Tag Archives: humour

Meet Wilhelm Scream

There’s a new author in town!  The time has come to introduce you to WILHELM SCREAM, writer of new book, BAD BLOOD – A Tale of Two Vampires.  Mr Scream can’t wait for you to read it, or for your children to read it, because it’s meant for them really, but if you sneak a peek between the covers, he won’t mind.  In fact, he encourages it.  It wouldn’t be the first time a grown-up has enjoyed a kids’ book now, would it? 

Personal details about Mr Scream are difficult to pin down.  Some say he crawled out from under a rock.  Others say he hatched from an egg.  You may have other ideas.  But he’s harmless enough and only seeks to entertain with his tales of the macabre.

The only known portrait of Wilhelm Scream. He won’t sit still long enough for another.

BAD BLOOD is about two neighbours who happen to be vampires.  Or two vampires who happen to be neighbours.  Vincent, the scruffy one, plots to get rid of Vlad, the well-dressed one, while Vlad only wants to look good and to help Vincent survive in the modern world.  Add to the mix a television programme about antiques, an automaton made from mud, and a couple of vampire hunters, and the scene is set for a fast-moving and funny story suitable for anyone above the age of 9 human years.  It’s not very gruesome, honestly!

Cover art for the hardcover edition

BAD BLOOD will be available as a glossy hardback, a floppy paperback, and even an electronic version you can read on a tablet.  Mr Scream tried reading a tablet once but all it said was ‘ASPIRIN’. 

Mr Scream is not going to stop at vampires.  He is already working on his next book which will be about werewolves, and he has a germ of a plan forming in his twisted mind for a third book which will probably be about a mummy or something equally horrible.

Mr Scream awaits your reviews.  In fact, there he is now, standing in your back garden, staring at your house.  Like I say, he’s harmless.  No, really.

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Life’s a Drag

“You’re not going out dressed like that!”

Benny looked down at what he was wearing: Chinos, a white T, a denim jacket.  “What’s wrong with it?  I think I look cute.”

Tyreesa shook her head, causing her towering orange wig to totter.  Holding it steady, she got to her feet and looked down at her adopted son from the full height of her twelve-inch platform heels.

“The neighbours!  They will read you to filth.”

Benny threw up his hands.  “I don’t care about the neighbours.  I just want to be me.”

Tyreesa sucked her teeth.  “Where did I go wrong?” she asked the ceiling.

“You didn’t!” Benny replied.  “You always taught me that no matter what I shouldn’t be afraid to be my authentic self.”

“Yes, honey, but this.” A bejwelled fingernail moved up and down taking in his whole outfit.  “I don’t get what you’re trying to say.  Except maybe ‘meh’.”

Tyreesa’s partner, Chemise, walked in.  She flopped onto the sofa and proceeded to tug off her thigh-length boots.  “Give me a hand, Benny, darlin’?”

“In a minute,” said Tyreesa.  “We’re having a moment.”

Chemise looked from one to the other and back again.  She shook her head.  “You two.  Can’t go a day without there being some beef between you.  What is it this time?  He been borrowing your eyelash-curlers again?”

“I wish!” Tyreesa put a hand to her heart.  “Haven’t you seen what he’s wearing?”

Chemise blinked.  “Come on, Benny-boy.  Give us a twirl.”

Benny obliged, rotating on the spot, his arms held out.  “Ta-dah!” he said.

Confusion clouded Chemise’s beautifully contoured features.  “I don’t get it.  What’s he trying to say?  What’s the story here?  Is there a string and you pull it and all this turns into an elegant ballgown?”

“No!” Benny cried.  “This is it.  This is the whole lewk.”

“Oh, Benny,” Chemise was dismayed.  “This ain’t no lewk.  I don’t know what this is.”

“I’ve told him he can’t go out in public dressed like that.” Tyreesa crossed her arms.  “I need you to back me up on this one, Chem.”

Chemise wrinkled her nose and gave the boy another onceover.  “I don’t know.  He can get away with a lot, with those cheekbones.”

Benny grinned.

“Chem…” Tyreesa warned.

“Maybe if he added just a touch of blusher, a hint of lip gloss…”

“Chem!”

