My latest short story Paper Falling from the Sky. I hope you enjoy it, let me know in the comments.
As ever if you prefer to read offline, here is a PDF version of the story for you – Paper Falling from the Sky – Paul Blake PDF
Paper Falling from the Sky
“Father! Father!” his son called from the other room.
He looked up in his son’s direction, as woken from a daydream. “What?” his voice was gruff with age, but kindly towards his only son.
“Come look at the television.”
He lifted himself up from the stool in the kitchen, using the counter he was working on for support. Bits and pieces of watches, springs, and batteries littered the wooden surface, in comparison, his tools were neatly organised in their pouches and boxes. He shuffled slowly into the living room. It was getting harder for him to move around. The television in the corner was showing a news report of snow on a city street.
“Why do you want me to look at snow? I saw it for many years when I lived in the mountains.”
“It’s not snow, father. Listen,” he turned up the volume using the remote.
“… chaos on the streets of London today,” the female reporter said. “A large bomb has exploded in the heart of the city.”
“A bomb?” he repeated.
“Sit down, father. They showed the explosion earlier, someone caught it on camera, they will probably show it again.”
He walked over to the sofa facing the television. The crochet blanket protecting the fabric had shifted. He bent and adjusted it before sitting. He took his glasses out of his shirt pocket and gave them a quick clean with the corner of his shirt. The television picture cleared, and he could make out the swirling clouds of ash, dust and debris behind the reporter. As the camera panned across the scene, he could see people running with hands over their mouths to block the dust. Others poured water from plastic bottles over their faces to clear their eyes. The reporter was still talking, but he didn’t listen. He was engrossed in the pictures being transmitted before him. In the corner of the screen, the camera focused on a man wearing a suit standing dazed, looking up at the building before him. He slowly turned, and the cameraman zoomed into a wound on the man’s forehead, jagged, bloody and dusty. It was only due to the close-up that he realised the man was black, the dust had obscured his colour. Paramedics rushed to him and dragged him off camera.
The reporter stopped talking and the picture changed to obviously amateur footage. The shaky video showed a young woman wearing a light blue summer dress posing in front of a glass-fronted building. The operator zoomed in on her smiling face and blonde hair that caught the sunlight that crept through the bristling high-rises.
“Here it is.”
He looked at his son, a handsome young man with a trimmed beard. He was looking at the screen, the artificial glow reflected on his skin. His son couldn’t look away for an instant. He’d always been like that, though. When he was much younger, he couldn’t get enough of the cartoons that were broadcast before and after school, trying to get him to read or study was hard. They had had arguments and tears over the subject. He couldn’t ever take his eyes from the animated creatures he watched. Eventually, he began to listen to his father and start taking school seriously. His father was very proud when last year his son was selected to study Engineering at university. He looked with warmth at his son, which went unseen, and turned his attention back to the screen.
“She’s very prett…” his son said before he caught himself.
His father smiled at the lapse. It won’t be long before he starts talking about marriage. He wondered if anyone has caught his eye yet.
On the screen, the woman moved behind the camera smiling as she went. The video zoomed back in, and you could see all the people in the street rushing about. Businessmen and women eating as they walked. Tourists with their backpacks and suitcases. The camera moved up the building, the unique curve of the windows reflecting the other older buildings beside it. It went up and up until the camera was pointing at the brilliant blue sky overhead. The video returned to street level. A large white van passed by, indicated and parked adjacent to the building. The image on the screen began to shake as the building got further away.
“He is walking away still filming,” his son said. “Here it comes…”
On the screen the strangely shaped building grew taller as more could be seen, there was a blinding orange, yellow, red flash from the barely visible van in the corner and then the sound of an explosion moments later. The picture started spinning as the camera fell to the floor, the image turned to a grey and brown dust cloud, a flash of light blue summer dress tumbling to the floor. You could hear screaming and shouting above the echoing blast. “Are you alright? Daisy! Daisy! Come, we have to get away from here.” A finger or thumb covered most of the screen, behind it as it was lifted you could see fragments of images. People lying on the ground not moving, shattered glass all around them, people running, the dust in the air thinned out, and burning paper fell. The picture changed back to the reporter.
“That was filmed an hour ago and uploaded to the internet. The comments with the video indicate that the girl and man filming suffered slight injuries from the explosion, minor cuts and bruises, but are ok. Police have given us permission to show the footage. As you can see behind me,” the cameraman moved the camera to focus on the shell of the once-white van. “This is the vehicle believed to have carried the bomb. Police are sifting through the wreckage to look for clues and information about the type of bomb and its origin. Hopefully, they will have more information for us soon. We will return to the studio now.”
The picture changed to the studio where a man and woman were sat behind a desk. Their faces grave and pale beneath the makeup.
“It is not known at this time how many deaths from the attack. Police have released a number for people to call if they have any information about the bombing…” a graphic appeared with a telephone number.
“Father, they did it! You did it. A blow against the Great Satan. Praise Allah!” his son, Farzad said.
From outside there were great cheers, and vehicles pressing their horns in celebration. “We must get you cleaned up. Everyone will want to see you. They will be singing the name Shapoor Tajik for years.” He stood up and walked over to his father. He held his arm out for his father to take.
Shapoor reached out his hand, and the bombmaker looked at the missing three fingers of his gnarled hand clasped around his son’s forearm and smiled. A price worth paying. Praise Allah.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Twenty-seven other short stories can be found in my short story collection A Few Hours After This on Amazon – A Few Hours After This – Amazon Link.