Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Food for thought

Jason felt the wind on the back of his neck as the boat pulled slowly into the dock. He hadn’t been home in too long; would it even feel the same?

The horn sounded, the wind whipping it away before it could damage the ears of the passengers stood on deck. There weren’t many, not with the slight drizzle that had started some minutes before. Jason glanced around: it was a mix of young professionals, just like him. They were the people that had left when times had been bad and now, just like him, they were returning to see if their sins were forgiven.

Jason wondered how much had really changed. Kiko told some tall stories, many of which Jason couldn’t truly believe. Now, he had the chance to see it all for himself – to see whether Kiko was telling the truth. Some of the earlier stories had made Jason scared to return, but slowly they had lightened to the point of being laugh out loud funny.

Jason, you won’t believe what is happening here, you are so lucky to be out of it, Kiko had written. They are taking the young and placing us in tanks. They are breeding us, Jason; they are creating food for the masses from the young. Stay away. I am trying to come to you, please don’t forget me. Your friend, Kiko.

Jason had been worried. He had tried to call Kiko, but there had been no reply. About a week later he had received another missive. This time Kiko had admitted he was lying, had excused his rampant imagination and sorry if he had worried Jason in any way. He had only been joking. Ha ha, how funny it was.

A smile had crossed Jason’s face. He was reminiscing about Kiko, his friend.

The boat was docking, people were milling around on the deck, staring out towards the quay, squinting to see their loved ones waving back across the water. Jason could see no one he recognised.

An alarm sounded and the tannoy crackled to life. Passengers were being asked to return to their cabins for disembarking. One by one, they moved off, making their way down below deck. Jason followed the crowd back to his own berth.

As Jason grabbed the last of his clothes and packed them away into his suitcase, he heard the lock of his cabin door click shut. Thinking little of it, he continued to stuff shirts and jeans into any spare space he could find in his luggage. After a brief fight with the zipper, Jason was ready to leave, ready to see his friends and find out what had changed since he had left all those years before.

He moved towards the door, grabbing the handle with his free hand. It wouldn’t budge. Jason dropped his suitcase on the floor and tried to turn the door handle with both hands but it was still stuck fast. He hammered on the door with his fists, a dull clang ringing out. It was answered by a hundred other similar bangs. The noise was interspersed with the sound of people yelling for help. They were all trapped.

Quickly, Jason ran to the porthole window, his face filling up the small aperture. He peered out, hoping to see what the problem was. They were close now, the dockside was clearly visible.

It wasn’t lined with well-wishers, friends or family: it was lined with trucks. They all carried the same signage: Kiko’s Slaughterhouse, feeding the nation with fresh, young meat.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Never saw it coming

– There are no answers to your questions, so please stop asking them. Now, can we get back to the job in hand, please?

Jon sat back, the shovel resting against his knee.

– The thing is, Cody, I ain’t got the strength to do this no more, I’m beat. I just want to know who we’re working for. C’mon, it’s been four years – and yes, they’ve been glorious and we’ve been paid well, but I have this, I dunno, nagging suspicion. Look, I can’t explain, I just had enough.

Cody sat down next to him, put his thick, muscled arm around Jon’s shoulders and squeezed tight. Jon felt the air in his lungs compress, the bones crack, as Cody pulled harder and harder.

– Now Jon, what have I been telling you? It’s a need to know basis, and I know it’s a cliché, but you don’t need to fucking know. Now, dig.

Jon stood up again, his knees cracking, and continued digging the hole. It had already reached a good four feet in depth, but it needed to be a whole lot deeper by the time they’d finished the job.

Jon and Cody had been at this kind of work for most of their lives; they’d met at school, running small scams and making some extra pocket money for themselves over the years. Progression into the adult world of crime wasn’t as big a step up the ladder as they’d thought. It had come easy, almost too easily for Jon. He was beginning to question his role in life and where this career might be taking him.

Cody didn’t like questions. Not one little bit.

Within the hour the hole was dug, fresh earth spilling around the edges like the foam on their daily cappuccinos. Cody wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve, reached into his back pocket and pulled out a battered carton of cigarettes. He offered one to Jon, even though he knew he wasn’t a smoker. Sometimes he liked to hold one in his fingers. Cody didn’t mind the waste, not if it kept this partner calm and collected. Panic was the one thing that he couldn’t afford; it just wasn’t the done thing in this business.

Jon was watching an earthworm crawl from the sheer sides of the hole they’d dug. He knew it was a grave. What was bugging him was who the grave was for. Jon had never whacked anyone, he didn’t even like guns. He didn’t like violence. Jon was a quick thinker and liked the buzz of scamming people, but there wasn’t so much work for that kind of skill anymore. He hadn’t kept up with the computer age and there were people half his age making money hand-over-fist in that game. Jon was only good for digging.

– So, we done here? Jon asked.
– Yeah, I reckon. We gotta wait around for the boss to come over, though. Apparently, he wants to meet his ‘dynamic duo’ – that’s what he calls us y’know. Hehe, Dynamic Duo.

Cody was shaking his head, chuckling at his little joke. Jon knew that only one of them could ever be considered dynamic and it wasn’t the shit-for-brains standing next to him. Cody did, however, provide the muscle.

– Who’d ya reckon this grave is for then?

Jon knew that simply asking would get Cody’s back up, but he wanted to see if it was a question that could be answered.

– If you ain’t careful Jon, it’ll be your fucking resting place. Now, shut up. You don’t want the boss to hear ya talking like that.

Jon was mute again, staring at his muddy shoes as if in a trance. He threw his shovel to the ground and sat down against a nearby tree.

– Listen Cody, I’m taking a nap here. Wake me when the boss comes, okay?
– Yeah, sure, came the reply.

When Jon was certain that Cody was looking the other way, he snuck back into the shadows and disappeared into the undergrowth. Within a few minutes he could hear the whisper of Cody’s voice as he called Jon’s name, trying not to draw attention to himself in the process. Jon heard a car pull up in the distance and he quickly made his way deeper in amongst the trees. Cody had stopped calling his name.

Cody spun around at the sound of footsteps coming up the path behind him.

– Jon, is that you?

No reply came. The only sound was the crunch of gravel. Suddenly, a light was shining straight at Cody. He raised his arms to try and shield himself from the glare. Was it the police? That was the first thought that came into his head. Then, a voice spoke.

– Well, Cody, you all on your lonesome?
– Er, yeah boss. Jon, he’s, er… the thing is, he’s having a shit in the woods, I think. Shouldn’t be too long.
– Okay. Is the hole dug?

Cody wondered why the light was shining in his face, why the boss was asking him these questions. He shivered as he became aware that it was cold. The exertion of digging had made him sweat and now the light wind was making the air seem cooler than it actually was.

– Yes, boss. We made the hole a good deep one, just like you asked us to.
– Well then, Cody. All we need to do now is fill it.
– You show me the body and I’ll do the rest, boss.

Oh, he would be shown the body, thought Jon, as he pulled a gun from his pocket. He let the light drop from Cody’s face, giving him a glimpse of his own face in the process. The gun was raised and Jon’s finger was on the trigger.

– Jon? What’s that f..?

Cody never got to finish his sentence.

– It’s not Jon, it’s boss to you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Posting from Word

I downloaded the new Blogger for Word application today and that last story was posted in that fashion.

Looks okay, doesn't it?

Well, it does now.

Here's some issues I found: as MS Word can't create HTML and doesn't recognise that my blog uses style sheets, it formatted the text in such a way that it stood out like a sore thumb. It still produces FONT tags! Doh.

So, I edited the post, re-formatted it with the usual blogging style sheet applied and it now looks like the rest of this blog.

Good idea, unfortunately it had to include something by Microsoft.

purplesimon out...

