Tag Archives: September madness

Doe-eyed Dictators

This is the eight story to be generated by the 'September Madness' post and is inspired by a prompt from Catherine Russell (aka @ganymeder).

Although September is long behind us, I'm still going to honour all the prompts that came in (which may take a while :) ). If you want to see the full list of prompts or check out the other stories from that post then click here.

 

Doe-eyed Dictators

When the first ones came, mankind was curious. Though not a new species per se, the sheer grandeur of Giraffa Superior made her an instant hit with scientists and journalists alike.

The gentle giants ambled across the earth and people made them welcome, organising great parades in their honour. The giraffe’s didn’t care, so long as there was plenty of food and no surprises.

During one of these parades, a young man called Billy Gorgon set off some fireworks to celebrate. The gesture sparked a stampede that destroyed cars, houses and killed ten people. Nobody blamed the giraffe’s however; their anger was reserved for Billy Gorgon, who quickly disappeared.

Afterwards, the traumatised giraffe steered clear of human settlements and could only be watched remotely. It was decided the best thing to do was give them time and space.

Then the trees came and they changed everything. It’s not clear if the giraffe brought new seeds with them or if their interactions with the ecosystem altered it in some way. Fierce debates raged between those that favoured the ‘seeder’ theory and advocates of the ‘fertiliser’ idea. Such things soon became irrelevant.

In the space of twelve months, new species of plant spread across the globe, growing faster and bigger than anything seen before. Trunks like iron punched up through roads and homes, ending mankind’s dominance with disturbing ease. Efforts to halt the advance were hampered by human indecision. Some wanted to preserve the new species, most wanted to destroy them but the majority were too busy scrabbling for resources and rioting to care either way.

Not long after, the giraffe came back, their numbers swollen beyond all predictions. Never alone, they moved en mass in packs no smaller than a hundred. These new mega-herds behaved differently to the smaller family units. They were organised and confident and had little time for human beings. People found themselves ejected from their homes and forced into designated zones. Any that resisted soon found the rough side of a giant hoof.

Ten years went by in relative peace and then a man stood up to be counted. While his fellows had become meek and pale he was hot faced, his hair wild, like a storm. Billy Gorgon had returned and he had brought fireworks, lots and lots of fireworks.

He parked himself firmly in one of the giraffe zones and declared that he was taking back mankind’s right to go where they bloody well liked. When the giraffe came to move him on, he answered with two well-placed Roman Candles and a Catherine Wheel. Terrified, the long legged oppressors fled.

Humanity celebrated and named Gorgon their leader. They built a new settlement, square inside the giraffe’s territory. This too they named Gorgon.

Then one day a solitary giraffe arrived. She was old and lined, with a long scorch mark across her flank. The last of the first ones had come to bargain. Billy went out to meet her and that was his second great mistake. At the sight of the fire maker, her ancient eyes went wild, all thoughts of peace submerged beneath hate and fear.

Trapped in a flash-back the giraffe trampled and trampled until there was nothing recognisable left of Gorgon, or the town with his name.

Humanity crept back to its proper place having learnt their lesson. Never again would they play with fireworks.

 

(Original prompt: In a world where giraffes rule mankind with iron hooves, one man dares to stand up, risk getting trampled, and fight for the right to free parking in non-designated safe zones)

Limitless

This is the seventh story to be generated by the 'September Madness' post and is inspired by prompts from Aidan Fritz (aka @AidanFritz) and John Xero (aka @Xeroverse).  I wanted the bonus points for a combo!

Although September is long behind us, I'm still going to honour all the prompts that came in (which may take a while :) ). If you want to see the full list of prompts or check out the other stories from that post then click here.

 

Limitless

I rest my spade in the ground and take a break.

Slowly, the sun rises, so full of colours I want to weep. As blue as the sea, as white as snow, lip red, bruise purple, a hundred shades and all that goes between. Dawn is my favourite time. It’s too early for disappointment and there’s everything to play for.

Reality pulls at me, dragging my gaze down. On the horizon I see the city of my grandfathers, overgrown and overrun by nature. The distinctive skyline covered by a scab of green.

And again the view drags down, to the bodies at my feet.

