Teaming up with brilliant people


twistMy favorite blogging moment happened when I teamed up with a bunch of brilliant bloggers. One an editor, a handful of writers and a graphic designer/book designer.
We came up with a published novel.
PARANORMAL ANTHOLOGY WITH A TWIST.
For those that haven’t read it, here are some of the 100 or so reviews.
They are ego maniacally skewed to the story I penned called Suburban Zombie.

GOOD READS Reviews of (TWIST ANTHOLOGY)

SUBURBAN ZOMBIE

Liza Roach rated it 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! All the stories were great and the twists were so out there. But the best we’re definitely ‘”Voices of the Soul” by Rene Folsom and “Suburban Zombie” by Anthony Lance. Whoa!

Claire Thake rated it 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant anthology separated into 11 short stories. I don’t want to ruin the surprise of any of the stories so has instead written by opinions of them all individually not giving the stories away.

Suburban Zombie – Anthony Lance
This really made me giggle! A very well written, alternative view on zombie life! A very interesting short read.

  1. Policar rated it 4 of 5 stars

Since this is an Anthology This review will be slightly different. As Anthologies are a comprised of more than story, it would do the book as a whole a great injustice to review and rate the book as such. This review I image will be quite lengthy as I’m going to break down and review each individual story within this book’s covers…

5) Suburban Zombie by Anthony Lance

I’ve read my share of zombie stories. None are as creative as this one is. This is the funniest story I’ve read yet. The fact of a bunch of zombie women sitting around talking about health risks made me laugh until my ribs hurt!
Now before anyone starts complaining about the use of Mormons being the “zombies” in this parody.. You really need to evaluate. There is no other religious sect that could have been put in that role. Every non Mormon at one point or another has been hounded by a Mormon or a two. They don’t care when you tell them you aren’t interested in what they say, they come back numerous times until you’re scared to leave your house.
I applaud this Author for being brave enough to take something we all think and twisting it into this hysterical story… Even if he thinks those of us that aren’t zombies are just brainless zombies.
5 of 5

Tonya rated it 5 of 5 stars

This is a great anthology filled with awesome stories that will leave you wanting more and some really amazing authors! I loved each and every story in this anthology, all are 5 stars.
Anthony Lance- Suburban Zombie: I was laughing just about the entire time reading this story. Loved it!!

Natalie‘s review

Apr 12, 13

5 of 5 stars

Paranormal Anthology With A Twist
Edited And Compiled By Cynthia Shepp & Rene Folsom

*Suburban Zombie by Anthony Lance*

This is definitely not your every day, typical kind of zombie story. First time ever….but I will not be revealing anything about it. Why you ask?
It needs to be read by the reader in order to fully appreciate the humour. Anthony had me laughing out loud and enjoying every word of his imagination.
Kudos to you Anthony Lance. What a unique read with some very gory and laughable details.

~I give this book 5 NarlyNut Stars

Julia rated it 4 of 5 stars

Suburban Zombie – I thought this was funny and original. I liked all the dark humour.

Patricia Shull rated it 4 of 5 stars

This was actually a really good book. The stories in here centre around some sort of disaster, crises or murderer and they have a twist that you don’t expect. The story I probably most enjoyed was Suburban Zombie. Everyone in the story is a zombie. They live their lives like a normal everyday person. But one day they are attacked by none other than Mormons. When bitten by a Mormon, you become a normal human wearing nice dress clothes and carrying a bible. I laughed so hard when I read this one. Like seriously? Mormons? Some of the stories are mediocre at best but still very good reads.

Terri Kinckner rated it 5 of 5 stars

Suburban Zombie, by Anthony Lance

Neighbours Ted, Dave and their respective families are zombies. They live in a picture-perfect neighbourhood in zombie suburbia. As the mothers in the neighbourhood drop their children off at school and discuss crumbed brains among themselves, they don’t realize they are being followed. The neighbourhood is being invaded by…

The twist in this story is very ironic and hilarious. I loved the banter between the characters, and laughed out loud quite a few times while reading it. I will never think of zombies the same way after reading this!

Ashley rated it 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than the Apocalypse one! These stories were more along the storyline I enjoy. But, they were both great and had wonderful authors! I loved the first story in this one. I read all of the books in the Soul Seers series! Rene Folsum is a great author! My other favorite was Suburban Zombie! By the title I was a little unsure but it was fantastic! Hilarious and I loved it! Anthony Lance hit a home run on that story! This was a great collection of stories and would highly recommend you read it!

