Saturday 30 November 2013

The Late Night

Sarah Harvey
There was something different about this place, he thought, looking up at the overgrown hedge surrounding the property.  Veiled by weeds, it was unkempt and neglected. He paced back and forwards in front of the tall enclosure a couple of times, but couldn’t see through to the house. The wrought iron gates were also overgrown with weeds. Strange, he didn’t remember it being like that.

He wandered slowly up the road, stumbling every now as he tripped over his shoelaces.

He fiddled with the gate lock and cursed when it wouldn’t open. Damn, he thought. Front gates locked again. So he decided to wander around the side of the house, tripping over his shoelaces. He giggled with a drunken slur every time he tripped.

When he came to the back entrance, he found that this gate was also shut, but soon discovered that it was not locked.  At the back of the garden was an old run down shed.  The yard seemed bigger than normal in the dark.  There was something different about this place.

As he snuck down through the garden, he upset a flock of birds as he went. Frozen with guilt, he stopped and looked around. He saw nothing. He reflects on his recent forced exit from the local pub. Elegant entries – and exits – were not his strong suit.

The run-down old cottage is not actually that big, but the block it was situated on about five acres, out of site from the street. Yet it was still easily accessible to the public from the back. Although glad it was unlocked now, he made a mental note to get a padlock for the gate and secure it in the morning.

Finally inside, he closed the door slowly behind him. He looked around with furtively… still no sign of movement. The house appeared more cluttered than it normally did; grandly furnished with quaint amenities, but it was filthy. He ran his index finger along the surface of the pine wood table; dust is on every surface, and dishes are piled high on the kitchen sink.

There was definitely something different about this place.

Suddenly, the light went on and Jack winced, covering his eyes with his sleeve.


Jack’s eyes adjusted to the light and he looked up, crying out in horror.

‘Mrs – Mrs White?’

Standing in front of him was a woman in her mid-sixties, scantily dressed in her flower-patterned nightie. Her hair was pinned up in rollers.

‘Mrs White, what are you doing in my house?’

The woman smiled seductively. ‘It’s not your house, Jack. It’s mine. You’ve wandered into my back yard again, haven’t you? Been out again tonight have we..? Why don’t you come and lie down with me...’

Friday 29 November 2013


By Diana Gitau

There was something different about this place. The new heir to the throne had just taken oath and the whole kingdom was in a celebratory mood. However, In this village, people hardly mentioned the new king. Instead, there were numerous meetings being held in the dead of the night. There were also strangers coming in and leaving our compound all through the night. I could feel it, there was definitely something going on.
However, nobody said anything to me. After all, I was just the farmhand. In addition, I was a Turain in a land of Maas.

Weeks after King Ruimi had taken over the kingdom, the celebrations still went on in other villages, but still, the Maas people here were silent. Every evening after my last meal of the day, Master would ask me to go to my hut instead of inviting me to sit at the fireplace with him like he used to.

I slept in a small hut made of mud walls, earth floor and grass thatch for roofing. Like all mud walls, there were many cracks that let light into my room. I didn’t have the luxury of using a lantern and so I mastered the art of walking in the dark when there was no moonlight.  

However, the cracks also allowed me to hear what was going on outside and i could tell that there was something definitely wrong. 

Master lived in his own hut which I thought looked like a palace fit for a king.  It was a huge hut right in the middle of the compound. The hut had a good roof made of shiny new corrugated iron sheet. This meant that it would remain completely dry even when it rained. Master’s walls did not have cracks.

Each night, I would hear the visitors come in. This went for weeks but still, he said nothing to me. So I made up my mind to find out what was going on. 

Kerar Kingdom was dived into two tribes, the Maas and Turains. The Maas which was the King’s tribe was naturally the leaders. The Turains were the servants. Although this was the norm, it still brought a lot of resentment between the two tribes.  The Maas took the leadership of the kingdom by force and kept all the wealth to them. Every time, they would ensure that one of their own took the throne at any cost. This is what had happened with King Ruimi despite the fact that his opponent King Tuleg from the Turains had the majority support.

This being a country where people vote according to tribal lines, I could feel the animosity towards me throughout the elections. The Turains were suddenly feeling unwelcome in the kingdom. However, Master always protected me like his own family. So I kept trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to know what was going on with the nightly meetings but my gut feeling told me that something was wrong.

That night, as usual, I went to my hut and lay awake in the dark just listening and waiting. After an hour, I heard the voices. I quickly woke up and peeped through the crack on the walls. It was a clear night and the moon lit up the whole compound making it easy for me to see outside.