“And if I do that, I can go?” Benny was practically bouncing in his loafers.

“I don’t see why not.”

“You’re the best!” Benny planted a kiss on Chemise’s cheek.  He ran upstairs to put on his make-up.

Tyreesa looked daggers at her partner.

“What?” Chemise squirmed.

“I’m trying my damnedest to bring up my drag-daughter just right and you go and aquaplane to his wishes.”

“It’s acquiesce, honey.  And he’s still growing, finding out who he is.  He’ll turn out just fine, trust me.”

Tyreesa straddled Chemise’s leg and set to pulling off the boot.  “You don’t think — I can hardly bring myself to say it — You don’t think he’ll turn out straight, do you?”

A shudder ran through her.

“Don’t even joke, honey!” Chemise looked pained.  “But whatever he is, we’ll still love him.  Won’t we?”

Tyreesa was glad her back was to her partner.  She chewed her lower lip. 

“Sure,” she said.

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Martina the Marmot

“Cooee, Gran!  Only me!”

Letitia let herself in, finding her grandmother at the kitchen table, a sour look on her face.

“You’re late,” Gran observed, a pout puckering her lips like a cat’s backside.

“I had that thing, remember?” Letitia busied herself with the kettle and teacups.

“What thing?”

“That job interview.  I told you; remember?”

Gran shook her head.  “And?” she prompted.

“And what?” Letitia spooned sugar into one of the cups.

“Did you get the job?”

“Oh, I hope so!” Letitia enthused.  “I know it’s not my big break into acting, but you’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t you?  Besides, it’s only for the summer.  Until I go back to RADA.”

Gran muttered darkly.

Letitia rolled her eyes.  “I know, I know,” she placed a cup and saucer in front of the old woman.  “I should get a proper job.  Something to fall back on.”

Suddenly, Gran’s arthritic claw of a hand shot out and seized Letitia’s wrist.  Her rheumy eyes searched her granddaughter’s face imploringly.

“It’s not that, love,” Gran’s voice cracked even more than usual.  “It’s that place.”  She spoke the word as if it left a bitter taste.  “They should never have reopened it.  It’s cursed.”

Letitia sighed.  “Not this again.  That was a long time ago, Gran.  You wouldn’t recognise the place.  And they’ve got Health and Safety now.”

Gran shook her head.  “Kiddies died,” she said sadly.  “It was all hushed up.  They said it was a freak accident.  But it weren’t no accident, my girl.  I might be short of a marble or two but I’ll never forget that terrible day.”

Letitia sipped at her tea.  She glanced around the kitchen.  “Got any biscuits in?”

“I’m serious!” Gran snapped, slapping the table.  “You’d best keep well away from that park.  I’m only thinking of your wellbeing.”

“I need the job, Gran.  It’s good money.  All for waving at people all day.  Posing for photos.  You don’t believe the rumours, do you?  You don’t really think Martina the Marmot went rogue and rampaged through the Enchanted Forest?”

“Rumours!” Gran spat the word out.  “Your mother once sat where you’re sitting, all bright-eyed about her new job at the new theme park.”

“My mum?” Letitia blinked.  “You never talk about her –”

“Well, it’s high time you heard the story.  She was pleased as Punch when she got the job.  And to play a main character!  Martina the Marmot, no less!  But, after just a few months, she was tired of it.  Covered in bruises – Don’t go thinking that padded costume will protect you from the pummelling those brats will give you.  All day every day.  She was little more than a punchbag with a happy face.  A what-do-you-call-it, a pinata!  Well, it nearly broke her.

“Then, on the hottest and busiest day of the year, something went wrong.  Martina the Marmot shoved a particularly obnoxious brat into the Fountain of Fantasy.  They tried to save him, but he drowned.  Then she pushed a pushchair into the path of the Choo-Choo of Choice.  Twins!  Gone!  Just like that!  She stormed down Happy High Street, hurling babies through souvenir shop windows.  It took Elroy the Elephant and Gloppy the Dog and a dozen security guards to bring her down.  But when they took off that huge grinning foam head, they found the suit was empty.  There had been nobody wearing it.  Years of hatred and resentment, born of every punch and kick from ungrateful, entitled children, had built up, until the suit took on a life of its own.  Of course, they had to pin the blame on somebody, and your mother took the fall, even though she’d booked the day off to visit the fertility clinic.  On the day it was confirmed that you were on your way, she was arrested and charged with mass murder.”

