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Friday, 9 May 2008
And Never Was Piping So Sad
Published 'Celestial Shadows' 1992

My mind had been drifting upon a becalmed doze. But, then, I heard music from another part of the house. I glanced at my companion in the bed, only to discover he was also looking at me. We questioned each other with our eyes.

The music was an air, sweet but sad in its piping; and the voice which eventually pricked out from the harmonies was that of one who'd rather sob than sing.

The house had single corridors on each floor—so long and thin, it could almost be a frontage for an entertainment. A windy spot, too — and we knew the whistling at night was no more than the various imperfections of the house's structure opening and shutting like valves—and the hissing down the flues merely serpent gods with which our over-active imaginations could dally.

When we first moved in, we'd wander about at night like lost souls, bewildered by the house's settling and slippage which seemed not only in the direction of its foundations as one would expect, but, on occasions, upwards to the roof and chimneystack complex.

At each keyhole, we'd childishly press our ears. Although we knew there was just the pair of us, we relished the delights of ear-wigging. We only received sharp blasts of cold air into the deepest parts of our bodies for our pains.

It was not that there were even ghosts roaming about to justify such behaviour; although, I confess, we both hoped that one day there would be a couple of ghosts fit to haunt the likes of us. Indeed, there's a romantic quality about ghosts; and on long wintry nights in that Chinese Wall we called a home, each of us took turns in pacing the corridors, pretending to be such a ghost. I lay awake listening to my companion playing a "don't touch a crack in the floorboards with your feet or you'll surely die a terrible death" game; and hooting woefully like a wounded owl in the chimney.

I recall it was often my duty to scuttle in the manner of a coaldust imp from room to room. When I acted the spirit ghost, however, I was fearful I'd "come" mid-wall, with all the fibres and tender vessels of my body engrained in the actual structure of the brickwork. And the pain I conjured up in myself was tantamount to drawing-pins being pressed hard into the bone of my skull one by one, till I bore a helmet of them. The whooping screech I emitted from my lungs woke my companion unseasonably ... and I was scolded for it, come morning. I could not withstand his stern looks or the way he played with my tortoiseshell hand mirror.

So, at long last, we come to the night of the music, as I call it. On this occasion, we were both between the long sheets in double-backed slumber. The drama evolving around us was Grand Opera. The walls were breaking out in stretched mouths, their long-held notes reverberating from the empty cellars of the house. The curtains veiled large staring eyes. The firehearth spat flame as from the backside of Heaven, Wagner's anvil hammers thudding time to the soaring music. The four corners of the bed raised a scintillating canopy above Tristan and Isolde who nestled in the breast of the whitest lakeside swan. And such a swan floated upon the buoyed airs of the floorboards' ever-widening cracks...

Our dream duet arched and shimmered, an endless rainbow of perfect sound.

I don't know which of us woke first. I think it was him, since his face suddenly seemed real. I could see all the hairline cracks, his weathered furrows, the worldy worry of the eyes. But I still loved him, despite his liaison with the never-ending grind of living. Eventually, I woke up, too, released from dream duty ... and he cast me from his arms on seeing the crow's feet return, marking time beneath my smudged eyes.

I dream to wake up and, sometimes, I wake up to dream.

I am in an opera chorus. No single personality can be pinpointed among us, since we're not much better than a second audience.

The helmetted soloist, my one and only truly love, stands mighty and alone at the front edge of the stage, his thumping bass notes drawing to him a Lady of Sound, whose body, which only he and I can see, reaches up, like winding scales of heavenly brightness, to the gods; and it's her towering beauty that he really adores.

My own piping song cannot be heard as I'm drowned out by the rest of the chorus. None can know that I'm really sobbing my heart out.

I yearn for the dream to return, where there's no audience to worry us and, if not real, at least he's mine.

Posted by wordonymous at 4:44 AM EDT
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 Published 'Best of DFL' 1993

The room was like eyes squeezed tight shut, darker than darkness itself, whilst alive with the fuzzy edges of colour-moving patterns.

I had been left here, I did not doubt, to think myself stupid. This was a variety of punishment favoured by the more friendly bobbies on the beat, more efficient for confessions than the sledgehammer techniques of the others who would come later. Whatever the crime, they always seemed to apply capital punishment those days.

