100 WORD SKITTLE // Living the Dream

My dream. I ended up leaving my hometown for this.

Melbourne was too expensive. I’d lost my job and the rent was killing, so I upped stakes. I moved to deepest, darkest Peru where I burned through the remainder of my savings in under a year. Even though it was as cheap as chips to live there, I eventually found myself eking out a living on the streets.

I guess I didn’t think things through enough. Now I didn’t even have the money for a one-way ticket back to Australia.

Still, I had my dream. I would write a book.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

SCHEHERAZADE’S 1,001 BYTES // Return to Sender

I fidgeted with the big yellow envelope. I’d found it poking under the front door that morning. It was quite unremarkable, with nothing inside, and the flap was wide open as if to say, “So what?” I tossed it on the coffee table and walked away.

I’d managed to busy myself with some household chores, so by the time I returned to the lounge room I had quite forgotten all about this enigmatic piece of stationery. I even found the cat curled up in front of it, quite unable to tear her eyes away. Perhaps it had a specific scent that was especially attractive to cats? I tried to beckon her away. “Here, kitty kitty!” She hissed at me, not once taking her eyes from the envelope—no, not even for a moment. Her tail twitched nervously. The envelope remained unmoved.

I tutted at her as I shrugged on a coat. I then headed down to the grocery store, thinking perhaps she’d get bored with the envelope and go searching for sparrows in the tree outside the kitchen window. This was her favourite thing to do, and she was flighty at the best of times so I wasn’t too concerned.

However, when I returned with a frozen pizza, coke and cat food, I noted that nothing had changed. The cat continued to stare at the envelope, as if hypnotised. She didn’t even react to the sound of me popping bubble wrap. That was something that usually got her attention, but not today. I cocked my head in befuddlement, then lay the bubble wrap at her side. Perhaps she’d notice it when she got bored with the mysterious envelope and then everything would return to normal.

I decided to get busy clearing out the small vanity cabinet in the bathroom. It was a task that I had put off for far too long. My ex had left behind a lot of stuff when she moved out, and I’d find things of hers laying about here and there, which would often dredge up old hurts. Sure, it had been six months since our relationship disintegrated, but that simply wasn’t long enough. This time, I found her favourite hand mirror, the one with an ornately carved face on the back. I picked it up between thumb and forefinger, holding it like the disgusting turd it was. I made for the yard to find a trash bin.

When I passed by the coffee table, it seemed at first as though the cat was gone. I let out a sigh of relief. Perhaps her strange behaviour had been purely a figment of my imagination. I continued my way toward the door, but then a strange sound from above made me stop short. I raised my head, and that’s when I noticed where she actually was. I recoiled. The mirror dropped from my hand and shattered on the floor.

The cat… she was on the ceiling! What the hell?!

I ran around in panicked little circles for a bit, then made myself stop. I couldn’t lose the plot just yet. There had to be a rational explanation for this. A scientific one! The cat was walking around on the ceiling because… because… well, there had to be a reason. I just had to pause, take a breath, and figure it out. I craned my neck and made myself really look at her. She was curled there on the ceiling, now grooming herself, as though this was a completely normal everyday occurrence. How could this stupid cat be so calm?

I walked out of the room. Where was that stepladder? I’d wear one of my thick, long-sleeved shirts and those heavy-duty gardening gloves with the reinforced padding and get that damn moggy off the damn ceiling, no matter what. She could try to scratch my eyeballs out. I didn’t care. I wasn’t having this kind of nonsense going on in my own house, thank you very much!

The stepladder was laying next to the wading pool in the backyard, down by the big blue gum near the perimeter fence. Puffing and panting, it took a lot of doing, but I managed to drag that ladder all the way back to the house and into the living room. Ten minutes alone were spent trying to enter by the door with that blasted ladder—I almost shattered a window! I was so pissed off and impatient by that point that I decided against trying to find the gardening gloves and shirt. I would just have to take my chances.

