Kids screaming, laughing, pushing and grabbing, balls flying, ropes swinging, teachers shouting for order, a blur of bright blue blazers with gold and black trim. Des saw or heard none of this. His eyes were fixed firmly on Adam West.
God! How he hated Adam West. He hated his long hair with its fringe so black it shone blue and looked like a crows wing flapping over his forehead. He despised his sneering lips and his mouth always spouting cruel words. He hated his skin which was blemish free except for tiny scars on both cheeks made by the jaws of a Rough Collie that didn’t want to share his Chum.
God! How he wished that dog had ripped Adams face right off and ate it.
Des watched as Adam snuggled up to Julian, his Julian, Julian with the chocolate drop eyes, strawberry lips and perfectly round nostrils which, according to Des’s sister Carol, looked like a double barrel shotgun that would shoot snot everywhere if he sneezed. To Des, Julian was perfect and there was Adam West, whispering in his ear, nudging him knowingly as though they had secrets and Julian loved Adam more than he had ever loved Des. God! How he wanted to wipe that smirk off his mush, to grab his black and gold striped scarf and pull and pull and……..
‘Hi Des,’ said Julian.
‘Hi Jules,’ said Des.
‘Hi Shitsplash,’ said Adam.
‘Don’t call him that.’ said Julian trying not to laugh but failing. ‘Sorry Des, but it is funny.’
‘Don’t be too nice to him,’ said Adam. ‘He might get the wrong idea. Fancy our Jules don’t you, gayboy?’
‘Stop it Adam,’ said Julian, not very convincingly.
‘He wants to hug you, he wants to kiss you,’ said Adam in a sing-songy voice.
Des’s freckled face flamed, mostly because it was true.
‘What have we got in our little Hello Kitty lunchbox today then?’ Adam asked grabbing it from Des’s hand and yanking it open.
‘Beef! Yumioso.’ said Adam reaching into his pocket and bringing out a mashed plastic shape. ‘You’re lucky, I’m in a good mood today so I’ll swap you for this brown sauce one.’
Des watched them walk toward the boys changing room, Adam nudging Julian and waving his newly acquired beef sandwich in the air shouting ‘Lushioso!’
‘I don’t like dead cow anyway,’ mumbled Des. ‘Dead Adam sounds great though, dead Adam sounds really great.’
Des didn’t see much of his dad in the mornings, just his ginger cow-lick peeking over the top of his Daily Mirror and Des was usually much too engrossed in gobbling his Sugar Puffs to care about daily events. But not this morning, this morning the news was fascinating, it practically jumped out at Des and screamed revenge.
4 SERIOUSLY ILL
‘Dad, what’s samonella?’
‘Salmonella! what did I buy you that computer for? Google it.’
Des finished his cereal, glugged his juice and headed for his bedroom where he picked up his red boa, wrapped it twice around his neck then sat at his desk, booted up his computer and did exactly as his father suggested. He Googled samonella, clicked on Salmonella Infections and there it was, the answer to all his prayers.
Salmonellosis is a food borne illness caused by the bacteria salmonella. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever, and headache.
It’s that easy, you just stick your hand up a chickens bum, pull out blood and gunge, feed it to someone and their guts hurt so bad they roll around in agony, they’re stuck to the toilet and only get off to be sick, they have a mega headache, are swimming in sweat and are off school for weeks. WEEKS! Weeks Des could spend with Julian, his Julian, winning back his love.
* * *
Des didn’t have to wait long for a dead chicken to appear in the fridge. He fetched the long handled spoon his mum used for pickles at Christmas and, after mulling over which end of the chicken was which, stuck it in the biggest hole and wiggled it about then withdrew it full of blood and white lumps. Only just managing not to chuck up his cereal he lifted the top slice of bread from his sandwich and added the lethal mixture to the sauce smothering his sausage then tucked the sandwich into a corner of his lunchbox well away from his apple and sultana slice.
