2000AD ART – Rogue Trooper by Mike Collins

A piece from London Super Comic Con in 2013.

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One of the real joys of the cons I visit is the thrill of one of your favourite artists being there and fingers crossed, getting them to do you a drawing.  Back in 2013 I picked this piece up at London super comic convention, drawn by Mike Collins.  I am a huge Rogue Trooper fan (and must show you my tattoo to prove it at some point).  

 Best known these days as a storyboard artist for TV (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Knightfall, Good Omens), Mike Collins has a thirty-year track record as a comic artist and writer, including producing a critically acclaimed adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He has worked on all the major Marvel and DC characters, including Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. He also draws a series of graphic novels based on the adventures of Varg Veum, Gunnar Staalesen’s iconic Norwegian private eye.

Quite often you can just stand there and watch them draw which is so very cool.  I think this piece cost me £35 and took him quite some time.  Certainly wasn’t a quick scribble.

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2000AD ART – Dredd and the Dark Judges – David Bircham

A print I picked up in Camden a few years ago

This is a signed print I picked up in Camden Market a few years ago now and I do love it.  It is a quite fabulous art style and just appeals to me.  David has done some work for 2000ad on Dredd and The Hunting Party but it was his work on Brodies Law that first caught my eye.  I picked it up at London Comic Con a few years ago and loved it straight away.  I should dig it out really…

Also, his website is worth a visit as he has some seriously cool stuff on there.

 

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2000AD ART – Rogue Trooper – Mike Collins

From London Super Comic Con in 2013

Mike Collins did this piece for me in London in 2013.  Mike was a thoroughly pleasant chap and has a fabulous body of work including Dredd (which I will show you another time), Slaine, Rogue Trooper, Spiderman, Batman, Doctor Who, Transformers, Superman.

Rogue is a genetically engineered super soldier and one of the defining characters in 2000AD.  Just last week it was announced that Duncan Jones will be directing a new ROgue film.  I will admit to having pissed a little upon hearing the news.  At least now it might be easier to explain who Rogue is when they see my Rogue Trooper tattoo.  You know I don’t think I’ve shown you that one yet have I.  Must get round to it.

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2000AD ART – Devlin Waugh

By Colin Macneil from Judge Dredd Megazine #201-#213 2003

Here’s something fun.  It is a Devlin Waugh page by Colin Macneil from the ‘Red Tide’ story published in 2003.  AS I recall Devlin was a homosexual, catholic vampire.  One of the good guys.  The stories were fun and irreverent and rather witty and I just love the purple wash of this piece.  Up close I can see the individual paint and pen lines and pick out the different layers as he did the work which I love.20180728_1349108327180484064843271.jpg20180728_1349124134276150697084314.jpg20180728_1349041187202734929584749.jpg20180728_1349148775032264053538110.jpg20180728_1349078228319536583669871.jpg20180728_134859509131846605759011.jpgwp-15327821940404484933494261829227.jpg

 

2000AD Action Figure – Judge Death

Something I wont let the kids get their hands on. They’re not worth much but I like them.

I have a curious collection of 2000Ad stuff and this is one of the pieces I keep squirrelled away and I hadn’t actually seen for years.  Reaction came out with a set of figures for 2000ad many years ago – probably early 2000’s and I picked them up.

This is one of the limited edition Judge Death characters which I ordered which I am yet to see anywhere else.  It was a limited run of 2000 and I might have number one I might ot.  I am uncertain how they numbered them but if mine is the first then that makes it even cooler.  There was a different limited run for a long haired Judge Anderson which was numbered sequentially so that gives me hope that this might be kind of unique.

The series featured (and I will show you the rest another time):

  • Dredd
  • Judge Death
  • Judge Death Spirit Variant
  • Johnny Alpha
  • Slaine
  • Slaine Warped Variant
  • Durham Red

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Elephantmen Comic Art #76

Hey, if you like comics and comic art then this is the post for you.

Here’s another piece by Boo Cook from Elephantmen #76.  It shows Spike in all his beauty and I think its a quite welcome addition to my collection.  If you haven’t ever read Elephantmen or are not familiar with Boo Cook’s art or Richard Starking’s writing then do yourself a favour and pick it up.

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2000AD Art – Dredd and the Dark Judges – Carlos Ezquerra

8th of June 1991. Carlos Ezquerra at his most beautiful!

I posted this a while back on my separate 2000ad blog but as it got destroyed I thought I would share it again.

