In his younger days, Sir Godzilla, or Zilla, as he preferred to be called, was renowned for his interpretations of Shakespeare’s legendary fallen heroes. He was the first lizard ever to play Othello, bringing a subtlety to the characterisation only a true outsider could. And as for his Hamlet, well it went down in history as one of the greatest ever, even eclipsing dear, dear, Johnny Gielgud. But unfortunately, age is everything in this business. Though poor Zilla had fine acting chops, they counted for nothing when casting directors chose to be blinded by youth and beauty.
Zilla sighed. “Dear boy, must you keep sending me these banal roles? I am an a-c-t-o-r not some rent a monster.”
Norman Nomes, his long time agent smiled.
“Look Zilla, love, I know you are more than the sum of your parts, but times are tough. Your bank balance could do with a refill, and to be honest, there’s not much call for an overgrown lizard to star opposite Jen Aniston in the next big rom com, not with Zach or Gerard in the frame. I’m so sorry to be cruel lovey, but these are the cold hard facts.”
Zila inhaled, the fire deep within rumbled, then calmed. Norman was right. There was no point setting the little fellow alight. What good would it do?
He smiled, well showed his teeth. “ It’s an independent movie you say Norm, and I’m to be its star?”
Norman nodded and chewed on his cigar. “ The director’s my cousin, just starting out. He wrote the part especially for you.”
And that’s how the once famous thespian, and knight Sir Godzilla, found himself on a movie set channelling his inner monster, fending off a group of attacking gnomes from the planet Gnomatron, as the director shouted “Action.”
Whatever happened to the laughing gnome?
We had a whale of a time living in Bromley. It was Mrs Jones that took me in, but her boy David that took a shine to me. He thought me an oddity cool enough to duet with him on one of his songs – he didn’t even know we gnomes could sing!
And laugh! I nearly cracked my side when we recorded our song for real. ‘We’re going to be stars!’ he said.
David let me invite my family over to stay. Fred, my brother was a bit suspicious of him, ‘something in the eyes,’ he said. But I ignored him. He’d given me my big break after all, and it was such a thrill when our song came on the radio.
But the tune never hit.
In fact it bombed.
In fact, it was universally mocked!
It seemed we were not going to be famous.
Fred said he’d met this dragon in Soho who said I was the best thing about the record, and a huge star in the making. He said that if I formed my own group he’d launch our careers. I didn’t much like to let David down, although he’d embarked on a direction I sensed would not include me. Then the day all these longhaired spiders from Mars arrived at the house, I knew we were through, so packed my bags.
Fred called the dragon, and arranged a meeting. I know I should have been a bit suspicious he wanted to meet in some alley behind Berwick Street, even more so of the powdery tasting champagne he greeted us with. But hey, hindsight and all that.
So alas, within seconds we’re as stiff as boards, our bodies can’t move, but our eyes continue to work, and poor old Fred is first on the menu.
by Mike Gibas
The tent was orange.
It was faded and weather-beaten on the outside, but on sunny days the inside glowed. And when we played inside our childish bodies glowed too. Pale skins illuminated. Glowing. Orange. Like Johnny Storm.
The tent was my brother’s. My faded and weather-beaten brother who sailed away from home. Who sailed away from me. Oh, I loved that tent. Its faded orange glory pegged down defiantly in Dad’s green, garden paradise.
Scrawled on its side were three letters: J.L.A. Justice League of America. My HQ. My home for superheroes. Batman. Superman. Flash. Inside my glowing world, superheroes were real. Illuminated, alive, in full radiant colour.
At its entrance stood a gnome. Mum’s gnome. I don’t remember his name. Just his red hat and missing ear. I don’t even know why he stood there. Perhaps, like me, he was a hero waiting for an origin.
My neighbours were two sisters. Karen was my age. Golden freckles. Glowing. Orange hair. When I peered at her out the tent, she almost sparkled in the sunshine. Light flitting around her head. Her sister, Hannah, was older. Taller. Long brown hair and tight-fitting cheesecloth shirts. Her head was square. Her jaw was too. She blocked out the sun. Completely.
And that one day, this tall girl entered my tent. My HQ. All glowing inside, light flickering. Magical. She stumbled. Lurched. Filled my space with her shadows. This square-jawed girl, all cheesecloth and long hair, sat on top of me. Grinning. My tent now faded and weather-beaten on the inside, its sides flapping like sails in a breeze. Sailing away. Away from me.
Karen stood outside. Kicking the gnome. And she sang. I remember she sang.
And inside my faded tent, the tall girl unzipped my trousers. And after that, I remember nothing.
by F. E. Clark
Thunder tears of the giant lizard rumbled all around the kingdom.
The villagers stayed indoors, covering their ears when they ventured out. Zilla searched all day for the gnomes: their grotto, fairy house, cake shop, the potting shed, even the pub, but could not find his tubby friends anywhere.
“Waaaahhhhhhrrrrghhhhhhhh,” he wept.
The gnomes had gone. There were no signs or clues; vanished into thin air. The villagers whispered about witches, spells and doomsday prophecies.
Zilla sat in his flat and wept, where were they? What would he do without them? Who would make his tea?
Gnome juggling, gnome throwing, gnome bouncing – so many games they had played, such fun they had. Zilla guzzled candies, drank coffee, paced.
