Welcome to Afterwards

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody. Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody.  Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.

Shorts – Kin – Part 2 of 2

It’s something, right? Better than not doing something I suppose. Just about.

Just stuff I am spewing out as I attempt to get into a routine of writing every day (or close at least). Part 1 Here


The next morning came and went, both men sharing the bed, and Wilson enjoyed a breakfast of toast, Canadian butter, jams and sliced ham left for him on the table where they had drunk together the night before. There was also a small bowl of apples and oranges, and several pastries wrapped in a white napkin which he kept for later, not knowing when or if he would get to eat again.

He then spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon alone, anxiously pacing the room and then flicking through the pages of a small stack of travel magazines he had kept from being thrown away. Bali looked nice, he thought to himself. Quiet. Pretty. He wondered if maybe he could go there? Would anybody know?

He wondered what his other self-had been doing, mindful of the high standards he…they…he set for himself and realised that he had not sync’d, else he would have known. Taking the small device from the bedside table he placed his hand on it and waited. There was the familiar ping, and then…nothing. There was no information from the previous night. No memories, no download. The upload had been successful, and he had assumed that the sync might go both ways but  now it seemed not.

Wilson rationalised the matter away, consoling himself that there was likely never really cause to do a full two-way sync. That wasn’t the process. Not their purpose.

The hours ticked by, and it was soon approaching dinner time, the busiest time of the day. The back and forth of service, of etiquette and the highest standards. Present but not seen in the execution of their intent. He would be alone for some time still, so lay down on the bed, his eyes heavy and the burden of worry a knot in his stomach.

What seemed like only moments later he awoke to the ping of a sync.

“Bali?” said New Wilson standing over him where he lay on the bed. “Really? Nice enough I guess. Pictures certainly looked nice.”

Wilson rubbed his eyes, sitting up. “Where’ve you been? What’s going on? You’ve been to Bali?” he asked.

“Working. I have no idea. And no, you looked at travel brochures, right? “

Wilson bristled. So the sync was one way. “Thanks for the food, “ he said, swinging his legs out of bed and slipping his feet into his slippers. He watched as the man with his face, his life, eyed them and then looked back to him. “What? Something wrong?” he snapped.

“Do you want a drink?”

“No, no I don’t. I don’t want a drink, I want to know what’s going on.”

He watched as two glasses were filled, a full moon creeping from behind thick clouds and illuminating the room as it flooded the room. Wilson sighed, taking the glass. Once more he drank, the warmth filling him. I’m leaving tomorrow.” He said. Both men seemed as surprised as each other to hear the words spill from his lips.

“You can’t.”

“And exactly why can’t I?” Wilson replied. He didn’t really know where he would go or what he would do. He didn’t really know much beyond the confines of the house.

“Because that isn’t what we do. We serve. We wait. We don’t leave.”

Wilson stood suddenly and threw the glass across the room, it hit the wall and shattered. “Bali, I could go to Bali,” he shouted. “I can go anywhere. They’re not coming for me, they’ve forgotten. Something went wrong. I don’t know, I don’t care.”

“How are you going to get to Bali?”

“It doesn’t fucking matter, are you not listening?” Wilson’s face was red, pain shot up his leg. He took a deep breath, his eyes glancing to the open cupboard, the rows of clothes inside.

Wilson watched as the man in front of him stammered “You..you..can’t. You just can’t.”

“I fucking can,“ Wilson snapped. Maybe they weren’t as identical as he had thought. They shared so much but perhaps there was a difference, something beyond memories and dna. Something that couldn’t be simply transferred and that made him far more than service and routine and duty. “get out of the way,” he said pushing past his new self. He heard a glass fall to the floor as he headed towards the open cupboard.

“No, wait,“ came a shout, and Wilson felt a hand on his arm. “Wait. They will come.”

Wilson spun around, an arm swinging and connecting the other man across the face. “I’m not waiting, I don’t want to go.” He shouted, watching a trickle of blood as it ran from the mans lip. They weren’t the same, he thought. He wasn’t him. “Don’t try stop me.”