Going Nowhere

I watched the sun set over the furrowed brow of the hills before I settled down for the night. It had been a long day on the road. I pitched the flimsy tent I was carrying before the dusk settled down in a dark mist to form the night. The moon seemed to sail upwards, as if someone somewhere played with a different yo-yo. The tent flap was zipped just in time, as mosquitoes swarmed towards my tent: their Mecca. I lay back with a cigarette clenched between my lips and prayed for the dawn of a new day.

As the sun broke through the early clouds, I awoke and clambered from my sleeping bag to greet it. I unzipped the flap, stepped out, unaware of my own nakedness, and lapped up the new warmth hurled forth from space. I examined my nude body for mosquito bites and found none; a first on my travels. Awkwardly, I pulled on my clothes and packed the tent away, clumsily. I spied a stream one hundred yards or so to my left and, kettle in hand, I went to get breakfast started.

The water felt cool against my hands and so I decided to swim before I ate. The stream of water barely covered me as I lay on my back, but occasionally it caught my by surprise by rearing up like a frightened horse to infiltrate my nostrils as I took a breath. I coughed and floundered in the shallow depths.

Drowning, drowning, I thought before my senses could take control and haul me into the air. I attempted to appear nonchalant but my fluster stood bold. Nothing could see me, near me, but still I felt something watch my predicament. The pangs of hunger that drifted from the hills and I instantly forgot my foolhardy attempt at drowning. It was shallow as the water I was lying in.

I filled the kettle, gathered some sticks with which to construct a fire and headed off back to abstract collection of artefacts I needed when travelling. I lit a cigarette on arrival; then I lit the chaotic bundle of sticks, watching as the flames licked around the base of the pile. I placed my kettle on a stand over the fire and prepared my tea.

Reaching into my rucksack, I produced two thin slices of bread – white and threadbare. I pushed a stick through one slice and held it over the flames to toast, while the kettle began to build to a whistle. Soon a prominent tune was breaking the silent haze of the morning. Breakfast was ready.

I finished eating and washed up in the stream. I re-packed my battered rucksack and trudged back to the road. It would be a long, hot day and I exercised my thumb as cars sped past. My heart sank as the brake lights failed to glow. I had better luck at my fourteenth attempt and found myself climbing into the bucket seat of a red saloon. I turned to face my new chauffeur.

She was definitely going my way.

I was sucking on a joint she had rolled, sparked and then passed to me. Her name was Sheila and she was "just driving to nowhere, looking for some fun." We were kindred spirits, except I was without the wheels. I passed the joint back and lit a Marlboro.

We stopped off at the Petit Café at the roadside and took a seat. I ordered scrambled eggs, butter-soaked toast and a pot of tea for each of us. Over the next half hour we discussed our private lives and the distant years I thought I’d forgotten were dredged up, as if to prove that pain could never be relinquished. Sheila remained quiet as I told of my past. The skeletons in my closet weren’t few and far between, by any means. Honesty hurts sometimes, but lying makes honesty feel like a holiday in paradise so I spare her the bullshit and lay all my cards on the table.

Now, it was her deal.

I could see she sensed my being honest and she spilled out story after story, spewing out thought after thought until finally she was spent. Our lunch arrived to break the spell and we both ate heartily to fill the void we had just opened.

Hell might be hot, but it’s no comparison for a paradise lost.

Back in the car, another joint was passed back and forth and looming black mood shrank back. The rear view mirror was clear, nothing bad was following us. The laughter emanating from the car overshadowed the noise of the engine. We looked for somewhere to pitch the tent.

Today was a day the Gods would forever remember.

We both woke to the sound of rain on the tent, our sleep shattered. One of the seams had started to leak and Sheila laughed as a solitary drop of water slithered down my forehead and sat on the bridge of my nose before plunging off the precipice, headlong into the sleeping bag. I packed my belongings and stepped out naked, into the rain. The pins of water stuck in body as I showered.

We left the tent standing in the clearing; a monument to our travels together. I knew the trees would stand guard on the treasure if we should ever have to return; Sheila said "X marks the spot" and had drawn a huge cross in the mud with a stick as the rain lashed around her.

I made tea in the car and rolled a joint for Sheila; I lit a Marlboro and watched the cross she had drawn disappear in the marauding quagmire. She laughed. That was a morning not forgotten.

I drove as Sheila took a nap in the passenger seat. She smiled even as she slept. I could never sleep in the day but Sheila, well, she could sleep at any time. I was feeling hungry. I pulled the car into a lay-by and cut the engine. Sheila didn’t stir.

I reached over into the back seat and hunted around for some food, a packet of chips I knew was lying back there. My hand came across something cold. I gripped it and pulled it over to the front.

That was the final thing I care to remember. Now, I am prisoner 6439916/B and I sit alone in my cell. They wouldn’t let me attend her funeral. It was an accident. Twenty-five years is all I have to look forward to now. I’m going nowhere.

Yet another blog to keep an eye on

The list is getting dangerously big, but all the blogs I mention on this site are really worth popping along to, even if it's only the once.

The latest is posted on the Blogger Dashboard, but before it goes I want to immortalise it here.

The reason? I love my music. Adore it.

The ClipTip blog is a great place to watch some outstanding videos as well as pick out some great bands. I'd check out the link to Ambulance Ltd, currently a favourite of mine.

It'll be added to the listings, in case you forget to read this post.

purplesimon out...

A flurry of new stories

As you may have noticed, there has been a whole set of new stories posted on this blog. How did that come about, especially as I posted that I wouldn't be able to post much.

Am I am liar?

Well, no. I happened to be working from home this week and I used my spare time to type up some old stories from way back, as well as rewrite whole sections of them - I don't know where my head was at all those years ago.

I haven't exhausted this supply of stories, there are about another three or four I've uncovered. I also came across a play I wrote, which I might also post up, if I can find the time to type it in.

In the meantime, if you still think you'd rather read only stories here and pop along to another blog to read my opinions and rants, please let me know. Your comments are always appreciated.

purplesimon out...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Soldiering On

The cold clenched its fist around the blanket covering Sheena. We had become trapped down in this bunker since the first shell had landed, probably nine days ago – I’d lost track of the time, the day, sometimes even the year. Night became day with the constant shelling of the surrounding buildings.

Sheena stirred beneath his shelter. I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the skyline, attempting to discern how safe it would be to move out from our hiding place and into the open air of the battlefield. From my estimations, I believed the hospital to be only a few hundred yards from our present position. If we gave ourselves an outside chance we could be having our wounds tended by a sweet nurse, sympathetic to our cause as soldiers.

The sky rumbled against a background of smoke and flashing, hypnotic explosive light. I sat back, closed my eyes and sucked in a large gulp of harsh air; the acrid atmosphere was all I had breathed, the army did not sequester gas masks to its recruits. A cough from beneath the blanket brought me back to my duty: I had to move Sheena soon or else death was marching onward to claim our souls.

The trench had become a maze of corpses in varying states of decomposition. When the war was over, a bulldozer would simply come and backfill the meandering scars with fresh soil, forever burying a part of history; forever negating the role of the government in this massacre. How well the media was covering the event was unbeknownst to all but a privileged few and they were surely never going to tell us about the goings-on behind the thin veil of bombings and bullet hole parties.

What had become of the rest of the world, one could only guess at; this was the only time that we, the militants, could ever be conservative. I was beginning to wonder if any other country really cared about the atrocities conveyed by the guerrilla forces. There was certainly nobody around now to answer these questions for me, it was only I who could make the decisions about the future of the next generation. Who else might be left was down to guesswork and dreaming. Or nightmares.

