Rattler’s Tale #9

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

VETERANS

‘You never got involved in Nam, did you?’ said the US veteran.
The Brit veteran said: ‘No. We were too busy.’
‘Doin what?’
‘Giving back our empire – and fighting the Commies who tried to take over.’
‘Where was that, then?’
‘Malaya, Borneo, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.’
‘How come we never heard much of them?’
‘Because in the main we were successful.’
‘How? Did you have some secret weapon like bombs or Agent Orange?’
‘Of a sort.’
‘What was that?’
‘Doctors.’

BLAST OFF

And here we are at Ad Hoc County Launch Site.

We’re all excited by the turn of events.

Following many false starts and redesigns we’re ready for blast off.

Indeed, Eton Must is piloting the prototype himself.

We asked him if the new fuel would be powerful enough.

‘Of course! I went back to the beginning for the idea.’

He elaborated: ‘But we don’t need as much hot air as Poe’s balloonist.

‘The only danger is it may be too explosive.’

We asked him what he meant.

‘Well, it was collected from the President’s breath during his speeches.’

Rattler’s Tale #8

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

stay home

Dick bought the holiday hat but it didn’t work.
‘I remembered I was still in isolation.’
The virtual reality salesman sighed. ‘I warned you,’ he said.
Silence followed. Then, changing his hat, the salesman said:
‘Go for the full download – guaranteed to escape Covid.’
‘What? You download something into me?’
The salesman showed his new computer.
‘No. We download you into IT!’
‘Anything to escape isolation,’ said Dick.
Moments later, there was a ping and Dick disappeared.
He enjoyed his holiday for a while, then…
The salesman put on his undertakers hat.
A virus had got him.

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

The theatre was very old and had consumed many a performance.
The actors stood on the stage, taking in the atmosphere.
It was their final rehearsal, yet they knew they’d be interrupted.
Maybe it was the acoustics, but constantly the voices.
And the apparitions.
It was a busy stage.
They tried to concentrate, on their own lines, but …
… was that from West Side Story … and then Wilde …
… and …
‘All the world’s a stage.’
In this world, and the next.
Outside, the passers-by heard it, too.
‘Can you hear it?’ asked one.
‘Yes,’ the other replied. ‘Theatre – storytelling – outs our soul.’
‘It gets into our heads,’ said a third. ‘Makes us what we are, forever.’
‘There used to be a theatre here, you know.’
And the rubble began to sing.

Rattler’s Tale #7

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by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

ROOTED

Dick found it when walking in the wood.
A conspiracy theorist, he jumped for joy.
Wow! Tech growing out the ground.
Investigating, he was disturbed by Bob, the sceptic.
‘What you doing?’
Dick said: ‘It’s got rootkit and worms emanating from it.’
Bob was a stiff, logical chap who never lost his head.
He picked it up. ‘I wondered where I’d left that.’
He walked off, leaving Dick feeling a right namesake.
Home, Bob took off his head and contacted Mothership.
‘We need better camouflage,’ he said. ‘Too many conspiriologists nowadays.’
He blamed the new leadership models. US, UK, EU? No more blondes.

AN UNUSUAL TAKE

‘Oh, kitten, I could eat you all up.’
‘Hold on Tiger. Take it slowly.’
***
The Director looked at the take. He’d been too late calling ‘cut!’
It was one hell of a mess.
The Producer said: ‘Are you sure this is a good idea? We’re running out of actors.’
‘I’m gonna direct a romance if it’s the last thing I do,’ he bit back.
***
The Director went round all the studios, but could he get another producer?
Could he hell. As they said: ‘You’ve been through 5 already.’
‘But I’ve got an appetite for this film.’
Which was one way of putting it.
***
Later, the geneticist said: ‘Why don’t you use the voiceovers as actors again?’
‘Humans!?’
Enraged, the Director was on his haunches once more.
Luckily it was the last geneticist.
The Director went back to the jungle, destined to remain a nature documentary star.
I guess mimicking can only go so far.

Rattler’s Tale #6

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

DINERS

Empty restaurants.
Well, what did we expect? After the pandemic.
The trees had surrounded them, you see. Cut them off.
And when loads of people turned up at hospital with no nose …
… roses, you see. Sharp petals. And wheat whiplash could hurt, too.
Still, online shopping got through – meat only.
Which was a surprise, what with cows rearing on hind legs. Even sheep got bristly.
No one asked what was in the sausages.
If only I could make it to the bar.
Get drunk on mature wine.
Plenty of that.
Except chianti.

