One Good Decision

When I was twenty-nine, I died. It didn’t come as a surprise to me, as so many deaths are wont to do. This death came with advance, and it was I who invited it. It came as I hung from the banister over my hallway, calmly, my eyes closed. It came because I wanted it to.

And when I opened my eyes again, I felt neither regret nor remorse. For once I knew I had actually the made right decision. After years of bad choices and guilt, this was actually right.

It was the day after my last day at work. I had picked it specifically so that people wouldn’t find out. Some would probably feel bad about it. The vast majority had no way of communicating with me after, and some had taken precautions to ensure they wouldn’t. This way, most people there would never even find out.

I was dead, but still here. A spirit. I wandered, and looked at the world through eyes of someone who isn’t really there anymore. I noticed that if you don’t answer your messages, people assume you’ve just ghosted them. The resolution of an unfinished game you used to play doesn’t matter. There are other, better stories to be experienced. Only one person ever read the start of the novel you were writing, and they had stopped caring about the ending before today.

It’s amazing how many smiles you can see when you’re not actually there. In my death, lovers I had been holding back in life flourished. A woman I loved never seemed happier. Friends lived and loved far more than I had ever witnessed.

Not a lot changes when you die, I noticed. Grief is what happens when you miss somebody’s presence. There is no word for when you don’t. Worth is measured by what an item brings, and I have never seen worth measured by what has been taken away. For once, I could see my worth.

This would be a good memory. It’s nice to have a good memory.


Freewrite: Don't Think Twice

“I’m sorry,” I find myself saying. I’ve said it a lot, lately. I guess there’s a lot of work, but it isn’t pretty. After each one, I tell myself that I won’t do it again, and before I always ask myself how I got sucked back into the whole damn mess. But during it, I only ever think of one phrase: don’t think twice. It’s from a song, an old one.

The mantra might be twisted now, and the rest of the song eludes me, dissipating from my mind like cigarette smoke in this cold breeze. But those words ring true to me, right now.

It’s important not to overthink it. Do so at your own peril. Look them in the eyes too long and you can’t do it, no matter how many times you have in the past.

Don’t think twice.

I don’t. There’s a single, agonising blast and it’s all over.


A lot of people in my profession like to do the job from afar, where they don’t run the risk of the being affected by it. Morality has a restraining order on these people, it seems. It’s fair enough, I suppose, and I can see why they would. But for me, I need to see I it and face my consequences head on. I need to see the body slump, and life drain from their eyes. The moment where their once unshaken reality collapses around them keeps me grounded, reminds me of the awfulness of it.

I can already hear the sirens and see the nearby buildings drowned in sporadic flashes of blue and red. It’s time to go.

How did I ever find myself back here? After the last time, when I said I would stop.

They pull me back in. That’s the line from the Godfather III, right? They. With their silver tongues, and heavy wallets. Each time, I am Orpheus going to Hades. When I think I am out, I cannot help but turn back around.  



And now, it’s you.

You look at me, and you know what’s coming. After all, you’ve been in the game longer than I have, and we’ve played a few rounds together ourselves. You understand, but despite your demeanor, I can see the pain in your eyes. You’ve always masked your expressions well, but I can still read your eyes.

The calm that permeates the room is maddening.

It’s like you knew it was always going to happen. I can’t help but wonder what happened: what sin did you commit for this? Why you? I suppose it’s not my job to dig into reasoning. It’s my job to point, shoot and collect handsomely, right?

I don’t know if I can do the job. I don’t want to.

But, here we are. I am truly sorry, and this I express to you. But really, what difference does it make?

You say something silently: you ask me to wait, just one moment, and leave for a moment or two.

And then, like a chorus here to send you off, the room fills with music. I know the song, and I hear the rest of the phrase for the first time in years. I hear a split second before I pull my finger back, and take the shot.

Don’t think twice, it’s alright.





We Shall be Very Sorry

Based on the works of Saki


We shall be very sorry
When we put the dog on ice
But we all know it’s tastiest
Upon a bed of rice

We shall be very sorry
Once we teach the cat to speak
With the creature’s silence broken
What dread secrets could it leak?


We shall be very sorry
When we send them out to roam
But then they’d never meet those
Who call the woods their home

We shall be very sorry
Once the East Wing is aflame
But otherwise dear Lucien’s
Sacrifice would be in vain


We shall be very sorry
When the boy is snatched away
By that lonely creature in the woods
Who preys on those who pray


We shall be very sorry
When we teach the girls the truth
Of the Sabine women and their fate
That robbed them of their youth

We shall be very sorry
Once their toys we confiscate
When the boys start acting out
We’ll know we have begun too late


We shall be very sorry
Once everything’s begun
But we cannot be sorry
Until the deeds are done


Trying out some stylised writing, using repetition and a reductive sentence structure. Bit of freewriting fun:



I was 32 when she left with half of what I’d spent my life acquiring. The car, furniture, some knick knacks, a tonne of money. I did not know who I was angry with, or even if I was angry at all.  A friend told me not to worry about all the lost stuff. I told him that I was not.

