Rock, Paper, Stab-Stab-Stab!

I don’t like blood. Especially when it gets in my eyes. Allergies, you see. So when I stabbed Herbert in the solar plexus (and the chest and the neck) I was particularly piqued at the amount of blood that squirted out of him into my left eye. The fact that it got all over my nice clean top was a considerable annoyance too, but not, in the scale of things, too upsetting when you consider that I got to the bathroom pretty quickly and rinsed the top out with cold water.

We’d been playing rock, paper, scissors on a gloriously sunny day in April. I remember that bells were pealing off to the left in a particularly churchy way and when they stopped and a bell let out a single clang, one would presume for one o’clock, it seemed as if it was rather too satisfied with itself. And then, after a pause that was a little too short for my liking, the bells started up again. But don’t start thinking that this was what did it for Herbert. I mean, it was provocative, but one does have a modicum of self-control.

My eyes were already running from the surfeit of tree pollen in the air. Wearing sunglasses had helped a little, but not nearly enough and I was continually tipping my head back to stop mucus from streaming out of my nostrils. So when Herbert inconsiderately filled my eye with his blood, I’m afraid I went a tad crazy and pushed him off the balcony. Before you ask: I’m not at all sure if he was already dead before he tipped over the edge.

On reflection, a scissor tip in the solar plexus would have hurt Herbert but not killed him because I distinctly remember him saying ‘oof’ when he got his next stab in the chest. That couldn’t have killed him either because, being a girl, I’m one hundred per cent sure that I don’t have the strength to stab a pair of scissors deeply enough to hit anything important. Like a heart. So it must have been the blow to his neck that did ‘im in, as the vernacular form would have it. He must have caught his jugular on the tip of the scissors. That would explain the blood, you see; and the eleven level fall into the hotel pool. In my defence, that rail was rather short. Not at all adequate to keep anyone on a balcony. Not if they were given a piqued-push towards it.

It has to be said that he started it and that we were, ultimately, only playing. Surely you must realise this. He had a rock from the plant pot, I had paper from my notebook and I must have picked the scissors up from the kitchen drawer at some time. We were playing to decide who would fetch me a bottle of water from the little shop around the corner. I was parched!

When he won the first round, he hit me with the rock, which rather hurt. I mean, yes, you could call it a pebble, but look, here’s the bruise. He thrashed me pretty darned hard! I triumphed in the next round and so that’s how he got the paper cut on his hand. I remember that he seemed really upset by that. What a wuss, right? Then I got the third round too. Boy, was he surprised when I pulled those scissors out of my pocket! Not as surprised as he was when I stabbed him, though!

Do I regret what happened? Yes, of course I do. I mean, I won fair and square! But due to Herbert stumbling into the pool, I never did get my bottle of water. So, what’s not to regret!


Not based on Rock Paper Killers by Alexia Mason, but I saw a copy in the window of Waterstones before I wrote this. So, thanks, Alexia.

The Boss

Although it was risky, he hated his boss. He hated her even though she didn’t take kindly to underlings who hated her. She tended to deal with underlings who hated her very severely. She tried not to be severe because, actually, she didn’t like to be bad. Being bad gave her headaches. But she had pills for that. And so she used that sword a lot. The one that she’d long since stopped washing. The one with the blood on the blade that hardly ever never dried.

She used to have an underling just to clean her sword. He even had an official title: Sword Cleaner. He used to clean the blood off a treat. He even managed to clean off that nasty arterial blood that would spurt and spurt and spurt from neck wounds that you just knew wouldn’t ever stop spurting, even when the head was rolling about on the floor. And he had this special oil that he would put on the blade after cleaning it so that it shined like it was new. And he even used to sharpen the blade too. Ironic really, because that was the blade she used to kill him. Not by cutting off his head because that would have been too merciful. No, she cut his arms off instead. He bled to death after a long time. Made an awful mess of the couch. And it wasn’t as if he’d done anything very bad. Just a small matter of a small matter. Something to do with soggy crisps; I forget. And with Sword Cleaner gone, the grot on the sword just built up and up, layer layer. Almost dry, but not quite.

