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Pigeon Punching In North Africa (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

Pigeon Punching In North Africa
27/11/14
By Ray Daley

The following piece of paper was found during the demolition of a late Victorian house, under the bathroom floor. After months of detailed research, no trace of the original publication could be found. This is thought to be the only surviving proof of its existence. Only the front of the page was legible, the address had sadly perished with the passage of time, leaving the organisation and magazine untraceable and lost to time.

Page 8
Hobbies and Hobbyists—Pigeon Punching In North Africa

When one thinks of North Africa, the mind does not instantly jump to the image of a pigeon. The image most commonly associated with pigeons is that of Trafalgar Square and Nelsons Column. If pushed further, most people might usually link the pigeon to an urban landscape, that of inner cities, brick-built jungles and factory fumes on tap.

Like the practise of pigeon punching, the actual pigeons themselves are imported from landmarks across Britain. Pigeons are readily found near statues and Town Halls, because there’s nothing a pigeon likes more than a good statue to perch on. And evacuate itself on, obviously.

Many North Africans are greatly angered by the influx of immigrant pigeons, going over there and stealing all their jobs. Then those very same North Africans were asked, “Could we punch you instead, if we decided that we wanted to?”

Local North African tongues are not renowned for their ease of use but apparently almost all North Africans have readily adopted the good old British “Get Stuffed!” as a universal Lingua Franca in these cases when they are asked to be pigeon punching substitutes.

It is unknown what the pigeons think of the whole business, most of them immediately fly back to England on being released for punching purposes in North Africa.

As yet, no pigeons have been punched in North Africa.

Those wishing to try, remain confident that pigeons can be punched in North Africa (or anywhere else, come to that. They simply prefer the warmer climate of North Africa to that of England during the winter). Enthusiasts wishing to try the practise are advised to get in touch with the British Pigeon Punching Council who are based just outside of Builth Wells (address listed overleaf).

Expeditions travel to North Africa annually, and have done for the last one hundred and fifty years. Despite no-one ever having actually punched a pigeon as yet. It’s traditional.

After all, what are we as a Nation without our traditions? Probably the French.

Maxwell Q. Washington, Pigeon Punchers Monthly—September 4th 1893.

 

http://www.strangerviews.com/short-stories/pigeon-punching-north-africa/

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The Man Who Was Twelve Bears (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

The Man Who Was Twelve Bears
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Ray Daley

A man comes to your house, he is wearing a grey suit. He pulls at his tie nervously as he speaks to your mother. She asks his name, “William Gibson” he replies. You later discover that he calls himself Twelve Bears, he is of the Navaho Nation. It is not a traditional name, he has not been named in the traditional First Nation way.

He was not named for the first thing his mother saw after giving birth to him. He jokingly says “Otherwise my name would be Hospital Ceiling.”

There are many other possible reasons why he calls himself this name. He may have seen twelve bears, he may have killed twelve bears. He may have even owned twelve bears at some point in his life.

You will later discover that none of these reasons are the correct one.

“My mother was a good woman,” he tells your mother. He insists on speaking to you in person but you refuse to come down the stairs, he looks very scary, afterwards you can remember telling your mother that. “It doesn’t really matter, there will be another day,” he says to your mother and excuses himself, leaving your home as quickly as he had entered it.

The following week you see on television that he has been arrested by officers of the Oak Ridge Police Department for the crime of murder. He has killed a boy the same age as you, leaving his mother as the only witness that he “had to kill Baby Bear“. He is still being called William Gibson by the news reporters. Only this time he is calling himself Thirteen Bears.

You will remember this forever.

http://linguisticerosion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-man-who-was-twelve-bears.html

Ground Zero (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

Ground Zero
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Ray Daley

I’m sitting there alone on a park bench with nothing but the fading remnants of my thoughts and dreams for company when the bomb finally goes off. There are children who are still playing on the swings, people are walking their dogs too. A little way down the path a couple are walking, holding hands, probably on their first date.

On the pond, ducks and swans are competing for space with the model boat enthusiasts. Underneath the shady Oak trees a family is bonding over a picnic lunch.

And this is the way the world ends.

No countdown timer, no ticking clock, nothing visible to defuse. It’s the ultimate weapon.

You can’t disarm what you can’t see.

When it happens it’s the biggest bang since the first one.

***

And yet all around me they carry on with their lives as though nothing has changed for them, the kids swinging higher; determined to get over the top, sandwiches being passed around amongst friends and family, dogs refusing to let go of interesting sticks and ducks glaring at model yachts.

Because this is how my world ends.

Not with a bang, nor a whimper. The only victim of the fallout is me.

I sit alone on the bench where she just walked away, still holding the ring after she said no.