Letitia shuddered.  Tears sprang from her eyes.  “You always said my mum was dead.”

“As good as, love.  She had her life taken from her just as much as those kiddies did.”

“But – her appointment at the clinic!  She had an alibi!”

Gran smiled sadly.  “The Dalton Wisley Corporation is a powerful entity.  There’s nothing they can’t do.”

A strange light appeared in Letitia’s eyes and a look of grim determination set her features like stone.  “Know what, Gran?  If they offer me the job, I’m going to take it.  I’ll show them.  I’ll show those bastards the meaning of revenge.  Now, where are you hiding those biscuits?”

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Barbecue

“Dennis!” Carol grinned.  “Lovely to see you!  Come through, come through.”

She stepped back to let Dennis cross the threshold.  “We’re all out the back, of course.”

Dennis nodded.  “Got you on door duty, has he?”

Carol laughed.  “You could say that.”

“I did,” said Dennis.  He lifted his carrier bag which clinked.  “Put these in the fridge?”

He followed Carol along the hall to the kitchen.  The back door was open.  Music played, children played.  Dennis stopped.   He took a bottle from the bag and opened it.

“Don’t blame you,” Carol touched his arm.  “Bit of Dutch courage.”

Dennis took a big swig.  “How is he?”

Carol rolled her eyes.  “Well, you know Colin.  But we’ll have none of that.  This is a big day for him.  Heralding a new start.”

“He’s well shot of her if you ask me.  I’m sorry, Carol.  I know you were friends.”

Carol cut him off.  “After what she did?  That bridge is well and truly burned to cinders.”

“She won’t show up here, will she?”  Dennis’s eyes darted around the kitchen, as though Colin’s estranged, deranged wife might spring out of a cupboard at any second. “Like Maleficent at a christening?”

Carol laughed.  “I doubt it.  Come on.  The kids’ll be thrilled to see their Uncle Dennis.  Do you know, it’s the first time our lot have been able to get together with Colin’s kids for ages.  It’s just like old times.  Well, almost.  Come on; Colin’s on grill duty.  Happy as a pig in muck.  And my David’s manning the bar.”

Dennis finished the beer and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Just,” Carol raised a warning finger, “Just don’t say her name.  We don’t want to give Colin a setback.  Not now he’s come so far.”

Dennis nodded.  He’d spent months on the phone talking with Colin at all hours about his faithless, treacherous wife.  Friends do that for friends, don’t they?  But there are limits.  Dennis didn’t want to hear it all again, the lies, the betrayals, the secrets uncovered… He just wanted a relaxing afternoon with his old buddies.  Colin needed normality after all the upheaval.  It was a positive step, Dennis agreed, for Colin to invite friends back to his house and home.

He stepped out into the sunlight, narrowing his eyes.  The kids were running around, squealing with delight, trying to catch each other.  There were people Dennis didn’t recognise—colleagues of Colin’s, he presumed—standing around chatting under wide-brimmed sun hats.

“Dennis!” David hailed him from a makeshift counter, a bottle of lager raised aloft.

Dennis made his way over.  Perhaps if he didn’t wander far from the bar, the afternoon might not turn out to be so awkward after all.

“Well met!” David grinned.  “How the hell are you?”

He handed Dennis the lager and clinked his own bottle against it.

“Cheers,” said Dennis.  “Good to see you, mate.”  He leant against the counter and scanned the gathering.  “Everyone looks happy.”

“Relieved, more like,” David lowered his voice.  “Because you-know-who isn’t here.”

“Ssh!” Dennis flapped in mock panic.  “Don’t even think about her!”

They laughed.

“Still, good old Colin,” David reflected.  “Finally getting his act together.  Moving on.  This is a big step for him.  I thought he’d never even try.”

“Phone calls in the middle of the night,” Dennis diagnosed.

“And the rest of it,” David puffed out his cheeks.  “At last now, perhaps we’ll be able to have a night of uninterrupted sleep.”

“Amen!” Dennis held up his bottle for another clink.