So, yeah, he hated his boss. But not because of the blood, or the deaths, or the sword or the death of Sword Cleaner, even though they’d been friends. No, it was because the kids had been bored. And the boss hated bored kids more than anything. They’d said, just once, that they were bored. Complained to her en masses. And so she’d killed them. All of them. And now, because he’d loved those kids much, much more than Sword Cleaner, he was going to do something very risky. He was going to kill his boss.

So he did.

The end.

Dawn Meeting

Dawn’s fingers were rosy and plump. They stretched from the horizon clear into the sky to caress the clouds. Seemed to tickle the early morning birds swirling and whirling across the blue. The sun said ‘I’m a gonna give you hell today.’ Sun’s are like that in Alabama; in the middle months – trust me, I know.

All the screaming that Dawn had was done when I fetched up beside her. She’d been calling to the fading stars as she ran. Calling for help-me, help-me, help-me and I figure that by now the raw in her throat had caught whatever was left of her breath and killed it flat.

I imagine she had a mind to have a drink. That’s if she had a mind left. She didn’t. I could see from the lost way her eyes didn’t hardly see me. Saw that her sanity’d got itself scattered across the fields and fallen on dust. Fallow to come. Baked. Stubble wheat ain’t got no mind to tell about no blood spill.

The cut took her by surprise. Top of the thigh – right below the swell of the buttock. The way she span around; trying for a stride; not getting it. Wide eyes widened more. Pride flared in her eyes. Indignant like white folk always is when they get touched by a nigger. And a nigger’s things. Frotteur.

Thought she’d fall. Didn’t. Something there – some kind of stubborn kept her up. Knew she’d run out of running but still, her body did what it could and turned away. Toward the sun.

That was fine. I wanted to watch the blood shining bright through the slit in her dress. Sharp knife. Swelling. Blood. Pump.

I knew I was right when the wind came up and plastered that thin cotton against her leg. Soaking through. Spreading red.

Thought about spreading.

Warm against ..

“Pa.”

Warm …

“Pa.”

Mumbled through dry. “Yeah, son?”

Clear like new water. “Get up, Pa – you got to get me to school.”

What She Almost Told Me

My writing process (and what happened because of it):

  1. Look at the keyboard in front of me.
  2. Check what thoughts are in my mind.
  3. Try to clear my head and get ready.
  4. Ignore the hollow feeling in my chest.
  5. Ignore the scornful twist of my lips.
  6. Feel an empty space open in my mind.
  7. Watch to see what’s happening inside.
  8. See the absence of me and get worried.
  9. Decide that some idea is going to come.
  10. Watch for the new idea’s birth pangs.
  11. Push aside the image of Bond (Brosnan).
  12. Wonder why I’m remembering a dream.
  13. Decide that this must be important, so …
  14. Notice that the last point was thirteen.
  15. Decide it’s unlucky to start from thirteen.
  16. Get so bored with writing about my mind.
  17. Decide to write a story so that I can escape … me.

The bullet enters my rib cage just to the left of my heart. I guess it missed killing me outright by an inch. As my lung begin to fill with blood I think of the ants outside my kitchen door. They had been tunnelling into the foundations of the house, removing sand and grit piece by piece. I had been outraged by this invasion of ‘my territory’ and had responded by filling their hole with poison powder. But that wouldn’t hold them.

In my bag is a newly bought tube of Liquid Ant Killer that says, in tiny letters, that ants will feed on it and pass it on to the entire colony. As my breathing becomes harder to do, I start to worry that it’ll never get used. Not by me anyhow. Waste of money. I wonder if I should give to someone in the crowd gathering around me. I wonder if …

I wonder if I’m insane to spend what could be my last minutes thinking about ants.

The urge to cough grabs at my throat. I try to hold it back. I’ve seen people coughing in movies after bullets hit them and I know that it always leads to blood pouring out of mouths and trickling down chins. I’d just put on a new shirt this morning – clean and crisp – straight from the packet. It’d be a shame to get blood on it. Then I laugh. There’s a tiny hole in the front of the shirt. A bullet-hole. A bloody bullet-hole!

I recklessly let the laugh turn to a cough. What the hell – in for a penny.

There’s a little girl standing in front of me when I stop. She can’t be more than five, or maybe six. She has such a tender expression on her face. Sweet and kind of serious. As she looks down at me I feel a lifting sensation – as if a fast moving elevator is starting upwards. I want, so strongly, to carry on going up. I feel as light as the hair snaking around this girl’s face. Strange – why is she glowing?