Before the outstretched arm connected with him a second time Wilson lashed out, striking him once more. Pain shot up his leg and into his back and he grunted as a rage filled him and he threw himself past the outstretched arm and both men fell to the floor in a tangle. A trailing leg knocked over the small table where a lamp sat burning, the room plunged into darkness with only the moonlight streaming in as they rolled across the floor, arms flailing, clenched fists flying and the heavy grunts broken by the sounds of knuckle on bone.

As clouds passed over the moon once more, the room was plunged into darkness and Wilson felt fingers around his throat, nails digging into his flesh, and the air being ripped from his lungs as he felt a blow to his stomach. A guttural roar spilled from him as he flailed, thrashing against the weight of the man who was now on top of him.

“You can’t go, “ he said, fingers tightening and pushing Wilson’s head against the floor. “You have to wait”. Wilson didn’t hear anymore after a bloodied fist connected squarely with something hard in the dark, there was a stifled groan and a hiss of escaping breath followed by a thud. And then there was silence.

Steam curled from the cup in the bright morning light that streamed through the tall breakfast room windows. Sugar cubes plinked as they were dropped into the tea, and there was a tinkle of silver spoon on best china saucers.

A man with dark hair and sharp features took the offered cup and smiled.

“Thank you,” he said, placing it on the table next to his unfolded newspaper.

“Will that be all Sir?”

“Yes, thank you Wilson,” the man said taking up the spoon and stirring the tea slowly. “That’s all.”

“Very good sir,” said the man, turning to leave the room. He stifled a wince. “Very good.”

So you have cancer. Now what?

Food glorious food

So, turns out I have prostate cancer. I wrote about it first here…

It’s not like it’s gonna take me out anytime soon and I am continuing with frequent check ups and mri scans and all of that sort of nonsense just to make sure it’s not getting any worse. So not a great deal to worry about.

I did though take the opportunity to review my working hours at work and dropped a few and now I only work 4 days a week Tuesday to Friday.

Not wanting to be overly dramatic, it did occur to me that perhaps I might use this as an opportunity to rethink things a little bit and just try and give myself a little bit more time in the day. Again it’s not because of worries of any sort, it’s simply because I thought it’ll be rather nice to only work 4 day’s week. I’ve not had an epiphany or some such.

I did do it previously but they were particularly long days I didn’t really have the energy of the inclination to be working for 9 hours A-day. So now I only work 8 hours A-day 4 days a week which is fabulous and I have every Monday off. It’s only an hour difference but that hour does make it quite difficult to squeeze all of the working time into the day when I don’t want to start before 8 and I don’t want to work after 5. Makes me seem a bit picky doesn’t it…

Anyway to get to my point what I’ve actually been enjoying doing is bulk cooking for a couple of hours on a Monday morning so that I don’t have to do a great deal of cooking for the rest of the week. I know I need to eat healthier and stay fit and well as I can so this all seemed to fit nicely together.

Just means I don’t have to spend as much time during the week preparing food and after work I can take the dog out for a walk after I’ve thrown something in the oven and Hey presto all sorted.

I realised I could have done this before and there was absolutely nothing stopping me I guess it just felt like I was taking some sort of actions to improve things in terms of both preparing better food as well as not being quite so busy.

So each week I whip up a quick menu and pop to get whatever I need. I then usually have to pop back to get the things I didn’t remember. I then head into an absolute frenzy of cooking and pot washing and Try to do everything in about 2 hours. I was a bit worried about how long you can leave food in the fridge I’m kind of wondered whether I was going to give everybody diarrhoea so I tend to put Tuesday and Wednesday is food in the Friday and Saturday goes into the freezer. This week we had burgers on Monday and then Tuesday is fish pie, Wednesday is a Thai green curry, Thursday is a vegetable filled cottage pie, Friday it’s a beef Madras curry, There is a vegetable pasta thrown in there as wellAnd if I remember correctly some sort of chicken chasser.

I think I need to work a little more vegetables in there but mostly I’m rather enjoying it.

Not really sure why I’ve told you all that and if my writing seems a little odd it’s because I’m doing it through dictation While I’m lying on the couch with the dog.

Shorts – Kin – Part 1 of 2

It’s something, right?

Just stuff I am spewing out as I attempt to get into a routine of writing every day (or close at least).


