When I first
saw you I almost hurried by. I had parked my car in the alley
where I found you. There you were lying on the road between
bins. I could see you were bruised and hurt. I was about to reach out my
hand to you but others were walking
by and I left you there as if, like
them, I didn't care. But something made me retrace my steps. Again, I
as yet more pedestrians came along and I pretended I was just
passing. I was afraid they would snigger or think I was mad
if they saw me.
When I was sure that no one would see I picked you up and hurriedly took you
to my car and carefully
put you on the passenger seat. Then I brought you
here to my home.
were young. Yet to bloom. I tenderly cared for you, nourished you and
did what I could for your bruises. Even so, you did
not trust me at first.
You wounded me and even drew blood. I didn't mind but I was more careful
whenever I touched you
after that. I wished that I could have done more but
you had to heal yourself. Those bruises never did go away completely
managed to hide them as you gained strength.
as your beauty increased each day. That was my reward for rescuing
you from certain destruction. A discarded beauty.
as I look at you I see you have blossomed. You have matured for me
alone. I breathe in the wonderful scent of you. I gaze
upon your beauty that
no one else could see before I found you. The scars of before now hidden
beneath your loveliness.
With gentle fingers I caress you and tenderly kiss
a beautiful rose you have turned out to be. True, the thorn that you
used against me is still there and I shall be wary
of it. After all, every
rose has its thorn.
© 2001 Johnny Gregory
I would like to tell you about Arnold.
I first saw Arnold the other day and he caught my interest.
I don't exactly know why I became so interested in him. Maybe it was his colour. He was brown, a deep, chocolate brown. Maybe
it was the heavy load that he was carrying. I watched him making his way along the track with this heavy load. I was tempted
to help him but I knew that he would not appreciate any help from me or anyone else. So, I followed him
instead. I am
sure that he did not know that he was being followed. If he did know, then he certainly did not give any indication that he
knew. You see, Arnold cannot see.
As I followed him, I watched how he hurried along, never stumbling, in spite of the load that was almost as
big as he was. He must have known every little thing about that track that he had travelled countless times before. I wanted
to see when he would stop to rest but he did not once seem to be tiring. He must have been really strong. Others that passed
him in both directions took no notice of him. They just hurried by. Some stopped now and then as if to
pass the time of
day before hurrying along on their way, but none stopped Arnold.
I began to
marvel at Arnold's ability to move so fast when he could not
see. Especially as he was carrying this heavy load.
cruel thought came to my head. The track was littered with stones and pebbles and I was sure Arnold knew the position of every single one. I began to wonder what he would do if I re-arranged
these. What if I put an obstruction in his way? I had to find out. I hurried along ahead of Arnold
and quickly moved the stones around and place a large rock on the track right in the path of Arnold and waited.
enough, as soon as Arnold reached the area that I had shifted
the stones and pebbles he hesitated. He seemed puzzled for a moment and moved from side to side then continued on along the
track slower than before. Once clear of the disturbed track he again hurried along as fast as before. That was until he came
to the rock.
He went right
up to the rock and hesitated. Again, he slowly investigated, moving from one side to the other and finally going around the
rock. I followed him all the way until he disappeared into a cave. Well, it was not really a cave. It was a hole in the ground.
I wondered if I would ever see Arnold again. I thought that
even if I did I would not recognise him. He is identical to all the others that used the track. All were as blind as he was.
You see, Arnold is an ant!
© 2001 Johnny
Jack walked slowly
along the bank of the stream he had discovered quite by accident. Realising that this spot had not been visited in recent
times, he enjoyed the solitude and peacefulness of his surroundings. The exploration of something new always excited him and
this stream was no exception.
He had followed
it from its beginning as a trickle emerging from between two rocks at the foot of a rock-covered hill. He hadn’t noticed
the distance he had walked, as it became wider with every step he took, but he was now among trees that made this place very
He paused for a
moment to take in everything around him. He was completely alone.
to the sounds that came from the birds and small creatures that scurried away as he approached he knew they were as curious
about him as he was of them. The air seemed to hum with life in the blaze of the sun.
