An Old Friend From University


One day I thought I would pay a visit to an old friend from university.

A combination of living in a crappy flat, eating crappy dinners and working a crappy job at a crappy store made me nostalgic for my days at uni. Back when getting my work done actually gave me a sense of satisfaction. Back when I went out drinking every Friday night, going out for a little dance with my friends.

One of those friends was Sarah Sumpford, a girl who attended my science lectures. I remember when I first met her; I tried to strike up a conversation with her during the lecture, but she told me to shut up while the lecturer was talking. In fact, I think she was the only one in the whole hall who listened to the guy. We both spent the rest of the lecture in silence, but afterwards, she came up to me and introduced herself. We had a chat on the way to the cafeteria, and as we had a bite, she invited me to come to the pub with some of her friends on Friday night. We hung out with each other quite often, not only going out drinking, but she would even help me with my coursework from time to time.

Remembering her and the university we attended made the stench in my present flat all the worse. Indeed, I was taken out of my halcyon days as quickly as I entered them, as I remembered where I ended up, and the fact that I microwaved a ready meal an hour ago and didn’t take it out of the microwave when it was done. Then again, that was something that happened at uni as well.

Unlike uni, however, I didn’t have that much hope for the future. I studied science, sure, but the best I could do was a job at the local store. Sarah, however, got her dream job in the scientific field, and now pretty much everyone in the world knows about her.

She came into the store where I worked. Came in for a bag of Whiskas. She looked completely different than she did in uni, but I could still recognised her. I wanted to say something to her, but I completely froze. Back in the day, I had no trouble speaking with her, yet when I saw her latter day self, my throat went completely dry.

No more of that, I decided. I was going to talk to her, despite the fact she was now more successful than me, and I knew where she was going to be. The museum had a new exhibit, and I knew she just couldn’t resist.

I waited by the museum for what seemed like hours, and sure enough she came.

From the sky, there descended a giant ship with a snarling cat face on the front. It landed on the roof of the museum, and from that, I knew all I had to do was wait a little longer. Only after a couple of minutes, Sarah burst out of the museum doors, along with a robot in a tuxedo. The robot held the Egyptian cat statue.

She looked almost nothing like she did when she was in uni. She was an anthropomorphic cat wearing a lab coat.

‘Hey, Sarah!’

Even I was surprised by how naturally that came out.



‘It’s me, Jerry! We met in uni, remember?’

‘First of all, don’t call me Sarah. You must only refer to me as The Evil Dr. Meow!’ She then let loose a torrent of maniacal laughter.

Oh yes, that’s what she had started calling herself after her transformation, as it said in the poem they wrote about her.

Some supervillains become supervillains because they feel wronged by the world. Some become supervillains to avenge a death or to get revenge on their boss. Sar-Meow became a supervillain because she thought it would be fun.

‘And secondly,’ continued Meow, ‘what are you doing here?’

As she said that, her robot glared at me, clawed hands on what counted as its hips. Looking at it only made me sigh inwardly; Meow said she wanted to build a sentient robot back in uni, so that’s another thing she said she’d do that she actually did.

‘Well, actually,’ I said, swallowing to make the words come easier, ‘I was wondering if you had any job openings?’

She laughed again, this time pointing in my direction. ‘Oh, please,’ she snorted, ‘what use would I have for you? Bert here is better than you could ever be,’ she added, gesturing towards her robot, ‘and I made him myself.’ Bert smiled at me and I’m certain he’d have stuck his tongue out if he had one.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘it’s just, you know when you came to rob the store I worked at, didn’t you see how terrible work there was…’

‘Oh, cry me a river,’ sighed Meow, rolling her eyes, ‘Music, Bert.’ Out from Bert’s stomach, there popped out a radio attached to Bert by a mechanical arm. As music played, Meow sang:

Okey dokey, my old friend, it’s time you knew the score,
I’m a famous villain, widely known and quite abhorred,
Not like you, you little worm, you’re nothing but a bore,
So, it must be said, I don’t like you anymore.

I’m a vicious murderer, I revel in blood and gore,
I plan to rule the entire world, and then a whole lot more,
You’ll soon see my face carved onto Mount Rushmore,
You’ll die unloved and obscure, I don’t like you anymore!

Yes, I’m the greatest villain, the world has ever seen,
I’ll kill all the superheroes, because I’m just that mean,
I’ll sit atop a golden throne, and I’ll be the queen,
And if anyone disobeys me, I’ll just rip out their spleen,

Oh, I’m the greatest villain, the world has ever known,
I’m the baddest ever, yes, me and me alone,
You’re nowhere near as nasty, you merely make me groan,
So if you know what’s best for you, leave me and go home.

