Could mommy not hear when she screamed?
The woman floated beside the bed. Red hair fell in a swathe across the alabaster face. Shawna didn’t want to see that face. She couldn’t scream any more. Mommy should have been here by now. Why wasn’t she here?
The woman slowly revolved. Shawna focused on the gap between the bottom of the woman’s skirt and the floor. Where were her feet? Did she not have feet? Her gaze moved slowly upwards. Red eyes pierced the blackness of the room. She lunged for the bedside light switch. Briefly, bright light overcame the dark. The terror. The bulb shattered, piercing her cheek with the violence of its explosive end.
“Mommy,” she whispered.
She couldn’t move. The woman spun. Whirling around the room, with no feet, and mouth gaping blackly, stretched in a silent scream. And then suddenly she was there, hovering horizontally above the bed, face to face with Shawna. She stared into viridian eyes. Eyes of blood set in a face now as black as coal. The coldness of hell engulfed her. Her body shuddered as she tried to jump up. Run away from the thing that now reached a black hand towards her face. But she couldn’t move. All went black.
“Lying is bad Shawna.” Mommy angrily swept up the shards of glass. “I can’t afford to buy you another bedside lamp. If you’re going to be throwing things around the room and breaking them you can just go without.”
“There is no such thing as ghosts! Maybe it’s just as well that you broke it. You can’t sleep with the light on every night. Light costs money!”
Shawna realised that she wasn’t alone any more. Something inside her was getting angry.
“And another thing. I need to sleep too. You’re far too big to expect me to come running every time you yell in the middle of the night.”
Shawna grinned down at the back of Mommy’s head, floating above her, light as a feather. She understood now. She had nothing to be scared of any more. It wasn’t her the lady wanted. It was Mommy.
“Really Shawna. Just shut—.”
Mommy looked up. The lady smiled.
Beyond The Blue Horizon
“I believe that it is nothing less than our duty to make contact with these beings.” Riblot peered at the screen. “They appear to be somewhat intelligent. We cannot leave without showing them that they are on a dangerous path.”
Zarble’s erect crest quivered, showing his distaste for the creatures scurrying across the screen.
“I cannot agree Commander. They bring to mind those that we eradicated on Arox-49. If we had arrived but a few centuries later they would instead have completely eradicated that most highly evolved species in the waters of their world. These beings are clearly a form of destructive parasite. I recommend that we cleanse this world of them. Considering that we are but two, our transporter and drive are damaged and not fully functional, and also, we are under specific instructions not to interact with new species. We know nothing of this planet other than what we have observed in one of their days. I say leave them be, or destroy them.”
Riblot uncoiled a tentacle from around the leg of his stool, and moved over to the window, staring at the planet below. He scratched his chin thoughtfully.
“Indeed,” he said in disgusted tones. “Those awful creatures on Arox ate their superiors. And it was not we who destroyed them, but your hasty tentacle! I merely took responsibility as your commanding officer. But, here I see hope. We cannot eradicate these beings! They are merely struggling to find their way to the higher knowledge of the cosmos. We can help them. Teach them. Show them the way.”
Zarble joined him at the window and sighed. “It is true that our great Queen was not pleased that we did not first take aboard a few specimens from Arox before destroying those disgusting creatures. She was angry that we might have made a mistake.”
He questioned the gentleness of his leaders. The dominant species on the planet below were clearly collectively insane, vicious, and apparently hell-bent on destroying not only themselves, but every other denizen of their world. His tentacle itched to release the missile that would rid the universe of them before they found a way to infest that too.
“Instead of contact, would it not be wiser to collect a few of these, er, to take home? We are not qualified to choose to include them into the universal community. We can beam down into the waters, assuming the transporter is working, and gather a few from among those that infest the seas in those floating contraptions, without making ourselves known to rest of them. Our suits are not visible, and our physical appearance should not attract their notice.”
Zarble watched his commander’s face light up at the thought of having company on the long flight home. It was boring with just the two of them, and the damage to the drive negated the possibility of their usual mode of travel.
“Yes!” Riblot’s beak trembled excitedly. “We so closely resemble those creatures we briefly spotted in the deeps of their oceans that we will not frighten any of them. We will go under cover of darkness.”
“Hmm,” said Zarble. “That’s another thing. That group appeared much more intelligent than the parasites, er, beings, you wish to meet. We could be mistaking what appears to be the dominant species here for the most advanced.”
