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. 

 

The Organisers Have Reached Their Goal

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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.



            
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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.”
                “Penthouse?”
                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.”









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Haunted

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saw her, in my hallway, clearer than I could see anything else. In the darkness she stood, seemingly absorbed in the shadows, as if been given life by them. Her white skin contrasting against the blacks and blues the night had painted my house, she almost shone, like the moon.  I stood frozen, wondering if she had seen me, but in the deep empty black circles where her eyes were was a glint that seemed locked on to me. I tried not to look away, but I blinked, and suddenly she was stood closer to me, her head now tilted to one side. She was smiling, but it did not look natural, as if her cheeks had been sliced open and sewed back together. Her teeth were stained black and her lips were thin, cracked and appeared to be bleeding. 

I backed away, into the living room, and when I turned around, there she was again, even closer to me, barely a foot away. She was shorter than I was but she dominated the room, her white skin and her tatted clothes glowing ethereally. And yet I could not look away.  I could hear her breathing: crackly, short and heavy. I found I could not stop staring at her. From here I saw blackened veins under her skin, and her mouth was definitely stitched. The vast emptiness where her eyes were still looked no more defined. 

She opened her mouth to speak, and the stitches tore apart. A tired groan escaped, but it sounded almost electronic. She tilted her head again and continued to groan, approaching me. I did not back away, though. She stopped when she was only two or three inches away from me.
   
   “What do you want?” I said. I kept my eyes focused on the tiny glimmers in her eyes. “I’m not afraid of you.” I was not lying.

She groaned louder, and it sounded more tortured than ever, like a piece of machinery breaking under pressure. The sound began to rattle. Rat-a-tata-ta. It became deafening, but I did not flinch. Instead I sat down. She appeared next to me, her gaze never once leaving mine. Her smile was back.

   “I was wrong,” I said. That was true. I had been wrong. I had made some very wrong choices. Choices which seemed right at the time. What I had thought to be simple supply-and-demand had torn a country apart and left countless places in ruin. I had been so very wrong. 

   “I have seen far worse than you. And that is all my fault.” In the villages, where the dead outnumbered the living and the living barely were as such, I had come. There was not much to do to change what had happened from my choices, but I tried. “I saw everyone,” I said, “and I offered everything. It had not been enough, but it was all I could do.”

   Her skin began to bleed, and her white clothes were very quickly turning a deep red. She stared at me and began to scream again and all I could do was watch her. She was close to me than ever.
I could smell the stale air of dirt on her. The sound of her machine screams filled my head. She was all I could see and, not knowing what to do, took her in my arms. She was cold, near frozen. “I’m sorry,” I said. As I held her, her screaming softened, and, at least for that very small moment, stopped. 





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A Man Walks Into a Bar



Hey! Let's forget about that silly make-it-up-as-you-go-along non-noir I was crapping out last month (at least for now) and enjoy this mini narrative. Based on a theme I want to explore about making short stories based on famous joke formats


Here is A Man Walks Into a Bar


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A man walks into a bar. Silence falls as everyone turns to see him. No one recognizes his face: he isn’t a regular in this bar. Probably not even a regular in town. He has a long, black coat, buttoned to the top with a black scarf tucked inside around his neck.
   He looks around with eyes unblinking at the many patrons. They are red-faced, dim-eyed and bushy-eyebrowed and they certainly don’t like the stranger. The barman – a middle-aged man with a fallen face, a permanent scowl and a prominent mole – looks a bit nervous. He runs his hands through his thinning grey hair, as if looking for something to do, but his eyes do not leave the newcomer.
   The bar has never been so quiet and the click click click of the stranger’s heavily-polished leather shoes on the floorboards as he takes a few more steps inside is the only thing to be heard.
   With grace unseen by any of the patrons he approaches the bar. Every pair of eyes inside is fixed on him, but he doesn’t seem disturbed by it. At the back, one man leans close to another and whispers in his ear.
   The stranger speaks. His voice is like a knife on stone.
   “Why the long face?” he asks of the barman. He silently chuckles to himself before ordering a gin and tonic.
   “It’s terribly cold outside, you know. I appreciate the hospitality.” There isn’t a drop of irony in his tone. “You’re not usually this welcoming to outsiders.”
   As the stranger drinks in silence, some of the regular patrons resume conversation, albeit in low voices. The tension is still there, but life returns to the bar.
   The barman is frozen on the spot, though, trying his best not to look at this new customer and doing a very bad job of it. The stranger notices this, and looks at him in the eyes.
   “Do you recognize me?” he asks.
   The barman nods, not entirely of his own free will.
   “Oh yes. The park. You did nothing that day either.” The stranger smiles his long, slow smile.
   “Don’t worry, old sport. I only stopped by for a drink. Thirsty work, all this. By the way, you might want to do something about this.”
   He reaches into his pocket and takes out something red and woolen. It’s an old, dirty tuque. He drops it onto the bar, finishes his drink and stands up.
   Gesturing to the hat the stranger says: “The rest of it is outside your establishment. You will recognize it, no doubt, underneath the snow and the jackets. It has only been a few hours since those much-famed stares of yours last drove someone out. No doubt you do not get many hats like this walking in to your public house, and you will most certainly want to remove it from the premises.”
   He turns and begins for the door, his long, pointed shoes tapping loudly on the floor. The tension in the establishment starts to drop. Stopping abruptly, the man turns to face the regulars.
   “Make sure to wear a jacket when you pick it up and dispose of it,” he says, in his cool, casual voice. “You’ll catch your death of cold out there.”
   Click click click
   A cold wind rushes into the room as the door is opened and, into the snow, the stranger vanishes

