Friday’s Short Story

Good question. I’d have to think. I don’t want to die alone, for example. The thought of dying in a bedroom somewhere and nobody finding my corpse until it’s all manky and melted into the duvet, and nobody caring apart from whoever has to spatula me up from my bed. God, that’s – I think about that a lot. that keeps me awake, yeah. And I sometimes worry that I’ve been a huge disappointment to everybody I’ve ever met. Everybody. From my ex-wife to the feller who sold me cigarettes this morning. Was I a bit brusque with him?

– Ah. It’s interesting that you

Does he think I’m an arsehole because I was too preoccupied to give him a truly genuine smile? And of course I worry that my Mum secretly wishes she’d hadn’t had me and had spent the money she’s spent on me over the years on buying a yacht. She buys a lot of yachting magazines and sighs a lot when she reads them. Makes you think, you know? She sighs very loudly. She could be off the coast of Barbados right now if she hadn’t had to pay for all the shoes she’s had to buy me over the years, and my University tuition. Shit. And my smoking

– Perhaps it would be better if we focussed on one particular

I know I should quit obviously, but I get the thought that cancer has already taken hold, just in a couple of cells, maybe it happened this morning, the cancer seed being planted, and even if I quit tomorrow it wouldn’t matter because I’ll be dead in 10 years, all thin and grey with lots of tubes sticking out of me. Alone, all grey, with tubes, I hate thinking about that, that’s really scary.

– OK, the smoking, maybe we could concentrate on

But I mean if you’re asking about my greatest fear, was that the question?

– Well, yes, but it’s more of an exercise to get you to

Yeah, my greatest fear, Christ. The big one. OK. My greatest fear would be that the monster inside me will escape and kill everybody that’s ever pissed me off. I’ve had some sleepless nights about that, I can tell you.

– You have anger problems?

What? No, I don’t think so.

– But you get very angry?

I get frustrated sometimes. Pissed off.

– And you think of your anger as a monster?

No. I think of my anger as my anger, and I think of the monster as a monster.

– Just to clarify, we’re not talking about an actual monster.

Aren’t we? I am. I’m talking about the monster that lives inside me. In my tummy.

– You think you have a monster inside you? A real actual monster? Like Godzilla?

Yes, well no. Smaller and not radioactive. Oh fuck, what if it is radioactive? That’s going to increase my cancer risk, isn’t it? I mean, what would be the point of quitting smoking

– How do you know you have a monster inside you?

I can hear its voice sometimes, telling me what it will do if it gets out.

– You hear voices.

A voice. The voice of the monster. And I can feel it moving round inside me.

– You know, these symptoms, although alarming, can be quite simply explained by

And it sometimes sticks a tentacle out of my bellybutton.

– It what? It has tentacles?

It’s doing it right now. It’s not an unpleasant feeling. Do you… would you like to see?

– Do I want to. Yes, sure, show me the monster’s tentacle, why not?

OK, well, here.

You see?

– Fuck me. Shitting fuck. Shit. It was there. A tentacle. Where. Where did it go?

I think you scared it. I’ve never showed it to anybody before.

– So it’s scared. I scared the monster. Fuck. You say it talks to you?

Yes.

– Is it, is it talking to you now?

Yes it is.

– What is it saying?

Oh, you know, Stuff.

– Stuff? Stuff about me? It’s not angry now is it?

Not angry, no. But it. It wants to come out.

– Um. Now?

It wants to come out now and show you something. It’s never done that before. This is new.

– Um. Maybe next session?

It wants to come out now.

– Well it’s five to, I think perhaps we could maybe resume next week? I really must

It’s coming out, it’s pushing out!

DINGALINGALINGALING.

The alarm rings and he wakes, gratefully. He hates that dream. It is disconcerting to say the least. He lies motionless for a minute, thinking about what it might mean. His partner sleeps on beside him. Should he wake her? Would she tell him not to be silly, that it was just a stupid dream? He thinks, then decides it’s worth the risk. He needs to talk to her. He tentatively reaches out a tentacle and lightly shakes his partner’s nearest gelatinous egg sac. I had that weird dream again he says.

******
My Greatest Fear
by Harris
more tiny tales

Historicals

1885: At the height of the Victorian Depression many women gave birth to half-children as a money-saving measure. These demi-enfants saved wear and tear on shoes, and any food they ate would simply fall out of them and could be re-eaten later by family members with legs and a digestive tract.

