Beastlies: The Fine Deer

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Sometimes when walking alone at night you may find yourself haunted by this persistent apparition, which will trudge alongside you sighing loudly, openly tutting, rolling its eyes and shaking its head sadly/angrily.

When it all gets to be too much, and you finally snap and ask “What’s wrong with you?” or “Are you all right?” the creature will only ever answer “I’m fine.”

Because it’s fine. Everything is fine. Why wouldn’t it be fine? I’M FINE, OK? OK.

Beastlies: The Dread Cuthuthluth

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Every time somebody misspells “Cthulhu” on the internet, they get closer to completing the incantation which will call that monstrous entity’s slightly less impressive, differently-spelled cousin to this Earthly realm.

Cuthuthluth is damp, five foot two, and smells of seaweed and desperation. Unlike his Great and Old cosmic cousin, he is not covered in tentacles. That’s not what those are.

Beastlies: The Huge Hairy Hassle

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Occasionally you will wake up and find that a Huge Hairy Hassle has broken into your home and sat himself down somewhere, perhaps the living room, possibly the kitchen. He’ll sit there, emitting low-pitched rumbly groaning noises and taking up valuable space.

You can get rid of a Huge Hairy Hassle, but it’s a bit of a pain. You have to obtain various ingredients, combine them in the right kind of pot, recite a particular spell at precisely the right time of night, when the moon’s position in the sky is just so etc etc. You know, it’s doable, but it’s a lot of bother, frankly.

By the time they die, most people will have accumulated three or four Huge Hairy Hassles lolling about their house, emitting low-pitched rumbly groaning noises and taking up valuable space, that they’ve just kind of got used to.

Beastlies: The Squid of Foreboding

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This soggy, multi-suckered soothsayer launches itself out of rivers and lakes to shout doom-laden warnings of bad things to come at startled passers-by.

“Bad things are going to happen!” it yells, its tentacles flapping about all agitated.

“What, worse than a six-foot squid leaping out of a river to shout at me?” the passer-by will often ask, quite naturally.

“Oh, right, yeah, no, probably not actually,” the squid will say. “Sorry for wasting your time.”

And the Squid of Foreboding will slither back into the water, a bit embarassed, but with a weird, dark feeling that this will all happen again quite soon.

Friday’s Short Story: Sacrifice

storyteller It had been made quite clear during the interview process that if I wanted to climb the ladder at Timely Holdings I would have to be prepared to make certain sacrifices. It was also made clear that if I didn’t want to climb the ladder then I had no place at Timely Holdings. So yes, I told them, I wanted to climb the ladder and therefore sacrifices would be made. In fact, I was all about sacrifice, I told them. Had I not put that in my personal statement, about sacrificing? No? Well I certainly meant to. After the stuff about focus, innovative solutions and working well as part of a team and also on my own initiative. I got the job.

So when, at the end of my first week my line manager strode towards me in a goal-orientated way, me being the goal and his orientation being spot-on, and told me that I would have to work on Saturday, who was I to argue? I was on the first rung of a ladder that was going to take me all the way, baby.

Which is why I sacrificed my weekend. Which is why I was sitting alone at my cubicle at 2pm on that Saturday afternoon when Satan strode towards me in what I had grown to recognise as a goal-orientated way. Continue reading

Friday’s Short Story: The Ghost of Dave

storyteller Harry had definitely gone to bed drunk, and he had certainly eaten a lot of cheese. These were two facts: solid, uncontroversial, the kind of truths you could rap your knuckle on.

“I am a bit drunk, and I have eaten far too much cheese on toast,” he said out loud, but the ghost just stared at him, impassively.

He had never seen a ghost before. He didn’t believe in ghosts. These were also facts. Stating facts was helping prevent him from panicking. Continue reading

Friday’s Short Story: The Designer Fire Brigade

storytellerI phoned the designer fire brigade this morning. They were very friendly, considering I was having to shout over the sound of the fire alarm. We arranged a meeting and I went in to discuss my fire-fighting needs.

We sat in a very nice little conference room, and Melvin, the head designer fire fighter, took me through the process of assembling a mood board. They gave me a pile of magazines, some scissors and a Pritt stick. First of all we concentrated on the colours and shapes that summed up my living space at the present moment: I found lots of warm colours, reds and golds, and carefully pasted them into a collage, along with some photographs of people looking sad. Melvin seemed very pleased when I had finished. “Oh, is it hot in here or is it just me?” he said, sort of fanning the air round his face with his hand.

Then I had to put together a second mood board to help me visualise how I might like my living space to look after the designer fire fighters had finished with it. Again I cut pictures out, the colours now cooler – lots of blues and greens, more oceanic. Pictures of kitchens and bedrooms not filled with acrid smoke. And I found some shots of people looking happy. One in particular, of Matthew McConaughey leaning against a chain fence in a sun-drenched Los Angeles alleyway, really seemed to sum up how I would feel if the designer fire brigade could effect the kind of transformations their brochures had promised. Again, Melvin nodded in approval.

He would take the boards, he said, and present them to his firefighting team, perhaps on Wednesday, and they would discuss strategies and solutions, and could they get back to me some time next week with a game plan and, a ha ha, a price plan?

Anyway, by the time I got home the urgency of the project had gone, really. I phoned the designer fire brigade and thanked them for their help and advice. They were very understanding. These things happen, they said, and the final bill, when it arrived, would reflect that, they said.

And as Melvin pointed out to me, charcoal is the new black.

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The Designer Fire Brigade
by Harris
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