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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sex, Politics and Hotmail: Chapter14

A Tale of Two Women and their Push Up Bras

In a country not that far away, at a time not very long ago, a nerd with time on her hands hacked into the email accounts of two well-known women. She passed the shocking results on to a friend..who passed them on to a friend…who published them on this blog.  Can you guess who these women are?

THE STORY SO FAR….(Chapters One to Thirteen)

While Olivia Harris-Smythe is just loving her new job in the office of Clive Hamilton-Hogg, and her sexy but scarily efficient colleague Moira, Rose is getting interested in the spiritual side of life.

When things go up..

This job is fantastic! I never enjoyed anything so much in my life!  I don’t know why I didn’t do this twenty years ago! Actually I do but that’s another story.

Moira’s just so incredibly efficient – and so poised and well groomed, I’m jealous!  Her hair is NEVER frizzy and her toenail polish matches her fingernails and her jewellery is discreet but in perfect taste, and her handbags are Louis Vuitton….and she wears Bobbi Brown.  I expect she must be very well off, she probably just works in the office for kicks.  Like me. But it seems rude to ask.

Of course we’re dreadfully BUSY – which is why I didn’t manage to reply for, gosh, almost a week!  Clive’s out of the electorate a good deal, attending functions and State parliament and so on – so Moira and I are left to ourselves a lot of the time.  It gives one such a wonderful sense of authority and of being useful in the community!

People come in every day with their little complaints and problems!  But Moira just sorts them all out as if they were naughty four year olds at a birthday party.  For instance just yesterday we had two old ladies in here screeching at one another,

“I’m ninety, I am, and I shouldn’t be expected to put up with plane trees on the nature strip!  But SHE doesn’t care that I suffer from life threatening allergies, oh no, SHE wants me to drop down dead in my own home because I can’t breathe, so she can make her cow eyes at my husband – now young lady, I want you to write to the Minister and..”

“What do you mean cow eyes you stupid old bat, it’s my HUMAN right to plant plane trees on my bloody nature strip if I want to, that tree’s been there since 1962 and as for your dirty old fellow, you tell him from me if he sets one foot – ONE FOOT – on my lawn I’ll call the police – looking in my bay window in the morning while I’m getting my slippers on like some kind of peeping Tom, there’s laws against that sort of thing, even if he does say he’s just cutting back the roses..”

But Moira’s as calm as the dalai lama – she just makes them both a nice cup of Lapsang Soochong with home made shortbread biscuits and pretty soon they’re both chatting happily to one another and blaming the Greens somehow or other, I forget how she managed it!

I do so admire that woman!  Even if she does wear heels several inches beyond practicality!

Sounds like a hoot!

Hey guess what, Brett and me  have been on three dates now, it’s practically a serious relationship.  I’m really getting into this whole  Higher Awareness Training thing too!  Brett’s pretty high up in it, last week they asked him to give a presentation. On wanking.

Don’t people KNOW how to do that, for heaven’s sake!

Yeah but this is on a spiritual level. I mean have you ever wanked spiritually??

I don’t ‘wank’.

Yeah right.  Anyway Brett’s invited me to a nudie resort.  He says it’s just great, all the HAT people float around in hot tubs and hold hands and wash each others hair and talk about their emotions.  He says if I went he can really see me expanding, soul-wise.  I don’t see why not, do you?

Rose, it’s just a great big swingers party! If you go you’ll probably be raped by scores of rabid naturists.

No I won’t.  It’s all consensual Brett says.  If people want to stroke each other they have to ask, and then, if the other person doesn’t want to they can say no, no hard feelings, right?  I bet the men get a lot of practice asking and the chicks get pretty used to saying no but I’m not knocking it.  And they have seminars on your chakra and the clitoris and stuff like that.  Apparently it’s better if you’re stoned.  Brett’s got a bathroom full of plants so it’s no prob for him.