I am quick. I am nimble


---




I am quick. I am nimble. My heels are springs.
No flames dance when I move.
Shadows barely flicker
With my red eyes and my clawed hands
You barely notice, you don’t move, when I tear your heart from out your chest.
I dig my claws. I eat no fat. But known to eat some plums
I am a giant slayer
And when you fall I’ll tumble after you
My head is fixed
A fire burns behind my carved smile
And despite my frosty touch
My fingers work fast
I cheat you in our trades
I break crowns and steal the gold you claim
I always beat the Devil
A trickster, some people say I am
But silenced by the ripping sound
Echoing through the streets where they may have seen me leap
I jump out at you when you least expect it
I am green-eyed and green-thumbed
You might not even see my face
Servant to only two
My name is Jack



-----

Persephone's



So I was just at this club, called Penelope's, and it was really something else. I've never really been to any place like it before, and I couldn't really describe it, so here is a short almost non-fiction account of what happened at Penelope's, everything there is basically true, save for one or two tiny details adjusted for effect. We've all known a place like that, that genuinely seems like you've entered the gates of Hell

----




If you go down to Persephone’s, the little barely-seen club attached to the top floor of the cinema, be sure to leave your coat or jacket at home. There isn’t a cloak room and you certainly can’t trust either client or the furniture to leave it anywhere. You really have to keep it on, but the temperature inside is really like no other place. It builds up as you descend the many flights of stairs, and you can’t quite turn around because there are people behind you, all trying to get in. There is quite an exciting build-up, people are very eager to be inside, the walls are painted red and black and the walls as you descend littered with framed drawings you can’t quite identify. The music gets louder with each flight you descend and finally hits you, Guns and Roses, blaring as you enter the main room. The heat is already too much.
   But you decide to take a look around. You’re here, and everyone you know is too and they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Maybe you’re a bit too dressed up for it, now you definitely know the jacket was a bad idea. You begin to notice something strange about the clientele here. Namely that they all look so … different. No one really seems to be interacting with one another. The people you’re with have all split into small pairs almost out of sight. To your left, two elderly women who look like they’re having the time of their lives, to your right a young man who seem to like the beverage in his hand at all. And you find out why when you try the beer. It’s like something they dragged out of the basement when everything else was gone. Problem is it seems the only other thing on offer is alcoholic ginger ale.

You turn to the only friend who seems to be still around, and a woman with brown side braids passes in front of you, in what appears to be a white nightgown from at least a hundred years ago.
   The heat starts to get to you, it’s difficult to breathe. You try to speak, maybe enjoy the music (at this stage it’s become Edwin Starr’s War) but it’s almost impossible. Smoke is filling your eyes, from a table far away in the corner, illuminated by two red glass snooker lights. There is a man watching a snooker game between two very confused-looking men, he is wearing an expensive grey suit and his hair is a slicked back salt-and-pepper do. He isn’t smoking, yet it’s coming from around him, and it’s filling the room.
   The music seems to be growing louder, and everything feels wrong, like you’ve dropped some serious acid. Although that would probably make your experience there a lot better. Maybe the weird white art on those black and red walls would make sense.
   It becomes all too much. You take one last look around the tiny, loud, red club and see everyone thrashing their limbs about in a weird almost ritualistic dance, and some friends even tried to get you to join in, but no one looks like they’re having any fun.
   It’s time to go. You take the few friends you can find: they seem happy to have found someone else who wants to go.
   You climb up the many flights of stairs, the heaviness in your head easing up as you climb. The music grows dim and the air gets colder.
   And suddenly you’re outside again. And you notice just how many people are outside, all looking just as relieved as you. You take some air and feel life seep back into you.
   Maybe you should go back for the people you left behind except when you try to get back inside, the bouncer stops you.
   You’re not allowed back in, he says. We’ve closed, and we’re not letting anyone inside.
   You thank heavens briefly for not having to go back inside, but a little concerned for the others.
   But you shrug the thought away. The night was over before Persephone’s, and you’re just too hungry now.

Short Story: Art is Dead

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Art is dead

At least, that was the expression I was hearing a lot over the last few years. I was an art critic and my friends and family liked to tell me that art, in fact, was dead and had been for years. Sometimes I was ready to agree with them; I spent so much time in galleries, looking at the new exhibitions – the splattered messes, bland colours, repetitive photographs and overused geometry that people considered “feeling”, knowing full-well that most of the feeling expressed was probably furstation at not having any emotions or messages actually worth painting. Sure, occasionally there would be the one guy or girl with a proper message, something they really wanted to get out there, with the proper technique to express themselves in a real way.

Those were the good days; I’d go in to the magazine I worked at with an article I had actually enjoyed writing. But for the most part it was the same reviews, the same critiques and observations for the same dull, meaningless pieces of work. I was beginning to doubt the point of both their and my work, and complete apathy towards visiting galleries, let alone writing.

That is until the day I met Art Mills.

I had not seen any of his work in public collections or galleries. His studio was never open but he was making quite a name for himself in private, niche (and, I must add, wealthy) circles. His name was a mystery and I wanted my readers to share in the curiosity I had for him and experience the work which these private collectors refused to show the world.

After some time, I managed to secure an interview with him, in his own studio. It was difficult to find any means of contacting him, but after I did I was surprised to hear he was more than pleased to oblige me, as if he was keener to get his work out in the public eye than I had originally thought.

That evening, I travelled to his small Brooklyn studio following the instructions he had given me, and had brought along my usual gear – a camera, notebook and tape recorder. The interview was scheduled for five o’clock in the evening and the sun had almost completely set. The November air made me shiver. The building he had instructed me to go to certainly looked like a modern art studio; it was a single storey, built from concrete and had large, darkened windows all alongside the wall. I wondered if he owned the whole thing. It looked overly large. Maybe he worked with some other people. I considered that briefly and thought how interesting it would be to do multiple stories on the people who worked inside the studio.

