Jack London

I stumbled across some short stories by Jack London this morning and have spent the whole day reading one after another. A great link here to so many great shorts.

http://www.jacklondons.net/

I live in the tropics but my hands and feet felt like they were frostbitten after reading:

To Build a Fire:  http://www.jacklondons.net/buildafire.html

Brrrrrr

Jack London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TMK

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Cover Story

Love this new cover for a collection of short stories and flash fiction.

Riders on the storm - cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TMK

 

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African Dream

The Air France 747 banked hard left; they would soon be landing at King Shaka International Airport. Jean squinted outside through bloodshot eyes. Sun shimmered across the Indian Ocean; ahead lay Durban bordered by infinite miles of golden sand. The rolling distant hills were a rusty red. They were here, Africa.

Marc and Tomas had already moved to unload the overhead locker. Jean pushed his arms out stretching them above his head.

Tomas caught the eye of Jean saying,

“Here buddy you might need this, seems a bit chilly outside.”

Tomas tossed a tan leather jacket onto Jean’s lap.

“You look rough Jean; did you get any sleep last night?” Tomas enquired, concerned that his friend might not be in a fit state to drive.

Jean stretched and yawned giving Tomas his answer. Overnight Jean had downed a dozen small bottles of red wine while his companions snoozed.

They were in South Africa for a week to relax and perhaps play some football with the locals. They travelled light with just carry-on baggage. Within thirty minutes they had picked up their rental car and were heading to Durban’s North Beach for breakfast.

The African air blowing in from the ocean was a change from the fume filled streets of Paris. Tomas studied the junctions for the drive down to Hamburg. It appeared East London would be the best place to have lunch and re fuel on their eight hour drive. They were headed for an organic farm and luxury boutique hotel owned by an old friend of Tomas.

“Seems once we hit the N2 we stay on that road for most of the way, should be a breeze.” Tomas announced, his head lingering over the map.

Marc was high on adrenalin. It had been a childhood dream to visit Africa and now here he was.

“Africa. oh man Afreeeka!”

Jean meanwhile was struggling, his head throbbing.

The roads were good and they cruised most of the way at a hundred and twenty kilometers an hour.

Marc swapped seats with Jean and flopped into the back seat. He had driven for seven hours. It had been an educational journey. Now he could relax and take it all in. Jean got the car up to speed and settled down.

The light faded quickly and after just a few kilometers it had become dark; the headlights now cut a line through the gloom.

“Not long guys just another fifteen or so to run,” quipped Marc.

There had been a shower, the aroma from the African soil and grass smelt fresh. To the right the land rose up quickly. To the left the land fell sharply. They had just crossed a bridge where a fast flowing river boiled on its way to the Ocean.

“Can’t wait to taste some of the organic beef your friend is producing here,” interjected Jean who had turned his head round to look at Marc.

“Watch out!” Screamed Tomas

Jean flicked back to the road just in time to make eye contact with her. A small local girl, her large eyes illuminated by the headlights; eyes that were filled with fear.

Jean pumped his left foot on the brake pedal to the floor but too late. The three men exploded forward. Tomas smacked his forehead on the dashboard; Marc was thrown from his seat hammering his face against the headrest of Jean’s seat ending in a heap on the floor.

Jean gripped the wheel with such force his knuckles shone white in the dark interior. He stared straight ahead, eyes bulging, his face frozen in terror. There was silence until Marc groaned.

“What the fuck was that, did we hit something?”

“I HAVE KILLED HER; I HAVE KILLED HER, OH DEAR GOD!”

Unable to contain his emotions, his esophagus burning, Jean pushed the car door ajar falling onto the dusty surface before vomiting over and over. Marc and Tomas staggered to the front of the vehicle. The headlights revealed a small body, the tiny girl lay motionless.

Her petite body was twisted into an unnatural shape, her arms jutted out at sickening angles. Blood trickled between the cornrows on her neatly plaited head.

Marc grabbed Jean by the neck forcing him against the side of the Korean saloon.

“You killed her, you fucking killed her, you stupid asshole you’ve killed her, she is only a baby.”

Tomas stuck his hand between the two friends to leverage them apart.

Jean had no fight in him, distraught with grief, his eyes full or tears, traces of bile on his chin.

“She just came out, I had no chance; she just stood there.” Jean mumbled the words to himself.

“We have murdered her, oh shit we are in trouble. Oh Jesus we are going to prison here in Africa. We will be lynched, this is a nightmare; WHAT THE FUCK JEAN.”

Marc swung a fist at Jean. He threw his hands up for protection before sliding down the side of the vehicle. Jean crouched down on his haunches, his head in his hands.

Their car had covered seven hundred kilometers. The engine was creaking and a trail of water ran out from under the front of the vehicle. There was a smell of burning rubber; somewhere in the distance a dog barked.

Tomas and Marc examined the infant who lay like a rag doll ten meters in front of the car. She was face down in the dust. Blood running from her ear had collected into a small pool.

“She’s dead Marc there is no pulse, no breathing. What are we going to do?” Tomas was on the verge of breaking down.

“We have to do something now! For Christ’s sake, hurry up another might come soon; COME ON!

