Plugs

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Archive for the ‘Brisneyland by Night’ Category

Brisneyland by Night – Part Two

Friday, March 6th, 2009

‘Why didn’t we come here first?’

Our last stop: a house in Ascot that I didn’t remember seeing before.

He shrugged. ‘Always the last place you look. It’s glamoured.’

He was right – I had to concentrate to see it properly. It got easier, but still the building seemed, well, slippery.

The house was set far back from the road, in the middle of an overgrown garden. Trees led up the driveway, grown so tall and close they formed a canopy overhead. Flying foxes squeaked, dark patches against the lightening sky.

I got out of the cab. ‘You’re not going anywhere, right?’

‘You paid me yet?’

‘Nope.’

‘I ain’t going nowhere.’

I wanted to go to bed. I’d spent the whole night picking through deserted houses. In West End, I’d nearly been spitted on the umbrella of an especially grumpy old lady whose wings unfurled in shock when she found me in her squat. That was fun.

West End’s filled with Weyrd. Everyone thinks it’s just students, drunks, artists, writers, a few yuppies waiting for an upgrade, junkies and the Saturday markets for cheap fruit and vegies. There’s also a metric butt-load of Weyrd, who do their best to blend in. In suburbs with a pretty strange human population, they generally succeed. The smart ones use glamours to hide what they are.

But this was Ascot; so upmarket that house prices could give you a nosebleed
I pushed hard on the doorbell. If anyone answered I’d ask if they were interested in a pyramid-selling scheme. People invariably backed away then, like you had an eye in your forehead.

No one came.

Through the front windows I couldn’t see too much: dark tidy rooms, some expensive pieces of furniture, a chandelier catching strays streaks of dawn light.

Out the back, steps lead down to a sunken garden. From the vantage of the veranda I could see it was set out as a maze, about five feet high; you might lose track of your path if you were short or a young kid.

Empty house. Why the glamour? I might have given up but that was the kicker. Something was amiss. Where do you hide a whole bunch of kids? Twenty-five kids in four weeks; all from unhappy homes so it looks like they’ve run away.

How do you make them disappear without a trace? A glamour.

Brisneyland by Night – Part One

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

It was a gypsy cab in every sense of the word: battered and beaten, everything grey, the vinyl of the seat sticky, the rubber floor mats so thin as to be almost transparent … I imagined they were the only thing stopping me from seeing the road speeding beneath us.

Instead of an air freshener, a gris-gris hung from the rear-view mirror. Scratched along the inside of the doors were protective symbols even I couldn’t read, and occasionally marks made by fingernails. I didn’t want to think about that too deeply. And it smelled. Not bad, but of incense, sickly sweet and cloying.

There weren’t too many cabs like this in Brisbane, although as the population grew so too did the demand.

The single eye in the back of the driver’s head examined me while the other two on his face dealt with the night-time traffic. I wasn’t his usual client, neither Weyrd nor wandering Goth. I didn’t use gypsy cabs much or at least not until the accident. Now I was a regular victim of public transport. Environmentally friendly but sometimes my fellow bus and train commuters were creepier than the gypsy cab drivers. Bela had given me the number. He was going to get in trouble for it, but I guess he figured I might do some good before that happened.

It wasn’t my usual kind of job, but then again, once upon a time I didn’t ache inside and walk with a limp. Bela thought this might keep me amused and, with my sick pay almost gone, I needed money. Besides, he knew about my dad. I might see something no one else would, hopefully before someone joined dots and people in high places started digging where a whole lot of worms hid from the light of day.

‘What you looken for?’

‘The Winemaker.’

He got quiet then. This was one of those times when you learned about people, how they react.

Most folk, Normal or Weyrd, are law-abiding. But there’s a market for everything and the law of supply and demand. In the usual course of things kids cry, right? But enough to fill a standard wine bottle? Enough for a large dinner party?

‘Okay,’ he said slowly. ‘I got some ideas. Name’s Ziggi.’

‘Verity.’

‘I hearda you.’

‘I bet.’ I looked out the window; the lights of the Story Bridge swam in the blackness.

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