Awakening

When I saw her across the room the pulsing music and strobing lights faded into the background. She was cat-lithe and moved with dancer’s grace but it was her eyes that held my attention: indigo with slit scarlet pupils. I had seen eyes like that before.

Since childhood people had disagreed about the colour of my eyes: some said green, others brown. None thought my slit pupils strange and none saw the indigo that I saw in the mirror each morning. By the time I was five I had learnt that no-one wanted to hear the truth and the easiest path was to agree with my adoptive parents who always described them as hazel.

She crossed the dance floor without taking her eyes off me; shoving dancers out of the way carelessly with preternatural strength. Still holding my gaze she dropped to one knee before me and then slowly bowed her head. Her voice was strong and clear, perfectly audible over the thumping music: ‘My lord, long have your servants sought you.’

Then she looked up into my face hesitantly; searching my eyes. ‘Is it as we feared sire? Has all memory of your true nature left you?’

In that moment I remembered everything: the long centuries of my life, the ancient enmities and the fierce pride of my people. I smiled as I shrugged free of this mortal prison.

The Eye of the Tiger

There it was – a golden yellow brilliance that seemed to illuminate the far end of the cavern. It was the Eye of the Tiger! The man thought back to all he had done to get here: the shimmering desert sands crossed so arduously; the barbarous blades and arrows evaded; the ancient traps disarmed.

Now, finally, the stone was within his reach. He pushed back the brim of his hat, wiped his forehead and began painstakingly to search for any final surprises. There was no sense in hurrying foolishly now.

Unfortunately, this wisdom was not shared by his last remaining guide, Karkul, who leapt forward intoxicated by the size and brilliance of the stone. Karkul had barely crossed a quarter of the space when the floor collapsed beneath him and the guide fell with it, his shrieks echoing behind him.

Sighing, the man examined the last spot on which the unfortunate guide had trod. A shaft of light spanned the cave and disappeared into the shadows on the far side. His torch illuminated the triggering mechanism cunningly hidden in the far wall.

Carefully stepping over the beam of light, he peered into the gaping chasm but could see no bottom. He detached the lasso from his belt and used it to swing over the rift, landing neatly next to the carved stone beast in whose talons the yellow diamond rested. He pried the stone from its setting and carefully placed it in his knapsack.

Now to get out.

Storm Walker

How I met your mother? Are you ready for the story?

It was summer, a hot, dry day. The air tasted of dust and rhubarb crumble – your Grandma’s crumble, with the butter crust. Grandma had left it on the counter to cool, and she and Grandpa had gone off to Warwick, for the market. The storm missed them by miles.

I was just sixteen that summer. Grandpa’s old Ford was mine for the fixing, and I was under its hood, grimy with old oil and happy as a shrimp. When I looked up, the dark twist of the tornado was already over the barley field, moving toward me like a feral cat. I made it to the potato cellar in the kitchen just in time.

There is nothing in the world as loud as a tornado. It draws out the sound from silent things: bales of hay, sacks of flour. Barn roofs. It was terrifying. And then, all at once, there was silence.

I opened the trapdoor. All the sound had been sucked from the world. The house was still standing, eerie in that empty, yellow light. That moment stretches in my memory, like time had stopped.

Then: a tiny ting! of a fork on a porcelain plate. The infinitesimal crunch! of butter crust. I turned around.

A girl was eating your Grandma’s rhubarb crumble. She was the strangest girl: calm but somehow charged, like the eye of the storm above us. Her clothes had been stolen from a hundred washing lines.

She stared back at me. Her eyes softened, smiled. Dark hair danced around her eyes – you know how Mom’s hair moves even when there’s not the smallest breeze?

She took my hand. Outside, the storm dissolved into a thousand dust devils, hovering just out of sight.

To Live

It was tricky and took a lot of planning but he was sure he could pull the attack off.  All his years of training had brought him to this moment – it was live or die.  However, his partner was also a pro.  She had trained just as hard, just as long.  He strongly suspected she would see the attack coming and neatly sidestep.  But he might be able to distract her if he played a little from the left, she was looking for a frontal attack so might be blind to something coming from the sides.  If it worked, her back would be open for his attack and he would live.  He might even win.

He met her eye across the playing field and gave a confident smile.  Hers was condescending.  He almost lost it and attacked but that would have lead to death for sure.  Patience, calm and controlled always won over rash and angered.  But he seethed inside, determined now to not only live but win as well.  He would show her, humiliate her, put her in her place.  Yes, he thought as her eyes left his, this is your defeat.

