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Writer's Corner - August 2008


Jolly
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Word of the month for August is NUMBER

The rules.

1. One thousand words or less. More barely any.

2. The deadline for posting your stories and poems is the end of August, on the dot.

3. The deadline for your votes is 9am on the 5th of September.

4. Criticisms are welcome, but please keep it in the nature of the corner.

5. Have a go - you don't have to use the word, it's just a guideline.

Good luck!

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G'rak read the question again. His brow furrowed deeply. This hadn't been on the syllabus! All the other questions on the sheet were answered, and this was the last one remaining. How could he be expected to do reading on something not on the syllabus?

Up and down the rows of desks in the assembly hall, G'rak could see the other students writing feverishly. Could everyone else have been been given the right reading materials? He chewed on his pen in a state of near panic. He needed to do well in this exam to make up for the poor quality of his coursework, and so he had applied himself fervently to reading for the last fortnight. He couldn't fail now! Failure meant a year of retakes. Unacceptable.

The words on the page were now swimming before his eyes. I must do something, thought G'rak. Quietly, he waited for an invigilator to look in his direction, and then stood up.

The first anti-tank shell split her head open like a watermelon. Blood spattered the curtains and stage around the smoking hole it had punched straight through the back wall. G'rak quickly swung round his left gun-arm in an arc and torched the desks and students near him with the incinerator attachment. Students were now beginning to scream and scatter from where he stood, but the chaingun in his right arm was already spinning up in anticipation. As the students and teachers bunched up at the exits, a solid stream of .44 armor piercing rounds punctured them, making what remained jerk about like demented flesh puppets.

Slowly, G'rak started to walk out of the hall in metallic thuds. A boy rolling on the floor to put out the flames engulfing his body was put out of his misery as a cybernetic heel crashed down. A girl who had hidden beneath her desk who made a break was caught mid step by a shotgun blast from his left gun-arm, making her erupt into a volcano of blood. The room burned fiercely as he moved down the aisle. He looked really cool, like Al Pacino as the Devil or Neo or something.

As G'rak left the hall the ceiling collapsed utterly behind him. He moved out into the school courtyard, blasting out windows and walls indiscriminately. The noise was deafening, so much so that he was taken completely by surprise when a foot slammed into his head.

G'rak caught himself and turned to face his new enemy. Above him, the Headmaster descended into view on a pillar of flame from his cyber rocket pack. "You're going to go back into the hall and finish that paper", said the head.

"Or what?", growled G'rak.

"Or I will show you what the turbo masers in my new cyber battle suit are capable of". G'rak hunched into a crouch, and prepared to spring, snarling.

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Number

1, 3, 6, 10, 15...

What’s the time? 2:40, fucking hell. I’ve only got four hours before the alarm.

21, 28, 35...

X squared minus x divided by two. No, no that’s not it. X-1 squared minus x over 2. Hang on, I’ll get it. Take the 6 that’ll be the third row. So 3 squared is what? 9. Okay 3 squared minus 3 is 6. there ya go...

1, 3, 6, 10, 15...

Hang on. 4 squared minus 4 doesn’t equal ten, that’s 12. What’s the time? 3:10, for fuck’s sake. I’ll get it, hang on. X multiplied by X+1 over 2? Is that it? (4x5)/2 equals ten doesn’t it? And (3x4)/2= 6. (6x7)/2 equals 21. Yeah that’s it. So if I wanted the 100th row it’d be 100x101 =... uh... one hundred thousand and ten, no one hundred and ten thousand. No, no, no that’s not it, dammit brain work! 3:25, stop working brain! Stop working!

1, 3, 6, 10, 15...

It’s ten thousand one hundred idiot. Christ forgotten your ten times table? Ha! So 10,100 divided by two is 5050. So there’d be 5050 pins by that point.

1, 3, 6, 10, 15...

Why does that work then? It’s like you create a rectangle and then divide by 2. and create a triangle, but an equal triangle. Shouldn’t it be like the same number to create a square? Have I got it wrong? What’s the time? 3:50 fucking hell.

1,3,6,10....

This isn’t working. My brain is. Shush you! What time is it? 3:59 no 4am. Unnnggh! Copy her breathing. One-two-one-two...

1,3,6,10,15,21,28,35,45...

Just imagine that in Wii sports with all the pins and there were five thousand and fifty pins! That’d be great. Wouldn’t work though, the ball wouldn’t carry enough force. But it’s a game. Keep the force, may the force be with you! Shut up! Shut up! Shut Up! 4:10.

1361015....

Oh, I get it. If you created a square and divided by two then you’d be left with the final row only having half-pins. So you need to add in the extra halves to make the triangle, which is why you go x time x plus 1. That’s it. That’s how Pythagoras embarrassed his teacher.

1, 3, 6...

What? What are you blithering on about now? 4:21. You remember? Back at school there was a poster. It said that one day Pythagoras’ teacher wanted some peace and quiet and so tasked his students with adding up the sequence of numbers from 1 to 1000. Thinking it’d would take them half the day. However, Pythagoras figured it in like five minutes, how was that possible? You didn’t know at the time.

