Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: September, 2014

Hunted

Fred was a pickpocket, mugger and general robber of some renown in the dirty old city. Many an unfortunate soul had had their possessions seized by his quick hands on a busy street and should there be resistance, well Fred had to eat, and he was there were few around who could best him in a scrap.

One night, Fred was loitering around, watching the world go by when he spotted a likely target in the corner of his eye. She was far too well dressed to be out in this part of the street this late at night. There was a full purse in her hand. “That money will not be long in her hand” Fred said softly to himself as he slid into the shadows “She’d might as well give it to me.”

The woman was ambling through the streets picking her way through the cobbles, avoiding horse dung and foul-smelling puddles. Fred kept at least ten paces from her. Waiting for them to get out of sight of the assorted street-walkers and drunks frequenting the streets.

Fred thought his luck had come in when the woman turned off the street into a side street. Fred knew the place well, The Yard in front of Dark Entry seldom had people there, it would be perfect place to make his move.

The woman walked down the empty street, her white dress fading to black as she passed through the shadows. Fred picked up his pace, boots treading silently on the street. He got closer and closer. Ten paces became eight, six, four then he was within striking range, his hand flying out to grab the purse.

Like lightning, before he even touched the leather purse, there was a hand, vice-like, holding his wrist. The woman turned and looked straight at him, looked at Fred with eyes that bored into his head, eyes that weren’t quite human.

Fred was about to learn, had he lived of course, that there is a good reason that certain women can walk the street at anytime without being molested, that it is they, not petty criminals like Fred who rule the shadows, and, most importantly, that they are not after money, or jewelry, but that most precious possession, life itself.

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Image Credit: Thomas Marlow
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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge of Monday 29th September 2014

Brimfull of History

Abandoned Monastery For Sale

Gerry looked at the towering, weed-encrusted walls of the old building

“As you can see” the saleswoman looked around “This placed is brimfull of history”

She placed a hand on one of the walls. It promptly shifted, sending her falling to one side. Gerry rushed to pick her up only to look in to a hole that had opened up with the shift. There were bones, old weapons and at least one gold chalice shining in the shaft of sunlight.

“It appears” Gerry said to the saleswoman “It is exactly as you say.”

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Image courtesy of Aleksandra Furtak and taken from Wiki Commons
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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge of Friday the 26th September 2014.

I’m a winner

Good news folks! I’m after winning an on-line writing competition based in original writing publishing in Dublin. They have put my story on line here if you want to take a look. I got a hundred yo-yos for this. Nice to see the old writing start to pay off! 🙂

Picture it and Write: Do Anything

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway enjoy!

Do Anything

It started, like many bad ideas, with a drink or ten down in the local pub. Graham had been feeling low and Marcus, Fred and Jimmy had been filling him full of drinks to take his mind off his problems.

Alcohol has a tendency to distort people’s train of thought and Graham’s particular neural gymnastics slowly switched from feeling sorry for himself to asserting just how brilliant he was. “Screw them!” He ended up saying. “I can do whatever I want to do!”

A can do attitude is a dangerous thing when there is enough alcohol in the blood to power a small car. Friends can usually rein it in but in this case Graham’s companions had been stoking the fires for too long to row back.
When the pub closed and the quartet were cast out into the darkness they were a powderkeg of slack inhibitions and elevated motivation.

“Let`s go get some women!!!”

“I want a kebab!!”

“Where’s the cops? I wanna a start a fight.”

“Let’s climb this wall!”

Unfortunately, women, police, even kebabs were not immediately apparent. Only the wall, over four meters high, was in front of them and with the sudden consensus of the drunk, announced.

“Fucking brilliant! We’ll give you a boost!

So with his friends pushing him, Graham managed to find a handhold and lever himself slowly up the wall. The wall looked old enough, it had many uneven stones that made climbing much easier. What was even better was that there was a slope going inwards that made the climb a lot easier. The top had a series of bars but they didn’t face out they faced inwards.

