General Forum

General Forum

  1. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 00:54
    Dear all, we have twelve entries which I will post in the next posts. Then I will open the voting.

    Authors: If anything is amiss please send me a PM and I will try to rectify the Situation.

    Voting procedure. We will vote forup to three entries. giving 5-3-1 Points.
    You can vote here. Anonymous votes can be cast by PM to me, (I will add them at the end of the voting time).

    The Ballot Closes in one week. 15th of May Midnight (RHP-time).

    The three entries with the most votes will go into a second round to decide the winner.
  2. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 00:55

    This post is unavailable.

    Please refer to our posting guidelines.

  3. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
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    09 May '20 00:59
    Victoria’s Wedding.

    Victoria was preparing for bed after her shower when there came a knock on her bedroom door; a coded knock, which she and her brother Michael had used since they had been children.
    ‘What…?’
    ‘Are you decent?’
    ‘Not really.’
    ‘Telephone…No idea who.’
    ‘Where…?’
    ‘Front door…’
    ‘Okay, I’m coming.’
    She dried herself and dressed quickly in slippers and bathrobe; along the corridor, down the central staircase and across the grand hallway to the ‘phone which had always been beside the front doors of the Manor.
    ‘Hello….’
    ‘Hello Vics, it’s Rob.’
    Her stomach turned somersaults as her heart skipped a beat or two, a feeling thereafter finding its’ way to places where it had better not go. An instinctive reaction, her instincts having found their way before her conscious mind could find traction, but she had to say something.
    ‘I’m sorry, who…?

    -----------------------------------

    In two days, Victoria was to be married. Terrance was from a good family, safe and dependable, and parental approval was guaranteed, her parents having anyway engineered the match. The wedding would be a grand affair, no expense was to be spared, and their Lord and Ladyship had promised their daughter an advance on her inheritance to seal the matter. Thus, in her twenty seventh year, was her future assured. They would move to a good home, and she would give up her job at the museum when the first child arrived. It was a job which she loved, and which her masters’ - degree in History had prepared her well for, but as her dear father had said, sacrifices had to be made. Her ‘destiny’ he had called it, rather dramatically, and she had laughed, although her father had not.

    -------------------------------------

    ‘It’s me, Rob. I guess you’ve forgotten all about me.’
    Rob, the man who had broken her heart before he had even really been a man; she had been sixteen and he only a little older. Two months of a summer which had felt like a lifetime, she on school holiday from Roedean, and they had met in Brighton, on the pier of all places. Then were secret meetings, making love on the beach after dark, and wherever and whenever they could, both of them discovering their young bodies and their young souls for the first time, and living for the next time they would meet. A rain of pure and all – consuming love, a deluge, really, which had fallen on both of their lives, before his parents had moved to Scotland, they had said goodbye, and her life had become the desert in which she had lived ever since. No, she had not forgotten, she remembered every detail, of everything.
    ‘Rob…’
    ‘Yeah, Rob, look, if th….
    ‘What the hell do you want?’
    ‘I don’t know…I thought maybe we could, you know, meet up.’
    A hundred questions, and a hundred thoughts, and for a moment she was quite lost.
    ‘F***….’
    ‘Well, I confess I’d hoped for a different reaction. You never used to sw….’
    ‘Shut up….Where are you….? I mean….You can’t just ‘phone me like this, it isn’t fair.’
    ‘I’m sorry, okay, but I couldn’t exactly turn up at the Manor House, could I? I’m living down south again, I’m working…’
    ‘I’m getting married in two days.’
    ‘I know, I read about it in the Court Circular.’
    ‘You read the Court Circular?’
    ‘Even the great unwashed are allowed to read stuff.’
    ‘How did you get this number?’
    ‘I remembered it.’
    ‘You remembered it….It’s been ten years, Rob.’
    ‘Eleven, actually, but who’s counting?’
    ‘I can’t…I mean, what the hell do you want me to do?’
    ‘Meet me tomorrow.’
    ‘No…No, that can’t happen.’
    ‘Sure…Okay, I get it. Look, I’ll be in the park tomorrow at twelve, where we used to meet. If you don’t show I’ll…Well, I’ll walk away and you’ll never hear from me again.’
    ‘Rob, go away, this is ridiculous.’
    ‘Is it?’
    The call ended, somehow, and Victoria tried to pick up the pieces of her life as she drifted in a dream back to her bedroom.

    -----------------------------------

    They sat together on the park bench, watching the ducks on the lake. At first neither spoke, and then she spoke.
    ‘So, what the hell do we do now?’
    ‘I’ve got wheels, and there’re airports, you know?’
    ‘Rob, I’m getting married tomorrow.’
    ‘Yeah, you said. If you want I’ll go, it’s not too late.’
    He stood up.
    ‘It’s your life, Vics.’
    One step away from her, and for a moment the balance was perfect, and she closed her eyes against the glaring possibilities which lay ahead. One final deep breath, then she stood.
    ‘I can’t do it, Rob, not now.’
    ‘I know.’
    She took his hand, and they walked together along the broad path, neither knowing where they were going, but at that moment neither of them really cared.
  4. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
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    09 May '20 01:00
    Release

    Trigger warning: This story contains a suicidal theme, and ‘language’ has been moderated for RHP regulations




    “Come on Nathan, hold that inner core, feel the muscles, you CAN do this!”