1,3,6,10...

Cos he knew the algorithm. X time X plus 1 divided by two. Yes, you know now! Well done go back and tell Mrs House. She fucking hated me.

1, 3...

So, what was the answer? Well, 1000 times 1001 equals one million and ten thousand. Divided by two is. Five hundred and five thousand. Just imagine winning that on the lottery... 4:30 on the dot. Fucking hell!

1, 3, 6...

Was it really Pythagoras? I don’t know. I think so. When you were a child you used to just count. I know, evens on the left, odds on the right, piling them up in a big shelf of numbers. I know.

1..

Then, when you were older you used to count backwards, from 99 then 199, the 599... stopped working too didn’t it? I know! Shush, sleep, count sleep.

1,3,6...

Then you moved onto square numbers didn’t you? Used to work too. But that got too easy. Too hard. You’d get stuck around twenty-seven or something. 400 plus 49 plus 140 plus 140. Equals 540 plus 140, 680 plus 49 = 729. 27 squared equals 729.. 4:43.. why can’t I sleep?

1,3,6...

Twenty-seven times twenty-eight divided by two... oh now, that’s harder. Ummmn. Well we know 27 squared is 729, so add another 27. Equals 736, 756. divided by 2 is 350, three sixty eight. 368 pins. That’d be good. Oh just start again, sleep!

1,3,6,10...

Uh maybe triangles have got too easy too. You think? Yeah, maybe that’s why, they’re not taxing enough. Try something else then.

1,2,3,5,7,11,13, 17 (hey this is good) 19, 23, 29, 31... (ummmm) 37, 41, 43, 47... (wait 47, is that one?) (yeah, yeah) 49 (no definitely not) 53, (what about 51?)... (is there a way to figure it?) 57, 59, 61 (not 61, yes it is yes it is) 67 (you’d need an algorithm.) 71, 73, 79 (ooh this is getting harder) 81 (no!) 83... (you’d have to multiply by all the previous numbers... no up to half, a third? No a half. Or just the previous primes?)

Bee-Beep-Bee-Beep-Bee-Beep.

Shhh, don’t wake him, just reach out and turn it off. That’s better, now where were we...?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay --- this is it. I haven't written any stories since I was at school, but I thought I'd warm up with this one. I don't think it's related to the word of the month at all, but I'd quite like some feedback, please.

Deres a monstir in ma hus an nowun cairs bu mi IT cum out wen im not spectin an chasez mi I so scaird I hyd bu it stil cum

eets ma food bu not of ma plate an it sleeps alown it gets in ma baed bu don sleep dere witch iz glad bowt ven tho I iz 2 scaired to sleeps dere I chil but I don stai long wen nite cum it don ujooaly cum owt

bu sumtym it duz

ujooalli it don cum wen peepells rown

bu sumtyme it duz

at nite I sleep tukkd up wiv peepol an flinch wen noizez cum frum nowair an berry ma faze ina pilow an sumtym I git bak 2 sleep wiv her breff on ma nek snorin lyk perkushon

ive not seen it cum owt wivowt her tho dey ressel in smal room bu it don screemtil it owt and shi chasez it holdin it an I fere an wereva I go it dere an on mi stuf an ona sofa an on a floar an it screem an screem til I don fink I can tek it an I cry an shak an wish it woo go way til it duz always duz at sum poyn an shi gutz it an it cufz and iz week an den I tutch it sumtym an it har an tingz an I run coz wot if it ven tho it li ona floar an iz week it duz sumfin frash it nek at mi and liff it fez an deres crashin

shi tek it week bu it alwez cum bak strong weh I iz dai dreamin an a doezin in a sunstreek on a floar iv a carpt iz nize 2 riggel on an I dreem ov plesses waire I z fri an da wind ruffelz ma hare an fuds aal rown an I layz doin nuffin sept lisnen to da byrdz ana water anda russling ina grass ov likel creechas

an den it cum

done no wy it heer

wy it heer wy it mek sutch sowns an shi no cair but hols it nek and chez

or iz shi push

wy shi folo an den it ownli owt for fyoo minuts an den it lok up

shi no lok mi up

I free

Sort ov

I no free wen I wori an I wori now bowt de monster meyb he no a hapi monstir meyb dat wy he screem an now I cry an claw an I wanna see da munstir yoo ok mistir monstir yoo need ennyfin how I help wy yoo in dare on yur own wen I iz owt heer wiv dis room yu don need 2 I b heer I halp

Now I luk at her wut shi do wy shi git 2 deside wot we do shi go sumtym an I watch her leeve an I peek ina rum an I si da monstir an hi seem kwiet an stil an sad stan on his own in small rum I vyt him owt bu he don move he scaird 2 he scaird ov mi