“Colin’s a mate and everything,” David continued.

“But there’s only so many times you can hear how much he wants her back.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

They looked across to the patio, where a queue was forming.  People helping themselves to paper plates and serviettes.  At the grill, Colin in a chef’s hat and an apron designed to look like women’s underwear, was cheerfully serving up charred cuts of meat and sausages blackened by fire.

“He looks happy enough,” Dennis observed.  “Last time we spoke, he was in pieces.”

“Ha!” David laughed bitterly.

“What?” Dennis frowned. 

“Nothing,” David shrugged.  “But take my advice and restrict yourself to liquid intake.”

“What do you mean?”

David took the cap off another bottle.  “Remember how throughout his married life, our mate Colin was a devout vegetarian?”

“That was her doing.”

“Yeah, her influence.  Let’s just say if she knew what he was serving up today, she’d be the one in pieces.”

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Dancing with the Devil

The TV producer looked up from his tablet, his nostrils flaring at the sulphurous whiff that had pervaded the office.  He was startled to see a figure standing in front of the desk; he hadn’t heard anyone come in.

The figure was dressed in a shiny black suit.  A blood-red tie matched his eyes.

The TV producer swallowed.  “It’s not time already, is it?  I thought I had a few more years yet.”

The figure waved a dismissive hand.  He perched a buttock on the edge of the desk.  “That’s not why I’m here.  Well, not directly.  In fact, I’d like to renegotiate the terms of our arrangement.”

The TV producer shrank back warily.  “I don’t know what else I can give you.  I’ve already signed away my eternal soul.”

The figure cringed.  “Keep your voice down!  We don’t want everyone knowing our business, do we?  What I want, old chum, old china, is for you to put me in the show.”

The TV producer blinked as the request reached his brain.  “You what?  You – YOU! – want to be on Dance For Your Life?”

The figure nodded enthusiastically.  “I think the time has come.”

“What as?  A special guest?  We’ve got enough judges, thank you.  They’re demonic enough already.”

The figure shook his head impatiently.  “No, no.  That’s not what I want.  I want to be a contestant.”

The TV producer scoffed.  Then his face fell.  “You’re serious.”

“You better believe it.”

“No, no.  It’s out of the question.  You’re not really Dance For Your Life material.  I’m sorry.”

The figure pressed a hand to his blood-red tie.  “It hurts to hear you say that.  I’m not Dance For Your Life material!  What about that hate-fuelled harridan, Ann Whatserface?  You had that vile creature on, galumphing about like a crippled hippo.  She espouses views that even I blench at.  Yet you rehabilitated her in the popular imagination.  She’s now on game shows, talk shows, you name it.  I want some of that.  I want the public to see me in a new light.”

The TV producer looked pained.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t do it.  There’d be an outcry.  From religious people.  Saying we were forcing an alternative, ungodly lifestyle down their throats.”

The figure snickered.  “Wait till they find out what I’m really going to force down their throats when they get to my place!”

“What?”

“Never mind.  Listen, put me on the show.  I won’t even cheat.  Well, not much.  And in return, I’ll tear up the contract that got you this gig in the first place.  What do you say?”

“For real?  I’d get my soul back?”

“For real!  Even though you don’t really need it in your line of work.”

“I don’t understand,” the TV producer put a hand to his brow.  “There’s a catch.  There’s always a catch.  And there’s more to this than a PR exercise.  What are you really up to, eh?”

The figure tried his hardest to look innocent.  “Who, me?  Oh, all right then.  Yes, I want the masses to love me, blah blah.  But also, and this is the genius of the programme, it provides a distraction.  The nation is obsessed by the series, year in, year out.  It’s all anyone talks about.  Can’t get enough of it.  Meanwhile, my little helpers are working their socks off doing my good works.  And nobody takes a blind bit of notice.  Child poverty?  So what?  Let’s talk about that slapper from the soap opera and the tango she did.  Do you think she’s shagging her partner?  I bet she is.  Deprivation and corruption?  Catastrophic climate change?  Couldn’t give a toss, mate.  I want to post tweets about the twonk from breakfast telly whose trousers split during the paso doble.  Your programme is better than drugs, my friend.  Keeps everyone oblivious to my shenanigans.  And I want to be on it.  The viewers might be willing to let their country go to Hell behind their backs and under their noses.  If they’re not going to take an interest and put up the slightest challenge, the complacent fuckers well may as well watch me dance. One way or another,” the red eyes flashed like warning signs, “victory will be mine!”

