Sunday, 3 February 2019

Heaven Can't Wait

“We need your help, Haniel, we need it badly.”
We sat under the cover of the bar-b-que area as the rain poured around us watching the dull, wet day surround us. I gave her a worried look, “How can I help you? I’m not an Archangel.”
“I know that. But you know where to find one.”
Frowning, I sat back, offended she dared ask me to search for... “No! He nearly killed me the last time we battled. And besides, people were injured and he laughed at them – at their fragility – while I healed some of them.”
“You can track him. We need him to make new Angels while Father isn’t there.” I stood and walked to the edge of the shelter, watching the rain, not wanting anything to do with what she was proposing, “Please, there’s not that many of us left; not after the Demonic War.”
“Have you tried finding Father?”
“Yes. He’s not in Heaven or on Earth.”
“You haven’t tried hard enough. Try somewhere else because I’m not helping you. All of the other Archangels are dead, and I’m not approaching Lucifer or Michael; besides, they hate each other.”
“I told you, this wouldn’t be easy.”
I turned, “And I told you I wouldn’t be able to do anything about Heaven.”
She stood, walked around the table and sighed, “Look, I took a great risk coming and talking to you, mainly because you’re still looked down upon.” I rolled my eyes, “But! You know there’s areas of Earth Lucifer would hide.”
I was losing patience with her, “Let me give it to you straight: Lucifer doesn’t care! He doesn’t have the patience of Father, never did and never will. You don’t understand it that he will destroy everything if he’s let loose in Heaven...”
“But we need new Angels to...”
“To the detriment of Earth, I don’t think so.”
I heard her sigh again and sit down on the seat behind me as I turned I my back on her and stared at the lessening rain around us, “Haniel, you have seen so much here on Earth. But I think you’ve been around them too much – for too long – and it’s been not good for you.”
“That’s not it.” I regarded her and her complete misunderstanding of what was going on, “Earth is under attack by the very inhabitants Father placed here to look after her. Lucifer isn’t where he’s supposed to be and he thinks he can go around turning Father’s children against each other – and so he’s having fun. And where’s Father in all of this?”
She shrugged, “We don’t know.”
“Well, I think you better find out. It’s time he came home and cleaned up his mess.”
“But you know Earth better than we do.”
I sighed, “I’m not asking you to clean up Earth, I’m asking you to find Father...”
“And he’ll make us do it. But he won’t get his hands dirty anymore.” She whispered.
I was at a loss at what to do next.
The rain had stopped and left behind that sweet after-rain scent a lot of Humans love; which was something I was beginning to appreciate as well. I didn’t know what to say to her, an Angel who was normally no one to stay an Earth-Walker.
“Haniel, we...”
“I know.... need my help.” Rubbing my forehead with the tips of my fingers of my right hand, I felt the numbing headache Humans felt from stress lessen. I looked up at her, “Okay, what do you need me to do? And no, I’m not looking for Lucifer.”
“Well, we need an Angel which can make new Angels.”
I sat next to her as the rain started up again.
We were there for a moment before I looked at her, “A Grigori. They taught the Humans first of their duties.”
“I’m not sure if they’re still walking the Earth, but it’s worth a try.” She shrugged as she took flight, vanishing in a flurry of wings and wind.
I’m left there wondering if my idea was worth the ground work. Would a Grigori cooperate with us after all this time? Are there any left walking the Earth?

Months pass by and I find myself in the Time-Keeper’s Court. I haven’t been here in a long time. There’s a lot of people waiting to be seen through to the waiting Osiris; and then there’s the hall of the massive church within. I look up at the crystalline windows above me and find it was raining. It always looks different here than it does on Earth – it’s more beautiful I found.
“Haniel, any news?” she asked me from the door of the church.
My thoughts are broken as I walked through the door and into the near-silence of the church, and I lower my voice, “I’m afraid not. Either they know I’m looking for them, or they’ve disappeared.”
“They are – were – one of Father’s first creations. They can’t vanish from Earth.” She was close to tears.
“Or they’ve been corrupted and are working through different ways.” I said, “I often get myself in trouble if I try ask too many questions on Earth.”
Her tears dried up quickly, as she snapped me a glare, “Well, I encourage you ask those questions.”
I leaned down close to her, “And get myself arrested, shot or killed? Then what will you do? Who will you send to get killed next?”
Slowly she looked up at me, “I’m sorry Haniel. It’s not a good time here. We really need Angels.”
I stood and turned from her, “I’m doing my best.” I left her in the church, walked through the Time-Keeper’s Quarters and out the door where I was greeted by a Soul-Keeper. These people normally kept themselves closer to The Great Library, “Can I help you?”
“Haniel? I have the right Angel?” he asked, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses, “I’m Briggs. I’m a...”
“Soul-Keeper. I know, I read you straight away.” I walked towards the gates of Heaven, but he stopped me, “What do you need?”
“I need you to see something at The Great Library. That Angel you were speaking to... she’s not telling the whole story.”

The Great Library was one of Father’s greatest achievements. Everything he ever wrote was stored here from the beginning of time to every single story every written by Humans and other creations he made before them. It’s a fascinating place to venture through. Soul-Keepers keep an account of Angel’s souls in Heaven for when they’re needed in vessels.
“Now, we keep account of who is here and who isn’t. I also keep a running number of who is in our prison – there’s not many there; only two, but they can be a handful.” He chuckled as he pulled out a large, aged book, “Here is the Book of Angels from the time Father created us.” He opened it to the very page of today.
“What am I looking at?”
“A ledger of how many Angels we actually have in Heaven, in the Guff and on Earth.” Briggs said, “And really, we only have about ten Angels on Earth, the rest are here. See...” he pointed out the numbers to me, and Heaven had plenty of Angels. Then the lights dimmed and flickered then restored again, “I’m not sure why it is that we are having problems when we have so many Angels here to run the place.”
“I’ll find Father. He has to know about this problem here at home.” I said.