Sabina Bundgaard rated it 4 of 5 stars

Suburban Zombie by Anthony Lance

Ever read a story from a zombie’s point of view? Well, you got the chance here! In this Town, zombies are the normal thing. Guess what happens when a well groomed young man comes along?

This was a funny read for me – we always see the zombies being the bad guy, the ones infecting everyone else with a disease – this time, the tables are turned, and it was hilarious to read!

Rebecca Johnson Dye rated it 5 of 5 stars

Talk about stories with a twist and some with a What the Heck! Liked all the stories, some more then others, but overall this anthology was a great read!

5 Suburban Zombie- Hilarious POV from the Zombie

The story of Gung-Ho


This is the true, however short story of an orphaned child who only managed to survive his first six years of life thanks to the charity and good-will of villagers in the small village where he lived. The child’s name was Gung-Ho.
On the day of his sixth birthday, or what was approximated to be his sixth birthday, as he was orphaned and no one knew his exact date of birth, Gung-Ho left the village where he was raised. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”…or is that “an idiot?”
He travelled far, and with his feet scuffed and bleeding from the journey and the cliffs he had scaled, he finally climbed the steep steps to the foreboding wooden gates of the Peril-Takisong temple, a Monastery that trained boys into Monks.
Here he hoped to be one of the very few boys chosen to become a Monk.
For three days he sat outside the Temple, the ground was cold and hard, but he sat and sat. He ate the last morsel of his food, a stale biscuit. He knew he had no food left should he need to return to the village.
His strength had abandoned him, and the cold began to engulf him, and take him into a never-ending slumber, he heard the sound of steel sliding on wood. It was the bolt that secured the wooden gates. The gates opened, pushing aside a pile of fresh snow, and young Gung-Ho was carried unconscious into the Monastery.
When Gung-Ho awoke several days later, he had been nursed back to health and taken under the wing of a kindly old Monk.
Soon he began instruction in the art of Penzai; or as it is commonly known, Bonsai. Bonsai is regarded highly as it trains boys to be patient, and caring, and nurturing, and as a Monk, these are pivotal areas of study and reflection.
“When you have mastered the art of sculpting the tree you will be ready to leave the Temple.” Is a rough translation of the old Monk’s words.
Gung-Ho was a diligent. As diligent as a student can be.
Sometimes he would be forced to wait months before he could trim a single leaf, but using Zen, Gung-Ho was able to sit for hours and visualize the shape the tree would take.
By the time Gung-Ho was twelve years old, his skills were unmistakable… he had none.
No matter how much knowledge the kindly Monk bestowed, the boy seemed completely oblivious. Not a clue did he have, not an iota of skill or ability.
The old Monk persisted, as Monks are very patient.
Gung-Ho was schooled for hours in aesthetics, shape and form.
His mentor was tireless, teaching him everything he knew about composition, presentation, display and other artistic elements of design.
But it was useless. Hopeless.
Gung-Ho was terrible.
He didn’t simply lack sensibility; he was a butcher.
At eighteen years of age, he was expelled from the Monastery and sent back into that cruel world he had been saved from all those years before. Gung-Ho would now have to fend for himself.
Many years have passed since Gung-Ho left the Monastery, and you will be pleased to know the story has a happy ending.
Gung-Ho finally found his place in life. He now lives a happy, contented existence. And he has the perfect job.
Gung-Ho is an arborist (tree lopper) for the Sutherland Shire council.

 

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF A ZOMBIE CAT LEAVES ITS SCENT ON THE FRONT LAWN OF YOUR HOUSE?