Marc tried to clear his head but he kept seeing a scene from his childhood in Marseille. His best friend lay dying, a knife protruding from his side. Death had been part of his young life in the Quartiers Nord of Marseille.

“Throw her in the river,” said Marc.

“Are you crazy? We have to take her to the police or the hospital.” Tomas paced in a circle.

Marc kept his voice low and repeated.

“Throw her in the river and let’s go. There are no witnesses only us three.  Be practical, throw her in the river.” Marc barked at Jean.

“Jean you do it hurry up do it now.” Tomas made it unanimous.

“DO IT!” screeched Tomas as he kicked dirt across the pool of blood.

Jean, his arms trembling like autumn leaves in the wind, bent down and scooped up the shattered corpse. Her lifeless body felt heavy and disturbingly warm. He staggered to the mid-point of the bridge and closed his eyes as the broken body slipped from his grasp. The infant body tumbled, to the river below. There was a splash, and she was gone.

The African dream break had turned into a nightmare.

TMK

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Hokkaido Hell

Jiro Sasaki gazed down into another mug of Kokushi Muzo sake; a tear rolled from his raw left cheek and plopped into the large ceramic cup of rice wine. It was the fourth he had consumed that morning. Sasaki stared a hard stare, a cold, unemotional stare down into the bottom of the sake cup.

He cocked his neck and looked at his pitiful body, then he broke through and stared into his spirit. It was black, dark, depressing, empty and bare. His eyes, always large smiling and contented brown eyes, had no sparkle now; the joy was gone, the hope and expectation, lost. Forever Jiro would wonder to himself what if, what would my son have achieved, what would he have done with his young life?

Since the desperate day the boat went down and his son Kaito was lost, rapidly sucked under and beneath the rough waves, Jiro Sasaki had never been able to go back to the sea. Such was the despair of Jiro’s grief he was barely able to even look in the direction of the Pacific Ocean.

The pristine, clear and bright waters that wrapped around the Nemuro Peninsula had magnanimously given his family their livelihood. The happy warm house, the two cars, everything, down to the red lacquered chopsticks that now sat unused on the heavy wooden kitchen table. All of his material possessions had been gained from the bounty of the ocean. The fertile, generous harvest the Pacific had over and over again altruistically bequeathed to him.

The ocean had taken something back, she had taken a young soul, and she had ripped open and destroyed the poor and sorry heart of Jiro Sasaki.

He had not shaved for a week and had not changed clothes since the devastating loss. His thick white sweater had become grubby and grey. He had slept in the clothes he was wearing when Kaito had been taken, but the sleep had only been for minutes. His eyes were now puffy and raw. His own appearance however was of no concern to him anymore.

He threw another two cups of sake into his bitter mouth; there was no sensation of taste or pleasure. He wanted to become numb, become oblivious to the new reality of life without his son. He had no idea of the day or the date nor did he care.

Maybe it was inevitable that after so many years of harvesting the finest fruits the ocean had to offer that there would be a day of reckoning, a day when some equilibrium was summoned. If only the sea gods had asked him, he would have given his own life, anything Mother Nature asked of him personally he would gladly have sacrificed. But no, not the life of his own flesh and blood his son and heir no, not Kaito-chan.

The boy had been named Kaito, which means ‘The Ocean’, to honour the sparkling greenish blue waters he loved with such unconditional passion.

Yet the ocean had enticed him in then sucked him under, taken him away, far below, pulling him lovingly into her infinite dark depths. The young Sasaki had gone, a pure soul now lying in a watery crypt.

He had worked his fingers to the bone to provide for his family, on one occasion literally so. The weighty lobster cage had slipped from the edge of the boat it would have been lost into the sparkling blue depths until Jiro grabbed for it. The streaming nylon rope burned mercilessly through his skin, the violent friction tore his epidermis away with ease.

Within seconds the threshing rope had torn through the rough fisherman’s flesh and burned deep down to the bone. Salt water splashed into the deep gorge of the wound accentuating the pain and bringing unbelievable agony.

That pain was nothing now though, that pain was a mere passing moment, a tiny physical discomfort. The ache he now felt, the pain of personal loss, was infiltrating every cell, his every breath and heartbeat. How could a father ever let go of a son.

Jiro was in a dark place, there really was no way forward from this tragedy.

Each time he closed his eyes he could see his son’s face as it sunk below the waves. The look of despair on Kaito’s pitiable face was now forever burned into Jiro’s inner vision.

The weight of the heavy sweater and solid working boots had dragged Kaito down. The merciless Pacific Ocean relentlessly sucking him in, downwards he went, ever downwards deep in to her lightless bosom, to take the place of her own lost flesh.

He dived in so many times until he could dive no more, but Kaito had been taken by her, it was an eye for an eye; his flesh for her decades of benevolent offerings.

He had been pulled out by his fellow squid fishermen who were working close by, but he dived in again and again flailing wildly to be let back in until they forcefully held him back. He had sobbed uncontrollably, piercingly screaming Kaito’s name over and over again until stunned into silence and shock he froze in that horrifying moment of time. Lying wet and half dead on the salty deck of his neighbor’s compact squid fishing boat, his precious son Kaito gone never to return. Jiro Sasaki sobbed in the unnerving silence until his eyes ran dry.

