Saturday, 11 October 2014
Last night my wife was unborn.
And you can't bury the unborn just like you can't brush your teeth in your sleep no matter how many times you go to bed clutching your toothbrush. And I know there isn't a therapist in the world I can convince that my wife and my entire non existent family have disappeared into a hole in my bedroom wall.
Lyssa. The girl that arrived into my universe wearing a bomber jacket and a pair of monkey boots. The girl that once told me that success has eight legs and a hairy belly and that all you have to do is decide whether to be scared of it or to smash it over the head with a rolled up newspaper. I know she would have put up a fight if she hadn't been sleeping. I'll give the bastards that much. Either they were doing me a favour or they knew what was good for them. But they got her in the end like they got the rest of my family.
I'd swap places with Ebenezer Scrooge any day. What I would do to wake up every six months with The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come's decapitated head floating over my headboard. I'd settle for a poltergeist in training. I'd sleep with an incubus. Anything but Dark Entry Yard.
It appears on my bedroom wall every six months, in the middle of the night, whether I like it or not and I don't. I then have one minute to chose a blood relative and if I don't make my mind up quickly I lose them all. My whole family. So over the years I have had to draw up a list of every member of my family in order of preference depending on who I want to become unborn first.
Uncle Bill had the unfortunate honour of going first. Which was sadly ironic because the poor guy had never come first at anything in his whole life. But his name just popped into my head. Uncle Bill. A guy that had one foot in 1977 and the other in Ladbrokes. A guy of few words and even fewer redeeming qualities. He would have bet on the outcome of a full frontal lobotomy if somebody had let him. He was an easy pick but my choices would get more difficult.
My cousin Marlowe was next. I hadn't seen him since he was ten and I remembered him being all lugholes and teeth, but when they dragged him away he was a big pile of tattoos and triceps. He didn't go quietly and I can still hear him screaming now if I close my eyes. Most of them scream. The screaming kills me. And the screams drown out the sounds of the hooves and the teeth and the breaking flesh.
Then the hole closes for another six months.The hole in my bedroom wall that leads to Dark Entry Yard. A hole that Enid Blyton would have been proud of if she had been given a personality transplant. If she had ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to give the Secret Seven a suitcase full of AK-47 assault rifles.
(C) Ally Atherton
Written for the Light & Shade Challenge. Why not take a look and join in? They have reached their sixmonthanniversary and it's a great challenge for any writers.
As usual I'd appreciate any comments and feedback.
Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be
'Slept with her yet?'
That's how abrupt he was. But I had grown accustomed to his ways in the short time I had been visiting him. He didn't want to know what I'd had for breakfast, he wanted to know if I'd fucked her yet.
His silence betrayed his disappointment so I placed my hands on his cold grey shoulders and let him have it.
'Strawberries,' I said.
The miserable old bastard could get what he was given. I wasn't about to stop eating all the things I wanted just to please him but I think he enjoyed it because his gravestone had gone blank. He was wordless for once and that only happened when he was eating or drinking or thinking of something shitty to say.
'You never had Strawberries?'
'Of course I fucking haven't,' he said, 'In my days you were lucky to get bread and butter for supper and a slap on your backside for dessert.'
I didn't argue, he was probably right.
'What else have you got for me?'
I thought for a moment. Then decided to do it.
Now I knew he was interested. Women and ale was all he was ever interested in.
'Go on. Do it,' he said.
I closed my eyes and thought about last night.
Mary's lips that tasted of the strawberries we'd been eating from the basket at the back of her Aunty Veronica's house. Her rosewood hair that would never do anything she wanted it to when she wanted it to. And then her tongue. Her tongue finding mine for the first time. And my hand wandering nervously down the crease of her back. Slowly downwards. Mary closing her eyes. Mary gasping. Mary's gap-toothed crooked smile.
That would do. I removed my hands from his gravestone and turned to walk home.
Let him stew for a while. Dirty old git. That's all he was getting.
I got as far as the gate at the end of the church yard and looked back to see what he had written on his stone. I had to squint but I could just about make it out.
(C) Ally Atherton
Written for this Monday's Light & Shade Challenge. Take a look and join in if you like.
Image courtesy of Messi and taken from the Wiki Commons
It wasn't the monster under my bed I was worried about. It was the monsters inside my head and they were never a problem until the day they decided to escape.
Most people have nightmares but I think there's a switch or a circuit that keeps them from getting loose and mine is broken. I have a broken switch and my broken switch is responsible for so much crap in this world it would be better if I ended it right here and now.
I remember the first time it happened. One turned up at my school and killed two teachers and fifteen children. It was all over the news and there was nothing I could do but hide. That first one killed itself so my secret was safe but every time it happens I'm scared that my monsters will dob me in. They know where they have come from and I have to live with that and my fear that the police could turn up at my door at any hour.
