by Callum Mooney
The restaurant buzzed a new spurt of life. The evening traffic of office workers and business people swarmed the reception of the establishment, waiting to be escorted to their reserved tables. The king bee of a flocking nest broke open the doors and the light escaped beyond the stag-do and darkness shrouded the bar of awaiting customers. They were seated immediately. Treated like royalty. VIP’s of which are given the utmost care. He was queen bee. No, he was a wasp… a hornet! and pound signs spun the eyes of the staff.
The kitchen was open to the observation of the public and the shogun was informed of the stag’s arrival. He rallied his samurai and ‘yes chef!’ echoed the room. They sharpened their knives. Bloodlust mapped their faces and CHOP! Carrots flew into boiling bowls, meat simmered in pans and pipers piped their Michelin-star-like puddings. Steam poured through the room and the hive moaned their delights for the aromatic sensations that invaded their noses.
Ninja flocked the room.
‘May I recommend the soup of the day?’
‘So, one scallop, one pizza, two pastas and four beers?’
‘Sir, we assure you that all of our vegetables are organic and fresh!’
‘Someone get table 3!’
‘How long till the scallops?’
‘2 minutes chef!’
It was Kitchen Nightmare on crack. The chefs sliced and diced as though warriors and sous chefs sprinkled and seasoned dishes with pepper like wizards and the stag party was crazed with drunken laughter and ninjas flowed the room like arduous waves and AND! And there was us.
The room was manic. But amongst the craze was a simple family, content with their meal, oblivious to the outside world, ignoring the others to simply enjoy their own company.
by Alyson Faye
Soaked in dusk, the boy stands, as if stone-struck, gazing at the sleeping angel. He has only visited the cemetery previously in daylight, with his nurse. Jacob loves his nurse dearly, for her creamy skin, secret stash of lemon drops and her magical stories. She told him, ‘An Italian sculptor carved this angel. He said the vision came to him in a dream and filled his fingers with the powers he needed. He’s buried below here, with his mistress.’
Jacob shivers, for the creeping shadows nibble at the gravestones, turning the angel demonic. But he is tired, so tired of running; his rage has brought him this far, now it has fled leaving him an empty shell. He is hungry too, his stomach tight and hurting. He’s not eaten since he left Father’s house- a day ago, or was it longer? Jacob climbs onto the massive stone tomb, lies down and nestles against the angel’s stone wing.
“Now I lay me down to rest,” he mumbles, saying his prayers as he’d been taught by his mother.
‘I miss you Mama.’ Jacob’s last thought, before darkness sweeps its cloak over him.
A young, foolhardy fox, lurking in the bushes, saunters up to the tomb, raises a wary paw and sensing the energy pouring out of the granite, scoots back to its lair. No other night time animal comes near. No trees allow their greenery to droop upon the angel’s shoulders, any unlucky leaves blacken and burn if they land.
Snow falls, soft as goose feathers, smothering and blurring the sleeping boy and the angel. They become one – flesh to stone, cheek to wing. The force imprisoned in the sepulchre’s guts, feeds on the boy’s fury, taking from him and giving him in exchange – immortality.
by Fiona Brown
They held hands, intertwining fingers, clinging on. Night flies fluttered. The lights flickered, dancing across the mountainside, illuminating the bluest of pools, reflecting a deep black bay of sea. The white buildings, each one with a tiny slice of life within, stood precariously balanced, carved into the steep walls of the earth. A breeze so gentle blowing, stroking warm skin, causing the smallest of movements in their hair. The faintest hint of crickets making their distinctive night time call, setting a rhythm in the darkness, every note pitch perfect. The aroma of warmth in the air. A beautiful night for it. Perfect, almost. Fingers still touching, every sense heightened for a final moment. They fell.
Who Calls for the Waters
by J. Motoki
The old man screams at the sea.
His wife’s face floats below him, fish sifting through long black hair, kissing blue skin. As she opens her mouth to speak, the water pulls her down in a cloud of bubbles white as her eyes. The old man, crying, jabs the waves with his harpoon while the sea laughs.
His boat bobs up and down until the sea tires of him, pokes long fingers of water into the floorboards, and shoves his boat over. He thinks this time they will drag him down. But the waves let him surface.
Why would we want an ugly old monkey? The waters laugh with many voices.
His boat lost to the taunting waves, the old man staggers up the beach. Before him, a vast watery ball, a living dewdrop, lies tangled in his fishing net. It’s a huge, slimy thing, big as a whale. Crying out in gasps and whistles, crying for the sea.
The old man pokes the thing with his harpoon and it wails. The sea screams at him to get away.
Give her back, the old man says.
Black clouds swell with thunder and rain. Waves hurtle towards him. The creature, wound like a kitten, struggles in the netting. Already, it looks more solid—less of the sea and more of the land.
The old man raises the harpoon to impale its pulsing heart, as the waves hang above them in a churning curtain.
Out of the waters steps a woman, skin brine-wrinkled, purple and bloated. Sea-crabs scuttle ahead, a vanguard. She reaches her arms to him—
The harpoon drops to the sand, and the sea gathers the crying creature. The old man holds his wife’s hands and they stand there in the dark of the storm, in the tumult of rain.