In fact, the more I thought about what I had lost, and what I had left, the more I decided I had no real interest in keeping any of it. I had spent far too much effort and time trying to keep all of it, and to see it all vanish like it did made me think.

I took a moment to ponder, and decided to activate my save point.

Almost fifteen years had passed since I had last used it. It was a lot of progress, I suppose, but I had clearly taken a path that led nowhere. I held my breath, and loaded my last saved moment.


I looked at the heavily-vandalised wooden desk and was hit with a wave of nostalgia. On the desk were two pieces of paper: applications for two different universities. I remembered, now. This was moments before I had chosen which university to go to. I had saved, just in case my choice had been terrible. Turns out it hadn’t. I’d had so much fun I had completely forgotten about the save point, but every time I made a tough decision, I couldn’t bring myself to save. Just in case I still wanted to try the other university.

I hesitated. Eventually, I went with the same option. After all, it was my marriage that had fallen apart, that was it.

It’s a strange experience, reliving moments from half a lifetime ago. At first I had been terrified to do anything. What if the smallest action changed the friendships I had made? I stuck to the story I knew.

She left me when I was 32.

No. Somehow, fifteen years had passed again. Slowly, life unfolded itself, and I met a girl who would later become my wife. She seemed different then, and even with my extra years of experience, I was fooled into meeting with her. We got along, and when I was 32, she left me.


I chose the second university. The education was good, I think. It’s hard to tell: I’ve learnt all of this before, twice. And spent a decade practising it. The education was good, but the people were not. They felt wrong, off. I managed the first year, thrilled at the prospect of a completely fresh chance, to become somebody I never thought I would. I suffered in the last two years. It was wrong. I knew it, but struggled through. You never knew. I thought, strangely, of Andy Dufrense. I crawled through shit, but it never ended. Four years later, I told myself it wasn’t right. The people hadn’t been right. The jobs hadn’t been right.


I chose the first university again. But I stayed away from everyone. After all, I had only met her through my friends. Without them, my path could be clear. I found new people, those I had ignored the first time round.

The education wad good, but the people were not. I knew why I had gravitated towards the first group in the first place. They did not relax or enjoy themselves the way my friends did. They were aggressive, and loud. But were these people worse? Was I too adjusted to my first choice?

I struggled through. Four years later, I admitted to myself that it wasn’t right. The people led to jobs, and neither had been right.


She left me when I was 32.

I had tried again, a similar path to my first attempt, to see how it felt. It was shallow, and strange. Everything was new to these people, but it was old, rehashed. My body was young, yet my bones ached with an age they did not have. Age was entirely in the mind, and mine felt ancient.

I looked at my save point, and tried not to cry when I thought about going back fifteen years. To experience what I had already experienced was not enough of a pain; I had to act like it was my first time each time. Every time made it worse: now, the people who had felt right, no longer did.


I considered the second university again. My pen hovered over the application forms. I considered throwing them both out, and finding somewhere else. There were a million possibilities.

I tried again, a similar path to my previous attempts. I was cold to her, I kept her at a distance. My friends remained so. Perhaps this worked. I could not tell you. I broke my spine in a road accident unrelated.


This happened every time I chose that path. No matter what happened, I found myself at that same intersection. If I chose to be somewhere else, the world moved on without me. Suddenly, the people weren’t right. What happened?

I tried again.


Not right.

She left me when I was 32.


I chose the first university. I did not know how to do so otherwise. To choose anything else would be unthinkable. It would be a crime against everything I knew and understood. I went to the first day, some months later. I paused.

For the first time in what was an eternity, I overwrote it. There were no other choices. This was it. I overwrote.

I overwrote on the second day.

And the third.

On the fourth, I tried to ask a girl out. She laughed. I went back to the third.

On the fifty-eighth, I missed a deadline. I had been busy with another deadline. This affected my overall score. It had always annoyed me. I went back to the fifty-seventh.

On the hundred-and-ninety-ninth, I asked her out. I can’t even remember why. I knew she would leave me when I was 32. I went back to the hundred-and-ninety-eighth. I learnt, and asked myself questions.


On the hundred-and-ninety-eighth, I was hostile. She cried. On the hundred-and-ninety-ninth, I woke up next to her. I did not ask myself why.

She left me when I was 32.


I overwrote it. I can’t remember why.


On the three-hundred-and-forty-second, I asked her out. I can’t remember why.


I relived the same minute, seven hundred times. Sometimes I cannot make choices. I stopped after the seven-hundred-and-fifth attempt. I overwrote it.


On the four thousandth day, I hesitated. It had been thirty thousand days. More. I did not want to go back. But I did not want to move forward.  

The people were right, the jobs were right. She said yes.