Above his head,
the leaves of trees rustled as the gentle breeze whispered through them as if searching for some hidden secret to pass on
to other trees. He smiled at the thought of the trees possibly having secrets. After all, he mused, the trees were a kind
of life form just as everything that grew and produced seed.
wandered over the scene. His gaze taking in every detail. He squinted at the sparkle of the water as the brilliant sun caught
each little ripple. He noticed how the sparkles reflected on the rushes and weeds growing on the lush bank of the stream giving
the scene a fairy-tale appearance.
exploration, Jack walked on. As he went deeper into the trees the sun became hidden and the scene began to darken. Soon the
stream widened into a lake, the beauty of which took his breath away. It seemed as though he had emerged from a darkened room
into brilliant light. The shine of the sun on the glistening water almost blinded him.
Suddenly he saw
something on the lake some distance away that made his heart beat faster. Rubbing his eyes to make sure he was not seeing
things, he looked hard at what appeared to be an apparition. He wondered if he was dreaming as the apparition drifted closer
It was in the form
of a woman wearing a diaphanous robe of pale blue. Even as he watched he saw the robe billow like wings behind her as she
approached him. He felt paralysed as she came nearer. He saw the beauty of her serene face and his jaw dropped in awe. The
robe seemed to hug her body, emphasising her lovely curves.
Her long, flowing
dark hair, with a single white, exotic bloom cascaded over her smooth creamy shoulders.
watched as she opened her arms inviting him to embrace her. The smile on her face was warm and her eyes full of desire.
He became aware
that the sounds he had become used to had ceased. Silence surrounded him. The twittering of birds, the rustles of the leaves,
the squeaks and calls of small mammals were no longer filling the air. He looked up at the treetops to see if the birds were
perched on the branches watching him and this beautiful woman. He saw nothing.
When he turned
his gaze to look back to her, she had gone, but on the bank of the lake, a fresh, white bloom lay glistening with dew.
© 2004 Johnny Gregory
BESS by Johnny
I felt the cold unyielding metal of the pistol in my hand. In one swift deliberate movement, I snapped the
clip of bullets into the handle. I've loaded the gun and all I have to do is aim it. That part is easy. The hard part is pulling
the trigger. Her head turned as she heard the metallic sound of the clip locking into place. She was beautiful as she lay
on the ground. I have loved her from the first moment I set eyes on her. She is so beautiful. We had done so many things together.
Been to so many places. We had been constant companions for years now.
I would not have believed that I would ever kill her. Now I am determined to put a bullet through her beautiful head. But
that was yesterday.
I begin to
weaken as memories flashed through my mind. Memories of how she had saved my life that time.
I had got caught in bog and
I was helpless, struggling and clawing at anything as I sank slowly deeper. If it hadn’t been for her I would have died
that day. It was she who helped me. She had strained and pulled and I thought she didn't have the strength. Then at last she
pulled me free of the sticky, horrid mud that was engulfing me.
Now I looked
down at her as she lay there. She had always trusted me. I provided for her and we had such good times together. There are
tears in my eyes as I tell her how sorry I am. I tell her I would miss her so much. I
tell her how much I love her but
I must kill her. I promise her that it will be quick and she will hardly feel a thing.
I touch her once more, caressing
her lovingly. Her big brown eyes are looking trustingly at me as I aim.
Bess," I say, and pull the trigger. The sharp crack of the pistol echoes back and forth between the hills. She jerks just
once and then lies still. She has left me. I am alone. My tears falling on her warm but still body as uncontrollable sobs
shake my body. The lump in my throat makes it hard for me to speak.
"Oh, Bess. Why, why did you have to break your leg?
You were a good and faithful mare."
Ó 2000 Johnny Gregory
It was one of those days when I felt the need
to get away and spend some time alone. Completely alone without a soul anywhere near me. I needed to think and to take some
precious relaxation from pressures that had been slowly building into a mountain that I was afraid might become too high for
me to conquer.
I had driven all through the night well off the
beaten track and finally stopped on the edge of a forest in the early hours of the morning. There I rested and fell asleep
in the driving seat of my car.
When I awoke the weak autumn sun was just beginning
to spread a little light across the sky. I had no idea where I was but one thing I did know. I was alone. I smiled to myself
and reached for my thermos flask. The aroma of the steaming coffee was very welcome as well as its flavour as I sipped slowly.
The two muesli bars I had were ample to satisfy the little hunger that I felt as I surveyed my surroundings.
This was truly a beautiful spot and well suited
my desire to be alone. I listened carefully for any sound but all I could hear were the early birds searching for food and
the faint rustle of the trees as they swayed to a slight breeze.
