Tag Archive: flash fiction
They sat at the bar. An attractive blonde woman beside them. There was scrabble board in front of them.
Kim placed a tile, an ‘E’ above a lone ‘W’. ‘EW’. Jim began laughing. ‘That’s not a fucking word.’ turning to the blond woman for confirmation.
Falling into contemplation the woman disagreed and began to suddenly metamorphose into a mass of piss, vomit and foetal shit.
The smell reminiscent of a bookshops unpulped self help section.
Also by David Noone: The Girl in the Window
The Woman is walking with him now. They are walking down The Kings Rd., The Woman sees an advertisement for perfume, points at the model who has pulled one strand of her red curly hair down her face. The woman pointing at the image speaks;
‘She’s one of yours.’
‘You like damaged girls.’
He and The Woman continue to walk.
::::::::David Noone lives here and does a damn fine Nick Cave impression::::::::
Throwing up has become my only pleasure.
Not talking eating disorder; I envy those fucks. Poor body-image is just a shitty holiday. This is more like snuff on perpetual loop – i’m the principle as well as supporting cast. Perpetrator and victim.
Oh, how I hate being the victim.
It’s not the helplessness, I kinda like that – knowing that you have no choice, that this is fucking happening no matter what.
It’s the mentality, that’s what gets me. It sidles up on you – this “its not my fault!” battle cry that slips between your lips when you begin to blank out on a conversation because this thing inside you knows you ain’t paying attention. It begins to infects the rest of your organs, bleaching your skin its miserable “fuck my life” hue that doesn’t even show up on any colour chart. Before you can blink Nothing is Ever your Fault again. Everybody knows it, will look forever upon you with plastic sad and soap opera pity.
Oh, that sickening pity makes me want to collapse your lungs with a knitting needle.
Human beings will never be able to get me off ever again. That faux-empathy turns my stomach inside out, and not in the good way. Lock myself up in my filthy apartment of things and never leave less I have too. Sleep till my eyes atrophy, cake over with mucus. Imagine this to be the beginning of some grand biological scheme – first tiny steps towards chrysalis, that if I could only sleep long enough the result would be total transformation, not this inbetween lark. I never can though, never can sleep long enough.
Sleep brings not joy – only the purge can do that. That rising burn, delectable spasm. The stinging meat. That bitter stench.
I’m one of those. Those whose skin fails to keep you out, that sucks greedily at your words and inbetweens. Nom nom nom. It’s Not My Fault, it’s you, you and your fucking humanity spilling out like toxic waste. Has to go somewhere and that somewhere is me and my ilk, soak it up to be catalyzed and puked out. Why? Because. Because you changed the game. You forced the genome to adapt. You all stopped feeling but you didn’t stop talking.
Fucking endless disconnected blah blah blah from mouths and fingers and those masses of soiled grey napkins you call brains – gallons upon gallons of gibberish filling up all available space. There’s only so much a biosphere can take, you know. Only so much I can take…
But it’s okay, like I said. Only pleasure I have left.
Keep it up buttercup.
‘Have you seen the way they treat the dogs here?’ The woman – definitely a tourist – sounds really upset. ‘I can’t believe it! Someone should do something about it. Don’t they have Animal Welfare here?’
She’s sitting a few tables away from me in the taverna where I sometimes come to chat with the owner. The people around her – from their casual clothing I gather they are tourists as well – are nodding vehemently. Yes, yes, they’ve noticed it too! And what about all those stray dogs in the mountains? Quite a nuisance when you want to have a nice, quiet walk through nature.
‘It’s a shame,’ the woman goes on. ‘This morning when I was jogging through the olive grove I passed several houses with chain dogs! Everybody knows it’s not human to keep dogs on chains!’
She’s right of course. It is a shame. It’s not human to keep dogs on chains. And about those stray dogs… Well, I better not tell her about the poison that the municipality itself provides every Spring in order to get the villages ‘clean’ for the tourists. Half starved and neglected animals are not what people want to see when they spend their holiday money on our nice authentic Greek peninsula’s beaches. But in a country where people are dying because there is no money for National Health Care anymore, the welfare and wellbeing of animals is not the most important thing on the Government’s agenda. Destroying stray dogs in the night is the cheapest way. Of course nobody shall admit this cruel thing is being done. But we all know. It’s not something most of the villagers are proud of, but it happens. That’s the way it goes here.
I suppose I could tell this woman about all the nice people who are feeding the cats and dogs of the village. I suppose I could tell her about the doggy bags people take home after their meal in a tavern to give to the animals on the streets. And I could also tell her about the chain dogs we set loose in the first years we lived here, although we’ve stopped to do that. They were back on their chain within the hour, because they didn’t know what to do with their freedom.
