The Perennial

A little Halloween dark humour for my friends.

Photo by Sabina Music Rich on Unsplash

She buried my body deep beneath the winter snow. There, where autumn’s rotting foliage tickled at my face and branches aplenty dug into my naked flesh, I festered. The dead do that, fester. What else is there to do?

There is being cold and being of the cold. The former is remedied by a cardigan or two, an extra pair of socks, or a berth by the fire, whereas the latter, now, this is something altogether more chilling. There is nothing one can do but succumb. I lay immobile as the mycorrhizae tied my body in knots, just waiting to emerge as fungi bearing my deceased features. To think some sweet child might turn over a log to my unyielding, sunken flesh instead of a house for a gnome, disgusted. No, this would not do. 

Spring came in a burst of sound and a sudden blast of warmth. Even deep below my now melted mantle, where the light failed to illuminate, it still infused. And I was infused with an unshakable desire to escape. Yet, earth is earth, and dead is dead, and I was going nowhere. For now, anyway. 

This particular summer grew so hot it burnt the flowers and scorched the ground. Birds stopped singing to conserve energy. Worms hid, preferring a possible drowning on those rare days the heavens wept to certain incineration. As for mankind? The hum of their air conditioning rattled my crumbling bones. 

Winter returned. It was a mild affair, never having quite got over the Saharan months. Green remained long into the white season. Leaves fell only when bored. The soft soil invited excavations. Three badgers and a fox later, I was out.

Release is a dish best served once. To have sampled another would have lessened the effect of the first. I had no desire for diluted freedoms. 

I rose from the ground like vapour from a pond, slipping through the woods unnoticed, through the city streets, back home. She was there. 

I came upon her suddenly like a sea fret localised to her bed. “Why?” I demanded, my voice rising and falling like the sea I affected. 

“George? Is that you?”

She sat up and put her glasses on. Her dentures remained in the bedside glass. 

“Why did you kill me, bury me, forsake me? Why?” By now I was closer to a wailing gale. The curtains flapped. The walls shook. A black-and-white photo of our wedding day smashed on the floor. 

“Because you were dead.”

“You buried me in a wood beneath the snow like a dog.”

“Not this again!” She almost shook her wig off. 

“Why?”

“It’s what you wanted!” she exclaimed. 

“But you killed me, you Babylonian whore.”

“Life killed you, George. You were ninety-six. You couldn’t handle it anymore. It had to happen sooner or later.”

What residue of my mind remained dizzied. I felt a vortex tug at my feet, sucking me down, down, down. This, my one chance for revenge, threatened escape, and I redoubled my efforts. “I… must… kill… you…”

“I wish you’d kill me,” said the clean-shaven young man who emerged from under the covers. “She is.”

With that, I vanished back to the cemetery in the woods and the laughter of those who lay there, my grave more turbulent than ever. My festering renewed. 

Still, there was always next year. 

The End. 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Thank you for reading

Richard

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Future Lost (100 Word Stories)

 Written for Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge
Today’s prompt was Scream.

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash
Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

There were divisions. Some might have termed them fractures. Everyone wanted everything, and no one wanted to pay. The silence of society’s splintering echoed a dire nothingness. I liked the quiet.

The flyers flew with wings for arms. The walkers walked on exaggerated legs. Some swam, like the almost-fish they were. A few even rolled. I glided.

Everyone ignored me, and I ignored them, as they left in their ships of steel and stardust. No one remained. That’s when I realised I was already dead, and even then, hadn’t a clue as to how long. I got the better deal.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.
Also Available:
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity

Six Word Stories — Spooky

Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash
Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash

 Written for Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge


Mansion for sale: One undead owner.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.
Also Available:
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity

Ghost

Image by me
Image by me

 Written for Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge


“We are all ghosts in the greater scheme of things. We are invisible to all but those who know us there. Is that not the very definition of a ghost?”

The creature nodded to not a rustle, nor even a disturbance of the air. All that marked its presence was a chill down the spine and a momentary blurring of my vision. But I knew what it was, which proved my point. And still, I couldn’t run.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.
Also Available:
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity

Published Today! Ghosting

I’m very pleased to have had a short piece of writing published in the fantastic online magazine MasticadoresIndia. A big thanks to Terveen Gill for putting their faith in my work. Please do click either link and have a look around.

The title of my short fiction is ‘Ghosting’ and is a commentary on life and how some people get overlooked. I hope you enjoy the read.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.
Also Available:
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity

By Which I Mean Me

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

We, by which I mean me, endeavoured to do right by each other. I spoke kind words, and she shoved them down my throat. I held open the door, and she vacated it. And so on, and so forth. This was our way, use and be used.

Time was not kind to us, by which I mean me. The bruises grew larger, her rages ever greater. I grew timid, as she grew robust. And still, I did my best. Still, I tried.

She, by which I mean they, buried me one cold and windy November afternoon. It rained upturned buckets. Another man already held her umbrella.

Now there was no we, no she, just me. For the first time in forever, I was alone. Nothing lasts.

I returned from the darkness like a roosting bat, flittering around our, by which I mean her apartment, every evening after lights out. She was never alone.

Our paths crossed when she went to the toilet shortly after midnight. I held the door for her, or tried.

“Do I know you?” she sneered. “You remind me of someone I once used.”

