It’s The Same, Right? – Indepentional

The trio crept past the threshold of the ruined door, a lantern lighting the way ahead of them. These ruins had been abandoned for centuries.

“Remember,” Jameson said as he crept in front, lit lantern in hand, “If we kill any of the snakes in these ruins, we can’t eat them.”

Rolf stopped in his tracks behind him. “Why, what do you mean?”

“They’re poisonous.” Jameson responded.

Rosa sighed. “Jameson, snakes are venomous, not poisonous.”

“It’s the same, right?” The man in front asked.

“No, it isn’t. Venomous just means you can’t allow them to bite you. You can eat them just fine.”

“Oh.” Jameson responded.

The group continued for a moment before Rolf spoke up again. “Wait, so if you thought they were poisonous, why did you buy anti-venom?”

Jameson pulled up one of the mentioned bottles, small flasks filled with a greenish liquid. “Anti-venom? This is liquor.”

The awkward silence that descended on the group was only briefly broken by the sound of a palm slapping into a face.

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After The Trail Is Blazed – Indepentional

After The Trail Is Blazed – Indepentional

Trailnearest chicken-bacon to-go sandwich.”

Andrew’s e-bracelet beeped and his phone vibrated. He stepped lightly aside from the flow of people on he street and pulled his phone from his pocket. The Trail software had accepted the command and overlaid a clear blue path on top of a map of the nearest streets. Andrew skimmed the map and followed the instructions. On a list besides the map were several other suggestions for food on the go but Andrew knew what he wanted, no need to ponder or look around. He stood aside to let a couple of other customers out before entering and walking with sure strides down the aisle to the sandwiches. The Trail map even extended so far as to tell him the shelf he would be looking for. Grabbing two packets for good measure Andrew walked over to the till, paid and then left.

Trail, nearest computer accessories store.”

Again the software put an overlay over the map, this time showing a longer distance than before. Andrew would be crossing 3 bicycle paths and 2 roads on the way and a bright ? on the path denoted a place of interest. He put one sandwich-packet in his backpack and ripped the other open then set back on his path, walking along the press of people while munching his food. Andrew ate the last of the sandwich as he crossed the second of the bicycle paths. He crumbled up the packaging and made a motion to toss it away before stopping himself.

Trail, add nearest bin to current route.”

A branch-like network of detours sprouted on the map, each terminating in a little bin-icon. He choose one at random and continued, dumping the sandwich-packaging as he passed the bin. The rest of the way to the computer store was somewhat windy but Trail kept him on the path. The ‘place of interest’ was a large work of graffiti street-art depicting a man, much like Andrew himself, walking through a landscape while using the Trail app. His e-bracelet beeped. The Trail app could use more photos of this ‘place of interest’ so Andrew snapped a quick photo then continued on his way.

He arrived at the store in short order. It was pretty noisy with a bunch of other customers consulting devices as to what hardware or accessory to buy. He was looking for a cover for his own tablet and he already had a specific one in mind. Trail beeped and the aisle and shelf location bloomed up as text on his screen.

He left almost as quickly as he had entered, tablet-cover in his backpack.

Trailroute to home.”

Silence.

Trail, route to home.”

No change. His e-bracelet was dark so he pulled his phone up. Fine reception but Trail couldn’t find any connection to the servers. He pressed the Report Issue button but was met with a similar problem. Andrew looked around him. Several other people had just left the store, each mumbling commands to their app but none seemed perplexed.

He sheepishly approached the nearest person, a man with a baseball cap screwed onto a big head. “Erm, excuse me, is your Trail working?”

Surprise, then confusion spread across the man’s face. “Oh sorry, could you repeat that?”

Hadn’t he listened? “Is your Trail app working?”

The man looked just as confused as before but looked down at his screen then turned it towards Andrew. “Of course it does.”

“Odd, mine can’t connect.” Andrew responded. It seemed clear to him that the man wanted to be away.

“Huh. Well just use the report function.”

Andrew inwardly sighed. “Tried that, same problem.”

“Really? Then search for their customer support number. Can’t be hard to find. Excuse me, I really have to go.”

The man was already turning away before Andrew could respond. “Okay, thank you for your time.” He typed “trail customer support” into the phone’s default search function. ‘+45 46926734’. Came up in bold type straight away. Andrew felt he should be sitting down so looked around. The broad street was choked with people using the side-walks and scattered bicycles ran along the middle but in a narrow bit between the two he could see a wooden bench with a large flowering bush growing around a big net of steel bars. Minding that he was walking cross the flow he hurried over and thumbed the support number into his phone as he sat down.

