Here’s something a little bit longer – a story of mine which was one of five winners of the 1000 Words flash competition in December 2014. Since 1000words.org has disappeared and my story with it, I’ll put it up here. In a way, the success I had with it encouraged me to start the blog. so it is relevant.
‘The ground is frozen. I’ll burn more calories than I’ll bring home,’ he protests when I ask him to go digging for roots.
‘It’s that or starvation. Go right to the edge where the sun’s been warming the ground the longest. Should be softer there.’
I hand him the hammer and one of the nine-inch nails. They’re coming in useful, the nails. I insisted we take them when he said they’d be nothing but ballast.
He puts the tools into his pouch and slouches off. I stoke the fire and put another log on. I retrieve the blowgun. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d better take care of the bait first. I wait for him to get settled by the edge. When I hear the pings of hammer hitting nail, I go after him. I pick up a rock. I never take my eyes off him, stay behind his back.
‘Sorry. I can’t keep feeding us both.’
He doesn’t have time to turn around before I bring down the rock. He slumps, tumbles over the edge and lands on the plateau beneath.
She counts the money and checks whether it’s all real. All he does, meanwhile, is play with his Glock while putting on his tough guy face.
Nothing missing – she gives him the tiniest of nods. He pushes the crate towards the buyers. They wait for the buyers’ taillights to fade into the horizon before they hit the road, going in the opposite direction.
Briefly, she allows herself to wonder how long it’ll take until reports of a mass shooting in this area hit the news.
But it’s too late for her to develop a conscience.
The Little Mermaid took the knife and ran to the prince’s bedroom. She loved him. But if she couldn’t have him, she didn’t want another woman to have him, either. She plunged the knife into his heart, put it in his new wife’s hand and wet her feet with his blood. They stopped hurting. She flung herself out the window and into the sea, watching her legs turn into a fishtail again.
Despite the transformation, the Little Mermaid wasn’t herself anymore. She spent her days rubbing away an invisible stain on her tail, voicelessly complaining about her ever bloody feet.
Some realise a moment before their muscles relax. He’s learnt to recognise that spark. He talks to them, explains his vision and that he’ll conserve their youth forever. If there’s time – some lose consciousness quicker than others – he’ll show them what dress he’s picked. He has impeccable taste. If they could, they would thank him.
He has slowed down. Staying off the police radar has become harder, and he’s running out of room. But sometimes, it would be a crime to stand by while a new tenant’s beauty withers away.
This one will take pride of place in his collection.
I know texting you is a violation of the injunction, but I am almost literally on fire. I’m sitting in the bathtub, breathing through a wet washcloth. I called 999; I don’t think they’ll make it in time.
I never apologised. I wonder if I’d apologised, we’d be in this mess. I would still have hit you, though. I wish I hadn’t hit you. You should see me now – anger management has turned me into a new man. I wish you could have seen him.
So, I’m only texting to tell you that you’ve nothing to fear from me anymore.
With great power comes great responsibility. How unfortunate that she’s taken this line to heart. She ought to remind herself that superheroes make it look easy because they’re fictional.
No patrolling the streets for a while. She needs to heal.
Not feeling any fear has its drawbacks – if she continues to get her backside kicked, she’s going to wind up dead soon. She needs to become stronger and faster. She needs a martial arts teacher who’ll show her how to Van Damme. Even Spidey had to learn how to use his powers.
She’ll have to learn how to vigilante responsibly.
(You’ll find all instalments at the bottom of the Serials page.)