Category Archives: writing

Siren song

Irresistible temptation. A prompt from 642 things to write about.

With a voice and face like his, Joe Crash was born to be a star. Those baby blues peering out from a slightly weathered and shadowed face, a sly smile on that square-cut jaw. He could have been a poster-boy, but he employed a little select facial hair and a just-out-of-bed, tumbled, longer hair to turn him into just enough bad boy.

Anyone who’d ever seen him perform had quickening pulses at the fluidity of his svelte hip gyrations. His voice brought tears to eyes, brought people to their knees, had them frothing with sexual excitement. Even critics had problems finding flaws in his work and governments everywhere worried that his notes might be turned against them.

Joe created hysteria where ever he went. Not since The Beatles had people lined the streets. Of course, he waved with unconcerned casualness, signed all manner of autographs and generally kept to himself. Occasional dates with other celebrities ended up splashed on the tabloid pages but his private life remained remarkably private and he kept his past in the shadows.

Meredith had used all her industry favours to get a one-on-one interview with the man himself, while he was on tour in Sydney with his band, The Crows. She’d done her research and she was ready.

She took in her look in the mirror. Her dark hair was tousled, the outline of her eyes a smoky haze and her tight black pants and sweetheart spotted bustier topped it off. She slipped her red cropped jacket around her shoulder, splashed her favourite red on her lips and strode out the door.

Backstage she waited for an hour while Joe played a long encore for his fans. She could hear the distorted sounds of the band. She heard the click of his boots as he strode down the hall, the sounds distorted by the shuffle of another’s foot. Meredith was waiting next to a pillar, as still as the shadow that covered her. Joe saw her last minute and startled. Quickly, he collected his cool, and turned to the dainty blonde who he was leading backstage.

“Cleo, you’re going to have to excuse me. I forgot that my agent set me up with an interview.” He stroked her cheek gently as her face fell into a pout. “I’ll see you at the after party, sweet.”

Deftly, he slid the rectangular invite into her jeans pocket. She couldn’t have been more than 20, with this man whose age was pinned at around 35, and when she turned away, she looked dazed and confused. Joe whispered in her ear and she shuffled down the corridor.

“Helps with the image,” Joe shrugged as he entered the dressing room, gesturing to a spare chair for Meredith. “If you people want to be with you, or be you.”

With a clean pull, he yanked off the stage-sweaty t-shirt, of course deliberately giving Meredith the unadulterated view of his lithe body. He smirked and remarked, “I probably should have asked first. Sorry, not used to having professionals here after my gigs.”

Meredith waved it off, made a deliberate effort to get out her notebook. “But you are used to having women in here after though?”

Joe’s grin turned predatory for a moment before he dialled it back to an expression they used in her business called “boys being boys”; a fake apologetic grin followed by a look of helplessness. “I’m single, hopefully they are too. Life is too short for hang-ups, Miss…”

“Meredith.” She leaned forward, extending her hand, so he had to come to her. The stiffness in his back afterwards showed she was ruffling his feathers a little bit. He turned away from her to wipe his face with a towel and shrug into a shirt.

Joe buttoned up the wrinkled, grungy collared shirt, before flicking his hair up in the mirror and turning back to her. The wickedness was gone; clearly this time he was going for the open and honest assault. “So, I guess we’re here to talk my tour and the upcoming album.”

Meredith’s smile was correspondingly warm. “I thought we’d actually have a chat about the little chits you’ve been killing.” She watched Joe’s eyes harden as she continued, “I guess Chloe, or was it Cleo, is your next mark.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” His voice held a threat equally as deadly as the hissing of the cobra.

“I know who you are Mr Crash. Or should I say, more specifically, what.” Meredith leant back, her eyes never leaving the singer.

“And what is that?” His arms crossed, surprisingly well-muscled for a man of his weight.

“A siren.”

His laughter was too loud, too hard and too sudden. “I think you might just be mad, Meredith.” He picked up a phone. “Last time I do any favours for Stan.”

As he dialled, Meredith played a video. One she’d paid a lot of money to get her hands on. The edge of a show, about two years prior, a girl escorted from the crowd. In the darkness at side of stage, you could see him. His face in picture perfect quality. And as they turned away together,  he transformed, becoming the monster she knew he was.

“Killing James McGrath without having the proof was sloppy,” she said as she stroked her iPhone and he put the phone down. “But leaving a trail of missing girls behind your tours is worse.”

“That is fraud, that video,” he said, his exterior calm a signal to let her know he was getting ready to attack.

“It’s no fake, Joe, or should I say Okeanos.” She did not fail to see him start. “It’s a long way to fall from Olympus.”

Meredith stood, near the door but close enough to strike if needed. “Not enough sacrifices to keep you in these times?”

Joe turned back to the mirror. “A God has to survive somehow.”

“So you know the truth.” He turned again, flung his arms out wide. “You know, now I have to kill you.”

“You can try.”

Ever so softly, Joe sung as he circled. Meredith recognised the ancient words; he was singing of weakness and frailty, appealing directly to her human body. He didn’t recognise then, the jewellery she work, the ear cuffs that protected her from the beauty of his song.

She came back at him, singing the song back, twisting the melody back on him. He began to slow, looking tired and old. When he realised, he threw a chair, which Meredith nimbly dodged, causing it to crash and shatter the mirror behind her. She sang further, weaving the molecules of his body out, pushing the supernatural to his periphery. She would get only one shot at him.

