Flash fiction – Abraham by Gary J Byrnes

I found this sub-200 word piece of flash fiction that I wrote back in 2014. Enjoy!

Abraham

by Gary J Byrnes

The voices, again the voices. Always the voices.

“Quiet! One at a time.”

“You need to take him, yes him,” said the most powerful voice, as Abraham’s eyes were drawn to his son, the lazy one, sat on his arse, watching TV, “Take him out into the back yard and put his neck on the tree stump and take your hatchet and just cut his stupid head off.”

“That’s a mad idea,” said Abraham.

“What’s that, dad?” called his son. The buzzing of the gogglebox, the calling of the crows on their way home.

Abraham looked to the stump, squinting against the setting sun.

“Are you God?” he asked, quietly.

“Of course.”

Okay so. I’ll do it.

“Liam! Come on, come out here with me!”

“Aw dad, Power Rangers is startin’.”

So he grabbed his son by the hair and dragged him into the golden evening and took the axe and felt like a hero and was about to swing it, down onto the crying boy’s neck until the voice came back and said No.

In the olden days, they would’ve founded religions after him. But poor Abraham just ended up in the hospital. Where he stayed.

The end.

Worrying to realise that Abraham is the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Mad, Ted!

Read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham

These are Fake Times

Get my latest ebook for free today

I’ve gathered together my blogposts from August 2014 to August 2018 and put them together in one convenient ebook for your enjoyment.

Topics covered range from Islamic State to Irish water, climate change to social change. I want you to enjoy my writing, and share links to the free downloads far and wide, among your friends and on social media (use the share buttons below!).

‘Free downloads?’ you say. ‘Go find the Easter egg,’ I say.

Download Fake Times:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/fake-times/id1449188053?mt=11

Smashwords (all ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/916990

Industrial hemp is now legal in the US – Great news, especially for climate change

United-States-of-Hemp-flag

USA decriminalises hemp

2018 was short on good news stories, but President Trump gave the world something to celebrate late in December, when he signed the 2018 US Farm Bill into law. One part of the Farm Bill decriminalised industrial hemp, at federal level, meaning that US farmers can now grow the crop without a complex licensing process, or fear of federal intervention.

reefer-madness-film-poster-1936Reefer Madness and all that

The Marihuana (sic) Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of marihuana illegal throughout the United States under federal law through the imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp. This act was brought in to criminalise the use of recreational cannabis, following the infamous Reefer Madness religious propaganda film. Many believe that hemp was effectively criminalised under this act so as to protect the paper and plastics interests of American industrialists. Whatever the truth was, hemp is now legal to grow, without the need for licences or advance tax payment. The 1930s were truly odd.

Hemp for sustainable production that helps the environment

Hemp built America, and much of the modern world, so it’s great to see this plant again taking the lead in the search for sustainable materials that can keep us in the lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed, but without destroying the planet. An acre of hemp absorbs 10 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, while the processed plants can displace materials and foodstuffs derived from trees, oil and dairy cows. So hemp is the champion that can save the world. And it is truly awesome to see America again take the lead in mass cultivation of hemp.

 

Learn more

This Wikipedia article has great detail on the history of cannabis in the USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States

This article from Visual Capitalist has information on the 6,000-year history of medical cannabis: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-medical-cannabis-shown-one-giant-map/

Watch Reefer Madness, IF YOU DARE! https://youtu.be/esfKfTBGadg

Reefer Madness poster credit: By Motion Picture Ventures – posterwire.com direct link, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69820558

Of course the Trumps love NORAD’s Santa Tracker – it’s genius content marketing

Melania-Trump-NORAD-Santa

 

How do you make a vast, expensive piece of US military infrastructure relevant to the population of the entire world, while projecting American values into regional hotspots? And, bizarrely, how do you deter a nuclear missile strike on America with red-nosed reindeer, while telling a seven-year-old that Santa probably isn’t real?

The answer is the NORAD (North American Air Defense) Santa Tracker, website that uses Google Earth to track Santa Claus as he travels across the world at faster-than-light speeds on Christmas Eve.

Wikipedia puts it drily

“As a publicity move on December 24, 1955, NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), informed the press that CONAD was tracking Santa Claus’s sleigh, adding that “CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas”, and a Christmas Eve tradition was born, known as the “NORAD Tracks Santa” program. Every year on Christmas Eve, “NORAD Tracks Santa” purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible.”