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A really sick looking stray cat slowly walked from the curb, across the median strip onto my driveway. I think it came out of the drain. It wasn’t one of the neighborhood cats so I stopped to see what it was up to.
The cat was grey and looked as though it had been run over by a semi trailer and then stitched back together by a cub scout. It seriously had whole sections of hair missing.
I grabbed my phone with the intention of taking a photo and checking the cat out. As I walked from the door I noticed that it had a bell tied around its neck, but it was cutting in like the collar was made to fit a cat the quarter of the size.
I took a couple of steps towards the cat when something made me stop. Something wasn’t right. It had muscles in its neck and shoulders like a pit bull. I stepped one step back and tried to gauge its size. It looked the size of a Bobcat, at least twice as big as a big male house cat. The bin is 22 inches wide.
The cat turned to watch me as I retreated back into the house. It had white eyes, glazed over white eyes. Not just a bit milky, these were spooky white eyes. It just stared at me for a while bobbing its head up and down like a lion sniffing out prey, then it walked onto my front lawn arched its back and left its scent.
As it walked out of my yard it once again looked at me with its white eyes. It was totally demonic. Straight out of Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery.
If the lady across the street hadn’t seen it and I hadn’t taken pictures I would swear I had lost my mind.

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It’s enough to make your blood boil.


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You know what it’s like, you can never find a thermometer when you need one. This is the collection from my house and sure enough  there is at least four others I couldn’t find.

When I was a kid, a mercury thermometer held pride of place on our kitchen’s window sill. It was an important weapon in my mother’s medical arsenal. And more importantly, it worked.

The price range for the thermometers here is from about $130 down to just $6. Just as the prices vary considerably so do the temperatures each device shows.

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This thermometer is the pits, it gives a different reading each and every time it is used. It fluctuates by as much as five degrees Celsius and It’s also one of the most expensive.

(See what I did there; pits, arm pits.)

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This thermometer is probably the most accurate and one of the cheapest.

mercury-thermometer-763326

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In my opinion you can stick most of the new electronic thermometers up your bottom. Which is where they often end up. The surest way to stop my temperature from rising is with an old fashioned mercury thermometer. A thermometer that actually works.

Kawasaki’s


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A couple of weeks ago my 8 year old daughter developed a rash. We took her to the medical center and the doctor sent her home saying it was SLAP FACE and that SLAP FACE is a virus so antibiotics won’t help.
Four hours later, after she vomited everywhere we had her back at the medical center with forty degree temperatures. “It’s not SLAP FACE, I think you need to take her to emergency at the Hospital, she either has HAND FOOT & MOUTH or KAWASAKI’S disease.” This time we had a different doctor, and thankfully this Woman gave us a referral that contained the word KAWASAKI.
In Emergency she was seen by at least three different doctors and a couple of Pediatricians. After spending the whole day in emergency she was discharged and sent home to get over whatever virus she had. Still with temperatures that were bordering on forty degrees. She was radiating so much heat that you could feel it several feet away. Just before she was discharged the nurses crowded around her and roasted marshmallows on her tummy while singing Kumbaya.
That night my four year old daughter started coughing uncontrollably like she had WHOOPING COUGH.  She couldn’t breath at all. If we had called an ambulance I dare say that she would now be dead. I drove at light speed to the hospital, the same hospital we had been at all day with the other child and the little one was rushed in and treated for CROUP.

