Science Fiction Adventure Fiction

Old lady MacIntosh was a weird old bird who was best left alone. Just ask the neighbourhood kids. 

Over the last five years, they had lost countless stray pieces of sports equipment or toys over her fence. It was your typical grumpy old lady who moves into a friendly neighbourhood and just ‘Wants to be left alone’ story… until last week.

Last week changed everything. 

It all started with a request from our neighbourhood watch coordinator, Jim, who had phoned me out of the blue one night.

“Jack, how are you?”

“Oh, hi Jim, yeah, fine. How can I help you?’ 

I should never have asked this question; I should have had my ‘sorry, so busy, must dash, call you back tomorrow’ speech all organised and then purposefully never called him back.

He ummed and ahhed and then dropped the bombshell on me.

“Look, could you go see Mrs MacIntosh and speak to her about the bushes on her property? If they get any higher and they’re going to be interfering with the power lines. I’d do it myself, but I’m a bit under the weather with a… skin allergy, reaction, sort of thing.”

“Um, Jim, is this really a neighbourhood watch issue? They’re her trees on her property; if anyone from Power Inc has a problem, surely they would be speaking to her?”

“Jackie…” he always calls me that, and it always got right up my nose, “look, we have to look after the old people in our neighbourhood; that is part of our ethos.”

Condescending troglodyte. Anyway, after a bit of whinging from me in a pathetic attempt to weasel my way out of it, I had no choice but to cave in, like I always do, and agreed to go and speak to her tomorrow. 

Mrs MacIntosh’s front veranda was intimidating, even for a forty-year-old man. Dead plants, occupied spider webs galore and dead crackling leaves blowing across the landing, an eerie feeling crept up my spine as I knocked on the black lacquered door. As I stood there contemplating my options of just running away, my good nature got the better of me. Whispering to myself, “Jack, mate… she’s an old lady. She might need help. Yes, she’s an old bag. But, hey, you’re getting grumpier with every passing day too. Be a good neighbour. And then bugger off straight away when she tells you to!”

“Good Morning Mrs MacIntosh. How are you this fine and wonderful day?” I was overdoing the happy act, but it was about the only thing which was going to carry me through this little encounter.

She stood stone-faced, glaring at me with her cold blue eyes. Her harsh pageboy haircut added no measure of softness to her demeanour—a grey eyebrow raised in question. 

“Ah yes, well umm.” I couldn’t help looking over her head, which was relatively easy as she was all of 5ft. Her hallway was long, dark and dusty. Totally and utterly uninviting. “Jim, the neighbourhood watch coordinator, asked me to come over.”

Her eyes rolled, showing her lack of patience with my reference to Jim.

“Yes,” I chortled, “He can be a bit intense, but he does mean well. Jim wanted me to ask if you’d like me to trim your trees on the verge, “ I pointed to the particular greenery, “they’re starting to get really tall, and Jim thought you might like someone to keep them away from the power lines. Honestly, I don’t mind if you do. I’ve just bought a chainsaw, and I’d love the opportunity to use it.” I laughed nervously again as she stepped out of her house and looked over at the trees on the verge.

Mrs McIntosh pierced me with her cool blue eyes as she held up a finger, nipped back through her dark doorway, picked up an old-fashioned slate and chalk, and then scribbled something quickly onto the board.

A prickling heat of embarrassment crawled over my skin as I read her copperplate writing, “Ah, no, I don’t think he’s a spy….”

Another scribble.

“No, I don’t know him very well, but this is… suburbia; I don’t think any spy would choose to live here willingly.”

She snorted her derision before writing again. 

“No, I haven’t noticed him, only out after dark. Well… come to think of it, I’ve only met him after work when it’s dark, so….”

I intended to continue, I really did, but a hand slid ever so slowly around the door frame and distracted me. It was leathery and covered in orange fur.

“What the fuck is that?” I didn’t mean to curse or overreact. I wasn’t expecting the hand.”

Mrs MacIntosh snapped her head to the side, spied the hand and then grabbed me with more force than any old lady should be capable of possessing.

“What the hell are you doing? Get off. Mrs MacIntosh. No, don’t close the door.”

The chalkboard was scribbled on furiously.

“No, I have no idea who Madam Saber is. …Who is she?”

“She’s why we’re living in your delightfully quaint neighbourhood.”

The corporal voice definitely didn’t come from Mrs MacIntosh, who was busy rolling her eyes again.

“Is there someone else here?”

The old lady shook her head in the negative.

“Yes, hello. I’m Barry.” The leathery orange-furred hand on an extended arm reached out from behind a side wall, his palm open wide for a sociable handshake.

I couldn’t help myself and found my hand quickly engulfed by leathery digits.

