The Rejects, part four (fiction)

The Rejects


“You want to reopen the portal? Why?” Cally asked.

“You must understand I only want it opened for a brief period.” Mr. Williams explained. “It’s to find someone.”


“Well the reason why the attack on our world was thwarted, was that one person stopped them. They sent the invading force back through the portal and then closed it. They must have been incredibly powerful, more powerful than anything seen before. However, I also believe this person closed it while on the other side of the portal and trapped themselves there. I want the portal reopened so we can find them.” Mr. Williams said.

“But if that was years ago, wouldn’t they be dead by now? Surely if they were as powerful as you claim, they would have been able to reopen the portal by themselves and return here?” Cally wondered.

“I think something happened to them on the other side. I believe they are trapped in some sort of stasis field and are unable to return. That’s what my investigations have suggested.” Mr. Williams informed her.

“Surely we should be using our powers to make this world better, I mean, is it really so important for us to use our resources to bring someone back from another dimension when we could be doing something more constructive with it?” Cally suggested. “It also sounds like this could be extremely dangerous.”

“There is nothing more constructive we can do. My entire plan hinges on this. I need their power. After they thwarted this attack, they disappeared and then only a few years later the apocalypse happened. If they had been here, they could have stopped it. I want to bring them back and send them back in time, this is something the scientists at The Foundation have been calculating for me. They assure me it can work. Using their own power we can send this person back in time and they can prevent the apocalypse from occurring, meaning none of us will have to live through this wretched timeline of a dying world anymore.” Mr. Williams told her. Cally felt dumbfounded. Did he really mean to do this? It sounded crazy. He sounded crazy. “Don’t you understand? This is the only way we can survive.”

“You mean all this talk about using The Foundation to begin again and rebuild civilisation and the world was all just bullshit?”

“Well, it is the spiel I give about The Foundation, but yes it’s not the actual purpose of the organisation. Our plan is to stop the apocalypse from ever happening and erase this timeline.” Mr. Williams conceded. They both stood there in silence for a while. “I think it’s time we go back.”

On the journey back to the lift, Cally was lost in her thoughts. It was as if she was in some crazy dream and any moment now she would wake up in the ruins again. She wished she was back there. The place had been her home for as long as she could remember. It was all so much simpler there, though she doubted Mr. Williams would ever let her return.

Once they were back in The Foundation Cally was shown to a small room that had a bed, a table, and a few other bits of furniture. This was her space now, she was told. She sat down on the bed and wondered what she had gotten herself involved in. There was a soft knocking on the door. Cally opened it to see Sofi was there, smiling.

“Hi, I see these are your new quarters. They’re right next to mine. I was wondering if you were hungry? The other Rejects are meeting in the canteen. You want to join us?” Sofi asked.

“Rejects?” Cally asked. Sofi laughed.

“It’s what we call ourselves, though Williams doesn’t like it.” Sofi explained.

“Okay.” Cally replied.

“Great, follow me.” Sofi told her. Cally followed her to the canteen.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Previous chapters: One | Two | Three

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©️2023 Joanne Fisher


The Rejects, part three (fiction)

The Rejects


The door slid open to reveal a large room. In the centre of the room was a table with monitors and seats around it. Around the walls were electronic equipment of various kinds, Cally thought some of it looked to be for analysing, and in the centre of the wall to the left there were elevator doors. In the room there were six other people of around Cally’s age or older. Three were female and three were male. They all looked at her.

“May I introduce Cally.” Mr. Williams said to the others. “I think she’s the last one of you to be found.”

“Hi.” Cally said. The others said hi back to her. One of the women smiled and went directly towards her with her hand held out.

“Hi Cally, my name is Sofi. I’m the one who found you.” Sofi said. She looked to be Cally’s age and was of Indian heritage Cally guessed.

“You found me?” Cally asked confused.

“I was the one who became aware you were living in the ruins.” Sofi said.

“Though it did take a while for us to locate you.” Mr. Williams added.

“You became aware I was there?”

“Yes, one day I suddenly knew you were there.” Sofi told her.

“Sofi is able to locate people. She feels their presence.” Mr. Williams explained. “We need to get you connected to the computer.”

“Okay.” Cally said not knowing what that meant.

“Follow me.” Sofi said smiling. Cally followed her to the centre table. “Put your hand on the sensor pad.” Cally followed her instructions. The sensor pad started glowing.

“State your name.” said a female voice.

“Cally.” Cally replied.

“State your full name.” the voice immediately replied. Cally looked confused. She couldn’t remember her last name.

“Just make something up.” Sofi whispered to her.

“Cally Smith.” Cally said to the computer.

