Flash Fiction: Lost Pens

“Demons aren’t real.” he told his nephew, Tim. “They are just made up, like on the T.V. Someone made the whole story up.” This is what he gets for playing video games whilst Tim has unlimited access to late night T.V. “Look, someone made up the story- it’s not true. Like how I make up my drawings. You know, like Bravewing or Spiderman.

Tim said: “You said you SAW Spiderman.”

This is what he gets.

Tim continued: “And nobody in the movie believed the boy there either. THEY all said it was all made up.”

There are two entities, somewhere in space and time, watching this moment in the video game playing artist’s head, and laughing. The first one is large and powerful and can exist in many places at once. “That was funny little one. Eerie even. But still it is a minor inconvenience, the function you perform.” The smaller of the two laughs, looks at the larger entity and says:

“It must be nice being created by people’s doubts in their own abilities. Such a common, wide-ranging, hell- you could even say ‘universal’ insecurity- and that was a pun.”

“Hah. A pun. yes. I am what I am, and I do what I do, which makes these mortals…do not. Get it? They don’t because I am!” The larger one continued to laugh. The smaller one would have rolled his eyes if he had any.

“Yes you truly are one of the most terrible. But let me show you something.” The smaller so-called immortal brought their view to a series of comic books, paintings, sketches and illustrations. “Bravewing was only the first hero he would have given birth to.”

“Would have?”

“Indeed. These works are only potentials and were part of the previous time stream till I- humble and limited as I am- did MY work.”

And he showed the larger demon of self-doubt his collection- millions of pencils, paintbrushes, and pens.

The little one said: “You might be the demon of self-doubt, but I, limited as I am, can still cause physical rents in their universe, can still take their pens and brushes- they fear me, they fear that their stationary disappears into a black hole! It’s brilliant; do you have any idea how few of us can actually affect the physical world? But because they think it all disappears there is no evidence left that I broke any of their laws! Nothing at all.”

“Yes, very nice little one. But the non-physical world can be very important to sentients, as you can see.”

“Yeah phenomenal, you’re huge. But you know what, you know what I’ve prevented from ever happening?”

And he showed the larger another series of creations that would not be- books on shelves in libraries that never were, music unrecorded- forgotten as musicians searched for their instruments, passing moments not captured by cameras. The larger one regarded his smaller companion: “How?”

“The trick is to be precise. To choose your targets well- the ones who are right on the cusp, right on the edge- the ones who give up after a few minutes of not finding the pen and go back to playing video games. All it takes is a few more minutes and its over. Their will dies, and so does their work, and sometimes if you’re lucky…their ideas too.”

***

I wrote this after losing yet another pen, just as I had to write something down. It seems to happen with alarming frequency- and I suspect I’m not the only one. Placing pens and pencils all over my home and person sometimes helps but once and awhile that little bastard somehow finds a way to disappear those too.

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Repost of short story: Castles and Dragons

(First time was a failed copy and paste. Repeated paragraphs then missed paragraphs. How frustrating. Reposted properly.)

We had deigned to let her play with us in spite of her penchants for screaming and despite the fact that she was too mentally immature to play properly and irregardless of the unspoken consensus that her manners were annoying because Edward had said we should be nice to her and “That it was a secret why.”

But It was Alexis that taught us the new game in the playground.

“I saw my brother playing it, it’s so cool. I’m not allowed yet but it’s called Skyrim. FUS RO DAAAHH!” He yelled, as loud as Miri ever screamed, and we all stumbled back at the force of it and stared. Alexis laughed in that wierd way of his and confessed: “I’m not allowed to play Skyrim so instead we’re playing Castles and Dragons.”

“Lame.” Ranjeev said. It was a common utterance of his.

Alexis ignored him, as he was considered cool like that and he started telling us our roles whilst the rules of the game developed in that organic way of children’s games. I was to be the thief, called Wallclimber, and I took no little amount of pride in my namesake, one which I thought very important because it meant I could rescue the princess by climbing the tower. Ranjeev was to be the wizard, and we didn’t really know what he could do except cast spells, and so we negotiated that Ranjeev could cast any spell that two out of the four of us knew- Miri did not count as she was female. Thus Ranjeev had the entire arsenal of the Harry Potter movies to draw from, as well as those derived from some obscure texts by a man named Pratchett.

Edward, quiet as always, was told he could be the cleric- a term that meant little to us budding atheists and less to Alexis, who had appropriated the term from another game played by his astoundingly cool brother, and thus it was spake that a cleric had the power to transform into any animal or vehicle. “Like a twansformer.” Miri added, and we all politely tried to ignore her.