Needless to say, I’d done just nothing wrong. Only contravened some gratuitous law which had been on the statute books since when words were spelt differently than they are now. I had trespassed on a technical wrong-of-way near some derelict Government outbuildings. I was obviously up to no good. Come off it, I’d said, how can a twelve year old be a spy? You’re too old to be twelve, they’d replied, looking me up and down with their scanners. The words you use are far too long for a twelve year old, anyway, they’d added, after a pause.

My mother had always said that I looked too old for my age, even when I was a new-born baby, but I did not tell them that. I did not want to add suspicion to their doubt. They just hived me off into this (god)forsaken room... to think it over, as they put it.

“Okay, okay, I’ll come quietly. I’ll come clean,” I eventually shouted at the echoing walls. No hurriedly answering footsteps. Only the sound of my own shallow breathing. I felt scarcely alive.

I got up from the chair, only quickly to realize that it had not been a chair at all, only my own bones locked into a sitting position. I shuffled round the room, arms being stretched out by my hands desperately seeking the door or, at least, the sign of a wall. No such luck, as I wandered the interior of my own blocked-off eyesight. Like exploring the dripping cavern of one’s own skull, with the eyes swivelled back-to-front in their sockets. Hope I don’t stumble into the brain, I mused, and, as if in reply, I began to feel soft floor underfoot. Walking on a soggy trampoline or living human fat. Then the walls closed in clammily, as if, after all, they were really searching for me, rather than vice versa. At the interface of the ventricles of a heart sluggish with congealing blood, was the only way I could describe it to myself. But not to you.

Thinking that I might as well die happy, I rummaged for my body member whilst it still belonged to me; circled its bobbin with caressing fingers and I finally gunned it like my old grandmother’s sewing machine.

I did come clean (if that’s not a paradox). All they found at the centre of the cell was a mound of bubbling white ectoplasm. They said it was my brain and put it in a jug for ever more.

Unknown to them, I still haunt the corridors of an empty echoing prison, one of those derelict Government outbuildings which, it is said, houses most of the convicts on the roof.

But sometimes, I have a nightmare that someone has unstitched my head, exchanged me for someone else inside it, and stitched it up again.

I must be thinking myself stupid again.

Posted by wordonymous at 4:42 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 7 May 2008
I once thought Greens were things I was forced to eat at School. Later, more long in the tooth, I reckoned that they were something to do with jealousy or envy, lack of empathy, inability to enjoy vicariously...
The Greens were, I then thought, the storm troopers of the one big Gloater in the Sky - or were they undercover agents waiting to assist in His overthrow? How could I ever be certain?
Now, as I fade into the last stage of senility, I understand their identity to be far more insidious. Blake's question about those ancient feet is still apposite. At least my head's not QUITE so bald as the concrete sphere on which WE walk...

(published 'Purple Patch' 1991)

Posted by wordonymous at 10:11 AM EDT
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( published 'Purple Patch' 1988 ) 

He came into my dream as large as life. Toting six-shooters, he was, and he came right up to my face without even a bye or leave, leering into my mouth,as if he was a dentist.

'Hey! What you want? Step outside, if you want to sort somethinc out,' I spluttered, forgetting we were already outside.

Infuriating! He didn't even deign to reply.


He smiled,showed his own teeth as even as piano keys.

'What are you doing in my dream, anyway?' I whispered, having decided that a low profile was the best policy with this ugly customer.

And he replied 'Perhaps I should ask you that question, as it's, your dream,after all.'

Evidently, I had a lot of soul-searching to do. If you can't take responsibility for your own dream, it's a poorer world for that.

I spoke again: 'Well? errr? what I mean to say is, you look like a man who knows his own mind, in complete control of his own destiny,a man's man, but, lo and behold, you claim to be just a pawn on the chessboard of my dream...'

I'd got him! He would have no answer to that.

He immediately beat a retreat, with a Red Indian, in full war-dress, previously unnoticed by myself, stalking him into the scrubland. Come to that, I hadn't noticed the scrubland before either - a pretty dreary environment for a resplendent dreamer such as I. Ah, well, never mind, I hope to wake up shortly.

