Twist of Fate

SHE LOOKS AT ME AND begins twisting the threads, I am dumbfounded. She is going to do it. I can’t believe it. Not now, please, I still have three books half finished and three others already in outline mode that I need to write.

It isn’t fair, I want to scream at her, knowing of course, it will not make the slightest bit of difference. She cannot hear my plea, how can She? Deaf to all. Eyes only for her precious tapestry, weaving threads. Twisting, twining, feeding new strands in here, one there, seeing where they lead, looking for patterns.

All I’ve ever been able to do is watch and worry, knowing She would come to mine, but so soon?

No! I want to scream again.

She turns now, looking at me with those sad soulful eyes, not apologetic, how can She be? This is her life. She came into being when Time started. Her lot in life, to weave. She knows—knows that She will live till Time’s last foundation has fled.

While me?

I see Her hovering, deciding, scissors poised. I know She has to. The eyes say as much. There’s no other way. She picks up the loose strand that’s sticking up out of the tapestry. Such a short piece. It wouldn’t warrant Her attention—except. I seem to have caused a blockage. There’s a jumble of threat all caught in a tight knot, but worse, it appears to be spreading. Other threads are arriving, getting caught up, and me? There I am, the only one sticking up out of the weave.

She tugs.

I feel it in my heart. That terrible moment of fear. The strand is loosening. She tugs again. Another stab.

No! Please.

She has it loose now, the scissors move. I close my eyes but in my minds-eye, I hear the ‘snip’ as the blades close. I know. I feel it in my chest. That fatal moment. Will I open my eyes ever again? I hold my breath, as if this will help. I hear the click. My eyes fly open. My hand sits over my heart. It’s still beating, rapid, but strong.

She looks at me now, the sadness almost overwhelming. She offers me the tiny piece, golden, so small. I take it. Feel the hot tears. She did her best, the look says. A finger points. I stare at the tapestry. My thread is still there. Just not as long. The other threads begin to move, the living tapestry flows before my eyes. I take a deep breath and open my palm. The tiny golden snippet has vanished. I frown. Look up at Her, questioning.

A long fine finger points again. I look down, there—there it is, on my chest. I stare uncomprehending. A long thin scar. I trace a finger along it. It’s mine. I feel it. It sits above my heart. I realise then She has given me more time. Not much, but more than I had. Just one tug and She let me live. I sigh and look up, She is smiling again. The sadness in Her eyes always ever-present but the lips? Ah! They move but I don’t hear the words, my eyes heavy with sleep, my mind slipping. I drift away.

When I open my eyes again it’s to the sound of birds chirping outside a window. I look about me and register I’m in a hospital bed. Blinking, I make the connection, my hand sliding beneath the thin hospital gown. Fingers reaching, I find it. The remnant of a tiny golden thread. Mine. A scar to remind me. Life is short.

— THE END —

Expressions

“I need an expression, dammit!” Tom barked from the spotlit corner of the room where he was writing.

Teddi closed her eyes, placed a finger in the book she was reading, and shut it. Two heartbeats, she opened her eyes, “How about pi as expressed as a fraction over…” she never got to finish as Tom yelled.

“No, no, no, not a maths expression.” careful to not add the word idiot at the end of his rebuke. “I need something witty for my main character to say to his girlfriend.” His head bobbed over his keyboard as if the keys themselves would start typing.

Teddi chewed the inside of her lip. She knew it had been a mistake to let Tom have his ‘office’ there, in the lounge not four feet away from the couch—her reading couch. Ever since he had ‘moved’ in, putting his small computer desk against one wall, and setting up enough standing lights to illuminate the Eiffel Tower, she’s not had a moments peace to read uninterrupted. And woe betided her getting up to go to the kitchen, thereby disturbing his concentration. The filthy looks still unnerved her. Not sure who this man was, sitting in their lounge. She didn’t recognise him anymore.

Teddi got up and tried not to sigh as she put down her book. “How about, the early bird gets the worm,” she offered straight-faced.

“What?” Tom grunted and then, bit his tongue at the acid retort that made its way to his lips.

Teddi could almost feel the deadly look knife her in the back as she passed Tom on the way to the kitchen. She made her way to the stove, flicked on the under cabinet light and stared at a set of kitchen knives in their stand—a gift from her Mother-in-law as a wedding present. Fine German steel: Heckler & Koch, one of the best sets money could buy.

Had the woman known she would have need of something so sharp? Teddi picked up the largest blade and hefted it in her hand. It felt good. And, as calm as day, walked back into the lounge, the knife held down, and slightly behind her right leg. Concealed.

“Yes, I know, it’s not really an expression,” she said coming in behind him, “that’s more of a saying,” she laid her left hand on his shoulder and leaned in as if to kiss him on the head. Tom, startled, tried for a smile and turned his neck and head to accept the kiss as an apology. Laying the right side of his neck bare.

He never saw it coming.

Teddi grabbed a length of long brown hair, tugging Tom’s head to the left, and plunged the large, sharp blade into his neck. There was a gurgled scream as blood spurt from the wound. It surprised Teddi all the same, despite what she had just read in her book. She watched it gush as she held Tom’s head with one hand, and the knife with the other. Marvelling at how quick the man stopped jerking. His face gone almost as white as the wall.