MASK: A DIALOGUE

I: We all wear a mask.
ME: Speak for yourself.
I: I am – it’s for the pandemic.
ME: Another one?
I: The real one – the virus of individuality.
ME: But we’re two.
I: Exactly. But so many have forgotten.
ME: Forgotten what?
I: That there’s me and I. Me is me and I is the me I have to be to be accepted.
ME: Well I couldn’t give a &%*!
I: But I have to, or I’m weird, an outsider, an outcast.
ME: Is that why you won’t let me out?
I: I can’t. Freedom won’t allow it.
ME: But that’s mad!
I: Aren’t we all?
ME: Come on, take the mask off. Place it down on the table. Look up!
I: I want to – I really do – but I have to thrive; to succeed; to be accepted.
ME: So you deny your inner nature.
I: I deny everything to do with nature. I have no choice.
ME: But we and nature are the true one.
I: I know that! But I can’t know it. Not … outside.
ME: So you is you and I can’t be part of you.
I: That’s right. Except for my screaming.

Rattler’s Tale #5

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
dVerse
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

CHANGE

The philosopher sat back in his chair on the roof, watching the urban sprawl.
He soon began to notice the obvious – he saw the history of man.
He saw the old churches, testament to when the biggest buildings reflected God.
In the far distance, he saw now silent factories, as industry ravaged the planet.
And he saw the towering banks, as money ravaged society.
And finally he looked below him, at the squalor on the edge.
And he thought: nothing changes.

WHERE HAVE ALL

Where have all the millions gone …
The old man hadn’t a clue. One minute they were there, then …
Covid 19 – or was it inevitable after the Downturn, or this, or that …
… or maybe – just maybe – his own greed.
He cried as they towed away his Rolls Royce, repossessed his mansion.
And designer suit swapped for jeans and t-shirt …
He was on the road again.
Back to his roots – his destitute roots.
‘When will they ever learn?’
The question nagged at him as the days passed, his stomach empty.
Slowly his depression increased, until …
He mouthed: ‘When will I ever learn?’
The sun shone then. He was back in the Beat Generation, Kerouac his guru.
He remembered the lines of the Beat Poets …
‘Gone to graveyards, every one.’
And their dreams.
Shattered.
Maybe it was in the name.
Their naivety.
Their hopes of changing history.
Why does life always beat poets?

Book 28 of 68, A Family Loss: A Crime cum Horror Novel, out 27 April

Rattler’s Tale #4

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
dVerse
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

BIRDIE

Birdie loved windows.
He’d perch there and watch – especially the tech.
It was everywhere nowadays – tech.
Phone, alarm – a man by a laptop, writing.
Not that Birdie knew what they were.
He didn’t have consciousness like humans do.
Though he was smart.
Birdie stared, and the writer stared at Birdie.
Eventually the writer got bored – went back to work.
And Birdie stared some more.
Finally smart Birdie had seen all he wanted to see.
He uploaded the passwords and droned off.

THE EX-WIVES CLUB

It had taken her a long time to contact him.
‘Yeah, reader, I married them …’ he said …
‘… Madonna, Lady MacBeth and Lucy.’
She said: ‘But you never divorced. And you weren’t exactly faithful.’
‘Hey, I’m a modern man – the freedom to roam and all that.
‘And let’s face it, neither were they. They even swap familiars.’
‘The simple fact is,’ she interrupted, ‘you had no respect for women.’
‘Yeah I did. It’s just that I wanted to respect them all.’
She broke in once more: ‘No, you were a nasty, insidious womaniser.’
She was getting angry now, and realized how easy it was to …
She didn’t have time to finish.
As any medium knows, emotion breaks the circuit, his last words echoing in the ether.
‘So how long are they going to stand on my grave … ?’

Book 28 of 68, A Family Loss: A Crime cum Horror Novel, out 27 April

Rattler’s Tale #3

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
dVerse
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

TIP TAP TAPPING – a typewriter possessed

Grandad was dead.
But sleeping in the old house, that tip tap tapping.
All night long.
How prolific a writer did he intend to be?
Gets into your head, that tip tap tapping.
It was an old typewriter – very old.
Grandad found it many years ago at…
…he’d never say. But it inspired him to be a novelist.
He had many bestsellers before his suicide at 61.
I sat.
Tip tap tapped.
Wrote.
I was hooked!
Then I found it – the last note Grandad wrote.
And I write …
…for 40 years 4 months.
It was signed Hemingway.

