Here’s a very short story to start us off. We are going to be posting a lot more stories up here, so if you would like to be featured then send us something to firstname.lastname@example.org
A week after my tenth birthday the doctor did some tests. They told my mum that I saw everything with a tint of blue. She cried, my dad punched a wall and the doctor gave me a lollipop.’Keep your chin up,’ he said with a grin.’These pills are from the doctor.’ My mum shook a bottle in front of my eyes. ‘They will make you see the world like all the other boys. Then you’ll be able to go out and play rather than sitting in front of that computer all the time.’
I had turned my monitor’s blue level down so that I could see pictures of things in their true color. From this experiment I worked out that people must see things a bit more yellowy than I did. It wasn’t an exact science, but it helped to get me through the first few months. It must be nice seeing everything yellowy all the time, everything must look sunnier and brighter.
One Monday in the summer holidays I was looking at robot fights on the internet. There was a knock at the door.
‘Simon! Come downstairs a second honey!’ Mum shouted.
The small one, Lanzarotti Killer, crashed its pneumatic axe into the roof of B.O.Trix.
‘Hi, come on in. Simon’s just coming.’
But B.O.Trix is stronger. It’s bigger and heavier. Its piston wedge scoops up the Killer and flips it on to it’s back.
‘Simon! I shouldn’t have to ask you twice!’
I didn’t know what she wanted. My pills weren’t working. I told her. I still saw everything bluer than I should.
At the bottom of our stairs was some blond kid I recognized from school with some blond lady.
‘Simon, this is Andrew. He wants to know if you want to go to the park?’
A play-date? Did she think I couldn’t make friends?
‘Sure, whatever.’ I said.
I had loads of friends. Ronny from Swindon, Carlos from Bilbao in Spain, DroopyKid from the DragonBall Z forum.
‘Right, good boy. Go and get your coat then.’
I trudged upstairs. At least I had stuff to talk about with my internet friends. How did I know this kid wasn’t going to ask me to play football or something?
The park was boring. The kid didn’t talk much until he saw some other kid from school.
‘That’s my friend Kevin.’
He left me on the swings to go and play with Kevin. I just sat and tried to enjoy the summer sun on my back, looking up at the blue tinted sky and clouds. Did the Killer manage to flip itself back over? I needed to find out.
In the middle of the playground was a merry-go-round with a circle of bikes, some with pedals, some with bars to rest your feet on. Two boys and one girl were pedaling like they were trying to throw each other off. It was mindless.
A little girl sat on the swing next to me. She pushed off the floor with her, well, what looked like, navy blue strappy shoes. She swung her legs over-enthusiastically like she’d seen the other kids doing, but she hadn’t quite got the rhythm. She stopped and turned to me.
‘Why ain’t you swinging?’
‘I don’t feel like it.’ I said.
‘Because I see everything bluer than I should, and I’ve got to take pills to see colours like everyone else but they aren’t working.’
‘Oh.’ She thought for a moment. ‘My mum says it don’t matter what colour somethin’ is, it’s what’s inside what counts.’
Andrew came back over.
‘Kevin’s mum is taking us to pizza hut and there’s only three seats.’
‘Okay,’ I said, and walked home.
I put up my “NOT RECEIVING VISITORS” sign and booted up my PC. My clothes were divided into three sections; clean, dirty but wearable and dirty. There was an odd sock and a T-shirt I didn’t really like in the clean drawer. In the dirty drawer was a few of my T-shirts, pants and socks that were either too smelly or had too many food spills. My dirty but wearable pile in the bottom of my wardrobe was the biggest. Stuffed behind my wardrobe was the bedsheets I had peed on in my sleep a couple of nights before.
I needed to change out of those sweaty park clothes. I found a pair of shorts and put on the T-shirt I didn’t really like.
My mum knocked and walked in without waiting for an answer.
‘Mum!’ I slammed my hands down on the keyboard. ‘What’s the point? Can’t you read?’
‘How was the park?’
‘It was the park. Can’t you read?’
‘What do you mean can’t I read?’ She started picking clothes up off my floor. ‘Don’t be so rude.’
‘The sign! You never read the sign!’
‘I do, I didn’t think I was a visitor though.’
‘Well you are. At least knock next time.’
‘I did knock. How was the park?’
‘Boring. Swings are boring.’
I opened up the robot fights website, RobotRumble.org. It shouldn’t really be a .org domain, because .orgs are for none-profit organisations and RobotRumble has a subscription fee. My friend HungryHippo13 sent me a user name to get access for free though.
‘What are you looking at?’
‘Nothing.’ I minimized the window.
‘I hope it’s suitable.’
‘It’s suitable, I set up the parental controls remember?’