Of all my art pieces this is by far my most precious and adored.  An actual Carlos Ezquerra painting from the ‘Return of the king’ story by Garth Ennis published in 1991.  I picked it up online and the minute I saw it I had to have it.  It cost me a pretty penny but I think it was a real bargain and I actually went to a place in London to pick it up.   It features Dredd plus all four of the dark Judges: Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis.  Only a piece from Necropolis or Apocalypse war might top it but it would have to go some way…

Damn it’s gorgeous!

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2000AD ART

I wish I knew what it was from.

 

I bought this piece some years ago for not a lot, and I used to know what it was from but for the life of me I cannot recall.  Its a shame because it is one of my favourite pieces.  I have a lot of black and white art and I seem rather drawn to it.   I do not know much about art and space and aspect and such but there is something about the white bits that are left blank as much as the bits that are filled in.  I look at the piece and cant quite decide which I love more – the bit the artist has done or the bit he has left.

All very confusing but I do know that I rather like it even if I have no idea who did it.

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2000AD ART – Dredd by Gary Erskine

From LSCC 2013 I think it was…

Ive met a few 2000ad artists at con’s over the last few years and one of the nicest chaps was Gary Erskine.  He has done Dredd, Dan Dare, Flesh and other pieces for 2000AD and tons of stuff for other comic houses and also did a brilliant set of digital Star Wars pieces which I have prints of somewhere.  He was really engaging and happy to talk for ages as he drew and did the Dredd you see below.  It was great to see him do it from scratch, and he took such care – producing first a sketch and then doing the final piece from that.  I asked him if I could also have the sketch which he reluctantly agreed to (being a thoroughly fabulous chap) despite not wanting to as he didn’t like the idea of something so rough being out there.  I am glad he did though because I think the two pieces side by side look amazing.

 

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20180707_1143326662331062453322403.jpg20180707_1143352775481994348368420.jpgIf you like a good read you should take a look at his  Roller Grrrls stuff.  Pretty cool and something he was so passionate about.

 

 

 

2000AD Script – T B Grover (John Wagner / Alan Grant) and art by Cliff Robinson

From Prog 434 7th September 1985

I have been very excited about this for a number of reasons.  I buy a lot of my comic art from eBay and over the weekend was perusing the site when I saw a 2000AD comic script.  I had never seen one of these before so was excited by the piece (well pieces there were two but you only get to see one today).

Within moments my pulse was racing as I realised just what it was.  Not only was it a script from a story that I remember from 1985 but it was the script from a Prog that I read so many times and was THE most memorable one from my childhood.  I remember reading this prog over and over and loving the two gangs featured – the Zits and the Sharks.  The art work is amazing and the story was brilliant – a musical!

Well I just had to have and a quick bid and it was all mine.

The story is that the seller’s brother went to school with Alan Grant’s daughter or son and I believe it because the other script is signed by Alan Grant and John Wagner and I have both of their signatures on stuff from a Con a few years ago.  All checks out and to be honest it didn’t cost enough to be worth creating a forgery.

Anyway, if this is your thing check it out.  Me and my youngest had a read of it tonight – me on the script and him on the comic and it was almost exactly the same.

 

 

2000AD ART – Nikolai Dante – Charlie Adlard

From Prog 481 in 1986.

Charlie Adlard is probably best known these days for his work on ‘The Walking Dead’.  He draws a lot of the current stuff but he has also done stuff for 2000Ad in the past and this is one of those pieces.

Its from ‘Them Masque of Dante’ story and is a signed piece that has the acetate lettering overlay as well as what I think is a note from the editor indicating where to put some of the lettering.

It shows you how the lettering can be added and is obviously different from the one I posted a few days ago here

 

where the lettering is cut out and pasted on.  Here you can just lift it off.

 

 

 

2000AD ART – ACE TRUCKING CO. – Massimo Belardinelli

From Prog 481 in 1986.

I have more comic art work than I have walls, and I do not have nearly enough of it framed and on display and the piece below really should be hanging on the wall somewhere.

This is a piece by Massimo Belardinelli who’s most notable 2000AD work was surely ACE TRUCKING CO.  He did do some Dredd, Flesh, Slaine and others but the space haulage comedy was one of the strips from my youth that I still remember with fondness.  I love this piece especially because of the lettering.  I will show you how they do acetate lettering another time but in this one if you look closely you can see how the lettering has been cut out and glued on afterwards.

