|# ¿ Dec 31, 2013 15:23|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 13:54|
Bailing out this week.
|# ¿ Jan 6, 2014 02:42|
Signing up now that I have already written something for this prompt.
|# ¿ Jan 10, 2014 00:00|
The Four Trillionth Human.664
The midnight sun was low on the horizon, when, on a crowded hillside on the Antarctic plateau, the four trillionth human was born. A boy.
The event passed with little notice from the thousands of brown, naked people surrounding them. They carried on sitting or standing or staring vacantly at the person next to them or the muddy red sky overhead. Every here and there a couple had remembered their primal urges and were loving vigorously in the dust, a brief firecracker of energy that dissipated quickly into the apathy of the crowd.
Even the mother paid the boy little attention, glancing briefly at the mewling infant at her feet before wandering off into the throng. There was no need, the boy’s body had already rejected the umbilical cord, sealing off his final connection to his parent as the skin on his stomach healed over itself. Instinctively he rolled out of the shade of the man standing near him and lay still in the cold rays of the sun.
His earliest memories were of dust. It coated everything, like a gritty extra skin that couldn’t be shed. He licked it, crawled in it, grabbed up handfuls of it and shouted and threw it at the legs that surrounded him. No response. Alone, a brief, ancient fear would pulse in the back of his mind, only to be smothered by a warm glow as the backup system engineered into his brain released its chemical load, causing him to simply lie there quietly. Neither hungry nor thirsty nor tired nor alarmed.
As he grew taller his mind’s curiosity subsided. Synapses stopped firing as his brain rewired itself to enlarge the pleasure centres. By puberty his mind was in an almost constant state of euphoria. The people around him fading into insignificance. The only instinct that would cut through now was when he saw a female. After briefly growling at each other they would fall to the ground and rut for a few minutes before rolling off again, instantly forgetting what had just happened.
His tenth winter was when things changed. Deep in the recesses of his cortex a new connection formed – instructed by a random mutation in his junk DNA. Unpredictable but inevitable. He stood in the dark as the darkness lifted from his consciousness and as the sun rose a month later, he looked at it as if for the first time. The light revealed he was standing in the centre of a small, circular depression about a hundred yards across. The edges of the depression sloped up sharply to the ridge line around the circumference. The basin was packed – at least five thousand people stood shoulder to shoulder all around him.
For the first time in several years, the fear returned. Small at first, but, finding its old foe had vanished, it quickly spread its wings into a full blown panic. He had to get out of this crowd; pushing forward through the masses, he knocked over uncomplaining statues as he struggled up the slope to the ridge-line.
As he crested the ridge he paused. On the far side the ground fell away in a sheer cliff. At the bottom, a vast plain spread out past the horizon – covered with people. Millions upon millions of them, jammed together and clothed only in the dust thrown up by their movements.
He landed with a thump at the base of the cliff, but he did not die. Immediately, long dormant cells kicked into gear, miniature organic repair machines began suturing torn organs and knitting broken bones. But the lynchpin to the repair system, the soothing release from pain could not stop the panic that flooded his body, interrupting signals and beginning the final cardiac arrest in the perfectly designed heart. The system began to fail irretrievably.
As he stared at the press of faces above him, his first, and final, independent thought was the realisation they were all identical.
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2014 21:48|
His first war had been what? 3,000 years ago? In all that time, in all those battles, the blood, the screams, the terror, the euphoria had been the same. Didn't matter if he was killing with a sword, a chariot, a musket, a bayonet, a pistol, an AK.
But this. This was different. Watching a small screen as the white/green figures shifted around. Then a flash. And that small ancient thrill wriggled up his spine to lodge in the base of his skull. He smiled.
War, war never changes.
- Also signing up for this week.
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2014 21:42|
The Dark Side of the Moon. 688
The giant wall screen on the side of the control room showed the Apollo 9 mission path up to the Moon and back to Earth in looped figure eight. At the top of the loop, behind the Moon, a small white dot crept along the track, representing the command module travelling at 20,000 miles per hour.
“Telemetry about to come back on line as the Endeavour command pod emerges from the dark side of the moon in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Fred, it’s good to have you back.”
Static hissed into the control room.
“Fred? Are you there? Comms, what’s going on, is there a problem with the pod?”