Take them to the cowshed”, I heard Master saying although I couldn’t see who he was talking to.

After a while, I could see a few young men walk into the compound carrying bundles in their arms. I could see their faces and so it was easy to recognize them. Two of them were Masak and Tuwen, arrogant Maas who have always shown open contempt for me. They were talking in low tones so I couldn’t make out their words. I couldn’t also quite see what they were carrying but I watched them as they went into the empty cowshed and then make a few more trips with more bundles.

All the while, master stood watching them silently. When they were done, he walked to Tuwen who seemed to be the leader of the group and handed over an envelope before silently walking back to his hut.

I continued peeping through the crack until I saw the lantern in the main house go off and knew that master had gone to bed. Silently, I got out of my hut trying not to make any sound and went to the shed. The door was latched into place tied shut with a knot made from sisal fibers. I carefully undid the knot and walked into the shed, thankful for the moonlight.

It was clear to see that tonight’s drop off was definitely not the only one as the shed was full. There were about a hundred wrapped packages neatly arranged in rows all over the floor. I tiptoed to the first package and slowly un-wrapped the blanket to reveal glistening new machetes. I moved to another package and it was the same thing. The shed was full of thousands of machetes!

I wrapped the blankets back and put them back in place as I left. My heart was racing as I tried to make sense of what I had seen. What could master be planning? What did this have to do with me? I lay awake that night with so many thoughts running through my mind. The Maas was a powerful tribe but they were not violent. They peaceful co-existed with the Turains even if they hated them. In addition, as the ruling tribe, they never fought amongst themselves. The stocking up of machetes didn’t make sense to me.

The next night, I again stayed up to see if Tuwen and Masak would be back. I heard voices again and quickly moved to the crack. This time around, the skies were dark with no moon making it difficult to see outside. However, I could clearly make out the voice of the speaker. It was Raful, the king’s younger brother. A few minutes went by before more visitors came in. In an hour’s time, I had counted a total of five Maas, all very powerful men in the kingdom. They all walked into Master’s hut.

I tried but couldn’t just go back to bed and ignore what was going on. My curiosity got the better of me and so I decided to go and investigate. I quietly walked out of my house and headed for the main house. I tried to crawl to ensure that I wasn’t spotted. Still crouched, I followed the voices to the window and stayed low as I listened in.

Have you organized the young men from Muruka”, I heard Master ask. 

Muruka was a village where poor Maas lived.

Yes they are ready and just waiting for your word”, a voice that I didn’t know replied.

We have to ensure that all goes well, we cannot have these people on our village any longer” a third voice added. I was able to identify this voice as that of Chief Mute.

They are an ungrateful lot, coming here and settling like they own the land. We will send them out of the kingdom in coffins”. This last statement was made by Master.

If we do not do something right now, next elections, they may just take the throne”.

To set an example, you should start with your servant!” another voice commanded sending a chill down my spine.

He is a harmless fool,” Master responded.

Aren’t they all? But they have the numbers so we cannot keep entertaining them. We are the Maas, this is our kingdom!”

I had hoped to hear Master respond and defend me but he just kept quiet. I panicked and decided to get back to my hut as quickly as possible expecting to hear footsteps behind me. However, I made it safely without anyone stopping me. Maybe they hadn’t heard me, I consoled myself.

However, just before getting into bed, I went to the crack and looked outside and was met a pair of cold eyes. Master was standing at the window, just watching my hut. Nine years I had worked for the man but looking at him then, I saw a stranger. He had never treated me any different despite our different heritages. I even thought of him as my friend and only family. This was not the Master that I knew!

I closed the door behind me with my heart beating so loudly that I thought Master could hear it.I waited to hear footsteps approaching my door but there was nothing.

The next day, I woke up with thoughts of escaping and going back to my village, just outside the kingdom where most Turains lived. It is a three days’ walk but I could make it.

It was still dark when I stepped out of the hut the next day. At my doorstep, I was met by a horrifying sight. Master had left me a message. It was a tongue. Human or animal, I couldn’t figure out. However, the message was very clear.


Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Hunter

by Sarah Begg.