Or maybe… maybe I should tell her about my neighbours. The three boys who came from Albania to work in this country several years ago. They live in a one room shed on a sand road that’s totally impassable after a rain shower. Three beds have been put in a space of barely ten square metres. The toilet is outside, and they take a daily bath, in the sea. When nobody is looking, of course, because they are really nice and very decent guys. They do all the work nobody else want to do, for wages nobody else want to work for. I suppose I also could point out to her the many other sheds and half collapsed houses where now more and more families are living under circumstances I wouldn’t even allow my dog to live in, but I don’t. I know it’s no use. I just wonder, like I do every summer, why I never hear tourists talking about that. They must be blind.
Or maybe… maybe it’s easier to care only about animals.
A gentle, well written and surprising piece of flash fiction. Another from the Pygmy Giant, because I think I might be falling for them, not because I’ve sent them some stuff of mine in the hope they’ll publish me. 😉
The last removal truck winds its way down the drive and peace settles once again over the avenue. The rooks, which have congregated in the elm trees throughout the day, occasionally rising into the air in dark clouds of agitation, begin their evensong.
I see cardboard and wrapping paper drifting idly around the bushes, and the odd toy flung unnoticed in some remote corner of the garden. A cool breeze stirs the raspberry bushes, laden with fruit that will remain unpicked this year, and daisies droop on the overgrown lawn.
They’ve gone, this family who have been the focus of my attention for the last twenty five years, moving on with scarcely a backward glance at me.
For days I look out, wondering if one of them might come back for some forgotten item, or perhaps to say goodbye properly. They never said they were leaving, but then, who am I to figure in their plans? How could they know how central they were to my existence?
Sometimes, if I listen carefully, I think I hear the children at play in the garden, running along the drive with excited squeals and giggles. Dogs bark, stirring the leaves of the rhododendrons as they go in frantic pursuit of imaginary cats or rabbits.
With little else to occupy my time, I admit I’ve deliberately snooped on them, involved myself in the minutiae of their lives. I watched dubiously when the young couple first moved in, but my reservations turned to joy as they brought their first child home from the hospital. The baby cried all night that first week, and they shushed her repeatedly, no doubt worrying about the neighbours, but for me the sound heralded hope for the future, maybe some kind of permanency.
Three more children were to follow over the years, together with a succession of noisy, enthusiastic dogs who dug up everybody’s gardens. It didn’t matter. There was such vitality in this family, you’d forgive them everything.
Everything except leaving.
::::::::::::::: Follow me for the rest :::::::::::::
Sandra Crook’s other work can be found here, where she also takes the opportunity to remove your will to live with her photos and cruising reports from the French waterways.
Fucking reblog button, mashing up the text, making me do things the long way round…
My right testicle rests on the rim of the desk. My left forefinger and thumb hold it in place. The Class Ohlson hammer lies a few inches to the right. I’m still debating how hard to hit myself.
Two things led up to this moment. The first is the lock in we had last night after work. I had a good time, but when I staggered out at 7:00 A.M. and tried to open my bike’s D-lock I couldn’t make the key turn. I forced it – the key snapped inside. I ended up getting a taxi home. This morning I went to Class Ohlson and bought a hammer. Ten minutes later I was back on my bike, one good smack and the D-lock had broken. I cycled home with my new hammer in my backpack. That’s how the hammer got here.
The second thing was a conversation my housemates were having earlier this afternoon. Sitting in the lounge smoking a joint, Geordie Sam had been telling a story about how some guy from his school once pulled out another kid’s teeth with a pair of pliers he’d robbed from the D&T lab. I’d taken out my new hammer and started tapping things with it as he talked; sofa cushions, the coffee table, floorboards, my thigh. Listening to Sam and tapping my leg, I suddenly wondered if people had ever been tortured by having their testicle smashed by a hammer. I disappeared into my room.
And that brings everything up to speed. I’m pinching my testicle in my left hand. My right’s closing round the hammer’s rubber handle. The desk lamp is lighting up an inscription on its steel head; ‘Wear Safety Goggles, Users and Bystanders’. Underneath is the weight: ‘2oz’. I lift the hammer and have a few swings at the air. Its top-heavy weight feels good. Only a tiny flick of the wrist, and its own momentum carries it down.
I line it up a couple of inches above my testicle and give the wrinkly skin a cursory tap. I’m careful not to let the hammer freefall. All I feel at first is the cold of the metal. I pinch my sack tighter. The testicle moves up to just under the surface of the skin. I can see it bulging against it. I tap again, harder this time. I only feel a momentary ache.
The desk lamp is casting a silhouette on the wall. The lines of the hammer’s head and claws look much sharper in it than the soft blur of my genitals. This is absolutely mad. All that can come of this is pain. I look back down and give my testicle another tap. I flinch. That one hurt for a few seconds after the blow. But I could definitely take more.
