Friday, 30 May 2014

A Time for Everything (Flash Fiction)


                  'Where did that come from?'

I had a Snizzleclapper crawling up my leg.

'Just don't make any sudden movements.'

Well that was reassuring. I could feel each of it's eyes penetrating my soul, searching my memories for a nice juicy one.

'Get it off.'

'I'm not touching it,' said Ian.

'Can't you give it a flick?'

'A flick?' he said, 'you can't just flick a Snizzleclapper.'

I knew. But when you have one crawling up your leg it's not easy to think straight because you know you haven't got long left.

We were all squashed inside the Time Cube. Me, Ian and the Snizzleclapper. Not very comfortable at all and outside it was raining fire again but it was a heat we couldn't feel.

It was on my chest now. Little slimy bastard. I was forgetting things more quickly now. He was half way through my childhood and heading towards my 12th birthday. Soon I wouldn't remember my own name.


I tried to grab hold of it. But it was wriggling in my hands as if my own name was a miniature Snizzleclapper of it's own.


Way too short. Not much to cling on to. Just three letters. Pathetic. Why couldn't mum have given me something longer, something a bit more substantial? William or Alexander. Something I could really get my tongue around.

Mum's name was gone. It went a few minutes ago. The Snizzleclapper had it.

'Awful weather isn't it.'

'Ian,' I said, 'Shut up.'

'Doesn't this thing work?'

It didn't. We were stuck, it was resting.


They eat you see. That's what they do. Snizzleclappers. They eat all of our left over memories, I don't think they do much else. He was eating mine and soon I would be a useless lump of nothing. I've seen what happens to people like me. It's not nice. And once it was done with me, Ian would be next.

Stupid, stupid time cube. I should have checked it before we jumped in. Given it a once over or something and then we would have seen it.

It was on my face. It was crawling close to my eye and Snizzleclapper's love eyes.  Eyes are unfortunately considered a bit of a side order. Eyeballs are Snizzleclapper's version of onion rings and french fries.

'Close them,' whispered Ian.

I humoured him but I knew it was a useless gesture. Soon it would be making it's way into my twenties and then it would be all over. I was only 25. My name was gone and Ian' name wouldn't be around for much longer.

'Got to try something, don't move,' he said

'I'll try not to.'

What was he doing?

'Try not to speak Ben, keep still and stay quiet.'

Who was Ben?

At first I had a horrifying feeling that he was kissing me but  then I realised exactly what he was up to.

'Ian no!'

But I didn't have any strength left, the Snizzleclapper was nearly finished with me.


'Tastes like chicken.'


'Why does everything always taste like chicken?' He said.

I was willing the time cube to move. Maybe if we could get back home somebody could stop him. But it had been set for one hour and we had only been here for about twenty minutes.

Outside the rainfire had stopped and the shadow people had returned and were making the most of the precious interval. They wouldn't help us. We were invisible and they were too busy anyway even if they could see us.


He was dead and had taken the Snizzleclapper with him. Stupid sod.

Mum's name popped back.


And small things followed. My first bike, my dog,  my surname and then bigger things like my house, my father's smile. My sister. Fragments of my memory that I didn't realise had gone in the first place.

I threw Ian out and closed to door tight before I could be sucked out with him.

I watched him burn.

Nobody could stand 5 seconds on Kipple 9. It had always been an observational visit only, anything else was sheer suicide.

And I waited.

Soon I would arrive back in the bunker. I would need a few days off.

Maybe I would need the rest of my life off but I couldn't stay still for too long. The future of the human race was in my hands now and my hands only. The Snizzleclappers had control of the Earth's past, it's present and it's future. Time cubes were our only means of escape but they were too uncontrollable, too unreliable.

I watched and waited. The Shadow People appeared and disappeared from behind their tall, curved buildings. They were quick. Too quick for me. But they had to be. It would be raining fire again soon and they had things to do. They lived, they breathed, they were oblivious to me and what I had to do next.


                                                                            (C) Ally Atherton 2014

Rules and Regulations

'Anyone breaking these rules will be loved and forgiven in the usual manner.'


                                                  From part of a sign in a shop in York, UK

                                           Artwork by Rene Pleinair 2013

If you happen to find yourself deceased there are certain terms and conditions that you must follow in order to maintain harmony with those around you.

Never annoy your fellow Cemeterians.


Only talk when you are spoken to and don't waffle. The deceased don't like wafflers.

Don't hum. Humming is annoying.

Don't sing. Singing is even more annoying, even on Bank Holidays.

Don't talk about politics. Politics is not only irrelevant but it's also a very dirty word in cemeteries.

