Fever dream in a storm

16 Aug

Tonight the rains came. All day I’d been gripped by a fever, and tightness in my lungs. I lolled on the sofa my mind feeling barely attached to my body.
In the early evening the pressure in my head changed, and I knew it was nearly time.
As I watched from my window small animals raised their heads to the grey sky and scampered off for shelter away from the coming deluge.
I lay in my bed, fretting that the fever wasn’t leaving me, and the rains were not coming..
Soon it grew dark and I could hear the wind begin to creep through the eaves.
I knew I should have trusted the animals, they know.
With a flash of light that lit my small room the rains began.
Light at first but with every tumble of thunder it steadily got harder. Lighting flashed and I knew my time was close.
Rising naked I opened the front door and stepped out into the rain. I knew where I had to go and my feet carried me to the ancient field opposite my small cottage..
I lay in the long grass, letting the heavy rain strip the flesh from my bones.
The chorus from a Black Sabbath track filled my ears, one phrase repeated. Hole in the sky. Hole in the sky. Hole in the sky.
Soon my bones dissolved in the downpour, and as I was devoured by the black earth I knew everything. The black earth gave up its secrets to me as I was devoured by it. I saw, the conversations of the trees, the secret murmers of the rocks, and the twitching jagged speech of the soil. Animals raised me up, digging at my bones, chewing at scraps of my flesh, and in the moment before I was reborn I was one.
But the knowledge could not come back with me.
I am forever destined to scream my questions into the abyss, and hear nothing but the echo of my own voice.
One day maybe I’ll hear the stirring of something older. Something older than the earth, back from the beginning of time.
But if they awake I feel may have doomed us all.

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Himderella

1 Dec

Himderella.
It was a few years ago when my life changed for the better. I’d grown up the youngest of my parents children. I had two elder sisters, neither of them were lookers. We’d grown up poor and we’d grown up fast. When I was only 10 mama died leaving father as the only bread winner. He worked days and nights at the local bingo hall, doing any job he could to bring in the money. He stocked the bars, swept the floors and cleaned the toilets during the day. At night he fixed the machines, filled the bingo ball machine, and carried bottles to the bar. He emptied ash trays, picked up empty glasses, and mopped the floors when everyone had left.

As the youngest I was left at home, at the mercy of my two elder sisters. All the money that came in was spent on their various whims and desires. If they wanted to eat exotic foods and drink fabulous wines then that is what father bought them. When they wanted new make up to cake their hideous faces, then off they trotted to Boots with a fistful of fathers hard earned cash. New clothes? Only the finest garbs from the pages of the Littlewoods catalogue arrived weekly at our door, along with reminders that there was a bill needing paid.

And me? I was left with the hand me downs and rags from my sisters. Being a skinny boy it was humiliating dressing in my sisters clothes. The jeans needed a strong belt and the shirts never fit properly. I soon grew to be a dab hand with a needle and thread, turning even the flounciest of gowns into something reasonably wearable.

And because I was a boy, and because I was the youngest, the tasks of the house fell to me. Like my father I swept the floors, cleaned the toilets and prepared the food. Anything that needed cleaning or mending fell to me. I laboured long into the night every night making sure their every whim was catered to. I knew their meal times, and spent many hours perfecting the exotic dishes they desired. I could flambé a steak at 12 and construct a perfect soufflé by 14. By 19 I could turn a carrot into a rose so fine, your soul would weep. I learned to shuck oysters at the rough elbow of a barman in the seafood restaurant in town. I learned to prepare a pheasant on the back step of the fanciest restaurant in the county. Whatever whim they had, I knew I had to cater to.

But I had my dreams. Every night as I crawled into my tiny bed in the cellar, I dreamed of finding my prince. A prince who would whisk me away to his palace, where we could take care of each other, finding our own happy ending again and again.

Then one day it happened. I was scraping a particularly stubborn crust off of one of my sisters elaborate and large dildos when, in a puff of smoke, a large, handsomely bearded gentleman appeared. Dressed in an exotically coloured silk suit, his beard glistening, so black it looked like a fall of oil. He seemed to be made of smoke, and a long slim cigar was held in a brilliantly manicured hand.

“Ahhh about time we met! I’ve been watching you” he said in a voice like a rumble of thunder.

“You have?” I asked.

“Indeed. It’s nearly your time to shine my young friend.”

I’d backed up against the wall of the kitchen, and couldn’t go any further. I was trying to make whole words, but was stuck making vowels.

The large man floated above the table and puffed out a plume of spiced smoke.

“You seem shocked. Stop making vowel sounds, we have things to do. The annual leather ball is tonight and I happen to know the prince is looking for his new lover. A role I think you should fill.”

“But I have so much work to do here. I have no clothes, or transport, and just who are you?” I stammered.

“Why I’m your hairy Godfather. I’m here to make your one dream come true. But first let’s clean this dump up.”

And with that he stuck the cigar in his mouth and clapped his hands together once. He rubbed them together and I watched amazed as things began to move. Dishes cleaned themselves in the sink, dried themselves on a tea towel and flew into the cupboard. A broom danced across the floor moving the dust and bits towards the door. All across the house I could hear sounds of cleaning, a Hoover here, a scrub and flush there. Then as suddenly as it started, it was over. The broom danced back over to its corner and snuggled in.

“Now, the time is 7pm, the ball starts at 9, we do not have a lot of time. You need to bring me two rubber johnnies, a pair of leather gloves and that fleshlight you have hidden behind your cupboard. Oh and two glasses of something strong. That sambuca in the drinks cabinet upstairs should do. ” With that he reclined on a chair, a can of beer appeared in his hand, he cracked it open and drank deeply from it.