It’s also a way to project Western Christian stories across the world. I’d love to see the analytics for the site but, whether the locals know it or not,  Santa visits everywhere from Afghanistan to Syria. “I am Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and I have come to you!” And there are multiple subtexts, like We can track objects in the air anywhere.

Show me the value

The Track Santa exercise is all about showing that the billions spent on maintaining nuclear missile defence is not a complete waste of money, when millions of Americans live in poverty and despair, with millions more at the edge. In 1958, the NORAD budget was pitched at $5.5 billion a year, so Santa only knows what it costs in today’s dollars.

Win-win PR

So when Melania and Donald Trump turned to NORAD’s Track Santa for some Christmas Eve PR, to find some magic in the horror of the military-industrial complex’s 2018, the story arc completes. With the President’s involvement, it had to descend into self-parody and farce. And so it did.

The Track Santa story was planned as a one-off PR piece in 1955, at the height of Cold War paranoia, so it’s fitting that it becomes so relevant again when paranoia is the new thing. It even uses Google Earth! It’s a classic piece of content marketing. The truth around it and how it’s used today is just the next chapter in this story, which will run and run.

Resources

Track Santa, Christmas Eve 2019 (assuming no US government shutdown and funding cut) at www.noradsanta.org

About NORAD, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Aerospace_Defense_Command

Photo credits

Melania Trump fields NORAD Santa Tracker call from American kids – The Boston Globe

NORAD Track Santa screenshot

Witch Grannies, get a free thriller ebook for kids aged 8 – 12

witch-grannies-gary-j-byrnes-books-for-kids

Inspired by Roald Dahl

Let’s get one thing straight: Roald Dahl rocks. He was an amazing writer, so good that, reading his stories to my children (for about the past twenty years, one child after another), I would often keep reading long after my precious audience was sound asleep. Whenever we reach the end of Mr Dahl’s sadly finite collection, we try other writers. And they mostly fail (David Walliams is the exception, a talented writer who gets children).

So I was inspired to write my own stories for children, designed to be as much a pleasure for the adult reader, as for the intended audience. Witch Grannies, The Case of the Evil Schoolmaster was my first, followed by Witch Grannies, The Case of the Lonely Banshee. The stories are very, very Irish, taking some of the ancient lore that we typically get from our grannies, adding a dash of the vernacular, then mixing everything up in a surreal, magical blender.

I hope that you enjoy this taste of my writing for kids, with the first Witch Grannies available for free, right now, in every ebook format. And if this inspires you to go and write your own story? (Gasps.) I have succeeded in everything. Thank you!

Find the Witch Grannies ebook for free on iTunes here.

Find the Witch Grannies ebook for free, in any format, on Smashwords here.

Flash fiction – Privilege Revoked by Gary J Byrnes

Tell a story in 300 words or less

Flash fiction is all about brevity. From Ernest Hemingway’s famed six word story (look it up!) to the Liberties Flash Fiction competition’s 300 words, it’s a great exercise. My story, Privilege Revoked, won the 2015 competition, and I publish it here for your enjoyment (Note: this story contains the c-word, and I don’t mean Christmas).

liberties-flash-fiction-dublin-ireland-gary-j-byrnes

Privilege Revoked

by Gary J Byrnes, 2015

Jesus, the heat on Francis Street today. Every day for six months had been the “hottest day ever”. As Tommy passed through the security scanner at the pub entrance, the TV wall babbled about how fossil fuels were the best hope for a sustainable future. His body image flashed onto the scanner screen, every fold of fat on show, each cavity exposed.

‘Jaysus, Tommy. There’s a void in your stomach, cryin’ out for a pint of stout,’ laughed the security twat as he checked Tommy’s toolbox.

Tommy grunted, took his tools, sat himself at the bar. The droid whirred along its rail.

‘Pint of plain, cunt,’ said Tommy, inserting his WorthCard into the slot on the counter. He always took pleasure in this robot’s lack of insult chips. It was the little things.

The robot found a plastic half-litre jug and held it under the relevant dispenser. It suddenly jerked back. No stout flowed.