Get this though, nobody’s allowed to have sex.  You can talk about it and you can feel each other up as much as you like but you’re only allowed to screw if you’ve gone up all the grades and passed the exams.  Brett’s almost the whole way up, he’s so experienced!  He says it’s very empowering.

Empowering my bottom!

Yeah exactly.  Anyway, I reckon a bloke who’s put in all that time sitting around listening to lectures on women’s clits and looking deep in their eyes and sharing, must be really good at it?   I bet a guy like that would take hours before he even put it in!   I bet by the time he was done I would’ve had about twenty orgasms and feel totally explored and fulfilled and liberated –  I mean, this guy’s gotta know shit about the female body I’ve never even heard of!  Like, you know how they discovered the g spot, well Brett could probably take me through the whole frigging alphabet!  Or maybe he knows how to do that tantric thing where you come for hours. He must have bonked hundreds of women, I reckon. But not in a disrespectful way or anything.  That’s what I like about him.  Not like wham bam I never came Wayne.

Anyway I’m obviously gonna go to bed with him. Hey you know what, I’ve never screwed anyone before that’s practically got a degree in it!

Strange Stories: Where do they go, all the lonely people?

She kept her face in a jar by the door.

The others she kept in the basement.  Filed away, by year, by memory.  The face she’d raised to her mother as a child, and had slapped for her pains.  An open face, closed thereafter.  The face she’d brought to school, expectant, wondering.  The face she’d graduated with at thirteen, fearful of nuns, gates and most of all, knowledge.  The face she’d offered to her first lover, eyes closed, hoping at last for a kiss and not a cuff.  The face she’d offered to her last lover, eyes fast shut against the boredom in his eyes.

Who was it for?  She looked for him out the window, in the long hours between setting out the roses in Father McKenzie’s empty church, dusting the pews at mid day, and whispering to Mary in the cold evening, too deaf to bother with a reply.  She looked for him in the postman cycling – and later gunning his motor bike – to the letter box on the right side of her tiny ground floor flat, then cycling past without a glance to the letter box on the left side.  She looked for him in the young men waiting on corners to whistle at the bare-stomached, grinning girls, and to spit curse words at the old women pushing their wheeled shopping carts.  She looked for him in the eyes of the young mothers and their pink and blue labelled, blank-eyed babies.

She looked for him in Father McKenzie.

“Have you got enough socks for winter, Father?”

“Yes, thank you Lily.”

She knew he hadn’t, saw his skinny ankles under the long black gown, blue-white with cold in the dull English weather, felt an odd, proprietary tenderness for him.  She stayed up late making thick woollen ones out of purple wool from the thrift shop.  He didn’t wear them.

She saw him in her dreams.  Dreaming, she walked to the corner shop and bought a can of baked beans and some dried food for the cat.  Dreaming, she knelt in the church and repeated prayers that had lost their meaning.  Dreaming, she laid her body on chill sheets and turned out the light.  Dreaming, he came to her.

“You’ve waited all this time,” he said, drawing his hand down over the face that she kept for the darkness.  “Haven’t you given up yet?”

Awake, she was afraid, and struggled.

“Don’t fight me.  Lily.  What a passionate, graceful name you have.  All the love that’s locked away in that name, Lily – you can let it go now.  After all this time, you can feel safe.”

She looked into his night-dark face, fingers interlaced with his, and took a long, deep breath.

Father McKenzie wiped the dirt from his hands as he walked from the grave.

No one was saved.

The Seneca Scourge: a little fan fiction

Fired up by reading The Seneca Scourge, by Carrie Rubin, I decided to write a small tribute in the form of fan fiction…(with apologies to Carrie – but really, read the book, it’s better than Michael Crichton and much less right wing).  Only, you may want to start building your millennial hideout now.  The pandemic is coming!

The Scene: Dr Knight’s flat.  Dr Knight (tall, blonde, brilliant) and Dr Jones (tall, dark, yummy) have just stumbled in after a night on the town.

