When the mailman chases dogs – Summer of Super Short Stories Week Ten! | Luminous Creatures Press

Beth's dog, I believe - it's not him in the story, I promise.

Horse Chestnut Avenue was awash with activity; the prim residents were in a state of unbecoming panic, uncharacteristic chaos and pantie-twisting kerfuffle.

The imported German cars were safely harbored under the corrugated armor of the garages, protected from the miniature mines that rained down from the trees. Those bombs born of the soil and the sap, were as damaging as their spiky maritime brethren. Unlike the cars, the residents were vulnerable, to something entirely more terrifying.

Her picket fence was red, not white. Like razor wire; it was a demarcation line, an unwritten don’t mess with me warning sign. Molly approached, tentatively, and rang the doorbell.

“Yes,” Mrs Redmond said, curtly, “what do you want?”

“I’ve come here about Butch,” Molly replied, defensively, “is there anything I can do?”

“I think you and your husband have…done enough,” she growled, her hands placed on her hips like a diva; a look she might have pulled off three decades ago, “now, if you don’t mind, I have to protect my family.”

The door slammed in unmistakable affirmation of a reputation, ruined. The neighborhood echoed with the sound of drills boarding up windows, scuttling ration gathering and hunkering down in the basements. Molly just wanted to kill him. All these years. All that car washing, house-painting, perfect hair, nose-job, implants, anal bleaching, face-filler – all for nothing – ruined in a moment of unhinged rule-breaking.

Butch was never…butch. She wasn’t entirely sure he was straight. He simply tried too hard. She hated the cringing declarations of undying love, like the time he said he’d walk over broken glass for her, once, she made him do it, never again – oh, the mess.

He’d walk his mail round, in his tight-fitting uniform, with a theatrical skip and Tigger-bounce. The Jackson kids, teased him, but it was the dog that was his nemesis.

She hated it when he came home, always the same…

“I freaking hate that dog-” he start, expecting her to ask which one, but she stopped playing that game long ago, he couldn’t even cuss like a real man, “-you know the one…Tyson, the Jackson dog. It’s always out the front rolling around, mutts nutts on show, grinning like a psycho. He took a chunk out of me today. I tell you what, Mols, one day…one day”.

The CCTV footage showed Butch sitting outside the R & D labs, out on the Obama Business Park, opening a secure parcel. It took him an hour. Then the mail van windows sprayed red.

The TV new reported an incident. Social media said he died and was reanimated. Butch, the zombie.

The rumors said he went after Tyson. Then he ran off into the woods, giggling like he was on hippy-crack.

The rumors said he was last seen eating rodents and bats. If social media is to be believed, the animals have started to rise again too.

The Special Service agents and snipers have been tracking him, but why? She sits there, knife in hand…Just wait till he gets home.

via Summer of Super Short Stories Week Ten! | Luminous Creatures Press.


 

This is the final week and the prompt was incredibly difficult for me (little did I know at the time, another one was coming elsewhere).

It took a very long time. I binned one entire story along the way, then spent ages on this one. I’m not entirely happy with it – we’ll wait and see what happens.

*Update 27/08/14 : I didn’t place with this (there were some outstanding entries). Congrats to the winners. However, it might get another chance. There is a zombie anthology for charity that Flash Champ Karl A. Russell is spreading the word for. Increased word count, so I might revise this and expand it a little. In a strange twist, I had to go out of my way to Americanise (should that be with a ‘z’?) the spelling and even the title – the new submission will immediately discount anything that is not English (UK) – that’ll teach me.

Week Nine Winner: The Harbour of London by Mark A. King | Luminous Creatures Press

Week Nine Winner: The Harbour of London by Mark A. King | Luminous Creatures Press

I’ll get right to it…I won my first competition!

It was based on the photo prompt, above – which I really struggled with

I’m deliriously happy. I know it will seem a bit pathetic to some, but it means so much to me. I only started writing again with the aim of being able to dedicate something tangible to my mum, who I miss dearly.

It was a busy week, with high quality writers and stories; which makes it even more special.

 


 

The Harbour of London by Mark A. King

I want to swim in the sea, to feel it, to cleanse my sins, to wipe away the viscous blood from my hands. But…I know the sea will kill me, almost as quickly as the authorities will.

My husband was a powerful man. They never approved of me, and now he has lost warmth, they have opportunity and motivation; I will surely get my comeuppance.

I sit and listen to the Thames tide lapping at the edges of the synthetic golden shore. I try to appreciate this folly, this profligate profanity, for soon the whirligig lights will come for me. The frigid-blue and afterburner-red hues will spin their mesmerising spell, penetrating even the dark and seedy shadows of London; then the men with serious faces will take me away.

The Harbour of London houses the oligarchs, the tech-pimps and the puppeteers. I do not belong here. Not many people do. Perhaps this place is the opposite of me. I once was beautiful; once was desirable. I tenderly touch my skin and run my fingers over the bruises, their oil-spill colours and my crackle-glaze scars somehow define me now. I believe he once loved me; if that’s even possible.

I remember his last words, “You’re past your sell-buy date, darling. Damaged goods. Look at you, you’re a mess. You disgust me!”

