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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

Road To Back Home

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/05/05
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , , , | 1 Comment

“Has everyone got everything?” Victoria asked.

“Yes mum,” Beverly groaned.

“Kevin, have you got your iPod?” she asked the boy coming down the stairs.

Kevin, holding his passport between his teeth, just nodded.

“Frank?” she shouted in the general direction of the kitchen.

“I’m coming,” came a yell from upstairs. “I’m just changing the ink in the printer.”

She sighed. “Print the boarding passes in black and white,” she shouted.

“It’s the black that’s run out,” came the reply. Read more

The paper jutted halfway out of the typewriter, four words black in the moon light:

THE QUICK BROWN FOX

At least this time, Daniel thought, he had managed four of his own words.

He sat there, in the gloom, looking at it. The sleek grey metal body looked darker in the moonlight, and the white letters on the black keys shone out. The “Olivetti” on the back plate was readable, but the “Lettera 22” was a little harder to see. Read more

It was near closing time in the castle. If they weren’t the last visitors, they at least weren’t far off. Penny was standing at the wall, looking out of one of the small cross-shaped windows. She’d had enough of imagining herself as a twelfth-century archer, and was now simply savouring the warm afterglow of Earl Grey, scones and jam and enjoying the view down the hill when Craig called over to her.

“Hey Penny, come look at this,” he said.

She turned reluctantly away from the view, adjusted her bag on her shoulder and turned around. He was pointing up towards the window on an upper deck of the castle and she didn’t see the open cover of the well. One foot went down into it, and as she turned to try and stabilise herself, Craig’s foot swept around and kicked her other ankle. She dropped into the well, almost silently, a sound resembling a mouse squeak escaping her and no more. Read more

The Onyx Ring

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/04/14
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“Don’t move, and you won’t get hurt.”

The sawn-off barrel of the shotgun waves an inch from the bald man’s face.

“I’m sure we can come to some arrangement,” he says, smiling.

“Just give me the money,” the man shouts. “I just want the money.”

“How much money do you want?” the bald man asks. “And why?”

The man with the gun narrows his eyes a little. “Why do you want to know?”

“Because, as I say, I think we can come to some kind of arrangement. A quid pro quo, if you like.” Read more

The moon is full; I can feel it. I can feel the change in my legs, feel the skin ripping and tearing, the transformation beginning. The pain is almost unbearable for a few minutes as my legs change shape, my chest changes, the hair changes.

My family won’t recognise me any more. Even my thoughts are different, somehow changed along with my body. I’m cold. No clothes, of course. I must run but I can’t. Be careful, I tell myself – this is the danger time. Give them no sign. Slip away, quietly. It’s for the best.

There’s a wall around the side. I walk around there, climb it easily. So easy when I’m like this. I couldn’t normally. I’ve done this so many times. Read more

The March Society

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/31
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I’m writing this at Graham’s request, although not necessarily just for his consumption. Unlike him, I’m not a journalist so I don’t really know how this should work. After all, I only worked in the copy department.

Graham started as the music critic some ten years ago, when I was working there in the IT department – repairing PCs, fixing things, that kind of thing. Of course, working with my headphones on, and him being a music critic, the first thing he said to me was obvious: “what are you listening to?”

I don’t really remember what I was doing, of course – probably some printer driver issue or other. We had some very expensive printers around that time that used to give us endless trouble. I have no idea why we had them, except that some bright spark in accounting decided that they were the thing to have because they were some three or four pounds cheaper than something built like a tank that would last forever. That’s the trouble when you put the bean counters in charge, I reckon.

Where was I? Oh yes. I think it was Berlioz; probably “Symphony Fantastique”. Which surprised him, as he was expecting I’d be listening to nu metal or some such. We ended up talking about music while I attempted to make the infernal printer work. He enjoyed all sorts, from metal to Mozart, while my tastes where a bit more avant garde. But opera? Ah, that’s where the common ground really lay. Read more

The old man scratched at his beard as he walked. He looked through the bars of the cage, past the old lion, watching the sun going down on the horizon.

“Hey there, Leo old lad,” he said, softly. He billed himself as the gipsy lion tamer, of vaguely eastern European extraction, from a town no longer in the same country as his birth, no longer able to remember the language he spoke as a child yet still retaining a vague accent. The reality of an old man from west Yorkshire who decided one day to join a circus based on a Monty Python sketch wouldn’t, he’d decided, sell many tickets.

He sat down next to the cage, cross legged, and pulled the tobacco pouch out from his pocket. The lion shifted across the cage, and rubbed his ears against the bars. Rolling a cigarette with one hand, he idly scratched behind the lion’s ear with the other. Read more

This is the third part in a trilogy. If you haven’t read them yet, then I recommend reading “If, Never” and “Jenkins Is The Problem” first…

“What’s this?” Eric asked, looking through the recent photos.

Lusha looked away from her canvas and back at the screen.

“Hmm?” she pondered. “Looks like the building over the road.”

“Not that,” Eric zoomed in, pointing at the screen. “Here.”

In the window, clearly visible now, were a man and a woman kissing.

“Oh yeah,” Lusha giggled. “Didn’t see that when I took it.”

“Knew that SLR was good,” Eric said. “Told you it was, didn’t I? Costs a bit but we’ve never had anyone return one yet.” Read more

Grimgreen

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/17
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , , | 4 Comments

“Now,” said a voice behind Pluve, “I’m not saying double entry bookkeeping is just writing it down twice. I mean, y’know, it is, in a way, but…”

The gnome took his change and picked up the tray. “Excuse me,” he said, trying to elbow past the centaur, carefully holding the tray in both hands.

“Sorry, dude”, muttered the centaur , moving just enough to one side to allow Pluve past. The elf on the other side shuffled back a little, and murmered an apology when he backed into a troll.

“What I’m sayin’,” the centaur continued, “is that double entry bookkeeping right, it sounds like you just put everything in twice, but s’more complicated than that, right?”

“Uh huh?” responded the elf. Pluve cast a glance back as he put the tray down on the table and noticed that the elf looked even more drunk than the centaur, if such a thing was possible. Read more

Florence

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/02/10
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At the age of seventy-three, Florence felt she understood death. She didn’t really know very much about it, but she had heard the word. She had lost people. So she had some memory of it, some vague notion of yearning for souls lost.

There was no sunlight in this barn. No clear road. She felt age take her over. The air seeped from her tyres. Rust started to nibble the corner of her bodywork. Mice found ways in and shredded the stuffing of her red leather seats, once so shiny and proud, now home to a family of mice.

So this, she thought, was death. Not a sudden bang for her, just a slow fading. Read more