If I see you in my lair, I’ll throw you out the door,
Or better yet, I’ll kill you, and there’ll be blood galore,
I’ll dance upon your carcass as it lies upon the floor,
Because…do I have to say it? I…

Before she could sing anymore, Bert’s radio instantly disintegrated. The cue for a muscular man in green tights and a crimson cape to descend from the sky. The Great Green Laser; most people would be overjoyed to be so close to him, but all I could do was sigh.

‘Oh, it’s you!’ snapped Bert, ‘You could have let my mistress finish her song!’

‘I think I got the point across,’ replied Meow.

‘Halt, Dr. Meow!’ he bellowed, ‘Return that statue or face…’ He looked down on me with a grimace similar to the one Bert gave me earlier. ‘Who’s this?’

Again, I was frozen.

‘Oh,’ said Meow, ‘He’s my old friend from university. Laser, Jerry. Jerry, Laser.’

Laser brought his face closer to mine. ‘Have you taken a bath recently? You should know that cleanliness is next to godliness!’

All I could bring myself to do was sniff my own armpits.

‘How could you bring yourself to even have a conversation with that monster?’ The Great Green Laser continued, ‘I don’t care if she is your old friend. She steals, she murders, that is not someone you should call a friend. Friends should be people you trust, people who are nice and kind, for only with being nice and being kind can we make the world a better place. Dr. Meow is not someone you should be “shooting the breeze” with, she deserves to be put in prison, where…hey, wait…’

The Great Green Laser had been tied up with wool. Dr. Meow and Bert were nowhere to be found.

I just ran. Ran back to the safety of my flat.

Well, safety wasn’t really the right word.

As soon as I got into my room, Dr. Meow burst through the window.

‘Thanks for providing a distraction,’ she said, ‘Maybe I have a use for you after all.’

That statement seemed to wash away the strife I went through that night, and I actually found myself smiling, finally comfortable enough to talk with her. ‘What did you have in mind?’

‘Speaking of minds,’ said Dr. Meow, ‘my new giant robot needs a human brain to power it and…’

Bert then appeared, grabbing me by the throat with his right claw as his left claw turned into a buzzsaw.

And then…well, do you know how hard it was to type this story with fingers this big?


A Duck and a Turtle


Anne the duck never really had that active a social life. Throughout primary school, secondary school and college, she kept to herself. She could never bring herself to strike up a conversation with any of the other animals, and rarely ever responded to any greetings, and she spent playtimes reading outside.

It wasn’t until university that she told herself that she would rectify it. After weeks and weeks of her housemates going off to the pub without her on Friday, and thinking of the fun she was missing out on, she finally worked up the courage to walk up to fellow duck Melissa and ask ‘Can I come with you tonight?’ Melissa’s response was ‘Sure,’ which made Anne feel a mixture of surprise, relief and trepidation she couldn’t explain. It was like her insides were being blended into Angel Delight.

So instead of spending Friday night reading and catching up on her coursework, Anne walked with her housemates, all ducks, to the local pub. Another week was complete and it was time to celebrate by getting pissed and making friends.

The inside of the pub was decorated with regal-looking wallpaper with rows of small golden lions above wood panelling and illuminated by faux-candles, a look so antique that it contrasted with the large TV playing sports. There was a band in the corner – a heron and three geese – playing cover songs, with a couple of animals dancing while most simply watched. Melissa and friends didn’t want to stay in, however. When they ordered their drinks, they went outside to drink on the picnic tables. Anne wanted to go inside just so she could listen to the band, but thought it better not to argue with her housemates if she wanted them to be her friends.

She did know why they went outside though; it meant they could chat easier. She had every intention of starting the conversation, yet when she tried to force words out of her beak, it suddenly turned dry. Melissa, social butterfly that she was, started the conversation instead, and while Anne knew what they were talking about – classes, lecturers, news –she wasn’t sure she understood it. It all just seemed gobbly-de-gook to her, senseless quacking.

In seconds, she stopped listening and turned to another picnic table, where there was only one person sitting, sipping from a Carling. Anne recognised him instantly – Terry the turtle, from her English lectures. He normally had some good points to make when studying a text, and he always made the rest of the class laugh with the silly voices he gave the readings. They had read The Tell-Tale Heart and he gave the madman the voice of Ed Wynn.

It was, however, less that, and more the fact he was alone and silent that made Anne sit next to him. He said nothing as she did, so she finally managed to start the conversation. ‘Hi.’

Terry swallowed, and seemed to use his saliva as mouthwash for a minute. ‘Oh, hi,’ he said back.

‘You’re Terry from English, aren’t you?’ Anne said, even though she knew full well who he was, ‘I love your readings.’

‘Thank you,’ said Terry before taking another sip of his beer.

Anne guzzled down her beer, just to give her the courage to continue the conversation. ‘You ever think of going into drama? You know, you could be the next Kenneth Branagh. You…’ She almost said that he had more energy than turtles usually had, but bit her tongue when she realised he might find it offensive.