    Oh, shut up you Neanderthal fool, you know I’ve got no feeling below my lungs, so there is nothing to tense or hold. Just pull the strain face, Nate, it will make him feel like his paper physiotherapy degree was worth the cost. At least I don’t need look like I’m putting in any effort, I’m constantly hot and in pain so this anguished look and excessive sweating is a permanent fixture.

    “Annnnnnnnd reee-lax. Great effort today Nathan, let me walk you outta here Big Man!”

    ‘Big Man’? What the absolute flip? I wasn’t big before, average height, a little podgy, but never a powerhouse, and now I’m a hunched over cripple in a wheelchair. A person who struggles with the smallest of hills! I don’t say anything though, beyond, “Thanks Mike, see you next week.” So even my last few words are lies.

    “Great, will do Nathan, looking forward to it! Keep tensing that core man, we will have you outta that chair in no time.”

    Why ‘outta’, can he not say ‘out of’, such a stereotype meat head. And off he struts, chest out, John Wayne gait, does he know that he is talking total bull? Does he even care? Even now he is talking to the hot blond behind reception; doesn’t even realise that she doesn’t like him – he isn’t even the right gender for her. People are so ignorant of those around them, so focused on themselves. I guess that I was when I could walk amongst them all, when I was considered an equal.

    Argh! Why the hell do people park on the sodding pavements? There is room to park on the road, and here is another safe route that is blocked to me. Pushing onto the road again and all that extra energy needed to bump down then up the kerbs. I hope that I get by before the next nutter blasts passed at double the 20 mile per hour speed limit – with the moronic mentality of ‘yeah, but there shouldn’t be kids near the school at this time of the day!’. Tossers!

    Well I made it this time, scratching the side of the car all the way down with my, soon to be valueless, house key, make the idiot who parked it feel a bit miffed off too. So, Nate, here we are, top of the hill, it took a while to get here, but it will be worthwhile, as at the bottom of the hill is my escape.

    The route down is clear, and the dropped kerb is perfectly aligned. So, the maths works; once the lorry is visible through the trees I push off and roll, then all I need to do is keep rolling straight, gravity will be my saviour. Do I want to do this? Will anybody care? Will they remember me? I doubt it. Do I like my life? Do I get any satisfaction from it? No, so let’s flippin’ do this. A truck! Push off, two more pushes and now gravity will do the rest, just keep my crip-mobile moving straight and true.

    They say life is meant to pass through your mind as death approaches, but I get nothing old. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the wind building as I speed down the hill, the feel of the pavement through my wheels, stones flicking away as I crush and force them aside. And now a building sense of exhilaration, literally going to be the last thrill ride of my life. And there it is again, a Ford Transit van, clearly texting on his mobile phone so no chance of him spotting me. He becomes visible coming around the blind bend, but they are on a duel carriage way, so perhaps motoring along at 50 miles per hour.

    The driver glances up from his hugely important message and spots me, seemingly shooting down the hill out of control, I am sorry to the driver, but there was nothing he could do even had he been paying attention. I close my eyes, breathing in one last time as I fly out into his path, and for me, release.
  5. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
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    09 May '20 01:00
    LUCKY ME!

    When I got off the subway I went up the steps to the intersection of Broadway and Fulton, It was September 11, 2001 and one block away the north tower of the World Trade Center was burning. I got to this point by a misdirected C train which was supposed to run on the F line. Ooops!

    I was there about 15 minutes when I looked up and saw the south tower collapsing in a cloud of white powder. I have always had three fears all three of which played out that morning. Two were to other folks, those who died in the towers. One was being on a tall building with no possible way get out except to jump. The other is dying in an airplane crash. These two horrors I was viewing the results of but the collapsing tower was one I used to think about all the time as I walked down West Broadway St. where I walked often to work or to bars in Lower Manhattan. I used to wonder how far away I’d have to be if the tower fell onto West Broadway. This was a real possibility since the bombing in 1993 that was supposed to topple the North Tower.

    It never came to anything but I always plotted my escape route which was to head down a side street headed west to the Hudson River. That seemed to assuage my fear since I could run and I could make it to the river and away from the falling debris. All that planning was useless to me as I was on the east side of the tower and it was the south tower that was doing the falling. I ran until I was overcome with the thick white powder. It was so thick I literally could not see my hand in front of my face. The air smelled of burning plastic, building façade, wall board and I suppose, people trapped in the building.

    I was able to find my way to the side street that would lead me north and away from the powder that was now headed to Brooklyn.

    Okay, so now I ’m out of it. I never really thought the buildings would ever fall over or collapse on themselves. But they did and I was in the front row when at least one of them did.

    Though I lived in NYC in one of it’s most momentous events no one ever asks me about it. I’ve written down some stuff from that time – now nearly 20 years past! Hard to believe that - at least for me.

    Anyway that’s the “escape” part of this kind of.