She left me when I was 32. I overwrote.



A Guide to Surviving the Worst of April Fools’



You’re not entirely sure what wakes you up first: the sunlight hitting your eyes or the strange tension your body involuntarily gets moments before your alarm clock goes off. It’s odd; you don’t know, and have resigned yourself to never knowing, how your brain can sense it, but nevertheless it manages to get you just seconds before you’re assaulted with that hideous sound you’ve set that was designed for the sole purpose of shocking you out of sleep. 

The day seems normal enough, but something gnashing and gnawing away at your skull tells you it’s about to get super annoying super quickly. And it’s not wrong.

The first sign that something is amiss is the news. You click on an article that seems interesting enough: “Cats Arrested as Co-Conspirators in Kew Gardens Heist”. That whacky legal system! You click on the link, in a half-sleepy haze, unaware that you’ve just been redirected. It’s a splash screen, and on it written in massive, three dimensional letters so bold it’s as if the entire internet is screaming at you: April Fools! Way to get invested in current affairs, asshole!

Oh, right. It’s the calendrical equivalent of a douchebro with too much time on his hands. You close your computer. It’s too early for this shit. You make yourself a coffee, but stop before you pour the sugar in. Usually your roommates don’t play along with this sort of nonsense – they hardly put the effort into making any pancakes on Shrove Tuesday – but this could be the one time when they do. You wouldn’t put it past them. You gingerly dip your finger in and assert that, actually, yeah, it was just sugar.

But what about the milk? And the coffee? Something in this house has to be poisoned. You know it. Somebody has, for the sake of a prank, poisoned something you’re about to eat. Maybe even everything. You freeze, mug at the tip of your lips, tantalisingly close to your mouth. Eyes scan the room, looking for potential hidden cameras. This is the sort of shit that would make millions on YouTube. But you stop yourself. You’re getting paranoid at nothing. A completely arbitrary date in the calendar has turned you into a soviet spy after realising he’s given away the coin with all the codes hidden inside as a tip.

There’s no time for this. You’re going to be late for work. You dash out of the house, leaving the poisoned apple that is coffee on the side to congeal. Take that, you think smugly to yourself. Worst YouTube video ever. It’s colder outside than you had hoped. You cross your arms in an attempt to stay warm, and wish you had a cup of coffee right about now. Where the hell is the bus? It’s been forever. Maybe they’ve removed all buses as part of an April Fools’ Day thing. No one gets to work today!

No. Stop it. Nobody cares about this holiday as much as you right now. See? Here comes the bus now. Idiot.

As you travel, staring blankly at the weird, greasy back-of-head in front of you, you try to remember if April Fools’ was ever a good day. You like to think so. Maybe there was a time before every website with a bored intern had a crack at fooling us with subtle and totally real headlines such as Google Introduces New Patch to Wane Users Off, and Zach Braff is dead. No, honestly, this time it’s for real! But there probably wasn’t.

The rest of the news sites are info pieces on the history of the holiday. Like they do every year, and every time anything happens in the world. The Clocks Go Back This Weekend, Here’s the Entire History of Why We Do This. If no one could remember your article from last year, chances are nobody actually cares.

Either way, you’re not checking out any more articles until tomorrow. There’s tonnes of work to do and you’ve been putting it off for long enough. You sit at your desk … and stop. You feel something beneath you, on the chair. It’s cold, and possibly sticky. Dammit! Someone’s stuck glue to the seat and you’ve fallen for it. Way to go, numbnuts. You wriggle around in your chair, trying to free yourself, wheeling around the carpeted area like Stephen Hawking on the fritz … only to find there was nothing there at all. You’re losing it. Easy, fella.

You take your mind off the hundred potential pranksters in the room and grab the phone. You have to make a tonne of calls and … hang on. Is that black paint on the receiver? A-ha! You knew it! Take a tissue and wipe it clean. Or try to. Nothing’s coming off. Why is the paint not coming off it? Oh, right. That’s ink from when your pen leaked the other week. You mentally slap yourself alert. Stop this.

You need to get some files from your locker, but those can wait until tomorrow. You don’t want to risk opening it and looking like the biggest of all the April Fools. Who knows, maybe someone’s put a custard pie on a spring inside, and you need to be at a Skype conference in an hour.  Ain’t gonna happen. You eye up your co-workers, knowing that one of them has been sharing fake articles on Facebook all day and is giggling every time someone takes it seriously. That’s the one you have to watch out for.

Somehow, the day winds to a close. No one’s even mentioned it’s April Fools’ Day. You haven’t been pranked. But who knows, it could all come crashing down in these last ten minutes. Isn’t this where all the top pranking happens? You’re sure you read that somewhere before. OK, all you have to do is pack quickly and get out before everyone. You see the person … what’s his name again? The guy who sits opposite … whatever his name, you see him begin to pack his stuff. Probably leaving early to plant some big, end-of-day prank that’ll get everyone. But not you. You race him, and beat him to the finish. Bag’s on, jacket’s slung haphazardly over one shoulder you barge past him, knocking him sideways. You’re out the door. He sounds annoyed, and tells you you’ve been acting weird and jerky all day. You give him a look that says, “Yeah, I know what you’re thinking buddy”, and you leave. See ya Monday, suckers!