Another day has definitely passed. The sun shone through the clouds of whirling, billowing smoke for a second. I had glimpsed a future, a sign even. I decided to read it that way. Flakes of charred snow fell into our trench hideaway. They were burning our city.

I grasped Sheena under my curving arm, my legs testing the stability of the ground underfoot and the weight I was asking it to bear. He had lost weight and felt like a feather in m embrace. I took a step towards the high banks of the trench, the ground remaining sturdy beneath my heavy boots. Heaving Sheena over one shoulder I began the ascent to the top. The breath was wheezing through his lungs with my every step. I felt a slow trickle of his blood down my neck where it mingled with my sweat at the nape. He was dying and I was his only chance.

The ashen snow of the burning buildings intermingled with an acidic shower of rain: urine of the sky. I raised my head to drink, forcing myself to swallow the bitter, burning liquid of life. I kept some in my mouth and transferred it on to Sheena’s blistered lips. He hadn’t taken any fluid since receiving the shrapnel wound in his side. I had kept him alive as best I could, but supplies had become non-existent some time ago. Moving on was our only hope.

I had reached the top of the trench, our stinking pit of death lying below. Peering over the edge of the banked topsoil I could see nothing of the landscape nor provide any information regarding its topography. I moved my head through 180 degrees, left to right, allowing my escaping breath to blow away the ubiquitous smoke surrounding us. Sheena coughed and I remembered he was still over my shoulder. Momentarily I had forgotten the desperate load I carried. Not purposely forgotten; the soldier in me had taken over.

I listened intently for any noise which would give away the position of the enemy soldiers. As I expected, there was nothing. I relieved my burden on to the soft earth banked around my hiding place. I felt as if I were climbing from a grave, freshly dug to intern the helpless soldiers. We were the giblets of war.

Around us was chaos. The road system was inchoate, fallen trucks and tanks blocking the path for anything larger than a bicycle. Or a man. I knew from my training that these were also good places to conceal a sniper. I pressed my palm against the holster attached to my belt and felt much safer. I hoped that I had remembered to load some bullets into my gun.

Fear is the mother of paranoia, one feeding the other until reality is all but a distant memory. I could sense nothing in the immediate vicinity as I dragged myself from the suction of safety and into the open space of the city.

I took Sheena in my arms, his limbs flailing madly through unconsciousness. He was limp and heavy cupped to my chest as I lumbered through the choking mud of the war.

Gritting my teeth I Iaboured towards where I thought the hospital stood. I hoped it would still be standing, efficient doctors and nurses coming to our aid with bandages and brandy. Clouds of dust rose from the destruction that had taken place during the night. Flames still flickered around window frames and doorways; the ash had consumed the earth as the smoke had the sky, leaving no area untouched. I made the precarious journey of hope against a backdrop of burning, smoking ruins that I had once been proud to call my home.

Finally, I found myself and Sheena beside an upturned lorry. To m surprise it had yet to be looted. I thought again about how this was a dangerous situation to be in as I searched feverishly for medical supplies and any source of food that could be considered edible by the human body. My composure was wearing thin when I stumbled across tins of fruit and meat. My joy was overshadowed by the discovery that medical supplies would not be coming to us via some other’s misfortune.

I ate heartily, Sheena even managed a few mouthfuls of food before collapsing through the exhaustion of staying alive. I sang a melody in my head, creating a song in my mind to help block out the horror of right and wrong. Long has it all been forgotten exactly who is right and whether anyone was wrong in the first place.

I decided to press on into the wilderness I had once called home. Nothing looked as I had remembered it and I found my bearings hard to make. Through the briefest of clearings in the smoke I could espy the ruins of the city’s cathedral. Even a building of religious sanctity could not be spared from the bombing. Tears reached my cheeks as I gripped the almost lifeless body to my own, in the hope that I may keep my friend and colleague alive. I lurched toward the cathedral, the hospital had only been one block away and there, like an oasis, the buildings stood proud and forthright.

I blinked my way forward, the tears I had shed before gone, replaced by a blinding cacophony of falling ash. I stood before the House of God mentally crossing myself before resuming my sickeningly slow pace. I had been correct in my assumptions: the hospital stood, a menhir amongst the buildings that had been razed to the ground. They formed a derelict sight, a concoction of death and destruction. My heart was pounding as I swallowed it back. My elation was cascading from my every pore, a smile eclipsing my scarred features. I must have looked radiant.

I felt as if nothing could harm me. The sounds of war disappeared into the distance, a shroud of womb-like air nestled around the form of this soldier, marching with the wounded in hand from the tragicomedy of pride we call war.

Don't Swim in the Pool

Michael looked up from the table, across smoke and empty beer bottles, to the door. It opened almost immediately and in strode a tall man wearing a cowboy hat and a long leather coat.

”Over here,” called Michael

The man walked forward, stepping under the light, staring with his intense eyes at Michael. He took a seat and signalled to the barman that he wanted serving. He sat back, noticing Michael holding him in his gaze apprehensively.

The barman stepped over the man ordered two beers without shifting his gaze from Michael.

”I guess you must be Michael Shelton?” the man said, finally.

”Yes,” replied Michael, glad that the silence was finally halted, but unsure of the conversation.

The beers arrived and Michael took a large slug from his bottle to calm his nerves.

”As you know,” Michael began, “I am from a large magazine called Pedestal and I am interested in interviewing you on a subject I know nothing about. I believe that you contacted my editor about this. What gives?”

”Patience my friend, patience. All will be revealed.”

The man reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and pulled free a packet of Marlboro cigarettes; he placed one between his lips and lit it before offering on to Michael.

” I don’t smoke, thank you,” he said, declining the offer. “What is this all a…”

”Patience!” interrupted the man. “I am Chris Palscul and I have a story to tell. You, my friend, only need to listen."

It all started back in 1985. I was drinking in a bar in London, but this is irrelevant. Playing pool was my life, always had been and always will be. That particular day had been a bad one: I’d just been sacked from my job; my wife at the time was giving me hassles and my so-called friends just didn’t want to know me. I was sitting drinking, just as we are, when an elderly gentleman entered the bar. He came straight for my table, sat down and ordered two beers.

”Hello Chris,” he said, “fancy a game of pool?”

To say I was a little taken aback is an understatement. I didn’t know this man from, well, Adam. Still, I took him up on his offer. He told me his name was George Winters and that he had seen me playing pool a few days before and had inquired as to who I was. At least that explained how he came to know my name but not his motives. This was just the beginning.

Michael ordered two more beers and took a cigarette from Chris’ packet that was lying on the table between them.

”May I?” he asked

”Go ahead my friend,” Chris said as he leaned forward with his lighter.

Please continue,” Michael uttered as he turned the tape over in his Dictaphone.

Well, George and I played a couple of frames. He was good, but I managed to take a couple of frames from him.

Chris sat back and contemplated what he had just said. He reached up and scratched his forehead and used the back of his weathered hand to wipe the sweat from his brow.

”Do to continue when you feel ready. I’m interested,” prodded Michael.

”Thank you,” replied Chris, reaching for his cigarettes. He lit one methodically and inhaled. Michael could distinctly hear the râle in each breath. Chris continued.

As I said, I took a couple of games from the old man and I felt good, like I’d never felt before. I guessed it was the beer, but it was stranger, somehow more personal. It was as if he knew just how to make things seem brighter. All was going well, in my opinion, but how wrong I was.

”What do you mean?” interrupted Michael.

”Patience!” barked Chris angrily.

George went to the bar and gestured to the landlord. A nod was returned and I proceeded to take my next shot. As I drew back my arm George clamped his hand around it firmly and asked me to follow him. Without a single thought, I did. It was as if I could not resist this man, his thoughts.