‘Pardon me, sir or madam. It appears that your WorthCard has declined this transaction. It transpires that your residential water bill has not been discharged to the System’s satisfaction. Alcohol privilege is revoked until the matter is resolved. Thank you and good day.’

The bardroid whirred to another customer.

Tommy slumped on his stool, everything finally catching up with him. Twenty years on from the Crash of ‘08, life was shit. No other word for it. Just shit. The EFU – Euro Fascist Union –  now controlled every aspect of life. No, call it existence. The fucking robots had all the jobs and the function of the ninety-nine percent came down to serving the elite, tending their droids, managing welfare credits, and not much else.

Tommy snapped open his toolbox, found a nice big wrench.

The end.

Would you like to read more Liberties flash fiction?

Get the Liberties Flash Fiction Collection, free from Smashwords (any ebook format or read online): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568168

What’s the Big Idea?

david-ogilvy-what-is-a-big-idea

You hear it. The noise

Without a big idea in your brand, marketing and advertising, you are wasting time and money, and you are boring your audience. Pretty much all advertising these days is dull, doing nothing for the brand, merely adding to the noise. And the amount of media noise that we are subjected to daily keeps growing, so the Big Idea is becoming more important every day. In fact, it’s essential.

The power of the big idea

When your brand, marketing strategy and individual campaigns are driven by big ideas, it becomes so much easier to connect with your customers. Big ideas can come in many forms, from wordplay to combining two ideas that have never been used together before. So how do you judge a big idea? I go with David Ogilvy’s criteria, as Ogilvy is credited with devising the concept.

david-ogilvy-big-idea-criteria

At the end of the day, remember another Ogilvy quote: “Big ideas are usually simple ideas.” And big ideas are not limited to marketing: they drive the most engaging popular culture, and the stories that keep us interested in the world. Think about the books, movies, ads and cultural icons that stand out in your mind, that resonate, that connect; they are all built upon big ideas.

Now stop adding to the noise, cut through it.


Sources

ogilvy.com

facebook.com/ogilvy

AZ Quotes


Interesting

Mad Men agency Sterling Cooper is said to be based on the Ogilvy ad agency.

Hemp absorbs 10 tons of CO2 per acre – let’s plant enough hemp to stop climate change

forest-fire-lax-los-angeles-california-november-2018-gary-j-byrnes

Don’t listen to climate change deniers

Whatever the deniers may claim, the devastating fires in California are a result of climate change. Carbon dioxide is the biggest problem in climate change. We produce it by burning coal, petrol and gas in electricity production and transportation. Agriculture is another big source of CO2, as are deforestation and cement production. The CO2 that’s released by human activities helps to warm up the atmosphere. This is called the greenhouse effect, and CO2 and other contributing gases, such as methane, are called greenhouse gases, GHGs. A warmer atmosphere has more energy, which unsettles weather patterns and causes more severe weather events. Hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, ice storms are all caused by our GHG emissions.

12 years to save the world

If we don’t curb the global rise in temperatures to 2 degrees C, we go past the tipping point and risk extinction as a species. At current rates, we’ll pass the 2C increase by 2030. We have 12 years to save the world.

We can stop climate change dead in its tracks

We emitted 53.5 gigatons of CO2 in 2017. Global emissions need to be 25% lower than this figure by 2030 in order to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Our planet actually steps up and absorbs about half of that, in oceans and forests (go you, Earth!). To absorb the rest, we’ll need to plant around 670 million acres of hemp. If that sounds like a lot, it actually isn’t. We need hemp growing on around 5% of agricultural land around the world. And because hemp thrives in poor soil (improving the soil in the process!), we can find new places to grow it. By planting enough hemp we can absorb all the CO2 that the human race produces, so we stop global warming dead. We can and will do this.

thco2.com will make this happen

Stay tuned to this blog for thco2.com, a new planet-saving platform coming in 2019. Are you ready to help save planet Earth?

 

Image

Malibu forest fire over LAX. Photo by Gary J Byrnes, 9 November, 2018.