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Sir Roger saves the world

“Sir Roger de Lyons! Oscar winner, BAFTA fellowship, three Olivier awards, and a knighthood for your services to British theatre” the General entered the bunker with a smile of welcome.  The octogenarian actor got to his feet and looked the uniformed man up and down.

“I suppose you want me to salute you, do you, darling?” A suggestive pout played on his famous lips.

The General stiffened.  “That won’t be necessary.”

Sir Roger looked around the small grey room disparagingly.  “Where’s this you’ve brought me to?  Some underground club?  I’ve played in some dives in my time, I can tell you.  There was a time when this kind of thing was all the rage.  Your more intimate kind of venue.”

The General cleared his throat.  “You are correct about the underground part at least.  We are three miles below the earth’s crust.  Our defences are impenetrable.  What I am about to tell you is classified information.  Any disclosure on your part and you will be facing charges of treason.”

“I’ve had agents like you,” Sir Roger twinkled.  “You don’t scare me, love.”

“It is not my aim to frighten you,” the General nodded to a subordinate, who activated a screen.  “But what I’m about to show you just might.”

“I’ve heard that before, ducky!”

The screen showed outer space with a grid superimposed.  “Here,” the General used a laser pointer, “is Planet Earth.  Our moon.  Mars… and here,” the image scrolled and scrolled and scrolled, “is the boundary of our galaxy.”

“Lovely at this time of year,” quipped Sir Roger.

The General’s eyes closed briefly as he summoned his last shred of patience.  “We have intercepted a signal from beyond this boundary.  It’s a message.  I shall play it to you now.”

“Oh!  And I have to guess who it is!  Is that what’s going on?  I bet it’s Dickie.  Or Judi.  It invariably is when I’m not available.”

“Sir Roger, this is not a game.  Please, listen to the message and give us your analysis.”

“Alright, love; keep your shirt on.”

The General nodded again.  The subordinate pressed Play.

The bunker was filled with a booming voice, the fruity tones of Sir Roger himself.

“…stout invasion!  Be Mercury and set feathers to thy heels, and fly like thought from them to me again…”

Sir Roger mouthed along.  “Why, that’s me!” he pressed a hand to his breastbone.  “How gratifying!  I thought you’d brought me here to do This Is Your Life again.  I’ve done it twice already.  Once with Eamonn and once with Michael.  I don’t know who they’ve got to do it these days.  Probably some perma-tanned twonk from one of those Essex programmes.”

He suppressed a shudder.

“And the message?  How do you account for it?”

“Account for it?  It’s Shakespeare, man.  It’s a King John I did for Radio Four, yonks ago.  Dickie was in it, too.  And Judi.  Where are they now?”

“So, it’s not a threat?  That talk of a ‘stout invasion’?”

“Set it to music and bung in a dance number and it’s a triple threat I suppose!” Sir Roger laughed.  “I can’t believe you’ve dragged me down here, all cloak and dagger, to play back some old radio thing nobody listened to in the first place.  I’ve read about this kind of thing.  All the broadcast material we’ve sent out, bouncing back at us.  It’s not little green men at all.”

The General and the subordinate shared a look.

“We’ve explored that possibility.  And discounted it.  We firmly believe a hostile force is on its way to invade Mercury.”

“Let them,” Sir Roger shrugged extravagantly.  “Dreadful place.  No atmosphere.”

“They could set up a base there from which to observe and possibly attack Earth.”

“Everyone’s a critic, love.”

“Sir Roger, it pains me to say it, but the fate of humanity rests on your narrow shoulders.  We are putting you in a craft on an interception course.  You can communicate with these beings.”

He nodded to the subordinate, who pushed a button.  Two military policemen arrived and escorted Sir Roger from the bunker.

“Well,” chuckled the general.  “That’s got rid of that insufferable old ham.”

He peeled off his prosthetic nose.  The subordinate took off his beret and shook out long blonde locks.

