Dave MacFather

( Short Stories )



A selection of short stories developing in surreal time and places with unexpected finals, waving between tragedy, delusion and surprise ... ... all to end up in the Green Garden where the walking-narrator sits on a bench and sees ... a face ...”

Have a good night sleep ...
Copyright by the Author




After a car accident two young men are abducted into a subterranean mansion ...

The road. Several crossings, bridges, level crossings, traffic signals. He begins to accelerate the car what worries me once he still has little practice. I ask him to drive slower. He doesn't obey, excites, accelerates each time more and more as we entered a dead end in which there is a small fountain encircled by a roundabout. Turning to avoid the sidewalk the car capsizes. The roll over ... Many people around us. Among them, some offer us to stay in their home for the night. We are led to a house with some unusual underground staircases, high as a castle. In one of the rooms a dinner is being served. After dinner, while my friend went for a walk within the house, accompanied by the hosts and other guests, I was attracted by a strange light coming from inside a small room down a hallway where there were some shelves with bulky bound volumes, completely covered with dust and cobwebs, stacked behind a wire mesh eaten by rust. The large books were written in a dead language, judging by their titles, many of them about Science and other about exotic literature. 7

Inside the small room was a rocking chair covered with a blanket made of rags where I ended up sat down, getting a look around the darkened room where a bed could not be discerned or other piece of furniture, in order to enlight me about its use. However, there was a certain clarity that shone through the darkness and the shadows of the compartment. From where would the light that attracted me was coming from? Swayed me to taste this and other questions when my eyes, drawn to a longer swing of the rocking chair, fixed on the ceiling of the small quarters where a kind of white veil hung like a giant web emitting a very strange white light that was becoming stronger as it focused in my gaze. I raised my hands to my eyes and saw them both to become stunted, emphasizing the veins' blue in strong relief, taking a cadaverous look. Front of me, a mirror, began to reflect my own aged image with long white hair. What was this strange light suddenly coming down? To whom belonged or had belonged, the chair where I sat? What house was that and how did we get there? What was done of my mate? We sure fell, of course, in some scam ... I left that den rushing outside to the corridor, been stumbling around the house, bumping to closed doors, and for sure I fainted, having spent a long time until I could find the dinner time folks ... birds, They were in a kitchen where there were some plucked geese and ducks perhaps, on a table. They were discussing about keys ... 8

As I approached, my friend said out loud that there was only one place where the keys could be hidden. What kind of keys could those be? I remembered the car's keys, the keys of the doors I found closed. And, as if this gave answer and solution to all my questions, I moved through the crowd inside the kitchen, towards the kitchen's sink, grabbing the exposed birds in which entrails I stuck my hands for several times from within which I ended up sorting out several large and heavy bunches of keys whose utility I could never guess which it was. Folks were all very happy and grateful, both to me and my friend. After much they had thanking us we left the kitchen and enter our room. The next day we were brought back to the top of the stairs we came down the day before, in order to exit the building. The building's door would open only at some certain hours of the morning and, when open, we should exit immediately, as soon after our departure, the building would collapse, burying those left behind. We left the building. It was raining. We took shelter under a porch, looking at the small empty square and our car that was laying broken and completely shattered with small pieces of broken glass scattered on the ground. It was like raindrops that had forever solidified.


A young man finds a petrol-tank cap on the ground ...

