By David Stewart
Once I realised the time machine actually worked my first thought was to go back and kill Hitler. I’ve always hated Hitler (I think it’s got something to do with how annoying I find Charlie Chaplin, they do look so alike) so I thought I could go back in time and kill him or at the very least hit him a bit. But I realised it would completely alter the course of history which apparently is bad. Then I had an idea. If I went back to the bunker in 1945 I could kidnap him just before he killed himself. Then I could bring him back to my time and show him how he was remembered. I thought someone with the ego of Hitler probably died thinking he would be revered as a German hero so it would cause him incredible mental anguish to realise he was hated and ridiculed in the future. The actual kidnapping went off without a hitch (although Eva Braun can really scream when she’s startled) but the problems started when I got him home. I’d hooked up my laptop to a big screen and planned to start by showing him a youtube video of the infamous Hitler Rant, where footage from the film Downfall is subtitled in order to make him look especially foolish. Sadly I clicked on the wrong link and ended up showing him a clip of a young kid trying to throw a cat in a pond but falling in himself. Hitler loved it. I’ve never seen a dictator laugh so much. “Ha! Ze boy tries to throw ze kitty into ze water but falls into ze pond! Sploosh!” He thought it was hilarious and I had to admit I did too. He made me watch it fourteen more times and then begged me to click on a link that promised a video of a kid getting hit in the face by a soccer ball. We spent the next six hours watching funny video clips. Eventually I feel asleep and when I woke up he was gone. He’s out there somewhere now doing god knows what. I occasionally see a comment on youtube that I think is him and I’m pretty sure he’s signed up to reddit but as for his current whereabouts I have no idea.
(Although I could probably ask him since I did accept his Facebook friend invitation.)
By Tim Redmond
The sun fell across the arch, casting her in half light as she leaned in and feathered the names with her finger. The crowds were low, the war monument largely deserted and he was glad for it. He wanted to show her his quiet side. His thoughtful side. The monument had been his idea.
But now, as she folded along the great wall of the dead, he could think of nothing but her neck as she craned to each name. How slender it was. How warm it would be under his lips. Her smell as he slid his arm around her belly. She turned to him and smiled, the sun making her squint. He thought of all those books. Of Passchendaele, Pozieres and The Somme.
The most he could do was smile back.
By David Stewart
Can I help you madam?
Yes you can. This is the most exclusive fashion boutique in the city isn’t it?
Well we like to think-
And every item of clothing here is the latest style?
Our ranges comes straight from the catwalks of Paris, Milan, London and New York.
Can I show you this photo? That’s me at my sister’s 21st. Which means it’s 23 years old now.
And you haven’t aged a day madam.
But the clothes have. Try and look past the hair if you can and just see the dress. What the hell was I thinking?
Well madam, we all make mistakes.
Exactly! It was a mistake. Do you know how long this shop has been here for?
Umm… no. I’ve been working here for two years so…
Well I can tell you it was here 23 years ago when I wanted a dress for my sister’s 21st. And a woman who looked a lot like you, only she was a natural blonde and I think her tits were real, said this dress was perfect for me. The dress that you and I have both decided was a mistake.
So what I want to know is- was she an idiot and we both made a huge mistake then or did she know what she was talking about and we’re both wrong now?
Times change madam.
So why does your advertising use the slogan: “Timeless elegance?”
And really what’s changed? What occurred in the last 23 years that made the perfect dress into a mistake? The invention of the internet? Twenty twenty cricket? The death of George Harrison? Was it bringing Doctor Who back? Was that the catalyst that turned me from a fashion goddess into a woman wearing a dress that looks like it was made from Christmas decorations?
Who’s George Harrison?
The point is I want you to have this photograph. I want you to have it so you know what you really do for a living. You might think you sell people the latest fashions but all you’re really doing is giving them outfits their future children can laugh at. Two decades from now every woman you’ve served in the last two years is going to be saying: “What the hell was I thinking?” And someone like you can tell them we all make mistakes.
By Tim Redmond
Jack can’t run. Doesn’t have the fitness. When the rest of us have finished our laps of the oval, he’s still trudging on his third, head down, hands on hips, kicking the mud. Sometimes in games, when his fitness fails, the elbows come out. At boundary throw ins, he’ll hover behind the pack and swing just as the ball hits fingers. In the flurry of mud and teeth, he’s skipping out back, holding his cheek, pointing. Jack gives away free kicks, he gets dragged, but he never gets reported. He bears the scorn of his team-mates and thrashings of the coach, but Jack wins the tiny battles we always seem to lose.