“Oh, Dickie!” laughed Judi, unbuttoning her uniform.  “You were marvellous, darling.”

“You too, love,” Dickie wiggled his epaulettes.  “You see, the Method can get you anywhere. All those months of masquerading as top level personnel have finally come to fruition. Now come over here and watch the lift-off.”

A launchpad appeared on the screen, shown from a distance.  At the top of a crane, a tiny Sir Roger was being manhandled into a space shuttle.

“Want to pop to the Ivy after this?  Drop of champers to celebrate?”

“Rather!” Dickie enthused.  “But first, I want to make sure he’s gone.”

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Ugo’s Night Out

Ugo let himself in to find Svetlana, his wife, waiting for him in the hallway of their Gothic mansion.

“Sorry, my dear,” he cringed.  “I was trying not to wake you.”

Svetlana threw her hands up in the air.  “You expect me to be asleep at a time like this!  As usual, you are cutting it fine.  The first streaks of daylight are stretching across the horizon.”

“Always so poetic, my darling.”  He pulled her into a hug.  She resisted at first.

“You know how I worry.”  Her arms, like fire-blackened twigs encircled him, giving rise to a chink from deep within his cape.  Her eyes widened and flashed.  “You got them?”

Ugo nodded, his glee reminded her of the child he was all those centuries ago.  He swept back his cape and withdrew several glass bottles from its deep pockets.  Svetlana snatched one and held it up to the cobwebbed chandelier.  The bottle’s contents glowed a deep crimson.

“For the children,” Ugo enthused.  “For their cornflakes in the evening.”

“I will put them in the unfrigerator to keep them warm,” Svetlana swept through to the kitchen. “The bottles, I mean, not the children.”  Her husband followed, his boyish giggle infectious.

“It was touch and go,” he admitted, watching his wife’s slender frame as she stocked the bottles in the cabinet.  “They have a new security system at the bank, including a new guard.  I tried to hypnotise him but, I don’t know, I think he had been eating garlic bread or something, because I could not get close enough to exert my powers.”

Svetlana straightened and looked him in the eye.  “What did you do?”

Ugo squirmed under her scrutiny.  He tried to shrug it off.  “I may have decapitated him, a little.”

“And how does that work, exactly?”

“All right then, a lot.  Totally.  Completely.  Head clean off.”

Her eyebrow arched.  “Clean?”

“Well, I did not have time to tidy up.  I was conscious of the hour.  I only had a quick feed before I took his key card and let myself into the bottle repository.”

Svetlana paced the floor, the train of her black dress sweeping the tiles.  “And you are sure you were not seen?”

“Darling, dearest, you know we do not show up on CCTV.”

Svetlana chewed a fingernail, a black talon, in anguish.  “I do not like it.  There will be clues.  We will have to move on.  Again!”

“Relax and go to your coffin.  It is almost dawn.  I blame the humans.  Messing about with the clocks to shorten the night.”

“Hmm.”  She thought it rather had something to do with the rotation of the Earth, their hemisphere tilting towards the sun but there was no time to argue. She pecked his cheek good morning.  She climbed into the wooden box, lined with the soil of her homeland, and he slid the lid over her, sealing her in darkness.

She knew she’d get no sleep for worrying, and the daylight hours were long.  Welcome to summer time!

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The Bottle

Derek arrived home after six weeks away to find suitcases stacked in the hallway.  “Petal?” he called, dropping his keys into the dish on the side table.  He went through to the kitchen, the living room.  There was no sign of his partner.  He called up the stairs.

“Are you up there, Petal?  What’s going on?”

There were muffled sounds, hushed voices.  Derek bounded up the stairs and into the bedroom.

Petal was in bed.  Alone.

“Taking a nap?” Derek smiled but his eyes darted around the room.  The wardrobe doors were open, revealing half-empty shelves and hangers.  “What’s with all the bags?”

Petal sniffed and blew his nose into a tissue.

“I’m leaving you.”

“What?  No!”

“I’m sorry but it’s true.  The cab should be here in a few minutes.”

Derek sat on the bed and put his head in his hands.  “What did I do wrong?  Tell me.  I’ll make it right, whatever it is.”