I scurried off, on a mission about the house, I grabbed two sturdy shot glasses and filled them with sambuca, carefully walking them back to the kitchen. I set them down in front of my hairy godfather and he nodded, next I went to my sisters bedside cabinet and stole two rubber johnnies and a pair of black leather gloves. I dropped these off in the kitchen, then retrieved my fleshlight from behind my small cupboard. I placed it before him, he laughed, stood erect, drained his can and let out a rumbling belch. He grabbed the rubber johnnies in one hand and the black leather gloves in the other. He slapped his large hands together and rubbed them together like before. But instead of the brooms moving, he revealed a set of leather chaps, a studded rubber brief and a black vest. He hung it on the back of the door. Next he took my fleshlight and walked outside. He threw it into the air, and as it landed, it turned into a sleek black saloon. Back inside he handed me one of the shot glasses of sambuca, took the other in his massive hand and held it towards me in a salute. I clinked the brim of my shot with his. “Bottoms up!” He roared.

We sank our shots, and he took the glass from me, smashing it together with the one in his other hand. Again his hands rubbed together, flowing over each other until they revealed an exquisitely sculpted glass butt plug.

“Now go take a quick shower. You stink.” My hairy godfather said to me.

I rushed upstairs, washing quickly and thoroughly. I emerged from the bathroom, beard shining, smelling like a French perfume shop. I walked downstairs where my hairy godfather greeted me. Now, you shall go to the ball Himderella. He approached me with the the glass plug, and gently pushed it into me. I dressed in my new leather outfit pulling my rubber pants tight. I noticed that the arse was split. My hairy godfather then led me to my new car, and with a stern warning to leave by midnight, I set off for the ball, being driven in style by my silent driver, dressed in an immaculate silk suit.

We arrived at the ball, my driver hopping out and holding the door of the car open for me. I emerged resplendent in my leather garb. I glided up the black carpeted stairs, the eyes of a thousand men upon me. A feather clad consort took my arm and led me inside to the heart of the ball. A waiter clad only in codpiece, mask and collar offered me a drink from a silver tray. I raised the thin glass flute to my mouth. The smell was exquisite, a mixture of fine champagne and good strong absinthe. I drank deeply and stepped onto the dance floor. I made my way to the middle of the floor gliding on pure music, until I stood before him. My bear prince. His mask covered the top of his face, leaving his lustrous beard to flow down his bare chest. His leather chaps gleamed in the flashing lights, as he turned and writhed to the music. The lights flashed, and the music changed. He stopped and stared at me. He reached out his hand and grabbed the back of my neck, pulling me towards him. We kissed deeply, our tongues dancing, as we started to move in time with the music. Our hips bucked together, and I could feel him hard as iron against my leg.

We danced locked together for what seemed like hours, our faces close, our hands in each other’s hair, our hips grinding. I looked to the clock at the head of the hall. Five minutes to 12. I had to run. I disentangled myself from his gorgeous body and turned towards the main door of the hall. A tired consort approached me with a drink tray, his feathers starting to drag across the dance floor, his make up running. I swept past him and headed for the door. As I fled I felt the glass plug dislodge from my arse and fall to the floor. I couldn’t stop to retrieve it. I ran down the black carpeted steps and fell into the waiting car. The driver accelerated away, bearing me back to my humble home.

I couldn’t believe I’d come so close to snaring my bear prince and yet so far.
Two days later there was a commotion about the town. The bear prince was looking for his ideal lover, that had run off from him at the ball. He had a way of knowing, yet no one seemed to know what it was. He was walking through the town now making enquiries. Of course my sisters were out by the front door to greet him. He brushed them aside with barely a glance, before he laid his eyes on me.

“You there, stand up and come here. Could this possibly belong to you?” He asked baring aloft the glass plug I’d left at the ball.

I nodded,and walked towards my prince. He grabbed the back of my neck and pulled me towards him, we embraced with our whole bodies, kissing deeply. His other hand grabbed my arse and pulled it in close to him. He picked me up and carried me from the house, kicking aside my hideous sisters as they reached out to grope him. Laying me in the soft seat in the back of his limo we drove off into the sunset.

Solomon

11 Jul

Solomon 
Solomon awoke the same as any other day. He checked his phone, it was 10 minutes before the alarm was due to go off. He rolled onto his back and stretched. Rubbing his eyes he stared at the ceiling. The familiar patches of paint and shadows thrown by the curtains were all in the correct place. He rolled back onto his side and dismissed the alarm before it could annoy him. 

The same today as every other. Only the alarm ever changed. A few years before it had been a small radio with a red digital display, before that the worlds noisiest kettle awoke him with hot tea or coffee. He was dimly aware the room had been different before and maybe there had been others before. But this room for now was his. The patchy ceiling, the curtains that didn’t quite meet in the middle and the phone for the alarm. 

Solomon checked the phone, some emails had come in over night, nothing important, some world news, again nothing important. He put it down and raised himself from the bed. He headed to the bathroom.

After he’d finished he brushed his teeth and returned to his room. He got dressed and opened the curtains. Looking out onto the world he felt the tug in his chest grow stronger. It was coming, soon, and nothing he could do would stop it. 

Solomon knew that the world he knew existed purely inside of his head. The people in it blinked out of existence when he left, only to pop back when he returned. He drank his coffee and contemplated his world. A curl of smoke near the edge of town marked another explosion in the night. Another sign it was getting closer.

He took his empty cup down to the kitchen, rinsed it and left it in the plastic bowl in the sink. He left the house and got into his car. The rain from the night before had left this world smelling of rust, a smell Solomon equated with blood. He started the car and drove out onto the road. 

Like most days Solomon drove simply for the pleasure of driving. He needed not for money so he didn’t have to slave for a master in order to live. Again a memory remembered came dimly to him. Had he worked before. Back when the world was much younger and the people in it not as accelerated. He thought he might have. He remembered, or thought he did, a field, a hoe, strong sun, burnt skin and the misery of manual labour, not for its own reward. Had he been beaten if he didn’t work fast enough? He seemed to remember he had been. 