    I’d always kept as an idea the flying house. When I was a kid every book or magazine when speaking about the future always showed the flying car which we still don’t have. The flying house would allow someone who has to bring his work home with him or her could with a flying house take their home to work with them. I first envisioned the WTC as a port for flying houses even before the first floor was built. My first visit to NYC was shortly after the groundbreaking for the WTC. Sadly the NY governor at that time was Nelson Rockefeller. Rockefeller was the owner of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). For all his love of modern art he was responsible for tearing out Diego Rivera’s “Man at the Crossroads” mural from the lobby of the newly built Rockefeller Center. He was also the person whose choice of building which resulted in the worst two buildings in NYC. He was notorious for building the worst colleges as well. Most of the State University of New York have remnants of his boring buildings.

    When I moved to New York in the 80’s the towers were up and running as office buildings and were soon to be targets of whatever terrorists wanted a shot at them. I worked in the North Tower under which was the garage where the bomb to blow up the WTC was located. Much of my time in Lower Manhattan was walking around in the area north of Battery Park. It was a landfill area from the soil taken from the WTC site. It’s now a nice park and river walkway.

    This is how I escape from this little story. Both the WTC and me are long gone from NYC and while I’ll always love NYC I don’t miss those buildings. The story of the escape from the WTC was pretty much true. My wife said the flying house stuff didn’t make any sense. Sorry if you had to read beyond my “escape” but I was trying to reach the 800 word limit and I did! Lucky me!
  6. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
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    09 May '20 01:01
    Dogma

    Casa Grande--where everyone lives. Rooms and corridors, walls and ceilings. There is nowhere without rooms and corridors, walls and ceilings. No one ever saw, or knows anyone who remembers, anywhere without walls and ceilings, rooms and corridors. Not even the repairmen, who, presumably, have been everywhere and seen everything. Of course, there are plazas, for public functions. There are arenas, factories, farms, utilities. They are enclosed by walls and ceilings, surrounded by rooms and corridors. It is everywhere the same. In some areas, there is reconstruction or repair. In others, things look different, older, newer, with different designs, where corridors run at strange angles. But however far one looks, at the end is a wall. Beyond every wall is another wall. Above every ceiling is another ceiling. Parallel to every corridor are corridors on either side. It is so.

    There are pilgrims. Pilgrims wander from room to room, searching. Some are suspected of being malcontents. Some search for "the ceiling which is no ceiling", or "the wall which is no wall", or "the chosen wall", or "a quite particular ceiling." If questioned persistently, it becomes apparent that they are not interested in anything incidental to this one wall or ceiling; not its color or size or surface features, whether it be flat or vaulted. They are interested in its "very nature." By which they are taken to mean: the wall which has no wall beyond it, the ceiling which has no ceiling above it. Those are suspected of heresy, of being Outsiders. Others couch their answers in riddles; one is not sure if they are heretics.
    Outsiders differ among themselves. Some say there is a terminal wall, beyond which there is no wall. Others assert the existence of a terminal ceiling, above which there is no ceiling. Others posit the existence of a bottom floor, beneath which there is no floor. Sects correspond to these variants: Verticalists and Horizontalists. Among Verticalists there are Ascensionists and Descensionists: those who claim only a terminal ceiling but no terminal floor, or only a terminal floor but no terminal ceiling. They argue with each other interminably. Their arguments are absurd. Sometimes they come to blows, or are ostracized.

    But most pilgrims are inoffensive. They travel alone or in small groups, carrying few belongings. They eat little, ask for little. What they ask for, they pay for by doing chores or relating news from other rooms. Some are revered story-tellers. When lone pilgrims or bands of pilgrims meet, they banter and exchange stories. Occasionally, a wanderer changes allegiance and goes off with another band. Never has a pilgrim said he actually encountered a "wall with no wall" or a "ceiling with no ceiling." Never has a pilgrim encountered anything neither room nor corridor. If one engages them in earnest discussion, without prejudice, under guarantees of anonymity and safe passage, they may tell of a seance they once heard of. But never does a pilgrim admit to being an Outsider. To do so would mean trial by ordeal and death by torture. They speak guardedly, only in the third person-- "... or so one hears" --, if they speak of it at all.

    The administration earnestly tries to engage Outsiders, to demonstrate to them the error of their ways, to re-enfold them into the communal bosom. To no avail. They are obdurate. Their minds are corrupted.

    Outsiders believe there is an Outside, not part of Casa Grande: the other side of a wall beyond which there is no wall, the other side of a ceiling above which there is no ceiling. Few Outsiders have been brought to trial. During their interrogations, few details of their heresies are revealed. "To whom would such a room belong?" the interrogator demands. "To no one." This is absurd. Every room belongs to someone, either the occupants, or the administration, or the public. "What would such a room look like?" the interrogator demands, "How are such roomless rooms, rooms without walls, constructed?" "They are not constructed." One cannot make sense of such riddles. Such talk elicits derisive chortling. How patently absurd the supposition is: just try to imagine, looking and seeing no wall, no ceiling, no corridor! The heretics have no answers. How could they!? Would one see nothing at all? Darkness? Infinity? Some suppose that to behold it is to go blind, or mad. Some say that the Outside curves around. But that would mean one must see right round; one must see oneself from behind looking away! Utter nonsense. Still others maintain that the Outside is only a metaphor for something inner, some secret vision.