Lobsters, plump, ripe, and plentiful, the biggest, juiciest, heavy Hokkaido crabs full of roe, Scallops the size of a fist. The harvest had been truly bountiful this year. The Nemuro Peninsula waters had offered up much, perhaps too much. They should have been more humble, perhaps he should have been more honorable to the ever giving ocean, but it was too late now.

The expensive tables at the elegant Tokyo restaurants sitting high above the bustling and energetic Japanese capital had been spoiled this season; such had been the astounding quality and quantity of the highly prized crustaceans.

The discerning clients in the five star hotels of Shinjuku and Chiyoda Ku did not know of the grief and sacrifice that Jiro had suffered, they did not care. They only wanted the finest Hokkaido seafood to be brought to their voracious, insatiable palates.

Jiro would never go out again; he could not return to the ocean, she had taken his spirit, ripped out his very heart and soul.

He knew now though, as he sat in the darkened room, his head spinning from too much sake that he too had taken her spirit. He knew he should have paid his respects more often, taken a day away from the ocean to let her replenish her stocks. He should have gone to the temple to honor the Pacific with more prayer, given more unconditional respect for his endless bountiful crops. He wondered if a little more reverence might have spared his precious only child. But it was too late now for regrets Kaito Sasaki was not coming back from his watery tomb.

A dark shadow cast from the small square lantern on the wall just above his heavy and throbbing head covered half of his grieving face.

In the old faded mirror by the front entrance to his comfortable home he once more gazed at his own sad and stagnant face What was the point to carry on now; his rugged sea beaten skin was pale, it was without life, unresponsive, his teeth were sour and yellow, his jet black hair tangled and unkempt.

His head was weary, it sat heavy on his tired rounded shoulders like a dead piece of rock. Again the tears of melancholy loss began to well up in his puffy, sagging eyes until Jiro spoke to his reflection,

“Kaito-chan, Kaito-chan, my little Kaito-chan I miss you so much, my heart is broken, I pine for you Kaito chan, I will not leave you alone my only son, I cannot let you go.”

He reached out for his well-worn baseball cap from the shelf to his right hand side, he could not stand his loss for one more second, he wanted to be with his dear son. His body was wrenched with anguish and hurt, every joint in his body stung with pain as he walked towards the windswept harbour.

The tide was low in the small man-made marina, he was weak he had not eaten for days but somehow he found new inner strength and hauled the dense wooden boat over the sand and into the cold Hokkaido waters. Voices called out from the narrow quayside urging Jiro to turn back but his ears were closed. He pushed on into and through the large freezing breakers.

He ploughed his small inshore fishing boat forward, the slight craft was tossed high and low in the peaks and troughs of the ocean swell until the lights on shore had become like stars sparkling in the distance. His mind was not clear maybe it was the large amounts of sake he had continuously gulped down or maybe it was the overwhelming sadness. His spontaneous actions seemed to be automatic, subconscious; something was tugging at his psyche.

He had motored well out into the waters pushing himself ever onwards, his left hand pressed hard down on the throttle with such force the metal had cut deep into his blister covered fingers. A blazing waxing gibbous Moon shone down on him illuminating a patch of the black ocean, it was calm now.

The distressed father let the engine control go from his gnarled tough hand, the boat shuddered to a halt the ocean now still and silent. For a moment at last he felt some peace, he felt closer to his dead son.

As the soothing water lapped rhythmically against the side of his craft he heard it, he heard the call. An eerie unnerving noise, a banshee cry that was coming from the deep.

Kaito was calling him, calling him from far below, but it was not his recent voice it was the infant voice of Kaito-chan It was the voice of a lost and lonely four year old, an infant who was crying out to his father above, begging him to come.

“I’m coming son, I am coming.”

He could not endure another moment without his precious boy, and then as he looked into the darkness there he was smiling up from the depths, it was the infant face of Kaito, his arms stretched out to welcome his sad and so very desperate father. The glare of the high moon began playing tricks with Jiro Sasaki’s head, the lunar power was strong this night.

The cold, black water appeared to part as he clambered over the side and softly entered the welcoming grasp of the seductive ocean. Gently he started to sink, unaware of the chill as he reached out to grasp at the hand of his precious little boy.

They drifted down, the father and son together again; descending gracefully, gliding ever downwards, the two bodies plunging into the dark Pacific.

She had got what she wanted she had taken them both down into her deep dark bosom and now there was balance on the Nemuro Peninsula.

 

 

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Driven Mad

Driven Mad

“Shit, not now, come on, come on, COME ON!”

Robin was exasperated her patience finally snapping. The classic nineteen sixty two MGA 1600 cc sports car had coughed and spluttered along every mile since she had driven out of the classic car auction.

The archaic car lurched forward again, this time backfiring and spitting out a mushroom of jet black smoke. She was thrown back then forward in the hard bucket seat, jarring every bone in her body and throwing her long blonde hair over her dejected face. But then the engine picked up again, it suddenly sounded good to her ears; it was going to be okay. Perhaps all it had needed was a good run, her heart beat a little easier. Her right foot eased down picking up some speed.

