Turns out I’ve done a one pretty freaky drawings over the years. These were in an old post.
I feel kinda proud.
Heavens…look at those
“Imagine the world as a sheet of double ply toilet paper.” Ichabod continued, “This world is one sheet and the other sheet is one of countless others. I exist in-between those two sheets.”
“As scientific explanations go” Armitage snapped, “that is bloody awful!” His breathing quickened, his head started to pound and he started to feel sick again.
Armitage awoke from a rather pleasant dream where he was not in a military compound waiting to pop into a space time rift on the whim of a council office receptionist. It involved cups of tea and pottering around the garden for the most part. There may have been croquet at one point but he was too busy tending to his roses for that.
He opened his eyes slowly and realising where he was mumbled an “oh bugger me” before closing them again in an attempt to at least pretend that he was still asleep.
“Excellent, you’re awake!” Came a reply.
It wasn’t Goodwin. This was a new voice and one wholly more friendly and upbeat than either Goodwin or Koala. It sounded excited almost, which Armitage found most annoying.
“I was just about to wake you” the voice continued quite chipper. “You need to get ready, it’s nearly time”.
Armitage sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, he had intended to try and get hold of his family, protest loudly but politely about his current situation and try and get hold of a tooth brush as he had neglected to brush this morning.
“And you are exactly whom?” he asked turning towards the source of the voice.
“Turner” came the reply, “Ichabod Turner, please to meet you”.
There was nobody precisely where this somebody ought to be.
“Why can I not see you? Armitage puzzled, already fast acclimatising to the new ridiculousness of his post-council-office-trip life.
“Oh yes, sorry I do forget sometimes” came the disembodied reply, “the easiest way to explain it is that I exist in a place between your world and a million others. Went into into a rift a few years ago and came out like this.”
Armitage said nothing, waiting.
“Imagine the world as a sheet of double ply toilet paper.” Ichabod continued, “This world is one sheet and the other sheet is one of countless others. I exist in-between those two sheets of toilet paper.”
“As scientific explanations go” Armitage snapped, “that is bloody awful!” His breathing quickened, his head started to pound and he started to feel sick again.
“Yeah my wife said something along those lines when I told her” Ichabod replied. “Well, in between the screaming and the crying and the insisting that she had told me something like this was bound to happen if I insisted on wandering onto rifts.”
Armitage thought he sounded like he was smiling. He wondered if his own wife was destined for a similar fate.
“I probably need to rethink how I explain myself to people” Ichabod continued, then paused for a moment whilst Armitage put his head in his hands. He really needed a nice cup of team and another lie down.
“Come on Armitage” he insisted “we can’t be lingering here all day we have places to be. Lets have you, chop chop.”
Armitage struggled to his feet, head spinning. “Ok, where are we going?”
“Oh this is going to be fantastic”.
“I very much doubt that.”
Ichabod laughed. “Do you want to put on those fatigues?”
Armitage had no intention of putting on the fatigues and boots laid out on the green trunk at the end of the bed. “I was supposed to be repotting my azalea today you know!” He complained loudly. “It isn’t flowering and it really needs looking at.
Ichabod didn’t reply.
“You know what” he said, “I think I shall remain in the clothes I am wearing thank you very much.” He folded his arms in as much of an act of defiance as he could muster.
“Suit yourself, follow me” instructed Ichabod.
Armitage followed Ichabod’s voice as he was lead between the tents and to a small door in the side of the stadium. There were surprisingly few people to be seen. He had seen a couple of heavily armed thick set men milling about outside one of the large green tents and a small squad of around a dozen men could be seen running at the far end of the row of tents but that aside it was by no means busy.
“Could you get that?” Ichabod asked. “I seem to be struggling with my hands in this reality a little today.”
Armitage pulled the door open and they passed through inside, Ichabod leading him through a series of winding corridors until they appeared at another door. Armitage pulled it open without being asked.
The first thing he saw when he passed through the door, hearing it clang closed behind him, was Koala Jackson deep in conversation with Goodwin. They were just a few metres away on the edge of what was once the pitch inside the stadium, but the grass was mostly gone now and more tents were scattered across it’s surface, with one particularly large one squarely in the centre. Masses of heavily armed troops littered the place and there was a real thrum of activity wherever he looked, with crates of what he assumed were weapons and ammunition being moved about. Much of the seating in the stands had been removed and what looked like sand bag emplacements and bunkers took up much the space where the seating had once been.