Perhaps that’s why the memory was vague yet familiar to him. Maybe it was before his last beginning, perhaps it was before even that. 

Solomon had stopped counting days and weeks, he’d disregarded months and years. All he knew were seasons and how he had to dress for them. 

It hadn’t always been this way. He knew he’d travelled north over the years. How many years? He didn’t know. But before this city, and before this country, he’d been in hotter places. Places where the winter isn’t as cold, and snow is only a concept.

He adjusted the heater on the car to his preferred temperature and set the fan just so. Accelerating hard up the ramp he got comfortably in front of the truck rumbling up the motorway and sat back, relaxed, cushioned in his metal womb. His favourite music oozed from the speakers, adjusting his mood. He had a sense of melancholy he’d awoken with. This was not uncommon. As much as Solomon despised the people he met, he knew he would miss them greatly. He just wished they’d listen to him. It was the same circle they were trapped in, and soon it would end and begin anew. He wondered if it was even a cycle, or really a long spiral down. Would he skip ahead or behind on the spiral? Would he start the cycle again? Would he remember more this time?

Solomon took his speed up a notch. The rain had left the road damp, and the low sun shining through the trees hit specks of quartz in the road, making it sparkle. It hypnotised Solomon as drove, the sparkle of the quartz making him wish he could film it, and if he could, wishing he had someone to send it to. Someone who could appreciate the subtle quiet beauty of the road beneath him and the light around him. He closed his eyes, feeling the tire rub on the raised paint on the edge of his lane. He opened them again and as he rounded the corner the effect slipped away. 

He drove on, lost in his thoughts. 

He approached the roundabout where he was to turn round and head back to his home. He braked gently, slowing the car and entering the roundabout in a well timed gap. Luck? Fate? Who knew.

Were these two ideas entwined or the same. Were his small victories every day his fate? Or was he lucky. Did the universe have a plan for him, for them, for itself. It was too big of an idea. Or was it random. A series of lucky events, strung together to make it seem like fate? Maybe that’s all fate was. The universe knew your beginning and your end, and luck took care of the bit in the middle.

But luck cuts both ways. Solomon knew that the coming event would be seen as unlucky. But only by those involved. Was bad luck a selfish concept? Would the extinction of people leave the world better off. Plants would retake the cities, destroying and erasing man. Animals would use the roads as paths, as navigation channels. Fish and coral would populate the ships as they sank, man made reefs and underwater edifices full of brightly coloured fish, never again to be bothered by the sting of a fisherman’s hook. 

Where would he be reborn this time. When would he be reborn this time? Would he even be reborn this time? Had he gotten to Nirvana this time? Could he transcend to heaven and stand at the Gods side, looking down at all creation? 

He didn’t think so. He hadn’t done enough. He hadn’t questioned, pleaded, prodded or provoked enough. His timid nature had stilled his tongue in arguments . His stubborn heart had refused to love enough. He didn’t want to hurt and he refused to be hurt. His heart turned slower than most, but it meant he hadn’t lead anyone further, hadn’t elevated one soul beyond their basic human nature. He hadn’t questioned his own transcending let alone anyone else. 

Was basic human nature enough to transcend, to give yourself purely to pleasure and hedonism. If you could enjoy fully of the bounty of nature could that be enough? The music changed, a slow beat, worked and writhed around the interior of the car. It pulsed and turned like a giant python languidly turning in space. And as it turned, coiling back on itself like the ouroboros it began to speed up. Drums layered upon drums, the bass thumped quicker, a primal rhythm, one known to the oldest beings in the universe, a gift from the gods itself. To give yourself to the increasing rhythm and the cascading crescendo was considered a holy rite in some cultures. Cultures where the rhythm was clapped and stamped, where the bass was sung and shouted. Always the same. And as it approached its climax Solomon wished that he could find the hole at the centre of the music, open the door in the rhythm and step through into light beyond. As his head thrummed with the music he was ascending a hill in his car, the sun shining into the windscreen, obliterating everything in front of him. If he could find the door in the song and open it, instead of his car dropping down the other side of the hill it would simply carry on up into the burning sky, lifting him free of the physical world, breaking the circling spiral and letting him finally be at rest.
The song climaxed with a long crashing crescendo. The moments after the climax, as in so many others were quiet. A simple heartbeat rhythm, whispered secret words, heart rates in sync and slowing together. Eyes locked and breathing slowing. He was very aware of the erection throbbing in his tight jeans. And with every climax there was the bitter tinge of its being over. That he’d leant against the door, pushed even, but it had stayed stubbornly shut to him. His car crested the hill and rushed down the other side. The next song started. Slow, sensual, an almost malevolent pleasure in knowing that the climax is coming but it’s going to be teased, you’re going to work for it, and only when the band are ready will you be able to hear it.

Low dark lyrics describing sensual acts wrapped themselves around Solomon’s head. He knew that this was what he would miss most about people. The intamacy of physical pleasure. The sheer of beauty of the naked form, nowhere to hide, almost total physical honesty. Once your clothes had been discarded you were finally laid bare. The final barrier was the human ego. But even that was washed away at the climax. 

He’d known many lovers, and many had known him. That special moment when looking into there eyes you could see the soul peeking out. It wasn’t enough to transcend. For that the soul needed to be pulled out and freed from the physical form. Total honesty laid bare. Stood there with no ego before the universe. This is me, I am without pretence, let me come home.

Were people capable of that? Solomon knew they weren’t. They were to wrapped up in their possessions, their false narratives and the intrigues of others. Had a man he’d once known told others not to judge? Maybe? He wasn’t sure anymore. 