Don't moan about the size of your headstone. Size isn't everything and nobody likes a moaner.

If you decide to stretch you legs, do it at night so no nobody can see you. Dead people aren't supposed to be walking around and you might give somebody a heart attack.

And finally. Cemetery boundaries are there for a reason. Don't even think about climbing over that wall or that fence or making a dash for it through the woods. You are dead. You're meant to be here and those boundaries are there for your own protection.

Try it. Go on I dare you.

You won't come back. Nobody ever does. Cross that line and

you're really dead. Double dead.


                                                  (C) Ally Atherton 2014

This was written for the Light and Shade Challenge. A wonderful new writing challenge for anybody who loves writing, whether you're established or a relative beginner. Go on. Give it ago. It's a great way to meet some lovely people too, from all over the world.



Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L.Frank Baum

When I was a kid I loved the movie and I remember that I used to fight with my sister at Christmas, who always wanted to watch Peter Pan instead. I won, every time, I think. But that's a long time ago!

I have always been aware of the original Oz books but never quite got round to reading them until now, the first one anyway. It's difficult to review children's books. Only children should review them but as I'm a book reviewer I will do a small, quick one.

This is very different from the movie but in a good way. I found myself enjoying it just as much as I would if I were a kid again. Compared to the movie, there are notable differences including the amazing world of china and the hammerhead people and a few gory bits that wouldn't have been included in the movie! Other bits appear from the film but in a different order and the tin man is the tin woodsman and the ruby slippers are silver shoes. Overall this is a fun read that I'm sure lots of adults would enjoy reading too. I did!

This is a proper children's book. There are a few morals and themes that come out of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, namely that by helping each other we can achieve more but also that we can achieve anything, if we just believe hard enough.

I want to go to Oz.


Monday, 5 May 2014

Positivity For Dummies

                                                            Picture by ciscopa on


                            'Optimism is like a spiritual magnet'

                                                           Anna Massey



                                      I killed her.

I am holding my hands up. There's nothing I can say to convince you I don't deserve the worst punishment that can be served cold on a plate with a bowl of slugs as a side order. I'm jumping up and down and waving my arms around like a mad man with a placard around my neck saying

                         I did it

It's the books fault. I wish I could jump back in time and tear every bloody page out. What was it doing in the library in the first place? What were they thinking?

                      Positivity for Dummies

Well at least they got that bit right.

It was earth shattering. I couldn't believe how quickly it worked. The first time I used it I didn't just find a parking space, I made the parking space. It was a wall. I made the hole and drove straight into it.

I did everything the book said. In the correct order.

Say what you want

Imagine it happening


That's where it all started. In the car park.

Everywhere I went that day it worked. Cars stopped so I could cross the street. People were smiling, the sun was shining. Women were writing down their phone numbers so quickly I didn't have enough pockets to put them in. It was the most amazing morning of my life.

Then the shop materialized in front of my eyes. It was just what I wanted. I walked in, a little bell tinkled and behind the counter I saw row upon row of every sweet from my childhood. I was seven again. I bought as many as I could but my wallet was being filled as soon as it was empty. I had so many sweets I decided I would give them out to people on the streets so they would love me. They would adore me.

They would probably make me their God by the end of the day.

Then it slipped out. I didn't mean it to. It just slipped out like a little bit of pee. She shouldn't have been so rude.

Don't get me wrong. The shop was amazing and I knew I had everything to be thankful for. But the woman behind the counter was so miserable. So rude. Surely a smile wouldn't have hurt her.

But unfortunately I did. For one second I wanted her to drop dead. Miserable old cow.

The book was good. Very good. But as much as I read it and reread it I couldn't find a way of reversing things. Apparently once something is done, it's done and on the happiest day of my life I had killed a woman.

The smile was bad enough. I had manifested that as well and I didn't think it was possible to die with a smile on your face. Not one as big as that anyway. And then there was the laugh. Her dead laugh.

                             (C) Ally Atherton 2014


This is written for this weeks 500 and under prompt challenge at

                       Light And Shade

Please take a look, it's a fantastic new blog and a great way to exercise your writing talent as well as meeting some lovely fellow writers.

Ally :)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Traveller

                      'So how does it work?'

It was a silly idea and looked like it had been made out of washing up liquid bottles and cereal boxes.

'You just step inside and think of a year.'

He sounded pretty confident even though what he was saying was totally ludicrous.

'It's bullshit,' I said.

'Try it and find out for yourself, I met Nan this morning.'

Nan had been dead for ten years.

'Like I said, Bullshit.'

'And like I said, Paul, try it.'