Until the sound of the sixteen hundred engine abruptly fell away. The motor tried to catch once more but died. She knew in her gut the car would not start again. In a tantrum of anger she turned the key left then right, over and over again until the skin on her thumb and index finger had become impregnated with the MGA logo. Robin fell forward wrapping her arms around the oversized wooden steering wheel, and then clasped her shaking hands together where they met. All she wanted to do was cry, what a mistake, what a terrible stubborn woman she was.

She sat back in the shallow and thin seat of the British sports car, her buttocks felt sore now; maybe this car was for show and not for driving. She intertwined her fingers and squeezed her hands tightly together; she rested her lips on to the back of her thumbs. Robin closed her eyes and prayed, she prayed hard asking her god to help her get home. She closed her eyes and prayed even harder asking forgiveness and promising faithfulness if only the engine would fire up.

Once more she twisted the key to the left hoping to hear the same deep purr from under the hood that she had loved at the Carmel auction house. What met her ears crushed her; the sound of metal on metal filled her head. The MGA now sounded like many fifty year olds, frail, broken and whiny. A pale white plume of smoke poured from the exhaust. The engine had blown, the head gasket was warped, and the classic car had become a piece of junk.

“Come on please just once please start, please start I won’t ask for any more favours ever again.”

But the MGA’s engine was totally dead, she felt so defeated so let down after trusting the auction master and his crew of beaming supportive mechanics who only an hour earlier had assured her this car would run forever, that was just before she handed over her cheque for thirty five thousand dollars.

Robin bowed her head, she was crushed, she rested her forehead against the large wooden rimmed steering wheel and started to sob. The tears poured freely down both of her hot flushed cheeks, her nose also involuntarily opened and discharged clear viscous streams to join the salty water from her eyes. Together the mix of her body excretions ran fluently down her face and dripped from her chin down onto the MGA embossed carpet below, she didn’t care, she just had to let go.

She knew she had made a mistake as soon as she had pulled out of the auction house. Her own eyes had seduced her, her fickle brain and her pride had pushed her on to say yes. Now here she sat in between Carmel and her home in San Francisco in a dead fifty year old car she had so irrationally fallen for.

The road up through Carmel Valley had become narrower and darker until now she sat alone in the pitch dark. She had spent the whole day at the car auction and had lost track of time. It wasn’t really that late it was only around eight pm but it was now very dark. Robin felt a chill in the air too; above her grey clouds were rolling in from the Pacific. It looked like rain was on the way.

She reached over and picked her bag up from the well-worn cracked red leather of the passenger seat and rummaged inside to get hold of her phone. Knowing she was going to have to trouble one or more of her friends on a Sunday night, she didn’t look forward to making the calls. It was at least an hour’s drive to where she had stopped if not more.

She pushed in the button on the base of her phone and waited however there was no response on the screen. She pushed it again and again until she twigged, the battery had gone. She had not used her phone all day but the power had already been low when she set of that morning to the Carmel Classic Auto Auction.

What a fool she had been what an absolute asshole she had made of herself, she had just wasted all her savings was this fate teaching her a lesson had her run of good fortune now run out?

Her situation had now become a crisis, a real crisis for Robin. She needed to calm herself down and think rationally. Someone would be along this road shortly, after all the auction had been crowded and most of the people there, like her, were heading back to San Francisco or at least up to Paolo Alto. Surely they would start passing her soon on their way back north.

She reached inside her bag again not really knowing what she was looking for. A shudder of anxiety coursed through her body, it suddenly dawned on her that it was so totally dark out here in Carmel Valley and she was alone. Robin thought she had passed a farmhouse or a store or something a few miles back but couldn’t be certain. Her concentration had been on keeping the vehicle moving forward not on the scenery. Her head was beginning to go off on different scenarios, some good, and some pretty bad.

The lights on the old car were weak; the battery was obviously decrepit too. Robin wasn’t a technical or mechanical person; the car just looked classy to her that had been the inspiration for her purchase. When she got in the car it just felt right.

She wasn’t dressed to spend the night in the open air, she wore a long sleeved red tee shirt and faded tight fitting denims; her only blessing was that she had chosen to wear flat shoes knowing she would be walking around a lot at the auction.

“Why oh why the hell did I do this?” She spoke out loud she didn’t know why but she wanted to get her frustration out.

She swung her body around to the right and using the edge of the windscreen pulled herself out of the low lying sports car. She had looked at the car on the auction website the previous night as she browsed the web in her apartment something about the car had drawn her in. She could not pin it down it just appealed to her, and she had become smitten. The pale blue paintwork, the graceful arc and lines of the body, something caught her heart.

Now her she was in the middle of nowhere, no food, no water, no mobile phone, and no map just the ancient piece of junk and her. Above the California sky was peppered with millions of stars, amazing her and deflected her attention for a few minutes. She hadn’t seen the night sky so clearly for years. However the dark clouds were now coming in fast from her left, it was going to pour down soon or at least become much colder.