He was approaching the town where he lived. He knew he needed food for home. Another base pleasure. Food could be mere sustenance or it could be flavoured and scented enough to lift the very soul. He wished to cook a dish that even the gods themselves would wish to pause and smell. Could there be a blend of spices and flavours that would pause the world? Could he make the mouths of the gods water with his creation, or would he simply have to eat another plate of over flavoured crap. 

He parked and got out of his car. The traffic warden eyed him as he used his phone to pay for parking. Checking the payment had gone through, Solomon headed to his favourite shops for provisions. In the butcher he selected fine cuts of meat, the grocer provided the finest vegetables and fruit. In the baker he had to stop, and breathe in the heavenly scent of fresh bread. He selected a small loaf, pleased to find it still warm to the touch. The crust cracked and flaked as the baker placed it in a paper bag for him. At the coffee merchant he again stopped to enjoy the aroma of the place. The merchant bagged his favourite coffee and Solomon returned to his car. Placing his purchases in the opposite footwell he drove out of town but didn’t head home. The tug in his heart was stronger and he had an urge to be higher. He drove upto the local hill with a walking trail. He locked his car and began to walk up the hill. At the top he paused to catch his breath. The beauty of the town spread out before him, pleased him immensely. He knew that when the time came, this is where he’d need to be. 

He drove home to his small house and let himself inside. He placed his groceries in the kitchen and ran the tap. He filled the kettle with fresh cold water and set it to boil. As it did, he ground up some of his fresh roasted coffee beans, adding them to his press, pouring hot water on top, and stirring. He let the aroma wash over him, filling his nostrils and enlivening his senses. 

He prepared a blend of spices, and proceeded to rub it into the meat, setting this aside. He stored his vegetables in the cupboard for preparation later. As he did this he sipped at his strong hot coffee trying to ignore the tug in his heart growing stronger. He knew it was coming and he needed to leave. 

He took a last look at his kitchen, disappointed he’d never get to eat the meal he’d started to prepare. 

He grabbed his car keys and headed out. No point in locking the house. No real point in locking the door. Reality was breaking down, the edges were less defined. He needed to hurry but he trusted that luck and fare would put him in the right place at the right time. He hated waiting. 

Dogs and cats were pouring onto the street, writhing and fighting. Mating and wailing, pissing and screaming into the darkening sky. It really was something to behold. The sky had turned magenta and red, Scarlett and orange, the clouds seemed to burn in the fiery sky. He drove towards where he’d left his car before at the foot of the hill. Every traffic light was green and traffic was light. People were staring at the sky, pointing their tiny plastic phones at it. Sharing it with people stood next to them, and half the world away. 

Solomon ascended the hill. The only person there. In the car he’d heard the pulse quicken, the tug in his heart pulling in time with the primal rhythm , it was getting closer and soon at the climax all would cease to matter. 

A long base thump seemed to leach from the trees themselves, the pulse coming from the earth itself. It writhed around him, a snake pulling him down, up, left and right. He glimpsed the door and reached for it. As his hands reached the handle his body filled with light, his eyes glowed, then burst pouring beams of purest white light into the blood red sky. His finger nails disintegrated and light poured from them, tracing patterns in the dark as his limbs moved with the beat. It quickened and boiled, becoming everything around him, until there was just noise and light.
Then nothing. No light. No sound. Solomon was aware only of himself. He reclined and turned feeling nothing. Then gradually he felt himself supported, his body being fully embraced.

He was laid out on the body of the serpent as it turned in blank space. Again he saw the door, and reached his hand for it. This time it opened, blinding him with white light.
Solomon awoke in his bed. He turned his head looking for something familiar. 

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4 Jan

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A song for whoever

13 Dec

A song that sounds the same to you sounds different to me. Two people in different lives coming together in a separate space. Walls and social constructs tumble. I don’t have to look you in the eye, you don’t have to hear my stumbling voice so here we can be completely honest.

Stripped bare of ego and glamour I’ve never known a nakedness like this. Because I allow you in I allow you to see. And see you do, past the bone and the blood. Past the ego and bullshit. It’s like you’re picking through my emotional marrow with a tiny silver fork.

The song changes, electrons from across the globe vibrate the nostalgia in my mind, I can smell that summer. Hear the clink of those beer bottles, feel your touch, see your tears.

Tears that scarred the image of your face in my mind forever. I couldn’t help but hurt you, young and stupid, virile and thick. Teen bodies wreathed in sweat and hormones glisten in lazy sunlit rooms

I’m reliving this every time we speak. Are you here to torment or save me. The nakedness of truth forces me to examine my mistakes. Yet when we speak excitement grips my heart in its fluttered claw.

That room where we sat for the last time. The cemetery where I sat in almost instant regret. I’m forced to live these things again, tormented by your insatiable truth. I truth I feel I owe you.

Why do I do this? In this space I could be anything or anyone. Why am I burdoning us both with this. And why do you make it feel so good, confession and redemption, or just physical pleasure mixed with mortal guilt. I’m sure not even the pilgrims know the answer.

For the first time in a long time I thought of Soma tonight. My spiritual guide, my moral compass? If I was going to be a better person for her then how would I do it?

Dunno still keep fucking it up. I keep getting this wrong, I want to believe in people, but I’m not sure they believe in me.

The record changes again. Where can we go? What can we be, or do I just shut the fuck up and live in the moment for once. Appreciate you like I appreciate my favourite things. Take your beauty and intelligence, and try to elevate it. Try not to break it. I can’t bring you down here. If I have to hold you up to help you fly I will, even if you stand on my shoulders and push me under, you deserve a win.

If I could I’d treat you to the luxury you have denied yourself. If I could I’d take away the pressures of modern life for you. I’d turn my back to the storm and shelter you from the rain.

But I can’t. I’m not….

I can’t, I’m just fucking not……

I can’t, I’m not strong enough. I’m not there. But he is. And if he keeps you safe, and he builds you up, then I can live my life with a secret smile. I’m happy that you’re happy.