He led me through a door and into a back room, which I didn’t even know existed. Standing in this room was the most pristine pool table I’ve ever come across. It was already racked up and ready to play. It was then that George spoke and I will never, to the day I die, forget what he said.

There was a clunk as the tape in the Dictaphone finished.

”Shit,” spat Michael. “Hold that thought,” he continued, trying to gain his composure. He fumbled in his jacket for a second tape and then he came upon it. He inserted it into the machine, pressing record with his thumb.

“I’m sorry, d-d-do continue,” he stammered, afraid he may have offended Chris. His drinking partner just sat there expressionless in front of him, waiting patiently. A moment’s pause was taken and then Chris began again.

George said to me… Have you ever wanted to hurt people, to kill people, without getting directly involved?

I just stood there, dumbstruck. I mean, what do you say? He repeated the question and my head just filled with thoughts of my boss sacking me, my friends disowning me, all the people I have ever hated and right at the forefront of this was my wife. Without thinking, I mumbled yes. It felt good, like a weight had been lifted.

George handed me a piece of chalk and showed me to the board. On it were numbers – from one to eight – and a space next to each number. He told me to fill in each space with the names of the people I hated most, reserving the eight ball for that one person whom I hated most of all at that particular time. I did just as he said and I placed my wife’s name on the line opposite the eight ball.

George told me we would play a game of pool. I was to pot each ball in turn, from one to eight, but in that order. He said that each time I potted a ball the corresponding person would die. Then he asked me to make my break.

”And did you?” Michael asked expectantly.

”Yeah, but I couldn’t go through with potting the balls, it made me feel physically sick.

”I don’t blame you,” agreed Michael, as he pushed back the sour taste in his mouth and throat.

”There is more,” Chris said, finally. “So, you’d better turn your tape over.”

Michael did as instructed, inhaling hard on his cigarette as he prepared for Chris’ next instalment. After what seemed like days, Chris finally spoke.

George didn’t even bat an eyelid when I declined to pot the balls, he simply took my cue from me and potted the first ball. He looked me in the eye and said: I’ll do it for you kid, don’t you worry.

”Didn’t you question him?” enquired Michael.

”I only had one question: what happens if the cue ball goes down?

”And?” Michael said, excitedly.

”The person who takes the shot dies instead.

Somewhere, a pin was thrust into the balloon of Michael’s excitement and it deflated with a pop.

Chris took up the story where he had left off.

Well, George answered my question, but he stressed that he had never witnessed a cue ball going in. It was as if some force was controlling it. With that he rattled the shots off until only the black eight ball remained. George stood up and offered me a cigarette. It was then that I took up smoking as a second job.

”Well, who wouldn’t?” Michael concluded.

Anyway, we sat there and smoked, but not a single word was exchanged. When he had finished his ciggy, George stubbed it out under his boot and leaned forward, over the table to pot the final ball. As he did so, a picture of my wife flashed into my head. It was as clear as if she’d been there. A snapshot. I couldn’t let him go through with it: I still loved her.

I watched George’s arm pull back and I cried out for him to stop. The sequence of events that followed I never want to witness again.

The cue tip struck the white ball. It skewed off in the direction of the far corner pocket. George leapt for it, but he just missed and down it went.

George dropped the cue as if it were a red hot poker and clasped his hands to his throat. He made noises, horrible sounds like he was choking although he didn’t appear to be asphyxiating. He fell to the floor, convulsing and then he just, well, melted into the floor. He disappeared. I got up, left and I never went back. Never.

”What about your wife?” Michael asked.

”Well, she survived. I guess I didn’t hate her after all. A case of misguided love, you could say.” Chris answered.

”Jesus,” said Michael, repeating it over and over.

”That is all my friend, that is all I have to tell you. Any questions?”

“Just one,” replied Michael. “Have you got time for a game?”

“Rack ‘em up…”

Monday, August 15, 2005


he sat playing patience solitaire lonely cards in all the descriptive ways by candlelight, playing cards smoking cigarettes for the first time in three hours a record. the kind that does not spin but revolves. beneath a halo of light he sits patiently in solitude flickerflickerflicker – ing light dancing playing glinting with a vanity caressing an importance of his life now it is quiet the bamboozling and bewildering unease in his presence gone. fluttered like a leaf melting butter on toast fresh he blinks and pulls the robe over his exposed genitals affording a momentary scratch an itch, always invisible never waiting for the Marilyn seven years, beers and cigarettes playing solitaire with a mind which is dissolving. candlelight hides the colours
knicker-teen-stained mind nicotine-pained breath “lovely reefer, ether stained” he sings in his heart head lair prison – camp – it’s intense…
shufflingshufflingshuffling thru daytoday grindgrime patient the game is finished the light throws shadows he cannot catch without faceplacesstasis an heir of graces thronethrown never caught but always falling with occasional rest. he could look out of the window if it was not shuttered. he does because he knows tomorrow his eyes may not open. a wish.
at midnight he turns and sleeps alone patient solitary, as a deck of cards. easy to see how he got where he is start at the top and descendplummet to the bottom of an endless spiral scratching wrists on thorns cryingcryingcrying out shout scream hiding scars pretending – before the camp – pre-tence. shelterless.
life is just something else to blemish a skin to cut and dissect inspect correct something else to blame-ish; like gravitydeathwaterlightdark: it has to exist.
a fruit machine that takes your last coin because it has to pump out the jackpot [forthenextluckypunter]. on his first attempt.

The Telephone

”As for the life of flies I have no time. You call me a dog and I’ll be at your heel begging for a scrap of food and the love I receive when the mood takes you… more often than not it’s a kick in the guts. Tail between my legs, I’ll keep coming back for more… I’ll keep coming.”

Stuart raised his glass and tried to focus through the haze of another binge. The glass slipped through his fingers and plunged to the bar, scattering, like pigeons, the peanuts in the bowl, before splitting fragments of glass, gin, tonic and ice over the vicinity.

”Who knocked my fucking drink out of my hand?” he slurred at the ever-thinning air.

Stuart punched wildly before picking a fight with the fruit machine and then the jukebox. He won neither. Regaining his composure, he quickly lit a cigarette in the hope that it would cover his embarrassment.

”One more of the road, please barman,” he pleaded in a whining voice, rather more like a child than a 26-year old man.

“And one more for Wendy, wherever she is and whoever she’s screwing at the moment.”

Stuart leant back and the world went black as the sky swallowed the sun. He collapsed heavily into the molten floor, into the pit of bastard snakes.

The audience of other drinkers, bar staff, and alike, watched him fall but no one came to his aid. Stuart was the one who was often in this state and it was such a regular occurrence that it was almost possible to set a watch by Stuart’s drinking antics, which always ended up with him disintegrating into the floor.

Stuart was a dog. Stuart was a bum. Stuart was the unwanted kick in the guts.

”Where is my drink? Where is my…”

The voice tailed off into oblivion and no one dared to answer in case the beast on the floor woke up.

At around two in the morning, Geoff stepped around the bar with a bucket of cold water and threw it over Stuart, whose clothes were already sodden with urine and alcohol. His face and hands were spattered with dried blood from the self-inflicted wounds of a man out of control in his fight with reality. Stuart murmured as Geoff flung him headlong out of the door, harbouring a secret hope that he wouldn’t be back. Ever.

The cold night air came like a punch to the face for Stuart and he came to as if he’d never been drunk. Then he remembered. He tried to walk but his legs had ceased to function. Balancing against a lamp post, Stuart tried to get himself together for the journey home. It was a journey he would complete and he knew it. Stuart fell on all fours so that he could not do any further damage to himself. This was a manoeuvre he’d practiced many times. He lumbered on to his bedsit, stopping occasionally to vomit.