We came here to find out the truth, archaeologists of our own culture. Jeb was the first to learn why our ancestors fell upon each other so suddenly, so finally. After a week of trying, when the rest of us had given up, Jeb managed to access the records documenting civilisation’s end.

By the time Adam and I found him he’d killed six members of our team and had his hands at the throat of the seventh.

I don’t know if it was my bullet that ended Jeb or Adam’s. Maybe it was a combination of wounds that killed him, or a sudden heart failure, or a bolt of lightning. Here, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that he’s dead.

Jeb died with his eyes open. They stare up at me even now. Glassy sphere’s that declare me murderer, judge, hypocrite.

I cover them with earth and immediately feel better.

***

It’s a short walk back to camp but my breath rasps in my helmet before I’m halfway there.

Our home is made of blocks, some joined together to make bigger rooms, others held apart for sleeping spaces or storage. The structure is capable of sustaining thirty at a push and considered spacious for our team of ten. It is too much for two to bear.

I’m struggling now. A part of me doesn’t want to go any further but my stubborn feet have already taken that critical step, crossing into the borderlands that exist between in and out, what could be achieved and what is not, between Adam and me.

Above, the sun is yellow, banal.

***

I’m out of the suit and breathing recycled air. I should feel less restricted but I don’t. Pressure is building, pressing inwards, a gravity of the mind that eats dreams. For, if dreams are made of anything, surely they are made of light? Tiny electrical flares grow sluggish in my brain, each containing a universe slightly different to ours.

Soon I will forget; there is no room for them here.

I enter the kitchen to see a man with his back to me and feel the last flickers of resistance.

It is Adam. I love this man more than I love myself. He is father, brother and son made one flesh. The thought of him warms me, completes me, makes it safe.

He stoops to pick up something from a lower draw, a long slab of firm jelly. He begins to cut it into slices for our dinner. He’ll add the flavour later.

It is Adam. I hate this man. He is pathetic, he drags me down, he’s in the way, a mote in the path of god. The urge to take his knife and turn it against his eyes sweeps over me.

He pauses, having heard my entrance.

It is Adam. I feel nothing. The name is a label, useful only for identification. Is this man real? Does he even exist?

He’s turning.

Potential truths rush through me, desperate to be heard before extinction.

Adam bores me, infuriates me, intrigues me, makes me cold, hot, wet, anxious, malevolent, funny, wishful, bashful, murderous, insane, nostalgic –

His eyes meet mine.

And my many states fold inward, defining and confining. I just have time to wonder, what will be true today?

It is Adam. I feel conflicted. He isn’t a friend I’d choose but we are companions brought close by shared horror. I wish he was dead, I’m glad he isn’t. Guilt and frustration sit side by side in my guts, holding hands.

The truth is we are all things, held in readiness, until we are in company. That is the knowledge that I took from Jeb’s dripping neural net. Our grandfather’s learned that the only thing stopping them from ascension was each other. Each human being a living mirror to hold the shape of their neighbour, reflecting fragments of what could be and making those fragments real. A mutual stunting, a grand denial of greatness.

But mirrors can be broken.

Adam smiles, glad to see me and, as usual, I smile back. I’m no killer, it isn’t in me today.

Not today.

 

(Original Prompt 1: My prompt would be a world where quantum mechanics applies to people (in particular the idea of superposition). I'm particularly thinking of weakly interpreting this in a way where people can overlap in the same space and time (possibly unless measured). What implications does this have for the world and culture? Bonus points for combining this into one of the previous prompts ;))

(Original prompt 2: So my prompt is a use of the word 'borderlands')

Fat Cat in Cat Flap

This is the sixth story to be generated by the 'September Madness' post and is inspired by a prompt from Tom Gillespie (aka @tom_gillespie). I'd actually written this just before we lost internet five and half weeks ago, so the poor cat has been stuck for a long time!

Although September is over, I'm still going to honour all the prompts that came in (which may take a while :) ). If you want to see the full list of prompts or check out the other stories from that post then click here.

 

Thomas charged down the garden, bounding up the three steps to the back door. He plunged head first into the kitchen but stopped halfway through.

Something was badly wrong.

***

Judy leaned down and picked up the saucer of cream. “No Thomas, only water for you.”

Thomas gave an indignant sniff.

“It’s for your own good.”

