Month: May 2014

A name for yourself – To the imagination of dolphins and fantasy

Some writers’ names have becomes adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?

Well this is actually an easy one to write about because my nickname/pseudo-name has always been elvenc (it is even my email address!). This is an old story from circa 1996 when I was working at the Dolphin Reef and had a love for all things fantasy.

I love the ocean and dolphins were for me the personification of everything I loved about it. They are smart, friendly and are all around just great friends with you if you are willing. If you are not they will be very cruel to you.

Elven is actually a derivative of elf (like elvish languages etc). The c stands for sea. Put together you get the elven of the sea which are in fantasy at least seen as dolphins (although they can also transform into humans). 

A name for youself

 

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Weekly writing challenge list

So the challenge this time is to create a list and the rules are pretty broad so I first thought I’d write about places I went to but I didn’t really like that list so instead here is a directions list on how to fall and maybe even more important stay in love.

1) Always but really always say what you think and feel.

2) Do not always act out what you think/feel (common sense will help you along the way).

3) Listen to what the other side thinks/feels.

4)  Do not expect things to just go easily, things never do so be ready to reach a common goal together.

5) Believe in one another.

6) Don’t let foolish or petty things get in the way.

7) Whenever things get rough take a break, being together all the time is not always the best solution YOU time is very important. 

8) Enjoy things together just as much as you enjoy things alone, you should always be happy to see each other, if you don’t then figure out why that is. 

9) Live life to the fullest, argue shout but let everything out. Don’t leave things unsaid.

10) Do not hurt one another on purpose, causing pain never solved anything. 

Well that’s my list I honestly don’t know if its a good list I guess only time will tell, the one thing I can say about this list is that love like anything worthwhile takes effort, so don’t give up on it and don’t wait idly for it to just pass you by. Work for it and it will arrive and stay if you are lucky. 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/list-lesson/

 

 

Images of night part 6 – The forgotten

There is some discomfort as try to shift my body to a more comfortable position. Something is poking in my side and I sigh and open my eyes. I am in a ditch, a trickle of water runs next to me and there is a rock that is poking me in my side. I slowly getup and have a look around. It is a bright day and there is a paved street some way in front of me. Other than that there is nothing but some rocks and sand. I stare down at my hands, they are white and my cloth look to be a white t-shirt with some kind of picture on it, my pants are wide dark blue jeans.

I try to find out where and who I am. I search my memory for signs but it is empty, it is not amnesia as I remember other things. I know that I am wearing pants and that they are jeans, just like I know what a pavement is. But any memory regarding me or this location escapes me. I get out of the ditch and walk to the pavement. I go through my pockets for clues but they are empty from any possessions.

There are several people walking along the path in front of me, I try to approach them as casually as I can to find out if they speak a language that I can understand. To my relief they speak English and I can understand them. I wonder for a moment if I should ask them a question but it is with some annoyance that I don’t even know what I can ask. I struggle to find any clues about myself and about where I am, but at least I should be able to find the location I am in. I walk along the pavement for several minutes until I reach a large shopping centre. There I walk through the different shops until I find one that sells shirts, printed on them I see “I love Sydney” as well as “I’d rather be in Sydney” and several other similar types of shirts. It is clear that I have somehow landed in Australia, Sydney. I don’t know however if I’m a native or not or if I’m even missed by anyone or how long I’ve been gone.

I rub my temple in frustration and get several strange looks from the people around me, I decide to leave the shopping mall and find the next answers.  I need to find who I am and decide that the first thing I need to find out is if I belong in Australia. So I strike up a conversation with a girl that just happens to pass me by. She is wearing a short dress that has little yellow flowers on it. She has a brown tan and wears large black sunglasses. Her hair is dark blond.

‘Hello, I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question’

The girl looks at me, at least I think she does it is hard to tell with her glasses on. ‘If you are selling anything I am not interested’ she says.

‘No I’m not selling anything I am trying to figure out what my accent it’

‘Your accent?’

‘Yes, do you think I have an Australian accent or an American one or maybe an Asian one?’

She tilts her head slightly to the left before she finally says ‘I think it’s European. But it’s hard to tell, you seem to speak English very well but I can’t hear any specific accent. Does that answer your question?’

I’m slightly disappointed and maybe it shows on my face because before I can say anything she says ‘not what you wanted to hear huh?! Is there a reason why you want to know what kind of accent you have?’

With a sigh I go and blurt out my whole story which takes me only several minutes.

‘So you have nothing on you at all?’ she asks

I nod my ‘nothing, no papers, but it’s not really amnesia either because I know everything around me, I mean not this place I don’t remember Sydney but I know what the beach is and the sun and the sand, I know all these words and their meetings. I just don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen them, or felt them, I don’t even know if there is anyone waiting for me, here or anywhere else for that matter.’

‘Well why don’t you go to the police’ she asks.

‘I don’t know,’ I answer ‘maybe because they will think I’m a freak or something or a drunk and just kick me out without doing anything’

She tilts her head again and says ‘What if I go with you? Will that help?’

I stare at her slightly lost for words. ‘Would you?’ I ask to which she nods affirmative.

‘Oh thank you so much’ I say my gratitude bursting out; in my haste I grab her arm and shake it.

‘That’s quite alright’ she replies smiling. She leaves her hand in mine for a moment longer than is strictly necessary and then pulls her hand out of mine, she looks at my hands and focuses on wrist. ‘What is that?’ she asks pointing at my wrist.

I lift my wrist up to my face and look at something that resembles a tattoo of some sort. It looks like a snake or something tangling although I can’t see a head or a tail anywhere. The only thing I see is a green tightly spun web that turns all the way around my wrist. ‘I don’t know’ I answer ‘It looks like a snake to me’

‘Or a bracelet’ she says. ‘I am Julie’ she says and extends her hand.

‘Hi Julie’ I respond smiling ‘I would tell you my name but I lost it for now, so where to Julie?’

Julie takes me on a walk along the boulevard and from there we continue on into the city. The city is crowded, and a large variety of people are walking around. Young people, old people, middle-aged people from all colours and races. It is busy and for a moment I am distracted by all the noises and things that pass me by. Finally after about a twenty minutes walk, we arrive at the police station.

Inside there are several police officers standing and several others sitting behind desks in front of us, we assume that the first answers might be there. There are two women manning the front desk and they are chatting to one another without looking at me at all. They look incredulously generic, your typical policewomen. The one has brown hair and the other black hair, they are both in their late 30s early 40s and looks as though they have had the same job for a long time.

‘Excuse me’ I say to one of the women sitting at the first desk, disrupting their conversation, much to their chagrin.

‘Yes?’ answers the one with black hair.

‘I have a problem I need your help with’ I say trying to keep my voice from trembling. Julie holds my hand and gives me an encouraging smile. ‘A few hours ago I woke up in a ditch without any memory of who or where I am, I don’t have wallet on me or anything that could lead to an identity, the only thing I just found I have is this strange tattoo’

My story seems too generic even to me and the looks I get from the two women confirms that they do not believe my story or think they are part of a practical joke. They stare at each other not fully knowing what to do.

‘So what do you us to do about it?’ asks one of the women.

‘How about your job?’ says Julie clearly irritated. ‘You should be filing at least some paper work, check to see if there is missing person report or maybe get his fingerprint or something to see if he matches with anyone?’ Julie spouts all the points out like a machine gun and the two ladies were clearly not ready for it, because the one starts to scribble notes and types things on the computer while the other leaves the desk quickly and goes inside one of the offices in the station for whatever reason.

The black haired women finished writing something on her computer and turns back to us. ‘I have filed your story into our data and we will see if something comes up, could you give your contact details please?’ she says.

I know it is foolish but I let out a sigh of frustration, I have just explained to her that I woke up in a ditch somewhere without any recollection to who or what I am, how could I possibly have any contact details?! Before I can say anything Julie answers ‘Ocean drive 20/13, phone number 45235364’

The woman notes it down and I stare at Julie in surprise. ‘What are you doing?’ I whisper to her.

‘Well I can’t let you sleep out on the street can I?’ she replies smiling.

‘But you don’t even know me?’ I answer ‘I mean I don’t even know me, what if I am a really bad person or something?’

‘Don’t worry about it’ smiles Julie ‘I have a good feeling about you, so don’t worry about it alright?!’ with that the matter is closed, during this little exchange the black haired women just stares dumbfounded at us, she doesn’t react though which is a minor comfort. The brown haired women walks back to the desk and trailing behind her is a large man. He has a beard and is very nearly bald except for a small patch of hair just above his ears on both sides of his head.

‘Hello’ he says extending a hand to me and Julie which we in turn shake. ‘I am detective Jasper if you two could please follow me, I would like to get your complete story and start working on it’

He leads us to a small white office without any windows or decorations on the wall; there is a desk with a computer and a chair behind it and two chairs on the other side of the desk. Other than that the room is empty, and very plain. Jasper motions for us to sit while he takes a seat behind the computer.

‘Alright,’ he starts ‘Let me hear your story again’

I sigh and recount my story once again. When I am done detective Jasper asks me where the ditch was exactly, he asks me how I found out where I was and how I encountered Julie, he also asks me if he could take my blood for a drugs and lab test as well as my fingerprints. I nod to everything the detective tells me to. Finally the detective adds ‘I would also like to have all the cloths you are currently wearing. It might prove helpful in our investigation.’

I look at the detective somewhat funnily. ‘But I have no other cloths with me, or money to buy anything’ I say somewhat panicky.

‘Oh don’t worry we will give you some cloths which you can keep, there is a dressing room here as well, but before we go there I’ll take your fingerprints and run it in our system.’

I nod and let the detective do his job. He takes my fingerprint and a swab from inside my mouth for DNA he says and with that in hand he leaves me and Julie in the room. Several moments later he returns with a pack of cloths which he hands to me, and tells me to follow him to another room. Once there he tells me to undress and waits there staring at me.

‘Are you going to stand there while I am naked?’ I ask.

‘Yes’ he answers ‘I need to see if there are any other things on you that will help the investigation’

‘Like what?!’ I wonder feeling slightly embarrassed.

‘Like if you are circumcised or not, or if you have any scars or had broken bones or other tattoos or piercings, any one of those could narrow down the search significantly’

I resign and remove my cloths, I stare at my body and I recognize nothing. Several details though are apparent. I am not circumcised, nor do I have any tattoos or piercings other than the one tattoo that I have on my wrist. I am relatively muscular, and it looks as though I can take care of myself in a fight. I have no bruises or anything like that I don’t have any birthmarks or beauty marks either. My skin colour is mocha brown and it is then that I realize that I don’t even know what the colour of my eyes is.

