Archive for the ‘R J Dent’s short stories’ Category

Some of the Life of Gilbert by R J Dent

January 9, 2015

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Gilbert was very, very fed up.

          He’d been sitting inside a locked vault for several weeks and wanted to be out in the world again – circulating, as he’d been created to do. He thought back to his last week of independence; the way he’d been happily mixing with others, in and out of different environments, aware of movements and touch. He’d made a lot of people happy and had not been bored once.

          Now – a few weeks later – he was feeling a little dull, there being no light, movement or friction in the vault. He’d asked some of the others about possible futures, but they were all – with the exception of Rhonda – too busy crowing about past glories.

          “Once,” Oswald rather pompously stated – for the twentieth time – “I was exchanged – with a few others – for a Rolls Royce.”

          “You said Jaguar before,” Ellen said shrilly.

          “Or was it a Rover?” Jamie asked in his soft voice.

          “The type of car doesn’t matter,” Oswald snapped impatiently. “What is of paramount importance is that my personal value is far higher than yours.”

          “But you’re worth exactly the same as the rest of us,” Gilbert interrupted.

          Oswald sighed in exasperation. “I’m very much aware of my value, thank you, Gilbert. My point is that – unlike many of you – my actual value exceeds my stated value. Read more…

Some of the Life of Gilbert

Copyright (c) R J Dent (2010)

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Harry by R J Dent

January 9, 2015

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It was exactly one week after her birthday that Muriel realized that Harry was a robot.

          Up until then, she’d just thought that he was as near as it was possible to get – for a man – to being a perfect human being.

          He did everything for her: listened to her, helped her, did jobs around the house without being prompted and took her on surprise holidays. On top of all that he was good-looking, had a great sense of humour, was a great fuck and did his job well. Muriel couldn’t help but be in love with him.

          Yet at odd times, there was something a little distant about him. When he didn’t know she was watching him, she saw a look of detachment cross his features, as though he’d suddenly switched off from her and her world. This hurt her a little, so one day she asked Harry about it. He apologized for giving her that impression, but all it was was that she’d simply observed him when he was tired and trying to unwind from a hard day at work.

          “Are you sure?” she’d asked, and he’d taken her into his arms and held her tightly.

          “Of course,” he’d responded, stoking her head gently, before taking her to bed and making love to her. Read more…

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R J Dent says: ‘After reading Isaac Asimov’s wonderful I, Robot stories, I always wanted to write a robot story. Once I’d had the idea of a woman becoming unhappy because her lover was too attentive, too perfect, I had the main story idea. The other spark that really brought the story to life for me was the idea that the robot was in a permanent state of being improved, according to the partner’s wishes. Harry’s name came from the protagonist of Hubert Selby Jr’s, The Demon; Muriel’s name came from Steve Harley’s Muriel the Actor.’

 

Text: Harry (1635 words)

Copyright © R J Dent (2001 & 2016)

 

Image: Personal Robot 06 by Franz Steiner

 

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The Host by R J Dent

January 9, 2015

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Eddie was watching the television.

          After a hard day’s work at the factory, there was nothing Eddie liked more than sitting down in his favourite armchair and watching whatever happened to be on the television. He’d flick from one channel to another as each programme ended, slowly eating his way through the huge portion of fish and chips he habitually bought on the way home from work.

          For Eddie, the television was a window onto the rest of the world.

          Thanks to the television, Eddie thought, I’m in touch with what’s going on on the planet.

          Eddie even had his favourite type of programme – documentaries. Not the ones in which the eating, drinking, mating and sleeping habits of some animal or other were shown, but the ones that showed real people in real situations – the ones Eddie called ‘True Life Dramas’.

          The best example of this, Eddie felt, was the ‘drama’ in which someone got wrongfully imprisoned, whereupon a research team would be galvanized into finding evidence which would prove the someone’s innocence. Read more…

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R J Dent says: ‘I wrote The Host after listening to a popular host being interviewed. The host said he never watched the television, but that without his television programme, he would not know what to do to keep himself occupied. This, combined with my interpretation of Harlan Ellison’s notion of television as a ‘glass teat’ suckling the world,  gave me the story’s central metaphor.’

 

The Host

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

 

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Fire! by R J Dent

January 9, 2015

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I AM THE GOD OF HELL-FIRE AND I BRING YOU – FIRE! Arthur Brown sang into Travis’s ears as he lit the fuse with his lighter, and then took two steps back. He quickly turned and made his way across the stained concrete floor of the dark and derelict factory. Outside, Travis crossed the empty road and turned a corner.

          I GOT A BAD DESIRE – OH, OH, OH, I’M ON FIRE, Bruce Springsteen rasped as Travis carefully opened the door of an empty office block and made his way up the stairs to the office that overlooked the factory. It was a meticulously selected vantage point from which to watch the factory burn. He stood in front of the boarded-up window and peered through the large hole he had drilled into the wooden sheet the previous day, in order to ensure a good view of the fire. And from where he stood, the view was better than good – it was wonderful.

          BURN BABY BURN, DISCO INFERNO sounded in the stereo earbuds as Travis saw that the factory was burning inside every window. At the moment, the fire was on the ground floor only, but Travis knew it would spread quickly. Read more…

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R J Dent says: ‘Fire! has attracted a fair amount of adverse criticism because of its supposedly ‘controversial’ content. I originally wrote Fire! because I had the central idea of a man obtaining sexual gratification by masturbating as he watched fires (that he’d lit) burn. The metaphor of a burning building seemed to be the perfect way to describe sexual gratification itself. I combined the two ideas for Fire! One person who understood the story perfectly was Calum Kerr, who offered to publish it in Word Gumbo magazine, which he was editor of. An earlier version of Fire! appeared in the ‘Light’ issue of Word Gumbo Vol 1, Issue 3 – Oct 2011. Thank you, Calum, for giving my story its first chance.’