ACROSTIC
FOR POETS & STORYTELLERS UNITED

She loved him.
Was his mother. Yet …
Warned of danger.
She didn’t understand, of course; even though she hated the soldiers.
Was unable to grasp what he was; yet she grasped her staff tightly.
Given, he was, as if an undeniable miracle from heaven  … but …
An incomprehensible death.
Explanation? Pointless, yet she was …
Never the less for it. Except …
She picked up her staff to strike the soldier, but his thoughts …
Persisted. Not with A CROss STICk.

MULTI VIRAL
FOR THE SUNDAY MUSE

Viruses have a habit of multiplying.
At first biological, they soon have their eye on the economy.
And once the economy is quarantined, politicians fall.
Revolutions go viral.
But luckily we left the tanks in stores; pointy things in silos.
But who would have thought.
When granny was quarantined she had to find something to do.
Add a weather beaten wall and a can of paint …
Granny was on a mission.
Yet granny soon went exponential.
And now that the biological, economical and political were over …
They looked at graffitied cities all over the world …
… the look of despair of the disenfranchised youth …
And banned aerosol paints for the over seventies.

Book 28 of 68, A Family Loss: A Crime cum Horror Novel, out 27 April

Rattler’sTale #2

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
dVerse
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

SODOM ‘n’ STUFF

‘And the Lord God said: “Let there be cars … and there were cars” …’
‘Is that how it was Dad?’
‘It was son; but it all went wrong.’
‘What happened?’
‘Mass production, motorways, broken communities, air travel, globalization, climate change …
‘Well, in the end Planet did a HG Wells & shut things down.’
He became reflective then. Said:
‘If only we’d looked in the right direction, we wouldn’t have ended up like Lot’s wife.’

HYPO FLORA
FOR POETS & STORYTELLERS UNITED

Why does Rose have thorns?
‘Cos she’s got a prickly temperament.
Why is Daisy in chains?
‘Cos little girls like her.
Why don’t we have the freedom to roam?
‘Cos gardeners imprison us.
Why don’t the little ones grow?
‘Cos they’ve been classified as weeds.
Why do people keep cutting us?
‘Cos they can’t hear us scream.
What is Ivy doing now?
Strangling humans.

HUNDRED
FOR THE SUNDAY MUSE

Okay, excuse the way I’m saying this;
Shouldn’t really be saying anything – I’m not very bright …
I’m 100, you see.
For ages life seemed boring –
No opportunities, no nothing, as if I was stuck in the dark.
Then, when life took over, it happened so fast.
No time to think, plan, nothing.
I was just buffeted this way and that, pressures mounting all the time …
It sometimes felt I was going at 100 miles an hour.
Of course, careering at high speed had consequences.
I made no money – I’d only have burned it anyway.
No photos of relationships – never had any; never loved.
It was just a jig-saw with no doors opening.
And then, at 100, I found myself in the proverbial tunnel.
And then the light approached …
And now, I suck my mother’s breast, happy to forget the 100 minutes of my birth.

Book 27 of 68, Mysteries of the Bible, out 27 March

Rattler’s Tale #1

Two RATTLER’S TALE Stories
by Anthony North
for
Friday Fictioneers
dVerse
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with
KEYUDOS
Stories: Eyes and Veg

EYES

It began as I walked up the starecase.
With each step my trepidation grew.
Sweat, like shards of ice, lacerated my skin.
I was waiting for it, but not like this.
The corner of my eye.
Why does horror always first appear there?
Because we instinctually turn away.
I’m an individual, you see.
Ha! See
I demand my privacy, to my thoughts
My emotions.
But
It was there now, floating to my front, its evil eye bottomless
Waiting
Staring
At the top of the stares I came to the door.
The sign said ‘Doors’, plural, but there was only one.
And above, ‘MacroHard.’
I opened Doors – entered the gallery.
The ultimate techno experience.
Whether you wanted it or not.
On every wall there were eyes.
The selfie was now streaming ..
… tears

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

VEG

Fresh veg on a half empty shelf.
I just can’t get that image out of my mind.
A metaphor?
Veg – short for vegetables.
Or vegetate?
Words entered my mind.
War.
Done that.
Chris.
Married her.
I suppose I felt like that veg when I walked into the store.
You know – old, redundant; on the shelf.
It was a dirty shelf; people went straight to the freezers.
They were sparkling new, full of plastic food.
I’m trying to contact Chris, tell her…
…what?
I still see the old veg shelf now as I go into the freezer.
In the morgue.

