Category Archives: Short story

The beginnings of a short story?

For a while, Suleyman Khan had changed his name to Solomon Cohen and pretended to be an Orthodox Jew. His wife and children followed suit- Maryam became Miriam, Ismail became Izzy and Zainab became Zelda. The kufi normally on his head was replaced by a kippah. He put his thick accent down to having spoken Yiddish all his life. Friday afternoons at the mosque were replaced by nights at the synagogue. He thought this would be the easiest way to avoid the watchful eye of the government that hated his religion. Orthodox Judaism and the religion of this traditional immigrant were pretty close to each other and he wanted to show the world how hypocritical it was that the president let his daughter convert to Judaism while banning Muslims from entering the country.

It was easy but also hard.

“Solomon” was attacked by a man screaming antisemitic epithets. He and his family quickly packed up and left the city, adopting another identity in a small country town. He was now Simon Collins, replacing the kufi with a truckers’ cap. Maryam was Mary, eschweing the hijab. Izzy and Zelda remained the same. Trying to live the Christian lifestyle was more difficult than trying to live the Jewish one, but it was necessary. The holy day became Sunday, and while they attended the local Baptist church they also kneeled on the mat five times a day in the privacy of their own home.

One Sunday, they met the Perry family. Like the “Collinses”, they had a darker hue than most of the other people at church and Joe, like “Simon”, felt excluded as a result.

“I’m just a Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” he said to “Simon”. “But I’m always getting strange looks from the people around us. I swear they’ve never seen a darker-skinned white person before.”

“I get that too.” “Simon” said in his thick accent.

Joe’s jaw dropped.

“Y- You’re not from around here, are you?”

“No.”

“Well, let’s tell the truth. My real name isn’t Joe Perry. It’s Jose Perez. My parents came from rural Mexico. The thing is, they weren’t legal when they had me. I’m scared I- as an ‘anchor baby’- may get deported. My wife came here when she was ten. What the president doesn’t understand is that so many come for a better life in America. He’s turning the American Dream into a nightmare.”

“Simon” looked at “Joe” for a second and broke down crying. This man was just like him, an American forced to wear a WASP mask just to fit into the new system.

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The state of capitalism in the not-too-distant future

You sit down in front of the Manchester Red Devil-Bulls/Coca-Cola Gunners match on McDonalds Sky Sports 8 with a refreshing Carlingsberg and a pack of KP Walkers Salt and Onion Crispnuts. Commentator Wayne Rooney announces this match at the Infinitybet Arena at Old Trafford is brought to you by Google Energy and Ladbroke-Hills Betting Pty.

The match kicks off in a centre circle advertising Google Homes. The Devil-Bulls captain Hyden O’Connor-Chung, proudly sponsored by Adinike, passes to star striker, Google Sports athlete Dembele Adams-Mansour who sends it flying past Gunners keeper Marcus Adu-Singh-Pepsi, but not before an advert for Super Insurance. Then one for Apple. Then one for Americard.

“I can’t imagine a time when football didn’t have all these adverts,” you say as you hitch down your Under Armour T-shirt. “Society in general either.”

The start of something?

The sun shined through a rare break in the cloud outside the Filantropo complex. Sage Vidal was working on ad copy. Se needed a slogan for the new line of Filantropo Ready Pasta. Something to make the postapocalyptic masses outside smile. Something iconic. And preferably something original. Se stared out of the window transfixed by the sun, waiting for a slogan to come relegated to the back of ses mind. Se needed one to come quick so se could clock off for the day.

“Okay, I’ll just write ‘Fasta Pasta’. Probably not original but who’s gonna notice?” Se got up and clocked off.

 

Sage’s neutral expression turned into a smile as se left the office. Tonight was the night se quit. The oppressive boredom was all se’d ever known- for four generations the Vidals had been loyal, if low-ranking, employees of the Leader. Se had been born and raised to work as had ses parents, ses grandparents and ses great-grandparents. Ses discontent was so extreme that the half-dead, likely radioactive landscape outside seemed a utopia. But the Leader considered it so horrifying that se banned people coming in from the outside from talking about it and, more to Sage’s concern, escape was made near impossible and punished by serving as “enhancement talent” in the Filantropo Gladiator Games.

