Adapt

Delta scanned the shelves of Walmart, looking through various attachments and enhancements for what she needed. There were mechanical arms and living wigs and the odd Brita water filter. After a few minutes of panic she finally reached the section she was looking for; genetic modification.

There was only one T3NT4 mod left. Delta snatched it up and hugged it close to her chest. She walked quickly to the back of the queue and stood, feet twitching. The girl in front of her turned and looked enviously with her cat eyes. The man behind her growled with his canine vocal chords.

Come on,” thought Delta. “Hurry!

“Next please,” the cashier drawled. With her first and second arms she took the T3NT4, and with her third and fourth arms worked the till.

“That everything?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to add insurance for 30 extra credits?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you be interested in our special offer today? Segway Legs, only-”

“No.”

“That’ll be 200 credits then please, love.”

Delta tapped her wrist on the machine and her hard-earned money passed over.

“Thanks, have a good day,” said the cashier lifelessly.

Delta picked up her precious cargo and left the store. But she couldn’t wait until she got home. Ducking into a doorway, she ripped open the packaging and let out a small, “oh.” It was beautiful. Twelve whole inches of smooth, purple perfection. Her fingertips ran across each section of puckered flesh, and she shivered excitedly. Unattaching her current arm, she primed her new limb and connected it to the stump.

As it came to life, it began to flick and sway at the end. Delta was mesmerised by its movements. Her movements. So when the mugger tried to reach for her tentacle, he took her by surprise. In a new reflex action, she let out a spray of ink, accidentally blinding her assailant. She slapped him hard across the face, which sent him sprawling into nearby bins. As she advanced, Delta realised something that both terrified and exhilarated her; the tentacle wanted blood.

The soft flesh slid around his neck, sucking at his skin as it pulled tighter. Ink ran from his eyes and he let out a pitiful cry. His pain urged her on. Delta squeezed harder until he went limp across the pile of bin bags. She released him and observed the red circles branded around his neck, like a pretty necklace of bruises. The end of her new limb flicked happily. The tentacle was satisfied.

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Fair

Bundled into an oversized coat,
thick-fingered gloves and a matching hat.
We tiptoed up slippery pavements,
lights dancing across wet tarmac;
feverish prickle of electric
on the way to the frosty fair.

I was first in line for the giant slide,
a crest above the tide. The ocean
slopped more darkness on the shore,
and the booming beat of the bass rocked the floor.
On a coarse coir rug I plummeted.

Together we jumped in the bumper cars
with their bright designs, metal hooks
flashing blue bolts as we bashed into each other
with the cold of winter nights in our laughter,
and after I’d beg for a cloud of candy floss,
warm like burnt sugar. Or hot popcorn,
a sweetly salted caramel on the tongue.
But all too soon it would be time;
You’re supposed to be in bed by nine.

I’d count the nights ’til we returned,
but when we did, a barricade of breeze blocks
and steel fences barred our way.
Inaccessible, unrecognisable in its array of
monochrome machines and wretched dreams.
They’d drained the colour. Killed the lights.
There’s no delight in rusting girders, splintered
shells of shacks, fluttering tarpaulin. Sawdust and salt
grit the corners of my mouth, turned down in despair.
It’s just not fair.

The Fantastic New Year Dream

Nothing like a nice nightmare to end the year, eh? Would appreciate it if this isn’t the narrative for my 2018, thanks very much!

***

On a night out, casually drinking in work, one of the guys asked me to take a few plates to the potwash. For some reason we had two of them; the one in the kitchen and another in a shed-like building out back. I decided to explore the second.

During this exploration I had an omnipotent cutscene play in my head. A paramedic sat in his ambulance, and something about him seemed off. He wasn’t doing anything, simply sitting there, waiting. Watching.

Outside of the restaurant was like a completely different city; chainlink fences, hard concrete, graffiti. I dumped the plates on the side and explored the crumbling brickwork of this alley.

As I reached its end, I heard a scuffling noise behind me. I turned to see a woman at the other end of the alley, slowly raising her arms to point a gun. With a second flash of omnipotence I knew she would fire it, and I even saw the bullet spinning straight for my head. I ducked beneath a stone pillar and stayed down. That bullet missed me, but a second shot pierced my chest. I couldn’t scream (if anyone can scream in dreams I’m amazed), but the pain was astonishing.

The woman stopped firing. A man appeared from my end of the alley and stood over me, looking thoughtful. He was dressed like a stereotyped chav; cap, puffed jacket, trackies and chains. “Please,” I begged him. “Please help me!”

He raised his own gun and shot me in the shoulder.

As he walked away, I reached into my pocket with my good arm and pulled out my phone. I began to type a status of help on Facebook, but I’d barely written “been shot” before the woman appeared.

“Stop that,” she said in a Spanish accent. I tried to get up, but she booted me in the back and I felt a rib snap. I wasn’t sure why they didn’t want to finish me off, why they wanted to cause me such pain, but she too left me there.

I got to my feet and staggered through the halls of University. There was a distinct lack of blood and not as much pain as you’d imagine. I just felt numb. Why had this happened?

I jabbed 999 into my phone and began babbling about being shot and needing an ambulance from the front of the University. They asked me which entrance and I broke down. There were so many damn entry points that I couldn’t figure out which would be nearest.

As we concluded the phone call, I once again envisioned the ambulance driver. It was clear this was the man I had been talking with, and as we finished speaking I saw him smile, hang up, and fold a piece of paper. The last thing I remember thinking was, “at least I didn’t give him my home address.”