Wilson shuffled to the door, soft slippers on hard wood floors and the ache in his right leg causing him to wince as he attempted to hurry as there was a knock for a second time. It was late. The master and lady were asleep, the rest of the staff long gone back to the city. That security had allowed someone through without calling was unusual, but not unheard of.

“Just a moment, “ he called out. His employers were in the far west wing so there was little worry that he would wake them. The lights in the long hall flicked on automatically as he approached the large set of heavy double doors. Through the glass inset into them that ran top to bottom, he could make out the shape of a man on the other side, standing quite still.

Pain shot once more up his leg, and he called out through gritted teeth that he was almost there.

“How may I…” he said as he pulled the door back, the words catching in his throat and falling silent in the cold night air that rushed inside.

“Good evening, “ said the man stood before him. “I am…”

“I know quite who you are, “ said Wilson, the colour drained from his cheeks and there was a tremor in his voice. “You’re me. That’s pretty plain to see. Is it time already?”

The man before him said nothing and smiled. They were identical in every way, indistinguishable and unmistakable. Save for their most recent memories, the last 12 hours at the most, there was nothing to separate them.

They looked each other up and down, somehow this all seemed matter of fact, as if they both expected it. Perhaps it was in their shared DNA and memories, but whatever it was it already had a sense of inevitability for Wilson.

“Im sorry, I haven’t synced since this morning,” Wilson said, pulling the door wider and motioning for him man to come inside. “Master had me somewhat busy preparing for the arrival of guests.”

The other Wilson acknowledged with a nod and stepped inside, noticing the limp as the door was closed behind him.

“It’s the leg, isn’t it. It’s been getting worse for months now and they said there was nothing that could be done.”

The visitor nodded, smiled politely, paused and then spoke. “Shall we return to your quarters? They will be along to pick you up for recycling once you’ve synced.”

Wilson said nothing, nodded, and headed back along the hall. The door clicked locked behind them and they made their way towards a set of wide stairs at the end of the hall. Instinctively, he started to explain that the dining room on the left was for major functions only, already consigned to the inevitable. He knew this was the way things were, he had been here before. Before he could finish he was cut short.

Wilson felt a hand on his shoulder and he stopped, turning around to face himself once more.

“I know, I have your memories, it’s ok. They are in good hands I promise.” His new self said to him. “I know this is scary, but you need not worry. It will be painless, and it is for the best.”

Wilson shrugged off the touch. “It’s just through here, “ he said holding open another door to the left of the staircase. “this is our…”

He paused, sighed, and both men entered the room. It was sparse and clean. Against one wall there was a single bed, with a small bedside table on one side. A thin cupboard stood to the other, one door open and identical sets of clothes were visible hanging neatly. On the other side of the room was a small table and two chairs, a dark wood bookshelf and a low cabinet with a decanter filled with a dark liquid and two glasses.  

“You pour while I sync,“ Wilson said as he sat down on the edge of the bed. He pulled a small flat object from the draw of the bedside table, about the size and thickness of a paperback, and placed his hand on it. There was a low hum for about thirty seconds, and then a high pitched ping that indicated that the sync had been successful.

Both men sat at the round table, drinks in hand.

“When will they fetch me?” Wilson asked.

“Within the hour.”

“And what happens then?”

“I really don’t know what happens to you, but I will be going to bed as I need to be up early to ensure everything is ready for breakfast.”

Wilson laughed and took a long drink from the glass.

“I am sorry,“ said the man. Wilson. Himself.

“No hard feelings at all,” said Wilson. “I guess I thought maybe they would keep me on because…well because they cared, you know.”

Both Wilsons nodded, and they both finished their drinks.

“Another?” Wilson said filling both glasses.

“I’m not sure that I should, I do need to be up in the morning.”

Wilson laughed, “Go on, just one more.” He was incorrigible when he drank, and it wasn’t like he was going to have a hangover the next morning. Or any morning ever after, for that matter.

“Drink up, “ he said, filling their glasses. He was barely hardened against the effects of what was a very good 2023 single Malt he had received from the master as a gift, and he did like to keep it for special occasions, but if not tonight, then when, he told himself.

Wilson looked at his watch as they drank and chatted. Perhaps it was the drink, but he quite liked himself. He was surprisingly eloquent and amiable after a few, and there was a genuine compassion and tenderness that he realised very few people had ever seen, if any.