Posted by wordonymous at 10:09 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 10:13 AM EDT
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Monday, 5 May 2008
(published 'Stuff' 1993)

It’s darker towards the middle of the room. There’s no fear greater than that of a greater fear. Surprisingly, fear of death is not the greatest fear. John is never surprised. John’s thoughts spark off each other, take fire from fire. John dreads the eventual outcome of John’s thoughts: insanity, complete and utter. John awakes on the parlour window-couch having, the previous night, fallen asleep, John thinks, in John’s usual bed upstairs. The couch is under the inset bay: a wooden surface with narrow mattress. For most of the daylight hours, John has been snoozing between supposed dreams. Now, with the onset of dusk, John infers that the outskirts of the room, including even the windowless walls, are shimmering with light, leaving the central rug between the fireplace and the bay in shadow. Or is the shadow a sooty mist rising towards the ceiling? With growing horror, John realises that the supposed dreams were not dreams at all, but merely what John fears most: the onset of insanity, complete and utter. Then comes an even bigger doubt. The one flaw in John’s line of argument. John’s mind floods with mental flame, as John grows less confident regarding the nature and/or demarcation of dream and insanity. There is, of course, a rogue force called reality which feeds equally from both dream and insanity, but then calls itself sanity for convenience (or just for the laugh). John feels confused, without realising that such confusion is affecting more than just John’s thoughts. All senses sense each other wrongly. John smells awful. John tastes John’s own dead body. John sees nothing but John’s own eyeballs slowly revolving in their sockets, as the scratching at the bay’s window tries to get in. John touches the top of John’s head and feels a gluey substance instead, and this action itself seems to cause John’s other senses to be even worse affected. The darkness in the middle of the room disappears from sight. John wakes up in John’s usual bed upstairs, having slipped peacefully through a dreamlessness more akin to death than anything else: a beauty sleep to end all such beauty sleep. But, surprisingly, outside, there’s still a darkness, complete and

Posted by wordonymous at 6:49 AM EDT
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Friday, 2 May 2008
A While Of Means


 (published 'Zine Zone' 1998 )


All land was south of us.

The sun was low in the sky. We had more than enough wind to fill the raft’s makeshift sail. And we would soon chop more wood for extending our raft to cope with the increasing crew.

So, basically, things were looking up.

My wife was expecting our seventeenth baby. Our first one, Dorothy, was expecting a baby of her own very shortly. My brother and his girlfriend were not Swiss nor a real family nor even called Robinson, but they had ideas above their station. But, despite this, we rubbed along reasonably well, especially in view of the decided lack of privacy.

And, yes, of course, there was a man calling himself Cruciform, Dorothy’s eventual husband, who had not joined us at the beginning of the shipwreck. He arrived out of nowhere, as it were, waking up to find us around him.

He told us we would make land sooner or later, not north as we originally expected, but south of us. There was no need to change direction as, apparently, we had done so already. He built rudder-tiller contraptions at the four corners of the raft which gave the children much joy, vying with each other to steer.

If it had not been for the storm, I believe we would have made land eventually. Instead, we made wood for what seemed (at least to me) like the rest of eternity. Cruciform left us as suddenly as he had arrived, eyes blinking as he woke to nothing but endless sky overhead, instead of our beaming faces.

Meanwhile, Will decided to give Lizbie a bell and see if she were also at a loose end. After all was said and done, Will and Lizbie both possessed a memory of each other’s erstwhile love - and if the past were worth anything at all, the present had certainly missed out on the bargain.

Listening to the evenly mechanical cat’s purr, Will pressed his finger into the correct numbered holes in the dial, but did not actually move the circular metal overlay in the variously measured arcs towards the fixed indented finger-home. Having been raised back home on push buttons, his mind was adrift because he couldn’t hear the minimalist music of the ringing tone. He blamed the fog for dampening down the lines.

He had recently peered from between the curtains and witnessed what a sopping wet blanket the night had become, reminding him of the endless nights on the raft, when he was called Cruciform.