Resources

Main sources of CO2 emissions: https://www.che-project.eu/news/main-sources-carbon-dioxide-emissions

Gigaton  = one billion metric tons

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/01/meet-the-gigaton-the-huge-unit-that-scientists-use-to-track-planetary-change/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.febf6e97b986

Agricultural land = 50 million square km

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.K2

Golem. A short story by Gary J Byrnes

Auschwitz-Golem-Story-Gary-J-Byrnes

GOLEM by Gary J Byrnes

Dachau, Germany – 1944

I

The moon showed her face as the wasted man looked into his killer’s eyes. He smiled, weakly. One last time, he held the page of crumpled newspaper close to his failing eyes, squinted, nodded.

‘Yes. You can kill me now.’

Strong hands closed around the old man’s neck, thumbs pressed on his throat. The killer trembled, hesitated. The old man closed his eyes.

‘God is truth. Now do it.’

The killer’s thumbs pressed harder into the windpipe. The victim struggled imperceptibly, eyes wide, but too late. The life that had been full – of happiness, the practice of medicine, family gatherings, the appreciation of poetry, the love of sunshine – slipped easily away. Since the world went crazy, the will to survive had faded to zero. The final image in his brain was of his beloved son, age six, pedalling his new red tricycle in the patio garden, the happiest child on Earth. Then nothing. The body was lowered gently into the patch of moonlight on the dirt floor and the watching grey faces all around faded back into the darkness. Prayers were whispered from the darkness. But it was too late for prayers there.

‘Goodbye, father,’ said the killer as he folded the piece of newspaper and tucked it inside his rough shirt. He was both confused and amazed by how easy it had been to kill his own father. This heap before him had given everything he had – finally his very life – for his son. Yet the hardness in the killer’s heart meant that there could be no grief. So he dragged the bony body to the rear of the draughty billet and worked on the second phase of his plan. Dawn was seven hours away and there was much forming to be done.

II

The bored police captain sat uneasily in his spacious oak-panelled office. He shuffled through a slim pile of official reports, made the occasional note. Every few minutes, he stood and gazed through the window at the rushing city below. He was stifled. In truth, he had been considering a transfer into the military. As he straightened up his desk and prepared to leave for lunch, his secretary rapped at the door. He knew her knock.

‘Enter.’

‘Captain, I have a report that requires your urgent attention,’ said the secretary, pointing towards the upstairs office suites.

‘Oh? What is it?’

‘A murder.’

‘At last. I thought I would go mad. All the definitions have changed. I honestly don’t know what constitutes a crime anymore.’

He internally reprimanded himself for showing annoyance, however slight, with his political masters. But the secretary could be trusted. Still, he shot her a hard glance. She looked to the floor. A murder! His heart leapt. Somebody important? It must be.

He took the folder from her, flicked to the case page and quickly scanned it. Confusion, then anger seized him, made his hands shake.

‘Is this some kind of joke? A Jew? What does the killing of a damned Jew matter?’

‘Read on, Sir,’ said the secretary.

He read on.

‘The body was concealed in a golem. Curious.’

‘Who better to uncover the truth?’

He scanned the wall, admired again his collection of framed press cuttings, diplomas and – in pride of place – his photo with the Great Leader.

‘Yes, that’s true. Nobody knows more about golems and Jew mysticism. But what does the formation of a supernatural saviour from clay have to do with some Jew infighting?’

‘What is a golem, sir?’

‘Adam was the first golem, mentioned in the Jew Talmud. Fashioned from dust, brought to life. In modern times, it symbolises a defender of the Jews. You make it from earth and water, make an inscription on its forehead, chant and chant some more. Then it will come to life and do your bidding. The most famous example is the Golem of Prague, believed to have defended the Jew ghetto there in the sixteenth century.’

‘Ah, the one you – ‘

‘Correct. The one I searched for in thirty-nine. According to legend, it lay in a secret room in a synagogue, awaiting the spell that would return it to life, to defend the Jews once more. I searched every synagogue, broke every wall. There was nothing. I disproved its existence, weakened the will of the Jews. The more I smashed, the more they needed the golem. And he never came.’ He glanced at the photograph, smiled. The undoing of the Golem of Prague had made his reputation. ‘Essentially, the golem is a metaphor. It represents the attainment of wisdom and holiness, the godlike ability to create life. Just another stupid religious fairytale. But why conceal an irrelevant Jew’s body in one?’

‘A religious rite?’

‘I don’t know. The victim was of no importance. I smell a disagreement over money. Still, it will be good to get out of the office. I will leave for Dachau immediately. Send a message to the camp commander. I’ll drive through the night, get there tomorrow early. Please arrange any necessary clearances.’