The detective stands in front of me examining every crevice in my body, once he is satisfied with the front he moves on and tells me to turn. I turn to face the white wall and when I do he gasps and mutters something.

‘What?’ I ask alarmed ‘Did you find something?’

‘I am not sure yet’ he answers cryptically. ‘Here get dressed’ he says handing me the bundle of cloths and quickly leaves the room.

I get dressed only after I try to see what it was that frightened the police officer, but without a mirror I can’t see what is hidden on my back.

Several moments later the police officer returns he is not as friendly as he was and he gives a pair of handcuffs. ‘Wear these’ he says coldly and hands me the handcuffs.

‘Why?’ I ask

He doesn’t answer, instead he just looks at me with hate and I am struggling to understand what it was that triggered this change, whatever was on my back it must have been bad. I decide not to resist and wear the handcuffs, I am led from the changing room down the corridor passing the office where I can see Julie standing waiting for me to return, she sees me pass and comes out of the office.

‘What the hell is going on’ she demands pointing at the cuffs.

‘This is none of your concern’ answers the detective curtly.

‘The hell it isn’t!’ she snarls but before she can do anything drastically the detective stops and faces her.

‘If you interfere in this investigation in any way, I will be obliged to arrest you for interfering with an ongoing investigation’ without waiting for a reply the detective continues walking leaving an angry but stunned Julie behind.

I say nothing instead I lower my head and decide to let whatever happens, happen. After several more minutes of walking, through a maze of corridors, we reach a small cell. It is all in white, with a large window containing door as its entrance and no other windows inside. There is a mirror above a small wash basin that looks remarkably clean in comparison to the small toilet that smells of sewer. Next to that there is a small bunk bed.

Without even waiting for the detective to close the door, I take off my shirt and try to look at what secrets my back holds. It takes several tries and I get glimpses of something that looks like text but it is nearly impossible to see what is written there. After a endless struggle of craning my neck to turn left and right in an effort to gain a glimpse of what is hidden on my back I give up frustrated and suffering from a mild pain in my neck.

I sit down on the bed and wait for whatever the future will hold. At first I try to make myself feel better, but my thoughts keep turning to Julie who is somewhere, I feel as though I have failed her. I am still not closer to finding answer and now am most likely not going to find one. My biggest friend in the world, my only friend in the world, Julie was now gone. I am alone; this feeling was even worse than waking up without the knowledge of who you are. The idea of losing your only connection to the world around you, was a million times worse than just not belonging to the world in the first place.

I don’t know how long I sit in that room, time seems to crawl past at a snail’s pace, and I reluctantly start to become more and more depressed. The door suddenly opens and in walks a police officer I haven’t seen before. He looks at me with disdain and says nothing, behind him another person enters he is wearing a white robe and has a little nametag on his coat which identifies him as Dr. Phil. He has a small tray with him. ‘I’m here to take a sample of blood from you’ he announces and sits on the bed next to me. The guard, which is what I assume the police officer to be, stands in front of us.

The Dr. Takes prepares a syringe and a tube, he then puts a strap around my upper arm and tightens it ‘Could you make a fist for me?’ he asks and I proceed to do as he asks. He then holds my arm and opens the sterile syringe packing and puts the syringe in a plastic entrapment. He then pushes the needle through into my arm and quickly connects a tube on the other side of the plastic thing. Blood pours out into the tube ‘you can relax your fist’ he says and I do. The Dr. removes the strap and fills the tube completely when it is full he takes a piece of cotton and alcohol and goes on to put some alcohol on the cotton. In one quick movement he removes the needle and places the cotton on the place where the needle had been, he asks me to apply pressure on it and goes onto close the syringe in a plastic wrap which he places back on his little tray. He takes a plaster and applies it to where I am holding the cotton in place and he tells me that I can let go.

‘Dr. is there anything you can tell me about what is going on?’ I ask him, but the guard quickly intervenes and tells me to be quiet. The doctor motions that he is sorry and leaves me alone in the room to wallow in pity.

Time seems to crawl again and I grow more and more anxious to find out what is going on. What did they find on my back? Did it actually give them information on who I actually was or was it that they got something else. I tried to figure out how long they were allowed to hold me in this cell before I was officially charged with something because for now I had no clue what was going on. It was this uncertainty that was the worst of all. This aggravating feeling that there was nothing you could do, the knowledge that they, the cops, knew something about you that you didn’t. Most likely this something was criminal in origin and based on the reaction of the detective and the way his attitude changed it was clearly something serious but what could be? Was I a drug dealer or something? Or maybe even worse a murder? But if so wouldn’t he know me instantly?

Whatever the answers, I at the moment, had nothing, all I could do was lie down in the bed and wait. The waiting was long and it felt like torture, I could imagine that if you have family or friends out in the world the wait is negligible but when you know nothing the wait is difficult, but maybe the wait is similarly difficult when you have family and friends waiting for you. The one big difference though is if you know why you are waiting, the uncertainty in sitting around waiting for something to come that you can only guess about, makes your mind spin out of control. I spend what feels like hours maybe even days in the room, it is hard to tell, the only thing I know for sure is that I get two meals while I wait. The two meals are horrible which at least tells me that I am used to eating good meals, or maybe just better meals.

After what felt like forever the door opened again, this time it is the detective I had met that opened it, detective Jasper.

I quickly rise to my feet ‘Please’ I ask nearly begging ‘you have to tell me what is going on.’

The detective stares at me and coldly says ‘follow me’.

Reluctantly I follow him along the corridors and finally into the same interview room I was in previously, only this time Julie is nowhere to be seen and I feel depressingly alone. He motions at the chair and I sit in it.

‘Alright, let me start by saying that you have no fingerprints’. He looks at me coldly as he says this, and I stare blankly back at him. I think he expects me to know what this means, but I have no idea. Finally he shrugs and says ‘the only people who don’t have any fingerprints are criminals’ he says quickly and before I can respond to this outrage he continues ‘I would like you to tell me your story’.

But I have nothing and so I start telling him the same story and I see a flicker of rage in his eyes, he bangs his fist on the table and says ‘I don’t believe you! You expect me to believe that a person without fingerprints or any documentation just wakes up? We ran your DNA and came back empty. You are unknown in all the databases we searched, you are negative in all the international databases and you are not missing. You are a nobody, that just leaves one thing: you are a criminal and a good one at that! So I will ask you again. Do you wish to adjust your story or spend several more days in the cell?’

I don’t know what to respond. I don’t even know what it all means, can it be that I am a master criminal without even remembering anything? I stare at the detective in astonishment. ‘Can’t it be that somebody did this to me?’ I finally ask. It is the only thing I can think of.

He looks at me with suspicion ‘why would anybody do this to you?’ he asks.

‘How should I know? Maybe because they did something bad and I am the perfect fall guy?’ I hazard a guess.

I can see the detective pondering the answer, he mulls it over and after some considerations says ‘if that is true than there is no crime yet, so even if what you say is true there is nothing to corroborate your story’

‘But I don’t know anything’ I cry out not able to contain myself anymore. ‘How can I just pull all this off, all I want to do is go home and I can’t even do that. And if I am the master criminal what kind of idiot would go to the police station with such a weird story in the first place? It makes no sense; please can’t you just help me?’ But it is clear that I am barking up the wrong tree. If I am hoping for sympathy I will not find it here, the detective just stares at me coldly and taps a pen on his desk.

Suddenly a knock on the door disrupts him and angrily he opens it. There is a muffled conversation and leaves me alone in the room. After a brief stop he comes back in and angrily he says ‘You have been released on bail’

‘Was I arrested?’ I ask him.

Instead of answering he motions for the door and says ‘get out of here, but we are not done you and me. You can count on that’

I feel like punching him in the face but I refrain and quickly leave the place hoping I will never set foot in that place again. Outside I see that it is early morning and I am greeted by an angel that is waiting for me, it is Julie and my heart loses a beat. I smile a big smile and run towards her.

‘You bailed me out?’ I ask in disbelief.

‘Of course I did!’ she responds ‘those idiots didn’t even charge you with anything and if they hold you for questioning they only have a very short time they are allowed to that without actually charging you with something so after a bit of shouting they had to release you. It still took them about 24h though’ She smiles a crooked smile and adds ‘I didn’t actually bail you out, I just sort of set the record straight the police can’t just do whatever they want without any regard for anyone’

I give Julie a heartfelt hug and we walk away. She leads me to her home which is a nice little flat no too far from the beach. Inside she tells me that she lives alone and that I am welcome to stay as long as I need to. I smile at her and feel my heart grow I tell her how incredible I think she is and that I can’t thank her enough. She just smiles and shrugs it away as though it was nothing. She makes me some food, croissants, bread, jam, nutella, cereals as well as some eggs all the makings of a good breakfast.  We sit down outside on the small porch and enjoy a good breakfast in the sun. Interestingly I don’t feel tired even though I haven’t slept the whole day, it is as I think about this that I suddenly remember my back. The momentarily bliss is fading and I feel a need to know what it was that firstly set that detective against me.

‘Julie’ I say as we finish our breakfast.

‘Hmm?’ she replied sipping from her coffee.

‘I need your help. The detective told me to take off my cloths and when he saw my back he became all weird, so whatever is written there has to be something significant, could I ask you to have a look at it?’

She looks at me with a strange look, but quickly she is back to her smiling self and she says ‘Sure no problem’

I thank her and go on to remove my shirt, but before I can do so, she stops me.  ‘Don’t you want to do that inside?’ she asks me.

I nod and we head back inside the house clearing the table at the same time. When we are done I remove my shirt and show her my back. For several moments I hear nothing, I turn back to face her. Her face is lowered she is not looking at me.

‘Did you see it?’ I ask.

Julie nods her head.

‘Well?’ I ask ‘What does it say?’

Julie slowly lifts her head and smiles a strange crooked smile at me. ‘Do you really want to know?’ she asks.

For a moment I have reservations about knowing, it seems like knowing what it is, will change everything, finally I look into her eyes and say ‘Yes’

Julie sighs ‘it says This man is a serial killer’ she says.

I look at her to see if she is joking, but she isn’t. Well that seems to clear up why the detective was so hung up to keep me locked up. ‘You don’t seem too frightened’ I say.

Instead of answering she just smiles, she leaves me standing in the living room and goes into one of the smaller rooms in the house, at first I stand there awaiting her return but after several minutes of waiting I walk into the room I saw her enter.

