Friday, 24 May 2013

Amber’s Unpaid Work

The place was bright with morning sunshine as she walked through the doors, looked around and picked up the Sunday paper.  Amber pulled $2.00 from her pocket, walked to the counter of the newsagency and paid William the money and turned to leave.

“Hey, Amber, it’s gonna be a hot one, isn’t it?” he smiled hesitantly. 

“Yeah.” She looked at him and noticed a black eye and that his knuckles were bruised as he took the money off the counter.  But before she could ask what happened, she felt a hard shove from behind!  Her head whacked the back of the cash register hard and she fell to her knees, dropping her paper.  Blood cooled her forehead and trickled down into her left eye as somebody turned her around and a boot pushed against her shoulder forcing her to sit up and face them.  Looking up she shouted, “Hey!  That…” her next words were forgotten as the muzzle of a berretta was pointed at her and she closed her eyes as he pulled the trigger…

“No!” she sat up in her darkened room at 2am clawing at the air as she struggled her way out of her blankets.  The freezing Winter air was a relief to Amber as she fumbled with the beside reading lamp and tears came easily.

She’d been having this very same dream of her death for two weeks now; every three nights.  It’s been a broken record she’s been recording in her Dream Journal and she’s even tried talking to her doctor about it, but he can’t find anything wrong with her; neither can her shrink.

“Shit… not again.” She looked outside at the darkness and knew she was probably not going to get anymore sleep tonight.  Lying back down, she picked up her usual read – a book on relaxation techniques – and before long, she was sleeping again; a dreamless on this time.

Amber stood in the newsagency with her Sunday newspaper in her hand and put the $2.00 on the counter… but something was different about this.  Normally, William was there to take the money, today, he wasn’t.

“Hello, Amber.” A voice said behind her.  She spun to find a tall, thin man in a black suit was standing in the next aisle over looking at her, “How are you?”

“I die on this day.” She said, “I’ve had this premonition for the last three weeks, three nights a week… how the fuckin’ hell do you think I am?”

Stepping out of the aisle, she found he walked with an ivory-handled cane, “I know.  I’m sorry, it’s not you who dies.  But it’s you getting the messages… crossed wires.”

“Then, who?”

His eyes took in hers, “Who goes and gets the paper normally?”

“I do.”

He picked up the newspaper, “Aaah, yes, but on 23rd, June, who’s going to get the paper?”

She thought forward to that date and her mouth dropped, “Oh, shit, my flatmate.”

“Yes.” He said, “She will die… but you can’t tell her.”

“You know why she’s going instead of me, don’t you?” she looked at the paper and saw the date on it.

“Yes… you’ll be resting up after an operation.  And she’ll be your carer.” He said, “Sad how things work out.” Suddenly, he locked eyes with her, “Amber… it’s time to wake up…”

“Amber…it’s time to wake up!” a hand shook her, “You forgot to set your alarm on your phone last night, we all slept late!”

“What?” she grabbed the hand before Shelley could move away, pulled her close and embraced her, “Oh, you wonderful person…”

The brunette shrugged and hugged her back, “Okay… your operation isn’t two weeks away and you’re getting clingy now?”

Amber looked at her best friend, “I know what the dreams are about, but I can’t tell you the meaning.”

“Why not?”

“I promised him I wouldn’t.” she mumbled getting out of bed.

Amber’s operation came and went.  It was day surgery but she had to rest for a week.  And during that week, the doctor came out and took out some stitches that were there for the cameras and other tiny instruments.    She was at home, on her bed sleeping on the Friday when she felt the room turn cold…

…the bed moved and she looked around to find the man sitting on the end, “You told her she was going to die.”

“No I didn’t.” she shook her head.

“Amber you said you promised him… who was him?  Me?”

“Yes, but she didn’t question that.”

Resting his wrist over the handle of his cane, he pointed his right finger, “Are you sure?”

Pain writhed and twisted through her gut where her surgery had been performed, “Aargh!  Yes!  Why are you torturing me?”

“This isn’t torture… I’m making a point.” He turned his arm and twisted his finger more, smiling a little, enjoying playing this game.”

“Argh!” she screamed and Shelley raced in as her boyfriend put a heat pack on her, “Oh, I hope this is worth it.”

“What is?” Daniel asked.

“I can’t tell you… I promised.” She murmured as she snuggled up to him.

