Short Stories for Adults
The Death of Metal
The year is 2069 and the world is looking decidedly devastated. In the streets of every town and city across the globe the scene is the same.
Beside pavements there are piles of red dust in the road, each pile has four tyres and a set of four seats neatly sitting on top with plastic car trim strewn about.
Coloured lenses and the glass part of light bulbs lay in red dust at many crossroads and corners. Buildings or what are left of them stand like shrinking skeleton’s. Skyscrapers are no more than a pile of glass, wood, brick and plastic all mixed within the same red dust.
The cities are now deserted; no one lives there anymore since the plague which wiped out all metals on earth. People have returned to the county-side, homes are made entirely of wood. If you are not fortunate enough to have wood to build you will be living in either a cave or even in some parts a pothole.
Food can no longer be imported as all shipping has disintegrated leaving only the wooden decking behind which quickly gets salvaged and recycled into something else. The horse and wooden plough have been brought back into use as a way to cultivate our crops, and small communities are becoming as self sufficient as they can in an effort to survive this terrible tragedy, no more TV, no more communication systems computers are no more, the printing presses have all crumbled to dust, anything needing metal has gone.
The very last we heard over the TV and radio before they went off the air was that we had been invaded by a highly corrosive organism which fed solely on metal, it is indiscriminate and will eat any kind, steel , iron, copper, brass even gold and silver nothing can be done to stop it. The governments of the world predicted that all metals would be gone within one calendar month due the voracious appetite of the alien and its ability to double in number every two seconds.
We can do nothing. We brought it on ourselves by trying to rob Venus of it valuable minerals, the last mission brought back more than we had bargained for and now we are paying the price. The world has entered a new age and it will be known forever as the death of metal age.
The Wedding Gift
Over the years I’ve listened to people talking about unusual gifts they’d received, but so far I don’t think any have come close to the gift we received for our wedding from a neighbour.
Both my future wife and I had always shown a keen interest in tropical fish, and the neighbour who was a close family friend knew this, he was somewhat of a fanatic himself, he had quite a large collection of his own, with tanks containing many unusual and exotic specimens filling rooms throughout his home, we’d often admired some of his more unusual fish, one I remember vividly, because it could eat a whole banana in one go, a rather large dark brown fish, housed in an enormous tank that had been sunk into the main wall of the lounge, its large bulbous eyes seemed to follow you round the room wherever you went.
Knowing of our particular interest, plus his own imminent move back to Scotland, he asked if we would like one of his spare aquariums which had now become surplus to his requirements, and we could start our own collection, but he wanted to pick and supply the first fish himself as a surprise. Of course we were delighted and thanked him for such a generous offer, certainly it would be better than another toaster or kettle we thought.
The day before our wedding, which also coincided with his move, the neighbour took his gift round to the future in-laws, who swiftly sent a message to the shop where I was working, asking me to call when I‘d finished for the day. I must admit it caused a little concern as to why I’d been asked to call so urgently, but soon found the reason why when I arrived, the aquarium on a fine wrought iron stand stood in a corner of the dining room with a cloth draped over it, as you would with a budgie when its sleeping.
My future father in-law was trying to calm his wife down with a brandy, he said it was for shock, and proceeded to explain why it had been needed. seemingly it had something to do with the wedding gift; him not being able to get his tea, because his wife wouldn’t go anywhere near the thing, and having had to cover it up quick because she was petrified of it, “the thing keeps jumping out the tank, and right vicious looking it is, you’re going to have to take it home with you” he said, “if you don’t she’ll not get a wink of sleep tonight, and I’ll have to go hungry”, and I must say he did like his food, sort of his favourite hobby I think.
I was intrigued and went to have a look; gingerly taking off the cover I came face to face with two rows of the sharpest looking teeth I’ve ever seen, the mystery gift was a rather aggressive looking Piranha, with a label attached to the tank saying this fish only eats fresh meat so (please be careful), this was what had caused all the upset, and no way was it staying, so with the help of a friend who was giving me a lift home I took it to my parent’s house, where it got much the same reception, it was only allowed in on the proviso that I looked after it myself, and kept it clean until I was able to take it to my future home, which wasn’t quite ready for habitation, being in need of rather extensive redecoration.
The first night it jumped out of the tank, we lifted it back in on a shovel to avoid being bitten, we were advised to put a sheet of glass over the top, and it would stop. For over a month it kept jumping, eventually breaking its jaw on the glass, it looked even more evil. I got advice from a local tropical fish expert after it developed a sort of fungus, resembling a long greyish kind of beard, the shop sold me some medication which once added to the water should have cleared up the problem, but alas it didn’t, two days later it died, I’d like to say we were upset but we were more relieved if anything, it had done all it could to bite me, even when I tried to clean it out or feed it, nobody felt safe with it around, especially my new wife and her mother, so we gave it a very dignified burial under my father’s apple tree, where to this day he still gets a good crop of apples, but each one now has just a little bit extra bite.