“Oh, baby, you haven’t done anything wrong.  In fact, you did something right.  If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have met Black Bartholomew.”

“What?” Derek stared at his partner.  “Who?”

“Not my usual type,” Petal reached for a brush to tidy his hair.  “But we’ve got to know each other lately, while you’ve been away on your dives.”

“What are you talking about?  Who is this guy?”  Derek’s eyes widened.  He dropped to the floor and checked under the bed.  “Where is he?  My God, were you two… when I came home?  In our bed!”

Petal chuckled.  “What can I say?  I’m in love!”

Derek stalked across the room and yanked the curtains aside.

“I don’t get it.  You never go out.  You never meet anyone.  Is it someone you found on an app?  Some sleazy pick-up that’s put these stupid ideas in your head?”

“No!” Petal looked shocked.  “I would never!  Listen, it all started after you brought that bottle home.”

“What bottle?  What the hell are you talking about?”

“You know.  The green one with the barnacles.  And the tiny ship inside it.  You said it might be worth something, but I said let’s keep it.”

“And?  What?”

“Well, off you went, diving for something else God knows where.  Little did we know, you’d already brought me my treasure.”

Derek stared.  “I don’t get it…”

Petal laughed.  “I opened the bottle!  Some water trickled out and a puff of green stuff.  But then, that night, there he was, standing at the end of the bed like you are now.  Large as life.  Larger, truth be told!”

Derek blustered.  “So who is he, this Black Barnaby?

“Bartholomew, actually.  He said he was a pirate but he was made to walk the plank because of his… proclivities.  They treated gays badly in those days, you see.”

“So, what you’re telling me is you’re leaving me for the ghost of a gay pirate?”

“Yes.  If you put it like that, I am.”

“Petal,” Derek took both his partner’s hands in his.  “Listen to me; you haven’t been taking your medication.  I know it’s not easy for you, staying here all alone while I’m away, but it’s going to be worth it.  One day I’m going to find something that will set us up for life.”

A car horn tooted in the street.

Petal sprang out of the bed.  “My cab!  Toodles!”

“Oh no,” Derek moved to block the door.  “You’re not going anywhere.  I’m calling the doctor.”

“Don’t be silly,” Petal swatted him aside.  He tripped lightly down the stairs and opened the front door to give the cab driver a friendly wave.

“Shut the door,” Derek said from the top of the stairs.  He was holding the green bottle above his head.  “Shut the door now or I’m smashing this bottle.  You’ll never see your pirate boyfriend again.”

Petal whimpered.  “You wouldn’t!”

“Oh, no?” David snarled.  “Watch me!”

He was about to dash the bottle to the floor when a glowing sword appeared through his sternum.  Gagging and coughing up blood, Derek toppled forward and plummeted down the stairs.

Petal clapped his hands.  “Oh Bart!” he called up to the ghostly outline of a figure on the landing.  “It looks like we’re staying after all.”

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Filed under ghost story, humour, Short story

Stepping Out

The reporter cleared his throat, checked his earpiece and waited to be counted in.  “I’m coming to you live from outside Stepworth Hospital, the site of an historic first for the medical profession.  Any moment now, Archie Trotter, the recipient of the world’s first double foot transplant will be walking out of these doors, taking the first steps of the next leg of his life.  I have with me the surgeon who led the team that performed this historic procedure.  Doctor Treadwell, I understand Mr Trotter has made a full recovery?”

Dr Treadwell looked sideways at the camera and leaned toward the reporter’s microphone.  “That’s right, Trip.  The operation itself took fourteen hours but it has taken months of intense physio therapy to get Mr Trotter on his feet again.”

“You mean ‘on someone else’s feet’!” the reporter chuckled.  “And here he comes now.”

The camera swung away to focus on the doors which swished open automatically.  Followed by a herd of nurses, Archie Trotter hobbled into the sunlight, aided by a couple of walking sticks.  He stood straight and took a lungful of fresh air.  He let the walking sticks fall.  The nurses gave him a delighted round of applause.

The reporter hurried up the steps to meet him.  The camera operator lumbered after, wary of trailing cables.