I beg I say monstir it ok shi gon now but I no he fink he don no wen shi bak wen shi want him owta ruum agen mek him screem I heer his sylen sadnez an I wish I cud help moor bu he wone muv an I catch da door wiv mi naelz an it hurt 2 moov bu I puul hard harder til mi fingerz feel lyke dey pull of dey do rippin bakwars froo ma flesh an I breeve har I don wanna screem don wanna scair him wan him 2 no I iz brev an will sev him

It muuv abit anna bit moor an I cn push ma fez in furver an I cal him monstir monstir it ok cum owt seea carpit sunstreek an feel do win it cum in froo da gap ina winow an I shair wiv him ma fuds from ma plet not hav to eet offa floar or sleep alone Wi cud sleep togevver if he don screem an I push mi fez froo an I riggel ma showldaz an get in lyk I bump froo neerli aal in an I riggel my bom an Iz in

Dark in heer dark an it smel ov feets an levvar an he stil not movin

I wark ovar an I stil torkin to da mistir an I look arown at da darks an grey an harflit nuffiness am see da fings witch don cum owt offen an da long skarvs lyk sneeks dat drip on im an da bags wiv noffin in em but bits ov peper an harebans an pensils shi lyk pensils mek em run abowt do peper an leev marx til I grabem cos dey shooden hav to b wiv her wen Im not no faer

Now I not wurry bowt da pensils dey k no shore I wan her tym no moor shi got 2 mutch controwl ovir stuff I sit wivva monstir an fink how weerd it iz dat I scaired b4 ov him wen now I scaird ov her an I mek plan

Tok 2 mistir monstir but he don sey mutch jus lissen bu ma planz aal fale 2 sown gud I done fink mistermonstir ain no help bu I wiv him he not alown an I not alown iver enny moor an da darks laxin an da smelz warm an I curl onna levva soff an comfi

Wen shi com bak I watch her wiv won I an I cum owt foor fuds bu I member mistir inna cubard an I not scaird of him no moor bu I don sleep wiv her no moor iver

Sleep in a cuburd an luk affer a monsir

He ma fren

Props to Faerie xxx

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Okay - should I re-write this in a more manageable way?

Might be a good idea - maybe keep the style but don't have quite such extreme misspellings. I got about three lines in and got tired - it's really hard to get the flow of a sentence when you have to read each word individually.

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Might be a good idea - maybe keep the style but don't have quite such extreme misspellings. I got about three lines in and got tired - it's really hard to get the flow of a sentence when you have to read each word individually.

Yeah, murray said the same thing. I think I just like LolCats a bit too much.

I'll have another go. Thanks, Holly. :)

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Deres a monstir in ma hus an nowun cairs bu mi IT cum out wen im not spectin an chasez mi I so scaird I hyd bu it stil cum

There's a monster in my house and no-one cares but me. It comes out when I'm not expecting it and it chases me. I'm so scared. I hide, but it still comes.

eets ma food bu not of ma plate an it sleeps alown it gets in ma baed bu don sleep dere witch iz glad bowt ven tho I iz 2 scaired to sleeps dere I chil but I don stai long wen nite cum it don ujooaly cum owt

It eats my food but not off my plate and it sleeps alone; it gets in my bed but it doesn't sleep there, which I am glad about even though I'm too scared to sleep there. I chill but I don't stay long. When the night comes it doesn't usually come out.

bu sumtym it duz

But sometimes it does.

ujooalli it don cum wen peepells rown

Usually it doesn't come when people are around.

bu sumtyme it duz

But sometimes it does.

at nite I sleep tukkd up wiv peepol an flinch wen noizez cum frum nowair an berry ma faze ina pilow an sumtym I git bak 2 sleep wiv her breff on ma nek snorin lyk perkushon

At night I sleep tucked up with people and flinch when noises come from nowhere and bury my face in the pillow and sometimes I get back to sleep with her breath on my neck, snoring like percussion.

ive not seen it cum owt wivowt her tho dey ressel in smal room bu it don screemtil it owt and shi chasez it holdin it an I fere an wereva I go it dere an on mi stuf an ona sofa an on a floar an it screem an screem til I don fink I can tek it an I cry an shak an wish it woo go way til it duz always duz at sum poyn an shi gutz it an it cufz and iz week an den I tutch it sumtym an it har an tingz an I run coz wot if it ven tho it li ona floar an iz week it duz sumfin frash it nek at mi and liff it fez an deres crashin

I've not seen it come out without her though. They wrestle in a small room, but it doesn't start screaming until it's out and she's chasing it, holding it. And I'm afraid. Wherever I go, it's there and on my stuff and on the sofa, and on the floor, and it screams and screams until I don't think I can take it aand I cry and shake and wish it would go away until it does. It always does at some point. And she gets it and it coughs and is weak and then I touch it sometimes, and it's hard and tings and I run because what if, even though it's lying on the floor and is weak it does something? Thrashes its neck at me and lifts its face and then there's crashing?

