Choice Bites–Minna

As I developed my characters from the War against Boris series, stories began to emerge. Here’s one of them.

THE CHOICE: MINNA

One of those summer days doused in grey…I ride my bike to the beach to collect shells. As I comb the surf-soaked sands, a man’s voice snaps me out of the zone.

‘Found anyone interesting?’

‘Nup, no bodies,’ I murmur.

‘That’s a shame, a nice looking lady like you.’’

I fix my sight on shards of shell and ignore him. Hate those pickup lines.

‘Oh, what’s your problem? I’m not going to bite.’

I glance at him—had to see what creep I’m dealing with. Pale, pock-marked face, thirties and just a little taller than me at 165cm. In a grubby white t-shirt and brown trousers. “Never trust a man who wears brown trousers,” my school friend Liesel always said.

‘Come on, dear, just a little conversation. Tell me, what do you want more than anything in the world.’

I shrug. ‘To leave me alone.’

‘Tell you what, you tell me and I’ll leave you alone. Deal?’

I push my bike faster trying to escape this man, but he follows me.

‘I promise, I’ll leave you alone—just tell me.’

Hopping on my bike I announce, ‘I don’t talk to strangers.’

‘I’m not going to hurt you. I bet, I bet you’re one of those girls who wants to get married, have a family. That’s what you want more than anything.’

‘If you say so, now leave me alone,’ I say and then speed from the creepy little man with his creepy questions.

‘Your desire will be arranged,’ he says as I splash my wheels through the water. He then shouts, ‘But, I might add, there will be a price.’

‘Sure, sour grapes,’ I mumble. Then pumping the pedals, I sail along the damp-packed sand where the waves meet the shore.

Then, near the ramp and having to cross sand too soft for bike wheels, I glance behind before alighting.

The man in brown trousers is gone…

A short story from another project relating to that alien cockroach, Boris, “Choice Bites© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016, updated 2022

Painting: Sellicks Beach—where Mission of the Unwilling begins © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015 [Mixed media]

***

Want More?

More than before?

Read more on the war against the fiend you love to hate; an overgrown alien cockroach, Boris.

Click on the links below:

The Lost World of the Wends

The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

The Lost World of the Wends–Free

The Lost World of the Wends

In the Morgue

[An extract from my novel, The Lost World of the Wends on Amazon Kindle and in print.]

A crack and a flash. Then everything went dark.

Friedrich was sure it was his fault. He was always getting smacks or the belt from his father—usually for not polishing his boots perfectly. Or for spilling milk on the floor. But when he saw the blue line in the air, the urge to escape, was too great. This was not the first time he’d ventured beyond the thin blue line under the outhouse. He just had to go through the light—for Wilma…

Then bang. Everything went black…

Friedrich put out his hands and shuffled forward. He groped for a wall, a surface, anything to orient himself.

He tripped over some bulk. He fell onto it. It groaned.

Friedrich scrambled to his feet. His mouth went dry. It was like his heart, lungs and guts were in his mouth. Oh, no! I’m on an alien world without light and with groaning monsters.

The thing at his feet moaned. It sounded like a man.

Friedrich gulped. He knelt down. He held out his shaking hand. He touched something soft and greasy. Was that hair under his fingertips?

‘Who are you?’ he asked in his Silesian language. ‘What’s your name?’

The man-thing with hair moaned again and then mumbled what sounded like forbidden words in another language. He’d heard Joseph use such words when angry.

‘My name’s Friedrich,’ the boy said. ‘And you?’

‘Oh, the pain! The pain!’ the man-thing said in that strange language. It did sound like the tongue Joseph and Amie used. They spoke using similar sounds when they were together.

Friedrich presumed the man spoke English. But he knew few English words, so he still hoped the man understood his native language. ‘How are you?’

‘Oh, the pain! My stomach! My head!’

Friedrich traced the head, the shoulders, arms and distended stomach. ‘You’re a man, aren’t you?’ He patted the spongy surface in the middle.

The man groaned and squirmed.

‘You’re a sick man,’ Friedrich said using the word in his language “krank”.

‘Too right, I’m cranky!’ the man straightened up. He grabbed Friedrich’s wrist. ‘And who the heck are you?’

‘Huh?’

‘What?’

‘Huh? What?’

‘What? Huh?’

Friedrich shook his hand free from the man. How was he to make sense of this man in the dark? How was he to make this man understand him? Joseph and Amie could speak his native tongue, Silesian, but this man couldn’t, apparently. Friedrich rubbed his hand.

‘Who are you?’ the man asked. ‘Where the frick are we?’

What was this man saying?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Bat-Man © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Take a Free Trip this Easter Holiday to

The Lost World of the Wends

Free on Kindle

From Sunday 17 April till Thursday 21 April (US timezone)

To download,

Click on the link,

The Lost World of the Wends

Or…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Sunday Story–Sowing and Reaping

Revenge is best served with a side-salad of Schadenfreude

I have been doing some “housekeeping”, on the computer, that is, searching for files, and sorting them. I came across this tale from my high school days. Wish it were true, but more likely it’s wishful thinking from an over-active imagination.

However, as is the case with so many authors’ works, the following is based on real events, but the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Sowing and Reaping

She perched on the kerb waiting. The minutes stretched, ticking into what seemed to her, an eternity. Cars whizzed past. With each car that emerged around the corner, the hope—her mum’s car. That battered blue FJ Holden, had suffered many knocks in its fifteen years of life. Like me, same age and having suffered hard knocks, she thought. But cars with anonymous drivers passed by and so did her hope…until she just sat…waiting…expectations drained…waiting.

A mixture of gloom and uneasiness had shadowed her all day. Ever since the first period, home class, when Dee, yes, that’s right, Dee, her arch enemy, had sidled up to her and hissed, ‘He’s mine, Lillie. He’s mine. He never liked you. He likes me.’

Dee slithered into her seat; pink lips pursed in a smile. She flicked her brown mane, and then glancing at Lillie, she smirked and then rubbed her hands together. ‘Mine!’ she mimed. ‘All mine.’

Lillie imagined Dee at that moment morphing from the budding model she was, into a female form of Gollum, bent on possessing the ring offered by her latest conquest—Danny. Why else was Dee gloating?