A minute had passed, I noticed. I was about to knock again, when the door opened in one wide motion. For some seconds, I could not see the man standing in the darkened corridor; it had simply seemed like the door had magically opened by itself. He gestured me in.

“Sorry about the lighting situation in here,” he said. His voice was smooth, but trembled slightly.

We walked down the dark, lengthy corridor which I noticed had no doors on either wall. I thought back to the front of the building, to all the blacked-out windows there were. There had to be rooms beyond the walls of the hallway. I guess the building wasn’t entirely his. I noticed a small door at the end, paint peeling off and slightly ajar, with a faint grey light coming from it.

“This is where I do all of my work,” he said, as we made our way through the door. We had entered into a sort of courtyard. The part of the building that was his was almost entirely outside. He had a large spotlight in a corner, which emitted an annoying white light. I looked around – there was a small building, not much bigger than a tool shed, at the far end of the yard. It must be where he kept all his things or went inside when it rained. There were various items scattered all around – large and in a shape which suggested they were machines, or made from scrap metal – but I couldn’t tell, as everything was covered by large white sheets. It was like nothing I had ever seen in the business. There was a small wooden table and a stool tucked away in a corner with some books and large sheets of paper strewn around, with brushes and pencils in a plastic holder. Asking his permission to take photos (which he accepted), I took out my tape recorder and began to record.

“So, um, Mr Mills,” I said, thinking now would be a good time to start talking. “You’re really popular among small private collectors. What sort of work do you do?”

“I try to make art,” he said, taking his seat at the stool while I looked around the open area, taking photographs.

“What do you mean exactly by ‘art’?”

“Whatever people are defining it by, you could say. Whatever really describes art for the time. I try to keep up with the trends, to adapt to changing circumstances. What would you say art is?”

“I don’t think I could say,” I replied, truthfully. I touched one of the white sheets but Mills told me not to lift them. I obeyed.

“Art is ever-changing,” he said, playing around with a pencil. “And what I do is exactly that.”

“So is that what makes you so popular amongst the small art-dealing communities, would you say? What would you attribute your popularity to?”

“I’d say you’re right. I do what people want, I guess.”

I had already written the first part of the article in my mind. This was all very strange, but it had a genuine weirdness about it, unlike some of the other artist studios I had visited.

“I should show you some of my work, then,” he said. “My recent stuff, and then we can get into more detail.” He stood up and walked towards the front of the yard, where I noticed for the first time not only the door leading to the front, but also two others, one on either side. So I guess he did own the whole building.

He made his way to the door on the right, with me following him, and opened it. The room was black inside and I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear a faint buzzing sound. It didn’t smell very good either.

“I try to follow the fashions,” said Mills, taking several steps into the room and disappearing into the darkness.

There was a click, and the lights turned on.

The rest of the evening went by in a haze. Everything felt so strange to me after that point that I sometimes refused to believe it happened. I ended up not publishing the article, instead I went for some Dutch painter who expressed his anger through the colour red.

But I think back to the night at Mills’ studio. There was certainly a predominant theme throughout his work, at least the stuff he showed me.

Maybe I had misheard the expression all this time. Art certainly wasn’t dead.

Maybe the expression was “Art is Death”

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Short Story: The Acceptance

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In the dead of night they awoke, and in the darkest spots of the woods, where the moon barely shone through, they met their lovers. The spot was isolated so their meetings would not be interrupted, and the darkness didn’t bother them; they could see well enough, after all, they had had centuries of practice. Some of their lovers brought lights with them, to see their handsome faces better. They were young and in love, and there was no way they would be taken without seeing the faces of their suitors.

To them, it was a strange sort of romance, but everyone was into it. Before all of this, none of them would have considered something like this. So many people, and the ground was cold and hard. But for the past week, at night, they had been coming to meet their beloveds. They knew they wouldn’t be able to see them in the daylight, but it didn’t bother them. Besides, it was far less romantic that way.

The ones who had awoken just now barely acknowledged each other in the woods, maybe they had known each other for so long. It was interesting for them, to have such acceptation into the world. For hundreds of years they hid, stalking their victims from behind closed doors, away from sight. It had made seduction so difficult. All that had changed, and they revelled in it. Although they tried to stay near their shelters, because you never knew where you could be stuck once the sun rose. But they were no longer confined to hiding from capture and execution.

There was passion, now. There was popularity. But most of all, there was no fear.

And in the forest, the cries of pleasure turned to cries of terror, and eventually cries of pain. No one heard, though. And after the cries, silence, and then the thick leathery sound of wings. And when they were found, the following morning, it was far too late.

----

We dine alone

I present here a rather strange short story titled We Dine Alone I scribbled out on my way back from Cornwall. It's one of two I wrote while down there, although I can't find the paper I wrote the other on at the moment. When I do, I'll post it here.

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We dine alone, facing each other, on opposite sides of the large dining room table. It’s not comically long, but it accommodates the salle-à-manger perfectly. My cutlery moving across the china almost echoes in the large room. It’s a fine room for entertaining, with a large fireplace and armchairs behind for the cigarettes and coffee afterwards. Above the mantelpiece are hung hunting trophies my father and grandfather caught. It is a fine room for company. But tonight, I dine with you alone. I converse, but you don’t make a sound. You stay perfectly still, watching me eat.

I like it when you watch me eat.

There is momentary silence as I take some seconds to chew my food. The meat’s started to get rubbery, and won’t keep another day. And to think all the effort I go to keep it fresh. I wipe my mouth and, looking down, consider I should probably buy some more napkins soon. I seem to be going through them like mad.

“What do you think?” I say to you, breaking the silence that filled the room so thickly. “Then again, I can’t see any way of keeping this fresher for more than three days. This really is the limit.”

