‘The Christmas Battle’

A small Christmas tale from The Book of Tomorrow – may your Christmas be merry, bright and filled with hope.

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the town

Soldiers were heard amongst the barking hounds.

Homes were closed and faces were hidden,

Hoping invisibility was a skill that could be bidden.

Torture and terror roamed the lands,

The scourge that savaged them a ruthless band.

Yet one came along, a glimmer of hope flickered,

But at this, the vagabonds merely snickered.

The hero stood tall – he would not falter,

So they charged for him, their course unaltered.

A sword was swung – a duck, a dive:

The sounds of horror came alive.

They dared to strike but failed in their mission,

For the young warrior was but a vision.

They stopped and they froze, trembling at this witchcraft;

The vision simply stood, and at them he laughed.

The message was such: fear could wield power,

For the villagers had summoned him in their darkest hour

He could not manifest wholly, for he was pure hope from within,

A force evildoers could not reckon with.

Rumours spread; the scoundrels turned wild;

They had been tricked by the manner of the mild,

For hope of the weak had proved stronger than bitterest gall,

And fearful courage drove back the thrall…

…Over their trail brightest snows fell.

The first villager who dared peek ran to the church bells.

Victory achieved through love, not war;

Victory achieved by those who, silently, refused to fall.

The Christmas bells ran and the silenced voices sang,

Liberated by a vision created of their own demand.

Feelings unbound to physicality

Saved their souls that Christmas Eve.

Take heed and listen as their spirits lift:

Their tale tells of beauty beyond trinkets and gifts.

Beauty is snow and hope and wonder,

As man should learn from every blunder.

With nothing at all save themselves and their freedom,

The best of times was had, with hope as their shining beacon.

© The Book of Tomorrow

A Twist in the Tale…

“So then the clown said: Why so serious son?!”

 

The crowd were on the edge of their seats, tense with the anticipation of another punch line; success was near at hand, the clinching joke about to be told, Andy Kay’s future as a rising star on the stand-up circuit secured. He could sense the change in atmosphere, detect the difference in taste between ambition and success. And three, two, one…

 

“…so then I realised his wife was his husband!”

 

They couldn’t contain themselves. Three of them were crying, practically sobbing. Andy bowed and left the room promptly – always leave them wanting more. He’d already come up with the headline for the post-show interview outside (‘More than O-Kay!’), and grabbed the proffered plastic beaker of water from the young male before heading towards his fame-clinching interview. Fame was already hard; his head was pounding and his left hand was shaking slightly; adrenaline obviously coursing through his system. He was sweating, but the post show jitters after all that anticipation was clearly normal.

 

“Did you see Jane? I slaughtered them out their tonight!”

 

The woman labelled Jane’s face turned ashen, a small noise escaping her unbidden, eyes intently fixed upon the man’s face.

 

Jane, Sarah, Ellen – names were interchangeable right now. She could be either one or a mixture of the three, as long as she listened and acted accordingly. Just like a real publicist, that’s what Andy wanted.

 

“You remembered to make the call right? To tell them to meet me here instead of me going to them, right? I can’t be waiting too long.”

 

A slow nod, just one. The woman glanced at the male who had handed Andy the beaker of water; the male stood, not knowing what his function was now the beaker was empty. He didn’t look to the right to catch her eye, focusing intently on his lack of purpose and what that meant for his immediate future, his welfare.

 

Andy was pacing like a caged tiger, waiting to pounce on his interviewer, the one who held his notoriety in his hands. Or waiting to be tamed by newfound celebrity, it could go either way he supposed. He knew his moment was coming, and that his decisions had inevitably led to this, and he didn’t mind that: he accepted his fate. The only thing that mattered was that he embraced it fully, and didn’t apologise for following the course of destiny.

 

It was worth it.

 

A screech of tyres – clearly running late and attempting to make up for it, Jane/Sarah/whoever had called over fifteen minutes ago (his chance at fame might have ended in that time), and the twelve-year-old male, her son, had confirmed she’d said what he asked her to, yet still they lingered. Never mind, they’d make up the time. Although they didn’t need to knock so hard on the door, he’d get there in his own time.

 

Andy muttered to himself on the way to the door, drowning out the talking on the other side of the door. “More than O-Kay, or Beyond O-Kay…More than…Beyond…”.

 

Headlines, all headlines, that was all that mattered, regardless of the route taken there.

 

He undid the dead-bolt and the rest was done for him. Door thrown backwards, Andy gracelessly pinned to the ground, the second man practically walking over him to reach the  bright lights beyond. He could hear the woman saying something to the man; Andy could only hope she’d remembered to say the right things. He heard the franctic footsteps – the boy probably running to his mother’s arms, clasping her and unwittingly dying her crisp white blouse with cherry spots.

 

“Mr Kay, you are under arrest for breaking and entering, false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand?”

“O-Kay officer…”

© Book of Tomorrow

 

‘Drops of Jupiter’

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere I can’t function. I can’t eat, sleep, I can’t even walk in a straight line. When did she come back? Why didn’t I know? What made her change her mind? Her final screams of abandoning the hell-hole nest I’d created for myself are still ringing in my ears, the death knell on our bond.

 

I saw her. She was walking, she didn’t see me. It’s probably for the best: someone with drops of Jupiter glistening in their hair shouldn’t associate with the pound-shop refugee. To hold out my hand and touch her, verify her as reality would have been comforting, overwhelming, exhilarating. To hear about her sailing across the sun, visiting the Milky Way – leaving me in my gutter.

 

I look back, just once more, because I know she will never look as far back as me. As far back as a dirty, cold night in the dankest corners of the universe that smell of disgust and shame. The woman, my uteral companion, is across the street and worlds away. Games of shadow puppets and bravery hover on the bleak horizon of the past, because the future has no space for them. She saw me sink into a perennial past full of bad choices and bad people. She got hurt. She ran.

 

She ran solo.

 

I’m left with the frozen recesses of Neptune. She’s basking in the spring glow of Jupiter, moving ever closer to the sun. Divergence. Parallels of glory and misery.

 

We both deserve this.

 

© BookofTomorrow

‘She Will Be Loved’

As part of a flash fiction competition, a story based on identity and a song title had to be submitted – mine got to the final (to see the winner, look here http://jukeboxstory.wordpress.com/winning-story-april-2014/). This was my entry…

 

Blood and screams and terror. I don’t know what to do or how to help. I’m pushed this way and that, people shouting at my inept body expecting physical and emotional response. I see hands working; professional hands, focused on preserving and sustaining life. I can’t remember how this all began, I just know I’m here and I have to act. I grab the hand of the woman; her face is contorted with pain and the horrendous effort of remaining conscious. She looks at me pleadingly, but I don’t know how to fix it, how to make it stop.

 

It ends. Silence reigns temporarily, before it is conquered by a high-pitched wailing. The professional passes the wailing to me, and I suddenly know how to fix it. I proffer a finger, I rock my bundle, I bask in glowing rosy cheeks. I hold beauty itself. I know I will defend her with my life; endure the pouring rain of darker seasons; fix her broken smiles. My life has existed for three decades but it didn’t begin until today. She will be treasured, she will be protected, and she will be loved.

© BookofTomorrow