And then it dawned on her, flashing into her fuzzy head she recalled that she had taken the wrong fork in the road. Instead of heading back towards the main road to San Francisco she had ventured further up the Carmel Valley to somewhere way beyond her grasp.

Her eyes were adjusting to the blackness of the cold night; she became aware that she was in a valley, a steep v-shaped valley. Water was bubbling somewhere pouring over rocks but she had no idea if it was left or right. Behind her to the left was a rolling meadow which she had driven through. Beyond it was the silhouette of another hill and beyond that another higher sharper slope, and then a wall of darkness.

On her right side the valley floor seemed to be covered in shrubs which became trees as the land rose up. The trees were dense as far as she could tell and the water noise now sounded like it came from somewhere down in that side of the valley. It was quiet, very quiet Robin could hear her own breathing; this place was becoming eerie and just a little frightening now.

What if a car did come by and was just a man or two men or more; what would she do. Robin was a big city girl she didn’t know or like the countryside. She didn’t trust anyone in the city so why should she trust anyone in the country. She walked around the MGA and then lashed out kicking hard and angrily at the back offside tyre.

“Fucking piece of junk!”

She started to well up again but the tears did not break over onto her cheek they just filled her eyes with water messing up her vision. She wiped her eyes with her long sleeves spreading her mascara out to the left and right of her cheeks. She sat on the back wing of the old English sports classic, the car body was solid but she hated this car now, already it had caused her so much trouble, how the hell was she going to get back home to San Francisco.

First thing on Monday morning she would be calling the auction house to get her money back. That money was going back into her bank never to be touched again this year. A noise came from the right; there was a swift rustle in the bushes. It freaked her out, it terrified her, her heart began to thump hard and fast, this was becoming a nightmare. Trembling she sat back down on the rear wing but Robin was jumpy and very afraid.

She lifted her feet up onto the rear chrome bumper resting her tired legs then she placed her elbows on her thighs and placed her heavy and throbbing head between the palms of her hands. If it was daylight she could at least see where she was or she could walk, but she made a decision, she was going to stay with the car in the dark. She would put up the canvas soft top lock the doors and try to get through the night.

Drizzle began to sweep up and through the valley.

“Ah just perfect, now it’s fucking raining”

She opened the boot of the MGA maybe there was water or a blanket, it was heavy to lift up the old car was solid. But there was nothing in there it was clean. She let the trunk lid drop and it echoed down and across the valley. Robin took her dead phone from her rear pocket and tried it one more time but it was futile, the phone was dead, it was just a piece of metal and plastic, another shitty piece of junk in her terrified hand.

“You in trouble lady?”

The detached voice spooked her out of her skin.

Robin jumped in sheer terror, she turned her head around in panic searching for the person who spoke, it was a man’s voice, her worst fear.

She peered through her blurry tear filled eyes to try and see who was there but in the dark cover of the deteriorating night it was hard to fully make out the presence of anyone. Robin’s fingers closed tight around her mobile phone, she held it rigid in her hand ready to use it as a weapon. It had little other use in any case.

Robin began to see the outline of an old man standing at the front of her MGA and smiling at her. She was petrified; it was her worst case scenario coming true. He looked like a weirdo, like someone from a scene out of ‘Deliverance’.

“Think your battery must have gone flat ma’am, these old cars aren’t worth spit unless you treat them like children, you got to massage their ego’s every day”

Robin’s mouth was dry, her legs were shaking, her heart pumped blood around her body like never before and she could not speak. She wasn’t aware of another vehicle so where did this old coot come from. He was unshaven, he looked decrepit and in the dark he looked so sleazy.

He moved towards her, she thought his evil eyes were focused on her breasts but he wanted the key of the car to try and help Robin get the antique vehicle going.

He stretched out his right hand.

Robin struck out with her mobile phone and caught the elderly man with a crashing blow above his left temple, a spurt of warm liquid hit Robin’s face the old man looked straight at her, his large blue eyes shocked and full of fear.

Robin lashed out again and sent the old man staggering sideways. He grabbed for the bonnet of the car but it was low to the ground. He could not get a hold of it; he stumbled and fell to his left catching the top of the low wire fence that ran along the edge of the road. The old man lost his balance; he was over eighty years old and had no chance to find stability.

Robin ran her fingers over the place the warm liquid had landed on her it was red and thick it was blood, the old man’s blood.

The old man’s head had been split open by the edge of the mobile phone as Robin had smashed it into him. Now to her right the kindly old man was toppling over, he completely lost his footing and tumbled head first over the fence. It seemed to be happening in super slow motion as Robin watched the old man’s face contort with confusion wondering why the young lady had lashed out at him.

Down he went his feet flying high into the dark night air then head first he tumbled over the fence, flailing his arms in vain he screamed out as he plummeted straight down into the gully below.

The jagged rocks the Carmel River had carved through over thousands of years could not be seen in the total blackout of the night but they were waiting below like a Venus Fly Trap for the old gentleman’s body.

The helpful old man lay dead, his body broken over a sharp edged rock. An expression of shock was frozen on the old boys face, his body now lifeless. The pitiful old soul who had survived Iwo Jima, the decorated elderly veteran well known for his altruistic deeds in the Carmel Valley, now lay stiff. A deep gash on his head was oozing blood; a red line ran down his wrinkled skin.

