Shape-shifting for Beginners

From my Flash Fiction Collection

shape shifting for beginners lunasonlineIt’s not easy living with a serial shape-shifter. Most people on Spegorus could change their physical form to some degree, but Peter had really never got the knack of it. His sister, on the other hand, had always had a real flair for transformation and over the years had developed a huge repertoire. Joanna could take on one of these alternative forms at the drop of a hat, while Peter struggled to change the colour of his hair (as she would joke at his expense).

Even as a very young child Joanna would transform herself into creatures from her story books, often at quite inopportune times. Peter could recall numerous occasions when a normal family trip out had dissolved into chaos as Joanna had suddenly reinvented herself as a six foot ogre or a fluffy pink flying pig or some other insane creature from her imagination.

Of course it was tolerated in a child – to a degree – but there were rules, obviously, for adults. If nothing else it was simply a question of good manners not to go changing into a giant mollusc in the middle of lunch.

That afternoon, however, Joanna had gone too far. Way too far.  Peter had returned home with Gillian after a pleasant afternoon perusing the book shops and music stores in town. Peter and Gillian had a lot in common, including a love of reading and a dislike of creepy-crawlies. So when Peter opened the front door and invited Gillian in, the sight of a three foot wide hairy spider clinging upside down from the bannisters was an unwelcome, if not a downright alarming sight.

Gillian screamed. Peter cringed. Of course he knew it was Joanna, so apart from being vaguely repulsed he viewed the sight with relative composure. He put a reassuring arm around Gillian, but she pulled away from him and bolted through the front door and down the path.

‘What the hell d’you think you’re doing, Joanna? You know that’s an inacceptable form!’

Joanna’s spider antennae bent forward forming into two elegant question marks.

‘You are totally out of order. How can you be so mean?’

Joanna descended to the floor on a length of silk the diameter of a rope. She stood in front of Peter and opened her huge spider maw and yawned.

‘That’s it. I’m going to report you. But first I’m going to find Gillian.’

He turned towards the door.

‘I’m sorry, Peter, I was just bored hanging around the house…I’m sorry I upset your friend.’ Joanna wheedled in a little girl voice. ‘You won’t report me, will you?’

Peter looked over his shoulder to see a six year old Joanna in a pink party frock.

‘Don’t!  Just don’t, Joanna.’ Peter seethed.  He stormed out of the house slamming the door behind him.

Peter looked up and down the street. There was no sign of Gillian. He sighed and started walking away from the house, not really thinking, just walking. There was a small park at the bottom of the road.  Peter often escaped here. He headed towards the lake and stared at the swans which were calmly sailing over the sunlit water. Peter sighed again and sat down on the bank of the lake.

One of the swans headed over to where he was sitting and waddled up the bank. Peter sat very still. Swans could be quite dangerous, he thought. If it was actually swan? He looked more closely. The swan winked at him.


The swan nodded slowly and moved closer. Her beak nuzzled at his neck. Suddenly Peter felt a shiver go right through him. His hands and feet were tingling. He looked down. The ground seemed to be moving towards him. He stretched out his arms. White feathers were spouting where his fingers used to be. He looked down. His trainers transformed into webbed feet. Peter shook himself. Gillian’s swan neck was encircling his.

Together they walked down to the water’s edge and launched themselves into the lake. Paddling through the sparkling water seemed like the most natural thing in the world. He turned towards Gillian. She opened her beak and spoke to him. His swan’s brain understood and together they started to paddle harder. Gillian took off ahead of him. Now Peter was flying with gentle flaps of his great wings.

‘Let’s do this together for a while,’ he thought. The thought came back: ‘or maybe a life-time?’

©2018 Chris Hall

Accident on Earth

Accident on Earth lunasonline

From my Flash Fiction Collection

Great Being Five surveyed her handiwork.  She was responsible for four inhabited planets.  She was pleased with herself having recently won an award for the one in Alpha Centauri.  Although the planet was far from developed, life forms had just made the transition from sea to land and it didn’t even have a proper name yet.

But she was worried.  Planet Earth was in trouble again.  She sighed.  It used to be such a nice little planet.  She had enjoyed the dinosaurs and had been quite sad when they were wiped out by a huge meteorite.  She should have seen that one coming, done something about it, made a small adjustment to its trajectory.  But her eye was off the ball, busy nurturing a newly-forming planet on the other side of the universe.  Not that the Great Beings were really supposed to interfere.

She’d watched the new little humans emerge, delighted as they discovered fire, tools and the wheel.  Built great empires, made beautiful music, art and literature.  She loved all the sea creatures and the birds and the big and little furry animals.  Of course there had been terrible tragedies.  Wars mainly.  And awful natural disasters.  She had held back as the Great Beings were required to do, even when they had created those dreadful atomic bombs.  Very clever, but dropping them on those pretty little islands and causing all that sickness and death.  It was all she could do to do nothing.

She had sat patiently through the Cold War, amusing herself with the pleasure of new discoveries by scientists and botanists.  She particular enjoyed the TV broadcasts by David Attenborough.  But now, now there was a problem developing which truly threatened the planet’s future.

She focused her third eye and searched.  There he was, that idiot American with the funny hair.  Donald Trump, making threats against that dangerous madman in North Korea.  The people of the Earth sure did pick-em, she thought.  Tuning in to the escalating situation with nuclear weapons poised on either side, Great Being Five was certain that her lovely blue planet was only weeks away from destruction.  Something had to be done.

A natural disaster, one that was already foreseen.  Give a little nudge to the Earth’s settings.  Which though?  She had to be certain that it would kill off Trump.

She scanned the data banks.  That’s it!  Mount Teide on Tenerife.  One devastating volcanic eruption and half the island would fall into the sea causing a huge tidal wave to sweep across the Atlantic Ocean and take out the US Eastern Seaboard.  Just a small increase in pressure and there she blows!  And look, there are even reports of increased seismic activity.  I just have to wait until Trump’s back in New York and bam!  He’s swallowed up in a massive tidal wave.  Gotcha!

Great Being Five’s conscience monitor started to flash.  What about all the innocent people who will also be killed.  What about the animals?  The cats and dogs, and birds and fishes?  No, think again, Five.

All right then.  Just one little accident, just him.  Great Being Five trained her third eye on the target.  All she need was the opportunity to engineer an accident.

The following Earth day all the news and social media channels suddenly focused on one single event.  Over the airwaves came the BBC World News.  ‘In breaking news, President Donald Trump is reported to have fallen from the roof garden at Trump Towers.  The President had apparently been leaning on the guard rail, tweeting his latest tweet when in a freak accident…”  Five smiled quietly to herself.

©2018 Chris Hall

Mind Mess

“I thought you said this was a good one.  Ordered mind packed with information, experiences and emotions?” Probe Agent Delta-Zero-Four turned to her colleague, the scales on her forehead raised. “We’re not going to learn much here.  Look!”

Probe Agent Beta –Two-Two peered over her shoulder at the screen, “When tested the subject scored exceptionally well,” he read.  His forked tongue flickered.  “Mmm, does look a bit of a mess.”  He jabbed a manicured claw at the bottom of the screen. “What are those?”

“Initialising visual brain-image enhancer,” she tweaked a knob on the side of the monitor.  “Thought-debris, mind-rubbish, emotional nonsense…I don’t see much else.”

“Very well, are we agreed Delta-Zero-Four?”

“Agreed, Beta-Two-Two.”  She said, pushing a red button in the centre of her console.

The screen went blank for a second, then a message flashed up: “Mind-wipe activated, click on the tab for next subject.”

Delta-Zero-Four clicked on the mouse.

©2018 Chris Hall