If he succeeded in contacting Lizbie, he would have to use the shooting-wagon and, with its headlamps carving bisected beams into the billowing darkness, negotiate the unfamiliar back-doubles of a town which, at the best of times, was a bewildermaze of T-junctions. Worse than being lost at sea in overlapping fog banks.

Gently recradling the handset, he simply stared at it. Perhaps it, would ring of its own accord.

Meanwhile, Lizbie (a reincarnation of the raft’s Dorothy) sat in her finery by the bedroom window. Despite the uncertain curdling of the fog, she could discern the floating young shaver of a moonrib’s yellow bonelight. The red trill phone was beside her, connected to a wall-slot by a coil of sprung flex: a small device, compared to the walkie-talkie her naval officer father used to tote round when on board ship.

She had long since surrendered any hope of Will ringing her. Despite his inscrutable charm having been barely one notch away from a miscegenate breeding-trap, a tangible love had nevertheless shone through. And because he hailed from the open oceans themselves, he was more of a real man than most. Of course, being a woman, she couldn’t take the initiative - other than the simple osmosis she employed in actually willing him to ring.

Eventually, however, the pair of ex-lovers felt a leap together. Simultaneously, too, they made an easily forgotten encounter in the selfsame seadrift dream -just as the fog began to lift and twin moons shafted through the irrespective portholes.

On waking in the morning, both laughed for no obvious reason, yet instinctively knowing that ringing, from their respective rafts of erstwhile love, had always been beyond any reach of reincarnation - with or without coastal fog banks. Or telephone poles. Mobile phones were only in the future...

Meanwhile, there are handicap races where the participants are intended to arrive more or less together at the finishing tape. Yet, because of unpredictable human factors, such as illness, supreme effort, pacing, targetting, under-confidence, over-confidence, accidents, luck, inspiration, sheer sweat, laziness and so forth, the results of life’s steeplechase can never be certain.

Hattie’s husband Reginald simply adored horse-racing. It stemmed, no doubt, from Reginald and his boyhood chums organising competitive games for creepy-crawlies. He now spent five bob a week with the bookmaker, but never won anything. He followed his fortunes on the telly, whooping and whistling for the unfavoured nag he’d happened to back to forge through against the odds and make his day. Hattie humoured him. Reginald never laughed. And he died not laughing. A cross he had to bear was Hattie.

And today Hattie sits alone in her parlour. The carriage clock ticks ponderously from the mantlepiece. The telly has been dead since Reginald’s day. She never wants to switch on its screen. In any event, Reginald was the only one who could work the controls.

Old age is an ocean-ringed raft, just waiting for capsizing - or is it merely a bare-boned sofa on which even feebler bones are crucified? Physical handicaps, too, include any that affect the chemical substance of the brain inside the head. Senility’s only half of it, however. And even a tumour is, if nothing else, company.

Hattie’s indeed pleased she doesn’t have the nous to turn on the telly. She’s afraid Reginald will turn up on the screen, peering out at her, then whooping and whistling, in his typical fashion, to speed up her slow-motion squirm towards the finish...

Whilst, beyond her body’s hearing, the user-friendly video plugs on. And the tinnitus, from which she has suffered for many years, resumes its ringing in her ears with a renewed vigour -hissing and roaring from an empty conch shell once gathered on a diminishing shore. She doesn’t answer. She cannot even remember her real name. One of seventeen brothers and sisters. Too many names, too few whiles to live.

All land was north of us, give or take an odd pole.

Posted by wordonymous at 5:06 PM EDT
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Pyramid Selling

a collaboration with Jeff Holland

(published ‘Odyssey’ 1997)

A STOCKY man came to sell me a pyramid. And I tried to sell him my teeth.

Neither the stocky man nor myself were successful in selling these things to each other so we both decided to purchase each other’s product (me his pyramid, he my teeth) in exchange for purchasing each other’s product.

After the stocky man left with my teeth, leaving me the proud owner of the pyramid, I was visited by a lucky lady. I could tell she was a lucky lady straight away since she was desperate to purchase a pyramid to suit her new religion.

“That’s a coincidence,” I said with a beam, “Because, lucky lady, I have a pyramid for sale right here.”

“Is it a praying pyramid?” she asked.

