Saturday, 25 August 2018

First Prize

I've been thinking of Men In Black - the last viewing of when the Earth turns in to a marble and gets tossed into a sack filled with other marbles... well, I've thought to turn that idea into something similar.


I couldn’t sleep, so I stepped outside into the crisp night air to look up at the huge scattering of diamonds of the Milky Way Constellation – and what a great display Mother Nature had put on this night!
It was then I noticed something really weird.
Off in the distance, I saw a bright light glowing on the horizon I hadn’t noticed before. It wasn’t there when I headed in for the night, but it was there now. Checking my watch, I saw it was around 1am and so dawn wasn’t near.
“What the hell is that?” I mumbled, my breathing turning white as I spoke. Thinking it was my imagination, I shook my head and went back inside my caravan and tried to sleep again.

The morning was brilliant and bright, and I had almost forgotten about the glowing weird light on the horizon. But I looked over there again as I sipped my coffee and found it wasn’t there – well of course it wasn’t there. How could it be? I was out in the middle of Central Queensland on a photo shoot for the next three weeks.
Tossing out the remains of the coffee, I kick dirt over my camp fire and start packing up. It’s time to move onto my next port of call to photograph.

Detle Pffed watched his experiment carefully. The Human looked like he was throwing out the brown liquid he had been drinking and packing up his travelling machine. He frowned, “Why doesn’t he fly? Doesn’t he know how to?”
“Detle! It’s time to go!” His mother’s voice screeched from the screen on the wall.
“Of course!” he put down his computerised clipboard, switching it off as it touched the table and picked up his satchel for school. As he opened the door, his father stood there, “Sorry I’m late, my experiment for the Science Fair had me up all night.”
“Aaah of course, how is it going?” he put a suckered arm around his son’s shoulders as they walked out of the room and door closed.
“Well, the Human was up last night... he couldn’t sleep. He was looking at the Milky Way Constellation I had installed on the ceiling of my bedroom.” He smiled, “Thanks for suggesting that, I think that’s what happened to the last one – he freaked out and lost his mind.”
“It’s just as well we got a moving one so this one doesn’t know the difference.” His father’s eyes swung up on their stalks as his gills flared, “Oh we’re running late!”
Detle didn’t mention what his science fair project was about to anyone at school. He entered into the Science Fair, paid the ten scroners – which was a month’s pocket money – and promised his teachers a good project.
When he arrived home, he found his project hadn’t travelled as far as he first thought he would. But he figured it was the machine he was using that held the Human back. He sat down and started his homework as his mother walked into the room, gazed disdainfully at the project sitting at the window and frowned, “I really don’t like it that you have a Human in your bedroom.” He put down a tray of afternoon snacks for her son nearby.
“He won’t be here for long, Mother.” Detle said glancing over at the large tank holding the Human, “I’ll take him back to Earth. He thinks he’s on a photographic holiday for three weeks. I’ll get graded and then return him home – he won’t know the difference.”
Peering into the tank, she swung her stalked eyes toward her son, “Does he know we’re here?”
“I don’t think so. He saw my night light on last night, but he didn’t look into it. I won’t make that mistake again.” He mumbled.
“Night light? You’re still using that?”
“I did for the time being to be able to find my way around the room to watch him at night. I forgot to turn it off after watching him for a while. I think I woke him up.” He sighed, “That could have gone really wrong, but I think he’s okay.”
She stood and smiled, “Okay, well I hope you go well at the Science Fair. There’s your snack.”

A week passed by and Detle worked hard on his project – day and night. He gave up his weekend and watched his Human doing what he did for that week. Then, came the day the Human was to be taken to Detle’s school for the Science Fair; and Mr Pffed offered to take both his son and the experiment there for the whole day. Mr Pffed was a scientist and he believed that his son was onto something with the Humans from Earth – that they had changed in some way. It had been over fifty years since Mr Pffed had been to Earth with his father to conduct this very same experiment on a Human and he had offered up his notes to his son to compare the times fifty years ago compared to now.

But had they changed really?