Judy ignored the mewling and went back to the phone. “Sorry about that, it’s our cat. John’s been over feeding him again so I’ve had to put him on a diet…I know, it’s a real first world tragedy! The silly old thing’s got too fat for his cat flap. He’s jammed in. I tried to get him out but he’s completely stuck…He’ll slim down in a couple of days though.”

***

Thomas hung suspended from the flap, his chin half an inch from the floor. Dark thoughts boiled behind his narrowed eyes. As soon as he was free, Judy was going to suffer. John would understand; they’d be much happier without her.

The house was quiet, so the scuttling was impossible to miss. His ear rotated to the source of the sound and saliva bubbled around Thomas’ mouth. He’d heard a mouse.

Soon, the delicious morsel ran into a view. Its fur was grey in the low light but Thomas knew it was brown, recognising it from a previous encounter. On that occasion the mouse had escaped, vanishing into its hole a moment before his claws came down on its tail, most of which now sat rotting with the rest of Thomas’ collection under the wardrobe; a frog leg, some feathers and a squirrel’s intestine.

Halfway across the kitchen floor the mouse paused, the silhouette of its nose held high, twitching as it tested the air. Thomas waited for the mouse to turn in his direction and let out an angry hiss. The little creature ran for cover, darting behind the leg of the breakfast table.

Thomas purred with pleasure. The look on the mouse’s face had been priceless! Then he remembered how hungry he was. The purring stopped.

A pair of small eyes peeped around the table leg. Thomas raised a paw threateningly and the mouse flinched but didn’t run away. They watched each other until Thomas got tired. He lowered his paw and his head, what he wouldn’t give for a hot meal and a warm lap.

A few minutes later he heard the mouse again but this time it was coming from somewhere above him. He looked up, puzzled, to find the mouse had managed to get on top of the kitchen table where that lazy slob Judy had left his saucer of cream. Was that the sound of lapping? The mouse was enjoying his cream. This was too much!

With renewed energy he struggled to get free, back legs flailing outside, front paws sliding on the kitchen tiles. It was no use, a furry roll of rat spread out either side of the flap, sealing him in tight.

A corner of saucer edged out over the table, like a porcelain moonrise. It was moving slowly, in incremental fits and starts. Thomas watched, mesmerised by the sight. Eventually gravity got hold of the saucer’s edge, tipping it over. A creamy waterfall flowed for a second before the whole thing slid off, tumbling end over end.

There was a crash. It was loud enough to wake next door’s idiot dog, Oscar, but not enough to wake that potato headed ogre, Judy. Fragments of saucer littered the floor. Thomas couldn’t wait for John to come home. He’d have been down the stairs in seconds to sort things out.

Cream spilled tantalisingly close and Thomas managed to get in a few licks before he noticed the mouse was back. It picked its way delicately across the floor. He growled but it just stared right back. Thomas didn’t like the look on the mouse’s face. It was smiling.

The mouse picked up a thin sliver of porcelain in its mouth and scurried away.

***

Thomas yawned and opened a grouchy eye. It was still dark in the kitchen but instinct was telling him that something was going on. He scanned the room, high and low, paying particular attention to the little nooks where a rodent could hide. Nothing.

Feather light feet brushed the step outside, and sharpness slipped between Thomas’ toes. He squealed and thrashed but the pain stayed. Exhausted and scared, he flopped down again and prayed for the dawn. Even Judy’s face would be a welcome sight. Thomas decided that if she came through the door right now, he might allow her to stay after all.

The mouse reappeared, still smiling and picked up another shard of porcelain.

***

When Judy came downstairs the next morning she found a lot of fluid had leaked onto the floor. There were several different types and colours, most originating from what was left of Thomas. She worked quickly despite the shock, keen to clear away the evidence before John got home. The only silver lining was that Thomas came free of the flap on the first pull. Judy told John that Thomas had run away and tried to block the image from her mind.

***

“It’s been two weeks, don’t you think it’s time to let go?” asked Judy.

John paused by the back door, bowl in one hand, double cream in the other. “He’s still out there, I can feel it.” John ignored his wife’s pity face. “When he’s ready he’ll come back.”

Judy bit her lip and watched him fill the bowl.

 

(Original prompt: Our cat's on a diet.. she got stuck in her flap last week and we had to leave her there for a couple of days until she slimmed down and we were able to pull her out..)