His lunge came, his hands aiming for her throat. She dodged and he went sprawling on the ground. Swiftly, she pinned him there, fastening him tight.

“What are you?” he whispered into the tiles, still in disbelief at where he was.

“Once, I was one of your many slaves. One of the beautiful women your seas stole and turned into the nymphs, the sirens.”

“When your power dwindled, it freed me. But I never forgot the horrors you made me watch, the sailors you made us drown in your incessant drive for power.”

“I promised myself that when I escaped, I would find you.” Meredith gently stroked his hair back from his face. “Don’t worry, your end will be a lot less painful than theirs.”

Meredith opened her mouth and began to sing. The story of the thousand ships, of the lives ebbing beneath waves escaped from her. She went on to talk about the drawing of power, the stealing of a soul.

He was grey beneath her when she stopped, his chest heaving with his last breaths. A faltering smile crossed his face before it stilled forever.

Meredith removed herself, taking the back passageways out. No one would remember she was here, that she got this interview;  her melodies had made sure of that.

When the news reported Joe Crash’s death of a heart attack the next day, Meredith leaned back with a smile, feeling his invincibility in the singing of her blood. Today, her revenge was complete.

The End of a Tail

Here is my contribution to #WeekendWriter…

When you have a child in your house that is autistic, everything revolves around them. Forget the other children, they can manage on their own. I was 16 and I had been bitter about it, but what can you do?

Apparently what you can do is almost cause a meltdown of seismic proportions.

Today, this afternoon, I killed my sister Amy’s fish. It was an accident, but it doesn’t matter. Feeding her fish is part of her routine, the thing she does when she comes home from the specialist on Saturday afternoon. What would happen is Amy, who by the way is 10 but acts a lot younger, would open her eyes wide and have a tantrum. Apparently she doesn’t care what devastation it causes. Still, someone has to hold her and sing her that stupid rubber tree song, High Hopes or whatever it’s called. Wish no one had ever sung her that song. But its words will be burnt into my brain forever. But the damage will be done. She’ll be practically catatonic for a month.

So I was having a dialogue with my mother, as it was my dad taking Amy to the doctor this week. It was my best friend Jo’s birthday party and there were going to be boys there. And for once in my frigging life, Mum took an interest. And by interest I mean stand. And by stand I mean delivered an ultimatum. I couldn’t go if there were boys. End of story. Because her parents were going to be in the house. I mean seriously. I wasn’t 14. We’d all been pashing boys for years. As for anything else, that was way too huge a step to take with all your friends listening.

I argued of course. And Mum refused to budge, then went to hang out the washing. I threw the flashlight I had been twirling in my hands at the bench, where it bounced… Right into the fish tank. CRAP!

There was a short fizzing sound and then there was the fish, belly-up. DOUBLE CRAP! I quickly removed the evidence. I yelled out to my Mum that I was cleaning the tank, to which she told me sucking up was not going to help. I barely contained my eyeroll. Tyrant.

Rushing up to my room, I picked up the learner plates we’d just bought so I could go driving. I contemplated “borrowing” the car, but knew if I got caught, I would be grounded from now through to all of eternity. I looked at my watch. I had to get to the petshop, find an identical fish, then get back in 45 minutes? Do-able, right?

I was down and out the door, savings in pocket, before Mum could notice. I practically squealed the tires on my bike in my haste. All I can say is, given some very near misses and some loud swear words, I barely made it to the petshop.

And the guy behind the counter was Max, my crush from school. Seriously. FML. I was going to be a laughing stock. Some sacrifices need to be made but.

I flopped the fish on the counter, saying, “I need a fish identical to this one.”

Max raised an eyebrow at me and took a look at the fish. “The same? Why not another one?”

“Because my sister is a freak and will lose it if this fish is not back in his bowl by the time I get home?”

Max was silent. He moved over to the siamese fighting fish display tanks. Together we looked hard, looked at them all. He turned over the lifeless fish in his hand.

“I don’t know if we have one the same.”

I just about cried. I was going to be the bad guy, all over a stupid thing I did. I hung my head, tears blurring my eyes when I saw him. A little black and blue guy in the back.

I jumped on the spot. “That one, that one!”

Matt got him into a little container for me and told me the price. 20 bucks. That was pretty much all I had. For the next 2 weeks. Ah well, small price to pay for a little peace. He even helped me tie him to the back of my bike. I hugged him, and then regretted it, because he looked stunned. I rode off, my face burning with shame.

I was back in the door with 5 minutes to spare. At least, I thought I was. I could hear the abacus Amy always played with clacking upstairs. I ran out to the laundry, where I’d left the tank. Quickly, I poured the new little guy in, topped up his water and returned him to hollow in our wall when Amy and Mum came down the stairs.

“What did I tell you?” Mum said, leaning down to Amy. “Your big sister was looking after him for you.”

Amy smiled widely and clapped her hands. I wasn’t expecting a hug, though it would have been nice. It wasn’t like that. She got the food and fed him at her appointed time.

My Mum was in the kitchen. I grabbed a glass of water and flopped on the bench. I heard my Mum’s voice in my ear.

“I know what you did Sare-bear. I know you spent all your pocket money to make sure your sister was happy. I’m proud of you- for solving a problem on your own, and caring enough to fix it. You’re growing up so fast and I’m just missing it.”

She hugged me tight, like she often forgot to do nowdays. But what she whispered in my ear was the best.

“My big girl can go to Jo’s party.”