It all started when we pick up from the ground that petrol-tank cap, still armed with it's key, near a beautiful convertible car, it was said, belonging to a blond young English man who, in that day, was accompanied by a friend of ours. We were a group of some boys and girls. At the Coffeeshop we could not meet our other friend nor the alleged blond young man. I offered myself to go to the beach in his search and it did not take long to find him. It was by the beach but I was wearing shoes and did not want to fill them with sand, so I called for the English fellow: “Helllllo! Would you mind, please?” I noticed him looking angry when I waved him, then suddenly he turned his back on me. I walked across the sand path towards him and I better did not do so and give up from the issue. Nevertheless I tried again: “Someone told me that ...” As I spoke I had to move around the fellow because he was refusing to look at me. Meanwhile our friend came out from a beach hut. As we didn't reach any understanding, not even in the presence of the later, I decided that I only would just deliver the key and cap at the Police Station. 11

I got back to the Coffeeshop but there was nobody there, so I returned to the beach once again that suddenly turned into a forest ... * I ran across a beautiful meadow penetrated by the sun rays. I saw a Mercedes Benz that was stopped along the way with half-a-dozen of ugly fellas looking like the devil inside. I moderated my pace and tried to hide myself among the bushes not to be noticed, but the devils spotted me and I started running before they could leave the car. They came in my pursuit through the forest and almost caught me when at the end of the trend I enter a house. In the house's garage was parked a little Matra which was my salvation. Arriving to the border and presented my fake passport and ... bye, bye ...


After a gambling session two men walk in the night ...

It would be after 11 pm, maybe not to long to midnight, when my senses began to overshadow in the dim red light of the curd bar in the outskirts of Fathom city. I uplift myself firmly on the chair's arms where I was sat down, just completing the formalities which are due to a gambler who is about to leave his place at a game table. To the door I still would have to avoid many of those to whom, I still would have to listen about their last disgrace, lend some change or give away my last cigarette. The most likely I would still have to drink a last glass, a current expression in those days, not because that the last was effectively the last, as it never was, but as the glass was all the time overflowing and strangely transparent ... * First breeze is always the best one! It's like a breath of life in a heart pounding under the effect of booze. The senses, especially vision, invigorate with a breath of fresh air. Dispelling the bad feelings, anxiety and even sometimes the remorse that one is involved by certain drinks, it get us, after a moment, to be brave enough to reach home and collect ourselves under the soft comfort of the silk sheets of our beds. 13

If euphoric, we go out with a song in our lips, thinking of great projects, travelling in our imagination at high speeds around the world, sailing beautiful yachts with nice billowing sails, so fortunate we are in those times. None of this was happening to Anton. In ecstasy, glued to the wall of the street that led to Fathom city, he was receiving the breeze on his face as a defiance of his own soul, as if his soul was enjoying the passage of the breeze, to escape his drunken and clumsy body. Trembling, wrapped in his large white raincoat, Anton felt fainting when clicked steps sounded towards him. He startled, but soon recognizes Fletcher approaching him – Fletcher, the great Fletcher, his friend's of parties and serenades, beating a steady pace, gown drawn over his chest down to his feet. “Long live the great Anton!” greeted his friend, vibrating his strong paw on Anton's shoulder. Staggering under the weight of such firm hand, Anton bent down supporting himself on his friend's shoulders, whispering: “So, which are the news?” “Well, always the same story...”, answered Fletcher. “The Southgate is still blocked”, he informs, pushing Anton against the wall to serve him as support once more. And with a sweeping gesture accompanied by his black gown, he continued: “Soon we just will be able to move inside our homes. It will not take long until the streets are filled with men armed to their teeth and lock into big street fights. Just recently, on the path to Fathom, there was no passage without safe-conduct, pass or knowledge of non monitored paths. 14

“Bah! Let them kill each others! Wish they go to the devil!”, Anton sighed, always attached to the rough wall. Anton continued cursing as he thrown his arm on the back of his friend, upon whom he again rested, while with the other arm, he pointed the way to Fathom: “Come on, let's go!” * They were walking on a tar road, flanked by high electric lamps that little illuminated the way because it was involved by dense fog, leaving the sight to cover no longer distance than that delimited by the contours of low and whitish walls along the tar road. It was as if they followed over a vast aqueduct beyond which was borning a deep precipice. This was the way to Fathom – the city of Fathom, which was showing its first fade and deem lights and drawing the first cuts of its still uncertain hamlet – Fathom, where buildings touched the sky above its grounded water ponds. And between Heaven and Earth, men vying for their miseries and their secrets, each one trying to accomplish as soon as possible their great expectation, their major dream: to take to Heaven whatever they could gather on Earth .. . But a huge buzz was coming from the crossroad when Anton and Fletcher reached there. Hidden behind the door's jams and bushes in the ditches, a group of yobs was planted defending the access to the place, throwing sticks and stones into the dark's foggy night. The two gamblers would have to find another way or a refuge in some attic or basement in the neighbourhood where they could spend the night far from violence and fighting. 15