“Negative chief, all lights green.”
“What do you mean they’re all green, why isn’t he answering?”
“Video coming on line now chief.”
A separate monitor to the side of the main screen turned on. Its grainy black and white footage showed the inside of the module; the instrumentation, the heat cladding and the notable absence of its former occupant, Captain Alfred Worden.
Cigarette smoke wreathed around the fluorescent tubes in the conference room. It grew thicker as the three men seated around the table each lit up another cigarette and stared silently at the internal footage of the Endeavour before it went into the dead zone behind the Moon. The tape had stopped but the moment replayed over and over again in their minds, a brief smile and wave from Worden as he turned his head away and the feed cut out.
The Chief stubbed out his half smoked cigarette. “Alright, I have a meeting with the head of NASA in 15 minutes. What could have happened? Hans? You’re the rocket scientist.”
“Three possibilities,” said Hans. “First, the Captain was ejected from the module.“
“Telemetry shows there is no record of the hatch opening. Anyway, how would it close again after he was out?” said the Chief.
“You did not ask me for an answer Chief,” replied Hans. “I am outlining the possibilities only. Second, some outside interference may have vaporised the Captain. The pod may have passed through an intense, highly localised beam of radiation from a supernova that reacted with his organic matter.”
“And his non-organic suit but not the pod?”
“That is a problem with the theory, yes. Finally, there is the third possibility.”
“I do not know Chief, but as the first two possibilities have been eliminated, there must be a third.”
“Goddamnit you stupid kraut bastard, two men are stranded up there on the surface of the Moon while an empty command pod orbits around them. Where did he go and how do we get them all back safely?”
Hans drew in his cigarette, keeping eye contact with the Chief. He exhaled, the smoke blowing out over the table.
“I do not know. There is no equation that solves this puzzle.”
The Chief looked at the third man at the table. Dressed in a dark suit, he was looking down at his pale hands that were tapping a cigarette on the table. “What have you got to say Childs, have you told the President yet?” the Chief said to him.
“No,” said Childs. He looked at Hans. “You can think of no way to explain what happened to the Captain. This is important.”
Hans shook his head. “No.”
Childs sighed and looked back at his hands. “I was really hoping you wouldn’t say that. Well then, as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on.”
“Telemetry about to come back on line as the Endeavour command pod emerges from the dark side of the moon in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Fred, it’s good to have you back.”
“Hey there Chief, you’re interrupting my beauty sleep you know.”
“Yeah, yeah. Alright come on guys, let’s get the day’s metrics up and running.”
A separate monitor to the side of the main screen turned on. Its grainy black and white footage showed the inside of the module; the instrumentation, the heat cladding and grinning out at them, the figure of Captain Alfred Worden.
|# ¿ Jan 20, 2014 03:27|
Put my name on the list.
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2014 06:27|
The vortex of dread that sat heavily in the gut of pilot Leftenant ‘Abby’ Abigail was held at bay by the slight, silver thread of hope that he was wrong. He must have made a mistake somewhere - heading 110 degrees, then 270 degrees, then 40 degrees to account for the movement of the ship. The course plotted itself over and over in his mind, 110/270/40. 110/270/40, an elegant dance of protractors and compass points.
The dance was cut short when he sped over the rendezvous point confirming what he had suspected since he had turned onto the final course. The Warspite was gone - all 33,000 tons, vanished into the mid-Atlantic. The compass on the Swordfish’s flight panel pointed unerringly into the infinite blue expanse where a grey mountain of steel and iron should have been steaming south at eight knots. Had been steaming south only an hour earlier.
He trimmed the ailerons to come around, circling the missed connection point like a lone albatross looking for its mate. No oil spill or wreckage from a U-boat attack. Just an empty ocean that led over the horizon to landfall another thousand miles away, making a mockery of the small fuel tank he could feel emptying by the second.
There. A small shadow against the reflection of the water. A boat? A liferaft? Taking one final pass he adjusted the wing flaps for landing and glided gently down onto the surface.