“It certainly is your lucky day, Madam, because this very pyramid has the most prayers of any pyramid in the western world.”

“In that case I have a personally signed holo of the president of all five galaxies. Are you interested?”

I examined the holo and could see no sign of tampering but, what the hell, you can’t these days anyway. We bickered and dickered for a while and in the end she bought the pyramid for 17 creds and the holo. What a mug! I knew I could get at least 320 creds for the holo. People like her should stay out of the commodities market. Unless, of course, her new religion did work. I’d probably shot my bolt anyway, regardless of any religion.

I decided that was enough for one morning. No use using a week’s worth of luck in one go and I only had two more hours to fill my week’s quota.

Perhaps now was the time to get out of commodities and try something else. I looked up at the screen to see what was on offer.

It was on ‘5’ and ‘soldier’ seemed like a good thing so I applied. The officer on the screen took my number and asked how many hours I had left.

I told him “Two,” and he explained I needed at least 168.

“I don’t mind waiting.”

“Report to section three on the third day of the third month. After your duty you will have another three month’s holiday.”

I spent three illegal and profitable months in commodities and reported to section three.

I knew I’d done the wrong thing straight away.

The stocky man was a loud mouthed sergeant and he wanted to get his own back. He set the lance corporal on me, snapping his teeth like he was real and not a holo at all.

JOANNA SAT back from her creation and said.

“Well, how was it? Did it gel?”

Thomas nodded. After all, he was the man in the centre of things. He was the “I”, quickly now becoming a “he”, as soon as Joanna stopped pulling images from the air.

“The stocky man? He was full of shit, wasn’t he?”

“He may have been. Like with all commodity broking, promises of goods are worth more than the goods themselves. You can sell on a promise, then build upon everybody honouring their promise - except you of course.”

“Joanna, so his pyramid was merely a promise, like if you put a razor blade inside the pyramid, it sharpens overnight?”

“Sort of.”

“As if...”

“Yes, I was the lucky lady, didn’t you recognise me?”

Thomas now allowed it to dawn on him exactly what had been going on. He had actually been gulled into believing...

But what about the creds and, yes, what about the years and years he had been a foot-soldier? That’s where the promises had become threats. He had been imprisoned within a vicious circle of false ambitions, ever eager for the next bend in the square-bashing until like itself became a triangle, then a...

Suddenly he had a vision of a three-cornered hat, towering like some film star’s obsession with a UFO landing-place. It was glorious. The sun glinted off like gold, spreading divinities into every nook. There was even heat.

Tommy desperately tried to escape the reality but even the thought eluded him until Joanna turned down the power. Even then the thought was impotent.

“Let me out!” he screamed but only the roar of the UFO emerging from cloud laden sky was heard.

Joanna switched off the reality and truth came flooding back.

“That was brilliant! How long was I under?”

Three days. But I did bet you sleep for four hours each night.”

“It felt as if I was away for years. What would have happened if I’d ‘died’?”

“I don’t know. I only programmed the computer, I don’t really know what it’s capable of.”

“Well, I’ve perfected the chip receiver. I’m sure I can come up with some way of injecting it into people from a distance. Perhaps it might work in food. Hey, that’s an idea. If I can get it in the food you can make them go and get a proper injection then. They’re ours forever. How many can one control?”

“As many as you like, as long as you don’t mind them having the same reality.”

“Joanna, I think we’ve just invented the ultimate pacifist’s weapon.”

JOANNA SAT back from her creation and said.

“Well, how was it? Did it gel?”

This time Tommy didn’t nod, afraid of some perpetual motion of realities within realities.

“Yes, Joanna, the ultimate pacifist’s weapon,” he continued, risking the possibility of unknown repetitions, “but also, potentially, the ultimate warmonger’s weapon.”

“Don’t forget the visitation,” said Joanna, “that encounter of the near-infinite kind. All that cream and doughnut mixture and so forth all coned up just waiting for peaceful comings...”

Tommy shrugged as her words drifted off. He realised he had just argued against himself, yes, against his own self from a previous reality who had only been too happy to assume the best of all possible worlds, a pacifist’s world where pyramids were perfect protection from any sky’s dangers. It was as if the carefully plotted angles allowed time to slip off on all sides without touching those within. But his skull felt as if it were sharpened into a bone spike.

