For all we knew, the world was probably ending. Tensions between vampire gangs were at an all-time high, peace talks between world leaders and the newly-arrived extra-terrestrials had turned frosty and the anthropomorphic cats were now declaring war on anyone who had ever purchased repellent. If we weren’t living it, I can imagine how ridiculous that would sound. But that was all background noise right now. I was on my first date Melany.
If I’ve learned anything about time travel, it’s that no-one notices when the past changes. Let’s say I went back in time to stop Hitler coming into power, do you think World War Two would have happened? Of course, it would; another far-right lunatic would come to power, dick around in Europe and spark the war. Today, we might not know who Hitler is, but the war would still have happened and much of history would stay the same. Speculative – maybe, but time has a strange way of healing itself – if ‘healing’ is the right word for it, especially when it comes to the big, traumatic events.
Even as a time traveller, some things will always happen, no matter how you try to change that. Some things, we can’t control…
Like me and Noah getting pissed as the world ends around us. That’s inevitable.
He had finished work a little early, so Alan went into a charity shop, almost absentmindedly. He looked around a bit, rummaged through oversized suits, admired some ornaments. And then, something caught him eye. A colourful hat. A Rastafarian beanie.
Alan, being one of those people who carelessly appropriates other people’s cultures, (for example, while in China, he got a tattoo in Mandarin which he believes says ‘peace’, but really says ‘arsehole’), of course, brought the beanie. It cost him four cans of Pepsi and a strip of bubble-gum flavoured chewing gum – because the manager was ‘hip’ like that.
On his way out of the shop, he squeezed his bald head into the beanie and felt something hard and leathery inside it. He took off the hat and a snake slipped down from the top of his head, wrapping itself, non-threateningly, around his neck.
“Alright, me old mucker, me old pal,” said the snake.
Twelve years ago, they came to earth. The Saviours. An advanced race of intelligent extraterrestrials with one promise: to save us, to save the planet.
They wanted nothing in return. They had been watching for years, seeing our faults and our successes, our mistakes and our victories. They knew what it meant to be human and they saw potential for improvement – they’d show us how.
After months and months of talks, the leaders of the world came to trust our visitors. The Saviours forgave their initial threats and their scepticism, offering in return new technology, new medicine, new science – all of which worked. ‘The Saviours’ was a name we had given them. We were thankful.
City Hall. 5:01PM.
Fly-man, Strong-man and Telekinesis-man were at a loss.
“Perhaps something will just… happen. Something convenient. Anyone feel like they’ve just discovered a new super power?” asked Strong-man.
“I think he’s got writer’s block,” said TK-man.
I was struck by lightning a few days before my seventeenth birthday. It killed me quite badly. Scorch marks, a complete shutdown of my respiratory and cardiovascular systems and my favourite shirt was ruined.
It was the hottest day of the year and our dads decided to have a picnic at the local park with me, my younger brother and sister, and our surrogate mum. On the scale of weirdness, the subsequent storm comes second to the picnic. We were a family under an unspoken social stigma, lacking most social skills in a social environment, so you can imagine the awkwardness. I guess it was Dad 1’s way of dealing with that. “No wi-fi here,” he said as he set out the sandwiches. The rest of us exchanged a look of horror – Dad 2 included, and we promptly turned on our mobile data. It was a far more expensive day out than any of us could have anticipated.
About an hour in, the fluffy white clouds bled to dark grey. They hesitated for a moment as if to say, “watch this”, then unleashed heavy raindrops that stung our skin. Dad 1 scooped everything up in the picnic blanket and we raced back to the car for shelter. I was two–maybe three–steps away when the first bolt of lightning struck me down. In that moment, I smelt overcooked chicken, wet dog and piss.
The thing I remember most about my little death was hearing everything that went on outside my body. Dads, mum and my sister were screaming, bawling their eyes out. I even heard my emotionless mess of a brother hiccuping with fear, “Is he –? Is he… dead?”
