bitten by a radioactive spider and the effects from that which took him down a path he felt he couldn’t return – he gave me a concerned look saying: ‘I could have gone in a completely different direction! I could have killed people instead of being a good guy. But I think being on the side of good is harder than the public think.’ His mask hid his tears, but I could hear his sadness.

Batman groaned, ‘Grow up. My parents were killed when I was a child. I swore to be on the side of good and to bring justice to the suffering of all in the city! The Mayor is on my side.’ He stood up and folded his arms (he does this in every session; we all tend to ignore him now until he sits down and says something useful – unfortunately, he never does). He sat down and started brooding.
Wonder Woman looks around, ‘Why am I the only woman here?’
I look at the list on my clipboard, ‘Because you don’t get along with the other female superheroes in the second group.’
‘Oh. I see.’ She nodded, ‘I don’t pick the fights.’
I smiled, ‘I know. Is there anything you’d like to add?’
‘I do wish I wasn’t always stronger than the men I’m attracted to.’ She sighed, ‘It’s a real turn-off. And why is it I’m always fighting greasy warlords or ... my alter-ego is being kidnapped?’ she looked up at me, ‘It’s a sexist thing, isn’t it? Kidnap the woman and think that she won’t do anything... stupid.’

I stop typing and sit back in the dim light of my office. These people have been part of their own two split-identity lives for so long, that they know it’s going to screw them up at some point... and Wonder Woman said something that... well, I didn’t like right now.

The Thing sat on the floor – he preferred it because he broke the last chair and I had to pay for it. He looked around at Wonder Woman, ‘I know what you mean when it comes to your other life.’
‘How so?’
His blue eyes stared at her from the hardened, brick-like surrounds of his ‘skin’, ‘I have a second life – just like the rest of you – but I’m in love with a lovely woman, but she has no idea about who I am because she can’t see me.’
Superman had been observing him, ‘But she sees the real you, right? The man underneath all that brick?’
The Thing nodded, ‘Yep, that’s right... well, she does when he’s around physically.’
Ironman hadn’t sat down with the group today. Last week, he sat with us for a few minutes, heard us talking and wandered over towards the window and stayed there for the whole two hours, not saying anything to us. Today, he walked in and took his place at the window again; but this time, he leaned on the window sill and watched us.
I turned, ‘Ironman, would you like to join us today?’
‘Why would I join you?’
‘We’re just talking.’ I said.
‘I’m a super hero and you want me to tell these ones about my weaknesses?’ he looked around the group, ‘No.’
Wonder Woman stood and walked to him, ‘It’s got to be grinding on you – you know, being as open to the public as you are.’
‘I can tell them to leave me alone.’
Superman scoffed, ‘No super hero can do what Greta Gabo did. It’s just not possible. We’re needed too much. They call for us, and we run to their rescue – believe me, I’ve tried to ignore the cries for help; and it’s torture.’ He frowned, ‘Oh no... I’m sorry to cut this short, doc, I have to go.’
I looked up at him, ‘A call for help?’
He stood smiling, ‘You know how it is...’
He made it through most of the session – that was good.
Batman grizzled in his seat, his arms folded, ‘Him and his super hearing.’ He looked out the window to the sky, ‘I have to wait for...’
The phone on my desk rang and I picked it up, ‘Hello? Oh, yes sir, he’s here.’ I turned to Batman, ‘It’s the Mayor, he needs you.’ And right there, I lost my second one from the group as he raced from the group.
Spiderman stood, ‘My spidey senses are tingling...’ he sprung onto the wall, ‘I have to...’ and before I could say anything he aimed one arm out the window and webbed his way out across the city.
Wonder Woman, Ironman and The Thing all looked at me and I shrugged, ‘Well, you all may as well go. It’s a trio now, not a group.’
Wonder Woman smiled, ‘Thanks for understanding, doc. We’ll be back next week for our next session – right guys?’
Ironman shrugged, ‘I guess. And next week, I might say something useful – or at all.’

