NOISE

Martin had a fitful night’s sleep when he heard that a new tenant had moved into the flat next to his. There was no noise coming from the tenant’s flat as yet, which was somewhat reassuring. He locked his door and went to the local cafe, which is something he did every afternoon. It was an end of terrace house and as he turned the gable end sharply he bumped into a man who was standing with his back to the wall. He was a huge man wearing a T shirt and shorts and flip flops even though it was near winter. He was smoking a cigarette, taking several puffs at a time. Martin apologised for bumping into him and before he could stop himself he asked if he was the new tenant? The man nodded.

– I’m sure you’ll like it here, it’s very quiet.

Martin thought he should get that in straight away.

– Don’t like noise, the man said.

– The last tenant in your flat was a nightmare. I’m sure it damaged my health; partying every night until all hours!

The man didn’t say much. Indeed it wasn’t much of a conversation. Martin decided to continue on his way to the cafe.

– No doubt I’ll bump into you again, he tittered.

– I spent ten years in jail, in solitary, so I’m not much good at talking, the man said.

Martin was flummoxed! He could think of nothing to say.

– Do you dream, the man asked?

– I don’t think so. I don’t remember them if I do.

– I have enough dreams to fill two rooms! You snore!• Do I? Does it disturb you?

– Yes!

– Oh, I’m awful sorry. I’ll have to do something about it.

– Get a ring!

– Oh, yes. One of those brass rings. I’ve seen them advertised.

– I like silence.

The man flicked his cigarette butt onto the road sparking among several others and turned to go back into the house.

– Don’t forget the ring!

Martin walked on. He, the noise detector, was now the noise maker! He felt sick.

he awoke from a nightmare
nobody was there –
just the peeping moon

Gerry McDonnell

NOISE

Wishland

Don’t go there, really, seriously, don’t go there. These hills and plateaus of mine are not for you. I don’t want to see you as an intruder, but I will. You the hunter and your wish to kill, hunting down this shadow, this grey cloud in the blinding mists. Sifting through the meat, the curtain of red raindrops of this corpse. You’ve come looking, spoiling for a blind fight, spoiling the battleground on which I stand upright. You’ve cut this land wide open and I’ve given you too many words. What I really want to say is, “Don’t go”. But honestly, it’s all OK, now you’ve seen me, and you’ve decided not to stay, for I have some spare oxygen tanks and I can keep myself softly breathing, keep myself inflated in this little world, whilst I watch your late evening and your star, going.

too late
beyond the distant horizon
the world falls away

Colin Dunn

Wishland

Masquerade

A week before my surgery, I hear the news. It spreads quickly, like the virus. I have my knee replaced anyway. How bad can it be? As I lie in my bed high on oxycodone and Ed Sheeran, I am oblivious to the coming storm.

fever pitch the world dancing out of tune

It is a cold rainy morning, and I am late for my PT appointment. The walls in the room are
circus-blue and green, and everyone wears the mask. I slowly pedal my bike and wonder if anyone has considered the effects of long-term oxygen deprivation.

wall of mirrors the bearded lady takes it off

The therapists are having a conversation about the masks. They are cautiously optimistic. The young one warns about a new variant, the coming spike, and the fourth wave. Yes, I think, and the fifth, and the sixth, and the seventh.

apparatchik crushing the seed pods

It is a cold bright day in April. I wake up forgetting who I am or what I look like. I live alone with the television, just in case. I can still remember a few words and something about

red death behind the masque only eyes

after The Masque of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe

Susan Beth Furst

Masquerade

PASSPORT TO PIMLICO

…..and joining me now is the Pry Minister.

Thanks, Kirsty…..my latest unelected advisor’s brainchild is an utterly foolproof vaccine passport that’s sure to appeal to all right-minded listeners as a means of excluding the damaged and the scared, while our nouveau elite is guaranteed a warm welcome at the cinema, the nightclub, the polling booth…..

hospital bus
a stony
silence

Helen Buckingham

PASSPORT TO PIMLICO

the apparition

Hers was a lonely life. After dad’s passing, she stayed alone. Soon her dog died too. My two sisters and I were married and away. Mom would get up early every morning, make herself a cup of tea and talk to an apparition of dad. The dementia was kicking in…

for years
the same morning stillness
déjà vu

Mona Bedi

the apparition

Love Potion

The petri dish holds the weaponized mycoplasma, nonchalantly referred to as GBS, used in test immunizations required for some soldiers, among them his brother Niel. The paralysis, which begins with an innocent tingle, climbs his extremities to strangle both strength and feeling. Holding the petri dish becomes a challenge so he turns his palm heavenward and points his middle finger.

sakura
a dead man
blows the whistle

Marilyn Ashbaugh

Love Potion