The telephone rang, splitting the silence in two. Stuart woke from his restless slumber. He crawled on all fours again, this time from his site of sleeping, wincing in the pain of his cut hands and knees that was stabbing him. He reached for the receiver, but an invisible force seemed to keep pulling it away from him. Anger swept over him and he surged for the annoying ringing telephone and he made it.

”Hello,” he said, but the other end of the line was dead.

He replaced the receiver with a harsh bang and cursed the caller for not waiting longer at the other end. He threw a glance at his bedside clock, which returned his stare with a deadpan look and announced that it was 11.02am.

Stuart clambered to his feet, but sat back down swiftly as the world seemed very unsteady on its axis and the room spun in never-ending circles. Stuart clutched his stomach; it felt as if someone was washing their clothes in it and the machine was on a fast spin. He retched and vomit filled his mouth. He managed to hold it back and swallow it down. The first meal of the day was always the worst, wasn’t that what his father had said after a night on the beer? Stuart gagged again and then passed out.

He regained consciousness and again the phone was ringing in what was becoming a personal recurring nightmare.

”Not again!” he said, the déjà vu sending a shiver down his spine.

He saw his senses scattered aimlessly around the room and gathered them into his arms and the picked up the receiver, if only to cease the constant ringing battering his eardrums.

Stuart was still reeling from the thought of already having been in this particular position before, but he managed to stammer a greeting down the wire, only to find it was, for a second time, dead. He couldn’t believe it. Not again.

He pushed his bulging eyes back into their sockets and combed his hair with his splayed fingers and then let out a blood-curdling scream. He took a deep breath, which penetrated as he tried to calm his pulsating nerves. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6... he didn’t get as far as ten before he screamed again.

Was he delirious? Was he finally going insane? His head hurt the more he fruitlessly searched for the answers. He decided against thinking about it any further and returned to the sleep from which he’d been rudely woken once. He embraced the unconscious state he had known many times since Wendy had left him. At once the smile left his face.

When Stuart has finally fallen into a deep sleep, he dreamt of how his life was before the accident. He’d had a well-paid job, a wife – no, a loving wife – and a little boy, whom he had adored. Wendy and Christopher; how he could see them vividly in his dreams, but they faded away when he reached out to them or looked upon them with his misted eyes.

Then it was the same; his dreams always followed a similar pattern of events. This was the scene of the accident. This was it.

It was all a bit of a blur to Stuart, as if he were trying to focus with his eyes half closed. He tried so hard to shift the amnesia cemented in his mind, Then he had it. That was it!

A bad mood had eclipsed him that day. He had woken late and Wendy had not had time to fix him breakfast as usual. Work had been playing on his mind. Stuart had definitely been preoccupied and he just didn’t see the truck. He stepped from the kerb, into the road.

It was all a blur,

Stuart had woken in hospital. The nurses had disclosed some information – how he’d been in their care for twelve weeks while he was in a coma.

Where had his life gone? Stuart could not, for the life of him, remember all that had occurred that fateful morning. It came back to him slowly, creeping up on him in his dreams. It was then that he had turned to the bottle for comfort. It helped to blot out the painful memory of that eventful episode.

Stuart’s drinking had started as the odd one or two in the evening with his meal and had progressed like a forest fire until he had started drinking heavily, arguing with Wendy on an almost constant basis.

The next part would never be a blur to Stuart. He would be forever haunted by his actions towards Christopher.

Oh, it was so stupid, so pointless now he could analyse it.

Chris has been playing outside, kicking a ball against the wall when it had accidentally hit the window. Stuart had reacted like a man possessed by the devil. He had grabbed hold of the whimpering child, beating and shaking him. Stuart was incensed. Wendy had screamed and picked up Stuart’s bottle of gin. She had his lifeline and she was threatening to smash it.

She wouldn’t. She couldn’t, not to Stuart.

He had dropped Christopher as if he was a rag doll and snatched the bottle from Wendy’s hand. He had watched as she’d grabbed the car keys, bundled Christopher into her arms and driven away. She had left him.

The divorce was messy, but the bottle had, as always, helped Stuart through. It has been his tower of strength, his only friend. The bottle had never turned its back. It had been his therapist ever since the accident.

Stuart woke with a start, bathed in a sweat and the stench of vomit. His room looked like the aftermath of a personal holocaust. The war still raged and Stuart was fighting a losing battle against himself.

The telephone rang again.

This time Stuart was fully awake and he had the receiver in his right hand before the second ring had sounded. He spoke down the line with an anger and assertiveness he had never possessed before. He barked the ‘hello’ down the line and he was greeted by a voice from the other end of the line, one which struck a chord of familiarity with him.

”Look out of the window, Stuart. Go on, look out,” the voice stated before the line went dead.

The voice was gone.

Stuart sat on the edge of his bed for what seemed like an eternity, until he had obtained enough courage to pull himself to his feet. He was unsteady but he managed to stumble forward. He pressed his face against the window pane and peered out. He scanned the road outside and his eyes fixed themselves on a figure in the telephone box across the street. The familiarity that Stuart had experienced earlier came again.

He watched transfixed as he saw his own body in the phone box, dialling his home number.

Tears streamed down Stuart’s cheeks and he clasped his hands over his open mouth. He was shaking uncontrollably as he ran headlong to the mirror on the dressing table. He looked hard at his reflection but could see nothing but a grey, listless figure. Stuart fell to his knees and wept.

The mirror shattered and the glass shards pinned Stuart to the floor. He was dead.

The police arrived several hours later and forcibly entered the bedsit. The officer who stepped in first reeled at the disgusting odour, clenching his stomach as he moved forwards slowly. The air was thick with the reek of death.

”Looks like a suicide John,” said the constable, his teeth clamped shut in an attempt to stop the rising bile.

Just then, the telephone rang. A puzzled look fell over the faces of those officers present, as the telephone had been disconnected some six months previously. Curiosity tapped the young constable on the shoulder and he reached down, picked up the receiver and placed it against his ear.

A voice that the constable was sure he’d heard before said:

”Look out of the window constable. Go on, look out.”

Thoughts of a Train Traveller

I sat on the platform screaming at the guard, like a boil spewing pus as it burst. He was a derelict man who was well overdue for demolition. He was lost in the world of railways and my screaming was not getting though. The rail service had performed his lobotomy to the book.

The loudspeaker annihilated my sense with a crackled hum; a voice came over that sounded like a hyena on LSD, at that annoying pitch that makes you cover your ears and recite nursery rhymes just to keep your mind off of the words, which make no sense, coming out of the metal torture apparatus just above head height.

I perused the line, expecting the train I am sure Mr. Hyena had just announced to appear, only to see nothing but empty tracks, which seemed to be laughing at my predicament. It was now forty-five minutes since I arrived at this station and somewhere along the line I must have slipped into a time warp, because there had not been a single train in that period of time. My gut was pleading to be fed or else it would consume my body from the inside out.

Could it get any worse?

The train ambled (for want of a better word) into the station and showered myself and my fellow passengers in a nauseating stench. Should I board this train without first being inoculated against all forms of disease? If any of the heinous creatures departing the train now were anything to go by, an iron lung was probably more suitable. However, another hour here would turn me into an infested carcass anyway.

This must be the government payback for being a student and not paying income tax for the past five years.

The oceans of green grass (as if it would be any other colour!?) float out of either side of the me and the trees have dropped anchor and moored in the docks that line the train windows. I’m sure I don’t actually move, but there are two people attached to the end of the train, spinning handles to make the scenery go fast, slow or stop.

I wonder if they pay income tax.

I also hope they don’t go out of sync or my head will surely explode.

Maybe it’s just one person who uses both arms? If it’s true, I’m glad I’m not on the London to Edinburgh express.