The room is dark and I walk on something that makes a rushing noise, I reach to left searching for the light switch and notice that my hand is touching plastic, the door then slams shut and a light is lit. I am in a room that is covered in plastic, there is a table in the middle of the room, and in front of me standing is Julie. She is wearing something that looks like a butcher’s frock and is holding a cleaver in her hand. ‘Oh I had such high hopes for us’ she says ‘but you are just like the others, you don’t even realize what a blessing it is not remembering, I have to remember everything all the time and now you will be the next link in the chain.’

I have no idea what she is talking about it but she is clearly mad, how could I have missed it? Does that mean that she was the one who wrote on my back or was it something else? I don’t wait to find out and try to head out of the door but it is locked. I pull with all my strength but it is of no use the door is locked.  

A sharp pain shakes me from the door and I face Julie, I try to remove something that is lodged in my shoulder blade, when Julie throws something metallic at me. I try to avoid it, but I’m not fast enough and the sharp metallic object hits me in my cheek. I feel warm blood spurting out, but for now adrenaline is my friend and the pain is still only dull. My shirt glows to my back but I don’t give it another thought I’m not sure what I can do when I see Julie is ready for another throw. I bend low hoping that a smaller target will be harder to hit, I am wrong and the metallic object now lunges squarely in my scalp sending shocks of pain through my body. This time Julie leaves me no time to recuperate and a barrage of sharp, small metallic pin like objects are thrown at me. Some bounce off my skin but most of them lodge deeply into my skin and it feels like I have hooks that pull me everywhere. The warm blood trickles from a hundred different places and I feel dizzy and numb.

A shriek that sends shivers down my spine reminds me that my torment is not over. I try to open my eyes and look at Julie, my right eye is useless one of the metallic objects has found its way into it and I am now blind. The pain is an everlasting torment and the eye is just one place that is pulsing, I lack the strength to scream, or shout all I can do is crawl on the floor and wonder why.

Julie stands above me I gaze at her with my left eye which although painful is still giving me a glimpse of the world around me; she has the cleaver in her hand. With horror I stare transfixed at her right arm which is now raising slowly into the air, soon it will be lowered and I will be no more, I can see that Julie is smiling manically and just before her arm descends I can hear her say ‘I should have left you in the police station than you would have still been alive, but then who knows when your memory would return. Luck was on my side my love’ she laughs as her right hand descends and the cleaver is lodged deep into my neck. I want to cry out but the air that was until now flowing into my throat is gone and I…

 

He pushes his finger out of his right eye, and rubs his eye trying to remove the pain, for some reason he feels his throat raw, he swallows several times hard and reaches down next to bed, where a bottle of water lies. He picks the bottle up and takes several big gulps of water before putting the bottle down again. He closes the top turns on to his other side and goes back to sleep…

The kettles on the tray

Mrs Whithers had a talent to select the most interesting and magical items available. It was a talent that cultivated on its own without any input or effort from her. She didn’t think about it or even tried to get better it she just naturally did. It was almost a logical extension of hers by now, that developed most likely from the many hours she had spent shopping through antique shops, an activity she enjoyed immensely. 

There were several kettles on the table, none of them had any similar characteristics, they had large snouts or small snouts, big or small handles and yet they all looked very much alike. It was strange how something so simple could be so different but have the same use. More than that it was as though all the kettles had a persona or a manifestation and it was this manifestation that was the same between all of them, allowing a certain shared consciences to grow between them.

Mrs Whithers stared at the kettles trying to choose one over the other and found it a very difficult task indeed. It had to be a kettle unlike the other ones naturally, if it was the same as all the others it would be just another kettle, what she wanted was a kettle with personality. But this was a new problem for her, in front of her stood not one but over a dozen kettles of all different shapes and sizes none of which was without character, but there was something about them that disturbed her. They way they seemed to almost share a connection between them a connection she could not see or even be a part of.

After much debate she decided the kettles were better off in someone else’s care and it might prove beneficial to leave them on the shelf in the antics shop and focus on other trinkets.

She had always enjoyed walking through the antique shop it was always a pleasant adventure that took her mind off the day to day problems, although her present day problems limited themselves to taking her medication and meeting with Mrs Ruth for tea and biscuits. She had prepared several biscuits and scones herself and planned on bringing those with her. Mrs Ruth never got out much anymore and this was at least one way to could catch up and chat about their respective families.

After walking through the shop for several more moments she found something that cought her fancy. It was a large glass dinning tray that looked like it was quite old. She stared at the price tag and decided that it would look great on her small living room table. Without a second thought she took the dinner plate in her hand and went to the cashier.

‘Good day Mrs Whithers,’ John was standing behind the cash register today. He was a short and slightly chubby guy, with short blond hair and dark brown eyes, ‘how can I help you today?’ he asked.

‘Just this dinner plate John’ answered Mrs Whithers.

‘Would you like me to gift wrap it for you?’ he asked.

This always annoyed Mrs Whithers, she had been coming to this very shop for more than a decade now and still even though she never answered yes to any of the previous times she still got asked if she would like her buy to be gift rapped. ‘No John, I would not like my dinner plate to be gift rapped if it’s all the same to you’ her answer oozed with sarcasm that was unfortunately completely lost on John who just smiled and nodded.

‘That will be 55 pounds’ he said with a large smile. His teeth were not all white Mrs Whithers noticed with disdain, a young man like that with bad teeth what had the world gone to when teeth were either so poor they looked as though might just fall out all by themselves or so white they shone like the sun or a very bright TL tube every time you opened your mouth. Mrs Whithers gave John his money and left the shop behind her John called ‘Have a nice day’

Her way home was uneventful and quite tiring it was a long walk and she regretted not taking her cane along. Even now she was as stubborn as a mule about certain things, when Jac was around things were different, he would comment to her about everything so frequently that at the end she would just do whatever he asked just to shut him up. In her heart deep down she knew the only reason he was commenting in the first place was for her sake, knowing full well that she wouldn’t complain about pain or any sort of ailment.

By the time she reached her home her body ached and she felt rather fatigued, she sat down on the sofa taking time to place the dinner plate on the small table and rested for several moments. Several moments grew slowly into several hours and by the time she got up again most of the day had come and passed, it was time to go and see Mrs Ruth. She took her homemade biscuits and scones and headed out to Mrs Ruth’s home a quick walk along the park.

At Mrs Ruth place they enjoyed a nice cup of tea and several delicious scones. Mrs Ruth complimented Mrs Whithers on her efforts and they both enjoyed a mildly relaxing afternoon.

            ‘What about your grandson Henry?’ Inquired Mrs Whithers ‘Is he still with that girl of his?’

            ‘No, unfortunately he is going through a bit of a phase I am told at the moment’

            ‘A phase?’ wondered Mrs Whithers.

            ‘Yes. A I the best there is and I can do whatever I want phase’

            ‘Ahh…’ answered Mrs Whithers knowingly nodding her head. ‘Isn’t he a bit old for that though’ she said pondering.

            Mrs Ruth nodded in agreement ‘he most certainly is, but you know kids nowadays are not the same lot we were, there are differences in education I supposed but it is more than that, I think it has more to do with the way people are today rather than before. Everything needs to be so much quicker today, and everything needs to be there available preferably yesterday, it is a crazy pace they live in.’

            ‘I always wondered about that, my grandchildren are in New-York so I don’t get to see them very often anymore, but I’m sure it will all turn out fine’

            ‘Did I tell you that Henry died?’ Mrs Ruth exclaimed suddenly remembering.

            ‘No, is that Mrs Ashton husband?’ Mrs Whithers asked.

            ‘No, Mrs Aston’s husband Ralph died a month ago during that strange hiking accident’

            ‘I thought he died from a heart attack’ Mrs Whitherd mused.

            ‘He did, but if you ask me there is something fishy about it’ Mrs Ruth answered looking at the sky in thought.

            ‘…Henry…’ Mrs Whithers gently reminded her friend

            ‘Oh yes, he died peacefully in his sleep two nights ago’ answered Mrs Ruth with a sly smile on her face.

            Mrs Whithers stared at her with incomprehension.

            ‘…in the bed of Mrs Topper!’ cried Mrs Ruth in triumph slapping her leg with her hand and regretting it as soon as she did so. She bruised easily and a small tap even was enough to leave a visible mark.

            ‘I didn’t even know he had an affair’ said Mrs Whithers feigning surprise.

            ‘Oh yes it was the buss of the street’ said Mrs Ruth proudly.

Mrs. Whithers, wasn’t much of a gossip, it wasn’t so much the fact she didn’t like gossiping but rather a carelessness that she had towards it. She knew Mrs Ruth enjoyed it immensely and every other day stories that were told once were told again, at first Mrs Whithers corrected Mrs Ruth whenever details were not completely accurate but when she realized this might prove less beneficial that letting Mrs Ruth tell her stories, she stopped correcting her all together, and contained herself to only a listening capacity.

The stories turned and turned and after two more hours of them it was time to say farewell. Mrs Whithers promised to visit again shortly probably several days from now, and headed back home. After the short walk through the park she arrived at the front door of her house, opened it and walked inside. She shut the door and went to sit on the sofa in front of her newly acquired tray.

Mrs Whithers sat there motionless for several moments staring at the tray in front of her. She wasn’t afraid, happy or confused, she was annoyed. In the tray in front of her was a pile of juicy red fruits she didn’t really recognize. At her age she didn’t really like surprises and definitely not ones that followed you home.

She got up and called the antique shop. ‘Antiques R, Y, U, love us, John speaking, how may I help you?’

Mrs Whithers didn’t like the way John pronounced the letters she preferred a word not to be shortcut to a letter but rather remain the word it was intended, or maybe evolve into a new word but not stripped from what it was intentionally and remain a broken shell of something resembling an incoherent sound. ‘John I’m sorry to say the tray is not going to work for me’ she said gravely.

‘Oh I am sorry to hear that Mrs Whithers, can I enquire as to the nature of your discontent?’ he asked.

‘Well it happened again’ she said by manner of explanation.

‘I see’ said John ‘I will be around later today to pick it up and put it with the others. Naturally we will reimburse you for your troubles’

‘Very well’ said Mrs Whithers casually ‘I will see you later then.’ She added and hung up.

She sat back down on the sofa and looked at the fruit, they looked very juicy, tender and most likely tasty. A sneaky smile crawled over her lips, reaching out to the corners of her mouth. It will still be some time until John shows up so why not make the most of it after all the fruit was there for the taking. She reached out her hand and grabbed hold of the juicy red fruit, it was soft and squishy just like a good ripe fruit should be. She took a large bite out of it the juice flowing into and out of her mouth on to her chin, her last passing thought was oh what wondrous flavour…

Chapter 2 – Entrance

Alright, try to think about this logically what was Josh doing just before he vanished? He was playing with her ring, the ring she got from the cereal box. He was trying to get it off when he was suddenly whisked away. Did the ring take him somewhere? If that was it then she had to find another ring like it and that would lead her to the same place. Whatever that other place was she was sure she could get him out of there, she had some money on her all she needed to do was to go to the shopping centre and find some cereal boxes that contained the ring. School was now an afterthought and she quickly left the school yard to find another ring.