“Good heavens!” he exclaimed loudly. “What the bloody hell is this?”
“Armitage, Turner, over here” boomed Koala Jackson. “Front and centre, sharp!”
Armitage really did not like being barked at. It made him feel most uneasy given that he was by nature a more collaborative sort, prone to problem solving through the sharing ideas and the exchange of dialogue. Judging by the look on Koala Jackson’s face she didn’t seem to be in the mood for anything other than him being front and centre, so he hastily obliged.
First thing Armitage noticed was that she seemed to be carrying an inordinate amount of weapons, which surely did not bode well for the rest of the evening. Not that he knew anything about armaments, but they certainly looked rather dangerous and not something you would need were you pottering in the garden or making jam. There were Pistols in holsters on her belt, those he could recognise, and there were a couple or large pointy ones on her back which looked most unpleasant and which might take an eye out if you weren’t careful with them. Add to these the one strapped across her chest and the one in her left hand and she looked prepared for something that he was not.
“Is all that not heavy?” he asked, the words spilling from his lips without thought. Jackson didn’t bother with a reply.
“Gentlemen” she said with a certain menace that Armitage had not noticed earlier “Inrift into exactly ten minutes time we shall be entering Rift 1979.” Four heavily armed men in worn fatigues had joined him and Ichabod and they stood waiting for Jackson to continue.
Armitage felt sick again
Jackson stood to her full height, addressing the group but speaking to him directly. “Armitage, you are our key and are going to help me and my team pass through Rift 1979. Once inside the Rift you will remain with us whilst we complete our mission at which point you will accompany us back through again. Is that understood?”
“Well actually…” Armitage began before she interrupted him.
“You don’t need to ask questions” she snapped “you simply need to do as I tell you and stay close to Mr Goodwin. He will ensure nothing terrible happens to you.”
Armitage did not like the word terrible one bit. He had once spilled paint on the stair carpet, and that was about the extent of his definition of terrible. He feared her definition was somewhat significantly worse.
“Ichabod will be our guide between dimensions and the 4 magnificent specimens you see next to you are there just in case we need to negotiate with the locals.” Armitage looked at the one closest to him and he had to agree, he was rather magnificent. Not the sort you would have round for a spot of brunch but he hoped most certainly suited to something as ridiculous as whimsically popping into a space time rift.
“Now, if you all want to follow me we really must be going” she said sharply and headed off towards the large white tent in the middle of the pitch.
Goodwin grabbed his arm and pulled him after him as he hear Ichabod proclaim “Oh I love this bit. You’re going to love this Mr Shanks, just you see!”
Armitage doubted that very much. Approaching the large white tent he noticed Jackson’s team visibly tense. “What happened to your previous key?” he asked cautiously.
They looked at one another but didn’t reply. He was about to protest most vociferously when he suddenly found himself inside the tent, Goodwin’s hand still around his arm. He had anticipated a head quarters of some sort, or perhaps an information desk where he cold lodge a complaint, but this really was not what he expected.
Standing in the middle of the tent, the only thing in the room, was a door.
Now as far as doors go this one was for the most part a rather regular and unassuming door, the type you would find on any street. It was 8 panelled with a brass handle, letter box and knocker and painted jet black with a number two positioned slightly off centre to the right about three quarters of the way up. That was it, just this door.
He wanted to ask why there was a door, it seemed the natural question to ask, but given how the last few days had panned out he waited as someone would tell him eventually.
“Welcome to Rift 1979!” Jackson seemed rather proud suddenly”Oh yes, baby!” Ichabod exclaimed.
“I expected something a little more…” Armitage paused. “Well a little less door like really. Maybe a little more Hollywood.”
Jackson glared at him. “The door is a containment field Mr Shanks. Our alien friends were so kind as to leave us with this before they disappeared with our tea and biscuits.”
“Very kind of them” he mumbled.
Koala took his arm and pulled him towards the door. ” Now all I need you to do is to open it for me and step inside.”
This was all happening way too fast he thought. This sort of thing did not happen to people like him. People like him tended their gardens and contributed to the general well being of the village and drank beer and played darts in the pub on a Friday .