shi tek it week bu it alwez cum bak strong weh I iz dai dreamin an a doezin in a sunstreek on a floar iv a carpt iz nize 2 riggel on an I dreem ov plesses waire I z fri an da wind ruffelz ma hare an fuds aal rown an I layz doin nuffin sept lisnen to da byrdz ana water anda russling ina grass ov likel creechas

When she takes it away it's weak, but it always comes back strong, like when I'm daydreaming and dozing on a sunstreak on the floor. I have a carpet - it's nice to wriggle on - and I dream of places where I am free and the wind ruffles my hair and food is all around, and I lay, doing nothing except listening to the birds and the water and rustling in the grass of little creatures.

an den it cum

And then it comes.

done no wy it heer

I don't know why it's here.

wy it heer wy it mek sutch sowns an shi no cair but hols it nek and chez

Why is it here? Why does it make such sounds? And she doesn't care! She just holds its neck and chases it.

or iz shi push

Or is she pushing it?

wy shi folo an den it ownli owt for fyoo minuts an den it lok up

Why does she follow it, but only for a few minutes and then locks it up?

shi no lok mi up

She doesn't lock me up.

I free

I'm free.

Sort ov

Sort of.

I no free wen I wori an I wori now bowt de monster meyb he no a hapi monstir meyb dat wy he screem an now I cry an claw an I wanna see da munstir yoo ok mistir monstir yoo need ennyfin how I help wy yoo in dare on yur own wen I iz owt heer wiv dis room yu don need 2 I b heer I halp

I'm not free when I worry. And I'm worrying now. About the monster. Maybe he's not a happy monster. Maybe that's why he screams. And now I'm crying and clawing and I want to see the monster. "You okay, Mr monster? You need anything? How can I help you? Why are you in there on your own when I am out here with all this room? You don't need to be! I'm here! I'll help!"

Now I luk at her wut shi do wy shi git 2 deside wot we do shi go sumtym an I watch her leeve an I peek ina rum an I si da monstir an hi seem kwiet an stil an sad stan on his own in small rum I vyt him owt bu he don move he scaird 2 he scaird ov mi

Now I'm looking at her. What's she doing? Why does she get to decide what we can do? She goes out sometimes. I watch her leave and I peek in the room and I see the monster and he seems quiet and still and sad, standing on his own in a small room. I invite him out but he doesn't move. He's scared too. He's scared of me.

I beg I say monstir it ok shi gon now but I no he fink he don no wen shi bak wen shi want him owta ruum agen mek him screem I heer his sylen sadnez an I wish I cud help moor bu he wone muv an I catch da door wiv mi naelz an it hurt 2 moov bu I puul hard harder til mi fingerz feel lyke dey pull of dey do rippin bakwars froo ma flesh an I breeve har I don wanna screem don wanna scair him wan him 2 no I iz brev an will sev him

I beg him! I say "Monster! It's okay! She's gone now!" but I know he's thinking that he doesn't know when she'll be back - when she'll get him out of the room again, make him scream. I hear his silent sadness and I wish I could help more, but he won't move. I catch the door with my nails and it hurts to move, but I pull harder until my fingers feel like they're pulling off. They do! Ripping backwards through my flesh and I breathe hard. I don't want to scream - I don't want to scare him - I want him to know that I am brave and I will save him!

It muuv abit anna bit moor an I cn push ma fez in furver an I cal him monstir monstir it ok cum owt seea carpit sunstreek an feel do win it cum in froo da gap ina winow an I shair wiv him ma fuds from ma plet not hav to eet offa floar or sleep alone Wi cud sleep togevver if he don screem an I push mi fez froo an I riggel ma showldaz an get in lyk I bump froo neerli aal in an I riggel my bom an Iz in

The door moves a bit, and a bit more, and I can push my face in further and I call him "Monster! Monster! It's okay to come out! See the carpet sunstreak and feel the wind when it comes in through the gap in the window!" and I'll share with him my food from my plate so he doesn't have to eat off the floor or sleep alone. We could sleep together if he doesn't scream. Then I push my face through and I wriggle my shoulders and get in! Well, I'm nearly in, and I wriggle my bum and I am in!

Dark in heer dark an it smel ov feets an levvar an he stil not movin

It's dark in here. Dark and it smells of feet and leather and he's still not moving.

I wark ovar an I stil torkin to da mistir an I look arown at da darks an grey an harflit nuffiness am see da fings witch don cum owt offen an da long skarvs lyk sneeks dat drip on im an da bags wiv noffin in em but bits ov peper an harebans an pensils shi lyk pensils mek em run abowt do peper an leev marx til I grabem cos dey shooden hav to b wiv her wen Im not no faer

I walk over and I'm still talking to the mister and I look around at the dark and greys and half-lit nothingness and I see the things which don't come out often and the long scarves like snakes that drip on him and the bags with nothing in them except pieces of paper and hairbands and pencils. She likes pencils. She makes them run around on the paper and leave marks until I grab them because they shouldn't get to be with her when I'm not - it's not fair.