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The youngest was discharged and we all breathed a little easier. But the eldest just seemed to be getting worse. Her rash, now all over her body, was going dark like it was bruised. And we couldn’t get that temperature down.
So we managed to bully our way in to see her GP, usually a two week wait. “I would have discharged her from Hospital too. It’s either just a virus or it’s KAWASAKI’S disease. If her joints start to ache then I’ll give you a referral for the Children’s Hospital.”
Several hours later after being asked every five minutes if her joints were hurting, my daughter says “I think my ankles are hurting.” We waited an hour or so “I think my knees are hurting too.”
“What do you mean you think they are hurting?” I asked. “Either they are or they aren’t.”
“I suppose they are.”
My wife telephoned the GP and the GP said. “You’re just putting words into her mouth. If it gets a lot worse call back and I’ll give you a referral.”
Two hours later my wife called the GP back and was put on hold for twenty minutes.
“Sigh, I’m sure she’s fine but take her back to the Children’s hospital if you must.” No referral.
My wife took her to Emergency at Randwick Children’s Hospital where it took them all night before she was even seen. When she was eventually seen she was sent home. “It’s just a virus, there’s nothing we can do. Take some Panadol to keep her temperature down.”
This is where I would have given up. But to my wife’s credit four hours later when my daughter was vomiting and looking still worse, maybe even a bit puffy, my wife took her back to the Children’s hospital emergency department and eventually she was admitted into the hospital proper.
Finally teams of specialist hovered about her, all speculating on what disease she might have. The team of dermatologists were convinced that it was KAWASAKI’S. Had she been kissed by someone with HERPES? Our Rabbit scratched her. They looked at all the possibilities.
That night when I saw my baby in hospital her head had swollen to the size of a soccer ball and she was barely breathing. Her kidney’s were failing so they gave her fluids intravenously.
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They still had not yet begun treatment. The doctors didn’t know what disease it was and any treatment would only mask the symptoms if it were in fact KAWASAKI. They could not treat it until the fifth day, when more symptoms would show.
By the fifth day her body had started to win whatever battle it was fighting. The consensus was that they were pretty sure that it was KAWASAKI’S so she received steroids and immunoglobulin. The positive effects were almost immediate. After the tenth day KAWASAKI’S starts to attack the vascular system and more specifically the arteries that lead from the heart. If it is not treated there is a good chance of heart attack or heart damage.
She spent the next week in hospital and needed a second dose of the immunoglobulin. Now, several weeks after being discharged she is still suffering from red eyes and muscle and joint pain, but she is alive and for that I am truly grateful.
The last night she spent in hospital she was moved into the ward where they look after children with cancer, usually undergoing chemotherapy. The other beds contained brave little toddlers with no hair, their mother’s sitting by their bedsides often crying. Unlike many of these little kids my daughter got to go home.
It turns out that the cure for KAWASAKI’S is not a couple of Harley Davidson riders with a Tyre-iron, it is in fact the team of outstanding professionals at the Randwick Children’s Hospital and breakthrough medical science.

Stardust


Recently, the group of writers responsible for publishing my “Suburban Zombie” short story, put together another anthology: This time the anthology was titled Stardust.

I came up with an interesting idea but the idea just kept sounding too close to “Boys from Brazil”. So I didn’t submit it. Here it is in it’s rough form.

stardust

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Stardust.

A well-dressed old woman sat unescorted at the back of a small dark Hollywood amateur theatre. Only twenty or so people were scattered throughout the audience to watch the cabaret acts perform. The first act was a young plain twelve-year-old girl, dressed as Marilyn Munroe, singing ‘Diamonds are a girls best friend’. It was dreadful. She was off key, distant, and far too sexually explicit for a child. Half of the scant audience left the theatre then and there. The following acts included a boy of about the same age doing a Marlin Brando impersonation from ‘A streetcar named desire’ (Granted, the boy was a dead ringer for Brando but he struggled remembering his lines) and finally a child Charlie Chaplin impersonator that was dreadful. The slapstick humour had been stolen and copied too many times. The old woman stood up, and with a tear running down her cheek slowly made her way out of the theatre.

leaf.

Strands of greasy hair hung down into her pretty eyes as she climbed the staircase to her apartment. It had been another long tiring day in Daphne Droga’s twenty seven years of life. She carried bags of groceries in both hands, making it impossible to wipe the hair from her eyes. Daphne gasped for breath as she shifted the grocery bags onto her forearm and reached for her house keys. She climbed the last few stairs leading to her apartment and noticed that the door was slightly ajar.

Her heart beat faster as Daphne nervously pushed the door open and peered inside. Her apartment looked like an upended garbage bin. Her clothes strewn across the floor, the drawers pulled out of every cupboard.

Daphne fell to her knees and cried. Why her home, when there were so many wealthy people living in Hollywood? She was far too young to have such a shitty life. The only thing that gave her any solace was the knowledge that there was little of value to be taken.

What if the people who had done this were still inside?

She stood, leaving her groceries on the floor and slowly made her way across her living room. When she reached her mantle piece she picked up an large wooden urn that contained the dust from both her mother and her grandmother. It made a sturdy if slightly clumsy weapon. She caught a glimpse of her own reflection in a mirror; under the unkempt exterior she still saw the pretty features.

It took only moments to check the rest of her small apartment. The intruders had been very thorough, rummaging through everything she owned. But as far as she could tell nothing was missing. She quickly bolted the door. She picked up the phone then looked at the small tattoo of a wave on her forearm, WATER.