There had been a gas leak somewhere.
I woke and found myself being peered in on by some of the most butt-ugliest things I’ve ever laid eyes on!
Where was I?
Was I hallucinating? Did something happen to me?

“Detle! The switch, you bumped it, he can see us!” Mr Pffed pointed to the tank.
“Oh no!” he turned a little red lever and the walls of the tank ghosted over again, “I hope he’s okay.” He peered inside the tank.

The landscape returned to the parched desert of the sunset I’d been photographing just outside Alice Springs. I stayed on the ground for a few more moments before getting up and picking up my camera and checking it to see if I’d taken any photos of what I had seen, “Oh crap, what in the hell is that?” I stared at the screen to find I had taken a photo of some huge stalked eyed creatures which were peering across the horizon at me. After three shots, the blue sky took over.
I put this down to ... well, I dunno.
Packing up my shit and cameras, I returned to my caravan for the day and chilled out.

“What does this lever do?” Mr Eealie asked.
“That keeps my experiment in a state of calm. He can’t see us right now, as the tank is ghosted. If he does, he’ll freak out and well, my last Human died.” He blushed, “He saw me and... it didn’t end well.”
Mr Pffed nodded, “I was there, Mr Eealie, we really did try to calm him down, but our speech isn’t the same as theirs; and we had to return him home to Earth... which is what we will do with this one.”
“Good. We don’t wish to be cruel to Humans, just study them.” He looked at Detle’s notes, compared to his father’s notes and smiled, “Very impressive that you both studied a Human and that you, Detle, has impressed me.

Today was cooler than yesterday – thank god! – and so I thought it would be good to photograph things. But after seeing ... those things... I’m not so sure anymore.
I tossed another chunk of wood on the fire and waited for it to heat up more. Rabbit stew was on the menu tonight. Sitting back in my chair, I looked out at the wavering horizon, “Yeah, this is the life – without those creepy things I saw – I could live like this forever.”

“Hey Detle, your project is on fire. There’s smoke coming out of it.” One of his friends said, “Is this okay? Is that supposed to happen?”
He turned and saw that smoke was filtering from the top corner of the tank, “Yes. I’m studying a Human out in the field. He doesn’t know he’s being studied. The smoke from his camp fire has to go somewhere.”
Mr Eealie came back from looking at all the other projects and handed Detle the large blue ribbon, “First prize, Detle. But on one condition.”
“I return the Human back to Earth unharmed.” He nodded.

Night fell and the rabbit stew was delicious! I drank a few cans of redi-mixed bourbon and cola and crashed early. When I woke to the songs of the kookaburras nearby, I realised I hadn’t heard one in a long time – over two weeks actually.
Walking out into the early morning, I saw the trees moving, heard the sound of a flock of cockatoos screeching and flying nearby. I felt as though I had been in a vacuum for the past few weeks... but I knew it was time to go home. After taking photos of some really weird things lately, I had to.

Detle and his Dad arrived home from the long intergalactic round flight late. They ordered in some food and went through the photographs the Human had taken and found that he had also taken some of them. His Dad was good enough to delete those off the Human’s camera before they left him on Earth, just outside Alice Springs, where they found him.

Besides, who would believe him?

Saturday, 18 August 2018

The Door To...

I've been gardening in the past few months; as it's Winter here in Australia. And I'm at the last bit of it where I want to add artwork to it. Well, being a writer, I thought it would be fun to make my garden a book-themed garden. Right now, I'm looking for doors... this triggered a cool story about the magical doors writers use in their works. 


We had phoned her place for the past few days and left messages on her mobile and home phone.


She hadn’t returned our phone calls.

She hadn’t been on Facebook – like she is every day.
Even her friends had been looking around for her on there and messaging her there.
But it seemed as though Therese had simply vanished from the face of the earth.  

So, here we were at her place.