Her mouth opens and I know she’s going to tell me the most profound truth. I know it will answer every question. Simple, yet …

I feel the most incredible pain slam into my chest. I open eyes that I hadn’t known were closed to see two men crouching beside me. One of them has ripped my new shirt. I’m outraged. I feel something smooth against my chest. Two things. Paddles, a voice whispers inside my mind. Then male voice calls out – calm, serious – we have him.

I look around for the girl, but she’s not there. I  scan the anxious faces watching me. Just a bunch of concerned citizens.

I want to tell them not to worry. I want to explain that it’s going to be okay – whatever happens.

But part of me knows that they’re not really bothered. Most of them will be itching to get home. Aching to tell someone what happened today. One even stops filming me to make a call. Yeah, hi – this guy just got shot!!

A quick pain in my chest and when I look down I see blood flowing through a tube into a bag. Not the best way to make donation. A sharper stab in my arm and I feel myself begin to float. Hopefully, I look again for the girl then realise my mistake. Probably morphine.

Sliding into a soft place in my mind. Couch potato. Quiet calm. Cotton-wool. Safe and …

Amelia (conclusion)

shadowy face

(continued from Amelia)

When Amelia had been fourteen, Mr Davies had somehow persuaded the-powers-that-be that it would be a good idea to take class 4b to an abattoir.

He’d been a raging vegetarian and had no qualms exposing the children to the blood-splattered, gore-daubed rooms where pigs were routinely bound – squealing madly, eyes wild with terror, only to be silenced forever by the quick stroke of a sharp knife.

Amelia had not been able to sleep for days afterwards and had not eaten sausages or bacon since.

The silence as she opened her eyes in that sunny living room where her babies had been gurgling happily a few seconds before had the same smell – so thick with the tang of metal that she could almost taste it.

Eyes darting madly from wall to ceiling to floor she saw the same patterns as when she had been fourteen. Raising her hands before her, she saw the same colours. Her arms. Her legs. Her clothes. All smeared and splattered with blood.

And the knife in her hand was darkly crusted with gore.

She flung it from her as if it were on fire and tried to stand, to haul herself bodily from the chair; but her foot caught on something and she slipped back. Horror struck she tried again, kicking the object aside so that she could get purchase.

When she saw the mangled little forms lying so silently at her feet, she began to scream, clutching at her hair desperately. And then everything went from red to black.

Amelia jerked as she woke, mind still immersed in blood and fear. The sun was in her eyes and she could see nothing at first. But then she heard them.

Her children. Her babies were crying. Screaming for her attention – maybe hungry, maybe needing to be changed, maybe even frightened by the wild look in their mother’s eyes.

Amelia pulled herself from the chair in a single motion and fell to her knees before them. Thanking God or soothing their hearts – it didn’t matter which. Her heart was full of joy.

Later that afternoon, Amelia lifted her babies from the cot one by one and gave them the freedom of the floor. She relaxed back into the armchair. Muhammad would be home in a few minutes and after a day like that, she was looking forward to his touch.

She closed her eyes briefly as the warm smell of cooked food mingled with the sound of children burbling contentedly at her feet. Her eyes remained closed – just for a moment. A single heartbeat.

When Muhammad arrived home thirteen minutes later, Amelia was still in the armchair. She turned towards him as he entered the room. She smiled as she saw his nostrils twitch at the heavy scent in the air, his eyes widen at the red splashes on the walls and floor, his mouth open wide in anguish at the tiny forms lying so still at his wife’s feet.

Amelia pulled herself to her feet as he took a step towards her, putting down the knife as she did so.

“Don’t worry, my love – I’ll be awake in a moment. It’ll be alright – you’ll see.”

Someday Bloody Someday

Some days
I feel like a territory
A property in a portfolio
A something to defend at all costs.

Some days
Beasts roar with wild rage
Blood spurts across my face
Fights break out in the hallway.

Some days
I’m wrapped in bandages
To keep the sun from my eyes
And I’m fed oranges from far away.

Some day
I’ll look back and I’ll laugh
And I’ll count all my stars as lucky
I see them now – through the bars.