The song changes.

Nostalgia for a place I’m not even sure exists. A past I’m sure I’m viewing through rose tinted glasses. If I’m honest I’m not the hero I want to be. I’ve not always been the good guy I think I should be.

I’m human. I make shitty selfish decisions and justify them to myself.

I’ve been hurt and I’ve caused hurt. I’m scarred and I’ve caused scars. Am I proud or am I just honest? I’m not sure anymore. The past grows foggy, and I lay here before you, my skin peeled back, welcoming you to pick at my every memory.

I let you in. Damnit you wanted to know. Why couldn’t I just lie. Save us both the bother. My heart flutters with the ghost of another butterfly memory. Fleeting it crosses my being, leaving a bitter taste of nostalgia and a longing for something.

I’ve started to stare at the horizon. Is something coming. Are we shaped by the world or do we shape the world around us? Keep it tight like fresh wet denim.

Succubus let me sleep tonight. My eyes sting enough. This empty room, echoing with silence, rushing around me, filling my ears and brain with random messages from long gone days.

This isn’t a eulogy. This isn’t a statement. This isn’t a methodology. This is the ramblings and thrashings of a poet reaching for the hem of his muse and missing. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow….

Eyes

14 Nov

I see you with my green eyes.

My green eyes see what you’re doing.

My green eyes burn.

I see you with my blue eyes.

My blue eyes see what must be done.

My blue eyes weep.

I won’t see you again with my black eyes

My black eyes see what I have done.

My black eyes glint

The day after

22 Jun

The day after the referendum was a good day to be white and English. When the country voted to leave the European Union the excitement was a tangible thing. Smiling hordes of jubilant people finished work early and streamed into the streets. Pubs were quickly filled with happy people wearing England football shirts, joyous women wrapped themselves in st George flags and wobbled down the road, drunk on life and cheap wine. The European migrant workers stayed in. Those that had to endure a walk through town from there place of work were jostled by crowds of drunken men singing the national anthem and waving flags in their faces. The staff at kebab houses, and Indian restaurants, while used to a bit of abuse were snowed under by the ebullient celebrations turning into xenophobia. 

But the white English celebrated hard, and celebrated long. 

The prime minister left number ten under a cloud while his opponents turned in a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Such was the mood of the country that his opponent was swept into power within the week. 

The country basked under a glorious late blooming summer, the heat and sunshine scotched much of the bad feeling and resentment towards the migrant workers toiling in the fields and factories. But it was still there. Soon a government backed scheme was announced. Buses back to former eastern bloc countries would have government subsidies to return workers to their former residence. Many sensing the mood of the country turning against them took them up on the offer. London Victoria coach station during the last weeks of July showed scenes of chaos not seen since the bombings ten years before. Buses and coaches groaned under the weight of returning workers and the few meagre possessions they could carry. 

But many more stayed. They had been here too long to leave. They had children in school, they had risen through their companies to management positions, or had started businesses of their own, serving the migrant communities. 

On a balmy August night a fight broke out, outside a prominent European bar. According to the five English men assaulted they had been walking on the path outside the bar, when with little provocation they were set upon by a gang of drunken unruly foreigners. According to the witnesses and the cctv footage the five men had stood outside hurling abuse at some people smoking outside . When one of the English men then punched a woman in the face the occupants of the bar spilled out and beat the five men severely. In the subsequent investigation the police managed to lose the cctv footage and much of the European witness statements was said to be useless as they hadn’t been outside. The five men, while known to the police got off with light fines for affray, while two Europeans were sent up for deportation. 

No one was very surprised when a week later a mob of people descended on the restaurant, smashed a window and threw in petrol bombs, burning the establishment to the ground and severely injuring a number of patrons. 

No one was surprised when no arrests were made, and no suspects named. Gangs of men took to roaming the streets, policing them of trouble caused by drunken immigrants. The week after witnessed a cheering, baying mob, drag a drunken migrant, who had whistled at a group of English girls, to the bridge and throw him into the river. 
Many of these mobs, or English militia formed across the country, in towns and cities groups of men patrolled the streets, keeping the English safe from foreign aggressors. The slightest accusation could get a migrant dragged into the street and beaten, often under the flimsiest of circumstances. And it wasn’t just the Eastern Europeans who became fearful of the mobs. Muslim and black communities were targeted as well. The police, under manned and under resourced could not contain the fury of the English militia and were only on hand to disperse crowds and deal with the casualties. Often taking to a hospital for patching up and then straight on to a bus depot where they were chaperoned onto the first coach bound for the continent. Many of these victims had only the clothes they stood up in and the money in their pockets. Loved ones and friends only found out a number of days later when the victim would make contact from their home town in the eastern bloc. 

In the early days they were a disorganised rabble of thugs, but they quickly got organised. Militia recruitment started on Facebook, and funding and uniforms soon followed. It started with white armbands with the st George cross and led onto full uniforms. Some suspected government funding but the main parties denied everything. 

With the rise of the militias people began to be more afraid of speaking out, any form of dissent voiced on social media was quickly shouted down until the offending post was removed. Any form of public protest was quickly broken up. The English militia started using social media to track dissidents and quieten them down. Some had their houses burnt down, others were beaten in the streets. Any form of non patriotic speech was frowned upon. Information officers for the militia lurked everywhere. From public houses, to places of work, someone somewhere was listening, recording names of dissenters and rabble rousers. 

Many weren’t seen again.

Quickly the English militia joined forces with a number of right wing political movements to form one big party. With the militias influence they were swept into power on a landslide of votes. While many knew that the elections were rigged, none dare speak out in case they were beaten or burned out of their family home. 