Immediately they took the way towards a small bridge. While crossing it, an almost imperceptible shadow moved under its arches, watching their movements. A bloke appears and shots fires. The night split, dyes with fire and a flash flares not far from the eyes of Anton. He stumbles falls down on the pavement. He drags himself across the tar hit in one leg. Try to drag on, try to get away from that place, but a new flash hurts his eyes and splits his chest in a gush of blood. With Anton colours are only vague memory and the sound quick of running and panic footsteps – Fletcher running away, vanishing in the night.


A teacher tries to write his memoirs at a house in a island ...

The small boat splash in a stirred ripple on the other side of the lake. The boatman drop the passenger at the makeshift pier and drove away seeing him becoming increasingly distant and darkened with his briefcase in one hand. Behind, in the blackened blue early evening, was the huge mansion. A very old one-story construction, formless block, left abandoned in the small island. The open window of a windy hall was beating. The boatman disappeared wrapped in darkness and water, and to the passenger kept coming to his memory the scenes of a comedy where, in the outskirts of Hell, a boat almost sank bursting with demons ... The passenger turned his back to the lake and took a path through the canes whistling tunes of rippling terrible melodies. As he get to the house across a path shining like old darkened melted silver, he stopped agitated and confused, taking shelter under the porch that preceded the entry. He pushed the heavy door that hardly ceded to the strength of his arm. Inside it was pitch dark. He snap the wheel of his lighter which flame shown the way to a small oil lamp, the sole ornamentation on a rough and dirt table. He put the suitcase on the table, turned the light strand, covered it with its glass bulb that laid by the lamp. 17

He opened the briefcase from which he began sorting out sheets of white printer paper. He sat down, lit a cigarette and started smoking and writing. Outside the wind swirled around crazy and furious, scanning the surface of the lake, loosely billowing it, to crash down without haste, in the woods and pine forests that extended across the dunes to the sea. The most suitable weather for night monsters, witches and ghosts, the man thought as he aproached the nib to the paper to start a new paragraph. He decided to write some words about his life as a Teacher and Researcher, about his daily professional life in the core of Natural Sciences. He was still a young man to deliberately expose himself to the grappling and boring scientific and philosophical speculation, but it gave him a boundless pleasure to do so. Now that he delivered the knowledge to his students, his experiments around the world and study travellings, to collect the necessary data for his thesis, he also intended to move away from the strenuous everyday upbeating of learning and teaching, teaching and learning ... which began to agonize him, and decided to investigate what was of the Nature still existing within Civilization. For this reason there was he at the fifth of his grandparents, abandoned and lost in the confines of those lands amid the swampy lake ... The boatman, old servant in the family, neither wanted to carry the man in his boat, advising him to do so the next day by morning, it would be safer, the boat could capsize, it was dangerous as it was late in evening ... But the teacher urgently needed to isolate himself, to think, write and describe urgently his latest findings on animal evolution ... As so, he was staring at the almost virgin paper white sheets ... 18