Now I not wurry bowt da pensils dey k no shore I wan her tym no moor shi got 2 mutch controwl ovir stuff I sit wivva monstir an fink how weerd it iz dat I scaired b4 ov him wen now I scaird ov her an I mek plan

Noew I'm not worrying about the pencils. They're okay. Not sure I want her time any more anyway. She's got too much control over stuff. I sit with the monster and think how weird it is that I was scared of him before when now I'm scared of her. And I make a plan.

Tok 2 mistir monstir but he don sey mutch jus lissen bu ma planz aal fale 2 sown gud I done fink mistermonstir ain no help bu I wiv him he not alown an I not alown iver enny moor an da darks laxin an da smelz warm an I curl onna levva soff an comfi

I talk to Mr monster, but he doesn't say much, just listens, but my plans all fail to sound good. I can't think, and MisterMonster's no help. But I'm with him and he's not alone and I'm not alone any more! And the dark's relaxing and the smells are warm, and I curl up on the leather and it's soft and comfy.

Wen shi com bak I watch her wiv won I an I cum owt foor fuds bu I member mistir inna cubard an I not scaird of him no moor bu I don sleep wiv her no moor iver

When she comes back I watch her with one eye. I come out for food, but I remember Mister in the cupboard and I'm not scared of him any more. But I don't sleep with her any more either.

Sleep in a cuburd an luk affer a monsir

I sleep in a cupboard and look after a monster.

He ma fren

He's my friend.

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Last night, it rained feathers.

Not metaphorically either.

Proper feathers. Full on rain.

It was beautiful. In an incredibly frightening kind of way.

*********************************************************************

The door opens and a million flashbulbs go off as the worlds press leaps to its feet. A middle aged sound engineer makes his entrance and the worlds press falls back on its arse. A loud collective groan fills the room as the engineer quietly goes about his business, making the last few final adjustments to the microphones; still shaking from the impact of being so incredibly disappointing.

The door opens a second time and once again the reporters find themselves sitting back down and feeling a little foolish as a small, meek looking civil servant in a medium price suit takes to the stand. He has a glassy look in his eyes; a thousand yard stare, as he places some papers in front of the podium and coughs weakly into the microphone.

The cameras start rolling.

The world watches.

“Ahem...Can I...Can I have your attention please?”

His words are instantly translated into a hundred languages and fired to all corners of the globe. Into every home, into every ear, into every eye.

“Thank you. Erm...you all know why you’re here. There have been some events worldwide that have cause some confusion. We hope to clarify a few things for you this evening.”

He takes a long awkward pause, beads of sweat trickling down his face, hands visibly shaking now.

“I....I....”

Much to the surprise of Planet Earth, he bursts into tears.

Between the sobs, the microphones manage to pick up “I’d like to introduce you to...Ian”.

The door opens.

It steps through.

A glorious light. A magnificent, bright, warm light. In the distance, very faintly, a thousand children sing. A baby laughs. The smell of freshly baked bread, cut grass, cinnamon. The Sun on your face, the touch of a loved one, a mothers hug.

“Ahem!”

The press snaps out of it, and looks towards the podium.

It beats it’s wings sending a thousand tiny, white feathers flying around the room. It’s halo throbs with a pleasant glow. It’s face familiar to all from a million paintings, sculptures and dreams.

“Hello human race. My name is Ian, and I have a message from God.”

The world picks it’s jaw from the ground and braces itself.

It pulls a white, folded piece of paper from inside the sleeve of it’s robe and begins to read.

“My most beloved creation. Apologies for the lateness of my reply.”

Ian pauses as if expecting a laugh. Unperturbed by the hushed, awed silence; he continues.

“I have been very anxious about today and I have run this conversation through my head over and over. I was unsure of the best way to broach the situation. You may have noticed that I am a private deity, preferring to speak to individuals. I’m not much of a public speaker and I’m very sensitive about my appearance. So please understand when I say this hasn’t been easy.

“I understand that you have a saying often used in the breakdown of relationships, and I feel that this phrase is apt in our circumstances; ‘Its not you, its me’.

“Maybe I wasn’t the clearest of creators. You’ve taken some of the things I’ve said and done far too literally. You’ve totally ignored others. I can only say that I have learned a lot from this experience and should I ever let there be light again, I will ensure that any moral doctrine I pass on will be devoid of poetic language and will be put across in a series of clear concise bullet points. What you have made abundantly clear is that despite having the capacity to love, and experience love, you have misinterpreted a lot, and in most cases, haven’t vaguely grasped what I was going on about. Not even close.

“I’m babbling now, but you have to understand that this is very upsetting to me. You’re all I’ve ever known and you have given me much joy. Some of the stuff you’ve done is bloody amazing. You should be proud! The Great Wall is really impressive. I like what you’ve done with Christmas. I’d would never create something as amazing as apple strudel all by myself. The Olympics is a lovely idea. I like it when you bow to each other. I like it when you kiss. I love ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. You found the Moon and touched it.

