RSS Feed

Category Archives: Strange stories

Unwanted

The city spun and leant around her.  Lunchtime crowds filled the pavements, elegant young women with jobs to go to and money to spend, good-looking young men with mates and mobiles.  The chilled breath of air conditioning sighed out from the big shops and offices.

Stella and David fumed at the hotel manager, laughing and grumbling.  Don’t you ever come back, he’d said, when they picked up their bags.  It wasn’t as if they’d trashed a room or thrown a tv out the window.  But the hotel only allowed two to a room and they’d been three, packed in a bed together,  Beth with her back turned in stubborn sophistication while David caressed Stella’s enormous buttocks.

Beth was tired.  The banter of don’t touch me, keep your hands off, I’m not doing anything, can you hear me doing anything Beth? had gone on late into the night and checkout in this cheap hotel was early.  Now she felt cross with them both.

What shall we do now, asked Stella.  They hadn’t come to Sydney just to sleep (or not to sleep) in a fleabitten hostel.  It was sunny, there was Circular Quay to visit, the art gallery (Stella’s idea of fun, as a girl who could appreciate both slumming and the fine arts).  I think we should go to the Cross again, said David, who was bad, so he felt.  We should go and see a peep show.  That’s too expensive, said Stella, and anyway, you’ve been peeping at us all night.  I could steal someone’s card, said David, I’ve done it before.

Have you really? asked Beth.  She hadn’t met many thieves before.  David was also a would-be mass murderer, at least so he said, and she hadn’t met many of those either.  He seemed nice enough though.  Stella’s tame criminal mastermind.

Yes, said David, but sometimes I use my friends’ cards to buy things, don’t I Stella.

How? asked Beth again.  Stella laughed at David’s boastfulness, proud of him.

I’m a genius.  I can remember any number, give me any number, I can remember it.  I learn all my friends’ pin numbers and then I memorise them, it just stays in there – he tapped his gingery forehead – for ever.  Tell me your pin number and I’ll memorise it – doesn’t matter how long it is.  I won’t use it though.

Sometime maybe, said Beth.  She was getting sick of their company, and hungry too.  She had a strong feeling suddenly that she didn’t want to be here, with them, having this conversation about stolen credit cards and angry managers.  The sun and the strangers made it all worse.

I have to go, she said, there’s someone I have to see.

Who, asked Stella, stopping dead, and David like a lean mastiff at her side.

Just someone I used to know.

Can we come?

Better not.  It’s, you know..

A private thing, guessed David, smirking, and Stella smiled you go girl though she didn’t want Beth to leave, it was fun baiting her innocence.

Ok well I guess I’ll see you later then, and Beth made her apologies abruptly and turned on her heel, hiding herself from their teasing following eyes in the stream of people.  Sick at heart, such a good term and so true, was what she was.

She got herself a coffee and a donut and walked down towards Liverpool Street, where she’d used to work, long ago, when Sydney was her home town.  She wondered if he’d still be there.  He used to be kind to her.  That was when she was a shy filing clerk with no one to talk to but him.  Now, of course, she was much changed.  Shy no longer, beautiful and desirable, he would look at her and perhaps want to take her out.  He would marvel at how different she was.  She wondered if he was married.  She’d never asked him.

She went to the floor marked Personnel, to the receptionist sitting behind her smooth clean circular desk, typing.

Can I help you, asked the woman, middle-aged, neutral like the walls.  Beth felt like an exotic butterfly.

I was wondering if I could speak to Roger.  Does he still work here?

He certainly does, and she sat down to wait, and wait, in the cream plush chair in front of the desk, with people coming in from the lifts and walking past into the forbidden doors.

He came, and she stood up.  It was immediately clear that he didn’t remember her.  He stood there half smiling, still the same little soft beard and moustache, a sensitive man, politely nonplussed.

I’m Beth, she said, remember we used to work together, three years ago?

Beth, he said, oh yes…you used to write to me, didn’t you.

Well yes, she said, and to other people I guess…

You used to write to Eric, he said.  Eric liked your letters, he said they were interesting.

She knew he was saying that he didn’t think so.

That was a while ago, she said.  When I went overseas.  I came back and I’ve been at uni for a year and…

You should go and see Eric, suggested Roger, coolly.  Eric always liked getting those letters.