I decided to stretch my legs and take a walk
into the fringe of the forest. I became fascinated by the beauty around me. The musty smell of moss on the ground and fungi
clinging to the trees filled my nose. The damp peat-like soil added its own smells as I walked examining all that I could
see and marvelling at creation.
I wandered here and there through the trees and
shrubs touching and looking at whatever caught my attention. The sun had begun its rise above the horizon unseen by me due
to the tallness of the trees. I looked skywards and saw that the lightening sky could be seen through the parts where the
leaves were thinner than other places. It was then that I realised I had wandered too far. I had been careless and had become
lost. Lost amid trees that all looked alike.
I panicked and began to try to retrace my steps
but nothing seemed familiar that I could say I had passed that way. I tried to think where the light of the sun first appeared
so that I could use that to give me some idea of direction but I had begun my walk too early.
I stood still and looked around me. That was
when I saw it. I thought I imagined it at first and blinked my eyes but it was still there afterwards. A wisp of mist no more
than three feet long and looking like a snake was hovering between two trees about fifty feet ahead. I felt as though it was
examining me. I waited for it to disperse or drift away but it did not move. The very stillness of it made my heart pound
a little faster and fear began to creep up on me.
Had it been vertical it would have made me really
frightened but it was horizontal and about four feet from the ground. I told myself that it was just the stillness of the
air that kept the mist in one place but the slight breeze on my cheek would not allow me to believe such a thought. My heart
felt as though a cold hand had suddenly gripped it and I began to back away.
At my first hesitant backward step the wisp of
mist moved. Slowly and gracefully it curved and snaked towards a tree and disappeared from sight. I turned and ran in the
opposite direction blundering through low shrubs, tripping over roots of trees that seemed to grab at my ankles as I went.
I ran until I was exhausted and sure that I had left the strange mist behind.
I sat on the ground, trying to catch my breath
as I realised that I had no way of knowing whether I had ran deeper into the forest or towards its edge. I held my head in
my hands as I gulped air into my lungs until my breathing began to be easier.
I looked up and cried out. It was there in front
of me. Still some distance away and still just hovering. My cry made it move from a shallow “S” curve to a straight
“It’s alive,” I thought, “Oh
God; it’s alive and followed me.”
I jumped to my feet and turned to run again and
froze as fear overcame me once more. There was another wisp behind me. I turned back to see if the first had somehow moved
with lightening speed and anticipated my turning but it was still there. There were two of them. Then I saw another and another.
I was surrounded by wisps of mist.
My mind raced. What were these creatures of the
forest? Were they beings from anther planet or were they an unknown earthly species of life that had yet to be discovered?
I did not want to stay to find out. I ran to my left to get away but several appeared in front of me preventing me. I turned
again and ran to my right but the same thing happened. They were not letting me go.
In desperation I looked all around and saw only
one place that did not have these creatures and ran towards it keeping my eyes open for any that might appear in front of
me. I ran as fast as my legs would take me and finally had to stop for breath. As I gasped for breath I wiped the tears from
my eyes and looked behind. They were still with me, waiting.
“What do you want?” I screamed at
them. One or two snapped into straight horizontal lines at the sound of my voice. Others edged towards the left and right
of me. They seemed to be trying to encircle me. I didn’t dare let that happen and stood up and again took flight in
the direction where none of the creatures were. I was too tired to run fast and kept looking back to see if I had left them
behind. I was shocked to see that there were about a hundred of them now and keeping pace with me. They were on either side
and behind me, snaking along three or four feet from the ground, curving around trees that came into their path. I stopped
again and turned to them.
“Go away!” I screamed, “leave
me alone.” But they just kept their distance and waited. I wondered what they were waiting for. Were they waiting for
me to drop from exhaustion? Would they then pounce and smother me? Perhaps eat me? How can a wisp of mist eat flesh?
I was tired and could not run anymore. All I
could do was walk, dragging my feet and stumbling along. I could not even see where I was going. I moved to the right and
several of the wisps darted in front of me, barring my way. Then I realised they were guiding me to where they wanted me to
go. When I stopped to rest, they waited patiently on three sides of me, always leaving one side open for me to continue where
they were guiding me.
“All right,” I shouted, “I’ll
go this way.” I tried not to let the fear I was feeling sound in my voice. I could not even guess what plans they had
for me once I got to wherever they were leading me.