We had asked her neighbours if they’d seen her lately and most of them hadn’t. The lady across the street said that she hadn’t seen the lights come on in the house for almost a week and was about to call the police, and then we showed up.
“Jeez, Mum, should we call the cops in and see what’s going on?” Eli asked.
“Yeah, good idea.” I pulled out my phone and called Policelink and chatted with them. Before long, a cruiser showed up and the police were door-knocking around taking statements and asking around about the last anyone saw my sister.
“Do you have a house key?” one of the cops asked me.
I rummaged around in my bag and pulled out a spare set of keys, “She gave them to me in case I really needed to get into her house.” glancing over to her overgrown garden and house, I mumbled, “I never thought I’d need them now.”
“Here, show me which key will open the door and I’ll do it – in case there’s something in there you may not want to see.” He offered.
I pulled out a blue tinted key, “This one opens the screen, deadbolt and front door.”
“Easy for her and you to remember.” He nodded and he walked up to the house and opened the doors, looked inside as he turned on the lights and called out her name, but he came out only moments later, “The house is empty.”
I rushed up to the door with my son, Eli by my side, looking into the house, and sure enough, her all her things were there, but she wasn’t, “Where could she be?”
“Is there something weird about her leaving?”
I turned, “She’s got a medical condition. She must take her medication every day. It’s been almost a week!”
“Mum, what about the garden... we could check in the garden. She could have had an episode.” Eli touched my shoulder, and my gut turned cool with panic.
“Oh crap.” I turned, rushing towards the back door, opened it and found the garden in its lovely and complete order – just the way she had finished it.
You see, my sister was an artist and loved having artworks in her garden every few years. And every few years, she changed them up. She didn’t throw out the last ones, she stored them away for her famous parties every now and then. But this year, she turned her garden into a book-themed one – one with all the old classics you’d have read in your youth. From Narnia to The Secret Garden, it was all there. She even had ‘The Storm Boy’ and ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’ as well as ‘The Folk of the Faraway Tree’ ... it was all there in the garden; and it took her over a year to get it all pulled together, as some of the items were hand-made and others were difficult to find.
I turned and looked at the cop who was giving the garden a strange look, “She’s an artist and loves doing this to her garden.”
“Hey, I’ve seen worse.” He smiled, “It could have been a crappy garden filled with car bodies... now, that’d be something bad. But this? This is fantastic.”
Eli whispered in my ear, “Mum, the garden is overgrown, it doesn’t look like it’s been cared for.”
“I know.” I walked down the steps into the garden and a strange feeling overcame me – that I wasn’t alone; that I... I looked over at the side gate where Therese had installed her ‘Narnia’ gate. Looking up at the cop and Eli, I smiled, “We’ve come through the wrong door.” Before they could say anything, I rushed up the back steps, through the house and around the side of the house and found the tall dark timber of the Narnia wardrobe door.
I had no idea where she got this wardrobe door – but it took her years to find it. This piece was the last piece to be installed in this garden; and she told me it was an ‘original piece of the wardrobe from the book!’ I turned to find Eli and cop behind me, “I know what happened. But I need to get into her garage first.”
They let me past and I unlocked her garage, pulled opened the door and looked to the back, beyond the Kombi she owned and found it: the tall, dark ornate wardrobe she had bought online.
“Oh my god. That’s it.” I walked up to the enormous piece and looked at the replacement door on the front. It looked the same, but it wasn’t. Opening it with a new key, I looked inside to find it was empty – no fur coats hanging up, no mothball smell tickling my nose. Leaning forwards, I felt to the back and found the back of the wardrobe – good and solid – and knocked on it. Stepping back, I turned and Eli was next to me, frowning, as I said, “She did it. She’s used something magical to turn her garden into something really... magical.”
The cop snorted, “Magic doesn’t exist.”
Closing the door and relocking it, I turned, “You don’t understand what the mind of the writer does to items like this. Once they’ve been turned into something of magicks, and generations of readers believe in them, they turn into something of legend. This wardrobe is legendary. And Therese used its magicks to make a gateway into another universe in her garden.” I walked past the cop and my son out to the side of the house again and pulled out from the mass of key an old key to the original lock of the wardrobe, “If this works, we are going to see some wonderful shit.”
The cop started giggling nervously, “And if it doesn’t.”
“Well, we’ll still be looking for her.” I pushed key into the lock, turned it and pushed the gate open to reveal the most gorgeously made up garden I had ever seen in my life!
All the statues we had seen from the house steps before came to life and greeted us. Birds flew and the sun shone through the trees. The grass was a lush green as the sky was a vivid blue. I stepped through the gate with Eli and the cop close behind me.
“Mum, what’s going on?” my son grabbed my arm.
“C.S Lewis created a wondrous universe called Narnia; it took place when the children went through a wardrobe into that universe. However it wasn’t the wardrobe that did that – it was the door.” I looked around at my sister’s brilliant work, “Doors are brilliant things to writers.”
The cop watched as an elf raced out the gate and within feet of it, he became a statue again, “So, anything which ventures outside of this garden becomes what it was before?”
“Yes.” I looked at him, smiling, “So many writers have used doors to enter and get out of their universes... I mean, Oz is a place which had a huge variety of ways to get through to it and out of. The Secret Garden is another universe too, which uses a door to get into and out of.”
The cop walked past me as he pointed to the back fence, spotting something of interest, “Say, there’s another door – a blue gate – it’s been left ajar.”
“No! Stay close by! That...” I shouted.
He turned and smiled, “Your sister could be in there.” As he touched it, the door opened wider and a hand grabbed his, pulling him through and slamming shut.
“... could be a door to anywhere.” I mumbled turning to Eli, “Let’s get out of here.”
“But Aunt Therese, we have to find her.”
“Where? There’s the blue door to The Secret Garden. And then, there’s a mirror over there to Oz, and then there’s any number of gateways which she’s created simply because she put up that wardrobe door.” I turned and walked back to the side gate, “I’m going home, Eli, and if you know what’s good for you, you’d follow me.” I turned, hoping to see him right by my side. But as I looked around, I found my son had vanished – to where? I’m not sure, “Oh jeez, Therese, why did you do this?”