Lillie’s heart plummeted to the pit of her stomach. A drop of rain plopped on the pavement and sizzled. Lillie sighed. She’d seen him—Danny—that morning. Lofty, blonde hair tousled, framing his high cheek-bones, strong jaw and his face all tanned. But Danny hadn’t seen her. He never saw her.

On the way back from chapel, Danny had been walking behind her and she’d worried about her uniform. Was her dress hitched up in her regulation stockings? Autumn and the school demanded girls wear the winter uniform with the awful scratchy woollen skirt. The month of May in Australia, that day, hot and all steamed up, clouds billowing with purple bellies, threatening a storm, but not before all the students at College were fried having to wear their blazers as well as their uniforms woven in wool. The principal threatened suspension if they shed any part of their school attire.

Plop! Another drop. A rumble of thunder.

During the day, her usual foes added to her discomfort. She was already hot, sweaty, and itchy, and then they had to weigh in. On the way to English class, Dee and her clutch of fiends attacked from behind. They threw verbal abuse; the usual “stones” of “loser”, “dog” and “no one wants you, Lil”.

Lillie fixed her eyes ahead even as the heat rose to her cheeks. She trod up the stairs to Dee chanting, ‘Poor Lil, poor Lil, what a dill.’

As Lillie turned the corner of the stairs, she glanced down. Danny leaned against the rail. Dee slid up to him and pointed. ‘Hey look! She’s got a hole in her stocking. Poor Lil, poor Lil. Too poor to buy new stockings, Lil.’

Dee laughed and her gang joined in.

Lillie turned and continued plodding up the stairs.

‘Charge!’ Dee yelled.

At her command, Lillie quickened her pace. She knew what was coming. The thudding, the cries and the horde as her foes surged upon her. They crowded in and jostled her. Big beefy Twisty jammed her into the lockers and then bumbled down the corridor.

As Lillie straightened herself, Dee strode up to her and poked her. ‘He’s mine, understand?’ She then waved her hand in front of her nose. ‘Phew! You stink! B.O.!’

Danny lingered an arm’s length from Dee, and as she minced into English class, she blew him a kiss. Lillie’s stomach churned, and with her gaze riveted to the floor, she followed Dee into class. Her scalp prickled with the sense that the eyes of every class member had set upon her. Her orthodontic braces took on astronomical proportions and her pig-tails drooped like greasy strips of seaweed.

Then Scripture class. Just her luck! Lillie picked Dee’s name out of the Encouragement Box. So she had to find a verse from the Bible to encourage Dee. Dee? What sort of blessing could Lillie bestow on her worst enemy? The girl who had everything—popularity, beauty and a boyfriend.

Lillie opened up her Bible and picked out the first verse that caught her attention. She wrote down the verse from Galatians 6:7: “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” She plopped the note for Dee back into the box. From what she could tell, Dee seemed happy with her note, if not mildly miffed by the message.

After school, as she sat on the kerb waiting, Lillie reflected on the verse she received. Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” She nodded and mused, That’d be right, Dee had me. Still, it does say I’m blessed.

A flash of lightning. A crack of thunder. Fat dollops of rain splatted on the footpath. Lillie sighed and muttered, ‘I’ll just have to risk getting laughed at. My mum’s car. What a relic! How embarrassing!’

She shrugged her bag full of books over her shoulder and sauntered to the shelter of the chapel. Rain pelted down on her and she sought refuge in an alcove hidden behind a diosma bush. There, she drew her knees up to her chin and sniffed. The rain and then the tears had melted her mascara. Her vision blurred. She drew a soggy tissue from her blazer pocket and wiped her eyes.

The downpour stopped. Fellow students emerged from shelter and straggled along the road to the carpark where their cars or parents in their shining white Commodores awaited them.

Lillie examined her calloused knees that had broken through the holes in her stockings. When would mum be able to afford new stockings? Dad and mum barely scraped together the school fees. ‘We go without for your education,’ mum says. Lillie had begun to understand how that worked in a posh school like this one. No friends, no choice but to study and get good grades.

A car screeched. Lillie looked up. She saw them. Dee and Danny. They held hands. Dee nestled into Danny’s side as he held an umbrella over her, even though the sun now shone casting an eerie golden glow over the gum trees and oval. Lillie winced.

The couple perched on the chain fence where they swung back and forth and whispered into each other’s ears. Lillie parted the diosma bush. She watched and cursed them as wrapped in each other’s arms they consumed each other’s lips.

‘Ugh! How could they? In public!’ Lillie muttered. ‘I hope the principal catches them and puts them on detention.’

Lillie heard a familiar roar. She stepped from the bush and strode towards the carpark.

The FJ Holden raced up the driveway, it’s wheels crushing the carpark’s gravel in its rush to meet Lillie. Dee and Danny remained oblivious in their passion on the chain fence.

Mum’s car cut through a large puddle. Water flew high in the air and then dumped on the couple.

Dee shrieked. They stood like two drenched rats, their legs and arms spread in their sodden clothes.

Now Dee really does look like Gollum, Lillie thought. Her nemesis’ mascara streamed down her face and made her eyes look like a panda’s and her hair was pasted on her head.

The couple glared at the FJ Holden as it screeched to a stop in front of Lillie. She smirked as she jerked open the white door of the mostly blue car and then scrambled in.

‘How was your day, dear?’ Mum asked.

‘You’re late,’ Lillie snapped.

As the FJ Holden with Lillie and her mum merged with the crowd of cars on the main road, Lillie glanced back and smiled. Revenge is best served cold…and wet.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Painting: Vine Light Before Strom © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

***

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

Short Story Sunday–Much Ado About Golf

[Triggered today by all these shifty and inconsistent rules by which we must abide in this day and age, reminds me of some traumatic experiences concerning rules playing golf with my beloved late father.

This story is based on those experiences, but the characters and situation have been changed. As so often happens with us writers, life experiences can be good material for a short story, or even a chapter in some future novel.]

TRUE LOVE

Polly

Australia Day, and the last vestiges of a less-than-perfect summer holiday wilt in the sweltering heat in the foothills of Adelaide. A blowfly beats against the window, in time to the droning of the radio, doom and gloom, global warming, and politics. Nine in the morning and thirty-four degrees Celsius—already!

I sit at the kitchen table. I’m the sitting-dead, the zombie of no sleep after a hot night, no gully breeze and me sticky and sweaty, tossing and turning and Mum’s chainsaw of snoring filling the house.

