How to brighten Mr. Burke up

The tiger folded his paws, cuffs slipping, showing monograms on his golden cufflinks. It made him look more elegant and sophisticated, then before. Peterson shuddered. The bureau was huge, bigger than his house. The white marble topped table was impressive, his boss enthroning the big black leather chair looked like a king holding court. And he sat on a wooden chair in front of a man, who could snap him in two, probably only with the power in his left pinky… His tail twitched nervous, licking his lips didn’t help. Peterson tried to hide in his hide, as he felt his boss’ eyes burning into his skull.

“Peterson. Do you think, this impresses me?” The tiger snorted and laid his ears back. His golden eyes pierced the weasel sitting in front of his desk. “Do you think this is ENOUGH?” The growl in his voice made the glass of the windows tremble.

“…No? Sir.” The weasel trembled too, eying the door. “Sir? May I suggest Chef Michaels prepares you an early lunch?” Peterson tried to save himself from his boss’ rage. He knew he fucked up, and the numbers were more than awful. But that didn’t mean, that he had to die for them. Hopefully… The tiger popped all claws on his left paw, and tapped the marble tabletop impatiently. He leaned back in his office chair.

“This will not suffice, Peterson. I’m disappointed with your performance.” The claws pierced the paper stack Peterson just brought with him. With a careless gesture he swept the stack to the floor. “Pick that up, Peterson.” The man swallowed audible.”You know what? Leave it. You reek like a dead dog. Have you been rolling in dead dog?”

“Uh, uh… nyes?” The man hurried to get to the door, and to close it as fast as he could behind himself. The tiger smiled an amused smile and punched a button on his intercom. “Sally, darling, please do come in, and brighten up my day.”

“Yes, Mr. Burke.” The female voice chirped through the line. The tiger got up and out of his navy blue blazer. The snow white shirt was fitting him perfectly. He loosed the golden silk tie and unbuttoned his collar. His right ear twitched. Sharp clacking sounds were approaching the door. “Ah, Sally! Please come in, come in.” He opened the door for her. Sally had both hands busy with holding and oversized bath brush, a pillow filled with catnip, and a box full of life mice. Mr Burke hugged her and lifted her from the ground. Sally thrashed a bit, then gave up, when hearing Mr. Burke’s purring.

“Sir? Mr Burke? You know that it isn’t professional, to have your toys brought to you, if you are upset,” she asked in his shoulder.

“Mhm,”he purred.

“The CEO of such a company, worth multimillion dollars in arms business, is supposed to be awe-inspiring, terrifying and mighty impressive.” She lessoned him. “Shall I have Chef Michaels prepare lunch?” He shook his head and let her very gently touch the ground. “Ready?” She wiggled the pillow a bit before she threw it into the furthest corner of the bureau.

 

don’t visit my garden

-zero draft-

Several weeks ago I moved to my new apartment.

It was the first of September, and it was an unusually hot day. The first thing I did, was to water my new garden. I went out barefooted, straightened out the hose, and opened the water tap. The yellow grass smelled like hay, and the anthills I wetted dissolved under the water jet. Little white eggs were swept away, swimming towards my patio. The soil under my feet still radiated with the heat of the day.

I went back to the deck and took a cigarette and pulled the lighter out of my pocket. The sound the lighter made, seemed alien. I thought of the dry grass and told myself not to torch the place. I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, especially when exhausted on hot evenings… You have a running hose in the other hand, dumbass! Sometimes I told myself, I deserved a huge face palm, an unbelievably gigantic one. What could I do? Should I start slapping myself? I decided to sigh instead and proceed with the watering.

“So stupid”, I told myself with Paul’s voice. Paul’s voice.

That was the only thing left; the only thing he left me with… It remained the only thing that had found its way under my skin. His voice nested in my head, and told me things he used to say to me, used to whisper. It teased me, snorted and laughed at me… I nearly felt his fingertips on my scalp to ruffle my hair. It was very convincing.

No.

I was convincing, I corrected myself instantly.

I was convincing myself, that he liked to be with me. And that he would have stayed with me, that his parents made him go back and marry that woman.

My reflection in the window was clear, and lonely. Above me, the sky turned slowly violett with orange on the western edge. No wind, no stars. Yet, I sighed smoke escaping through my nostrils.