The plane’s floats threw up a white spray as the water’s drag took hold, snatching the Swordfish out of the air. Abby throttled the Bristol-Pegasus engine down and the pistons started ringing out distinctive hammer blows that fell further and further apart until, with a final clonk, they fell silent altogether. The front propeller’s blurred circle resolved into four wooden blades that also slowed and stopped. Abby sat in the cockpit, eyes closed, waiting for the machine’s humming that still vibrated through his skin, his blood, his bones, to shed their kinetic energy. Finally, at peace, he opened his eyes.
The Sargasso Sea, a blue sheet of paper, unrippled, unblemished, unholy. The only sounds were the faint tick of cooling metal and slight slaps of water on the plane’s hulls. Salt heavy in the air. Abby unbuckled himself, opened the door and stepped out onto the float. The water hazy under the sun. The humidity immediately causing Abby to break out in a sweat. The wing’s shadow providing little protection from the glare.
There. Only a few yards away a small skiff drifted towards the plane. The Warspite’s Cannon & Tackle emblem emblazoned on its hull.
‘Ahoy there,’ yelled Abby. ‘Warspite.’ His words were sucked up into the water-laden air. ‘Warspite,’ he yelled again. Silence.
The small boat came alongside. Abby saw a man lying on his back, arms crossed, eyes closed. The face had burnt black, his lips two shrivelled leeches hiding a shrunken tongue. Abby gasped, ‘Bosun Willis,’ he said. ‘Bosun, wake up.’
The man’s eyes opened. Abby dribbled a few drops of water from his canteen into his mouth. The liquid acted like electricity and with a scream Willis leapt out of the boat and into the sea. Abby could only watch as the figure drifted down into the cool dark below.
At sundown the lone pilot let off one flare. His hopes fizzling out with the green light that struggled to penetrate the looming night.
Later, he was dozing in the cockpit when he heard the voice outside. ‘Leftenant,’ it whispered. ‘Leftenant Abby.’
Abby looked out onto the water. In the thin moonlight he saw a figure treading water near the plane - Bosun Willis.
‘Willis,’ said Abby. ‘You’re alive.’
An eddy twisted Willis’ body around. Abby recoiled, now he could see that his shipmate was dead, his eyes, his nose, his entire face, eaten away by the monsters of the deep. His arms ended in two bloody stumps. Absurdly, only the white bosun’s cap, a match for Abby’s own white pilot’s cap, remained on his head.
Willis laughed. ‘Nay, leftenant, I’m dead. An’ you’re in my house, so so are you.’
The last tendrils of rust holding the plane together fell apart and it sank into the water. The last thing Abby saw was his reflection in the water, and the face of Willis looking back at him.
Warspite log for 22/08/1942. L. Abigail recon. flight at 10:21am. Did not return. MIA.
flash: one character must live in the sea.
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2014 02:56|
25 words about loess
Loess is homogeneous, porous, friable, pale yellow, buff, slightly coherent, typically non-stratified and often calcareous. Just like sebmojo.
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2014 01:42|
A Small Sample Of The Existential Pain I Experienced Every Time I Visited Uncle Danby's House.
What do you get if you cross a bee and a wizard?
|# ¿ Mar 18, 2014 04:31|
I'll do this week.
|# ¿ Mar 18, 2014 09:58|
The Champion 1023.
Selfoss isn’t a town that looks like it’s a thousand years old. There are no gothic cathedrals or narrow medieval streets that follow the path of an ancient cow track. It’s just a few hundred neat, scandinavian buildings straddling the Olfusa river. Which, by the way, looks even newer than the town, like it just carved a course out of the flat, Icelandic plain in the last shower. In fact, the oldest thing here is the person I’ve come to meet. Although being buried in the local cemetery does tend to give you a certain permanent longevity in a place.
The headstone is a neat little thing. Just a name and dates:
Robert James Fisher
March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008.
I can only be thankful they didn’t try to make it some gauche chess symbol.
I take out a small folding chair and place it in the snow that dusts the graveyard. Now it’s just a matter of waiting, so I sit down and start reading through my iphone’s twitter feed.
It’s a week after the July 4 fireworks and the summer of 1972 is shaping up to be the hottest in a century in suburban Ohio. It’s already 100 degrees and not even noon. I’ve retreated to the small back room in our house where a watercooler blows humid air across the couch. On the grainy black and white TV, the Spassky-Fisher world chess championship is starting.