It was a quick walk to the supermarket where Anna bought a pack of cereals. The pack looked the same and there was nothing there that made the pack looked different. Excited she walked out of the supermarket and sat on a bench in front of it. She opened the cereal box from the bottom of the pack instead of the top, it was a little trick her dad taught her. The toy is usually heavier than the cereals he used to say, so when the pack is moved from the factory to the supermarket it finds itself at the bottom of the pile. At the bottom of the pack she could already make out a price, she quickly opened the bag and took out the toy.

She stared at the toy in surprise it wasn’t a ring like she expected it to be but rather a small red toy car made from plastic. How was she supposed to use the car to get to where Josh was? The ring was a simple matter, at least she assumed it was an easy matter, she just had to put it on her hand and that would be that, but with the car things were more complicated. Assuming that car even worked and got her to the same place what was she supposed to do with it?

Anna closed the cereal box and put the car on the bench next to her and ran it back and forth. She stared around her hoping that perhaps something would have been different but it was all the same. The bench, the supermarket everything was the same, she hadn’t left and was still stuck in the same boring reality while Josh was lost somewhere. She tried to think about it a bit further, what would Josh do if he found himself in a strange place? He would most likely just cry or be utterly useless. He was hopeless without her, she was sure that it was her only option. She had to help him somehow she had to find a way to get to him to save him from whatever horror was assailing him right now. Secretly she was hoping he needed her, she tried to reassure herself that nothing too bad was going to happen to him but that he would be just scared enough that he would need her to save him. For that she needed to get to him however.

She got up and walked back into the supermarket, she needed to buy another pack of cereals and try to get one that had the ring in it. She entered the supermarket and was surprised to see that it was empty. She was just there and although it wasn’t very busy there were several cashiers and several costumers walking through the shop. Now she stood there on her own.

She walked through the empty supermarket, looking for costumers, workers or any at least someone that could confirm that they were just there. She sat only moments on the bench it was impossible for everyone to leave while she sat there. And why would the cashier leave? It made no sense. She passed aisles and rows of products but she could find no people anywhere. If they were here they were hiding very well. She wasn’t afraid of the sudden change only surprised. She walked to the cereal aisle, if there weren’t any people around she might be able to get the ring she needed. She went to the cereal the she ate this very morning and reached out to grab it. She gasped in horror as her hand went right through the box as though it wasn’t there. Anna stared at her hand in shock and when she was reassured that her hand was really there she stared at the cereal box, it looked just like any other cereal box. It was blue with a large white bowl on the cover and a slogan in red and the price in every box caption.

When the fear had settled a little and she was now sure that nothing would attack her and that she was more or less safe for the moment at least she reached out for the cereal box again. Again her hand passed right through it, as though it stopped existing on this plane of existence, or maybe there was something else going on. She tried to touch other things in the supermarket but she couldn’t. Everything was rooted to its place and she could touch nothing.           Fear slowly crept back into her heart like a leech tugging at her, what could she do now? What would she eat or drink? She couldn’t hold a book in her hands anymore, or play videogames or even use the toilet.

Maybe it was a joke? She thought hopefully. Yes that must be it why else would there be no one around. The whole shop or aisle at least must be a hologram or something. Maybe a projection of some kind aimed to trick me.

‘Ha good try! But I got you now’ she called out to no one in particular expecting people to jump out from behind hidden areas in the shop and shout surprise or something. Although it wasn’t her birthday and she was now actually breaking the rules by not going to school, her little break was now no longer a little break but rather skipping class…

She waited several more moments until she decided to give up on waiting for someone to jump out of his or hers hiding place. If they didn’t do so already it meant that whatever was happening to her was most likely real. Another thought occurred to her, what if the things that happened around her weren’t actually happening to the things but rather to her? Maybe she was now where Josh was? If that’s the case then she needed to get her toy back, the little red car, she left it on the bench outside. She had a nagging suspicion that it was too late though.

Outside the world was still, the wind, birds, cars and all manner of sounds and smells were incredulously absent. She did let it get to her and continued to walk towards the bench, she saw the pack of cereal sitting there and next to it was the little red car.

She bit her lip and reached out to hold the car in her hand. Her hand slipped right through it. How stupid could she be? She just lost her only way back out of this… whatever this was.

When Josh vanished she was jealous of him, she thought he must have disappeared to a miraculous place filled with wondrous animals, beasts and many other rarities only available in her own imagination. But now that she was here she couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed. There was nothing of what she wished for, and worse still she was all alone without the ability to interact with anything and the strangest part of all was the people. Where did they all run off to? Why couldn’t she see them or interact with them at least?

She clutched her head in frustration, how could I have been so stupid? She cried. She wasn’t alone Josh went to this strange place too right? So he must be somewhere next to the school, or maybe he went home when he couldn’t find anyone, she decided not to think about it and headed out to the school.

It was eerie the way the streets were empty of all the people. It wasn’t just the people though, there was nothing alive anywhere, no animals or at least no pets and birds, she didn’t check the zoo but she assumed that they were similarly empty. As she continued down the street to her school she realized that the absence of people and animals was only one part of the strangeness around her. She didn’t notice it before but as she was walking she noticed that there was no air around her, it wasn’t the wind that just stopped blowing but rather the air itself that was strangely still. She tried to take a deep breath expecting to hear the suction of air into her lungs but when she took a deep breath she noticed that no air was coming into her lungs. There was no air for her to breath. She wasn’t dead though she was sure of that and even if she was dead then where were all the other dead people? She didn’t know how many people died, but she knew that history was only about people that died, so the streets should be packed with people and not empty.

It was the same with sounds. There were always sounds around, from cars driving around and the people chatting or walking or listening to music but now it was as though all the air and noise was sucked away and she was walking through a plastic replica of her world.

There were other things as well that kept nagging her, things that were not normal but she couldn’t tell what they were. One of them though clarified when she looked up, she didn’t notice it at first because she hardly ever looked at the sky anymore, not like when she was younger, she used to love looking at the sky then she could spend days doing nothing else. For a moment the sky seemed normal she could see clouds and a big ball of fire and light above it slightly blinding her, on closer inspection though the sky seemed very different. The normally white or grey clouds weren’t white at all they were dark black and the sun was a strange mixture of colours. It looked like there was some brown and black there but also some dark green or blue, she couldn’t really tell but it hurt her eyes to look at it too long which made it at least a little similar to the normal sun. She knew now without a shadow of a doubt that she wasn’t home anymore, that this wasn’t her world but a mirror image of it.

When she reached the school she first went to the back of the school to where she and Josh sat down when he vanished. The place was empty, no sign Josh was ever there.

Alright she thought if I was Josh where would I go? Her first thought was actually where is that good for nothing fool, but she then thought that that wasn’t very nice and that she had quite a fright herself when it first happened to her. Although Josh was now much longer here then she was so maybe he lost hope of ever going out, or maybe he put the ring on and off again and got out of this place, leaving her stranded here. She pinched herself painfully in her arm for allowing herself to think that way and went back to the front of the school.

From the corner of her eye she thought she saw something move, she turned to look at it, but there was nothing there. She shrugged and walked into the school. She walked up the stairs and straight to her classroom, she walked quickly and got to her classroom in no time. She opened the door and looked inside. The room was empty, it was a strange sight she never saw the classroom empty before. There was always someone there when she arrived at school it was scary to see the class ready for a lesson but without pupils to fill the chairs or a teacher to stand in front of it.

Anna quickly closed the door and walked down the hallway, could she have missed Josh? Was she now stuck here forever? The thought never entered her mind but now she had nothing to hold on to. She hated to admit it but she had put her hope on Josh, he was supposed to be here, he was supposed to be the one to take her back, so where was he? Did he go back already when she went to get the car from the supermarket? If that’s what happened then this was it, her life was over.

She broke down and sat on the floor in the middle of the hallway, tears were now running down her face she couldn’t control them and they fell in large puddles on the floor. Her thoughts swirled between her family and the few good friends she had, now forever lost, which only increased the flow of the falling tears that were now accompanied by all out crying.

She suddenly stopped, there was something wrong. Fear came over her again and she quickly got up, something made her stop a noise or a movement of some king. She listened carefully and heard a clinking coming from somewhere in front of her. She walked slowly but steadily to the origin of the sound. She stopped in front of a maintenance cupboard and slowly opened the door. Inside cowering in the corner sat Josh, his head held down his body rolled into a ball. Anna’s emotions ran from happy to pity to simple confusion in seconds.

‘Josh?!’

Josh slowly lifter his head and stared surprised at Anna. ‘Anna?’ he ventured.

‘Yes silly. What are you doing in the maintenance cupboard?’ she asked.

He looked at her closely and asked ‘were you crying?’

‘No I wasn’t’ she said a little too quickly and tried to wipe away the remainder of the tears that were still there. ‘More importantly what are you doing?’

Josh suddenly shook himself as though he forgot something important and grabbed hold of Anna. He pulled her into the cupboard.

‘Hey what do you think your doing?’ she called angrily.

Josh motioned for her to be quiet. ‘Did you see the shadows yet?’ he asked.

‘What shadows?’ she asked. It was then that she realized what had been disturbing her this whole time. There were no shadows, although the trees and buildings were all there as well as a fake sky, they cast no shadows, it was only now when Josh had mentioned it that she noticed that they were strangely missing, there were no shadows anywhere.

‘The shadows move here, at first I thought there were no shadows but that’s not true there are shadows you just notice them at first’

Anna looked at Josh he seemed so sad so fragile. ‘What happened to you?’ she asked.

Josh looked at her and then past her to a place only he could see. ‘I was sitting on the bench and then I was here. I thought it was a trick or something but when you didn’t come back I headed back to class but I found no one there. I thought maybe I would just wait for my dad to come and pick me up that’s the first time I noticed the shadows. At first they follow you from the corner of your eye keeping just out of sight almost like they are studying you. But then they stop following you and try to attack you, several of the shadows chased me down the building until I found this maintenance closet and hid in it’.

‘Don’t worry Josh’ Anna said ‘they won’t attack the both of us right?’ she asked trying to reassure him.

He looked doubtful ‘I don’t think that’s how it works’

‘More importantly, do you still have the ring?’ she asked him.

Josh looked at her blankly.

‘The ring you took from me!’ she said angrily losing her calm.