Alexis was of course, as was his prerogative the game designer, the knight in shining armor. Miri was told to be the princess.

She did not approve of this. “NOOOOOOOOOooOOOOOOOOO WHYYYYYYYYY. NO WANNA BE THE PRINCESS NEVER EVER. NO.” She started to bawl, her stub nose dribbling, and little tears cleaning away small lines of the muck that perpetually clung to her pig-face. So I thought of her then.

Ranjeev and I decided that in lieu of a princess she made a fine dragon. Thus the two of us retreated to the swings to compose our plan for the assault on the dragon’s tower. As we made our way there we casually began to lay down obstacles in our path- arbitrary rules that leant the whole game savor. It was decided between Ranjeev and I that if the dragon otherwise known as Mira saw us, then we were turned immediately to stone. I asked Ranjeev if he had a spell to counter such a predicament and he gravely revealed to me that there was no cure for stoneing.

Thus stealth would be the order of the day.

It was also decided that we had gathered intelligence in advance that pointed to the location of the princess, who although icky, was heir to a kingdom composed almost entirely of summer holidays and would bequeath her demesne to any heroes bold enough to free her. She would be trapped at the top of the slide, also known as the Dragon’s Tower. Which is when Alexis returned to us. He had sprinted over, in other words, ridden on his noble steed to deliver both good and bad news.

The good news, which was really bad news at first, was that Miri was NOT the dragon. Alexis had folded during the cacophonous negotiations, which Mira had resorted to after her failed argument where she pleaded equality of gender- as at that barbaric age we never would have compromised against our staid prejudice that girls were icky and certainly not policemen- which is what Mira, the next member of our fellowship, had become. She was a dragon-cop.

“If she has a gun it’s unfair.” Remarked Ranjeev.

Alexis concurred, and we won a small consolation- denying her access to firearms which would have been in violation of the mileu. We filled Alexis in on our reconnaissance and he rode his steed away, over to Edward and Mira to spread the information. “WAIT UP MANNNN.” Yelled Ranjeev. I pointed out that he was not as fast as Edward’s black warhorse, to which Ranjeev thoughtfully said “Accio Firebolt!” and sped off after him. He returned later with a sullen expression and transmitted to me the afformentionted bad news. As Mira was no longer the dragon it was deduced that the dragon was not only a fire-breathing stone-turning flying lizard, but that it was also invisible. “Dontcha know an anti-invisible spell?” I inquired of my wizardly companion. He answered in the negative, and I wonder to this day exactly what if any spells he knew that were of any use in an actual crisis.

Thus we approached the dragons tower. There were only two ways in. The tower was situated on a high bluff that emerged out of the child-safe-padding around the slide. The main way was a stair case, trecherously high, and with a lava moat between the nearest padded island and it, as naturally, any non-padded surface was lava- we did not even have to say it out loud, it was as given as gravity. The secondary way up was the wall- a steep climb, but one I, The Wallclimber, was more than capable of making.
Ranjeev insisted that we should first try the stairs, even though I pointed out what a waste of my abilities it was. We pondered the long jump between our island to cross the lava moat. At which point Ranjeev said “Accio Floatness” and we floated merrily across. As we made our way up the stairs, Ranjeev taking point, I started to whisper to him “What we gonna do to the dragon when we find it? Fight it? Maybe we jus’ get the princess.” Ranjeev kept saying he did not know, he did know, he knew nothing- then halfway up the stairs he stopped. I waited for a moment, wondering if we had been spotted. “Ranjeev?” I whispered. He did not even shush me.

We stood like that for some seconds till I poked him. He did not move. “Ranjeev?” I started poking him quite a lot, particularly in the ribs, till through a feat of sheer will, or perhaps magic, Ranjeev defied his fate to mutter, with great difficulty, the reason we had stalled. “The dragon saw me and now I’m stone.” I did not know how to curse effectively at that tender age so I merely said “Doggy balls.” which elicited one final gasp from my striken companion. Shedding no tears- for we were made of the stuff of heroes, I began to ponder our fate. At last an ingenious plan emerged, which I told Ranjeev in case he was in there, somewhere. “Ranjeev I’m gonna hide behind you and use you as a shield.” Since he was stone he could no longer respond despite his utterances to the contrary.

