Freewrite: The Ads Considered You


The ads considered you.
That sentence alone was enough to make Carter shudder. The ads considered you. They looked at you and they thought. They fucking thought. And then they sold you something.
In the split second since he had appeared in the billboard’s line of sight, a million calculations had gone underway and now it showed, in a brilliant display – both literal and metaphorical – of scientific ingenuity, a cinemagraph of a single can of Diet Dr Pepper, moisture sliding down the side, a cloudless sky in the background.
Millions of dollars had gone into the research and development, and it assessed that Carter, in hundred-degree weather, might be thirsty.
Still, he never got over the impression that they were learning. They were designed for that, certainly. They tag you, follow you around, remember your habits, and sell you a can of Diet Dr Pepper. Well, still, he reasoned, they knew he drank diet. So there was that.
The weather was beating down hard on him, though. The machines reasoned well. A can of Diet Dr Pepper would certainly be exactly what he needed.
But he resisted.
The billboard had failed to notice the bottle of water he kept in his bag. He guessed it was nice that they didn’t have X-Ray vision just yet. He opened his bag, took out the bottle, and stood in front of the billboard’s badly hidden cameras as he poured the still-cold water into his mouth. For added effect, he made sure the label was facing the right way.
The machine within the billboard whirred as it tried to figure out what Carter needed. He looked refreshed. He didn’t look particularly hungry. He had the air of someone who seemed pretty content with life.
Except, the machine had been told, no one was ever content. They needed something. It scanned Carter with increased scrutiny. Beads of sweat had formed on his forehead and on top of his hair. His hat size was large. His income dictated he could spend upward of thirty dollars on something as frivolous as a hat. There was a good clothing store that offered that within a mile.
It displayed a large-brimmed Tilley Airflo Hat, only twenty-five dollars, from a shop 0.83 miles away – with directions.
It was exactly what Carter needed. But instead, he fished into his bag and fetched out a very similar hat, and placed it on his head.
The machine ignored people walking past it, and focused on Carter. It was almost vengeful. Carter’s shoes were starting to wear out. There was a cobbler nearby who could fix the soles for cheaper than a pair of new shoes, and it was only 1.34 miles away, provided Carter turned back on himself.
Carter wanted to walk past it, like everyone else. Ignore it. But it had just too weird for too long. He took off his shoes and threw them in the trash. He had figured the machine would notice the shoes, and had also packed a small pair of sandals. They were much comfortable to wear in this heat anyway. And then he did something he never thought he would: he smiled smugly. At a machine, as if that would make any difference.
The machine thought long and hard, and once again considered him. Carter looked like he needed a hospital.
The Chicago All Saints Hospital. 2.51 miles away. Catch an Uber there for less than seven dollars!
Carter almost laughed. He’d beaten it. “There’s nothing wrong wi –”
The bolt struck him in the leg and left a large, burning hole. He collapsed on the floor, howling in agony.
The screen changed: Dialing Uber driver
Carter stood up, pain searing through his entire body. He tried to retrain the tears that were pooling up around his eyes.
“I’ll walk, thanks,” he said, through grunts of misery.
He saw, through his tear-filled, hazy vision, the screen change once more.
Sanford Funeral Care. 1.99 miles east. Buy 5 get the sixth for free!

Carter barely had time to speak when the bolt exploded through his head.