I sat back from my typewriter. These guys were going to be tough to work out; given it was my second session – but they were beginning to open up. I think it’s the secrets that are going to be the tough things. I won’t push though, that’s the thing with super heroes: the secrets they hold close; the ones they can’t tell anyone, not even a shrink.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Amaranthine Diary

Last week, Chuck didn't put up a challenge - so I dug around my old emails and found an old challenge from a few years back from 2014 - would you believe it??? Yep. Two tables of words.. we pick one from each and used the title to write a story. Mine went from bad to worse... as usual.


There’s a point in your life when your whole perspective on everything changes – it turns on a pin – and you’re never the same.  Mine changed from the moment I was handed the box by the delivery guy. He didn’t bother waiting for a signature, he just ran back to his van and took off, wheels screeching from the curb.
Turning, I walked inside my house and placed the box on the table, grabbed the crowbar nearby and levered open the top.
It was a hug box for such a small item.
This was – after all a diary – not anything huge.
Pulling back the packing paper and beans, I looked down at the large book within and stepped back, my gut turning cold as I caught a quick view of what had been delivered to me, “No way.” Checking the calendar, then my books, I realised I had overlooked this date entirely – and had no idea how I could overlook it. Picking up the phone, I pressed four on my speed-dial, not taking my eyes off the box as I stood by my front door, “Tommy, I think your delivery arrived.”

He found me still standing at my front door waiting; and I didn’t know how long I had been there for, “It’s on the table.”
“When did it arrive?” he walked over to the box and looked inside it at the book, then turned back at me, “Helen!”
“I, um, don’t remember, um... it was just on sunset. The dude was a courier and didn’t bother to wait for a signature.” I muttered looking at my hands, “Want a drink?”
“Yeah... um, no. I’ll be okay, I’ve eaten.” He took the box onto another table near the window where I potted up my plants for the garden, and carefully pulled the book out, turned the box onto its side and rested the book on it, “You eat something.”
I turned to my fridge, opened it and looked at all the food I had prepared the night before, and didn’t feel a twinge of hunger, but I was thirsty. Grabbing a beer, I popped the top off, tossed the lid into the sink and guzzled down half of it as the door slammed shut. Then I realised that I haven’t touched beer in over a decade; knowing it turned me into a not-so-nice person, “Oh crap.”
Tommy sniffed the air, “Why are you drinking booze?” he turned frowning, “And it’s not even 8pm and you’ve down... oh man, you’re scared.”
Putting the beer on the counter, I walked over to him, “Look you’ve been searching for that diary for a long time; and now it’s in my home, it’s making me feel weird.”
“I’ll take it home.” He turned, picked it up and left me alone to my weird feelings and soon-to-be hangover. I don’t remember buying beer; or having beer in the house that day... or how that beer got there.

Days passed by and I didn’t hear from Tommy. He’d vanished with the diary and I tossed out the beer from my fridge. I copped a hangover like nobody’s business and was in a crappy mood all day because I drank; so I stayed away from the public for a few days until it was out of my system.
But I did hear about some murders around the place – like always – seeing we lived in the city, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear of bad things happening around the place.
I was curious though: why did Tommy take such an interest in what he was? He’d been a vampire for over a decade; actually I was there when he was turned and staked the bastard who turned him.
In truth, Tommy and I were to be married – he had just proposed and that damned vampire had screwed up everything in our lives. So, I still loved him and everything; but we couldn’t be together because of what Tommy had been turned into.
Tommy wanted to see if he could control himself around me enough to be in love with me – as a Human – and still have what might pass as a normal life. This was why he had been hunting around for that diary... the oldest vampire diary of all; the one Vlad kept way back when. It was something he had to try.
And yes, Tommy had tried everything – my dear sweet Thomas – but nothing had worked out, he was still a blood-sucker who I was dearly in love with and who loved me. We didn’t want to lose our friends and we didn’t to change our lives completely because of what he was turned into.
But ... well... if this diary didn’t work out? I had two choices, I had to stake him or join him.
Man, that sounds like a line right out of a blood-sucking Mills & Boone Romance novel doesn’t it? But I don’t want to do either... I want him to be in my life, but I don’t want to kill him either.