Dr Knight: Oh, Casper..! Your kiss is divine..just like I knew a GQ model’s would be.  Tell me…

Dr Jones: Anything, my darling!

Dr Knight: Do you believe in time travel?

Dr Jones: Well, technically (as his hand creeps down the back of her skinny jeans) time only goes in one direction.  Or so it appears.  Einstein said that the faster you go, the slower time goes. So if you go at the speed of light, which is the fastest possible speed, there IS no time. For you.  See what I mean, darling?

Dr Knight: Yes! Yes!  Your dimples are entrancing.  But what if you went FASTER than light??

Dr Jones: Then I guess…you’d go backwards in time.  Then when you wanted to start moving into the future again, you’d put the brakes on.  (Your buttocks are delicious.  Do you jog?) You with me?

Dr Knight: Can I be? (by this time she has unbuttoned his shirt and is stroking his short, tightly curled chest hair)

Dr Jones: Forever!

Dr Knight: But how can that be? What’s the speed of light got to do with the price of eggs anyway?

Dr Jones: (struggling, as all men do, with bra clips) You know when you look out at the stars – say Alpha Centauri – the reason you can SEE them is cause the light from THERE has come all the way HERE and hit your eyeballs.  Right?  But by the TIME it gets HERE, things have moved on THERE. So for all you know, Alpha Centauri could have disappeared a million years ago, but the light wave doesn’t know that – it started out way before.

Dr Knight: I..totally…see what you mean…Here, let me do it! There, that’s better.  So time travel is really information travel.  It’s like..beating the postman to the mail box? (struggles with Dr Jones’ massive belt buckle, as women often do)  God this is so BIG!

Dr Jones: Oh, yeah baby!  That’s it.  But hang on – what IS time anyway?  Watch that zip, sweetheart – awful things can happen when..

Dr Knight: Time? (mmm…ahhhh) It’s, ah, change, isn’t it?  And change  is, umm, motion?  So maybe motion is time…(much heavy breathing) and everything else is just information….and time travel is just information in motion…what do you think?

Dr Jones:  Um…maybe.  I may have to bring in a colleague on that one.  (rolls over and reaches towards the bedside table, while Dr Knight admires his rippling pectoids – is this a real word?)  Just hang on a sec while I blow my nose…

Strange Stories: Nurse Goldilocks

Just as she’s in the middle of telling him about Steve’s promotion, the communicator abruptly falls out of contact.


When she connects again, the automatic voice-over tells her he’s busy.  She pictures her father fallen slack-jawed on the thick pile carpet, clutching vainly towards the alarm button set into his chest.  She calls the manager, heart thumping.

“It’s my father – I was just on the communicator, and it dropped out.  I thought maybe – he’s not picking up.  Could you go and check on him?”

The manager was back in less than a minute – not long enough, Judy thought, for him to walk down the long corridor that led to her father’s courtyard apartment.

“He’s fine.”

“Can I talk to him then?  Is there something wrong with the system?”

A long pause, a cough.

“Look, Ms Higgs, it’s difficult to know exactly how to put this but..he doesn’t seem to want to talk to you.  I’ve asked him, I’ve told him it’s his daughter calling – and he just says ‘later’….is there anything we should be aware of?  Have you two not been getting along recently?’

Judy’s hand trembled with indignation. ‘It’s her, isn’t it.  Nurse Goldilocks.  It’s not natural.  She’s turned him against his own daughter!   I’m going to come and see him, that’s what I’ll do, and I’ll take him away from that place and HER and everything, and I’ll look after him myself.  That’s the way it used to be in the old days!  Back when FAMILY mattered!”

She set the phone down, leant both hands on the kitchen bench, dizzy with emotion.

At the nursing home, Nurse Goldilocks and Albert Higgs gently counted the bubbles in the bath and stroked each other’s long locks, buttercup yellow and bone white.