There was no queue. A womanly voice responded in a friendly, yet professional tone. “Yes this is Karin at the Trail help-desk, how can I help?”

“Erm, yes, my Trail app can’t connect to the servers. I would have used the Report function but that also cannot connect.” For some reason his problem sounded outlandish even to himself.

“Hmm, we have no reported server outages. Okay, if you could give me your phone model and Trail user ID, I’ll see what I can find.”

“Cyborg Ac-model, #242982-1984.”

“Right. It seems your user has been temporarily locked. I apologise, it’s an issue on our end, bug in the new version.”

Okay so it wasn’t some odd signal switch-up from the store. “Okay so what can I do?”

“I can unlock your user straight away, the logs don’t show any activity that should lead to a user-lock. Unfortunately it will take about 30 minutes for the app to register the change.” Karin responded in a tired tone.

“Not to be rude but that seems like a long time for what sounds simple.” Andrew responded, trying to sound jovial.

“It is. I apologise again. If you wish for some refund because of disrupted service I can forward you to our PR people.”

Andrew briefly scanned around him. In the distance the city’s cathedral poked above the skyline, its bell-tower visible almost everywhere. He lived pretty close to that and knew the route from the cathedral square by heart. “Thank you for the offer Karin but it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Okay, if you change your mind, your case is open for another 5 working days. I hope you have a good day and thank you for calling the Trail help-desk”

Andrew thanked the woman for her help and hung up. The crowd on the side-walks had thinned out a little so he hurried to fold in, walking in the approximate direction of the cathedral. Shortly after he left the cross-section where the computer store was located he passed a side-street that linked two of the larger streets in the city. It was roughly the direction he should be going so he pushed out of the crowd and headed down.

The side-street was a riot of colours. Shop-signs seemingly competed to be the most colourful or gaudy. Clothes on drying-racks and blooming flowers hung from balconies above him. Buildings with red or yellow brickwork were covered in more graffiti, lines of runny paint flowing down from the street-‘art’. Several small eateries were open along this street, the smell of food poking at the hunger he had sated with a sandwich earlier. He stopped several times to look at pizzas, hot-pots and tubs of hot-from-the-fryer chips. He thought of the sandwich unopened in his backpack but quickly felt otherwise. Towards the end of the street he found a narrow shop where the front was a ground-to-roof painting of a bowl of hot noodles with herbs and a whole fried egg on top.

He ordered the one on said cover and got pretty much that. The large bowl was filled near to the brim with noodles, broth, herbs and egg. It was hot and warmed him from the inside quickly on the cold October day. Even though the spices and heat almost scalded his mouth he ate quickly and moved on his way, mentally making a note of where that street was. He kept the direction as best he could but more side-streets and small shops kept distracting him.

Before long, Andrew realised he had arrived back at the graffiti street-art he had passed earlier. Now that he was looking at it again he noted more than on his first passing. The man, with Trail-app n hand, was in grey-scale with no colours, the phone backlit by a grey halo with the windy-path Trail logo. The man was staring at the phone, not noticing the vibrant colourful landscape around him. Small birds and animals of the forest were depicted in moments of movement, flying or leaping about in the flowering bushes and blooming meadows, all of which the man missed by virtue of his staring at the Trail map.

Andrew felt a vibration in his pocket and his e-bracelet lit up. A service-message with the announcement – “Trail service has now resumed. We apologise for the inconvenience.” showed up on his notifications-list. The map from the computer store to his house blinked onto the screen. Andrew looked at it for a moment then his view panned back up, the tall bell-tower of the cathedral peeking up above the skyline of the city. A deft thumb flipped open the active-apps list and closed Trail. He’d know the way.

The Ceaseless Hunger – Indepentional

A flash of lightning just outside the window lit up the room, the thunder that followed shaking the steel frame. The howling of the storm filled the room as if the thick stone walls were not there at all, the rain making a constant drumming sound on the glass of the windows.

The ceaseless noise of the storm was only broken up by the sputtering of boiling liquids and the muttering and shouting of the man working the sprawling web of alembics , vials and tubes that filled the chamber. Despite the bone-chilling cold of the storm outside the room was filled with a sweltering heat from the burners speeding clouds of coloured steam along the tubes. An acrid smell emanated from the maze of tubing, though its orchestrator was too caught up in his fervent experimentation to pay such mundane sensations any heed.

