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Desperate Times

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He looked at her. His hair was still a mess and in the bright morning sunlight he looked more handsome and more human than she had ever seen him.

“I guess I’m asking you to trust me.” he said

Every fibre of her being knew that trusting him would be a really big mistake but she felt that this was her only option – she was desperate.

Taking a deep breath, she folded her arms and said, “OK.”

Walking across his office from her spot in the doorway, they shook hands to seal the deal.

*******

She questioned what she had just done as she walked through the streets back towards her home.

She kept telling herself that it was for the greater good, that everything will be ok now. No amount of reasoning seemed to settle her anxiety though.

It felt like a heavy stone had lodged itself at the base of her sternum; her heart beating faster in a miserable attempt to get it moved.

“It will be OK” she kept repeating to herself. After all, some say that the bad times have often got to get worse before they can get better.

But she didn’t know just when they would get better – part of the deal was that he could use her anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.

*******

When a few weeks had passed and he still hadn’t reappeared her nerves were in absolute pieces. She found herself relying on smelling salts every few hours or so just to revive herself and her senses.

In an attempt to distract, she called upon one of her sisters to come and take a walk with her.

“So what’s going on with you?” her sister asked as they strolled through the park.

“Oh, nothing; let’s not talk about my boring life, I want to know about you.” came her reply, hopefully not sounding too secretive.

Her sister went on about the little ones, and her hopes for another. They talked about childhood memories and their mother and father. The little outing proved to be a great source of distraction. That was until he appeared, as if from nowhere, in front of them.

“It’s time” he smiled at her, offering his hand as if he were a gentleman

“You know this man?” her sister queried

She stood between them like someone who had just been caught cheating at a card game; not wanting to admit the truth, but unable to think of a plausible explanation.

“I’m sorry but I have to go” she turned from her sister to follow him but her sister grabbed her arm, turning her back around.

“You can’t go with that man” she declared
“I have to. It’s the only way to make things better”

Her sister sighed, lowering her voice “He’s strange. I get a bad feeling about him – like my blood turns cold just laying eyes on him”

“I have to go, we have a deal”

“But who is he?!” her sister demanded, holding tighter to her arm

“Lucifer.”

And with that, she tore her arm from her sister’s hand and went with him – off to fulfil their deal so she could finally get what she needed for her dying son.

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A Writer’s World

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The stark white and brightness of the café melted away the more she wrote. Leaving behind the real world, she entered her own of peace and solitude; her pen dutifully scribbling down the realms and worlds of her imagination, desperately trying to keep up.

Her soul had taken a leap, and even though the pages were white, streaked with black marks it was swimming amongst vivd backdrops and creations. Worlds of colour and imagination engulfed her – a high contrast to the realities that surround her physical being.

Whilst everybody around her was carrying on with their mundane routines, an hour for a boring sandwich and a scroll through Facebook, she was amongst heroes and villains, surreal creatures and topsy turvy paradises. Her senses, her mind, her heart were alive!

She travelled through time and space; to far off countries and amongst the stars; all from an uncomfortable plastic seat in a kind of ok café.

She orchestrated melodies; directed her company of characters; bringing life or destroying it.

The only thing to distract her, to bring her worlds to a grinding halt, was a young man who clumsily sat down at the table next to her. She felt aggrieved – hated being disturbed but instantly tried to get back into the flow. She took a deep breath, ready to dive back in, when she glanced over and noticed that this man was pulling a book from his oversized bag.

She watched as he became engulfed in this work of literature. In her mind’s eye a stream of golden light glowed up from the pages he was reading; a new world radiating from leaves of a tree long gone, absorbing him, attaching itself to his soul.

She couldn’t stay silently mad at this person who had disturbed her. She felt an affinity with him, a shared interest in words, in getting lost, of forgetting the real world.

She smiled at him when he glanced up and then went back to the world of her notebook, content in the knowledge that there were people in the world similar to her; that she was never truly alone.

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All Lies

Lies-and-Truth

 

“Silly girl, do you think I actually loved you?”

She looked at him, her eyes questioning, her lips drying, her heart exploding,

“You certainly made it seem that way” came her meek response.

“You were just a part of the cover story,” he admitted, “but you can go away now”

His words were cold, aloof, uncaring. She was stunned into silence. Everything she thought she knew had been a lie.

She had questions but didn’t want to hear the answers; not right now. All she could do was do as she was told and go away. She got up from her seat outside of the café and started walking away, not wanting to spend another minute with him; not knowing where to go either.

She felt so hurt and alone. How could anybody do such a thing? Not only to lie about absolutely everything but to maintain that lie for so long. All of this time and it was lies; she didn’t know who she was anymore.

That man pretended to be her father. Her childhood, everything she had known, in a single moment, had ceased to exist.

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Growing Up

All children must eventually grow up.