I'm 43 now and my little monsters are everywhere. Over the years many of them have been imprisoned or executed and a few of them are still awaiting trial at the Hague. But I worry about the ones that have disappeared. The ones that are still out there. I turn on Sky News and they stare back at me with their blank, nightmare eyes. I open the newspaper and they fall out like adverts for shampoo or hair extensions.
But what scares me the most are the ones that are trying to get back inside. I hear them banging on my front door at night. I see their twisted faces through my window. They stand at the end of my bed at night and stare. But they can't get back in because the switch in my head is broken.
The switch is broken. Every morning they creep out but can't get back in. No matter how many times I pick them up and try to shove them back in. And for that I'm sorry. I'm so terrible sorry. Because I'm the reason your world is so fucked up and the reason why your monsters no longer stay under your bed but walk alongside you instead.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
'When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills;
And I must minister the like to you'
- Two gentleman of Verona, William Shakespeare
I placed my palm against the screen and waited for it to tumble into the slot.
We are allowed one a day and today I chose a total body healing pill. I have been feeling run down lately and my usual 24 hour orgasm pill would have to wait till tomorrow. I placed it on the tip of my tongue and it dissolved.
I didn't hang around. There was a queue. There is always a queue. We are a nation of waiters but we do it peacefully and in silence. We don't plan our silence, we are forced to swallow a spoonful of silence every morning. It's the first thing we do every day but I don't mind because I am normally in the middle of a rampaging orgasm.
I recommend that everybody takes a total body healing pill at least once every six months. I think of it as a six monthly MOT but most people don't bother. They are too busy experimenting with the new line of pills that are coming out. People these days are obsessed with their slow release sense of humour capsules and their nostalgia capsules and those new pills that make you devastatingly attractive to everything that walks and crawls. Nope. I'll stick with my 24 hour orgasms. Take my word for it, there's nothing better. Once you've tried it you'll be hooked. The rest is junk.
Anyway they get me through the day and I go to sleep with a smile on my face. But we work hard. They make sure of that. Everybody has to pull their weight and they only provide us with the pills so that we don't stop to think about how crap this life is. Because there's nothing else to look forward to here. They work us until our hands bleed and our backs break. We work and we wait and we take our pills and we stay silent, but most of all we wish that we had behaved ourselves when we had the chance. When we were living.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
I wrote this for this weeks Light & Shade Challenge. Please take a look at the link and join in if you like to write. It's fun and it's a community of lovely people.
'He travels the fastest that travels alone'
~ Rudyard Kipling
It wasn't how I imagined Oz.
Within minutes I had my hands tied behind my back and was hurtling along the yellow brick road by my ankles. I had a sack over my head and something very unpleasant in my mouth.
It had all gone so well. My work transfer to Kansas, the house, the Toto lookalike. And the tornado came just like it said on the weather reports.
But then the house let me down and now there's only one place I'm going.
Fucking house landed right on top of Dorothy didn't it? Killed her outright.
Written for the Light & Shade Challenge. Why not join in? It's fun.
Don't look up, don't even think about it.
Alice was right of course. Looking up would be fatal. So we carried on walking the subways of Boris because that's where we belonged. On the subways. The ever changing, ever twisting, ever screaming subways. We were tired but they made sure we didn't even think about looking up or slowing down.
We walked two by two. Not exactly safety in numbers but luckily today all we had come across were a couple of maintenance droids and a single One Tail that had copped it during the night. Alice has stared at it with morbid curiosity but I kept my eyes on the path. I felt sick to the stomach already and concrete walls are the safest thing to look at because dead One Tails and Two Tails are everywhere and most of them are half eaten.
They only scream in monosyllables. Move,Get Up, Stand Up and Faster being their favourites. You can't get into a conversation with a subway, they talk at you, not with you. They talk at you and kill you. There's nothing in between.
We feel like we're breaking. The only time we get to rest is during the night when we get seven minute rest periods but most of us walk and sleep at the same time as well as shitting and pissing and walking. Most of us are walking skeletons. We wear what we can grab and most of us are shoeless.
The subways are getting longer all the time. You can hear their construction in the background, a metallic wind amongst the sounds of our groaning and puking and wailing.
The No Tails are building the subways 24/7 and I've heard that soon we will have underground tunnels to crawl down when our legs have given way. Underground tunnels to live in, to crawl in. Underground tunnels to die in.
And soon we will be invisible to the inhabitants of Boris. The rightful, worthy,
No Tailed inhabitants of Boris.
(C) Albert Atherton
Written for this week's Light And Shade Challenge. A great place to meet other writers. Why not have a go yourself? You want to write? They Don't Bite! Not unless you ask them nicely.
