(published 'Peace & Freedom' 1995)
Jeremy Journey, head hero of his very own story, stared at the palm of his left hand as if it was about to reveal something about himself that he did not already know. He was naturally aware of the date of his death (not too far off if you only count shopping days) but what was perhaps more surprising, he had incontrovertible knowledge of its nature in all its horrific detail. So what else could there be? Only minor details relating to his personality, the odd rough edge that he preferred not to recognise even in his most subconscious moments. Usually, he saw right back to where the Dark Mind started, but never dared pioneer those unexplored regions without the aid of a psychiatric prop or confidence booster ... and where, these days, could you obtain the likes of them? Shrinks were few and far between ever since the Wars of Self Revelation, for shrinks had felt so diminished.
There was knocking on the door: more sudden than the flash of enlightenment that occurs when one finally breaks an impossible code. Probably, another one of those ne'erdowell do-gooders, Jeremy thought, someone who wanted to nurse him through the worst of a mind emerging from a cocoon of the old ... someone who may even want to become Mrs Journey! He ignored the knocking, knowing from his palm that it would eventually cease and go away.
But it didn’t! The audible pain of wood panels being relentlessly beaten was hard to bear. He pinned the blame on circumstances, if odd ones at that. There was one item about himself, however, that was slowly dawning on him: he was fast becoming someone other than Jeremy Journey! Such realisation deserved more than one exclamation mark, but the sheer outrageousness had not quite yet hit home.
"Come in," he said, in a voice he no longer recognised. Still the plain knocking. Eventually, he got up and opened the door.
(published 'Peace & Freedom' 1997)
There stood a dumpy woman in a floral frock with unshaven legs and feet that could easily be mistaken for cloven hooves. She held items of shopping in one hand, the other allowed freedom for knocking by the use of clenched teeth to hold her handbag strap.
"Blimey, Fred, you took your time about it!"
Her voice was harsher than his. He could see now that her so-called feet were not hooves, as such, but dressed in pretty outlandish clod-hoppers with which yet another self-imposed war of international proportions had caused the shoe-shops to stock up ... in some misbegotten campaign of frugality and mock utility. He yearned for the days when women dressed as ladies, elegantly and, yes, shapefully.
Fred lay beside the mound of his wife, wondering where he was. He had just woken up for the second time that night. She was snorting like a pig in labour ... no wonder he couldn't nod off. The advertising sign just outside the bedroom window slowly flashed on and off. He couldn't recall the nature of the latest logo that the electricians had strung up only two days before. It cast sufficient light, however, for him to examine his left palm. He couldn't believe his eyes. It was smothered in goatfur! He shrieked, running for the bedroom window...
He hung from the advertising sign like a dead puppet: caught on a green-pulsing inverted comma by the pyjama cord. Almost in slow motion, the trousers split as the rump forced its way out ... and the pavement drew nearer with tantalising dread. He never saw the sign was advertising a new brand of high-class, but heavy-duty, stays:-
Jeremy Journey's Boneless Corsetry.