Freewrite: the Sheath


Here's a freewrite I did based on some random prompt words people gave me


The days were long, gloomy and grey. The nights were longer, black and terrifying. The sea was in a bad mood and seemed out to prove that it could destroy the ships that lay on it in a split second, but was gracious enough not to. The men aboard the Dragon no longer cared about the mission. They wanted to know the touch of land again, and to feel the earth beneath their feet.
            Lightning exploded above them, and the ship was illuminated in a brilliant white. The captain, the skeppare, loomed above the rest of them, his furs drenched, and his armour shining. Strapped to his side was a large knife he only used when fighting his mortal enemies, to see the life drain from their eyes. It rarely left the sheaf.
            Skeppare Geirrod Nystrom bellowed orders, but with the roar of the ocean, and the creaking of the Dragon, his words disappeared into the rain. It didn’t matter, though, they knew what he was telling them. It had been the same instructions day after day. They were hunting for something, but they were not told what. Rumour was it Nystrom’s family was dying and he searched for a legendary berry that could cure them. But no one was sure if this was true, and if it was, if the berry existed. Some said he was looking for a holy weapon of myth. No one was sure. But all of that was so long ago. All they knew, for certain, was that Nystrom’s eyes grew wilder each day. In the scant hours of sleep the men received, he would be seen strolling the deck of the Dragon, idly, watching the endless expanse of ocean ahead of them. It was not long before they could see in his increasingly tired eyes the doubt that lay hidden beneath the glaring, angry confidence.
            He told them they were going to uncharted lands, and in his brightest moments, he could even motivate his men into forgetting how long they had been at sea. In those moments of sunshine, the trip seemed tolerable, even pleasant. But the storm had been going for days now, and day was barely distinguishable from night. It seemed it would last this way until they all died.
Nystrom would speak incomprehensibly of freedom, but not to anyone. The crew would hear him mumble to himself sometimes as he watched his men row, but no one would ask him in those times. They would see his hand clutching at the handle of his knife, as if debating whether or not to use it. Who his mortal enemies were on the ship, it was anyone's guess, but nobody wanted to find out. The storm continued and the Dragon fought the waves.
On the worst day, when the waves were so tall they threatened to engulf and submerge the ship completely, Nystrom was nowhere to be seen. The crew battled the rebelling ocean through the night. In the morning, the Dragon drifted ashore. When they went to find Nystrom, they found his knife unsheathed, clutched in his hand, and him sprawled across the table, the charts he had been keeping secret soaked through with blood. It looked like he had tried to write something in the blood, but it was illegible. The crew looked out at the land they had landed on, and for the first time in months, saw sunshine.


Freewrite: And Gary Henderson Started Drinking

I asked for some random words on Twitter to write a story on, I was given Mellifluous, Hobbledehoy and fallopian. Also "the light that burns twice as bright burns only half as long AND less talk more rock",which was damn near impossible to put in there, so thanks Twitter dudes. 

This isn't so much a story as a collection of sentences I wrote and didn't stop writing until I finished. 


No one saw it happen. The San Pantena Genetics Centre had been abandoned for decades and the equipment inside just churned and bubbled away, forgotten by everyone except the guards, one of whom would stop by once every blue moon to see that the site was still as deserted as was expected from it.
            Except it wasn’t. Not this night.
            Gary Henderson, the well-to-do guard, often discarded by many people simply for his normality and everydayness, heard it happen, but he never saw what exactly. He was patrolling the car park in front of the Reception Annex - the only entrance into the lab – when he heard the siren. No one had gone past him, he was sure of it. The only sight his dim eyes could afford him as he squinted into the distance at the place where, instead of the billowing heaps of smoke currently occupying the area, the Fertilisation Labs had once been, was a glaring orange light, spinning around. An alarm.
            He weighed his options. He did not have any real weaponry outside of a short range taser that frequently missed its target, but being well-to-do and blandly nondescript, the only talking point about his life was the inherent danger of walking around at night in a deserted area with a flashlight. If he bailed, then what was he?
            A part of his brain sparked. Gary Henderson, night-shift guard of the San Pantena Genetics Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, ran towards the alarm.
            The smoke was clearing by the time he arrived. The laboratories, which had been designed into two tubes running parallel to one another, were all but gone. Only discoloured rubble and (probably toxic) smoke remained. And a figure.
            He was young, appeared to be only a few years out of adolescence, and he hobbled and staggered, as if both stunned by the destruction around him, and like he was learning to walk for the first time.
            He was naked. Gary Henderson blushed and tried to keep a serious disposition.
            “The lab. It shouldn’t be here,” the man said. His voice was sweet, high-pitched and almost melodious. It sounded heavenly, and Gary Henderson found it surprisingly soothing, considering everything. He walked awkward and clumsily, hitting pieces of rubble as his pale, ghostlike form slowly approached the guard.
            “It had to go…”
            Gary Henderson saw his eyes. They were a pale blue, with pupils that were almost grey. They sparkled in the mess of half-broken lights from the compound; the scene, for some bizarre reason, reminded the guard of an ice show he had once seen.
            He wanted to say something, but he kept failing in his choice of words. He noticed the holes in the man’s arms. Small, perfect, and all in a row, they looked like cable sockets or something. Gary Henderson did not know what they were, who that man was or what was happening. He probably had to call someone, but at this point, he was too entranced by it all to do anything.
            “I am One. And only One,” the man continued, in his perfect, beautiful voice. “Had to go. The light that shines”
            The guard reached for his walkie-talkie, but as he put it to his mouth, he stopped. The wind had caught the smoke and it swirled around him. Through it he could see the figure, who had walked past Gary Henderson, staring at nothing in particular in front of him.
            And soon, somewhere in the darkness, out of the sirens and the white spotlights of the abandoned complex, the man disappeared. There was nothing but silence, and rubble. A light nearby lit up, incredibly bright, before exploding into blackness.
            Gary Henderson held on to his walkie-talkie in silence, his eyes adjusting to the light, and after several minutes of stillness, called in people to assess the wreckage.