“Which is why this is so very difficult, but I can’t sit back and watch you ruin it for everything else. I’ve feel I’ve given you fair warning. I feel I’ve given you a chance to respond. But you never do. You never change. You’re content to argue amongst yourselves about who loves me the most. You never realise that its the experience and beauty of love, and not the direction it flows in, that is the most treasured of all my creations.

“Human race I regret to inform you that as of five o’clock this afternoon Greenwich meantime, you will no longer be inhabitants of my universe. I’m terribly sorry, but now is the time of your judgment. I hope you can take this in the good faith it is intended.

“Many thanks, God.”

Minutes pass as the world looks at Ian, The Harbinger of Doom, in silence.

Ian laughs nervously.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news guys.”

More silence.

“I guess when its your time to go, its your time to go. Your numbers up.”

A few of the reporters fight back sobs. Soon, the room, and then the world is in floods of tears.

“Alright, alright I’ll have a word, but I’m not promising anything O.K?”

Ian rolls his eyes and returns to the creator in the same way he landed; in a shaft of glorious light.

This time however, its raining fire and brimstone.

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The mannequin spots him immediately.

A few seconds later he returns the favour.

It hides in one of the larger tents behind an Edwardian pedestal desk, catching the corner of his eye. Like any experienced dealer, he decides on his final offer before entering the stall.

There is always a deal to be done.

The antiques fair isn’t what it used to be - something to do with eBay he reckons. Gone are the days of touching before you buy, now you compare prices amongst websites advertised on flyers. The dealers barely make a living, more profit to be made in scrap than the current sale prices. The stalls don’t make money at the fairs, and the buyers don’t turn up without the stalls, all contributing to the inevitable decline of the market.

Yesterday he sold what he could to the professionals and shop owners. Today it is the general public – plenty of people, not enough buyers. After a quiet morning he decided to pack up everything into the van and head home, but not before wandering the stalls for one last time.

Most of the stuff on sale is junk - junk that one day will be worth something to someone, but still junk all the same. The place stinks of memories, endless house clearances and heirlooms that speak with fading voices. Everything looks like it could be haunted or cursed. Everything looks so early Stephen King.

The mannequin definitely falls into this category - dressed in a faded Victorian bodice, with eyes stitched shut and a cloth mouth fraying at the edges. Its expression says low profit margin, yet it radiates warmth, a quirkiness that might appeal to a collector.

It is almost certainly cursed, and if that is the case, it has certainly picked him out.

Horror fiction, his only companion during the slow off-season months, has taught him how these things work. Once something like this has you, no matter how consciously aware of it you are, you still reluctantly concede and move with it, the paradox of knowing that you know whilst at the same time knowing that it doesn’t matter. No use fighting it, best to submit to the inevitable.

Whether he wants to or not he moves closer, intrigued by the price tag that undervalues the item by quite some margin. The damage could be the reason, visible just above the neckline of the bodice, and as he teases at the material

Blink

He is in a thin corridor with no doors. A thin alcove is set into the wall, and in it stands a thin girl. The air is like stale bread, the visibility like a dirty lens. It feels like a long time ago, yet he can hear The Future Sound of London playing from a distant source. The girl looks mid-twenties, normal-haired with pale skin and homeless features.

He goes to examine her.

Above her cropped top are fifty seven marks cut into her breastbone. Scores. Notches. A tally, neatly arranged in bunches of five like a prison cell engraving. The first few marks have faded to scar, white vertical lines resembling the bite of a rodent. From left to right the marks steadily become fresher, bruising making the count indistinguishable in places. The most recent marks are small crimson slits, cut with such precision that they barely bleed.

Below her left shoulder is a Stanley knife, hanging from the ceiling by a frayed piece of string, slowly rotating back and forth. It all seems so horribly obvious, and as he wonders who she is, she speaks without moving.

I am the number fifty seven.

He immediately struggles to parse what he has heard. Not fifty seven. Not even number fifty seven, indicating that she is perhaps one of many others, but the number fifty seven, like she is the constant, the universal truth and its perpetual existence.

With no other option he goes to touch her, but as he does so her mouth splits open with a spasm, unfolding into his face

Blink

He is back in the tent.

Small changes make it feel as though time has passed. It’s more overcast than it was a second ago. A bad taste has found his mouth. The smell of furniture polish, a smell that he loved so much as a child, is now unpleasant and unwelcome. The thing that resembles a mannequin is now cold to the touch. Cold, but not entirely unpleasant.

Still touching the bodice he teases it down a little more to reveal small notches across the breastbone, crudely scorn into the material. He counts them whilst his head is still clear enough to do so.

There are fifty six of them. He feels the imbalance, the misalignment, the sense of every law and theory disproving before him, a constant that is currently another.

The universe doesn't get much more broken than that.