“When did you start then?”

“You know when I started, “ Wilson replied. “Cast your mind back, it’s all in there. Last one had a nasty fall apparently. But as they say, good help is hard to find, right.”

Wilson raised his glass. “One more for the Road, “ he insisted and filled the glasses once more, spilling some of the malt onto the table. “When did you say they would be here for me?”

“Not long now, given you’ve sync’d they’ll be here any minute.”

“Then to our good health, “ said Wilson, his speech slurred. “Or to yours at least. May you last longer than I.”

“To service.” Said new Wilson downing his drink in one. Wilson was enjoying himself and wondered why he hadn’t done this more. Not with himself, of course. Just generally. Or at least he wondered why Wilson hadn’t done it more. Or something along those lines…

When the next morning came, Wilson opened his eyes, head thumping and mouth dry. He was alone in the room, in his bed. Sitting up he looked about and wondered whether the night before had been a dream. The headache and empty bottle on the table across the room told him it was not. Throwing back the blankets he swung his legs from the bed and slipped into his slippers which were conveniently where he would have left them had he not had far too much whisky.

Scanning his room he noticed his everyday shoes were missing. They should be next to the cupboard. Walking over he opened the doors and counted the hanging jackers, shirts and trousers. One set missing. He checked the wash basket but they weren’t in there. Someone must be wearing them.

Him. Them.

Hours passed, and Wilson pottered around the room. His leg still ached, and was getting worse each day. It was a large house, with endless corridors and stairs, and over time he had just started to break down. The cheaper models did, but they were easily replaced. He should have learned to hide it, he thought.

He straightened the bed, washed the glasses and threw the empty bottle in the waste. He lay down for a while to help ease his headache, and had just up and finished straightening the bed for a second time when the door to the room opened.

“Still here then?”

“Apparently so, yes. Thought they’d have been by now. Have they been in touch?”

“Really don’t know what happens now, “ Said new Wilson. “I suppose you wait.”

“You think?”

Wilson watched as a new bottle of malt was placed on the table.

“I…we…we don’t usually drink that much you know. Just so you know.”

“We don’t? Well it isn’t as good as the one we drank last night but there were plenty in the stores.”

“No,“ said Wilson, not believing that they both didn’t know full well that their ability to handle their alcohol did not match their ability to enjoy it. “Anyway, “ he continued, “doesn’t really matter does it. I’ll be gone soon so you can figure that out yourself.”

But that wasn’t the case at all. The morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon to evening and still he waited. The golden fingers of the late afternoon sun had receded into the darkness, and looking out of the window he gazed up at the stars in the cloudless sky. Far from the city lights they painted the blackness like a net of lights.

Later that evening when they were together in the room once more, drinks in hand, Wilson again asked about being collected and whether the master had been informed that he was still in the house. Apparently Masters didn’t get involved in such matters though, and it was best that the handovers were seamless to spare them the emotional distress of the transitions.

Wilson wondered why he didn’t know this and what else he might not know. He wondered whether this was new information that had not been shared in the sync or if he had simply forgotten. He had after all been here for many years. More than he could recall in fact.

“Well what do we do then? Just wait?” He asked.

“There is no protocol that I am aware of. We wait I believe. Unless you want to contact them yourself. Do you even know how?”

Wilson laughed and sipped his malt. “Hardly going to do that now am I.”

Part 2 Tomorrow…

Things I read in January

So there was one that I was reading for the 2nd time and a classic that I was reading for the 1st. A 3rd That I endured and a 4th Which I figure I ought to read given that I bought it.

Stephen King dishes out some wonderful writing advice as well as an intriguing tale of his journey to writing superstardom. I’ve read this a couple of times and I find it hugely inspirational And it really does deliver a simple message on the art of writing.

I’m not going to try and explain why To Kill a Mockingbird is so bloody good. I’m pretty certain generations of school children have analysed it to death.

What I will say is that it is an absolutely beautifully written piece of work. You really could learn so much by just reading and learning. How I have gone this long without reading it is pretty shameful to be honest…

The other 2 were just filler really but I enjoyed both to varying degrees for different reasons. None of which I can be arsed actually going into.