    But why would anyone try to escape, when everything is provided? What they seek they call (pardon, I mean no offense) "sky."
  7. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 01:02
    Soul searching
    “I had the dream again.” Said Mrs. Dubois.
    “Please continue” replied the therapist and wrote down: DREAM.
    “I was a penguin. I stood there with this egg between my legs and waited fro my partner to return. He always returns late for breeding duty. And he does it on purpose.”
    PENGUIN…again wrote the therapist. “Please continue”
    “After he arrived and took over his duty I went to the cliff to go into the ocean and feed myself, I was starved. I saw a lot of penguins who stood there and nobody went in.”
    SOCIOPATHY…again wrote the therapist
    I made my way to the front of the row and realized that a leopard seal was in the water, so nobody went in. But I was very hungry and I was enraged by the carelessness of my partner.”
    DEATHWISH…again wrote the therapist
    “So I went in. behind the seal. It turned around to go after me and I saw that the face of the seal was the face of my husband.”
    HUSBAND…again wrote the therapist “Go on” he said and waited for one of the two endings to come.
    “I narrowly escaped the seal by going up instead of diving down.”
    DAUGHTER…again wrote the therapist
    “A second seal was behind the first one to get me.”
    DEATH…again wrote the therapist.
    “It had the face of my daughter. I realized that it was just a baby seal and probably was still not eating flesh, so my fear vanished and I dived down without regarding the baby seal much.”
    The therapist thought about this and what he should write down.
    “Then there was the third seal coming up from the depth.”
    The therapist relaxed and wrote down SUBCONSCIOUS…at last
    Mrs. Dubois rose to a sitting position
    “Please lay down and tell me the continuation,” the therapist said, slightly annoyed. Mrs. Dubois had been so well behaved in the past.
    Mrs. Dubois stood up. She turned to him, looking in his eyes. Her long beaklike nose was slightly red. The therapist thought “shouldn’t it be yellow?”
    “The seal from the depth had your face.”
    The therapists felt a smile growing on his face and he wrote down: TRANSFERENCE…at last.
    “So now I know what is happening, Doctor. You are the one who is trying to get me and you fed on me these last months.”
    Mrs. Dubois turned and with the small steps her tight black skirt allowed her made for the door.
    “But Mrs. Dubois, please stay, we are making excellent progress” the therapist pleaded.
    “Yes I know, my inner penguin told me that this was my last sitting, or should I say I won’t lay down before you again?”
    Her arms flailing she escaped out of the door.
  8. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 01:03
    In Which Reginald Goes For A Walk.

    Reginald was walking a dog, which was not his dog. He had planned the excursion for some days and was well prepared, having purchased a sturdy rubber ball, and considered his route carefully.
    On his way through the woods he passed a small storage enclosure, used by the woodsmen as temporary housing for poles and suchlike, and it was to his misfortune that on throwing the ball for Muppet, who was nothing in particular but probably had some terrier in his genetic makeup, it bounced off a hard object, high over the wall of the enclosure, which was constructed mainly of railway sleepers. Reginald walked around the enclosure and found that the door was locked, the only way in being a small gap at about waist – height, which he attempted to squeeze through. Unfortunately on doing so he dislodged some timbers above him, which by gravitational force contrived to trap him completely, his head, arms and torso on the inside, and the rest of him on the outside.

    --------------------------------

    Reginald considered that the position in which he now found himself was most interesting.
    ‘Hmmm, this is most interesting,’ he thought to himself.
    It occurred to him that here was a metaphor for life, ones’ aims and ambitions so often being frustrated by the stuff of life falling upon one; a poignant representation of the human condition, one might say. His existential musings were soon overshadowed, however, by the thought that he should perhaps take steps to extricate himself from his predicament, his one piece of good fortune being that he had his mobile telephone in his breast pocket.

    ----------------------------------

    ‘Yeah, hello..?’
    Ron was most surprised to answer his ‘phone to hear the voice of someone who to the best of his recall had never ‘phoned him before.
    ‘Hello Ron.’
    ‘Reginald….This is a surprise.’
    ‘Yes….’
    ‘So, how are you?’
    ‘I’m very well, thank you.’
    ‘Right…So what are you up to, then?’
    ‘I’m walking a dog.’
    ‘I didn’t know you had a dog.’
    ‘It’s not my dog, and now I am being unfortunately stuck.’
    ‘What…? What are you talking about? Where are you stuck?’
    ‘I’m halfway into the timber store in Millfield Wood, I was retrieving a ball.’
    ‘I thought the dog was supposed to do that.’
    ‘I did not take account of the inherent instability of the structure.’
    ‘Are you hurt?’
    ‘No, just unfortunately stuck.’
    ‘Right…Look, I won’t ask, I’ll be there in ten minutes, don’t go anywhere.’
    ‘I cannot g….’
    ‘It was a joke, Reginald.’

    ------------------------------------

    Ron arrived on the scene, quickly concluding that he would need help, so he ‘phoned Will, his young friend, who came with Emily, his lady friend. Muppet was by now within the enclosure, having found a way in, as terriers will do. He was holding and then dropping the ball for Reginald to throw, and thinking that this was a particularly enjoyable game.
    ‘How the hell did he get there?’ Said Will
    ‘He was retrieving a ball.’
    ‘Isn’t the dog supposed to do that?’
    ‘He hadn’t taken account of the inherent instability of the structure.’
    ‘Right…’
    ‘So how do we get him out?’ Said Emily
    ‘I suppose the only way is to take the wall down,’ said Ron ‘so shall we set to it then?’