To my left is blue sky, untouched by clouds, painted by an artist; to my right is a view that resembles a battlefield scarred with clouds and a dying sun. I make pictures from the clouds and shoot the aeroplanes I see with my imaginary anti-aircraft missiles; all this just to prevent myself from falling asleep.

My stomach is now yearning for a McDonalds. It must be desperate.

Ten more minutes and this journey will be over and I can look forward to food, beer and a night at the seaside. Knowing my luck, I’ll wake up to find it’s all been a dream – or possibly a nightmare – and I’m still sitting at the station I originally started from. Mr. Hyena is shaking me and saying, “The next train to arrive on platform three is going to Hell…”


I am a pampered celebrity in the society around me. The rain falls in a complicated drizzle, as the Gods above me urinate on the land below. The wind is blowing hard from the sea and it whisks my off my feet and on to the train for the return journey back to Mr. Hyena.

I stayed an extra day in this coastal palace, which will fuck up my schedule no end, but life is for living today, so why worry about tomorrow? It will never come in my lifetime.

My journey has already been hampered by a mobile phone carrying character with a mountain of luggage and telescopic eyes that appeared to feast on my body, soul and thoughts. The schism was an aura around him and I felt uneasy in his gaze. He lumbered on up the train and my smile came out from behind the clouds.

There are no companions in my carriage so I am left to my own devices. I masturbate my brain to ejaculate thoughts with which to brighten my travels, but, I’m still lost in the chasms of last night’s lust and at this minute I have no intention of climbing out into the blizzard of reality.

My cage is secure and I’ve locked it from the inside.

The cars float down the tarmac rivers under the bridge on which we have stopped. We edge forward slowly as if afraid of what lies ahead. Maybe the earth is flat after all and we will be thrown from the world and spiral into space. It didn’t happen on my outward journey, so I see no reason why it should have changed.

I’ll reserve this space to be cynical and watch the cows charge at the raindrops.

The train continues to meander through the countryside, a cumbersome metal carriage. A portable machine drip-feeds music into my ears and I tap my foot as my subconscious takes hold.

Suddenly I am reminded of the second confrontation with Mr. Hyena that is imminent. A noxious acid in my stomach rises to burn my oesophagus and mouth. I resist the temptation to be sick and swallow my first meal of the day. It doesn’t fill me up so I repeat the act and confuse my stomach into thinking I have eaten. It is nice to know that at least one part of my body still behaves like a child.

I think how children are a dying breed; adulthood is too quick to jump from the flickering shadows to embrace our childhood in a deathly suffocating crush. I close my eyes to blot out the image and sleep.

I reach for my cigarettes but eye the NO SMOKING sign with apprehension. My better judgement decides against lighting up. Sometimes life sucks, especially as I have paid for this seat and my luxuries are snatched away from me like sweets are from a naughty… child? Young adult? Maybe Mr. Hyena will be a blessing after all.

I finally arrive at my destination and make my way to the kiosk, where I can purchase food. I can also have a cigarette.

I light up a calming stick of cancerous tobacco and inhale deeply, blowing smoke rings that are immediately ripped apart by the ever-increasing velocity of the wind. I let out a gust myself, stamp out the cigarette and board a new train for the remainder of my journey. I turn on my personal stereo and replenish the drip, sit back and relax with a packet of crisps. I crunch the bones of wheat, which my gut rapes in the bushes. I close my mouth as I eat so that the screams are not released.

As I reminisce about the past forty-eight hours, I cry venomous tears and lick my burnt lips so that they may not crack when I smile.

And smile I do, for Mr. Hyena was on his day off.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I'm thinking of

I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning thinking about whether I should make some major changes to this blog.

I haven't had time to post much up recently, mainly because I've been busy at work; however, something has come to my attention and I want to know if I should undertake a radical change to this blog.

Here's what I'm thinking:

  1. Take out all the superfluous nonsense on this blog, such as the favourite sites, inane comments, etc and move it to a new blog.

  2. Leave only the stories on this blog and only post new stories here.

The reason I am thinking this:

  1. Some new people may come to this site and not see a story. This may make them move away and not look through the site, especially if I haven't posted some fiction up over a period of a week or so. I don't want that.

  2. Also, Chris from Spontaneous Fiction has posted a link on his own blog to mine, which tells people that they can expect some reading material on this site.

I want people to get what they can reasonably expect.

However, I don't want to do this if it will upset the equilibrium of this blog.

So, I pass this over to you. I'm going to be busy over the next week and I will come back to this blog and, hopefully, I'll find that the Gods have spoken (yes, there are surely more than one God, hence the pluralisation) and I will have the right answer.

Over to you.

purplesimon out...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

To my loyal readers

How many of you are loyal, I don't know.

I just want to let those that come here know that I won't be posting anything new. The reason? I've had my contract extended at Lida for at least another week, possibly three.

So, I intend to get out my box of old stories at the weekend and type them up for my blog.

I apologise, but I'm sure you'll forgive me for putting my mortgage payments first.

purplesimon out...

Fun and inspiration

There are some places on the Web that I go to for fun, some for inspiration.

Here are two sites - one if for fun and the other is for inspiration.

Take your time with both and respond with your comments


purplesimon out...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Another piece of work goes live

This one has been a long time in production, but I love it now it's finally finished.

Have a look at the new adidas Innovation site and see what you think.

Just so you know, this site pops up and requires the Flash 7 player.

purplesimon out...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

An apology

I post up a weird story and then don't write anything for days, so you'd be forgiven if you thought I'd lost it and run off and painted myself with tar and rolled in feathers.

I haven't. Ever.

What I have been doing is rushing around London to interviews and securing some work for the next week or so. Hurrah.

The company is part of M&C Saatchi and is called Lida, which is pronounced L.E.E.D.A and is an amalgamation of the first two letters of the founders' first names. So the little book in the reception area told me.

The job is brilliant and the creative is good. I'm one of two copywriters on the job, one of whom works for the agency full-time. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I am there to impress.

So, even though I have popped up some new stories, I probably won't be writing much for the coming week.

I apologise now.

If you're a newbie to my blog and want to read some stories, December was a good month, so take a look at that.

purplesimon out...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Reality Picnic

In the twilight, my sweat pours and my body tenses in the act of pleasurable torture. As I look down at my lover writhing with the pain of ecstasy from my penetration, I see she is smiling. Smiling for whom? Smiling for someone lost in the midst of the cranial organ, fighting to be released in a passionate climax.

I touch her body and it moves with my caresses. We are one together and our souls merge with the energy of a star. We implode and I push myself against her, to search deeper and feel her convulsions. Holding tight, the naked flesh echoes in the evening air. The skin has a radiance flowing into the ocean. I have caught the sun in my hands and tamed it. Now I am the master, my lover the mistress.

The dawn breaks our embrace and my skin ceases in its torrid flow of tears. The warmth, oh, how welcoming! I place my lips on her breast and drink at will from her fortune. I have taken a large slice from the forbidden fruit and any punishment will be gratefully received. Pulled close with open arms until she is overwhelmed by my splendour.

My inner conscience as been tattooed with the memory of a synchronised act of love. Now, I shall enter the water of life and drink until I have conquered my thirst.

I return to see her lying on the bed of roses, reflecting the light in her eyes to paint a spectrum of colours across the whole room. In her hand, tentatively she holds a cigarette, which glows almost as brightly as she.

The smoke dances a dance of seven veils and the sensual movement of the smoke captivates me, for a moment; it glides through the air on a mission.

In. Out. Her breathing so regular, etching more pictures with the smoke it is releasing.

I return to bed and glances of youthful lust are exchanged along with cigarette. I too taste the Heaven of tobacco. A utopia has returned and is climbs into bed alongside us.