All you have to do is kiss the bastard and say it backwards three times.
Did I make it too difficult?
Surely it's not rocket science! I'm not asking you to balance the sum of human kindness on the head of a pin. Go on, kiss me and say it,
Is it too high up? Then use a ladder. Levitate. Jump!
Maybe it's an advertising problem. Maybe I didn't deliver enough leaflets. Stuff it, I don't do maybe's. Just kiss the bastard and say the magic words. How difficult can it be?
It's been eighty years now. If I wasn't an Angel I'd probably be riddled with arthritis by now, sitting all alone like this inside my self imposed prison. It isn't very roomy I can assure you, barely enough room to stretch my legs. It's not as if I'm a bloody Genie. Genies have it easy I can tell you. All cosied up in their lamps with their wine and their doilies and their fluffy pillows.
I'd give my right wing for a fluffy pillow.
Kiss me for God's sake, just kiss me and say the magic words.
Don't you want your own Angel?
Ok so I'm not Archangel Gabriel or that bleeding moron Micheal, because as far as Angels are concerned I don't walk in those circles. They're celebrity Guardian Angels whereas I'm just your common Garden variety. Do you think one of them would be stupid enough to lock themselves inside a street sign?
No I'm just Gavin the Knob-head Angel and I was a bit pissed at the time to be honest. But seriously you don't know what you're missing. We could do things, you and me. Do you want to fly? Do you want money coming out of your armpits? Do you want every man and woman to fall in love with you even though you fell out of the ugly cart and landed in a puddle when you were born?
I'm your man. Go on kiss me, say the magic words.
Let me out. Please I'm begging you. Let me out.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
This was written for this week's Light and Shade Challenge. If you love writing then why not give it a go? It's new, its fabulous and you don't know what you're missing.
It's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves
I don't know anything about mountain climbing but every night I get a little bit closer to the top.
Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night for a piss and I've still got all the paraphernalia stuck to my back and there's a rope stretching from my bed to the toilet. My wife is simultaneously sprawled out on her side of the bed that doubles up as a cliff edge. Sometimes I drop a pin or a hammer or some other object that celebrated nocturnal mountain climbers like myself use, and she wakes for a second and stares down at the the abyss, with a look of horror that is usually only reserved for my underpants.
I'm a crap climber. My left arm doesn't know what my right arm is doing. I have passed entire nights away before now in a complete tangle of ropes. I have used drawing pins, superglue, blue-tack, anything to keep myself pressed against the rock face. And the less I say about the sellotape incident the better. Let's just say it was a very long and bruising night.
My wife and family can't understand why I'm so knackered or why I've taken up a monthly subscription of Trek & Mountain magazine. How can I even begin to explain that I spend most days recovering from the after effects of altitude sickness, frostbite and occasionally a bout of snow blindness?
It's been going on for several months now. I should have reached the summit by now but after all my efforts I have a horrible suspicion that I am only moving a couple of inches a night. I think even my Grandmother could have got there faster than me and she's been dead twenty years. I am desperate. I need a good night's sleep to get over my night's sleep. I have Googled my predicament but as you can well imagine this doesn't appear to be happening to anybody else, although alarmingly there are a growing number of individuals who are knitting scarves in their sleep. I can cope with scarves.
I don't know the name of my mountain. I can't find it in Trek and Mountain Magazine. Edmund Hillary would know. I think I saw him once, one night when I was on my way up but he was on the far side and he couldn't hear me. I tried to memorise his face and when I woke up I looked him up in my recently acquired 'View from the Summit' but he didn't look anything like him. My Hillary looked more like Hillary Clinton.
God willing I'll reach the top soon and this will be all over. My wife is beginning to talk about me behind my back and our sex life is a joke. How can I explain that I need all the energy I can get and that the only peak I want to reach is currently covered in snow?
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
Written for this week's Light and Shade Challenge. Go on, give it a go. Meet some lovely writers.
'Anyone breaking these rules will be loved and forgiven in the usual manner.'
From part of a sign in a shop in York, UK
If you happen to find yourself deceased there are certain terms and conditions that you must follow in order to maintain harmony with those around you.
Never annoy your fellow Cemeterians.
Only talk when you are spoken to and don't waffle. The deceased don't like wafflers.
Don't hum. Humming is annoying.
Don't sing. Singing is even more annoying, even on Bank Holidays.
Don't talk about politics. Politics is not only irrelevant but it's also a very dirty word in cemeteries.
Don't moan about the size of your headstone. Size isn't everything and nobody likes a moaner.
If you decide to stretch you legs, do it at night so no nobody can see you. Dead people aren't supposed to be walking around and you might give somebody a heart attack.
