Shattered Idols

As the room filled up they could feel the chasm of their loneliness expanding. Words were spoken, seemingly endlessly but none really seemed to be directed at either of the parents. Not personally at least, but perhaps meant for them, as mantras and prayers of condolence. Voiced with grimacing faith towards two figures frozen in grief to the point where they appeared more carved idols than humans.

She thought back to the point four months ago where a similar ceremony had been played out. More words, more mantras, only then they’d been joyful ones, paeans sung to life and creation. Ready congratulations to what they had brought into the world together, received with burning, living pleasure. They’d been as united then, with the newborn held close, as they were divided now without it.

He broke first. An idol crumbling before a pitying congregation he turned and fled. Escaping the sterile, beige hued temple of their decline. She felt nothing, their duality already shattered she could only wonder if it was her weakness or strength to have stayed fixed in place as another wave of mournful and sympathetic laments were delivered by the faithful.

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The Accursed Blessed

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‘You are blessed. You are blessed. You are blessed. You are blessed. They’ve given you love, all the love you’ll ever need. You are blessed.’

The woman had been crying and repeating herself for hours now. No one was staring at her any more, though a few dull eyes still fell in her direction. There was nothing there though, just eyes hanging in sallow faces. They’d had their vision drained on the journey they had taken and been blinded by their arrival.

“… they’ve given you love, all the love you’ll ever need. You are blessed.’

I hug my baby closer and try to filter out the unceasing chant. Perhaps I am. I’m the only one left living here. The rest have stepped over already but I have something to fix me in place, love, all the love I’ll ever need. Her words are meaningless, a desperate lie but my eyes aren’t lost yet. I still see. I see enough to know that they took him and he won’t be back, enough to have watched that old love cut apart and buried. I saw them slice at him, through cracks in flimsy wood. He was made nothing, another object to be dragged away, no longer lover, father or man. And I was given a replacement, all the love you’ll ever need wrapped in rags torn from the blind who bore broken witness to the birth.

I feel no blessing though, no love, no nothing. I am no better than the rest. But still, I am not yet blinded. All the love you’ll ever need. Enough to see, for now.

“… you are blessed.”

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Prisoner of War (No Cure for Shell Shock extract)

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He refused to look at me. I stared, I hated, but he refused to see. I lived through my eyes, for those long minutes. I tried to leave the rest, to let him have it so that whatever he took wouldn’t be me. I failed. For all that I placed in that stare some part of me remained for him to steal. Still he refused to look at me. He left, having seen nothing. None of my rage, none of the hatred he’d earned as he pinned me down and forced himself onto me.

He left that for me, a new self, built on that hate and anger. A replacement for the rest, for that part he’d taken as a prisoner of war.

No Cure for Shell Shock, my collection of short stories, is available for free on Amazon Kindle until the 24th of March – grab your copy here. Reviews and shares much appreciated!


“We must believe!”

The crowd was ecstatic. Five thousand of them stood before him, evolved, or devolved, into one terrific collective mass. Faces eclectic and varied as only humanity could be but morphed into uniformity by the moment, sweating, heaving and moving as one delirious whole. It was almost a geological process, played out at one man’s gleeful behest, the first display of a newly discovered power that was rattling through him, disjointing bones and stretching skin until he could feel himself far bigger than before. His was a force that could compress a drift of confused and chaotic gravel into strata of absolute certainty, a force that could conjure mountains out of nothingness.

“We must believe!”

Another unified heaving upwards and outwards for the expanding rock face he’d honed his audience into. Belief, belief, belief. The strongest word the speaker knew, even when blandly generic to his own ears it held a power he’d never known could exist as it projected outwards. Say it enough and this new Everest, this new and terrifying peak could do more than grow heavy and solid, it could be brought crashing down onto the heads of those unwise enough to linger at it’s base without falling into it willingly. The speaker beamed inwardly, triumphant at the rush of creation, barely noticing the question of intent lingering beneath the euphoria. What would he do with this? What should he do with this? A thought easily dismissed and a question not to be asked. All there could be in this instant was power, his own, and belief, belief, belief.

No Cure for Shell Shock, my collection of short stories, is available for free on Amazon Kindle until the 24th of March – grab your copy here. Reviews and shares much appreciated!

White Walls

The room was perfect white. Not spacious or sparse, simply white, the detritus scattered around it’s interior sterile and blank in design but stiflingly busy in practice. Ingenious décor for a jail cell, the sole occupant thought to himself. The whiteness would deny rage, if he’d been willing to express any, and the clutter of needless ornaments and furniture made it a living place, rather than simply a waiting one. A coffee table, a bed, functionally useless tables and cabinets, lamps, a radio, a TV, even chintzy flourishes like statues of pastoral maids and shepherd boys culled from time warped junk shops only to be re-made in immaculate white. Like everything else. There were more modern pieces too, abstract shapes, some seeming to melt across table edges while others emerged from pure walls. All fragile, all breakable but sat on the floor in the midst of it all as effective in holding him as iron bars would have been.

Wreck it all. Throw, punch, kick and smash it all apart and the carefully constructed perfection would be gone. There was no restraint to hold him back from doing so, but nothing else would change beyond the immediate force of the act. The wardens certainly wouldn’t care, isolated as he was they’d never even see. There’d be no freedom born out of the destruction, no relief or release. He’d just be stuck in the same cell, only with all around him sullied by his own brute invasion. The junk and scuffed marks that remained would all be his, guilty against the cold judgement of the room. The inevitability of the result sapped the value of the action.

Not that there wasn’t anger. Oh there was a torrent of that. It flowed all the way back to the outside world, tracing his journey to this final imprisonment and lingering even now underfoot in case anyone should be ignorant as to how he’d arrived at his dead end. It had diminished now, the rage. Still forceful enough to notice but no longer as explosive as it had been when first it had shattered out of the funereal urn that he’d locked it away in way back when, but certainly strong enough never to return to that fractured holding place. Another sign of his captor’s imaginative sense of judgement. A cell to fit the crime and an eternity to wait for the captive to break to it. Or a lifetime at least.

That was why he sat there now, unmoving in the arctic solitude of his new confinement. He had a lifetime now to watch that anger, that rage that followed and filled him. There was only it, him and the perfect whiteness after all. A trio set in state, waiting to see what they would become if they merged into one, the walls and objects no less observant than he himself for all their inert physicality and the anger no less aware despite it’s blind and intangible nature.

So he sat. Waiting for the ‘if‘ to change.

No Cure for Shell Shock, my collection of short stories, is available for free on Amazon Kindle until the 24th of March – grab your copy here. Reviews and shares much appreciated!