A wide-cheeked, friendly orangutangs face slipped around the dividing walls cornice whilst Mrs Mac slapped her forehead.

“It’s okay, Agatha; he smells quite different to the other scent. It wasn’t him.”

A loud crack rang out around the hallway. The chalkboard Mrs Mac had been writing on slipped out of her grasp and splintered on impact.

“Oh dear, we're in for an interesting time now.” Barry shuffled his sack-like body into the hallway and poked at the splinters with his dark-nailed, long finger.

“Let me guess your name!” Mrs MacIntosh looked from my flushed face up to the ceiling and clenched her hands as she shouted, “Just let me guess, don’t tell me. This is such fun.” Then stomped her feet flapped her arms, and looked angrily at Barry.

My mind at this time was having difficulties keeping up. The realisation that I was talking to an orangutan overwhelmed me. “You can talk!”

Barry shrugged apologetically, “Yes, but only in four languages, and I find my r’s quite difficult to get right.”

“I’m so pleased you’re so quick to catch on. Just have a lovely long conversation with Barry, no rush, I don’t mind.” Mrs MacIntosh then roared like a lion at the ceiling.

Sighing, Barry wrapped his hand over her clenched fist and patted it. “Agatha has a terrible affliction, well… curse really. She can only say the opposite of what she means. It’s very frustrating never to be able to say exactly what you mean.”

Mrs Mac ran her free hand through her hair, ruffling the pageboy cut into a mess.

I was still stuck on, “You can talk, and you’re an orangutan. I’m talking to an orangutan….”

“Gosh, you’re bright, aren’t you? Most people wouldn’t pick up on the fact that they’ve engaged in a conversation with an ape, but you immediately picked up on it. You have an intellectual mind, don’t you!” Mrs Mac stood holding Barry’s hand, smiling away.

“Oh, well,” I chortled, “I have just finished my Master's in… hang on. You don’t mean that do you?”

Mrs Mac continued to smile broadly.

“No, she didn’t mean a word of it. Just ignore her. Agatha, don’t be rude.” Barry wagged a finger at the old lady, who did another expressive eye roll.

“I don’t apologise. It’s all your fault. I’m just young and far too happy.” A depressed sigh rolled out of the old lady’s chest.

I took a moment to collect my thoughts, “Thank you for your apology, Mrs MacIntosh. It’s not your fault at all. You’re not too old or grumpy. It must be ever so annoying.”

Barry smiled and reached out his extended arm to pat my shoulder. “Well done, lad, you’ve caught on quickly. See Agatha; I said if you just tried, you could find a friend.”

“You’re an annoying pain in the arse Barry.” Mrs Mac smiled at Barry as he replied, “Oh, you say the nicest things.”

“Um, I’m sorry to break up your moment, but you must admit, this is pretty… unusual!” Stammering, I continued as reality came stomping in with its hobnailed boots. “I mean… you’re an orangutang and a poor old lady who can’t say what she means and..”

“Witch,” Barry spoke nonchalantly.


“She’s not a lady; she’s a witch. That’s why she’s cursed.” 


“No, I’m not cursed! I kept my tiny little nose out of another witch’s public business, and she blessed me and promised me that if we ever met again, she and I would have a lovely time together in her dungeon making orange-furred handbags. I should have just left Barry to be turned into orangutang kebabs because that’s what he deserved.” Mrs MacIntosh shrugged. 

As I processed the reverse of what she’d just said, another question grew in my spinning mind. “What are you doing here if you’re a speaking orangutang and a… witch? I mean,” shrugging, I swung my arm wide to indicate the breadth of our neighbourhood. “We’re in the middle of a suburban desert.”

“Exactly. It’s the last place Madam Saber would come looking for us. It was ridiculously easy to ensure we were left alone and then set the house up with a truckload of protections! You’d be mad to walk up the front steps and ring the doorbell.”

“…I walked up the stairs….” 

“No, but you were dumb and didn’t knock on the door, you thick boy!” Mrs MacIntosh smiled happily away.

“Oh! Okay. So, knocking was good, but ringing the bell would have been bad?”

“No. Completely safe. Wouldn’t have affected you in the slightest.”

“What would have happened if I’d rang the bell?”

“Well, it all depends on your intentions.” Barry pulled a banana from the little leather backpack satchel he was wearing and began peeling it with his upper lips.


We’ll give you a lovely little surprise if you mean no harm.” Mrs Mac’s eyebrows both rose, indicating this was not true.

“Yes, just like that sneaky bug the other night. He’s been creeping around, rifling through our bins. You know, the sort of stuff you would expect from a spy or one of Madam Saber’s minions.” Barry flung the banana skin back into the other room. "Then bang, up the stairs rang the bell with a heart full of bad intentions."