    ---------------------------------

    Within half an hour, Ron and Will had removed sufficient of the upper wall to allow for Reginald’s liberation, who now and with some relief stood upright for the first time in the better part of two hours.
    ‘Thank you, everybody.’
    The party began their walk back to the village, Muppet having by now become acquainted with the newcomers to the pack.
    ‘I shall avoid walking dogs again in the future, that’s for sure.’
    ‘Whose dog is he anyway?’ Said Will
    ‘I bet he’s from the Canine Rescue Centre,’ said Emily ‘they let you kind of borrow dogs to walk them.’
    ‘Right…So you’ll be keeping him then, Reginald.’
    ‘What…? Oh no, absolutely not...’
    ‘Why not?’ said Ron ‘You live alone, you’re retired, he’d be company for you, and walking’s good exercise.’
    ‘All good reasons...’ Said Emily
    ‘I couldn’t possibly consider such a thing.’
    ‘Sure you could,’ said Will ‘I mean look at the little chap, he’s so happy to be out. They keep them in cages, don’t they?’
    ‘Yes they do,’ said Emily ‘you can’t possibly take him back there, he’s your dog now, and you’ve just had your first adventure together.’
    ‘It’s quite out of the question, I’m afraid, the responsibility would be far too much.’
    ‘Oh well, if you’re sure.’ Said Ron
    ‘Quite sure, my mind is absolutely made up on the matter.’
    And thus it was that Reginald and Muppet became lifelong friends, both having gained their liberation on this so significant of days, and Muppet would never again see the inside of a cage.
  9. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 01:03
    Mr. Wilson's Board Meeting

    Mr. F -What is going on?
    Mr. P -Relax...
    Mr. F -He is 6 hours late!
    Mr. P -He will let us out soon
    Mr. F -Do you think he is ok?
    Mr. P -He hasn't been late in years
    Mr. F -The wedding?
    Mr. P -Yes, the wedding
    Mr. F -Maybe something is wrong?
    Mr. P -Important board meeting
    Mr. F -He can't handle stress
    Mr. P -Nope
    Mr. F -Hey!! Let us out of here!!
    Mr. P -Please stop yelling
    Mr. F -I am getting bigger!
    Mr. P -So am I...
    Mr. F -Push on the walls
    Mr. P -No
    Mr. F -Fine, I will
    Mr. P -That will only irritate him
    Mr. F -We have to do something!
    Mr. P -We wait
    Mr. F -We have a crappy life
    Mr. P -It could be worse
    Mr. F -Are you joking?
    Mr. P -Yes
    Mr. F -I am going to escape!
    Mr. P -Bad idea
    Mr. F -I don't care anymore
    Mr. P -Don't leave me here
    Mr. F -You know you have to wait
    Mr. P -I have it worse than you
    Mr. F -True, Goodbye Mr. P
    Mr. P -Goodbye Mr. F

    At that moment Mr. F also known as Mr. Fart said goodbye to Mr. P also known as Mr. Poop and humilated Mr. Wilson at his board meeting.
  10. SubscriberPonderable
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    09 May '20 01:04
    Lockdown

    The schedule in the care home was the same every day. It began sharply with a burly nurse called Susan waking Jerimiah from his sleep at 7:45am to bring him his smorgasbord of medications and ointments, throw back the thick flowery curtains, flood the room with light. She brought with her too the sweet sickly smell of coconut butter and poorly hummed melodies, intended no doubt to lift rather than crush his spirits. Since the lockdown she also wore tight rubber gloves and a face mask, for his protection he was told, as well as her own. Strip wash and breakfast, he was then left in the blue comfy chair by the window, to look out into the garden he was no longer allowed to visit. Such was the fate of somebody in a high-risk group, with underlying health conditions. And there Jerimiah would sit for most of the day, the randomly appearing Susan his only respite from the lonely monotony of existence.

    But Jerimiah didn’t sit there hour after hour, reminiscing of the past or fearing the present. As he looked out across the freshly mown lawns and row after neat row of blood red tulips and yellow daffodils, he quietly plotted his escape. Jerimiah was not the kind of elderly gentlemen to accept such draconian confinement, even if it was sugar coated in kindness. But escape was not an easy undertaking. The large sash windows barely opened a foot and could not be forced, and his self-contained room was located at the end of a long narrow corridor, a small staff office between him and the only door into the garden. How Jerimiah missed that garden. It was commonly accepted in the care home that the bench in the far-left corner belonged to him, shaded from the midday sun by an old cherry blossom, its delicate pink petals reminding him ever so often of the connection between them, as they floated down to gently caress his cheek, congregate on his shoulders.