Ironically, I found Father on Earth. He was sipping Mai Tai’s in Vanuatu’s best resort. Security followed me across the foyer of the hotel and through to the pool where I could feel his power coming. And there he was sitting there reading a book and enjoying the tropical heat.
A hand landed heavily on my shoulder. I turned, “Let go of me.”
“You know, Serg, I would if I was you.” Father said, “Haniel here isn’t in the mood to be stuffed around.”
I walked up to him, as he sipped the drink, “Would you like one, it’s a Mai Tai. It’s delicious; and the best thing is that you and I can’t get drunk on them.”
I sat on the sun bed next to his, “Sheppard, please. All of Heaven is searching for you, and they claim it’s because they need more Angels.”
“Yes. I know.” He smiled, “I believe Briggs brought you up to speed?”
“Then why am I being given the run around?
He looked at me, “I need Lucifer.”
“He hates me. He tried to kill me.”
“I’m on holidays. He can run the place.”
“Why is the place low on power?”
Father snapped a stunned look at me as he almost dropped his drink, “What?”
“Yes, Heaven can’t wait for you to take a holiday in every tropical island around Earth. So, are you in or out about Heaven?” I stood, “And as for Lucifer, if you want him, you go and find him, I’m not going to die because you can’t control his temper tantrums.”
“Fair enough. If you’re going to be this way, you stay here on Earth.” He stood and smiled, “You don’t deserve to be in Heaven, Haniel. You will become an Earth-Walker on a very permanent basis.” He turned away as the waiter brought over Sheppard’s drink.
“Fine, I don’t like the politics up there anyway.” I said.
He smiled at me, “You don’t get it. You still have to find Lucifer – but this time, you have to kill him to get your passage back into Heaven. So, for you, Heaven can wait.”

Sunday, 27 January 2019

End of Days

This one was inspired by the horrible heatwave we've been experiencing here in Australia. 


The skies are shotgun blue, without a cloud in sight, and the heat is pressing and exhausting. No birds have sung in the past few weeks and I haven’t heard any children run around the place lately either.

This is strange. But seeing how hot it’s been, I’m not surprised.

People would have been worshipping at the temple of the shopping complex, to get away from the heat and into the cool air-conditioning. And with school starting soon, it’ll be something to look forward to. However with the heat still pressing down on this country, it’s got me thinking: is it really Summer? Or is it something else?

I mean, America is in the grips of one of the worst Winters they’ve experienced in years. Coyotes are roaming into the cities searching, hunting for food; and that’s because there’s none walking around.
And yet, there’s snakes and Dingoes doing the same thing here in Australia because there’s nothing to eat for them here.

This morning, I walked out to the papershop and found that at around 7am, the normally busy main road outside my place was empty and quiet. Now, I’m not a God-fearing person, nor will I ever be one. But, I didn’t hear any birds singing either – just the cicadas ever-lasting long note of ‘damn it’s hot! Damn it’s hot!’ And adding that to my tinnitus is enough to send normal people off the edge – but then, I’m not normal. I’m used to that mind-boggling ringing in my ears. It’s difficult to ignore it, but it’s been there for years, constantly getting louder over time.
As I walked down the road in the blinding sunlight, my footsteps echoing around the street, I felt as though I was in ‘The Omega Man’... yep, I felt as though I was the last person on the planet wandering around. Then, I spotted a few people, braving the heat to get the paper and some milk from across the road. Okay, I now felt as though I was in ‘The Day of the Triffids’, where the world was invaded by plants which ate humans.

Creepy... but a great book and movie.

It’s been hours since I ate breakfast and decided to take off to photograph some landscape stuff to paint. But driving around, I couldn’t find a place populated enough by people to paint. I tried the local shopping centres, then drove further afield, taking the toll way and found there was nobody on the roads – not even trucks.

I pulled off the road, finding my way to a church, where I thought I’d find people of faith hiding away there, to pray, in search of guidance to their God. But that car park was empty.