Love it love it love it.

 

 

 

2000AD Dredd the Movie – Schematic

Just because I thought it was cool. that’s why/

There are two Dredd films, and I actually love them both.  Yes the first is awful for many reasons but seeing Dredd on screen still thrills me.  Karl Urban’s Dredd was more to the liking of most than Stallone’s and I agree – that was a fabulous film.  I don’t plan to go into all that though. what I wanted to show you was a schematic for a corridor.

More specifically a design sketch for a corridor in the Karl Urban Dredd film.

I just thought it was cool so I bought it…

 

2000AD Glimmer Rats – Comic Art

Gordon Rennie and Mark Harrison bring you Glimmer Rats.

One of my all time favourite 2000AD strips is Glimmer Rats.  Written by the legend that is Gordon Rennie and drawn by Mark Harrison it really is a great story and a feast for the eyes.

I picked up a couple of pieces of the art from it on EBAY somehow a few years ago and they are gorgeous sketches what have been water coloured in black and grey.  I think.  Take a look I hope you like them and if you can you should pick up a copy of it because it is freakishly gorgeous.

 

2000AD Comic Art by Boo Cook

A couple of pieces by Boo Cook.

Last time out I shared this fantastic Boo Cook piece, and I said I would share more so here you go.  These are pieces I picked up at a con in 2013 and the minute I saw them I had to have them.  I’d just walked into the place and my entire budget was blown in the first 5 minutes.  These are A3 pieces and they really show Boo’s wonderful sketching and I adore all the fine details which I hope the photos show.  He was such a sound bloke and so friendly and I certainly treasure the pieces.

 

 

Elephantmen Comic Art

Hey, if you like comics and comic art then this is the post for you.

Here’s something rather beautiful.  If you like comics and you haven’t ever read Elephantmen then you need to.  It is a glorious tale of bio engineered animals and war and private detectives and…Look just trust me okay, I haven’t let you down yet.

The art in the header photo is a piece I picked up at a con in 2013.  You can see the original sketch below and then the version that made it into the actual comic book.  I also managed to get the artist, Boo Cook, and the Writer, Richard Starkings, to sign my copy of the graphic novel.  My art work is also signed by Boo Cook.

I do adore Boo Cook’s work and have a few other pieces that I will share at some point because his work is just fantastic.  No one draws creepy crawlies like Boo Cook.  Richard Starkings story is a masterpiece and you know what, I think I am going to read them again this weekend.

 

Footprints – An AFA Challenge

“Hey Boss, have you seen what Mary’s been writing?”

“That footprints in the sand woman?”

“Yeah her”.  Jonah scratched his head and laughed.  “Did you have anything to do with it?  I know what you’re like, whispering in their ears like you care”

“Look, I never asked to get stuck on this planet ok, I never asked to be immortal and I certainly never asked to be anyone’s lord and saviour. He continued, quite vexed, “2500 years I’ve been here. I get bored.  Not once have those upstairs even bothered to so much as pop in and say ‘Good Job’ or  read one of my reports.  I’m sorry”

“What did you do?”

“Ok I did pop into her dream and I gave it all that ‘I was carrying you ‘ business.  I also gave her cancer.”

“Boss, you’re such a dick.”

 

Inpired by A Frank Angle at

Footprints in the sand

 

https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/on-footprints-in-the-sand/

 

 

Fences – FFfAW Challenge – 11th of July

“You’re not really thinking of going down there are you”?

“Why the hell not, it won’t matter soon!  I just want to say hello to her.  Please.  We arent that different.  She wont realise.”

They so obviously were though.  In just about every way imaginable.

“It’s not right Joshua.  Why can’t I?” His voice was tinged with sadness. He scratched his head ruefully and ran his hand through his long dark hair.  “Are we really so different?  All I want is to say hello.  Just once.”

“This isn’t our world Abel, you know that.  You know the mission.  We observe and take notes and we never get involved with the humans.”

“Always the sensible one aren’t you!” Abel snapped.

Joshua smiled.  “Come on my friend, let’s go file our report.  For what it matters.  This time next week the asteroid the governments arent telling them about will hit the earth and she will be gone. They all will.”

https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/fffaw-challenge-week-of-july-11-2017/

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of Grand-Sud

We unlikely few – An Armitage tangent

In a world gone mad, where nobody is safe and danger lurks at every turn, there are men who will answer the call to stand up for what is right and to defend the innocent in the face of impossible odds.   Here tonight, in a quiet village pub in an unassuming English village, you might just find those men.