He and Joanna were two of the prisoners inside a circle of straw and pig-shit walls. Soldiers marched round, with their helmets pointing at the sky, soldiers who guarded the entrance (or exit) to the next reality. There was to be no escape from this straw stockade, a stockade with broken teeth embedded in it.

Soon, Johnno Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, would goose-step towards them - but Thomas smiled. Although religious holos like Joanna and Tommy were credulous enough to be hurt by name calling, they could hardly have their bones broken to make brittle wigwams for holos of Red Indians to sleep in. Something more solid was required to attain reality. The first bit had worked, worked only too well, but now both time and reality were slipping away together into a cream-and-doughnut mixture that surrounded the spiked dome of now.

“You’ve lost it, Joanna,” said Thomas, “You’re back to what you had before. It doesn’t make sense and because of that I questioned it and…”

“Dreams are not meant to make sense, idiot!”

“I didn’t know I was \ he was dreaming. If he didn’t know that, then he questioned reality and because I knew that reality could be unreal he could see through it. Oh flick! That means that you can only use it once.”

“So? How many times do you want to win the same war? Once they’re in the programme we can do anything we like with them.”

“Like you mean we can make them forget what they were doing in reality? Give them false memories?”

Joanna looked at Thomas. “Were you celibate when you were a soldier?”

“No, of course not. Not for...oh, I see, you mean we programme the enemy to think they’ve fought the war for our ideals and have actually won. It’s not what you’ve made us do but what we think they think they’ve done. There are no false memories only memories of the prog, that are indistinguishable from reality if you don’t know reality has been altered. In other words, don’t tell them.”

“At last,” Joanna said, the exasperation clear in her voice. “You just hadn’t thought about it had you? How the hell do you think all your sexual feelings were right? Not from me, I can assure you. I haven’t the faintest idea what it’s like for you to have sex. I’ve downloaded the entire Encyclopedia Galactica into the programme. It’s as perfect as I can make it except that, as you say, it’s a ‘once only’ weapon if anyone knows about it.”

“Oh, my God, listen to you. Do you know what you said? What it means is that this weapon, if that’s what you want to call it, will not work on anyone who even knows it exists.”

“As I said, how many times do you want to win the same war?”

“No. Joanna, you’re missing the point. The weapon won’t work on us.”

‘‘But we’re not the enemy.

“We are now. We only have to tell Frank next door about it and it won’t work on him either. Do you get my drift?”

The blood drained from her face as realisation dawned. They had not only the ultimate weapon but they themselves were the ultimate defence against the ultimate weapon.

That night Thomas and Joanna crept quietly, along with their knowledge, into obscurity.

Posted by wordonymous at 5:03 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 29 April 2008


 (published 'Space & Time' 1993)

The boy was browning off at the close of a long day in the hot sun.

His companion, a svelte girl without a stitch, turned her head as if to speak, but was stopped in her tracks, since the sun had abruptly disappeared behind the distant mountain and cast a long monster’s tail of a cold shadow over them both.

They squinted at each other,
since the backs of their eyes retained the imprint of the scorching orb.

“We’d better dress.”


Their words were in a foreign language.

They fumbled for their clothes since, having been taken unawares, their fear was mixed with confusion. They were no older than it took to be alone together in barely less than innocent nudity.

As the darkness gained further purchase, all they could see were the whites of the eyes; their pulse rate doubled in intensity; and, through the gloom, their hands found comfort in each other’s.

Towards the girl and boy, a shaft of sun hurtled, like lightning - from the side of the mountain, through a cut-away in the uniform rock but only for a second. It was sufficient to establish that their clothes had evidently been snatched whilst they were dozing in the torrid afternoon. The darkness, once renewed, engendered goose-pimples the length of their limbs and violent shudders along their spines. The cold was doubly cold fromt he contrast...

They had grown up together, since their respective sets of parents had been more than just good friends. During the endless nights of Winter, the grinding of their parallelograms of sex had disturbed the youngsters’ sleep and mingled with the snorts that the beasts made when they tested the peripheral defences of the camp¬site.