Finally, at 5.46am he drowsed into a snot filled slumber, the villagers had sighed and slept too.
The jaunty knock of the mail-badger woke Zilla a few hours later. He lumbered to the door to find a single card lying on his doormat. Scrabbling for his bifocals, Zilla examined the postcard.
A glossy bright picture of people supping cocktails in the sun. Addressed to ‘That Darned Lizard, Back of Beyond’ it carried the message:
‘Gnomes on Tour – Dear Lizard – we has gone hollydaze. Wish you woz here. The Gnomes. XOXO.’
“Noooooooooooarrrrghhhhhh,” Zilla roared, lumbering as fast as he could to the police station. Zilla knew the gnomes would never call him a LIZARD, never. As he explained to the constables, this could only mean one thing – his gnome friends had met with foul play.
No one believed him.
Days and weeks passed, more postcards arrived, Peru, the Moon, Las Vegas, Atlantis.
Until one unexceptional day Zilla arrived home to find the gnomes had returned. They acted as if they had never been away, but they seemed different.
Zilla’s gnomes were gone.
by Kirsty Higginson
Young children with dirty faces ran in-between rose petal snowflakes, which fell, swirling around in soft breeze, unaware of the hushed argument going on only footsteps away.
“This is not a religion, Master, this is a conformity within the deepest of lies.” Tobias knew he was stepping into the unknown but his master was talking of an unrelenting cruelty that was surely unspeakable.
Beads of sweat slivered to the master’s brow, he stood almost paralysed with annoyance edged with a tingling sensation of fear. “How dare you question my orders. What I choose does not come with ease, but from a vision of our future. We greatly accept love and peace now, but what if the soothsayer parchment is correct, we cannot….. we will not waste anymore time!”
Tobias bowed his head, defeated. “Let me at least take away the children before the day comes, Master, they need not see the implications of a spine torn fable.”
The crackling noise hit and burned upon skin before he acknowledged it was his own flesh burning under the thick wispy envelopes of fire.
“Do you want to see the parting of the sun, Tobias,” His father, his master shouted, spitting pity and rage onto his son’s drooping, melted shoulders. “Do you want them to come and slay these children who dance amongst the rose petals?”
A white dandelion, pure and white, tinged from his angered flames, floated in-between them and stopped time.
This was the sign.
The flowery tufts sunk lower, mocking the way a feather falls, side to side, with nothing but gentle grace, swaying downwards until eventually it came to rest on God’s earth.
There was no silence now, and the master shed his final tear, knowing the parchment was to be believed, and this, his last day
Guess He likes em Crunchy
by Pattyann McCarthy
No one said anything to anyone about anything. No one said, don’t go into the deep forest. No one said there’s something there to fear. No one said stay away. I’m sure someone knew, but no one will say who that someone is, and no one is saying anything about anyone. My little village is daft and self-serving. Everyone is out for themselves.
I found out the hard way that there was something to tell. I went into the deep forest, and came stumbling back out with a story to share. I will tell everyone! Don’t believe me? I’m telling you, aren’t I?
My little companions and I went into the forest for a picnic. I carried a basket of fried chicken, corn on the cob, and dessert. I know they should’ve carried it for me, but they’re so little, they’d never be able to lift it. Truth told; they did me a greater service in the end!
We found a cozy spot by the old cave. The sprites like to play in there when the sun’s out. The bright hurts their little eyes. I set out the picnic and read Grimm’s fairytales whilst they played. So engrossed was I, I never heard their little yelps, and I’m ill telling you this bit of news.
Nary had one come back out, but the monster did! It was still chewing one of my little companions; his femur stuck between its fangs like a toothpick, the monster trying to loosen the bone as it came towards me. All I could think was to throw it a chicken leg, as I made my escape.
As I ran, behind me I heard, “Tasty little critters they be, and the crunchier, the better!”
I wonder, did the monster mean my fried chicken or my friends?
Not Made Manifest
by Robert Leeming
A sea breeze blew the music charts from a horseshoe of silver stands sending pages of yellowing staves and treble clefs slicing through the air.
I told Greta that clothes pegs might be needed but she begged me to stop concentrating on the tiny details and consider the larger picture. She ordered me into the under croft of the hall to carry out several stone heads of musical notables that I had to arrange on a four tiered table top, each head facing a different direction, to create the impression of a gaggle.
Nothing is more disheartening than the giving of a concert to an audience that isn’t listening and as I weaved my way around the cabinets at the reception for the Governor of Barbados, the talk was of anything but the music.
Maria, leaning against the curve of the curved room, she said was only there because an empty Sunday would have left her with too much time on her hands and I said I was tired of working. So we took on our roles and she started to talk about flirting, while I adopted the style of a connoisseur, as the cable car ticked from tooth to tooth in the thin mountain air.
The air was cold, we sipped in the cold air, as the sculpted miracle, garlanded with fairy lights, was guided down the steps. The patriarch passed guarded by lines of green dragoons. The sensation in the flesh is never as fascinating as a sensation in the air and nearly everyone saluted as the man of the moment moved through the crowds.
It’s strange, but of all the things I learned that night, the fact that carousel means little battle in Spanish is what still sticks in my mind. The magic of life is in the skirmishes.