Hypothetically Speaking

aaa

If’n I was sitting in my living room and you were creeping downstairs in your favourite perfume, pinched from the dressing table where you used to sit, before you … went away, before you beat me bloody, before they dragged you off – kicking and cursing, before … all of those things.

If’n I heard your footsteps on the stairs, coming closer and closer to the bottom where you’d just need to turn slightly to the left, and then to the right in order to see me sat here in my shirt and pants – the same ones you brought me for Christmas the year before it all went wrong.

If’n I imagined that you were wearing that dress – the one you always used to wear when you wanted something from me, when you were in a persuading mood rather in a taking and mocking mood, and that you were carrying the same bat you used to break my body once before.

If”n I was to hear you and, more than that, see you coming around that corner and into the room where I were sat, waiting patiently for my chance to move you and remove you from my life forever, like you were ketchup on my favourite shirt or blood underneath my nails.

If’n there was my kid, the one that was our kid, but is now, in my mind, my kid alone, to think about and the think I was to think about him was him growing up without fear that you could turn up at any time without announcing yourself, without taking any notice of the restraining order.

If’n I’d just heard that you’d escaped from the secure mental facility and had killed a guard as you went and had left another one with so little blood in her body that even though they kept pumping it in as fast as they could it was coming out even faster from the slashes you left in her.

If’n I were to raise my hand, the one with the hard lump of metal in it, the one with the finger on the trigger and, point this thing in your direction with barely a shiver in my arm or a quiver in my voice as I told you to leave this place and never come back unless you wanted to be cold, cold, cold.

If”n I were hear and see and know and do all of these things, would it change one little part of your plan or would you still do the same thing that you’d always done, which is to bluff and bluster your way closer and closer, seeing the tears coming out from my eyes as you crept onward.

If”n I’d had enough of this.

If’n I could do it right.

If”n I were strong …

Let Her Stay (pt5/8)

Let Her Stay

Let’s Get It On

(continued from Let Her Stay (pt4/8))

She stood in the museum. Looking through the dusty glass. Looking at his eyes locked on hers. So much love. So much pain.

She blinks.

Twice.

Then he does it.

In the first moment, no-one reacts. She sees them, out on the edge of her vision. They seem to freeze, as if playing statues. As if someone has turned around, trying to catch them in an act of subterfuge.

They react after a moment. Spin on their axes. Lego-toys in a cartoon garden. Heads and bodies swivel towards him – shwoo, shwoo, shwoo. Eyebrows raise. Mouths open. Arms arrange to fight. Legs long to flee.

She thought that they would scream.

No-one screams.

She was only a teenager when the Scots turned down their chance to leave the UK and she remembered thinking at the time what cowards they were. They’d fought battles, a war even, to try to wriggle out of the yoke of Sassenach Rule.

She knew that. She’d seen Braveheart.

Cowards.

Two years after that, she was old enough to add her voice to those eager to leave the EU. Old enough, and proud to do it. She’d show those damned Scots how to do it. How to stand on their own two feet.

Some warned that it would make the UK into a pariah. A hated race. The kind that would turn their back on a friend in need. But most didn’t care. They consoled themselves with the thought that England was strong. Big and strong enough to take on the world.

They were wrong.

The second Scottish Referendum ripped England’s head off, and the sudden collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet punched her in the guts. She never recovered.

“Give Scotland back to the English!”

She heard him roar the slogan. Felt pride sing through her body at the sound of his good, strong English voice. An voice to rally to.

Someone giggled nervously. Damn their eyes.

She watched him take a knife from his sleeve and slash once over his cheek. As the blood began to flow, he smeared it once across his face. As more spilled out, a vertical stripe completed the red cross. That was her idea. Damn Mel Gibson and his crappy woad – this said something real – something vital.

This was a real man. Standing tall and strong, a good blade in his hand, shouting for his country. Taking a stance for his family. For Sarah.

“Give Scotland back to the English!”

He roared his defiance, over and again, his wife exulting silently as she watched. You are my God. I love you. I love you so damned much. A fierce craving to crush him in her arms. Yet still, she stood. Watching. Waiting.

It wasn’t long before the police arrived.

(continues in Let Her Stay (pt6/8))