Exactly what was going on? I tried the doors and found them locked... on a Sunday? This wasn’t right. I had a feeling there was somebody behind me, and spun! There wasn’t anyone. I could see my camper van in the lot and that was it.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered taking a few deep breaths, leaning against the cool glass doors of the church. Then, I realised, to find my answer, I had to get inside. I picked dislodged a rock from the garden and threw it through the large glass panel next to the main doors. It shattered – but no alarm went off as I expected. As the glass fell to the floor, I carefully stepped through and looked around.
The air-con was on.
Music was coming from the speakers in the ceiling – but it was just the radio.
I went up to the doors of the church itself and tried them. Locked! I went back outside and walked around the side of the building to look in and found the main building was empty.
“Who are you looking for?” a voice asked to my left.
I turned to find the Pastor standing there, “Where are the people?”
He frowned, pulling at his collar, his eyes wandering to glaring hot day, “It’s hot isn’t it?”
Nodding, I agreed with him, “But where are the people?”
Sighing, he sat in the pew put outside for people to rest in, “I don’t know. I heard you break in before, and I couldn’t get into the church either; not even with my key.” Tears brimmed his eyes as he looked to the ground, “I do believe it’s the End of Times.”
“Hey, Pastor, we would have had warnings.”
“We did!” he snapped a look at me, “Wars, disease, famine, extinction... that joke of a President was another... they were all warnings. And what did we do? We all sat on our phones, hypnotised by them.”
I didn’t know what do to, “Have you been out there today?” I looked out to the steaming heat of the day.
“No. I came here in the hopes people would come here.”
I shook my head, “Don’t. There’s nobody around. The streets are empty, the highways... the internet isn’t .... um... the radio is static. I thought it was a screw up until it was like that for an hour.”
He scrubbed his tears away with the flat of his hands, “So, now what?”
Looking at him, stunned, I shrugged, “Well, I came here to ask you that. You’re one of ... or are you? Seeing it’s the End of Days, what do we do now?”
“For what redemption – a bit late.”
He spotted my camper van out in the lot, “Do you think there’s others?”
“If there are, they’re hiding.” Or dead I thought but I didn’t want to scare him more than he already was, “I don’t know.”
He stood, “Well, I’m going to get into the church the same way you did... and I’ll stand by my post. It’s what I was taught to do.”
“Need help?”
“No. God will show me the way. Where are you going?”
“On my road trip, I guess; better late than never.” I walked out to the lot, unlocked my camper van and got into the driver’s side. I knew what the pastor was going to do, but I didn’t want to be there when he...
As I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, I heard a gunshot echo from the church; causing me to slam on the brakes and my stomach to lurch. I’ll be not only going on the road trip to paint, but to also search out others.
I did have a question though: was a left here as a bad guy or a good guy? I guess I’ll never know.

Monday, 14 January 2019

My Curse

You would think life would be fair – but it’s not. And it’s strange how some things are covered so well on sci-fi and horror television shows and yet, people think most of that stuff is all make-believe.

Well, most of it is.

My curse in this life is that I can see what most other Humans can’t. I can see Angels, Demons and Reapers – but I mainly see the latter. Angels aren’t that common, and they’re out to protect the person they’re tethered to more than to show themselves in public. And besides, when a Human knows they’ve got an Angel tethered to them, they’re not going to tell everyone about it because ... well, would you?
Demons are everywhere. I spotted one at a party once years ago, and he spotted me. It was the most horrifying thing I had ever come across. I found my friends and got them the outa there before anything happened to them. But I remember what they said to me: ‘You’re nuts Dayna. He was fine!’
Glancing up at the rear vision mirror, while sitting at the set of lights, I spotted him in the car behind us, his red eyes glowing through the rear window of my car ‘He’s anything but fine. Did either of you talk to him? Kiss him, make fun of him?’
Belle sat in the seat next to me, hesitating, ‘Well, he said he could do anything for me. He promised.’ She went quiet.
‘Well, he said we had to kiss, not shake hands.’ She blushed, ‘He’s a hell of a kisser.’
I remember her funeral well, because it was only three weeks later she died. The police still have no idea how she came to be in an abandoned building in San Fran on the other side of the country on her own; and yet she had only been with me the night before for dinner and a movie. From what I know, I’m still a suspect two years later.

Reapers are a different deal.
I see them all the time. They’re normally around car accidents, hospitals, funerals ... basically anywhere where there’s been a death and they have to collect a soul. I even see them when the news is on and they show a volcano blowing its top – and I see them all standing around the townships it’s going to destroy. This is why I don’t watch the news. They’re just too creepy.
And yep, I saw a couple of them at Belle’s funeral, when I should have only seen one. That caused me to wonder why there were more than one to collect her; but I didn’t want to ask too many questions about it all – after all the police were looking at me as a suspect.

And you know it’s strange, I’ve never had a Reaper looking at me or in my direction. They’re normally looking at the person who is going to die, or they’re standing outside the place where a death is going to occur.
But the other day, I stepped outside a movie theatre and saw a crowd of them looking up at the building. There had to be about thirty of them standing, staring. I turned and looked up, shading my eyes against the sun just in time to watch the windows on the top floor of the Cineplex explode and smoke billow out from it!
“Oh my God!” I muttered, unable to pull out my phone, knowing that whatever I did next was useless. If I pulled out my phone, the emergency crews wouldn’t make it in time... but if I didn’t? I turned to the security guard nearest to me, “We need to evacuate the whole centre now!”
“Why, it could be just the Cineplex...” he muttered.
I looked over near the doors of the main shopping complex, and spotted more Reapers standing by the door and inside the place, watching, “No! The whole place will go up if you don’t evacuate now!”

The alarms howled and rang, as people spilled out on the streets surrounding the massive centre. I stood across the road with the people watching and waiting to be told what to do next, when a hand landed on my shoulder.
I turned to find a Reaper was there, “Why didn’t you leave it well enough alone? Their time was up.” I turned away, feeling a chill where his hand had been. When I turned back, he was gone. As I looked around at the people standing around me, I realised I had screwed with how these people’s lives were going to turn out. At some point in the near future, each of them were going to die. As I watched on, Reapers showed up next to each survivor I had gotten evacuated from the centre.
Within the next month, each of these people died. Their time was up at the Cineplex and I stopped it – when I shouldn’t have.