“Cally Smith, female, age range 18 to 105 years old.” the computer stated.

“What?” Cally asked. Mr. Williams looked perturbed.

“It must be another glitch.” He stated.

“I’ll check the lines of code.” One of the males volunteered.

“Okay Matt, you do that. I wish to take Cally down below. You can all introduce yourselves to her later.” Mr. Williams stated. He led Cally to the elevator doors.

“Where are we going?” Cally asked.

“There’s something I need to show you.” Mr. Williams told her. The doors opened and they both got in. Cally saw the others were now huddled around a computer monitor. Sofi looked up and waved to her. Then the doors closed and the lift went down. Not long later, the doors opened to reveal a cavern. In the cavern was a cart that was mounted on tracks. The tracks went off into the darkness.

“What is this place?” Cally asked.

“Just a cavern. Get on the cart.” Mr. Williams insisted. Cally sat on one of the seats and then Mr. Williams joined her. He started up a motor and the cart began moving forwards at a steady pace.

“Where are we headed?”

“A place you need to see.” Mr. Williams answered. The cart moved through a narrow tunnel with a single light in the front showing the way. After half an hour they came into a larger cavern. Mr. Williams brought the cart to a halt. Cally felt cold and put her arms around herself to help keep warm. Mr. Williams got off the cart and beckoned her to follow.

“I don’t like this place.’ Cally remarked. Mr. Williams looked at her.

“Interesting. Maybe you’re sensitive to energy levels.” He stated. He suddenly stopped and faced the far wall.

“So what happened here?” Cally asked.

“The reason why I’m gathering all your team together is that you’re all gifted, and when I say gifted I mean you all have powers. In the old days it would have been called magic, whatever that means. Magic, or what we called magic, is the ability to change matter at a subatomic level, or so I believe. And that is something you’re all capable of doing at some level, though of varying degrees of power.” Mr. Williams explained.

“So what happened in this cavern?” Cally asked.

“Well I was getting to that. Years ago another dimension opened a portal to our world here in this exact spot. The intentions of the denizens living there was to invade our world and take it over, but at the time they were thwarted and their portal was closed.”

“I see. So what are you wanting us to do?”

“I want to use your powers to reopen the portal.” Mr. Williams told her.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Previous chapters: One | Two

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©️2023 Joanne Fisher

The Rejects, part two (fiction)

The Rejects


It was always the same dream: before her stood several figures with rubbery skin and tentacles looking down at her with cold intelligence and arrogance, and also hatred. The fact she was there, that she even existed, was an annoyance to them. They cruelly looked at her as she tried to repel them… “Cally?”

Cally opened her eyes. She was still in the white room with the sun’s light streaming through the windows. There stood Mr. Williams before her, smiling.

“Hi.” She said.

“Good morning Cally.” Mr. Williams said. “I thought today we could take a walk and you could see the facility and meet your fellow team members.”

“Team members?”

“Yes. You will be part of a team. I’ll explain more about it later. Now let’s see if you can still walk.” Mr. Williams informed her. Cally rose out of bed. She swiveled her legs over one side of the bed. Her feet touched the cold floor. Gently she tried standing up, but she suddenly began to shake and almost fell over. Mr. Williams quickly went to her side and took hold of her before she collapsed onto the floor. Cally hung onto his arm as she tried walking.

“How long have I been here?” Cally asked.

“Not too long.” Mr. Williams said enigmatically. They walked slowly towards the door with Cally clinging to the arm of his tweed jacket. They came into a white corridor. Mr. Williams led her to the right and they went past doors and windows. Occasionally Cally could see people in those rooms working on computers or writing equations on boards.

“What is this place?” Cally asked mystified.

“It’s the Foundation. I set all this up to create a new foundation for our world. To save what we can and begin a new way forward.” Mr. Williams told her. “To begin again.”

“I thought the world was dying.” Cally replied while brushing her brown hair out of her eyes with her free hand.

“It is, but I haven’t given up hope yet.” Mr. Williams answered. “So tell me how long were you living in the ruins?”

“I don’t know. All I know was that I was there scavenging food and supplies. I don’t remember what happened before that.”

“Were there others?”

“Occasionally. People would stay there, mostly from the north fleeing the famine, but they never stayed for long. Many disappeared overnight it seemed.” Cally replied.

“It’s not a good idea to live in the ruins. I’m not surprised many weren’t there for long.” Mr. Williams stated.

“I was happy there. There was still plenty of food that hadn’t gone rotten yet, if you knew where to look.”

“So you didn’t come from the north with your family then?” Mr. Williams asked. Cally frowned.

“If I did I don’t remember them. All I remember is the ruins.” Cally answered.