That is to say you might, but you won’t.

The men in this pub are like those men, just not quite as courageous or as athletic.  They don’t possess the chiselled jaws or the superhuman powers of those other men and those other men possess a certain confidence with the ladies that these gentlemen most certainly lack .  Here in this pub you will find men who would very much like to fight crime (given the right circumstances and good weather) but these men also recognise that a game of dominoes and a pint is a wholly safer endeavour and considerably less exerting. and pretty much never results in one losing a limb.

The last of the regulars had left and the landlord of The Three Pigeons had kindly closed up for the night and popped upstairs to bed asking them to lock up when they were finished and pop the key through the letterbox.

Trevor rapped his meaty knuckles onto the table loudly, “Order Gentlemen, Order please!”  Silence fell and he continued.  Physically he was a rather average and underwhelming man by most standards, other than his inordinately large hands.  “Firstly, I would just like to thank you for coming this evening, these are dark times indeed and in times such as these it is incumbent on the likes of us to stand up and be counted.”

He paused for a moment, in his mind rather dramatically, staring at the ‘us’.

The ‘us’ mostly sat and waited to see what would come next.  Trevor had always had a flair for the dramatic, it went back to his days in the local am-drams club.  After a drink or two  he could quite often be found recalling with much fondness , to anyone whom he might corner, details of his finest hour as Tony in West Side Story performed at the local church hall for a crowd of nearly 50.

“Our village is under threat from outside forces Chaps” he continued “and it is perhaps time for us to do something about it.”  He stood quite still, legs akimbo, hands on hips.

Gerald, the local post master, was suddenly filled with the urge to sing ‘I’m a little tea pot’.  He did not, but he was next to speak.  “Trevor, don’t you think that we’re rather past it now?  Is it not time for us to leave this sort of thing to a younger generation?”.  A number of the others nodded and mumbled in agreement.  Johnson, the cricket club chairman and first team captain, even managed as much as a “Too bloody right!”

Trevor looked rather hurt as he liked to think he was something of a local leader.  “No, I think it is precisely that attitude that has got this country in the mess that it’s in to be honest and …”

“Now hold on Trevor” Gerald interrupted, suddenly somewhat vexed.   “This country is in the mess it is in because a sodding great space time rift opened up and the majority of people went completely bonkers, the government collapsed and we…” he took a deep breath “and we have god knows what spilling out of the rift and making a jolly great mess of everything!”

“Here here” mumbled Johnson., now starting to feel somewhat braver, probably down to the three pints he’d enjoyed earlier.

Trevor drew himself up to his rather average full height of 5 foot 7 and puffed out his chest.  He looked rather ridiculous.

“Well I for one am not willing to stand back and watch our village go the same way as the rest of the places around here. I am willing to fight back!”

“Fight against what Trevor?” Asked Alan Benson the local grocer, “you reckon we’re in the sort of shape to take on the likes of some of the things the local Rift Police have been tackling lately?”.  He took a swift drink of his pint and slammed down the glass.  “It’s getting worse Trevor.  Just yesterday they had to rescue Mrs Billings the librarian from her prize winning rose bushes which had apparently grown sentient and were attempting to prune her arms off!”

“Good lord ” said Johnson.

“Bloody hell man” exclaimed Gerald.

Trevor was not to be deterred and pressed the point.  “That is exactly the reason why we need to get the team back together and do something!”  They other sat stony faced.  “We cannot rely on the council or the Rift Police to protect us we need to look after our own.”

“Trevor, the team haven’t seen light of day for nearly 5 years now, what makes you think we still have it?”

Trevor felt he was making head way now.  “You never lose it Alan, you know that.  What we did and what we achieved is legend in these parts!”

“There is no way my suit is going to fit me anymore Trevor ” Alan protested.  “I’m sadly more than the man I once was”.  He looked down at his waistline.   Time had been rather unkind he felt, given the food shortages and rationing they’d been subjected to since it all started.  “I promised the wife that Id given up on all that super power business”.

“You cant avoid destiny Alan” said Trevor.

“Destiny? Good god man – we were sucked into and then spat out of a rift on the way back from a boozy weekend watching darts in Blackpool and ended up with the world’s most ridiculous super powers.  That’s hardly destiny!”

