Pennies From Heaven

The song was jingling through his head like the worst of ear-worms always do. Better than a Xmas song, of course. Better than a modern Xmas song by far, but still, a slightly annoying background refrain that cut into his thought processes at inopportune moments. Such as when he was trying to talk on the telephone to potential clients. How was he supposed to focus on ‘the script’ when the lyrics kept on interjecting. A couple of times he had stalled, as the words that drifted through his mind slid into his patter – an intrusive nonsense into a stream of words that was usually so slick and well-rehearsed. It was irritating.

In his head, the song was schmaltzy, a background of strings and horns that syruped along under the singers, providing a smooth sheen of sticky-sweetness that they skated on, or perhaps that wrapped them in its embrace. Weirdly, it seemed like the instruments were operating at full power – he could hear them quite clearly as though the cheap tin-pan alley cut-down orchestra was in the room with him – all frequencies present and correct. And yet the singers’ voices themselves were obviously muted – tinny and hollow, as though coming through a gramophone horn or a badly-tuned radio. Is that what it was like on the original recording? For a second he almost reached to Google the original recording. At which point he realised that he was silent, his head-set still on his ears and the sound of a disconnected phone. He had fluffed a call. This wouldn’t do.

Why was he thinking of the song anyway? He cast his mind back through the day as he started his patter again – pretending for the others in the room that he was sweet-talking another potential customer, all bright, cheery persuasiveness and chummy friendliness. As he got back towards breakfast time, his mouth still on auto-pilot, he couldn’t identify hearing it on the radio or otherwise getting it lodged. Frustrating. He vocal-mimed hanging up, breathed a sigh, and pressed the button that cold-called another potential mug:

“Hi there, I’m calling from Clean-Sky, the UK’s premier carbon-offsetting scheme…”


Inspired by a prompt from here

Pennies From Heaven – Dead Deer

As we climbed the hill, ever higher, our breath became deeper and harder. Revelling in the clean air here we pushed onwards. Finally up on the summit we paused and marvelled at the glories of the earth stretched out below and all around. In the far distance mountains thrust like fingers stretching toward the heavens, reaching for the sun. Even at this time of the year those fingertips sported crisp white nail polish.

Swivelling around to drink in the astonishing views we looked down at the great lake. From up here it resembled a very large puddle and we spotted a few specks out there. The strong light dappled as it reflected on the dark blue water; a fabulous day for a sail.

Deeply taking in one more lungful of this high air we started our descent on the far side, heading for the lake. As we wended our way we occasionally lost the path, but knew that as long as we kept going down and toward the sun we would eventually attain the lakeside. As we gradually came nearer to the beautiful expanse of water the specks grew and gained some form. With each glimpse we began to distinguish between them.

One particularly began to draw our attention, as it seemed to be moving ever more erratically. The sailor must have been a novice, we thought. I confess freely here that we allowed ourselves to be amused at the spectacle, as unkind as we knew that to be.

Now we are nearly at water level, and we think we understand; the owner of the small dinghy must be drunk. Their staggering and stumbling movements on board mirrored those of the boat itself on the water. Then as we approached the shore, yet another surprise; they appeared to be naked.

We reached for our binoculars and brought them to our eyes, and finally we did understand. Pigs are no more meant to stand on hind legs then they are meant to sail boats on lakes. We caught sight of its bewildered snouty face just moments before the panicky porcine pilot tumbled overboard.

Today I wrote from 08:57 to 09:07 AND then again from 11:23 to 11:33 as my stupid bloody phone lost it the first time. I was prompted by ideas here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, and my tweets here

Nov 13th – Pennies from Heaven

November 13th – Pennies from Heaven


They found him with his eyes frozen open.

It was cold, of course. It was always cold. A six month overwinter at the Antarctic research station meant that cold was just something you had to get used to, the ice, and the howling, biting wind that seemed a thing alive, with teeth, that wanted to strip the skin from your bones, given half a chance.

You didn’t go outside unless you had to. Unless you absolutely had to.

Lars had gone outside.

Sometimes it got to you, the isolation, the confines of the centrally heated huts. The vehicle hangar was larger, and still heated, in parts, but there was still nowhere really to go once you’d completed the checks, turned the engines over, let the Sno-cat and the truck and the skidoo engines run to warmth, morning and night. Just in case. But even though this brought variety, it was still inside, and in the darkness of the endless night the walls were always creeping in.

Outside was white, or dark. Outside was cold. You didn’t go outside unless you had to.

Lars had gone outside.

They noticed he was missing at breakfast. A check of the sleeping quarters revealed nothing, except a technical coat and fleece not where they should be, and a pair of boots missing from the boot shelf. The rest of the search revealed nothing. Lars was not inside, and had not been inside for some time.

Lars had gone outside.

That was their word for it among the overwinterers, those that knew what it was like to be marooned in frozen isolation, at the end of the earth. To go outside.

Going outside only ever meant one thing.

Lars had not got far. A first sweep of the perimeter showed a red shape in the lights, stretched out on the ice. A closer inspection revealed the body.

They had to chip at the ice underneath him to free his body. Ice crusted his beard and face, his eyes sealed by two perfect discs of ice. Winter coins, for the ferryman. Antarctic pennies, from an unforgiving heaven.

Inspired by a prompt from here