For a moment, I saw stars I seemed to exhale with the smoke. I stared at the window, observing the movements of my own reflection. Nothing unusual.  Was I so exhausted, that I was seeing things? Obviously.

How strange… My watch showed 7:30 pm.

I loved evenings. I loved gardens. To be accurate, it was why I took this place. The garden.

I loved Paul.

Between my toes, the yellow grass flossed among the attacking ants. It burned somewhat. The violet faded to a blue-black. It burned under my skin, in my lungs and head. My eyes kept stinging. Smoke got into them. Burning… Stupid…

The smoke corroded its way to my bones, blurring my vision, blackening my skin from the fingertips and nails. My chest felt tied up, so tightly, that I couldn’t breathe. Something moved. Suffocating. It jumped, and spun and jerked deep inside. Felt like crumpling me up from the inside. It kicked. I tried to cough it up. It felt like ants crawling inside of my airways.

Stupid! Why was it so hard to breathe?

The something hammered on my ribcage. Breathe, dumbass! Crushing me from the inside. It banged against my thorax, it threw itself against my lungs. So desperate to get out. Smoke billowed out of my mouth. Ash and a tiny star fell to the ground. It rolled around in the wet yellow grass. An ant crawled in the hollow of my right knee. Above me the sky was black.

No moon. I stood in a puddle and my feet felt like ice. The star still rolled around in little circles like a too big marble. It glowed. Funny. Huh… I let the hose fall down.

Something dripped down, something warm. The tip of my fingers went dark, wet and warm.  Nosebleed, huh… I threw my stub into the puddle, it fizzled out.

The little gleaming star in the marble was still there. It looked so natural, as if it always had been there, between drowned ants and brown grass. Stupid…

It was my own voice that echoed in my head. I remembered, I said it to Paul. I… I spat it to his feet.

It was a really cold day last November, and it just started snowing. He stood stiffly by that opened living room window expectantly, or angrily. I couldn’t read his facial expression, maybe I didn’t wanted to. His eyes glowed with… anger, or fear.

“I jump, if you go!” His words slithered across the carpet and the snowflakes.

“If you go now, we’ll meet downstairs. Look at me now, and remember my face, cause in one minute its going to be pulp.”

Stupid.

That November day I passed my last examen. I could call myself a doctor. He hated me for it.

“If you leave me, I’ll jump.”

I hit him. And went.

I slammed the door behind me, as hard as I could, so I wouldn’t hear, if he really did it. Stupid! On floor level I held my breath and peaked around the corner. Nothing on the pavement. It snowed. A car was passing by.

As I looked up the house front, all windows were closed. Stupid.

I told you, I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. I believed a coward.

Between my naked cold feet a glowing marble was lying in a puddle.

trash snippets #4

ME:“Nono, sweetheart. This not how you do it. Look.”

DEALER:“Twenty- one.”

ME:“See? That’s mine now. You want a smoke? I won a good brand and a nice lighter… Here. Now you.”

POOR GUY:“Go away.”

ME:“My, touchy? No darlin’. You have to hit… There you go. Now stick!”

DEALER:“Soft seventeen”

ME:“Oh. now come on. Don’t leave me now. You’re doing great! Don’t make that face, smile sweetheart. You’re my lucky charm.”

POOR GUY:“No I’m not. What makes you think that I’ll stick ’round?”

ME:“Yes, you are! You’re the most pathetic, luck free person in this room. And broke. I’ve got a job for you, mister-leave-me-alone-I- have-to-drown-my-problems. I’ll make you my pet.”

Septim

He felt the pressure-lock shutting behind him. Latching. He clutched at his suit and breathed.

To catch a sane thought he tried to shake off the wooziness, but his head was spinning,  fingers tingling. All that adrenalin screaming through his system. The sensation of moving skin and muscles under his hands. The fading power of defense, which wasn’t a defense anymore. His arms would remember that feeling as long as he lived. The nausea was overwhelming. A big gulp forced his stomach back down.

He had imagined it to be more difficult, that someone tried and stopped him. Someone knocked him out, before he did it. Someone tying him up before he could proceed,  with his plan… Nothing. Nothing happened.

Setting everything up has been so unbelievably easy, but the main act, the distraction…

It…

It broke him, scarred him.

It was a sin.

A necessity. But a sin.

He felt it clearly, like the metal door he was leaning against. It was bad. But bad things started a new life.

