Driving along this gorge feels like being in the forested veins of some great, granitic creature. Or, if not the veins, the deep runnels in the surface of its dark hide. In an hour we arrive in Westport. It is a port on the West coast of the island. Victorian settlers in clothes they wore like chain-mail were never ones for creativity. What a defeated town. Coal-smoke hangs and blends with the shivering morning air. Flat, wide streets splayed. Two cars ooze past us. Bryan peers over the steering wheel. “It’s good to be back in the old hole isn’t it?”
It would be another long cold day wandering the streets. The wind searched out tears in his old jacket. He paused briefly in the recessed entry of an art gallery to avoid the wind. The window displayed a black and white photograph of an alleyway. The photographer had captured the patterns of light beautifully, including the reflections in the water running down the center swale. The off-kilter electric pole, the interesting patterns of wires. Altogether a wonderful work of art. The photographer should be proud. But he remembered the cruel reality of last night’s misery, huddled there, just trying to survive.
By Lester L Weil
The battle raged on as the wizards threw everything they had at each other. Halgret was powerless in the cold so Fulton threw ice storms at him. The soldiers fought and died by the thousands as fire balls were thrown and the ground was torn apart. Cities fell into the earth. In the end, only two wizards had survived.
“I suppose we should just stop,” Fulton called, amplifying his voice across the valley.
“Well, now we’ve done it. We killed the human race,” Halgret replied. “At least we are still here. Only one regret.”
“We didn’t save any women.”
By Nathan Hystad
I’m careful. I’m hanging off the idol’s head. Elbow deep in one eye socket, prying the stone from the other. The second perfectly polished, stunningly expensive, massive precious stone. Fortune! There is a creak, a stone against stone noise and then a pop. It’s in the bag faster than you can say “ancient curse”. That’s when the earthquake strikes. Curses! The floor underneath the idol bucks like someone flapping a carpet. I jump clear of the toppling megalithic man just in time. Safe! There is a deep, throaty, grinding noise and shouting. Cultists! Rumbled and caught. It’s the pot for me.
By Pete Sutton
The sun shines down on my face as we lie on the beach together. We hold hands and all life’s troubles are behind us. She is so beautiful; hair golden and piercing green eyes. She tries to speak but nothing comes out. She melts in front of me and I know it’s wrong. I remove my jack and remember it was a tainted memory. My place is filthy; my heart empty. I know I need to fix the memory jack but I am out of money. I take a long breath and plug back in. I need her so very much.
By Nathan Hystad
Jonny leaned with his back against the wall. He stared upwards through the grates and into the world he would never live in. It was raining and he could see the surface dwellers with their fancy jackets and plaid umbrellas swiftly walking to their destinations. Down here, Jonny waited for something, anything to drop. He saw someone peering down; a pretty girl wiggled a finger through the metal opening at him. She slid down a sandwich and put her finger to her mouth in a shushing motion. Her mother pulled her along with a look of disgust. It was tuna salad.
By Nathan Hystad
“Everyone, listen up!” the instructor called out, dropping her gym bag with a clank. The chatter ceased and all eyes were fixed on her.
“You’re all here cos you can’t dance but you want to learn quickly, right?” The students nodded.
“Well, you’ve enrolled in this Rapid Fire Dancing Class so that’s a start. By the end of this session, you’ll all be able to move like you’ve never thought possible.” They answered with raised eyebrows and snickers.
The instructor then reached into her bag, whipped out a sub-machine gun and unloaded it near their feet. “C’mon, you losers, start dancing!”
By Joey To