AKA Reginald Yorke

Sorry for the lengthy period in between posts. Last week was busy, plus I was a little ill, plus I was a little lazy.

This week’s piece was inspired by the image below. It’s pretty stupid. I hope you find something in it you like. I feel a little rusty to be honest, even after such a short “break”. I think that’s why this flash is a little crazy.

Anyway, to the story!

AKA Reginald Yorke

Dear readers,

I write in response to the front page story which ran in yesterday’s Daily Herald. The article featured many inaccuracies I hope to now clear up.

While the chemical spill may have given me these abilities, and the lightning strike may have enhanced them, neither truly forged the man who roams the streets of Bristol today. Instead, to fully understand the motives and intentions of the “stranger” described in yesterday’s exposé – “Donkey King or Donkey’s Ass?” (both incorrect, but more on that later) – we must travel back to 1994, and a little place called Windmill Hill City Farm.

It was my birthday. I was soon to be 10-years-old. My parents had arranged an after-school party for me and a few friends at the local farm. Looking back, it wasn’t much of a farm. A few enclosures, a small petting area, a run-down restaurant and an adventure playground. But the kids loved it. We were all having a great time petting goats and feeding ducks. This wasn’t to last.

As the rest of the group were eating, I – as I was prone to do at the time – wandered off on my own. I soon found myself at a dead end. As I turned to make my way back I found my path blocked by an escaped animal. As I didn’t know any better, I assumed it was a nice old donkey. I strolled forward and attempted to pet it. Big mistake. The animal shook away the annoyance of flies and shoved me to the floor. I jumped to my feet but he pushed me back down. What happened next was a violent blur of hair and hooves and hissing. A kid at our school, Johnny, said he heard my screams from his house two streets away. By the time anybody reached me it was too late; the attack was over. The animal wandered off, somewhat nonchalantly I was later told. I did nothing but cower on the floor, blubbering.

The ensuing nightmares lasted for months. Every night, without fail. I still get them, occasionally, but have learned to cope. My nightmares became the only place I saw these animals; I avoided all contact with them in my daily life. As the years past, I came to learn it was not a donkey that attacked me that day, but a hungry, angry mule. The farm’s veterinarian recently revealed to me – after I found her on Facebook – that the animal escaped the farm and fled the city not long after our encounter. I assume he’s still at large.

So, why am I telling you all this? You’re aware of Bruce Wayne and his crime fighting alter-ego? This is where I take my inspiration. He chose the bat as his symbol as it was the thing he feared the most. He wanted his enemies to share the dread he had for the creatures. This is the same reason I do what I do, in the way I do.

After my accidents, I knew I was destined for something greater. I haggled a very reasonable price for a spare costume from my local theatre (nativity donkey, but I suspect nobody will tell the difference) and have since made several amendments: re-enforced the hooves, Bluetooth headset in the left ear, Kevlar across the chest (eBay) and night-vision goggles inside the head. With the enhanced strength I now have, the hooves pack quite a punch. This was all paid for with the handsome compensation package I received as a result of the chemical spill. The money also ensures I do not need to work for at least two years. Fighting crime is now my full-time job.

I appreciate the first few weeks of this new endeavour may result in some shocked and confused faces amongst Bristol’s citizens. After all, it’s not every day you see a man flying around in a nativity costume. But I hope that, in time, people will stop laughing and see me for the hero I strive to be. I may not be the hero you all expected, but I’m the one you’ve got for now.

Finally, to yesterday’s headline. As I hope you are now aware, I am not dressed as a donkey. Neither was I simply “assing around”. Crime is a serious problem in this city, and I intend to rid us of it. So, know this: the next time you’re in trouble and you need someone to help, do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll be there for you.

I may look like a donkey, but you can call me the Mule-Man.

Kindest regards,

M.

