Concrete jungle

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“I think I’m beginning to like this town, Rich.”

“I knew you would. ‘Just give it a chance, Keith,’ I said. What did I say?”

“Just give it a chance.”

“And you did, didn’t you? You gave it a chance.”

“I did,”

“And?”

“I think I’m beginning to like it.”

“And it’s a big change for you, isn’t it?”

“It is. A massive change.”

“Different from where you lived before.”

“Yes, Rich. Vastly different.”

“Tell me. How many people lived in that village with you?”

“Hamlet. Just four houses, nothing else.”

“Whatever. How many?”

“Including me and the missus, five. Nine if you include the dogs.”

“So nearly as many dogs as people.”

“Nearly.”

“Tell me about the traffic there.”

“Well, one or other from next door go out most days, so that’s two movements. We have a car each and a camper but it’s rare we’re both out. Mind you, one of us goes out most days, The guy down the lane is often away working for a couple of months at a time so not much from him.”

“And that’s it?”

“Goodness, no.”

“What else is there?”

“Tractors. Our nearest neighbours, about a kilometre away, are farmers; cattle mostly; and they move about a bit. And there’s my ride-on mower, and next door’s, so there’s always something going on.”

“No traffic jams though.”

“Sometimes, when it snows, we need to wait for the farmer to come and run his snowplough down the lane so we can get to the main road, but mostly, anyone who drives up our lane is either visiting one of us or they’re lost.”

“We have traffic in New York.”

“I’ve noticed.”

“No. Watch my lips, we have traffic in New York.”

“Yes. I’ve noticed.”

“More people live in NYC than in your little village.”

“Hamlet.”

“Okay, hamlet. You have five souls, we have just south of nine million.”

“That’s a few more, I’ll grant you.”

“Vehicles?”

“Including agricultural?”

“If you like.”

“Eight. That includes the ride-on mowers. You?”

“Five million.”

“Wow. That’s a lot. And yet, with all that, I still love the place.”

“Care to tell me why?”

“Love to. How many other cities would devote a whole lane on a major thoroughfare to me; labelled and kept clear?”

“Except for that cab up ahead.”

“He’ll get a ticket for that!”


This original fiction was written in response to Kreative Kue 379 published on this site earlier this week.

 

Kreative Kue 379

Kreative Kue 378 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

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John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

The Part by John W. Howell © 2022

“Hold still while I zip this up.”

“Easy for you to say. You aren’t wearing a hot fly suit.”

“This was your idea, remember.”

“Well, I heard Steve McQueen got his start this way.”

“That’s not true. He was in the movie The Blob.”

“Yeah, that’s right. He played the blob. Just makes my point.”

“What point is that?”

“Sometimes you have to start at the bottom.”

“But the audition notes didn’t say anything about a fly.”

“I know. That’s the beauty of going as a fly.”

“I still don’t get it.”

“How many actors do you think will show up for this audition?”

“A few?”

“Try fifty.”

“Okay.”

“How many will be in a fly suit?”

“None, I’ll wager.”

“Bingo. I’ll stand out. Vincent Price was famous, and he played a fly.”

“Good grief, this is just a walk-on part.”

“Exactly, and what better way to get it than to walk on the ceiling?”

“I don’t want to be there.”


My effort was:

What’s in a name?

I watched that film last night – the one you said I should.”

“What did you think of it.”

“A bit far-fetched, I thought.”

“Of course it is. It’s science fiction horror. What did you expect?”

“I was ready to suspend my disbelief for a while, but please … The transportation I can follow; seen loads of it on Star Trek. I can even go along with the melding. Remember the time Tuvok and Neelix merged in the beam and became Tuvix? But that was how they came out, completely melded. This gradual morphing from a man to an overgrown killer-fly thing? Sorry, I just don’t buy it.”

“Lots of people did. It did well at the box office and the critics loved it.”

“Most things Jeff does go down well. Anyway, shall I tell you what else has been bothering me lately?”

“Go on then.”

“Why do they call us ‘fly’?”

“It’s what we do, isn’t it? We fly.”

“Yes, but we walk up walls and windows and hang upside-down on ceilings, too, but that’s not what they call us. And anyway, birds, beetles, bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, bats and loads of other things fly, too. But they aren’t called flies.”

“Ladybirds aren’t birds, either.”

“I know, they’re beetles. Do you know, there are more than five thousand species of ladybird worldwide, and only forty-six of them in Britain?”

“Earth to Mork, Earth to Mork — come back to base. You’re going off on a tangent again!”