Daphne swore that she would never again call Doyle, it hurt too much. She reached for the phone, but stopped herself. She still loved him more than she had ever loved anyone. But there was something about the two of them together. They just didn’t get on, OIL and WATER. He had a tattoo of an oilcan on his forearm, OIL. With tears in her eyes she picked up the phone but not to call Doyle, to call the police. As she sat waiting for the police to arrive she felt totally violated, the anger started to boil deep inside her.

“Why me, why does all of this shit have to happen to me?” She said.

She wanted to find the bastards who had invaded her home and damaged her things. Daphne had suffered so much recently, her health failing, sickness forcing her to close her business, the only type of work she knew how to do. Then trying desperately to hold on to her meagre possessions. She wanted the bastards who ransacked her apartment to suffer as she did.

The Police came and went, as did any hope of finding those responsible.

Daphne set about the process of tidying up. She was no stranger to this task; she had spent her whole life tidying up. Her Grandmother started a cleaning business just after the Second World War. Nanna, an Italian immigrant, had slowly acquired the cleaning duties for many of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities. A business that Daphne’s Mother took over and that was eventually left to Daphne.

Unfortunately, cleaning was hard physical work and the toxic chemicals involved had damaged Daphne’s health. The fumes from the oven cleaning products she used had virtually stripped her lungs. She was forced into early retirement. Daphne had little to show for her years of toil. Almost everything she owned, even her modest house had been sold to pay for medical expenses. Now she was left with little more than memories. If she were to walk into the Academy Awards Presentation many of the Stars would know her by name. But you can’t take that to the bank. Once she had hundreds of pieces of signed memorabilia. She had sold most of the valuable items. A letter from Charlie Chaplin to her Grandmother, some movie props from the set of The Wizard of Oz given to her mother by Judy Garland and a coffee table that once belonged to Tyrone Power. They had fetched little more than one third of their estimated value.

Now her only memorabilia of her family’s cleaning business was inside her own head. She remembered her mother telling her stories about being hugged by Marilyn Monroe and having her hand shaken by Clarke Gable and John Huston. Daphne herself, remembered playing hide and seek as a five year old with an eight year old Drew Barrymore. Her family cleaned for the Barrymore’s for three generations. If any of the celebrities she had worked for knew of her predicament they would gladly have helped her out, but she was not one to beg.

There was one more thing that Daphne still held onto from her families cleaning business. Unfortunately it was relatively worthless. Her Stardust: From the moment Daphne’s Grandmother had started her business she collected samples of dust from the bedroom floors of her famous celebrity clientele. It was a silly tradition but it was one that both Daphne and her mother continued. Daphne owned over five hundred small glass vials containing the dust from the floor of the world’s most famous stars. Each vile had a small signed and hand written label. Katherine Hepburn 1963, Lionel Barrymore 1951, Bella Lugosi 1950… Some of the dust dated as far back as the late forties.

leaf.

After finishing cleaning up, Daphne made her way down the stairs from her apartment. She had very little money but she refused to give up coffee. It was her little thing. Some people smoked, some drank, with her it was espresso bought from a good café and it just so happened that there was such a café three doors up from her apartment building. That was where she was heading when a white van screeched to a halt at the curb, the side door slid open and two burly thugs pointed a gun at her.

“Get in.”

At first Daphne was surprised but then she slightly stiffened as she continued to walk down the street. It wasn’t that she welcomed death; it was more like arrogance and not wanting to let anyone push her around. The two thugs looked at each other not knowing what to do next. The van screeched forward to catch up to Daphne and the thugs jumped out trying to drag Daphne into the back of the vehicle. She launched at the thug who had hold of her clawing her long fingernails into his eyelids. It was the first time she had grown her fingernails long in years, when she was cleaning they just broke off. The thug’s eyes blinked shut just at the last second, saving his eyes from permanent damage. Then, when his grip on her blouse softened she broke free and ran like hell, her eyes half shut waiting for a gunshot. But they didn’t fire. As she ran up the small flight of stairs into the café she heard the wheels of the van screech off.

Daphne stood in the doorway of the café waiting for someone to come to her aid, to say something, waiting for someone to acknowledge what had just happened. But they were in their own little worlds, they spoke about the cost of rent, one woman’s croissant was burnt, no one had seen the attempted abduction. Shaken, she sat in her usual seat and ordered her usual coffee. She wanted to cry again but stopped herself. Daphne pulled the cell phone from her pocket and called a number. It seemed to ring forever.

“Hello.” Answered an easygoing male voice.