I began to try to lift the wizard, but alas, he was a stony corpulent spell-slinger, quite overweight which probably explained his leanings towards the arcane as opposed to the physical. After getting red in the face repeatedly I gave up and decided to beat a hasty retreat before the dragon got me too. I backtracked to the base of the tower, saddened by the loss of my companion and our first defeat, yet also emboldened- afterall, an epic finale requires harrowing obstacles first. Even at that age this was obvious to me.

From out of the distance then came the others. I waited, ready to give them the sad news. They reached me, and I explained what had happened. Edward asked where Ranjeev had gone since he’d been turned to stone. Indeed the stairs were devoid of his chubby mass. “The dragon must have moved him.” Offered Alexis.

Edward pointed to our fat friend at the ice scream stall. At which point I felt it nessecary to emphasize, for the sake of the reality we had so painstakingly invested in that “I saw the dragon move him into the tower so he’s gone.” Edward withered under all our stares, including Mira’s, and we promptly forgot about the doppleganger licking his chocolate Magnum near the tennis courts.

We began to plan anew. Presently we surmised that the new plan was that Alexis would ride Edward who would become a jet, all the way up to the dragon and then Alexis would shout it to death. I assumed this would be similar to Mira’s inherant abilities. I asked what my place was in this grand scheme and was promptly informed that I had failed, and lost the party wizard to boot. Edward and Alexis went up. Mira tugged on my shirt. She informed me that their plan was unfortunately destined to fail as well. “Shouting never ever works.” She said with as much conviction as I had ever seen- far more seriously than Edward always was. Somewhat thrilled to know that the limelight was still upon me, even if I were saddled with a girl for a companion, I asked her whatever we were to do.

At which point she launched into a description of the dragon, one that has haunted me to this day.

Apparently it was bright red, with gleaming scales and darkly mirrored eyes. It made a sound as it swooped towards it’s prey, a terrible noise that Mira immitated. I pointed out that the noise sounded a lot like Edward’s jet engine and she did not deny it. The dragon did not merely breathe fire, which was too quick a death- it clawed and bit, and smacked with it’s tail. And it did so to the princess, as well as those that tried to reach her. The dragon told lies, terrible lies that everyone else believed, and it did use fire- usually on your arm (and Mira pointed to her own). She was almost in tears as she said all this, and this scared me terribly. The dragon was no longer a petty threat, waiting for it’s inevitable defeat at the hands of heroes arbitrarily noble and empowered.

It was a Dragon.

Enraptured by Mira’s ability to describe such things I asked her the question I’d been wanting to ask all the others, but felt far too ashamed to broach- though I thought, personally, that it was of paramount importance. At that age it was a ‘girl’s’ question, though later it would certainly become a ‘boy’s’ question.

I asked Mira what the princess looked like. This bought me a smile.

The princess was apparently blond-haired and blue-eyed, with long tresses that reached down to her hip. She was slender and liked to read books, and always soft-spoken. She only cried when she was certain no one could see, and she gave the best hugs. My heart ached at Mira’s passionate description.

I no longer craved glory. I wanted justice.

I asked her whatever we were to do against all that. Mira told me then, that there was a crossbow- a magic crossbow that she suspected would slay the beast. Once more I wanted a description, as she had a way with words far in excess of her age, and ironic considering her habit of nonsensically screaming at the top of her lungs. Perhaps she was so full of words they burst out of her.

The crossbow she described was unlike any crossbow I had learnt of later, though at the time, ignorant as I was, I took her words for granted and assumed all crossbows had short stub-nosed barrels, and revolving chambers for six rounds of ammunition. And that they came in a chest kept in caves underneath a murky sea upon which were the floating wrecks of ceramic ships. The chest was locked, naturally, but Mira held my hand and confided in me that she knew where the key was.

She had it. In her pocket.

It was real. She took it from out of her torn dress. It was small, like a postbox key, and a bit rusty but certainly real. After that it was over- I didn’t stand a chance, I believed her over the others, despite her being an icky girl. She had props for godsakes.

The battle cry of the knight came then, from the top of the tower. We could not tell if they were winning but we assumed that without the information we had, and without the seriousness with which we were taking this quest, that they were certainly doomed. Quickly we formulated yet another plan. Mira was to retrieve the crossbow and start up the stairs. I was to climb from the rear. I would distract the dragon with wierd faces whilst she plugged the wyrm with the crossbow. A sound plan. We separated and started.

Alone on that slide I began my ascent. I have never forgotten it.