This is the reason to touch before you buy, to understand what you’re dealing with, to confirm what you’re getting into. He knows the rules, knows he will purchase it despite his dealers instinct, knows he is chosen to put things right. You don’t run or dispose of an object like this – it always reappears in the most unlikely of circumstances, haunting you until you can satisfy its hunger.

He must take it away and increment, restore whatever needs to be restored, in whatever way is required. Maybe then he can return it here, try to catch the corner of someone else’s eye before the antiques fair disappears forever. Will he be the unlucky one, the last count, unable to pass it on?

The music always stops on someone.

A voice speaks, and for a moment the mannequin splits open once more, but it is only the stall owner, asking if he's interested in making an offer. Despite his sky becoming more overcast by the minute, he considers haggling.

There is always a deal to be done.

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A story inspired by Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express, which was inspired by Murakami's novel.

We rub shoulders everyday.

We may not know each other, but we could be friends some day.

At our closest point we were just 0.1 cm apart.

3 hours later, I was in love with this girl.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Is anyone sitting here?”

I slowly raised my head and saw a girl looking at me. In the dark I could only see her big round eyes. Still, there was something about her that gave my heart a violent punch. “Could I sit here?” She asked again. My chest tightened and I could hardly breathe. All I could do was nodding my head. She gazed into my eyes and gave a faint smile. Or was it? Had she really smiled? Maybe I was just imagining things.

Why did this girl with big round eyes come to watch a film alone on Friday night? Didn’t she have something more exciting to do?

A subtle fragrance was in the air since she sat down next to me. Was it the scent of narcissi? No, it was not. It seemed to be rose, or jasmine? Action and explosion erupted on the big screen but I was too busy sniffing the aroma.

“How about a magic trick? I will make this pencil disappear.” Bang!

“Oh!” she led out a cry and leaned towards me. The sweetness of her fragrance swirled in the air, forming a harmonious cloud that penetrated every corner of my shirt, my trousers, my shoes, my skin, my hair. I was not sure how much time went by – maybe 1 or 2 hours – time was frozen while I was surrounded by this sweet scent.

“Let me get this straight, you want to blackmail someone who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands? Good luck!”

She chuckled. Was that supposed to be funny? Why this film was so difficult to follow and FUCKING LONG?

She swivelled round in her seat. At our closest point our knees were just 0.1 cm apart. I could not take my eyes off her knee. She wore a white dress. I had a sense that something was permeating my flesh.

The credits rolled and everybody slowly got up and started to leave. But she stayed behind. So she liked to watch the credits too. Eventually we were the only people left in the cinema.

I wanted to say something to her. I had to say something to her. It would be simple: simply asked if she liked the film.

Do you like the film?

Do you like the film?

Do you like the film?

Do you like the film?

Do you like the film?

I held the words back and rolled them around on my tongue again and again but I could not let them out of my mouth.

"In memory of our friends Heath Ledger

& Conway Wickliffe"

She stood up and walked towards the exit. I HAD TO TALK TO HER. This was my last chance and if I let this chance pass I probably would never have another. But my numb and swollen tongue could not form words.

She stopped about 1 metre away from me, turned her head. “Do you like the film?” she asked.

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Numbers... my inspiration? well, I use them when I can't sleep. Whether counting down from a high number or adding them together or just generally trying to take my mind off of whatever it is that is bothering me and keeping me awake.

Mr Cochese - Haven't read a lot of Doom fanfic so..... ^_^ a surreal choice of environment for a cyberdemon tantrum. Like it!

Pocket Frenzy - Even with the translation I don't know whether I got it. Was it the viewpoint of a cat/dog seeing a new baby in the house? Difficult to read and I appreciate that it is also very hard to write like that too. Interesting and well worth submitting, I enjoyed it even if I didn't quite grasp it. Very good.

Jooly - As always you tickle my humour. Have you read Good Omens? I always enjoy a good comedic devil/angel.

hombre_hompson - Woooah, your imagination is a fascinating place. Loved the idea, loved the execution, very good.

Faerie - Haven't read Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express or the novel you mentioned so feel like I am missing out a bit. However, your capturing of an insecure man and confident woman was excellent.

hombre_hompson gets my vote this month.

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Have you read Good Omens? I always enjoy a good comedic devil/angel.

No, I haven't, but you've just reminded me to look up the last book you recommended! I keep meaning to read that 'next' but something else always falls in my lap. ("Stardust" or something - about astronauts when they come back from space - can't believe that was a year ago now!)

Anyway, Faerie just pips it over Hombre for me this month.

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Mr Cochese - Sci-fi isn't really my thing, but this made me smile.

Danster - Quite a difficult, almost claustrophobic read, but I guess that was the point, to share the frustrations of the main character. Good stuff.

Pocket Frenzy - I read it as the 'monster' being a vacuum cleaner, with the voice being that of a small child. Still not sure I'm right. Another difficult read, maybe the language was a little too far removed. Interesting experiment though, and good to read something a bit different

Jolly - Well written as always, now with added humour. Excellent.

