Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Category: Light and Shade

Playing With the Rain

Rain suddenly started plummeting around me as I walked down the Main Street. I jumped quickly under an awning but I was already soaked through.

I was cold, wet through and not sure where I could go when I heard the noise of peopleĀ from an open door across the street.

It looked like a bar, there was a lyre and guitar shaped piece of metal on the wall. It looked like the best place that I could go to warm up. I ran as quick as I could across the street, getting even wetter than I had before, and went in through the door.

Inside it was thankfully warm with an open fire on one side and a stage on the other. I headed straight to the bar to order a hot whiskey and took an empty chair as close to the fire as I could get. With luck, I aimed to dry myself within an hour.

As I let the heat of the flames soak into me there was some commotion as a man with a drum kit came onto the stage and set his equipment up. He then started to brush the skins of the drum with a light stick. Ratatatataata. It sounded familiar to me, I couldn’t quite place it.

There was a flash from behind us, I thought it was someone taking a photograph of the performance. Suddenly he changed tempo, hitting a low note, as if on cue, there was a deep rumble from outside, the sound of thunder. When he then went back to brushing the skins I finally realized, he was playing along to the the rain.

It was remarkable. The drummer kept tempo with the pitter-patter of rain drops coming in from outside, punctuating it with deeper resonances when there was the sound of thunder.

He kept it going for so long that by the time my clothes were bone-dry, I didn’t notice, by then, I was transfixed by the sound of a true artist communing with the sounds of the outside world. It was the first time I was ever glad to have been rained on.

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Image from WikiCommons taken by Vysotsky and used under the Creative Commons Agreement

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Written for the Light and Shade challenge for Wednesday May the Sixth

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Insane design

When people tell me that the human body is a well designed machine I laugh in their face.

Think about it; the back curves in all the wrong way, if you lift something the wrong way it can displace your back causing years of pain. The optic nerve in the eye is on the wrong side, you have to constantly shift your eyes in order to see around the blind spot. Your immune system can turn on you at the drop of a hat, your hearing can be lost by even the slightest exposure to loud noise, there are one too many teeth in your jaw and your kidneys are incredibly vulnerable at the bottom of your torso.

All in all, I tell them, the human body is a hodgepodge of patched together systems some of which look more like they have been added as an afterthought. It works, most of the time, but not all of the time, not in the life we live.

You just have to laugh at it all. Either that or go slowly mad. It seems to the the sensible thing to do.

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Written for the light and shade challenge for the 21st of January 2015

 

Vengence

GET UP YOU CRETIN

Mark sucked in a giant gulp of air and started coughing. He could feel the moss against the flat of his back, its moisture seeping through the fabric of his tunic.

I SAID, GET UP.

There was an electric surge through his whole body, practically throwing him up into the air. Mark came to his feet, still disorientated.

OK! NOW THAT YOU’RE UP, WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER?

Mark was shaking all over. The bright light of the clearing hurting his eyes. His mind was fuzzy. “I’m not sure. We were after the succubus. Did we find her?”

DID WE HELL! SHE JUMPED DOWN ON YOU FROM OVER THERE

Mark turned. One of the trees, thicker than a horse’s thigh, had been snapped in too.

REACHED RIGHT INTO YOUR HEART AND SUCKED OUT YOUR SOUL

“You mean I?….”

THAT’S RIGHT BUDDY. YOU DIED. OUT COLD. GOT YOURSELF SENT TO THE UNDERWORLD.

“But I…”

I HAD TO GO IN AND GET YOU BACK. I HOPE YOU APPRECIATE THAT, THE AMOUNT OF PAPERWORK WAS INSANE. TOOK ME A GOOD HALF AN HOUR

“I don’t know what to say… Thanks.”

DON’T MENTION IT. ARE YOU GOOD TO GO?

Mark didn’t know what to say. He had been dead, out cold. He did know one thing; he was glad to have his companion, demon, spirit, whatever you wanted to call him, he could be annoying, occasionally brash, but he just came through for him. Without his companion, mark would be a goner.

I LOST YOU FOR A SECOND SONNY. ARE YOU ALRIGHT?

“Yeah! Yeah! I am fine. Do you know where she went?”

THAT’S THE SPIRIT. BACK FROM THE DEAD AND OUT FOR REVENGE. I’M GETTING GOOSEBUMPS JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. NOT EXACTLY SURE, I WAS SAVING YOUR HIDE, BUT THERE IS A PRETTY FRESH TRAIL HEADING NORTH.

“What do you think I should do now?”

LET’S TRACK THIS BITCH DOWN AND SEND HER DOWN TO THE PITS OF HELL.

Mark nodded in agreement. Sure not to be caught again he summoned all of the power his mage training could muster to surround himself with protective spells. Filled with new life, a man reborn, seeking revenge, he was ready.

COME ON KID. LET’S DO THIS.

He took his first step.

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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge for Wednesday January 7th.

Fruit of Labour

“Here you are sir.” said the woman in the business suit, “It is all yours.”

Jake took the keys and opened the half-rotten wooden gate. There before him, at the end of a rutted track in the middle of field was the house, no, strike that, shack that he had just bought. He walked up the path and stepped up onto the porch. There were missing planks on the floor, glass was missing from the windows and he could hear wind passing through holes in the roof. This was a prime example of what the agent called “A fixer upper”.

It took Jake the better part of a year to turn this decaying corpse of a house into a home he would be proud to call his own. He had to gut most of the decorative elements, re-tile the roof, redo the electrics and plumb in a heating system. Choosing the right decor was something of a chore but in the end he felt that going with his gut was the best decision. If he didn’t feel right with anything he would pull it all out and start again. In the end these, unscheduled delays must have added over a month to the project. Jake did not care, he intended to live there for the rest of his life.

After everything was finished according to his exacting standards, Jake was a barrel of nerves as he waited at the freshly painted gate. Any minute, Susan was going to drive up so Jake could show her what he had been doing with all his time that last year.

He was going to show her this house that he had built for them both. A house that he had never said a word about because as his father said “Deeds speak louder than words.”

If he knew Susan like he thought he did, words would not be needed, she would understand what he meant by all this. If she didn’t…… Well… the ring in his pocket would have been a waste of money.

He could hear an engine in the distance, she was almost there.

Time to see if his labour was going to bear fruit.

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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge for Monday 1st of December 2014.

Something New

You could live a safe life, that is good I suppose, but as my grandfather always said “You can’t sail the world if you never leave port”.

He was a great example of an adventurous sort, always trying new things, eating new foods. On his ninety fifth birthday he had my aunt call in a gourmet meal, wild pheasant with steamed veg and chili sauce. His eyes lit up as he let the novel flavors entice his palate. I was only a wee boy when he sliced off a piece and offered it to me. The chili sauce was so strong that I almost gagged, but I held it in, the heat making my face flush and heart race. I gingerly asked for more.

My grandfather smiled at me “That my boy, is why we should always try new things.”

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Written for The Light and Shade Challenge of Monday November 17th 2014.
  

Waiting

“Why am I waiting? Why are they making me sit here, in the middle of this busy corridor, where the whole school can see me? Why are they doing this to me?

“I know what I did was wrong, but I wasn’t thinking when I did it, it was a spur of the moment, beyond my control, nothing wrong with that, ask my mother, she had me tested.

“This waiting is getting out of hand. What has it been? Six minutes? Far too long. With no one looking I could get up to anything.

“I am a boy after all.”

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Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for Monday 20th October 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.

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.