Alan took a deep breath.  He knew things were getting worse, he had hoped these days were over though.  They weren’t particularly effective super heroes, in fact they were rather poor and far too fond of tea and biscuits to really commit fully to the endeavour.

“Do you know there’s a chap in the next village along that can breathe fire Trevor ” he asked “Fire.  From his mouth.  Like a bloody great dragon!”

“We may not breathe fire Alan but by god man you’re The Bee!” he exclaimed dramatically.  “You strike fear into the heart of those who would do us harm!”

“I can hover four foot off the ground wearing a striped yellow suit Trevor!” he shouted “that is absolutely no use unless you have a cat stuck in a very small tree”.

Trevor knew that if he could get Alan on board the others would follow.  “Alan, our suits may not fit but we are still those self same men we were five years ago.  We made a difference, and surely we have to try.”

“Oh bugger” interrupted Johnson, knowing that this was a losing battle.

“All I’m saying is let’s give this a shot eh” Trevor continued.  He knew he was nearly there.  He needed this, he needed to feel what he’d felt all those years ago.  He had always believed that they had been chosen for greater things.  “How about we get together tomorrow morning at half 9 and…”

“I cant” said Johnson “I need to take the cat to the vet.

“How about half ten then?  We all ok with half ten? You can come to my place, we’ll have a nice cup of tea and work out a bit of a plan.”  Trevor already had a plan though.  He had spreadsheets and rotas and maps and schedules all lined up.  This time “The Accountant was ready.

“Fine” said Alan sighing.  “Let’s see how it goes but no promises ok”

The others nodded in agreement

Trevor grinned.  “Bee, Stretchy Legs, Frog Boy –  I think this deserves another pint!”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bumble/

 

 

 

Pile them high – Daily prompt

Breathing heavily Bjorn leaned on his bloodied battle axe, surveying the carnage before him.  The smell of war and death filled the air and screams of the dying could be heard from every direction.

 “And what exactly are we supposed to do with this lot?” he pondered, crows already picking hungrily at the dead.

Helgar laughed.  “Don’t look at me my friend, they can lay here and rot for all I’m concerned.”  He scratched his thick beard, matted with blood.  “And besides” he continued, “My back is killing me and there is no way I’m piling up the dead.  And besides have you seen this blister!  Digging holes like this Christians prefer will make a right old mess of my hand” Helgar thrust out a bloodied hand, a large blister forming on the webbing between thumb and fore finger.  “Look, it really hurts!”

“Oh don’t give me that about your back” Bjorn replied, heaving a large scarred shield from the ground “you’re always going on about it.  It looked perfectly fine when you were hacking that Goth’s head off!”

Helgar wasn’t a fan of manual labour. Pillaging and raping were all good and well but fetching and carrying wasn’t for him.  “Oh how dare you, you’re one to talk!” he replied, “Were it not for me and my axe you’d have been crow meat by now!”

“How about we just finish off some of the dying and decide then, how does that sound?”

Helgar loved finishing off the dead.  It was one of his favourite things, that and ale.  And women of course – apart from those British ones he’d encountered in Britannia – they were a rather unpleasant lot.  His blue eyes twinkled and a broad smile spread across his bloodied face.  “I think I’ll use a sword today though, given how my back aches.  It’s a bit less wearing than swinging an axe you know”.  He winked at Bjorn playfully.

“Oh will you shut up about your back! “Said Bjorn, swinging his axe casually into the chest of a young Goth warrior who lay groaning as he clutched a rather nasty stomach would.

“Ooh look at this” Helgar exclaimed, reaching down to snatch a gold pendant from around the neck of a fat corpse.  “This will look great with that cloak I took from that priest last week!”

“Oh I like that“, said Bjorn, slowly pushing his thick blade into the heart of a young shield maiden “it’s a bit like that one I wore to Tobar’s wedding.”   

Helgar remembered it well.  “Oh now that was a great night!  That roast they had was gorgeous.   I’ve never tasted anything like it.”

“I think it was the salt and garlic you know” said Bjorn.  “I spoke to him afterwards and he said the fellow for Aarlsberg has a chap who gets it for him”.

Bjorn pulled out a small knife and bending down slit the throat of an older Goth chieftain.  “Funny you know Helgar, I like to send off the older ones a little more intimately.”

Helgar snorted “you’re all heart my friend”.

Bjorn wiped his blade and put it back in it’s sheath on his belt.  “You know what else I was thinking?”

“What” said Helgar.

