Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Salvaged from the BackUp Archive...

Three stories I wrote circa 2000 as some kind of short story competition that, typically enough, were immediately forgotten and never heard of again.

Perhaps for good reason.


The house on the corner is for sale again.

How many times is that now, David wondered. The ‘FOR SALE’ sign seemed to be being constant erected and then brought down. The tall, curly-haired woman from the estate agency was always showing the place off to various potential buyers. Of course, memory can play tricks on you, but David had asked around once for want of a conversation topic and learnt it had been on the market at least eighteen times that year.

David wondered why. It wasn’t a particularly nasty house, was it? A one-level Federation cottage on a street corner with a generous backyard, electricity, water... For short periods people would live in it, then mysteriously move away – sometimes within days of buying it, others after months of use.

One day, he spotted two butch-looking workers steadying the ‘FOR SALE’ sign again and grumbling a lot. David boggled. He now he noticed that the sign did not bear the name of the real estate agent he had just walked past.

His curiosity was now uncontrollable and, the moment the two artisans were out of sight, he scurried up the front path and found the front door unlocked. Inside, the house was cool and dark – most of the windows covered by blinds and all the lights were off. David felt disappointed. There was nothing special here – nothing even creepy.

He was about to turn and leave when he saw them. A man and a woman. Both lying on the floor, still and silent. Their skin was grey. They were dead.

David scrambled over to the bodies, but there was nothing he could do. Two puncture marks on their necks.

‘Afternoon, David,’ said a soft voice.

David turned and saw the real estate woman lounging in the shadows, absently licking her finger-tips, which seemed stained with tomato sauce. But it wasn’t tomato sauce.

‘How do you know my name?’ David asked, voice tight and scared.

‘I know many things,’ the woman replied. ‘I know that you’ve been curious about the goings-on in this house. I know that you finally have decided to confront it. Admirable, but flawed.’

‘What is going on here, then?’ David asked.

‘A service,’ the woman replied. ‘Supply and demand. I require a supply, others have a demand. A demand that certain people... disappear. I think you can guess what my supply is.’ She grinned, showing off her fangs.

‘You’re a vampire?’

‘If you like. I’m just trying to make a living, just like everyone else. I do get lonely from time to time, and I think I’ve found the perfect excuse for some company. Eternal company.’

David wanted to run, but couldn’t move. The woman casually wandered over to him.

‘Curiosity killed the cat,’ she sang. ‘But satisfaction brought it back.’

It didn’t hurt. For long.

The house on the corner is for sale again.


Lexita walked into the middle of the clearing and placed the pale white crystal on the ground. Behind him, he could hear figures scrambling through the undergrowth, hacking at vegetation with their swords. The Higher Ones’ retinue were already after him. In moments they would capture him and return him for judgement – but there could be but one punishment for his crime.

The Higher Ones had ascended to power over the land when their ancestors had collected the crystal and kept it out of harm’s way. The people seemed to believe that this was a great service and had treated the Higher Ones with more and more respect. Now, hardly anyone knew of the crystal at all.

Lexita knew about it, though. And he knew what it was capable of. Which was why he’d stolen it.

‘Don’t do it,’ whispered a voice.

Lexita glanced up at the sky-jellyfish he had befriended, Afrus. Sky-jellyfish knew lots of secrets and would tell you one for some of the berries they enjoyed. Lexita had turned to Afrus when Kiera had died, and they had become close friends. And shared many secrets.

‘I have to do it,’ Lexita replied, sitting cross-legged before the crystal.

‘It was imprisoned for a reason,’ Afrus persisted.

‘Will it bring her back?’

‘Yes,’ the animal admitted. ‘But at a price.’

‘No price is too high.’

‘Don’t be stupid, Lexita. Yes, this crystal can bring you anything you desire, but it must destroy something so the balance is maintained. That is why the Higher Ones were revered – they took the crystal but made sure no one ever used it, for whatever reason.’

‘I don’t care. I can’t go on like this.’

‘Please, Kiera’s death was an accident! No one blames you – that statue was an eyesore anyway, she always said so... She wouldn’t want you to do it.’

‘Let’s ask her then. Crystal, I command that Kiera Darin be brought here, back to life and in perfect health this very instant!’ Lexita ordered the gemstone he had stolen. It glowed with a brilliant light, brighter and brighter and brighter... He could just hear Afrus cursing his stupidity when the light dimmed.

Kiera was standing on the other side of the crystal, looking around her in confusion. As she turned to face him, her eyes lit up and she smiled that smile of hers. Lexita, feeling happier than he had ever been before, leapt to his feet and ran towards her.

The crystal suddenly turned ink-black. To Kiera’s astonishment, colour and substance began to drain out of Lexita, leaving him a kind of translucent wraith. The transparent Lexita frowned, and managed a few more steps before disappearing completely. The crystal returned to normal.

Kiera’s face folded in dismay, and Afrus turned to try and explain the situation to the Higher One’s guards as they approached the clearing.

‘There has to be a balance,’ it whispered sadly.


To: My Subjects
From: King Dega IV of Darlon Prime
My people, I communicate with you now on a matter of vital importance.

Our world has reached the point where further economic expansion is impossible.

If our society is to continue we must make a choice – either radical adjustments to legislation and public services, or expansion of our empire to include the neighboring solar system and all planets within.

So... who’s up for the second option?

To: King Dega
From: Chancellor Ven

Sire, I have undertaken a feasibility study on your behalf.

Only one planet in the system is suitable for our esteemed life form. All the rest are uninhabitable for a variety of reasons I will not bore you with. The suitable planet has a dominant hominid life form at a level five civilization – however cultural and ideological clashes mean that they are at constant war with each other and have not had the time to implement full eco-friendly technology. There’s also a hole in the ozone layer and the atmosphere will need general purification.

As for the inhabitants... Well, they’ll just have to go.

To: Chancellor Ven
From: King Dega

Ven, I have studied your reports closely and agree that this planet is the only viable target. Organic resources are virtually untapped and our eco-acceleration teams should be able to sort out the pollution.

However, as an ostensibly peace-loving race, we’re going to need a good excuse for genocide. I mean, their weaponry is puny and biologically these humans are quite our inferiors, are they not? No, the old ‘failure to communicate’ just isn’t going to work this time.

Any ideas?

To: King Dega
From: Militant Friar Ker

Sire, I am replying to your message about the proposed annihilation of our

While the galactic village will not take any violent action lightly, we can all agree that we are left with no choice. I suggest we send an invasion fleet to seed the atmosphere with a programmed virus. Officially, this will be to stun the populace and reduce their violent tendencies. Unfortunately, due to our regrettable lack of knowledge of human biology, this wiped out the entire race.

Then, should follow a cycle of mourning, tragic mistakes, proposed memorials for the race. We should emphasize the tragedy but also the fact that the humans weren’t exactly going to be missed. Emphasize their primitivism and resistance to peaceful expansion, and subtly turn the attention onto a planet perfect for our needs.

We must not be wasteful, whatever the circumstances.

To: Militant Friar Ker
From: King Dega

I like you, Ker.

To: My Subjects
From: King Dega IV of Darlon Prime

My people, I communicate with you on news that brings tears to my eye-pods.

Stark disaster has struck our primitive neighbors.

Reports are not yet clear, but it appears that a tragic accident has caused planetary extinction.

I have already set up a full inquiry in what could possibly have caused this disaster...


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

As somebody who's never been good with short stories I have to say they're pretty good, if a little straightforward. The first one is definitely very familiar...

Youth of Australia said...

Well, yeah, as I expanded it for the Twisted Tales thing...