I walked wearily for what seemed hours and then
noticed that the forest was getting thinner. I could see through the trees and see open grassland ahead. I moved towards it
but they blocked my way once more. I wondered if I could make a run for the edge of the forest but I knew I could not run
Suddenly, I saw my car. The wisps of mist had
formed themselves into a narrow avenue that led directly to my car that was parked on the track where I had left it.
I went up to the car and opened the door expecting
then to prevent me. When they didn’t, I turned to look at them. They were still amid the trees hovering, slowly moving
as mist that had been disturbed by a current of air. My one thought was to dive into my car, start it and drive away as fast
as I could before they could stop me. I decided to do it slowly so as not startle them.
I slid into the driver’s seat and slammed
the door shut. I looked at them triumphantly as I felt safe once more. They were still there but the numbers had swelled to
what seemed hundreds and they seemed to blend into each other like a floating carpet amid the trees. I realised that they
were waiting for me to leave. I fired the engine and put the car into drive and moved slowly forward. The mist drifted back
into the forest.
The nervous laugh that came from my lips became
“All they wanted was to show me the way
out of the forest.” I laughed, “They were helping me!”
© 2000 Johnny Gregory
Immersed in thought, I stood staring blindly out of the window, into the night. In my
hand a crystal glass half-filled with red wine. My mind no longer aware of its presence. I have no idea how long I have stood
A shiver coursed through
my body, bringing my mind back to earth. My eyes began to focus on the scene before me. Illuminated by the full moon high
above the roof, the garden stretched away to the bordering hedge that surrounded the property. The drive swept from the front
of the house, curving gently to the right and towards the wrought iron gates, hidden by ornamental trees that opened onto
the highway. Garden beds, some circular, some elliptical others rectangular, with plants and shrubs amid closely cut lawn,
lay on either side of the drive.
shivered again, as I became aware of the utter silence of the night.
Glancing at the leaves of a hibiscus tree that grew close to the house,
almost directly in front of the window, I noticed that there
was no breeze that disturbed them. The air was still. I strained my ears for a sound, perhaps of an owl or some nocturnal
creature, but there was none.
chill ran through me causing my skin to crawl as I thought how uncanny this night was. How many times in the past I had looked
out of this window and never felt quite as I did this night. It was the eeriness that was making me shiver, I was sure.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a movement and I turned
my head to look directly at whatever it was. Something white floated in the air, drifting over the drive, twisting and turning
as it came closer to me. Something is not right, my mind screamed, as I watched fascinated. How can it be drifting when there
was no wind? I looked again at the leaves of the hibiscus to confirm that there was no movement and then back to the white
object. It was much closer now. It looked like a piece of paper.
Suddenly, it moved rapidly towards me. I jumped backwards; startled as it pressed against the
pane long enough for me to see that it appeared to be skin. There were strange symbols printed on its surface. It fluttered
briefly before dropping away and disappearing behind some nearby shrubs. I stared to see if it would come into sight again
but it didn't.
The silence was
shattered by the sound of chiming. I spun around at the
sound before I realised that it was the grandfather clock preparing to
strike the hour. The room was dimly lit by single candle in its crystal
holder standing on the carved table in the centre of the room.
The dying embers of the log fire in the open hearth added its feeble light
sufficiently for me to see the face of the grandfather clock.
Midnight. The moment between one day and the next. Neither
yesterday nor tomorrow. Not even today. How long does that moment last, I wondered, absurdly. I listened to the chimes as
the clock began to strike. The pause between each stroke seemed much longer than I had noticed before. My mind began to race.
Would the moment be at the sixth stroke? The last? Maybe it has already gone when it struck the first.
The room grew suddenly cold. I walked quickly to the dying
fire and threw another log on. The shower of sparks, caused as the log fell among the embers swirled insanely, brightening
the room momentarily. I smiled to myself as I watched them. Bright sparks, I thought. So bright in the darkened room. I picked
up the heavy brass poker to liven up the glowing logs and more sparks flew up the chimney.
I stood watching them as I raised the glass of wine, still in my hand, to my lips and
drained it. Upon the high mantle, a large seashell sat in the centre. I picked it up with one hand and placed it close to
my ear and listened. The familiar sound of the air, curling around the curves within that sounded like the surf washing onto
a shingle beach came to me. A sound I have loved since I was a child. I listened carefully. Something was different tonight.
I could hear something besides the sea. I closed my eyes in concentration. Were those anguished sighs that I heard amid the
wash of the sea? I strained to listen more carefully, but it was no longer there.
Shaking my head I replaced the shell where it had stood for so long.
