“You shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.”
“They’ve not complained yet.” Merlyn rapped her staff on a cypress. “Lucius Verus is buried here. Ruled the Old Empire for years, now feeds a tree.”
Arfa shivered. The island was warm, but her bones felt wrapped in fog.
“I don’t like it here.”
“So what’s the lesson?”
Arfa thought. “Kings,” she said. “You’ve shown me kings. Whatever they did, they ended up here.”
“Memento Mori. Well done.”
“Merlyn… are you going to make me come back here?”
Merlyn stopped. “No,” she murmured. “Not for a long time.”
“Nothing. Let’s go home.”
It was Alex’s seventeenth visit to the Hall Of Memories, and the clerk nodded a greeting as he went in.
Above each door, he read the lost memory inside. ‘That cute girl who smiled at you on the tube.’ ‘The ‘lion’ joke everyone laughed at.’
Good ones, of course. You remembered embarrassing stuff far longer.
That was why most people came here. To be reminded of things going well.
But not him. He was looking for a door crowned by just one word.
Sarah. When he saw that, he’d know she was finally gone. Then, he could stop coming back.
Gabriel gave the box a kick, and spat some words angels probably shouldn’t know.
“So…” Michael said, behind him, “what exactly is a duckbeezle?”
“About two letters different from what I said,” Gabriel snapped. “And seven levels of Gomorrah removed from what this thing deserves.”
“What is it?”
“The universe. And it was fine. The planets spun, light moved, gravity did whatever damn fool thing gravity does. And now it’s just stopped.”
Michael peered into the void. “Yeah, you’ve got entropy. Happens to every universe after a while.”
“How do I fix it?”
“Easy. Turn it off and on again.”
The snow crunched under her boots as she crested the ridge. Up here was what she lived for: a sky clear as meltwater and air that rang like a bell.
She’d always aimed for the sky. When her friends climbed trees, she climbed higher. When others sunbathed, she scaled cliffs. Her workmates holidayed in Majorca, she went to the Alps.
And all her work, all her training, had led her here. The highest person for thousands of miles.
Above her, she saw the speck of an aeroplane, exhaust cutting a gash across the sky.
“Bastards,” she sighed, and climbed down.
For her final wish, Emily switched off irony, and thereby kicked away the social crutches from four million hipsters.
Unable to claim they liked things ironically, they were forced to admit that when they bounced around to Taylor Swift, it was due to a passionate love of girlie pop, not a comment on society’s overt commercialism.
And now they could be honest with each other about their feelings on the zeitgeist, they became happier than any generation has ever been.
Emily was somewhat dismayed, since she’d been hoping to troll an entire subculture.
“The irony,” she growled, “is not lost.”
“This place has always been divided,” my aunt said.
I was in Friedrichstrasse Station, come to help her research the old Stasi archives for a book.
“Not for a while now,” I said.
“You think?” She gestured with her stick. “Look. No cameras. Because we remember who put cameras here.”
“The wall came down years ago.”
“No it didn’t.” She sat down. Seemed older, somehow. “In the archives, I found reports. My handwriting. Information I sent them. I don’t remember that. But they’re there. I collaborated, and I don’t… won’t remember.” She shook her head. “Some walls never come down.”
Melusine’s singing could launch more ships than Helen Of Troy, so desperate were they to get away.
The other mermaids hated her. Her inability to hit a note kept them hungry for weeks.
Despondent, she tugged the nets of a passing fisherman, who expected to become rich exhibiting her in travelling shows.
His more modern nephew arranged a recording contract, and licensed the result to the coastguard.
All 3 lived in luxury, until Melusine’s tragic assassination by the Lighthouse Keepers’ Association paramilitary wing.
In her brief career, she redefined rock music. The other mermaids, meanwhile, still only had their rock.
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
But up here, it was too cold for rain.
The snow fell in drifts until all colour was smothered. It covered the grass, it covered the trees, it covered the cliffs, and still it fell, the weight compressing lower layers to ice.
And then it stopped, a spear of sunlight cracking the clouds.
In the distance, there came a booming of mighty footsteps. The sound rolled over the ice, over the ocean, heard even on the tiny ark bobbing in the churning sea.
The Frost Giants had returned.
Stood in the ruins of ancient Rome, the sky was momentarily darkened by the passage of a million starlings.
For a second, they changed the world, then vanished from sight.
Something like that, in a place like this, can make you wonder what you’re doing with your life.
But I’ve never had time for nonsense like that.
I’m not here to build empires, or raise columns, or conquer Persia. These guys did, and their marks still fade away.
I am driftwood. I am a migrant. I am Ozymandias. And I’m here to enjoy the journey, not worry about my footprints.
Every time the circus stops in town, another kid runs away to join corporate America.
This time, it was Gavin, which means I’ve got an extra shovel’s worth of work in the stables later. Little bastard knew we’d scheduled The Spectacular Firebreathing Elephant tonight.
I wish I’d followed him. Never had the guts.
I only get glimpses into the world that might have been. On show nights, when the townsfolk take their seats, in dresses and suits. Imagine the things they’ve seen!
Doctors. Accountants. Lawyers. Psychotherapists. Regular salaries. Reliable lives. Gloriously white picket fences.
They must have so much fun.
Most people here probably know what NaNoWriMo is. Write 50,000 words in a month.
I’ve never got on with it. Doesn’t really suit how I work.
But I like to get into the spirit, so this year I’ve decided to write 1 drabble a day for November. Some of y’all would find this easy, but for me it’s quite a challenge.
Anyhow, I’ve been posting them in a few places. Facebook, the blog.
The site specifically designed for drabbles? Er… not so much. D’oh!
So, here’s the first 15. With any luck I’ll remember to post the others too.