Once in power the ethnic cleansing of Britain began in earnest. Camps were established to house immigrants rounded up ready for deportation. Among those corralled into these camps were the hard line resistance. Union leaders and left wing journalists were first. Often snatched in the middle of the night from family homes and bundled into a van, driven to a camp with nothing, they were clothed in prison style jumpsuits and driven into Europe on buses where they were told to start a new life, as they would not be allowed back across the border. 

Next the people of colour were rounded up, regardless of whether they had lived in the country for years, or whether they were born her, the party did not want them. They were expelled from the country on buses, or in some cases ferries were laid on that dropped anchor off the coast of North Africa and told those on board to disembark. More than a few drowned in the panic as militia men wielding rifles cleared the decks.

After enemies of the state had been removed the party moved its ideals onto creating a stronger people to work the engine of the country back to greatness. The jobs recently abandoned by migrant labour was given to the native English, whether they wanted it or not. If you were unemployed, you arrived at the dole office to be presented with a work assignment. To not work was to be against the party. If you were against the party you faced expulsion. No more benefits would be paid. Everyone could be useful. The elderly were pressed into light duties, the disabled were found work that they could perform. In horrific scenes a boat full of chronically ill and mentally ill patients was deliberately scuttled in the English Channel. The cleansing moved on. Criminals were forced to work, to be productive for their food and lodging. Children were given light duties on farms and in factories when not being schooled. 
The countries of Europe horrified by events in England stopped trading with English business. Further afield man you other countries quietly screwed up trade deals and walked away from this isle of hate. To remedy the situation, the party’s decreed that all wages would be spent on English produce. Savings cards were produced so that large goods could be purchased. Employers took over the distribution of saving stamps, and money for the masses ceased to exist. Workers at the end of the week were presented with stamps in a card that they could exchange for certain goods and services. No one had any debt, and all items of a personal nature were identical. Individuality was crushed, beaten and left to rot. All art and music became government issue by the party. All art and music celebrated the party. And Britons rejoiced knowing the party had made them free.

The end

26 Sep

The End
Today I sat at the end. The day promised storms but the evening turned mild so I decided to take a walk. I sat on the bench where we died a little looking at the memorials of people who went the whole hog. Blank grey stones with worn names of those who went before, lives lived to the full but gone, forgotten, dust below the ground. The lush green foliage covers the remains of heroes and zeroes alike. 

I saw you again today. I don’t know why you’re haunting me like this. She rode her bike across the street in front of me. From the back the curls of her hair and the wiggle of her hips could have been you. It must have been you, but she turned and the similarity left. 

So I sat at the end and thought about the beginnings. Where did we begin, how did we begin, or even why did we begin? But then that led me to think about how and why we ended, here, in this place of ends. A branch of thick bramble had grown to cover the spot where your tears fell and it’s cruel spikes had begun to twist around the metal bench. A breaking sound of a rabbit moving through the undergrowth stirred my mind. So I thought about other beginnings. Beginnings not yet upon me, those I wish were due and those that came to pass. 

After a spell I stood and walked through the green tunnel to the gate house. To the left and right ancient stones leaned at crazy angles through the lush vegetation. Stones too old to need the plant life trimming back. No cut flowers rested on these tombs and no prayers had been whispered here for many a year. A squirrel paused on a tree, a red tinge to his grey coat stood out against the iron bark. His liquid black eyes regarded me as I passed by and sensing no threat he scampered on up the tree. 

At the gate I came to the river. I turned a followed the weary path home to my empty house. I knew that I would pass your old house and I hoped that you were there. That, gazing from the window you would see me from your window and beckon me in. I paused at the iron railings as memories slapped me in the face. The windows were as blank as ever. I don’t even know if you still live there, so I moved on. 

It’s always this way. Nostalgia has a funny and cruel sense of humour. Sometimes I catch a smell from a girl in town and turn to expect you waiting there waving me down an alley. Sometimes it’s the bob of a girls hair that catches my eye, I follow but I never seem to fall down the rabbit hole and find you waiting for me. 

I’m not even sure I would know what to say. I know I wouldn’t know what to say. My tongue would be bound with brambles, spiked through and locked. They twist through me and crush my heart in their spiny grip. You always render me mute when I try and remember. 

I played the songs we loved again. Every time I hear that song I smile though it fills me with an ache like none before. 

It rained that summer. It always seemed to rain that year. The first time we kissed in the shelter with the storm booming around us. Purple rain, November rain? No just summer rain and two people sharing a tender moment. I could live in that moment, so happy I could have burst but too stupid to tell you.

I kept all your presents. From leaves to beer labels I have the box sealed up. I opened it to take out the photo you gave me. I tried to breathe in the air within and smell that summer.

 I don’t know why I thought that was important to keep the gifts you gave but for some reason it always has been. I promised you and I tried to keep at least one. The small one survived while the rest fell about my ankles in rusted pieces. Strange priorities but I never let anything or anyone disturb your box. 

Did I enjoy the cheap temptation I broke for? Probably. Memorable? Probably not. It is the bramble of your tears that has grown inside me and squeezed out the life from my heart. I function like a robot from day to day. 

Would you meet me at the end? If I could run from this life would you take my hand and run with me? Could we start again on a blank canvas, paint our selves a new picture with colours from the box of experience? Could we fit our lives together the same way we could when we were young?

Would you? Would you take a trip into the void with me? Let it wash over us a build new lives disconnected from everything else? 

Probably not.

New Styxworth

1 Aug

Leaving Styxworth 
Hi my names Dan. I’m friends with a special guy called Peter Thwaites. Him and his friend Bex are protectors of a place called Styxworth. We met at a party and a few days later Peter told me his first tale of Styxworth. Most people have taken it for fiction but I know that it’s all true. I recorded the tale for him and I’ve seen some things that have convinced me that it is real. One was the ancient coin that his mentor Mehari used to communicate with him, the others I will get to in due course. 