I didn’t respond. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. His unused golf clubs are now used: soiled with human tissue and DNA that even Cillit Bang! would struggle to remove. Knowing his friends, the story of the object will only add to its value, only intensify the conversations in the wish-fulfilment dens and substance bars.

I remember when I was his chosen one, “You are stunning. You are amazing. I know it’s crazy, but will you marry me?”

“No,” I told him, “why would you, you could have anyone – why me?”

“It’s because I could have anyone. You are unique, you make me feel incredible. You will do anything for me.”

This was true. This was the problem.

I watch the city from this island of hulking excess. I see the forgotten worker drones, hustling to jobs they hate, sustaining lives measured by meaningless objects. I listen intently to the tide. Beneath the crashing of the incoming waves, beyond the exhale of the moon beckoning back the flow, I hear the fizz, the forgotten fizz – the sound of a million unseen bubbles extinguished and unnoticed. I think about the plight of these people and realise that, perhaps, I am lucky.

The first autonomous hybrid of human and machine. Two point five billion pounds race through my lab-born veins. But…that did not give him an excuse to own me, to make me do those things, to treat me like a object that had to be controlled, debased, abused and subjugated.

Oh…I hear it now. Not the mythical sirens of the deep, these are more artificial and deadly. I remove my human clothing. The water looks cold, refreshing and inviting.

Mark A. King has sung to the Pope, played football for the England Manager, been held at gunpoint, and cooked for royalty, but none of these things were as exciting as winning his first writing competition, on Luminous Creatures. After a decade of inactivity, he has only just started to write again as he felt the need to dedicate something tangible to his beloved mother, now he can do this he’s not entirely sure what to do next. A novel in his head is fighting for freedom.

Mark lives in Norfolk, UK, hiding from the apocalyptic screams of geese. He adores his wife and two children who are the bright centre of his otherwise flaky universe.

Read his embryonic blog here. Follow him on Twitter @Making_Fiction.

via Week Nine Winner: The Harbour of London by Mark A. King | Luminous Creatures Press.


 

Judges comments below:-

In The Harbour of London by Mark A. King, a true trophy wife, a rich man’s plaything, takes her revenge on the man who owned and objectified her. The sympathy she shows for the drones suggests that she was perhaps born into that same social class, but the eventual reveal puts a new complexion on the tale’s opening lines, where the clinical lack of emotion makes way for a strange kind of desperate machine poetry.

And the winner: Mark King, The Harbour Of London, for the poetic policemen, the crackle-glaze scars and for using an SF conceit to tell an all too human story.


 

“The Viaduct” – Summer of Super Short Stories Week Eight | Luminous Creatures Press

A beautiful bridge - but not in my story


“The Viaduct”

@Making_Fiction

500 words

The viaduct terrified me.

Sure, the hostile natives scared me too. Their potbelly bodies, their raggedy clothes and their strange beliefs were uncouth, but they could not touch us outside their boundaries. Even in their lands, their primitive weapons were no match for our superior technology and intellect. My hands never rested far from my pistol.

The creature sloshed around in the gargantuan carriage. We could feel it, we could hear it; even above the rumbling vibrations and industrial harmonics of our transport. The steam engine was brutish, slow but incredibly powerful, its plumes of exhaust puffed into the night sky and flowed around the carriage like cascading surf on this moonlit night.

I felt something else too. My skin felt itchy and my head pressured. I had all the decorum and poise of a drunken child on ether.

It was caught from the great dark seas. The native folk worship it as their god. We had been stalking it for decades; the great academics of our homeland believed it could help us solve unfathomable questions. They would cut it open and study it, they said, but first they must get it over the viaduct and through the hostile city. If nothing else, we could use it as a hostage.

I had heard the tales…it is a demon from hell itself. Others talk of a whale older than time…a living rock with poisonous spines…of a thousand jelly-fish that act as a single mind, of a…It might be none of these things; it might be all of these things. I saw it, but I saw nothing.

As the train lumbered towards the viaduct, I witnessed the drop. Beneath the elegant arches, there was nothing but the long decent into the deep serpentine river, which looked as dark, empty and cold as death itself. We were at the mercy of providence.

We could see across the viaduct and into the citadel. The colourful gas-lamps spilled into the mists like fabric dye in water, they almost looked beautiful and inviting, but then I smelt the foreboding and narrow ammonia-soaked streets. I knew that beyond the arterial roads and rails lay the pistons and pumps that provided the power to the great moving statues in the city square: the living monuments to the seagod. The seagod we carried.

The train rocked. Then it stopped on the viaduct, above the river. The creature opened the carriage like it was nothing more than paper. I could not see much; tendrils, shadows, pulsing shapes, lights and colours. It dropped into the water.

I remember feeling with great clarity that it wanted to be caught. It wanted to come home. It had drawn us to it, so we could bring it here as supreme protector for our enemy. Our technology is insignificant. We are the primitive ones.

It saved me as the messenger. It told me do not go back to the city. Do not go back to the viaduct. War would come and we would be obliterated.

via Summer of Super Short Stories Week Eight | Luminous Creatures Press.


 

I didn’t win, or get placed. However, this is a story that I was incredibly happy with, maybe the first one in many years. So that meant everything to me.