I, for a second, swear I hear you say something. Nothing perceptible, and certainly not words, but something definitely. A squeal, or something. But your mouth hasn’t moved, and why should it.

I take one last mouthful, spend more effort chewing than I would have cared, and move my plate to the side a bit, leaning my elbows on the table so I can rest my chin on my hands. I watch you watch me and my smile drops a bit. I realise it’s a shame; I like when you watch me eat, and have for a few days now.

But old is old, despite what you do to try to make it otherwise. I find my dessert fork, and make my way to the drinks cabinet, where I take out a bottle of sherry, of which I pour into the bottom of a small china bowl.

“Dessert?” I ask you, although it wasn’t really much of a question. Again, I swear I hear something, but it really is impossible.

I love to save the eyes till last.

----

More modelling and Snowfalls


--
Good news, everyone!

 in between  a tonne of Futurama episodes, I have been working on uni stuff. Here's some of the latest work I've been doing on the Toil of Trouble short.





Books are for when the camera pans across the shelf. The fat witch has taken the most part of the week, but I'm actually quite happy with the finished product. Well, I still need to rig it and make the arms fatter, but those notwithstanding, I'm quite please with it. Now I've only got the one character left to model and I can put all that behind me.

Also, here's a "walk" cycle for the blob character I did yesterday. There's plenty to tweak here, but you get the jist:





Goodnight!

-

-

Murder Mysteries



I've done a bit more work on the site design here, adding in a gallery tab at the top there. I've added in two slideshow galleries - one of my photoshop work and another with pencil sketches and drawings. I'm going to add in some 3D stills once I have enough good ones and my showreel when I've actually made it.
I was going to post something about lessons or something but instead I'm going to put the opening to a murder mystery story set in Kyoto I've been working on for about a week. It's almost done, and has to be converted into comic form and finished by March and, to be honest, I have no idea if it'll be done by then, but it's a collaboration with Wilson here so you never know.
Next time I think I'll have a very Toil and Trouble-heavy entry.



The Lunar Effect

- Taking a break from all this untitled story business (finished the second chapter), here's something I wrote a year or so ago, titled the lunar effect. I believe it was for a Storywrite.com contest or something. Anyway, enjoy. Or pretend to ---- They say that when the full moon is out, that people act strangely, that for one reason or another a full moon is cause of odd and deviant behaviour in people. They call it the lunar effect. Amadeus thought about this as he walked the streets, his head bent downwards, looking at the randomly scattered puddles on the road, reflecting the moonlight from above. His feet hit the cobblestones gently, but the sound they made against the eerie silence of the night was louder than any festival or carnival. It was one of those quiet nights where no one was out, where people were already asleep, or downstairs playing a quiet game, as a family around the dining room table, or in the living room. Amadeus liked it better that way. He liked being alone, especially at night, where he would get a lot of thinking done. His walks helped him relax and think of other things. He had an umbrella in his hand, and its primary function appeared to be to cover Amadeus in so many shadows his face was almost imperceptible. The moonlight added a pale gray glow to the night, and those who didn’t mind the full moon found this to be a most romantic thing. The stars were at their brightest. This was certainly a fine night for love. Amadeus certainly thought so. He was a romantic, and liked things as they had always been. Classical was such a … well, classic word. There was a woman on the bench, in the middle of the park. She sat, with her legs crossed and her arms placed gently on her knee. She had an emotionless, patient look on her face. Amadeus approached her, and sat down on the bench next to her. “This is a fine night for romance,” he said, taking a rose out of the shadows where his breast pocket was, and offered it to her. The woman glanced at it and took it from him. She smiled. “It is certainly a most beautiful night,” she said, almost in a whisper. “Yes. A night,” and here he put his umbrella down, “for lunacy.” She looked at him, and smiled. They kissed, almost devouring each other… … They say when the full moon is out, that people show who they really are, that they come out of their own skins, so to speak. Amadeus went home. He left his umbrella at the park bench. All the way back home, and Amadeus could feel the sun, slowly creeping up behind him. ---

Dave

A quick character description I wrote while trying to figure out this Dave character.

----

Dave said nothing, in much the same way he normally did. He didn’t like talking to people, and he certainly didn’t like talking to people he didn’t know.

   Dave sat still and stared at the wall. He didn’t want to know what the doctors told him, and he didn’t want to know what they recommended he do or what he should take. Nothing ever worked and Dave had long since decided not to bother with trying. So Dave sat, watched the wall, ignoring the words which flowed around him. If he concentrated enough he could see them, floating around his head. Some of the words, like “it” and “the” were small and Dave ignored them but there weren’t any good words in this conversation. None of them sounded good to his ears, so he turned the doctors around him off and looked at the wall, and heard the yellow of the wallpaper and smelled the worry that came through the doors every day.

To say that Dave didn’t like people was a lie. Dave cherished people. Without people he knew he would die, and perish and become another person Dave needed people to function. When he sat outside and ate the sandwiches he had prepared himself, he saw the people and he saw the words coming out of their mouths and he felt their emotions and he cried inside for all of them, even when they were happy.

He left the hospital and spent the evening at Woo’s, watching the live band play. He couldn’t see the music like he could see the words. He wished he could. As he sat and drank his half pint of beer, observing the people in bar, he thought about his life. He thought about the time he went to Tibet and trained with the monks. He thought about the time he met Morgan Freeman on the Metro. There was Jay on the other side of the bar. He knew Jay. Jay was one of the only people Dave said anything to. But Dave didn’t have anything to say, so he stayed where he was and watched the lyrics fill the room. He desperately wanted a cigarette, but none of the shops were open at this time.