Now, I’m not going to bore with a bunch of chess annotation. K-KKt2, BxE4, who gives a poo poo, right? The one thing you need to know is that the game starts out even, and if it remains even, then its a draw. That first game, Spassky was as level as a Tupolev Tu-95 strategic nuclear bomber. Pieces were walking off the board in perfect matched pairs and it was a sure thing that both players would simply pick up a ½ point each. Bobby had to tip the scales, make the sides uneven.
A new tweet pops up. “So you think game 1 was a blunder?”
I look at the name of the sender, but the letters fade out of focus, like they’re struggling to exist in this medium.
“Was that a rhetorical q?” I reply.
“No. I still don’t know the answer myself.”
Even as a ten year old, I knew it was a blunder. Yes it broke the symmetry of the position, but at what cost? Spassky sat and pondered the move for a long time, looking for the trap. But there wasn’t one. No matter how the position was calculated, Bobby was one move short and couldn’t stop losing the piece, and the game.
Spassky was up 1-0.
An RT from some anti-zionist nutjob pops up. I ignore it and try to type on the small keyboard but the cold is starting to numb my fingers.
“So what happened with Game 2?”
“:-) that was tipping the scales.”
Had this ever happened before in any world championship? Chess or otherwise? (This was well before the internet so the television announcers could confidently claim that it hadn’t.)
The clock on the screen read 6:59pm. The game had to start at 7:00pm. The cameras focussed on Spassky, sitting calmly at the board. Across from him, an empty seat. Bobby hadn’t turned up, had told the organisers he wouldn’t be turning up, was already on a plane back to the States, had been kidnapped by the KGB. Half a world away I sat staring at the old Bakelite television, willing Bobby to walk out onto the stage at the last second and take up the challenge.
He didn’t. The clock flashed 7:00pm and Spassky stood up and walked off stage. He was up 2-0.
Snow begins to fall in the long Arctic twilight.
“What did Spassky say?”
“That old Jew Kissinger actually called me. Said I was a soldier in the war against the evil empire. Hah, their thanks didn't last long did t-” the 140 character limit cut off the sentence.
“What did Spassky say?” I repeat.
“He was KGB you know. They all were, Karpov, Kasparov. Thought they were invincible. Thought I was burnt out. Would have agreed to anything.”
Another tweet comes through.
“They thought I was mad…”
Game 3 just showed a commentator moving pieces on a board. Bobby had requested the third game take place off camera in a small back room. Spassky agreed. So all we saw were the moves that were replicated by notes being passed out of the game room onto the big board out the front.
In my own small back room the temperature had soared. The water cooler had packed it in, so I sat sweatstuck to the couch. My eyes transfixed by the unfolding game. Bobby was playing black and from the first move was playing an unbalanced opening. Spassky tried to impose order on the board but then Bobby wrenched the fulcrum of the game away from his opponent. But unlike the move in game 1, he had calculated this move to perfection.
After the checkmate, the reports said that Bobby got straight up and walked out, but Spassky sat in that small back room for a long, long time. Staring at the board.
The rest of the match was a foregone conclusion and Bobby romped home to an easy win, becoming the first American world chess champion in nearly a hundred years.
And never played in another chess tournament again.
I painstakingly type in the question I had been waiting over 70 years to ask. My finger pauses over the send button. But the feed is filling up with rants about conspiracies and hate and anger. Simultaneously they are fading out of view as the connection dies off. He is almost gone, this is my last chance to ask. But my finger moves across to the delete key instead and wipes out the text.
The answer lies where it has always been, in a small back room in suburban Ohio in the summer of 1972, where, for a few short days, I was the champion.
|# ¿ Mar 23, 2014 23:13|
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2014 00:25|
Requiem for a Clown 1000
“Finish in 20 minutes or you’re dead”
- the first rule of clowning.
Boris the Clown turned off the engine and sat in the car outside 3301 Forrester Avenue.
(listen to me, it don’t matter if the name stinks - what name comes up first when people type Chicago Children’s Clown into Google? That’s right, Boris the loving Clown, that’s who.)
A high pitched wail drifted out of the dark brick bungalow. It was quickly joined by another, an octave above. Girl screams. Boris sighed, the order form had said it was Sasha’s 5th birthday. Wasn’t Sasha a boys name? It had been when he was young, oi! imagine if he had told Sasha Ivanovich in 4th grade that he had a girl’s name? Boris smiled, he would have beat me bloody.The smile faded. Well, beat me bloody more often.