“I was thinking about doing some poetry”.

“Whooooo” exclaimed Helgar excitedly as he removed the head of a chap who was already missing an arm.  “Poetry you say?  I did a bit when I was younger you know.”

“Did you Really?” Bjorn responded, “I never had you down as the poetic type”

“Oh yeah, did a great piece about a long boat once.  I painted a rather vivid picture apparently”. 

“Hmmm” Bjorn mused.  “I’m definitely going to have a go when we get back to the village.  I always get a bit bored when pillaging season is over”

“Great idea” Helgar replied.  “It will help you relax.  Lately I’ve been doing some basket making.  Helps immensely with the creative urges”.

“Well you are a dark horse aren’t you“.

“Oh yeah” he grinned, stabbing a thrashing horse in the eye and driving his blade deep into its brain until it lay still on the blood stained grass.  “What a waste of a bloody good horse!”

Helgar adjusted his armour; it had a terrible habit of riding up on him. “You hungry?”

“Starving” Bjorn replied, “Have you got anything to eat? “

“No but I left some bread up with the rest of my stuff up on the hill.  Shall we go get something to eat and carry on with this later?”

“Sounds good to me, we can finish this later they’re not going anywhere”.  He smiled.  “We can take a look at that blister as well”.

Https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bury/

Armitage – Part 4

It’s all good and well gallivanting to heavens knows where wearing only a thin summer jacket” she shouted, “but what if it’s cold.  What then?

“Because the council receptionist said so” was apparently in no way an acceptable explanation for Mrs Shanks as to why her husband would be setting off to his almost certain doom shortly after a hearty breakfast.  She though of herself as rather tolerant of her husband short comings, and not especially demanding but this was wholly unacceptable.

***You may notice a change from 1st person.  Ill go back and change the other three parts tomorrow – proving a bit messy and restrictive to do it that way***

Hysterical as she may have become she was also a practical woman.  He didn’t even have a decent pair of walking boots,  never mind whatever else one requires to enter a space time fracture!  What about the children?  What was she supposed to tell them?

“It’s all good and well gallivanting to heavens knows where wearing only a thin summer jacket” she shouted, “but what if it’s cold.  What then?”

Armitage wrapped his arms around her pulling her close.  17 years they had been together and despite all the reasons they both had to dislike one another they still made each other happy enough to still be together and were for the most part a rather good match.

“Kate, we both Know how things work”  he said.  “Since when does anything make sense anymore.”

Armitage put his hands on her shoulders.  She looked tired, her eyes red and her face  pale and drawn.

“I’m doing this for you and the boys, they’ve assured me you’ll be looked after while I’m away”.

Armitage had some vague recollection of the receptionist making a promise along those lines.  He also recalls more clearly her offering to cast him into the rift with his family if he preferred, which of course he did not.

They’d been up all night going through the same things over and over, and getting precisely nowhere.  They had decided that they would not be telling the children, but beyond that none of this made sense.  There were endless rumours and speculation about what had come through the rift, and what they were, but none of it ever made what passed for news these days.

“I’ve a mind to go down there and give her a piece of my mind” she said, though Armitage knew full well that she wouldn’t.  He shuddered at the thought of her confronting the receptionist.  It was pretty obvious to him that there was something very unnatural about her and he made it quite clear to his wife that in no way was she to go to the council offices.

“Lets just have breakfast before the boys wake up” he said, taking her hand and heading to the kitchen.  “I could do with a cup of team and some toast.  Do we have any marmalade?”

A nice cup of tea and a few slices of toast and lime marmelade later he kissed his wife, reminding her of how much he loved them all, popped on his light summer jacket and headed out the door.  He didn’t look back but he knew she was watching from the window, tears streamlining down her face.

He reached the end of the street and was about to turn down towards the bus stop when a battered old VW beetle pulled up next to him.  The driver rolled down the window and called him over.

“Mr Shanks” the man said, a long thin finger beckoning him over “Please, get in”.

He was a middle aged man with blonde hair and a head that seemed to be too large for the body it sat atop.  His piercing blue eyes were also more widely positioned on his head than you would expect, so much so that the combination of the two gave him the look of a startled gold fish.

Little did Armitage know, but that was precisely what his driver was.  Or had been.  Many things had come through the rift and even more things had gone into the rifts that were scattered around the globe.  Mr Goodwin was the result of one of the earliest experiments.  He went in a fairground gold fish and came out the creature that was now revving the mustard coloured Beetle impatiently.