I switch my grip from my right to my left testicle. I go through the same series of taps, getting harder and harder each time. The cold steel hammer crushing the membrane against the solid wood beneath. The harder I hit, the louder the noise. I imagine my testicle looks like a brain inside. Maybe it’s starting to bruise already. I let the pain escalate until it lasts for a few seconds after each blow. Nothing extreme. I take a harder swipe and purposefully miss, banging into the wooden desk instead. The noise is too loud. I don’t want my housemates to hear. I relax my hammer arm for a second and picture a dimly lit room full of dark faces. One man is under a spotlight, tied to a chair. The dark faced men surround him. Two kneel down and unzip his fly, then reach in and stretch his testicles over the edge of the chair between his shaking thighs. Another dark faced man stands over him. The tied up man has his eyes shut, he can’t bring himself to face the horror. I look down at my own testicle, vulnerable under the bright light of my lamp. I can’t imagine what it would feel like. But I’m curious. I want to know. I raise the hammer higher this time.
Jack Wittels is studying creative writing as an MA student at the University of Manchester.
Kat drops another blankie. suddenly, it’s just like the first time. This could be forever. Curtains closed to the sunlight, just those dusty echoes caught in the skybeams. Onceuponatimes that never were, not no more. Peeling herself from the armchair she rises. It stings, leather against skin. Everyone has gone home, staggered in morning dew along the broken pavingslabs. All apart from garbriel. He’s curled up against the floorboards, wrapped in dolphin blue. She wishes she could lick him, bring him into her world, where every second is virgin white. He says he has too much to remember. That’s why he dreams, swallowing down mouthfuls of light between gasps of want.
She would take him by the hand, if she could remember. Lead him not into temptation, but beyond. She could only wish for a garden, show him how everything burns. He’s not really interested, but she sees something in his eyes. Something that wants more than that which once was.
Walking about the debris of the night, every step vacuum fresh, she leaves the room, steps out into the unknown. Before her stairs that weave on corners. She wonders about those that weave, wrapping each moment upon itself in a pattern that reaches the great beyond. It’s all so clear.
This is the kitchen. She knows not what she does, only that it smells of delight. She runs her sticky hands along the sides, between the dirty pots and pans. Each sensation and texture a revelation. Residues of eternal truths. They mean more than most will ever know.
She falls upon the window pane, grooves of skin disrupting a delicate film of perspiration. Kat is gasping that forever sigh. Beyond the filth that has grown on the outside of the glass like sympathetic fungus, down past the accidental balcony, in the alleyway where the darkened cinders of a stolen car soak up the dawn, the figure of a man, dripping crimson, has curled himself up into a corner – hiding as if from the slowly creeping light.
Kat wants more. Will not be content with residues, contained by fungus. Wants to let the outside in.
The door is a rubix cube, can only be solved by touch, esoteric knowledge. She feels her way along the cold, hard edges of the lock, releases the catch and feels herself rushing through the cracks as the door creaks open, mingling with the chill of the air. Barefoot she navigates the rust downwards.
Kneeling before the man, his shallow breath like a tide lapping gently at her toes, she feels him all over, touching the red and licking it from her fingers. The flavour of time itself. Somewhere in the distance she hears a voice creaking, spluttering, slowly unravelling. Becoming nothing.
The man in the room is not all there.
It is difficult to see him – different parts of his anatomy slipping along increasing lines of soft focus. When he speaks his words are those of a detuned radio, fuzzy and indistinct. Every now and again the frequencies align and a single word will leap out with crystal clarity.
The room has no door,
no windows. There are no light fixtures either. despite this the room is bathed in an autumnal glow that is everywhere at once.
There are no shadows in the room.
Apart from yourself and the who who is not exactly there the room is empty but for an old school blackboard. The man is no help – corporeal but more like a statue than a person. You have more luck talking to yourself. Memories crawl behind your eyes. You know who you are just not how you came to be. For a while you stand listening, making sense of what words you can hear, but for every third that comes through the static and whine you forgert the first.
You approach the blackboard. Finding a piece of chalk in the gully you begin to write the words out. Excitement creeps as a narrative begins to unfold bfore you. Sign and signifid amassing. Meanings spreading between one another like roots. A tension begins to build inside you.
Getting to the bottom of the board you flip it around on its hinges urgently.
On the otherside are the words you have just spent the past hour writing out immaculately.
Bubbles like nitrous pop in your mind. You spin it around again. The words are still there. You reach out and touch them, rubbing the palm of your hand back and forth on the rough surface, expecting the words to blur and disintegrate, but they don’t.
You can feel chalk dust on your skin regardless.