P.S. I can be contacted in the following ways:

Email: Mule.Man@live.co.uk

Twitter: @TheRealMuleMan

Website: http://www.Mule-Man.com (under construction)

See you on the streets…

Ascension

Ascension

I roll across the cold side of the bed and slam down on the alarm. Unnecessary noise. My hope is that my own dread prevented the Goddess Elona from blessing me with sleep last night. The wet sheets support this notion. Thoughts still race to occasions I may have wronged her, something I may have done to prevent her visit. I can think of none, but this does not squelch the fear. It’s then I remember the reason for its presence in the first place. I hadn’t realised it, but I had just been experiencing those blissful first few minutes a person enjoys when waking up. Apparently it works after a restless night of dozing, too. With these moments swiftly passed the realisation of what is in store today hits me like an enraged beast. At this point I would have happily accepted my mind wandering away again to images of angry beasts chasing humans and alike. Anything but what was actually going to happen. Alas, this did not occur.

It’s Friday the 30th of June and in four hours I will be moving on.

I force myself to the shower to both cleanse and calm. I tie up my long bronze hair and cover it; I’m in no shape to redo it afterwards. I had spent the best part of the previous evening making it in some way presentable, treating it as a chore and a distraction. It had worked. I’d never admit it out loud but I thought it almost looked pretty.

I next slip into my ceremonial gown. All Prospects are given one at the beginning of training. It is expected that you still fit into it five years later. I have always been fairly small and rarely lose or gain too much weight, so I would be fine. I’d heard horror stories of Prospects, unable to wear their gowns or robes, being forced to not only miss the ceremony, but moving on all together. I dread to think what happens to them after. Dread. There it is again. The very words brings my very own version back to my consciousness, front and centre.

I have not the stomach for breakfast or make-up, so I leave the house with neither. I know it will not matter anyway. I call out to mother as I leave, as I always do. She does not utter a reply, simply sits in her chair and stares out the open window across the green expanse of Whitefield, as she always does. I can count on one hand the amount of times she has left that chair since father passed. I can count on one finger the amount of times she has spoken. Soon, none of it will matter.

The walk to the auditorium is long and uneventful. My favourite kind. Numerous other Prospects pass me in the street, on the field. Some say nothing, some say things. I speak to no one and no one speaks to me. Peaceful. Bliss. The auditorium comes into view; the ceremonial music is already playing. Dread. It’s back. I’ll shortly be stood in Greta Hall with hundreds of other prospects. I’ll shortly after that be stood at the front of Greta Hall receiving news of my pass or of my fail. Good news brings your power and passage on. Bad news does not. I guess it’s a nervous time for any prospect, not only me. But the looks on their faces, their happy, joyous faces tells me otherwise. In a few hours time it will all be over.

I reach the auditorium doors having already successfully drowned out the music. I’ll work on the voices once inside. I slip in and find my place without bother, unseen. I’m one of only a handful of Prospects already standing amongst the great relics of Greta Hall. The statues of famous Gods and much-loved heroes. Their weapons, their creatures and their souvenirs from defeated foes. It’s not long before I block all this out too. Most Prospects stay outside for a while, chatting and mingling. It’s a full thirty minutes before the hall is filled. Prospects pass me this way and that without a single eye line being met. How I survived this period I will never know. It was the longest thirty minutes of my short life. The ceremonial music suddenly bounds throughout the hall and The Great Old One enters the stage. I clench my fists and think of home. My real home. It’s the only place the dread cannot reach me. I close my eyes. Only now do I allow myself a fleeting thought of the Earth Realm and everything it will bring. None of you would guess it, but I already know I’ve passed.

Just hold on a little longer.

In one hour it will all be over and I shall leave this place with the one power I did not need any training to obtain.

Lesson One

Dad forces the gun into my reluctant hand. “I’m tired, son.”

I can’t.

He places his warm hand on my shoulder. “I need help. I can’t keep doing it alone.”

I stare down at the weapon, attempt to drown out their groans with thoughts of how things were before. Ten years old is too young for this.

“Point and shoot, just like I showed you.”

I’m not ready. Not for this.

“Remember, they ain’t people. Not any more.”

I raise the gun and take a long, deep breath.

“It’s not her.”

