Peter was an unloved child: impossible to cuddle, his body covered in thorns. That’s not natural, right? Psychiatrists said it was a defence mechanism but no one really knew for sure. He’s since been adopted by Maria, the cactus gardener, she’ll know how to look after him.
Worse than the cane, out came the dreaded phrase: “Illuminate me, please do,” along with the trademark condescending smile; Mr McGovern towered over the twelve-year-old me. Caught in the shadow of this self-proclaimed genius, I’d drawn attention to myself. I should’ve kept quiet like everyone else, not expressed my ‘radical’ political theories in class. The teacher known as ‘The Master’ liked nothing more than to crush young ideals. It worked. I crumbled. I withdrew. I am an idiot.
But I don’t forget.
Years later the Civil War began. Physical conflict favours the young. Out with the old.
The elderly McGovern awoke in darkness. Cold. Cheek pressed against glass. Gagged and unable to move, his limbs were bound, not together but spaced apart like a starfish. And he was face down.
In the night sky enemy aircraft rumbled. I switched the giant searchlight on.
Upon impending death we are told to look into the light. McGovern had no option; brilliant white, his sight lasted barely a second. Skin crisping and crackling. Acrid fumes billowed in the beam. He vaporised, no trace of genius, merely a burnt shadow.
As bombs dropped, I snickered, ‘ “Illuminate me”, who was the stupid one now?’
This piece won a competition to write a 200 word story prompted by one. That word was Illumination. For such a bright word my story is a tad dark.
I wrote several other different stories first but these attempts weren’t really happening. I was off-course, fumbling about in the dark. Eventually I had a lightbulb moment. Now I realise why the idea had taken so long to mature: it was an energy-efficient bulb and therefore took longer to achieve full brightness.
If this post messed with your mind in a way you liked, you’ll enjoy Mind Clearance
*tweet tweet* *tweet tweet*
“Ah, listen to the birds…”
“Don’t be daft, that’s not birds, this is the digital age and that’s the sound of Twitter”
“What was that?”
Deeper… Cath sunk deeper into the sofa, past the crumbs and fluff, beyond the loose change and finally the tv remote.
Now there was no way to switch off the Hypnosis channel.
“Owe, owe, owe!”
“Santa? It’s a bit early for you to appear, isn’t it?”
“Ah, Christmas is but one day a year. This is my other job the rest of the time: I’m a debt collector and you’ve been a naughty boy. Owe, owe, owe. You do.”
“I’ll pay you back later.”
“Break his legs, Elves”
Moonlight cast a blue glow over the desolate quarry. The chain-link fence had been cut, dusty footprints formed a path leading into the disused mine, now a forgotten storage facility.
‘There it is!’ Jed and Sam’s phone lights rested on the unexploded bomb rumoured to be stored here.
Sam’s beam picked out the stencil writing on its side: “1945 Punchline.”
‘Punchline,’ said Jed, ‘also known as the “Joke Bomb”, developed by the Peaceniks to end WW2 in a nonviolent manner; through laughter. Made of rubber, the bomb was designed to burst on impact releasing a failsafe joke targeting both sides equally. Boom, war over: no one can fight when laughing that hard. And the clever bit is the addition of a memory-suppressant causing everyone to forget a Joke Bomb had even been dropped.’
‘Did it work?’
‘They never tried it… (??) What are you doing?’
Sam pushed the bomb over the edge of the mineshaft. After several seconds silence there came a distant fart noise.
Both boys sniggered. Then jumped as a whoosh of blue air erupted from the deep hole.
Sam guffawed, struggling to say: ‘What just happened?’
Jed rolled on the ground weeping with laughter, ‘Dunno, I can’t remember.’
This story appeared in Mind Clearance
If it messed with your mind in a way you liked then why not buy a copy?
It couldn’t get any better, or worse: maverick scientist, Ron Archimedes, had won the World Esoteric Science Fair’s Innovation Award, the Indie equivalent to a Nobel Prize, except without the cash. He therefore couldn’t afford to fly halfway round the world to accept the honour. Unless, he found an alternative to regular travel.
Eureka! Yes, that was it: concentrate. Fruit juices were commercially viable exports only if the water was extracted first and shipped as concentrate to be rehydrated at the sales destination. Smart. He’d also read somewhere the human body was 90% water… Exactly. It might just work.
With the appliance of science and reference to Yogic texts, Ron followed a programme of meditation, urination, sweat and tears, safely eliminating water, and mass, from his body. When his dried raison-like form dipped below the affordable 10kg freight tariff, Ron Archimedes packaged himself on his doorstep and called the couriers. However, the box marked ‘Just Add Water’ was never sent. The van was delayed by a sudden torrential downpour, only a cardboard mush found at the pick-up point.
Ron successfully rehydrated but never acknowledged his award. There’s no money in esoteric science, but weight-loss… that’s a different story.
I wrote this for a monthly competition: write 200 words on a single word prompt. The word was ‘Water’.
The last time they’d tried to escape they’d got as far as the lobby. Glen Eagle, his wife and young daughter had made the mistake of taking their suitcases. They looked like a family about to leave, and with good reason. This hotel was the worst: the dirty rooms smelled, the beds were lumpy and the general noise intolerable.
This time they walked out in just the clothes they were wearing; a normal family on holiday, going for a midnight stroll, out of the hotel grounds and onto the sandy plains beyond.
‘Where are we going?’ asked his daughter.
‘To a different hotel,’ answered Glen, heading towards the shimmering lights in the distance.
The family continued walking in silence. Hopeful.
As they reached the next hotel on the dark desert highway, a cool wind began to blow in Glen’s hair, telling him not all was right. They were back where they’d left, the same manager waiting.
‘Ah! The Eagles. Welcome to the Hotel California. Please sign in. We have only one rule…’
‘Yeah, we know, “we can check out any time we like but we can never leave”,’ said Glen, thinking: Damn! We should’ve left during the overlong guitar solo.
This was my entry for a competition to write a 200-word piece on the theme of ‘Desert’. I spent 40 days and forty nights working on it.
The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ is one of those cultural fossils – I mean it will still be there when mankind has collapsed and disappeared. You can check out the 2-minute+ guitar solo any time you like…
We do not advocate the use of the Eagles for enjoyment purposes.