Everyone else begins to leave. You’re already on your way home, and you’ve nailed it. No one caught you out this year. Joke’s on them.

Metro Polis



On the streets, a cab swerves out of the way of a cyclist. He screams an obscenity at him, lets rip the horn, and briefly, Ares feels strength. Later, when the sun has dipped, there will be a stronger sensation, when people are inebriated and angry. Sometimes these people, now taken by Ares’ own son, cry out to Athena Polias, but they go unheard. Aries sees them, fuels them, while nearby his sister Aphrodite takes the others; the lovers, the soon-to-be regretters.

In the day, the lost wander and Minos guides them deeper into a labyrinth they may never escape. They wander into a world they are unprepared for, or a part of town they will never find their way out of. The streets twist and turn, and each road presents opportunities in their life they have never seen before, and will never again. They can take the path, or they can turn back – provided they have made the appropriate preparations first. Sometimes he is foiled by Athena, who provides them with the knowledge and the courage they need, but often not. She is busy; there are a lot of lost out there, and he has guided every single one of them.

Below these streets, watching the people enter and exit his domain with the sort of ease Orpheus would only dream of, Hades waits. He allows them access here: they pay more than one obol for the privilege. His patience is incredible, but he watches each soul through the grainy television screens of the ever-staring Argus with satisfaction. They traverse his plains now, and rush through his tunnels, but they’ll soon be here forever. Charon, in one of his hundred current forms, transports them, hurtling them through a life they have not paid attention to. No one pays him heed.

Apollo brings the sun, and Dionysus joins in the frivolities along the river. Here, when Apollo rides his cart across the sky in full, it is a cause for celebration, although he cannot quite understand it. The streets are lit still, even when he rides in the evening. He joins Dionysus later and they both watch the many lights reflecting in the surface of Poseidon’s domain, and asks his brother why they sleep not. Dionysus replies mournfully at first, but remembers his tributes and is cheered up. Apollo is not, and plans for grey skies the following day.

Hera watches over the entire city, perched on high from her tower. Every hour she calls out, four times, to assert her dominion and to remind the world that she can sing. Recently, though, she has been overshadowed, by taller, higher watchers. Empty towers void of gods, of higher beings. They mean nothing, occupied only by the eyes of Argus, but still, she is intimidated. Feeling stripped of a glamour once abundant, Hera is furious, and she cries out again.

In the baths, Zeus wonders why only men are stopping by. He enjoys the company, but the showers here feel less satisfying than the ones he poured on Danaë. Perhaps, he thinks, he is being spoiled. There is plenty of fun to be had in this world, now he feels less the need to rule. He picks up a device he never thought he would hold, and swipes right. 


How to Have Fun on New Year's Eve if You're Too Tired to Do Anything

The best thing about the winter months is that it gets dark early. This means that the night can begin at four in the afternoon. If you had been working, it would have meant that the night would have started at six, or seven, or even eight in the afternoon. But then again you’d be even more tired than you already are. And you promised. You already failed to do anything on your birthday, or Halloween, and you said you’d go but never did to the Christmas bash. If you miss this one, people will think you’re avoiding them.


You are, but you don’t want them to know that.


Christina has good parties. And she’s been asking you to come out for months. There’s no theme: a bonus. It’s north of the river, in a part of town with terrible connections home: a hindrance. If you’re out, you can’t leave before midnight; you’d be better off staying in if you’re doing that at this time of the year.


You’ve not done anything, but still feeling tired. Still recovering from a winter illness someone else gave you, or maybe you’re still digesting from Christmas dinner. Either way, mix it in with this arctic-level sun disappearance and it’s already beginning to feel like midnight.


It’s helpful to remember never to go to any parties that start at 4PM. These will inevitably devolve into horrorshows long before it’s advisable to. Christina’s part starts at 7. This gives you ample time to choose something to wear, leave the house, travel over a river you know is there to divide the likes of you with vastly more outgoing, happy and altogether better balanced Christinas of the world, and stumble your way into finding her place all the while being fashionably late.


The sun has been down almost four hours by the time you arrive, and you can feel the strain on your eyes as you try to convince yourself that this was a good idea. Dammit, it’s new year’s, and you’re going to make yourself enjoy it even if it kills you.


You stop at the front door and make sure you have everything before you knock on the door: keys, phone, wallet, bottle of wine to leave on the table while you drink other people’s drinks. Check. You briefly consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you that the necessary time is up, but even you’re not that neurotic. That’s a level of neuroses even Woody Allen wouldn’t touch. Besides, now that you’re out and about, you want to at least try to have some fun. You’ve spent too much time not going out that it seems like a daunting monster of a task that won’t be enjoyable. You quickly remember that you’re an idiot who does not go out nearly enough.  