His long black hair was slicked back with sweat and oils from his work. His pale face felt stretched over his skull, his gums sharp in his mouth as his hunger rose and rose. It had been days since he had feasted, fearful, no, terrified it would scupper his experiments and leave his efforts for naught. Wide and dry eyes pored back and forth over his nigh-endless notes as he directed the massive alchemical labyrinth of tubes and vials. Liquids and vapours of every colour under the sun, and some that by all rights shouldn’t, flowed and hissed through the glass pathways he had meticulously constructed. Some times he nearly fainted from the heat and his body’s craving for nourishment. But his fervor always brought him back, bringing his sharp mind back to his quest; to cure this affliction, this horrible state that had plagued him for decades.

Another lightning crashed and the tower shook, the generator that sat by one of the walls like a giant back serpent blowing a cloud of smoke into the room. The coils that led through the chamber crackled with renewed energy from the storm that was battering the castle. With a hiss of steam the final vial of the vast assembly line was filled with a liquid. It bubbled and steamed, the droplets that escaped the glass container sizzling against the wood surface it sat on. With a triumphant cry the man rushed to it and grabbed the vial, replacing it with another. He could feel the scalding heat of the liquid even through his thick work-gloves and his forehead broke into another bout of sweat as he brought it up to examine it. It matched what he expected, what he had researched during the long nights when he had fought off his need for a time. But now he laughed. Such struggles, such great pains were a thing of the past!

Without a moments hesitation he up-ended the vial, the painfully hot liquid warming him from the inside as if he had downed a whole bottle of vodka, albeit one with a taste like a rotten orange. His heart jumped in his chest and he collapsed, retching but desperately keeping the liquid inside him. A wave of heat swept through him. He tasted blood as he bit his tongue and stabbed the inside of his mouth with his teeth, his cheeks blushing from the heat. After what felt like hours he could stand up, resting on the table covered in sheets of notes and diagrams. Now the smell of the room was harshly apparently and he nearly retched again. His hunger was just as acute as ever but that was irrelevant. Leaning against the table he searched inside himself, scouting around in his mind for that feeling, that need which he had sought to cure. It seemed slighter, suppressed at best. It was, however, very much still there. Howling with rage he swept his body across the table’s surface, scattering tools and notes across the floor. Thoughts of slices with cheese and tomato sauce started bubbling back into the forefront of his mind and he collapsed to the floor, weeping.

He had failed. His unending craving for pizza was unchanged.

The ‘Butler’ Did It – Indepentional

The unlikely pair was standing outside the small-town police station in Oakham. For the first time in nearly a week the weather was not cold and foggy; only a few clouds obscured the early-October sun shining down on Chief Inspector Richard Reddington and Miss Pam. The Bradbury family butler had already been taken inside by a couple of officers. With the amount of evidence against the man the court-case would be over quickly but still Richard hoped they could close the lid on the case soon. It had been a ghastly week for the Bradbury family, trapped in their remote estate for nearly a week while they were picked off one by one by an assailant they had only identified with the help of Chief Inspector Reddington and Miss Pam, two guests that had just happened to be there when the fogs descended.

Initially the Chief Inspector had been reluctant to accept the help of the elderly woman in his investigations. He quickly had to reconsider his stance when the second death happened. She had proved invaluable. She was an old friend of the Bradbury family and knew them and their staff well and had a mind like a winter gale. Sharp and cuts to the bone.

“And you are certain I cannot convince you to accept my proposal, Miss Pam?”

The elderly woman smiled at him kindly. “Thank you for the offer Chief Reddington but I am just a curious pensioner out visiting friends and distant family. I have to get back to my house as well; Miss Whiskers must be missing me something dreadful.”

That didn’t upset Richard. She had already declined his offer earlier. He just wished his own detectives had half her sharpness of mind and intuition.

“Well I hope we meet again, Miss Pam.” Richard doffed his hat at her.

“Indeed, Chief Inspector. Under happier circumstances hopefully.” Miss Pam responded with a chuckle.

Chief Reddington couldn’t help but chuckle back. “Of course. Now, I have some paperwork that unfortunately needs my attention. If you’re headed for the railway station I can arrange one of my men to escort you?”

“I’ll be quite safe on my own, Chief Inspector, but thank you for the offer. Good day.” And with that the elderly woman did a small bow and left, walking down the sidewalk towards the railway station in a brisk pace. Chief Inspector Richard Reddington looked on for a moment before calling out.

One thing poked out of his recollection. “Miss Pam!”

The pensioner stopped and turned, a curious smile across her face. “Yes, Chief Inspector?”

