30 Sept 2019

We are 138 #36 - Crawl

So you crawl your way home and you know no one is watching. You feel dirty, low, and there is a baseline guilt, but it’s distant. Like a dull ache. If you are perfectly honest with yourself, you like what you’ve done. The girl was young and firm and you did all the things you no longer do with your wife. Things you no longer want to do.

When was the last time she touched you? What are you expected to do? You think of the girl. It’s already hazy. What was her name? Laura? Lauren? Who knows?

The alcohol is wearing off, the dawn chorus is striking up. Light touches the edge of the sky. You put the key in the lock and wonder if you’ve got away with it again. You wonder if she’d even care.

Andrew David Barker is a writer and filmmaker. He is currently crowdfundng his latest novel Mick & Sarah At The Pictures with Unbound 

27 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #35 - Chaos

Chaos surrounds them snaking round and round slowly when backs are turned and gazes dropped. Vases break, cushions scattered, furniture upended, as everything that’s touched is carried away in a maelstrom of activity. They stand together resolute, determined to face things together, knowing what will befall them if they fail. Focusing despite the distractions they work mechanically through a list of impossible tasks, knowing that everything depends on completion, understanding that the likelihood of success is improbable. Chaos fades away for a brief moments respite and they cling together embracing each other, softly whispering endearments, encouraging words, willing strength into tired limbs and clarity into numb minds. Then they are torn apart, thrust into different directions, a million problems to be fixed and solutions to be found. Still, they smile, looking fondly at the chaos, at their family.

Neil Sehmbhy (@neilsehmbhy) is the author of several short stories, published in a multitude of anthologies, with two novels in progress that have hibernated for a time, two years ago, the words stopped and so did the writing. We are 138 is a way back, a way for the words to start to form again, in mind and page, together we are legion.

26 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #41 - Reaching The Limit

It had just turned 11am. The knock on the door was expected, but still startling. He opened it and there she was. Just, there. Five-foot two in heels, scarlet two-piece suit, neat black handbag, tan briefcase in her right hand, the ominous bulge visible even then.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”.

She smiled, sweetly and tilted her head slightly to the right. He took two steps back. She entered, went straight into the kitchen, looked round once and placed the briefcase on the table.

He went and stood by the sink, watching whilst she unclipped it and reached inside. The bulge seemed to writhe and come alive. Carefully withdrawing it, she ordered him to kneel on the floor and close his eyes.

“Any requests or last words before I begin?”, but he’d already reached his limit.

Glyn Phillips - sometime poet and avid word-tinkerer, Black Country born and bred, Brumagem worn-of-thread. Rarely happier than when spewing out polysyllabic nonsense with ribald abandon to anyone who will listen.

We Are 138 #34 - A Jellied Eel

The Bricks and Mortar won’t have nothing to do with me. Says I’m a Paraffin Lamp, a Perpetual Loser. I think the final straw was when they found me passed out in the Field of Wheat, wet Callard and Bowsers round my Plates of Meat. Three Card Trick out for all to see.

The only one who sees that now is Annie, a One Time Looker. Not that we have Oedipus Rex, the booze put paid to that years ago. Annie’s an Elliot Ness herself, but she’s still working. She’s famous for her giant blonde Syrup of Figs and leaving her Bexley Heath on the side while she gets down to business. Since my Hampton Wick’s not working, we’ve done a Jellied Eel. For a fiver we talk a bit, then I get to squeeze her Thrupenny Bits.

Liz Newton is from the Midlands and recently started writing with the grandiose idea of hearing more of herself, instead she seems to be meeting others.

25 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #33 - It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Once the human race had accepted the latest prophecy predicting Armageddon was accurate, everyone got on with it. There were wild parties, reckless debauchery and a number of violent encounters, most notably in the House of Commons. Delegates from every religious faction including Jedi gathered at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem for open talks. After thirty-six minutes of debate, they agreed on two unifying truths. They'd been lied too by their respective God’s and they were all fucked.

Lucas spent his final moments waiting for Marianne, his wife, to return home so they could enjoy their final moments together. After all, it was written into their matrimonial vows that they’d be together until death do us part. Unfortunately, Marianne was always late and ended up falling foul of the apocalypse on the M25. Lucas was not amused.

Paul B. Morris is a writer of dark poetry, bizarre and unpleasant horror fiction, on a more positive note he can talk to unicorns. His current releases include Dark Dreams Never Die and The Technician, you can stalk him at Pretty Tattered Soul.

24 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #37 - The Night Witch

The night witch puts on her striped sunset stockings, black cloak of night sky, trimmed with brilliant starlight and fastened with a clasp of crescent moon. The smell of cooling earth clings to her skirts, wrapped into each inky fold.

Her neck, a curve of comet’s tail, swept behind the clouds where a passing satellite sits. It’s caught as a silver trinket for her to wear, orbiting her porcelain collar bones.

Dew drops hang from her ears, their multi facets glinting as her head turns, casting sparks of light and soft shadows.

She throws out stars from her pockets, bidding me to climb them and rest a while upon the moon. We sit and sing lullabies to the passing clouds, watching them puffing out cheeks and curling under toes, their dreams sketching chalky shapes across the blackboard sky.

Lisa Johnston is an observer and describer of the everyday. Susceptible to daydreaming, cloud watching and flower sniffing.