If I pull this trigger I’ll never see mum again.

The End

We are the last two people on earth.

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. Immortality? Yeah sure, why not. If only we had known.

That was millennia ago, or so it feels. Time has long since lost any meaning.

I do remember it being cold.

But there hasn’t been a cold day for centuries now; nobody to moan about them for longer than that. You see, after a while, everything ends. Everything and everyone.

Except us.

Until today anyway. In thirty seconds, the sun will go supernova, ending all life as we know it.

We hope.

Animals

I saw the carcass of a dead badger as I walked the dogs this morning. Nice image, I know. Anyway, it made me write this. Enjoy!

Animals

Gordon bounced along the grass with the early morning sun warming his face and the soft breeze gently caressing his hair. It was his day off and he was determined to enjoy it.

It’s going to be a good day.

Safe in the knowledge he had already collected more than enough provisions to sustain his family through the winter months, he had allowed himself this rare day off. He could not remember the last time he was able to stroll along so care free. The food was stored, his wife was expecting again and the children were all well. Life was good.

But, despite this, he was still on his guard. He always had to be. The area was still frequented by the machines which had taken the lives of so many of his friends. Since a young age, Gordon had been taught to listen for signs of their approach. In turn, he had passed on this knowledge to his own children. The hum of their life force was a tell-tell sign. Their attack cry was another, although, if you were unlucky enough to hear the sound, it was already too late. So, even on a day off such as today, Gordon was always aware. It was second nature.

He paused for a second – he’d been walking since dawn after all – and sucked in large helping of clean country air. The best kind. The only kind. Gordon had never known any other, nor did he want to. He had heard horror stories growing up of far-away lands polluted with toxic air and massive machines. His father had warned of these places only days before a rogue machine targeted him. One thing Gordon knew for sure was if a machine deliberately targeted you, you were in big trouble. His father had been notoriously quick, and very nimble, but even that was not enough to save him. There was no funeral.

Gordon allowed the thoughts of far-away lands and giant machines to drift from his mind like the morning’s wind. They had no place in his day off. He refocused on the grass and set off. He usually strolled much closer to the trees, as per his lessons, but he was feeling particularly assured today. Something soon caught his eye. A shimmering object at the foot of a tree, the sun revealing its hiding place. Gordon liked shiny things. They were very rarely edible, but always looked so nice and pretty. Plus, the kids loved them. He could leave them for hours with a shiny new present and they’d be happy. But it was on the opposite side of the Hard Land, an area he was desperate to avoid. He was in quite a quandary. The Hard Land was always dangerous, everyone knew that. But the object was so shiny.

Curiosity got the better of him.

Just a quick peek.

It was the last mistake Gordon would ever make. Despite not minutes earlier recollecting his father’s words of warning, and having been taught so vigorously the virtues of always being aware, the lure of the shiny object clouded these memories far too successfully. He was half way across the Hard Land when the hum of the machine’s life force reached his pointy ears. He didn’t need to hear the attack cry to know it was far too late. He’d often wondered if his life would flash before his beady eyes when this day came. Flashes of acorns and trees and scurrying and scavenging. Of his wife and their many, many children. It saddened him when none of this happened. All that followed was the cold metal of machine and the sudden blackness of non-existence.

* * *

Kaycee folded down the car’s sun visor and began applying a layer of blusher, careful not to spill the can of cider balancing between her fishnet-covered legs.

“Hurry the fuck up, Johnny, we’re going to be late!” she shouted.

Johnny took a swig from his beer can and pressed his foot down on the accelerator a little harder. “Jesus, alright!”

A sudden bump jolted the car, resulting in a spilled beer can and an eyeful of blusher.

Kaycee furiously wiped the powder away. “What the fuck!”

Johnny was too busy muttering under his breath and desperately scrambling for his can to notice.

“Hello? Johnny! What the fuck was that?” she said, focus already back on the sun visor’s mirror.

Johnny glanced up at the rear-view mirror, squinted his eyes at the small shadow on the road. “Nothing, Hun. Don’t worry about it.”