365 Ficlets – Day #295 ~ “Last Stand”

“They’re still out there, John. What are we going to do?

John was sitting the other side of the window thumbing shells into the twelve gauge. He just shook his head and grumbled under his breath.

“C’mon John! A little help here.”

He lifted up his face, pumped the shotgun, and then looked into Carrie’s eyes; it was then that she saw his fear, his confusion. It occured to her that he may well be just as adrift as she was. She looked down at her hands and realised that they were shaking so hard that at any moment she might drop the thirty-eight. She stared at the cold weapon and realised that just twelve hours before she had never held one.

From outside she heard the shuffling footsteps of another zombie. Her heart sank, knowing that the shambling undead creature outside the store was almost certainly in the shape of someone that she knew the day before. Would it be Daniel, the mechanic from the town gas station? She had not seen him, and she was starting to fear that the five of them were the only ones left alive.


365 Ficlets – Day #294 ~ “Longing…”

The cherry blossoms always take me back to the spring mornings of my childhood. From one day to the next winter would give way to spring as the sakura would burst into life, shades of pink and white frosting the hilltops above my father’s house. Then in a few short weeks the petals would become a plesant springtime snow of sorts, floating on the breeze.

Looking at the cherry blossoms here, on the other side of the world, is both a comfort and a great sadness; I wish that I could return to Hokkaido and the land that my father watched over until the end of his days, mourning that his one son was lost to him.

There are few tragedies greater in any life than exile. Certainly there are even greater burdens to bear, disease, bereavement, poverty and so forth, but my experience of living as an outcast in a foreign land has only served to give me the belief that exile is as heavy as any other weight one might have to carry. Even those I might seek out in America who are from Japan shun my company; my crimes are known.


Age Gap…

The Geeks I am working with have never heard of or seen “The Princess Bride”…

Today’s xkcd.com (below) was lost on them…

xkcd.com 27th February 2009 - A daily(ish) web comic about science, geek-culture and love...

I feel OLD – *shakes head*


365 Ficlets – Day #293 ~ “The List”

Dana laid her pen down and sat back in her chair, sighing with the relief of completing her list. It had been a conversation with Frank that had led to this impulse to give form to her thoughts about her life and what she hesitated to refer to as its direction.

It had been bothering her for a while that there was a lot about her life that seemed to be “business as usual”; just a daily drudge of get up, wash, eat, go to work, come home, eat, wash and sleep. Every now and again there was some sex, and even less often there was a decent conversation or a really great movie or a genuinely engaging book, but more often than not these things were rare.

She was going to be thirty and what had she actually done? More to the point, what did she want to do? That was the crux of it, more than anything else she was disconcerted by her apparent lack of dreams. Frank had suggested that she take some time, quietly, to sit with pen and paper and write a list of things that she really wanted to do, no matter how large or small.


365 Ficlets – Day #292 ~ “Grift”

“The thing is, right, if you get good enough at counting then you have to ‘ave the cash to go in big and score, ‘cos after that first night when you walk out with your pockets full, all bets are off.”

“What do you mean?”

“Casinos don’t put up with counters. It may not be cheating, but it’s not the game that they want to play, and they are allowed to refuse you entry.”

“So what you are saying is that practice may make perfect, but that we need to make some money up front to be able to afford to place bets that are big enough to reap the big rewards?”

“Yeah, exactly. So anyway, I know this guy, right?”

Jim nodded.

“He’s a bent banker, and he tells me that he’s onto a winner with fraudulent credit.”

Jim’s eyes lit up;

“Aw mate! I’ve heard about this con. It’s spectacular! You set up a business account for a new venture, and then you drain the account just after the new business loan goes in, then fold the company. Everything’s done with alias’s and when all’s said and done it’s only the insurers that get hurt, yeah!”


365 Ficlets – Day #291 ~ “First Tour; First Patrol”

Bullets were riccocheting off the top of the tiny wall, and we were both lying flat on the ground, clutching our carbines to our chests. I looked over at the Skipper, and touched my forefinger to the last grenade on my bandolier. He gently shook his head, opening his palm instead to show a claymore detonator. He put his other finger to his lips and then motioned to listen for footsteps.