“It’s time for your pills, darling.  Now how would you like them?’

“The usual way,” he grinned, the deep lines from nose to jaw softer in the bathroom mist.  With a mischievous expression, she leaned forward and kissed him, transferring three tiny tablets from her tongue to his in the flick of a baby pink tongue.  He swallowed them, holding a heavy breast in either hand.

‘Maybe you should talk to her.  She gets lonely.  She loves you, you know.’

He sank chin deep into the warmth of the water, the aches that science hadn’t yet conquered drifting from him under the glow of her coffee coloured eyes.  So deep, so sweet, you wondered where the wiring was.  Back when he was young, they would both have been electrocuted.  Robots had got a lot more sophisticated since then, thank god.

‘Maybe tomorrow.  Tonight, I just want my little fairytale..”

Sex, Politics and Hotmail: Chapter 13: The right vibrations

A Tale of Two Women and their Push Up Bras

In a country not that far away, at a time not very long ago, a nerd with time on her hands hacked into the email accounts of two well-known women. She passed the shocking results on to a friend..who passed them on to a friend…who published them on this blog.  Can you guess who these women are?

THE STORY SO FAR….(Chapters One to Twelve)

Fed up with her billionaire husband Steve’s philandering, and longing for something more in life, Olivia Harris-Smythe has joined the Liberal Party of Australia to begin the long slow climb up the greasy pole of politics. Meanwhile, Rose is thinking of altogether another kind of greasy pole.

Do you ever think about spiritual shit, Liv?

I beg your pardon? What kind of spiritual, er, shit?

Ha ha. I’ve been thinking, Maybe the reason my life’s pretty shitty at the moment is cause I don’t have the right vibes.  Maybe I should do some work on my karma.  Like, you’ve got the Liberal party and all that, maybe it’s time for me to get into something spiritual too, like religion say?

What do you reckon? Do you believe in your soul? I always thought it was just some crap the nuns made up so they could make you feel bad.

I have no idea.  You’re not thinking of joining a cult, are you? If you are feeling religious, darling, you should probably join the Uniting Church, it’s safer and you’ll probably meet much more eligible men.

I’ve met one already!  In the classifieds.  And he’s lovely, and a real intellectual!

He believes we’ve all got a reason for being here and it’s to spread peace and love and all that in the world, only he’s not like those bloody nuns at school, cause he thinks sex is part of the path to enlightenment – but only when you approach it the right way.  It all makes sense to me, sort of.

It’s called Higher Awareness Training apparently.  HAT for short.  You get to go on retreats in the bush and they give you lectures on things like how to ASK for what you want and how to approach others with love, acceptance and respect.  Isn’t that nice?

Is he goodlooking?  Does he earn an income?

Yeah, sure, he’s got a job. He doesn’t, like, own a porsche or anything, but I’m not that shallow.  And he’s not that bad looking.  He’s better looking than that Wiccan guy anyways.

And what do they do at these retreats? Pray?

Well…I know you’ll crack up but they have orgies. Only they don’t call them orgies. They’re about showing your love and acceptance through sharing your sexuality or something like that. You just touch people and appreciate them for what they truly are, including their bodies.  Everybody hugs and kisses and supports one another.  It sounds fantastic to me!

How do you mean, touch people?  Where?

Everywhere. I mean anywhere you want to if they want to too. Nobody’s forced to do anything they don’t want to, I think you can just sit round and hold hands if you want or watch or whatever. Or even wank. It’s very enlightened.  Brett says it’s beautiful and he’s grown a lot through it.

It sounds revolting. This Brett sounds very unhygienic. Can you imagine how many bottoms that man’s hand has been in? I am not talking about sexual morals here, simply hygiene.  What is wrong with him? Normal people don’t do self development programs in my experience, although they may read about it in books.  Workshops are for odd people, like psychologists.