Those letters, posted when she was so lonely, posted from parks in the evening full of chattering strangers, and hostels where everyone else knew so much about life, she felt like one of the flowerpot men.  No one to tell all these things to, but Roger, and Eric of course, and Mum and Dad, but she couldn’t tell them because they were flowerpot men too.

I was wondering if you wanted to have a coffee, Beth said, conscious of the receptionist typing away, her eyes looking and not looking, thinking things no doubt, with a little grim smile.  It was like performing on a stage with just the two actors, and one audience member, who already knew the ending.

It’s been a long time, said Roger.  I don’t have time, really, I’m quite busy.  He looked at his watch.  It was ten thirty.  She hadn’t thought of that, in her bohemian fantasy.

Oh, ok, never mind, I’d better go then.  She wanted to weep then, but that wasn’t in the play.  None of this was, come to think of it.

But you could go and see Eric, he said encouragingly.  Eric likes you, I’m sure he’d like that.  He looked at his watch again.  Eric is on the fifth floor I think, isn’t he Shirley?

Oh, yes, I think he is, said Shirley, quickly, looking back to her typing again, she wasn’t the type of audience to want to participate in the scene, but curious anyway.  She felt sorry for the girl, in her tarty rags.  Some kind of stalker, evidently.  The corners of her lips were indented, though, she could see the funny side.  Poor Roger.

Beth smiled and said that she might go to see Eric.  She wouldn’t, because what if Eric had forgotten her too, and anyway, it was Roger she liked, with his kindness and mouse-like facial hair.

How was the secret lover, asked Stella, back at uni.  David had gone off for a spot of armed robbery, or so he implied.  Good, said Beth.  And how would Stella, with her prettiness, her wantedness, ever understand?  That Beth was not beautiful, not interesting – in short, not changed at all?  But if she didn’t tell Stella, she would never know – she might guess of course.  Let her guess.  Pretty boring really, added Beth, I won’t bother next time.  And she didn’t.

Rose is the author of Deeper (a dark modern fantasy based on Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid) and A Warm Wind. 

Monopoly

“It’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair. We’re only three hours into the game.  You’ll get yours back if you just keep playing!”

Zog scowled.

“How come you keep on getting sixes.  The dice is loaded if you ask me.”

“It’s not.  You won the LAST game.  With the SAME dice.  And you walked away with I don’t know how many thousand points and did I complain?  No.  I just said ok, congratulations!  Don’t be such a sore loser.”

“Anyway, there’s still plenty of time,” Horus interjected, looking from Zog to Baal and rolling his eyes.  He covered a yawn.  Monopoly bored him.  Why, he thought, do we play these interminable games?  It’s not as if it achieves anything!  And yet, what else is there to do round here?

Baal threw the die again, and smirked.

“I get New York.  Let’s see now – New York, London, Tokyo and the whole of Africa.  If you land on Africa a million of your lot get AIDS.”

“I’m sick of this game!” Zog burst out, and with one sweep of his fist, the board buckled and the counters went hurtling to the floor.  Horus sighed.  They’d be at it again tomorrow.  And the day after that.  Civilisations rose.  Civilisations fell.  With boring predictability.

A man called Dave looked out of his hotel bedroom window as a wall of water loomed improbably towards him.

“Jesus!” he said, “Oh my God!”

The three deities glanced down and snickered.

“You have to admit,” said Zog, “it IS funny to hear them squealing.  It’s as if they think we CARE!”

A Mother’s Love (Creepy Pasta!)

I always knew my mother loved me.

When I was small, she would always give me the best cuts of meat, and watch me eat, smiling, over her bread and butter.

When I was bigger, she would give me money to take my friends out for dinner and drinks, and herself sit alone in the dark, afraid to turn the lights on for fear of not being able to pay the bill.

You should always appreciate the sacrifices your parents make for you.  Especially if you have a mother who says that she loves you more than life itself.

So when I was fully grown, I invited my mother on a road trip, to see the glass towers of the big city, sunset over the ocean, the endless forest and timeless hills.

Unfortunately, we became lost.  It has been three weeks now since we left the path to follow a green-gold lizard to its hiding place.  Three weeks since we circled back, and back again, and called out into the olive-grey wilderness.  Three weeks since we have seen anyone but each other, and yet, her love for me is strong as ever.

“I’m only afraid,” she says, smiling weakly, “that I’ll die soon, and then you’ll be alone, with no one to look after you.”

“Don’t die,” I implore her. “I need you.”

Fresh.

When at last they come, with their whistles and stretchers and fluoro jackets, my mother’s eyes turn to me.