Good job you’re fashionably late. There are already people here, which means you can at least try to start a conversation and not just stand in the corner with your phone in your hand. Arriving too early is a great way to look awkwardly at people still fixing decorations. Better hope the corner shop is far away, you’re going to want to get out as soon as you can and stay gone for some time. Thankfully this is not the case here. You pour yourself a glass of your own wine and drink it, wishing you’d spent more time choosing one out.


Hey, these people are actually alright. Christina knows how to invite good people.


How is it not even midnight yet? It feels like it’s been night for days now. Months. No wonder people used to sacrifice lambs in the winter months in order to make the sun come up. You get the impression for a split second that this a sort of purgatory. Not nearly fun enough to be heaven, and not quite as terrible as Hell should be, but a sort of middle ground that stretches out from now until the end of time. Is this your wine? Tastes better this time around. Maybe there is something to this party business. Other people’s fun seems to be infecting you, on top of other people’s stomach flus (but you won’t know about that until the following morning). You’re starting to have fun.


The alcohol does not interact well with your general lethargy though, but you fight it. You’re glad you came out, and Christina does throw a good party. Where is she? Now seems like as good a time as any to talk to her, and tell her how great it is.


She’s by the sofas, talking to people you don’t know. If it had been Adrian or Boz or Greg, you could have interrupted. But these people? You swear they’re not even people, more the three-headed God of Not Being Able to Escape A Party Conversation. You turn around: the group you’ve been talking to has vanished into the sea of people. Great. Well, at least she’s by the couch. Just sit down and wait until she’s free.


How long until the clock strikes 0? This sofa is comfortable.


The party is still going at six in the morning, not that you’ve seen the last six and a quarter hours. You ask Christina, who appears to be free now, what happened. She says you fell asleep before the new year, but no one wanted to wake you. You thank her for a great party, and begin the weird, grey-lit walk home. You don’t feel tired anymore.


Well, people wanted you to go out more this year. Six hours in to the new year and you’re already out and about. And you thought that New Year New You stuff was crap.


The End of Time

It's good to keep busy. So busy in fact that look at the state of this blog. It's barely had anything happen to it in months. Shocking.

As of whenever my registration with 123-reg cancels, will no longer send you to this site, but to my newly created, which is essentially the same website, but it looks less terrible. It's been on my mind for ages now, to rebrand and change how everything looks. The blog design I don't think brings a lot of hope to potential clients, but a cleaner, easier-to-use site with simple navigation could do the trick. Chances are what you see when you click that link now will be somewhat different in the future. Probably be doing loads of tweaks until I give up and admit it was fine the first time around.

Eventually I'll remove the pages here, bit by bit, until it's just the original blog again. There is a blog on the new site, but I don't like the feel of it, so chances are every post will just be published on this site and the new one, until I can find a way to integrate the two (never. I'm really bad at web design).

Lately I've been animating again, and it's one of my toughest jobs in a while. The idea is simple, and to some extent the execution is too, but considering how little time I have to do all of this - weekends and whatever spare time I have that doesn't involve playing Arkham Knight - it's a tiny bit stressful. But here's the guy I'm animating juggling:










Totally worth it.

Remember this short story thing I wrote? No? Yeah, me neither. Well anyway I'm adapting that into a long, long story. A novel in fact. It was meant to be a script but then I figured it's easier to adapt a novel to screen than a film to book, well, not shitty books anyway. And to prove that this isn't a thing I'm starting only to ditch it, I'm around halfway through the first draft, with documents of plot details, character bios, timelines and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown.

PRO TIP: do a chapter by chapter breakdown for your whole story before you start. Without feeling trapped - you can change the plot as you move forward if you want - you will always have something to refer to on days when you're just not feeling the inspiration to write. I'd have given up on this thing months ago if I didn't have that.

It's almost Christmas, but I don't have anything Christmassy to show, like I do every year. So here's the e-card I made for a friend a couple of years back.