And the snorts were approaching now and the camp-site was more than a mile away. They never thought it would happen to them. Love childer, blessed with complementary grand trines in their natal maps, could never meet a nasty ending ... together.

But they soon discovered that nasty ends come to us all; the art of life is merely in the timing ... and death comes deadlier than expected.

Another sun-shaft beamed through a more substantial cut-away further down the mountain’s flank and lit the feral plain…picking out the still twitching shambles of rare to medium flesh. It glinted upon the scuttling carapaces of star-born winterer beasts, having eaten to their fill and no more. The sun finally slid behind the bulky foundations of the mountain, only to be gathered into the bosom of the earth for the closed sesame of night.

The parents were preoccupied, as they turned together in the hinged beds. They did not bother to pray that their children might discover erotic pleasure in the mutual perpetuation of interwoven ectoplasm.

“Burnt to cinders amid the shyfryngs” was only one line of a forgotten song, hardly decipherable amid the lowing of wandering winterers.

Posted by wordonymous at 4:15 AM EDT
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Martin and Me


 (published 'Trash City' 1991)

The mask was identical to the face Martin wore beneath.

They’re meant to be uglier than your own mug. Martin. No point otherwise -especially at a Hallowe’en party. I said this with a tongue in my cheek, as he knew I knew his face was nothing to write home about. And it would probably scare strangers shitless. particularly those of the gatecrasher variety...

‘0K. OK, joke’s over. You’ll be laughing the other side of you face before the evening’s over.’

If I didn’t know Martin better. I would have suspected something sinister in that loosely veiled threat. I could even have believed he wasn’t joking.

We were not exactly gatecrashers ourselves, but it was a bit like a friend of a friend of a friend thrice removed who was holding the party in King’s Langley. if you know what I mean. We’d heard at least the rumour that all and sundry were invited. So, here we were, climbing off the M25 in Martin’s 2CV. Neither of us had been North of Watford before and we were eager to discover whether there was life up there...as the saying goes. We knew there would be. but that didn’t stop us chortling on the joke as the rubber band inside Martin’s jalopy finally unwound, bringing us to a halt in the car park of the Rose and Crown, where many of the guests would be tanking up in readiness for the long night ahead.

I turned to Martin and kidded him about all the badges he was wearing on his Albanian Flapjacket. I think he must have belonged to every club and society going

including both the Foxhunters and the Anti-Blood Sports Associations. Whether it was just another of his silly jokes or he genuinely didn’t know his own mind, even now, after all the events have finally finished unfolding. I remain unsure.

It’s the story of my life, I know, but to cut a long story short, we’ll go straight to the party which turned out to be a pretty drab affair. Even the strobe lighting in the room dedicated to disco dancing was about as limp wristed as my next door neighbour’s dead mother. Martin and I carried out a few desultory jigs together, but the hotel foyer muzak was not exactly conducive to a real shake-out. On top of this, there were next to no birds. Even Alfred Hitchcock’s film had Tippi Hedren going for it. Unless there was a room upstairs where they had all congregated: packed like kids in a Sardines game to escape Martin’s ugly mask. Every guest at that shindig wore trousers and hugely dated floral ties. Not one badge between them, to gauge the fellow feeling, if any. Furthermore, not even one backslapping howdyado from a hale and hearty host, eager to make his guests feel at home. But thinking about it, I could have felt at home anywhere, given an amorous nature.

Eventually. Martin gave me the nod. Back down the M25, to see if we could catch up on a bit of real nightlife in more familiar territoiy. We felt like fish out of water, or at least I did. Martin, well, he was just Martin, as inscrutable as ever.We walked off the dance floor and thus out of the limelight of the torch that the DJ was flashing upon us from his plinth.

Suddenly we were accosted by a bright young spark who called himself Aretha Franklin.

‘That’s a funny name for someone who looks as if he’s just walked out of one of Hitler’s gas chambers.’

‘Hark who’s talking. With a face like that...’ - Aretha pointed at Martin’s mask - ‘I bet your face wouldn’t win a beauty competition against my bum.’