I needed to be on my own for a while, so I sought out my local church, where I saw they were preparing for a funeral service. I didn’t want to bother them, so I sat in the very back near the door. People filed in. People I knew... but they didn’t come to see me as I stood and approached them.
“Dayna.” A voice at my shoulder said, and I turned to see a man in a suit, “I knew you’d make it.”
“Make it?” I asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You still don’t know? You’re dead. You died at the Cineplex. When you looked up as the place exploded a wall fell on you.” An expression of worry crossed his face, “Oh, you don’t remember, you died so fast.”
“And I see Reapers all the time.”
He nodded, “Yes. That man who patted you on the shoulder, he was your Reaper. And you should have left things alone – Natural Order and all of that.”
“Where am I?”
He looked around as all the people sat down in the lovely church I used to attend, “You are at your funeral.”

Saturday, 15 December 2018

The Wish

He came into the hospital in a bright red suit, covered in soot, dirt and missing a big black boot. I didn’t know what to say... he looked like Santa Claus, with the long white beard, the blue eyes and the red cheeks, but he looked like had been in an accident.
“Nurse! Let’s go!” Doctor Carter shouted at me for a third time to get my ass into gear, “He’s a shopping centre Santa who’s been in a car accident... and he’s touch and go. We have children in this ER, and we don’t want them thinking we let them down!”

It was a week from Christmas Eve and I was pulling a double-shift while my family was at home in a crappy house, with a crappy fern for a tree and I had to op-shop my kids’ presents – again – this year.
Yeah, being a single Mum wasn’t what people thought it looked like in the movies. It was hard, it was constant and my kids were never well from one week to the next – they were always bringing home some bug, cold or flu from school.
We worked hard on Santa and finally got him stablised and I walked with the bed upstairs to the ward he was going to be settled into for the night – and the area where I was heading to anyway for the rest of my shift. I felt I needed to watch over him.
As I made sure his cannula was okay, and his fluids were perfect, I noted onto the chart that he had no initial blood type. At first, it was Universal, then it changed to suit the blood they gave him.
Looking up at the sleeping man in the bed, I frowned, “Who are you?” it was then I looked outside and watched at the Christmas Tree across town – which had its lights on from December 1st until New Years Eve – flicker and the lights went out. I put it to a short in the wiring and I shrugged as I signed the chart and put it into the slot at the end of his bed to leave his room.
“Please, it wasn’t my fault. Blitzen and Comet... are they all okay?” he asked.
I turned from the door, walked to his bedside, “Who?”
“My boys, they were pulling the sleigh and we hit an updraft and lost control. Are they all okay?” His twinkling blue eyes stared at me, “Please, Clara, I need to know.”
“How did you know my name?” I asked, “What’s your name?”
He frowned as he struggled to remember, “I, um... wish I could tell you. I must have hit my head.”
“You did... but sleep tonight.”
“I can’t. It’s Christmas Eve, what will happen to the children? Who will deliver their presents?” tears glistened in eyes, and overflowed onto his cheeks, wetting his beard, “Oh my, this is quite a pickle, isn’t it?”
“We saw initials on your underwear.” I said, “S.C... does that mean anything to you?”
“Santa Claus?” he raised his bushy eyebrows, “No, that’s silly.”
“Well, S.C, you get yourself some sleep. Things will look better and clearer in the morning.” I smiled.

I finished my shift a few hours later and went home. My kids were off to friends’ houses and I tried to make their presents look and feel brand new – and my kids knew they weren’t. I felt awful that I couldn’t afford new things around the crappy house we were living in.
As my children arrived home, the eldest saw I was thinking on something as they helped set the table, “Mum, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just wish I could afford more for you kids. I’m a nurse and when your Dad died, well, there should have been more for you.” I felt the onset of the mourning from my partner’s death weigh on me suddenly and tears came quickly to me.
My son stopped what he was doing and hugged me, “It’s okay, Mum, we’ll deal with Christmas. It’s only been a few years, and we will find a way to celebrate – like we always do.”
“I’m pulling double-shifts all this week. Are you sure you can care for all the kids?” I asked sniffing.
“Sure, I’m studying from home, and I’m sure I can do this to help you.” He smiled. But I could see through it to his pain he was hiding.

