Safely Dead: One

November 28, 2013 § 9 Comments

This is dedicated to mikesteeden who writes in the satirical genre much better than I ever could. Check out his site.

Parts Two and Three will be blogged Friday and Saturday. Any comments gratefully received…



            ‘Dear me,’ I said, pursing my lips. ‘Now you’ve done it. How many clouds can you see then?’

            ‘Don’t get shirty,’ wheezed Bert under his breath. ‘Saw fifteen cumuli hanging over Norfolk this morning, and a few lenticulars loitering over the Himalayas. Can’t see any now though – it’s gone all dark.’

            ‘Did you mean to get rid of the clouds?’

            ‘Course. That was the whole idea. Part of my plan to improve the weather for East Anglia.’

            ‘But you didn’t reckon on the sun disappearing as well?’

            ‘What do you think?’ Bert replied. He knew he’d been rumbled. ‘If I did do it, didn’t mean to!’

            ‘Keep your hair on,’ I smiled, patting his shiny bald patch. Bert took a lazy swing at me and missed. ‘Got to watch the old blood pressure. Anyway, can’t say I didn’t warn you. You shouldn’t muck about with the weather until you’ve practiced on other things that don’t matter quite as much.’

            ‘Like what?’

            ‘Well,’ I replied, stroking my new beard. ‘You could have a go at turning zebras spotty or making rivers go uphill. That sort of thing.’

We were in trouble – at least Bert was – and as usual, I knew I’d have to pick up the pieces and do all the apologizing. But this time was different. Bert was in up to his neck, and I didn’t have a clue how he was going to wriggle out of it.

We’d only been in heaven a week or two, and we’d both read the rulebook. Bert had flicked through his in five minutes, but I’d taken the whole day and read it twice – cover to cover – so I could recite it word for word in case anyone asked. Top of the list in big red letters was the bit about playing God. Not allowed. Ever. Rule Number One said it was strictly illegal to change the course of history until you’d passed all your exams and been given a special certificate.

‘What we going to do then?’ said Bert in his best wheedling voice.

‘Not doing anything,’ I replied. ‘Had enough. You’re on your own, mate. Use your common sense.’

 Bert stamped his foot. ‘What was that?’ he exclaimed, staring at an old trapdoor hidden under a thick layer of dust. A gust of wind came out of nowhere, sparkled a bit, then settled as if nothing had happened. But it had: an angel had appeared – and was wagging a finger at us.

‘Rule number thirty two,’ she said with a sweet kind of smile that I didn’t quite like the look of. ‘Don’t bang on any of heaven’s doors! Not ever. That trapdoor hasn’t been used in years. We’re obliged to come and check to see if anyone wants to come in. We don’t like practical jokes.’

‘Sorry,’ I said, bending myself double in a respectful bow. ‘Won’t happen again.’

The angel nodded, turning her lips into a thin smile. ‘Enjoy your time here,’ she said. ‘And don’t forget that everything that happens is for your own good.’ She winked, waved prettily, and flew off.

The Last Green Leaves of Summer

September 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

A very slightly macabre story – written through the eyes of a child – about the joys of summer and picking rather appealing berries…

Do you think it works? Is it too obscure? Is the ending a bit too blunt? Does the dialogue work?

Any comments for improvement gratefully received!


            Michael was my enemy and his tadpoles were dying.

‘I’ve been thinking…’ he mused, poking the contents of the jam jar with a stick.

            I aimed my catapult at him and missed. ‘What?’ I scowled.

            ‘I think I’ll be an operator when I grow up.’

            ‘What kind of machine will you be operating then?’

            ‘I won’t, stupid – it’s just another name for a spy.’


            Michael was my best friend and the best person I knew to fight with. The reason I liked him was because he didn’t treat me like a girl, and the reason I hated him was because I’d swopped his catapult for my tadpoles and now most of them were dead.

            ‘But you said you were going to be an astronaut.’

            ‘That was last week,’ he replied. ‘Today I’m going to be a spy. I shall hide round corners and shoot bad people. I shall put poison in their coffee so they die a slow and agonizing death. I shall be responsible. Honour my country.’

I kicked him on the shin. ‘Copycat. My idea. And did you know that tadpoles wouldn’t die if you gave them something to eat?’

Michael stuffed some bright green leaves into the jar and fished out an anaemic looking tadpole. ‘Dead or sleeping?’ he grinned, flicking it under a rose bush where one of the dozing hens opened her eyes, pecked at it and settled back down again in a cloud of dust. ‘In any case I am feeding them on those leaves with the red berries I found growing in the potato patch. Mum says they’re poisonous, but the tadpoles go wild for them, and I did test them on the rabbits first and they’re not dead.’

Michael ran out of breath so he stopped – it was a sign he was getting over excited. He dropped two berries into the jar and stirred them around like he was making Christmas pudding. The water was turning a nice pink colour like the roses that dangled over his mum’s porch. ‘They really like eating them. See!’ he yelled, as the tadpoles surrounded the berries and turned into a wriggling black ball. ‘They’ve turned the water red like blood… and I’ve just remembered girls aren’t allowed to be spies.’ He pinched my arm ’til it hurt. ‘In any case you’ll be too busy having babies, and washing, and cooking, and scrubbing things.’

            ‘Oh yes they can. Who says I have to have babies anyway?’

Michael pressed his lips together, lifted his chin and stared. ‘I know about these things, and in any case do you really want to be a spy?’ He fished out another dead tadpole and flicked it at me.

            I picked it off my dress and flicked it back. It stuck to his hair. ‘I might. But then I might have a shop and sell flowers, or have a factory and make perfume out of whales and get very, very rich and ignore you forever.’

            ‘Want to know something?’ he asked.

‘My mum’s always getting things wrong. Dad says. I think she got it wrong about these berries too. They look like little ripe tomatoes. I’m hungry. Shall we try some?’

            ‘You first, then,’ I said.

            ‘Cissy,’ he taunted, popping a shiny berry into his mouth and smacking his lips together.

            ‘Murderer,’ I grinned, squashing one with my tongue against the roof of my mouth.




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