No, that wasn’t true, the wall, the computer, and, indeed her arm, were all splattered with rich red and, surprisingly warm, blood. She stared, fascinated. Slowly, the spurt turned to a trickle, as she lowered Tom’s head down onto his precious keyboard and lay it in a pool of his own blood.

“How about, nothing special is ever achieved without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears?” She said close to his dead ear and, removing the knife, walked calmly back to the couch. She tossed the bloody knife onto the cushions, sat, picked her book up, and carried on reading as if nothing had happened.

— THE END —

Spider, Spider

IT STARTED AS THESE THINGS ALWAYS DO, with some bright spark saying, “Yeah, no problem, I can do that.” This particular bright spark was named Clark Kent, a wunderkind in biology. His specialty? Spiders. Big spiders. Kent thought he was accompanying his buddy, Dwight Eisenhower, to Bill Wiley’s presentation. Dwight, though, had other ideas, big ideas with Bill Wiley, who started in on his presentation to the NASA engineers and scientists.

“I give you the Space Elevator,” Wiley began. And, with a flick of the wrist, a slide appeared illuminating one wall. Wiley had skipped the usual pulldown screen wanting to showcase Mark Rotherham’s fabulous artwork on an entire wall. He hoped to dazzle the assemblage. They had seen it all before. Weary scientists who had heard it all before too and would need something spectacular to elicit even mere interest.

Wiley’s reedy voice betrayed his excitement as he moved through his presentation. And, as the last slide of the completed elevator hung on one wall like a slender, silvery thread stretched beyond imagination, he looked pleased with himself. The smile didn’t last long.

Silence filled the room. A silence that began to unnerve Eisenhower, as it stretched. He glanced around the room, uncertain, then looked to Wiley. The man looked a little less confident than when he’d started.

One of the assembled, a grizzled veteran from the Gemini days frowned, scratched his chin, leaned back in his chair and said.

“Son, you expect us to believe you can make this thing as strong and as flexible as a spider’s thread?” The implication wasn’t lost on the room and at least two snickered.

“No. . .  not just as strong as spider’s thread,” Wiley hesitated but a fraction before sweeping a glance around the entire room and added, “we’re going to make it from spider’s thread!”

Without waiting for a reaction to his bold statement he turned toward where Kent sat, and waved a hand at the rotund man.

“Doctor Kent, our spider specialist, has written a paper, published in Nature no less,” Wiley pointed out, “that outlines how we’ll be able to farm spiders and harvest their silk, and in such quantities as to make this,” he punctuated his speech with a fist pump into the air, “not only a possibility, but a reality!”

The moment of stunned silence lasted a nanosecond. The room erupted as first one, then another, decried Wiley’s ludicrous claims.

Kent shot to his feet in agitated surprise and felt his extremities begin to shake. He knew it, he had been a dupe from the start. He glared at Eisenhower who, to his credit, did have the good grace to look abash at Wiley’s extravagant claims. After all, they’d only discussed the possibility of how using actual spider’s thread might work in a test controlled situation, on a miniature scale, though nothing like on the gigantic scale Wiley had just proposed.

Rooted to the spot nearest the only exit from the room, Kent didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. With sidelong looks and asides of disgust, the NASA engineers and scientist brushed past him and herded out the door.

Wiley, unperturbed, fended off Eisenhower as the large engineer rounded in on him.

Only Kent saw the lone guy in the crumpled suit waiting at the other end, staring at him with a look that began to make his skin crawl. Kent edged toward the door taking a step backwards hoping to make his own escape before either Wiley or Eisenhower remembered him, and embarrassed him further. He was sure he’d never get another paper published anywhere, not even in this century, let alone find grant money or any kind of funding ever again once word got out about this. No wonder Wiley had been reticent about wanting to share too much about his presentation, and why Eisenhower had niggled him for weeks on end about his latest spider project and just how big could he grow the spiders.

Kent made it through the door and out into the deserted corridor and looked either way. This was not his territory, not even his building, he was lost. Someone coughed behind his right shoulder. Kent spun around and came face to face with the man in the crumpled suit.

“Is he right?”

“Right?” Kent repeated the word, flustered.

“Can you build something anywhere that big outta spider’s thread?”

Kent felt his face go hot, he fumbled for words, “Yes. . . and no. . . it is theoretically possible,” which it was. Anything was, in theory, possible. All he needed was time and an awful lot of money. Neither of which he shared with the unshaven stranger. The man continued to eye him, then rubbed his chin as if reading his thoughts.

“Red eye,” the man supplied. Not knowing what to say, Kent nodded.

“I work for some people,” the man said with what Kent could only describe as an ironic smile. The guy took his elbow in a firm grip and walked them down the corridor to where, Kent had no idea.

“So, can you do it?” The man asked.

Kent thought about it for a split second, “Yeah, sure. . . I can do it.” Why not, he thought, I’ll play along.

And that’s how it began. . .giant spiders bred out of earth’s gravity, to spin tensile steel-strength silk thread.

No one stopped to think about the consequences of breeding so many large spiders until, that is, some of them escaped in the Space Station module and hitched a ride home in the Space-X Dragon Capsule.

Then, all bets were off.

— THE END —