Thursday, 28 July 2011

Retelling the story

I slowly peeled back my eyelids and immediately wished I was still out for the count. The building opposite mine, a tower block, twenty stories, was leaning like Pisa. My head had hit something. Hard. There was a stickiness as I raised it. That song was still playing, something hip-hop, something infectious. As a soundtrack to a scene of grand destruction, it held its own. Delusional maybe, but a grandeur nonetheless. I checked my watch and noted twenty past one, the minute hand at an angle equal to that of the tower opposite. I hadn’t been unconscious long. It was quiet. Despite the car alarms honking like electronic geese, it was very quiet. A hush similar to snow’s, peculiar to a scene of massive violence. It could just be the ringing in the ears. The sirens hadn’t arrived. The dust was as yet unsettled. My mind, feeling gooey, tried to assure itself there would be an explanation for all of this. Though, it was still struggling with the building opposite and hadn’t yet taken in the fact that the skyline behind it was smoke and orange fire.

When I got to my feet, the first of the helicopters passed overhead. They didn’t stop. The walking wounded emerged from buildings, grey and bloodied. We stood around. Someone was saying terrorists, someone else, earthquake. Phones weren’t working. I passed a woman praying.

That first day… We all have a hundred stories about the first day. A year later, ten years later, a generation later, we’re still telling those stories. We slipped into their telling and made them fit our censored recollections. The one I told the most was the leaning building one. How I peeled back my eyelids, wished I hadn’t, and saw the tower leaning. In the telling I like to angle my hand to parallel the incline. Like this…

(Suggested by a story prompt from the site Flash Fiction Friday)

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Body

When the call came over the radio, Detective John Larson almost didn’t take it. Some eerie instinct tried to warn him off. He hadn’t slept all night, but a body had been reported and he was up. He took the call.

It was out of town, open countryside, and miles from anywhere. Considering the location, it was a surprise to see so many people already there. They stood at the gate to a field in a tight group. Seeing no other police cars, he realised he was the first on the scene. The crowd watched his car approach slowly along the grass-spined track. They looked young. He sensed their mood immediately; it was buoyant, almost celebratory. Larson radioed base that he had arrived, but waited a few moments before turning off the engine. Something in the way the people waited, something akin to déjà vu, suggested an unfamiliar and awful ceremony.

He shook off the presentiment and got out of the car. As he did, a man appeared among the mob and came down the hill to meet him. He was in his late fifties, bearded and ruddy-faced, and wore a yellow raincoat. He was smiling.

“Morning officer.”

Frowning, the detective took the hand offered him, noticing dirt under the fingernails, a calloused palm.

“We got a call about a body.”

“Yes, that was one of my assistants. It’s her first.” The man winked and leaned close. “She’s a bit excited. Everyone is.”

“I’m sorry,” said Larson, drawing back a little, “who are you?”

“Oh, excuse me. Doctor Fred Durren. I’m in charge here. This way, please.”

He led him to the gate and through the people waiting there. They were lively, chatting and smoking. Larson found their attitude inappropriate, yet they cowed him, with their youth, their numbers.

“Who are these people?” he asked almost in a whisper.

“Just my little gang. They’re up from London for a few days.” And with that, the doctor set off across the field. Larsen hurried to catch up. As he did, he saw that quite a lot of earth had been recently excavated.

“Is it a grave?”

“Oh, undoubtedly,” answered Durren. “We found the cattle first. There were so many of them. Possibly as many as a hundred. Mind your step there. All killed at once. And then we found him.”

Larson was shocked; the doctor was speaking with an unconcealed relish. He was about to say something but his attention was taken by the size of the grave. Durren reached the edge and proudly pointed down at something inside.

The detective drew near and looked into the pit. The first thing he noticed were the wheels, two of them, they looked like wagon wheels. Then he saw the skeleton.

“Marvellous, isn’t it?” said Durren, wistfully.

“It’s … it’s been here for some time.”

Durren regarded the other with a strange expression. “Well, yes. At least three thousand years. Late Bronze Age … you were told this was an archaeological site?”


Friday, 15 July 2011

Fugue No.2

SUBJECT - The breeze caressed the trees. The nightingales sang loudly.

DEVELOPMENT - The breeze, a southerly, and somewhat damp from the sea, made the trees whisper among themselves as if a stranger were in town. Moonless night in early June, and the nightingales sang loudly. By the window, the curve of you, a silhouette against the stars.

- The breeze caressed the trees, wavering every leaf, simply passing through, not bending in haste. Moonless sky of stars, silently flickered by bats, with constellations defined and bold. The curve of the plough matching that of your shoulder, as if a decoration. And the nightingales sang loudly.

RECAPITUALTION - The breeze caressed you, and the trees approved, dampened by the sea, and starry sky, the curve in the window with the curve in the sky and the night in the night wavered and flickered and the great bear at your shoulder, and boldest of all, as I kissed you, the nightingales sang loudly.