Mum enters the family room and I recoil. ‘Ugh! Mum! How could you!’

‘It’s our family day, Polly, dear. I’m wearing my lucky golf shorts.’

‘Those legs should not be seen in public! Oh! How embarrassing!’ I cover my eyes shielding against the assault of mum’s white legs under cotton tartan shorts. At least she wears a white T-shirt; better than nothing. Matches the legs, I guess.

Dad drifts into the family room. He’s looking at the polished cedar floorboards while tying up his waist-length hair in a ponytail. He wears his trademark blue jeans and white t-shirt with a logo of some rusty metal band. That’s Dad. He’s a musician.

I look to Dad. ‘Dad, why do we have to play golf? Why can’t we just have a barbecue by the beach like my friends?’

‘Because, this is what Mum wants to do,’ Dad says. ‘We’re having a family day together before Mum gets all busy with work, and you get all busy with Year 12.’

‘But, Dad, we always play golf. And it’s not family-building, it’s soul destroying.’

‘We’re doing this for Mum.’

‘That’s right, Polly.’ Mum strides down the hallway and lifts her set of golf clubs. ‘Ready?’

Dad and I follow Mum to the four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle. The only terrain that vehicle has seen is the city, oh, and the only rough terrain, pot holes.

‘The person who invented golf should be clubbed,’ I mutter.

‘Polly!’ Dad says. ‘Mum loves golf. We play golf on Australia Day because we love Mum, okay?’

I sigh. ‘Okay.’

***

‘What a way to ruin a pleasant walk!’ I grumble as I hunt for that elusive white ball in the bushes. Rolling green hills all manicured, a gentle breeze rustles the leaves of the gum trees either side. My ball has a thing for the trees and bushes and heads for them every time I hit the ball. And if there’s a sandbank, my ball plops in it like a magnet. And don’t get me started on the artificial lake.

Dad and Mum wait at the next tee ushering ahead groups of golfers.

My ball doesn’t like the green and flies past it. I’m chopping away at the bushes near Mum and Dad.

Mum smiles at me and says, ‘Are you having a bad day, Polly?’

Understatement of the year. I swing at the pesky white ball.

‘Remember to keep your eye on the ball,’ Mum says.

I fix my gaze on Mum and poke my tongue at her.

***

It gets worse.

I straggle to the tenth after twenty shots on the ninth. Mum and Dad sit on a bench sipping cans of lemonade.

‘Well done! You’ve finally made it halfway,’ Mum says.

I stare at her. The cheek! Now she’s got white zinc cream over her nose and cheeks. ‘You look stupid, Mum. Like a clown.’

‘You look sunburnt, dear,’ Mum offers the sunscreen, ‘come and put some on. There’s a pet.’

I glance at my reddening arms. ‘Can I stop now?’

‘You may not,’ Mum says. ‘We’re only half way. Now, come and I’ll put some sunscreen on. You don’t want to get skin cancer.’

‘I won’t if I stop.’

‘Come now, Poll, it’s our family day,’ Dad says.

‘Oh, alright.’

Mum pastes me with sunscreen. ‘Where’s your hat? Have you lost it? You need your hat.’ She finishes covering me with a bottle-full of sunscreen and offers me her tartan beret. ‘Here, you can wear mine.’

I jump away. ‘No! Ee-ew!’

‘Come on!’ Mum thrusts her hat in my face.

‘No!’ I say. ‘I’m not wearing any hat! It gives me hat hair.’

Mum shakes her head, replaces the beret on her bleached bob before placing her ball on the tee. As she stands, legs apart, eyes on the ball, the wooden club raised ready to strike, I watch her behind; not a pretty sight, I might add.

Mum turns slowly, her eyes narrowed at me. ‘Would you please stand back? You’re casting a shadow. Don’t you know that it’s against golfing etiquette to cast a shadow?’

I step aside. ‘No, I seemed to have missed that one.’

Mum swings her club back. She stops again. She rotates her body and glares at me. ‘You’re still casting a shadow.’

‘This isn’t the Australian Open and you’re not the “Shark”. Have I missed the television crews?’

‘Don’t be sarcastic,’ Mum says. She’s acting like a shark.

‘Sorry!’ I say with a bite of sarcasm and then retreat behind a nearby Morton Bay Fig tree.

Mum arches back her polished wood, then stops a third time. She marches over to me and snarls, ‘You are in my line of vision. Take that smirk off your face!’

Dad shakes his head while tossing his golf ball in the air and catching it.

‘It’s not for a sheep station,’ I say and then edge further around the thick trunk.

Mum stomps her foot and rants. ‘Now, that’s just ridiculous! Over-reacting! You haven’t changed. You always over-react. Grow up, Polly!’

I slink over to Dad and stand next to him. ‘Am I in your way, now, Mum?’

Mum shakes her club at me. ‘I’m warning you.’

Dad tosses the ball higher in the air and says, ‘Ladies, calm down.’

Mum puffs, lowers the club and strolls back to the tee. She swings.

‘She’s not in a happy place, Dad,’ I say, ‘she can’t be enjoying this family day. Next Australia Day we’re having a barbecue. And we’re using her golf sticks for firewood.’

Mum looks up. The club having shaved the top of the ball, caused it to dribble a few centimetres from the tee. Mum’s fuming.

I snigger and then say, ‘Good shot!’

Mum points at the ball. ‘Pick it up! Pick it up, Polly!’

Dad hides his mouth and giggles.

‘What’s your problem, Mum? I’m the one losing here.’

‘Oh, stop being a bad sport and pick up my ball!’

‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ I stride up to the ball. ‘I’m not one of your students.’

‘Do it!’

‘Get a life!’ I say and then grind the ball into the recently watered earth.

Dad claps.

Mum sways her head and clicks her tongue. ‘You have seriously lost it, Polly.’ Then she places another ball on the tee. ‘Oh, well, I was just practising, considering the circumstances.’ She swings and lobs the ball into the air. Shading her eyes, she watches the ball land on the green.

‘That’s cheating!’ I say.

‘It’s just a game,’ Dad says with a shrug.

‘Mum’s psycho,’ I say taking my place at the tee.

A crowd has banked up behind us. I chip the silly white ball and watch it hook into the thick the pine tree forest. Mum and Dad head down the fairway and I commence my next ball-hunting expedition.