Riblot irritably swatted Zarble’s eyeball with an extended tentacle. “Let us not forget who is in charge of this mission Lieutenant! Bring me my suit, and let us get on with this harvesting.”
They undulated through the warm waters of the ocean, unaware of what waited beyond the blue horizon.
“It’s wonderful being out of the vessel, and swimming free after all this time aboard ship, is it not Zarble?”
Zarble’s terror had begun to grow when he realised that the faulty transporter had deposited them in the warm, salty sea, twenty times reduced in size. He looked nervously at the myriad of creatures swimming around, inspecting them. He also was beginning to doubt the integrity of his invisible, protective suit. He felt sure that he had felt a nip when a strange looking finned thing had darted behind him.
“Commander! We must abort this mission. I feel unsafe!”
“Nonsense! Your cowardice is unfounded and embarrassing Lieutenant! Look above. Here is one of their floating devices now. Have the immobiliser at the ready. Prepare to board. Aaargh! My eyes! What is this bright beam that so attracts me?”
“Come on Jan. Have a bit!”
“Nah. Those two didn’t look right to me. Never seen a day-glo pink calamari with fourteen tentacles before.”
“Arr well. Your loss. Seems right enough to me. Not as chewy as the last lot.”
Ryder squeezed more lemon on the final morsel of tasty tentacle, and popped it in his mouth.
© Jo Robinson 2013
I wrote my daily story yesterday, but couldn’t get online to open WordPress. Never mind. Today there shall be two. I used A Story A Day In May writing prompt #19. Start in the middle of the story, and use one of the choice of sentences, “So, will you marry me or not?” Here it is.
The Right Thing To Do
“So, will you marry me or not?” he’d asked.
She’d looked up into his eyes, wanting more than anything to shout “Yes!”. She couldn’t though. She could never steal another woman’s husband. Reluctantly she drew away, lifting her hands away from his chest, knowing that she would have to tell him not to come back here. Not ever. She couldn’t bear to see his face, knowing that she could never touch it again. Not even once a week.
“Forgive me sister, for I have sinned.”
Her reverie shattered, Naomi glanced around the empty church, then at the veiled woman seated beside her.
“Are you talking to me?”
Stacy irritably yanked the black lace veil from her head and glared. Naomi edged away slightly, startled at both the beauty of the face revealed, and the venom in the sapphire blue eyes.
“Yes, I’m talking to you. I don’t see any other preacher in the room.”
Self-consciously rearranging her vestments, Naomi stood up. She seldom took an instant dislike to anyone, but this angelic looking woman with the devil in her eyes made her hackles rise.
“I’m not catholic,” she said tautly. “Neither am I a nun. We don’t do confessions here.”
She fought the urge to walk away. As a minister of her faith, it was her duty to help any soul in need of succour. She forced more gentle tones.
“However. If there is anything you’d like to talk about, I’d be more than willing to hear you out, and—.”
Stacy nodded. “It’s my husband. Rick.” Her eyes suddenly brimmed with tears. “He says he’s leaving me.”
Naomi sat down again, trying to hide the shock from her face.
“I know he won’t go. No man dumps me. You wouldn’t understand I suppose.” Her gaze moved from Naomi’s mousy hair, lingered on her distinctly round middle, and finally focused on her comfortable black brogues, eyebrow raised in distaste. “It’s just that he keeps on mumbling on about vows. Wedding vows. That’s why I thought I’d come here.”
This was familiar territory. Naomi shuffled her feet as far under the pew as she could.
“What about wedding vows? Sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“Stacy. I’m Stacy Keans. Our vows. Our wedding vows. He says that I don’t love, honour, or cherish him. He says that I’ve broken my part of our agreement, so he’s going. Leaving me.” Her face twisted, self-pity and temper making it ugly, if only for a second. “I’ll take him to the cleaners if he does. Idiot! He won’t go though. I know what men want. He’ll soon get over whatever floozy he’s panting over. There must be a floozy somewhere.”
Naomi tried to make sense of this jumble of words. Of course she believed that marriage vows were sacred, and that leaving a wedded partner was the true breaking of those. A sin in God’s eyes. She’d tried to help struggling couples work through their problems, and stay together, no matter what. She’d heard of many reasons people gave for leaving a spouse, but never put as simply as this.
“Do you?” she asked.
“Do I what?”
“Love, honour, and cherish him?”
Stacy scowled. “What the hell has that got to do with anything? He’s my husband. He can’t just leave!”