Next thing I knew I was in the ambulance, only it was more like a minibus. My head was fuzzy and there was a stiffness in my neck, but I realised I was not alone. I looked up to see several others in similar drug-induced states to me, and at the front of the bus the paramedic grinned. From the driver’s seat he picked up a machine gun. Not again.

I undid my seatbelt and slowly slid below the seats. I heard the rapid cracks of firing, but there was no blinding light, no screams. I don’t even think any bullets fired. But sure enough, the first three rows of people all dropped dead. I peered over the top of the seat to see sparks flying from the necks of the recently deceased. Touching my own, I felt a small electrical box on a collar. I ripped it off.

I guessed the gun automatically triggered the boxes whenever they were aligned. And everyone else was too out of it to realise. What were we, test subjects? How had they chosen us? Why?

I waited until the paramedic had left his warm corpses before sneaking off the bus. In my messed up head, I didn’t think of walking myself to hospital. Right now I trusted no-one, so I hobbled all the way home.

But they must have followed me. Before long a For Sale sign appeared in my garden, and without any of mine or my parents’ consent, the house was sold. Eventually my parents disappeared. There was no note, no slight indication as to what happened to them, but after recent events I feared the worst.

I was told the new tenants had decided I could still live with them. I waited in the living room to meet my landlords. The front door burst open and the new owners walked in. It was the woman who had shot me. And her loving husband.

They gave me a small space in the kitchen and one of the cupboards for my belongings. They emptied the house of everything they didn’t want, and sat on my parents’ sofa watching my parents’ TV. I sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor, trying to think about nothing.

Obviously, me being alone for five minutes without fresh pain wasn’t an option.

“What you have?” She growled. “I want to see.” She reached for my cupboard door, and upon looking in smirked at my measly possessions. “This all you have, eh?” She poked me in the side and saw me wince. “Oh sorry,” she purred. “Do you have a broken rib?” I nodded through tears. She laughed and punched me.

As another flash of agony reared up my side, I thought, somehow, I’ll get my house back.

What a Catch

She looked at his once-handsome face. The chiselled jawline and strong nose were still there. If she focused hard enough, his eyes were the same green-blue as the day they met. The only problem now was that the rest of him was also green-blue.

She reached out a tentative hand and stroked his cheek. No longer did it feel soft, but rough and scaly. Where there had once been warmth, there was nothing but slimy cold. This wasn’t her Jeff. This, apparently, was Jub.

“I’m still me,” he whispered, raising a webbed hand to cover hers. “I still feel the same.” He started sobbing, great shuddering breaths gasping through his large lips. She didn’t know how to react. Then she realised he wasn’t actually crying; her hand was covering his gill.

“I’m sorry,” she said, backing away. “You’re just…uh…not my type…anymore.” And with that, she ran, Jub reaching a solitary fin after her.

She’d been suspicious from the first date. They’d enjoyed the fairground rides, and she’d laughed at his unusual sense of humour. Things were going swimmingly, until out of nowhere he fell to his knees and broke down at the coconut shy. He refused to speak of the incident, but now she remembered the little golden fish, suffocating in plastic bags.

He’d always downright refused to visit the Seaquarium too, appeared almost angry whenever she suggested it. It occurred to her now that maybe some of his family were captive there. If he even had a family.

Oh God, she thought, clutching her stomach. I hope I’m not pregnant.

Modern Fairytale

This piece was born from an exercise in an Urban Fantasy Lit Circle to place a fairytale character into a modern setting. This was the first image that came to mind:

 

“Yeah, Karen? We’re gonna need your assistance in Footwear.”

Karen sighed and clicked the microphone button. “Sure, what’s up?”

“See for yourself,” her boss crackled back.

Straightening her blue work shirt and smoothing down her hair, Karen entered the service lift and pressed the Level 2 button. She was always given the shitty jobs, but hey, it’s what you had to do to get a promotion around here. They certainly didn’t pay her enough now. Karen wondered what kind of job this would be; another kid throwing up everywhere, or another group of women fighting over the same cute pair of sandals?

She exited the lift into a new chaos.

As far as Karen could see, each shelf was empty. Every single shoe had vanished. Even the discarded pairs that usually littered the floor were gone. The bare white metal reflected Karen’s face as she tried to comprehend the vast emptiness. She was vaguely aware of a woman complaining to her right, and mumbled a brief, “we’re very sorry madam, we’re sorting it.”

A loud sobbing made her turn sharply left and follow the wretched sound.

She found the shoes.

Every single style, from slippered boot to stiletto, had been accumulated into a large footwear mountain. Amongst this, a woman sat crying into the folds of her pink and white dress. A crowd of women surrounded her, mumbling and giving her funny looks. Any time they reached for a pair, the woman in pink hissed at them.

They turned as Karen approached, expecting her to know how to handle the situation. She smiled nervously and knelt beside the distressed lady.

“What’s the matter, love?” She asked. The lady was surprisingly beautiful behind her puffy red eyes and soggy blonde hair.

“They all fit!” she moaned, hugging some court heels to her chest. Karen raised an eyebrow.

“Surely that’s a good thing?”

“No, you don’t understand! They all fit! All the shoes here fit more than one of us! There’s not a single pair here that just fit me! How will he recognise me now?”

Before Karen could reply, she broke down again, collapsing on the cheap pile of footwear and muttering about pumpkins between sobs.

 

A Sneak Peek…

A big change is on the horizon; one I’ve been meaning to make for a while. ClaireBearThoughts is one of those naive names you create when you can’t think of anything else, but it played its part. Now, as I build my brand, a complete overhaul is required.
Here’s an obscure image of something that will probably mean nothing to you, but might whet your curiosity…

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