There was something different about this place.
On the surface, it was a regular bar – a swathe of well dressed young adults gathering for cocktails after work on a Friday evening. The good looking ones eyed each other off while the lesser attractive downed their drinks and talked loudly to compensate for their not-so-fortunate looks.
But there was a presence here – Clara could feel it the moment she walked through the smokey door and headed casually for the bar. The Nagi left a feeling in the air, a feeling that Clara was accustomed to sensing.
She closed her eyes and held her breath, the sounds of the bar dulling slightly as she let her sixth sense reach out.
Three Nagi had been here only hours before, their presence still lingering within the closed-in walls of the underground establishment.
Opening her eyes, Clara saw that one of the bartenders was staring at her with eyes narrowed.
Did he guess she was a hunter? Smiling euphorically as if she had simply been relishing the smell of this sweaty cesspit, Clara approached the bar and greeted the bartender.
“This is such a lovely bar!” she babbled cheerfully. “A friend told me about it last week and I just had to come and check it out. I hear you have a specialty whiskey cocktail that I must try?”
The bartender gave her the once over with his eyes but then she saw his expression clear as he decided she was just a regular newcomer.
“The best whiskey cocktail in town coming up,” he said in a slow drawl before turning away to begin preparing it.
Not a hard guess, Clara thought to herself, her eyes drifting across the rows upon rows of specialized whiskey lining the wall behind the counter.
While her miscellaneous drink was being prepared Clara looked carefully around the bar. A few men nearby were eyeing her – they always did when she wore her skin-tight leggings and combat boots. She had long given up trying to dress not to attract attention – this was the best outfit to wear when you might need to run, jump and chase someone at the drop of a pin.
Her eyes roamed to the wooden floor – Nagi always left telltale signs of their passing on the floor. Sure enough, she detected traces of saltwater that had seeped into the wood, mixed in with the myriad of typical spilled liquids one would expect in this night-spot. No matter how hard they tried to dry themselves, the Nagi always left traces of saltwater. It oozed out of their pores and their well-concealed gills to trickle on the ground as they passed.
“Here you go, that's thirty-eight love,” the bartender drew her attention. Clara cringed, both by the use of the word 'love' and also by the hefty price for a drink she didn't want and wasn't planning on drinking.
She paid her money, smiled sweetly again, and then began making her way through the crowded bar, following the lingering trail of the Nagi as it led her towards the table at the back.
The table was occupied by four co-workers enjoying themselves so Clara leant on the wall next to it, pretending to sip her drink. She closed her eyes and let the visions come.
Three of the Nagi sat at the table, talking quietly among themselves and drinking beers. Though they resembled normal humans to most people, Clara could instantly identify them from the strange aura that surrounded them.
The bartender walked over, the same bartender that had just served Clara, and the Nagi beckoned him over.
Thank you again for helping us, Gregory. Your help to our people will be remembered in the coming years.”
Clara opened her eyes and glanced over towards the bartender. He was serving others now and not looking at her, but she made a mental note of his face. Any who aided the Nagi were to be brought in and interrogated – she would report him when she got back tonight.
“You're a hunter, aren't you?” said a quiet voice next to her.
Clara turned sharply, her free hand flying to the knife at her belt.
A scrawny youth, probably not more than 19 years, was looking at her excitedly, nerdy glasses and curly, tousled hair slightly concealing his face.
“Why would you think that?” Clara asked calmly, her hand slowly loosening her knife as she lounged casually against the wall.
“I knew the second you walked in. You're after the Nagi that were here earlier, aren't you?” he said even more quietly.
Clara felt alarm bells instantly. Most people did not know much about the Nagi, that strange race of people who had walked out of the ocean ten years ago, and simply melted into society. People knew even less about the rumoured hunters that now tracked them down one by one. So how did this nerdy looking boy know what she was?
“I don't know what you think you know boy,” she began, but he cut her off.
“Listen, you can ignore me just as everyone at NT7 has been doing, or you can let me help you. I was here earlier when that Nagi and his friends were here, and I overheard where they were planning to go. If you want my help I can help you.” he finished determinedly.
Clara raised an eyebrow. Not bad, she thought, although he only identified one of them as being Nagi instead of all three.
Clara relaxed her hand on her knife and smiled.
“Why do you think I am interested and why is it that you seem to know so much?”
“Don't patronise me,” the boy narrowed his eyes, his voice raising an octave. “I know things, lots of things, but those bastards at NT7 won't even give me the time of day to listen. I know what is coming, what is going to happen. And I want to help.”
Clara eyed the boy again. Could it be possible that he possessed a sixth sense? He obviously didn't have the hunter sense, yet there was something else about him and her instincts told her that she should take him with her.
“Very well then, you can join me for now.” Clara said as she began making her way out of the bar. The boy's face lit up as if he had just been handed a pile of money, and he followed her eagerly out of the bar.

