Short Story: Just Keep Running

Just Keep Running

by Richard Holliday

330 words

The sound of raindrops fell like shells, exploding many times each seconds into little clouds of water. Displaced. Thrown asunder.

The puddles in the concrete city were just the same as those on the mud-soaked battlefield. A boot came down, caked in dirty water.

A battle took place in his mind but he just kept running. Every gasp for breath could be his last. Death was an unknown spectre that could strike anytime and from around any corner. From unexpected angles and in the shape of red-hot shards of metal, death was everywhere. Descending all around like a gruesome cloud.

He’d seen men die. That sat with him – a fact of the situation. Men seemed so expendable in the machine of war. Countless lives ended without thought or consideration to the consciousness behind them, and in the most horrific ways thought unimaginable. Hot lead and artillery proved an inhumane end. This was industrial death and manufactured killing. Human ingenuity led to human destruction.

Four years had passed, evaporating the optimism of that time. The picnic had begun with his closest friends heading to new shores in search of glory. Instead they found horrors on an unimaginable scale. There was no duty to be found mixed with the blood, dirt and chlorine of harsh reality. The words of optimism and honour were haunted remnants of the ideals they once stood for, now alone like obelisks in the battlefield of his mind.

This had ceased to be Earth. The beauty had gone from its very existence.

Opening his eyes and looking into the gaze of street lamps, motor cars and a thousand shuffling bodies in post-battle life, he realised he’d swapped one battlefield for another. To him this illusion was grotesque.

Had they all forgotten?

He just kept on running toward the low-hanging fog in the distance, unsure if it was an illusion of his mind or real. Whichever it was became irrelevant – it signalled what was next.

The End

No Kindle version available.


Short Story: Safety Yellow

I was challenged to write a 300 word short story about a banana. This is the result.

Safety Yellow

by Richard Holliday

299 words

Through the hazy sky above the tree line rose smoke that was alien in origin. There were never fires on this moist planet, and the tribal leader was intrigued. With a grunt he signalled to his troupe that investigation was necessary. They followed, their primitive language unable to question.

Through thick, sappy leaves the elder trudged, his feet sticking to the warm moss that lined the planet surface like a carpet stretching eternally. Despite his age he’d never seen the jungle of this world change. The sonic boom and earthshock of the crash was alien and deeply worrying. He didn’t like change.

It had recently rained and the moisture still hung in the air. Humidity was a fact of life here, and the elder’s flimsy cloth gave away the last vestiges of his human past. Coming to this place so long ago had changed him and his group of survivors, though they were more than that now. They were inhabitants of this place.

Smoke and the scent of death signalled the crash site was not far away. The elder grunted. This was an alien smell, though a vestigial part of his brain recognised it from a past life long deserted…

A large crater lay in the ground, exposing the natural dirt that the lichen and moss had shrouded for ever. Smoke rose from broken and exploded parts of grey space capsule. This was a re-awakening for the Elder. A figure in a silver suit lay lifeless across a rock. Clearly dead before he’d even entered the atmosphere.

Through the wreckage the Elder found one reminder of his past and the origins of this ship. A package, battered and blackened fell open in his hands. In it a solitary, squishy yellow object. It smelled sweet and vibrant.

A banana.

The End

No Kindle version available.

This story was recently posted under the title Vermillion Dream until I realised rather quickly how silly that was. (Vermillion being a shade of red; the colour my face went)

Image credit: Hardedge-Maelstrom on DeviantArt


Short Story: Mimic

by Richard Holliday

790 Words

The subtle whirr of electric motors beguiled whether you were talking to a human or one of them.

There was a day long ago when the assurance the person in front of you was a human was unnecessary. Absolute. Unquestionable. Who else could it be? Looking around the streets now at blank humanoid figures it’s anyone’s guess.

The machines were introduced as a novelty at first – an artificially animated facsimile of a human being’s physical form that waved, said hello, and entertained at dinner parties before being put away for more serious things. Then the technology was quickly augmented to make the machines the ultimate in walking, talking personal organisers. When they took on not only the appearance of their owners but their vocal cadences, personalities and thought processes to be come true artificial copies that the trouble really started.

The underlying concept that drove this innovation was altruistic and the ultimate in labour-saving. Couldn’t make a meeting, or your schedule clashed? Send your mimic; it’ll know what you would’ve wanted through a personality imprint of it’s owner used for decision making and say what other party wanted to hear.

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