It was around 10am Sunday morning when the police knocked on their front door to report that Shelley had been shot and killed in a robbery at the nearby newsagency.  William, the owner, was also killed as well.  Amber had kept her promise to Death and not told her best friend, her flatmate and her boyfriend what was going to happen; so they couldn’t prevent her death… she felt as though she had betrayed them, and she turned in early that night.

She was sitting outside the newsagency on the bus seat with the newspaper in her hand when Shelley sat next to her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” her friend asked.

“I made a promise to a man.” Amber couldn’t look at her.


Amber looked to her left where the tall man with the cane stood, “Shelley, meet the man I work for:  Death.”

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Dewey Upgrade

a bookish look-alike is seeking the Universal Library.

He stood at the wrecked building, but did he have the right one?  This was fourth planet he had tried and the last one on the list he had found on the dead ambassador.  He had no choice but to look into it.

Despite his scholarly, bookish appearance, Derek wasn’t here for anything except to look for the Universal Library.  His job?  To destroy it.  He had to set fire to it and destroy the total history of the universe from before time, the present moment and the future that is now being written. 

All he had to do was avoid being written into the disaster that was going to be the end.  If he could avoid seeing his death before it was written, he’d get his arse off this planet in one piece.  How he knew about this part was that others had tried to destroy it before and failed.  So, the bounty on this place was massive; and he needed the money.  Besides, from what he heard, only the insane took on this kind of job and got away with it.

They were also then handed jobs that were near impossible to do.  This would up his resume to something of an unkillable entity in his field… this was something he liked.

Stepping through the destroyed, broken stone doors, he found the place was deserted.  It had been for a thousand millennia.  There were isles of books going in all directions.  However, he was searching for the epicentre of the Universal Library – the place where these books started, the very arena where they were given birth from – which would be the place he’d set the explosives.

“You’ll never find it.” A young woman’s voice said behind him as he peered down one isle and then the next, “I’ve tried and failed to find the very beginning of this Library.”

He spun to found a neatly-dressed woman standing near the doors, “Who are you?”

“The Library’s Assistant.” She smile sweetly, her chestnut hair shone in the dust as though she had just shown up for work this very moment, “I have been here since the Universal Library was started up.”

“Started up?”

“Why yes, it’s no ordinary library.” She gazed around, “It records everything in time, space and …anything you can think of.” Her eyes moved back to him, “But you’re not him.”


“My replacement.”

He shook his head, “I’m here to destroy it.”

“If you destroy it, you destroy every fabric of time you know.  There will be no records of it, no history to teach your children… no way of telling time on your watch; nothing.” She said, “You can’t destroy it.”

“I’m being paid to.”

“I’m here to protect it from people like you.” She smiled, “And don’t let this ordinary-looking uniform fool you, I have a lot of power.”

“What’s your name then?”

She laughed, “What do you think?  It’s Dewey.”

He rolled his eyes at the pun of how simple the name had been and how he should have guessed it, “Oh shit.”

“I’m old, but I’m useful.” She smiled.

“It’s time to pave for the new way.” He pulled out a sword and swung it at her, only to have her put her hands up and a visible force field surround her. 

It swirled and shimmered as she shone a bright silver colour before she pushed on it and he was thrown across the room against one of the large stone bookcases.  In a screaming, high-pitched retort, Dewey almost deafened him, “Do you really think it’s that easy to destroy me?”

Holding his head, he doubled over in agony, “Stop, stop… I’m sorry!”

She stood tall and put her hands by her side, brushing her skirt straight.  The force field vanished and she appeared like she did before, “The Library is protected from intruders like yourself.  Now, it’s time for you to die.”

He stared at her, shocked, “Why?”

“You tried to hurt to me and admitted to wanting to destroy the Universal Library.” She replied, “You must die for this.”

From her right, through the main doors, walked a man who looked exactly the same as the cowering man by the bookcases, “Hi I’m Dewey 10.5.  I’m here to replace you.” He looked over at the other man, “Was he here to destroy the Library?”

She nodded, “Yes.  I’m about to kill him.”

He put out his hand and she took it, “Let’s do it together.”

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Trust No One

It was time.  Radley the Great checked his pistol and made sure it was loaded, pulled the chain mail down a little from his neck as it pinched at his chin and remembered: ‘This is to get my arse home.’
“Sire.” His page’s whisper called from the door.
“Yes, I know, it’s time.” He turned and looked at Pik, “Do you think I can beat him?”
“I’m not sure.”
Radley nodded, “Good answer.  Come then, we must not be late.”