A gust of wind turned the crest of a wave and threw it against the window of a little wicket opened through a back wall fifty centimetres thick. With the sound of water dripping through the glass, diverting his attention, it seemed also coming a roar. Something far, distant, on the other side of the lake, ( or in another world ), he chaffed in his thoughts as he always did with everything that showed, apparently outside the contours and limits of his imagination. As the sound fade, the teacher drew a round high case figure and envied himself by the cold style he used to write. However, he didn't have time to finish the first word, something like Muado or Meow, when, again, closer, the ROAR was heard again. Very close by the way, for whatever was walking or flying on the other side of the lake, certainly translated itself to the hard dirt grounds around the house. Whatever was flying or brought out by the wave, was now walking around the house and crept around the building gasping and snoring almost as surpassing the cyclonic noise of the wind. Whatever it was, hit with its paws or wings, on the small porthole window, and began to peer into the house's dimly lit interior through the wicket's iron bars. The man immediately stood up numb by fear and saw a huge, misshapen nose trying to grab the iron bars. It was a facies of a primitive mammal, woolly, with the sharpen teeth of an early bird! He looked at the door that remained closed, and when he looked again the horror at the window was no longer there. He ran to the door to make sure of its safety and tried to lock it up when his strength felt faint and his body was pushed back with the violent turn of the door. He was strongly pushed 19

back to the middle of the room and fainted. His glasses were shattered by the impact against the concrete ground floor. * The Bush awoke with the morning mist. The Bush is a place situated at the confluence of two water bodies such as within a peninsula. To get there, locals take a suburban road that after treading front of a few isolated hamlets and at the back of a steel mill, dip through the pine forests to fork at the entrance of the village, where stands the tower of a small church. One branch of the road, the oldest, was built among the houses lining the roadside, almost all of them with front courtyards, very well cared, in front of their doors, that when half-open, let devise their small threshing of corn spread for drying, sun-beaten during the afternoons when the owners and their guests gather around the pyramid of spikes that constitute the production of each small homestead. Boys walk along the paths on Sunday afternoons, throwing stones at the birds that perch on the electrical wires above the rooftops, and cats curl up quietly by the door sills or in the gardens during the warmly afternoon sun, keeping themselves warm until the end of the day. The other road, of more recent construction, is marginal to the lake and runs aside the water and reeds that grow around small ponds open on the bank, on which surface floats all the time a green carpet of lentils. On the other side of road, a low wall separates the pavement from the meagre lands of corn. The road is halted where a bridge, only hinted, climbs up a creek that serves to the irrigation of lands. ** 20

When the fog vanished the boatman drove once again to the channel. Cross it over at the strength of wrist and pole that he went buring in the mud's quicksand of the lake's bottom. The boatman was not intending to awake his passenger immediately, but when he arrived and saw the house with its door wide open, he got surprised once he was not anticipating to have to transport his passenger so soon. He left the boat, got the most he could close to the house, and peered. His passenger was laid on his back, his arms outstretched and his head drooping on his shoulder, as Christ to whom the cross had not been raised up. Like Prometheus unchained, the man in the house, had his clothing loose on his belly, exposing the hollow of his bowel fiercely devoured. The boatman drew back in horror to the door in time to see running in the distance, on the other side of the lake, the group of hunters who, that morning, had organized, determined to discover the source of the screams they heard during the night. Ahead in the distance, a huge primitive bird, never seen before, lifted in heavy flight and flown away, slowly, towards the North Pole, never to return again.



A sleepwalker attends the door ...

In the morning the doorbell is tinkling strongly at the same time someone knocks. Coming down the stairs slowly, Daniel keeps tighting the belt of his bathrobe, dragging his slippers across the steps. Opening the door he is violently pushed, a vult assaulting him, grabing him by the neck, causing him to fall backwards, hitting with his head in the last rungs of the stairs and fading. When he recovers his counsience, he still feels that some evil thing is still pressing his carotid, two basalt thumbs crushing his neck bone. From the front door left wide open are coming some regular street noises: the footsteps of someone passing by rushing towards the train station, the sound of trucks trembling under the weight of the goods they're carrying, some light ecos announcing the morning sun in the distance ... How long was he lying there on the ground, the bathrobe in disarray? His neck, is hurting, his throat feels tight, his nose insensitive. Dazed he gets up and shuts the door. He recalls that huge vult pushing him inside the house and trying to strangle him. He climbes the stairs, goes back into the room and throw himself, exhausted, on the bed. 23