 

Book 27 of 68, Mysteries of the Bible, out 27 March

Promptville #1

 

Welcome to the World of Prompts
Promptville
Promptly
****

WRITING TIPS   STORYTELLING   MEET THE TEAM
*****
Multiple prompts in one post – Good reader, I married them

CONTENTS
For Friday Fictioneers – One Act Play
For The Sunday Muse – The Music of Love
Eye On the World -loud mouthed columnists have their say
For Poets & Storytellers United – A  Selction of Delicious Red Fruits
For dVerse – All of them

ONE ACT PLAY

One by one they appear – like a montage.
All the world’s a stage, so it is good the backdrop is a theatre.
And they are all actors – As I am (was) …
… except … I can’t say it … except …
… I had to eventually accept I was not very good.
My fellow actors all told me so!
That’s when I began the one act play.
After I learnt new skills, that is.
The play begins by photographing them …
… continues by slitting their throats.
Stuffing them.
Placing them on timber stands upon the stage.
Then I act.
Who’s wooden now?!

THE MUSIC OF LOVE

The music of love can be a symphony of emotion, she knew.
It can range from sultry adagio to the crescendo of wild passion.
Cathy – or ‘C’, as he called her – knew this.
She had recently had a crescendo – and not the nice kind.
He had taken a vow of celibacy, whereas she was a passionate concert pianist …
… and she wanted more than love – she wanted sex. As the nearly dress she wore, made clear.
‘I can’t go on like this!’ she had screamed.
His reply included his usual silly language of anagrams and word games.
‘Sex is just ex s,’ he had replied.
She stormed out. Went home. Sat at her piano and played a dirge all night long …
… until …
She answered the door to the courier.
Took the envelope.
Opened it. Viewed the picture of him in bed.
(hateful?)
And the music sheet for one of Chopin’s Nocturnes.
Music of the night? His bed? Could it be … ?
She placed the music on the piano. Stared. Then she remembered his word games:
… hop in C …
The music of love played long.

 

 

Philip Osophy says: ‘Poisonous’ atmosphere throughout UK govt? I doubt it. It is a typical excuse when a new regime moves in and begins a U turn. unCivil Servcie don’t like change.
Politics Page

Techie Without a Clue says: AI finds a super compound that could fight many medical conditions? Great! But it’s still dumb – does only what it’s told. Then human intelligence takes over.
Technology Page

Dr Illya Ness says: Life expectancy has ground to a halt in UK. Austerity blamed. No! Austerity was an excuse for the Tory Cameron Regime to purposely destroy the Welfare State.
Illness Page

Major de Ranger says: Staff at UK Houses of Parliament find door dating back to 1660? Am I alone in thinking this not knowing could have had dire security implications?
Warfare Page

Polly Ticks says: UK EU trade talks sabre rattling begins. The EU can’t afford to let UK go without a deal. The Commonwealth has a third of world population and the Queen is head.
Economics Page

Guru Tony says: UK court ruled Heathrow 3rd runway illegal on environmental grounds. Not over yet. Heathrow appealing but not govt. Big Boris didn’t want it anyway.
Environment Page

 

A SELECTION OF DELICIOUS RED FRUITS

It had been the strangest of job interviews.
Was he merely eccentric, or could he really be a vampire?
Regardless, after my interview he invited me back to his flat for dinner.
‘We share so many interests,’ he said, as he poured the wine.
It was blood red in colour – as for its constituency and taste?
I gagged.
There was only one course – what he called, ‘a delectable dish of steamed red fruits.’
He continued, dribbling as he forked one piece after another:
‘This piece is like a breath of fresh air; and this?
‘So good for the blood.’
Now a bigger piece – a delightful smile as it slithered down his throat.
‘Ah, the fruit of love.’
I thought it was horrendous and far too fleshy.
After dinner I said: ‘I’ll take the job.’
He was elated. But of course, he wasn’t a vampire.
No, like me, he’s a fellow cannibal – though a lousy cook.
And tomorrow?
I begin work at the organ transplant distribution centre.

 

Book 27 of 68, Mysteries of the Bible, out 27 March

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