The arena was thundering with people screaming and shouting as they approached from the north entrance.  This was a fight to the death.  Radley had been in this world for some years and wondered if things were the same in 2003, or had the police force changed?  The only thing he managed to keep working properly was his piece.  He was able to make bullets to fit it and they worked without destroying his weapon; which the people thought he had used the dark magiks to conjour.  However when he used it, they were amazed at well it worked at killing people, but he never meant to kill anyone, just stop them from hurting him or slow them down. 
A guard turned to him, “Sire, it’s time.”
“As I keep getting reminded.” He sighed stepping forward.  Pik removed his leather cape and draped it over his arm in wait for his master to return, “You know I might die out there.”
“I know.” His voice was soft, “I can wait for your return nonetheless.”
“Okay.” He smiled, “If I win, you can return to my time with me.  That is my reward you know; and you’ve always wanted to travel.”
Pik’s eyes lit up slightly, “Yes, I’d love that, but if you die…”
“I’ll try not to.” He patted the young man’s shoulder.  Jeez he reminded him of his kid brother.  Radley wondered how James was doing without him around as the large doors opened and he stepped out into the oval arena armed with his piece, a sword, dagger and an old, beaten-up shield from other battles.

Most of the battle with the sorcerer was a blur as while the two fought, Radley’s defences had been automatic.  He had dodge and moved out of the way of lightning strikes, fire balls and ran head-first into force fields.  He had to use the shield a few times and ended up ditching the sword as it was of no use to him.  He shoved it into the ground point-first where he could find it when he needed it. 
What the sorcerer didn’t know was that he had been learning new things about the dark powers – the true dark powers – from Pik, who was a young mage.  He had taught his master all about concentration in the heat of battle, about knowing when to make a lightning ball and when to throw fire at another … and when to get close enough to absorb enough of his opponent’s power to open a porthole to another dimension – especial the one Radley was from.  This was something he was trying to do… just piss off the sorcerer enough to get him to give off a massive power surge, absorb it and then, say the Latin in the right way to pass through the porthole home!
Then it happened!  The sorcerer thrusted both hands out!  Blue/white electricity burst forth across the arena – pure, unadulterated power of the very man who brought him here! Radley dropped his shield and stood right in front of the blast with his arms out.
It hit him hard!  The shock and agony locked his throat closed and tears blurred his vision as his feet left the ground – leaving a black scorch mark where he had stood – and he felt his chest contract, his mind overload… and he muttered the words between clenched teeth.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Pik race out to catch him.  But instead of standing there, he jumped up, grabbed one of his legs and…

…the blast of an air horn ripped through the air as brakes screamed the Mac Truck to a halt.  Massive lights glared from the front of its growling, hissing engine.  Pik stared at it for a second before he looked over at Radley who had made it through!
“Master…Radley.” He shook him.
“Did it work?” he asked hoarsely as he rolled over onto his back slowly, “What year is this?”
The truck driver looked down at them, “Where the fuckin’ hell did you two come from?”
“What year is it?” Pik shouted at him.
“2013.” The man shrugged, “Why?”
Radley pushed himself up, “Oh shit, I’m a decade out.”  
It was then the driver recognised him, “You’re Radley Bentz.  You went missing 10 years ago… you’re not out, you’re right on time.” He smiled, “And everyone’s been expecting you!” he raced to his cab and called in who had found to the police.
Before long, squad cars showed up, along with ambulances and Radley’s family.  Pik didn’t like how this was happening.  Even the news crews were going nuts.  The young mage then got a strange feeling he was being watched, he turned and watched the crowd who were standing behind the yellow Police tape.  He observed every single face until he found one who he knew very well:  the face of the sorcerer.
He looked up, “Yes?”
“The sorcerer is here.”
“How did he…?”
“It’s how he got you last time.” The young mage stood by him, “And this is why you offered to bring me back here?”
“Yes.  So you can help me get rid of him if he was here.”
Pik looked around but the sorcerer was gone, “We have to find him first.”
“Oh that lovely old man over there?” Radley’s mother smiled, “He’s a therapist… so nice.  Knows everything about you dear.”
“Oh gods, you didn’t talk to him, did you?” Pik asked.
“He’s the family therapist.  After you went missing, he offered his expertise in our grief.” His father nodded, “Dr. Magnus.”
“He’s the man who …” Radley shook his head, “I can’t be around you guys.  I have to go.  Come on Pik.”
He should have stayed in the other dimension.  But then, how many other dimension would this sorcerer be in had he tried another one? They walked away from his family knowing he no longer had one he could trust.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Wink Murder

Halloween was my favourite time of year – once – but not anymore.  Now I’m stuck in this house, sitting in this armchair, staring at the now dead fireplace, I’m terrified.  If I get up, I have to look at it.