Merry Christmas, y'all


The Organisers Have Reached Their Goal


For £10, you would get biannual updates, for the first ten years. (5,000 takers)
            There were already two generic cards written, for the first day, and Christmas. Then the plans were to send one every year at those times, probably with equally generic messages. It didn’t matter; for that price, people didn’t care that much.
            For £25, you also had access to photos and vlogs. (0 takers)
            It was nothing exciting. No one picked this option. Endless videos and countless pictures of uninteresting people talking or going to the beach. No one was interested in them; it was the product they cared about.
For £50, you could suggest a name to be put in the hat. (1,000 takers)
On the day, a name would be picked from the hat, and that would be its legal name. There were no limits: you could pick any name you want: your own, or a specific name for either boys or girls. Popular, because it had a higher chance of being picked, were the gender neutral names; Jamie, Leslie, Fuckface. There were petitions across the globe to have everyone pick a specific name, but the amount of contributors allowed was suddenly limited.
For £100, you would also get a t-shirt and other branded gear. (43 takers)
There was also a mug (or pint glass, if you preferred), all of which had printed on them its face (when they knew what it looked like, of course) with one of the catchphrases they would try to teach it as its first words. Takers were allowed to suggest catchphrases, but none have been decided on so far.
For £500, you can Skype with the organisers. (1 taker)
The conversation was to be recorded and put out as a vlog for the other takers, but the conversation was deemed too one-sided and unbroadcastable. The video was leaked, and became available to all takers of £25 or over.
For £1,000, you had access to the nursery feeds (2,000 takers)
The site went down briefly on the day, people crowding online to view the feeds. There had been ten cameras installed altogether in the nursery, most were ceiling level, but others were on the ground, with three hovering over the crib, and one over the changing table.
For £2,000, you had sole intellectual property rights on it. (12 takers)
During three months, photos, quotes and videos were yours for private or commercial reasons. Once the story hit the news, takers had to again be limited. The media will be saturated enough with this for a long time yet.
For £5,000, you could meet it one day, in the next few years (2 takers)
For fifteen minutes on a day – in the near future – you could meet with what has made the news lately. Depending on availability, and transport. Maybe also, you could have your picture taken with him.
For £10,000, you could be present for the day. (5,000 takers)
Transport, food and accommodation not provided. A crowd still came, and the venue had to be changed from a ward to an auditorium. Good seats came first come, first served, but there was a screen for those too far in the back. You could be forgiven for thinking something exciting was happening, the crowds there were.
For £100,000, you could keep him for the night. (100 takers)
And for two, you could also keep the pictures.


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.


The World in Review


Do you ever get the impression you're juggling too many projects at once? Maybe you're the kind of person with a focused mind that knows that the only way to get to Point B from Point A is to not randomly go off on a side-road on the search for Point C.

Yet this seems to be happening to me, like, all the time. Which is why, despite every natural instinct in my body, I'm going ahead with this short film I'm writing, despite something in my brain egging me to ditch it and write a short-form web-sitcom. Because if there's one thing I haven't tried and abandoned yet, it's web sitcoms. I'm also plowing ahead with the webcomic, slowly but surely. I kind of blame the vlogbrothers, especially Hank Green, for this. There's something about their amazingly varied careers and mix of projects - vlogbrothers, Crash Course, SciShow, 2D Glasses, VidCon, that made me want to do everything. I wonder if envy is a good motivator.

But, here, on the horizon, a new project appears! It's called The Asian Cinema Critic, and it's essentially just a review site for films from East Asia. There's not a whole load of content on there yet but I do want it to be a hub for all kinds of films from the region. It sprang up when I was looking for a review of Police Story 2013 and found only one or two. Now that one of my favourite asian cinema review sites, Snowblood Apple, is down (and has been for some time), I thought I'd jump on it. It's a bit barebones at the moment, but I'm hoping in the future to include essays and editorials, if it gets big. Right now, it's just a place for me to put down my thoughts on films as I watch them. It's fun and it's helping keep me writing and analytical with film - two things that I need to keep up to date with.

Oh, that and drawing. Tried my hand at a 100 Days of Drawing thing, but bailed out at around thirty. Not that I couldn't, just more that I was having the hardest time actually finding something to draw, and then drawing it to the point where I liked it enough to upload. Didn't have the highest standards by any means, but a lot of them were awful and never made it online. A few can be found below. Most were either Final Fantasy or Discworld themed.

They say that talking about your goals is the worst thing you can do to achieve them. Only now I've just written a bunch of words about it, and frankly, I don't want to delete them all and write a whole new blog entry. That sounds difficult.

Look Around You


Felt in the mood for a quick writing exercise - look at the people around me at work and type up quick descriptions of them. I've changed the names (like they'll ever read this but whatever). 

Might do some more tomorrow. 


I looked around the room at the rows of silent people typing away, and observed them.

Closest to me was Troy, a data analyst who spent the better part of his day opening and closing windows on his computer in such a hurry it looked as if he was perpetually searching for something among the countless excel spreadsheets that cluttered his computer. He always had a notebook open on his desk, on which he would scribble graphs and equations which I could never understand. It was hard not to assume his mind worked more like some sort of machine, but if it did, it was something far more along the lines of Rube Goldberg. His speech was stuttered and fragmented at the best of times; it was as if he could not quite choose which sentence to say first, and usually ended up saying all of them at once. I quite enjoyed talking to him. Beneath the innumerable strings of thought I always imagined rained down Matrix-style in his mind was a wry sense of humour, although one not quite apparent at first. His angular face and flurry of curled hair reminded me of something between Benedict Cumberbatch and Woody Allen, and gave him something of a sombre expression.