***

I catch up with my parents on the eleventh. I’d given up forcing the ball in the hole.

Mum holds a pencil over a yellow card. ‘Score?’

‘Twenty,’ I fib.

Mum says, ‘I don’t believe you.’

‘Thirty, then.’

‘Oh, come on!’ Her beret flops over her left eye. She looks ridiculous.

I wave. ‘Whatever!’

We reach the circle of smooth green grass. Mum races up to the flag and lifts it. She grins at the sound of a satisfying plop. She stands still, her eyes fixed on the hole. Then she raises her arms and dances a jig on the spot. ‘I did it! I did it!’

‘Is she okay?’ I ask Dad.

‘Hole in one, Polly. Hole in one.’

I gaze at Mum performing a River Dance, trampling over the green in her tartan shorts and white legs. She still looks ridiculous. How embarrassing, there’s an audience gathering, watching her performance. Now she’s hopping and clapping away from us.

I sigh. ‘Just my luck! Now she’ll be gloating for the rest of the game.’

‘It has been her day,’ Dad says. He waves at Mum. ‘Well done, dear.’

‘She’s demented,’ I turn to Dad. ‘I don’t know how you put up with her.’

Dad pulls out a handkerchief and wipes his eyes. ‘It’s called love, Poll. You put up with the good, the bad and the ugly.’

‘I say you’re putting up with ugly most of the time.’

‘Your mum’s been through a lot. She had it tough growing up. That’s what love is about. You don’t throw it away, just because it’s not perfect all the time. I mean, none of us are perfect.’

‘But Mum?’

‘You’ll see,’ Dad says and then he taps my back. ‘Come on, it’s our family day. Better get on. I reckon Mum’s danced her way to the thirteenth already.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2022

Photo: Poatina Golf Course, Tasmania © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010

***

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

OOPS! Weekend Writing Woes

Enough of the Re-Runs

‘We had that one!’ That’s what my brother would say when mum read him the same story when he was young.

“We had that one!” maybe was the cry from readers all over the world, as this is what I have done with the Out of Time project. For four weeks. How did I not notice?

Anyway, I think I know how it happened. I changed the sequence of chapters as one does in the editing process. Then up came that particular chapter and it was repeated. All part of the editing process.

So, in the spirit of the day, here’s a post from the past on feedback, which also is about a vital part of refining our work and making our stories the best they can be.

Feedback

I like to celebrate. As a child, when I received full-marks for a spelling test, Dad rewarded me with a Kitchener Bun from the Fish ‘n Chip shop/Bakery which in the good ol’ days of my childhood was situated opposite Glenelg Primary School. A few years ago, when I used to drive my son his course in Magill, my mum and I treated ourselves to lunch at the local hotel.

Every so often, I check my Amazon account. I wipe off the virtual cobwebs of neglect, and dig deep in the files of my mind, retrieving the password to enter. I expect nothing much to have changed.

I’ve been busy with my blog and the rewards, small, though they are, compared to the rest of blogging world, but the steady trickle of views, likes and comments, satisfies me. Over the years, the number of followers has steadily grown.

Once long ago, now, I made a daring move, and posted my short story, Boris’ Choice—not for the faint-hearted or while one eats breakfast…After the post, I checked for results on Amazon with my War on Boris Series books?

The Choice (painting in acrylic) © L.M. Kling 2016

And…there were. Yes!

Then, I checked the reviews. Now, I don’t know how other writers have fared with reviews, but for many months since my books were published, I had received no reviews. Yes, I asked my readers to do the deed and tick the star-boxes and comment, with no results. Yes, they’d say and the weeks went by and nothing. Were they just being polite? I have no illusions and the reality is that art and literature are subjective—what one person likes another won’t.

Anyway, back to checking the reviews…I looked again at one of the countries one of my books sold. The page appeared different. A yellow bar, and a comment. Genuine feedback. Not a great appraisal, but an appraisal all the same. I knew the person responsible for this first-ever comment for my book, but was not surprised at their response. I did wonder at the time how my novella would work for them—not well—just as I imagined when they informed me they’d bought the book on kindle. As I said before, Boris and his antics are well…not for everyone.

That being said, and for fear my works may be misunderstood, I would describe the over-riding theme of my stories are the classic fight of good against evil. How evil, like Boris, can creep into our lives. And when for whatever reason, usually when we maintain and enhance our self, and to avoid discomfort, we allow evil to stay. This evil, however subtle, will drive us to isolated places in our lives, much like Boris does in The Hitch-hiker; places we never wanted to go. I want young adults and people young at heart, to make choices and use their energy for goodness and to fight evil, so they can live a full life and also be an agent for good in their community and the world.

Especially at this time.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Tyranny of Golf © L.M. Kling circa 1982

***

Read more, and lose yourself in this tale where the nineteenth century meets the twenty-first…

Just click on the link:

The Lost World of the Wends

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Out of Time (14.1)

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…Now, being a project of sorts, over the summer holidays, I have pieced together the story from beginning to end, and then revised it. A main thread has evolved. Something to do with murder and Letitia’s unfortunate involvement in it. I have worked on developing some of the other characters. In this episode (14.1), we get to see inside the younger stolen boy’s (Liam’s) head.]

Fast Forward

10 Days before Murder

Saturday 28th of January 1967

Barbeque Battles

Liam

Liam remembered sourly the call that changed everything. One minute the fourteen-year-old was blissfully ignorant; aware only that his father was almost no-so-unhappily widowed, that his mum had returned but with that smelly character Boris, and two ratty kids, that there is no God and when he died, that was it, no accountability. The next minute, the phone rang and his whole world view was cracked. That minute there was a Jemima on the other end of the line demanding to speak to his father. It was then as this intruder insisted, demanded and hollered on the line, that Liam began to change his mind about God. Liam remembered considering, “How dare this lady invade my space! There has to be a God and my parents have to be accountable to him! This is too much! I can’t handle any more! What right had she to interrupt my life?!”

Liam clutched the telephone receiver in one hand and fended off Jemima’s advances with firm “Nos” and lies that Dad was not home at present. He could hear the rising beat of his heart, punctuating Jemima’s whiney protests. Clueless he was, how to combat this woman.

‘What do you mean he is not home?’ Jemima persisted.