Robin called out to the old man she could only make out a profile on the rocks below, she ran in panic around the car not knowing what to do, Robin was now in total shock, she opened the heavy trunk of the old car again but there was nothing but a spare wheel, she let the trunk go and it smashed loudly back down metal whamming metal.

The car lurched as the heavy trunk closed and then it began to creep slightly forward, Robin threw her handbag messily into the passenger seat and leapt in behind the large wooden steering wheel, she frantically moved her own body backwards and forwards, the car began to smoothly move, there was a slight hill and the old MGA had caught some forward motion, Robin had an idea as the old weighty car gathered speed.

She pushed hard down on the stiff heavy clutch and shoved the chunky wooden topped gear lever around until she got second gear. She set her right foot above the accelerator pedal and waited, she was crying again, this time tears of confusion and fear.

Bang! She let go the clutch and pushed hard on the accelerator the MGA lurched forward snapping her head almost breaking the top two vertebrae in her neck. There was a very loud pop and the fifty year old vehicle roared into life.

The headlights burst into action illuminating the whole scene in front of Robin. Six pairs of alien green eyes instantly appeared from out of the gloom ahead of her, Robin screamed with fright as the MGA roared on passed the grazing cows, equally stunned by the sudden appearance of the blazing car lights.

Robin, tears streaming down both cheeks, her nose dribbling like an infant, pushed harder and harder on the accelerator pedal, the speedometer read eighty five miles per hour, she was now dangerously barreling along the narrow country road, her head full of the despairing eyes of the old man as he plunged to his death.

Robin could see a junction ahead of her; a green triangle came flashing into view as the brilliant headlights caught the luminous road sign. The white arrow pointed left the sign read Highway 101 five miles, she kept her foot hard down and swung the old car left, the car creaked and snapped but she was not slowing down.

A column of white oily smoke poured form the small exhaust pipe but she kept pushing. On the horizon she could see lights and automobiles plying left and right. Her face was a mess, her mind was in utter turmoil but she could now see a way out of her predicament.

With unbearable guilt eating at every microscopic piece of her body Robin wanted to stop, she wanted to admit her responsibility. Then again the downside could be substantial jail time, she had to get herself together, and she had to get her head straightened out.

She dared not to look in her rear view mirror she was so terrified she could not look back, press on, push on, get home she kept saying to herself over and over again.

Robin had just murdered a man, only she and the fifty year old MGA sports car knew the story, knew the secret of her action, she was terrorized with fear, with inner pain.

But Robin when she had rushed to judgment lashing out at wildly at the gentle old man had overlooked one thing.

She did not see the old man’s wife who stood in the shadows behind him and had been a witness to everything; the old woman was now dialing 911.

 

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Vortex of Fate

The crowded carriage of acquiescent ‘salary men’ was as it had been on the previous four thousand and eighty days. They sat calm, bland and unobtrusive; it was a routine, predictable, Monday morning commute into Tokyo.

In seat number 11A in carriage number 5 Toshio Iguchi was slowly collapsing. Toshio’s mind was crumbling, he was finally falling down. From inside his head a voice was raging, roaring, yelling at him to leave, to give up, to terminate the fear, end the protracted agony. The deep inner self hatred and the gnawing hurt had finally burst through and Toshio’s mind had begun to eat itself. He was self-destructing and on the way to oblivion.

The sleek Bullet Train was now hitting its top speed, once more the establishment was pulling him in. The corporation sucking him in to central Tokyo for another day of drudgery, of servitude and anguish. Another ten hours of unwarranted iniquitous abuse from his sour, duplicitous, superior; but on this day Toshio snapped. He could not go on; he could not take even one more minute, not one more second of being a hostage to the fraudulent charade. To behave subserviently as if a child to those for whom he held no respect. On this day he could no longer deny his soul its freedom to fly.

The pervasive noises inside his vibrating skull were banging, hammering, screaming through his head. Too much was going on inside his cranium and everything was baying out for his full attention.

His father’s terminal cancer, his disrespectful daughter now coming home so late, if at all. His wife’s perennial disdain, the obscenely expensive house payments, the broken car, and the unendurable office politics.

The inner maelstrom had now taken over Toshio’s cerebral cortex and was seeping through his essence, but it would end soon, it would blow itself out with dramatic rage.

The earthquake and tsunami had never left Toshio’s inner gaze, every blink of his weary eyes threw the nauseating vision back into his head. His twin brother Akira had been washed away in the cold, black, evil slime. His pitiful twin brother pulled forever down into the poisonous whirlpool, sacrificed to a dark acrid watery death. The natural disaster struck on the day that Toshio had promised to join his twin for a rare day of fishing but Toshio had to cancel at the last minute.

His boss had urgently called to tell Toshio that he had to report at once for a team meeting, but then cynically cancelled it as soon as Toshio reached his desk. That fateful morning when the office shook from side to side, the floor became a concrete jelly and the cracks and snaps from the walls broke the usual domineering silence. Toshio’s authoritarian boss had run screeching for his life; it proved to Toshio that his tyrant of a superior was more chicken than man.