    That Wednesday morning began on schedule, Susan entering Jerimiah’s room and placing the tray of medication on his side table before opening the curtains, all the while humming a melody wormed into her brain from the radio. “Rise and shine Mr Turgenev!” She paused a moment to allow him time to stir, emerge from the covers. “Mr Turgenev, time to get up. I have your tablets.” The lack of movement now concerned her. She froze for a few seconds, almost willing him to move. The heavy duck down quilt had be pulled up high over the plump pillows beneath which there was no evidence of life. “Jerimiah,” she whispered, instinctively lowering her face mask and seating herself beside him on the bed. Slowly, with a caring hand and fearing the worst, she reached out to give him a firm shake and was immediately taken aback at the softness of the contact. Startled, she pulled back the covers, only to discover a mound of pillows stuffed inside a dressing gown. Dazed and back on her feet, she searched frantically for him in the most ludicrous of places, before her eyes finally caught sight of him through the window, sitting on the bench in the far-left corner of the garden, smiling contentedly to himself under the old cherry blossom. “How on Earth...”
    Fifty years earlier the streets of Moscow were buzzing with excitement, a large crowd gathering outside the Bolshoi Theatre to await the departure of ‘Vladimir the Magnificent,’ the renowned escape artist who had that very evening, in front of 2000 captivated Muscovites, extricated himself from a wooden box secured with eight strong chains and submerged in a vast tank of water. How the applause had rang out, not only to celebrate his escape from the deadly predicament, but also to find him there, sitting among them in the audience. Before leaving the theatre, Vladimir the Magnificent had returned quietly to his dressing room to remove his makeup, become once again the unassuming Jerimiah Turgenev, eager as always to get back to his family, his garden.
  11. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
    Linkenheim
    Joined
    22 Apr '05
    Moves
    557566
    09 May '20 01:04
    This Little Piggy

    Dave just couldn’t explain it. One minute he was sitting there perfectly content with the customary five digits on his right hand, five digits on the left, and then suddenly without warning his right hand had acquired a perfectly formed extra digit, sitting there without apology just between his little and ring finger. Dave gave it a bit of a wiggle, to authenticate its existence. “How odd,” he exclaimed. Always the optimist, he quickly decided to view it as a blessing and took up the guitar. With the increased dexterity in his hand he very soon was impressing the neighbours.

    He found himself too a maestro on the piano, his extra finger enabling him to find key notes unavailable to the normal player. Indeed, his rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ was so extraordinarily chaotic it won him accolades in all the prestigious orchestral societies and was soon invited to perform in front of King Mswati III of Swaziland. (Dave unfortunately had to decline the invitation due to a profound fear of any insect he couldn’t safely encounter in his country garden in Harrogate). And it wasn’t just his musical prowess that had been enhanced by his extra digit. Dave also found himself in the enviable position of being able to open any jar on the planet. His grip had become truly phenomenal and people from far and wide would bring all kinds of jars and bottles for him to open. (A friend had even created an online blog on his behalf called - If it has a lid, my mate Dave can open it). This boast was truly put to the test when an elderly gentleman from the small town of Crested Butte, in the high mountains of Colorado, made the long journey east to bring him a jar of pickled beetroot, unopened for some 83 years. Its metal lid had all but fused to the glass container and onlookers lamented that it was beyond opening, even for the superhuman grip of Dave. But of course, they had underestimated him. With a single twist of the wrist the lid popped open, to the cheers of his doubters, their enthusiastic applause only curtailed by the overwhelming stench of funky beetroot.
    And so, things continued like this for several months with Dave forever discovering ingenious ways to put his extra finger to good use. One particularly pleasing discovery was the exceptional spin he could now put onto a cricket ball, delivered with such a bouncing curve that even Mr Tuckwell, first batsman for Ramsbottom Cricket club, could only swipe at it in the vain hope of contact. In one match alone Dave bowled six magnificent googlies, removing 5 of the dumbfounded batsmen for ducks. Of course, some draw backs did occur. For instance, Dave now found it devilishly tricky to find comfortable gloves, for a while having two fingers share a single sleeve, before finally succumbing to the inevitable and purchasing himself a pair of mittens. However, even this had a silver lining with Dave being overwhelmed with nostalgic memories from childhood, building snowmen with his father in the garden, wearing a similar pair of thick woolly mittens and scarf, knitted by a grandmother who knew very well the importance of keeping out the cold.
    Dave never did discover the origin of his extra finger, how at 12.48pm on the 14th February it had escaped the left hand of Mr Colin Brown of 17 Cobblers Drive, Derbyshire. For 38 years it had served diligently as Mr Brown’s middle finger and for the most part had felt thoroughly underappreciated and only really used in a vulgar manner, extended in the direction of other motorists or randomly encountered pigeons. (Mr Brown had serious issues with pigeons). At best it was put to use rolling tobacco or reaching deep down into Mr Brown’s ear canals to remove stubborn clumps of wax. Deciding enough was enough, the finger had made its daring escape while Mr Brown had one of his afternoon naps, as was the custom in Derbyshire at the time. How delighted it now was to have found and joined the right hand of Dave. For the first time in its life it felt valued and productive. It was playing music, opening jars to cheering crowds, spinning cricket balls down the crease, feeding pigeons in the park.
  12. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
    Linkenheim
    Joined
    22 Apr '05
    Moves
    557566
    09 May '20 01:06
    Escape
    Blue sky and sun, the sound of familiar voices in groups on the school playing field. The light-hearted chaos of the school sports day and the smell of freshly cut grass. Somebody shouts my nickname in encouragement 'Go Bear, you've got this'. Actually I know I'm pretty rubbish at long jump. I can sprint, but if I go flat out I usually miss the board, but people watching aren't going to know. Just go for it, if you miss so what and if you hit...
    It's easier to sprint when you are chasing somebody on a bend, there's something about the competitive edge, this is like running through mud, come on legs, I hit the board. I stretch my left leg trying to reach further before I hit the sand. It's working, I cycle my right leg forward stretching further with that one. Still I am in flight, this is amazing, cycling again with the left and stretching slightly upwards with my leg. It's not only carrying on, I am gaining height, cycling and easing forwards. Stretching out and slowly cycling onwards and upwards. Feels amazing, but I kind of know it's that dream that I have had before. Still this gorgeous feeling stretching ever forwards, but I really know where this is going again. Just keep it going anyway, just keep reaching forward into flight. Seriously, you really know that you are awake. The feeling fades and it is gone.
    Rolling over and looking at the clock 2.45 a.m. Amazing, looking at the clock wide awake again. It's a busy day at work tomorrow. I really need sleep. Brilliant, think that and you'll never sleep. Why did you think that? I wish I could just get back into the dream. Visualise the sports field. An aerial view from above, floating freely with the warm sun returning. This is working. Why did you think that? It's hardly going to work if you think about it working. Mind was wandering and sleepy, drifting beautifully and you go and have the 'this is working' thought. Brilliant. 2.57 a.m.
    The doorbell rings, nobody is there as I head for the car. Walking along past the familiar houses looking over at the fields on the other side, this is a long route to the car, why are there fields over the road? The whole sequence is wrong it should have been obvious from the doorbell, it doesn't ring when you set off to the car for work. I drag myself to wakefulness from confusing nonsensical images. Why? Did you have a choice there because if you did you just woke yourself up? Argghh. 3.53 a.m. Moron. Great, calling yourself names should work. Relax.
    6.00 a.m. alarm. Feels like I only looked at the clock 5 minutes ago, I don't think I hardly slept at all. I drag myself wearily out of bed. Walking round the corner to the car. How did I even think I was going to the car in that dream? It wasn't even the right direction from the house. I think the houses that I was passing were from the road I lived in as a kid, walking towards my parents' house, but there were no fields on the other side. Strange what the mind does, reaching in my pocket for the car keys. There is no pocket. No clothes. How did you walk out to the car naked? Focus! Sprint back to the house. Get back to cover. No keys. Jump the fence into the back, nobody has seen you yet, sprinting at the fence and launching myself high. Really fast, really high, flying high up over the sports field looking at my old school from above. Swooping over towards the groups of people. Sunlight and freedom. Flying naked towards all my old friends from school? Steer away, please steer away. I can see my old Maths teacher. 4.27 a.m. Drink less coffee.
    Now I am driving to work, this is no dream. Tired. How many times did I look at the clock last night? Running late and in a traffic jam. Always when you are running late. This bit usually flows. The other lane is moving faster. I can see a gap coming in the wing mirror. The lorry won't close it. If nobody else takes it. Darting out, this is flying now, except, Arrgghh. Of course this lane was going faster, everyone was leaving it, it's the one that's blocked. Please let me back in the other lane. It was an honest mistake. I'm tired. Gestures and gesticulations. This is no dream.
  13. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
    Linkenheim
    Joined
    22 Apr '05
    Moves
    557566
    09 May '20 01:06
    A Reason to Live.