I locked the gate and pocketed the keys.

Turning around, there was another cop, “Where’s my partner?”

What was I supposed to say?

Friday, 10 August 2018


I've had this storyline bumping around in my head for about 3 weeks; unable to work it out, until today. I just sat down and wrote it! 


I woke to a heart monitor in a hospital bed, wondering how in the hell I came to be here – how did I survive the car accident, as atrocious as it was – and where were my parents?
The nurse looked up from her desk and stood, “Oh good, you’re awake. Do you know where you are?”
“What happened?” a whisper came from my throat, “My throat...”
“You’ve been sleeping for some time, Evan.” She said, “I’ll get a doctor.” She checked my vitals and scribbled something on my chart then left me alone for what seemed like an age, but it was only about a minute or so and she returned with a doctor – a kindly man whose smile warmed his face, and yet his eyes avoided mine completely.
“Evan Murdock Williams, am I right?” he pulled up a stool from the other side of the room and perched himself on it as he looked over my chart. Looking up, he saw me nod, and he smiled a little, “I’m afraid to say that you’re the sole survivor of the accident; and I’m wondering how you did.”
My eyes moved from the doctor to the nurse and back, my voice straining “What do you mean?”
Placing the plastic chart on the bed next to me, he sighed moving uncomfortably on his seat, “The car was a fireball when the emergency services arrived; and you were found in a nearby ditch with huge head injuries – so bad we thought you’d never make it. And yet, here you are.”
I blinked, “A miracle?”
He shook his head, “I don’t believe in God or those kinds of things, son. Whatever happened to pull you through and have you sitting here talking to me, well, I’d like to know what or who helped you.” He gave the nurse the chart, as he turned from me, “We’ll keep you in for another week and you can return home.”
“What about my parents?”
The doctor gave me a sideways look in such a way, he didn’t need to tell me that they were dead, “I’m sorry. Like I said you are the sole survivor of this. Not even the truck driver survived.”
“What truck driver? The road was clear.”
The nurse rushed from the room, “I’ll get the police in here to talk to him.”

After talking to the police and telling them that there wasn’t anything which looked like a truck on the road that night, they told me the horrible news: “... but there was an eighteen-wheeler coming from the other direction, Mr. Williams, surely you saw the headlights.”
“I would remember if there was whopping big truck on that road because I was sitting in the front seat next to my Dad. And I didn’t see any truck on that road; Mom was in the back seat sleeping.” I snapped, “So you tell me, how did a big truck like that suddenly cream the car I was in, and yet I have survived this accident?”
The two cops couldn’t tell me anything than what the doctor had – and I was at a loss as well – and they turned the left the room; leaving me to my loss and on my own.