 After we had recorded the events of the first book I didn’t hear from Pete and Bex for a while. But I was keen to hear more. He had left me on a cliff hanger knowing that he had to rescue his Dad from the realm of the Corruption. To get there he had to cross the river Styx and enter the realm of the dead. To reach the deep depths of the Corruptions lair would be an epic journey. But one that I found out had been completed before, many years before.

 A few weeks after Peter had finished telling me his tale I finished work in the pub kitchen. Walking through the pub I saw a couple of familiar faces sitting at the bar. Pete raised his hand in greeting and I waved back beckoning them over. 

  Peter was dressed in a long dark green military style coat and Bex had a thick green parka on. Both of them looked tired and stressed. I nodded in greeting and turned and led them up to my rooms above the pub. Upstairs I ushered them into the front room and went into my room to get changed out of my smelly work clothes. Returning to the lounge I got us some drinks from my fridge and sat on my battered sofa. Peter was hunched over in the mismatched arm chair and Bex sat staring out of the window perched on the wide window sill. 

 “So what have you two been up to since you were here last?” I asked breaking the stale silence. 

 “We are on the move constantly, moving from place to place, trying to stay one step ahead of the Corruption. He is sending his demons after us. He wants us back in his domain but he’s making a game out of it. We can go weeks seeing nothing then last week we had two tracking us.” Said Peter.

 I shuddered at the thought of giant demon creatures roaming the dark streets of the town. 

 “The trouble is,” said Bex, “They’re not like the demons you imagine, they’re people that have had their spirits removed and taken over by the Corruptions minions. Hard to spot but easy enough to deal with. It’s the people that they take over that I feel for. Their spirits left wandering this domain until they can find a way through to the other side.”

 “How do you, er, deal with them?” I had to ask.

 “Easy enough, Bex can spot them for me, marks them up and the hunt begins. We can’t let people see us. Once we are alone I grab them and travel to the other realm through a door. Halfway through I let go and the demon is lost. Unfortunately so is the body.” Peter smiled grimly and gripped his drink, his knuckles turning white. 

 I let that sink in for a second or two. “So those missing people adverts you see……”

 “Some, but not all.” Again Peter smiled a strange grim smile.

 Bex returned her gaze to the street watching the odd person as they walked past the front of the buildings opposite. She kept her hand on something in her inside pocket, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what.

 “Do you remember last time I told you that I had to return to Styxworth to rescue my Dad?” I nodded that I did. “Well if you’re ready then this is how it came about.”
Endings.
 It was a grey day the day we buried my Dad. The sky was a steel sheet and rain hung in the air making everything damp. I remember so much of that day. Mum shaking and crying as the long dark car turned up to take us all to the cemetery. The stale dry air of the chapel and the droning words of the minister. So many words but none of them could capture the essence of what made Dad, Dad. This minister had never met him. How could she speak about him that way? How could she offer words of platitude about a man she’d never met? I thought of the time when we had gone to McDonalds and claimed it for Scotland. I remembered the bristle of his chin after a long weekend, before he shaved for work on Monday. I thought about him and Mum, silly after drinking wine dancing to her old records in the front room, while I rolled my eyes and sat laughing on the couch. 

 Beside the grave was worse. More words, stupid words, words of ceremony. Words old enough that their power had been robbed, like an old lion, able to roar but not to hunt. The light rain clung to us all making grey jewels on mums black coat and small grey pearls in her hair. The sun never showed its face from behind the featureless flat sky, damning us with its absence.

 After this we were herded off to a hotel on the edge of town. In an old musty room adults drank with no joy and told quiet stories to each other. Ruddy faced men with beery breath stood in front of me not knowing what to say, shaking my hand, then walking away. Red eyed women clucked around my mother fetching small sandwiches and small strong drinks. After an hour or so the already quiet conversation began to falter as people drifted away, staring at watches and checking phones. Soon it was just me and Mum. We slumped into a waiting taxi and returned to our house. 

 We stood together on the street looking at our family home, crouched with its teeth bared, ready to assault us with its silence. I kept waiting for a curtain to twitch, for Dad to look out or open the door. But nothing happened. The menacing stillness lurched out at us. We stepped forward and entered its dark lair.

 Everything was the same. The still, dry air clung to us and the steady tick of the clock hammered our ears. This was it. Home. Emptier. Silent. 

 Mum coughed and walked into the front room. She removed her shoes and sat on the couch. I did the same and sat beside her. We sat together until the mute calm overwhelmed us. I turned the TV on and went to the kitchen. I filled the kettle and boiled it. I turned on the radio in their and turned it up. I tried to fill the house with noise, tried to push the oppressive gloom into the corners and away from the both of us. I took a cup of tea through to Mum and we sat and stared at the TV, not caring what was on.
 The next day I awoke went downstairs and had some breakfast. As per usual I ate my cereal in front of the TV. Slurping the chocolate flavoured milk from the bowl was the best bit but today’s joy was muted by the cloak of my fathers absence. It roamed around the house pouncing on you when you least expected it. A song, the squeak of the floorboards, or the hum and rattle of the upstairs toilet flushing. I had to get out. I went upstairs and pulled on my jeans. Grabbing my favourite t shirt I ran downstairs. Mum was shuffling around in the kitchen. I grabbed my trainers and stuffed my feet into them. 

 “Going out for a walk Mum.”

 “Hmmm, I might do the same, take your key with you.” 

 I grabbed my key from the hook next to the phone and shoved it into my pocket with the button. Quickly kissing her cheek I walked down the hall and opened the front door. The weather had improved over night and sunlight warmed my face. I pulled the door shut behind me and walked off down the street.

 I went where my feet took me, not noticing where I was, my head filled with flurrying thoughts, coming together and exploding like a flock of birds. Of course yesterday we had buried my fathers body, but I knew that he, what made him, him, was tending the bar at the Ferryman pub in Styxworth. Could I go and see him? Mehari had called me the Traveller. Did that mean I could travel between the realms? Could I visit at weekends or would I have to wait for my own eventual death to be reunited with him? Would I see my friend Bex again? Where was she and what was she doing? Was she visiting Mehari in his strange cave?