Some mature faster than others but it happens to them all. You just cannot stop it. As time moves forward, speeding through the present, making every second history, children get older. They become disinterested in their passions, swapping and changing them on a whim. Developing, learning, growing. Not so innocent anymore; maybe a little jaded.

They leave behind their toys, and fascination of everything, but first of all he’ll forget about me, the imaginary friend.

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It started of slowly – one day he simply didn’t talk to me as much as he usually did. A little time passed and then there would be the odd days when he wouldn’t talk to me at all. These days became more common. I was still in his mind but he was unwilling to talk, to play; he was bored of me. He ignored me.

I’ll never forget the day that his auntie asked him if he still had an imaginary friend, her voice filled with an evil laughter. My eyes immediately looked over at him, waiting hopefully for him to recognise my existence again. He simply blushed and looked down at his feet whilst the grown-ups carried on their conversation. I could do nothing but walk out of the room, storming passed him, but still going unnoticed.

All of the time I had spent with that boy, playing with him, talking to him, being there for him when he felt all alone and that’s how he treats me. Too good for me now, too mature; doesn’t matter that I’m the one whose all alone now.

I can’t stay mad at him though. When he’s at school, I’ve noticed that a few of the other kids have imaginary friends that they are ignoring as well. It’s just the way it is, nothing personal.

The day will come when they will forget us completely. They won’t be able to recall our names, or the silly things we used to do together.

I’ve spoken to one of the other imaginary friends and he feels the exact same way, scared of what will happen next. Does another child choose us to be their friend? Do we just spend eternity doing nothing? Or, do we simply cease to exist?

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The Mystery of Her

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Day after day, year after year, he had said nothing of his affections. He often thought about doing so, of coming right out with it but he just couldn’t do it. Scared of more rejection, the fear of being even more alone if she spurned him. The one time he did try to tell her he got all flustered and was tripping over his words; he felt like an utter buffoon and came out with something else instead that made him feel completely foolish and left him too self-conscious. It was then he decided that having her as a friend was better than nothing at all, and all though he was completely infatuated with her, he would tell her nothing of his feelings.

They had met at the bookstore, bonded over a love of greek mythology, and since then remained good friends, meeting up a few times a week. She had told him of some on-off boyfriend but other than that she was a mystery to him, a complete enigma. In some ways he thought he knew her but often she would say or do something that made him think he didn’t. Somedays she would be perfectly normal, chatty and friendly, but sometimes she would speak in riddles, avoid answering questions, and always be looking around, almost disinterested.

The chatty friendly version of her became more frequent in their meetings, and whilst he yearned for her to feel the same as he did, he never acted upon his feelings.

One day, he received a phone call from some man. This man was a brother she had never mentioned before who wept down the phone as he told of how she had died in a car accident a few days before. He hung up the phone; not listening to the details of what had happened. He was in shock. He did not want to believe that she was dead.

*****

It took him a long time to bring himself round to visiting her grave. He wanted to do it, say one final goodbye, but it was too hard, too emotional. When he finally convinced himself to go, he stood at her headstone for some time before eventually, with a single tear strolling down his cheek he whispered,

“I love you” his chest heaved and his tears came stronger and harder.

“I love you too” came an emotional voice from behind him.

Slowly turning around, his eyes rested upon her. At the mere sight of her it felt like his heart was going to jump out of his throat.

There she stood, even more beautiful than he remembered. He couldn’t move, stricken with confusion and overwhelming love. The two looked and smiled at each other before he finally strode toward her, full of confidence he had never experienced before, pulled her into his arms, kissed her and held her like he was never going to let go.

“I thought you were dead” he exclaimed through tears of happiness

Nodding, she pulled away from him and took something out of her pocket to show him.

It was an ID card. Underneath the logo of Her Majesty’s Government was a photo of her, next to a name he didn’t recognise.

“Let’s go back to yours,” she suggested, “I’ve got some explaining to do”

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Impulse Buy

 

“I repeat, do not go outside. Board up all windows and doors”

It was the same on every channel they flicked through, well, except one channel who had decided to lighten the mood of the world with back to back reruns of Monty Python.

She felt fed up, like a caged animal, bored of waiting for all of this to blow over. She looked round at her boyfriend and the dog, both snoozing on the sofa. How could he sleep at a time like this?

Wondering over to the window, she peeked through the hole they had put through the board, she hated the idea of not being able to see any daylight at all. Across the road she could see neighbours boarding up their own windows, blocking out the signs of warmth and life within; a chill ran through her bones at the sight of so many darkened houses, full of frightened families huddled together.

She knelt down a little to cast her gaze upwards. The hole they had left wasn’t overly big, so she could only see a tiny fraction of the sky above but what she saw was enough to make her stomach sink further.