I was permitted home after a week in the hospital. The doctors told me that since I could walk up and down the hallways and up and down stairs without fall over and was eating well, it was time for me to go home.
The cab dropped me off in front of my family home and I stood outside of it with my overnight bag collecting the mail, which had accumulated over the last two weeks. Looking over at the driveway, I expected to see the large green Four Wheel Drive my folks owned, but instead I saw my little blue sedan hiding in under the car port, covered in dust and waiting for me to drive it. It looked kinda sad that it was sitting there without the other one as its partner.
Unlatching the gate, I picked up my bag and walked up the path to the house, which looked as empty as it really was now. Stepping over the dozen or so newspapers in front of the door, I unlocked the front door and walked inside to the deathly silence of my parents’ house.
There’s a real drawback to living on the same property as your parents’. When you lose them, you have to deal with their house, their things, and their legal shit a lot sooner than everyone else does in your family because you’re their next door neighbour in more ways than one. Okay, you’ve saved yourself a lot of dosh over the long run, but really, it’s heartbreaking to walk into their house and not hear their voices, see their faces or know they’re going to be there ever again!
Tears blurred my vision. I dropped my bag and the mail, “Oh shit!”
“Evan?” A woman’s voice asked from behind me, and I turned to find Aunty Susan standing there, “Oh, Evan, I knew you were coming home today. I wanted to be here before you got here to open the house up. To get out their Wills and have the lawyer here.” She held me as I sobbed onto her shoulder, “I really didn’t want you living here; and this is the reason why. But we have to talk to the lawyer.” She pulled me off her, “There’s something you need to know.”
I looked at her and found she wasn’t crying. She didn’t look upset, “How can you not be sad?”
“Because your parents did something in the 1970’s I really didn’t like.” She said picking up my bag and the mail, “Let’s have some coffee and talk before the lawyer gets here – because we’re going to get a visitor you don’t know.” Aunt Susan walked through to the kitchen and started opening the house up and turning on the lights, “I did some shopping, so the delivery guy will be here soon.”

An hour or so later, I had gone to my place out the back and had a shower and changed my clothes. While I was out there, Aunt Susan had pulled together coffee, some cake and other things to ready the place for company.

She was serious about this.