‘He’s just not,’ Liam fibbed. He watched his Dad slink behind him, his old clothes high on manure.

‘But he said he would be home,’ she said.

‘Well, he’s not.’ He fanned the pungent passageway air. ‘Poor, Dad, you stink!’

‘Ha! Did I just hear you mention your dad in conversation?’

‘No.’

‘I did,’ Jemima, now a smug Jemima, ‘you said to him that he stinks.’

‘I never.’

‘You did.’

‘No!’

‘Look, Liam, dear, it is very important that I speak to him. He said, he promised that he would be home. Your father, he keeps his promises. He’s a man of his word,’ she spoke in a softly and evenly.

‘Yeah, right!’ Liam remarked cynically. ‘Like he promised us a holiday in Tasmania but all we got was mum going off to Antarctica and getting herself…’ He paused unsure whether he should be passing on classified information. After all, his mum had returned, wearing kaftan and beads in her hair, in possession of a new Kombi Van, and unscathed. Liam had been delighted to acquire a new cool van, but not so pleased to have his mother back. Of course, the novelty of kaftaned mother and new Kombi wore off when the van broke down and had to be towed away for repairs. S

Still, Liam couldn’t complain. Just before the recent, yet brief escape up north to Alice Springs, his dad had bought a new Holden Premier. Liam was pleased with his art of persuasion as he had convinced his father to purchase this icon of motoring history. Well, so a recent Wheels magazine had recommended.

‘I know! I know!’ Jemima cut in. ‘He told me all about it. Isn’t it obvious why she did that?’

‘Nup?’ Liam bit his nail. Jemima’s argument was advancing into areas that were uncertain. ‘She won a prize, a competition.’

‘Who are you talking to?’ Dad’s voice boomed in the background.

Liam had to think quickly, but Max who was passing by was nimbler. ‘A girlfriend. Ha! Ha! Liam has a girlfriend. What a loser!’

Liam covered the mouthpiece. ‘Yeah! So?’.

Meanwhile the Jemima intruder had come to her own conclusions. ‘He is there! You liar! Put him on! Now!’

Liam had had enough. ‘No!’ he retorted. ‘Go away, you freak!’ with that he slammed the receiver down. He then picked up the phone and hurled it towards the bookcase at the end of the room. A few unfortunate ornaments, namely Max’s prized “Lord of the Rings” dragon figurines crashed to the floor.

‘Oi! What do you fink you’re doing? You could’a smashed the tele,’ Tails yelled.

Max emerged from preening himself in the bathroom. His face turned red, and he pulled at his hair. ‘My dragon! You killed my dragon! How could you do that?’ He cradled the broken bits of ceramic dragon in his hands. ‘They are so hard to get in 1967.’ Then, with teeth bared, he cried, ‘Why, I’ll get you!’ With one swift move, he lunged onto his younger brother and began to throttle him.

‘Oi! Oi! Stop that you boys!’ Dad tore the fighting youths apart. ‘Right, that’s it! no tele or suppa tonight for you lads! Go to your rooms! Bof ov you! Right! I’m pulling out the plug to the tele, now!’ Tails marched both protesting Liam and Max to their rooms with as much strength as his fatherly muscles could muster.

Meanwhile the phone chirped, unheeded and ignored.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature painting: Kombi from the Hitch-hiker © L.M. Kling 2015

***

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More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

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And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

The Lost World of the Wends–Lost in the Dark

[An extract from my recently published novel, The Lost World of the Wends on Amazon Kindle and now in print.]

In the Morgue

A crack and a flash. Then everything went dark.

Friedrich was sure it was his fault. He was always getting smacks or the belt from his father—usually for not polishing his boots perfectly. Or for spilling milk on the floor. But when he saw the blue line in the air, the urge to escape, was too great. This was not the first time he’d ventured beyond the thin blue line under the outhouse. He just had to go through the light—for Wilma…

Then bang. Everything went black…

Friedrich put out his hands and shuffled forward. He groped for a wall, a surface, anything to orient himself.

He tripped over some bulk. He fell onto it. It groaned.

Friedrich scrambled to his feet. His mouth went dry. It was like his heart, lungs and guts were in his mouth. Oh, no! I’m on an alien world without light and with groaning monsters.

The thing at his feet moaned. It sounded like a man.

Friedrich gulped. He knelt down. He held out his shaking hand. He touched something soft and greasy. Was that hair under his fingertips?

‘Who are you?’ he asked in his Silesian language. ‘What’s your name?’

The man-thing with hair moaned again and then mumbled what sounded like forbidden words in another language. He’d heard Joseph use such words when angry.

‘My name’s Friedrich,’ the boy said. ‘And you?’

‘Oh, the pain! The pain!’ the man-thing said in that strange language. It did sound like the tongue Joseph and Amie used. They spoke using similar sounds when they were together.

Friedrich presumed the man spoke English. But he knew few English words, so he still hoped the man understood his native language. ‘How are you?’

‘Oh, the pain! My stomach! My head!’

Friedrich traced the head, the shoulders, arms and distended stomach. ‘You’re a man, aren’t you?’ He patted the spongy surface in the middle.

The man groaned and squirmed.

‘You’re a sick man,’ Friedrich said using the word in his language “krank”.

‘Too right, I’m cranky!’ the man straightened up. He grabbed Friedrich’s wrist. ‘And who the heck are you?’

‘Huh?’

‘What?’

‘Huh? What?’

‘What? Huh?’

Friedrich shook his hand free from the man. How was he to make sense of this man in the dark? How was he to make this man understand him? Joseph and Amie could speak his native tongue, Silesian, but this man couldn’t, apparently. Friedrich rubbed his hand.

‘Who are you?’ the man asked. ‘Where the frick are we?’

What was this man saying?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Bat-Man © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

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And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Choice Bites–The Survivor (4)

Hope

[The final episode in an extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

She pulled the old jacket around her arms and grimaced as she drew in the damp mouldy aroma that accompanied it. At least it was warmer. A large lopsided figure lumbered through, parting the sea of the dozen or so bowling competitors. Black balls skittered in all directions onto the concrete floor and the white ball snuck irretrievable under the bar fridge. Imagine, a fridge in the coldest continent on Earth! In chorus the crowd cried in protest, ‘Oh, Fritz!’