The deep rattling of the activated escape capsule made it worse. The nausea and  the dizziness were back. His heart tried desperately to crawl out of his thorax.

Before he realized it, he heard someone talking. It was his voice, and his words, but he didn’t remembered opening his mouth. He listened. First it seemed gibberish, distorted words, half understood facts…

Saliva in his mouth turned to acid, he had to spit it out. No way he would be able to swallow that.

If he stayed where he was, everything would end disastrously. Then it made suddenly sense. Imperative. “Dontlookbackdontlookbackrun. Run. RUN!”

If he looked back, he’d go back. Go back and try to save him. And all the work and effort for nothing!

“Oz…” 

He was a friend. A true friend, the best he ever had… His only friend. A sacrifice.

“Point of no return!” He commandeered, just to hear himself over the CPR-alarm. The ship’s life monitoring system did pick up Oz’s cardiac arrest after all. Colored him surprise. He had shut off all surveillance in the lab. Wasn’t enough though. 

“No time for all loose ends.” Override wasn’t possible from the lab, only the setting to self-destruct. On the other side of the doors, the alarm was screaming. “FOCUS! This is important.”

The fabric of the suit was soft in his fists. He had to take it, even if it ment leaving bread crumbs behind. When they found the wreck, they’d be searching for the suits. They’d know it was fishy. And that he was missing.

He was property, after all. Priceless property. But that couldn’t be helped now. He was going to deal with it later.

His tracking device had been deactivated and removed. Oz did it. Happily.

Poor Oz.

His name on the helmet started to gleam. “Proto.” Simple. 

They didn’t allow him a family name.

They were his family, mother and father. They were his owners. Literally. They were Strix Genome United Inc.

Strix… He grinned.

They gave him this name. This despicable. Boring. Unoriginal. Joke of a name.

At least, they could have picked Adam, for man. But no! It had to be the short form for Prototype. Disappointingly predictable. He had asked for another name, one he gave himself. But Strix never allowed it.

He liked Adam, George too, then he remembered Brutus and Marcus. Romans had elegance in choosing names. His choice would be Septim.

He was the seventh clone, the first still alive… Seventh. He had to think of a back story, if he bumped into other humans. He made a mental note and crossed the small chamber to the capsule.

The ticket to freedom lied in front of him. Life pod 4.

“Get yourself together! No guilty trip. Can’t take it back! What happened, happened,” he told himself spurring on. “Can’t turn back. No matter what. Killing a man means death sentence.” Oz would understand. He always did. Sad though, that it had to be this way.

Entering the escape capsule, the door closed automatically. Proto seated himself in the pilot’s seat. Designed for four people, it had enough room and supplies to risk a three months journey to Europe.

The ride would be bumpy, since he changed Harpy’s course into the asteroid belt. He hoped it was enough to catapult him into a safe and steady course to Jupiter. From there it would be child’s play, joining the terra-forming units on Europe, he’d help build that magnetosphere inducing system around the core. It was his chance to be human, and be treated like one…

And no one would take that from him.

“Five, four, three, two, one, zero.” Harpy’s voice counted. With a rapid accelerating boost, the capsule left it’s mother ship. Ascending fast. 

In a safe distance Proto took over manually and switched the autopilot off. Now he had to look. He needed to look.

The ship was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the last coordinates…

“Identified: Traces of crystalline fuel, debris, 
remaining parts of shell and wing panel of: 
interplanetary transporter, Type: J 408/c. 
No S.O.S signal detected.” 

The gleaming writing on the analysis display blinked orange before fading away.

trash snippets # 3

I stood in the middle of the garden. The sun shone down and tried to melt the blue out of the sky. In front of me, a big Hydrangea bush dipped. Something moved, fell and rose again. Something black. It dropped…. Mhmm.

“You see it? Landed over there. Bird of paradise flowers. Look.” Danaus plexippus. Monarch butterfly. His steps stopped right behind me. I looked him square in the eyes, but I couldn’t read anything in them. The insect moved across the orange flower. “They’re bigger than I thought.” He told me lazily leaning on my shoulder. His weight and warmth attached itself to me… I felt a tiny click somewhere inside. The click of two magnets meeting. His breath smelled of coffee and liquor. “You know it by name? Don’tcha, doc?”

