Sunday 21 June 2015

Shooting Star

by JB Lacaden



Anna blinked rapidly. She looked around and saw Johnny smiling at her.

"Where were you just now?" He said as he went back to fixing his tie. "We're going to be late for our dinner with the Kawamuras. They're already on their way, sweetpea."

"Nowhere. I just remembered something," she replied. She turned to face the mirror. Her left eye had mascara while the other one was still bare.

"Yeah? What did you remember?" Johnny went to her, kissed her on the top of the head, then went to the sock drawer.

"A dream, I think, or maybe a memory," Anna started applying mascara to her other eye. "I'm not quite sure."

"What's it about?"

"I can't really tell. It's about a lot of things. Fragments, you know? Puzzle pieces that don't all belong to the same puzzle. I don't know if I'm making any sense," Anna said laughing.

"What's this dream about?" Johnny said. "Dear? Black socks or blue?"

"The black one," Anna said.

"Right. So, about your dream or memory."

"They're hard to recall. It's like trying scoop water using your hands. They spill through the gaps. But there's one memory that's the most vivid. It was New Year's Eve. This was still back in Old Earth."

Johnny was done putting on his socks and he was now just staring at Anna, listening.

"There were fireworks, people shouting, and counting down. This was right before the first barrage of asteroids."
"I remember being in Thailand at that time," Johnny cut in.

"Everyone was shouting, everyone was happy," Anna continued. "Six. Five. Four. Three. Then people started pointing towards the sky. Celebration became pandemonium as the stars began to fall. It started out slow but quickly picked up pace. The asteroids fell by the hundreds. They weren't big, not at all, but it was the sheer number of them that was the problem. The man ran with the others."

"All of these came from a dream?" Johnny asked.

"I...yeah, I think so. It couldn't have been my memory. I don't remember myself being in that place during New Year's eve."

Johnny helped Anna up. "You've got some imagination."

Anna smiled.

"Now, come on. Mr. Kawamura doesn't like to be kept waiting."


Hope XLV, one of the seedships transporting humanity, serenely floated in space like a ponderous titanium mammal in a sea of black. Neil was one of the many individuals tasked to guide Hope XLV to mankind's new home planet. Presently, the seedship was making good time. They'd be arriving ahead of schedule - two years earlier than expected, to be precise. Neil walked down Section 32 of Level 15, his footsteps echoed down the passageway, inspecting every single hibernation pod. Each pod contained a single human put under artificial hibernation. The nutrients needed by the body were being pumped into them through narrow tubes scattered across their arms. His job was to check on the status of the hibernation pods (all five thousand of them). He'd look into one, inspect the readings of the pod, then he would input them in his tablet.

Today was his favorite day of pod checking. Today was when he'd be checking pods 1000 to 1500.

Neil stopped in front of Pod 1219 (as he always did every single night that he checked pods 1000 to 1500). Inside was a girl with brown hair, a slightly pointed chin, and a slightly upturned nose. Neil's tablet indicated the girl's name was Anna.

"Hi, Anna," Neil said. He pocketed his tablet and sat down, cross-legged, in front of the pod. "How're you today?"

Neil checked his watch. Seven minutes. He had seven minutes until Toby would radio him asking why the data from the pods stopped coming.

"You look as beautiful as always." Anna remained silent (as she did every single night Neil would come talk to her). Neil cleared his throat. The sound echoed down the long, austere corridor. It was a cold place and Neil could see his own breath whenever he exhaled.

He wasn't really supposed to be the one assigned to Section 32 of Level 15. Samir was the original pod checker of that section and Neil was originally stationed at Level 15's Section 25. It wasn't until two months ago, when Samir asked Neil to cover for him, that Neil first walked the corridors of Section 32 and it wasn't until his fourth day in Section 32 did Neil meet Anna. It was love at first sight. Neil begged Samir for a swap, which, fortunately for Neil, Samir agreed to.

"Have I told you about the night the stars fell down?" Neil asked. "I was in a New Year's countdown party. Everyone was out celebrating," Neil checked his watch. Five minutes. "I was celebrating alone before the sky fell on humanity. I vividly remember the very first one landing on a building not far from where I stood. It was chaos. I ran as fast as I could without knowing where I was running to. I didn't know what was happening then all I know is that if I stopped running I would die. Everywhere there were explosions. I didn't know how far I ran, the only thing I remember next was barging into this two-story house. I know it's pretty useless. If an asteroid fell down on that house, we'll all be dead. But at that time it felt like the safest thing to do, you know? I turned around and there's this kid, probably no more than eight years old, looking at me, and he was all alone in this house with the TV turned on very loudly.