I looked quizzically at Aretha’s backside, but could find no clue as to why he had made such an outrageous statement.

Martin evidently decided this was it. He was standing no nonsense from the likes of this Northern upstart and he immediately made a hefty kick at Aretha’s backside.

‘That’ll change the odds somewhat - I hear judges don’t like bruises on the merchandise.’

Or that’s what Martin’d probably have said, given half the chance. For, in the event, his leg was left stuck up at right angles, the foot sunk to its ankle in Aretha’s buttocks. The trouser seat had disappeared with the merest ripping noise, leaving the weltering cheeks literally to munch up Martin’s calf. I tried to steady my friend, as he hopped precariously on his free leg, as the others watched this amazing fandango in which the three of us were participating. I noticed the arrival of the Bad Crowd. Every shindig’s got them, even down South. But this lot were the worst I’d ever seen. Plug Uglies to the bone. Undergrunts to the letter. Martin’s face was not even in the same league. The fact that made them seem particularly horrendous was the female gender they wielded. Fresh from girl talk, no doubt, in that Ladies Room I’d imagined earlier, they were-waving red-stained panties as if this were some preliminary to a mating dance. If I’d ever fancied a bird, now was the time to stamp homosexual authority on my proclivities...

To come clean, it was a good job that Martin’s really only my alter ego and his leg, if I can put it this way, my metaphor for manly pride. Aretha (whose real name turned out to be Digory Smalls) wasn’t all that bad looking, despite my earlier misgivings...and the Bad Crowd eventually skulked off churlishly, presumably crestfallen, hopefully back to the Ladies Room where they belonged together.

Posted by wordonymous at 4:10 AM EDT
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Sunday, 27 April 2008
The Black Drought

(Published 'The Bloody Quill' 1999)


In these hard, awkward days in your distant future when a Vampyre cannot even get a decent drink, my plight brings tears of a pink cast to my eyes and faint quiver of the upper lip upon my toothsome fangs.

It's the Black Drought that did it. I cannot bring myself to syphon up just any blood unless I know where my subjects have been. Creatures from the ancient past, such as yourselves, are no use to the likes of me. Too much of the bad blood, if you see what I mean.

My suffering is becoming so piquant, I'm having to find other means of sustaining my undead soul ... this soul which is the Way Station of the mutated veinwork of my carnal body. Only in Vampyres can the logic of Nature really be seen for what it is; only on being born an Undead, can one truly follow the uncharted mazes of God's work.

Anyway, enough of philosophy?back to my urgent theme, the plight of my kind in your unreachable future.

You may well ask: why is the wasting away of a Vampyre deprived of its external blood sources not as bad as that of you unfortunate victims of the Black Drought?

Well, we vampyres (note the spelling) know full well why.

Ours is an infinite wasting-away whilst yours is finite.

Let me lay it on the line: in periods of Cosmic Menopause, we can, at least, like a parthenogenetic camel, as it were, survive upon recycled blood. Perhaps I should give you a lesson in the biology of the Undead. Blood in, blood out. That's our catchphrase. Most food that you used to consume turned dark brown on exit. On the other hand, blood that we imbibe stays bright red, as pure as the day it was pumped by the young supple hearts whence it came. But, until these post-Drought days, it has always been deemed crudely cheating and almost unchristian amongst we Nosferatu Fraternity to recycle blood. But when needs must...


I'm in terrible trouble. Aeons have now gone by, since I last wrote to you. And still no supply of fresh blood. What I have left is growing pinker and pinker like paraffin the more I use it.

As even the tiniest moments of time pass, I am sure my bowels are growing their own teeth between the various byways of the intestines. Even the most unlikely inner and outer orifices of my body seem to be cutting a molar or two. It may be in my mind, but my innards are so desperate they are moving about like creatures within me, searching for the nooks and crannies where real blood - my original birthright as a mortal - is secretly hoarded.

Am I to experience a real death for the first time? I feel my own bifurcating bones suckling gently upon the slowly emptying sump within my innermost reaches, the last refuge and sanctuary for my own blood from the thirsting jaws of you ancient creatures within me.

Posted by wordonymous at 7:30 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 27 April 2008 7:32 AM EDT
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