He ran over to the her so Miss Pam would not have to shout. “We only found out it was Laslo because you found the murder weapon. But how did you know it was there?”

Miss Pam’s face lit up. “Ah, you see, the Bradbury’s have a tea pot that’s been in the family for generations, the one with the lovely depiction of Saint George?”

“Yes I know the one.”

“Ah yes and the day after the second murder the butler made tea in a different pot,”

“The one with the Virgin Mary.”

“Just the one. He said it needed to be cleaned but when I checked the kitchen sink it was absent. But just behind the pipes under the sink was the family tea-pot. And inside,”

“Was the old serrated steak-knife.”

Miss Pam nodded.

“Ah, so it was. Thank you again Miss Pam. Have a safe trip home.” Chief Reddington reached out to shake her hand.

Miss Pam returned the gesture. “To you too, Chief Inspector. Good day.” And again she turned and headed for the railway station and Richard went back to the station. Work called.

Miss Pam gingerly knelt down under the bridge and picked the serrated knife up with a gloved hand. Lady Bradbury had stood in her way of the inheritance they were both entitled to from a shared mentor from their school days. Well, had both been entitled to, Miss Pam supposed. Poor Laslo had been perfectly positioned to be a scapegoat in her place.

She put the knife in a little pouch in her handbag and carefully strode back up to the sidewalk, looking both ways to make sure no-one had seen her. She had a train to catch home.

Well-wishes – Indepentional

“Hey Benny, can you do me a favor?”

“Depends.”

“Go buy some more garbage bags, I’ll give you the cash for it.”

“Uhm, why can’t you do it?”

“Because of this.”

“HELLO THERE GRANDSON, I HOPE YOU ARE-”

“Fucking hell that’s loud. What is it?”

“One of those electronic well-wishes cards. Has my grandmother’s address as the return.”

“Electronic? Then it’s got a battery. Keep it shut, I’ll find it.”

“How the shit do you know about electronic cards?”

“Granddad makes them as a hobby. I’ve heard he’s even sold a few.”

“Huh. What’s their brand?”

“It’s a weird snake that bites itself in the ass. Don’t ask me why.”

“HELLO THERE GRAN-”

“Ow, fuck. I told you to keep it shut.”

“Yeah sorry, finger slipped.”

“Yeah, there it is. Oros Boros or whatever Granddad called it.”

“Huh.”

“Why huh?”

“There’s no battery.”

“Ha ha, very funny.”

“Not joking.”

“What do you mean there’s no battery?”
“HELLO THERE GRANDSO-”

“Goddamn it. Get me a paperclip, I know we have some.”

“Sorry, couldn’t hear what you said over my damaged hearing. Here’s one.”

“There, it’s closed. What do you mean there’s no battery?”

“That it’s just a piece of card that plays a message that it shouldn’t. See, the batteries aren’t there.”

“Could it be solar-cell or some shit?”

“Listen to yourself. Solar-cell cardboard. Plus we’re inside with the windows closed in early March.”

“Then how do we get it to stop?”

“Rip it apart?”

“If we could do that without it playing the message.”

“Maybe if we let the message play out?”

“Maybe, but I’d prefer any alternative.”

“Stick it underneath a pillow, that’ll muffle it.”

“Hmm, that sounds like a decent idea.”

hello there grandson, i hope you are well.-“

“Good call Benny, that’s not too bad.”

-me and granddad are also doing well. how are you doing with school? we sent a letter to that soccer player your mother named you after. we have not heard back yet but we are very excited. granddad also sends his well-wishes. call us. love grandma.”

“Has it stopped?”

“Let me try and open it again. Nope, nothing. Looks like that’s it. Looks like I gotta call my grandparents. I might ask them why the card was lacking a battery.”

“Might.”

“Yeah. Would’ve been easier if the card HAD been from the closet.”

Letterbox – Indepentional

Thank you to CerinLevel3 from reddit for this writing prompt – https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/64thcm/wp_a_love_letter_is_slipped_under_your_door_at/


“Hey Benny, I told you to stop moving my mail around.”

“Screw you, I didn’t move anything.”

“Then why did I find a weird love-letter by the closet instead of the door?”

“Maybe there’s a stalker living in your closet, hehe.”

“That’s not very funny, Benny.”

“It is for people without a stick up their ass.”

“I’ll let that go. If you need me, I’ll be down at the office. There’s no return address or anything on this letter, and it can’t be for me.”

“Maybe it’s for me then, give it here.”

“I didn’t know you played soccer, Benny.”

“That’s because I don’t.”