Dave thought of the things he saw that day, as he lay in his bed. He thought about the doctors, the bus and the knight and the bar. He remembered Jay’s wings weren’t the colour they were last week, and he wasn’t sure if they had always been that colour and he hadn’t remembered properly. He remembered buying cigarettes. So why didn’t he have any? Dave desperately wanted some cigarettes, but he didn’t want to stand up to look for them. Besides, he was too busy looking at the stars on his ceiling. He saw Perseus in the sky, tonight. He had never seen Perseus.

Dave went to sleep happy, and dreamt of cars and poker chips.

----

 

The things you just do - again..

I think I started this in November. I'm really getting this done too slowly

The things you just do

The band playing was fairly unknown, but their music was pleasant. It was the sort of dull, atmospheric music that melts around you as soon as you get into conversation, and which you forget about until the lull in conversation brings the music back up and you wonder if the piece playing isn’t exactly the same as when you began talking. The jazzy, off-rhythm music gave the bar its contemporary bohemian atmosphere, admired by the regulars: the ones who wore their sunglasses indoors or carried guitars everywhere they went; and the ones who went in there between college classes to try to fit in with the lifestyle they were living to make their stays in the city more bearable.

The whole bar was not badly lit, because that would imply that the level of light that had wanted to be achieved was not, and the limited, almost pointless lighting was exactly what the person had wanted when he set up the lights. The place was smoky and smelled bad, but it was what people expected when they drank at Woo’s. The low light, the slow rhythmless music and the smell.

Jay looked around him at the people in Woo’s. There were scatters of people, some sitting at the bar, some at the various tables placed randomly around the front stage area so people could have a drink and watch the live performers. Of course, there were hardly any live musicians at Woo’s. They cost too much, were far too much hassle, and no one came to watch them play anyway. Woo had decided a long time ago to let people play if they asked for nothing in return. Although he did often give out free drinks to them.

Jay could recognise most of the people; not that he had ever met or seen any of them before, but because he knew their faces. The same sort of people went into Woo’s, all the time. He knew that. He sketched them all the time. Kept a small diary, more or less. That girl on his left, the one stirring her tall drink with the little plastic stirrer that came with it, looking at the people around her nervously, avoiding their direct glances and taking small sips every couple of minutes. Her hair was cut short, and given streaks the colour of rust. Her eyeliner wasn’t applied very well, as if it was done only as part of the show she put on and no longer part of who she was, and he could see faded scars on her arm, where her long sleeves fell back. He flipped through his small book to the pages he had titled “reverting”, and tried to draw her, before she turned her back on him because of whatever it was that was happening elsewhere that she found more interesting. Jay hated it when people did that. At least give him time to finish an outline of the person.

He scribbled it out.

The band changed songs, but this was unnoticed by most of the bar’s occupants.

There was a group of students in front of him. They looked like they were English History or Fine Art or something like that. No doubt they’re looking in the drinks menu for the absinthe, Jay thought. That’s always what they look for. They’re not going to find it, he continued in his mind, and then one of them is going to order the scotch and soda and pretend to drink it with glee.

Jay laughed inside. It was always the same. Woo’s looked like the sort of place where you’d get all sorts of unique Characters, with the deserving capital, and it was true. They were so unique, desperate for individuality that they ended up copying each other.

There was the Man with the Past in front of him. He was alone. Most of the people at Woo’s drank alone. The Man with the Past was always the one who sat and drank a whiskey or a beer, while glancing around him, as if whatever it was from his Past would come back and bug him while he drank. The Man with the Past’s main characteristic was his inability to trust people and his eventual distancing from society’s norms. It didn’t matter what his Past was. It was his Present that was affected, and that was what he shaped himself as. Jay didn't draw people with Pasts much, mainly because he would get too carried away and end up giving them a scar over his eye, running down his cheek.

There was the Couple. They were boring. It was the sort of shallow relationship start where both party members would show their love by making stupid kissy faces to one another, and talk in a way that would get them shunned out of everything else. Jay’s views on relationships were pretty cynical. It was sort of etched into his character. It was just one of those things he thought: Relationships made people act like idiots. No. It was love. It’s always the love, or rather, Jay corrected himself, the need for love. It wasn’t like Jay was socially awkward – he certainly wouldn’t have thought of himself as it, it’s just that he thought love was one of those things which just didn’t make any sense. He had never fallen in love, but he never really wanted to.

He smiled briefly at them and shifted in his seat to see the other people in the room. He couldn’t see anyone else very well, so he reached for his glass of vodka-Pepsi.

It was empty.

Half price vodka singles on a Monday, Jay reminded himself. I could go for another. He debated this for some time before deciding.

Fuck it, he thought. He stood up, put on his coat, pocketed his sketchbook and pencil, and left the bar.

The air outside of Woo’s was fresh, in an unused midnight kind of way. It was cool, and a small breeze made Jay button up his duffle coat – a piece of clothing he felt he needed to buy at the time, when things were a bit easier but a bit more fake. It was all about duffle coats and speaking to the minorities back then. Now it was just sitting in his garage and drawing. It was that sort of thing that made him think. And he had the whole walk home to think.

The buildings loomed over the little girl, walking slowly through the streets she had walked through a hundred times before. Now it was night time, and there were no adults to watch over her. It was her, and the buildings. There was nothing frightening about the buildings, or the trees, or the moonlight.

But Virginia was frightened. It didn’t seem so bad a few hours ago. Now it was midnight and she had nowhere to go, and nothing to eat. She couldn’t see any supermarkets anywhere nearby. She wished she hadn’t brought so little food with her (although she half-congratulated herself on figuring out the combination on her stepmother’s ridiculously small “savings” safe). Now all she needed was somewhere to sleep where she wouldn’t freeze to death, or be eaten by the monsters that were creeping out of her imagination.

She swore, in the strange way ten-year-olds do when they’re not sure what words mean but they probably have some bad connotations.

Virginia was frightened.