I looked at her and frowned as she fixed my collar, “Now, you have to be understanding about this, okay?” Looking beyond her shoulder, I saw a man walking up to the door of the house and heard the doorbell ring. She turned, answering it and letting in a small, spritely man who had a briefcase and dressed in an Armani suit with short oiled hair, “Evan, this is Mr. Beechen. He’s from one of the world’s oldest law firms.”
He looked up, offering his hand to me, but I didn’t it, “I don’t know you, so please understand if I don’t shake your hand.”
Smiling he nodded, “Of course, Evan. We are one short, but can proceed in this matter.”
We all sat at the kitchen table, and he pulled out a folder which had enclosed my parents’ Wills and he read from them. There was money, furniture, the house and other things bequeathed to family members and to me.
“And now, comes to the person who we’re one short of...” he said, as a knock at the door sounded, “Aaah, here he is finally. I never doubted his arrival, just when he would arrive.”
Aunt Susan opened the door and there stood a man who was a stranger to me, and yet I felt as though I had met him before in a past life or two. He held his hand out and smiled, “Evan. Such a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” I couldn’t stop myself, as my hand shot out and took his, “You don’t know me and yet you shake my hand, interesting.”
Snatching my hand back, “How do you know I’m like that?”
“All in the details, my boy.” He walked past me and into the kitchen as I looked over at Aunt Susan and found her looking at her feet, fear emanating from her in waves, “And don’t worry about your dear Aunt, she’s got a right to be scared of me.” Mr. Beechen pulled out a chair for the man and he sat as the lawyer poured him a fresh cup of coffee and offered him some of the food to eat, “So, where are we up to in this?”
Mr. Beechen sat next to him and smiled, “Right where you’re expected to be, sir.”
“Well, proceed.”
“Very well.” He looked over the papers and found where he was up to, “Oh, here we are: ‘As in the original agreement from the year of nineteen hundred and seventy-seven, in the grounds of if – and when both Mary and Robert Williams both die at some point in their lives – their eldest of their offspring will be Evan, the King of Hell’s son, as he impregnated Mary on that year of the agreement on the eve of their marriage in nineteen hundred and eighty.’” He looked up and across the table at me, “Well, that means that you’re a Prince.”
“What?” I looked over at the man, “Who in the hell are you?”
“Oh, I’m the King of Hell. You can call me Dad.”
“I had a Dad, he’d died three weeks ago.”
“No. I caused that truck to be on the road because your parents made a deal and lost their souls to me personally during a swingers party in 1977.” He grinned, “You’re Mom didn’t know what she said to me was real, and they were too stoned to realise they also signed your life away too.”
“But all those miss-carriages?” Aunt Susan sputtered.
“Well, I only wanted heir, so...” he shrugged.
Looking at the table, I suddenly felt sick, “Oh god.”
“Nope, he’s not going to help you now.” He looked over at me, “Okay, Evan, your folks shitted away their souls and yours in the process without thinking. That was their fault... now you have a place to come to, a Kingdom to rule over – with me – isn’t that great?”
I glared at him, “No. I like my life. I have a job here and nice car and my house; which is on a quiet street.”
“I can get you anything you want, why would you want to live in squalor for when you could be living in the lap of luxury?” he glanced around, “This is so... tiny.”
“This is my life.”
He sighed, “I noticed you didn’t say anything about having a girl in your life.”
“I have problems keeping a relationship going.” I mumbled, “What’s it to you?”
The man sat back, glanced at his lawyer and then smiled at me, “Well, in Hell, you can have as many women as you want.”
“I want one woman, but I can’t have her. She’s married.”
“I’ll break up the marriage, and you can have her.” He snorted.
“Why not? You get what you want, when you want. That’s what it’s like being the son of mine – but you’ve had a life where people fear you. It’s been like that since you were born; or haven’t you noticed?” he grinned.
I thought back over my life, how the bullies avoided me at school – even though I was the shortest kid there. I never had a problem at night clubs from anyone; and when a fight broke out and my friends were pulled in, I’d step up and people would look at me – with that look of...fear.

He was right.

People feared me.

“I don’t like it. Why do people fear me?” I looked at him.
“Because when I took your parents’ souls in 1977, and then came back on their wedding night and told your Dad to ‘take a walk’, I took yours as well when your Mom and I bumped boots.” His eyes sparkled at the memory of doing my Mom, “And your Mom... oh she was...”
“Oh shut up!” I shouted standing, pushing the chair back hard enough for it to fall over, “That’s my Mother you’re talking about!”
“And I have your soul in a little jar in Hell if you want it.” He grinned.
“Screw you... Dad.... I’m staying here.”
He pulled a black clay talisman from his pocket and put it on the table, “If you change your mind, Evan, here’s my calling card. Mr. Beechen, let’s go.”
After they left, I picked up the talisman and looked at it. How was a person like me going to use the information I had just been given to my advantage? Like anyone does: I just found out I have an inheritance from the most powerful being around – besides God – and he thinks I’m not interested.

I’ll bide my time.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Game

I've picked up another one from Chuck's Flash Fiction from 2013... I've chosen the same 5 words as I did in 'The Right Hand Man' but I've turned it around and made a different story out of it. 


It was a labyrinth, as I turned the corner of yet another long, vanishing isle of books. I have no idea how I got to be inside this library, but it was a huge place I had gotten lost in within minutes.
I knew I was looking for something – something to get me out of here – but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. As I walked along this isle, I had to make sure I didn’t touch the books.

Don’t ask me why, it’s the rules of the game.