Next to him were the two customer support officers – Raghad and Ashan – who would take staggered lunches so someone was always by the phones. Their routines were frequently in this vein and in all my time here I never saw a moment when one of them wasn’t at the desk. Raghad was tiny – a short woman with a thin frame who frequently wore large scarves, possibly as a way to not entirely disappear from three dimensions. She always sat on her chair with her legs tucked under her and again, I could never help but wonder if that for height reasons. She was kind and funny and seemed to never run out of favours to ask me, although all this did was hide a ferocious side that she frequently let out online, usually in the forms of social justice articles written for various magazines – a fact that surprised me when I first discovered this. What Raghad was Ashan was not. Well, actually, he was as friendly as his co-worker but while her tiny frame contained an energetic streak, he moved slowly and deliberately with the sort of precision of someone who’s done the same actions for quite some time and had no interest in changing anytime soon. His social life was a mystery, at least to me, but his choice of cult film t-shirts gave a strong clue as to what he did. 


INT. Bedroom, evening.


           The scene lingers for a few moments on the quiet, darkened room of BASIL BARADARAN. The main source of light is a tall, precariously bent desk lamp, the sort that makes you think briefly of the Pixar logo. It emits a warm glow to the otherwise black room.

          Hunched over the desk, silhouetted against the orange glow in front of him, Basil sits at the desk. He thinks about what to write. He types a few words, considers them, and then deletes them. A minor stroke of inspiration hits, and his face lights up. Silently, he cracks his knuckles, hurriedly types several lines on his keyboard and, with the sort of grunt that is more associated with manual work and heavy lifting and most certainly not sitting idly at a computer and flailing your hands across a keyboard, leans back to appreciate the work he has just finished.

That'll do.



Lately I've been getting quite into screenwriting. Well, I say lately, I mean, like, forever. But I mean as in lately I've written a fair few - most importantly, one Simpsons spec script which was part of the requirements for applying to the Nickelodeon Writing Program, which I am incredibly psyched for. I've no idea how many people they're thinking of taking on, but with any luck my script is good enough to make it. For those curious, I was very keen on trying to bring back some of that everyday-family struggle that the Simpsons used to do so well (and seeing I wrote a whole article on it not too long ago, it seemed like a logical choice). The episode was about online privacy and how it affected the citizens of Springfield when a new phone begins sharing content to the wrong contacts. Meanwhile Bart gets trolled by someone intent on ruining the El Barto name. I feel like it could have done with some polishing but the deadline loomed way too quickly, and before I knew it it was the last day to get it finished. 

Still, it was pretty good I think. If I don't get in I might just post it here for the laffs and/or giggles. And then write something better for the following year. Shame it takes so long to know if you got in or not - August is when the semifinalists are announced and September when the winners are.

In the meantime I'll keep working on other projects. Editing a short story script from Chipped Productions currently, the animation ident I worked on just last week. This reminds me - with all the new work I've done lately, I think I should change my site to reflect the work I've done, and also to showcase it. the showreel on there is still from 2 years ago and while it certainly needs updating I've worked on stills, screenplays and other things on top of animation, none of which I can put into a showreel. When mine and Wilson's comic comes together, that'll have to be included too.

Essentially it's gone from a writing blog, to an animation site and now I'm thinking of making a comfortable inbetween. 

Going to cut this short, this entry, mainly because my mind has gone blank and mainly because there's a new episode of Better Call Saul and I can't wait.


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.


The bubble


I wrote this as part of a larger narrative but I think it works well as a single piece:

He called it a bubble, but according to the Boy, it was more like a vast expanse; they rested on a cliff so high they could look down and watch the clouds roll and crash like the waves beneath them. And that was it. Behind was the stretch of land they were sitting on, but it went on forever, like there was no horizon.
                The Boy looked up, in the direction of the Man.
                “Where are you, then?”
                The Man looked down at him and the far-off gaze he had was replaced with the familiarity of seeing an old friend.
                “Hong Kong.”
                The Boy’s eyes lit up.
                “Yeah,” said the Man, before the boy could say anything. “It’s as great as you thought it would be.”
                The Man shook his head, laughing. “No, of course not. My place is small, but it’s right in the heart of the city. It’s so easy to get to work."
                “That’s great,” said the Boy, unconvincingly. “What do you do?”
                “Oh … nothing,” said the Man, dismissively. There were rules in his job. Non-disclosures had been agreed upon. But then remembered who he was talking to, and where they were.
                “The company is private,” he replied, cryptically. “I work in technologies there, with a team. We built this place. We’re looking for people who have misused it.”
                The Boy considered this for a while.
                “Is that why you came to see me?”
                The Man nodded.
                The Boy opened his mouth to ask a question, but the Man knew exactly what he was about to ask.
                “It was my fault. I let them in. See, I thought I could trust them. They were friends.”
                The Boy rolled his eyes. “You should pick your friends better.”
                “So should you.”
                There was silence for a while, and there was a thick air of awkwardness as both of them were hesitant to think of what to say next. The Man had a lot to say. Somehow his answers didn’t seem to placate the Boy.
                “Is your wife beautiful?”
                “I’m not married.”
                “Your girlfriend, then.”
                “I don’t have one. No time.”
                They both laughed at this moment of irony, and the infinite expanse in front of them seemed to laugh too.
                “Do you want to know what I want to be when I grow up?” said the Boy, suddenly.
                The Man looked back down at him with a smile.
                “I know what you want to be when you grow up.”
                “You think so. You’ve forgotten.”
                The Man looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
                “OK.” The Boy shifted in his seat and turned to face the Man face-on. “You’ve got some of it right. Hong Kong? Check. Physics and Technology? Check. But I want this to help the world, and of course be incredibly famous doing so. Is it empty, all of this?”
                “No. I mean … It’s a work in progress…” began the Man. He was surprised at the Boy’s speech. He did not remember the Boy being like this, but maybe this was not really him. Maybe this was how the bubble worked.
                “That’s not what I see. But I’m just a kid. I don’t know. Can our work not be applied better?” He considered the bubble. He approved of it. “And I want a beautiful wife who supports me, and friends that don’t steal the things I make. When this is over, will I be remembered?”
                The Man was not sure what the Boy had meant by this, and if this was his experience of the Boy’s. Ultimately, it did not matter. Things would change, or they would not. He did not know what would happen when they left the bubble, if he or the Boy would remember any of it. He could feel their time in the bubble ending.
                The Boy stood up and took a deep breath. The golden light warmed his face.
                “I guess what I want to know is, are there any regrets?”
                The Man stood also. The ground beneath him felt very unstable.
                “Well? There always will be. You hope, and you wish for great, grand things. You achieve some of them. You don’t others, or you tell yourself you will, just not right now.”
                “I don’t believe in that,” the Boy said. “But thanks for the advice.”
                The bubble faded. Darkness set in, familiarity was creeping into both the Boy and the Man’s vision.
                The Man ruffled the Boy’s hair.
                “Good luck, kid. Let me know how it turns out.”
                As he disappeared, and the clouds, cliff and golden light faded, the Boy replied. “You’ll know.”


The Unpredictable Nature of Balloons


I'm going back to Cornwall tomorrow for the first time in almost two years, for a few days to see my old mum, who is usually the one who comes here to visit. It might be the sort of peace and quiet I need to get some writing done, or maybe it'll be a pit where creativity goes to die. Who knows. It might even give me some time plan out a webcomic Wilson and I have been writing (for quite some time now). As opposed to our previous similar ideas, most of which were on scales too big for our current level of skill, this is a bit smaller, a story with a smaller scope and fewer characters, but hopefully visually interesting and entertaining enough to get us a decent following (see, it's all part of a larger plan to gain enough credit to be able to effectively pitch our children's animated show when the time is right). With Wilson on board it means I can do a story bigger than the last comic, because I can concentrate on story and he on art. If I don't come back in three days with a dozen or two new pages planned out, I'll be pretty disappointed. 

Either way it'll make for a decent change of pace from London, the hustle and bustle of which I love. But I'm on holiday so I think a change of scenery is needed. And if that doesn't work, maybe my trip back up to Sheffield will be the sort of creative kick in the pants I need. Being back in the city I studied might trick my brain into thinking there are some serious deadlines up ahead. This one I actually am looking forward to. Spending Friday with Lauren, catching up, and Saturday with the first friend I made up there Chris Gray, who's taken it upon himself to show me what's changed (I imagine everything's gone downhill since I left). Should really make a checklist of old haunts to visit. Get the feeling about half of them will have closed for health and safety reasons. That or they became Weatherspoons.

However having all of these plans means I have to finish a project I've been working on the last couple of weeks, which is a project actor Chip Dewey gave me to do. You might remember him as the lead in the short film I wrote six months ago. He wrote and shot a short film and wants it desaturated, with one colour remaining. You know, like the little girl in the red coat from Schindler's List. (in typing this, autocorrect has given me the title for the single worst porn parody, Schindler's Lust). It wasn't as difficult as I'd envisioned (mainly because it wasn't as long as I thought), but when you're filming a blue balloon against a blue sky and want the balloon isolated, it's nopt incredibly easy. There was masking and tracking involved (though I gave up on tracking three frames in), and ended up just masking. Of course due to the random movement of balloons it meant doing every single frame. Sometimes there were two balloons. 

Oh god why is there another balloon?

That said, I had a great time doing this. It's nice to be given a project outside of the usual stuff you like to do. Plus with this being our second collaboration, I'm looking forward to working more with this guy in the future.

But for now, time to enjoy the countryside.