Preserve Beauty

This is for the Midweek Flash Challenge at and you can follow Miranda Kate on twitter @PurpleQueenNL.

Sigh, proof read if I’m getting into print and not before.  (Unless someone wants to become my publisher and give me enough of an advance to live on).

There it is, preserved, as if in amber, bubbles forming as the preservation process, so hurriedly invoked keep the delicate petals from continuing their passage to death.

The rose, like me is the last of its kind, and echo of a distant world, long ago blown away in the solar wind.  I have travelled so far those hunting me will assume that I am the last and even if the actuality is different, I have crossed so many horizons, that of light, particle, being, that it no longer makes any difference.  I shall not see the like of me again and so for all intents and purposes, I am the last, and there is no soul to sing a lament for me.

My fate was sealed long before I was born, in my personal timeline this would be some three hundred years ago, but I flitted so fast and so far that I cannot say where it is from your point of view.  It might be yesterday, a thousand years in the past, or perhaps in your future from where you are standing.  I have no way of knowing.  For me it was two hundred and forty years before I was born, on distant Earth left so far behind.

All those years ago Earth was finally a bucolic place.  The chaos and the destruction of the early twenty-first century was over, and the planet drew together as the realisation dawned, finally, on the populace that they were not alone.  The great and terrible purges were done, a genocide in all but name, but when it was done those that were left has a terrible stain on their soul, but they were at least tellers of truth and not lies.  Those that were left valued each other, and humanity.  Life was given the credence it deserved.   The terrible thing they had done showed humanity how valuable life was, and a universal peace was declared.  Government, corporations melted away, fading into the background and doing the minimal tasks they were required to perform, looking after the sick and elderly, cleaning up, providing for people, at last doing the tasks that government was fit to perform.

And there was no free lunch, everyone contributed, each according to their abilities, and if you could not, then you were fed and watered and housed anyway, and of those, people came to contribute something, because they were not starving and frightened, but enabled and empowered.  From the great sin they had committed, the remains of humanity made Earth a paradise at last.

So when the warlike and merciless Kandathan landed, the great furry hunters, they were a little appalled at what we had done.  We showed them our history and they were shocked, shocked that we would treat our own so, terrified of a species that seemed now to be peaceful and vulnerable, but kept weapons of mass destruction buried in the ground, “just in case.”

They hunted others, not their own.  They were merciless, but had a wonderful family life, seeing all other species as inferior and dominating wherever they went, because they could, and still can.

Didn’t work with us.

We nuked their ships out of orbit, and more came.  We nuked them too, until Earth was uninhabitable, so we stole a ship and made off with it, but not before arming it with more nukes.

They were merciless, but they dominated one by one, in battle, with guns and knives and blood and guts.  It had not occurred to anyone else in the entire galaxy to manufacture something that would wipe out their world of origin.  But we did.

The Kandathan, and their subjugated species and allies think we’re crazy.  They see us as a scourge, because if we’d do that to ourselves, then what terrible thing would we do to them.

They saw our media, saw what we could imagine, imagine doing to each other.  And we were declared a pestilence, a universal danger to ourselves and others, to be exterminated without mercy, for the safety of all.

Needless to say, we didn’t take it laying down.  We’re innovators, inventors, creatives.  We could create a lot of ways of not taking it laying down.  But there are some among us who agreed with the hunters, who said we are a scourge and deserve to die.

Just my luck I got one of those from the pairings, and he betrayed me.

So I’ve preserved the rose, and nothing more.


Would you live forever?

It’s hard not to dwell, at this unwanted dark hour of wakefulness, on Death’s eternal secret, which makes it no easier to recapture sleep.

The burden of consciousness weighs heavily, and I stare at the viscera of my own thoughts as shapes gambol in the playground of darkness.  He’s always there in among them, a playful cowl in the sparks and flashes, notable by the absence of light within and the little death of the lights that move into his influence.  I know not the fate of these sparks, is there a judgement for light?  Can it be said to have existed well for that brief moment of it’s existence?  He will not tell, and I shall the grace not to ask, but my inner thoughts betray me, and he knows where my curiosity lies.