Two days later, I was at work again. As I walked across the staff car park, I spotted seven reindeer hiding just beyond the treeline of it. Walking up to them, I saw them with broken harnesses and read a couple of names: ‘Comet’ and ‘Donner’.
“Oh, man.” Taking a few steps back onto the roadway, I heard a car horn blare and spun to be just missed by a red car. As I turned back to the tree line, I found the reindeer gone. Thinking I was seeing things, I walked back across the car park towards the hospital, now late for my shift.
I did my rounds on the floor where Mr. S.C was to find he was gone. When I looked him up, he had been moved to another part of the hospital. So, I went for a walk to see him.
As I walked past the canteen, I found all the Christmas Lights had been switched off, and I stopped and looked at them.
Doctor Carter stopped on his way out the door, “Hi. Oh, the lights. They stopped working all of a sudden. Nobody knows why.”
“Oh... I see. Have you noticed the big Christmas Tree in the town centre has stopped working too?” I said.
“Yeah... that happened a few days ago. The same night as our Santa Claus guy came in.” He said, “Makes you wonder what he was doing out there... and he’s talking more now; he’s been talking about his reindeer.”
“More names?”
“He’s been asking if they’re okay.”
“Doc, I know where they are.” I smiled.
“You’ve seen them too?” he asked.
“Across the car park in the bushes.”
He groaned, “Oh man, I think we have somebody special in our hospital... but who’s gonna believe us?”
Smirking, I whispered, “Our youngest kids?”
“We have to find him.”
We rushed to the ward Mr. S.C. was in to find he had a visitor of an elderly lady. She was in a lovely green dress, with a red overcoat and she turned when we walked into the room, “Well, hello there, Clara and Andrew.”
Doctor Carter took a step back, “How does she know our names?”
I grabbed his arm, “He knew mine too.” Then I turned to her, “You’re a friend of our patient’s?”
Smiling kindly she nodded, “You could say that. I’m Elenore Claus.”
“Claus?” I asked, “As in Mrs. Santa Claus.”
“The one and only.” She cast a worried look at the bearded man in the bed, “We have a big problem, and it is that if we don’t get Santa out of here and back to his reindeers – and soon – Christmas will take on a totally different meaning.”
“How?” I asked.
“Have you ever heard of Krampus?”
My eyes widened, “Oh no, not him.”
“He will take over and make Christmas a thing of the past.” She sniffed, “This means: Santa must not die.”
I looked over at Santa and noticed his beard was no longer white, but grey, “He’s not well. How do we fix this?”
She looked over at me, “That is the easy part. You make a wish; but not just any wish. It has to be a wish of purity and honour and love from your heart and soul. I can’t make one, and Doctor Carter here can’t either.” She looked at the doctor, “I’m sorry, but you have everything you could ever wish for.”
I looked down at the man, and knew there were things I wished for every day. From more money, to better clothes for my children, to my eldest going to a better university; but the one thing I wished for was something I couldn’t give my children – not really, “How do I do this? Do I just say it?”
“No.” She said, “You must whisper it in his ear.”
I bent down and whispered my wish to Santa, first introducing myself and telling him my wish – the one thing I really wished for but couldn’t do – and then stepped back and watched him. Turning, I looked at Andrew and found he had closed the door and locked it, “Good idea.”
First, Santa’s beard turned snow white, his clothing changed from the hospital gown we had dressed him in into his bright red suit and his hat materialised onto his head. His big black, shiny boots showed up next to the bed and he opened his eyes, looked at me and smiled, “I am so happy you told me your wish, Clara Edwards, because you have been in need of such a wish for so very long.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You had that wish inside you and I could heard it calling out, but you had to actually tell me to make it happen. And happen it will!” he grinned, “Now, I’m hungry. Could you please fetch me some food?”
Andrew was the first out the door to grab some food from the tea lady – who was making her rounds – and as I turned to watch him and turned back, I found the bed empty, Mrs Claus was gone and Andrew had returned with the tray, “Hey where’d he go?”
“I don’t know.” I looked at him, then glanced out the window to find the Christmas Tree in the middle of town was lit up again. My phone rang and I pulled from my pocket, not my old Nokia, but a beautiful, big smart phone with my son’s number on it, “Woah!”
Andrew looked at the phone, stunned, “What did you wish for?”
“I can’t tell you.” I smiled, “It won’t stick if I tell you. But can you cover for me?”
He nodded, “Sure. Let me guess, you have to go home?”

I grabbed my purse from my locker and found keys which didn’t look like mine in it. As I walked out to the car park, I found a bright red car parked in the spot where I parked my car. I pressed the keys and it unlocked.
“Oh my God!” Getting in, I started to drive home and found the street I pulled down didn’t look like the street I had left a few hours before. I had a different address in my head. And the house I pulled into the driveway of was lovely... and I had feeling I wasn’t renting it.
My son opened the front door, “Mum, what are you doing home?” he walked out to the car, “And could you tell me what’s going on? I went to school, came home and found this house where our house used to be. The street name is different. Your car is different... what’s happened?”
I smiled, “I made a wish.”

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Secret Lives

I've always wondered about actors and writers who become recluses - and thought Greta Garbo was one of the greats who did this; and I wondered why. This is one idea of why.