But Brett’s very thoughtful. I mean, he thinks a lot, about things, like why his mother changed the sheets six times a week and never made his school lunch, and the role of the new man in today’s society.  I never thought about that shit, did you? It makes you think about what your folks did to fuck you up only I never really realized it before.  Hey you should try one of these things, it could really open your mind?  Brett says it gets out all the repressed shit and you come out feeling much more, like, relaxed and aware of everything and stuff like that.

No thank you.

Anyway I’m off to the chemist now to get some eye drops.  Steve has convinced himself he’s suffering from vitamin P deficiency.  He’s annoyed with me as I have told him he does NOT need to visit an iridologist – he just needs to spend fewer hours locked in the library in front of that jolly laptop of his!


Strange Stories: Boy meets Girl

Yep, this is a love story like any other.

He first saw her at a cocktail party.  She wore a black dress, short, and pearls. So did all the others.  She had long, corn-gold hair and blue eyes.  So did all the others.

He knew she was 25.  In that year, the year when she’d been born, Griselda Dansk was Bollywood’s number one screen goddess.  All the girl babies born in that year had golden hair and blue eyes, just like Griselda, and small cup sizes, which Griselda had made fashionable in her classic role as a flat-chested, gloriously naked Virginia Woolf.

He got there late, and tripped on the hostess’ welcome mat.  As Debonya held out a pale hand to help him up, and waved with the other for a maid to clear up the mess, all the women looked at him, and looked away again, embarrassed.  All except one.

She smiled, then, and there was no trace of mockery in her joyful grin.  She held his dark, long-lashed eyes – born in 2062, all the boys had them – and winked, slowly.  He grinned back,  let go Debonya’s hand, and came to her like a cat comes to sit by the fire.

He told her she was beautiful, in bed, later that night.

“You’re so warm, I could lie beside you in the snow and not feel it.”

“Flatterer!” That wink again.  It was entrancing.

“I’m not!  And you’re so gorgeously clever.  I bet you’ve got a PhD.  Tell me, you have, haven’t you!”

She nodded.

“Historical anachronism, from Harvard.”

In the morning he woke up to find her awake already, her windows wide and open on the world.  He searched for last night’s scene within them: she continued as if they’d never moved from there.

“Do you find my intellect attractive, then?”

“Of course!  Doesn’t everyone?”

She wrapped a long, lightly tanned thigh around his waist.

“Some men would rather make the jokes than laugh at them, you know.  And then, some men ARE the joke.”

He smiled uncertainly.

“Do you know, in my grandmother’s day, THIS would have been the candy to attract the flies.  THIS is what you would have found beautiful.”

She ran a hand over her peach-like behind, flicked the golden hair in disdain.

“Yes but everyone – I mean everyone from 2058 – looks the same.  It’s just a shell – why would I be interested in a shell?  It’d be like falling in love with your dress!”

She sat up.

“Did you say ‘falling in love’?”

He brushed the glossy, careless curls from his eyes.  Was it his imagination, or was he starting to feel the cold?

“I only meant..”

“I don’t do love.  Come to think of it, you’re not really my type.  I prefer the 2040 crop -much less naive.”

He looked into the sea-blue windows of her soul, and saw that he had mistaken the fires of lust for abiding warmth, and cleverness and superficial charm for a complex intelligence she did not have.  She was not, after all, beautiful.  He was not the first man who’d woken up to that conclusion.

Sex, Politics and Hotmail: Chapter 12: At the bottom of the Greasy Pole

A Tale of Two Women and their Push Up Bras

In a country not that far away, at a time not very long ago, a nerd with time on her hands hacked into the email accounts of two well-known women. She passed the shocking results on to a friend..who passed them on to a friend…who published them on this blog.  Can you guess who these women are?

THE STORY SO FAR….(Chapters One to Eleven)

Fed up with her billionaire husband Steve’s philandering, and longing for something more in life, Olivia Harris-Smythe has joined the Liberal Party of Australia to work for MP Clive Hamilton-Hogg.  Things can only go up from here..