Armitage climbed in the passenger seat pulling the door closed, the seat belt clicking reassuredly.

“Call me Goodwin” the fish headed gentleman said, putting the car into gear and pulling out into the road.  He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie.  He smelled a little damp, like a towel that hasn’t been hung up properly after being used.  “You really must have upset somebody to get this gig”

Armitage – Part 3

If I were to believe in the biblical fire and brimstone version of hell (which I do not) then I am quite certain that in it, perhaps somewhere near the back where the sulphur is particularly thick and the gnashing of teeth especially loud, there would be a special corner reserved for council office officials.  I am also of the mind that in that particularly hot and fiery corner there would most definitely be an area of exceptional unpleasantness reserved for the receptionists which greet you as you enter most government premises.

A letter received earlier in the week had asked that I appear in person at the council Department for Local Amenities to confirm that I was still alive, and that I should bring identification and proof of residence.  Given all we had been through you would be forgiven for thinking that the local officials might be understanding over such things as a misplaced drivers license or lack of a recent bank statement.  They are not.  A global apocalyptic event may have been enough to bring down some governments but the trusted English council had prevailed throughout and if I wanted to continue to receive the family rations then I had best turn up, and I most certainly had best ensure I had the correct paperwork.

Having clambered onto the number 548 bus which,  with the exception of a rather bland looking gentleman wearing mostly beige and carrying a small brown brief case, was completely empty I had held high hopes for an uneventful trip into town.  Like most of us, the bus had seen better days and would under normal circumstances have been scrapped long ago, but it remained in service and its damaged body work, faded red paint  and torn and battered interior still ran it’s route three times a day.  As it spluttered and lurched along the winding road towards town we passed through areas of complete desolation,  buildings ramshackle and burned out and then through others which were untouched by what had happened- pretty stone dwellings with pristine gardens and rose covered arches soaking up the late summer sun.  The juxtaposition of the two a stark reminder of just how quickly things can change.

The only thing of real note e- route was the American diner which hovered about 3 foot from the ground on the final bend before entering the town centre.  It hung there in just the way that a diner should not.  A neon “Belle’s” sign buzzed and crackled in the window and a smaller “Open” one fizzed away happily just below it.  The diner had simply appeared one day, fortuitously appearing just where nothing else was and was then immediately declared an out of bounds ‘Rift Event’ and cordoned off  by the local constabulary.  Despite that,  day and night People can be seen inside eating whatever it is people eat in diners and by all accounts having a jolly good time.

We left the diner behind us and I was soon off the bus, taking the long way round to pick up a newspaper and heading over to the council office.  They were mostly what you would expect from a council office.  A cold stone façade housed a series of perfectly acceptable but wholly unremarkable windows behind which could be found an array of equally unremarkable and wholly officious individuals.  Paper was shuffled, files were filed and tea was enjoyed at exactly 10.30 am and 3 pm every day.  Biscuits would be enjoyed once a week by rota and dunking was frowned upon but not expressly forbidden.

Ahead of me in the queue was the beige chap from the bus who was hurriedly stuffing a pile of papers back into his briefcase.  He hastily tucked it under his arm and head down scurried past me, dark rings around dark eyes set into a gaunt face, accentuated by the paleness of his skin.  Stood waiting, somewhat nervously I will admit, I was summonsed to step forward.

The woman behind the high counter possessed an uncanny ability to make the word “NEXT!” sound like a challenge to a knife fight after a rather pleasant and leisurely few pints down at the local pub after work.  You’d swear there had been an innocuous misunderstanding over who’s pint was who’s, and she was now ready to show me who was boss out in the car park.  I’d had dealings with bureaucratic and immovable  individuals before but her summons was a wholly jarring and difficult experience from anything I had encountered.

Not that she wasn’t pleasant to look at, she was.  So much so that her appearance threw me in the same way that the ghastly thought of a good stabbing had.  Classically beautiful, with striking green eyes, sharp cheek bones and long straight blonde hair.  She stretched out a hand to take the paperwork I pushed towards her.  Something about her very presence filled me with foreboding and the knot in my stomach urged me to make a hasty exit.  Something felt wrong.

She said nothing, staring intently at me for somewhat longer than I was comfortable with and as I averted my gaze my name was called.