Voyage of a lifetime
by Chris Tattersall
She had never won anything before and was unsure of the genesis of the prize she had received. To her it seemed that her prayers had been answered and she wasn’t going to ignore this offer for voyage of a lifetime – 40 days all inclusive for her and her partner.
The timescale was short but after much excitement they arrived in plenty of time so spent a good two hours watching many other couples from a vast array of differing cultures board the ship ahead of them. As they entered the ship they froze, in awe of its cavernous beauty.
The seas were not as calm as envisaged. Soon the winds had picked up and the seas were angry like never seen before. Day after terrible day it was getting worse. Passengers spent endless hours watching the boiling seas from what should be the safety of the cabin but safe was far from what anyone was feeling.
Word spread around the ship that they were heading for safety in the Eastern Mediterranean, probably Turkey.
In the early hours a deafening, crunching noise broke through the silence and the ship seemed to shiver uncontrollably in the cold sea. As quickly as it started the noise and vibrations stopped. The ship stood stationary and stable in the middle of the sea. Aground.
On the bridge the novice captain breathed a sigh of relief. Noah and his ark had survived, as had his precious cargo.
Cosmetics Lady From Hell
by Stephanie Musarra
“What did this building use to be?” Terri asked herself, as she looked up at the red-
brick building with barred windows. “A factory, a prison?”
She climbed half way up the crumbling metal stairs, and hesitated. “Who worked in
this building? Who lived in the abandoned apartment building with the busted windows, and
crumbling floors? Was is a crack house?”
Terri sat on the park bench, and screamed as she saw a woman without a face.
She ran into the nearby café. “I need to get out of this heat.”
She ordered a milk shake, and sat next to the window. She turned around, and saw
several faceless women staring back at her.
She bolted out the door. “I must be losing my mind!”
“What’s wrong?” Glenn asked, as he rubbed Terri’s shoulders. “You’re not paying
attention to the movie, and you barely touched your popcorn.”
“Oh, I’m just tired.”
They were interrupted by a loud rat at the door.
“I’m with Bimbo’s Beauty Products,” said a decrepit old lady, with too much make-
up, that was leaning against her walker. “Would you like to buy some facial powder?”
“That poor thing,” Terri said, as she grabbed money out of her wallet, “She can barely walk. I’ll take 5!”
The next morning, she applied the powder. A few minutes later, her face fell off.
Unhappy Endings to Common Myths
by Mileva Anastasiadou
I held her in my arms, as the boat swayed under the moonlit sky. She smiled at me, a fake smile I could tell, yet a smile powerful enough to fill my starving lungs with oxygen.
It was crowded on that boat. Asphyxiating. Was it lack of oxygen that kept us out of breath? Or was it anticipation? We weren’t sure if it was hope we were after, or if we had already left hope behind. We only knew we had to keep going. Or keep still on that boat, that led us to another land. My youngster kept staring at me as if asking:
I couldn’t answer properly, so I avoided his eyes.
Then strong winds began blowing and the waves grew bigger and bigger.
“We’re sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, yet God is on our side,” I said, to appease his fear, yet I wasn’t sure if God would truly help, or if he even existed. That moment, I was only certain about the existence of those two mythical monsters.
We were caught in between. Between home, which didn’t feel like home anymore, and a strange land, which didn’t seem that welcoming. Either way, we were hopeless cases. Yet we only wished to stay alive.
If Odysseus had made it, if Jason and the Argonauts had traversed the straits safely, why wouldn’t we? Then again, perhaps modern times don’t allow for happy endings.
When a big wave overturned the boat, I lost sight of them. I’m not sure as to which monster swallowed me, yet I am now a trophy in their closet, a failed Odysseus, buried under the sea. An uninspiring story soon to be forgotten, in which the Golden Fleece proved an unreachable dream and Ithaca was never found.
It’s All Arranged
by Sean Crawley
She married to please others.
Sophie’s family, suburban and of average dysfunction, actively promoted Todd’s good looks, wealth and charm. A keeper, they said. Sophie’s friends never said a bad word about the fellow, to her at least. In private they decided that Todd was definitely a wanker, quite likely a raging Cluster B fuckwit. Society said her biological clock was ticking.
Todd proposed at half time of the AFL Grand Final, televised courtesy of his family’s connections with the owners of Channel Nine. The screaming, “No!”, inside Sophie’s gut, transmuted somewhere in her throat into a shaky, “Yes.”
The only good thing about the wedding were the oysters.
The honeymoon all alone with Todd at the exclusive Secrets on the Lake was unbearable. The possums, frogs and other assorted native fauna, carved into the rainforest timber work, haunt her every move. The humidity drained what dwindling energy she had left. Worse were the constant questions: “Do you love me more than anything?”; “Wasn’t that the best wedding ever?”; “Did you see Francine perving on me?”.
Baroon Pocket Dam, completed in 1989, buried a long history of aboriginal bunya nut festivals beneath giga-litres of water and millions of native bass fingerling. The cries of the victims of colonial genocide drowned out forever now. Water needed for jobs and growth on the Sunshine Coast.
On her way to the bottom, she tasted the rich volcanic soil suspended in solution. She saw the morning light filtered through blue-green algae. She heard the kayakers paddling above. She felt the cool water on her conquered skin.
“Why did she do it?” they would ask. “She had her whole life ahead of her.”
Another secret under the lake.