Another banshee joined the chorus. Boy parties were more trouble than girl parties, but girls were screamers. And these were drilling right into the fifth of Zubrowka vodka that was sitting inside Boris’ head. As he closed his eyes against the screams, he remembered the reason for his hangover and the smile returned.
(so you want the name, the website boristheclown.com, the outfit, the wig, the client list, the blacklist. All of it... and you’ll pay me how much?)
The signed contract sat on the dashboard. But this gig at Forrester Avenue had been paid in advance. Once he was done here he would put the contract in the mailbox. Boris picked up a small suitcase off the back seat and walked up to the house. He pushed the doorbell and waited. Maybe they didn’t hear it. He raised his hand again.
The door opened on a small dark-haired WASP woman. There it was - the classic three stage reaction. Shock at the appearance of a grease-painted man with an orange wig; then recognition that this was the clown she had ordered on-line two months ago; and finally pity, at seeing a grown man dressed that way. It was the pity that always stung.
She recovered quicker than most. “Ah, Mr Sokolov, please come in.”
Boris smiled at the mangled pronunciation. “Please, call me Boris.”
She smiled back. “Thanks Boris, I’m Sarah, Sasha’s mom. They’re all in the living room.”
The screams redoubled when he entered, all eyes fixed on his outfit and wig. Boris worked his way through the maelstrom of pigtails and tiny fists and set down his suitcase on the table. He looked at the clock - 3:30pm on the dot. There was no point calling for attention, the best thing he had learnt was just to start. He launched into his routine.
The screaming stopped immediately. Boris glanced up from where he was pulling a rope of knotted handkerchiefs out of his fist, worried that the kids had all disappeared into thin air. But he saw something even more incredible, they were watching him. Each face rapt with attention at his every move.
The deafening silence attracted the parents from the kitchen who gathered at the back of the room to watch his schtick. But it was no longer schtick, it was a performance. Everything worked perfectly - the timing, the sleight of hand. He wasn’t just interesting, he was leading them by the nose, telling them what emotions they should be feeling - happy, curious, worried, relieved. They were hooked.
Boris looked back at the clock - 3:50pm. He had to stop. But the upturned faces stared at him in fascination. Even the smirks on the adults had been replaced by broad smiles. He had captured them, like he had captured his first audience all those years ago. That first hot shot of acting that convinced him he had to live his life on the stage. That half-forgotten thrill, like seeing an old lover again for the first time in years, crept up his spine. He had to hold this moment. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a deck of cards.
“Take a card, any card,” he gestured to the nearest girl. “But don’t show me.”
She grinned and drew one out. Boris’ heart pounded. Now for the grand finale.
Like a shark swimming up behind its prey, a small girl had circled around Boris, her dorsal fin sliding below his peripheral vision.
“And now I predict... ” Boris began.
With a swift jab, the shark behind Boris lashed out and jabbed his left knee. The knee that Sasha Ivanovich had broken all those years ago; that was held together by small strands of sinew and cartilage.
Boris collapsed, the house of cards in his hands flying out over the audience - every one of them was a seven of diamonds.
The spell broke. The children leapt up and started throwing the cards at each other. The smirks had returned to the lips of the parents. Jabbing needles shot up through Boris’ body as he knelt on the carpet. The pain matched only by the humiliation of his failed act.
Sarah walked over to him and took him by the arm, helping him stand.
“Oh dear, I’m so sorry Boris, I didn’t see little Sasha there behind you. Are you OK?”
Boris gritted his teeth as he stood and looked at the mock sincerity behind the smile. “I’m fine, I’m fine. That was how I meant it to end. Ha, little bubelah - she’ll be a performer herself one day.”
Sarah beamed at the fake praise.
Boris walked out the front door and limped back to the car. Slumping into the front seat he tore off the wig and threw it onto the floor. He picked up the contract sitting in front of him. It was the end of the shame, the ridicule. But still, he’d had them, hadn’t he? Even if it was just for a moment?
