What if we killed superman?
Before he got old?
Do you think his light,
Would illuminate the world?
Or just an avenue or two?
Maybe he’d be lucky,
Not to die for Queen and country,
They could harness,
The energy released then,
Use it to power towns and parks instead,
Superman is dead they’d say,
But we’ve put him to good use,
Of course we’ve known that for a while,
Although some are slow,
At catching up,
Superman is dead,
He was only a baby,
Let’s go find some other infant,
And knock its brains out,
With a rock instead.
When the wind blew off the sea you could hear the old ship timbers creak. The memories of storms and trade runs to islands that boiled in the sun had a way of waking the sap in the wood.
Ian loved it.
Day after day he cranked his eyelids open to slog through hours that felt like mud. Sometimes he imagined he was drowning as the heat and sweat from his co-workers and the air con flattened him against the sealed windows of Rutherford and Grimes. He could see the streets outside though and the people bustling through them, and in the distance the dunes, Out there was the sea, gulls, and wind and time to dig your toes into the sand and relax. He could feel the bills piling on top his spine every time he went in to work these days.
He pushed a 00 gauge locomotive with added torque up the track and toggled the switch.
‘Not here though,’ he listened to the swish of trains on the painstakingly modeled diorama, ‘here’s my time.’
He’d fight for that he supposed; like the old pirates who’d cut the timbers for the frigates his house was made of. This was his space, his treasure island.
‘Avaaaaaaaaaaast,’ he let the word roll off his tongue adopting a phony West Country lilt. ‘Shiver m’timbers, feed the engine more coal we’ve miles to go.’
Thunder cracked as Ian Biddley from accounts climbed on the table top laughing wildly. He never saw the lightning strike that plunged the room into darkness.
Ok. next installment of the Serikbekev series of flash fiction pieces. I’m changing his name from ‘Kapan’ to ‘Yurii’ It’s starting to grate on my nerves (I keep thinking of ‘Captain’ every time I write it for a start). And, as I’ve mentioned before on Twitter I’m now calling these pieces ‘The Magic Trick’. Anyway, here we go:
They were using the river; Yurii watched another line of Ukranian guard fall into the water. The waves mercifully taking the mess that was all that was left of the back of their heads from sight.
‘A few hundred,’ replied Ivan. ‘We got behind them during the night, never even knew what hit them.’
His commander gestured to a man nearby, ‘bring the Doctor up, hurry.’
‘Why do you need a Doctor for? You can see they’re dead and if they’re not already then they will be before long. Look at it.’
The river flowing past the militia and their prisoners had ice floes bobbing on its surface.
‘What do you think you brought back for us from your rendezvous?’
‘I don’t know,’ Yurii shrugged. He didn’t really care either, ‘Money, drugs?’
‘Clever boy.’ Yurii felt like the commander wanted to clap, but there was no smile on his face that he could see. ‘Although unfortunaltely the cash part is wrong,’ said Ivan, ‘and the drugs you’re thinking of are nothing like this. Another man stepped forward and Ivan popped the locks on the case he held in one massive fist. There was a row of syringes inside, each one nestling in a bed of foam.
‘Doctor Vassily? Administer these to the rest of the scum.’
Ivan’s hand waved over the syringes as the doctor was finally pushed to the front of the men on the pier. Despite the name he had to be on the Ukrainian’s side decided Yurii, he was sweating too much to be anythig else, and his hands twitched as he took the case.
‘I told you before you want you loved one’s dead, don’t play. It’s up to you.’ Ivan stage managed a yawn the bones in his jaw clicking as he did so. ‘I don’t wan’t any of this spreading so do it right.’
‘Then you better dispose of the bodies quick. It only takes seconds before it starts to work.’
‘Oh don’t worry about that,’ Ivan grinned as he surveyed the fast flowing waters speeding on their way to the West. ‘We’ve got the best natural drain in all of the East. Let’s get started then.’
Yurii had seen a lot as they cleared his homeland of the fascists trying to take away his rights. He’d seen good friends die screaming in agony, limbless, and begging for their mothers to take away the pain. He’d seen a man put a gun to his temple and administer the final medication he’d ever need when he’d seen what had happened to his feet after a night spent outside, and he’d seen more. But what he witnessed then was something else.
The first of the captives didn’t struggle, that came later as the drug took hold. But as his eyes tunred milky white then black the doctor who’d just adminstered the dose stepped back before the man’s flailing limbs could cause injury. The colour was draining from Vasily so fast you’d have thought someone had cut holes in his feet.
‘He bit me.’
The sound of firing pins being drawn back rattled through the air as the men around the little dispatch comittee stepped back. They’d barely even started saying goodbye to their prisoners and already it was going wrong.
‘The fucker bit me the doctor’s hands thrashed through the box spraying syringes and vials into the air.
The Russian’s were calling it, ‘Non lethal military aid.’ As Yurii watched one of the struggling figures in the water disappeared from view and a bloom of red appeared on the rivers surface. It didn’t look that non lethal to him.
‘They must have supplied an antidote, come on where is it?’
Vasily was still muttering to himself when Ivan’s gun barrel found its way onto his neck.
‘Where do you want it? Spine or the back of the skull? It’s up to you.’