“Take care of my little boy.”

The paramedic holds out his hand to her, but she can’t respond.  She has no hands.  Gagging, he lifts the chewed, limbless trunk on to a stretcher.

I am as well as could be expected, although I don’t know how I’ll get along without my mother.  She always said she would lay down her life for me,  Now she has laid it.

I wonder if I will ever be able to find a woman to replace such devotion.  I think I owe it to myself to try.

Eradication

It wasn’t like that when we left it.

No dear. But that was a while ago.  Things grow.

Like the time you moved the refrigerator and there were all those..

Yes.  Like that.

Ewww.  What are we going to do about them? They’re everywhere!  Look at the nasty filthy things running all about as if they own the place!

Such dirty little things.  Droppings everywhere.  Destructive, too.

We could go away and leave it a while.  You know some of these things just, sort of, flourish for a while and then they run out of food and the next thing you know, all gone.

Like a virus.  Sort of self-limiting.

Mmm.

But this was such a nice little planet.  And look what they’ve done to it.  If we just leave them to it, it’ll take ages to clean up and put it back the way it was.

You’re right.  Better call in the exterminators.  Anyone got the number?

1800 DALEKS, isn’t it?

A dream of death

The clouds drifted like poison dust across a sky dark with prophecy.

Three women, princesses, stood on the high walls,  granite so high and sheer that the road below was silent and grey as air.  We watched as they, the deathly ones, marched the royal road below us, their stone teeth broken and bloody, their ice eyes rotten with hate.

No retainers came to shoot fire arrows through the cloud-dark battlements, no knights massed at the black iron gate, shut still, and forever.  We were alone here now.  We waited, and watched.

As I looked down on the marching ones, the king of ghouls raised his eyes to mine, implacable, amused, hungry.

What are the three of you, to us?  Windblown on your castle walls, lonely, while the sun is fading to red you will be safe.

But as night falls….

The Car Park

I’m parking and there’s this chick looking at me, late model, gold hubcaps, polished curves like you wouldn’t believe.  So I slink into the spot, maximum cool, wheels turned just so, mirrors catching her eye in the morning sun.  I’m just, like, hanging.

She’s parked just opposite.  We double take in each other’s rear vision.  Man she has a nice butt.  Hope she notices the central locking, slick click as Him Inside jams the remote.  Maybe she’ll go for the anti-theft system.  I can make a lot of noise when I want to, babe, I can really party.

Him Inside disappears and we’re alone, the sun already beginning to beat on my hood.  I feel real hot.  But inside I’m going to stay cool.  I’ve got those windscreen shades, see.

Her brake lights wink at me.  It looks like a come on.  I’d come on alright, if only I had those damn keys in my ignition, I’d bump her ass.  She knows I’m stuck where I am.  It’s look but don’t touch, always.  The old problem.  You look, you like, but you pass them by.  Unless of course you score a hit, but then there are so many fucking bystanders and cops around there’s no way you’re going to get it on.  I need some privacy.

And then it happens.  Like a dream she moves slowly backwards, curvy little ass and all, out of her spot, and sashays up towards me, across the black tarmac.  I can hardly believe my lights.  She’s coming, she’s coming…quick look in the mirror, did I wax recently, sure I did…and I smell like Vanilla Heaven.  Went to the carwash yesterday, no flies on me.

Come on baby come on.  I’m ready for you, my bumpers are waiting yeah.  And like the sweet little machine she is, she backs right up and comes to rest, nice and cosy up against my front, and there we are.

Hey honey you feel good, steel against steel, rear lights to headlights, paint to paint.

Yeah she says, my brakes are all off baby, how about you and me do a little accelerating..

And I think, this is my lucky day!

The beach at the end of the world

At the end of the world, there is a beach.

Beyond the beach, sky.  Grey sky, grey sand, where one begins you cannot tell, where the other ends, likewise.

Walk as far as you like, there’ll be no footprints.  Look back, and it will be as if you’d never been.

You can hear the sea, the wind.  They sing to you in a dark whisper, meaningless.

You tip your head back and see the grey clouds scudding overhead, fast as time-lapse, slow as dawn.

You laugh, you breathe, you take off like a child’s kite, bright and brave and free.  The hand has left the string, or the string the hand, it doesn’t matter.  What does, now?  You are without hope, you don’t need it any more.

Because this is the beach, the one you saw long ago, at the end of the world.