The grease paint stained the paper as Boris sat and stared at it for a long time.
|# ¿ May 5, 2014 04:44|
i like this prompt so put me on the list.
|# ¿ May 21, 2014 00:33|
Jenny from HR tried to be sympathetic.
“You just have to pick up the package and you can go home. I know it’s been a long time since you were there, seen Renee,” she said. “Don’t worry.”
Ronson stared at her face on the screen before him. “You’ve never been through Betelguese customs have you?”
Jenny’s eyes went down and to the left. Embarrassment. Evasion. “Don’t worry,” she repeated, her well of platitudes running dry.
Ronson killed the link. He absently scratched his the scar on his left wrist where his hand had been reattached.
Thirty seven days later Ronson was standing in small, empty waiting room. A poster hung on one wall showing the brilliant blue ionization of the Betelguese star’s light in the sky above Betel Prime, it’s only inhabited planet. “Come to Betel Prime” the poster proclaimed. Someone had vandalised the sign to read “Come on Beth” with an explicit hologram tagged on the bottom of the poster. The locals obviously hadn’t noticed since the same graffiti had been there on his last visit.
Ronson slid his visa form into an opening on the wall. A small white cube slid out hovered in front of him. Ronson picked it up and looked at it – pi to a couple of thousand decimal places had been inscribed on the surface.
A number flashed up on the wall, “e-1”.
This was going to take a while. Ronson and sat down and waited, with only ‘Beth’ for company.
He had been dozing off when the voice came. It felt the sound was being transmitted directly to his ear drums without crossing the intervening space.
Ronson sat up. A table had appeared in the middle of the room. That voice again.
“Ronson, R. Test. Follow. Please. Instruction.”
A piece of paper appeared on the table with a pencil. A single word was written on it – “circle”. Ronson picked up the pencil and drew a circle.
The paper slid off the table and another piece of paper appeared with the word “circle”. Ronson drew another circle. The same thing happened again, and again.
Ronson drew circles. Squares. Trees. A map of his paper route when he was a kid. The paper would keep appearing, drifts of it began to build up around the desk. Thousands of circles.
Ronson slept, woke up again, and kept drawing. The drifts of paper had even covered up Beth now. Ronson kept drawing.
The paper disappeared. Two words flashed up on the wall – “Circle. Complete.”
A knife appeared on the table. Beside it was a crude outline of a man with a red dotted line across its middle. Ronson stared at it.
“Seriously?” he said. “You want me to disembowel myself just to pass through Customs?”
Ronson sat down and stared at the knife. He scratched his left hand, cutting that off last time had been bad enough. It didn’t hurt, but the shock that had penetrated through the dead numbness he felt as he watched his limb fall off had been bad enough to make him pass out.
He picked up the knife and hurled it at the wall. It hit with a dull thud and dropped silently onto the floor. “I won’t do it,” he yelled. “I won’t. I won’t.”
Ronson leant back against the wall and slid down on the floor. “I can’t do it,” he whispered, knocking the back of his head against the wall behind him. “I can’t do it.” He closed his eyes and sat quietly, knocking his head over and over whispering “I can’t, I can’t” with each knock.
He opened his eyes. The knife was still there. Ronson got to his feet and went over and picked it up. It was cold, colder than he remembered. Without thinking he turned it and rammed it into his stomach. It stuck there, like a mutant limb growing out of his abdomen. The cold numbness wedging into his guts, slowing spreading upwards. Ronson sank to his knees, and looking straight ahead grabbed the handle with his right hand and slowly dragged it across to the left of his body, picturing the black looping sausages of intestines glooping out onto the floor in front of him.
He wrenched out the blade and involuntarily looked down at his body. Nothing. Not even his shirt was torn.
“Application. Accepted. Visa. Granted,” said the voice. The far wall slid up showing a hallway leading out.
Ronson got back to his feet. "Jesus, I would hate to see what you have to do to get a driver's licence in this place," he said, and walked out of the room.
|# ¿ May 26, 2014 04:16|
|# ¿ Jun 11, 2014 12:10|
Ceiling Guy 940
There’s a man trapped in my ceiling. I don’t know how he got there. I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for work when I heard a faint voice. I stopped, listening for the TV in the lounge room, but it was off. Then I heard the voice again.
“Hello down there.”