As you can see I’m not really doing book reviews I’m just sharing my initial thoughts on what I’ve enjoyed reading this month.

What have you been reading?

Fetish Haiku – Liquidophilia


Just a reminder that these were once a thing. Kind of a re blog..


I was prompted by one of my regular readers to perhaps explore the world of fetish in haiku form. Well it was something like that, I don’t recall exactly but before you know it I am googling the most astonishing things and writing small Japanese poems about them. I know they’re not strictly haiku – they do though have the haiku structure.

Some of stuff I have heard of but a lot of it took me somewhat by surprise. I am rather concerned over the search history on my phone because it is pure filth. All in the name of research mind.

Anyway, I shall leave it up to you to google the title below if you dare.


You filthy bugger

get them out my bloody pint

wet dripping bollocks

Shorts – Full Force

It’s something, right?

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Darnel threw his bag down onto the floor and slumped into his chair, the cap of his beer sliding between his fingers and onto the floor.

“Is that you?” came an excited voice from upstairs. “I will be down in a minute I’m just getting ready.”

“I wouldn’t bother” he replied taking a long drink and wiping his mouth.

“What do you mean” came the reply. “Aren’t we going to the cantina? What happened?”

“I got busted down to private. Lost my stripes. I really don’t feel like it. Some of the lads will be out and I really do not want to see them.”

Zara popped her head around the corner and peered down the staircase into the living room.

“Honey what happened? Tell me.”

Darnel sighed deeply and finished the beer before opening a second.

“I don’t know babe, I really don’t” he replied. “I screwed up. I think.”

She hurried down the stairs, sat on his lap and kissed his forehead.

“Tell me. Please. What happened.”

He place the bottle on the table and held her hand.

“We were on patrol and I missed a mark. Went clean past me but I swear honey, I am certain that they weren’t the droids we were looking for…”

Shorts – Hunger

Blah blah blah

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Before even opening his eyes Harold knew something had happened.  There was the distinctive metallic taste of blood in his mouth and the smell.  God that smell.

His mind raced and slowly he opened his eyes, expectant.

When they met he thought that she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, but with the colour now drained from her face and her lifeless eyes already clouding over he knew that she was now even more so.

He fought the urge to caress her.  To be with her.

Sighing deep he slipped his legs out of bed.

“Fuck, not again…”

Shorts – Tea and Anxiety

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. This was inspired by a piece of art I bought which Ill post about next…

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Tea and Anxiety

He sits and watches, patiently, the clink of cup on saucer breaking the silence. Hands fold in his lap as he sets aside the tea and a crooked smile creeps across his snarling lips. He wishes nothing but ill intent, that creeping gloom that overwhelms and petrifies as the Sunday clock marches on to bed time. And bed time, as we know, is the promise of tomorrow and all it holds.

“I don’t want to go,“ the little girl tells her mother, “I don’t like it one bit. They are all horrible to me, especially the boys. The one with the round face pulls my hair when the teacher isn’t looking.”

The mother caresses the girls blonde curls and pulls the blanket up tight around her chin.

“You must ignore them, Cassie,” she insists, “These things pass like all things eventually. When I was a little girl it was just the same and it will get better.”

“Nothing passes,” the creature whispered into the darkness, “nothing passes, no not ever, no never.” He takes up the tea once more and sips from the darkness of the corner of the room, his pale eyes never leaving her.

Cassie breathed deep and turned into the pillow.  It was cold and crisp.

“Nothing passes,” Cassie whispered as her mother stroked her face gently. “You know that, right?”

Cassies mother paused, feeling a cold breeze across her back, and she turned to check that the window had been properly closed.

“That’s not true Cassie,” she said, fiddling with the latch and checking that it was fastened tight. Looking out into the garden she could see flakes of snow starting to drift slowly downwards, caught in the pale light that hung over the back porch.

“It’s going to be…” Cassie’s mother’s voice trailed off as she became distracted by the night beyond the window, the inky black of winter hanging like a pall over the houses that stretched into the distance. Her mind drifted and she watched small plumes of white smoke snake into the windless sky.