Years later I would run a race in highschool, the finals of a national competition- a hundred meter dash. I had trained for so long for that one race- and I realized at the time that I had begun my training here, on the wall of the tower. As I lined up with the other sprinters and bent down to take my mark I remembered how the cold steel of that slide felt.

With the shouts of Alexis in the foreground I continued up, stealthy as can be, till finally I reached the top.

In the small enclosed tower Alexis swung wildly with his sword, shouting “FUS RO DA FUS RO DA!” Edward had transformed into a mouse, and sat meekly in the corner. The dragon’s back was to me, I thought, probably concentating on Alexis. A sinking feeling possessed me, Alexis never realized, and I felt honor bound to remind him “That it turns things to stone.” So Alexis froze. The inevitable, inviolable nature of the game had taken over. Alexis looked at me, hands plastered down his sides, and with his last ounce of will said “Killit”.

And appearing on the otherside there was Mira.

“BANG BANG!” She said. We gasped.

And her face crumpled into tears. “BANG BANG BANG BANG!” And she froze. Except for her trembling lip and the wet reflection of that invisible dragon in her eyes she was stone.

I found my courage, yelled: “MIRA! THROW IT AT ME.”

And she really did. With one final act she tossed me the crossbow, hurling it with all her little might.

And then she began to fall. The force of her throw had caused that equal and opposite reaction we were too young to know about. She slipped, tumbled back and for a moment hung in mid-air, not unlike in a cartoon. The drop was long, probably fifteen feet. It was a poorly designed playground, and the tower was certainly epic for it. Everything seemed to stop.

I don’t know why I did it, but I ignored the crossbow entirely, and the dragon, and threw myself after her. I caught her by the ankle as she fell backwards, and she banged her head solidly on the steel steps. She started to cry, and Edward helped me get her back up. There was a cut on her arm, and she had cracked her skull quite badly.

And all she kept saying was “WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOOT IT? WHY DIDN’T YOU KILL THE DRAGON? WHY?” She kept asking, over and over and over again. She was inconsolable.

Years later I put it down to her having hit her head, or an overactive imagination.

But even more years after that I learnt the truth, when Mira shared it with me, on our wedding night.

She told me how her mum had come to pick her up afterwards. How they went to the hospital and she got a few stitches, and how jealous she was of her mother there. She had stood in the mirror you see, as the nurses wiped the grime off her short brown hair and the snot from her blunt nose, commenting on how she looked like a boy, whilst a doctor spoke so sweetly to her mother, who years later even I would recognize was beautiful- an awkward discovery. Mira’s mom had golden hair and wore it long. She was incredibly kind and soft-spoken. I used to love going to Mira’s house when I was a teenager, and sitting in their small, makeshift library. The shelves filled with second-hand books painstakingly collected.

I would stare at a picture, completely incongruous, that hung from a wall, of a dark and melancholy forest. It was that picture, and a question about it, that prompted her confession after our weddng.

Mira told me that before, there was no picture there, as there had been no hole to cover up. She told me how after they got home that day with the dragon, how she was so happy, even though she had been hurt- she loved her mum dearly, and somehow she thought that she had really slayed a dragon. When she remembered that we hadn’t finished it she had started to shake and weep. Her mother consoled her, but she also understood the source of Mira’s anxiety.

Mira told me in tears, how she heard the car drive up- how it wasn’t the right day, and yet he came anyway. She told me how she stood in the kitchen window, watching the man with brown hair and a blunt nose she hated so much, walk out of his Farrari wearing his expensive sunglasses, and how he casually came up the drive. She told me how she heard him enter, after Mira’s mum, with a shaking hand, had closed the kitchen door, and told Mira to play. Play in the kitchen, with nothing but knives and soap to keep her company. Mira told me how he saw him take the iron, still hot, and make her mummy scream. Mira told me how she looked at the key, and how she went under the sink, and how she took out the crossbow.

Mira told me how she opened the door and slayed the dragon, leaving only a hole behind a painting that was yet to be hung.

I did not know what to say, so I told her how it was a long time ago, and he was long gone. And she reminded me how real dragons exist in our minds, and how those are not so easily slayed.

Ninja (Part 3)

3.

The sky was a white page overlaying the city. The concrete park, with its cordoned off exhibitions of green, held no interest for the gaggle of casually dressed 10-year olds. As their teacher ranted about the properties of a rubber tree the three conspirators huddled, thinking conspiratorial thoughts. With her back turned the teacher could not see the children.”Now.” said Tyrone, taking both Shanti and Ben’s hands. Ben balked, but Shanti kicked him in the shin, then muffled his yelp with her own hand. They hurried away whilst their teacher’s eyes were averted. They dashed past some strange post-modern art piece, and through some columns before arriving in a small, concrete arena, where the steps of stadium seats climbed upwards in a semi-circle around them.