I’ve met this gorgeous woman called Moira who works in Clive’s electorate office, and she says they have been looking for a volunteer assistant office manager for months, but no one seems to be quite right for the role.  She thinks I would be perfect, considering the experience I have had in the P&C, and organizing the mother’s club, and all those charity drives, etc.  I rather like her – do you think I should do it?  I wouldn’t want to short change Victoria – after all she is used to her mother being home most of the time, and as I said she’s going through a rather difficult time at the moment. Do you think she’ll cope?

Oh sure. We coped didn’t we?

Sounds like a golden opportunity to me. So what are the blokes like?

I’m past noticing that kind of thing.  But at least the people on our side are a lot more well-groomed than the Greens – they hold their meetings in the coffee shop just round the corner from Clive’s office and they are VERY scruffily dressed.  They seem to consist mainly of public school teachers and academics with carnivorous facial hair. I don’t see what’s so environmentally unsound about washing occasionally, do you?

But you know I’ve had a wonderful idea about Victoria!  I’ve suggested to her that she might like to join the youth branch, as there are a lot of polite, well brought up young people she could associate with and perhaps it would give her an interest in something useful to society, like civics or economics.  And that would keep her busy, don’t you think, so that she wouldn’t have so much time on her hands to spend with undesirable young men, such as Julian.

Young Liberals root too, Liv. Bet they’re even dirtier minded than socialists when it comes down to it.  What does Vickie say anyway? Is she keen?

This is what young Australian conservatives look like. Aren’t they lovely!!

Apparently not.  She says that would be ‘incredibly gay’.  Oh well.  Perhaps she’ll warm to the idea.

Brilliant fiction from the pen of Miss Tribble, on time,space, cloning and other Stuff!

Missus Tribble

This is entirely the fault of a blog post from butimbeautiful. I’m hiding it under the “more” command for the sake of your inbox.

View original post 1,221 more words

Strange Stories: Different

I don’t miss my brother Joshua at all.

“Ask nicely.”  Joshua’s gingery hair blazes like a helmet in the evening sunlight.  He’s eight.

So I say, “Please don’t, please.” I’m only four. But Joshua holds Ted tied onto a stick out over the barbecue, which we’re not allowed to light by ourselves. I can smell his yellow fur beginning to smoulder.   I’m crying, pulling at his arm.

“Ted’s been bad. He has to be punished,” says Joshua sternly, shrugging me off.

Like Joshua.  Joshua’s been bad. That’s why he’s not around any more, hasn’t been for years.

Mum misses Joshua, in a way.

“What else could we do?” Mum asks Dad, late at night.  Dad pretends not to hear and goes on reading a book. “He just couldn’t change.”

The doctors put Joshua on a plane. Mum packed a suitcase, all the things you might need for a lifetime away, although of course there were weight restrictions to be taken into account. I  wonder if he screamed and cried, like I did when he burnt Ted.  I wonder if he still likes to hassle ants.

Something’s missing from my life, without him.  I don’t have anyone to sneak up behind me and stick both fingers under my ribs to make me jump. No one calls me bitch and moron any more.  No malevolent presence looms beside me as I walk home from school.  No one there to scare the other girls off just by looking at them and swinging his arms in that certain way.  Ok,  I didn’t mind too much when he knocked Tracy Bucknall’s front tooth out for calling me an ugly slut.  I admit that.

When Joshua was taken away, the ants must have thought their golden age had come, free from inexplicable natural disasters – flash floods, scorching death rays from the sky, acid rain.  They prospered and multiplied and infested the kitchen, where they ate mum’s carefully preserved plum jam.

Joshua was always looking for trouble.

“Let’s throw the football through Froggatt’s front window!”

“But why?”

“Don’t like her. Anyway I want to see how easy it is to smash. We can always say it was an accident.”