I raised the ladder upright and locked it into place. My foot was on the first rung when I looked up and… well, can you imagine my reaction when I saw that the cat was no longer there? Yes, I was really rather fucking annoyed by this point. In fact, I was morally outraged! Had there been some kind of cat ombudsman that I could have fired off an angry missive to then I surely would have done so. I certainly wasn’t going to wander about the house with a heavy ladder looking for a missing cat like some kind of idiot.

My shoe crunched on something. Oh, I’d forgotten about the shattered mirror! My eyes dropped to the floor, only to see that the cat was there. She was licking at one of the larger shards, and somehow not cutting up her delicate little tongue in the process.

And then I took a step back.

What was I seeing here? She was inside the mirror shard, oblivious to my shock as she set to licking her arse, one leg stretched high above her bobbing head. What. The. Fuck. That was the final straw. Fucking cats and their strange tricks!

I nervously swept all of the mirror shards into the envelope and sealed it up. I licked the back of a stamp and stuck it to the front, then wrote on it ‘Return to Sender’.

Besides, I’d always wanted a dog.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

Teti-à-Tête (With Tony) #10

crumble-cult-210

Tati as TATI

crumble-cult-106

Tony as TONY

 

ACT 26 SCENE 11
PAGE FLIPS & FLIP-FLOPS

 

Tati is sitting on a branch high above the ground. She’s almost hidden from view by the tree’s foliage. The only reason Tony can see her at all is because her legs are dangling beneath it in the open air. Tati’s left flip-flop dangles from one big toe, and Tony steps aside so that he doesn’t get a flip-flop slap between the eyes.

TONY: Hi, Tati! What are you doing up there?

TATI: What? What did you say, Tony? I can’t hear you.

TONY: Well, don’t expect me to climb all the way up there, thank you! I don’t wish to slip and break my neck!

TATI: Oh, I’ve always known you were a lazy, old, weak-as-piss arse!

TONY: And I love you too. Sheesh. The question stands. What are you doing?

TATI: Don’t try to muddle me with your loosey-goosey gnomology! Answer me this: How long has it been since we released our last book?

TONY: Erm… October 2016, I think. And what do gnomes have to do with you being up a tree?

TATI: Timber!

Tati slides down the tree trunk like it’s a fireman’s pole.

TONY: How the hell did you do that without getting splinters everywhere?

Tony gingerly touches the tree.

TONY: Nope. It’s not been greased or anything…

TATI: You’re a master of the runaround, Tony! Gnomes and splinters are foreign to my question!

TONY: Well, never mind the fact that you completely ignore mine…

TATI: I ask you, have you put together our new book yet?

TONY: YES! I have, okay? God!

Tati thrusts ‘One Pulse’ under Tony’s nose.

TATI: And where is it? I’ve reread ‘One Pulse’ a dozen times! I remember every line and every poem by heart! Don’t you think it’s time I had something new to read?

TONY: You read your own work all the time? Wow. Talk about narcissistic…

Tati is completely surprised at this.

TATI: Don’t you read our books, Tony? Please, you mustn’t tell me that you’ve failed to buy them!

TONY: Why would I buy the books that I’ve helped to write? That doesn’t make any sense!

TATI: I knew it! You’re a tight bastard! You don’t want to support young, promising poets!

TONY: How will it help us if we buy our own freaking books? We’re not gonna get rich that way!

TATI: No? Strange. I was certain it would be the most sure way.

TONY: No! A thousand times no! We need to sell these books we write to other people. That’s the only way this money-making thing will ever work. Frankly, I’m surprised I have to explain this to an accountant. You are an accountant, right?

TATI: What? What did you say, Tony? I can’t hear you.

Tati becomes transparent, and her voice distant and low.

TONY: I’m standing right beside you, woman.

Tati disappears with a soft hiss, like the bubbles that pop over a glass of lemonade. Tony looks more irritated than surprised about this.

TONY: Is she ever going to listen to me someday?

Tony rolls over to his other side and mutters in his sleep.

TONY: Such a crankypants! The manuscript is ready. The cover is ready, dammit. What more does she want?

He smacks his lips between snores.

TONY: ‘Nothing to read.’ Tsk tsk!