At what?  The portrait of course.

It started off innocently enough as a game of Wink Murder.  You know the rules:  sit in a circle and somebody is picked out as a murderer by the host of the party while everyone has their eyes shut.  But, as a murderer, you have to be very sneaky in how you wink to get everyone around you… well, that’s before the portrait joined in and began killing off everyone at Sheryl’s party for real!

Her cat had died around August, right at the time of that last Sabbath, and so, she called down the Dark Lord and asked for him to help her with her grief of losing her dear cat called Marmalade.  He was a nice orange/red kind of tabby who was sweet and cuddly and he loved everyone around him to distraction.  But it was horrible when he died because everyone missed him like crazy; but none more than Sheryl.  She worked on trying to get on with her life, but that cat really meant a lot to her as she had gotten him when he was a kitten and now they were both older and she was living in a place of her own, away from home.  And Marmalade had made it through university with her as well (she had asked for special permission to have the cat, and the university allowed it, seeing he didn’t leave the room and he was well-behaved). 

So, now, he was dead, she really didn’t seem the same.  However, the Halloween party appeared to be the next stage of her getting over him to us.  We all accepted and joined in the fun and games.  However, I did noticed one thing about her place; and that was a new painting. 

I don’t know why I noticed it, but I did.  The moment I walked in the door, something about that portrait of Marmalade made me feel really creeped out, but I wasn’t sure why.  The cat had been painted in brilliant oils and they were so bright and he looked so real.  I didn’t think anything of it when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the portrait moved.  But really, I blamed the few drinks I had sunk, thinking it may have been the booze going to my head, because when I looked straight on to the painting, it seemed as though the cat had moved – or had it? 

Had anyone else seen it besides me?   

I looked around the room of party-goers and found that nobody was looking as the music pumped and everyone danced.  The sound of loud chatter filled the air and it seemed as thought I was the only one who was looking at the portrait. 

Then, Mark bumped into me – Sheyrl’s old flame – and he looked up at me, “Hey, sorry.”

“No problems.” I mumbled as he went on his way.  What the hell was he doing here?  She hated him to the core as he had cheated on her.  I perused the room again and found there were all kinds of people from Sheryl’s past and present – some I knew, some I didn’t – and they were all here getting down and drunk… right up until the Wink Murder game that Sheryl hosted.  She happily picked out the murderer, then vacated the house quickly. 

Now, it’s been over a day and I’m the only one left here.  Sheryl hasn’t been back to the house since her party and I’m still sitting here remembering how everyone sat laughing at me while I told them about the portrait. Damn it, I can still hear their ridiculous laughter and how much they thought I was stupid and insane.  Why would anyone ever think a bloody painting would kill anyone?  Yeah, why indeed?  Unless the painting was haunted or somebody had summoned the right demons and Gods at the right time of year, like during Lughnasadh; especially on the last day of it.  I only know of this kind of thing because I’m a practising witch from a long way back; and have tip-toed around this particular holiday due to its darkness and how it’s traditionally the end of Summer and beginning of Autumn.  Some ceremonies make this time of year a time of closure and darkness; and it appeared as though Sheryl tried out a spell for this particular type of thing for Marmalade; and it went too far, including anyone in her life she hated instead of finding closure for her grief for her cat.  But when I tried to explain this to everyone, none of them believe me.

Then, it happened. 

The portrait cat sneakily gestured at everyone. 

I looked away just in time and lived.

I’m okay for now.  But I’m really hungry, hung over and scared.  And seeing Sheryl lived here alone, she really doesn’t need to come back, does she?  But then, I’m beginning to wonder if she’s alive at all.  Did Marmalade get his revenge on her as much as he got it on everyone else?

I can sit here for a while staring at the smouldering, dead fireplace.  It’ll be another day before somebody begins to notice everyone here is missing from their parts of their world.  And yet another day after that before they all begin to smell.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do within the next forty-eight hours about all that yet.  Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  

But my thoughts are: 

…for how long?