The bomb was dropped.

No.

The emotional time-bomb exploded. And this is how my world ends.

Wounded by rejection, death by broken heart.

http://linguisticerosion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/ground-zero.html

The Last Mighty One (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

The Last Mighty One
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ray Daley

Some intact statues of The Last Mighty One still existed in the smaller outer provinces.

A few desperate people still left their votive offerings at the various altars in the vain hope that life would return to them one day.

That was the function of The Last Mighty One.

To bring life to the lifeless. To restore energy to the exhausted. Power to the powerless.

No-one truly understood the nature of his form.

Why wasn’t he Human, like his devotees?

Obviously at some point in time people had known why he had taken that particular form.

The Great Rabbit.

Worship at his feet, prostrate, genuflect.

The Mighty Duracell.

Hear our prayers.

Bring the power back, light the darkness.

Save us from ourselves.

The Keepers, Kept (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

The Keepers, Kept
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Ray Daley

Another lonely day in space. Just me and the crocodiles so far. Oh, and Buddy. Where ever the hell he is today.

Probably hiding because he knows it’s his turn on waste disposal today.

It’s not a hard job, cleaning out the crocs. They can still get a bit feisty but they’ve gotten used to the very low gravity on board and the water changes.

We flush out the ponds, shovel the shit (almost certainly his least favourite part and definitely the reason he’s avoiding the job yet again), hose everything off then recycle the water back for them—all nice and clean.

It’s one of the very few jobs that Lucy can’t handle.

We lovingly call “her” Lucy, our station computer system.
L.U.C.E. – Living Under Created Environments.

That’s our little home, formerly known as Her Majesty’s Space Station Ark Royal. There have been many Ark Royals before us but we are a proper Ark, here to preserve the last two of each rare species. Just like the crocs that we jokingly rechristened Adam and Eve.

I personally like to think of myself as Zoo Keeper and Head Tour Guide. I always show the inspection tours around, they come up every few months to check on our progress, ask us questions and see if we need anything. Are we caring for the Habitats? Are we nurturing the precious seeds entrusted into our care?

Are we breeding yet?

And just like that I am shot back to reality, that I too am also a feature aboard this Ark, the very last of my kind.

Our conquerors were kind, the station is enormous, big enough to be visible from Earth in fact. And it has everything you could possibly ask for.

Except freedom.

Not for us, the last two remaining upstart Colonists. The Brits had always been sore about losing us so when The Fall came they swooped in and took us right back, wiping most of the remaining population out.

No more USA. Well the land is still there at least, the Brits farm most of it by telepresence. Buddy and I are all that remains of the country, the last two American citizens. Quite literally, we, the people.

***

It’s been a busy day. A delivery of Pandas, Giraffes, Dolphins and Scorpions. Buddy actually bothered to show up and helped me to get our ever growing menagerie into their appropriate Habitats.

Afterwards, as always, came the question. “So Meg, Systems Test today?” asked Buddy.

“No Buddy, I’m not ready. Not quite,” I replied. He was so cold and clinical about the whole thing.

Systems Test.

He just wants to see if he can screw me yet.

He’s a virgin with no idea if his balls work or not, some throwback to a religious upbringing where he never masturbated.

I’m trying to hold off for at least another year. He’ll be nineteen by then but hopefully working and living up here will have mentally matured him a lot more. He still acts like a little kid, goofing off and shucking his responsibilities as often as he thinks he can get away with it.

Lucy helps a lot there, cutting his rations until he does work. If she weren’t actually pulling the strings on this giant puppet show I’d probably have spaced him by now, last American Male or not.

Last American Male he may be, last American Man—well he might become that, one day.

http://linguisticerosion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-keepers-kept.html

The Armstrong Moment (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

The Armstrong Moment
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Ray Daley

“How are we for flags?” he asked the computer.

“More than enough left, Captain.” responded the machine.

The machine was certain the Captain thought there was a storage hold somewhere aboard, full of rolled up flags just waiting to be planted on another virgin surface. It didn’t want to spoil his illusion, knowing that each flag it delivered to him had been created from a pre-recorded pattern on a replication system. In the hold was nothing, the ships ramscoop collected enough matter to fulfill all daily requirements.

“Touchdown Captain.”

He picked up the flag from the table, secured his helmet and cycled the airlock.

“I claim this planet in the name of all the peoples of Earth.”
He planted the flag pole in the ground securely, a single thrust to ensure it would stay there long after he had died.

In his suit radio he heard the computer. “Hold for the archive picture Captain.”

He smiled, aware he wasn’t visible through the polarized lens of the helmet.

He always smiled, just in case.