Josh seemed to remember and reached with his right hand into his jeans pocket and pulled out the ring, silently he handed it over to Anna.

Anna looked at the ring pleased with herself. Now they could both get out of this strange place. She opened the closet door and got out.

‘Wait’ called Josh ‘it’s dangerous out there’

‘Don’t worry with the ring we can go back home now!’ Anna said smugly.

‘Really?’ asked Josh a glimmer of hope returned to his eyes.

Anna put the ring on her finger, now all she had to do was rub, or hold the ring like Josh did and she would be back home. But what about Josh, she had to take him with her somehow. Suddenly from the corner of her eye she saw something move, she turned to face it and saw a shadow move quickly towards her. This was what Josh had been talking about; she pushed the fear down and swallowed hard, if only she could get the ring to work for both of them they would be out of there. Shadows were now visibly moving out of their own accord towards her she stared for a moment in pure shock, she was surrounded by shadows that started walking or crawling or gliding towards her. Next to her Josh was shaking visibly.

Anna grabbed Josh with one hand and told him to grab hold of her. Josh very slowly as though he was dazed grabbed her arm.

‘This should work…’ She said out loud trying to comfort herself as much as Josh but Josh wasn’t looking at her his gaze was focused on one thing only a large shadow that looked like it was standing in front of them. Anna then held the ring like she saw Josh do and pulled it slightly…

The cereal adventure

Chapter 1 – The ring

“Look at this” exclaimed Nora “there is a ring in the cereal box!” She was sitting at the table in the kitchen filling a bowl with cereal when the ring fell out.

“Yes, honey. There should be” replied her father. He was facing the kitchen sink and didn’t turn around “it says so on the box, price in every box, right?” 

Nora looked at the box. It did say that in big bold letters A Price in every box. She wasn’t sure they meant this though. The ring she held in her hands had a metallic yellow-silver like colour to it. It shone and gleamed when light hit it, it had a little rock in it or was it a mineral, she didn’t really understand the difference between the two her mother even referred to the diamond in her ring as a rock so they were most likely the same thing anyway. The rock was golden it looked like molten honey had hardened on it and she thought that if she focused on it properly enough she could make out a few darker things. She thought it was beautiful. She put the ring carefully in her pocket and poured milk into her cereal bowl. When she finished eating she headed out the door took the bus and arrived at school.

She wasn’t late, well that wasn’t true she was hardly late when she arrived at school. The teacher had just closed the door by the time she got there, she tried to sneak in unnoticed but that couldn’t really work, as soon as she opened the door the teacher noticed her and she got scolded by her teacher and distraught sat down in her seat at the back of the class next to the window. It was a long lecture about something, it started with numbers and variables and she quickly lost interest. Whenever that happened she would start drifting to her favourite place in the world. Her imagination, it was the only place that was truly hers and whenever she felt like the world was uninteresting she would go for a walk there. There was nothing in her imagination that she couldn’t do and there was nowhere that was out of bounds for her. Her inspiration was always a mixed bag of graphic novels, books and television, although it could really be anything at all. 

***

“Dr Richard reeves?”

“Yes” answered a man wearing a large white coat without looking up from his big wooden desk.

“I am Anna your new secretary; you hired me several days ago. Today is my first day” said a timid woman wearing a short skirt and a vest.

“Oh yes” he looked up from his desk and got up with a hand extended. “Nice to see you again I’ll show you to your desk. Its right down here” he said and started walking down the corridor expecting Anna to follow. He took her to a desk and motioned her to sit, I already linked computer up to the network actually the technical service did that. It should all be ready for use” he stated looking deep into her big brown eyes. She was mesmerizing; her large eyes sucked him in as though they were incredible passageways into a secret and beautiful place. He had to hold himself in check as he noticed he was inching closer to her in order to kiss her. “If you have any questions I will be in my office” he added and walked away.

Anna sat behind her desk looking at her screen she didn’t move for several moments, did she just imagine or did Dr Reeves just try to kiss her. Just the thought made her blush, he was a well respected man but more than that he was good looking and she felt very much attracted to him. Maybe she should just try and chat him up, but something told her that if he really wanted to he would have kissed her when he had the chance. So she figured the best way to play it is by just letting it go and do her work to the best of capabilities. She turned back to her screen and looked at the screen, Dr Reeves was a very busy man, and his calendar was something of a challenge as there were no spaces in it at all and many people were sending emails with requests to have a meeting, it took her quite some time to get them sorted.

The sound of the phone put that on hold. It was Dr Warner who called to ask if Dr Reeves had left the results of a certain patient with her; she replied that he hadn’t and that Dr Reeves would be back in half an hour.

***

“Anna?”

“Hmm?”

“Anna…”Anna slowly opened her eyes and looked up. The teacher was standing next to her desk looking down, an expression of earnest anger on his face. “What did I tell about falling asleep during my class?” he asked his voice clearly angry.

Anna looked down ashamed “I’m sorry Dr. Reeves I promise it won’t happen again”

“Dr Reeves?” he asked looking at her in confusion.

“I mean Mr. Reeves” she corrected herself quickly blushing slightly.

“Very well, just pay attention from now on alright?”

She nodded vigorously. He left her desk and walked back to the front of the class.

“Alright where were we…” he asked rhetorically and continued explaining a certain formula he had drawn on the blackboard.

Anna breathed a sigh of relief and tried to focus her attention on the lesson, a task that was very difficult to her. She hated math and although she did like Mr Reeves, math was just boring to her, all those numbers never made any sense and at the end even if she had understood how to solve a formula she still couldn’t apply it to her question correctly without forgetting some step along the way. The worst part of it was that she actually did try, she wanted to be good at math but it seemed like a forlorn dream to her, a dream that had long passed. She would be happy enough just passing the exam.

“Psst, anna” whispered a voice from her right.

She turned to face Josh who was sitting at his desk next to her. He was a scruffy looking boy and she didn’t care for him much, he was always trying to talk to her though. “Yes?”

“Do you know what he is talking about?” he asked pointing at the teacher.

She sighed didn’t he just notice what happened? He seemed to be even more of a space cadet than me she thought. “Of course I don’t”

“Oh. That’s a shame. I thought you could explain it to me after school maybe” he looked slightly ashamed. Was he asking her out? She didn’t reply and just went back to focusing on the lesson with occasional pauses to look out of the window.

Outside it seemed like the world was infinitely more interesting than the real world, outside the world was breathing, there was action adventure and suspense everywhere. There were so many things to do, so many things to see, but hear in the real world you had to sit through boring math classes. Outside even a fallen leaf had his adventure struggling to stay afloat so that it wouldn’t feel any pain when it eventually landed on the ground, only to be whisked away by the wind to an unknown destination. Everything outside seemed so much more interesting then the classroom that she didn’t mind even switching places with a tree leaf. The only nice thing about the class was Mr. Reeves. She didn’t much like the other boys in her class they were all so childish but Mr. Reeves was different, he was a real gentleman. She could tell by the way he spoke that he was nice and gentle man, he could be stern but he would never raise his voice. He had a commandeering timber in his voice that would lead everyone around him to just forget all about challenging him. It wasn’t fear or anything like that it was a sort of respect. She thought it was the combination of his voice and his eyes the timber in his low brisk voice and his dark green eyes that pierced you through with their gaze that did the trick. Or maybe it was something else, he had so many good qualities it was hard to chose something that made him so formidable.

When the long lesson was finally over, she sneaked outside for a quick breath of fresh air. She walked out the front doors of the school and headed to the back where there were several trees some bushes and a few benches located in a neat corner. She headed straight for the bench in the middle where she could see the trees and sat down; she took several deep breaths when a voice startled her.

“Hi Anna, what are you doing?”

She quickly turned around and only marginally calmed down when she saw that it was Josh. “Hello Josh, what do you want? Did you follow me?” She asked him bluntly.

He smiled cheekily and nodded.

She could get angry with him for following her but what would be the point he was clearly a  foolish boy so she resigned and said “You can sit on that bench over there” she said motioning to the bench in front of her.

His smile beamed at her and he quickly sat in front of her happy and content. Josh was staring at her, as if he was expecting her to do some tricks for him. He looked just like a puppy she thought his brain probably worked like one too. The way he was staring at her made her uncomfortable and to distract herself from it she put her hand in her pocket and fiddled with the ring she got from the cereal pack. Josh continued to stare smiling although he was now also looking at the hand that was hidden in her pocket.

“It’s a ring I found in a cereal pack” she muttered taking out the ring. Why was she explaining this to him?

Josh looked at it closely “Can I hold it?” he asked.

Carefully she handed the ring over to him. He stared at it fascinated and then without waiting for her permission he put the ring over his finger.

“Wow this is neat” he said.

“I didn’t tell you that you could put it on your finger did I?!” she called angrily.

“I’m sorry I just thought it was a cool ring. I’ll take it off if you want” he quickly put a finger on the rock and another on the other side so that he could pull it off. “I promise, I didn’t mean to upset you I…” Josh couldn’t finish his sentence because he wasn’t there anymore.

Anna stared in shock but there was no one there. In a moment Josh just disappeared, he was standing right there in front of her and now he was gone. It must be a trick, she looked around trying to locate him somewhere “Josh this isn’t funny. Where are you?” she screamed, but there was no response, Josh vanished from the face of the earth.

Alright, try to think about this logically what was Josh doing just before he vanished? He was playing with her ring, the ring she got from the cereal box. He was trying to get it off when he was suddenly whisked away. Did the ring take him somewhere? If that was it then she had to find another ring like it and that would lead her to the same place. Whatever that other place was she was sure she could get him out of there, she had some money on her all she needed to do was to go to the shopping centre and find some cereal boxes that contained the ring. School was now an afterthought and she quickly left the school yard to find another ring. 

Fraud

Fraud in any field is looked upon with dismay and serious consequences are usually attached to any such act. However, there is one serious exception to this rule, or at least this is what I feel. This exception is science. Let me draw you the picture, in science you do a certain research test certain hypothesis and at the end of the line are not judged on the actual work you did but rather on the result that came out of that research. Sometimes its not even the result, you could have a brilliant result that change the world but the world won’t believe you and so they won’t publish it. This is what you as a scientist are judged by, the publication. If it is a good one and you are in a group that is known it should be ok, if you are not things will get tricky and it might not be that easy to get your research published.

