Rattler’s Tale #11

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

PHOTO PROMPT © Todd Foltz

BAKE-OFF

They were lined up, only their backs showing.
Reality TV was like that – liked to have a surprise for the end.
I suppose you could call them a metaphor.
The first contestant approached: ‘I think I’ll poach them.’
The second disagreed: ‘I’ll beat them to pulp for a huge cake.’
The third added: ‘Well I just like smashing them; watch the goo ooze out.’
I guess dumbing down had gone too far.
The egghead intellectuals agreed.

****************
eBook I, Writer – 43 Flash Fiction + Memoirs & Writing Tips – is now FREE.

****************

GENESIS OF LOVE

Forget the apple. There were too many roses in Eden.
Or maybe it’s all just a metaphor.
In the beginning were animals.
They couldn’t mate face to face, see – so didn’t see.
Then along came animal Mark Two, or Human.
He was a weak but cunning upgrade.
He’d changed his hands – evolved the opposable thumb.
Man became a master manipulator – learnt how to fashion his tool.
Which meant he didn’t need to go around on all fours, but two.
Man became erect – had adapted a new pelvic bone.
Then came the human bit.
It became more comfortable to mate face to face – and he saw.
And she saw. Realised her nakedness, and he liked it.
And together they mated – and loved.
For the genesis of humanity WAS love.
But every story has a sting in the tale – our own Pandora’s box.
For hot on the trail of love came jealousy and, eventually hate.
The Red Rose and Red Mist are one.
There were too many roses in Eden.
And they have thorns.

Rattler’s Tale #10

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

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

LET’S GO HOME

The two android scouts disguised themselves in the engines and looked up.
All they could see was empty space in the hot air balloon.
Realising it wasn’t going to get into space, they looked again at the data.
Reports of early space exploration:
Early successes – Poe, Verne and Wells …
The aliens had sent androids to counter the deadly viruses that had got previous aliens.
But …
What a useless species, these humans, they decided.
No interaction, no touching, and definitely no hyperdrive.
They’re doomed.
And delusional.
And the virus still around.
They decided to go home.

HUNTER DEAR

It seemed crazy to hunt deer in a boat, but since I met him …
‘Not hunt; draw,’ he admonished.
I apologised. ‘Old habits.’
He sat in the boat with me, riding the waves, yet there was no wind in my sails.
‘How are we moving?’ I asked. ‘How can there be a deer down there?’ ‘Who are you?’
He replied: ‘Maybe we’re in a lake held up by its antlers. Or maybe by a bull’s horns.’
He claimed to be an artist yet he looked like a harlequin, or a woman in a wall …
… always with his head on his side …
I guess its just a crazy world.
‘How do you feel?’ he asked.
‘Wet.’
‘But the water’s dry.’
‘Drowsy.’
‘Then you’re finally wide awake.’
‘What’s that over there?’
‘Your leg.’
Then I remembered, and it seemed to me that at last I was in a sensible world …
… and I saw the deer and didn’t want to hunt … and …
The lake became my blood, the antlers the staves of the stretcher and tranquility exploded.
And the artist wore a soldier’s helmet and I asked: ‘Who are you?’ once more.
‘I’m the artist who created crazy, and people thought me crazy, and couldn’t get I was reality.’
And as I closed my eyes, and the pain flowed away, I joined Picasso in the eternal picture.

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

More RATTLER’S TALE Stories
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