Sunday 10 April 2011

Sharp as a Really Sharp Thing

“Why am I seeing Zeppelins?”

Detective Sora Tanaka squinted into the bright blue distance. She could definitely see massive, melon-shaped airships of some kind. They wallowed lazily through the air like bloated, grey bumblebees.

Her companion glanced briefly in their direction.

“Because it is a cliché of a certain genre of imagination.”

“Oh. Good. Glad we cleared that up.”

The middle-aged man with Sora was wearing an old, beige trench coat. His unkempt, brown hair was in need of a cut. His black tie was creased in that particular way that is only achieved by leaving the knot in day after day. He very much reminded everyone of a certain TV detective.

“You were the one who wanted to come with me, Detective Tanaka.”

“No, I was the one who wanted to know why four of my five stab victims, all released from hospital, are now in the morgue. I’m the one who wanted to know how healing wounds inexplicably get deeper and wider.”

“And that’s why we’re here.”

“And where is that, where is here? And where’s Browning gone?”

“Here, Boss.”

Sergeant Browning was thick set, heavy looking but neat. He looked like efficient security, or like the policeman he was. A permanent crease in his brow made him look thoughtful, as if he was considering, calculating; Sora knew it was really just a permanent state of confusion.

“Try to keep up, Sergeant.” She turned back to the other man, “well?”

“This is the place that is no place. It is the manifestation of the public consciousness.”

“Keep talking, Confucius.” Sora levelled an even gaze at him. “Keep talking until it stops being nonsense.”

He took a deep breath and thought for a moment.

“OK. Human imagination exists, ideas exist, but you, most people, couldn’t say where. Or would just say,” He waved his hands vaguely, “‘in our heads’, and you would be partly right, but mostly wrong. Here, this place, is where those things exist.”

“Riiiiiiiight... So, and I’m not saying I believe you, but I think I understand what you’re trying to say–”

Browning raised his hand, “I don’t.”

She glared at him, “So, why are we here?”

“Your stabbing victims, their wounds were infected.”

“The doctors said not, when they were discharged and post-mortem.”

“If it were a normal infection I wouldn’t be involved. They were infected with an idea. The idea of Sharp. So the initial wound would be small and quite neat, I would think, but it would leave a Sharpness behind, a feeling the victim wouldn’t be able to get out of their mind, and the more they thought about it the deeper the wound would become. And that is why we’re here.”

“Because this is where ideas live.”

“Exactly. This far in we experience the current zeitgeist, popular memes and genre clichés. For an idea as old and firmly ensconced as Sharp we’ve got a fair amount of walking to do. I suggest we get moving.”

“Right. Not that I believe you. But we’re here now, so... lead on.”

“Um... Where are we? I still don’t think I get it.”

The man in the trench coat sighed. “Why did we bring him?”

“Because as ridiculous an idea as it is that he could actually be a policeman, he still makes more sense than you ever do.”

He nodded, “That’s fair.”

“What? Hey–!”

Browning hurried to catch up as the other two walked off, seemingly unconcerned by his outrage. This place felt strange to him, but oddly re-assuring. He couldn’t remember exactly how they got here; they had definitely been on the train, he must have fallen asleep.

Three London buses in convoy went past, it reminded him of a joke; up ahead he could see a red phone box on a corner, something he hadn’t seen in years. It all felt familiar, but insubstantial, as if things were only there while he was looking at them. And he had never felt more like a policeman. Even though he was out of uniform for the first time, passersby knew what he was, who he was, and he knew he had their respect; these were the people he protected.

Then a panicked scream came from somewhere ahead of them, and more, and urgent shouting. People were rushing into the street, running from something. Something that came after them in a staggering, broken run. Something that lunged and grasped and bit and tore. Something not quite human anymore.

Detective Tanaka swore. “What the!?”


“Zombies? Are you serious?”

“Yes, they’re rather popular right now, makes it difficult to travel through here without encountering them.”

“And you couldn’t have warned us?”

“And you would have believed me?”

Recommended Reads:
Oberbaumbrucke 1988 by Stephen Hewitt
Really well observed flash with some beautiful writing.

Zomband by Steve Green
A comedy take on zombies. And the best new sound in town.

Red Tank by John Xero ;D
Science Fiction on

Also... Help me pick my Best of #FridayFlash volume 2 submission. I've picked my favourites on my writing blog.

And there's more! Detective Sora Tanaka and co. first appeared in This Pit.


  1. LOL… gotta bring the zombies in! I'm sure the sparkly vampires are lurking nearby, maybe waiting for nightfall?

  2. Yep, zombies really do get everywhere. I was almost expecting the appearance of Doctor Who!

  3. Thanks, FAR. This deep in the vampires certainly are a bit wishy-washy. The darkest they get is 'brooding', get a bit further in and you have to worry, there are less of them but they don't mess around... ;)

    Ha, which one though, Icy? =)

  4. I also had a fleeting thought of Doctor Who. I liked the nearly philosophic leaning with the surreal otherworld that you've got here and chuckled when we ran across zombies.

  5. Thanks Aidan, good to know I got a chuckle, humorous writing is still a little outside my comfort zone... needs more practice! =)

  6. You had me at "Zeppelins" and the fun just continued from there. Very intriguing concept, which I enjoyed, the zombie were just the icing on the cake...not that I'm suggesting anyone ought to actually try icing a cake with zombies...

  7. Excellent work, you evidently had so much fun with this and it comes across.

    Death by meme

    marc nash

  8. The title got me smiling immediately, it reads like a Blackadder line.
    As for the wounds, it seems that they have become totally Psychosomatic.

    A good and proper imaginative piece of work is this one John.

    Errr... it IS fiction... ISN'T IT? :D

  9. Ha ha, thanks Sam. Thought the Zeppelins might grab a few people. =D Having Soylent Green icing nightmares now... ;)

    Thanks Marc, I did have fun, with the setting and the characters, we'll be seeing more of both of them in the future... =)

    Thank you, Steve. The title went through a few versions, and I was happiest with this Baldrick sounding one... =)

    Some of it is definitely fiction... as to whether that makes it a real place or not, I'll leave that up to you to decide... ;)

  10. Hi there John --

    I liked your idea of an ideas place -- which surely must have created an infinite ideas loop or ideas paradox when you thought of it?

    Always a good sign when Zeplins turn up. Other neat things: that knot in Sonara's companion's tie and Browning's, 'I don't' (there's always one) and the fact you've just caused another zombie influx on the ideas plane.

    Thanks also for linking to "Oberbaumbrucke 1988" as a recommended read. Much appreciated.


  11. Hi Stephen =) Of course, the idea of being able to interact with the ideas place is exactly the thing that enabled ideas (like Sharp) to leave there and enter our world in the first place... ;)

    And thank you, seriously, your flash fiction is always worth reading; you have a great imagination and a great way with words. =)