Finding a good vantage point, the three sat. Once settled Shanti said to Ben, “Alright let’s see it.” So Ben took out the grey box, with its two plastic purple buttons, it’s four-way directional pad, and the rubber “select” and “start”. Shanti said “What is it?” and Tyrone answered for Ben,

“It’s a Gameboy. You’ve never seen a Gameboy?” Shanti shook her head. With a sigh she said, “Mum and Dad keep buying me barbies.” Ben laughed, then stopped when he noticed the look on Shanti’s face. He tried to explain “It’s just, like, funny. You’re ten and your mum thinks you still play with Barbies.” Shanti punched him in the arm. Ben did not protest.

Her temper caught, and She said “WELL YOU STILL WATCH VOLTRON.”

Ben shouted back “VOLTRON IS COOL.”They argued, as usual, and Tyrone ignored them. He had gotten up, and started to vault over the step above, hopping down intermittently. Finally he interrupted the two, saying “Come on, what were you going to show us? I’ve seen a Gameboy before.” That silenced them.Ben said “Yeah but how come you don’t have one?”

Tyrone said “I don’t really like games.”

Ben’s mouth hung open in shock. Even Shanti shook her head from side to side. She said “let me play then. Please Ben?” She touched his arm, and Ben reddened. He stuttered sure, fishing in his backpack for one specific cartridge. “Check this out Ty.” He produced a small grey cartridge, and shoved it in Tyrone’s face. Tyrone grabbed it from his hand. Shanti, reading the title, tentatively said “Pokey-mon?” squinting her eyes at the green thing. Tyrone’s words tumbled out of him in an excited rush- “ITS JAPANESE. SEE!” He pointed at the characters at the bottom of the title. His eyes dipped into the strange sigils.

“So?” said Shanti.

“Play it Ben. Play it!” said Tyrone.

Ben nodded solemnly, offering his open hand to Shanti, who relented and placed the cartridge in it. In a ritual manner, Ben rubbed the picture on the front with two thumbs, then blew into the cartridge four times. With a satisfying *click* he slotted it in the back. He handed the Gameboy backed to Shanti, smiling. Shanti took it. The two boys flanked Shanti, and she slid on the switch. With a chime, the Gameboy logo fell into place. “You’re blocking the light.” said Shanti. The two boys rearranged themselves. Then she started a new game.

“Woah, slow down.” Said Tyrone, as Shanti skipped all the Japanese text. “I want to read it.”

Ben said “You can read Japanese?”

Tyrone said “Well Dad let me use his computer and I searched it up and you know Japanese letters look like what they mean, so if you can figure it out it’s possible- see, that one is probably man.”

Shanti said: “Screw the words.”

The two boys gasped at the swear. Shanti smiled, a wide, gaping thing. “SCREW IT! SCREEEEEW IT!” she yelled, and the others sat down, conquered by the obscenities. They watched Shanti muddle through the game for fifteen minutes, Tyrone basking in the Japanese-ness of it, and Ben staring at the back of Shanti’s neck with great concentration. “TYRONE, SHANTI, BENJAMIN.” came the shout, from below. They all jumped up, and Shanti hid the Gameboy behind her back. Their teacher started to advance on them. Ben, scared though he was, managed to whisper “Did you save?”

“No.” said Shanti. Ben was distraught.

“GET DOWN HERE.” Said their teacher.

The three did, with Shanti carefully depositing the Gameboy back in Ben’s backpack. After a lecture about various dangers of their irresponsible actions, they rejoined the rest of the class, continuing their tour of the fenced-in trees. During lunchtime the other children harrangued the three with questions, gossiping and fascinated by their peer’s rebellious actions. One particular boy, Olly, was unhappy about not being the focus of attention, and made some effort to regain it. Once he heard that they were caught playing on a Gameboy, he laughed. “Gameboy? I got a PC guys”

“What’s a PC.”

“Pro Computer. Got a game called DOOM on it. It’s supposed to be for adults, but I installed it myself, with a floppy disk.” The jargon hit the group of boys (and Shanti) like an incantation, stunning them all with their cryptic connotations. “I hacked it to Godmode.” Then Olly, once more the star of his own personal biopic, regaled his audience with the details of a boss battle, one that involved a giant spider, shotguns, rocket launchers, and lots of blood.