I turned to the table to place the empty glass on the silver
tray on which the decanter stood. As I poured another glass of wine, a frown creased my brow. The clock was still striking.
How many strikes had it made? I asked myself. Surely it should have stopped by now. I began to count each stroke as I looked
at the face of the grandfather clock. The hands were together, both pointing straight up. Still midnight, I mused. That mysterious
moment of time that stood still for...how long? Perhaps forever. I thought of the paradox of a falling ball. In theory, it
should never hit the ground. My mind began to think of the theory. If you drop a ball from a distance of three feet, it has
to pass the halfway point of eighteen inches. Then it has to pass the halfway point of the remaining eighteen inches, which
is nine inches and so on forever. Therefore it should never reach the last halfway point.
My mind was still unconsciously counting the strokes of the clock, now
striking its seventeenth stroke since I began.
"Damn things stuck!" I muttered, walking over to it. I gave
it a thump with my fist on its side and the hands jumped back to one minute to twelve. Dizziness came over me.
Immersed in thought, I stood staring blindly out of the window,
into the night. In my hand a crystal glass half-filled with red wine. My mind no longer aware of its presence. I have no idea
how long I have stood there....
Mike woke up with a start in the middle of the night and stared at the ceiling.
He had no idea what had woken him but cold sweat covered his body. He reached for the bedside lamp to switch it on and realised
that the room was unusually cold.
Switched the lamp on, he looked around the room. As far as he could tell, everything
was in order and saw nothing that could have disturbed his sleep. He shivered and reached once more for the lamp to turn it
off again. As he did so, he noticed that in the corner of the room, close to the window, a dark shadow seemed to move.
stared at the dark corner for several seconds waiting to see if he had been mistaken. He thought for a moment as he realised
that he had never noticed how dark the corner was before. He could not see into it clearly at all although he peered intensely
He adjusted the lampshade so that it would illuminate the corner but for some reason the light would not penetrate
the darkness no matter how he tried. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck crawl and stand up and his heart began to beat
a little faster. He had never been afraid of the dark in his life but now he was trembling at what might be hiding in the
Then he saw the curtains move slightly.
"Who is there?" he called out, unable to hide the quaking fear in his
voice. His shaking hand fumbled with the lamp as he tried to shine the light into the corner and it slipped from his fingers.
The lamp crashed to the floor shattering the globe.
There was no answer but once again he sensed the movement of someone
or something. Mike clamped his teeth together to stifle the scream that tried to escape his throat.
"Who is it?" he called
The scream almost escaped as in answer he heard a faint rustle from the
"Oh God," he prayed silently
as his fear mounted. He wanted to leap out of his bed and run to the door to escape whatever it was there but he could not
move. His eyes wild and staring into the dark corner his trembling became more violent and his body shook in fear. He strained
his ears to hear any sound that might indicate what was hiding there.
Then he heard it. Something was moving. He listened
and heard the sound again. It seemed to be coming towards him slowly.
"Who is it?" he almost screamed, "leave me alone!"
it was it kept coming towards him. He could hear the movement on the floor getting closer and closer. Was that a sucking sound?
A scratching sound? He crouched down in the bed, the covers almost over his head and only his eyes peering fearfully over
Mike began to whimper and prayed fervently that the thing would stop and go away. He felt something touch the bed.
The covers moved.
Suddenly the thing was on the bed and he screamed aloud as he felt it touch his face. Something cold
touched his face momentarily and Mike felt it reach for his throat. Furry and making a purring sound.
"Shit!" Mike exclaimed.
He had forgotten to put the cat out
©2000 Johnny Gregory
Island of Stories
the beach of the Island of Stories
sits a man. In his hand he holds a pen.
Upon his knee his writing pad. His pen never runs dry and his pad has endless
pages. Sometimes he pens the words he writes very slowly. Other times his
hand moves rapidly, even feverishly, over
He sits crossed-legged upon the ever-shifting sand. His eyes deep sunk, alert
and full of wisdom that
no one ever sees. His beard and hair, long and grey,
blows in the breeze. His naked body, browned from countless ages
in the sun,
was almost withered. His leathery skin hung in folds about his emaciated body.
At times he would remain
unmoving for days, as he was now, staring unseeing
over the sea before him. The sea ebbing and flowing but never reaching
He is the storywriter. His characters are the living. Unknowingly living out
the stories of their lives that
he pens for them.
Suddenly he began to write.