Neil's tablet started beeping. He looked into it and saw Toby's name on the screen. "Ah, shit," Neil pressed a finger on the tablet. Toby's face flickered on the screen.

"What the hell, Neil? Are you slacking off again?" Toby's rotund face, cheeks red to bursting, filled up the tablet's monitor.

"I'm with the hibernation pods, Tobes," Neil showed Toby the numerous hibernation pods that lined the dark corridor.

"Then why the fuck did the data stopped?"

"Glitch," Neil answered.

"Glitch my a--" Neil dropped the vidcall before Toby could finish. He took one last look at Anna, contemplated on going in for a kiss, decided not to, and walked on to the next hibernation pod.


Akio slid open his window and carefully climbed out on the roof. It was cold but it didn't matter since he had on his Batman hoodie. He could hear the TV blasting from downstairs which meant only one thing: the babysitter was with her boyfriend again, probably making out. Normally, Akio would be storming downstairs and threatening the babysitter that he'd be telling on her. Not tonight though. Tonight the sky deserved all of his attention. It was the first time he saw it filled with so many stars. They looked like diamonds scattered in the darkness. Akio imagined himself grabbing a handfu-- Wait, what was that? Akio was sure he saw a shooting star. Shooting stars meant wishes! Akio closed his eyes tight.

"I--I wish for mom," he whispered into the New Year's Eve air.

Akio opened his eyes and saw three more shooting stars zip down from the sky. Akio couldn't believe his luck. Three more wishes!

Eyes closed, he breathed out: "Dad wouldn't go out on any more dates with strange girls. No more babysitters and their boyfriends who loved to kiss. No more Chase who loved bullying me in school."

Then the sound of explosions entwined with shouting from afar, the ground rumbling. Akio stood up and hurriedly climbed back into his room. He looked out and saw more and more stars fell down. These weren't stars. No, he read somewhere in a book. Asteroids. He watched one fall not more than seven blocks away from their house. It exploded. Akio screamed. He ran out of the door and down the stairs but the babysitter was no longer there. The boyfriend was gone too. He was alone. The world outside was all noise. Akio went under the table and tried very hard not to cry. Where was his dad?!

Another explosion. This time it sounded, it felt, much closer to their home. He heard the front door open and close. Dad? He scurried out from under the table only to find a man he didn't know. They looked at each other. The man was drenched with sweat and his face was smeared with black. He was breathing heavily.

"Who are you?" Akio asked.

"Where're your parents?"

Akio shook his head.

"OK...OK," the man peeked out the window, then knelt in front of Akio, "we'll be OK. We're going to be OK."

Akio somehow believed the man. He nodded.

"What's your name?" The stranger asked.

"Akio. Akio Kawamura," the boy replied.