Face down, his head in his hands, he feels that only now he fully regains his consciousness. Wanders a look around the room, to the floor firstly, then furtherdown as he looks to the shelf of his books and, finally, the wall, smooth and yellowish. He stops waving his look, looking at the center of the wall. There is a huge hole in the wall! Black and deep! As if there had busted a bomb! Or is it just what's left of that vult that he encountered when opening the door and was attacked?! Daniel has no logical explanation for his strange feeling, this is right, but if that hole in the wall would be a hole in the ground he would rather better thrown himself down through it. . He further imagines that if the vult that attacked him was the silhouette of a woman, it would have been better for him to end up dying in the sweet embrace of her arms.



A mysterious man arrives to a beach in a red car ...

At the turn of the road, the beach: a stretch of sand between the lagoon and the tar. The blue lagoon, the black tar, the dull sand shaded by large upright pine trees. Afternoon's heat. To the curve, and beyond, the cars form a huge snake whose vertebra's enamels had different colours. RED follows slowly, looking at the blue sky and the lagoon where it's forming small circular waves whose centres disappear above the feet of divers jumping from the plank. Other divers follow one after another, jumping and rising up their bodies opening their arms like angels. They close their arms, during the way down to the bubbling warm water of the lake. Far, in the distance, the sloping ceiling of a restaurant. The margins are funnelled to the horizon, disappearing at the edge of the liquid water and sky. RED slams a door that shuts against a hollow. He measures his steps across the road aiming the terrace that is before the beach. 25

In a small Bar installed there, he leans against a white ark of ice cream and rests by supporting his elbow to the top of the fridge and his head to his open cupped hand. Holding a red-currant-ice-cream in his hand, licking his lips, he approaches the edge of the terrace. He looks around and sees the terrace full with bathers scattered across the sand, in the sunny clearings. In the water, a bustle of heads, arms and various buoyant bodies. RED makes up his mind. He goes to the spa where he leaves his clothes in exchange for a numbered metal chip. He looks at himself from his bronze nipples to the white nails of his feet. He likes his beautiful dark crimson bath suit. Going down the stairs to the terrace, he stops at the water's edge. A faint ripple caused by the swimmers' gesticulation and fast boats that are gliding beyond the water fence that demarcates the area allowed to bathe, come melt into gentle bubbling against his feet. The water is warm as never! Two steps forward, RED feels the water to the knees. All around the surface of water, a red halo begins to form. Red looks once again, the other side of the lake ...

With the water by his waist, half of his body is almost dissolved, and from his hands, which are now also touched by the water, are just left the rough shape of his fingers. Around, small circles spread blood on.


RED reaches the prohibited RED ZONE. His head above the water, looks at the plate that floats by the fence: HAZARDOUS AREA! – the subtitle inscribed in Comic Sans MS. Red knows that beyond the fence, what remains of his body may be harvested by a huge fish or cut in two by the sharp keel of a boat. He looks back one last time, sees the bloody furrow opened in the water as he swam to the danger zone, where his body drop dissolved. The red colour spreads, reaches all points of the Interdiction-Permission border. The pond turned a lot of venous swimmers, waving, crawling, diving ... Red knows he can't go back, never to recover his body, that stays completely dissolved, beginning to dye other bodies. He crosses the line. What's left of his head are just his long red hair that are dispersed among the seaweed at the bottom of the pond. *** Such unprecedented event was immediately attended by the Council and other appropriate local authorities, who, after verifying that there was no process by which they could extract 27

from the bathing area the sinister red substance that persisted staying there permanently, they opted for the following measure: all tourists wishing to spend the Summer at that beach would have to ware red glasses, provided free by appropriated services installed at the entrance of the beach. For total similarity could fit between reality and appearance. Even today, those who pass by this beach, will notice at the entrance, strange human footprints, printed on the terrace's concrete and, further, on the stairs that give access to the beach – the same strange footprints for which no logical explanation is given, nor may possibly exist.