I didn’t like her much either but I wouldn’t have dared do it. I watched though.  Mrs Froggatt came boiling out ready to screech but when she saw Joshua standing there smiling she said “Oh it’s you again,” and went inside to make a phonecall.  Joshua never had the sense to hide, afterwards.

There’s going to be a war. I don’t like war.  At least, I don’t really know what a war is, but Mum says her grandmother was in one and she said it was terrible.  People killed one another for some reason nobody can remember. I can’t imagine it, any more than I can imagine why Joshua needs to pinch me when I’m walking past him on the way to the bathroom.

“Really? How could they do it? Didn’t they feel terrible?” I ask my mother.

“People were different in those days,” she explains.

“Before selective gene screening,” adds Dad.

“More like Joshua?”

“Yes. There were lots of people like Joshua then.”

They’re not allowed to write.  Dad says he’s sure Joshua’s alright though. It’s not a prison camp. It’s an island. There are no guards, only the ocean.  It’s a permanent holiday by the beach, really.  Dad says Joshua’s probably happier with people just like him.  It’s a place where people who are different can be themselves.

Joshua fancied my friend Casey. Casey didn’t like him though, she said he smelt too strong and showed off all the time,

“Your brother’s not normal.  He’s always hanging off that tree outside my place doing pull ups to show off his muscles. Like I care!”

“He is SO normal!” I said, even though that morning he’d put his hands around my neck till it left a big red mark.  But he wasn’t, of course.  When I asked Dad why he said,

“Well, you know, the doctors do their best to make sure all babies are born with the right attitudes. But sometimes things go wrong, nobody knows why.  Maybe he’ll settle down.”

Mum and Dad tried to hide Joshua,  pretend he’d grow out of it.

“He’s just lively,” they’d say to friends and neighbours. Or “It’s just a phase.”

Joshua liked to look at himself in the mirror, flexing his biceps, weightlifting with mum’s tomato soup cans.

“Your friend Casey’s hot.”

“Why don’t you ask her out then? She can only say no.”  I say.  Which she would.

Joshua knows that.

“I’m not going to ask her!  When you want something you have to take it. No wonder this is such a crappy boring shithole.  This place needs a shake up. I wish there WAS a damned war!”

So he took Casey, in the woods behind the boat shed.  They came for him the next day, with needles and pills.   Mum said he looked just like he had when he was a baby, being carried out on a stretcher. Peaceful and sweet.

When the war comes we hide in the boatshed, with another family from the street.  Everyone hides where they can. What else can we do? Casey has hysterics because being in the boatshed reminds her of Joshua.

“If I’m killed I want you to know how much I love you.” Mum pulls my head down to her lap so I can’t see.  She shuts her eyes too.

We hear the roar of engines driving too fast in our quiet streets, glass breaking, booted feet running, explosions like when lightning hits a tree.  I smell smoke.   I wonder if they broke Mrs Froggatt’s windows, again.  Mum and Dad curl together like two caterpillars.  So this is war? No wonder my great grandma didn’t like it much.

Men smash the locked door in with boots and the butts of rifles.  When they see us cowering in the dark among ropes and crayfish pots they all jeer and point.

“Look at them, they can’t even put up a fight!”

A man pulls me out by the hair. I don’t struggle, I just try to keep up with him, because otherwise it will hurt even more.  Joshua taught me that.  Mrs Froggatt and Mum are lying on the ground, wailing.

How can they do this?  Why would they want to? Can’t they feel our pain? What did we ever do to them?  I can see in Casey’s eyes, as she crawls at the feet of her captor, that she’s shocked, confused.  Can there really be so many Joshuas? Where did they all come from?

Then there’s a white flash, like the burning beam Joshua used to aim at the ants with his mirror.  I’m on the ground, my head resting in entrails, soft and slippery, my ears ringing.  Familiar biceps pull me up.  All around men lie tossed about like red salad.

“Get up, we have to be quick,” says my brother. “Follow me, into the woods.”