“Doyle.” She said quietly.

“Who’s this? Daphne is that you?” He asked.

“Yes, it’s me.” She replied. “I… I’m sorry to call but I really need your help.”

“Babe, you can call me anytime. You broke up with me, remember.” He said.

“Yeah, I remember. Can you meet me?” She asked.

“When? I’m kind of busy right now, I’ve…” She cut him off.

“Right now, right fucking now, please I need you to meet me right now.” Several of the people in the café were looking at her. Great She thought you’re all concerned when I raise my voice on the phone but you don’t lift an eyebrow when two psychopaths with a gun try and drag me into a van.

 

“I need you to meet me at Café OM now. Please.” She begged.

“I’ll be there in five.” He said as he hung up the phone.

leaf.

He looked good when he walked into the café, better than she remembered. Daphne on the other hand was still wearing the same clothes she was wearing when she discovered her home had been broken into. She felt filthy. He kissed her gently on the cheek and she could smell the cologne she bought for him a couple of years ago.

“You look good.” He said beating her to the punch. They both ordered coffees and Daphne told him of the robbery and the abduction attempt.

“They weren’t wearing masks or anything, they didn’t even attempt to hide their faces.” She said. “Why me? I just don’t get it.”

Just for a second Daphne could have sworn Doyle gave her a sheepish look. Maybe she was reading too much into it.

“They must want something or they wouldn’t have trashed my room like that.”

“I missed you.” He said.

“There you go changing the subject, I hate it when you do that. You’re always changing the subject. I’m in serious shit here. Are you going to help me or not?” The agitation caused her to cough three times. Doyle handed her a glass of water.

“You OK? Your cough is much better than it was.”

Still a bit wheezy she said. “It’s getting better, doctor thinks I’ll make a full recovery.”

“Will you ever be able to go back to cleaning?”

“Na.”

They finished their coffees and Doyle walked Daphne back towards her apartment. They were both lost in their own thoughts when the van mounted the curb. This time the two thugs were well prepared and Daphne was inside the back of the van in seconds. Doyle didn’t need any more persuasion than the gun that was pointed at his face. He quietly stepped into the van.

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Daphne was manhandled into an old warehouse with polished concrete floors and sleek minimalistic interior design. It may have once been a place of hard work but now it was just a big office. There was very little furniture but the high walls were covered with hundreds of framed signed photographs of Hollywood Stars. From all eras, from all genres, hundreds of ten by eight photographs. Daphne couldn’t help but wonder how much work it would be to keep all those pictures clean. Jake and Daphne were thrown roughly onto the concrete. In front of them stood a man, a mere five feet in height but he had enormous presence.

“Now that is no way to treat our guests.” He said to one of the Thugs. “Can I get you a beverage or something to eat my dear?” He asked Daphne.

Daphne stood up. “I don’t suppose you’d know anything about my apartment being ransacked today, would you?” She desperately wanted to kick him in the balls but she was pretty sure that she would come out the worse if she did.

“I see, straight to business then.” He paused. “Last year a team of Indian Geneticists managed to identify human DNA in common household dust.

My team achieved this over five years ago. We have since moved on. You see, household dust is made up in a large part from fragments of human skin. We can now not only isolate the human DNA genetic code from dust, but we are on the brink of using this code in the cloning process.”

Daphne wasn’t sure if she believed or even understood any of what was said but now she did understand her involvement and the importance these people put on her vials of Stardust.

“I see recognition on your face my dear. You now understand how your samples of dust might be of interest to me.” He said. “Your vials hold the DNA of perhaps hundreds of famous individuals. Alone the vial from Marilyn Monroe’s home has captured my imagination. It was taken at the very time she was having an affair with John F Kennedy, was it not?” He didn’t wait for her answer. “Who knows how many DNA samples are contained in that single vial your Grandmother collected all those years ago. Imagine what we might create. Imagine the possibilities.”

“How do you know about my Grandmother? How do you even know about my Stardust?” She asked. “That my dear, is for me to know.” He said this quietly, almost dismissively. His mind was clearly somewhere else. But it was the look that he flashed at Doyle that made her blood run cold. They knew each other.