What game? I don’t know that either... I just know whatever this is, is a big horrible game of getting me lost; and all I want is to get the fuck outa here!
Panic welled in my guts for a moment. I take a breath, and calm down... then I keep moving for another few metres. Hey! An envelope! It’s sticking out between the darkened, spines of two books! Pulling on it, I find it hasn’t been here for long – it feels fresh and cool, not mouldy and wet.
Looking around I wonder who else has been around here long enough to plant this here and for me not to see them. If I don’t open this soon, my mind will begin to play tricks on me; so I pull it open and find it doesn’t tear and a skeleton key slides out and a slip of paper. Written on the paper is one word: Undertaker.
“Oh great... I have to get out of here and...” a grumble of thunder overhead signals the beginnings of a storm and – as the rain hammers down on the large glass dome overhead – my surroundings become darker, causing the tall shelves around me to look more like cliff faces than bookcases, “I have to get the fuck outa here.” I shove the key in my pocket with the envelope and run back up the isle the way I came in, finding my way back to the front counter where I started.
But once there, I found it was empty and the counter itself was covered the dust of never being used for over a decade – the type of dust which carves into timber and damages it when it’s not brushed away. Cobwebs infiltrated the bookshelves behind it, hiding the books on reserve to the point I couldn’t read the titles on the spines – not that they had any at the point they were published.
Turning to my left, I walked to the door, but found it locked from the outside; chains were wrapped around the handles like large rusty vines and the padlocks had rusted shut. Yes, there wasn’t any way for me to escape.
Lightning and thunder began to play a game of chase around the skies as the winds picked up, howling around the building, and the rain became heavier still.

Walking through to the study out the back behind the counter, I decided to wait until the storm was finished. I knew I had to go to the cemetery and find out where to go next. I made myself comfortable on the lounge and rested; it might be the last time I get any sleep for a while.

I wasn’t going anywhere until the storm was over.

The sunshine woke me as I lay under the broad branches of a sprawling Oak Tree outside. Sitting up, I wondered how I got to be outside and where the storm vanished to. A squirrel scampered near the tree, tail twitching nervously as it eyed me, wondering if I was a danger to it or not. It came closer, picking up an acorn and inspecting it closely – tail twitched as we watched each other. Shoving it in his mouth, he took off up the tree where I lost track of him.
Looking around, I slowly stood to hear the distant grumbles of the remains of the storm on the horizon where it was destroying another town (or was it the town I was just in?).

I had to find the cemetery, so I began to walk.

I was starving, but I’d get food on the way if I found any.

The nearest cemetery wasn’t far; strangely enough, only at the bottom of the hill I had been resting on. So, I looked through the locked gates, looked along its stone walls and thought of a way to get in, when I remembered the skeleton key, and dug it out of my pocket. Slotting it into the lock, I didn’t need to turn it as it clanged and the gates swung inward, crashing against the back of the walls.
As I stepped through, a man in old-fashioned Undertaker’s clothes stepped up to me, “You’ve won.”
“Won?” I asked.
He held out a cube, “Take this and all will be revealed.”
“Like what?”
A lop-sided smile crawled up his face, “Don’t you get it? You’re part of a game and you’ve outplayed the others. You’ve won.”
“What have I won?”
“Take the cube and find out.”
I reached out for the cube and a bright light filled my vision. With my other hand, I shielded my eyes for a moment. When the light abated, I found I was in a dank, crap-smelling prison cell. There was a rattling at the door, as the bolt slammed across and iron door creaked open.
“Well... aren’t you a smart-ass.” He stood there in a suit glaring at me, clearly not pleased with me.
“Yeah, shithead, I put you into a game with a few of the other prisoners here and the prize was your soul back and trip up to the hot-shot place in the sky... guess who won?” he snorted.
“Oh. Thank you?”
He stepped to one side, “Come on. Your Angel is here to take you home.”
I looked beyond him into the hallway to find a person I’d never seen before, but I knew deep down inside I could trust, “You’re taking me home?”
She smiled, “Yes I am.”
“One question.” She looked at me as she took my hand, “Where is home?”
Tears filled her eyes, “You really have been here too long; and the horrible thing is that you don’t recognise me, do you?”
“Should I?”
“I’ll take you home.”