My big brother had always been two poles short of a tent and we were all use to his bizarre behavior but this time I was beginning to seriously worry.

'1994,' he said


'1994. She was in hospital, recovering from her knee operation.'

'You're an idiot,' I said.

'She gave me this.'

He threw it at me. Nan's ring. The one that went missing on the ward. The one we never found.

'I took it from her so that she wouldn't lose it. Before she lost it.'

'In 1994?' I asked.


'Don't be stupid,' I said, 'this isn't Nan's ring.'

Dan had always been a free spirit and had lived in so many different places we hardly ever knew where he was any more. None of us had seen him properly for years. So it was a shock when he called me out of the blue and arranged to meet at the old wooden shack in the woods. It was just a shed really and the thing took up most of it.

'Think of a year.'

'Oh shut up. What are you on anyway?'

'I'm on nothing. Just try it then you'll understand.'

I stepped inside to humour him or to shut him up, I wasn't sure which but the ring was freaking me out. It was exactly like Nan's ring. But couldn't be.

The thing wobbled when I stepped inside which strengthened my belief that he had made it out of washing up bottles. Probably high on something.

'Now close your eyes and think of a year. And a place.'


'Just do it,' he said.

I closed my eyes. Hoping that it would at least knock some sense into him.

'Well don't just stand there,' he said.

'Nothings happening.'

'A year. You need a year. And a place. Say it in your mind.'



'7044,' I said. 'Let's see what a mess we've made of the world.'

'You can't do that. It's not safe Paul. Stick to the past, it's already happened.'

But I didn't want to stick to the past. I wanted to prove that he was an idiot. I called his bluff.

'This place but in 7044. Make it Christmas, Christmas morning.'


He was panicking. He thought that I was going to cause devastation and destruction, maybe the end of the world by saying it.

I said it over and over.


Somebody opened my eyes for me and it wasn't my brother.

'Isn't this the part where I'm supposed to say boo?'

He was thin. Horribly thin and was wearing nothing but a pair of dark underpants.

'Are you a traveller?' He said.


'A traveller. They come here a lot. Nosy bastards the lot of you.'

'Who are you?' I asked.

'Stop being nosy.' He sang it rather than said it. Peculiar chap with bright green hair and he was tall. Too tall. Surely nobody was that tall?

'How did I get here? Where's Dan?'

'Nosy, Nosy, Nosy.'

I turned around to find my escape blocked by a white wall. The room was smaller than Dan's wooden shack. And it white. Pure white. Heavenly white.

'I've got to get out of here.'

'That's what they all say,' he said.



'This can't be 7044?' I said. Half hoping that Dan would appear out from behind a secret door and drag me back.

'7044?' he said.

'Yes 7044. That's the year I chose. 7044.'

He said nothing. He was poking me. Prodding me. Feeling my biceps even though I had no biceps. Just arms. Regular arms where some people had biceps


If I screamed maybe he would come for me.


And then I knew what I should be doing, although a few minutes ago the whole idea would have been absurd. I close my eyes and said it anyway.


'April 2014. Dan's place. The shack in the woods.'

He was still poking me, pulling down my trousers.


He was laughing now. Not Dan. The thin man.

'You really are nosy little bastards aren't you.'


'Nosy, nosy, nosy.'


'Nosy but always tasty.'

 I could feel his breath on my testicles.

I didn't know whether to faint, vomit or cry. I wanted to do all three but instead I just carried on saying it. Not out loud but in my mind's eye.


I pictured Dan, I pictured him standing against the door. His stupid grin. I pictured it all. Dan in the shack and the thing made from washing up bottles and cereal boxes.

'Nosy. Nosy. Tasty. Travellers.'


Then the ring dropped into my mind. As if Nan had thrown it at me just like she had thrown it at Dan. That old ring with the emerald stone. Her engagement ring I think.

And instead of thinking of the year I focused on the ring. The ring became my thoughts. I became the ring.


I lashed out with my hand and caught him by surprise. I don't know what part of him I hit but it was a cold part. A cold smelly part. I didn't really want to think what part of him I had hit.

The ring. Nan's ring.

Somebody opened my eyes again but this time it was Dan. I was outside and the moon was bouncing around in front of me. Like it was on the end of a long string.

'Where's your pants Paul?'

That's all he said. Where's your pants?

The moon was still jumping all over the place but I tried my best to get up. I felt floppy and exhausted.

'I thought you weren't going to come back.' He said.

'I nearly didn't,'.

'I've never used it to go into the future.'



'You have to get rid of that thing.'

'Where's your bloody pants?'

'He has them,' I said, 'But he can keep them.'



                                                                        (C) Ally Atherton 2014