“Who are you?” her lilting voice asked over the intercom.
“Good afternoon, Ms Garbo, I’m from ‘Life’ Magazine. We talked yesterday morning regarding an interview.” I answered as the rain hammered onto the roof of my car.
“Aaah yes! Please come in.” There was a buzzing sound and the gates swung open from the middle and I eased the car between them and up the gravel drive, wound past the huge mansion and around the back where there was a line of garages all locked up except one – where there was a man waiting for me to show up.
He stood in front of my car as I pulled it into the garage, out of the dreadful weather, and he opened the car door for me, “Good afternoon, Miss Leary, the lady of the house is waiting for you in her studio.” He put out his hand for my keys, “I’ll take care of your car.”
“I’ll clean it off, check the oil and vacuum the inside, of course.” He smiled, “And your keys will be returned to you promptly.” He turned and there was a house-keeper, “Mrs Ackers will take you to the lady of the house.”
I grabbed my bag and stepped to one side, allowing the man into my car and walked over to Mrs Ackers, “Good afternoon, I’m...”
“Miss Leary, I know.” She smiled thinly and led me through a back door and along a hallway into the back of the house, where there were coats, hats and scarves hung up, “Leave your things here. You won’t need them in the house.”
I hung up my coat and scarf on a spare hook, wiped my shoes on the large mat and took up my bag again, “Okay, lead on.”
Mrs Ackers lead me through another door and into another hallway, filled with old photographs on the walls of Mrs. Garbo. They were amazing, and in black and white. I paused at one but Mrs Ackers turned at the stairs, “No stopping, you’ll see all of that soon enough.”
“Sorry.” I quickly caught up with her and followed her up two flights of stairs, along long, carpeted hallways and silent rooms with closed doors, until she came to a door at the end of the third hall, and rested her hand on the door knob, “She paints at this time of day. But she has allowed you to interview her, just this once. Ms Garbo doesn’t give interviews very often.”
“I understand this. But I’ve Googled and it says she’s dead.”
“Well, she expected you to do that.” She smiled thinly again, then knocked twice on the door.
“Yes, Mrs Ackers, do come in.” Her thickly accented voice called through the door.
She opened the door, “Ms Leary is here to see you, Ma’am.”
The woman turned from the easel, pallet in one hand, brush in the other, dressed in a paint-spattered white smock over some old black clothing, “Of course! Welcome, Ms Leary! Do make yourself at home.”
I walked over to the fainting couch and sat near the fire, “It’s cold outside.”
She watched me as she put down her art things and removed her smock and handing it to her house-keeper, “Indeed.”
“I shall return with tea and afternoon tea.” Mrs Ackers said hanging up the smock nearby.
“Yes, you do that.” Ms Garbo muttered as she sat next to gracefully and a silence engulfed us like none other. She watched me become more and more uncomfortable under her stare as we waited for her house keeper to return, and I feared she never would, “Why are you so nervous?”
“I Googled you and it says you died in 1990.”
She smirked, “It does.”
“But you’re here very much alive... and you can’t be one of your children, because you never had any.”
Pulling her feet up under her long dress, she smiled, “Oh you have done your research, my dear. And there is a good reason why I have hidden from life better than Elvis Presley ever has.”
The door opened and Mrs Ackers returned with a tea trolley filled with a silver tea service. The coffee table in front of us was moved closer and cleared off, and the tea was served up there, then she left the trolley and Mrs Garbo poured the tea for me and handed me my cup.
“Elvis is alive?”
“Well, yes, of course he is. But he does a dreadful job of hiding himself. He’s become – how does one say it – restless, in his old age.” She giggled, “Me on the other hand, I am quite accustomed to being alone. I didn’t give many interviews and almost no autographs. I hated being photographed with anyone.”
“Yes, I research says this too... but I’m here to find out why.” I said, looking down at my notebook. As I looked up, her eyes were fixed on mine, “And my last colleague didn’t return from here.”
“Oh yes he did, he got himself killed.” She took a sip from her cup, licked her lips and placed it back down on the tray on the coffee table, before leaning back and smiling at me, “Is your tea hot enough?”
I wrapped my hands around the cup, “Yes, thank you.”
“You haven’t drunk any.”
Looking down into it, I smiled, “I like the smell of tea, but not the taste. And I like the warmth it gives off... it’s a strange thing I’ve done since I was in my teens.” I glanced up to find her expression had faltered, “Is there something wrong?”
“I was hoping you’d drink the tea.”
“Well, William was good at one thing... communication. It was before you found the wire on him that he said something was in his tea.” I put the cup back on the tray, “And you did something to him.”
Ms Garbo suddenly stood, “The interview is over.”
I stood as quickly as she did, “We haven’t even started... you haven’t told me anything I don’t already know.”
She turned and was startled to see me on my feet, took a few steps back before muttering, “What do you want to know?”
“Well, for one thing, why don’t you look like somebody who is well over a century old and still look as though you’re in your forties? And exactly what was in that cup of tea?” I didn’t take my eyes off her as I pointed to the tray behind me.
Ms Garbo smiled knowingly, “Your dear friend William did teach you one or two things about me. Never take your eyes off me and don’t drink my tea.”
“Tell me about your secret life... and I’ll turn it into your true biography.” I offered.
“Nobody would ever believe it!” she sneered.
“Nobody has to but you and me.”
She sniffed, “When I was around forty or so, I was doing a film and in my off-time, I met a lovely man. He was so old-fashioned, and sweet and he... had a side to him I did not realise. He was a vampire, and he turned me.”
“Oh shit.”
She cast a sideways glance in my direction, “Well, yes, indeed. I was just taking off into the movies – the talkies – and I was turned into something which never ages me. I couldn’t have children and it forced me to live alone.”
“And so, you couldn’t do interviews because of the silver in the development in the photographs.”
“Okay, you’ve covered the things of why you have had no children, why you live alone and how you stayed so young and away from the public.” I said softly, “But what was in my tea?”
“Belladonna... but only enough to make you sleepy.”
“Where is your sire now?”
Looking down at her hands, she fiddled with her nails, “He lost his head a few years ago.” She looked over at me, “But, that doesn’t mean I can’t carry on his legacy.”
“I have to leave.”
“That’s what your William said, and he never did.”
“He’s been reported dead.”
She turned toward the back of the room, “Oh, William!”
From the shadows came my old colleague, lover and flatmate. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. He hadn’t changed at all – but there was something not right about him, “Sharon... what are you doing here?” he took my hands and kissed them.
“I had to take over your role at work.” I said, “And find another border at home.”
“Oh Sharon, what was the one thing I told you not to do while you were here?” he whispered into my face.
I looked at him, “Take my eyes off her.”