I turn, and the playground shifts, new children of the night join the fray as the others rush away, dancing away as if leaving a stage, and only the central figure in his dark robes remains, a hawk among unsuspecting pigeons, awaiting the moment of revelation.

There is a realisation within, and I know that I am between true consciousness and deep slumber, in some limbo.  I am not quite lucid, but not without volition, a delicate balance of kinematic tension in which the smallest perturbation is critical, like balancing a pencil on its point.  I feel that I am holding my breath, lest the mere act of breathing disturb this ice-flower of being.

And it is in this delicate state that the attention of the taker of lives notices me, and arrives, full into there is of my conscious self, speaking thus…

“Be at peace, it is not your time.”

I look, gape, into the face that is before me, and it is not one face, but changes, flickering as an old cinematograph might, from one incarnation to another.  There is the skull, appalling and friendly in turn, eternal grin etched into his very being.  A young woman, dark colour staining her lips and eyes, raven black hair cascading down her shoulders.  A young man, clean cut, faint smile, sandy blonde short hair and handsome with a twinkle in his eye.  Another man, older with wrinkles, but Hollywood handsome, dark hair, pin-stripe suit and white kerchief poking from his pocket.

The cycle begins again, after the last, the dread horror of the little girl.  She has the face of an angel, big blue eyes and pale skin, alabaster, no, dead white, unlike the others who, apart from the skull have been everyone.  She is dressed like a child from the Victorian age, and you would fall in love with her, but there is no life in her eyes, none about her at all.

I feel a fear in me that I cannot displace or reason away, I realise that she has maintained her presence for the merest hint of an instance longer than the rest and a sliver of ice pierces my soul.

“No.” The creature says.  “It is of my nature that I would find your most heartfelt fear.  I have not come for any this night.”  The words assemble from echoes of my fears and inner demons, frightening my childhood self, and that portion of me hides behind the settee in terror.  The rest of me, not the majority of me, is grown up, I face my fear, and speak.

“Er, how can I help you?”  It sounds more timid than I had intended, but I am struck by my situation into query rather than action, though I am surprised by any agency at all.

“I have a simple question.”  The flickering continues throughout, and each word is sounded by a different voice.  It ends on the little girl, who remains and sticks a lollipop into her mouth where it turns into bugglegum whence she blows a bubble at me impudently, and then the flickering begins again.

“Ask your question please, I implore you, I have no idea how long I may remain here.”

The flickering pauses again, this time on the young man.  He notices a scuff on his shiny shoe, and bends down to polishes it out briefly with his handkerchief, and straightens up again.

“If you could,” The creature changes, it is the young woman, and she is blowing another bubble from the same gum the little girl started.  It pops.  “If you could, I’m not saying you could,” It changes again, to the older, creepily smiling man.  “Would you live forever?”

The question hangs there, like an ache, and it become overloaded with others in my mind, crowding in like a flood, but one stands out and it springs forth from my lips, unbidden.

“Will everyone live forever?” I ask, simply.

The creature stops flickering, as if a wall has been thrown up before it in some dimension I cannot see, and the pinprick lights in the eye-sockets, I know where I have seen them, and I realise what the nature of these incarnations must be.

“Nt everyone could live forever.” Each word now was as if struck by a hammer on granite.  “Eventually all things would become people, and there would be nothing else left.  People reproduce.  Taking that away, is not a thing I can do.  So it would be only you.”

“Then thanks but no.”  I say, instantly and without regret.

“I wasn’t offering.”


“I was just curious.”

“Fair enough.”


“Why what?”

“Why wouldn’t you live forever?”

“Because I’d be lonely.”

“Yes.  You would.”  The creature seemed to consider a moment.  “I live forever.”  It said.

“Oh.”  I thought about this.  “I’m sorry.”

“That’s quite alright.”  It held its hand, one of many, out towards me.  “Thank you for your company.”  And we shook.  It was a warm and very human handshake, I don’t know what I was expecting.

I was nudged by the other half, and it brought me out of the reverie, but before I fully awoke, Death took me a moment longer…

“Oh yes. I nearly forgot.” He said, looking somehow and for some reason, like a jolly fat man.