“Pardon?” I was starting to feel a bit dizzy. “A bug was… spying on you?”

“Yes, a muscular, tall and thin woman with a whole lot of red hair. She had a miniature pony with her. Skipped away without a limp and burning hair.” 

“Oh, you mean it was a man, who was not muscular, but short and fat. And this man did not have a lot of red hair. But he also had an animal, maybe a small dog or cat… hang on, that’s Jim. He’s our neighbourhood watch coordinator….”

“No, he’s a bug, and his little poodle is a larva.” Barry was now sniffing a baloney sandwich, which he had also retrieved from his satchel. "Unfortunately, he blew the fuse on a few of our protections and it takes time to build that kind of hex up again.

The lights flickered.

“Oh, goody gumdrops, we’ve got no one outside.” Mrs Mac flicked the knob on the big brass deadlock on her door and gave it a good solid tug to ensure it had no penchant for opening. In a serious tone, she muttered, “It won't be anything to worry about; maybe we should invite them in to look at the clock. Madam Saber hasn’t found us.”

“Jackie. Are you inside? Be a mate and open the door for me. I’d love to meet Mrs Macintosh finally.”

“Jim, is that you?” 

A strange clicking noise rang along the veranda, echoing and intensifying.

“Jackie. Are you inside? Be a mate and open the door for me. I’d love to meet Mrs Macintosh finally.”

“Jim? Are you all right?” my heart was beating rapid tattoo.

“Jackie. Are you inside? Be a mate and open the door for me. I’d love to meet Mrs Macintosh finally.” The clicking got louder and was now directly outside the front door.


“Jackie. Are you inside? Be a mate and open the door for me. I’d love to meet Mrs Macintosh finally.”

“Jim.” I didn’t want to ask, but by the way, Mrs Macintosh and Barry we slowly inching their way back from the door; I had to, as calmly as I could. “Jim… are you a bug?”

Silence, except for the clicking.

My ear pressed up hard against the dark wood of the front door to clearly hear what was happening outside.

A huge dark brown serrated limb pushed through the wood door, splitting the wooden fibre apart. The swollen exoskeleton reflected my face directly back at me. I had literally been missed by only a quarter of an inch.

“Fuck me, that’s not right!”

I left the wide-mouthed Mrs Mac and Barry behind as I bolted down the dark passageway. Not sure where I was running to, but I was definitely very aware of what I was running from!

“Stay out of my office, turn left, turn left, TURN LEFT, you genius.” Mrs Mac may have had a late start in the race, but she outdid me with her manoeuvrability and knowledge of the layout of her house. She pushed past me and shoved a white door open, which we all tumbled through.

“Don’t touch the clock. Stay right away from it.” 

Barry was lucky, his long arms gave him the advantage, and so therefore, he was the first to touch the dark grandfather clock, which stood directly in the middle of the empty room we’d just burst into. But I was second. Blessed with good hearing, the sound of the front door being splintered to pieces and a magnified clacking sound that echoed up the passageway engaged my imagination to believe a giant cockroach with slashing limbs was racing up the aisle; it motivated me to outstep Mrs Mac and touch the clock in second place.


“Yes, Barry.” His big brown eyes looked wide and terrified.

“Don’t let go of the clock, whatever you do!” He placed a leather hand on mine, ensuring my grasp was sure.

“Relax, ladies; this will be a lovely smooth ride!” Mrs Mac twisted the key in the clock’s face, which immediately glowed so bright my vision was ensconced in light.

Under rushing and twisting winds, I yelled out to Barry. “What the hell is this? What’s happening?”

The orangutang who gripped my hand with steel force bellowed back, “Have you ever seen Dr Who and his Tardis?”

“Yes!” It wasn’t easy to be heard over the rushing wind.

“Well, this is nothing like the Tardis, but completely like it all at the same time!”

The ground hit like a cricket bat on the back of the skull.

After a minute or two of cradling my head in both hands, a soft squidgy pink tentacle wrapped around my leg.

 “What the fuck!” echoed around the room as I kicked it off and scrambled into a standing position, staring at the full and formal chamber. 

Barry cleared his voice. “Err, High Pentacle Council, allow me to introduce Jack, the human.”

“He’s totally not edible.” 


February 03, 2023 10:43

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Keri Dyck
19:12 Feb 20, 2023

Hey! I was given your story to critique. It was definitely a ride from start to finish. Your grammar and spelling were good. My favourite line was “Relax, ladies; this will be a lovely smooth ride!”


Kelly Sibley
22:03 Feb 20, 2023

Thanks for taking the time to read, critique and reply; most appreciated!


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