I stand at the rear of the chapel, amongst those paying their respects. All familiar faces, yet no-one speaks to me. Too grief-stricken, perhaps?
Who chose this godawful music?
Then she appears! We haven’t spoken since she took off with my man. She has some nerve coming to my funeral!
To avoid any awkwardness at her own funeral, Melanie has pre-planned the service arrangements and music and will most likely be regularly updating her invited-guests-only list.
An afternoon ritual: park bench, birdseed.
Wistful glances at spirited youngsters and peacock-proud parents swapping milestone stories, recipes, gossip.
She used to bring her kids here to zipline, chase ducks, and pick pungent, sticky-stemmed dandelion posies.
Her life carried in her satchel, she disappears into twilight to join other Invisibles.
Melanie Cranenburgh wrote this story.
An acrid chemical haze blanketed the city wastelands. The noon sky glowed with an eerie crepuscular light. The Cataclysm proffered two choices: adapt or die.
In the fields we no longer chased butterflies. They now chased us, their flapping avian wings dusting us with fine powder that necrotised human flesh.
Melanie always feared her childhood obsession with catching butterflies would, one day, come back to haunt her.
Ping! Letterbox… Thwack! Liquidambar…
Matt an’ me were slingshootin’ in the front yard.
There was a shatterin’ of glass and crunchin’ of metal.
The newspaper reckoned the driver hit the light pole and died at the scene.
We argued over who shot the stone, then never spoke of it again.
Growing up, slingshooting was a fun pastime for Melanie until one day she may or may not have caused someone to receive a serious injury…
He had always dreamed of having a vegetable garden. A place where tomatoes, beans and corn could be kissed by the sun and caressed by the rains.
Meticulously, he weeded and watered, hoed and harvested, until the loudspeaker murdered his tellurian bliss: Inmate B18763… report to the Exercise Yard, immediately!
If killing plants was a crime, Melanie would have been incarcerated for the term of her natural life.
The typhoon decimated the village.
Huts were razed to ground level; palm trees had snapped like matchsticks. Rotting corpses and flooding were giving rise to disease and more death. Post-disaster survival was paramount here.
Across the globe, a starlet with handbag Chihuahua was complaining about her caviar and lobster bisque.
Melanie Cranenburgh wrote this story.
Trying to outrun his pursuer, the terrified man scrambled and stumbled. It was too late; gigantic spiked forearms grabbed him. His captor was the size of a car.
Inside the Rhinoceros Beetle’s underground lair, human specimens of varying ethnicities were neatly arranged and labelled—each impaled with a giant pin.
Melanie cringes with horror when recalling the time she was made to stick pins into arthropods for a science project.
My cousin, a dentist, became bored with mundane extractions, fillings, and teeth whitening. So he decided to specialise in crafting vampire fangs for niche clients.
I asked him, “Why the change?”
His response? He’d simply grown tired of working in a soulless job that sucked the life out of him.
Melanie has a greater fear of visiting dentists than she has of vampires.
Crocodile and Hippo were arguing over who was the more dangerous of the two.
Crocodile boasted, “I kill a thousand humans annually!”
Hippo scoffed, “I’m responsible for thrice that number of fatalities!”
Then a man came into view. Pointing at him, Crocodile sighed. “I think we finally have our winner…”
Melanie Cranenburgh lives in Western Australia, where a plethora of dangerous creatures make life interesting.
My heart pounding in my chest, I watched as you lay on the white linen, still and silent. The fan’s breeze fluttered your hair and eyelashes. You looked cool, reposed, as though sleeping. I squeezed your hand and whispered for you to open your eyes, once more.
But you didn’t.
Melanie Cranenburgh lives in Western Australia and rescues wildlife in her spare time.