Inspired by @Wombat37 who gave the first sentence. With a nod to Neil Gaiman, the movie “Meet joe Black” and of course our beloved and much missed Terry Pratchett.

The little girl is my dreadful and bloody character from Vampire all those years ago, and I raise a glass in memory of both Michael Mitchells who died 25 years apart and shared a common hobby and nothing else apart from a name, and Jon Scholes, who still plays daily in my life though he is gone these two years now.  He was a true friend and my brother in all but actuality, and I still miss showing you things my friend.


This is for the Midweek Flash Challenge at and you can follow Miranda Kate on twitter @PurpleQueenNL.

If this gets proof red in the next week it will be a (Christmas) miracle.

It landed. Let me start again.

He landed, and after a moment I could see very definitely that he was a he, with a crash and a thump of his mighty white wings, cracking the pavement in front of me with the force of his arrival.  After I looked away and coughed several times, he folded his wings demurely about himself, but he still felt the need to sweep his long, platinum cover hair about himself before resting it behind his head.  He looked like an advert appealing those who couldn’t control themselves in the face of too much masculinity.

I’m not one of those.

I looked him up and down.

“I prayed to the almighty seventeen minutes ago.  What sort of service is this?  I’m in good standing you know.”

His voice was like molten steel, and the echoes of his voice preceded his words by several seconds.

“Patience is also a virtue.”

“Yes, it is.  I think you’ll find the matter urgent, however.”  I gestured to the child standing on the rock half a mile distant, surrounded by lava as the volcano rumbled.  I looked at my car nervously, calculating that there was about three hundred feet before the fire and subsequent molten rock cut off my escape.  The creature looked over with what I judged to be an indifferent glance.

“A lamb for whom time has come to claim for the Lord I fear.”  I felt the capital letter slide neatly into the sentence.

“Yeah,” I said, feeling my belligerence building, “when I see old clockface fetching up to bring the little kid upstairs for judgement I’ll kick his ass too.  Fetch the boy off the rock.”

“To do so would interfere with the natural course of events, the matter is out of my hands.”

“No it ain’t.”  I rummaged in my bag, putting on the special glove with forty grit sandpaper on the fingertips, before producing the paper.  Even with the glove I could barely grip it.  The paper was so smooth that it threatened any second to slip from my grasp.  I couldn’t actually feel it if I touched it with my bare fingers, it was like prodding something that wasn’t there.  I grasped the top which crinkled and crumpled, but I knew when I let go there would be no sign of my treatment of it at all.  Scribbled on it was an IOU, barely legible among the curlicues and illumination.  It said,

‘1 miracle, on demand for Leigh O’Mara, bearer of this note.  Yahweh.”

“My master would never write a one as a digit.” Said the angel, testing me.  “And you said you’d kick Time’s ass, that’s not pure.  You have to maintain your purity.”  He fiddled with his wingtip absently.

“The Lord excuses a little hyperbole in times of stress.”  I was starting to feel a little desperate, I could see that the lava was a little higher and little closer.  I couldn’t hear the boy, but my guess was that he’d gone beyond fear and was just praying.  It wouldn’t be heard, you have to be an expert, and pure, like me.

It wasn’t great for religion when we found out the Lord was real, and in fact imposed some very rigid rules about what was good and what was bad, and most of the rules we, humans, had handed down since time immemorial were a bit wrong.  He made it pretty plain very quickly that most things were a metaphor, he didn’t give a bugger about sex and sexual preference, marriage was indeed a contract to further stable family relations and being a wife was a job, not an obligation to love or provide personal service as a sex object.  He wasn’t really a he and manifested as much female as male, and she made it clear that husbanding was a job and most men had fallen down on it.

Not only that, the Lord made it very clear that his second coming was much more in the nature of judgement; he didn’t like any government, but particularly didn’t like Dictatorships, “Democratic Republics”, and Capitalism.  A few things got dismantled after he turned up looking like Charles Bronson.  Robin Williams was right.

We prayed a lot.  I am an expert.  The boy was not, and thus doomed, unless…

“You going to honour this chit?”

The beautiful angel sighed, and manifested some clothes, so as to not upset the boy.

“Oh, alright then.”

I’m out one Christmas Miracle.  Worth it.