“Curious.” Mr. Williams replied. “You wanted to know how I know you’re gifted? You wouldn’t have survived so long in the ruins if you weren’t. The ruins were once cities full of people. These days they are places to be avoided as they are deadly for most people if they stay there too long, but you seem impervious to it.” Cally nodded at his words.

“I did know they were once cities. I don’t know why though.” Cally replied. They walked on for a little longer, and then Mr. Williams stopped at a particular door.

“Hopefully the Foundation can change all this.” Mr. Williams remarked. “Through this door are your other team members. Are you ready to meet them?”

“Sure.” Cally replied. As they stood there, the door slid open…

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Previous chapter: Part One

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

The Ancestral Keep (flash fiction)

The Ancestral Keep

It was in the spring when a letter arrived informing me that my great-uncle had died without an heir, and as I was his last living relative, the ownership of his residence of Blackstone Castle had now passed to me. The letter stated that it was vital that I took up residence there within the month. Having got tired of city life, I fancied that living in a castle up in the mountains would be most efficacious and just what was needed. So it was within a couple of weeks of receiving the letter that I boarded a train with my most treasured belongings to take up residence at the castle, my new property.

I had never known my great-uncle. We had never met and most of the family stories hinted that he had been a eccentric loner who rarely left the castle. He had never married, but had gone on to live an exceedingly long life that outlasted my own parents who had died prematurely in an unfortunate maritime disaster, leaving me the last of the family.

The train took me to the mountains, but I had to hire someone to drive me up to the castle itself. I was dumbfounded when I first beheld the family estate: a crumbling tower of black stone. I knocked loudly on the gate, and eventually a tall skeletal old man opened it and looked down on me.

“Yes miss?” He asked while looking at me rather perplexed.

“I’m Emmeline. I got the letter that my great-uncle has died. Apparently this is now my castle.” I explained.

“Ah! We have been awaiting your arrival with great concern. Please enter your new residence, my lady.” He extended his long bony arm rather theatrically pointing to the entrance of the keep. I walked past him and he followed me through the door.

“So is there any power here?” I asked. I was anxious to recharge my phone.

“Yes my lady. Anything you need we can provide for you.”

“That’s great.”

“One thing my lady, are you married or intending to be married?” He asked.

“No.” I replied while looking around. There was a wooden spiral staircase that I was eager to go up and explore. The truth was I had always been unlucky with love and relationships, and no prospect of engagement or marriage had ever come within reach.

“Can I suggest we help you find a man to marry? You need to produce some heirs to the estate.” He insisted. I rolled my eyes.

“Like that’s going to happen.” I muttered under my breath.

“I’m sorry?”

“Let’s just say I’m not into men.” I informed him. He stopped dead in his tracks and stood there looking dismayed.

“But you are the last of your family. It is imperative your line always has an heir living here.”

“Not going to happen.” I stated.

“You fail to understand: if this castle is left vacant for more than a month without a member of your family here, then there will be the most dire consequences.” He stated. I arched my eyebrows at him.

“Such as?” I asked.

“The land will open up and all the dead will crawl back into this world as undead and bring Hell to Earth. Gone will be the world we have always known.” He told me. I didn’t know how to take his words seriously. It was obvious he meant it earnestly, so I did my best to keep a straight face, but it did make me wonder about people who have spent the majority of their life locked up in an old castle.

“All this if no member of the family lives here? How did this arrangement happen?” I inquired.

“It’s an ancient curse. It stipulates that a member of the bloodline must always be in residence here, leaving it vacant for no longer that a month, otherwise these terrible things will come to pass.”


“Yes they have to be of the same blood of the original ancestor who was cursed.” He stated.

“I see.” I replied. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that although my father was of the same bloodline as my great-uncle, I was actually the offspring of my mother and her secret lover. Only my mother and myself knew this…

Joanne Fisher

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

On the Beach (flash fiction)

On the Beach

“So they still work then. Are they still producing electricity?” Nikki asked.

“No reason why they wouldn’t be. The question is can we find a way to connect to the power they’re producing?” Steven answered.

They were both standing on the shore staring out at the wind turbines. Dark clouds were above them. Already the temperature was dropping. Within a couple of weeks there could be snow and ice everywhere. They needed to find a power source if their community was going to survive.

“Surely there’s some place nearby that oversees them?”

“Maybe. I guess if we wander along the shore we might find it. Otherwise we will need a boat.” Steve replied.