Se returned to ses quarters and admired semself in the mirror as se prepared to leave.

“Well guys,” se said to ses toiletries, “I’m gonna miss you. Filantropo Face Balm- you’re a lifesaver. Filantropo Ultra White Toothpaste- thanks for keeping the dentist away.” Se turned to look through the bathroom door. “Filantropo Three-Way Molecular Shower and Filantropo Hyper Toilet- I’m gonna miss you guys the most. Crapping in some dead bushes and going weeks without finding a decent spring to wash myself in is going to be hard, but I have to do it. So long.”

Hospital

I exist as a Russian doll of pain. A sandwich of anguish with a lager on the side.

If only I hadn’t chanced it and drove back from the pub.

There are seven vertebrae in the neck. All shattered on impact, piercing my spinal cord and leaving me here, a tube down my throat forcing “life” upon me.

If I could rip it out I could. I can’t get used to this life even though I know every little bit of it. I’ve been here long enough. I try to move my hand for the millionth time.

Still nothing.

The only thing I can do is to stare at the ceiling and notice new patterns in the tiling. Combined with the narcotics they jump out at me screaming “YOU EXIST! YOU EXIST!”.

“Oh Lord”, I moan, “take me!”

Through a glass emptying

The glass of water, once half-full, is now almost empty. Parched by the pressures of life, I take another sip.

The paper lies in front of me, not a jot of ink or any other material upon it.

I think.

I look to the glass of water and begin describing my situation. The paper grows darker as I look at the sun setting outside the window.

Sunset on the page.

I take one last sip.

The story of Per Perpendicular

Per Perpendicular was a per.

Not a boy or a girl but a per.

Se believed most concepts to be arbitary and sought to live outside them. In a flat with a Nigel Farage disciple and a radical chain-smoking vegan who thought that referring to people as “pet” was offensive to animals- or “co-humans” in his unique phrasing.

Faragina owned a pet- sorry, co-human- called Frankie. Frankie used to shit all over the carpet. And Faragina used to eat it. The vegan, whose political beliefs were quite far to the left of Corbyn’s, found it both ironic and deeply offensive. The shit was an animal product just like milk and eggs. Per just observed it with interest, not in a position to find it offensive or disgusting.

One day, Per looked over Vegan’s shoulder as he navigated around on his eco-friendly gluten-free laptop built by Indonesian natives and saw child porn. Again, se did not judge. Six weeks later, Vegan was arrested for doing the nigh-on unspeakable with a child. He later sued the prison system demanding a separate kitchen with no animal products whatsoever. He even believed the dinnerladies’ gloves to have been made from “animal latex”, whatever that was.

Total neutrality can sometimes be good but can sometimes be bad.

 

Poking holes in eternity

So there I was on the Starship Aenigma, cruising along the edge of the universe at just seconds under the speed of light. My companions were a robotic Donald Trump who spouted off disgusting comments about the womanly figure of a nearby nebula, the revived Hillary Clinton with cryofluid pumping through her veins ready to take on Robot Trump, and my hand.

This hand exited the viewdeck window on my accord, pushing through the membrane like it was cotton candy. This deepest space was neither too hot nor too cold. It was like Baby Bear’s porridge both in temperature and constituency.

And I began poking holes in it.

I wanted to see if I could create a tear in the space-time continnum. Robot Trump and Semi-Frozen Hillary told me to stop, but I informed them that the buffet was downstairs and they had free privileges. They rushed down as I saw eternity spill out of one of the holes. It was a purplish-blue colour with tiny little specks of black. It reached out and tried to grab the ship, which understandably sped away. The entire security crew burst onto the deck and I was faced with no option but to jump.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. The air was quickly sucked out of my lungs while I resigned myself to the inevitability of my death right there. That wasn’t going to happen though. Eternity swallowed me whole and now I work as a cleaner at an Earthmart on Mars.

Man, I miss the old days, I say as I hear Cleanup in aisle 42! That’s Clive Milford to aisle 42!