Fire! (500 words)

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

 

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Last Orders by R J Dent

January 9, 2015

 

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Arlington had been in Eddie’s Bar for an hour and still couldn’t work out who his hit was.

          There were four contenders: the barman; a long-haired arty type who looked a bit like the actor Scott Glenn; a small, plump accountant type with round rimmed gold glasses; and a tall, cropped-haired, bearded man who – due to his khaki shirt – looked like a sixties political activist.

          Nursing his whisky and ginger, Arlington surveyed the rest of the patrons, wondering if he’d missed anyone significant. After a quick, but thorough sweep, he was convinced that everyone else in Eddie’s was exactly what he or she appeared to be – Thursday night drinkers and daters and company-hunters. Read more…

 

 

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Last Orders

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

 

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My Father’s Garden: Christmas Decorations by R J Dent

January 3, 2015

 

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When my father said he was ‘going to go all out’ with the Christmas decorations, I wondered what he actually meant.

          I soon found out.

          The first thing I noticed was the length of cable strung around the front garden, tacked along the front porch, stapled above the windows, secured to posts, threaded through bushes, coiled around tree branches, propped up with canes, fixed to fences and so on.

          The next night, my father had cut the cable and was fitting the ends into a light-bulb rose. I looked along the cable and saw he’d wired about a dozen light-bulb roses to it. It was obviously my father’s own version of Christmas lights.

          – Don’t tell anyone, he said. I want it to be a surprise.

          – I won’t tell anyone.

          Once my father had finished wiring all of the roses to the cable – twenty-four in all – he fetched a box of light-bulbs from the shed. They were ordinary household light-bulbs, but my father had painted them in a variety of colours using household paint. One bulb was maroon, one was mustard, one was silver, one was avocado green, and one was black. And then the sequence was repeated. And again. And again… Read more

 

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My Father’s Garden: Christmas Decorations

Copyright © R J Dent 2016

 

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My Father’s Garden: Greenhouse by R J Dent

May 5, 2014

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Greenhouse

 

1: Frame

 

Several lengths of silver angle-iron had been in the garden for over a week before my father acknowledged their existence.

      – Ah, yes. I’d better put that together, he said cryptically, one morning.

      Later on, he’d assembled several lengths of the angle-iron into a cube-shaped frame.

      – What are you making, dad?

      – Assembling.

      – What are you assembling, dad?

      – A greenhouse. With a gable roof.

      – Are you going to grow anything in it?

      – No, I thought I’d leave it empty for years, and then knock it down.

      – Oh. What for?

      – Not really. I’m going to grow tomatoes in it. Read more…

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Greenhouse

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

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My Father’s Garden: Gnomes by R J Dent

May 3, 2014

 

 

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Gnomes

 

1: Off-white

One morning, I found twenty-two garden gnomes standing on the drive.

     My father was walking around them, looking thoughtful.

     The gnomes were made of resin and they hadn’t been painted. They were all an off-white colour and they looked eerie, like an army of albino midgets.

     – What are these for?

     – What are gnomes usually for? my father countered.

     I thought for a moment, and then shrugged.

     – I have no idea. Read more…

 

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Gnomes

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

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My Father’s Garden: Summer House and Brewery by R J Dent

April 29, 2014

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Summer House

 

Once my father realised that my sister never went near, let alone into, the tree house he’d built for her, he decided to dismantle it and build a summer house instead.

          For the next few evenings, he very carefully disassembled the tree house and stacked all of the individual pieces against the shed wall.

          He then drew a plan of the new summer house. He used a piece of butcher’s paper and a wax crayon, and then explained the diagram to me.

          – It’s got a hexagonal back and sides and a flat front for maximum sunlight capture.

          I nodded, wondering about the ‘maximum sunlight capture’.

          Anyway, within a week, my father had built a summer house. It looked exactly like the one in his diagram, which ordinarily would have been a positive factor or a compliment, but which, in this case, was not.

          It was a wooden structure that looked a lot like a very large sentry box. The back and sides nodded at hexagonality; the front was two huge sliding patio doors.

          – It looks like a public lavatory, my brother said.

          – It’s a bit open-fronted for that, my father protested.

          – That’s why I said ‘public’. Read more…

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Summer House and Brewery

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Caravan by R J Dent

April 28, 2014

 

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Caravan

 

There was considerable excitement in our family when our mother mentioned that we might be getting a caravan. We talked it up into something more than it was, so that when it finally arrived on our drive, it was something of an anticlimax.

          The caravan itself was a bit scruffy; it would need painting before it was ready for use.

          My father, as ever, was ready for the challenge.

          He and my mother debated the colour-scheme.

          – Beige is nice, my father said.

          – Dove grey is nicer.

          – Pale green’s quite nice.

          – Dove grey is nicer.         

          – Magnolia’s nice too.

          – Dove grey is nicer.

          – I think dove grey would look nice, my father said, but only if it’s contrasted with a brighter colour – something like maroon or lime green.

          – You can paint the roof maroon, my mother said, but the rest of the outside needs to be dove grey. Read more…

 

My Father’s Garden: Caravan

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

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