    A dense fog lay over the snow – covered village, as it near always did during the long winter months, shrouding from view the mountain which loomed high above this last outpost of human habitation. From here a single track wound its’ way down through the foothills, a long day by horse and cart, to fetch provision or to bring the lowland people to take the hot waters which sprang in rivulets from deep within the earth. Two days and nights on foot; nobody left or came to the village in the wintertime.
    It was to the discomfort of all, therefore, when late one evening a stranger appeared at the inn, wearing a long, leather coat and fine leather boots. He ordered ale, meat and bread, and sat alone in a dark corner, his hood drawn up, shivering as he sat. At last the landlord approached him.
    ‘I am closing, stranger, do you need a warm bed for the night?’
    The man pulled back his hood. He had olive skin, dark, shoulder – length hair, a prominent, hooked nose and sharp, piercing eyes.
    ‘Ay, or else I shall die of the cold.’
    ‘May I ask why have you come here?’
    ‘I wish to know what lies beyond the mountains.’
    ‘Then you will die in the trying, for no one has found a way over the pass.’
    ‘Then die I shall, for I have nought else to live for.’
    That night the stranger went into fever, which lasted four days, and he was attended to by a young girl. When the fever broke, he would speak with her.
    ‘What is your name, girl, and who are your parents?’
    ‘I have no name, sir, and no parents.’