We Are 138 #32 - One Hundred And Thirty Eight

“121… 122… 123...”
“What are you doing?”
“Counting the peas on my plate.”
“Why, for goodness sake?”
“Just curious how many peas there...”
“Never mind. Just eat them.”
“124… 125… 126…”
“What did I just say, hmmm?”
“I can’t stop now. I need to know.”
“What bloody nonsense is that? Eat!”
“…. ....”
“OK, OK, tell me. Why is it so important to know how many peas there are on your plate?”
“It’s not important. I just wanna know. 129... 130...”
“Because ...?”
“Because it keeps bugging me.”
“What is?”
“I must have eaten thousands, hundreds of thousands of these tiny, elusive balls. More in numbers than anything else in my life. Once a week, probably my whole life….”
“Who cares? Stop it. It annoys me. You act like a 8-year- old.”
“138… 138… 138?… Blast! I lost count….”

Anton van Esch is a retired administrator, living in Holland. Lately, he has rekindled an almost forgotten hobby and started writing stories again. We'll see where it goes.

23 Sept 2019

We Are 138 # 31 - To A Land Walker

People leave their letters at the forest edge in hopes the wind will carry them out to sea, oblivious most don't, because I catch them. They're my only connection to the inward land I left behind years ago, with no means of return unless I am found.

The wind-thrown trees were not this curved when I left. They were saplings, reaching straight and true for the sun. Their curling boughs and broad trunks offer me some respite against the salty winds, but I cannot stay here forever. The ocean is calling me back. My heart needs this warm land's soil once again. If the trees have grown so much in my absence, then what of my friends? My loved ones?

I am here. Come and find me. I have done what I must out there in the waves.

Brad Medd, a writer from West Yorkshire. Aspiring poet and short story author.

18 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #30 - Lonely

He in the grey suit and red tie carries his briefcase onto a packed tube. He nestles in. The door slides closed, and he is pressed against it by a fleshy mass of rush-hour commuters. People tut, shake heads and roll their eyes at the bag at his side, until he is forced to put it on the ground and pinch it between his legs.

He awkwardly shuffles on the balls of his feet until he is facing the crowd. Earbuds buzz, keys click, somebody coughs. Nobody talks. He thinks – this is why I’m here.
He glances around – finds a man in torn paint-stained work trousers and Reebok tee reading a newspaper. He has dirt and dead print on his hands.
The suited man reaches out, touches the builder’s hair.
The builder frowns - lonely no more.

David Rogers ( @PressEnthusiast) is the author of three novels - Somewhat Damaged, Ache and Snares - and is also the managing editor of Enthusiastic Press. He is currently working on an anthology of poetry and prose, comprised of over 40 new writers, which will be released on 01/011/19. 

16 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #29 - Clone In Law

Rough, that first breath - your torso's barely left virtual. A fitful gasp, it fuels a silent scream.
Anatomical print complete, I stumble from an unfamiliar Dias, cordoned off from an equally unfamiliar teleport hub.
I'm not alone.
Her crimson sash denotes senior legal rank. Handing me a water bulb she asks, “Where did you expect to be?”
“Mars... Tharsis Dome, close to the Mons, but we're in Luna gravity.“
“That we are, Officer Ramus.”
“I'm in some kind of trouble?”
She sits me down on the Dias steps. “Murdered... at Tharsis."
I mouth wordlessly.
"You've agreements to sign to inherit your job, your life. Your family agreed, so...”
I'm scratching my head - been getting threats, but this? "Have you caught them yet?”
“We’ve someone on it, the best we have.”
Her honour smiles. “Well, we do now.”

Daysman regularly contributes flash fiction to www.sffchronicles.com writing challenges.

11 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #28 Virtuosity at Paganini’s

The beat dropped and the crowd erupted. Bodies writhed, arms pumped and hands twisted to each heavenly hook. Blissed out faces sought paradise, unfocused eyes seeing more than their dark surroundings.

As one, each and every one a slave to the pulse of the throbbing bassline.

In the pulpit with deft hands and a keen ear, the DJ worked his decks, adding loops, fading the pitch, juggling the tracks to birth something new, something glorious, something wicked.

With a shadowy smile, he lowered the bassline step by step and the crowd responded, sweat soaked bodies cavorting to a hellish beat. Everything forgotten except the music, that so sweet music which enthralled their souls down to a deeper plane of consciousness, from which they would never want to leave.

And above them all, the DJ grinned, his fiddle forgotten.

By Day Stu Orford is a mild-mannered office worker, by night a mild-mannered writer with grand illusions of getting rid of the day part. His Debut, Gorig Cross, is available on amazon.

2 Sept 2019

We Are 138 #25 - Love and Marriage

The table was laid elegantly with silver on a greying cloth. The tarnish turned the silver into gold, but it didn’t matter.
She was dressed in a peacock gown, her grey hair falling from pinned curls. The dress had stayed neat as she moved less.
All of the food was speckling with black, the rats becoming bothersome. One flashed past her even now, emboldened by the stench.
She gazed down the length of the table, where behind the low candles he was propped, gently decaying. Tiny beetles moving in and out of his eyes made it appear he was winking at her. He used to wink at the doxies, she thought, all that time ago. There was a worm in his mouth now, and she smiled, for even in death, life bloomed.

She raised her glass. ‘Happy anniversary.’

Carolyn Ward is a writer living near Wolverhampton, working on her first novel. She is inspired by Lego, gin, and a good vanilla ice cream.

We Are 138 #65 - Level Crossing

Red lights started blinking to the accompaniment of warning sounds. Advertisement barriers blocked the road on both sides of a level crossi...