“I know, but the whole subject fascinates me. What I don’t get, though, is what the status of ladybirds has to do with anything?”

“Just saying that a thing’s name can be a bit random. Naming it after what it does is one way…”

“Okay, then. We’ll call humans ‘walks’ instead. And dogs? We’ll call them ‘barks’. And bears, we’ll call…”

“I can imagine. But you’re being silly now.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, you are. Anyway, whilst you’re contemplating why other animals can’t hang on the ceiling – it’s because they don’t have sticky feet, by the way—”

“Some of them have sticky fingers, though.”

“Yeah. They’re called shoplifters. Meanwhile, much as I’d love to stay here and discuss the finer points of structural and mechanical differences between members of the insecta and chordata phyla with you, I have … oh dear, what’s the insect equivalent of other fish to fry?”

“Other sugars to vomit on and consume?”

“Yes, but no. That’s nasty. Oh yes, that’s it! My brother-in-law’s friend’s father’s grandmother’s sister’s pet ant died and it’s my turn to console her.”

“Who?”

“My brother-in-law’s friend’s father’s grandmother’s sister. Must fly.”

“Yeah. I see what you did there. Very good.”


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Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put your offering (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before Sunday evening UK time. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next time.

Sunday Serialisation – Back Paige. Chapter three, part three.

The task of distributing medication to a total of 688 people spread around a ten-storey high, one-kilometre long spacecraft in less than three hours is not one to be taken lightly. However, the logistics involved having been painstakingly worked out over a four-day period, it went rather well, and by seventeen hours everyone who wanted one had such a pill about their person. At seventeen-thirty, the ship’s AI announced, “Thirty minutes warning. Thirty minutes to transit. Time to take your anti-emetic pill. Categories one to six, and fifteen and above, please proceed to acceleration couches and strap in now. Thirty minutes warning.

Thirty minutes later, the full bridge crew was assembled and at their stations. On Andrea’s signal, Ishmael instructed Shinshuu to initiate the thirty second countdown. The chief engineer looked sheepish.

“What’s up, Captain?” Ishmael asked.

“I haven’t done any countdowns and now you want me to initiate the thirty-second one. I’m not sure I even know which one that is and how it differs from the others.” He started to weep.

“I think the stresses of the last few days have been too much for him,” Ishmael explained, “I’ll start it. C-pill: execute interspace jump in thirty seconds.”

MTS in thirty seconds. Starting now.”

Thirty seconds later, nothing seemed to happen, but it didn’t seem to happen so quickly that no-one noticed that it hadn’t seemed to happen. However, happened it had, or perhaps happen it did. [that’s just ‘it did happen’ twisted around, not the northern British “appen it did”, which implies that it may have done but there was no certainty]

“Are we here?” Meredith asked Ishmael.

“Depends on where you think here is, Ma’am,” he replied, “Philosophically speaking, the answer is affirmative, regardless of where we are or where you think we are. That we are together, communicating, is pretty clear evidence that we are, indeed, here. Were we elsewhere – there, for example, we—“

“Oh shut up, Commodore. Where. Are. We?”

“We don’t have a name for it yet, Ma’am. I suggest HO2.”

“And that is where, pray?”

“We are in the Tritos system. That’s Greek for third, because it was the third planet we…”

“So you called it Tritos. Whoopee. Get on with it.”

“Ma’am. We aim to establish a stationary orbit a couple of hundred million kilometres above Earth-2, similar to HO1 in relation to our home planet. This was all discussed an hour ago, Admiral.”

“You may very well think that, Commodore; I couldn’t possibly comment.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s just something I like to say. In this case, it means that I was engaged elsewhere; busy, if you will, and so not party to any of the discussion to which you make reference.”

“Busy doing what, may I ask?”

“You may not.”

“Aren’t you going to tell me?”

“No.”

“Is there a reason for that, or are you just pulling rank on me?”

“It is because the idiot who writes this rubbish hasn’t got the bottle to write the good stuff.”

“Is it that? Or is it, perhaps, that he doesn’t believe himself to have the skills needed to write convincing, authentic erotica?”

“You may have a point there, Ishmael,” Meredith said with a most un-admiral-like leer, “Perhaps you and I could go off somewhere more private and discuss the finer points raised by your suggestion.”

“Don’t you have an appointment in,” Ishmael looked at his watch, “thirteen minutes, Ma’am?”

“Oh, bugger. Show me to the pods. PATSY! You’re with me.” A few steps further on, she said, “Ewww. What’s that?”

“Captain Stuart-Lane didn’t think he’d need an anti-emetic, Ma’am,” the housekeeping orderly said.