    --------------------------

    When spring came, the stranger left the village each morning for the mountain pass, which was by now clearly seen, and each evening he would return, defeated. The villagers viewed him with suspicion, for surely he must be some runaway or villain, looking to escape his justice, but the stranger stayed, and always paid his way. Only Anderson, the shepherd, saw fit to befriend the stranger, and one day they set to talking.
    ‘Tell me, who is the young girl who works at the inn?’
    ‘She is not spoken of.’
    ‘Yet I would know of her, for she works diligently and showed me kindness during my sickness.’
    Anderson thought for a moment.
    ‘Her name is Rosa.’
    ‘And she is an orphan?’
    ‘She is no orphan, her parents are the miller and his wife, but they have disowned her, and she lives now alone.’
    ‘But why is this so?’
    ‘If I tell you that she is scarce fifteen years old, and yet she has a son who is near one year of age then you will perhaps understand.’
    ‘And for this she is so outcast?’
    ‘There is worse. She was found to have money, earned from those men who come to take the waters.’
    ‘But does she see her child?’
    ‘No, that is not permitted, the child has a wet – nurse and is well tended, but she may not see him.’
    ‘And what of these men who have so taken advantage of one so young as she, are they not punished?’
    ‘They come only once, and they will not return. Understand that I do not condone her treatment, but such is the way of my people, there is naught to be done of it.’
    One day, the stranger left for the mountain and did not return. Everyone in the village assumed that he had perished in his foolish quest to find a way, and his passing was not mourned, and no search – party was sent. Only Rosa felt the loss of him, and yet she and the stranger had spoken together, and hope had not died in her heart.

    -----------------------------------

    Winter came and went once more, and one early morning of the following spring the landlord was awoken by the carpenter’s wife.
    ‘She is gone…!’
    ‘Who is gone, woman, speak clearly.’
    ‘The girl Rosa, and she has taken the child!’
    The village assembled, and the carter was sent in search of her, she would not have gone far, he would catch up to her before she reached the lowland town.
    Only Anderson the shepherd wondered, and he went to the mountain path. There were tracks leading into the village, tracks made by fine leather boots, and these and other, smaller tracks led away to the mountain. Anderson smiled, and quickly covered the tracks with fresh earth.
    Ever after, tales were told in the village of a young girl who had fallen from grace, and had perished along with her child, and of a stranger who had come to challenge the mountain, and who had died for his foolhardiness. At least, that is how the stories were told.
  14. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
    Linkenheim
    Joined
    22 Apr '05
    Moves
    557566
    09 May '20 01:07
    Cynthia

    Smirking Smythe stood there in the front of the classroom and his mouth showed this smirking expression, where his nickname came from. Cynthia froze; she was the only pupil in class it seemed.
    Smythe fixed his eyes on her and spoke in his throaty voice: “Welcome to the afterlife. I am your appointed judge. Lets see what your life was all about, shall we?”
    Cynthia felt her intestines rebelling inside her body and a well-known feeling of despair sank like am ice block inside her stomach. Somehow she had managed to become entangled in some deep trouble again.
    “Do you want to begin at the beginning?” Smythe smirked more than ever and his voice made the chuckle eerie. “You know that you have been responsible for the unhappy marriage of your parents?”
    How dare this slimy person tell her this? Cynthia had no illusions about having been the reason for what Grandmother Rosie had always called the mésalliance of her parents. It was a never-ending pain in Cynthia’s soul whenever she had met her. Being the sole child, the heir to the family fortune Cordelia, Cynthia’s mother had been brought up with care and Rosie, her mother had planned a magnificent future in the highest circles of society. The one day Cordelia has been forced to admit that she carried the child of her piano teacher, a poor student with no expectations whatsoever. Cynthia closed her eyes and tears welled up behind her lids
    “If you at least would have been a boy…” this obnoxious voice again, why couldn’t the man leave her alone? “…you could have been expected to grow into heading the company”. There had to be a way to escape this ordeal. Cynthia forced herself to think about a strategy. How had she survived four years of math with this tormentor of her childhood?
    “You nearly killed your mother during childbirth, need I remind you?” He needn’t. It had been the one story Cordelia liked to revel in, depicting herself as the heroine in a battle for her life.
    “You also disappointed your father, crying through the hours at day and night. He has been such a talented man and look where you brought him.” John, Cynthia’s father indeed never finished his studies, his in-laws made very clear that they wouldn’t support him and his religious parents had been shocked that he had sired a child out of wedlock.
    To find a way out of this more than dreadful situation Cynthia looked around in the room to find an option, but it was her old classroom. There was only one door, and that was behind the towering figure of Smythe who seemed to smirk even more than ever.
    “Do you have anything to say about his being forced to become a manual laborer? Shoveling stinking asphalt with his pianists hands?” All her memories of her father were connected to a more or less intense small of asphalt. His hands had always shown blisters from his work, and there ahs been his cough, that become more and more intensive until he had died at a time when Cynthia was in her last year of elementary school.
    “Look at me and tell me what I shall do with you!” Smythe had done that in school always. And suddenly Cynthia knew what to do she just stopped breathing. Blacked out pupils always had been a problem for Smythe who then didn’t know what to do. She would awake being cared for Cynthia knew and then she blacked out.
    Smirking Smythe stood there in front of the classroom, when Cynthia came to her senses again. She sat at her desk in the third row and Smythe informed her: ”There is no escape you have to face the last judgement.
  15. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
    Linkenheim
    Joined
    22 Apr '05
    Moves
    557566
    09 May '20 01:10
    Those are the stories. Enjoy reading and please vote for your favourites.

    I removed the Copyright notes to ensure anonimity. All stories are Copyright by their authors. Authors might reveal themselves after the final Voting round, otherwise I Keep the record of authorship.

    Please do not discuss the stories and their Merit until after Voting has closed.

    I offer to write a few words of critique toeach and every entry.

    So now: enjoy
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