‘Of course. Do you need a driver?’

‘No, I need some freedom. And can you please inform my wife?’

He sat at his desk, began to write a list of items.

‘I’ll need to pack my camera, analysis equipment and probes, maybe some sausage and wine. A golem, eh? But first, lunch, something special.’ He looked at her. ‘Will you please join me? I apologise for losing my temper just now.’

He stood and went to her, put his arms around her perfect waist. She smiled as he smelled her pinned-up hair, the Chanel perfume on her neck.

‘And over a Jew!’ she said, laughing.

He said ‘A dead Jew!’ and laughed with her.

III

The workers stood – swayed – in ragged lines on the camp’s central square. Guards in winter coats circled, collars raised against the bitter January wind. Drooling Alsatians strained. The camp commander entered the square with his adjutants, addressed the workers.

‘There was a killing in your billet last night,’ he barked. ‘The killing of Jews is solely the right of pure-blooded German officers and guards. The act cannot and will not be tolerated. Who was responsible? Tell me now!’

Silence, every freezing man staring at the cobbled ground.

‘Very well. Take off your clothes.’

Resignedly, the two hundred and eight men of varying ages began to strip, peeling away flea-infested layers, exposing pallid, blotchy skin to the weak sun and freezing air.

‘My only regret is that I am under orders to keep you alive until an investigator makes his way here from Berlin. An expert.’

At that word, the killer’s heart lurched. His bait had worked, the trap was set. When the expert arrived, investigated the golem, then he would spring the trap. And escape from this cursed place. Switzerland just hours away.

‘But I will beat you until you explain this golem to me,’ continued the commander. ‘Why bury a Jew like that?’

Nobody told about the golem. They knew it was a rhetorical question, asked by a brute, an unaware man. So the guards went through the ranks, beat and whipped and dehumanised the workers at random.

The commander looked to the twisting pipes and chimneys that loomed nearby. This was the final solution, right here, so why should they be distracted by the killing. What matter of it? He thought. A Jew? The new ovens will see to them all soon. And this lot will be first in, he vowed. He strode to the nearest Jew, punched him hard in the stomach, kicked him, spat on him.

After twenty-seven minutes of abuse, night had fallen. So he ordered the workers to put their clothes back on and get indoors. The captain from Berlin wanted to preserve all evidence. That was all that saved them from a full night of pain. But it was alright to starve them. He watched as they trudged into their billet, to sleep four to a bunk under horsehair blankets.

‘We’ll be watching,’ he screamed. ‘Any Jew who touches the dead one shall join him instantly. Understood? Understood?’

Then he went to the ovens to supervise the first test, thankful that the dead Jew could not delay that milestone. The oven block was a low, redbrick building, which could have passed for a municipal swimming pool. It was well-lit inside and the air was noticeably warm and sweet-smelling. A steady hum throbbed through the space. Twenty naked and emaciated men stood in a ragged line, a dozen guards standing to attention as the commander entered.

The workers’ eyes darted nervously. They knew something bad would happen, they just didn’t know what. When, at last, the commander ordered them into the new showers, they smiled. They wanted to believe that, yes, they were simply being used to test the showers. This didn’t necessarily make sense, but they clung to it anyway.

On the roof, pigeons squawked, squabbled over the best perches by the chimneys.

IV

The police captain found that it was easy to get in to Dachau. Only delay was a line of trucks ahead, each filled with gas cylinders, marked IG Farben. Finally, the iron gateway greeted ironically: WORK WILL SET YOU FREE. A kind of salvation for the human waste that would work, suffer and die there. An odd smell in the air, like roasting coffee. His papers were checked casually by a guard inside the gate, for who would want to come here without good reason? A long column of workers shuffled. Just ahead. The ragged men looked at him with the eyes of ghosts.

‘What’s that? Did one just smile at me?’

‘I doubt that, sir. We kill the insane ones the day they arrive. They’re no good for anything. You may dine at the officers’ mess. Immediately to your left.’

‘Thank you. Then I need to see this dead Jew.’

‘Block four, sir.’

‘Very good. Where should I park?’