Monday 1 June 2015

An Excellent Daughter

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

Throughout most of the angriest marital argument that Elijah and Janette d’Israeli had ever had both parties were fully aware that their anger was completely unfounded. Their other half deserved much better than this they both knew but at the time each could not stop the hostility. The fight was the natural result of either fear of the unknown or a long pent up release after decades of carefully and conscientiously raising a family. Their twin girls had been easy enough to raise but it was naturally still a very, very hard job to bring them up as worthy citizens, eager to contribute to society. The youngest daughter, Maria, had flown the nest two years ago and had fallen into bad company. Her parents had had absolutely no contact with her for the past nine months, despite their best efforts. The eldest of the two, soon after her twentieth birthday, had flown the nest a few hours ago and neither of her parents could secretly see the sense in now fighting over the most suitable restaurant to celebrate their having their lives finally back under their own complete control.
     Their fight was interrupted by a very loud, urgent knocking.
     ‘Don’t you worry, Eli,’ said Janette on the way to the door, ‘If we’re not going to Domenico’s I’ll bloody well go there on my own!’
     Janette didn’t initially recognise her eldest daughter, carrying two large, full sports bags in each hand, looking expectantly at her from the doorway. It was the last thing Janette was expecting.
     ‘Blanche!’ she exclaimed when she did recognise her progeny. ‘What are you doing back here?’
     ‘May I come in, Mum? I’ve been having the most horrible time.’ Janette stepped aside to let her daughter enter. ‘Hello, Dad.’ Elijah was coming up the hallway, also not able to believe that it was Blanche at the door. She put her bags down.
     ‘But you’ve been gone only a few hours, sweetie. There must be some really cataclysmic reason why you’re back here so quick,’ continued her mother.
     ‘There is.’
     ‘Well, let’s have some tea and talk about it,’ suggested Elijah.
     ‘Can I stay here for the night?’ Mum and Dad were silent. ‘Please.’ Elijah allowed her mother to speak.
     ‘Only for tonight, darling. Unless you’ve killed somebody you’ll be leaving in the morning.’
     ‘And if you have killed somebody we’ll ring the police to come and take charge,’ pronounced her father.
     ‘I haven’t killed anyone, I . . . Let’s have some tea, I can’t talk about it yet.’
     But over the tea Blanche was still unforthcoming and her parents suggested she make an early night of it and see if she was able to talk about it in the morning. They would help her all they could with her obvious distress, falling short however of allowing her back to live with them. So Blanche agreed on the early night, feeling tired anyway after the stress which she was unable to vent.
     Her room was unchanged and Blanche got into bed with her clothes on, the first time she had ever consciously done that. Her parents left her to herself and Blanche fell off to sleep without expecting to.


Blanche did as a result feel able to tell her parents why she had returned at the breakfast table the next morning and while Elijah was cooking. When everything had been laid out, Grace said, Blanched opened the conversation with,
     ‘Satan visited me soon after my great flight.’ Her parents remained cutting their breakfast, looking at Blanche quizzically. ‘Soon after moving into the new place I decided on a nap. That way I could stay up all night for a good party.’
     ‘You know dreams aren’t real, sweetie,’ said her mother.
     ‘Well this one was. He showed me that you were going back to your Speaking Nights, both of you prophesying and preaching on random street corners, like when you both first met.’
     ‘We are.’ Her parents both replied.
     ‘Well, Satan told me that for your preaching to be really truthful you must also preach Evil, the only thing that defines Good. The Two rely on each other.’ Her parents paused in their chewing. She had a point. She had a point.
     Elijah sipped some orange juice, to counter,
     ‘But Satan is always lying.’
     ‘Dad, that dream was so real, able to touch, to smell, to see, to hear. I was there with Satan just as I’m here with you, that’s how real it felt. In Hell. Unable to leave. It was the worst experience I had ever had because it was so real: stuck in Hell, with its screaming, stinking, vile, hot and scorching beating, Satan himself beating into me that you were both doomed if you went back to preaching because of basic logic. Satan may have been lying, or he may not, to define his lies with counterbalancing truth, but it sure felt like he was revealing a secret.’ Blanche paused a short while, gathering herself.
     ‘And he does have a good point. Dad, Mum, if you both go back to your Speaking Nights you will have to do the work of Lucifer as well. Good and Evil are the only things that define each other; you can’t have one without the other. Your efforts may sum to nought, counterbalancing each other. You would cease to exist, logically, during these Speaking Nights and their consequent, dependant times. I too then, and my poor sister, Maria, will be nothings, all the d’Israelis since we’re all interconnected, products of each other. So that’s why you’ve got to let me move back in. To protect you.’
     ‘No way!’ exclaimed her parents, unanimously again. Certainly not as the result of lies in a dream.
     And try as she might she could not convince Janette and Elijah to allow her to return. She was only able to manage an extra day’s stay considering that her parents, always very religious and upstanding, found it all too easy to believe that she was petrified of meeting Satan in a dream again soon. They easily conceded that she needed a bit more time to learn to fly.
     With that settled Elijah and Janette easily settled back into the old ways of home, also being aware that their nasty argument of yesterday was utterly meaningless. Blanche unpacked her bag after breakfast.