I looked over at Freddy, he looked like he was in pretty awful shape, and I realised that we really could not bank on him for covering fire any more. To be honest we would be lucky if we didn’t lose him to his wounds.

The gunfire slowed and as I listened with Skipper for the tell-tale sound of VC running closer hoping to close range on us without any more of a fight.

I wondered at his nerve; I would have pumped the switch twice before he even looked like he was going to. Their footsteps seemed so close, but everything was out of whack, not least because I was scared out of my mind.

Suddenly he pumped the button. Bring the noise.


365 Ficlets – Day #290 ~ “Jazz Flute”

The music was everything. Standing under the lights for the hundredth, even thousandth time, the darkness of the club out beyond his sight, he knew that he needed to remember that the music was there for him. Music was always there for him, even when he felt alone in crowded rooms, or when the fear of going on stage would grip him, twisting in his belly as if someone were tying knots in his guts. He tried to breathe, tried to focus on the first lines of music that would come through him and his instrument as he put it to his lips, tried to find the solace that this thought usually brought.

On the edge of his awareness he could hear the MC announcing the act, and then he heard Buzz start the beat on the drums. He opened his eyes and looked up at Tom, watching for him to cue him in. The bassline started to build and Tom fixed him in his gaze and then nodded, a four count until he needed to be playing.

Everything slowed down, he raised the flute to his lips and slipped into the melody, and the world fell away.


365 Ficlets – Day #289 ~ “Commuter Solidarity”

“Tickets please! Please have tickets and passes ready for inspection!”

The train manager was coming, as they usually did at some point between Paddington and Reading, and I dug in my pocket for the season ticket that was indispensible to my person when outside of the house. Commuting becomes a state of mind after a while, you never leave the house without iPod, book, season ticket as well as the more common wallet and keys. Seriously, after I’ve been locked back into it for a few weeks I don’t leave the house without picking up my bag and checking it for the commuting survival kit, even if I’m actually off to see some my friends on a Saturday evening.

I looked up as I placed my ticket wallet on the table and accidentally made eye contact with the woman sitting opposite me; clearly making eye contact is forbidden on the Tube, but sometimes you can get away with it on the trains that leave Greater London. She smiled;

“You look like you are fully in commuter mode. This train every day?”

I nodded;

“Pretty much, aye.”


365 Ficlets – Day #288 ~ “The Hearth of Home”

The glass felt cold in his hand. He turned it slowly in front of his eyes, enjoying the way in which the candlelight seemed to make the whisky glow and sparkle amongst the ice cubes. This was his favourite time of the evening. He enjoyed the company of his kids as much as anyone, more in fact than most people would assume, and he loved the fact that as often as not they dined together as a family. Even so once the house was his once more, quiet and calm, he liked to sit and enjoy the contrast.

It was winter, and so the fire was dancing in the fireplace, and he fixed his gaze into the heart of the flames and took a sip from the glass. He held the whisky in his mouth, letting the gentle burn of the alcohol burn its own fire in his mouth and then as he swallowed he revelled in the transformation of the flavour and the feeling of the drink coating his oesophagus with spicy, honeyed warmth.

He knew that she would disapprove if she could see him just sitting, drinking alone like this, but that was really the point.


365 Ficlets – Day #287 ~ “Tracks of My Tears”

He was stood by the floor to ceiling window in the living room of their suite, staring out at the nighttime cityscape. The rain was caming down with a monsoon intensity and the window reminded her of the way in which streams of rainwater criss cross the rear window of a car.

She stood in the darkened doorway watching him, trying to understand what was on his mind, trying to understand why he had not slept since they had been in Tokyo. Part of her wanted to reach out to him, to put her arms around him and let him know she was beside him, but she listened to the quieter voice that both counselled restraint and was a little hurt that he did not turn to her.

“Are you going to stay over there just looking at me, Sara?”

She was jolted out of her thoughts, surprised that he knew she was there. She stepped out of the shadows, and shrugged;

“I don’t know. I didn’t know if you even wanted me to know you were out here.”

He turned towards her and she could see the tears running down his cheeks like the rain on the window.