“They don’t like you Cassie,” the creature whispered once more, a lyrical lilt in its voice, eyes wild as it climbed slowly up onto the small wooden dresser that sat against the far wall of the room.  It stared directly at her as she lay under her blanket.

“Tomorrow is waiting for you,” it continued, head tilting to one side as it watched the older one pull the curtains closed and walk back over to where the child lay in the bed.

“They don’t like me, mummy,” Cassie said meekly, “please can I stay home tomorrow? My tummy hurts”

“Sleep well,” said Cassie’s mother, placing a kiss on her head. “It will be better in the morning. I promise. And your tummy will be just fine”

“Promises, promises,” hissed the creature into the darkness, it took another sip of tea, eyes bright and ferocious.

“You always promise that,“ said Cassie as she turned into her pillow. “But it never changes.”

The door closed and darkness consumed all. Cassie lay quite still as the creature sat on the dresser and watched her, waiting for her to fall asleep as he whispered indistinguishably into the darkness. Morning would come soon enough, but until then, there was tea to be finished…

Shorts – Shuffle, loop, repeat

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Headlights cut through the star specked darkness as Clarissa feathered the breaks of the old pick up nervously, steepling mountain sides to one side and a seemingly bottomless drop to the other. Somewhere in the distance, beyond the lights that flickered at the end of the valley  she could see the moon reflecting off of the ocean as it stretched beyond the small white houses, and out past the small boats that bobbed quietly in the bay. It was a road she felt she had driven so many times before she’d left, but it made her nervous still. Maybe it was the thought of returning home after all these years, or maybe it was just the road. She tried not to think about either.

Tyres squealed as she rounded the tight corners, the scent of the sea already thick in the air and memories of so many summers coming flooding back as she wound down the window to feel the cool night air on her skin. She reached for the battered Bakelite dial on the radio and watched it scroll right to left, the crackle and hiss giving way to a feint music that ebbed and flowed like the tides as she moved in and out of the shadow of the mountain side and wound her way down towards the town.

A battered road sign, pockmarked and faded, told her that it was just three miles to the place she had once called home, the place where she had grown up, and the place she had vowed never to return to. Those brash aspirations of youth now as distant as the life she had left behind.

The radio burst into life once more and it caused her to start, knuckles white as she gripped the old leather steering wheel tightly.

“Shit, “ she said to herself, letting out a nervous laugh. Despite the moon and stars, the sky was still an inky black and the quiet of night added to the anxiety she has sworn would not affect her when she’d decided to return to the old family home.

The woman on the radio was now singing about the troubles that comes from loving a boy with blue eyes and a pickup truck, and she couldn’t help but sympathise, but then smiled as she decided that it was probably the singers own stupid fault for getting in the pickup truck in the first place and that she should probably just stay well away from blue eyed boys if she knew what is good for her.

“Now, now, that’s all a bit cynical isn’t it,” she said aloud to herself as she decided that the quiet of night was a far better option that the woes of the singer and turned the knob on the radio until it made a ‘click’ and fell silent. The road widened and flattened as the roadside markers ticked down from three to two miles, and soon the mountain side was left behind, the ravines disappeared, and tall pines lined the road ahead.

Though she had not been home for twenty years nearly, everything had a familiar feel already. Imprinted memories from her youth resonating as the headlights lit up the last few miles and the trees soon paved the way to the sprawling lawns and large houses that were dotted around the outskirts of town. Speeding up along the long sweep that would bring her home, she smiled as the town church spire appeared over the treetops, still white and bright against the night.

 Reaching down she decided to turn the radio back on and she scanned the dial as she twisted the black know and the thin red marker moved left to right. Music surged and faded, and she continued to search until the signal strengthened and the sound quite suddenly blared from the speakers causing her to start.

“Shit,” she said, heart racing as she looked down, struggling to quicky adjust the volume. The pickup veered towards the middle of the road as the small black knob came off in her fingers.”Oh double shit!” she exclaimed as it fell away into the footwell. It was soon to make little difference, as before she could look up there was a deafening blare of a truck horn over the sound of the music…and then nothing. Quiet.

