I spent too much time chasing the virus to get properly worked up this evening/night/morning.
So instead of a rant, here are some short ones that were published, in all their primitive embarrassment.
To start with, one that was in Quietus volume 1, issue 2, (http://www.quietusmag.com/) in October 2003.
Nigel sat at the remains of his desk, idly twirling the paper-knife in the fingers of his left hand. With a swift motion he grasped it and thrust it through the palm of his right hand. His head pressed the high back of the chair as his body stiffened against the pain, his teeth clamped shut to avoid biting the end of his tongue. With a gasp, he forced his body to relax and looked at his shaking right hand.
Bright red life oozed from both sides, running along the blade and handle of the knife and forming crimson lines along his wrist. His face set into a grimace as he quickly pulled the blade free, then he sat sobbing as he watched the wound close, the flow trickle to a stop. As the last traces of his self-inflicted injury faded, he roughly wiped the blood from his hands onto his trousers. Standing, he walked to the shattered window, wiping the tears from his eyes with a wrinkled, filthy sleeve.
It had been his invention, his own work. Why should he share it? If he had told his supervisors they would simply have taken his idea and left him behind, alone and forgotten. He couldn't let that happen. He had decided to keep his success secret until he could announce his invention himself. He would wait until the time was right.
He had tested his invention on himself, of course. Nigel recalled that day, months ago, when he had injected his microscopic robots into his veins. He remembered that first thrill as they set to work. His chest pains had vanished as his heart was healed. He had discarded his spectacles as his vision was restored. The arthritic ache in his shoulder simply disappeared. What an invention! He would be famous, or would have been.
Nigel felt tears returning to his eyes as he surveyed the desolation of the city. Four days ago - maybe more, Nigel wasn't sure - nuclear Armageddon had arrived and everyone had left in a flash of radiation. Nigel could recall the pain as the wave of gamma-rays had followed the edge of the blast through his beautiful suburban house. His carefully tended garden had turned into a desert of brown, twisted stalks, although still in their perfectly ordered rows in the sterile soil.
He watched as the bulging wall of a distant building suddenly gave way, showering bricks and mortar onto the dust-obscured street below. The sound traversed the distance easily, unhindered in the silence of this dead world.
The flash had killed him, but it hadn't killed his robots. He had no idea how long it had taken them, but they had repaired him. They had brought him back to life. He had invented more than just a medical dream. He had invented immortality.
If only he had told someone else.
Finally, a bit of unseasonal Christmas cheer. This one had to be exactly 69 words for a real-print magazine called NFG (Canadian, eh?), issue 5 volume 2, 2005. It was called 'Santa's Claws'.
Harry smoothed his Santa suit and climbed the ladder. He loved Christmas Eve.
He tapped on the window until the curtain opened and a small face appeared.
Ruffling his beard with one hand, he watched delight bloom in the child's eyes, then he scowled and pointed a finger.
"You're getting nothing," he said, laughing at the tears as he descended the ladder and moved it to the next house.
I think I fixed the virus. if I did, it won't be there tomorrow...
Oh, and I like to think my writing has improved since those old ones. Whether it has or not, I like to think it.