Panic sets in. You are losing more and more words with each passing moment. With no more blackboard real estate you drop to your knees and begin writing frantic on the floor. You try your best to write in short, straight lines but they quickly become crooked. Soon sentences stretch and sway as if caught in a hidden breeze which freezes them on the spot. Your kneecaps begin to ache as you move across the floor, like a child drawing rainbows on the summer pavement.
When you run out of floor you turn your attention to the walls. You become aware that when you run out of walls you will have nothing else to write on. The thought like a lead gets stuck in your throat.
You don’t know how many days you have been in that room
when you reach the final wall but you ache from head to toe.
The end is coming.
As you squeeze in one more word everything becomes silence.
The man is gone
and you are alone
with nothing but the words
to keep you company.
The train tracks beat their rhythm beneath Tobias’ feet in 3/4 time – manifestations of the frantic waltz of his recent life. For weeks it seemed all those silent patterns on which a person is constructed had been spilling out of him, co-mingling with his environment, changing it with subtle, phantasmagorical strokes and reflecting his innermost back at him. He could see it all around; in the ebb and flow of human biomass on busy Glasgow streets, the murmured words of strangers in the bar he liked to frequent, alone, after rehearsal. Even now in the flicker of sunlight passing through the leaves and branches of trees alongside the tracks as he made his way to his childhood home.
It wasn’t her fault but she was definitely the flash point. He didn’t even know her name, didn’t really know her, but yet he saw her everyday. Sat huddled in a doorway across from the concert hall where he played with the orchestra every day that summer. Noticing her that first nervous morning, as he made his way towards the rehearsal space, hand clutched tightly around the handle of his trumpet case, rucksack hanging from his shoulder. All in the eyes, dusty and far away. He only caught her gaze for but a moment. He learnt real quick that the city streets were full of the homeless – would stop and talk to them ocassionally, buy a Big Issue, give them change, but never before had he seen suck eyes. Eyes that had seen everything that had ever been; before, beyond and betwixt. Gave him shivers.
He hurried onward. Gave her no more thought – like the great expanse she had opened up in his head had swallowed itself. Until lunchtime, as he spilled out into the sun with his new friends; A basoonist with spikey shoulder length haircalled June, and a black violinist who’d everybody had taken to calling ‘token’. He took the nickname with good humour wrapped in a sense of menace – an affectation born from his life growing up on Edinburgh streets. As they walked to a cafe June knew it was as if that expanse had opened again and Tobias couldn’t help but turn around and look at what he took to be her huddled form in the distance. Again, he shivered, walking the entire way in a daze, lost in that expanse. As soon as they walked through the doors of the cafe it left him once again, leaving only absence.
That’s when he started noticing the strangeness of things, those unconscious interconnections of the everyday, the daisy chains of his own thoughts. He could suddenly see music for what it was; an algebra of need, driven by those things that lived not only beneat the surfaces of people, but beneath everything, abstract and mundane. A cosmology both inside and outside of itself.
As the train swayed Tobias got unsteadily to his feet. Reaching above his head he pulled his trumpet case down and placed it on the table before taking his seat again. Working the two brass clasps he opened it up, letting his eyes fall inside. He knew that it would never be filled again but that he would carry that case with him till the day he died. A reminder of the absence at the heart of all things.
Lady Margaret’s daughter Alice heard but appeared to ignore people. Her mother’s funeral was on a hot sunny day. There were only a few attending.
Alice didn’t care that they thought she was strange. They already thought that.
Alice was upset but couldn’t cry. She tried to upset herself. She imagined her mother in the coffin beginning to decay. She still couldn’t cry.
Walking on her own Alice saw something white, an animal struggling in the bushes. She went to look more closely. Not an animal but two people fighting.
A woman she knew. An old woman with a mark on her cheek. The other person looked at her. Her father.
Simultaneously it seemed he was shouting something at her while he fought the old woman, that Alice stood staring at him, that Alice was running away through the woods to hide somewhere, that her father stood heavy hairy and white.
Alice talked to a boy she knew called Henry. They wondered what it would be like to be disfigured or die in a fire. Henry watched her face closely.
Henry’s eyes looked strange. The way they had a month ago when he had talked with Alice about marriage. He knew that he would marry. Alice said she would never marry and never have a child.
Henry touched the back of Alice’s hand. She moved her hand and walked away. He apologised but she ignored him.
Alice swam in circles in the river. She felt the water hold her body. She felt light. Especially so in comparison with other women her age.
Later she sat naked on a large slate at the edge of the water. It was already warm from the morning sun under her arse. Water trickled and gathered and ran back to the river as though she’d pissed.
Alice felt just as free as when she was a child. In some ways more. She had obligations to nothing and no one.