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The Anzac

Graham sat on the back verandah that brisk April morning. His weary eyes stared into the distance at the rising of the sun, unfocused. Inside, his wife and little girl slept, while half a kilometre away, the masses stood as the “Last Post” bellowed from a bugle. Graham’s hand rose into a salute as he sat upright.

The last note echoed across the countryside. Graham made a silent prayer to his compatriots, the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

It had been ten long years now, but to the rest of the world, it was near a century since the Gallipoli campaign had begun.

He sat and looked at the bus parked in his driveway. It said “St Mary’s Catholic School” in bold maroon letters across the side. He’d driven it now for 9 years, and he still marvelled at it. The world changed so much since 1915. He couldn‘t believe how people had changed too.

*****

Graham charged into the tunnel, blood splatters across arms and face ashen from the explosion that took the last of his company. For the first time in days, desertion crossed his mind, but he pushed the weakness aside just as fast as the idea came to him.

The tunnel shook, and Graham ran in deeper until he saw no light from either end. He dropped and let the moment consume him for more minutes than he cared to admit.

A bright light brought him back from his shock. A shadow covered the most blinding section. Graham raised his weapon and jumped to his feet.

“Settle, sonny,” an old voice said. “We haven’t much time.”

Graham blinked at him and lowered his weapon. He didn’t sound German.

The old man cleared his throat and continued. “This portal behind me. It’s your ticket to freedom. Into the future. A future you will never see otherwise.”

“How?”

“Science, magic, I don’t rightly know. It’s a two-way gate. You live and settle in the future, I stay here.”

“Why would anyone want to stay here?”

“My father is here,” the old man said with a tightness in his throat. “I always wanted to know him but he died before I was born. I spent my life trying to find a way, and this was the best I could muster.”

“Okay then, humor me. Why should I?” Graham asked.

“Because in a hundred years, they will forget that freedom comes at a price,” the shadow answered.

Graham looked at the blood on his arms with disbelief. How could anyone forget this?

“I’ll do it,” he said surprised at the words coming from his lips.

“Good,” the old man coughed. “I have much to say. We only have a few minutes before the portal closes.”

*****

Graham swallowed back a tear. While so many still showed respect on Anzac Day every year, he had noticed that the girls and boys on his bus showed little interest, spending most of the rides watching you-tube or Insta-something on their portable phones.

“Daddy?” a little voice called from the back door.

“Yes, Liddy?” he said.

“Why are you up so early?” she asked as she jumped into his lap.

“It’s Anzac Day, love. I’m paying my respects.”

“Can I pay with you?”

“Of course, darling,” he said with a smile.

They sat quiet for a moment.

“Daddy, tell me a story,” she said. “About the Anzacs.”

He smiled as an idea came to mind.

“Sure, love. And after that, can you show Daddy how to make one of the you tube things?”

“Okay!”

A year later, he had finally completed the promise he had made in that cave. The kids of his bus route begged him to take them and their families to a dawn service.

He accepted with a glad smile.

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Even Demons Need Love

CW: Mildly explicit, some gore and violence

Zyra knelt in the shadow of the timber stairs. At this hour, no one would have seen her hiding just within reach of the front door. The wind blew, and a message traveled with it, “Nowwww.”

Creaking wood, a grunt, and footsteps told Zyra someone was awake. With one clawed hand, she pushed back from the edge of the stairs and crept towards the front door. “Do it,” she hissed.

“What are you doing?!” she heard an old woman cry on the second floor.

Muffled screams reached Zyra’s ears. The faint musicality of them reminded her of their first meet.

**

It had been the ultimate meet-cute. Zyra was coming to complain about a parking ticket; he was repairing the computers. Despite the sign that said to go to the next window, she walked straight up to him and unleashed a string of expletives. His face had been so adorable as he turned red with rage. She couldn’t even remember what calmed him down in the end, but it was an hour later when he was rising from her bed.

**

Zyra craned her neck to listen for the whimpers, the last dregs of a life eking out. She wondered how he looked as he strangled his mother, the insipid, overbearing slag. Her controlling ways had kept him imprisoned here with her for years. She imagined he reveled in the murder. He loved Zyra now, and she loved him. In her way.