‘Oh, sorry, sorry!’ the hairy awkward form mumbled as he thrashed his way through the maddening mob. As some of the group sank to their hands and knees in search of kitty and bowling balls, the klutz continued to apologise oblivious to the search.

Maybe I can pretend to be part of the crew, Letitia thought as she slithered to a table in the corner. She perched on the edge of the seat and observed this peculiar group of people undetected.

‘I’ll sus them out, and when I have worked out what’s going on, I’ll make the right impression before hitting them with the fusion bomb of bad news,’ she whispered.

The clumsy man had his back to her and was standing on the green carpet. The group of bowlers were furious, ‘Get off, Fritz! We are playing, Fritz! Get off, will ya? You’re in the way!’

As if only half aware of his surroundings, the man of all feet and no grace, turned and stumbled towards the table. Behind his crooked glasses, his eyes grew wide.

Letitia gasped. I know him. He’s the Chief Physicist from the IGSF (intergalactic Space Fleet).

Fritz his face pale as if he’d seen a ghost, pointed at her.

‘Fritz!’ she stammered. ‘I mean, Professor Grossman.’

‘Letitia? W-what are you d-doing here?’ Fritz collided into a nearby metal chair causing it to clatter onto the floor.

She shrugged. ‘Er—I don’t know—just sorta thought I’d drop in.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Yes.’

‘After all these years…’

‘Yes, um, Boris ya know.’

Fritz adjusted his spectacles and then rubbed his eye. ‘We never gave up. Nathan never gave up. He’s been looking for you. He sent me here, to look. He kept me working—worm holes, parallel universes, you name it, he kept on searching for you. Everyone thought he was crazy.’

‘Nathan?’ she asked, the words choking in her throat. The 1960’s—he’d been so right for her—they’d been so right for each other—except at that time, the world-view their relationship as so wrong. The 1960’s, on Earth, in Australia, when tall, dark Nathan had been classed as “fauna”. No rights to vote. No rights to own a house. Yet, in the ISGF, Nathan and Letitia as an item, had been accepted.

Letitia wiped a tear from her eye. ‘After Boris attacked our ship, I thought I’d lost him forever.’

‘He never gave up,’ Fritz said.

‘How did he know? I was involved in a plane crash—Boris—he said he was sending me to another world. I think I’ve just arrived.’

‘Oh, there was a plane crash about a week ago—somewhere—over there.’ He waved his hands about. ‘Some other station…far away from here…’ His voice trailed off into uncertainty.

‘When did you arrive, Professor?’

‘About a week ago.’

‘He never gave up, Nathan…’ Letitia frowned. ‘But, why would Boris do that? Why would he be so kind?’

Fritz shrugged.

She bit her lip and avoided the obvious conclusion that someday, some time, Boris would demand her to return the favour.

The calendar of 1967 with the not-so faded photo of the Central Australian rock troubled her too. ‘What’s with the calendar? Has no one pride in the place to change it? Update it in—I know it’s Uluru—memories of a warmer clime.’

Fritz glanced at the glossy time device. ‘Oh, that. Tacky, yeah, I know.’ He saluted the calendar half-heartedly. ‘At least they have the year right. Pff!’ He looked again. ‘Oh, yeah, and the month’s right too. It’s January, isn’t it? We’ve just had New Year’s a couple of days ago. Some of the crew are still recovering if you know what I mean.’

Letitia shook her head. ‘Hmm, Boris, he did send me to another world.’

‘Yeah, well, it’ll be alright,’ Fritz said.

He stood and offered his hand.

‘Will I see Nathan?’ she asked taking his hand.

‘Hopefully—soon. Listen, you need rest. I’ll organise the transport.’

Fritz pulled Letitia to standing and then guided her out the common room and to the dormitory.

As she snuggled into a thermo-sleeping bag, she drew the hood over her head and asked, ‘Do you think you can keep the others from noticing I’m here?’

‘What do you mean? I thought that’s what you were doing—I mean using your invisibility skills.’

‘Invisibility?’

‘As I said, Nathan detected your presence.’ Fritz fiddled with his spectacles. ‘These glasses use sonar to detect things that are cloaked. Like you. It may just be this world.’

‘I’m invisible?’

Fritz patted the hood of her sleeping bag. ‘Get some sleep. We transport back to Earth in the morning. Nathan is looking forward to seeing you.

‘Fritz? One more thing.’

‘What?’

‘I have a daughter—Jemima. She’s Nathan’s…’

‘Huh? Jemima? You have a…?’

‘Yes.’

‘Oh, Her! Yes, she’s been helping us.’

Letitia nodded and closed her eyes. Her head spun. Nathan…Jemima helping…And the thought that crept up behind her and caught her off-guard. What arrangement had Jemima made with Boris?

Fritz returned with chicken noodle soup in a flask. He set it on the small tin cupboard beside her bunk.

Letitia sat up and sipped the soup. She tried not to think about the deal Jemima made to save her mother from certain death on Mirror World. And maybe, the driving force behind the gesture—the need for a daughter to find her father.

Snug in her cocoon, stomach filled with soup, her heart content with anticipation to see her first love again, Letitia thanked God, and then drifted off to sleep.

King of the Springs

In an exclusive club on the edge of this desert town, Tails positioned himself on the stool at the bar and prepared to down an ice-cold beer. Nothing like a chilled beer in the middle of a hot summer in the Centre of Australia. He raised the schooner of amber liquid and savoured the moment…

A commanding figure strode into the bar. Walking in his direction…

Tails’ eyes narrowed. He spat out an expletive. Then muttered, ‘They’re after me!’

Appetite for his beer lost, he abandoned the full and frothing glass. Alighted from his barstool. Scuttled from the bar, through the Pokies Parlour. Into the melting heat of midday.

Packing up the boys and escaping south, to Adelaide foremost on his mind.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Mt. Wellington summit © L.M. Kling 2009

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Choice Bites–The Survivor (1)

[An extract from another of my emerging projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Hijacked

Letitia breathed in the rich aroma red wine. She weened her absorption off and out of the Dickens’ tale and adjusted to her reality. Letitia was on a scenic flight from Auckland heading south, her Mirror Adelaide home and IGSF mission on hold.

Her daughter Jemima thrust a full glass of red under her nose. ‘Try this, Mother! 1984 Grange from the Barossa Valley.’