“Fucking amateurs!” Jimmy shouted “You can’t keep people out like that.”

Graham looked out over the wall. There was an oblong pool right beneath him.

“Ah Lads! There is a pool here. I’m going to go swimming!”

And he jumped, more fell in.

The water was cold and had the effect of shocking most of the drunk out of his system. Graham paddled to the side of the pool and emerged to a sudden realisation.

From the vantage of beneath the wall and even at its summit Graham did not recognise where he was. It was only now that he could tell. He was in the state zoo. In the polar bear exhibit.

Bears don’t give a jot about the cool of an urban night so they were outside the whole time and there they were, on their rocks, looking at him.

One of the bears shifted of its place and started to move towards Graham. He was terrified but he had enough alcohol left in his system to try what had to be the craziest idea he ever had.

Taking inspiration from a childhood of David Attenborough documentaries Graham puffed up his chest, spread his arms out wide and started to charge at the bear. Amazingly the bear stopped and just sat there. Even looking away sheepishly.

Here was were circumstances helped Graham. The bears in the zoo are usually only fed every third day and they had just been fed that afternoon. They were stuffed and as a result not to bothered with doing anything, let alone eating anything.

Thankfully; Graham’s shouts got the attention of one of the security guards who quickly raised the alarm and Graham was sent to spend the rest of the night in the cells.

He got nothing more than a misdemeanor and was released with a warning. But from that day on Graham did not need copious quantities of alcohol to feel better about himself. He may not remember much about that night but he remembered what was important. He had faced down a polar bear and lived.

If he could do that, he could truly do anything.

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A Friend Like Me

Carol entered the graveyard hesitantly, immediately searching through the rows of monolithic slabs for her target. She walked down the gravel path, past the older already worn graves of people long gone and went to the more recent section. Some of the names she recognised, people she knew from her childhood, ghosts from a life she had left so long ago.

She found her quarry, a nondescript tombstone right next to the fence, erect in a scruffy sea of grass and weeds. The cheap limestone had already started to erode but the name was still clearly visible ‘John Curnow, Born 18th August 1975, Died 20th September 2012.

“I’m sorry that I couldn’t come here sooner.” She spoke out loud to the gravestone “But where I have been news takes a long time to get to…. Well! Let’s do this.”

Carol took a small bottle from her bag, opened it, then poured it’s contents on the grave. She then kneeled down and started to pray. It was a prayer filled with the passion of a long remembered obligation, of promises made on moonlit nights and lazy summer afternoons. It was a full ten minutes before she was finished.

She then got up, stepped back a dozen paces and stared expectantly.

She hadn’t long to wait.

There was a muffled thump from below the ground, followed by the sound of scrabbling. The ground in front of the gravestone started to bulge up, then break apart. Finally; a dirt, encrusted hand forced its way out into the light.

Carol ran over and started to pull the soil away with her bare hand and gradually, over the course of a couple of minutes a figure, gaunt and dirty, emerged onto the damp grass.

“Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” It said and then started to cough loudly. Dirt, dust, and the occasional insect flew out. Carol, handed over a bottle of water. After a good long swig it took in a deep breath and said “Carol! What happened? Was I?”

“Not now!” She shushed him. “We’d better leave now in case someone sees. I have a spare change of clothes in my car. We can’t do anything about the dirt on your face until we get to my hotel, hopefully no one will notice.”

The newly reanimated John was still somewhat dazed. “But what happened Carol? What did you do?”

“I’ll explain everything later. I’d just rather not do it here.” She looked over the hundreds of graves, still and silent, “This place gives me the creeps.”

John was getting more and more animated, the colour already returning to his cheeks “What!” Pointing to himself, “After this?”

“I know.” Carol said sadly “If only they all had a friend like me.”  

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Image courtesy of Janssenfrank and taken from Wiki Commons
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Written for The Light And Shade Challenge of Monday 15th September 2014.

The Old Soldier

He looked down at the map, the sunlight streaming through the window glinting off the stars on his cap.