The guard indicated a space for the official car, made an entry on his report sheet and the investigation had begun. The captain was tired, should have taken a driver. Decided to get through it quickly, get away from the stink, find an inn, maybe that one he’d passed an hour before. Taking his camera and briefcase, he walked to the officer’s mess. It was a pleasant stone building standing on its own, curiously fronted by a lawn and ornamental trees.

The mess was quiet so he was given the best table, beside a huge window which looked onto the lawn with the open square beyond. The waiter brought coffee and the day’s paper, offered the menu, busied himself with a table of engineers in clean overalls nearby. They were in high spirits, discussing the oven schedule, the successful tests and the race to be the first Nazi camp to commence the actual extermination of the inferior races. Schnapps. They sent a glass to the captain, which he accepted warmly.

Then the captain read war news and ate good sausages, fried eggs, nutty bread. He drank four cups of coffee, didn’t want to leave the cosy room. He tipped the waiter generously, loaded his camera, wished the engineers luck, went to examine a golem.

The golem was partially ruined, but still an impressive sight. A bulky male figure, over two metres in length, emerged seamlessly from the ground, hands by his side, face strong and impassive. Most of the golem’s head and all the powerful body were carefully finished to a smoothness that didn’t fit the matter. An area around the neck was torn away, fragments returning to the ground from whence they came. The dead Jew’s face and upper body were exposed and starting to stink. His mouth was open, stuffed with dirt, his eyes caked. There, scratched into the dirt that formed the golem’s forehead, he read – as expected – the Hebrew word EMET. He bent down, erased the first letter with his thumb. MET remained. Truth became death.

‘Now you are deactivated, golem,’ he said as a shiver rattled his spine.

The captain took photographs, observed how the earth that formed the golem had been scraped from the ground in the billet. That task had probably taken weeks, in preparation for the killing. But why? ‘Why, golem?’ No obvious clue. He searched his memory for every reference. Nothing clicked.

He left the building, which was little warmer than outside, ordered the waiting guard to send in the suspects one at a time ‘And tell them to hold out their hands, yes?’ He connected the ultraviolet bulb to its battery and lit the golem in a purple glow. The Jews came in. He held the bulb over each man’s hands. The light sparkled off the minerals on the Jews’ skin, residue from the concrete they were using to build the gas chambers and ovens. They filed in, filed out. Finally, hands that had little glow, too much dirt in every pore and fold. This is the man who made the golem.

‘Stand there, Jew.’

To be thorough, he checked the rest of the sorry men. But there was just the one suspect. He advised the guard that the killer had been found and it would take but a little while to understand why. Just the two men in the billet now, their weak shadows falling across the golem. The captain lit a cigarette.

‘Why did you kill him and why did you bury him inside a golem?’

The man just smiled weakly. Was this the one who had smiled earlier in the square? Something about him. Something odd, intangible.

‘He wanted to die.’

‘But why the golem?’

‘What do you know of the golem?’ asked the Jew.

‘The Fuhrer has an interest in such matters. Know thine enemy, etcetera. I know that the golem is a Jewish fantasy, a desperate cry for help by a doomed race. Your god has abandoned you, so why persevere with such matters?’

The Jew studied the captain, watched his mouth, his eyes, his hand movements.

‘I did it out of respect,’ answered the Jew. He straightened his back, lost his stoop, raised himself to a height equalling the captain.

‘Are you trying to imitate my voice?’ said the policeman.

‘Are you trying to imitate my voice?’

‘What is your game here?’

Now it was dark outside. It was time. The Jew reached inside his striped jacket, brought out a piece of folded newspaper. He handed it to the captain.

The police officer – now confused – unfolded the paper. Saw the story. The story about himself. The photograph of himself and Hitler. The smiling Jew hunters. He stared at the picture, his smiling face. His brain clicked as the actor’s powerful hands closed around his throat and thumbs pressed his Adam’s apple through his windpipe. He couldn’t scream, just croaked, and his hands were too weak to break the Jew’s grip.

‘I look like you, captain. Isn’t that funny? A Jew that looks like a pure-blooded German officer.’

The Jew was strong. The captain fumbled for his pistol. Too late.

‘Too good an opportunity to pass up, captain. We’re not so different, we could be brothers. My father gave his life so that I might have a chance at mine. Thank you for being so predictable.’

The officer’s life was extinguished.

‘Enjoy hell.’

