The American author Helen Keller famously advised: "Life is short and unpredictable. Eat dessert first!" We hear you, Helen.
In the lead-up to the launch of the quarterly issues of the magazine "Makarelle", we wanted to showcase some of the talented writers and visual artists exclusively on our website. We decided to call this section 'Syllabub', after a yummy Cornish dessert.
Our autumn issue of Makarelle under the theme 'Twisted Tales' was be published
on October 15th, 2021. In the run-up, we served at least two delicious syllabubs every week.
An Act of Union
by Dini Armstrong
When we began our dance, you set my head spinning - twisting, twirling yourself around me until we were no longer separate wires but one cable, galvanised and strong. 'We'll set the world alight,' I said and hoped our union might conduct our very own symphony, tether one side to the other. But sadly, over the years our truss produced protrusions, tightly wound scorpions, tails at the ready, stingers pointed outwards now
as well as in.
Are we connected, dear,
or merely trapped together?
Dan Grubb's Twisted Tale
(sent as Facebook message)
He looked on, eyes of bark, pupils of knots, straining to remember even a slim slither of his former humanity from before he met the witch.
In the dappled sunlight beneath his stretched out canopy, his children played, many years past their grief for their lost Father.
(Our editor Jane Langan met Dan's challenge and created the image to match the story).
The Gin Twist
by Jane Langan
He watches her put the cocktail down and survey the room. It’s the usual collection of slightly sweaty businessmen one drink over their limit. He smells, citrus, leather, sweat and the women’s Givenchy perfume. She lifts her finger.
‘Another of the same?’
He is efficient, using a minimal amount of energy. A quick shake, then the cocktail is poured over ice, a twisted piece of orange peel seeps citrus oil as it slides sensuously between the crushed cubes like a slick otter in a stream. He hands her the drink. Their fingers touch, a frisson, eye contact. She glances at the cocktail, then out at the room.
Inevitably, one of the sweaty businessmen approach her. He observes as she crosses her long legs then makes his move. A little back and forth. It’s predictable, she downs her drink and agrees to go to his room. The bartender watches her leave.
Later the bartender returns home. He is logged onto his computer in a small bedsit. He links up with the nanobot she swallowed. It is attached to her cheek. He releases it. The bot drops onto her tongue then to the mouth of the man she is kissing. The bartender clicks a few more times and sends the bot to the man’s stomach to start the dismantling process.
Finally, the bot dissolves into the stomach acid. It’s perfect terrorism. Separate, invisible, painful. Another capitalist dies.
He looks up as he hears the key in the door. She’s home.
Do you have an image
for our twisted story?
It's nice with the mice
by Jane Langan
Malarky and Piffle took it upon themselves to go yonder and laugh at Splark, the abhorrent thing that lived with the cobwebs and mice under the veranda.
They sniggered, particularly Piffle who was a shiffley giggly type. Malarky, being more sensible and only prone to occasional outbursts of fiffle, wound and curled her long tentacles around unsuspecting Splark. Malarky was known for mocking poor Splark for being so round and small. Piffle belittled using her long feathers to tickle in the most delicate of places.
The long tentacles wrapped, but dust bunnies and feathers stuck. Suckers sucked the pre-mentioned stuff. A miss-mash of slurped on fluff wrapped into a ball around tiny Splark. Malarky and Piffle were quite tangled and trapped.
Now, as everyone knows, Splark has no eyes and no nose, but her mouth is big and round and is mostly what Splark is. She gave a wail, well, like a whale.
Splark likes to stay quiet and sleep under verandas with cobwebs and mice, who are actually quite charming. It’s not a good thing when she wails like a whale. She becomes a bigger spikier thing more like the Morning Star that gladiators used to use to bosh and bash. She isn’t soft and squidgy like she likes, but hard and pointy with much might. Oh, naughty Malarkey and Piffle, how silly to bully Splark, now they look like a honeycomb, but the mice say they don’t taste as nice.
A Twist on Cinderella
by Ruth Loten
Ella swore under her breath as she tripped and left her shoe behind on the stair. Not daring to stop and pick it up, she jumped the final three steps, using the bottom one as a springboard up into the waiting coach. As they sped away into the night she lay back against the seat, panting. What had she been thinking? Coaches? Pumpkins? The Prince? Oh sure, the attention had been nice and it was always good to get one over on her stepmother, but trying to steal the prince from under her sisters’ noses had possibly been a step too far. Although… She smiled, suddenly seeing a way out of the drudgery and endless cries of ‘My dress is torn, my room needs sweeping, run me a bath.’ Ella, Ella, Ella, all day long. Men were easy to predict – she’d known the moment her father came home raving about the widow he’d fallen in love with, that he was going to marry the woman – so what would the prince do now? He’d certainly seemed interested, but had she done enough? On reflection, she considered, she probably had. Just the right combination of coy reticence and the hint of what could happen. Under the right circumstances of course – she wasn’t a toy to be picked up and then discarded – it was marriage or nothing. In retrospect, losing her slipper hadn’t been the disaster she’d at first imagined. It gave him something to use to find her. The damn things had been bloody uncomfortable anyway – who makes slippers out of glass? ‘People with wings, that’s who,’ she thought, then told herself off for being ungrateful. Her fairy godmother had meant well. Good intentions are all very well, but you have to put some effort in yourself.
The next morning, she rose early and left a note saying she had gone to the market in the next town. Her absence would allow the prince time to begin his search and if she wasn’t in the house, she couldn’t be locked up when he arrived. Her stepmother wasn’t exactly subtle in her approach to problems. Of course, she’d been able to pick the lock of her door since she was twelve, but if she was locked up she couldn’t be expected to work, could she? Sometimes it gave her a welcome break from the chores. Her stepmother didn’t know about the books she had secreted around the room and it was with quiet rejoicing and an appropriately sad expression that she trudged up the stairs when banished.
On her return, she saw the prince’s carriage outside the cottage and paused to listen a moment. How far would they really go to win him? There was a muffled thud followed by a stifled scream from somewhere and the top floor and Ella clamped a hand over her mouth. That’s how far they’ll go, she thought, as the sounds were replicated a few minutes later. She shook her head sadly. The prince was a prize to be sure, but was he really worth mutilating yourself for? He wasn’t a great conversationalist. It was his library she found more attractive and her sisters had no interest in that. With access to those books she could go anywhere, be anyone. Marriage to a handsome but slightly dull man was a price worth paying and if she could interest him in reading, perhaps he’d become less dull.
She brushed a steady hand over her skirts, took a deep breath and opened the front door.
‘Sorry I was so long,’ she said, stepping delicately over the threshold, ensuring her slim feet were exposed by her raised skirts. ‘The market was so busy today.’
She dropped into a curtsey.
‘My apologies, your Majesty. I did not see you at first.’