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pen Ecanus•net :: Stories

This page was intended as a home for news about ‘the great unfinished novel’ which as the name suggests never quite got finished. Fallen Angel (in part the reason for the naming of this site) was started many years ago, back in my college days (I'm not going to admit to how long ago that was) and over the years has changed a lot. Its orginal inspiration was from a Stephen King short story "Strawberry Spring", but it's nothing at all like that now. Now in its fourth incarnation there's a totally different plot, location, fact it's nothing like the original. And one of these days I will get it finished. One of these days...

I have decided...2008 will be the year of Fallen Angel...I am gonna put some serious work into it, honest...

In the meantime you'll find some of my short stories here. Some have been seen out in public before; others have been hidden away for a long, long time. I figured it was about time to give them an airing. Words are for sharing, after all.

Nightmares of Reality

Mike lay back and clicked off the bedside light. He lay silent, the darkened room almost breathing with him. He felt that sleep would be a long time coming, but he had an early start in the morning and a 7.30am train. His thoughts slipped to Friday, and the pleasure he would feel at handing Billy Hunter his resignation, and he smiled. Announcing that he'd been head–hunted by the Brant Corp and telling good old Billy just where he could stick his job, and his promises of not worth the paper they were printed on shares, would be the icing on the cake.

Occupied as he was by thoughts of his working day ahead, Mike never heard the whispering, scratchings, the muted scrabblings which were coming from somewhere behind the door, the quiet mewing cries, pitiful, yet with undertones of raw animal savagery.

Back home in the depths of London's inner city council estates where Mike had grown up with two elder sisters and his mother in a cramped, damp and mouldy flat, warm sunny days always saw a bloom of parasols, push chairs and prams as the young mothers of the vast concrete tower blocks put out their infants for a dose of fresh air, or at least what passed for fresh air.

Mike’s father had been a docker in the days when there had been precious few of them left. From the once prosperous docks of the east end the work slipped away. Ships laden with their cargoes of exotic, and not so exotic goods, no longer berthed in the docks, their wares first containerised, then transferred to the vast cargo holds of the ferries and planes, trains, transported by monstrous trucks across countries via the concrete arteries which had developed over the last couple of decades. So slowly the jobs had gone and the old docks, and their history were too disappearing beneath the tide of 'redevelopment'. Mike's father had been laid off which had, indirectly, through depression and drinking binges, lead to his premature death. A bottle of cheap whisky and the family’s rusted old Ford had taken his father and five month old brother to their graves in the path of an articulated lorry whose driver never had a chance to stop.

So Susan Cooper was left to struggle alone with fourteen month old Mike, Louise, five and Sarah, eight and her grief. With two cleaning jobs and what she could make from dressmaking she made enough for them to survive on but with precious little left for herself. With the girls off at school Susan took a rare opportunity of some time to herself with Mike dozing out in his pram in the sun outside the front door.

In the still of the afternoon sun there were occasional cries and laughs of young children who raced up and down the balconies and an occasional crash from the dustbins and scavenging cats.

The flats' basement cats were legendary creatures, mean–tempered, malnourished, scarred and flea–ridden, they stalked the flats' basement, scavenging for food. Their domain was the basements but occasionally a braver one of their number would break cover during daylight hours and explore the higher reaches of the building, skulking in corners, pawing through bags of rubbish. It was one of these braver or more desperate with which Mike met on that sunny school–day afternoon. The emaciated creature darted across the balcony, pressing itself flat against the wall, its head cocked, ears pricked, listening. It heard nothing to alarm it and quickly darted across to the door where the dilapidated old pram stood, enclosing a dozing Mike.

It stretched its forepaws up, standing on its hind legs, craning its neck to look up inside the pram, its scrawny body stretching, ropy muscles rippling beneath its skin, its rib–cage defined. With a sudden bunching of its muscles the creature sprang up in a feline leap, transforming it momentarily from the pathetically, malnourished and flea-ridden creature it was, to a sleek and lithe natural wonder.

Mike opened his eyes. Yellow eyes stared back at him. Oval, feline eyes with black slits of pupils, shining malevolently. The mouth opened with a hiss to reveal razor sharp teeth. Mike began to whimper, feeling the weight of the creature’s paws on his body. The eyes, sickly yellow eyes staring into his own transfixed him.

The creature's jaws opened again, hissing, and Mike felt the creature's warm breath on his face, fetid, sweet with decay and disease. His whimperings intensified, his lip quivering, tears dampening his flushed face and he coughed at the sickening stench, his breath hitching in great sobs.

Slowly, as if toying with a mouse the cat lifted its left fore–paw, its claws splayed, tugging at the sheet which covered him. It hissed once more and flexed its claws, reaching out for the small upturned face...

Mike sat up, his eyes wide. In the darkness nothing seemed to fit and for a moment he couldn't place himself. His breath came heavy, his heart beating hard. There were beads of perspiration on his brow, his upper lip and as he pulled the duvet up around his chest, his hands were trembling.

He shook his head, as if the physical action would dissipate the dream, the nightmare. Funny how suddenly and tonight of all nights he should remember that afternoon, his first memory. At least he thought it was his first memory. Maybe his recollection was only that passed on by his mother, but either way that afternoon had been the cause of many a nightmare and at the root of his dislike, fear even, although he would not admit it, of cats.

Mike closed his eyes, allowing his mind to wander free. His thoughts slipped again to Friday, and the pleasure he would feel at handing Billy Hunter his resignation, and he smiled, and gradually he relaxed, thoughts of the dream drifting away. For the first time he was aware of the muted scrabblings, mewing cries. His mind drifting free, slipping once more towards the depths of sleep, he struggled to place the sounds.

His eyes were suddenly open, and staring back into them, two sickly yellow eyes, oval, black slit pupils and the shine of malevolence. The warm gale of its breath on his face, it fetid sweet stench of decay making him want to gag. Yellow eyes floating in the darkness...and glinting outstretched claws, reaching towards his face, curving sythe–like, needle sharp. The first connected, piercing the skins, drawing a small bead of blood, dark against the white of his flesh, and drew downwards, blood already welling in its path, a sharp sting. More, clawing towards him, ready to rip, to draw blood, to inflict pain. Once more he was fourteen months old and helpless against this creature whose rank odour carried with it decay and disease, whose presence emanated evil. He felt the needle touch of more claws. Mike screamed and tried to open his eyes. But his eyes were already open.

© Fallen Angel/Bliss Carrington, August 2003

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