‘What we got today then, Splash?’ Adam asked, nudging Julian and smirking.
‘Sausage and Tomato Ketchup,’ said Des, sucking his cheeks in tightly so as not to laugh and give the game away.
‘Bangers, fabioso,’ said Adam. ‘Here you are, mustard for you Shitsplash.’
* * *
‘What have I told you about that bloody scarf at the table?’
‘Sorry Dad,’ Des said rolling up his boa and placing it between his knees.
Dad opened his paper with a sharp flick and Des stared at the huge black headline facing him. He coughed then choked spitting cereal everywhere as milk ran over his chin down his gold and black striped tie on to his lap.
‘What the hell’s wrong with you?’ his father asked, lowering the paper with its incriminating headline.
‘Adam West, he’s dead,’ Des howled jumping from his seat. His spoon clattered into his bowl and his scarlet boa fell to the floor where it lay like a pool of bloody chicken feathers. Des looked at it mortified and dashed for the kitchen door.
Mum looked flabbergasted. ‘What’s up with him?’
Dad looked exasperated. ‘God knows, he muttered something about Adam West being dead. You really must get some spunk into that boy he’s such a woos and anyway we’re the ones who’ll have to put up with all those 60’s black and white Batman re-runs.’
* * *
Des took Snowball from his hutch, placed him gently down on the grass and fell next to him kissing his pink nose, stroking his silky ears and pulling poo from his fluffy paws.
‘Oh, Snowie,’ Des said pressing himself into the rabbits dense fur. ‘What have I done? He wasn’t supposed to die he was only supposed to be sick. I only wanted him to be ill and have a few weeks off school so Julian would come back to me and be my best friend again. I’ve seen what they do to murderers. Coppers’ll drag me off and interrogate me, they’ll starve me and shine torches into my eyes until I confess. They’ll send me to prison for the rest of my life, or tie ropes to me and stretch my arms and legs until they rip off my body squirting gallons of blood all over mum and dad and the rest of the crowd like they did to Mel Gibson in that film where he wore a kilt. They might even hang me from a tree until my neck is three foot long and my head fills with blood, turns blue then green then swells and swells until it bursts or they might…’
‘What’s wrong with your face?’ Jamie asked, his own concerned face sticking up over the top of the fence.
‘It’s Adam West.’ hiccupped Des through tears and snot and fur.
‘Why are you still worried about that prat? I’ve told you a zillion times you’ve got to toughen up, he wouldn’t dare take the mick out of me.’
‘That’s different,’ Des wailed. ‘You’ve only got a few freckles over your nose. My freckles completely cover my face, my arms and legs, my whole body. My freckles stop me going brown and having fun in the sun. I’m never chosen to be Mary at Christmas. Nobody wants to hold my hand when we walk in double line in case they catch them. They join together in funny shapes and kids say they can see faces in them and when I go red they look green and everyone laughs and points and shouts names at me like dotty Des, chocolate chip, spottie Muldoon and worst of all, Adam West’s favourite, shitsplash!’
‘Shitsplash?’ Jamie was horrified. ‘I’d marmalize ‘im.’
‘I did,’ said Des blowing snotty bubbles all over Snowball.
‘You did what?’ asked Jamie.
‘I marmalized him, I samonellared him, I killed him.’
‘You killed him?’
‘I murdered him,’ groaned Des.
‘Well, if you killed him who was that I just saw walking to school with Julian?’
Des left the grass and was on his feet in a single bound. He dropped Snowball to the turf and frantically wiping his face with his sleeves he turned and dashed across the lawn, hurtled around the side of the house and down the drive, skidded on the path and crashed straight into the front garden gate, and there, not 100 yards away, was Julian and hanging onto his arm talking, laughing, nudging and breathing was Adam West.
Des’s eyes crossed, his mouth slackened and his knees buckled as two tormenting words rang in his ears and sent him crashing to the concrete path.
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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