Jets soared high above, dipping and diving through clouds of smoke, pulling off amazing feats of ariel acrobatics. She would have been in awe if it weren’t for the aircrafts that were following them, zipping high and low, exchanging gunfire. They weren’t like anything she had seen before. Nobody had seen them before. But from now on they would be forever etched on to the minds of a generation. The aliens that invaded earth.

Weather the government or anybody knew about this before hand, remained unclear, the people were not being told, but it all seemed to happen so suddenly.

The existence of aliens as cold, hard truth made her feel tiny. But why were they here? The vast array of stars and planets that must be out there to explore and they come to planet earth to declare all out war? It just didn’t make sense.

The noise of weaponry and bombs grew fierce. She sat herself on the sofa next to sleeping boyfriend and dog, trying to distract herself, to simply wait for it to be over. She could only stare blankly at the tv though, unable to absorb anything she was watching with the fate of the world being decided in the skies above. The anxiety she felt stood strong in her heart, like a cement block within her chest.

An hour or two elapsed with no respite from her anxieties and fear that the end of the world was nigh, when there came a knock on her door. who on earth could that be? who in their right mind would venture out of the supposed safety of their home to come and see her?

She was going to ignore it, keep all windows and doors closed as instructed by government officials via all television networks; but the knocking became louder, more frantic, enough to finally awaken boyfriend.

“What on earth is going on?” he demanded

They went and stood in the hallway, staring at the front door. The knocking was replaced with a deeper, more hollow sound. Her heart racing, body shaking, as the front door was beaten down.

Confronted with men in black uniforms bearing a battering ram, they stepped aside to allow someone else through.

She instantly recognised one of the men, but she didn’t fully register him in her mind. For her attention was focused on the 8ft tall creature that had crouched down to enter into her home.

He stood silently, his eyes fixed on her. Nobody said anything. The silence became too much for her to bear. It was like this creature was staring into her soul and she felt utterly exposed. Was he trying to read her mind?

Eventually the silence was broken by the creature’s smooth baritone voice;

“The necklace.”

She looked confused, realising that he was pointing at the necklace that adorned her neck, the one she had purchased only a few days before from a little shop in Camden. It was a simple silver chain that had the most unusual stone she had ever seen as a pendent. But what had her necklace to do with the intergalactic warfare that had been going on?

One of the aide’s to the Prime Minister stepped in to encourage her to give the necklace to the creature now and ask questions later. So she removed the pendent, handing it to the aide, who then, rather nervously, handed it to the creature towering above them.

“My sincerest apologies Emperor,” the Prime Minister began, turning to leave and escorting the creature out, flanked by several member’s of the earth military men. She followed, standing in the doorway with boyfriend watching them go. She looked up to the sky to see a ceasefire between earth and alien aircraft. Ours sauntering back down, whilst theirs zoomed of into the sky, through the atmosphere, and back to whichever corner of the galaxy they originated from.

As quickly as it started, it was now over.

Nobody ever did stay with them to explain just what was going on, leaving her and the rest of the population to speculate; what was so special about that pendent?

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Clock-Watchers

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When we are born, each of us is gifted with a traditional mantel clock. The clock is unique to each individual and we are to look after them during the course of our entire life. Throughout childhood it is barely noticed; kept on a shelf somewhere in the house. But as we get older it gets noticed more and more. We realise that our time slows down dramatically the more we watch the hands of the clock. The ticking and tocking that once counted out the seconds of our lives becomes slower, eventually counting out the decades, the more we watch.

We can slow down the passage of time – give ourselves longer lives, counteract the aging process, by simply watching the clock. Look away and time moves faster. A decade becomes a year, a year a month, a month a week. In a society that values youth and longevity, everyone, eventually, becomes a clock-watcher.

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He was the first man in a very long time to do what he did. Future generations would call him a pioneer; a revolutionary. He reminded people what life could really be like; that it could be fun, no matter how short.

Whilst the world around him sat, hypnotised by their clocks, obsessed with the slowing down of time’s passage, he experienced everything else. He went travelling, read great books, learned new things – he did everything you could possibly think of; even just taking the time to sit and admire a view that was not of clocks.

Clock-watching was dull. It was mindless. And yet everybody did it.

He avoided clocks and timepieces as much as he could, leaving his own on a shelf somewhere to gather dust. He welcomed the shorter life and aging process as he went along on his adventures. All the while wondering what the point of having a long, slow existence was if you were not going to experience any of it? A lifetime of nothing was no life at all.

He eventually began to feel lonely though, and sensing his now short life coming to a close, he wanted to help others to live a life more fulfilled.

He cautiously approached the clock-watchers that he came across and tried to speak to them. most of them didn’t even break their gaze but there were a few willing to listen, who became willing to shed their predisposition for the slowing of time and anti-ageing, and just try something new.

It was after all not about the length of your life, but the quality of it.

 

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