And finally. Cemetery boundaries are there for a reason. Don't even think about climbing over that wall or that fence or making a dash for it through the woods. You are dead. You're meant to be here and those boundaries are there for your own protection.
Try it. Go on I dare you.
You won't come back. Nobody ever does. Cross that line and
you're really dead. Double dead.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
This was written for the Light and Shade Challenge. A wonderful new writing challenge for anybody who loves writing, whether you're established or a relative beginner. Go on. Give it ago. It's a great way to meet some lovely people too, from all over the world.
'Optimism is like a spiritual magnet'
I killed her.
I am holding my hands up. There's nothing I can say to convince you I don't deserve the worst punishment that can be served cold on a plate with a bowl of slugs as a side order. I'm jumping up and down and waving my arms around like a mad man with a placard around my neck saying
I did it
It's the books fault. I wish I could jump back in time and tear every bloody page out. What was it doing in the library in the first place? What were they thinking?
Positivity for Dummies
Well at least they got that bit right.
It was earth shattering. I couldn't believe how quickly it worked. The first time I used it I didn't just find a parking space, I made the parking space. It was a wall. I made the hole and drove straight into it.
I did everything the book said. In the correct order.
Say what you want
Imagine it happening
That's where it all started. In the car park.
Everywhere I went that day it worked. Cars stopped so I could cross the street. People were smiling, the sun was shining. Women were writing down their phone numbers so quickly I didn't have enough pockets to put them in. It was the most amazing morning of my life.
Then the shop materialized in front of my eyes. It was just what I wanted. I walked in, a little bell tinkled and behind the counter I saw row upon row of every sweet from my childhood. I was seven again. I bought as many as I could but my wallet was being filled as soon as it was empty. I had so many sweets I decided I would give them out to people on the streets so they would love me. They would adore me.
They would probably make me their God by the end of the day.
Then it slipped out. I didn't mean it to. It just slipped out like a little bit of pee. She shouldn't have been so rude.
Don't get me wrong. The shop was amazing and I knew I had everything to be thankful for. But the woman behind the counter was so miserable. So rude. Surely a smile wouldn't have hurt her.
But unfortunately I did. For one second I wanted her to drop dead. Miserable old cow.
The book was good. Very good. But as much as I read it and reread it I couldn't find a way of reversing things. Apparently once something is done, it's done and on the happiest day of my life I had killed a woman.
The smile was bad enough. I had manifested that as well and I didn't think it was possible to die with a smile on your face. Not one as big as that anyway. And then there was the laugh. Her dead laugh.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
This is written for this weeks 500 and under prompt challenge at
Light And Shade
Please take a look, it's a fantastic new blog and a great way to exercise your writing talent as well as meeting some lovely fellow writers.
A dream has power to poison sleep
Mutability, Percy Bysshe Shelley
There's always an impossible puzzle.
And each night I have from the time I arrive until the balloon pops to solve it. Every night they are getting more difficult. I think in a few week's time I will probably have to re-enact world war one using hand gestures or design a new form of communication for the humble house fly.
And what is it with the wooden fences? I am beginning to think that my dreams are sponsored by Ronseal. I smell them all the time now. When I'm awake that is. I smell them when I'm eating my Corn Flakes. I smell them when I'm driving to work. One hand on the steering wheel and the other trying to wipe away the smell of wood. I sneeze and bits of wood come out.
And I can never quite remember any of them. Stupid, ridiculous, over the top dreams. But there's always my reward waiting for me when I wake up. Sometimes it's curled up in my fist or it's on the floor and sometimes I find it in the bathroom cabinet.
My prize. My reward for solving another impossible, annoying puzzle, from dreams that disappear down a plug hole in the centre of the universe. Dreams where I'm running around, blood pumping, heart thumping, nights of frustration and terror. Long nights where every second I am crawling through tunnels, banging on impossible to open doors and running. Running from somebody or something until finally the balloon pops. It's usually a red balloon but sometimes it's inexplicably a novelty balloon. A poodle, a swan, a pair of tits.
It's been going on for weeks. I'm exhausted. Sometimes I try to stay awake, hoping the curse will be broken but sleep always catches up with me and grabs me by the ankles and drags me under. I will have to pack in work soon, it's getting too much. I spend all day worrying about them. The balloons, the fences, the doors, but most of all I worry about my little rewards waiting at home in the cellar. I have put them in shoe boxes because that is my line of work. Lots of shoe boxes.
Boxes meant for shoes, not body parts.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014
This is written for the Light And Shade Challenge
An exciting new challenge where prompts are posted weekly. Go and take a look and join in if you like. It looks like a great opportunity to have fun writing and also an opportunity to meet some new creative friends.