“And how exactly do I do that ” Armitage asked, hoping that there would be some complex ritual which he could make a mess of to delay what felt like the inevitable.
“Its a Door Armitage” Goodwin interrupted. “Turn the handle.”
“Well I could” he said, “But I really do not think that …”
“Open the bloody door Armitage!” Jackson demanded.
She scared him into action and before he knew it he had reached out turning the handle. It clicked, just as one would expect of a door and slowly he pushed against it. Before he had time to ask whether he might perhaps remain behind given his splitting headache he felt was a shove in the back and he tumbled through the door, the others bursting past and stepping over him.
After that it all got a little weird.
Want to read more of my stuff? There’s a few links below you might like.
“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
Today I shall sit in my chair
and write a poem of despair
or something deep or maybe sad
but nothing fun and nothing glad.
With teenage angst perhaps I’ll write
of when my jeans became too tight
or of my hair when it fell out
or of last Saturday’s beer drought.
Ill dim the lights and play whale songs
and bemoan all the world’s wrongs
and type about my slow net speeds
of morning traffic hell in Leeds
Ill hug myself and watch the rain
wear baggy clothes and spout my pain
That time TIVO missed GOT
or of my boats main sail ripped in ’03
My pain is shared so now you feel
the things I do that make me real
Perhaps you’ll like to show you care
my tale of woe, pain and despair
“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.”
Picture courtesy of Grand-Sud
“I do not for one minute” ranted Jones, his face quite beetroot in complexion ” believe that all people are created Equal”. A large vein throbbed above his right temple. “And I will tell you another thing while I’m at it” he continued, jutting out a sausage like finger and spitting as he spoke “there is no way we are taking in any more of those confounded Illegals!”
He seemed rather convinced of his point. Out of breath he plopped his portly frame back into his chair and folded his arms defiantly. As usual though, he failed to acknowledge that these were not solely his decisions to make.
“Now come on Arthur, you know full well this is a decision for the council and not for you alone” Alastair Brown reminded him. Alastair was the local milkman and had known Arthur for as long as he could remember and was quite adept at calming him down. He was in most aspects larger than life and with a will that was seldom swayed.
Arthur let out what sounded like ‘harumph’ and attempted to fold his arms even tighter in defiance, but this simply served to push up his chest until it looked like he had a rather full pair of breasts.
Alastair surveyed the room, and all the other council members eyes were fixed firmly upon him. Anderson, Smith, Wesley and Carpenter were going to let him deal with this one. They backed him, but they weren’t going to let Jones know that.
“All I’m saying Arthur, is that we can take more. We have room. We have resources.”
Arthur didn’t respond.
“The world has changed Arthur, we cannot keep resisting. They need our help, we need to show compassion” Alastair pleaded.
Arthur unwrapped his arms and stood slowly, heaving his considerable frame out of the chair. He had always been a bully, from very young, and being bigger than the other children he learnt from an early age how to use his size to his advantage.
“I will not, and cannot, tolerate one more of those ‘things’ in our village!” He drew himself to his full height and puffed out his chest. He continued, now ignoring Jones and addressing the room “the world may have changed but we are not for changing gentleman. We belong to this village and this village belongs to us!”
Alastair tried to speak but Arthur was not for listening.
“When the rifts opened and those things came through, feasting and destroying and ruining our flower beds they didn’t show us any compassion. They didn’t show us any kindness!”
“Now come on Arthur”, Alastair exclaimed, “That was nearly 20 years ago. They need us, they have nowhere to go.”
“That is not true, they can go home!”
“Their home is dying, you know that. That’s why they’re here”.
Carpenter was about to speak, and noticing Arthur immediately pointed a finger at him “Giles, you surely don’t expect us to take in anymore given what happened to your Mary.”
Giles fell silent. No one spoke until Alastair broke the silence.
“That was low Arthur. You really didn’t need to bring that up.”
Alastair felt he was losing the battle. They had all suffered when the rift opened, they had all lost someone and they had all fought so hard to rebuild their village. The others were too afraid of Arthur to stand up to him, and he felt rather isolated.
Arthur didn’t care how Giles felt. He didn’t care how anyone felt. “So that’s decided then, we don’t take in any more of those confounded blue furred creatures. Let them rot I say!”