‘But…’ The doctor never got far as the second word before the retort that launched into the river split the air.
‘Ditch em,’ said Ivan wiping the doctor’s blood off his face. ‘I’ve seen enough, there’s nothing the idiot was doing we can’t do ourselves.
There was a series of splashes as the river claimed the captives lined up on the jetty. Some of them were starting to show the affects of the Russian jabs already. More than one had begun to thrash.
Yurii watched the figures bob through the water.
‘How long do you think they can swim for?’
Ivan followed his eyes, ‘I’m not sure it matters.’ A head disappeared from view. It didn’t resurface. ‘They’ll walk if they have to, just so long as they come land round here. Isn’t that right boys? What they’ve got’s not for us.’
There was a round of laughter and the sound of engines starting up as the first of the militia got into their rides.
Most of the inhabitants of Cide weren’t paying much attention to the fighting going on on the other side of the sea. What their leaders made promises about rarely meant much to the man in the street. After the initial assaults and shell bursts had provided them with pretty pictures to shake their heads on TV nothing much had been reported by the main stream median and they had other concerns on their minds. Certainly when the first heads of Ukrainian front line troops broke the waters surface they didn’t run. instead they called emergency services thinking they had a disaster on their hands. They were right, but it wasn’t of the kind they would have predicted. Most of them watched as one brave soul braved the water to try and rescue one of the survivors. He only realised his mistake when the teeth found his arm.
Our world’s a fiction,
That play’s by its own rules,
But when they bite,
You’ll feel it,
Is that why we’re so paranoid of being lied to?
When we’re lied to every day,
Told by the people in it,
While the people that run the show,
Sell us tickets,
For spots we already own,
Listen I’ll tell you the trick,
It was making us so busy,
We never leave our spots,
A captive market,
That can’t see outside the box.
More than just,
Because it’s not you,
Doing us a favor,
It’s us helping you,
With that tan,
On your back,
And those kids,
In private school,
The answer to greed,
Isn’t more greed,
We spread outwards,
We level things down,
There’s more than,
Enough to do round,
If it wasn’t,
By a few,
But I suppose,
The views different,
Where the voice,
From the other sides,
And the cleaner,
You expect someone,
Getting the crumbs from your table,
To give an honest answer?
The world’s built on,
But its ruled by the dollar.
The best thing about being on his own was the worry was halved thought Kapan as he dodged another mound of fallen rubble. He’d spent years trying to make sure those around him didn’t get damaged; as much for his own benefit as theirs. The more of them there were the more difficult they were to kill. But that didn’t mean he had no appreciation of a solo op when the only back he had to cover was his own. Kapan ran full pelt across an open square, bullets spattering in a line behind him as he made for the nearest buildings.
When he was inside his radio crackled into life, and Kapan ducked further into the shadows.
He had to fight to get his breath under control. What the hell did Ivan want?
‘You might have company,’ the commander’s voice hissed into his ear through the static.
‘I thought you said round here was clear.’
‘I did, but we’ve got one of our drones right above you and the surrounding streets are anything but empty.’
‘Then why aren’t they attacking?’
There was silence for a minute.
‘They might not be hungry enough yet.’
Kapan stared at the handset.
‘You do see anything Serikbekev, you run. Ok? Get the drop off and get out. Do not attempt to engage. I repeat do not attempt to engage.’
Kapan turned the radio off and tried to see past wreckage that jumped as rounds dug its way through the scrap.
‘Better get a move on then.’
When he got to it the tunnel mouth looked like the entrance to somewhere he’d far rather not go, at least not yet while he was still breathing. There were stalled cars in front of it and more than one had a crater where its bonnet had been.
‘Nice place to make a drop.’
But Kapan was beginning to have more than a few ideas as to the nature of what he was attacking. The zone’s inhabitants were stubborn but the shells on either side of him were empty of even the last impoverished families.
‘You don’t want to be seen do you?’
When the air filled with the familiar sound of tortured radio waves and the gabble of voices on the edge of hearing Kapan felt sweat trickle down his back. He knew what that was, although the last time he’d seen it he’d been a few stories up.
Something that looked the same color as the tunnel’s depths stepped a little further into the light, or it would have. The illumination that reached it slide off its back as if the two didn’t mix.
‘What have you got for me?’ said Seribekev.
‘Only this,’ an arm waved in the direction of a metal flight case standing on the tarmac. ‘You should be able to carry it on your own.’
‘I’m going to have to aren’t I seeing as my men are dead. Who are you? Spetsnaz? Special Ops?’
‘Neither, although I’ve had a long relationship with both, let’s say I’m part of a movement whose time has come. You’re going to help us issue in a new era.’
Serikbekev was at the case hefting it off the floor half expecting an explosion. Except, what would be the point? They were allies, weren’t they?
‘Just take it to your commander Kapan Serikbekev. We’ll be seeing each other again soon enough.’
The figure stepped back into the tunnels shadows as the enemy’s guns started up. In the flashes Kapan saw something like one of the corpses in the cars nearby, a lipless mouth and skin charred so black it looked like it would crumble in the first gust of wind. Teeth flashed, and it disappeared.
‘I hope not.’
Kapan tucked the case under his arm and loped for the nearest cover before a shell could paint his own silhouette on the wall.
(to be continued)