*******

Tuesday came and, and to the best of Jay’s knowledge left. Granted, it didn’t help that Jay had woken up at two o’clock and done as close to nothing as possible without becoming part of a dust bunny.

Now it was half past six and a lot of people were in the supermarket with him. Jay thought, for the millionth time, how much they were like sheep they were all coming here after work with their kids screaming at them to buy them some ridiculous licensed confectionary, but it occurred to Jay that everyone was thinking the exact same thing.

We’re all like sheep.

And Jay was in the supermarket with them, so wasn’t it all a bit hypocritical? Oh well. Besides, he needed some breakfast.

Jay looked at various dairy products they had on offer. Full fat, half fat, Weight Watchers, value, and that stuff that looked like the fanciest product you could buy under the own-brand name. And that was only the Greek-style yoghurt.

Jay picked up the tub that was half price. That was always the best one.

“Hey, Jay!”

Jay turned away from his hell dimension in the form of the yoghurt selection, and turned to face Joe. He had only met him a few times, mostly at Woo’s. He played in the same band as Alysson.

“We got some friends coming over from up north. Load of old college friends. Playing in the Shed. You comin’ with?”

Jay looked at the man. He had met Joe on a few occasions, mostly in the company of their mutual friend Alysson, who was the singer in the band she and Joe had together. Alysson and Jay had been friends since childhood.

Jay didn’t want to go.

“I ... uh, no.” Jay managed. “I think I’ll have a night in or something. Get working on my new piece or something.”

“Oh come on, it’s barely six o’clock!”

“It’s half past,” Jay’s lame comeback may as well have been towards the yoghurts because Joe now had his face attached to his phone, talking to someone which Jay liked to think didn’t exist. It was always funny when people are just talking to themselves.

He took this moment to leave the aisle, pick up some grapes and leave the shop.

“Probably hasn’t even realised I left,” Jay said to himself. He headed home.

And then he was at the party, and his yoghurt and grapes were long gone, somewhere. Why did Alysson have to appear on his way back home? It was going to be a great night in with yoghurt and a pencil and paper but she insisted and Jay in all the years he had known Alysson could never say no to her. So he grunted instead, and was dragged into the car.

Now he sat on the broken faux-leather seat and pretended not to know anyone at the party. He didn’t like talking there anymore.

Probably left to get some drinks and forgot about the party halfway there, laughed Jay to himself.

The silence of a lot of people talking in every direction but hisown crept in on him, and he felt at home.

 

Virginia was not. She had stopped crying mainly because she had nothing left to cry. She didn’t know where she was, and was certain she had been walking around the same industrial estate for the last three hours. She had asked two people but none of them knew the way to anywhere and a man even offered to pick her up in his car, but she hadn’t even asked for his help so she had run away. She was starving, and had found a small corner shop some time in the morning and had bought two sandwiches but had eaten them so fast.

She pulled herself together for the fourth time that day.

OK, it’s your second day out here and you’re not dead, she said. You’ll find another place to sleep that doesn’t have rats and wake up tomorrow with a plan.

A plan. She wished she had thought of that before she left. Running away from home is such a spontaneous idea though, that there’s never enough time to plan anything.

The Last Couple on Earth

Originally I was going to post only the link to it, which is here if anyone cares, but then decided to carry on in normal tradition and post the whole thing on.

I wrote this for two separate contests on Storywrite.com, but merged the criterias for both of them into one. The first one was a picture prompt (I chose these two pictures) and the other which stated: "Yes, I want romance. But I don't want NORMAL romance. I want romance viewed through the eyes of a third party."

This is the result

----------

THE LAST COUPLE ON EARTH

Imagine this, if you can, my reader. It’s, well, it’s the end of the world. The fires have long since died out and the mutations, if there ever were any – I never met some, that’s for sure – are gone. Now it’s just the dead silence of a lot of people being dead at the same time, and the stink of a lot of people being dead with no one around to give them a good burial.

It’s not really important to know how the end of the world happened, or how I came to be, apparently, the only survivor. Just that the world ended and everybody died. It’s really tragic, but when you’re dealing with mass death on that level, a number reaching over six billion, well, it’s hard to really care. It’s not something you can shrug off, but it’s not really something you can mourn. It is as it is. You just accept it and try to carry on. It’s been three years and I haven’t met anyone else. Not a human around. Not even a dog, or a bug or a pigeon. Nothing. Everywhere’s just the same, really. The same quiet, the same stink, the same sense of emptiness and decay that, somewhere, God is laughing and the world, eventually will be just as it should have been a long time ago. It’s not something you get used to, being alone. It gradually builds on you, and you try to find people anywhere you can, in a desperate but altogether hopeless way. It’s something I learnt to accept a long time ago. 

I’m in Chicago now, having spent most of the last year travelling around the United States, taking different cars as far as possible till they died, in the vain hunt for anyone who was still alive. It was there that I saw, in the middle of the bench off Burnham Park, the last couple on Earth. There was nobody around them, just loose 3-year old litter fluttering around the base of bench. I watched them. They sat next to each other, his hand, almost a pink colour, was holding her pale Dresden hand gently. They didn’t say a word, and stared blankly in front of them, almost in my direction. Around them, the stink of the world, the feeling of death and loneliness, all vanished. All it was, was them. 

I felt like approaching them, but decided not to. They looked so blissful and to walk over would be breaking this world they had encompassed themselves. He looked ahead of him, at the destruction and disturbing quiet in front of him, expressionless as ever, thread stitched together into a shapeless smile and she did too, only half of her head had been caved in and she saw the world through just one beady and unblinking eye.  They sat on the bench, and never spoke. Not unlike most of the people here. But they were different. While everyone had died, they were never born. They just were. Glassy-eyed, they watched the world together. A perfect, undying romance and, in this world, something worth keeping. I left them alone, and carried on in my search. ..