The other said nothing.
Arthur sat slowly, savouring the moment. He took a slow drink of water from the glass in front of him. “Moving on to point 2 on the Agenda then, Donations for the summer fete raffle…Giles, I believe that was one for you.”
I woke one day only to find
Aliens probing my behind
Imagine if you will my shock
Lying undressed bar just one sock.
Now I’m not the type of chap to moan
but I’d only just set off for home
from work when there to my surprise
An alien vessel fills the sky.
And after that it’s quite a blur
I recall a creature with blue fur
and a cold insertion twixt my thighs
and tears streaming from my eyes.
Then nothing until I awoke
On a metal slab with another bloke
who struggled wildly to get free
and looked just as surprised as me.
And there we lay for quite a while
imprisoned by these creatures vile
until they entered fur and claw
with tails that dragged across the floor.
I blurted out “I must protest
I need to get this off my chest!”
They simply blinked big eyes and peeked
inside my new friends bottom cheeks.
“Now please forgive my attitude
I do not mean to be so rude
but bloody hell this is not fun
please do not rummage in his bum!”
No response, they weren’t aware
it was as if I was not there
they seemed intent on exploration
to my compatriots consternation.
“Now come on really must you poke
inside the bottom of that bloke?
What is it you hope to find
secreted inside his behind?”
I felt an anger from way down
that they’d picked me when leaving town.
Who would believe a humble tailor
with tales of an alien Impaler.
“I’ve hear you lot are so obsessed
with getting people quite undressed
then delving into their hind quarter
is that what your mother taught ya?”
I’m riled, enraged, my dander rising
“Please just stop my butt cheeks prising
and let me go back to my wife
I’m late, not called, and in real strife!”
I know not if it was my words
but my request it seems was heard
and soon they would to my pleas yield
and drop me off in a corn field.
I know not why they chose to take
folk such as us and prisoners make.
Folk laugh when I of my tale speak
how I cold not sit for a week.
One day perhaps I’ll understand
why people all across the land
are probed by these fowl creatures blue
today was me, tomorrow you?
Take heed in case one day you find
an alien in your behind
your wife doubting just where you’ve been
accusing you of deeds obscene
with strangers you picked up in town
finger pointing face a frown
“Think of the kids, please don’t get drunk
and let folk fiddle in your trunk”.
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!”
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”.
I do not have a dog, and his name is not Caper. That is to say If I did have a trusted canine companion, then I am sure that Caper would be his name. Not Brian, nor Carl.
I do not have a dog, and his name is not Caper. That is to say If I did have a trusted canine companion, then I am sure that Caper would be his name. Not Brian, nor Carl.
We do not go for long walks, and I do not have a special stick that I throw for him which he retrieves with such pleasure, dropping it at my feed for a treat and great praise. If though , as I have supposed, I did have a dog – named Caper (not Brian nor Carl) – then we would most definitely enjoy the outdoors more than I do now and he would always be there for me through thick and thin as only a dog called caper could be.
I do not have a dog named Caper and Caper and I do not sit on the couch on a Saturday night and watch television and eat pizza together, but if we did it would definitely be pepperoni because that would be his favourite I am sure and Caper would almost certainly eat the crusts that I leave.
Because I do not have a dog named Caper, each morning I am not awakened by him, and he is not happy to see me as much today as yesterday but not quite as much as he will be tomorrow.
I do not have a dog, and his name is not Caper and he did not run out into the road in front of a car.
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”
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.
The eternal glow and flicker of neon flashed across the wet streets as it did every day and night. Not that the two were discernible. Time stops mattering when the skies are forever black and incessant rain falls onto a once vibrant world washing away all hope and joy. Cloaked figures scurry from one place of refuge to another, dodging puddles with hoods pulled close over sallow faces. A world drowning – floundering and gasping for breath drifting through the blackness of space waiting to die. In the shadows the damned whisper tales of a different time, a time when the palette of life with its grey and brown was vibrant and alive but those days are lost now to all but a few. So they wait, clinging onto hope that the exploration ships will return to take them away, that they will be rescued from the planet that has rejected them and that they will be part of a new future for humanity. But it has been so long – beyond memory now – since the ships left.
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.