The fact I was a ghost seemed inconsequential, her attitude unaltered. I shrugged a delicate breeze, for words were beyond me now.

She rolled her eyes and got down to business.

“Well! Don’t just stand there, pass the toilet roll,” she commanded, upon finishing.

I laughed as I flapped and flailed, unable to acquiesce to her wishes. I tried so hard. Yet, this simplest of tasks was beyond me, and so I left and never returned.

We, by which I mostly mean me, often talk of her, and if she sits there still, stinking and swearing, whilst waiting for another to service her.

The End


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Sitting Without Reason

She sits at the bus stop day after day. I stand at my window, imagining her name. Rain or shine, snow or wind, it makes no difference to the girl in the little lemon dress. She waits there regardless. I watch her the same.
There are buses every fifteen minutes that lead to and from the city, but which city, I no longer recall? I’m as obsessed with her as she is with time. She’s crying today.
I pour out a coffee on this evening to chill souls. Seeing her waiting for a man who’ll never arrive has warped my mind. Today, I shall make a difference. Today, I shall do the right thing.
The door clicks shut in my wake; my eyes are already upon her. She shields her own from the steadily falling snow, invisible against her porcelain features. The coffee steams from the cup.
The distance takes an age to cover, not because of the traffic, as there is none, but from my stuttering footsteps.
“Hello,” I say when almost upon her. “I’ve brought something to warm your soul.”
The cup is offered and dropped, slipping from her fingers like a dream. This saddens me and I leave.
The next day comes, and she is gone. All I can think is, was she ever there? And, was I?

An End


Thank you for reading

Richard


Image courtesy Darren Viollet Unsplash.com

Within

Courtesy Axel Eres on Unsplash.com
Courtesy Axel Eres on Unsplash.com

The ghosts ate the sky first.
As albino Swallows, they nibbled and swooped, munched and slurped. They spared nothing. Like strands of candy floss pulled from the whole, the ghosts sucked them away. For a time, the sky couldn’t have been clearer.
We watched mouths agape, eyes rubbed raw, minds flittering in disbelief. The cleansed sky grew brighter with each passing, shining in sapphire, glittering in gold. I liked how it sparkled just before they ate the sun. I’d seen rainbows give their all and then disappear, fill the atmosphere with hope and beauty and dreams before shattering them, but I’d never seen it with the sun. No one had.
They took the moon before it breached the mountains, sucking it up like spilt milk. The stars never stood a chance.
We prayed in small, circular groups. The eldest told us to shut our eyes, but I suspected them scared. It was an excuse, a white lie told for their benefit, not ours. So, I set my vision on one of them, less a bird now and more a blanket, and that’s where it remained.
It was odd following the ghost’s haphazard movements. One might have thought it blown, or tugged like a kite, but neither explained its ability to travel wherever it wished. I envied it if truth be told. I wanted to roam the air. And then suddenly, I did not.
They dove as a luminesce squadron. Perhaps it was their insatiable hunger, perhaps not, but the ghosts required new sustenance, and we were it.
They took the men first and the odd large woman. Their mouths yawned wide like aerial whales, and we were their oversized plankton. People fought back, but to no avail. They swiped and bashed and kicked and screamed, but all ended up in the same place: Within.
The children held their parents until the last seconds of their adult lives. Some lost their hands they gripped so tightly. The rest of us ran.
Some ascended, others descended, whilst I hid in plain sight. Actually, that’s not entirely true.
I ran inside, petrified. Up the stairs I hurtled, and through my bedroom door. My mind relaxed for an instant. I stumbled, fell, got entwined in my sheets. There I lay, gasping.
Coincidence ushered them in at that moment, sweeping through the windows, pouring through the doors. I quaked. My teeth chattered. The ghosts saw and heard nothing.
They left when they realised the house empty, and I breathed again.
It took several hours to muster the courage to step outside, and even then, only long after the screaming stopped. I wished I’d stayed inside.
There was nothing: no mountains, woods, or cities; no rocks, trees, or grass. The lake was as empty as my stomach, and the distant ocean roared no more. I was alone. Well, almost alone.
They hovered and stood and lounged and lay, everywhere and nowhere, up, down and all around. Their job was done. But what was mine?
In a moment of divine inspiration, I approached them.
Hello, I said, though not a sound came out.
The ghost nodded, or dipped, or wavered.
Why?
If it was its head, the ghost cocked it, or slumped like a half-empty bag of coal.
Why not me? I said. It was the bravest thing I’d said since, Stop!
A void opened where a mouth ought to have been. The ghost attempted to form words. It failed.
And I thought I might never know why I alone survived humanity’s cleansing.
I slipped out of the sheet and cast it aside. Not one ghost gave me a second look.
Kill me. I don’t want to be the last.
My desperate eyes slipped to the ground like April rain, and there written in the dust were the words:You’re already dead.
I knew they were right, had for a long time. But when you play and sleep and act human, as I did the night he hit her and I stepped in-between, then you almost convince yourself you are. Almost.
It was then that she came for me. I’d have known her anywhere.
It was all for me, but was it in my head, delusions of a spectral brain? Who knew? Who cared! She was there and that’s all that mattered.
I realised the ghosts had never taken us within, but me that had stepped outside.

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.