The things you just do

I've been up for a little more than twelve hours, which is a bit bad, considering it's almost three in the morning. It's raining, and it's almost Christmas and everything's jolly and nice. I like this. It puts me in the mood for writing. That and Regina Spektor.

I've started another story. As I always say I'm going to actually finish this one. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.

It's called Lullabies for the Sleep Deprived which I still can't decide whether or not it sounds good or not. I'm keeping it for now. It's going to be a series of short stories or something about people in this city, who are all sleep deprived and going to this bar and all have issues. It's jolly good fun. 

This segment here's called Things you just do because I can't think of anything else, and it sounds quite Neil Gaiman-y

--------------

The band playing was fairly unknown, but their music was pleasant. Jay looked around him at the people in Woo’s. He could recognise most of them; not that he had ever met or seen them before, but because he knew their faces. The same sort of people went into Woo’s, all the time. He knew that. He sketched them all the time. Kept a small diary, more or less. That girl on his left, the one stirring her tall drink with the little plastic stirer that came with it, looking at the people around her suspiciously, avoiding their direct glances. Her hair was cut short, and given streaks the colour of rust. Her eyeliner wasn’t applied very well and he could see faded scars on her arm, where her long sleeves fell back. He flipped through his small book to the pages he had titled “going back to normal”, and tried to draw her, before she turned her back on him because of whatever it was that was happening elsewhere that she found more interesting. Jay hated it when people did that. At least give him time to finish an outline of the person.    He scribbled it out.    The band changed songs    There was the Man with the Past in front of him. He was alone, as well. Most of the people at Woo’s drank alone. The Man with the Past sat and drank a whiskey or a beer, while glancing around him, as if whatever it was from his Past would come back and bug him while he drank. The Man with the Past’s main characteristic was his inability to trust people and his eventual distancing from society’s norms. It didn’t matter what his Past was. It was his Present that was affected, and that was what he shaped himself as. Jay didn't draw people with Pasts much, mainly becuase he would get too carried away and end up making them look like Nick Nolte with scars over their eyes.   There was the the Couple. They were boring. It was the sort of shallow relationship start where both party members would show their love by making stupid kissy faces to one another, and talk in a way that would get them shunned out of everything else. Relationships made people act like idiots. No. It was love. It’s always the love, or rather, Jay corrected himself, the need for love. He smiled briefly at them and shifted in his seat to see the other people in the room. He couldn’t see anyone else very well, so he reached for his glass of vodka-pepsi.   It was empty.   Fuck it, Jay thought. He stood up, put on his coat, pocketed his sketchbook and pencil, and left the bar.

 ..

There were about twenty-three years’ worth of memories that Jay could have been erasing at Woo’s. There was nothing he particularly wanted to forget, but it seemed that drinking made things a lot easier. It was probably a good thing he couldn’t afford to do it very often; he probably would have become an alcoholic, which wasn't his style at all.     He decided to walk the long way, because the long way had better lights, and the lights helped him think. He wanted to think

-------------- That's it so far. I quite like it. It's going to involve him meeting up with this ltitle girl who's ran away from home or something, and they form this nice older-brother relationship or something. Then I'll move onto the story about the crazy man who yells things in his sleep.

I'm totally in a writing vendetta mood. I'm gonna hunt down all the unfinished stories, and I'm gonna finish them off. This time .... it's personal.

I hope I get the new Terry Pratchett book for Christmas. I've been putting off buying it for myself for just that reason. It looks absolutely awesome, because it's a Discworld book and I haven't read a new Discworld book in about two years. Am very excited.

CHRISTMAS IS SOON WOOOO

Coutdown: 3 weeks, 5 days

 

Charming little story

I found this at the back of my sketchbook. It's entitled The History of Madame Rasti, and goes as follows:
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Madame Rasti, who lived in a little cottage down Meadow Lane. Every night she would visit her grandmother and wish her a happy night and all the best dreams, &c But then, one day, the grandmother died, and little Rasti never found love, because her grandmother laid a curse on her THE END
---