‘Mmm.’ Letitia leaned back. Jemima, twenty-six, daughter from a long-ago relationship—Nathan. Complicated, war-torn…another universe, actually. And now this present world, this Mirror World was making her vanish…Literally.

Letitia sighed and thought, I wish I could get away for good. To another time another place—Home to Earth before it’s too late. She hung on in Mirror World, though, to thwart the attempts of Boris from enslaving, by stealth, this beautiful world and its population. But for how long? Twenty-six Mirror years had taken its toll. The IGSF (Intergalactic Space Force) medical technology of regular infusions of nano-bots had kept her alive, but now, were failing. Dr. Mario had shaken his dark Latin head after the last infusion and said the words she had dreaded to hear, “There’s nothing more we can do.”

‘To Antarctica we go!’ Jemima charged her glass and took a slurp. ‘Mmm! Excellent stuff! You should try some! Celebrate, this trip is your way out. You know what I mean.’

Her daughter examined her glass of red as though she were a connoisseur.

‘I still can’t believe we are here,’ Letitia said. ‘And drinking such old wine! Must be at least thirty years old.’

Jemima nudged her. ‘You won the prize, Mum! And you invited me to go with you—you knew how much I wanted to complete my quest to visit every continent on Earth. I concede, Mirror, in this case. But, still, a continent. It’s a win-win, ‘cos I’m here to help you. You’ll see.’

‘Of course.’

‘Why else would I take all that trouble to return from our universe?’

Letitia gazed around the passenger cabin. ‘Although, I have one complaint. I thought we’d be put in first-class. I won the prize, what happened to the open lounge plan with plenty of walking space and seats that reclined all the way? It’s nothing like the brochure.’

But here they were, sitting in seats that were blue instead of cream, (as portrayed in the brochure) and the passengers appeared to be more crammed in and arranged in neat narrow (than in that brochure).

‘We won the wine,’ Jemima said as she poured herself another glass.

‘Oh, yes!’ Letitia nodded. ‘Great!’

‘Fancy that, it’s survived all those years…Drink, it’s part of the plan.’

Letitia recollected the on-line competition and how Jemima urged her to explain in twenty-five words or less why she would want to go to Antarctica. She remembered Jemima rubbing her hands together and murmuring that she had a cunning plan.

It was after Jemima’s friend Holly and the rest of the IGSF team escaped through the red spot in Jupiter back to Earth. But before the bad news from Dr. Mario. Bad timing. Now that red spot had sailed and it would be another two years…If only the Doctor had told her earlier, she would’ve gone too.

‘1984! Must have been a good year.’ Jemima remarked as she finished her glass. The screen at the front of the section, played a loop of scenes from the icy continent. Icebergs, penguins, and rough seas battering the orange icebreaker. Letitia couldn’t get the earphones working, so it remained a silent show.

‘Well matured, I guess.’

‘It’s our escape;’ Jemima began, ‘I’ve been checking Earth’s history and in 2014…’

The movie froze.

A piercing scream.

A large man lurched from his seat.

Murmurs rippled through the rows.

Jemima and Letitia craned their necks to catch the action.

Letitia stepped into the aisle to witness a scuffle involving a female air-attendant and a burly passenger. They wrestled a small man.

‘What’s going on?’ Jemima asked.

‘It’s a man,’ Letitia said.

‘Is it—?’

‘He’s ugly—not human—he’s wearing a brown jumper.’

A hairy ball torpedoed down the aisle, bounced on the toilet wall and rolled to a stop. At the other end, a body lay jerking.

Jemima stood and peered at the flailing form. ‘Where’s the head?’

Letitia pointed behind her. ‘There.’

‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ Jemima rasped. She reached for the complimentary paper bag. ‘Where’s the bag? The bag?’

A lady with shimmering auburn hair, thrust a paper bag at Jemima. ‘Here, use mine.’

‘Thank you,’ Jemima breathed before burying her face in its opening.

‘Don’t worry. It’s not real. It has to be a dream,’ Letitia said. The whole episode—the plane, the trip to Antarctica, the action down the front—seemed surreal.

‘This is real Mum. We’ve been hijacked by terrorists.’

‘Shut up! Shut up, you up there!’ a man’s shrill voice could be heard at the front of the cabin.

‘No,’ Jemima gasped, ‘Worse than that, it’s…’

A chill coursed through Letitia’s spine as she spied this man in the tawny jumper lording over his victim’s body. The burly man’s body. The strong man so weak, twitching lifelessly in blood. Blood pooling on the blue aisle carpet.

Feeling queasy Letitia’s legs wobbled as she stood in the aisle.

Jemima retched and trembled in terror.

The man marched up the aisle to Letitia.

He waved a vial of clear liquid between his spindly fingers. He seemed to be moving in slow motion, closer and closer. His black beads of eyes glinted reflecting the fluoro lights. He wasn’t that tall. He didn’t look that strong.

‘I thought, you said he was destroyed near Jupiter, Jemima.’

‘Apparently not.’

Letitia remained standing. She remembered the story of the devil at the end of Martin Luther’s bed. Like Luther, she had God on her side. No way was she going to allow this little man terrorizing the crew and passengers spoil her adventure. Was that a claw on his hand? No, people don’t have claws. Boris does, though. How did he do that to the big strong man? What happened to the security measures back at the airport? Didn’t they check him for weapons?

‘I will not be afraid,’ Letitia said and locked eyes with this man. ‘God is with me. I will survive.’ Convinced—she’d survived the last disaster—many years ago—an alien attack on her ship, cruising around Earth, in space. That was a Boris attack. Boris—she had heard of that enemy of man, engaged in the war against him, but never had she met the cockroach. They said it was a miracle she survived. Burns to sixty percent of her body. Skin grafts saved her. Presently, in this life, on Mirror World, when she wasn’t fading, she looked like everyone else.

‘What’ch’ya looking at?’ He scowled, baring his small, pointy teeth. ‘Have I got a little—no—big, nasty surprise for you!’

He shook the vial. The liquid fizzed.

Letitia gasped.

‘Oh, sh-t!’ Jemima whispered.

A little girl nearby whimpered. ‘Mummy. I don’t want to die, Mummy.’

The man thumped a headrest. ‘Shut up!’