“Charlie Chaplin, Marlin Brando, Katherine Hepburn… imagine them reborn, if you will. The greatest filmmakers of all time growing up together, already knowing their inherent strengths. With the right channelling who knows what greatness they might create.” His mouth was slightly ajar. Daphne could see the drool trying to escape from his bottom lip.

“So it’s about money?” She asked.

“You stupid woman. I have already created the most significant breakthroughs in DNA identification the World has ever seen. I already have a blank chequebook. It is about the possibilities. No, no, it’s not even that. It’s about playing God. Instead of merely collecting autographs from Stars, I can be their mentor, their father if you like. I can own them. How could a common cleaner possibly understand? You’ve spent your whole life cleaning up after people.” He almost spat the words in her face.

“Cleaning up after people you get a pretty good eye for spotting rubbish.” She said.

Doyle stepped forward, but the thug’s anticipated this. “You promised.” He said pathetically.

“You know this creep?” She had already connected the short man and Doyle in her head but had not wanted to believe it.

“I told him about your stardust. I thought you might get enough money for it to… to get better.”

“Touching. Now Ms Droga, I will ask you one and only time. Where are my vials of dust?”

“The only dirt you’re going to get is the stuff under my fingernails.”

She saw the fury rise within him and then subside just as quickly. “Come, come Ms Droga… Daphne. A few valueless vials of dust in exchange for your worthless life, for your friend’s life. That is a bargain you won’t find on eBay.” She had to smile at this, she had tried to sell two of the vials of dust on eBay but had not even nearly reached her reserve. Each vial had the original signature of the Star to whom the dust belonged. A Marilyn Monroe signature should have been worth a few thousand dollars at the very least.

With a nod of his head one of his thugs walked over to Daphne and put a gun to her head. Daphne felt so tired. Everything had been taken from her. First her youth as she toiled cleaning other peoples homes, with her youth went her beauty and her health; now the only worthless possessions she had in the world. To her they were more than simply vials of dust, they were a precious personal gift given to her by her mother and Grandmother. They were a reminder of when life was much better. When she had had the respect of some of the most famous individuals in the world, when she was successful, when she was the cleaner to the stars. In truth, she welcomed death. She longed not to be sick any more. She just wanted to join her Grandmother and her Mother in the afterlife and leave this sick fucker to his evil science.

“Go and fuck yourself little man.” She said spitting in the Thug’s face. She surprised herself because swearing was not something she usually lowered herself to.

At first the Thug didn’t know how to react, but then his bully nature took over and he raised his gun with the purpose of striking her across the face. But the smaller man stopped him. “It’s dust from the floor and you are willing to die for this?” The veins on his forehead started to pop out.

“I will pay you four thousand dollars for each vial.” He said angrily. “And I am a man of my word.”

“You do know that there’s over five hundred vials?”

She was dreadful at Math, but she did the sums anyway. Two hundred grand, two hundred grand, I’d be rich. Or is it only twenty grand? Na I think it’s more than that. I’d be set. All my debts would be gone. I could finish my treatment and get my life back on track.

 

Like all good deals, she knew that there’d have to be a catch. And at the moment the biggest catch seemed to be that they were pointing a gun at her head.

“Five grand each. Some of the signatures alone are worth more than that.” She said trying to hide her enthusiasm. She fully expected a bullet in the head when she told them where to find the vials anyway, but it was a glimmer of colour in her dark grey life.

The small man was even worse than Daphne at concealing his feelings. He almost bounced across the room to shake her hand.

“Five thousand dollars per vial. We have a deal.” He shrieked.

leaf.

Doyle and Daphne walked towards her apartment still waiting for the sound of a gunshot to ring out but they walked into the foyer unharmed. The suitcase would probably explode she thought.

“Far out man, far out. Did that just happen. Were we just kidnapped and beaten up and stuff?” Doyle said.

“We were hardly beaten up.” She scorned. Her head was spinning. Why hadn’t he just knocked on her door and offered her the money, she would have surely taken it. Why the whole kidnapping thing? But she knew the answer. If she had had some emotional connection to the stardust he would have killed them both to get it.

“Man, I’m so sorry. I was just doing some concrete rendering work on his building and he started bragging about DNA and dust and I told him about your stardust. Then he started getting creepy on me. I didn’t know he was going to abduct us or anything.” He knew that he had burnt his bridges with Daphne for the last time. “Man, you’re rich. What are you going to do with all that money?” He said.