The digital clock above the train compartment door read 06:54 am and Toshio finally snapped. It only took a millisecond but something had exploded in his mind, he now knew he could not cope with life anymore, it was overwhelming, overbearing, it was over demanding. His life had become a living hell, an infallible humanity now flooded through his veins. The neurotransmitters in his brain were on fire with dire messages, the darkest malevolent thoughts ran pulsing hot down the electric lines in his mind.

His frame was vibrating with bitterness, with fear, with powerful urges to end it, finish it. His heart screamed out at him to complete the journey, end the pain for good, stop the anguish clarify the confusion. Iguchi wanted to go over to the other side where the peaceful, tranquil, clearness was waiting for him. Where he could be with his twin brother Akira, they could fish and laugh, they could be one cell again.

He left the cosseting protection of his warm seat with a forceful purpose. His face was twisted in an uncontrollable contortion of anguish but he moved with a drive and determination to damn them all. His stride was unswerving he was happy to embrace the evil that was now his dearest friend, callously calling him in. His body was soaking from the sweat that was pouring from every pore on his derisible physique, it was time, he knew it was time to depart. Head down he made his way to the doors of carriage number five

Toshio reached for the door handle, his feet were not yet stable, the Shinkansen was hitting two hundred and thirty kilometers an hour and rolling like an inshore squid boat in a heavy swell. The train rolled from side to side as the wheels underneath the carriage bounced and pounded down on the seamless steel rails for grip.

The sweat run freely down the trough in Toshio’s back, his greying temples and his throbbing forehead were damp. His palms were clammy, his body was running hot, his brain was about to overheat and shutdown, a febrile convulsion was close. He wanted to open the train door, he wanted to end it all, he wanted to release his soul. He needed to cease the voices shouting at ferocious decibels over and over again in his teeming, crawling head.

The fingers on his right hand closed gently around the cold steel handle of the train door. Through the door window the scene outside was calm, tranquil, and serene. The Tama River was languidly meandering and flowing gently towards the Pacific; Toshio’s frantic but focused fingers closed tighter until he was in control of the door. He pushed down and round to the left; there was no uproar in his head now. At last there was peacefulness, a purpose and poise.

The door mechanism clicked then with a savage furious force the heavy door brutally swung outwards caught by the turbulent wind. The plain white door smashed wildly open pinned back by the massive wind resistance of the train hurtling at full speed.

Toshio stood alone in the doorway, in the no man’s land between the carriages. The noise was violent, a ferocious raging hell of steel on steel as the raw energy blasted over him. But still there was no noise for him. He knew this was now the time, it was now the moment to step out and end it all, his destiny was set. In front of Toshio Iguchi was his release, his transparent passage out of his horrendous life, a channel to the place he desired, just one step would now liberate his soul.

But he hesitated, he thought about his daughter and her unconditional love for him, her dependency upon his common sense, his absolute responsibility to her, to guide and shape her. He did not think about his wife that flame had gone out two decades ago; it was a monotonous dirge filled drone like tale. His father was all but dead, the last look Toshio had into his father’s stultified eyes told him so, but his daughter still had a chance to break out, to break away from the clutches of the gnawing institutions.

If Toshio could only guide her the way he was being called to do so. A small voice called from his heart. He momentarily stepped back from the door, perhaps there was still some light, some hope of illumination in his soul. A tiny grain of warmth had flickered in him knowing that he could still make a difference to the life of one person, his precious daughter.

His own life was over it was merely an existence, Toshio Iguchi was a battery fed human on a corporate conveyor belt to nowhere. All his hopes and dreams perennially drawn out of him through the years of slog, grind, tedium and pain. Toshio had tried so valiantly, so hard to be the one who broke out.

But they broke him as they had broken his own family before, the establishment battled and eventually wore him down but he would not let them win the war, never.

The seven am Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka was now hitting two hundred and eight kilometers an hour as it banked gracefully on the sweeping bend. The arc of the train a thing of architectural engineering beauty as it rapidly approached his train.

The two Bullet Trains passed each other with immense closing speed; only three feet apart the technological wonders for seconds seemed fused as one as they violently passed each other. The two trains produced a mini explosion of mechanical forces, the windows on each train shuddering hard as the air was forcefully compressed between the long line of sleek aerodynamic carriages. He took another step back, he had been close to the edge he had almost taken his life. His daughters face and the hope he recalled in her large brown eyes had subconsciously touched his soul, perhaps he did have a purpose. Her unconditional love was surely still there for him, could he use it to cultivate her spirit and turn her into a strong focused independent young woman.

The breeze on the face of Toshio Iguchi became a wind; the wind became a fierce gale. Then it became a hurricane that began to buffet his frame, his lower body became unsteady. He began to rock and sway from side to side sending his tottering body forward then back, a whirlpool of wind pulling him then banging his head hard against the train wall. A powerful sucking vacuum erupted in the orgasm of energy between the trains, it hunted for the weakest point to penetrate and found it in the broken doorway where Toshio Iguchi stood.