Two air-attendants hung back, glancing left and right. They hunted for solutions. But the threat of violent chemical reactions in the vial, and the potential loss of another head, prevented them from launching an attack on the man.

This man drew close to Letitia. He blew his foul breath into her face and shook the liquid tube.

‘Say goodbye to Antarctica, Grandma! The seas will rise, the coastlines will be flooded, the planet will suddenly heat up, and a few other nasty things…’ He laughed manically. ‘And this planet will be ours!’

‘I’m afraid you are too late—global warming has already done—’ Jemima piped up.

‘Shut up! Girl!’ the man snapped. Then he climbed in the seat next to Jemima and shaved his claw under Jemima’s chin. ‘Do you taste like your mother? Or father?’

‘What d-d-do you hope to achieve with that puny little bottle?’ Jemima stuttered unfazed by this man in the brown jumper who had a claw jutting out from his finger.

He brushed the bottle across Jemima’s cheek. ‘I won’t bore your puny mind with the scientific details…but,’ he gazed at the glass tube with devilish fascination, ‘But—when this liquid chemical compound escapes and mixes with the heat and airline fuel, there will be a big bang and a most delicious chain-reaction. Think of it as a kind of revenge on what you humans did to my kind, once, many, many years ago.’

‘Who are you?’ Letitia asked, although she had a pretty good idea who this particular monster was.

He rose and leaned against Letitia, his pug nose and flaring nostrils within inches from her face. Letitia averted her face from his onion and garlic breath tainted with cockroach stench.

He spoke slowly, and with menace. ‘I think you know who I am, my dear.’

‘I don’t, really, I don’t.’

‘Really? I don’t have time for this,’ the man said. He thumped the vial on the arm of the chair.

Letitia heard a crack, and a sizzle. The cabin filled with smoke. Then a flash of light and a rumble of thunder. Letitia grew light-headed. In the background as if in the distance she heard Jemima say, ‘It’s Boris, Mum…the Bytrode, you know, the giant alien cockroach…so glad we had the wine…’

Then sinking…plummeting towards the Earth. The screams of panicked passengers and the howl of the wind as it rushed through the fast-descending airbus, blended into agonising seconds of horror.

The force thrust Letitia forward. The aircraft pitched and spun. The ceiling caved and banged against her head as the craft disintegrated. The shattered fuselage nose-dived. Through cracks in the hull, clouds skidded past. The icy wasteland rushed into view.

Boris defied the laws of physics, hovering above his prey. His wings whirred creating a gravitational force-field holding Letitia. He bared his jagged teeth in a sickly smile.

‘So, my dear, Letitia, you are getting what you want most,’ Boris said.

Letitia gasped. How can he talk when she can barely breathe? The cold air rushing the plane to its demise, snatched her words before they became thoughts. Surely, she didn’t ask for this. Never even contemplated it. Why would she want to die crashing to Earth?

Bodies jettisoned around the remains of the cabin. Some bounced off Boris’ shell. He was fully cockroach now.

‘Can’t you see?’ Boris said. ‘Earth.’

Great! Letitia thought and then curled up and waited for the impact.

She imagined that her entire life would flash before her eyes. It didn’t.

She glanced up.

The seats arranged in a semi-circle were white. They rotated as if in some crazy show ride. Jemima was gone. Sucked out, and hurtling towards the icy plains of Antarctica, Letitia assumed.

As if detached from her body, she watched Boris vanish. Then she waited for the final thud…

The thud came. Metal crunched and ground around her. An explosion burst jolting her back to the here, now and her body sliding through slush. Ice caved-in on top of her, blocking light out and trapping her in darkness.

[To be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling circa 1985

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the ongoing battle between good and evil…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Lost World of the Wends–Roast Cockroach

Roast Cockroach

[An extract from my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends]

The seven sat around the dining table in silence. The roast steamed in the centre. Candles either side guarded the meal. Thunder rumbled over the hills and mountains. Lightning flashed.

Boris nursed his ray-gun hand and then he placed it beside his knife; a reminder in case any member of the group chose not to cooperate, Joseph assumed.

‘Oh, I’m going to enjoy this,’ Boris purred. ‘Thank you, Herr and Frau Biar, for inviting me. I do apologise for not being at the service this morning. I had a little business to take care of.’ With an evil twinkle in his eye, he glanced at Amie. ‘How was the service?’

Amie gulped.

‘Boring,’ Friedrich said in a sing-song voice.

Frau and Herr Biar tightened their mouths. They frowned at Friedrich and shook their heads.

Wilma piped up. ‘Joseph and Amie are in love.’

‘I know,’ Boris looked at Herr Biar. ‘Well, aren’t you going to do the honours? Cut up the chicken. I’m sure you’re all dying for the roast.’

A black bug crawled out of the chook’s orifice. Everyone watched as it meandered across the tablecloth.

Boris drummed the table. ‘Come on! I’m hungry!’

Herr Biar sighed. He sharpened his knife and sliced off some chicken breast.

‘No! No! A proper cut! Cut the chicken open!’ Boris rose and stood over Herr Biar.

Herr Biar jabbed the knife in the centre and flayed the roast.

Cockroaches teamed from the cavity and over the plates, cutlery and vegetables.

Joseph flicked them as they sauntered over his plate. Amie shook them off her dress.

‘Come on! Cut the meat up Biar!’ Boris raised his voice. ‘We want to eat.’

Herr Biar served portions onto the plates. Boris helped. He scooped up the black stuffing and slopped a spoonful on every plate. The stuffing reeked of a rancid stench that filled the room.

‘Now, the vegetables,’ Boris said. ‘Frau serve the vegetables. We must have our vegetables.’

Frau Biar lifted with fork and knife, the roast potatoes garnished with cockroach entrails and plopped them on the plates. Then she added the steamed peas and carrots mixed with bugs.

Six stunned people studied their portions of festering food, not daring to touch it. Boris presided over the group. He grinned from ear to ear, imitating the Cheshire cat from “Alice in Wonderland”, as he poured lumpy gravy over the chicken on each plate.

‘Go on, eat up,’ he urged. ‘Oh, and by the way, Amie and Joseph, I have your families—just where I want them.’

Joseph tracked a couple of roaches tumbling in the gravy.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

     Feature Photo: Christmas Table Waiting to Happen © L.M. Kling 2006

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the whole story,

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…