As the day waned, the kids minds were filled with images of rocket launching spiders, and Ben was desperate to somehow join the ranks of these pro computing kids. He thought up a cunning plan, one that solved two problems at once. To Tyrone he gave his backpack, saying that inside was another japanese game, and if he could hold onto it for the day, and give it back tomorrow, then he could play as much as he wanted. Tyrone, normally uninterested in games, was somewhat intrigued on account of the Japanese, and consented. Then Ben approached Olly and his gang, interrupting their conversation to point out how the Gameboy was in fact Tyrone’s. Olly said “shut up fatty.” and his courtiers laughed. Ben laughed along, and was thus admitted in, as a jester. Ben thought they were edgy, as Olly and the others swore a lot, if quite unusually (“he’s a total brick shitter!”), and Ben revelled in what he thought of as his new-found status.

Shanti and Tyrone stayed together, alone, Shanti peering over Tyrone’s shoulder as he trailed behind the class, playing one of the games. He avoided the teacher’s eyeline by staying perpetually behind the second largest person on the trip. The game was an action packed affair, where you could shoot throwing stars and jump over enemies. The dialogue that took place between levels was impenetrable to Tyrone, and he loved that. The only words in English were in the title: “Ninja Gaiden.”

As they got on the bus, Tyrone tried to sit next to Ben, who was laughing along with Olly and the rest. He extended the Gameboy to is hold friend, but Ben just looked at him and said “Seats taken.”  Tyrone withdrew his hand. Olly whispered into Ben’s ear, and after a too long pause, Ben added, “Back of the bus nig.” Moments after he said that, Ben’s face went rose-red, and the shame upon it was palpable. Still, he did not offer up an apology, or retraction. The terrible silence stretched on.

Tyrone did not know what “nig” meant, but he felt angry. As angry as he had just about ever been. He placed his friend’s Gameboy carefully upon the empty seat, then turned and went back to the back of the bus, not looking back at Ben. Shanti, who heard all, stopped. A shrill voice from Tyrone’s back stopped him in his track. Shanti shouted,

“BEN YOU FUCKING CHUTIYA!”

And that’s when the teacher yelled “SHANTI!” in complete outrage.

Ninja (Part 2)

2. 

He had a fleeting taste of that world, then the screen was switched off by his over-protective mother.

Then it was his third month at school, and there were crayons involved. The class room was a chaos, the opposite of the carefully organised and divided up house Tyrone was growing up in. The explosive liberty was seductive. At school, every time Tyrone made a noise a smidge too loud, he was not reprimanded, and this birthed a mischievous urge inside him. Every time he knocked into something and it wobbled, Tyrone’s heart soared. School was freedom from the rules of his father, and for the most part he enjoyed it. At times however, the differences were uncomfortable. For example, today the crayons were not evenly distributed, and Tyrone felt this was unjust. He lacked the vocabulary to explain why, unfortunately, and so made do. Each student was given paper, and then they went at it. Tyrone sat and studied the empty white space, deliberating. He looked at the others around him for inspiration, and tried not to get caught cheating. He did this by watching the teacher’s eyes. Whenever she looked away, Tyrone would steal a glance at the prolific artists that surrounded him. A rainbow on one girl’s sheet. Some sort of stick figures on another. Most of the kids nearby had settled for various mish-mashes of color. Abstract art was not for Tyrone. He wanted to reproduce something real. Then it hit him, like a hammer to the chest. The swordsmen.