It seems you've got yourself a new companion, Clara thought to herself sardonically as they entered the dark street. Let's hope this one will be more useful than the last.

Friday 1 November 2013

Something Terribly Wrong

by Denis Fitzpatrick, © 2013
     There was something different about this place. An event fundamentally different and wrong in this very familiar place. Something hinting at a fundamental imbalance despite appearances. Everything looked physically fine to Him, but still something basic had gone awry. Everything Smelled fine too and He could still Hear the children at home from school for the weekend, playing as heathily as He had always Wished.
     ‘This had better still be Paradise,’ said God, Suspiciously Eyeing the environs of His Familiar Home. He was Quite Serious. ‘Morningstar I Seriously Hope hasn’t learned something I am yet to Know. Morningstar had better not restart That Ancient Feud. There will be consequences.’ God was talking to Himself only because this new threat, or illness, felt world changing, to which He was Responding Similarly out of Character. ‘Christ’s Counsel Methinks is Needed.’
     God took out His Mobile, feeling sin approach closer all over His Hairs while He Dialled Christ’s Number. Christ promptly Answered,
     ‘Hello, Father.’
     ‘Hello, My Son. Something is wrong at Home, something seriously wrong. I need You over Here to Help Identify a possibly deep bane.’
     ‘I know, Father. The cause is within My Home. I have been Considering it for twenty minutes. A very serious cause.’
     ‘What is it?’
     ‘We need to talk in Person. It’s something I think We cannot undo.’
     ‘Well then Get over Here, quick. This sin grows and grows.’
     ‘I’ll be There soon.’
     True to His Word as usual Christ was in His Father’s Allotment of Paradise quickly, Jogging up to His Father. He was dressed in His Usual Shorts, Shirt and Boots, His Hair in a ponytail just for the change. The Beard had Gone centuries ago.
     ‘Well, what is it,’ asked God brusquely. Sin was coursing closer All Over His Hairs.
     ‘That oracle I told you about, the one who was broadcasting that wilful, persistent sinfulness may no longer be countenanced with a simple mumbling of hasty prayer…’ Christ’s Voice caught, hinting at a Sob.
     ‘Yes, My Son, what of him?’
     Christ Gathered Himself. ‘He lays slain at my door. Slain by his own hand.’
     God was Speechless. The oracle, a writer, was now destroyed. He had been steadily, successfully, healing the moral law’s breach, proclaiming that consciously continuing abominations would no longer stand before The Lord, abominations to be atoned with just some easy prayer. Murdered with his own hand; unforgivable. Things could now only get much, much worse.
     ‘How do You know it was by his own hand?’
     ‘He lays in a small lake of bloody crimson from his neck’s carotid arteries, razor in his right hand and a suicide note pinned to his shirt.’
     God remained Speechless, Forlorn. After a few minutes of Mutual Despair and silence He said,
     ‘We had best Look into this, My Son.’
     ‘Yes, Father.’
     They soon Reached Christ’s Allotment of Paradise and There the oracle undoubtedly lay, atop his own bloody defilement. No  neighbours were witness to the slaying as Christ’s Home was Surrounded by a shoulder height Wall. They Read the suicide note: one sentence declaring that he had thus sacrificed himself willingly, martyrdom being the natural depths of his mission.
     ‘Are You sure it is the oracle You envisioned?’
     ‘Perfectly Sure, Father. I Will always Remember his face.’
     ‘We had better Take him inside. Clean up as best We can.’
     The oracle was tenderly borne within Christ’s Home, the filthy carnage cleaned in thirty minutes. So easily destroyed. Impossible to Recreate. The oracle was laid out on Christ’s Bed and Both He and God soon Arrived at the conclusion that he was irreplaceable. Healing the moral law’s breach was endemic to this prophet’s very core, the purpose of his creation, just as Christ’s Purpose was elementally to bring us all eternal life. Eternal damnation now lay ahead, God Having no Doubt that the steadily growing corruption of facile prayer forgiving continuous outrages of every sort would lead even unto Them. But They Both Had to Discuss the matter Further and so Entered the Living Room.
     They had no real Choice: the oracle must be resurrected despite his unforgivable end. For the first time in eternity God had to Forgive someone who had vehemently thrown away His gift of life.
     ‘But We may not be able to revive him,’ said God. ‘He has exercised his free will to its utmost summit.’