He felt his feet levitate from the train floor, the determined resolute current of air pulled at his clothes, it pulled at his hair, his skin was tugging away from his bones such was the incredible tearing force. Toshio tried to hold on but it was futile there was nothing to grip but the sheer slick walls of the train.

Where once he readily wanted to end his life he now wanted to save his pitiful existence. He now wanted to hold on for his precious daughter but the dye was cast what he had asked for had been granted; his fate was already sealed. Outside the carriage the open train door was repeatedly smashing against the side of the train. He flailed out trying to hold on but the force of the wind from the passing Shinkansen had obliterated the swinging door, as it swung back towards him sending shards of razor sharp glass into his forehead and then cutting across his eyes.

Blood splashed against the bare wall of the train, fanned by the two hundred kilometers an hour wind it hurled the blood across the walls the roof and the floor of the train doorway.

The white walls became artistically splattered like a Jackson Pollok original, but this artist only used a thick oily crimson red.

Toshio now in a state of utter confusion could not see he could only hear the uninterrupted roar of the kinetic energy, his grip loosened as he panic stricken felt for his eyes, but all he could perceive was a red haze and all he could feel was the hot thick liquid in his trembling hands. He reached out for the wall to steady himself again but there was no grip, his bloodied hands slipped from the smooth train walls just as he was pulled forward by the back draught from the tail end of the rapid Osaka bound Bullet Train.

The left foot of Toshio Iguchi went down but there was only air no ground, no floor, no bottom could be found below his flailing outstretched foot. His sorry body arched forward. His inner ear was unable to calibrate balance any longer and he toppled plunging headfirst out of the train doorway. His floundering hands and feet looking for grip, for a familiar handle or ledge to grasp but there was nothing. His wish had been granted his life was going now, going fast. Toshio Iguchi had lost control of his destiny, his life, his fate.

Blinded by his own blood he plummeted out from the high tech train, his lifeless heavy frame battering down onto the steel rail shattering his thick hip bone into four pieces. His heavy head smashed forcefully down onto the single rail that the long gone Shinkansen had ploughed over. His skull was split open, his torso twisted into an inhuman shape by the force of his steep intense plunge. The pitiful figure bouncing on the tracks was more ragdoll than man.

A huddle of small Birds gently warbled in the dense bushes that occupied the tidy edge of the spotless train tracks. Above in a brooding morning sky, a seamless row of dark clouds were rolling up the coast from the Izu Peninsula towards Tokyo. A man’s clothes were scattered between the two infinite lines of cold bare steel. The loud silence that followed the furious trains raging past each other was punctuated by a dying gasp from Toshio’s blood filled lungs. There he lay, his body broken twisted and distorted, his bright eyes fading away to nihility.

The faint light in his eyes softly expired, Toshio Iguchi was without life.

Smiling and laughing hard they cast out their fishing lines into the deep calm river that bubbled and flowed full of life before them. Toshio Iguchi sat with his twin brother Akira. They were together again.

 

 

 

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Silent Scream

Silent Scream

A chill ran through my body as the syringe emptied the shot of clear liquid into my erect cobalt blue vein. But it must have been insufficient; I was still awake.

The Alfentanil pumped into my pure, innocent and virtuous essence had rendered me dormant, but grotesquely not unconscious. I was lying in tomblike angelic limbo and about to be carved open.

The high carbon Japanese steel scalpel would soon open up my epidermis. Then carve deeper and down through my relaxed muscles. Cutting me open while I lay cravenly conscious and cognizant.

The phosphorous operating theatre lights blinded me; my fully dilated irises must have made me look appropriately sedated. But I was awake, alive and dreadfully aware of every clinical action they openly discussed around me.

My head throbbed, blood thrusting and pulsating so hard against my skull. I sent messages to each neurotransmitter trying subconsciously to convey my terror. Trying to reach the man who was about to slash me open while I lay there, vulnerable, exposed and wretchedly conscious.

My god he was going to cut, I screamed, I shouted, my brain roared like a lion; I lashed out with my arms and legs, flailing like a wild-man, but nothing moved. Not even a single hair deep in its follicle would quiver for me.

I observed as the surgeon’s silhouette moved in towards me. The evil dark figure lifting his hand high into the sour, putrid air. The right hand plunging, the glint of light on metal flashes across my deadened eyes. He was unaware of my cries; the determined specialist heard nothing but the wheeze of the mechanical ventilator.

The perfect, precise edge was on its way to penetrate my unsullied, unblemished, virginal skin. I erupted with one more silent scream, but my hell had commenced.

The razor sharp tool sliced across my lower abdomen with a barbarous efficiency. My nerves lay quiescent as a deep gouge opened up my body to expose my infected innards.

The physician spoke with bold authority.

“Clamp,”

“Clamp.” echoed a vacuous voice.

“A tear, there in her left eye, a tear!” someone cried.

“My god, she is not under; 250 micrograms Aflentanil NOW!”

The phosphorous lights began to fade; the shadows turned to black then to nothing as I fell and tumbled into an infinite redness.

It was already too late.

When I close my eyes the screech of the scalpel tearing through my flesh, comes looking for me.

And finds me.

TMK

 

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