It was last Sunday that he had violated one of his parent’s laws. A minor violation, but one that would prove fateful. Normally, he was forbidden from watching cartoons past noon. His mother usually sat nearby, knitting, or reading, and supervising, ready to turn off the T.V as soon as the last cartoon finished. That Sunday she took a phone call, and left Tyrone be. Tyrone thought he knew how to turn off the screen, but had not yet attempted to test his hypothesis. Thus some minutes passed, and a new cartoon came on. There were swords in this one, and indecipherable yelling- the stuff of legendary challenges. Indecipherable because it was not in English.Although Tyrone did not understand the words, he thought he understood the warriors. Tyrone’s heart soared during those few minutes. Then his mother reduced the screen to black, without a word, just as two warriors charged each other, curved swords drawn. Tyrone felt guilty at having witnessed this, though his mother did not mention it. So, now in front of his blank paper, Tyrone realized, he would need the color silver, and he set out to find it. Rummaging in the pile, only odd colors remained. He put up his hand and asked for silver-colored crayons. The teacher explained that this was not possible, and that he should make do with sketching the outline. So he did. Two warriors, both armed with swords. The warriors were a hurried affair, of disproportionate limbs, with arms much longer than legs. Then, the swords. Ah, here Tyrone was careful. He colored in the right-side warrior red, and gave him a massive sword, three times bigger than the man wielding it. After it was done Tyrone wondered at this warrior, who could hold such a great blade. Then to the man on the left, whose legs were colored blue. Tyrone gave him two much smaller swords- one in each hand. After a bit of thought, he gave him a third, on his back, to protect from the rear. Tyrone, sighed, and studied his debut. He decided that he was the warrior on the left- that three smaller swords are better than one, and quicker to use too.Shortly after that they were told by the teacher to draw their families. Tyrone thought himself quite the adept at crayons by this point, and resolved to make the arms less long in his next piece. He found it hard to concentrate when the other kids started shouting at each other. There weren’t enough peach colored crayons it seemed. From afar Tyrone watched the teacher settle the issue, with each student getting five minutes with the peach colored crayons to shade in their family members. After Tyrone drew mum and Dad, he pondered, thinking there was something missing. After some deliberation he settled for a tree to the side. The tree was exactly the same as the one Tyrone climbed- or at least a close approximation. That’s when Tyrone met Shanti for the first time.She had come over, having just snapped her own brown crayon in half, to take Tyrone’s. She did this by hovering behind him, causing a shadow to envelop Tyrone’s picture. Tyrone, so engrossed in his art, paid no attention to the change in illumination. As he switched to blue, to color in the sky, Shanti grabbed his brown crayon and proceeded to casually saunter back to her spot by the shelves. Tyrone stared after her for some few beats. Then realising he had just been burgled said “HEY! MINE!” and gave chase. The teacher was currently involved in breaking up another scuffle over the scarce pink and peach colored crayons, and did not see, nor condone the imminent invasion. Tyrone, bringing his picture with him, went up to Shanti, and demanded back his brown crayon. Shanti, without shame, or hesitation told Tyrone to just use black instead. She then offered Tyrone her black crayon. So he sat next to her, and filled in his parents with black. Shanti peered at the picture, and asked where Tyrone was in it. It was at that point Ben, a large, rather wide child, bundled pass the two, and hid behind Tyrone- a woefully insufficient body of cover. “My names Ben.” he said. He got up and dramatically glanced about, shielding his eyes from the glare of the halogen light strips above. Then he sat down in a huff, and took out his prizes from his pants. No less than three peach colored crayons. “Spares.” He said, when Shanti and Tyrone stared at him wide-eyed. They ducked as a passing purple crayon whizzed by, striking some poor girl in the nose. Collateral damage from the fight. Ben said to Tyrone, “Your lucky. You don’ need peach.” All three nodded at this. Then they went back to their drawings. Tyrone added his finishing touches- himself, clinging to a tree in the background.

When the chaos subsided, the teacher came around to inspect all their pieces. At Tyrone’s she paused, and bent over, and pointed to the tree. “Tyrone, why is there a monkey in the tree?” Tyrone explained that it was not a monkey, but himself, Tyrone. At this the teacher became incredibly apologetic and embarrassed, much to all the student’s surprise. They had never seen a teacher aplogize before. Tyrone asked her “Whats a monkey?” Having grown up in the city, Tyrone was quite unaware of them by this stage in his life. Some kids laughed at this. Then Shanti spoke up, loud and proud, “YOU’RE MONKEY!” and laughed. “BANDAR BANDAR!” The other kids who had been laughing, stopped suddenly- they had no idea what this word meant.

The teacher, flustered, and already hoping no one’s parents will hear about this terrible lesson, was also curious. Tyrone pestered Shanti, till she said “Bandar- means monkey! Mommy calls my brother Bandar. Thats your name now.” She said it with such finality. Ben felt quite jealous, having no nickname himself. “What about me? I want a name.”

Tyrone said, “You’re fat.”

Shanti then punched him in the arm. “That’s mean.”

And the three became quite good friends after that.

Short story: Ninja

Okay, so this is me breaking one of my rules and duel wielding stories, akimbo. Which I suppose is massively confusing maybe, but to Hell With It. I was going to ship this to some competition. This is something I’ve been working on and it’s more fun to write than Ronel and Eric and I get to wax lyrical about Gameboys (oh glorious DING) and Doom (not in this part though, that’s in part 3), and also well I mean it’s called….

NINJA

1.

