Is there no stopping Microfiction Club? It has now been running an incredible two weeks, bringing together the work of a staggering two writers. And since 'two' seems to be the number of the day, here's two more pieces for your delectation:
They Came At Us Sideways
They came at us sideways, from where we least expected them to strike.
The first warning signs were tiny, inconsequential, ignored. A man in Hawaii awoke screaming in a tongue nobody could recognise. A nurse in Germany remained awake for seventeen consecutive days, perfectly rational and healthy, went to bed, and simply lay there staring at the ceiling and smiling, always smiling, until she wasted away from starvation. There were far fewer cats around than there used to be.
Gradually the signs grew worse - they grew bolder as they realised we paid them no attention. The nights grew colder, darker, more solid and glittering with pinpoint lights. New stars appeared in the heavens, unknown lights of previously unseen constellations. And the old ones moved, seamlessly, without anybody seeing their motions. Overnight the patterns changed, without explanation. The moon inexplicably shrank to two-thirds of its original size, then bloated and loomed like a sick cow over the horizon that now seemed to bend downwards, not upwards, as if it were trying to escape the monstrosities above it.
In daylight, these things disappeared, and we all laughed and joked about how silly we had been, how ridiculous it all was. We had imagined it, of course. Clearly we had not been getting enough sleep.
Sleep, when it finally came, blanketed the earth like a polythene sheet, suffocating the consciousness out of us and crushing us to the ground, comatose. Beneath us, the earth spun like a compass needle in a magnetic storm, while far above our closed eyelids the stars were made to wheel and turn, as if to mock us. We had watched the skies for them for so long, fruitlessly, and ignored the true threat.
They came at us sideways, from our dreams.
Copies of the judge’s decision were handed down in English. Zaglanikis’ lawyer, through Mr. Siaraferas the interpreter, told him that they would have it translated by tomorrow morning. Zaglanikis waved them away melodramatically:
“No, no. Please.”
He knew enough; he had lost! Those arrogant bastards at the Jockey Club – the vets, the groomers, the executives, wretched Kappas – they had all betrayed him and betrayed his trust and betrayed the truth. They had done it maliciously, capriciously, to cover for their own mistakes. They had taken his money and given only grief in return. They had killed his best horse, Perseus, and had it covered up as a boxcart incident. A boxcart incident! Then they had the temerity to blame him for not treating the fractured bone! And they had hired those Arab boys to throw stones through the windows of his business school. Then they had all lined up, one by one, taken the oath and explained, nonchalantly, how he was mistaken, how it wasn’t like that at all. And their lies had perverted the course of justice.
Well, never again!
“Fresh air. Smoke,” he said, raising two fingers to his lips before fleeing the courtroom.
He was finished with horseracing. Finished with the whole damned business. He would put it all – the shadiness, the jealousy, the cowardice – all behind him. Never again! He had his business school, after all. And his children. They had suffered the most through this whole ordeal.
Zaglanikis staggered out into the weak sunlight, down the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice where the photographers milled. He lit a cigarette. A taxi waited at the crossing. Behind the taxi was another taxi and behind that taxi was – what kind of car was that? One of those classic British things. Elegant. Racy. Humming with curves. Much faster than a horse …
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