Melusine’s singing could launch more ships than Helen Of Troy, so desperate were they to get away.
The other mermaids hated her. Her inability to hit a note kept them hungry for weeks.
Despondent, she tugged the nets of a passing fisherman, who expected to become rich exhibiting her in travelling shows.
His more modern nephew arranged a recording contract, and licensed the result to the coastguard.
All 3 lived in luxury, until Melusine’s tragic assassination by the Lighthouse Keepers’ Association paramilitary wing.
In her brief career, she redefined rock music. The other mermaids, meanwhile, still only had their rock.
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
But up here, it was too cold for rain.
The snow fell in drifts until all colour was smothered. It covered the grass, it covered the trees, it covered the cliffs, and still it fell, the weight compressing lower layers to ice.
And then it stopped, a spear of sunlight cracking the clouds.
In the distance, there came a booming of mighty footsteps. The sound rolled over the ice, over the ocean, heard even on the tiny ark bobbing in the churning sea.
The Frost Giants had returned.
Stood in the ruins of ancient Rome, the sky was momentarily darkened by the passage of a million starlings.
For a second, they changed the world, then vanished from sight.
Something like that, in a place like this, can make you wonder what you’re doing with your life.
But I’ve never had time for nonsense like that.
I’m not here to build empires, or raise columns, or conquer Persia. These guys did, and their marks still fade away.
I am driftwood. I am a migrant. I am Ozymandias. And I’m here to enjoy the journey, not worry about my footprints.
Every time the circus stops in town, another kid runs away to join corporate America.
This time, it was Gavin, which means I’ve got an extra shovel’s worth of work in the stables later. Little bastard knew we’d scheduled The Spectacular Firebreathing Elephant tonight.
I wish I’d followed him. Never had the guts.
I only get glimpses into the world that might have been. On show nights, when the townsfolk take their seats, in dresses and suits. Imagine the things they’ve seen!
Doctors. Accountants. Lawyers. Psychotherapists. Regular salaries. Reliable lives. Gloriously white picket fences.
They must have so much fun.
This year, I’ve remembered. I’ve got a bowl of candy and a 50p witch’s hat.
Really, I always remember Hallowe’en. I just pretend to forget.
It was the first time I’d let her out trick-or-treating alone. She’d been looking forward to it all month.
I’d barely shut the door when I heard a screech of tyres and a meaty thump.
She never did get any candy. So here I wait, bowl full, knuckles white.
Step. Drag. Step. Drag. A clumsy knock, almost a flap at the door. A mangled voice from a broken mouth.
“Mummy! Please, Mummy. Trick or treat?”
For our first date, I took Nancy starsurfing.
Arm in arm, we walked across the surface of the sun. It glowed underfoot, turning her cheeks to warm apples. I imagined our shadows covering North America.
But something isn’t right.
I tut, remove my brainjack. I consider adjusting her hair, or her smile. But that’s not really the problem.
The problem is that I never took her starsurfing. I took her to a cheap club, where the thumping bass meant I didn’t have to make conversation.
And no matter how detailed I make these memories, I know they’ll never be real.
As Draegun and Barbaria burst through the door, Vortrax’s incantations were already complete.
“Fools!” He cackled. “I have enacted the Rite of Cantor! My power is now infinite!”
Draegun looked sidelong at Barbaria. “Do you want to tell him?”
Vortrax blinked. “What?”
“Infinite doesn’t mean unlimited. Like, there’s infinitely many numbers between 0 and 1. And Cantor was a bit of a philosopher.”
“You’re probably infinitely powerful at gerbil taming, or something.”
Vortrax slumped. Barbaria knocked him out and threw him over one shoulder. “Arts grads,” she sighed. “They should know you need to be a scientist to do magic.”
15 miles away, the tide was in, and now the river smelled of salt.
“S’funny,” Mark said, leaning over the embankment and tapping away cigarette ash. “Something so far away, but it still affects us here. And there’s nothing we can do about it. It just is.”
I looked toward the next bridge, where someone had hung a 20-foot ‘Refugees go home’ banner.
“That’s not why Rachael left.”
He threw away the cigarette, harder than he had to. “She left because of the war. She wanted to help people.”
“No,” I said. “She left because you wouldn’t go with her.”
I was reckless, and took the boat out over London.
I tied up on the Shard, jutting from the water like a nail from a plank. A missile aimed at the god who sunk the city.
I thought about those who built it, how they must have believed themselves invincible.
As the waves lapped against the steel, I thought: how’d that work out for you?
But I hadn’t learned those lessons.
A falling beam sank my boat, and now I wait – hope – for rescue.
These skyscrapers talk. Just because you are alive, they say, does not mean you cannot die.
I found my boyfriend in the kitchen, bags packed. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t do this any more.”
“Every time I… go in the bathroom, it’s like I’m seeing you there. Laying down. With your eyes…”
I know what he means. How he found me, three years ago, after the electric shock. I try to touch him, and he shrinks away.
“I’m sorry,” he says again. “I just can’t.”
And he leaves. I try to go after him, but I’m stuck inside the house I haunt. The door shuts, and I’ve never felt so dead.