Under the gnarled tree Tyrone’s mother set out the quaint accessories for the picnic, whilst Tyrone’s father stared brazenly at a young teenage girl. Under one arm Tyrone’s father held a box, inside which was a strange gadget. Each time Tyrone’s mother looked at her husband he would quickly make as if he had only been scanning, from left to right, like a radar station, his gaze pausing evenly on blooming sunflowers and nubile girls. After the mat was layed, and the tupperware brought out, Tyrone’s father told Tyrone to run, to fly through the cut grass. This was so his parent’s could fondle each other. Tyrone didn’t know that of course, and had quite happily dashed off, obsessed about reaching the perfect distance, before stealthily circling back, heartbeat driven by excitement as he made his way to the far side of tree.

The tree was titanic in height, a snaking obstacle course of branch and roughly textured bark. Tyrone had discovered it last time they were at the park. Last time he had found a rather satisfying place to put one of his hands. It was a hand hold, a protrusion in the trunk, just above head height. Tentatively he had found that the bottom of the trunk curled in such a way that he could shimmy a foot into a root, slightly above the ground. Just as he did his mother had called out- it was time to leave. Since then, dreams of that tree emerged every night, the way his foot and hands fit so perfectly into those nooks, and that promise of leaving the ground, if only he had just hoisted himself up. In his dreams he felt giddy, and somtimes dived upwards, a reverse fall, as he soared towards the leaves, becoming as tall as the tree itself.

Now, here, the culmination. Carefully, whilst on the otherside his father began to explain to his mother about the new-fangled cellular phone, the boy found the same foothold, unchanged, and grabbed the same jutting piece of bark. He took a moment, and pulled. Up he went, his foot free from the soft grass. Amazing. A gentle breeze licked at his T-shirt. He ran his left hand up the bark, just away from the harsh surface. With his eyes he searched for another hold. Of course, the branch! He took his second step upwards.

That day he tasted glory, climbing all the way up to a branch more than twice his height. He straddled it and savored his empire. Words from below drifted up. Hushed words. “It’s so big.” Says the boy’s mother. “Hardly! You can use it anywhere. Almost. I could call London from here. I mean, it’d be damn expensive, but I could.”

She teased, “And why would you need to call London from here?” .

“Hell with it.” He said, looking away in a contemptuous gesture.

Then a bird landed on the branch, startling Tyrone. He twisted, and before he knew what was happening, fell right on top of his dad.

Henceforth his father passed a household edict- they would avoid the park from that day on. Thus Tyrone learnt the value of stealth. For awhile afterwards, Tyrone’s vertical aspirations were relegated to the netting that served as the walls of ball pits, and his parent’s couch. He loved to climb, and the lack of opportunity served to further illuminate the urge in Tyrone. Besides climbing, Tyrone felt a passion for only one other thing, a brief preview of an entire world, alien, impenetrable, depth hidden in darkness.

A world of Japanese sword masters.

Flash fiction: A long explanation

Awhile back a friend of mine, working for a magazine, asked if i wanted to write some short, 250 words or so flash fiction piece- Christmas themed for some feature thing.

I sent her this. For some odd reason she found it inappropriate.

A long explanation

 “Lizzy, come on, go hunt for your presents!” I said, with all the tired confidence a father could muster. I had stayed up all night, not a single cookie to keep me company, wrapping all the fucking presents. The living room was filled with tinsel and relatives; Uncle Marvin on the piano playing carols, all of us too polite to point out his mistakes; Mother on the couch, falling asleep; and my little princess, my little Lizzy, all dressed up in her perfectly pink dress, scuffing her knees on the living room floor while she foraged for presents.

Mary, my wife was there as well, our hands clasped in a death grip. We’d been fighting again, over sex again. Lizzy returned from the tree with a purple box the size and shape of my forearm. I don’t quite remember that one- must be from Mary. Then she starts tearing up the wrapping, when I remember- oh shit – not from, but for Mary. I’d written: To My Little Baby on it. Big mistake. Before I can stop her she’s taken it out. It’s made of some new, purple, hygienic plastic and covered all over in little studs. She looks at it quizzically before pressing the switch on the bottom. And I’d asked specially that they include batteries.

It sounds like a loud electric shaver. I notice how Lizzy’s little fingers barely fit all the way around it. She thinks it’s a jet fighter, a toy. Starts flying it around the room. Someone yells “Jesus”. Then right before I can pry it from her Uncle Marvin cries: “DON’T LET HER PUT IT IN HER MOUTH!”