I’m not sure if I speak for all corpses or if this was some strange precursor to… well, I’ll get to that part. But, if that’s not the case, then, the dead are conscious. And in my opinion, that’s seriously messed up. Like, how long are they conscious for? Is it just while the brain activity ceases? Is it forever? Imagine being on your deathbed, your wife’s telling you how much she loves you, wishing she could spend more time with you. All that soppy shit. You’re convinced you’ll die a happy man. You close your eyes and you die. Then you hear her say, “Thank fuck.” You’re rightly confused, maybe even pissed off, but you’ve got to be pissed off blind and paralysed for goodness knows how long.
Fortunately, my parents only complimented me in death.
“My beautiful boy,” mum said between her wailing.
Dad 2 was sobbing on top of my chest, praying like I’d never heard before. “Please beat again. If there is a god, I’ll do anything. Just let him live.” Maybe someone heard him. If I had to place bets, I’d say Zeus. Not long after the ambulance arrived and my family had been told to move away, lightning struck twice. My corpse doubled forward and like that, I was alive again. Heart racing, ragged breaths, all seeing, all feeling again. Weirdly my first thought was not that I’d just died, but how undignified I felt lying in a puddle of piss. Sure, it was the last thing anyone else noticed, but it wasn’t something I was in the habit of doing. But, I digress.
I turned to face my family, their mouths hung open in disbelief. The paramedics shared the same expression. “He was dead,” one of them said. “I checked. His heartbeat, his pulse – I swear, there was nothing.”
“It’s a miracle,” mum said.
That was one word for it.
I made the news. You know, the light humoured, less depressing segment towards the end. Footage of my reanimation (someone had been filming me when I died) was watched all over the world. I became something of a global sensation, everyone’s favourite talking topic and the latest meme. From showing off the lightning shaped scarring from the back of my neck to my torso, to attempting to answer questions the experts couldn’t, this life was a little crazy. “I’m just a freak of nature,” I joked on one television show. A roar of laughter from the audience ensued.
The fun and games eventually died down. But that wasn’t the only thing dying.
(This piece was submitted for my Creative Writing coursework. Dialogue-driven; two boys walk home after a night out.)
“Shall we get a taxi?” Jordan asked,
“I don’t have any change,” said Adam.
Jordan patted his pockets. “Yeah, me neither.”
“You could do with the fresh air anyway.”
“I’m not even –” he started, nearly walking into a lamppost before swerving around it, “ – drunk.” Continue reading “3 A.M.”
(This piece was submitted for my Creative Writing coursework. Inspired by Raymond Carver’s ‘I Could See the Smallest Things’)
A car alarm started going off outside. Her eyelids were heavy, so she tried to ignore it. But then she wondered if it was her car; it was only a few months old and she had never heard the alarm before.
The clock on the bedside table said 1.55 A.M., though Ellie hadn’t adjusted it since the transition to spring nearly three weeks ago. Other things occupied her thoughts of late.
The sudden roaring of oceanic winds so violent the ornaments shiver. I go to the window, the fallen leaves swirl as if caught in an invisible tornado before scattering across the lawn in a flurry of orange, yellow and red. Maybe nature’s angry. Or maybe she just wants your attention. I mean just look at what she can do. Perhaps the sky is grey to make the leaves easier to see – have you ever thought about that?
Later on, rain drums on the windowsill as I lie in bed. Counting sheep never works, but there’s something therapeutic about rain and wind in unison. I’d go to the window again, but I’m wrapped up, nodding off. I can only imagine her beautiful chaos.
He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. It leapt out of the water and rolled across the sand, stopping at his toes. Bewildered, he picked it up, weighing it in his hand as he turned to his little sister. “Wow, did you see that?” The moment he saw her face, he gasped. Of course. No one can skip a stone and make it come back. No one. But maybe Ellie could. Her eyes were glazed white like golf balls, focused – almost dead.
Her powers had taken over again.