Laura, my lover, senses my trepidation. It's the circling smoke; she retrieves the cigarette from my trembling fingers. My eyes have seen but my mind has closed its inner eye in disbelief.

I chew on the thought for a split second before spitting it forth into the gutter; but it keeps on climbing up to yield, in the inner sanctum of my mind, an unnerving precipitation of ideologies. I await its next move.

Meanwhile, I attempt to dam the fast flowing river.

I return to my lover's breast and slowly move down to take us into the far reaches of Heaven and Hell.

We drown in each other.

We share another cigarette and revel in the glory of our lovemaking; basking in the spiralling rays of sun as it pulls itself up into the sky, heaving itself into eternity. Laura leaves to go to the bathroom and left behind is a void, yearning to be filled.

Her poisonous charms cascade from her as she walks, staining the floor with rainbows. I pick them up and fill the void with the jigsaw pieces. The chasm holds no fear for me now and I draw on the cigarette with relief.

But, the smoke: it dances differently. The conductor of the orchestra has changed the tempo of its tune. It has lost its informal theme. The backbone has been broken, snapped in two by hands that feel not for delicate things. I am pensive.

I try to call to Laura, but I have swallowed a desert and I reel from the images taking refuge in my head. The smoke will rise no more as the invisible extractor fan pulls it into the black hole.

The world stops and waits.

I take a large bite from the reality sandwich. The taste is sour in my mouth as I masticate. My surroundings spin on an accelerating Ferris wheel. I grip the bed in desperation, trying hard not to be flung off into oblivious obscurity. I clench my eyes shut to the razorblade apparitions and hope and pray that these ghosts will have vanished when I reopen them. I lift one eyelid.

The tension so thick in the air I fight to breathe. The smoke is still the same. The fan is still on full and is trying to take me with it.

My fear departs and curiosity arrives with the force of a lightning bolt. What is going on? Someone please tell me, as my threadbare assumptions provide no substance.

Substance, was there ever any?

I think out loud: what is substance? What is reality? If I look closer at the spot where the smoke stops and the indecision starts will I find the answer? I peruse the room, collecting thoughts from the trees, taking care to pick only those that are ripe.

I sink back into the bed and wait for my wounds to heal; I contemplate my next move. I am exhausted and exalted. My tenuous grip that once was is now more assertive.

Laura returns and takes her place next to me. She kisses me with a fragrance burned from the sun and then turns over, as she is hungry for sleep. Famished.

I am wide awake, but it will be strenuous to stay that way. However, this experiment needs to be resolved. This hypothesis-thirst needs to be quenched and I am ready to drink until the tap runs dry.

A cigarette is ceremoniously lit and I sacrifice my want for nicotine and swirl within the smoke itself.

I feel as though I am in a crowd, suffocating in my claustrophobia, unable to push away the hands that are holding me down. Do I really want to swim free from the covering bandages? I think I am ready to drown, just to experience the sensation of the other side. Substance again? To answer this I must persist in this relationship with the smoke. To give up now would admit defeat; to persevere would be the ultimate revenge against reality. I am still impounded by apprehension, but I will surely break through with further advancement into the quivering abyss.

I touch the air above the smoke of the cigarette and watch my fingers slowly disappearing. I pull away, choking with disgust. I count my fingers to make sure they all exist still. Relief follows as I count four.

Substance exists in this world but from that point, it ceases to be so. The magnetic pull of sleep has been repelled to make way for this new scene in the play for reality. The substance I am defining is split into two parts:

  1. That I can see and feel

  2. That which exists in my mind

After appearing to touch another dimension I prefer the substance I can smell, touch, taste. The substance in my head is what I want to grasp but I know not how. I think about waking my lover, Laura, to question myself further, but my thoughts race in the direction of the smoke and the time has come to step into the unknown.

I reach out, grab at the air with both hands, and give a slight tug. To my surprise – and wonder – the air starts to give way. Am I in a play? My senses on full alert, I begin to peel away the "scenery" around me. The air begins to fold back like badly pasted wallpaper. The substance does exist! It is the real within the unreal!

My excitement is growing, the adrenalin pumping so hard in my veins I am afraid they may explode. The anticipation is holding them back.

I am breaking the cage of reality, out, into another place. The outside world.

As I pull harder, I notice that the smoke is spinning in circles, slowly, almost at a standstill. It has grabbed me by the throat so that my eyes take a closer look. The fist of reality has punched me hard.

I examine the small aperture to assure my conscience that it is real. I turn to Laura and realise her breathing, her consciousness has become slower also. A snail's pace. What is happening?

I'm not sure, but it is too late to go back now. Something is urging me on; another part of me that I cannot see, hear, smell, taste nor question is attempting to pull me back. I look at the clock.

It has stopped.

Now that I know the second substance is a reality, I must stop rational thought and carry on with my work. Am I mad? I do not feel sane but no one is around to tell me either way.

I widen the aperture further so that I can gaze through it into the illogical.

I take a deep breath, releasing it with care and stand up to press my eye into the space within space. The substance within substance.

My naked flesh shivers with excitement, apprehension, fear. I spurn these feelings, for they may make me neglect my task. Completing this has gone far beyond necessity. Countless thoughts scamper through my head, but one remains, fixed: I MUST ESCAPE.

The implications of my breakout are not known and they do not cross my mind. Consequences, consequences... more substance.

I spy through the air keyhole into a chamber, an unknown, unseen catacomb: a labyrinth of absolution. My head proceeds further into the space beyond space beyond. I scream at the sight.

My pupils dilate and encompass the whole eye. I am scared.

Frightened by the horror before me, I try to reel from the scene, but something keeps my eyes glued to the stage in the theatre of pain. A force lifts my arms up to the hole and I pull harder. I've got to break from this cage, got to get out.

I am not in control anymore, something has infiltrated my body and this is no longer funny. I am out of control. Under the influence. I am not me. Me has no substance of any kind.

The white-coated men are running back and forth, scurrying like disturbed rats. There is a line of test tubes on a white bench in this bland whitewashed room. There is no substance here, either. With the last of my strength, I scan the room. Test tubes. TEST TUBES.

This is a test, an experiment. That is why there is no substance. But why? Why me? I catch sight of a large bottle on the end of the bench. This is the final part of the experiment and the bottle has my name on it. The organism at the bottom, it's me. ME! I am nothing. My whole life has always been nothing but a vacuum. It is time to get in and save myself before it's too late.

The white coats are milling around me but to them I am far away. I lumber into the laboratory, blinded by the glare from the lights. The doctors look worried now that I have shattered any illusions they may have had.

Except one. He has a hypodermic needle in his hand and, like a kamikaze pilot, he is coming in for the kill. I have to reach myself before he does. He is quick, I'll give him that, but I hope to be quicker. The alarm bells are loud. The lights in my head are flashing with severe intensity and the cutting glare of the lights is making me dizzy.

There is a stabbing pain flowing through my body and a picture of pain suddenly burns my vision. It feels as though I have swallowed broken glass, which is multiplying. The final plunge of the hypodermic commits the end obliteration. It, me, is finished.

The doctor in the white coat moves towards me. The last thing I see is my own face pasted on to the no-substance body of my death inflictor. Substance was the beginning and no substance was the killer blow. I have just committed suicide and I had no control over my own actions. Time stopped for a reason... no substance.


"Hello James. How are you this morning? You gave us quite a fright last night. We had to sedate you. You were clawing at the air and now you'll have to be strapped down for your own protection; at least until Dr. Francis says it's okay for them to be removed. Now, time for another shot."

"How is he this morning nurse?" Dr. Francis asked.

"Fine now, Dr, but he keeps on mumbling. Best we keep an eye on him?"

"Yes, yes. Thank you. Keep me informed."