Now time was critical. The Jew undressed, removed the clothes from the body, put on the police uniform. A good fit, if a little loose around the stomach. But warmer. He smoked a cigarette and kept talking, imitating the captain’s accent and voice modulations. He put his old clothes on the captain’s body, punched his face until he bled, then set to work kicking the dead man’s head.

‘Filthy Jew!’ he cried. Maybe the guard was listening.

Happy that the face was sufficiently disfigured, he lit another cigarette, cocked his cap slightly to one side, assumed the arrogant swagger of the superior race. He checked the captain’s papers. They were not specific, allowed free travel. This was what he had prayed for most of all. Grinning, he packed up the captain’s gear and left the billet for the last time.

Stop grinning, you fool.

The guard stood to attention.

‘He admitted everything. The golem was just a stupid Jew attempt at salvation. I killed him for wasting everybody’s time.’

He rubbed the tender knuckles of his right hand.

‘Can you have the bodies cleared and burned? And advise the commander.’

The guard wasn’t sure about any of this, but didn’t dare question a captain.

‘I need to get away from here. The smell of Jews is too much. How far to Switzerland? I promised my mistress I would bring back a fat diamond.’

‘A short drive, sir. It’s well signposted.’

‘Very good. That’s all.’

He walked to the temporary parking area, looked for the car with Berlin plates. A Mercedes. The key in his pocket fitted, so he began to breathe again and drove to the gate. The guard didn’t even check his papers, lifted the barrier, waved him through. He smiled, waved back.

V

His heart painfully pounding, blood rushing through his ears, he drove away from the miserable place. A long train approached slowly, drawing up beside the entrance. He glimpsed faces and hands through the gaps in the cattle cars’ walls. He wished there was something he could do for them. Then he accepted reality, his reality, the reality of his escape. He rummaged in a basket on the passenger seat.

‘Sausage! Bread!’

The smooth glass of a bottle. He pulled off the road, just for a couple of minutes, just to calm his heart, and drank the wine greedily. As the dark towers of Dachau faded from his rear view mirror and the forest gave way to a view of moonlit snow-capped mountains, the Jew laughed.

‘Oh my earnest captain, how could you not know the modern meaning of the word golem? Fool, stupid, clueless!

 

Vampire Story – book, film and music

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I had the idea for Vampire Story a couple of years back. The idea being to tie Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in with modern vampires living in Stoker’s hometown of Dublin. I knew I had to make a film, to direct the telling of the story. My friend Padraig said he’d back it. So he became the producer. I didn’t realise how big the project would become. Making a film, even a short one, is a piece of work. Dozens of talented people, location permits, equipment hire, the weather, the script, pizzas – all these have to come together at the right time for magic to even stand a chance of happening.

Making a film is a very enlightening experience. It’s all about the suspension of disbelief. Now I understand why the top actors are paid so well: they have a true talent. Acting is hard. Editing is hard. Getting the audio right is hard. I get why movies can cost so much: there is so much to get right so that the audience loses their grip on external reality. That’s the magic of film. So, over a period of about 18 months, the magic did happen and we have a showcase available now for all the world to see, for free.

I figured that a story about a novelist needed to be expressed in its literary form also, so I wrote Vampire Story the book, taking the intimacy of text as an excuse to push back the boundaries of the story, create some new worlds within the world that was captured so well by Canon 5D cameras.

Then I contacted the musical geniuses who made the movie soundtrack, Carol Keogh and Aidan Casserly, and asked if we could release the Vampire Story music to the people of the world to enjoy as their own, personal soundtrack to life. They said Yes! and, within days, the original soundtrack was available globally.

Vampire Story is now full spectrum entertainment, and all for free). Thanks to all the cast and crew for helping make it happen, for sticking with it. It’s hard.

So enjoy it, and go spread the vampire love…

See the movie, for free, on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/mtbuLxOcHLo?list=UU4FqaSDtMkYv9uLUIipzXDA

Download the ebook, for free, from Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/488055

Download the ebook, for free, from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/vampire-story/id934729908?mt=11

Listen to the OST, for free, on BandCamp here: https://carolkeogh.bandcamp.com/album/vampire-story-soundtrack

Please share widely – the perfect soundtrack to life. Even if you live forever…

Like Vampire Story on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/vampirestorymovie