Freewrite: Flash

Criteria: They say your life flashes before your eyes in the moments before you die. What would you see? What would one of your characters see?


What was it? Gunshot. Yeah. Right through my forehead. I was blinded, very temporarily, by the muzzle flash. It's weird, I actually felt it break through my skin, my skull, and my brain, as if everything was slowed right down. And right there, time stops. My brain is frantically searching for answers, for ideas as to what just happened and what it can do to fix it. I can tell you right now, brain, you've just been shot through. Nothing can help you now. We're as screwed as Keung was, just two seconds before me. They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. That's true. The problem is, what good does it do? It's like dreaming. You're in the moment, you enjoy it. Things happen, they don't have to make sense. your memories flood back, and you remember how you felt at the time. Mostly they're good, I think. There was a wedding, maybe mine, maybe not, and then there was the feeling of wine. Then warmth, like Christmas. Thousands of images flash in your brain, too fast to make out, but somehow you recognise each one, and each one makes you feel something you thought you never could. Although, granted, you realise, you never will. Time slowly comes back into proportion. The feelings of the past go, and are replaced with the burning sensation of a bullet passing through my brain. And, in a flash, everything stops.

The feelings never come back.


Freewrite: The City

Here's a short load of paragraphs I scribbled trying to get some ideas down for my new story (to be finished by December, of all things). It's a bit nonsensical but there we have it. Also, have you noticed the new site work done here? I'm quite fond of it, what do you all think?


The world I woke up in wasn't the one I had gone to bed in. Even though it looked exactly the same, and although, at the time, i didn't know the words to express what I thought, I knew something had changed.

But maybe that was because I was just a kid. Everything changes all the time when you're a kid. I would wake up a month later, in London, in the huge towering metropolis of the city, with its futuristic light fixtures and taps that went SWOOSH when you put your finger against the small sensor. Living there, after living in the Village was different, true, but I had gotten used to it after a while. Sure there wasn't a witch in the small thatch cottage down the road, and there wasn't a small sweet shop just around the corner from the school, but there was London, and all of its glory. Here the city had been, once, overrun with panic and chaos, six years ago, when the years changed and the clocks didn't work like they were meant to. I don't know, I was only two when it happened. Now, though, in the last six years they have rebuilt everything, whatever scares of bugs have long gone. I miss the Village. I miss the sounds of the forest, and the Green Man who would lumber by. We would never catch much of a glimpse of Green Man, but we'd know he was there.

Here, all we have is the city.


Freewrite: Argandis

Criteria: "Rant about a world bigger and richer than Asia....make your fingers go numb....think after you create...have fun, namaste!"


They lived in Argandis. It was a supercontinent, floating above the world, stretching for over ten million square miles. It was so big that nobody saw it. It would be like standing in Times Square and asking to point out the Earth. Argandis floated, almost two hundred thousand feet above the world, and it was there. People chose not to see it, because when they did, they realized they never saw sunlight again.