Faerie - Glad you carried on from last month. Don't know the reference, but this had a nice dream like quality to it.

Shame to have so few entries this month, but I enjoyed reading what we had. My runner up was Faerie, but my vote goes to Jolly.

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No, I haven't, but you've just reminded me to look up the last book you recommended! I keep meaning to read that 'next' but something else always falls in my lap. ("Stardust" or something - about astronauts when they come back from space - can't believe that was a year ago now!)

Heh, you've just reminded me I still haven't bought it into work so that the guy sitting next to me can read it. It is called Moondust and most enjoyable it is too.

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Mr Cochese: it is bloody violent and bloody funny.

Danster: I am very bad in maths so I find it difficult to follow. It makes me :)

Pocket frenzy: I reckon you are a SUPER cat lover. But I am not sure whether the monster is a vaccum cleaner or not. I wonder if you could put it explicitly. Anyway, glad that you like my first story.

Jolly: It has me from the beginning to the end. The suspense of who is going to appear and what he is up to is brilliant.

Hombre: l like your writing but I find it quite detached. I wonder why you put certain phrases in italic???

My vote goes to Jolly

Faerie - Haven't read Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express or the novel you mentioned so feel like I am missing out a bit. However, your capturing of an insecure man and confident woman was excellent.

You didn't miss out anything. Wong Kar-wai's and Haruki Murakami's works focus on lost and loneliness and they are both very precise about number, like "he is 2.2 metres away from me" etc etc. FYI, 'Chungking Express' is a 1994 Hong Kong film. Wong's more well known works include 'In the Mood for Love' and 'My Blueberry Nights' (starring Jude Law and Norah Jones). Murakami's 'Norwegian Wood' and 'Kafka on the Shore' are better known in the West.

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Danster: I am very bad in maths so I find it difficult to follow. It makes me :lol:

If I could be ingulged a little further then...

Have you heard of triangular numbers?

Imagine ten pin bowling, in the first row there is a single pin. In the second row there are 2 pins, add the two together and you get three. Triangular numbers are just that. So 1+2 = 3, 3 is a triangular number (it is in fact THE second triangular number).

And you could count them forever. just by adding the next number in the sequence. i.e.

1 = 1

1+2 = 3

1+2+3 = 6

1+2+3+4 = 10

1+2+3+4+5 = 15

So in your head you might go:

1

+2=3

+3=6

+4=10

+5=15

Now if you found it helped you sleep by doing sums in your head then these might be quite good sums to do. Keep adding the next in sequence.... However, if you like maths you might realise that there is an equation which could help you work out the triangular number for any particular level.... okay, so going back to ten-pin bowling, the fourth level would be the ten pins. 1+2+3+4= 10

So take the number 4 (level 4). If you multiply it by the next number in the sequence (5) then you get 20. If you then divide that by 2 then you get the 10 pins. And this equation can be used for ANY level of triangular numbers. So level 3 is 3*4 (12) divided by 2 = 6. Level 100 is 100 * 101 = 10100 divided by 2 = 5050....

So if we were playing 5050 pin bowling there would be a 100 rows of pins.

The guy in the story figures out that equation (whether by pre-knowledge or not, doesn't matter) but what does matter to him is that he has spoilt his way of getting to sleep. Because it now seems pointless to him counting up triangular numbers when he can just work them out directly using the equation.

Frustrated he turns to Prime numbers*, and in them discovers the complexity that his mind craves to get to sleep.

Sorry if you weren't really interested! :o

*Prime numbers are those numbers that can be divided (without leaving a remainder) by only themselves and 1. No even number can be a Prime number (apart from 2) because they can all be divided by two. Prime numbers start: 1,2,3,5,7,11...

9 isn't a prime number because it can be dived by three. AND, unlike triangular numbers, figuring out the next prime number takes more than a simple equation.

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I've actually written something for this month, but I've rewritten it twice and it's so shit I can't bear to post it. *sad*

Awww. I feel your pain.

Are you allowed to vote if you haven't posted a story?

If this is the case - I vote Faerie.

I love the silent chemistry you created between the characters.

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*Prime numbers are those numbers that can be divided (without leaving a remainder) by only themselves and 1. No even number can be a Prime number (apart from 2) because they can all be divided by two. Prime numbers start: 1,2,3,5,7,11...

I thought one wasn't actually a prime number?

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Hombre: l like your writing but I find it quite detached. I wonder why you put certain phrases in italic???

Yeah, it's all fairly clinical and precise so I can see why you might find it a bit detached. For stories like this one it's a deliberate style, very little time spent on characters or descriptions. I rarely give characters a name, and when I do describe them it's non-descriptive e.g a normal-haired girl, which is something I like to do. I'm not very good at the more descriptive stuff, and it helps with the word count, which is why I've grown into this style. I think it works for stories like this one, but hopefully some of my other entries have had a bit more warmth when needed.

The italics is just a lazy form of emphasis, due to the reasons above. Probably use them too much. :(

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