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The Mad Splatter

I almost fell then and it feels good and let's run feel the wind see breath mist in the cold night air if everything was like this we'd be so happy and LAUGH...

Alan walks beside her, not daring to speak his thoughts aloud. They've been dating for only two weeks, he doesn't know her well enough, doesn't know if she likes to play, to run, to laugh, or if she's the more serious type - his heart pounds when she catches him looking at her. He smiles, slowly at first, then deeper when she returns the smile with just the corner of her mouth. Yes, he thinks, she could be the one for me.

And we'd run until the end of the world and jump off and fall forever until we went SPLAT on the rocks of time and sent our souls into the heavens to question whoever made this whole big world mess just what it was thinking and even the thought of that makes me SMILE like I haven't done since...

At the time, Alan later realised, he hadn't been feeling anything. He'd gone through the motions, and even his heart beat the way everyone said it would. He couldn't stand to be apart from her, he smiled when he saw her, he felt the loneliness those times they had to be apart, and all that had led him to the day he stood in front of her, she dressed in white, beauty falling like stars to the floor. The butterflies in his stomach were real as he said "I do". His heart was there, beating on his arteries with the rhythms of life as her slid the ring on her finger and felt eternity embrace him. But is the heart really the organ that feels?

Sing and dance and spin madly until we fall get up fall again let's not care if we get our precious clothes dirty covered in mud dust snow if it's cold we'll run until our lungs fill our hearts with fire if it's hot we'll strip and swim to Australia where it's even HOTTER let's just do it all until our bodies can't stand it and we COLLAPSE...

They won't talk like they used to. Only then would Alan be able to realise that they never talked like they used to; that they never had the sharing of heart and mind that he had always assumed. They had talked until the sun rose, and this meant they were in love; later they had fucked until the sun rose, and this too meant they were in love; they will sleep until the sun rises, and this must also mean they will be in love still. Alan will not believe in any of this anymore, and yet he will find himself torn. History carries enormous weight, whether true or not, and he will be unable to leave, yet unable to bear staying. At the last, the single moment that will allow him to make his decision will be his memory of the time he asked her to run with him.

Those Who've Loved

Johnas had always thought exile was unfairly harsh. He knew the incident with the goat was wrong - well, now that he'd had time to think it over, not wrong so much, as somewhat distasteful, and once you had a good rhythm going it became quite easy to overlook the distasteful parts in favour of the - for want of more decorous words - tasty parts. It was, of course, the candlelit dinner that took it over the edge, and it became very difficult to explain matters after Mary Austin Lawrence walked in on that. Mary was too stuck-up, anyway. She didn't even like goats.

There was one thing in favour of exile - it left him with little time to dwell on the fact that he was terribly lonely right now. Survival was taking all his time - catching, killing, foraging, and eating were full-time occupations, and as such he hadn't had enough time to build a better shelter than a few huge ferns pulled over a fallen tree. He'd thought several times, as he trudged through the mud with a dead, skinny rabbit in hand, that he should be moving on - perhaps to Kingston. Kingston was much larger than the country town he'd left. There was much more room to hide.

He couldn't quite bring himself to do it yet, though. Big cities meant big people, and people meant trouble. That was why he'd grown so attached to the goat in the first place. Goats were simple.

However, big cities also meant food and shelter without fighting for it every day of your life. A roof and a fire were the two things Johnas missed most - it was often too wet to find any firewood. Johnas was glad it wasn't Winter - it was colder at nights, even in Spring, than he had expected. Again, he missed the goat, with its warm, fleecy fur - no, he couldn't think like that anymore. Goats don't belong in cities, and they didn't belong in his life anymore either. He had to become better; change himself; find a way to live that - he looked woefully at tonight's dinner - didn't involve eating hard, purple fruit that were probably mostly not poisonous, with crushed worms. They were easier to eat crushed, he could pretend he was eating porridge.

As he swallowed the slimy supper, he vowed that tomorrow would be different. He would be different, and he would make a new life for himself - a better one.

Blue part one

"Do you believe in fate?"

It had been a long time since the words had been spoken, but Andrew still remembered them. "No," he answered, as he always did, "of course not." No-one heard him. "Don't you believe in freedom?"

"I believe we all have choices - but that fate throws us opportunities, and rewards us if we take them," his memories continued.

"So you're saying if we don't follow our fates we're doomed to lead our lives in misery and suffering? That is not freedom. It's coercion."

He waited for his memories to answer, but they were silent. Everything was silent. Perhaps he sealed his own fate, after all, with those words. A life of suffering. His chest ached. Panic flooded his body. He fought to keep still, to relax, but his body craved air, and there was none here. He could feel his control slipping away, floating with the jellyfish. He could almost see himself as the jellyfish saw, a man drifting downwards. He could see his eyes become unfocused as consciousness fled, as the darkness around him closed in on his mind. Helpless to prevent it, he could see his lips relax, his chest heave to bring in sweet, fresh air - and instead brought in sweet, fresh death. His body struggled, but there was no oxygen. It was over.

Through eyelids that had almost closed; within a body that had no more energy to struggle; in a mind with no choice but to accept death - there was a glimmer. Eyelids crept open for the final time. It was there, just in front of him, and too late, too late. Death and darkness came.

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