The sun streamed through the windows when I woke on the floor a day later of that old mansion. The police had busted into the place and found me, their voices were muffled and wanted to move but they told me to not get up.
“I have to find them.” I said.
“Find who?” the ambulance woman asked, “This place has been abandoned for decades.”
“Who’s house is this?” I asked.
“Greta Garbo’s.” She replied, “It’s September 19th. Yesterday was her birthday. There’s a legend that she haunts this house one day a year and lures somebody in each year. Most of them don’t survive... looks like you will.”
“Where’s William? I saw him.”
The ambulance woman looked up at the cop standing nearby, “You didn’t. You’ve got Belladonna in your system. It’d make you see all kinds of things.”

But I knew I saw Greta Garbo... and I saw my William... I just have to find them. Looking out the barred window of my secure room of the psych hospital, I can’t do it from in here.

I have a year to get out of here before she does this again.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

War of the Worlds

I just obtained my parents' copy of 'War of the Worlds' on vinyl for my birthday... and I love it! It also gave me the best idea for a story.



The stylus landed softly on the vinyl as the turntable spun silently, the shine of the metal reflected off my overhead living room light and the start of ‘War of the Worlds’ vibrated out of my stereo speakers.
I lowered the tinted lid over the spinning vinyl gentle, soft, sweet... let go of it and stepped backwards, felt for my armchair and sank back into it, listening to the old-fashioned sounds of the 1970’s fill my senses.

This was how it this album was supposed to heard!

I had always loved this vinyl – right from the time my Dad had recorded it onto a couple of TDK cassette tapes and took them to the coast to play when it was late at night and there was nothing to do but down a few beers and stare at the stars overheard... and wonder if H.G. Wells was right.

Closing my eyes, I heard the narrative fill my world, my head and the outside world vanish into the ether. Now was the time this vinyl was happening... now was the time... yes... it... was...

I woke to silence.

I woke to darkness in my living room.

Did I fall asleep?

Did the power fail?

Had there been a short in my house?

I started to rise from my seat and froze when I spotted two bright red eyes staring at me from across the room, “Who’s there?” my voice sounded loud in the dead silence of the darkness surrounding me.
In a high pitched whine, from across the room, a voice replied, “Who’s there?” and the red eyes blinked momentarily and shifted as though it was hearing itself for the very first time. It was then I understood that it could see me, but it knew I couldn’t see it and it had gotten into my house somehow.
Leaning forward, I strained my eyes to see how big this thing was but couldn’t see anything, “What are you?”
It didn’t answer me, instead the intense red eyes move closer to me, looking me over closely – as though to inspect every part of me – and a clicking, wiring sound came from it, “What are you?”
“I am a Human Being.”
It stopped the inspection for a moment.
“I am a Homosapien – also known as a Human Being.” I said quiet, sitting still, “What’s with the lights?”
“Silence, Human.” It’s voice snapped.
“You’re in my house, so I ask the questions.” I retorted, “So what’s with the lights?”
“You called us.”
“No. I played ‘War of the Worlds’ on vinyl.”
“You called us.” The voice hissed in its high pitch.
I didn’t understand how I called them, so I sat there in silence trying to figure out how in the Hell I called them, “Can I make a phone call?”
“You may.”
I felt for my mobile and called Dad, who picked up immediately, “Dad, you know your vinyl of ‘War of the Worlds’, is it a signalling device?”
“Did you play it?” he asked.
“Well, yeah, what else would I do with it? I’m sitting in the dark over here with some weird alien thing inspecting me with red eyes.”
“Oh man... that vinyl was an original pressing from the UK.” He sighed over the phone, “I got it from Woking.”
“So, this is a vinyl with extra shit on it that none of the others have?” I asked.
“Well, you know I worked in that studio when they recorded that in the 70’s, right?”
“Yeah. Oh shit.”
“Well, extra sounds went into it – stuff we can’t hear but they can.” He said, “The reason why I never played it here at home, but I did when we went camping was because they’d show up at the camp site. You just don’t remember it.”
“But, Dad...”
“But they remember you.” He said, “You were their favourite.”
“I’m the youngest in the family.”
“That’s the reason why they liked you so much.”
“How do I ... get them to leave?”
“That’s the thing, son... you’re not at home anymore.”
I looked over at the red set of eyes, “Where am I?” The eyes blinked slow and moved backwards away from me. Then, I asked into the phone, “Dad, where am I?”
“Well, we’re in your living room... and you’re not here. So, you’re on the ship.”
“How do I get home?”
I heard Mum crying in the background as he sniffed, “This time you may not be able to.”
“Why not?”
“They destroyed the vinyl.”

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Lots of Lands...

I've built a literary-themed garden in recent months; and thought to base a story in the confines of this garden with some of the character in this garden. I thought 'Alice In Wonderland' and 'Hansel & Gretel' would go well.