And he did live but he did not win.  His territory had two eyes but his territory was too small.  She controlled more of the Go board than he did and as the post game discussion flowed around him, he realised she let him live.  She had not only controlled the game but had controlled him as well.  He bowed his head and though, next year, next year the title will be mine.

 

Eye

It’s in the grimy corner down by the railway, boldly painted on the sooty bricks: an eye, vivid amid the tag marks and obscenities. Giant, the pupil larger than my head, the iris yellow-brown. the eyelashes exaggerated, but far from feminine. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s watching me, leering.

Later, from the bus, I spot half a head on the corner of a parking garage. Large ear, short dark hair, an unpleasant smile, stylised; the scale is identical. Still watching me. Two blocks later, a torso and a muscular, manly arm and shoulder, enormous, in the gap between the door and window of a fish-and-chip shop. Black vest, light brown skin, a spidery, tag-like tattoo. Distributed graffiti. Odd, amusing, rather strange.

The foot seems to be following me to work the next day, a huge, hairy, muscled leg in a red running shoe, walking along a factory façade. Fragmented giant, twenty metres tall.  I feel small, and very female.

The arm is on the side of the corner shop near my flat, a clenched fist wearing a lumpy gold ring. Not as funny now, but threatening – a stylised gangster. Around the corner, on the wall of a school, there’s a whole lower torso and thighs in red running shorts, enormously endowed. It’s badly out of place against the shrieks of the children playing behind the wall. I walk faster, wish I wasn’t wearing heels.

Across the road from my flat last night, the other half of the head on a corner, yellow eye still fixed on me. I’m afraid to go out. But huddling inside will do no good. As I sit here now it’s gone. But inexorably, a millimetre at a time, the giant, two-dimensional hand is sliding spider-like around the window frame and into my room.

Glim-Dropper

“Hey Louise, look at this. Yeah, a glass eye. You wouldn’t believe it: yesterday this old guy — he must have been in my a shop a while — he walks up to me at the counter. Had this face — shit — left side all scarred and ugly, like a dog’s been at him. Got no left eye at all, just scars and folds and fuck he was grim.

“He says to me, ‘Have you seen my eye?’ Strangest thing I ever been asked. He tells me it just popped out of his head — pop — and rolled right under the shelving. So I help him look and sure enough we can’t find the damn thing. Then the old goat announces an award: one thousand bucks for the eye, honest fucking truth. He comes back later and puts up these reward signs all over the place, to let people know.

“So this morning this other guy comes in. He’s young, in a suite, smells like a bit of money. I see him fiddling by the milk aisle before he walks over and says, ‘I’ve found this glass eye,’ and he asks about the reward signs.

“Now, I can see he doesn’t want to be hassled to return the thing himself, so I tell him I’ll give him a straight 100 for the eye. But the bugger still bargains with me! Cheeky shit. But I got it from him for only 250, can you believe it! Gonna make me three times the money back as soon as I get hold of that one-eyed codger.

“Now the fucker just gotta answer his phone. Gonna try again in a few minutes. Been trying the whole day.

“Fucker.”

The Eye

“I don’t see why it’s such a problem, Susan. This is my study, not yours.”
I polished the glass with a cloth.
“Yes, Jeffrey, it is. But that thing is very creepy.”
She raised an eyebrow and took a step away from it.
“I like it. It helps me concetrate.”
She shook her head at me and left the room.

I found it in a junk shop near the house. I hadn’t noticed the shop before, even though I must have passed it every day on my way home from work. I crossed the road and bump shoulders with a young man on his way out of the shop, his head hung low. I don’t think he even noticed me.

The shop was filled with the usual bric-a-brac you find in these places. I headed straight to the back, as though something was calling me to it. I rounded a corner, and there it was: “The Eye of Horus.” A thin layer of dust covered the painting in its simple metal frame.

Three days after I brought it home was the first time I realised that there was something odd about it. Susan was in the shower and I was sitting at the breakfast table. I was doing the crossword as I drank my coffee when it blinked.
I dropped my cup and stared at it, opened-mouthed. The painting blinked again.
“Well, I never.”
I took it off to the framing shop that same morning. Now it watches me, approvingly I like to think, as I construct my model pyramids in the evenings.