The fact remains that research is judged only by the publications and that journals will publish positive results but hardly ever negative results. Therefore if you conduct a research project that at the end generates no results then you have failed. This is the basis I believe of all misconduct, the thought that something should work you just didn’t get it right yet, or the system you are using is not optimal enough etc. A recent survey showed that between 0 and 94% of university students commit academic fraud. Link here

Readers who are following retraction watch know that fraud is a lot more common then people would like to admit. Interestingly though the people who commit fraud are rarely punished severely for their actions. Let me give you an example why this annoys me. Dr A is researching multiple sclerosis, for this he is faking some results gets a grant for 200,000 dollars to conduct further research on the subject. Now this Dr, turns out to have committed fraud the worst that can happen is his PhD is taken from him and tadaa that’s it.

He basically stole money, faked results, put research in the field of multiple sclerosis back several years because people are reading his work, draw conclusions from and adapt their work to incorporate all the recent findings. The precautions can be immense and can reach all the way to the patient. It is this that for me means that the punishment for fraud should be more severe. It is not enough to just give a slap on the wrist and strip that someone from their title (if that even happens. In many cases that does not occur because strictly speaking the research might not have to do with the PhD thesis). The science process is not an easy one, it is filled with many hills that make it hard to get through. There are many challenges on the way to becoming a scientist (the low salary, the long hours of work, the loan you had to take to pay for everything) and I think those should be taken into account. However, it does not make fraud even remotely ok.

Science is the way we can further our understanding and develop new and better tools to deal with the world around us. That can be through better health care or new technology and so on. There are efforts all around the world to help the world around us survive into the future projects that strife to keep all plants in the world for example like the kew project. Just think about it this way if half the seeds that are collected are fraud what would happen… 

Images of night part 5 – The storyteller

5 – The Storyteller
Part I
There are columns surrounding me. I am lost among the thousands maybe millions of the white bricked pillars. There are exactly 5 steps that separate me from one pillar to the next. I can see no ending to them; they are to my left, to my right, in front of me and even behind me. The floor is made of the same white brick, or marble I am unsure, and even though I can not see where the light is coming from it is there none the less. I begin to run, hoping to find some kind of door to exit this place, but there is nothing.
I sit down on the stoned floor and listen, trying to find a noise that will tell me where I am and what I am to do here. But there is nothing, no noise, no change in the light, nothing to steer me one way or the other. The temperature does not shift and stays at a comfortable room temperature, although I see nothing to regulate it.
An echo resonates through the strange room or hall it is that I am in. I quickly get up and try to hide behind one of the many pillars, for although I know not what has caused the sound it fills me with fear.
The noise is closer to me now it is a growl, a beastly roar that lacks any sign of humanity. I shudder at the thought of what it might be. I try to hide somewhere but there is no such place, and so I cower closer to one of the pillars waiting for the inevitable to come.
The growl sounds as though it mocks me, as if it is more a snarl than a growl, it is now so close that I dare not breath for fear of it hearing me. My heart beats are so strong that I imagine it can hear them, and that is when I finally see it. Two large legs covered in fur step just ahead of one of the pillars, I can see their hooves and as they move forwards they remind of the hind legs from a bull, it is then that I see the torso. Like the legs it is covered in fur it has large muscular arms and three large fingers, resembling an animal’s paw more than a human hand. The large chest then moves forward to reveal the face. I am rooted to the floor with fear, for the face I see before me is the face of the devil. Two large black horns protrude from a large dense skull resembling a cross between a human and a bull. It has a large nose with two large holes that seem to breathe out steam instead of air, as if the heat in the creature I see before me is too hot, thus turning the water it stores into steam which is let out through the incredibly large nostrils. Its mouth remains slightly open as it can not close for all the sharp teeth that grow from the creatures massive jaws.
The creature stares right at me and I can do nothing but stare back at him. He opens his mouth and cries to the heavens, a cry that sounds like a terrible rumble that starts low in the stomach and boils into the mouth with a deafening blow. It lifts one leg up and starts shuffling it as in preparation to charge at me.
Without another sign he springs forward towards me and the movement even though I expect it catches me in surprise in its speed and ferocity. I manage to stumble out of the way at the last moment as the beast comes crashing into the pillar his horns in front blocking his eyes from seeing me stumble away. The power and strength behind the horns is magnificent, with a trash and a shake of the beasts head the pillar tumbles down to rubble, it is almost as though the pillars are made of chalk and not marble. If I hadn’t touched the pillars myself I would have doubted my own eyes.
I stumble on to the next pillar and then the next trying to put as much distant between me and the beast as I can, hoping that by doing so the beast will crash into more pillars which might somehow daze him. Although the hope of that is stretched remarkably thin in view of how little the last pillar affected the beast.
A roar warns me that the beast is upon me again and that it is ready to charge, I try to remember the story how did the hero slay the beast and I look down to see nothing but a short skirt and sandals. No weapon of any kind and nothing resembling a chance.
I turn to watch the monster dash at me the horns are much closer then I had anticipated… too close, I misjudged the distance of the roar, the beast is almost upon me and all I can do is stare at the horrible big horns in front of me. A flash of movement flickers and I see something fluttering in the background behind one of the pillars, but I have no time to reflect on what I have seen with a gut wrenching movement one of the horns tears through my body cutting through my stomach and intestines as though they were nothing more than paper. The horn is stuck into the pillar and I feel the life gushing out of me, I become light headed and the pain that started as an overbearing feeling fades into nothingness. I lack the strength to hold my head up high and my last sight is that of my blood splashing downward along the white horn and onto the white marble floor. Flash

Part II
I walk through what always appears to me to be the endless streets of the city, the corridors of life, the veins and arteries that supply the city with the much needed sustenance. The rows of streets seem endless and at first I am but one of the many in the crowd that walk it. There are literally hundreds of people walking up and down the busy roads, each person most likely with a destination and a story to tell. I am at ease and the walking rhythm that guides all the people in the street at a specific pace takes me along with it. It takes me to known locations, easy to find places that I know and have always known until inevitably I reach my destination. I think of all the people I pass the face that stare at the ground or dead ahead and even some that stare at others. As I walk onwards lost in my thoughts I forget all about the way and bump hard into a person in front of me. I mumble an apology as the person turns around, his face flashing in anger his jaw locked firm and I swallow hard as I think of the inevitable punch I am about to receive. Surprisingly though the person does not punch me. He turns his eyes look straight at me but pass on as though I was not even there. After a few more stares he gives up finding the person who bumped into him lets out an irritated grunt and walks onwards. I stare dumbstruck after him and look at all the other people around me. It is then that I notice that the people are automatically walking around me as if there was some sort of barrier erected around me. Something causes them to walk around me without actually seeing me.
I decide to put my theory to the test and start taping people on the shoulder and talking to them. Interestingly, their reactions are very similar. Most turn and look for the person who tapped them on the shoulder and fail to hear or see me, while others turn make a swatting like movement as though I was a fly and quickly go on their way. No one however sees me, hears me, or even registers that I exist. I am no more.
I walk lost in thought trying to find an answer to this problem but I am lost who can I ask if I cannot communicate with anyone? Who can I rely on to help me solve my problem? I decide that the only way I can find the answers is by going to people that I know. There should be some evidence there that I have at least existed, or they should at the very least know about me, if they cannot see or hear me.
I decide to take more drastic measures and decide that the next person to pass next to me will not get a pet on the shoulder but rather a harder hit, maybe a punch. The next person that passes me gets a hard shove in the back that sends him flying forwards much to my amusement. He fails however to see me, and after apologizing to his fellow passerbyers and all those he has hit he quickly gets up and walks away. I decide to try something similar again as it seems that I can hit people and my touch does not pass through them as it would a ghost and thus it affects them even though they cannot see me or hear me. Another larger fellow passes close to me and I push him lightly on his shoulder. He immediately turns to look, but when he sees nothing he walks away, glaring backwards. I shout as loud as I can to him, but without any reaction. Nothing happens no one acknowledges my existence I am gone. Maybe this is not just here but rather a foreboding that I am gone, erased from existence all together. I decide to put this theory to the test and am still rather calm and conserved. I stop at the house of my best friend and walk to the door I ring the bell and wait. Paul should be home by now it the afternoon and we were supposed to meet at his place to go for lunch. The door opens and Paul stares outside looking for the person that rang the bell. He sees no one.
‘Rotten kids’ he mutters and shuts the door.
I quickly slip in just before the door closes and walk into the living room where there should be at least several pictures of me with Paul and other friends at our numerous nights out. There I should have my evidence. I smile triumphantly as I walk to the desk and look at the picture that I know so well. There it is Paul standing at the left a large beer in his hand and a foolish smile on his face and there is me. Just as I have always been, standing with my big wide grin and a pint of beer in my hand. So if I am not gone, what has happened? Why can’t anyone see me?
Paul is staring at his watch, he knows I am late. He takes out his phone and sends me a message. The phone is in my pocket but it does not ring or vibrate or do anything much. I take it out and stare at the blank screen it seems that the things associated with me are just as invisible and useless as me. Maybe I can write him a message to tell him something about what is happening to me. I try to grab a piece of paper and my hand glides through it. I stare at it shocked, I am becoming invisible or rather I am no longer able to touch or influence the objects around me. I look at the things in the room around me and try to push pull and hit anything and everything around me. But it’s useless the progression although gradual has been steady I am now unable to interact with anything or anyone and they can no longer interact with me. Paul mutters something, but I pay no heed I walk out the door without even realizing that it is closed, and go outside in a daze. My mind stumbling and it is only then that I realize that my life is over. I have no more life, I can’t work can’t interact with anyone other than stare at them my skills are just about useless. Ergo my life is over… I walk through the crowds and don’t even notice that as I walk through them some evade me and others just continue on their way, and continue their meaningful existence.
It is then that I notice a figure looking at me. Not through me like all the others but actually at me. He wears a long black robe that looks as though it would be more at place at a medieval gathering then at the busy streets. He grins at me, and I walk towards him but before I can reach him he shouts something at me that I can’t understand and my world becomes a white ball of fire. My eyes feel as though they are ablaze and a white flash burns my retina to nothing… Flash