Zyra stood at the door. She sensed the soul releasing it’s hold on the old woman above. Her mind connected to his, and she was filled with his thoughts of love and pleasure and unbridled hatred. She stripped down and used her power to open the door, transforming with each step into her true visage, complete with horns, tiny black wings, hooves, and a long whip-like tail. With each step on the stairs, she saw tiny dancing figures appear, chanting in their demonic language.

She entered the room, a black gown and veil covering her. Moonlight filled the room and announced her arrival. Consumed in his rage, he was tearing out chunks of skin with his teeth from the limp body of his mother. The blood painted darkness on his face and splattered across the bed and walls. She watched in delight as the room became covered and dripped from every corner. His body grew and soaked in the blood, turning him a rich vermilion.

“My love,” Zyra whispered.

He turned to look at her. His metamorphosis complete, he was even more perfect than she imagined he would be. “You’re so beautiful,” he gasped.

After a full year of dating, she had finally helped release him from his prison, and he was free to be the man – no, demon – he should have always been.

Their eyes linked. She felt the warmth of his unending love envelop her as the demon host pronounced them bonded for life.

Then Zyra let her imps watch them consummate their marriage.

The Cellar Door – a micro

Daisy trembled as the tap, tap, tapping on the cellar door matched the fervent thumping of her heart. She took a swallow of wine to quiet her nerves, but an unexpected metallic taste made her retch.

“What do you want?” she cried.

The door breathed in and out.

“You,” it hissed.

The knob turned slow, deliberate. But when the door swung open, nothing was there.

Death’s Prank

“If you wanted to set your life on fire, there wasn’t a better combination. That‘s what I should have told him. The fool. The day had been long; I was in no mood for violent or rude people. And he was both,” I confess.

“Don’t you think you took it too far, Death?” Father Time asks. His palms rub his glorious beard; long strands fall to the floor with every stroke.

An array of clocks cover the expansive room from the floor to the walls and the ceiling. While a thick sheet of plexiglass protects them, the sound is far from muffled. Grandfather clocks chime, seconds, on the analog clocks, tick, and digital clocks hum. What might happen if I smash one? I make a mental note to carry my scythe next time they bring me here. Mother Earth knows, no punishment can rehabilitate me.

I snicker at his question, “I don’t! He totally had it coming.”

#

I thought about the fool. His jerk face made me so mad I wanted to punch it.

Earlier that evening, I sat on a bench outside the Fish ‘n Chips shop waiting for my order, when I heard him slap his wife. He stumbled out of his house and demanded, “Keep the door unlocked, ya slag, I won’t be long!”

I watched him kick a leashed dog on the footpath and push the owner out of his way.

#

Father Time, the old bugger, shoots me a disgusted look.

“I honestly don’t know why you’ve got your panties in a bunch. I didn’t reap him,” I say with a sigh.

#

The fool crossed the road and walked into the shop the same moment my order was ready. He snatched the wax paper package from the shopkeeper and threw a $10 note at him. I grabbed his arm and demanded he hands over my meal, but he spat at me as he pushed me away.

“Fuck off, cu-”

Before he could finish the detestable word, I blew dust into his face and sent him stumbling across the street. He was oblivious to the minor changes around him. He walked to his house and turned the knob only to find it locked.

#

A giant grandfather clock appears in front of me. Father Time opens the lower door. He pushes the bob, and the pendulum clangs so loud it echoes through my whole body.

“Do your worst,” I shrug, as I recall the rest.

#

The fool banged on the door, screaming obscenities, until it opened, revealing a large, tattooed man. “Who the fuck are you? Where is my wife?” he yelled.

“This is my girlfriend’s house. Kindly remove yourself from her property,” the tattooed man demanded.

A woman walked to the door. Her eyes grew wide as she recognized him; then she burst into hysterics, “You‘re a bit late. Only took you five years to bring home dinner.”

#

I hold my stomach and let out an boisterous laugh. “See? It was funny because she had already moved on and forgotten the trauma of him disappearing.”

Father Time’s nostrils flare. “I gave you access to time so you could do your job and be in multiple places at once, not pull pranks on unsuspecting innocents.”

He ushers me inside the clock. I lower myself down the hole in the bottom and take a final look at Father Time’s angry face.

“Twenty Earth years, Death. Let’s see how you like that.”

I indulge in one final laugh as he slams the door, “Totally worth it!”

 

 

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