“I think we’re lost.” She said looking around at the tall, dark columns surrounding them in the darkness, “We haven’t seen the path for a while.”
Her brother turned on her, “I don’t think so. Look!” he pointed and they both saw a house sitting in its own little space, “I think this is a great place. Doesn’t it look ... like home?”
She shrugged and her hair fell over her face, “I’m not sure. But my feet hurt and I’m hungry.”
He put his around his sister’s shoulders, “Well, come on, let’s knock on the door and see who lives there.”
“You do it... I’m not going near it. The last place was huge and hissed at us.” She cringed away from him and he sighed. She watched him as her brother walked over to the door and knocked on it. It opened and a kindly old woman stepped out with her knobbly old walking cane by her side and a raven on her shoulder. She didn’t look too bad; and she walked over to the house when her brother signalled her over.
“This is my sister. We’re kind of lost... we’re wondering if you could help us please?” he asked.
“Well, well... such a day to have such polite visitors as yourselves.” She smiled, bent over with age, “Please do come in and we will eat a meal together.”
She turned from the door, just before her brother led her inside, “Did you hear something?”
“It’s getting dark, let’s go. This is shelter and food.” He pointed, “And you’re hearing things?”
She glared at him, as she turned from the house, peering into the darkness, “I’m not hearing things. Somebody ‘psst’ed at me.” She backed away from the door, “And I really don’t feel safe about this place. I mean, who makes a house out of gingerbread – or what looks like it – anyway? What about cockroaches and ants? And doesn’t it get wet and soggy when it rains?”
“Sis, get inside!”
She turned from the house again, “There is goes again! I’m not going inside that house!”
The bent over old woman’s grin widened as she threw away the cane and grabbed her brother, “Fine, I’ll make do with just one of you!”
She picked up the cane, which landed next to her, and started beating the woman hard, “Let him go! He’s my brother!”
The woman reached for the cane, and as though it had a mind of its own, it flew over to the old woman and into her bony hand. She spun it around and whacked him over the head once with it and he collapsed. The old woman picked up the boy as though he weight almost nothing and dragged him inside where the door slammed shut; leaving the girl outside in the dark.

It began to rain.

She stood there, pulling her coat around her knowing she wanted to get her brother out of that house, but not having the slightest idea how.
“Well, if only you had turned around and taken two more steps into the darkness, you would have run into me.” A voice said to her right; and emerging from the darkness, was a lovely white rabbit in a dark blue waistcoat. He checked his fob watch and slid it back into the pocket on his waistcoat, “You don’t have much time to get him out of there. She eats children.”
“Well, how do I do this?” she asked, “And I’m talking to a rabbit...”
His ears twitched slightly, “Just think of it, I’m talking to a girl, both our worlds have collided and we have to work around them. But if we don’t work together, we’re going to be too late... like I am. I’m late for a very important date as it is; but do you see me panicking?”
“Well, not yet.” She smiled.
“So, what do we do?”

He woke up tied to a chair.

“It’s about time you woke up. I didn’t want to run the risk of cooking you with your clothes on... have done that before. I was picking buttons out of my teeth for days afterwards.” She grumbled as she stood at the stove, tasted something and then turned from it, “Now, you’re not fat enough. I want you to eat something.”
His eyes widened: “What?”
“Eat. Now.”

The rabbit pulled a bottle from one of his pockets and it had a label on it: “Drink me.”
“Oh thank you, I’m so thirsty.”
“This is not for you.” He pulled the bottle away from her, “This is for your brother.” He pointed to the house, “Now you have to get inside there and feed it to him, and he’ll get big – really big! – and then when he gets big enough, there’ll be food for him to eat on top of that seat over there which will shrink him down to his normal size again.” He gave her the bottle.
“Only for him.”
“Why can’t you do it?”
“I’m a rabbit... she’s eats everything! And she’s been trying to catch me for a very long time.” He snorted.
“Okay.” She took the bottle and sneaked over to the house, walked down the side where her brother was sitting at a table eating a meal. Oh! It looked so good! But in the time she had stood outside talking to the rabbit, he had put on a lot of weight! Her eyes widened as he gorged himself on the food there. Then, she spotted the glass he had been drinking from; it was almost empty! She reached in through the window, grabbed it, filled it with the “Drink me” bottle contents and put it back, then waited for him to drink from the glass. The moment her brother did, she watched him stop eating, looked inside the empty glass and look out the window as he started to grow, and grow and grow!
Well, the moment his left foot smashed through the wall of the house, she was running out towards the rabbit who was hopping about whispering for her to hurry up! She made it out to him just in time to see her brother grow to the size of a giant!
“Oh my! You never told me he was going to get this big!” she slapped the rabbit on the shoulder.
“Well, you never asked.” He slapped her shoulder, “And stop slapping me.”
The house was destroyed completely and the old woman ran screaming away as her raven flew off into the night. It was then, the boy looked around and spotted the cake on the seat.  It was on a plate with a note next to it: “Eat Me.”
“Oh yummy.” His voice thundered from above them, “Cake!” he picked it up and took a huge bite from it; boulder-sized crumbs fell from above, tumbling to ground, nearly landing on his sister and the rabbit. Almost as soon as he had begun to eat the cake, he put it back down, as he started to feel strange – as though he was going to be sick and turned inside out at the same time. His whole body shrank right down to the size he was before, and he found himself standing next to the wreckage of the house he had been a prisoner of for a few hours.
“Hansel!” his sister’s voice called out from the night, “Oh you’re okay!”
He turned, “Gretel!” they embraced, “I’m so glad you didn’t go inside that house. The food was okay, but it was her... she was an awful witch.”
“I got you out – with the help of the strangest fellow.” She said turning only to find that the white rabbit had vanished, “He was a white rabbit. He got me to get that liquid to you; I have no idea how that cake got there.”
“I’m not going to worry. We better be going, though, that house will be noticed in the daylight.” He said, “I did notice something when I was bigger. We will find it better in the daylight though. So, let’s stay near here for now.”
Morning broke and the two siblings started off through the Green Forest to the white castle in the corner of the realm. Hansel assured his sister they’d be safe there for a long time.

Next to the house a huge door opened and a giant stepped outside to great the day. They looked down at the house they had put there only a week before to decorate their garden, “What the hell?” the whole little house had been destroyed by something – smashed up into pieces! She grabbed a nearby bucket, “Damned possums!”