“Mr Armitage Shanks, how very nice to meet you”.  She seemed to boom loudly, like a pompous headmaster might bellow at an unruly pupil,  yet there was a chilling coldness to her voice which I felt in my bones.

A small diamante piercing in her upper lip caught the light as she pushed the paper work back at me.  My first thoughts were that a piercing in such a prominent position was surely not compliant with council dress code.  That was followed by one which wondered why she had not actually looked at my documents to know my name.  A third followed soon after, puzzling why at no point had she actually opened her mouth to speak the words I had heard.  Thinking back I couldn’t recall her speaking even when she had called me over.  I’m pretty certain that I had heard her, but what I had heard was in my head.

“We have a job for you Mr Shanks” she spoke.  I say spoke but obviously I’ve made it quite clear that I am hearing her in my head at this point.  I don’t wish to labour it but it was rather off putting

Confused, I mumbled something about needing to be getting home it was pie night and not wanting to miss it”

She boomed in my head again, pain shooting between my ears.  I thought I was going to vomit.

“It was not a request Mr Shanks, it is an order and I was simply being polite.  If you wish to continue feeding your family and availing yourself of the wonderful facilities the council so generously provides then you will do as I ask”

From that point on things get a little hazy.  The pain was excruciating – that I recall, and I must have agreed to her request at some point as the pain did eventually stop.  I remember the bus and the trip home vaguely too.

The one thing I am certain about though is that tomorrow I’m apparently going to The Rift.  So that could be the end of this.

 

 

 

 

 

Armitage – Part 2

When we eventually dusted ourselves off and sat down with a nice cup of tea to discuss with our visitors what next we were one of just a few nations that were able to do so. 

Leaving the house is not something I look forward to these days.  Since the world went completely and utterly mad you never really know what will happen out there.   We’re not just talking your regular run of the mill low level straight jacket kind of mad here.  This is not even your talking to lamp posts,  remaining unbathed and obsessive hoarding level of insanity.  This was full on global hysterics and for the most part a complete melt down of rational society and a failure of the majority of global infrastructure and government. 

When the rifts opened It took about a week for the major religions to take up arms, and despite the best efforts of those nations less inclined to hacking up one another with machete’s the conflicts escalated and spread.  Governments intervened,  and obviously that did not end well.  Its quite terrifying to see what happens when a planet’s belief system is thrown out of the window.  As it turns out it proved rather difficult for the devout to insist that we were alone in the universe when the things coming out of the rift provided evidence to the contrary.   They didn’t respond well.  No one did really and it wasn’t our finest hour as a species.  We should have been embracing our new horizons and looking to skies but instead we were setting fire to one another, stealing flat screen televisions and throwing quite fabulous end of the word parties.  Rumour is that there is still one raging in London that has been going on for nearly half a decade.

By the time a semblance or normality returned the world was a very different place.  Large swathes of the planet were uninhabitable, the majority of the planet’s population lay dead or dying and for those that remained…well we contend with this reality in the best way we can.  Fortunately the British were less affected by the events than most nations.  Being an island helped isolate us from the chaos that engulfed the majority of the globe and our reserve and general lack of outward enthusiasm for most things coupled with an aversion to organised religion most certainly helped dampen the hysteria.  That isn’t to say we didn’t suffer, we did.  We lost nearly 35 million to conflict and starvation and most of the major urban centres lay in ruins afterwards but somehow we survived.

When we eventually dusted ourselves off and sat down with a nice cup of tea to discuss with our visitors what next we were one of just a few nations that were able to do so.  They explained that as It turns out they were frightfully sorry about the mess that they had made of things and that the rifts that were opened across the globe were something of an experiment gone wrong and that all they really wanted was to not have met us because we seemed like a pretty awful lot.

We in turn explained that that was rather rude of them and that it really is difficult to maintain law and order and rebuild your country when the contents of the universe is  randomly spilling out onto your planet like celestial flotsam and the least they could do would be to accept a degree of responsibility and to help us to clean up the mess.  Eventually they agreed and provided technology to stabilise the tears in time and space to prevent them spreading but once done they helped themselves to all of our tea supplies and the majority of our biscuits and went back to wherever they came from without so much as a “have a nice day”. 

And that’s why I don’t want to go outside.  I have no idea just what will be out there today and the last time I ventured to the council offices it took me a week to get home due to getting caught in a localised time loop.  I complained to them about the matter but I am pretty sure that they didn’t care.  I know that because the unhelpful woman on the reception desk informed me of that very fact.