“Mr Trotter, Mr Trotter,” the reporter stuck the microphone under Archie Trotter’s nose.  “Trip Hazard, Teatime News.  How does it feel to be standing – nay, walking again?”

Archie Trotter smiled nervously.  “Er…”  His eyes darted, taking in the microphone, the reporter’s perfect teeth, and the camera lens glinting in the afternoon sun.

“Mr Trotter?”  Trip’s smile faltered.  “A few words for the folks at home, please?  What did it feel like when you took your first steps to recovery?”

Archie Trotter backed away.  He stood on the toes of his right foot and, pirouetting around, kicked the reporter in the throat with his left.

Gagging, Trip Hazard staggered backwards.  A second kick, to his stomach this time, doubled him in half.  Archie Trotter kicked the reporter down the steps.  Dr Treadwell and the nurses rushed to placate their patient, but Mr Trotter administered kicks to heads, jaws, chests, whatever came close.  Within seconds, everyone was flat out on the stairs.

Archie Trotter directed his attention to the camera.  He stared directly into the lens.  The camera operator moved back, stumbling over the trailing cables.  A foot lashed out, filling the screen, and cracking the glass. 

Dr Treadwell scrambled on his belly, a syringe full of sedative in his grasp.  Trip caught the doctor’s arm.

“He’s gone crazy!” the reporter gasped.  “Whose feet did you give him, Doc?  Whose?”

Dr Treadwell shook his head.  “I had no choice.  The hospital trust was pressuring me for results.  There was no alternative.  The only matching donor we had that day–”

The reporter wasn’t listening.  He was already Googling.

“That was the day the Kung Fu killer went on his spree.  The police brought him down in a hail of bullets and the body…”

“…was brought here,” Dr Treadwell’s voice cracked.  They looked over at Archie Trotter who was busy stomping the camera operator’s head to a pulp.  “We had no way of knowing this would happen.  You have to believe me.”

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Filed under horror, humour, Short story

Based on a True Story

Helena heard the van door slam before the doorbell rang.  Her groceries were here!  She opened the door.

“All right, love?” said the driver, in a bright yellow tabard with a baseball cap to match.  “Delivery.”

“Excellent.”

The driver paused in his unloading of carrier bags to hand the customer a print-out.  “Some substitutions, I’m afraid.”

Helena grimaced.  She read the list.  Within seconds, she was shaking her head.

“Oh, no, this won’t do.  Instead of tangerines, you’ve brought me lemons.  That’s hardly the same thing.”

The driver shrugged.  “They’re both citrus.”

“Yes, I know they’re both citrus.  But they’re hardly the same.  You don’t just peel a lemon and eat it like you would a tangerine.”

“It’s an acquired taste.  But you know what they say, when life gives you lemons…”

“Life’s not giving me lemons; I’m expected to pay for them.  Well, I won’t.  You can take them back.”

“Suit yourself.”  The driver continued to unload the order.

“And what’s this?  Instead of window-cleaner, you’ve brought me… oh, look!  More lemons!”

“Ah, now, you see, bit of lemon juice will work wonders on your windowpanes.  All that dried fly spit, comes right off!”

“Take them back!”

“You’re the boss.”

“And, here, where I ordered batteries, you’ve sent me…surprise, surprise!  More fucking lemons.”

The driver looked hurt.  “You can’t speak to me like that.  It’s a perfectly acceptable substitution.”

“Let me guess!  There’s enough electric current in a lemon to run a car.”

“Well, that’s an exaggeration.   That’s why you’ve got so many lemons.  To guarantee you have enough power.”

“This is ridiculous. Where’s my detergent?”

“Er, they sent lemons.”

“My moisturising cream?”

“Lemons.”

“My bathroom cleaner?”

“Guess what!”

“Have you brought it?”

“No, just lemons.”

“Hand sanitiser?”

“Lemons.”

Helena was exasperated.  “Have you brought me anything I asked for?  Is there anything in these bags that hasn’t been swapped out for lemons?”

The driver lifted his cap and scratched his head.  “I don’t know what to tell you, madam.”

“Fine, fine!” Helena gnashed her teeth.  She began to grab the bags and bring them into her hallway.  “But I’m telling you, this is the last time I order online from World of Lemons.”

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Filed under humour, Short story