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The Reading Room



Derek Hibbert


Tom had married his childhood sweetheart, life's dream. Only she had changed and now it was a nightmare. After five years she was closer to the Gorgon than she had ever been to an angel.
"Have you washed beneath the hood have you cleaned under your nails what about earwax you need a haircut shave before you come to bed I don't want you scratching my pussy I want thirty minutes of oral sex then I'm going to sleep." Sometimes it seemed that she didn't need to breathe. "Did you exfoliate after the shower?"
First thing in the morning she forced him to do housework before work. All she did was watch television. The beauty queen had put on four stone and forgotten about her personal hygiene. Wash under his foreskin! Tom couldn't remember when she last took a shower. Body wipes were no longer adequate. The love nest between her thighs was rotten and stank of dead fish.
That was when he found the green arsenic. "What is this for?"
"There are rats in the loft, put some up before you start tea. I want Vindaloo curry."
"What about Madras? I can't eat anything too hot, it screws with my ulcer." The one she had given him.
"Just eat the rice then." Tom prepared two dishes, other wise she would complain that his stomach was rumbling. "At least you can cook even if you are getting crap in bed. This is the best curry I have had in ages." That was because she was getting so fat he had trouble getting close in and was nearly losing consciousness because of the stench. True to form she started to break wind after an hour. The gas had on odd odour, like rotting flesh. "My ass is almost on fire, how much curry powder did you use?"
"You said you wanted it hot. I thought you needed to exfoliate too. There is enough green ginger to make you sweat, maybe slough away some dead skin. Maybe two hundred pounds or so."
Actually it was the rats that had the ginger.


The Rolexians liked Earth, it was marred only by the activities of the sentient life form. They had a tendency to almost obsessive violence. Not that it was a problem, their difficulty was a suitable invasion strategy.
Rolexians were non corporeal and as such could not reproduce. They needed another life form for that. Obviously that meant to invade an entire planet they needed to find an animal that bred rapidly. That ruled out Man. However, they could transfer from one species to another through close contact.
A cat looked best. A Rolexian would infuse a pregnant female. That would be the initial toehold, with each reproductive cycle the alien spirit would be in more animals. Any of the kittens could snuggle up to another expectant female. The master plan was to create a pregnant chain for the first year, then they could have maybe five thousand human hosts and still a thousand pregnant cats. Eventually virtually every human on the planet would be a host to the same Rolexian spirit. That was what made them so peaceful and why only one ever invaded a planet.
Toxeth landed, set the auto destruct and shimmied out into the night. The cat was asleep. Toxeth enveloped the animal in a spirit bubble and merged rapidly. When Toxeth gave birth nine kittens lay beside him. It made him warm inside.
However, after four days the human female spoke. "I'm taking Sprocket to the vet, you know what to do while I am out."
The vet gave Toxeth an injection. It was then that he began to feel a little odd. The human male in the house was picking up the kittens and stroking them. Only each time he did that Toxeth felt smaller. It was then he realised that his precious litter was being drowned in the bath.
"How long will it take Sprocket to die?"
"About another minute."
Die? Toxeth began to panic. Die? The last of his offspring faded, within seconds the Rolexian invasion of Earth was to fail.
Maybe a rat would have been a better idea.


Fossy had always been a lazy slob with the intelligence of a pregnant dungbeetle; how he managed to get a position as chef at Skyline Susan's was a miracle. It rated on a par with a lottery win. It was the top of a building overlooking the irregular skyline of Bolton, Lancashire. The place was billed as the greatest megafood zone in the North. The ground floor was an Indian restaurant, the second Chinese and the third Italian. The fourth however was empty. Maybe it was the competition.
Sometime during his third week Fossy discovered that there was a ventilation tube leading into the corresponding room below. Naturally, being something of an asshole, not a desirable trait for a chef, he was casually throwing the waste food into the void. It was working like a dream, the kitchen was always spotless, dungbeetles rarely look into the future so there was no downside.
Admittedly Fossy did have a modicum of talent. In someways he was like a stand up comedian, capable of adlibbing successfully. The owner had dishes on the menu ‘a la Fossy'. That meant that they never tasted the same two days running as he added the spices in a rather offhand manner. After six months a food critic visited and wrote a glowing article in the local paper. Well that did three things; Fossy had a rise, the business improved.... and some people wondered if there was any mileage in hanging onto Susan's apron strings
Unfortunately Fossy wasn't aware that there was a viewing below. As the prospective buyers had driven up from Brighton they asked to look in the evening to judge the level of trade in the other restaurants. At eight o' clock the landlord opened the door and flicked on the lights.
"What is that smell?"
The landlord opened the kitchen door and an avalanche of rats surfed out on a sea of their own droppings. Instantly they carpeted the floor and surged through the open door, flowing in every direction. Within minutes all four restaurants were overrun with innumerable rodents.
Don't ask about Fossy.