Casey whimpers. Mum is being sick. Dad has wet his pants with fright.

“We won’t!” wails Mrs Froggatt. “You’re worse than those.” And she points at the scattered pieces.

“Suit yourself.”

I run with Joshua to the forest.

Joshua is still different. But now I’m glad.  I don’t know why he’s here or how he escaped.  Perhaps people like him always work something out.  But we need someone now who understands pain and likes it.

Strange Stories: Bargain Hunting

“Sell your passport?”

My mum looks shocked.  Well, she’s old fashioned.  She hasn’t yet got used to the new world order.

“Well yeah.  Thing is, Australian passports are worth a lot these days.  It’s the beaches, mostly.  And the sun.  And the fresh air.  And the fact that everyone here is filthy rich is probably a bit of a draw card.”

“But..but..”  Mum can’t quite put it into words.  All that old stuff.  The flag.  The anthem.  The wattle tree.  She reaches for another cup of Lady Grey instead.

“I know.  But I’ve been reading the brochures, and you can get a huge place in the US for what you pay here.  Like, we could buy a big old house somewhere down in Carolina, say, with a porch and magnolias and maybe an ornamental lake with alligators in it? for just about nothing, mum!  And there’s plenty of yanks would pay millions for a passport like ours.”

“But they speak funny!” Mum said, looking nervously at the brochures I’d put on the coffee table.  “Besides, we don’t want a lot of yanks coming here, with their nasty habits and, and..”

“Horse’s bolted, Mum, you know that.  Place is full of yanks.  Anybody with enough money to buy an Aussie passport got out of North America years ago, they’re all either here or in Thailand doing stuff you’d rather not think about to twelve year olds.”

“Well, alright.”  Mum picked up a brochure and flipped the pages, without really looking.  “But I read that England is very nice this time of year.”

“If you like living in a Royal Theme Park.”

“What about China then?  You can get a whole batch of Chinese passports for practically nothing!  I grew up in the GFC, and I know the value of money, and thrift, and..”

I cut her flow off before she could really get going on the Almost Great Depression of the early 21st century.

“That’s because nobody lives more than five years there, even WITH a state-issued gas mask.  You should know mum – remember those bulk continence pads you picked up at the sales last New Year, that swelled up like life jackets when you sat on a damp park bench? – there’s a REASON things are discounted!”

Mum blushed.

“Well if there’s a reason, stands to REASON there’s a reason why American passports are so cheap, right, miss?  If you’re so clever.”

I sighed.  Mum just can’t get used to the idea that these days, countries are for sale like everything else, and it’s a free market.  LOTS of competition.  If you want Islamic purity, you buy an Iranian passport (and they’re PERMANENTLY on sale).  If you want a nice, safe place to settle down and raise kids, well of course Australia and New Zealand are about the only places you can buy into, these days – and bloody expensive they are too!  But if you want good, old fashioned value, and cheap help, the US is the place.  Ever since the crash of 2030, ex-Hollywood mansions are ten for a dollar and the locals are just grateful to be allowed to wash your car and mind the kiddies.  Hoping to save up enough money to have a shot at the good life themselves, I guess, but humble with it, and they do speak good English still.  Or Spanish, of course.  And it’s quite safe, since the Canadians patented vaporisers and the bottom dropped out of the drugs market.

“In my day,” said Mum (oh, here we go, I thought) “America was the richest country on earth.  People would have DIED to get there.”

“Well, now all they have to do is pay a few hundred dollars and they’re in.  Mum, half your friends have bought little cottages there for the summer anyway – and they say the Civil War re-enactments are just darling!”

“I don’t approve of that.”  Mum frowned, but I knew I had her. “War isn’t a game!”

“It is in Iraq – if you like that sort of thing.  Anyway, there’s no hurry.  We can always wait and see if it gets any cheaper.  Or we can rent a beach front place in the Arctic Circle and just sit and watch the world go round.  What do you reckon?”