Substance. Suicide. Men in white coats. My lover... my lover... I am the master and she the mistress.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A quick plug

Having used this agency for about 5 years now, I think it's about time they got a shout out from this blog.

They secured me my first job in London and have successfully secured me freelance work since. In fact, they are better than all the other agencies I use put together.

So, if you're a creative in London and you are looking for work, give Creative Recruitment a call.

purplesimon out...


Is that a plague of gnats that I hear?

No, it's a two-stroke, 50cc scooter.

These can be used as hairdryers, for they are not motorbikes they are electrical appliances.

purplesimon out...

Playing Dead

Car plus young boy plus speed equals a messy conclusion. Not that I felt anything, I was dead at the time. I'd already been 'flung' out of my body. I was happily sitting in a tree watching my own physical self fly through the air, somersault several times before sliding into the kerb with a sickening crunch. Even I felt sick at the sound.

Then, of course, there were the screams. Piercing screams. The kind that can melt plastic at 100 yards. Hands covered eyes, some necks craned to better see my crumpled and lifeless body; people came running out of houses to see what the commotion was about. It was just like the movies.

No one was watching the car, no one watching it drive off into the distance, leaving only a faint trace of rubber on the asphalt. It looked like a good 60 feet of skid mark. If it beat the fifty-foot skid left by the car that hit Carter back in 2002 then I'd be remembered. Unfortunately, for me, Carter survived, although he does still piss into a bag and eat through a straw.

Neither of us was going back to school. Some kids would die to never have to go back to school. There was an irony there.

I didn't want to see myself get scraped from the floor and placed on a trolley, wheeled to the morgue, stripped and tagged. I didn't like the cold, so I wasn't about to visit the freezer compartment at the hospital.

I didn't know how much time I had. I was expecting the tunnel of light any moment. I didn't think they would wait for night to descend; a member of the public would easily spot any tunnel of light. I hadn't read the Bible, but I had enough knowledge from watching Ghost to know that it comes fairly quickly after death.

I realised I was on the run from Heaven, God, wherever it is we get taken. For a split second, I considered that I might be asked to complete my homework by a deity. That would be way scarier than my mother. And, it was double mathematics.

I ditched my bag in the tree and clambered down through the branches to the ground. I took a quick glance at the crowd that had gathered around my prone body, listened for the inevitable emergency service sirens and headed off in the opposite direction at pace.

I was feeling mischievous. Oh yes, death had its good side.

The first place I went was round to Barry's place. Why? Have you never seen Barry's stepmother? Oh, are you in for a view of a fine piece of woman.

Barry had always promised us a look at his Mum. She was 15 years younger than his father and was only a few years older than Barry. We'd all lusted after her and I was about to get the best view. No one would believe me, but I didn't care – this wasn't about looking cool at school.

You can tell that I'm not the best at poetry. Being dead makes it easier to accept your own foibles, let me tell you.

I was in luck. When I arrived at Barry's place, he wasn't home and his Mum was busy in the bedroom with one of her regular visitors. Barry's Dad knew about this, but he forgave her each time; his need for a trophy wife was worth more than the humiliation of having everyone know she was banging anything that had a pulse and was near her own age.

Barry always refused to answer the question of whether he'd been propositioned, or better still actually become a motherfucker. I remember the time that comment got Lester a black eye, but one almighty belly laugh.

Being dead means everyday objects, such as stairs, doors and walls – fuck, everything really – don't get in the way. Not one bit. I was able to float up to the bedroom window and peer through the gap in the curtains. I could even float through the wall. I was about to get the glimpse that would have made being dead so much better to handle when the house fell away from me at frightening speed and I was blinded by a bright light.

I was being sucked up that darn light tunnel. So much was I looking forward to getting to see some full-on action that I'd forgotten about the fucking tunnel. I'd always thought the movies were lies, fiction, but it turns out that they're telling the truth.

Where the fuck is my Demi Moore? At least Patrick Swayze got his piece of the action before he was hauled away and given a shiny coat to wear, I hadn't even got to see a nipple.

I sat down in the tunnel and let it pull me skywards. I couldn't see out, the light interference was making seeing anything difficult. I wasn't in a good mood, so if this did lead to God, boy, was he about to get some shit from me. If it wasn't bad enough that he'd let me be killed by a speeding driver – a hit and run no less – it was unforgivable that he think it a good time to drag me away from my final experience of life on Earth.

I was sulking and that was that.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I was delivered to a platform, in front of which was a desk. Sat at this desk was a man. He didn't look like God. Okay, never having met the Man before, I was basing this decision on hearsay, but even so, this man was clean shaven.

"Welcome to Heaven," the man boomed, even though he didn't appear to be moving his lips.
"Bet you didn't know that's the name of a Gay nightclub in London?" I countered.
"God moves in mysterious ways."

Well, he was a sarcastic bugger. I'd give him that.

"So, what's the legal drinking age here? And, does everyone smoke reefer? Cos, if not, I ain't staying."
There was a chuckle from the man in front of me. I waited for more, but he just sat looking at me.
"Hello?" I laid on my most sardonic attitude.

Still nothing.

"Okay, show me to my cell and I'll be a good boy."

That chuckle again. I couldn't tell what this was all about, but being dead had prepared me for some weirdness.

After a time, the voice spoke again.

"Welcome to Heaven," it said. "Normally, you'd be asked a series of questions, each correct answer giving you more points with which to spend in the afterlife. It's Heaven Spent, a game show idea we had some time back, but we couldn't get any of the networks to take the concept, so we use it in-house. Those that don't get more than half of the questions right we send down the Devil."

What the fuck? This was surreal.

"Anyway, we aren't going to ask you. You've been brought here for completely different reasons. Sorry about the car. Jesus has never got the hang of a manual transmission. It was easier with donkeys."

This was getting way out of hand. Would I be sent to the Devil?

"We like you. You're funny, naughty. Basically, we like to watch you."

"Paedophiles," I whispered under my breath.

"I heard that," the voice came back. I glanced around for the hidden cameras and microphones, but everything was bathed in the light. I thought about asking how much their electricity bill was, but thought better of it.

"Sorry," I mumbled.

"Anyway," the voice continued. "We brought you here because we want you to be the new star in the next blockbuster show for television. It's a lucrative contract and we'd make sure you were well looked after."

Suddenly, I was listening and listening hard.

"What's the wage? Holiday pay?"

"We'll come to that later, but you can expect it be more than you've ever dreamed of."

That was good news because I was dreaming of millions per episode.

"Here's the deal, listen good."

"I am, so get on with it, I've got money to earn and burn."

The voice sighed and I heard the distinct sound of thunder.

"Was that thunder? Do you get storms up here?" I asked.

"No, that was me. I was clearing my throat. You humans, you crack me up. Okay, here's the deal. You are to play dead, that's it. We are going to film your family as they recover from your brutal murder by a drunk driver. Don't worry about Jesus; we've got a good lawyer for him. He'll get off on a technicality."

I raised my eyebrows.

"We'll give you a life back, whatever you want you can have. Drugs, hookers, money or fame, whatever you want is yours. However, in return, you have to be reunited with your family when your mother and father die, which I can tell you will be in about 20 years, give or take a day. I've got them booked in two weeks apart. How's that sound?"

I admit that I was taken aback slightly. I was 15-years old and this wasn't a decision I could take lightly. I mean, my parents were going to die 20 years from now and I'd have to die too, again. Dying once was bad enough, but to have to do it all again before my time, well, that was almost too much to take. Then again, there were hookers, fame and all the drugs and alcohol I could take. It was a hard decision, but I think I made the right one.

"Okay, I accept. However, I just wanted to know one thing. If I didn't take this on, what would be my questions to get into Heaven?"