The story of the ultimate fate of Mr William Sancter

Running through the streets of London. Not to anything, not from anything. Just running for the sake of running. That’s where I think it began. After all, what is the best place to start my statement? I don’t want to leave anything out. This is the beginning of the story of the ultimate fate of Mr William Sancter. So, as I said, we were running for the sake of running. The streetlights an orange blur, everything else the source of jokes and endless, pointless laughter. We had never been to London before; we came here regarding our positions in a job much farther away from Chicago and much closer to London and the Continent. Our friend, Miss Camille Wood with whom we managed to talk into letting us stay (her apartment was, in effect, two apartments. One of which had been converted for guests and other clutter), had taken us out of her small two bedroom apartment where we had spent a lot of time talking about … well, whatever it was it wasn’t important. We had a dinner and left maybe around eight o’clock, dizzy from cheap cigarettes, whiskey and whatever else we could find to make the time pass faster until our horrendous hearing the next day. The air was heavier than I had found it when we had gotten off the plane, it felt like I couldn’t move as easily as I should have been able to. I was light headed, all three of us must have been, and everything seemed to move slowly. Running seemed to be the best option. Nowhere to go, but everywhere to explore. I had my camera with me, which had been given to me by my ex girlfriend some years ago. Everything looked amazing, whether London was really like that, or whatever it was that was making us feel giddy. Everything looked like it had been drawn up by Edward Gorey, and I had to take it all in photo. We ended up running from Trafalgar, and something loud with a lot of lights was going on. People were cheering and making a lot of noise. We were heading in the direction of Big Ben and that infamous London Eyesore, as Camille had liked to put it. Working as a sort of perpetual motion machine, egged on by nothing other than each other, we continued down the road, past the all night supermarket where the old man stood at the checkout, picking his nose. And then there was that man. He was tall, taller than me even, but his head was bowed low and he was trying to make himself unseen. In fact, I almost didn’t see him at first. He didn’t so much blend in with the shadows as just everything around him but for a brief second, in the streetlight, he appeared. He turned to face me and me him, and I saw into his eyes. Now I wish I had taken a second to understand what I had witnessed; his face, his expression and the infuriated look in his eyes. Instead, I decided to take a photo of him. I brought my camera up, fast and took a photo of him, hunched over and looking over his shoulder me at it. It wasn’t a very good photograph I could tell from the small two second preview. It was blurred and the most part of the photo was of the building behind the man. It was then that he animated himself. He turned to and shouted something to me. His voice was gruff and most definitely not in the best moods. The photo, upon consideration, was not a good idea. He walked up to me, and in one short sharp sentence, told me to delete that photo of him. I looked at him, saw the rage in his eyes, and deleted the picture. He only saw the small bin logo, but was convinced, and in a quick second he had vanished once again into the background. Mr William Sancter, Miss Camille Wood and myself carried on, not sure if it was safe to laugh at what had happened. The world suddenly seemed much more sober, and the air even heavier. We reached the London Eye, and sat on a bench by it, looking in awe at the wheel. I turned my camera on, to look at the photos I had taken. It was the usual blend of fingers on the lens and blurred shots. Then I came across that photo. The one I had just taken. I had, of course, lied when I said I had deleted it. Whatever it was he didn’t want me to take a photo of, I wanted to know. But I can’t begin to even begin to tell you what was on that photograph … but, well you can look later if you want. I’m not. I’m never going to see it again. The most part of the photograph was of the stone building behind it, glowing yellow from the streetlights, and my camera’s way of taking bad pictures at night, and there was the man. Or rather, whatever was there in the place of the man. Whatever it was, it wasn’t he who had come over and shouted at us. The man, as shady and suspicious as he was, awkwardly looking over his shoulder, was not that. The thing on my screen, and I had to zoom in to make sure I wasn’t just hallucinating, was of a monster in the same clothing … I think; it’s hard to remember these things. The awful monster, in the jacket, with the claws, the peeling dark-red skin, his mouth twisted revealing what were probably teeth if teeth could get so thin and sharp, was staring at the camera. Even in the still image I could recognise his eyes and all the horrors I had felt from just a glimpse. I looked away from my camera. I couldn’t look at it for another second. William Sancter must have seen me wince, because he came up to me and asked me what was wrong. I showed him the picture, and told him to delete it. He must have deleted it, because it was no longer on my camera when he handed it back to me. That night I slept in Camille’s spare bedroom in her first apartment and William slept in her other apartment. I had dreams, probably irrelevant to the case at hand, but they were of the man, of the photograph and everything. There were no images, just a series of feelings of pain, and fear, suffering and I awoke in a cold sweat, light was seeping in from the curtain. I went to see William, to see if he had awoken. He hadn’t. As for the ultimate fate of William Sancter, I don’t know. I was not awake, and I cannot tell you more than that. I went into his room … and … I can’t describe the horrors. Not really. I can’t describe the blood on the walls, the mess of red all over the bed, and floor and walls.The remains of William’s body was sitted, slumped rather, on the computer chair. I had barely even noticed the image on his computer. That’s all I can relate. I’m sorry if this doesn’t help, but it has me. Writing it down has made it easier to clear it from my head. Whatever was on the photograph, I need to forget it.

Alone Again

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He looked at the ceiling, with a sort of vague far-off look. His pupils were dilated so much there was no colour left in his once-blue eyes. They saw nothing, not any more; they were deep, endless holes into his thoughts which no longer existed.

His gaze was fixed on the ceiling, certainly, but not out of choice. He was strapped to a barebones piece of scaffolding with sheets, or whatever it was that was masquerading as a bed. His arms and legs were tied to the thin metal skeleton of the bed, as well as his chest. Not that it mattered, though. Whatever drugs he had been pumped full of prevented him from moving anything. He struggled to blink. He remembered. That was all he could do, now. If only he wouldn’t keep remembering the same things. Over and over. What was it about Christmas that always left him feeling so lonely. Like no one cared for him. His family were great at that. He knew they had never really loved him and he cherished every moment he could spend away from them. Those lying, heartless bastards. So the loneliness had crept in, those two Christmases. He had no one to talk to; no one really spoke to him anyway. He had a knack for making friends with the mad people who picked litter off the floor and ate it. Those were more his kind of people. They were real. So it was no surprise really that he had enjoyed his two visitors. What were their names now… who knows. He didn’t remember things like that. He just remembered the rage, and the glee, and the pain. There was no doubting he was smart. At a young age, he could make anything from anything. In another world, maybe he would have been a good strategist or an inventor … anything really. He had a lot of potential. A brilliant, fragile mind. He remembered the pain most of all. Not his pain, not at all. He remembered as his visitors has scrabbled up the stairs, slipping and sliding, before falling over backwards, hitting their heads on the driveway with a satisfying crunch. Then he got into gear. He enjoyed facial injuries more, for some reason. He remembered how happy he had felt when he was throwing bricks, each one hitting his friend in the head, each one fracturing the skull more, closer and closer to that hemorrhage. His memory brought back a smell. It was like steak being thrown into a fire. More wattage, the better the smell. He laughed when he saw the skeleton. That bit was the best. Then there was the flamethrower, and the gasoline. That just filled the house with the smell. He did everything short of actually killing his guests. That would have taken the fun away. After all, what’s the use of hurting someone if they’re just going to die from it? He smiled, in his mind, and remembered the last words he had ever spoken, right before he had been strapped in here in his catatonic, gibbering state. He tried to speak, but the drugs were working their magic too well.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

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