A flamboyant takes a walk on the wild side ...

It rained. The air turned clear shortening distances. Light is now adhering more closely to the contour of the objects that are illuminated. The Neon of Progress announces more neatly, the best way of dressing, the best juice. On the streets, the car's tyres whispering against the tar and brightwater-silica spread by rain, becomes an almost pleasant background hissing to passers-by while walking. I'm walking down on the sideways to the Central Plaza's Square, close by the surrounds of the uneven houses. I look at those, from top to bottom, from their ornamental cornices to their door's sills worn by Feet and Time, then bringing my eyes to the median perspective, less stressful, not to get dizziness and go crashing myself on the side-walk, in order to allow people showing up willing to offer me a lime tea ... I walk down the street at the time when, after dinner, citizens sit down facing large colour TV sets. From he pubs around starts to exit to the street the sound of the song 'Reflex': “The Reflex, the Reflex, ...” ... Conditioned by this almost unic path between being indoors or outdoors, in this early Autumn evening, a hard sound of dripping water, falls into my life. Here and there, parked cars are making the rides. There is something that 29

soothes and softens the night in the car's red smooth brief stops. From them are pulling over chilly ladies, giving their hands to well smart men, suit and tie, to the pubs and restaurants of the small urban area. Some, walking alone, newspaper under their arms, are maybe thinking an original way to internationalizing their own personal conflicts …

* Powerful car headlights are approaching the wet and treacherous curve. Talk-talk is suspended, men turning their heads, it's starting up in the dead of night the beginning of a drama. But the car is a red Mini Cooper, wide tyres across the road, one hears a controlled screeching skid. It curves, speeds up over the small ramp, parks suddenly along the entire length of the large showcase of Central Café. The driver lowers the window, keeps his eyes sinking in the Café's dim inside, in an attempt of recognizing a gesture or a familiar colour. All that he can spot is soft currency (crowd) sitting, gesticulating, through their gestures sparks of glazed china ... The driver starts throwing a disproportionate amount of shoe kicks to the car's accelerator, making the machine vibrate in a scary and smoking snoring. Giving up his research because he feels ignored, with first speed gear up, he abruptly releases the clutch pedal. The colossus obeys, clings with all its mighty to the few metres of tarmac that separates it from the parking lot. In the air it hovers a thin and warm emulsion of burning rubber … 30

Another path. It crosses a small bridge, follows an old High Street where one sees, succeeding, a sequence of large shop windows series, illuminated by coloured lights topped by some neons almost every time intermittent. These shop windows are captivating when one considers the effort made by the merchant, to take advantage of minimal spaces to achieve d'un seul coup to expose the immense variety of objects he is keen to sell. There are fashion shops, pharmacies, convenience shops and other small trusts. Bookshops, drugstores, perfume and cosmetic shops, offices of physicians and lawyers, dentists and jewellers. They form the walls of a street, ending at the wide open forked mouth of a small church. The Garden's path: a petrol station, leaning against the garden, mimetic, attaches to its flanks. Slowly, the cars enter the petrol station. The fluorescent lights, focusing strongly on the curvature of their bonnets gives them an unreal air of metal birds arriving from the garden. Supplying the cars, a man wearing a green coverall, to better simulate this small shameless chronicle as it intends to be. Made of lawn and polished cement, the garden, in a light ramp drops down to the river vanishing in bright reflections of foam under the arches of a treble bridge. Some shelters and benches under the trees. This bench is still dry. It's covered by a large sycamore tree that, before getting asleep, relaxed a little more its branches to better accommodate them, and opening the lobes of its leaves, weeps tears of winter rain. In the nightful sky, on a small white cloud, passing swiftly and closely, defining some shadows and contrasts, I see ... a face ... 31

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