“We can’t be outside too long. The radiation levels are still high.” Nikki reminded him. Steve nodded. They set off northwards. As they walked, Nikki wondered what sort of future any of them could have now.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 149

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #204.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

The High Castle (poem)

The High Castle

now the world is silent

once a bird sang
in the branches of that dying tree

it had a name
they all had names

these days
I forget them all

the older I get the less sure I am of anything
all I see is the world falling into darkness

stomping around the empty halls
with a festering wound that will not heal

I wish I could die

I wish I could die


the world has seen
alpha & omega

life still clings to this rock
let go

let go let go let go let go let go let go
before it all

happens again


long ago I saw a vision -

a golden chalice
healing all the old wounds
of the broken earth

I do not know if it was meant for me

these days I sit beside the river
choked with dry weeds
watching the fading sun
the trees scratching the dead sky
with bony fingers

hoping one day to see
some stranger
holding aloft
a golden cup

until then, all I can do
is wait

the vortex
face the fury
& burn)

Joanne Fisher

This poem draws heavily on the Fisher-King myth and the idea of the Holy Grail bringing renewal to the earth. In this poem either one day the Grail comes and restores the world, or it doesn’t and the world continues in it’s slow decay for eternity….

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Drought Rhythms (poem)

Drought Rhythms

what is this falling
from a tumultuous sky?
it must be angel's tears
only they could be this pure
if they are crying...
we work hard here
this land does not
forgive easily, yet
deep in our hearts we know
God left us a long time ago
& now the angels are crying
our arms, legs, faces
under the furnace
gnarled & knotted
the bark of bent malignant trees
saplings in this stony valley
grow into the most twisted
stunted things
nothing seems to grow right here
only the land remains unchanged
the old moon
rising above the mountains
jagged teeth
they left
& we never saw
them again
out over the mountains
searching for rumours
of the cities
I no longer believe in them
howling storms
that only appear
in this basin
splinter our shelter
& rip everything
out of the ground
you shrug &
start again

sometimes it is the land
teaching us
sometimes there is nothing
except dusty earth
beneath our feet
sometimes our footsteps
I will leave less substantial
imprints -
I walk between earth & fire
fire & shadow
the world must be so light
balancing in the ether
our short life
such short life
show me
the point
on this tinder earth
the angels
to heaven

Joanne Fisher

First published in Catalyst 3

When I was still at school I remember reading a short story set in the Australian Outback where there had been a drought for so long in the area that kids living there had never seen rain before. In the story one of the kids in the farm wakes up one morning to find it is raining and doesn’t know what it is… A few years later I found myself dwelling on this story and wondering what someone would think rain is if they had never previously seen it. This poem is set in the future where the remnants of humanity are trying to survive in an isolated valley. Any sort of faith has long since become a shamanistic worship of the land they try to survive on, though there are vestiges of others…

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Just Wondering (poem)

Just Wondering

If you wander around at 3 AM
the city seems deserted: the streets
are empty, the only sound is generators 
humming in monkish devotion,
yet the street lamps shine on and
the traffic lights continually change
for invisible soundless vehicles

the mechanics of the beast we've
created grinding on without us
and what if there is some
apocalyptic cataclysm and
we all disappear overnight -
how long will the traffic lights
keep on changing?

Joanne Fisher

This poem first appeared in Spin 30.

When I was still at university I used to go to parties and wander home in the early hours of the morning. Not something I would do these days. This thought struck me one time when wandering home after watching the traffic lights continually change with no traffic. I think the answer is probably a couple of days at most.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Endurance (flash fiction)


“Well’s gone dry.” Sarika stated. Both her and Kali stared at the dusty ground.

“We’ll have to dig a new well then.” Kali said. She knew if they didn’t find water, then they would have to find it somewhere else, but water was scarce in this parched valley. In fact the whole world seemed dry now.

“If we don’t find water, then we die.” Sarika stated. This was the constant reality all survivors now faced.

“Then the sooner we build a new well the better.” Kali replied trying to sound upbeat. They went to find the others to help.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 99

This was written with the prompt well’s gone dry provided by the Carrot Ranch May 23 Story Challenge.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Don’t Stray (flash fiction)

Don’t Stray

We were told never to stray into the Forbidden Zone.

After the survivors had fled the cities, the mutants took over. We kept a small area of land safe for our community to live on, while the mutants ruled the rest, and we called that The Forbidden Zone. We were warned if we ever wandered into their territory, they’d do terrible things to us. Probably eat us, or kill us, or worse. So we never went near their territories, aside from Kerry that is. She liked to go foraging and would often end up in the Forbidden Zone as she reckoned she could find better stuff there. We warned her, but she didn’t listen.

One day she was gone and didn’t return. Her hat was found hanging on a branch near the border. Obviously it was left there as a warning.We hope she was killed quickly. We will miss her.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #179.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher