A Short Walk – dark short stories

My new book of short stories is available if you like a creepy dark read. You can read one of them here if you find yourself having a spare few moments.

Smart City Alpha.3

And my previous book of dark short stories, if you like that sort of thing.

(c) K Wicks

In sinister times… (poetry)

In sinister times

We came to be

A darkness occurring

It grows steadily

A fight for existence

For the future and past

This web is so tangled

The corruption is vast

And tension is mounting

It almost has taste

They seem on a clock

And want to make haste

As if there is something

A deadline at play

Something quite big

That’s led them astray

They’re giddy with power

Not a care in the world

Because it’s our freedoms

That will be controlled

~

They don’t even try to hide it

(c) K Wicks

A collective shift… (poetry)

A collective shift

Seems to have occurred

Within the deep souls

It’s awakened and stirred

A calling of sorts

As something draws near

A darkness of times

The threat becomes clear

That this is a fight

For humanity

While forces unknown

Try so desperately

To take what we have

Rearrange and disrupt

We are but mere pawns

In their realm of corrupt

They want all our thoughts

To be full saturated

And for you to accept

What they have now fated

But within this debacle

And calamitous mess

They lack so much heart

And seems so soulless

So we look for a new way

Outside of their plan

Hoping there’s still time

To do what we can

~

While it all seems a bit precarious

(c) K Wicks

Smart City Alpha.3 (short story)

From my new book of short stories – A Short Walk and other dark short stories, I thought I would share this one with you for free in case you fancy a little read today…

‘Dear Ms Malone,

Congratulations, your application has been accepted for an apartment in Smart City Alpha.3’

She couldn’t believe it, and such good timing too. The application had been so easy, so they must have had loads of people to choose from she thought, maybe her luck was changing. It had asked a few family questions and one about what work experience you had. All very easy to answer, newly orphaned and estranged from remaining family. And one previous job as a waitress. Since the recent upheavals had closed all the hospitality outlets and they weren’t a thing anymore, it seemed irrelevant.

But these new cities were to be a safe haven from the madness that had overtaken what used to be society. The new normal was anything but. Selected individuals would be allowed to be separated from ‘the rabble’ as they called it. The daily briefings were enough for you to see how unstable everything had become. Pockets of rioting always breaking out, high unemployment, addictions were rife and it seemed on a downward spiral with only one way out for a shot at a decent future. The smart cities.

The letter went on to give her new apartment number, moving date and even that they would send a vehicle and driver to collect her. Rent payments would be low and work provided to pay for bills and food.

Both her parents had succumbed to the new virus that had crept through the population, causing confusion, economic collapse and varying degrees of illness and mortality throughout the population. She had ended up in a high-rise block of flats in a deprived area of the city, with banging doors, sirens and shouting at all hours. People coming and going all the time, and although the illness had mostly passed, it still loomed in the background of everyday life. Where there were people, there could be a threat. The idea of a nice quiet secure life was appealing. Especially with it only being selected people, maybe they wouldn’t let in any undesirables. It seemed so unfair that they survived and her parents didn’t.

There wasn’t much to pack, having only been a student living in halls when the emergency measures started, and had to stay there for the best part of a year. It was only after the cure had been introduced that the students were released. Her parents passed away shortly after and the family home had to be sold to pay for bills and costs, neither her or her brother could afford the upkeep or to pay for anything. At least the authorities had helped, otherwise she probably would have ended up on the street. Her first two nights had been in a hospital as that was the only emergency accommodation available until they could find somewhere. She still had nightmares about that place, and occasionally flashbacks during the day, remembering how odd it all seemed. Faintly hearing distant screams, screeching and scraping of trolley’s being pushed around in echoing hallways.

Three days later and it was time to move. Luckily the driver app she had been asked to download informed her he’d arrived and would assist with her bags and personal effects. A picture of the driver came through, showing only a facemask, pair of eyes and a hat. It would have to do as an ID she guessed. Hopefully you didn’t have to wear masks in the city, she hadn’t thought to ask and the information didn’t specify. It was such a part of her life now but the idea of not having to wear one was appealing.

She took a last look at the dingey flat that had been her home for the last couple of months and felt relief it was over now and a new phase could begin. A knock at the door and a few bags handed to the pair of green eyes. Door closed and gone. Not even a glance back, just looking forwards trying not to look at anyone or their pitiful lives on a downward spiral. If she had looked back though, she would have seen another lonely person with a few bags in hand, being shown into her old flat. Now to be their temporary home until their application gets approved.

It was about 20 minutes out of the old city they had built the new one. A massive fortified city with huge walls, security checkpoints and scanning technology to get in. It seemed to be the only way to ensure you would be safe, the adverts showed how much easier everything was in there. Friendly happy people, helping each other realise a new safer future. A new normal, where you could minimise risk and live better. She didn’t understand why the people outside wanted to live like the old way. It seemed so far away now. There was no way to tell who was going to be ok, millions had perished. But safety beckoned and knowing the madness of the old world was being left behind was a relaxing one. It was a shame she hadn’t told her brother she was leaving, but he wasn’t himself anymore.

They hadn’t spoken since the funerals. He kept insisting their parents were killed by the cure and wouldn’t accept it was the illness. Maybe he would come round and see that the news and media were right after all. That humanity was going to fall into ruin over the next decade, more people would be lost and the smart cities were the only way to build a new way forward. Technology would keep up safe.

As the car pulled up, vast metal fences surrounding the outer walls. There was a tunnel leading to the entrance so you couldn’t see into the city from outside at all. No guards, just screens and scanners, the driver removed his mask and turned to face the screen by his window. It beeped and turned green, the screen then slid to her window and flashed up the logo for a QR code. She suddenly realised it was on her acceptance letter and fumbled through her bag for it, suddenly flustered at not being prepared. A panic that they might not let her in after all, what if they had made a mistake and she wasn’t wanted in there after all? It beeped and turned green, nothing to worry about, she was fine.

As they started to drive through the tunnel, she looked at the lights lining the walls. Suddenly they flickered, and a long white hallway was in the place of the tunnel. Voices and hurried whispers, yet still the feeling of moving forward. The scene switched back to the car and tunnel, but the voices remained.

“We’ve got to get her out of here before she wakes up fully. They’ll know as soon as she knows, as long as we can get her out, we’re good”.

None of it made any sense. Maybe the radio was on, or maybe she was just tired, it had been a few months of sleepless nights and worry. Finally due to be over and a new life to begin. And with those thoughts drifted off into sleep, no longer worried what the driver might think, he could wake her when they arrived.

She woke with a start, a vague awareness of being someone tapping her info consciousness. But when she opened her eyes, wasn’t where she thought she would be. Her brother sat on the edge of the bed she was in and a couple of people she didn’t know hung back in the corner. She was so confused.

“What’s going on, where am I? How did I get here? Is this the city and you were here all along?”

He shook his head.

“No, this is just normal life now, I’ve been looking for you for two weeks after you went missing”.

Now it was her turn to shake her head.

“Weeks? Missing? What are you talking about! I haven’t seen you for months and was moving to the new smart city Alpha 9”.

She still couldn’t understand what was going on.

“I saw you three weeks ago at our parent’s funeral. I know this is going to be hard to take in, but you’ve been missing for two weeks and I just had to bust you out of a facility”.

She was dumbstruck and could only sit in silence as he unravelled where she had been.

It was called the Alpha Project but went under the name SMART – Serial Monitoring Augmented Reality Trials. People were being taken and drugged to alter their alpha waves to induce a switched state of reality where the REM state seems real and your body and mind react as if it is. But the whole time hooked up to machines keeping you in a comatose state and giving you a new concept of time, safety and reality. Weeks being turned into months and even years for some people.

“So, none of it happened? I wasn’t in a terrible flat for months feeling depressed and lonely? How can they do that, why would they do that to me? How do I know you are telling me the truth?”.

But deep down she knew he didn’t need to lie. It was written all over his face what he had been through, and suddenly the tunnel made sense now and the white corridor. That was her getting out. There was so much to work through and understand.

“I wasn’t going to let them take you as well, we’ve all lost too much to let them keep taking more”.

She felt extremely grateful to have a brother like him at that moment and leaned in to give him a hug, the emotion of it all creeping in and a bit of a tear started to form. She motioned for his two friends to come of the shadows and join them.

“I presume you guys helped? Just as well you three were there to come and save me! I owe you all one”.

They glanced at each other and back to her.

“It wasn’t just us three, there are others and being honest, we could use all the help we can get. Are you in?”

(c) K Wicks

We’re two years in… (poetry)

We’re two years in

To the twilight zone

It’s getting quite tense

And close to the bone

So many unsure

Of just what to do

While inch by inch

They tighten the screw

Creating their stage

Where all does seem lost

Ignoring the logic

No care for the cost

Throwing the souls

Off the ship out to sea

The darkest of waters

Where none shall be free

But a beacon of hope

When not all stepped aboard

They followed and waited

Becoming a horde

A thorn in the side

Of this dastardly plan

To change what we are

And see if they can

Hook us all up

To their digital world

Where we are all connected

And will be controlled

~

We’re halfway there already

(c) K Wicks

Reminds me of programs like The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone

Sometimes you hear something that makes you super proud of yourself. This line made my day –

“In many ways these tales remind me of programs like The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone, stories with bizarre twists in everyday situations”

The whole review is awesome to be honest, only a snippet of it below, and all the reviews received for my short stories so far have been very complimentary. Working on a second collection at the moment, hopefully they will be as good as the first.

(c) K Wicks