The Cactus At The Door

He was roused from his afternoon nap by a noise. At first he was too discombobulated to realised what the noise was, but as he sat up, rubbed his eyes and stretched a yawn at the same time, he realised it had been the front door bell.

It took him a while these days to get to his feet, every muscle and bone in his body squealing and moaning with the effort. But once he was up, he was pretty nimble on his toes, even if his eyes weren’t that great.

His gnarled hand wrapped around the door handle, pulling his paper thin skin around his swollen knuckles. The door creaked more than he did.

And there, on the mat, bathed in a shaft of afternoon sunlight, sat a potted cactus.

It wasn’t big, but it was exactly the shape of the cacti you used to see in old cartoon. A three-pronged affair, luscious green, peppered with big black spikes.

He bent down, much to the annoyance of his whole body, and scooped up the pot, being careful not to have his clouded eye out. The soil was damp, freshly watered, and there was no note attached.

Once inside, the door creaking shut behind him, he put the pot on the windowsill directly opposite his favourite chair, and settled down into that chair to look at this weird, and wonderful new arrival.

The cactus burst.

It sent a million different pods flying in all directions, all of which somehow managed to miss him and the chair. Before he had a chance to react, each of those pods started to bloom and blossom.

Within minutes, the room was a vibrant mix of colour and smell, as little plants flowered, covering the whole place in a verdant overcoat of wonder.

He settled back into his chair and enjoyed the view.

Such a lovely day to be inside.

Such a beautiful view before he closed his eyes for the final time.

The Desert Of Ghost Ships

They sail across the dunes, crashing through waves of sand, their tattered sails somehow catching a wind that isn’t there. Their hulls are rotting, or rusted, and if you squint a little, you can see right through them. That’s not from the decay, that’s their ectoplasmic field.

The desert of ghost ships appeared a few years ago.

At first, they just sat on the dunes, lilting to one side, slowly decaying in the sun. No-one knows where they came from. No-one could find out either.

They stood there, unmoving, wisps of sand whipping about their rotting prows. Shredded sails hung limply in the air, the massive propellers on the engined ships rusting into oblivion.

And then, something stirred.

Slowly, tentatively, the desert of ghost ships began to sail.

It was almost imperceptible to begin with. Maybe an inch a day. Maybe it was the dunes moving that moved them. We might have thought that then. But soon they were moving faster, sailing at full pomp, up and down the dunes, tacking and racing one another.

It was quite the spectacle. At first. Helicopters flew around, beaming pictures to the world, and we all watched in silent awe.

And then they swept from the desert, surging through towns and cities like a tsunami, a ghost fleet dragging the desert behind them in their wake.

They didn’t know the damage they were causing. They were frolicking, loving their jaunt around the globe, even as Manhattan turned to dust. They turned the world into their playground, and killed us all in the process.

The desert of ghost ships consumed the planet.

Mystearious

Was it a severed ear? Or was it all that was left of him?

A few days ago, asking himself that sort of question would have been, well, out of the question. A lot had happened since then, and Harry jabbed at the bloody, disembodied lobe with the toe of his shoe.

It could be Carl.

Only one of his ears was pierced.

Harry couldn’t remember which. And he was struggling to work out if this one on the floor was a left ear or a right ear. Short of picking it up and placing it to his head like some macabre jigsaw … he mimed doing it.

It was a right one.

And again, there was no way of telling, was it all that was left of him, or was Carl elsewhere, blood soaked, hair matted, gasping in pain?

Harry took a few steps further into the room. There was an odd metallic smell in the air. It was a familiar smell, but he couldn’t place it. Sort of iron like.

The lights were off, and silver moonlight was streaming in through the half open window. He could hear the lazy drone of late night traffic hundreds of feet below. He recognised this room, from a few days ago, but that’s all he remembered. Nothing was coming back to him. The black void in his memory was still there.

The last thing Harry remembered was the flash of blinding light as the machine exploded. Since then, it was like he had been fragmented through time. In different places all at once. Now in the hotel room, moments ago in a car screeching away from a fireball.

And it seemed like Carl had been fragmented too.

Physically.

And there was his other ear.

Tucked under the couch, it’s single metal stud glinting in the silver moonlight, sitting in a pool of jet black ooze.

Harry knew it wasn’t black really. That’s just the way it looked in the light.

He also knew what had happened now.

The Telekinesis Revelation

Kelly sat in her room, on the foot of the bed, her legs dangling over the edge but not nearly reaching the soft carpet below. She had a graze on her knee, which was turning all sorts of fascinating colours now. Mum said it should have a plaster on it, but Kelly wanted to watch it heal.

It stung a bit.

Mum had left some cream on the dresser in the corner in case that happened.

Kelly really couldn’t be bothered to go over and get it though. She flailed her arms in the air, let out a grunt of annoyance, and flopped back onto the duvet. The mattress made her bounce a bit. And that made her knee twinge.

So she sat up, and stared at the cream.

And still couldn’t be bothered to go and get it.

Instead, she screwed up her eyes, and growled with an intense concentration that made her whole head vibrate, screaming in her mind at the top of her inner voice, commanding the cream come to her.

It disobeyed.

And stayed firmly put on the dresser.

Poo.

Kelly sighed.

Gathered herself.

Lifted her hand into the air, and focused.

Focused on the cream.

Focused on her hand.

Focused on the gap in between.

And willed that gap to shrink.

The jar of cream lifted from the dressed, floated through the air, and dropped neatly onto the bed beside her.

She screamed with delight, kicking her feet in the air. Until her knee hurt again, and she stopped to put the cream on.

It didn’t really help.

But she was pleased as punch about her new found telekinetic abilities, and used it all afternoon. Summoning things to her. Making things hover. Making her toys perform duels in the air.

She enjoyed freaking her Mum out at tea too, when she made the sauce bottle squeeze itself all over her fish fingers.

What Kelly didn’t know was that it was me making it all happen.

I’d had an accident the day before, involving a particle accelerator, which had knocked me out of phase with the universe.

I could probably do something more noble with my new found invisibility, but there’s something about making my niece giggle that keeps me from moving on.

She might get bored of it in a few years.

Or she might go on to be some kind of superhero.

In the meantime, I am juggling peas.

Worry Bees

It was something I misunderstood as a kid. I think it’s called an ear-corn, you know, where you put in words you understand to replace the ones you’ve misheard, or misunderstood.

So, since I was about four, I’ve called them Worry Bees.

No-one has ever corrected me. I’m not sure if this is out of politeness, or they too are mishearing me, and thinking I’m saying it right. And anyway, how often does someone say the phrase? So, for whatever reason, I got confused, until it was too late.

I had an important meeting coming up.

And like all things important that loom on my horizons, I started to fret about it. Insomnia returned, this time in double concentrate form. It was always bad when it struck, but this time I was getting about an hour of sleep a night, tossing and turning, rehearsing everything over and again in my unquieted mind.

I asked a friend for some advice.

She suggested Worry Bees.

The hardest part was catching two bees.

At least it was the hardest part until I actually caught them.

Now the hardest part is rolling them around in my hand  without stinging myself.

That’s all I worry about now.

I have a fatal allergy to bee stings.