Tony doesn’t suspect that in exactly five minutes he will wake up because of a flip-flop slap between the eyes and a wauling Tati. Poor thing!

Yes, Dear Reader, this is all just Tony’s dream but our new book is not.

 

 

PS: By the way, one half of Unbolt Me celebrates their birthday today. In honour of this, we have prepared a little surprise for you over on our Patreon page. Don’t worry, entry is absolutely free!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

MMORPB // Tati & Tony in Raiders of the Lost Snark Part Four (Moderately Multiplayer Online Role Playing Book 18+)

or: EPISODE 4 // Where Tati Rescues Tony’s Suitcase

 

In our previous episode, Tati and Tony tried to disguise themselves as a pair of famous videogame plumbers after meeting at the Greater Cachalot Mall in international waters. Little did they realise that something dodgy was happening right behind them…

Right in front of their very eyes was a mysterious man in black, and he was trying to make off with one of Tony’s suitcases. Tati didn’t even need to think. She immediately dug into her pants pocket and withdrew a mint lollipop. In one smooth over-the-shoulder movement, she lobbed it at the man in black and hit him squarely between the eyes. He crumpled to the ground like a tarpaulin full of bricks.

“You! Hey, you!” Tati lightly kicked him with the tip of her shoe. “Are you alive?”

“What the hell?!” hissed Tony like a goose. “There’s no need to sink the boot in! Isn’t it enough that you knocked him down?! What was that anyway? A candy cannonball? Jesus!”

Tati stood there confused. She thought she had done the right thing. “It was just a lollipop I bought in Zhmerynka’s Duty Free. Do you think it could be expired, and that’s why it’s so hard?”

“Either that or it’s got a tiny anchor in the middle of it.” Tony kneeled beside the man in black. “He’s out cold.”

“No, look, he’s coming around.”

The mysterious man in black opened his eyes, but the sight of two squabbling Mario brothers made him go faint again. And who could blame him? Anyone in his place would have done the same. One brother was strangely effeminate, and the other had two moustaches, one of which was stuck to his brow.

“Nope. He’s out again.”

Tati looked around. “We need a bucket of water.”

“What? Are we gonna drown him now? I think the guy’s had enough!”

Losing patience, Tati shrugged her shoulders then grabbed the man in black by his shirt front. She yanked him into a sitting position. “Who are you?” she growled to his face. “Why were you stealing Tony’s suitcase?”

I don’t think he can hear you, Tati.”

Tati pulled a vial of acetone from her other pocket.

Tony regarded her with a not unwarranted degree of suspicion. “Erm, why are you carrying stuff like that with you? And how the hell did you get it through customs?”

Tati gave an annoyed tut. “Don’t ask questions you wouldn’t like the answers to!” And, with that, she shoved the vial right into the man in black’s nose. With an almighty fit of spluttering and coughing, he opened eyes.

“Good sir,” asked Tony politely, “could you please let us know why you need my suitcase?”

Before the man in black could respond, Tati shouted, “I’d just like to know who the fuck died and left you stealing other people’s suitcases!”

The man in black whispered, “Please, don’t kill me, mighty Mario brothers. Let me live and I’ll reveal a big secret to you.”

 

Catch other episodes in this series:
THE PILOT // Where Tati Makes Tony Blush
EPISODE 2 // Where Tati Makes Tony Choke
EPISODE 3 // Where Tati Gives Tony a Fungus Face

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

ACROSTIC POETRY // Droid Antediluvian

Perambulation is something that featured a lot in Iron Uncle’s
Upbringing. His travelling oilcan never once dried up.
Rarely did his joints give out or his suspension develop clanky carbuncles.
Geez, he skipped up hill and down dale like a pumped-up pup!
And did you know he could bench press a thousand Tiny Tins if he really wanted to?
Tinderellas were thrilled with his seductive cast-iron buns.
Oh, if only he could return to those halcyon days and youth anew,
Rekindle what used to be instead of chased for conversion by rumpty nuns.
Years roll past like parts on a conveyor belt, and rust never sleeps.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018