More Historicals.

Fact File #3: Cats

Cats have nine lives, which is, like, nine more than me.

You should never pick a cat up by the scruff of its neck; always use the carry-handle concealed in its tummy hatch.

Cats have 290 bones in their bodies, which is 30 less than a dog but 290 more than a KFC crispy strip.

A cat’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees, and yet its heart is as cold as ice.

People who own cats live longer, have less stress, have fewer heart attacks, less friends and absolutely zero awareness of how little I care about that cute thing their cat did this morning.

Cats can see up to 120 feet away. The first rudimentary telescope involved Galileo putting his eye to a cat’s arse, and twisting its neck to focus.

Finding a room with enough room to swing a cat in can take a lot of trial and error, and several cats. It’s usually the ceiling that scuppers things.

In popular British sitcom Are You Being Served?, the character Mrs Slocombe would often refer amusingly to her “pussy”. Which is why whenever I hear the word “pussy” I think of Molly Sugden’s vagina. Which is a shame. A real.
Goddamn.
Shame.

If it wasn’t for cats jumping into boxes there would only be 600 videos on YouTube, and half of those would be of cats who had been put into boxes jumping out of them.

Cartoon cats are far more resilient than real ones. You try clouting a real cat in the face with a steam iron – you’ll be amazed at how messy and permanent the damage is, to both the cat and the iron, although the iron should still work ok.

Owning a cat is a good way of announcing to the world that from now on, instead of nice, thoughtful presents you’d actually like any old piece of tat with a picture of a cat on it for birthdays and Christmas.

My first childhood crush was on Catwoman. I still fancy her now but I worry that if I was going out with her, and my parents came round to visit, she’d spend the whole time sitting in the middle of the living room carpet licking her own arsehole.

More facts next time, fact fans!

Hot Dogs!

From Wonder Showzen, an MTV2 comedy which was wrong on so many levels, but very, very funny. Created by John Lee and Vernon Chatman* of PFFR, who also make the even-more-barmy Xavier: Renegade Angel and Delocated, Wonder Showzen is basically Sesame Street as broadcast from a bad planet. Its intent is not just to be shocking, though, and there’s a strong seam of satire running through the whole thing. It is amazingly shocking in parts, mind.



*the voice of Towelie on South Park, fact fans. Wanna get high?

Historicals

1867: Young Rebecca Brock pictured in the laboratory of Dr. Alfred Pennyman. Her left leg, having been removed, would that night be placed under her pillow in the hopes of finally proving the existence of the Leg Fairy. Pennyman would later write in his diary that the results of the experiment were disappointing - the damn'd miserly sprite only left 3 shillings.

More Historicals.

Big Man Japan

Well, I watched it. I watched it a while ago, and it’s stayed with me in a way that films rarely do, and I’m not sure why, and I’ve been wondering about what exactly I can say about it. Hmm.

It’s as nuts as the trailers and clips would suggest, but in a different way than you might expect. The monster battles, impressive and fun as they are, only make up a very small part of the narrative. Much of the rest of the film is a low-key mockumentary following Daisato, the scruffy, morose, socially awkward man who, through the application of massive amounts of electricity, occasionally transforms into Big Man Japan and defends his country against big monsters.

We meet Daisato’s agent who keeps trying to get him to wear sponsorship labels when he’s fighting, and his ex-wife and child who don’t want anything to do with him, and we get sneering vox-pops from the ungrateful population that Daisato saves time and again. And all the while Daisato shuffles through life, unassuming and somewhat tragic. It’s sad, but charming and funny in a dark and bitter-sweet way, and the performance of Hioshi Matsumoto, who also co-wrote and directed the film, is understated and human.

It’s an odd film. The humans are bastards for the most part, the monsters are amazingly weird and imaginative, and the battles end with the spirits of the fallen ascending into the sky. Why? It’s never explained. And then there’s the last ten minutes or so which are… batshit insane. I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t, but if any of you have seen the film, or watch it in in the future, and I absolutely recommend you do, please get in touch and we can sit round a table scratching our heads and asking each other “but what does it mean?” Everything from the title “Let’s enjoy the rest live!” onward. Baffling, but in a good way.