She walked out, leaving my door open. Mum didn’t have a clue about computers. When I set up the blocks on the internet I was the one who came up with the password. So if I wanted to get on a website like RobotRumble or UFC I just had to enter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It was good because Mum didn’t bother me, and I didn’t get any of those naked lady pop-ups like before.
‘Simon!’ Dad’s voice rumbled in the floorboards under my feet.
He never wanted to talk to me unless I’d done something wrong.
‘Simon! Come here!’
I closed RobotRumble and went to the top of the stairs. In the real world outside this house, if someone wanted to talk to you they came to see you. They didn’t stand still and shout until you came to them. But then, my dad wasn’t living in the real world. Dad’s world was over twenty years old, when children were at their parents beck and call, seen and not heard, all that stuff I learnt about Victorian times.
‘Simon!’ His voice was like a piston axe crashing through the floorboards under my feet.
‘What? I’m busy.’
There was silence, then the living room door opened.
There’s a photo at the bottom of our stairs of dad in his blue jump suit. He was holding me, a couple of hours old, wrapped in a blanket.
He held the door open for me. I entered.
‘Sit down.’ He pushed me hard onto the sofa. ‘You’ve gone and upset your mother with your sad-act rubbish.’ He closed the hallway door. Mum was sitting in the dining room with a cup of tea. Dad closed the double doors, shutting her out of view.
‘This is going to stop – this silliness with not leaving your room and not talking to anyone.’
‘It’s not silly.’
He fell back into his seat in front of his open coal fire. Rusty, his fat gray staffy was sleeping, ready to roll back over onto Dad’s feet.
‘What did I do to deserve such a rude child?’ He placed a cigar between his teeth, then removed it again. ‘Nothing.’ He replaced the cigar and lit it, closing his lips around it and puffing until his face was clouded in smoke.
He was right. He hadn’t done anything, nothing at all.
‘I don’t care what your mother says, there ain’t nothing wrong with you.’
He meant there isn’t anything wrong with me, but I wouldn’t correct him.
‘The doctor can call it what he likes. In my day kids like you were just losers, weirdos. We didn’t have these words like depressed or bi-polar or aspergers. You just need to snap out of it.’
The door opened.
‘Simon honey, we just want what’s best for you.’ Mum had been listening. There were tears on her cheeks.
‘We’ve tried it your way Bea.’
She went and sat back down. The fire cracked and spat. The dog rolled over and stretched his legs.
‘Close the door, you’re letting the draft in.’
He waited until the door was closed before he spoke again, tossing a hunk of ash towards the ashtray.
‘We’re gonna’ get you off those crazy pills. My friend Phil runs a rugby team, you’re going down on Saturday to train with them.’
‘No!’ I answered without thinking.
He opened his eyes wide.
‘It’s just, on Saturdays…’ I stopped. I had tried to explain World of Warcraft to them before, back when I needed money for the subscription.
‘Good. It’s decided then.’ He heaved his body forward to stroke the dog.
How would I explain to my friends that I couldn’t play WoW with them all day on Saturdays anymore? The fire whistled then cracked loud. I was going to get hurt playing crummy rugby every week. My life had just taken a turn for the worse, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Another crack, then a pop. A piece of hot coal shot between the dog’s legs. He yelped and snarled. He snapped out once at the air. Thin sizzling smoke rose from his crotch. He yelped and snapped again, this time around my dad’s ankle.
‘AH! YOU STUPID… AH!’ Dad bounced to his feet, then winced and hobbled around the room in pain. It was like a dance. The dog slipped between the sofa and the wall, probably to nurse his own wounds.
Dad sat down and crossed his leg over the other for inspection. He carefully stroked the foamy saliva off his trouser cuffs. He rolled them up to reveal a row of deep red punctures and a stream of blood soaked leg-hair.
‘What happened?’ Mum burst in. ‘I was in the garden.’ She saw Dad’s foot, then looked at me. ‘What did you do?!’
‘This wasn’t the boy. Does he look like he can do this?’
Dad had dropped his cigar on his sheepskin rug in the chaos. Strands of smoke rose from the nub and the white wool around it shrank and sizzled to black. Mum lifted Dad’s ankle and turned it around. A few drops of blood fell onto the carpet and sank in.
‘Careful!’ Dad said.
‘I’ll go and get a bandage.’ I left to go upstairs, but then went back. ‘Your rug is on fire, by the way.’
I took my time searching for a bandage, and by the time I got back downstairs they had gone. The dog came out from behind the sofa and sat down by my feet. He wanted a walk, like nothing had happened. Over by the fire on my dad’s sheepskin rug was a black ring with a pile of ash in the middle. Around the outside of the black ring was a faint, almost unnoticeable yellowy line.Compost