Part III
The forest is dense, and the humidity in the air causes everything to smell damp. I walk casually forwards not knowing where I am or where I am going. A clearing up ahead reveals a small wooden house with smoke coming out of its chimney. I walk up to the door and knock. A beautiful woman opens the door. Her hair is braided and has the colour of leaves in the autumn her clear green eyes shine with a glee and a spark that seems unquenchable, she is taller then I am and her body is athletic.
‘Is there anything I can do for you’ she asks
‘I’ve been lost in the forest’ I say ‘could you perhaps show some kindness to a passing stranger?’
The woman does not reply but grabs me by my shirt and pulls me into the house. She sits me in front of the fire and goes somewhere inside the house. I take off my coat and put it close to the fire.
‘my husband should be home at any minute if you will like you could join us for dinner we have more than enough and we very rarely have any company’
‘I would love to’ I reply
‘Wonderful, just make yourself at home and sooth your bones, I shall call when dinner is ready’
I thank her for her kindness and continue to take off my shoes and socks both of which are soaking wet. My feet are really starting to ache and blisters are already visible.
‘Who are you’ asks a small red headed child of about 10 years
‘I am your guest’ I reply
‘I didn’t know we had a guest, will you be staying for dinner?’ he asks
‘Yes, I believe that I will’
He looks at me closely as if judging me and says ‘me and my brother are going to be the strongest men alive, just like our father!’ his voice is filled with pried
‘The strongest man alive?’ I ask amused
‘Yes my father is the strongest man who has ever lived!’
I thought this to be an exaggeration and so humoured the child without getting into too many details. Rapidly the child gets bored with me and leaves me alone in the living room where I must have dosed off, for a moment later the beautiful woman calls me over for dinner.
I sit down at a large wooden table where two red headed children sit on both sides of me the one on my right I had already met, he was the eldest the other is somewhat shy and about 3-4 years younger.
‘Where is your husband?’ I ask feeling slightly awkward sitting between the two children.
‘Oh, he will be along soon enough. He lives on his stomach, nothing can make him skip a meal’ she says a mischievous smile on her lips and almost as on cue a rumble sounds and the front door opens. An incredibly large and muscular man enters the house; his body is that of someone who has seen endless trials, his face however is sweet gentle and loving. There is kindness in his eyes and an innocence I thought inappropriate almost for someone such as he. My doubts as to the Childs claims are somewhat shaken, I could easily believe that the strong giant of a man standing before me is indeed the strongest man in the world.
‘Wife! Kids! I have returned and I bring you gifts!’ his voice echoes through the house and the kids quickly leave the table and run towards their dad. The giant puts a large bag filled with toys down on the floor, which got no attention from either one of the children. They both jump on their dad and he easily lifts them up into the air much to their delight. The woman also walks towards her husband and while still holding both children high up in the air the with one hand the man lifts the woman as though she was nothing but a cloth with the other, and gives her a long strong kiss. Once everyone calms down somewhat the attention is switched towards me and the large man comes to sit by my side.
‘Hello stranger’ says the large man ‘I hope you haven’t been too uncomfortable sitting all alone for a while’ he adds smiling
‘Not at all, I very much appreciate the hospitality!’
‘Think nothing of it!’ He then gives his wife a meaningful look and calls ‘and now we eat!’
The meal we ate was fit for a legion of men, and the giant ate it all easily and his company was priceless. He had many stories about wars and fights and strange creatures and quests and all the while he talked food kept coming. It was a joyous and wondrous occasion. When we were finally finished we walked out into the yard where there was a bench at the back of the house we sat down just me and the big man. He was a real treat to talk to, he was incredibly chatty, and his stories were some of the most magnificent I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. For a moment though my eyes are distracted. At the corner of my eye I see something pass through the bushes, something shiny, but it disappears almost as soon as I spot it.
The giant must have noticed something was up because he stops talking and looks at me.
‘What is it? Something wrong with your eyes?’ he asks
‘No I just thought I saw something’ I answer
The giant turns around and stares at the direction I was gazing at just a moment before. Suddenly a flash appears and the giant roars with anger and rage, he jumps to his feet and yells ‘Get away from me you evil twisted goddess’.
The giant is shaking his body flailing; the lightning shines once more strongly and then disappears as though it was never there in the first place. The giant is calm again; I walk to him to ask if he is alright but before I can do so the giant turns to face me. His eyes stare at some place in the distance, there is something wrong, gone is the spark he had, his eyes now seem to lack all joy, and the sparkle is out. A fear then creeps over me as he lowers his face and stares at me, his eyes cold and dark. Without a single word he lashes out with his right arm quicker then I can see or react to and sends me flying backwards. I hit the ground hard gasping for air as it is completely knocked out of my lung. My ears are beeping from the hit. I lay there on the ground for several seconds fearing the worst, and try to get my aching body back under then control, when I realize nothing is coming. I slowly try to get up, but my feet buckle underneath me and I fall flat on the floor. I can see the giant no longer, but the beeping slowly recedes and I can now hear what I could not see. Within seconds I wish my hearing was impaired again, for what I hear makes my guy curl. The giant has entered the house and from it all I can hear are screams. Agonizing gut wrenching screams. My imagination runs wild as I realize that the giant has become mad. The light had somehow changed him, turned him into a senseless monster and he was now exacting a revenge on his family. The screams continued and I force myself to get up on to my feet and try to help them. I get to the house as quickly as I possibly can but by now the screams are faint, mere echoes of what they were and slowly even that fades and the noise is gone completely.
I finally reach the house and enter it, inside blood and tissue covers the walls of the wooden house, the scene is one of extreme horror. I feel mortified and disgusted, the food I had only just eaten comes back up and I vomit. From the back door, enters the giant, he is covered in blood and what looks like pieces of bone and tissue that are glued onto him. His eyes are still without a spark, he is still not himself. I grab a bloody pot from the floor and hit the giant as hard as I can with it. It has no effect on him at all. The giant simply turns and looks at me as though I was an ant. He hits me on the shoulder so hard and so quickly that I it sends me flying, my back hitting the wooden wall. I can feel my torn shoulder being literally torn to pieces. The giant calmly walks towards me and lifts me from where I lay on the floor. He punches me in my stomach once hard and lets me go. I was never hit so hard in my life, blood gushed through my mouth, and my ribs feel like small fragile sticks that are now shattered. My internal organs feel as though they were ripped apart.
He drops me onto the floor, I think I scream the whole time, but I do not know for sure. The pain is the only thing I notice. I land in a broken heap unable to do anything. My head is tilted to such an angle that I can see out of the window. The house is incredibly quiet, and then a gut wrenching shriek is heard I cannot see but I believe it belongs to the giant. He must have woken up and is now looking at what he has done in his crazed mind. The screams echo through the house, joined by occasional weeps and cries of rage. From my point on the floor I can see a figure standing at the window looking at me. He is wearing a black robe and he is screaming, my head starts to spin, I feel like I can’t hold out any longer and I… Flash

Part IV
The forest is quiet and empty as I walk slowly through the dark trees slightly bored. It is a cold and miserable day the winds tear through the trees and start to pick up a sharpness that was previously absent. A slight drizzle starts and I look around for some shelter. I have no umbrella with me and I am unfortunately rather under dressed. I am wearing a t-shirt and jeans, cloths not fit for your typical winter weather.
The slight drizzle starts to pick up and I am still without a place to hide. I leave the pathway and walk on to try and find some cover under some of the larger trees. I walk towards a rather large tree that appears to shade over a large part of the ground around it. Once there I realize the tree has left the ground somewhat. There are large roots coming up from the ground and they twist and twirl around above ground. They look like they are playing a game with one another. In the midst of the roots there is a small hole, it almost looks like a cavern, I decide to go close to it as it is the only way I can get away from the rain that is now continuously pouring, soaking me to the bone. The wind is blistering cold now and I am shivering uncontrollably, I have but one solution to delve ever deeper into the crevice between the roots.
It works slightly it dries me a little but I am still getting soaked and so I go deeper into the crevice between the roots. I push myself in and find that the crevice actually deepens and becomes a small cavern that is nice and dry and offers me the exact protection from the rain and wind that I need.
I wait patiently for the rain to stop, it is dark and damp in the cave and I don’t want to go too deeply into it without at least an idea of what is there; it is also not very high. I manage to crawl into it easily enough though.
Light starts to fade and in the darkness of the cave I see something glowing, at first I think I must have imagined it, but when I look closely I realize it is still there. There is a fluorescent light in the darkest part of the cave. I carefully head towards it and look at the fluorescent light that it emits, and realize it must be a glow worm. I continue on into the cave in search for others, if there is one there must be others.
A short crawl forwards and I reach the end of the cave. But it is not an end I had thought. Instead of the ground I had expected I am touching something metallic. I follow it with my hands and notice that I can now stand; I find a handle and pull it.
Light floods over me and I am in the middle of a small narrow paved street. The street looks like a Middle Ages city; everything is made with small white bricks that look like murmur. The walls are filled with signs for shops and handymen the text though is in a language I don’t understand.
I walk carefully through the streets eyeing the shops and the many goods with curiosity. A tug pulls me from my sightseeing and I turn to look at who pulled me. It is an older gentleman he wears cloths that look like rags to me he says something in a language I have never heard before and I have no idea what it is that he wants. Through a lot of pulling at my cloths I realize he is questioning my cloths, the t-shirt and jeans. I don’t know how to answer him and decide to leave him and continue on, but the person is shouting now I don’t know what it is that he wants but something must have aggravated him.
I walk quickly onwards and reach a cross-road of sorts with many small pathways going in every direction. There are also many large doors everywhere I decide to try one of those and find myself in a patch that is setup as a small garden with flowers and plants everywhere. A path lies around it and heads to the buildings that tower over the garden like giants. A woman walks out of the building and looks at me closely, she asks something but again I can’t understand. I motion that I can’t speak to her, and she leaves by the same door I entered. I follow her out.

There is a commotion in the street in front of me that catches my eye, but the fact that I don’t understand the language puts me in a disadvantage so instead of going to look I go the other way. The other path leads to a large river with several bridges over it. The light that flooded the city when I entered it is now fading and oil lamps are being lit along the river, giving rise to shadows. I walk closer to the river, there is a paved path running along it and I walk leisurely on it.
The darkness is now complete and the only visibility is from the oil lamps. It is a nice evening that is suddenly hampered by the arrival of a man dressed in black. Or at least it appears black in the shadows cast by the lamps. He hits me in the back and continues running forward, he turns to face me and I see that the guy is an older man wearing a cape he gives me a strange smile. As he runs he bumps into other people that are on the path. He disappears quickly into the night, I continue walking along the path and see a few of the people the person in black hit lying on the path. I look down at them and notice something trickling to the floor. I reach for it, it is sticky I try to make out what it is when I suddenly realize its blood. I quickly push the person on to his back. A large knife wound has cut him up. I quickly run from the one to the other and find that every person is dead.
Something gleaming catches my eye and I reach to hold it. As I grab it I realize it’s a knife. Shouts and whistles from behind me alert me that something is happening. I turn and see people running towards me, they wear a uniform and I deduce that they are police officers. With the knife in my hand I realize that they are after me. I dump the knife into the river and with a panic start running; I don’t know what else to do. Although I am innocent how can I explain anything to them? I run as quickly as my legs can carry me but it is of little use the people behind me are quickly gaining on me.
Suddenly a loud noise reaches my ears and a sharp pain pulses through my gut. I stop as the pain gets too much to bear and the air burns in my lungs. I put my hands where the pain irradiates from and find that my hands are sticky with what I assume is blood. It is dripping to the pavement in what appears like a constant stream. I try to apply pressure to the wound but before I manage to do so I am hit over the back of the head. I fall hard to the floor and feel my consciousness fading. The pain is too much to take and I lose control. I feel more hits landing on me, fists kicks and an overwhelming pain that takes over any other emotion.
In the distance I hear something that sounds like Help Me, but it fades with ringing in my ears.