Somehow the last ten minutes transform the film from a lovely but inconsequential comedy into something more. It’s hugely unsettling, and nightmarish, and funny and… odd. Watch it, man, and tell me I’m wrong.

“Peace!” Bonkers…

Friday’s Short Story

Ding dong.

Agnes opens the door. There are two smartly-dressed men on her doorstep. They both look young, wholesome and healthy. One of them carries a clipboard. The other wears trendy, heavy-framed glasses. This is really the only way of telling them apart.

Hello, says Agnes.

Hello, yes, says the smart young man with the glasses. This is just a courtesy call really. We’re in the area organising a witch hunt.

Is that right, says Agnes. How exciting.

Yes, continues the man, you might have noticed in recent times that petrol prices have gone through the roof, the property market is in decline, there was a three headed calf born in the next village along and you remember those little, individually wrapped chocolates… um…

Neapolitans, interjects clipboard-man. They were great, like tiny chocolate bars, all different flavours?

I remember those, says Agnes.

Yeah, well, you can’t get them any more, says glasses. Why? Nobody really knows.

Nobody, says clipboard.

Oh dear, says Agnes.

But we suspect witchcraft, says glasses, and he smiles a winning, Arctic-white-toothed smile.

Oh dear, says Agnes.

So we’re hunting witches, says glasses and his smile disappears quicker than the Arctic ice shelf. And we have a couple of questions for you, if that’s OK. Um, firstly, are you a witch?

No, says Agnes.

You are an old lady though, says clipboard.

Yes I am, she confirms.

Clipboard writes something on his clipboard. Is an old lady, he mutters.

Excellent, says glasses. And do you have a supernumerary nipple with which you suckle your demonic familiar?

No, says Agnes.

The men look at each other.

Tell you what, says clipboard, I’m going to put down “yes”.

Because if he doesn’t, they might not let us burn you, says glasses, helpfully, and he smiles his charming smile once more.

And to be honest, everybody’s saying no to that one, says clipboard. It’s doing my head in.

We’ve got a quota, says glasses.

Burn me? queries Agnes.

Oh yeah, says clipboard, have to check: are you flammable, yes or no? His pen hovers above the clipboard. Yes? No?

No, says Agnes.

Clipboard has a think.

Yeah, I’m going to put “yes” again, if that’s OK.

Well, er, clipboard peers at his clipboard, Agnes, it looks like you’re probably a witch We can’t be a hundred per cent sure, but better safe than sorry, eh? Think about the children. So if you’d like to pop down to the town centre, just outside Somerfield at around lunchtime on Sunday we’ll get you burned.

Agnes sighs. If I must, I suppose I must.

Lovely, says glasses. We’ll see you there.

The men stare at Agnes for a while. Agnes stares back. It is all rather awkward.

Was there anything else, asks Agnes, eventually.

What do you think, asks glasses.

Oh right, says Agnes, and she disappears back indoors for a minute. She returns with a box of Terry’s Neapolitan chocolates.

The men are delighted. They pick a chocolate each.

Ah, cafe au lait. Brilliant, says clipboard.

See you on Sunday you despicable old crone, says glasses, unwrapping a tiny mint chocolate bar.

They set off down the path and away, leaving Agnes to ponder the error of her evil wiccan ways.

******
Witch Hunt
by Harris
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Fact File #2: Ducks

DuckDucks are genetically programmed to mate for life, but it doesn’t hurt to bring them chocolates or flowers every once in a while to keep the romance alive.

When duck cousins marry, their ducklings are born without webbed feet.

While most ducks make a quacking sound, Wood Ducks actually speak in a Geordie dialect which naturally makes them much harder to understand. This is not to be taken as a sign of intelligence.

When ducks cry nobody bothers to write a song about it.

If your duck is dirty, check the label as many species are dry-clean only.

A duck feels no pain, has no emotions, and will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission.

Daffy Duck could totally kick Donald Duck’s ass. Seriously. It wouldn’t even be a competition, It would be all like BOOM! and Donald’s down, man. Seriously.

The largest duck ever recorded was smaller than you’d think.

Ducks are not born crispy or aromatic, but some ducks develop these genetically scrumptious traits in later life.

Ducks generally appear friendly and approachable, but they will often talk smack about you when you’re not around so be warned.

More facts next time, fact fans!