Naomi’s mind was forming connections. This woman’s attitude, and that one sentence, had suddenly sent her thoughts in directions they’d never before taken. She said nothing, instead silently pondering the sanctity of the vows of marriage.
Stacy lost patience when a reply wasn’t instantly forthcoming. She attempted an answer.
“Nobody really means those words, do they? Old fashioned nonsense. What’s love anyway?” she said. “He’s a good looking guy. What’s not to like? He makes good money. I don’t see why I should break my back for him though. That’s what this is all about. I’m not cooking piles of food all the time and cleaning his messes. He’s big enough to look after himself. Why should I? I’m no man’s skivvy. I didn’t vow to do that!”
“I have to go.” Naomi stood up looking at her watch.
“But—. But what about my question? Is he allowed to leave me because of that? If the church says he can’t, he won’t. He’s always been a bible basher. Always moaning that I don’t go to church with him every Sunday. Why should I? I’ve got better things to do with my time. No offense. Anyway. What’s the answer? What would God say?”
Naomi looked at the people coming in for Sunday service, then down at Stacy.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I really have to go now. But maybe your answer will be right here today. The answer to saving your marriage. God works in mysterious ways. He always provides the answers. But it’s always up to us to see them.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why don’t you stay for service? Stay right where you are, and your answers may become clear to you.”
Stacy snatched up her veil, looking with supreme disdain at the growing crowd around her. Once again her gaze ripped down Naomi’s body, but this time the minister didn’t flinch. Instead she turned to the pulpit, not bothering to see whether she stayed or not.
The murmuring and shuffling quietened, and she looked down on her congregation, finally focusing on the man who now sat where Stacy had sat. The man she had only yesterday told that they could never be together, even as her heart broke saying the words. Divorce was a sin in God’s eyes. No matter how much she loved him, the vows of marriage were sacrosanct. Now she knew that this was true. They were not meant to be broken. Their eyes locked, and her stomach lurched. She couldn’t wait till after the service to tell him. To tell him that she would vow to love, honour, and cherish him, for all the days of her life. A deal was a deal after all. And if you broke it—. Well. Then it was no vow at all. Of course she would agree to become Mrs Rick Keans. She wouldn’t be stealing a thing.
© Jo Robinson 2013
Till next time friends. xxx
“Stanley. Where the hell’s my tea?”
Stanley flinched, but couldn’t tear his eyes from the glowing screen in front of him. The excitement of realising that someone had posted a review of his book, the book that had taken him ten years to write, had been quenched when he saw the single lonely star, and read the scathing words.
From George Witherall
Not only do I regret ever laying eyes on this appalling book, I also regret looking at this author’s profile to see what manner of fool could write so badly, and coming face to face with the ugliest man alive. Load of rubbish. The only recommendation that I could give for this trash would be incineration.
“Yes Mother. I’m coming!”
The cold shock of reading his very first book review had rendered him incapable of movement. The rage that now filled him as he clicked away, looking for more information on George Witherall, threatened to blow the top of his head off. What had he ever done to this person? What sort of thing was that to say about his book? Had he even read it? And how dare he comment on his appearance? In a few minutes he was looking at his foul detractor’s Facebook page. Scrolling down, he sneered at the smiling, handsome face. And then with a shock, he realised that he recognised it.
“Stanley. You bastard!”
“Bloody hell,” he muttered, leaping from his chair and heading to the kitchen.
He looked around the immaculate room. His kitchen now. He’d been born in this very place forty seven years ago, he’d been told. Smiling, he remembered gleefully setting about scrubbing it from top to bottom on the day his mother had finally taken to her bed properly a few months back. Dirty old woman. He adjusted his red bow tie, still smarting from such terrible insults being so casually posted on an international book vending site, for all the world to see.
Scowling, trying to remember where he recognised that face from, he measured three spoons of Earl Grey into the teapot. He carefully placed four chocolate digestives on a side plate, and then it hit him. Of course! George Witherall’s face had lately been plastered on billboards all over town. He owned the new department store on West street.
Stanley rushed back to his desk and dialled enquiries. Soon, after a few short rings, a melodious voice answered.
“Mr Witherall’s office. How may I help you?”
“Is he in?”
“Yes Sir. Who may I say—.”
He hastily disconnected, and rushed to his room.
“Stanley. My tea. What’r you doing you bloody little shi—!”
The kettle clicked off and the tea remained unmade. Stanley was loading his .38.