“The letter mentions my name and says the person was really impressed by my ‘Football’ skills.”

“Ah, apologies ‘David Beckham’.”

“Benny…”

“Yeah yeah, sorry for real this time. Smell ya later.”

– – –

“You’re lucky I was held up by a computer problem or I’d have closed down for the day by now.”

“Sorry for taking your free-time then, Mrs Daunton. It’s just a simple question.”

“Just let me save this and I’ll be right over, David. Damn machine is so slow today.”

“I got a letter in today that can’t be for me, but it’s got no return address or stamp.”

“It has your name on the front.”

“It also mentions my amazing ‘Football’ skills at some soccer match in a german-sounding town.”

“Ooooh. Well, let me check the ledger. Maybe some info got lost. Huh.”

“Huh?”

“We did not receive any letters for you since the one from your mother 2 weeks ago.”

“Error in your filing system.”

“I can’t believe that, Edgar was on duty until I arrived an hour ago. He’s meticulous to a fault. We did not receive nor deliver a letter to you.”

“How did it get into my room then?”

“Any open windows?”

“It’s mid-February, so no.”

“Well Mr Beckham, I can’t explain it so you’ll just have to figure it out on your own. If you’ll excuse me, I have work to finish.”

“Can’t you take it and throw it out or something?”

“If I did every minute task people asked of me, I’d still be cleaning my parent’s house. Good day, Mr Beckham.”

“Hey David, what did you find out about that letter?”

“Benny? Nothing, Mrs Daunton said they didn’t receive anything for me.”

“I wonder what she’d tell me then.”

“That you need to do your homework.”

“Ha ha, Beckham. I got a letter too.”

“What? Let me see that.”

“See, same font on the addressee, same lack of return address.”

“Found by the closet?”

“By the closet.”

“Well, that’s weird.”

“I say we check it out. Someone’s playing a trick on us.”

“Good plan. Wait.”

“What?”

“Don’t tell me your bat is in the closet.”

“I haven’t put it back in after practice.”

“Good. We might need it.”

“Well, I’ve got it now. You got the letters?”

“Roger dodger.”

“No-one says that.”

“I do. Ready with the bat?”

“Yeah yeah, just open the fucking closet.”

“Right right. Anyone hiding in the back!?”

“Hold on, haven’t gotten to the back yet. I forgot how big your closet is.”

“What do you mean, how big? It’s just a closet.”

“Well, get in here, see for yourself.”

“Right, make room.”

“No need, there’s plenty. Where’s that blue light coming from?”

“Did you forget a blue rave-stick in here or something?”

“Come over here, there’s like a door.”

“You must have gotten turned around, there’s no door inside my closet. But then again, it’s not normally this big.”

“Hey, the door’s got a handle. It’s not locked either.”

“Well, keep the bat handy, Benny, let’s see who’s playing a prank on us.”

“Uhm David, you might want to see this.”

“Oh. That is not what I expected.”

“Oh, you didn’t expect a massive letter-factory inside your closet? What a surprise.”

“Cool it, you didn’t either. Hold up, are those people?”

“Oh shit, one of them is looking at us.”

“Hey, you two! What’re you doing on the factory floor?”

“Nothing sir, we just found a door in our closet!”

“Don’t tell him that Benny, he’ll think we’re insane!”

“Don’t shout at me, what the fuck else am I supposed to say?”

“Hold up, hold up, you found a door in your closet?”

“I know it sounds weird, but yeah. Oh, and two letters addressed to our names with no return address.”

“Lemme see. David Beckham?”

“No relation. And I haven’t even touched a soccer ball for months.”

“It’s called a football. But okay, I see what happened. Someone cocked up, forgot the Earth address.”

“Earth address?”

“And on top of that, the clunk forgot to close the Door after him. Well, if you two just go back through the Door, I’ll make sure to close it and get these to their proper owners.”

“Uhm, thank you mister?”

“Armstrong. No relation. Now off with you two, I’ve got work to do.”

“…”

“Uh, David?”

“Yes Benny?”

“Can we even tell anyone what we just saw?”

“People would say we had smoked something. Let’s just leave it. And get out of my closet, it’s really cramped now.”

Dredgery – A Brief Liaison

A Brief Liaison – Indepentional

A Brief Liaison is a story I’ve been wanting to write for a while. It is a quite simple story with simple characters based pretty much entirely around the gimmick of a single page. I did not want to get into the ACTUALLY romantic scene so I had to extend some scenes further than they really should have, all to fit it into 1 page’s worth of space.