The sun was almost down when I knocked on his door. The curtains being drawn wasn’t anything new; and something I understood would be something he did all day if he was going to study the book – that is if he did as he promised he would.
The locks sounded and the door moved opened, “Come in, Helen.” He voice was across the room and at his desk again before I closed the door.
“Everything okay?” I asked putting the esky down in a kitchen chair, “I’ve brought some 0 Neg and 0 Pos for you... you know to mix it up.”
Gazing up from the pages of the large book, he smiled, almost looking like his old self again: “Thank you. I appreciate that.” Sitting back from the book, he pushed it away from him, “Did you know that Vlad added some of his own blood into the ink in this diary?”
“You can smell it?”
Tommy nodded, “Yep. No matter how old blood is, I can smell the stuff.” He closed the large volume, “But there’s nothing he’s told us here that we don’t already know.”
He stood and walked to the esky, “Has anyone called you lately – you know our friends?”
I fiddled with my fingernails nervously, “No. They began to pull away from us when you were turned; and I wouldn’t leave you.”
He nodded as he placed the blood bags into the fridge carefully in date order, then stood back and closed the door, “You take care of me really well... as though we’re already married.”
Tears came easily, “I can’t help it. I love you, Thomas. And if I was to go off with somebody else, you’d become jealous.”
He looked to his feet for a moment, “Yeah, I would. I love you still as well.” His hand was in mine as I sat down at the counter, “Oh honey. I wish things were different.”
I wiped my tears away with my free hand, “Me too. But the only way we can stay together is ...”
“No!” he stood and walked to the other side of the room, “I’m not doing that.”
“Do you have any idea how long it’s been since Jean and Stuart have been by the house? Or your parents? They think you’re dead.” I snapped, “Tommy, it’s this way or no way... you and I can be together.”
He turned from the thick drapes, “I don’t want you to live a life of this!” he waved his arm at the closed off world he was missing out on, “You don’t need to hide from it all... I do!”
“If you loved me, you’d turn me.”
“Don’t say that! Don’t you say that to me!” he shouted.
“Then let me go.” I removed the engagement ring from my finger, “Let me live... please.”
His eyes watched me remove the ring and he shook his head, “I can’t. I love you.”
“I know... and if you love me so much, you’d let me go.” I grabbed my esky and walked out towards the door, opened it and started out into the cool night.
A cold hand grabbed my arm, yanked me back inside, “Where are you going?”
“Home!” I threw the esky at him and he deflected it against the wall and it bounced near the stairs, “Let me out!”
A freezing cold hand grabbed my neck, shoved me against the wall.
I tried to fight – really I did.
I punched. I kicked.
His hold was like a vice.
He bit into my carotid artery and I felt fear take a hold of my soul.
That bastard!
“No...’re hurting me...Tommy...”
He pulled away, “Oh my god! What?...” he watched as I dropped to the floor, knowing it was far too late to say sorry, to save me through normal Human means, “Oh shit, Helen. I’m sorry... no.”

I woke up on his bed upstairs.
Tommy was across the room sitting in his large chair reading a book in the dark.
Sitting up, I felt my neck, but it was healed. Did I dream that nightmare which just happened? Was I dreaming now?
I looked over at him, “Did you bite me?”
He hadn’t been really reading... he had been just staring at the same page for the last hour, “Yes. I got pissed off you were going to leave me.”
“Over that diary – or over what I told you that was the truth.”
He dropped the book on the floor, “Both.” He rose from the seat, “I tried to burn the book, but it won’t burn. It can’t be destroyed.”
“Well, exactly what did you do to me?”
Rising from his chair, he walked over and sat on the bed, “I drank too much of you and didn’t have a choice... you asked me to and I should have handled it better – but I didn’t.”
“Tommy, we have other, bigger problems if that Amaranthine Diary can’t be destroyed.”