In a world so big, where do you begin? The peaceful countries in the east, or the snowy and deadly mountain peeks due south? Argandis was almost its own world, and survived through its own ecosystem which nobody knew how it worked, it just did. There were great lakes and rivers flowing off the edge, plummeting onto Earth, there were huge forests and deserts. Argandis was rich in every mineral, and had mines of gold, silver and every other precious metal. Whatever man was killing itself over on Earth, Argandis had it. But no one could go on Argandis. No one was on Argandis, or at least, nobody that wanted to be seen. At night, if you were anywhere near it and you wanted to, you could see fires and smoke. You could hear chatter, and laughter. But there never was anyone visible on Argandis. No one wanted to believe it existed, and so no one ever got to see it. Occasionally, massive chunks of Argandis fell and crashed onto the planet beneath it, enriching it if only a tiny bit. People ignored that too, and carried on living. And above the world, above the wars and the death, the love and hate, sex, crime and money, Argandis stayed.

Freewrite: Brillig

Today's topic, courtesy of some bloke no one cares about: "We all know the famous poem about Humpty Dumpty sitting on that brick wall. The Kings horses and the kings men...failed to put him back together. What we don't know is, what they did with poor old Humpty after his fall?" ------------ He ... the man, the one without a name, watched them from behind the wall, stepping all over the yolk, egg shells crushed beneath their feet. Humpty wasn't dead, not yet. He was breathing heavily, in short sharp bursts and cried out in strained, painful moans as the horses clumsily stood on the shattered remains of his body. He choked on his own yolk, not dead, not ever dead. The sergeant had scooped up the top part of the shell where his small eyes and bizzare beaklike mouth were. He was scooping up pieces of egg in a vain attempt to save the beloved character. The queen's favourite, the court jester and poet. The sergeant recalled with a tear Humpty's famous nonsense poem. Twas brillig and the slithey tothes did gire and gimble in the wabe And the man, unknown, seen only in the shadows, laughed to himself, and carried on in his way

Freewrite: Hungover Alley

Criteria for this freewrite was: "WRITE A DEMENTED STORY!
Write about a cute kitten and how he dies a gross violent death"
So here it is --------------------------- Oh my, what a cute little kitten! That's what people would have said, about 4 mintues ago if ever they happened to come across the little unnamed kitten in Hungover Alley. It was everything you wanted in a cute little kitten; big cute kitten eyes; fluffy, scruffy cute kitten fur and a meow that would make even Hitler smile. Now it was a mess of blood and inside parts, happily splashed across the bottom of Hungover Alley. You could walk past it, and not give it a second thought. You wouldn't even know what it was anyway; from what anyone could see it didn't have a head or tail or anything. A few paws were sticking out of the tufts of fur, all stuck together by dry, clotted blood. Besides, it was dark began to rain and no one was out. They wouldn't be anywhere near Hungover Alley if they were. And the rain kept pouring, and it flushed the alley of all blood. Morning came.

Freewrite: In the Graveyard

Alright, here's the deal with them They call 'em "freewrites". And they're quite fun. What happens is you're given a list of topics or titles to write about and then you have to write for about 3 minutes nonstop. This one caught my eye, they called it In the Graveyard, but gave no other instructions And this is what I made: In the graveyard So, I'm dead. Certainly hope so, in any case or a lot of people are gonna be pissed that they spent so much on that coffin. And that service. Beautiful, the others told me. Shame I can't really go out in the day. Can't for the life (oh, ha-ha) remember what daylight is. It's only been a few days and now a nice full-blown midday is like one of those dreams you get.The ones that you don't want to wake up from, but then you do and you forget everything that happened in the dream. All you do is remember how much you had enjoyed it and how much you had wanted to stay there just a little bit more. Too bad. Still, the company here's not too bad, as far as company go. There are thousands here, so I'm told. Most of them don't like to be distubed though. No rest for the weary, but plenty for the dead. Oh well. I think I'll go to sleep now. It's probably the best option. Maybe I'll dream another one of those middays, whatever they are... .............. I think I'll post more of these in the future, whenever I go on storywrite without any new material. Now time to make some tea, and get on with some proper writing. These things work well for warm up. Ciao