     ‘What will happen if he can’t be revived after an Attempt?’
     ‘I don’t know, My Son. Reality could well implode in an instant, either of Our Failure at his resurrection causing a fundamental trauma in life’s structures. Or We may well just have to await life’s eventual necrosis with his passing.’
     ‘Would it reach Us?”
     ‘Assuredly. The moral law will even decay Our Foundations.’
     ‘We Must Revive him, Father. It is the lesser of two evils. If We Try and Fail then so be it. At least it might be a quicker Obliteration. But We Have to Try, Have to Grab howsoever slim a chance to Safeguard Reality and all life. If We don’t Try then We have no Hope.’
     God Pondered a moment. His Son was right, They had to Try. If They Didn’t Reality and all life was assuredly doomed. Any chance to prevent this must be Sought, and They could well Succeed.
     ‘We shall Attempt it,’ God declared. ‘But which of Us to Make the Attempt? Thou Art Responsible for eternal life, Your Purpose, whereas I am Ultimately Responsible for Creation entire. To Whom does this fraught burden Fall?’
     ‘We must Choose wisely.’
     ‘We shall have only the Single Attempt.’
     They remained Mute for some minutes, Battling Despair.
     ‘Perhaps Both of Us, Father? Perhaps Our Combined Wills are the Panacea?’
     God anew Felt Hope, the crawling sin closer to All Of His Hairs relaxing, rescinding His mounting Despair.
     ‘Methinks ‘tis the only course.’
     ‘As do I, Father.’
     They then Both Entered Christ’s large Bedroom again, with only a King size Bed, a Bedside Cabinet, a Wardrobe, and now the slain oracle. Placing Their Right Hands upon his butchered arteries, Closing then Their Eyes They Called to him Through Their Touch, Massaging his despair, Forgiving his deep sin this once only.
     Simultaneously They soon Each felt the opened arteries fully heal and Each could Distinctly Hear a deeply terrified wail. A scream that echoed from every star, every planet, and every particle. The mighty, abandoned scream They Absorbed, Screaming too So Very Loudly Within, but Relieving it with Quicker, Deeper and Deeper Breaths.
     The Screaming slowly ebbed off, Their Breathing Forcing it under control. Until it was no more. They Each Removed Their Hands.
     They opened Their Eyes, Both Mildy Sweating.
     The oracle’s head was writhing from side to side, then a deep, desperate and joyous gulp of sweet air and he opened his eyes. They Looked at this awesome gift with Undeniable Concern, Eager to Assist.
     ‘Where am I?’ he asked. He appeared to have simply awoken for the day.
     ‘You’re at a good Samaritan’s. I found you outside My Place,’ answered Christ. ‘Do you remember what happened?’
     ‘You were covered in blood when We Found you,’ assisted God.
     ‘I don’t Think so,’ continued God. ‘We’ve had a Look for any cuts and you’re fine. What’s your name?’
     ‘Elijah. Elijah d’Israeli.’
     ‘A fine name, Elijah,’ extolled God. ‘A noble name indeed.’
    ‘You must have got in a fight, Elijah,’ said Christ. ‘You’re obviously the victor for there is not a scratch on you.’
     ‘I can’t remember a thing, not a thing.’ Elijah appeared to look inwards, turning his head to the left and remembering. ‘I remember having a wine…three wines. Someone with a razor.  Nothing more.’
     ‘Do you drink often, Elijah,’ asked God.
     ‘A tad too much.’
     ‘Do you have a family history of any mental illness?’
     ‘Well, I Think that and the alcohol have obviously caught up with you. You’re very lucky you won that fight, there’s a lot of blood on you.’
     Elijah surveyed himself. ‘My God, there is a lot! ’
     ‘I’ll Give you some Clothes to change into,’ offered Christ. ‘You might also want to shower.’
     ‘Thanks,’ said Elijah. ‘No more wine for this little black duck!’ They then all laughed and Elijah was able to head into the shower to cleanse himself. Christ’s Clothes, without Underwear, fitted him perfectly and Elijah made a hasty getaway, loathe to accept any more charity.
     ‘Thank you, thank you both. God knows what might have happened if you both hadn’t rescued me.’ Elijah said this just before leaving.
     ‘Bless you, my son,’ said God.
     Elijah then left, memories now returning to him of his self-chosen mission, steadily showing to any who will listen, to any who will not listen, that a simple prayer no longer absolves wilful paedophilia, persistent misogyny, and all unchecked, self-assured abuses.

     ‘Bless you, my son,’ said God when Elijah had turned right onto the main road leading away from Paradise. He then closed the door, smiling.