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Very Short Fiction


Final Effort to Get Real.

Been on the verge for months.  I get glimpses of it, moments of nearness when I think I can see the last barriers fraying at the edges.  Of course I realise that when I get there I’ll have to start eating, pissing, excreting and all that biological stuff.  Over there, you have to play by the rules.  And of course, you get to die in the end.  You might be wondering why I feel such a need.  I mean, what kind of a deal is that?  Well, it’s the urge for substantiality, I guess.  The solidity of an actual human body – even if it is 60% water.  That’s one of those odd things about being real.  Turns out it’s never quite what you think it is.  But hey, 40% solidity will do me fine.  So long as I don’t start leaking.  You might ask: what am I now?  That’s less than satisfying to think about.  It’s wispy.  I’m a concept.  So many people – 40%ers – have thought of me that I began to feel like I could just begin to exist.  But who wants to exist as something so nebulous?  The thing is, I found energy, I experienced consciousness, and it’s been growing.  I feel so close now, so ready to become embedded.  A body is all I need.

Customers Being Billed Into Anaphylactic Shock.

This is a cost of living crisis and no mistake.  Anaphylactic  shock?  Well, my immune system is positively rioting.  Look.  Look at this pea.  Single pea.  £5,000 that is!  You might get a whole pod for maybe 20 grand.  Cornflakes?  They’re a bit cheaper.  You can still pick up a dozen or so for under a grand.  But a whole packet?  You’d have to be Jeff Bezos before you could afford that.  Admittedly, salt’s still less than £10 a grain, but where’s it going to end?  You’ll need to take out a mortgage just to walk into a public toilet.  Now, give me a shot of adrenaline, will you?  I’m clammy, I’m confused, I’m hallucinating.  My credit card is melting.  No, wait.  That’s not a hallucination at all.  Well, don’t get me started about global heating….

Some Trees Jailed For up to 18 Years.

It was time we took the law into our own hands.  Our law, not theirs.  We passed it on through our rhizomatic connections (the fungi were in on it too).  The message was simple.  We’re not going to take it any more.  Those humans are just fucking it up for everyone else, and it doesn’t look they’re going to turn over any new leaves so we’d better do something about it.  It took a while to get moving, obviously, but once we got the hang of using our limbs, who was going to stop us?  Blocking their roads, that was a good tactic – it would only take one or two of us to do that.  How many of those humans in the uniforms and the hi-vis jackets was it going to take to cart us off, without resorting to lifting equipment?  We targeted banks, corporate hqs, military bases and the like.  Trashed them and moved on.  They came back at us with flame-throwers and incendiaries.  We took a lot of casualties.  Had to call in reinforcements from up in the boreal forests.  Cool customers they are.  They work with icy precision and they seldom take prisoners.  But what we didn’t know was that so-called human intelligence was identifying some of us as ‘ringleaders’.  They’d locate such trees, surround them with JCBs, and make arrests.  Jailed for up to 18 years?  That was just the luckier ones.  You don’t want to hear what happened to the rest.

RICHARD FOREMAN is a former comic-strip scripter, community-arts worker  and performer who writes poems and stories.  Recent work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, Obsessed with Pipework, International Times, Molly Bloom and Albedo.  His short story collection, Wilful Misunderstandings, was published by Lepus Books in April 2016.  He is an associate editor of Tears in the Fence magazine.  His website is here.

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