Ralph woke up feeling like he had been drinking tar all evening rather than Advocat and Jack Daniels. It was difficult opening his eyes, every time light entered them his world began to spin wildly. Rubbing his groin made him smile, it was just pity that after his first night of wild sex in maybe a year he didn't remember much. Turning slowly the upturn of his mouth crashed into a bottomless pit of despair.
Eventually he analysed what he could from the previous evening of excessive drinking. After a while he seemed to recall asking for a favour from his best friend.
Some favour.
Ralph's sexual partner had woken and was eating fruit from the bedside table, it was difficult to tell if she was smiling or not. The trouble with a void in memory is that it demands to be filled. With no recall just how good intercourse had been he slid his hand between her legs and toyed gently. Well, that certainly made her excited. Ralph slid onto her body wondering just how much he had kissed her the night before. Still, looks were not everything, a couple of times in the past women of the night had seemed little more than dogs.
It took a little while to raise an erection but penetration was rewarding, hot and tight. As he slid over her chest strong arms pulled him tight and she squealed loudly. Geoff almost laughed, maybe size did matter.
After fifteen minutes Geoff decided that making love to an angel had a disadvantage, he was usually so wired sex lasted under five. Their bodies began to bounce madly and Geoff wondered just how much her screaming could be heard next door. He rolled off grinning as though he had just laid Madonna.
Reaching out he picked up his mobile. "Jerry you are a fucking arsehole." There was raucous laughter at the other end. "I said if I gave you a monkey could you find me a decent prostitute." Briefly he paused for thought. "How the hell am I going to get her back to the zoo?"


Geoff was desperate to get home to his wife and her warm arms. The conference had finished late and the moment he turned onto the motorway it had started to rain. That meant maybe three hours driving, four in hellish conditions. Major routes are tedious, monotonous markers clicking slowly by almost encouraging sleep.
Then the Wolf markers sparked up. The electronic warning signs that often meant nothing. Still, in horrendous weather it was probably an accident, stationary traffic ahead. Geoff pulled off and used a Roman road. An hour later he rounded a corner and there was a massive puddle across the road, Geoff eased off the accelerator in case it was deep.
Geoff drove a lot of miles, was trying the get an extra couple of weeks from his tyres. Mistake. The car aquaplaned and turned slowly. Headlights illuminated a wooden fence seconds before he obliterated it. As his car crashed down a steep embankment his head smashed against the side window, spraying it with blood. Then the windscreen shattered and a broken branch speared his chest before snapping off. Breathing seemed almost impossible, the driver's door ripped free gouging his arm, slicing the seatbelt in two before vanishing into the night.
"I'm sorry Darling," he sobbed softly as the car bounced onto its roof. It sounded as though his neck had broken and his world went totally black. "So, this is what death is like."
Geoff emerged from the tangled wreckage quite effortlessly, clearly as a free soul there were no hindrances. No pain either. There was a white spot in the distance, enlarging quite rapidly in the total silence of eternity.
"I suppose I am meant to walk into the light," mused Geoff, moving forwards.
Yes and no.
Geoff stood perfectly still waiting to embrace God. Well, if he existed. Only he had concussion, was deaf. As the Adrenalin wore off he bent over from the pain. It was then he realised that he was alive.
Not for long, the light was an express train and he was standing between the rails.


Grodwych opened one eye and peered across the total darkness of the deep cave only after having slept for so long his eyesight needed time to acclimatize. A short puff and yellow flame flickered up the walls briefly making sense to a sticky mind. No icicles, it was probably summer. The trouble with hibernation was that it was all too easy to oversleep.

Creeping towards the entrance his blood warmed and his stomach twisted with its emptiness.
Outside the concealed cave he shook his head, things had changed, the land was no longer pristine and inviting. Sucking in air through his nose he made sense of the alterations. Warm blooded animals had built dens on the surface, the scent of meat brought a comforting glow to his whole body.

Grodwych studied their movements for a day, resisting the temptation to just feast. The creatures had evolved since he had slid into the darkness. They were like insects, swarming over the land spoiling all they touched. It would have been all too easy to rush out and snatch the tiny creatures from the ground but even ants could be dangerous when angry.

That night the fearsome red dragon crept out and ripped open the feeble containers, plucking snacks freely until his hunger was satisfied. The trail of destruction would confuse the creatures so he spat fire onto each wooden box until the night had its own dawn.

When he woke the following day he laughed at the confusion his attack had caused. It was entertaining, the wooden cabins had pulled apart as though they had lids, almost noiselessly. Nobody was searching for the cause, they were too busy trying to work what had happened. Unfortunately they were working long into the night. Still that meant they were tired, so when he broke open more snack shacks he was not interrupted.

On the second morning more creatures flooded in from faraway places in strange flying shells. Being eighteen thousand years old Grodwych was wise, maybe after a few days he would reintroduce the word dragon to their language. No rush.


Head down to keep the stinging bullets of rain from tearing flesh off his face Mark dived into the nearest doorway. The old door flew open with his weight, inside the room was dark, almost menacing and he felt chilled by more than his damp clothing. There was an old oil lantern on a table, at least when he had lit it the place felt less creepy. Only it enabled him to see a dark mist moving close to the ceiling.
Only as it drifted lower it found more substance, recognisable form. As the spectre came close it developed a face. The face of an angry woman. It swirled around him screaming so loudly he had to hold his ears.
"You should never have come back!" The words cut through his mind like a red hot knife.
Back? Mark looked around and his blood chilled, in the corner of the room was an old blood stained mattress. Images filled his head, three years before he had picked up a sixteen year old girl, got her drunk and coaxed her into the building. Barely aware of what was happening he had been able to undress her easily, her limbs bending to his will. The oral sex was brief, just enough to make penetration easy. Only it hadn't been, especially for the girl. When he realised that she had been a virgin his movements became even more violent. Only she was screaming so loudly people in the street outside may have heard. Burying her face in his shirt and jumper he had writhed over her smooth body, clinging to her to keep the sound down. When he came his body went limp and they lay still for several minutes. Part of his shirt had been sucked deep into her mouth, blocking her throat. Fear was fixed on her face, a death mask that had momentarily frightened him.
The tormented spectre powered into his body, freezing the sweat on his skin and leaving her image on his chest in frost crystals. Mark died screaming her name.

If you enjoyed this or wish to write a comment please write to Derek Hibbert


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