Headlights cut through the star specked darkness as Clarissa feathered the breaks of the old pick up nervously, steepling mountain sides to one side and a seemingly bottomless drop to the other…

Shorts – Alignment

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Part 1 – Jennifer

Her thin, pale fingers still bloodied, Jennifer sat very still in the chair, hands cuffed to the desk in front of her. The room was uncomfortably warm, and the police office sat across from her was sweating more than she was.

“Are you quite okay?” she asked him, quite genuinely concerned as she watched rivulets of sweat run down the sides of his round, pink face. “I’d offer you a handkerchief,” she continued, holding up her hands until the chain clinked against bracket that held it in place, “but as you can see I am somewhat restricted in my movements.”

“Why did you do it?” the office asked, “we know you did it, we have witnesses to the whole thing. What we really want to know though is why would you stab a man through the heart in broad daylight?”

Jennifer said nothing, wishing he would wipe his face. He looked quite unwell and could certainly do to lose a few pounds. That might help. She didn’t mind the warmth particularly, it was actually nice to be warm for a change. This time of year the streets were so very cold, and no amount of blankets or cardboard boxes could stop the cold seeping into your bones.

“Did you know the man? Did he do something to you?” he asked, his eyes fixed firmly on her. “Did he want something from you, was that it?”

Jennifer looked down at the table and shook her head. She could still see his face, eyes wide in surprise, his red lunch pail dropping to the floor and sandwiches spilling at her feet.

From the very beginning she knew that she would have to go through this. There was never a thought that she would get away with it, that was never the point. In fact it was quite the opposite.

“So he was a complete stranger?”

Jennifer nodded again; head still bowed.

For a moment the tone of the officer softened, and he pulled his chair closer to the table and leaned in towards her.

“People don’t just kill complete strangers, do they Jennifer?” he said, “they just don’t do that. Now maybe you ought to tell me why you did what you did, and we can try and figure this whole thing out, eh. Did he hurt you? Is that why you did it?”

Jennifer looked into the face of the officer and sighed. His eyes were kind, despite all he must have seen in his time on the streets. They were very similar in that way she thought, only he was out there by choice.

“I did it, and I would very much like to go back to my cell if that’s okay,” she said calmly, a smile breaking out across her face. “I really do have nothing more to add. I’m guilty,  and its so very nice and warm in there and I believe lunch will be served soon.”

Part 2 – Donna

The door slammed violently, windows rattling, as Frank stomped down the hall. Heavy work boots clattered on the bare wooden floorboards and his voice boomed out.

“Donna, I’m home. Where are you?” His red lunch pail clattered as it was thrown on the small wooden table next to the door.

Upstairs, small feet scuttled and darted and then fell quiet as a sense of apprehension filled the air. A small, soft voice came from the ramshackle kitchen that sat at the back of the house.

“I’m sorry, I’m coming,” it said, a mix of fear and faked enthusiasm. ”it…it’s good to have you home,” she continued.  There was a clink of glass on glass and the sound of a bottle being put back down before she appeared through the kitchen doorway.

She was a small woman, a well-worn dress hung from her, shoulders to ankles, and her hair was pulled in a tight knot. She mustered a smile and it crept awkwardly across her face, a face with too many lines for her still young years. The remains of a bruise around her left eye were still vaguely visible in the dim light and she hurried to meet Frank, holding out a small glass of pale liquor in a thick bottomed cut glass tumbler. It had been part of a set once, not theirs of course, they couldn’t afford such things. Sometimes the family for whom she did washing would give her things they were otherwise going to throw away. As long as Frank didn’t think they were receiving charity, he was happy to not care where the things came from.

“Dinner?” he said taking the glass from her. “I don’t go to work all…”

He stopped his train of conversation as a thump and a crash from upstairs, and there was a small scream before it fell silent, stifled.

Frank roared, instantly enraged, and Donna reached for his arm to try to calm him. She knew it was pointless but she had to try.

“Here, she said,” desperately, “why don’t you come sit down and I will put the television on and I will go sort the twins out.”

Frank waited for a moment, nostrils flared and jaw clenched tight. All day he had worked, he told himself, all day just to come home to this.

“What they need is a dose of discipline,” he shouted, knowing they could hear him.

“I know, I know, please, let me deal with it,” Donna continued, her heart was racing and she knew how this would end.

Frank finished his drink in a single gulp and handed her the glass.