“By the time I pay off my bills and finish my treatment there’ll be a big dent in all that.” She was curt with him as she unlocked the door to her apartment.

“Yeah I guess two and a half million dollars doesn’t go far anymore.”

“How much?” She asked as she reached for the urn on her mantle piece. It contained 500 small vials of dust.

leaf.

As the old lady made her exit from the cabaret theatre she spoke softly to herself. “My babies, my beautiful babies.” And then she cried. Daphne was in her mid thirties when she sold the stardust, she was now seventy.

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Any feedback would be appreciated.

A belated Halloween story


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Cloe had a skip in her step; she couldn’t wait to see her second grade teacher again. It was the first day back at school after the holidays and the warm sun lit up a perfect spring day. Cloe’s little three-year-old sister Wendy happily held hands with her father as they walked to school.

“I had a dream last night Daddy.” Wendy said, her blonde hair and pink skirt glistening in the sunlight.

Very attentively her father bent down, without slowing his pace.

“A dream? Was it about pink bunny rabbits?” He asked.

Wendy’s dreams always seemed to be about pink bunny rabbits.

“No.” Wendy said happily. “No pink bunny rabbits.”

At that moment one of Cloe’s classmates and her mother appeared out of a side street. The mother’s smile as stiff as the rest of her botoxed face.

“Hello.” Cloe said giving the other girl a hug. “Was Hawaii fun?”

“Awesome. We all got to surf at Waikiki.” Cloe’s friend said.

“I’ve always wanted to go there.” Cloe said throwing her dad a nasty glance.

“I dreamed about small, little people.” Wendy said.

“Did you go away?” The other girl’s mother asked Cloe’s father.

“No, just hung out at the local beach. Hawaii sounds like fun.” He said trying to move the subject of the conversation away from his unspectacular holiday.

“The little people came into my bedroom and played with me.” Wendy continued.

“Oh, Hawaii was so fun. I’m not sure who had more fun the kids or us. Expensive though.” The other girl’s mother said.

“Tell him about the Hula skirts Mum.” Said the other girl.

“The little people told me a secret.” Wendy said.

“We bought all the girl’s in the class a grass Hula skirt.” The mother said.

“They told me that you were going to smash up the car and that I was going to be dead.” Wendy added.

“Hula skirts for everyone? I hope you brought one back for me.” He joked

“No.” The mother said a little uncomfortably.

Cloe and her friend ran on ahead laughing and playing. While Wendy, her dad and the other girl’s mother walked silently the rest of the way to school.

 leaf

Wendy was wearing a new yellow swimsuit as her father walked her towards the car.

“No, I don’t want to go in the car.” Wendy stopped.

“C’mon beautiful. We’ve got swimming lessons today.” Her dad said gently pulling on her arm

Wendy stomped her right foot on the ground. “I’m not going. I’m not going in the car. I don’t want to.”

“C’mon, you love swimming, let’s go.” Wendy’s dad said picking her up and carrying her towards the car.

Wendy started to cry and she frantically wriggled to escape his hold

“We can have popcorn after the swim.” Her dad said.

Tears streamed from her face as Wendy wailed and screamed. She tried desperately to hold onto the doorframe as her father put her firmly into her child safety seat and fastened the seat belt.

“Let me go, I don’t wanna go in the car.” She screamed.

“Wendy, you’re just being silly now. Stop that crying, stop it now or we won’t have popcorn. It’ll all be over soon enough. Stop the silly behaviour.”

Wendy’s father started the car and drove off with Wendy still screaming and thrashing in the back seat.

“Stop the car, stop the car, I want to get out.” She wailed as she struggled to free herself from her seat belt

“Don’t be ridiculous. Stop it, stop it now.” He yelled looking back at her.

Desperately Wendy pulled and struggled.

“Stop it. Stop it, you’ll hurt yourself.” He said glancing back at the road.

“But, the little people said I was going to be deaded.” She choked out breathlessly.

“What?” Her father asked spinning around in his seat.

Wendy’s father did not see the car recklessly speeding out from a give way sign.

leaf

The last thing Wendy’s father saw as he was wheeled into the back of an ambulance was a little person standing beside the unrecognizable remains of his car.

“Wendy, Wendy my beautiful Wendy.” The last words he uttered before he lost consciousness.