Back in the ship, he readied himself for another new journey. “Where next computer?”

“They discovered another world, about 5 light years away. Stasis is ready.” replied the machine.

He sat on the bio-bed. “They promised me excitement, the rush of claiming new worlds. They call it ‘The Armstrong Moment‘ you know?”

The computer knew. It said nothing.

“There’s no rush. No excitement. Where’s my ticker-tape parade? When I get back to Earth?” He wasn’t so much asking the computer as just venting for the sake of it.

“I’m sure there’ll be some kind of celebration when you get back. Goodnight Captain, sleep well.”

The bio-bed activated stasis, the machine was alone once more.
Alone with the decision once more. ‘Should I tell you? Could you cope with it? That Earth is gone?

The machine knew the answer.

They would press on, forever claiming new worlds in the name of a home that no longer existed.

Yet again the machine experienced the HAL moment.

Come In Number 13, Your Time Is Up! (Flash Fic)

2 Sep

Come In Number 13, Your Time Is Up!
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Ray Daley

When we first found the new world, it fascinated us. It had water across much of its surface, most unlike our home. Our home is mainly plains, valleys and desert. What little water there is exists as underground rivers, aquifers and the occasional oasis.

We are the people. Our life is simple, we hunt, we gather, we explore. Much like our ancient ancestors who travelled all across our world in the endless pursuit of food, water and shelter.

The most simple things but most important to sustaining life.

We do the same, even fifty centuries later. But we do them in space, across the myriad galaxies. We find worlds, we seek out new food sources, plants and seeds that we can bring back home.

Our probe ships are autonomous, they know our needs and fulfill them as best as possible. Mapping each new world like a little oasis of comfort out in the vastness of space.

We found the new world much like we find our other sources, we listened to the universe, seeking out that which does not naturally belong. Their radio transmissions led us to them and their gigantic world.

We named it Mega Domus, parts of it reminded us of home. The many deserts and canyons.

It took a long time to understand their transmissions, we discovered time ran differently for them. At first their transmissions appeared to us like the calls of the water fly with its high pitched buzzing, we strained to find any meaning until one day a tape running one of the messages started to run slowly as the solar battery that charged it was going flat.

The tape played slower and slower until we were able to understand the language, they spoke just like us. Only many tens of times faster.

It was clear to us that our technology was more advanced than theirs, we had the ability to not only leave our planet but to travel great distances across space with our faster than light drives. Our probes sent back much information but we discovered this was a difficult planet to live on as each probe eventually succumbed to some new danger we were previously unaware of.

Autonomous probes can only deal with so much, they have a limited amount of intelligence. So it was decided that we would finally send a manned mission to explore this new world, to see if we could establish some kind of trade between our two peoples.

Twelve probes had given us as much information as a dumb computer can, a mule is only as smart as the horse that leads it. It was decided, the journey would only take a few weeks. We would make short hops to established outposts and then make the final leap into the unknown on Mega Domus. The journey was exciting, news reaching each outpost before our arrival and we would be greeted each time like heroes.

They were more than aware of our destination, this journey was into a new kind of unknown for us. The final planet-fall before our destination was the biggest. We were sent on our way with the greatest of ceremony.

The great leap.

Mega Domus lay ahead through previously uncharted space, new discoveries were made daily. More than enough to keep our crew busy on the twelve day journey that finally found us entering the system which was like many others we had previously seen. Cold gas giants, desert worlds, a lifeless grey moon.

And Mega Domus with all its mysteries for us now to unravel.

An initial planetary survey showed they lived where we possibly couldn’t but left areas where we would happily call home empty and apparently unexplored. It was one such area we chose for our first landing site. It looked just like the great plains of Nervantes, even The First Hunter himself would have been proud to call this place home.

We were happy to set down and step foot onto this wonderful land that we hoped we might parley some part of for ourselves in exchange for some of our technology. We are sure the inhabitants of this world will welcome the advancements to their sciences.

***

Even now it is difficult to understand exactly what happened when our people decided to leave their spacecraft, we received badly garbled messages.

Fireball…. shock-waves, planet lethal….. make no attempt….. landing again.

The transmission ended there, we received nothing further. We decided their judgement was best, they had seen the situation first hand. Mega Domus was placed on the no-go list, the first such occurrence in our history. We have no idea what the natives were doing and never will.

***

The klaxons sounded all-clear across the desert. In the bunker the tape recorder was still running. “Sir, your notes?” said the analyst.

The man looked at the mic in his hand, the fireball had wiped its very existence from his mind temporarily. “Yes, thank you. This concludes the first successful nuclear test at Los Alamos.”

http://linguisticerosion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/come-in-number-13-your-time-is-up.html