‘Do you both plan to resume your kerbside preaching using home as a base, or travelling around?’ Blanche had awoken to the feeling, the next day, that this question over the family breakfast may lead to what she sought: a safe, yet varied life, with no possibility of the Devil. She doubted that he could penetrate her parents’ home.
     ‘We’re really going to travel around Aus, maybe the world if there’s still time.’
     ‘Won’t that be uncomfortable? Living in a tight space. Living out of a van, basically. Where’ll you get your running water?’
     ‘We’ll manage. Sure things’ll need to be organised more but we’ve got plenty of time to do that.’
     Blanche suddenly realised the answer she had gleaned upon waking. ‘If you let me travel with you I’ll take care of everything, everything and anything that’s involved in travelling around the country in a motor home. You are getting a motor home?’
     ‘Yes,’ replied Elijah. ‘The best way to travel in comfort.’
     ‘Well if you have me along you’ll have guaranteed comfort. I’ll hand over my entire dole, to pay rent and for my own upkeep in general. I swear you’ll never want for a thing on the road.’
     Blanche’s offer was surprisingly vaguely tempting to her parents, and vaguely reasonable. After all the first thing they had talked of when discussing hitting the road was how inconvenient everything would be, and how thus they’d come to hate travelling but would be stuck with it. They could of course have asked Elijah’s parents to reinstate his Trust Fund but that would be very embarrassing at his white-haired age. Elijah had asked his parents to cancel his Trust Fund allowance because he wanted to raise his own family himself, not have it done by his parents. And, Elijah just now realised, this was the only time he had regretted cancelling that easy money.
     Janette expressed this mutual tentative, possible interest with the question,
     ‘Wouldn’t you miss the young men, Blanche? You’ve always loved a good time and bringing forth life with someone special may be the most joy you could wish for.’
     ‘I can raise the child with you. And if I do marry it’ll be while I’m still young and so the man too will be young. He should then have no ties to cut loose from and be well able to travel in order to be with me.’ Her parents didn’t quite accept this last point but romance was something that could never be planned for anyway, or accounted for in any way, come to think of it.
     Naturally though Elijah couldn’t let their eldest daughter give them all her money, let alone any of her money. And anyway how was Blanche to legally receive the dole if she was simply travelling rather than doing the required search for work to qualify for the dole? She’ll have no choice but to work, not then being able to fulfil her guarantee. Mind you if she stopped off in a town every two weeks for ten minutes and looked for employment from two employers she’d technically qualify for regular dole payments. Yes, certainly something to consider. But then again if they travelled overseas Blanche would definitely need to work. But if Blanche somehow managed work and travel, again, how she could look after them as greatly as she promised?
     ‘I’m sorry, sweetie, it’s just not possible. The dole is not much money and probably couldn’t support an uncertain lifestyle. It’s impractical,’ Elijah pointed out to her.
     ‘Would you accept all of my dole payments every two weeks if I told you that I would be gaining stability whilst also learning new things? Sure I’d still be at home with my parents, but I would also be travelling new somewhere every day. Always learning. Adapting. Growing. For the experiences I’d gain the dole money would be very, very well spent.’
     Again, she had a point. Travelling along with them throughout Aus would mean that Blanche simultaneously remained in the family nest as well as was always flying from it and learning new realities. Her new skills would teach her the art of budgeting well on her small dole. And who knows, maybe the welfare would be a bounty, what with Blanche always indoors, not needing to go out as the outside was coming to her.
     ‘I don’t know about you, Eli, but I’m now tempted by the offer. She has a point there. And a bit of extra help on the road would be great from what I’ve heard. You?’
     He mused inwardly briefly. ‘Very tempted, Jan.’
     And it was soon settled. They had no argument in choosing a restaurant to celebrate their new arrangement and they spent the next eight weeks in preparing for the road. Blanche was of course of tremendous assistance, making preparations virtually effortless. Her parents though refused to let her drive the new motor home as they said it was being behind the wheel that the whole trip was about. Apart from that Blanche was true to her word during the first few days of all their wilful wandering. Things certainly looked promising.


If you've been enjoying Denis' stories here his previous such stories, from September 2013 to February 2015, are also available as a Kindle book, Amongst the Ways of God, at, which also includes several completely new ones. You may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me, which tells the story of how Tonia achieves her life's fundamental aim of having her home as a social hub, by staring at herself in the mirror. It is also available as a Kindle book at Denis also has a short non-fiction book available, King Street Blues, which is an encouraging tale of Denis' willfully chosen five years of homelessness in the inner cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It too is available as a Kindle book at If you don't have a Kindle you can download the Kindle app for free onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer through your local app store.