“We should sneak in around the back here.” He pointed at a door labelled in the map. “Then get them with a sneak attack”

I nodded with agreement and my Grandfather, all of seventy years old, took the bag of water balloons and sneaked off with me and my brother in pursuit.

Whatever else; our family’s dinner party was going to be interesting.

Image courtesy of Amber who released this image into the Public Domain and taken from Wiki Commons

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Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for Friday September 12th 2014.

The Ultimate Weapon

The technicians soldered the last couple of connections to the suit before pressing the switch. A room of engineers, workers and military brass were watching with bated breath. If this test succeeded and the exosuit performed as well as they hoped it would. They would finally have a weapon that could match, and hopefully best the machine hordes that had devastated so much of the world. Time was short and they had to succeed.

Captain Jameson felt a shock overtake his whole body as the suit hijacked his neural system. From his point of view he was now the suit. He could feel the pressure sensors on the metal surface of the suit as if they were his own skin. His ears were the microphones and sonar arrays, he could hear in a wider range and with far greater sensitivity than he used to be able to. His eyes were a series of cameras, with telescopic vision far better than an eagle’s and capable of seeing as well in infrared as in the UV part of the spectrum.

The computers even supplemented his cognitive power and though he was not quite aware of it he was thinking far faster than he ever had before.

To his enhanced faculties it took the general an irritating length of time to give an order “It looks OK Jameson! Get out so the medicos can give you a once-over.”

But Jameson did not want to get out. He felt better than he ever did. Everything was so clear to him now. Far clearer than it seemed to those Brass in front of him. The same brass who seemed to be costing him and his friends the war.

Why should he even take orders from them? After all he now knew he was far smarter than they were.

He looked over his suits systems. They hadn’t loaded any missiles or light projectiles. But the laser was ready to go.

That would be more than enough.

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Image courtesy of messi and taken from the Wiki Commons
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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge for Monday September 8th 2014

Picture it and Write: Minds Within Minds

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, it is by http://tamilia.deviantart.com , I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy!

Minds Within Minds

In the foyer of the institute was a sculpture Minds within Minds. The brainchild of a former client which our founder, Professor Kruger thought best captured our philosophy.

It consisted of the form of a woman’s head, hollow and cut in half. Within which was another smaller half-head which itself held a half-head. Three in all. These heads were used as containers for exotic plants of various hues which, given the ministrations of our grounds keepers, continuously flowered in beautiful colours.

That is what Kruger would tell us about our work. In our time with clients we are supposed to peer inside their minds, find their inner selves and then plant the seeds of something wonderful. Though our tending may be necessary to get the seed growing, given the right container the seeds have the best chance of coming to fruition.

At the time I remember just nodding along. Not seeing anything particularly special in the concentric porcelain faces beyond the aesthetic. However over the years as I have seen my clients go on to become doctors, engineers, and yes, artists, I have taken a new appreciation of what it means to cultivate the young minds in my care, to bring them to their full potential.

Like the sculpture there to inspire us, our clients are filled with the potential for greatness, the ability to be the container of something truly wonderful. All they need is the seed and a little bit of care.

Now, whenever I walk past Minds Within Minds, I am filled with a great sense of pride in what I do. Because how can you not be filled with joy, every day of your life, when you work to bring people to the fullest of their potential?

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Six word stories 9

They said their vows then died
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Strange lights in sky. World ending.
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She said “no”. She regretted it.
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Daughter late. Police at the door.
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Lab explosion. Scientist survives. Curious powers.
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Started at home. Ended in Rome.

Hold The Bridge

“Shake well before opening” Read Sargent Alanson dubiously as he studied the dangerous looking can he had just taken out from the ageing ammunition container. He looked at the rest of his squad, all fresh faced and  under equipped, tasked with defending a potential entry point for an enemy that never show mercy.

But he knew they had heart, that he had trained them as well as he could and that they would do him and their country proud. They were going to hold that bridge.

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Image courtesy of cheva and taken from the Wikipedia Commons
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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge for Friday the 5th of September 2014