Part V
The darkness is all around me, as though I am stuck in a dark whole and staring at the abyss. There is nothing, no wind no air it is then that I notice that I am not even breathing. Suddenly the darkness parts in a gigantic explosion and a immense wave of energy disappears away from me. As the wave disappears into the distance I can see pieces of round marbles everywhere, it is only upon closer inspection that I notice these are in fact planets. But instead of viewing their formation I am seeing their destruction. I try to understand with my limited knowledge of astrophysics what is happening around me.
If the explosion was the big bang then I should be seeing the creation of the world not the end of it. More lights blink on and off in rapid succession and as more of these lights blink on and off I notice that there is something moving between the planets. I hone in on the planets like a spirit or ghost of some kind I fly closer to look at what is moving and notice that there are tiny holes everywhere. Next to each one of the holes I can see a planet with water and greens and what looks like little stations flying in an orbit around it. I stare closer at the hole and notice that there are things that are flying through these holes, things that resemble spaceships. The holes suddenly disappear and the planet that was until recently colonized is now an empty shell of dust, I fly to a different planet and realize that the hole there disappeared as well and just like the other planet it is now a planet that looks like a icy blue one. This proves that what I am witnessing is time reversal.
I move backwards, it is not flying really as I do not feel as though I am really moving. It is more as though I am witnessing an event on an immense screen and I am now zooming in and out of it. I go to an area that looks like it still has something going on there and I see that planets rapidly disappear everywhere, the lights are going out and I am back in darkness. A large wave of light comes closer to me and smashes into something that causes an immense light to irradiate from it leaving me blinded. When I finally manage to open my eyes I am back in the dark I was at the beginning.
Suddenly I hear a rasp whisper it says “help me” it is soft and I can’t tell where it is coming from. But I feel it is close to me. I turn around several times in an effort to locate the source of the voice but find nothing, just when I am about to give up on it I hear it again this time it sounds slightly louder and not as helpless as it was just previously “help me”. Again I try to locate the person who speaks, but I cannot, there is no one I can see. The voice is now louder still and it is close to my ear where it now shouts “HELP” I reach backwards expecting to grab hold of him but I find nothing. Chills run down my spine and I feel frightened, the darkness creeps me out and the fact that my eyes nose and just about every sense other than my ears is useless, leaves vulnerable and afraid.
The explosion occurs again just as it did previously and the show that I just saw repeats itself. I try to focus on something else, locate the voice but it isn’t there. I wait for the inevitable end and the beginning of the whispering. Sure enough a moment later when the bang is swallowed by the darkness the whispering starts, this time I do not try to grab hold of the person as I already found that to be futile instead I try to just focus on my ears. As those are the only things that seem to work with the whispering, maybe there is something else I could hear that would help. I try to focus but there is nothing there, when it finally arrives it is the same way it has previously arrived as only a distinctly creepy whisper.
I decide to find the planet earth as perhaps the person whispering is there and I might find him on that planet, it is a stretch though and it takes me a long time and cycles upon cycles of following the black holes towards their final place earth. As cycles pass I try to locate the source of the voice but I have only a very short gap when there are people present at all but suddenly in between the cycles I notice a figure standing. Time and matter pass through him as though he is not there, no one sees him and he seems to be watching. He seems familiar somehow he is wearing a black robe and unlike everyone else that is going backwards and disappears with the rest of humanity he stays there. Unmoving, unflinching at the pass of time, it is only when everything returns to darkness that I notice the figure is now slightly moving towards me his lips form words and I hear a distinct whisper.
“Help me”
I don’t know how I can help, so at first I just stare maybe I can get more details, but except for the three whispers of help nothing happens. However in all the cycles of the universe ending and beginning the figure is a constant, a watcher, the only time he shows any movement at all is when he is asking me for help. I try to reach out to him when he is asking me to help him but I go right through him as though he doesn’t exist. A thought suddenly strikes me, what if I can only interact with him when he watches the universe? If that is the case I need to wait for another cycle to start and then reach out to him.
A new cycle of ending starts and I reach for the watcher but this also doesn’t work, I assume that it is because if anyone would be able to interact with the watcher it would have been done already, therefore there must be something else I can do. I wait for another cycle to end and the darkness to descend, a shadow of the figure is still present and I reach out to him my hand slips through him as he turns to face me and again the whispering starts but there is something different now. I feel as though my energy is being sucked away and I realize the figure is now no longer immobile but is actively grabbing my arm. My energy is draining and with it my strength to pull away from the figure. A sharp cry that sounds like the shriek of a bird makes me recoil in fear, with horror I realize the shriek originates from the figure standing in front of me it is not a shriek but rather laughter, a laughter that echoes not through the darkness of the end or beginning but through my mind.
A new cycle starts and I notice I am alone everything passes through me as I watch another cycle commence. Although the figure in black is now gone I can still feel its presence, it makes my hair stand on and shortly after I hear his voice.
“I have waited for this moment for a very long time. The role of watcher is now finally gone from my hands. I will enjoy the life of a god while you will be trapped watching this endless destruction to creation of the universe forever” The voice erupts in laughter and I am trapped. Time moves on and I can do nothing but watch the cycle repeat itself in its meaningless never-ending turn.

He wakes up and wonders what his third grade teacher was doing in his dream. He feels frightened and cold and he can’t shake the feeling that his teacher was somehow guiding him through a dream, but the memory quickly fades into the recesses of his mind and he turns and rapidly falls asleep.

Notes:
Images of night… 5 – the Storyteller (2012) – (2014)
This is a short long story, and yes I know it makes no sense but if you’ve read it you must realize that it is a nightmare to write while retaining the same feel to it. The story is actually divided into 5 parts, all of which intertwine with the storyteller who provides the story for each set like a theater play, and lets the actors act out their parts. It is this idea that is the long story because it took me a long time to realize and come to grips with the idea in my head before putting it on to the paper. The first part of the story is also the first one I came up with and it was a very long time ago (back in 1995) the rest came much much later…
Part I – The maze sequence is my mineator impression of being stuck in the maze and dying ofcourse. This wasn’t written in 1995 (well it was but that version has been out of existence for quite some time so I rewrote it in 2012).
Part II – I always dreaded feeling lost or losing touch and that is what this story tried to portray (2013)
Part III – big spoiler if you didn’t realize who the giant was… Hercules and still sticking to the greek theme. Well in two of the stories anyway. (started in 2013 and finished in 2014,
I actually wrote parts II,III and IV back in 2012 but the file got corrupted and I had to rewrite them which I eventually did in 2013-2014…)
Part IV – This is my impression of medieval Lyon in France. I was there a few years ago and was in awe of all the small allies and doors that lead to or houses or to secret restaurants and disco’s. I thought it would be a fun idea if someone would be stuck in such a place without the ability to speak to anyone or understand anyone which is a feeling everyone who has traveled to distant places where English is not spoken must have felt.
Part V – Big bang backwards need I say more?

The best comicbook mini-series out there (You should read this… Yes you too!)

The comics, graphic novels or however you wish to call them have been a part of my life for a while. When I was a kid growing up we didn’t have any comics and so I never read them. Then when I was a bit older I found out about comics and got hooked and now with all the superhero movies out there based on superhero comics it seems that the other ones are slightly forgotten. Naturally there are other adaptations like 2 guns etc but still the majority are of superhero like characters that everyone knows.
Comicbooks offer an incredible diversity in their material and there is something for everyone. However next to the long running series there are also shorter pieces like one-shots or mini-series. Both are significantly shorter and offer a set story with a beginning and an end. For those that are short on time and do not want to read the longer 50 or more issues comics this is the perfect alternative.
I’ve been reading a lot of these lately and I love them. At first I had my doubt but now I’m hooked and so without further a do here is a little list of mini-series that are brilliant and you really should be reading! Oh and these mostly involve non-marvel or DC stuff so no batman, spiderman and all of that… Just a little warning…

Image:

Image has their flagship comics which are savage dragon, spawn, witchblade, the walking dead and I think by now we can call Invincible a part of that pack. However they have a large list of comics that are brilliant on their own account here is their low down in no particular order:

The end times of Bram and Ben – This is a four issue series that is just a wonderful and funny story about religion, human nature and everything in between. The art is absolutely beautiful and it should be way more known than it is… I can’t really tell you too much about it without revealing it but because of a recent movie dealing with the end times you most likely already know the basics and I can leave them out as well. All you need to do is action, comedy, romance, comedy, robots, angels, demons and did I mention comedy?

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Grim leaper – a lovely morbid and romantic comedy of four issues. I think it’s tagline says everything there is to know about this story… It is a love story to die for. 

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Wanted – alright this is quite well known because of the adaptation but let me tell you something. This comic is nothing like the movie and to illustrate why let me give you the last image of this 6 issue series. 

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Bulletproof coffin – This technically isn’t a mini-series because it has two series of six issues… But they are both really good so screw it and just check them out. 

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The strange talent of luther strode – I’m cheating again… This is actually not finished yet and it consists of three mini series which you can’t really call a mini-series anymore. But oh well. This is a great action book and has just enough emotion in it to give you a little pause just so that it can kick it into high gear again.

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Alright I’ll stop with Image before it gets out of hand and here are some other great mini-series from dark horse which are not based on hellboy and BPRD or RIPD or any of the more popular things

Colder – this mini-series is brilliant with art that just staggers me. If there is one thing I could say about this book is that the story is unique the art is some of the most emotional and talented I have ever seen and that I have yet to find a more incredible story told in just 5 issues. Do yourself a favor and get this horror action comic now! 

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Exsanguine – a classic kinda vampire story. But only just, it is a bit more standard but I still really enjoyed it. 

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The strain – This is getting a TV series and it is a series of novels so its a bit of a stretch to also put it as a comicbook mini-series but it is still a great piece of horror so I consider it at home here. It has 11 issues and it is a great read. 

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Alright I’m done for now… I’m sure there are a million of these I missed and I haven’t included any IDW releases like locke and key but oh well… These are still great. As a last note I think the one-shot the underwater welder by jeff lemire should receive an honorable mention as it is beautifully emotional and absolutely gorgeous.