‘Um, thanks,’ said Terry,  before sloshing his saliva around his mouth again, ‘I was…actually, you know, kind of inspired by him. I liked Hamlet and I liked Frankenstein, even if it was over-the-top, you know.’

Melissa was watching.

‘Oh!’ was what Melissa said, that made Terry’s neck contract. Melissa beckoned Anne over to her, and whispered into her ear-hole to make Terry buy her a drink. ‘He came here for the same reason you did,’ Melissa said.

Anne stumbled back towards Terry as the latter finished off his Carling. ‘Hey. Hey.’

‘What is it?’

‘I’m…I’m a bit low on money. You mind getting me a Guinness?’

Terry rose from his seat, swallowed again, and went inside.

Melissa again whispered into Anne’s ear hole.

Terry came back with two drinks, one for himself, one for Anne. As he plopped them down, Anne dug deep into the pits of her stomach to find any and all courage she had within.

It would be good for Melissa, good for Terry, good for Anne.

‘Oh, thank you, sweetheart,’ she said, and with that, she held Terry and kissed him on the cheek.

Terry disappeared. At least his appendages did. Now all that was left was a shaking shell. ‘Come out, Terry,’ said Anne, but Terry did nothing. In the time it took for Anne to drink her beer, Terry still didn’t come out. It was almost an hour – at least it seemed that way – before Terry slowly popped out, said ‘Sorry’ and left quickly, again destroying the myth about turtles’ speed.

The incident was embarrassing for both Terry and Anne, but because of it, Anne had more confidence in going out with her housemates. Seeing Terry’s reaction had made her see the importance of coming out of her…you know what I’m going to say.

Read more stories about Anne and friends in The Adventures of a Duck, available now.

The Monsters’ Party

There was a party for monsters in the old haunted house.

Witches flew to the crumbling old mansion on their broomsticks, their forms almost eclipsing the full moon. That same full moon brought forth werewolves, who licked their lips as they approached the house, no doubt thinking of the treats that would be served. Vampires flew out of their coffins and ghosts floated out of their graves, all to attend the party they had been invited to.

Even though I was a human, I had been invited too. I asked Shannon if she wanted to come as well, but she was far too scared. I, on the other hand, had been interested in horror ever since I was a child, and had always dreamed of meeting Dracula or Frankenstein in the flesh.

So off I went to the big haunted mansion, the dark shadow that loomed over our entire town. Up the tall hill I walked, until I reached the front porch of the monochrome manse. A mummy shambled towards the front door, not even acknowledging my existence, and bats swooped down the chimney. Even though I had been looking forward to this event, I still took a deep breath before I stepped in, preparing myself for anything the monsters might do to me.

Though the main hall was covered with dust and cobwebs, the bifurcate staircase, the marble floor and the chandelier gave it a sense of grandeur. This environment made the smell of blood and rotting meat actually smell inviting, and I actually found myself wanting to join the werewolves in their feast.

In fact, I did. As if pulled by an invisible force, I walked towards the table filled with body parts and joined the werewolves in chewing an arm. Though I thought any second they would pounce on me and chew on my arm, but they just ignored me. Actually, I think one werewolf even smiled at me.

I couldn’t help but wish Shannon was there. I felt she would have enjoyed this.

Then I went over to the vampires, all of them with pale skin, pointed ears and fangs and black robes. A large cauldron of blood, stirred by a witch. Some of them dipped chalices into the cauldron, but some drunk straight from the cauldron. One vampire dared me to do the latter, and, without hesitation, I dipped my head into the blood and lapped it up.

Something about it reminded me of Shannon.

I wanted to drink more, but something drove my body away from it. Something drove me to talk to the other monsters. No, not just other monsters. There were other humans like me. I joined the other humans in chatting with the mummies and the ghosts. I think Shannon would have liked them.

Then I ate body parts with the werewolves again.

Then I drunk blood with the vampires again.

Then I chatted with the ghosts and mummies and humans again.

Then I ate with the werewolves.

Then I drunk blood.

Then I chatted.

Then I ate.

Then I drunk.

Then I chatted.

Then a new monster arose, and everyone stood still. I attempted to move, but every muscle in my body was frozen. This monster wasn’t a vampire or werewolf or witch. The only way I could describe it was as a blob, one that looked like it was made up of spoiled milk. Smelled like it too.

‘I hope you’re all enjoying your little party,’ said the creature, raising an arm that appeared out of nowhere. As he raised his arm, all of us took a step forward. He lowered his arm and we took a couple of steps back. ‘You’re partying because I want you to party. When you’re partying, you can’t hurt anyone. So enjoy your food and games, because you’re going to be staying here quite a while.’

The figure disappeared, but his influence remained. He forced my body to eat and drink and chat over and over again, and I could do nothing to stop him. All I could think about was Shannon. How lovely she was. How lovely it was when I strangled her.