I stopped brushing. “Hello,” I said. Silence. I felt silly talking aloud to myself. I spat the toothpaste into the sink and rinsed out my mouth.
“Hey, you, look up here.”
The voice was much louder. I looked up. Staring back down at me through the air vent I could see a face in the darkness. This scared me more than I wanted to let on, so I acted a bit tough, like I dealt with people in ceilings all the time.
“gently caress you pal, hiding in my ceiling. Get the gently caress out of there.”
“Hey, don’t blame me, I don’t know how I got here. Do you think I like hanging out in ceilings watching guys brush their teeth?”
He had me there. I wouldn’t like being in a ceiling. It was probably really dusty and dark and full of mouse poo poo up there.
“What do you mean you don’t know how you go there?”
“I just don’t. Can you help me down?”
“I don’t have a ladder.”
“Um, yeah,” I said. I felt bad I didn’t have a ladder. But then who has ladders in a small, one bedroom apartment? I felt angry at this ceiling guy for making me feel bad. But then I felt bad for him being stuck in the ceiling.
“I tell you what, I’m really running late for work. I’ll go by the super and tell him about you and if he has a ladder, don’t go anywhere.” I rushed out of the bathroom.
The super opened his door. “What do you want?” he said.
“Uh,” I started. I looked at him, 250 pounds of ‘I don’t want to hear any of your poo poo’ stared back at me. “There’s a guy. In my ceiling. Need a ladder,” I spluttered.
“You want a ladder, call the fire brigade.” With that, he slammed the door shut.
I looked down the hallway, it looked like the building was empty, everyone here had already gone to work. My apartment didn’t have a phone, and I had left my cellphone at the office the day before, which is kind of why I was late, I hadn’t set my alarm.
I walked out onto the street. An old lady was walking past so I walked up to her.
“Hi there, hi. How’s it going, nice day huh? Um.”
She stared at me, her hand edging into her purse. I forged on. “I was wondering if you could help me, you see there’s this guy in my ceiling.”
She brought her hand out of her purse, I was surprised it was empty, but not as surprised as I was when she slapped me across the face with it and ran down the sidewalk. For a senior citizen, she sure packed a punch.
Still in a daze and holding a hand to my cheek, I don’t see the police car pull up beside me. A young officer gets out and comes up to me.
“You alright?” he asks.
I’m staring at him. Finally, someone to help. “Yes, I’m fine thanks. Look you’re just in time. There’s this guy in my ceiling I need to help.”
The officer is staring off after the old woman. “Did I see that lady hit you?” he said.
“Oh, that? Um, yeah. Maybe. Look, the issue is my apartment. There’s this guy, he’s in the ceiling and my super is being a dick and I tried to get that woman’s phone because mine is at work, and I’m late for work and there’s this guy, you know. In my ceiling. Can you get him out for me?”
The officer is staring at me. “Look, did that punch knock you around some? I can call an ambulance if you like. Do you want to press charges?”
“No, no, I”m fine. I just, I just need a ladder is all.”
“You want a ladder, call the fire brigade.”
The siren on the car went off. The officer still behind the wheel honked the horn.
“Come down to the station this afternoon and I’ll write up a statement for you,” said the young officer. He jumped back into the car and drove off.
The bus going to the city pulls up. I take a quick look back at my building, but I have to catch this bus, or otherwise catch the long slow bus that stops at every stop. Then I’ll be really late for work. I get on and sit on a window seat. It’s a pretty long ride, and lots of people get on and off next to me. I clear my throat a couple of times and start to ask to borrow their phones, but before I can say hardly anything it’s like I’ve just thrown up over their shoes and they jump up and get off at the next stop. I realise I can’t tell anyone about the ceiling guy. It’s just too weird. Maybe he wasn’t there at all. Maybe I just imagined it because I’m stressed and I’m worried about my phone and my job and Riniko who always leaves the TV on. I keep thinking about the guy in my ceiling. I hope he’s alright up there. I’ll bring some food back for you ceiling guy. We’ll be fine.
|# ¿ Jun 16, 2014 13:55|
I always assumed John Dewey invented that system, but apparently not. Sign me up.
|# ¿ Aug 26, 2014 01:13|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 13:54|
Put my name on the list o' shame.
|# ¿ Sep 1, 2014 08:07|