By Virginia Ewing
We have two days to find the flowers. My sister found the family tartan ribbon, in Darwin of all places. A courier is bringing it down now. We found thistles in Toowoomba, also on their way. But I will not have carnations. They are cheap. They smell like rotted life. When I smell them I am six again, sitting after school in the dark church. Jesus’ pained eyes watching me from the Stations of the Cross. His sacred heart throbbing, bleeding. Young stone saints prostrated before apparitions of The Virgin. My Mother stands, leaning over a sink in the vestry, trimming carnations and baby’s breath, her hands heavy with obligation. Last week’s flowers have sat seven days in still water. The stench chokes me. As I wait for her I pray all those long prayers I have so proudly learned by rote. I stumble through the middle of the Apostle’s Creed. I light a candle on the stand for everyone I know who has died. I put coins in the poor box and they clunk on top of the others. I always expect something to happen, like it is some kind of penny-arcade game. I long to peek behind the altar. The closest I’ve come was to stand on the top step. I never feel so watched as I do in an empty church. My Mother marches up to the altar without genuflecting and sets the new flowers down.
When she is done, we walk home. I don’t want to hold her hand. It smells like the dead flowers. We have a silent compromise. I grasp her little finger in my whole hand. She stops me at the Old Italian Lady’s house.
Look. This is a peony.
She gently bends a delicate bloom down to meet me. It is larger than my face. It is white, stained pink, like blood under a soft fall of snow.
This, I think, is what a flower is.
We have to get the peonies sent (frozen) from New York. They say they will be here. I truly believe I will never see them again.
On top of her casket, there are peonies. They seem small to me now.
By David Stewart
The card she handed every female guest:
Thank you for coming to my special day. I realize it’s customary after the ceremony for the bride to fling the bridal bouquet over her head. Whoever catches this prize is theoretically the next person to tie the knot. This tradition will not be observed during today’s celebration.
The notion that all you need to do to snare a life partner is wear a pretty dress, hold your hands up and wait to catch him as he falls from the sky is frankly offensive. I didn’t stand around looking gormless but available waiting for Brian to land in my lap – I’m his bride now thanks to hard work. Once I’d decided he was the one I spent months researching his habits and private life in order to correctly time my move. I logged up a total of 49 hours in a tree in his neighbor’s yard just so I could see into his bedroom window and learn his grooming habits. You may think this was an expensive wedding but believe me it was nothing compared to the money I spent on Private investigators, computer hackers and hired thugs in order to wage the campaign of blackmail, extortion and intimidation that saw all my rival suitors surrender their claim on my intended. And if you’re wondering – yes they are fake and yes my back hurts but I found out he was a tit-man and there was no lengths to which I wasn’t prepared to go.
So if you think you’re going to win the man of your dreams just because you plucked a bunch of flowers from the air before some other giggling harpy you have another thing coming. On the reverse of this card you will find the first of a series of clues that, should you successfully work them all out and avoid the pitfalls and snares I have put in place, will lead you to a hiding place that not only contains my bridal bouquet but also night-vision goggles, some powerful tranquilizers and the contact details for a well priced hit-man. You will then have some of the tools required to become a blushing bride at your disposal.
PS. Anyone doing that annoying tapping on the glass thing during the reception will be forcibly evicted by a bouncer hired specifically for the purpose. You have been warned.
By Jason Geary
The orphanage was as dingy as he remembered, though now it seemed even more devoid of colour. He navigated the twist and turns to administration like he’d built the place, countless pairs of eyes watched and dull whispers sparked seconds after he passed like an audible wake. He didn’t need an escort; he knew the drill, showed himself in. The administrator looked pleasantly surprised, “Well, Well, Well. Look who’s back. How long’s it been? Seven years?”
“Eight! Well, you must have had an imaginative one. What did they have you doing? Aliens, cowboys, ninjas?”
“Nah, not this time. This one was different. This one was my friend”
“Huh. Really.” The administrator opened a large book that blew a mushroom cloud of dust from the desktop as it came to rest. He licked the tip of his pencil a little too long; it looked like he actually enjoyed the taste. “Let me see. Ahhh yes. Toby Trueman. Deceased.” The administrator lifted his head. “I see.”
“I thought I’d never have to come back here.”
“I didn’t expect to see you so soon neither, you served your time. You got allocated a lifer. Done.”
“Your lifer was killed huh? How old?”
“Thirteen and still happy for an imaginary friend.”
“We were happy. Yes.”
“How’d he die?”
“I’m sorry. A lifer is a lifer. No guarantees on how long you get.”
“ I know. How long till I can get another?”
“A lifer? Wow. I don’t know. There’s a loooooong waiting list and less demand.”
“Yeah. Less demand. Kids are imagining much less these days.”
“Can’t you bump me up the list a bit?’
“You know I can’t do that. There are friends who have been waiting in here for decades. You’ll have to wait your turn.”
“I guess I will.”
By Dave Bloustien
By Rik Brown.