“Let me get you another while you sit, dinner will be ready in just a minute,” Donna said gently leading him into the living room. A large, battered leather chair sat in front of the television, a smaller couch to one side of the room and then very little else bar a few photos on a small side table. Frank dropped into it, and it seemed to groan as he settled in.

“Get me that drink,” he said, fierce eyes darting up to the ceiling and then back to Donna. He reached up and put a hand on her waist, and it took every effort in her not to flinch. He smiled and licked his lips, “good girl.”

Part 3 – Room 101

>>> Transmitting >>>

Cypher: We all set? You sure about this one?

Charon: Good to go. You worry too much. You need to learn to trust me. We’ve done this enough times.

Cypher: Transfers received?

Charon: This one’s gratis. Friend of a friend of a friend, and I was feeling charitable. Your finders fee remains the same though. It’s nearly Christmas, I am feeling charitable.

Cypher: Are you fucking serious?

Charon: Deadly

Cypher: LOL. Such a big heart.

Charon:  And she knows no lawyer right? She knows to just take it on the chin.

Cypher: Now who’s doubting who? She knows the drill. Do not pass go, do not collect 200.

Charon: Matched and dispatched brother, plausible deniability guaranteed. Ive set the server scrub. Tick tick tick…

Cypher: The things people will do for 3 meals a day and guaranteed warmth eh.

Charon: We didn’t start the fire, but we gotta pay the ferryman.

Cypher: You talk a lot of shit.

Charon: Service with a smile my friend.

>>>Transmission end…server reset initiated….>>>

Shorts – The Great Magico

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

I have always been of the opinion, and remain strident in my certainty to this day, that clowns can just fuck off. And not a little. No, they can fuck well and truly off. They can fuck wholly and utterly and most completely OFF!

And it is with that steadfast clarity of conviction that I found myself sat at an until now run of the mill birthday party for 6-year-olds, beer in hand, when I was confronted by The Great Magico.

Wild eyes and white gloved, fingers torturing balloons and teasing them into twisted animal forms to ear piercing shrieks, he cavorts and darts from child to child. My mouth is dry and my heart races as his wide red lips peel back in a primal snarl revealing teeth with which to rip and tear, or perhaps to eat cake, though I do not wish to prejudge his intent – despite knowing in my heart this is truly a monster in our midst.

I recoil as the garish colours of his clothes flash before my eyes, my white-knuckled hands gripping the paper plate in my lap, an assortment of warm fruits and half eaten chocolate biscuits falling to the floor.

“Do you want a giraffe?” he asks a particularly excited ginger haired boy, and the boy nods and claps his hands, a fiendish contract of desire signed with a mere gesture. He will surely wake in the night when the painted fool returns for payment, mouth wide in at attempted scream that fades to nothing in the darkness.

I try to stand but my legs will not work. He has a hold on me, I can feel it, and I want to scream as bright-eyed girl, the birthday girl, her blood red dress trailing in the grass, runs over to him. Outstretched arms envelop her, pulling her close and she disappears beneath his foul garb. Can no one else see, are they blind to this madness. Surely, they are not blind to the funeral shroud around her lifeless body.

Though what is this? Moments later she is brought back from the precipice, the ferryman perhaps unpaid. The price too steep maybe?

I feel my legs stir, his hold loosened surely through the revival of such innocence in the face of darkness, and stumble to my feet. One in front of the other I attempt to escape his grip as his gaze turns to me, eyes as red as lucifers throbbing cod piece and nostrils flared like a dragon ready to consume me in the fire of his fury.

I fall to the ground, fingers clawing into the clod earth and fallen fruits, like those from the tree of knowledge, soaking through my clothes. The smell of beer catches in my nose, surely it is the breath of the dark jester prince as he prepares to consume my soul. The shrieks and screams of children fill the air. Surely this is it, my end, my moment of judgement.

And then, when things seem at their darkest, she is there once more, a voice as clear as a bell in the night. Sweet and gentle, like rays of light piercing the darkness of the clouds after a storm. She is my refuge, my port, my lighthouse of hope.

“Help daddy up, “she says, and a tiny hand takes mine where I lie.

“Why does daddy smell like toilet?” the small voice asks.