Breathing was always hard with him around. Speaking even more, so I swallowed instead. He snuggled with my nape. “Why do you always smell so good?” He hummed into my hair.

trash snippets # 2

“You have to be a proper human! Not just some kind of smart and crafty animal.” An old hobo pokes at his leather jacket. “All instinct and raw character with no manners.” Oz gives the old man the eyebrow. He  has to decide whether he is amused or irritated. Maybe both, maybe equally.

The man belonging to the dry bony pocking finger blabbers his words mixed with jiberrish. Or is that a language? The eyebrow shoots up again. Was that something mainland European?

“You know how a proper human looks like, lad?” The old man laughs and attempts to stand up. His hands shoot forward to grab the counter. It seems to be moving for him. “Not like this…” He concludes more to himself. “Still not drunk enough. There’s still hope in me. It keeps seeping into me, through the cracks of the night and day. Suddenly its all back from nowhere…” He slams his palm unto the polished wood. “Dammit! You hear that, lad?”

Oz gets his rum, and is about to drink.”What do you mean? The music?”

“I only hear one song.” The club goes mad behind the hobo, the mass on the dance floor twitches and screams to a new song. He points at his heart and then between his brows. “It is here, all the time. Nothing else. It tugs and pulls…” The rhythm pushes on, vibrates through limbs and guts. Oz’s eyes find a beautiful lady in a black dress in the crowd enjoying herself. Then they come running back to the drunk old man. “Alien melody, boiling my blood. Already heard once before, can’t remember where.” He looks at himself in the mirror of the bar, smirks. “I could go anytime, I know that. I don’t have to be alive, but what can I do? Not rushing things. Stepping back in line.” The monologue turns even more into an irritating and awkward angle. The hobo strokes his left lower arm.

“My mother used to say: all roots dig into the black, the dirt.” He sighs and looks at Oz pondering. “So do I. Betray and get betrayed. You know what I mean, lad?” His eyes  plunge down the bottleneck, preparing to drown in there. “Heh, flush the guilt with this.” He drains his beer and waves it to the bartender, who nods and  places a new full bottle before him.

trash snippets # 1

They get shoved down the stairs, into the dim belly of the club.

Kosmo takes one deep breath, before submerging into the vibrating opaque atmosphere of the noise ocean. It is coming to greet them, to swallow them, to devour them in one bite.

Suddenly he feels the air in his lungs turn to acid and leak into his bowels. “Pull yourself together,” he orders himself. Even if he is going to have a panic attack, there is no way back, with all the people following them down. Others want in, want to get their brains washed away by beats. He is pushed forward, like some middle section of a running millipede.

Benny turns his head and beams up at him. “You’ll like it. You’ll see!” Kosmo doesn’t hear a word over the laughing and the music, instead he forces a smile and nods to whatever his best friend just said. He has given up, and let Benny pick out clothes and location. And this is what happens: him, being on the edge of disgust, disappointment and irritation. Maybe anxiety too, but he isn’t going to let anyone in on that. After five years, his first night out – alibi socializing. At least Benny will finally shut up.

They make their way to the flashing dance floor. The mass is about to go mad, heaves and breathes perfumed sweat, liquor and smoke. The rhythm drills through limbs, hearts and heads like a machine.

Kosmo searches for the darkest corner and starts to gravitate towards it. He needs an excuse for Benny and evaluates his possible choices. Excuses he has used the last three weeks, used all of them, and his best buddy will notice. No excuses then! Maybe he manages to disappear and manifest in the furthermost corner of the room.

But Benny – with his super bullshit sensor- feels him slip away, and grabs the collar of his leather jacket. He has a sixth sense for him sneaking away. With both hands he pushes him towards the dancing twitching crowd. The music stomps on. For some time he considers just stopping. Not making another step; due to his size, Benny won’t be able to move him, if he didn’t wanted to…

Kosmo’s throat dries up, and his heart tries to break out of his rib cage. It will undoubtedly try to crawl away…

He wants to crawl away so badly, hide somewhere, in the fuzziness of the club. The next best thing is the fuzziness of a drink. Yes. He sets his mind to it. Go get a drink! He tells Benny. He mimics it, plays it out for him. Drink. Benny’s hands detach from his spine and he is free. Free.

His best friend laughs  and waves a little goodbye. Kosmo points at him making a questioning face. Benny shakes his head before disappearing between the rhythmically moving limbs.