 With all of these thoughts writhing around my head I didn’t notice I had walked to the park. Home to some of my earliest memories playing on the swings and climbing frame with my parents. I sat on a bench and looked at a small bunch of people. They were swaying together, making ritualistic moves. The way they moved and the shapes they were forming looked familiar to me. They were running through the positions I used for my Qi attack and defence! How did they know about that. I sat and watched for a while until they finished their routine. They bowed to the leader and broke apart smiling and chatting to each other. I had to find out what it was. 

 “Excuse me,” I said to the small grey haired man that had been leading them through the positions, “What is it that you are doing here?”

 “It’s called Tai-Chi, and ancient martial art that is meant to focus our Qi energy. It’s popular amongst some of the older folk due to its slower pace.” He said, swigging from a bottle of water. 

An apology

4 May

Hi. How are you? 
Uh ok this is awkward. 
So how did we arrive here? We’re just people. Why can’t you look me in the eye and why do I feel like I shouldn’t? 
We used to share so much more. Sorry too much too soon?
So, yeah, wow, how did we get here? 
I was going to use this as a personal apology to you, but well, I don’t know you any more. How could I? That was 20 fucking years ago. 
Sorry I’m getting angry and I’m really trying not to. Calm down. 
Try again. 
[deletia]
All that went before has gone. 
A fitting eulogy for life. Right? All that we did is washed away. All that we were is gone, like we didn’t leave scars on each other? 
[deletia]
Fuck it, look I’m trying. I’m trying not to raise my voice and I’m trying to be sincere.
Maybe if I stop talking specifics and started talking generally? Remove the emotion? Does that still count?
Well I’m still here. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t be. There were times when I almost gave up. Melodrama? Possibly. 
I hope you are well. I bare no malice, but then why should I? I was the selfish party, I acted only in my self interest. 
Do I hope you bare me no malice? Kind of. I still want to mean something to you. I still want to be remembered. As much as we did or didn’t do I hope that shaped you. 
Too much? Blowing my own trumpet too far? 
Probably. 
What do I hope to achieve here? I’m not sure. I felt like I had to address something burning in me. 

Hah, maybe you affected me more than I affected you. Irony? Too fucking right. 
[deletia]
Sorry I’ve had a drink or two tonight.
I still think fondly of you. Occasionally more than fondly. Too much? 
Probably.
[deletia]
Scratch that remark from the record.
Sorry. Do I want to know how fabulous your life is? 
Probably not.
Do I want to know how great he is and how wonderful your kids are?
Probably not.
Am I content to let this lie as it is. 
Difficult.
I’m obviously writing this for a reason. 
Catharsis? 
Probably not.
I remember summers where we didn’t leave each other’s arms, where we rode bikes in the day and drank our way through the ’til dawn. We watched the sun rise wrapped in the quilt off my bed and said we’d always remember each other. We took walks in the cemetery, walks in the rain and walks to the pub. 
I still drink a lot. 
I’m trying to be better. Do you care?
Probably not.
Do I want to come off as pathetic and creepy as this is sounding?
Um, probably not.
Introspection is ok in those who can play guitar and are in a band and love lorn at fucking 21 coz you’re so broken fuck that….
Sorry, I’m really trying to be calm here. 
[deletia]
Regrets?
A few. Sing it Frankie…….
Were you one? 
Kind of. 
Am I sorry that we were together?
No.
Am I sorry we split? 
Difficult. 
Sorry but it is. I don’t and can’t know where we would have gone. 
Am I sorry about the way I treated you?
Yup. 
sorry.
I mean that. The lower case was supposed to signify that I really meant it, but it seems to cheapen it. Fuck I’m so bad at this. I can’t sound sincere.
Sorry, I’ll calm down again. 
Did I ever scare you? I really didn’t mean to. 
Life doesn’t come with a handbook and I really didn’t know the first thing about women. And you never admit that in front of friends let alone other women. 
More front than Brighton. 
If you saw behind that occasionally I wouldn’t have liked that.
So what’s changed?
I’m married. I know right….. Me either.
I’m working a fuck nuts job but the pay ain’t to bad.
I’m a productive member of society. 
Yeah I hate it. 
Every day I have to go out and ensure some body else’s money is safe something inside me curls up and dies. 
Calm down.
Sorry. 
I’m writing again. I’ve written a book. I know I finally saw something through to the end that wasn’t a pint. 
Fuck you.
Sorry, calm down. 
Just a little humour there. Honest. 
Ah honesty. I’m trying there but when there’s a lot of your past you can’t remember or would rather forget then the stories people tell fill convenient gaps. 
If you’ve been caught up and hurt by one or more of those I can only apologise. If you tell me when and where I can try and correct them. 
I can only try.
Why were the summers so long back then? Golden light dappling our skin as we sought the cool refuge of the trees. Our unmarked skin touches and goosebumps run up my spine. 
My skin is a little more marked now. Hell, who wants to die without any scars right?
I know, but I didn’t mean it. Does that count?
Probably not. 
I’ve taken up a bit of your time here so I’ll go. I know I’ve not reached a conclusion but I’m not sure myself. 
Look I’ve written this a thousand times in my head and every time it comes out different. Mostly it tries to be a talk to my younger self but mostly it comes out as whiny. 
Sorry, calm it down. 
[deletia]
That means we remove all that has gone before, mostly in programming etc. 
I don’t want to remove you but I want the hurt to go. 
I’m sorry if I hurt you.
I’m sorry if you had to cover up the hurt while I carried on regardless.
If we could go over would you wanna? 
Sorry, inappropriate. We’ve both come so far. We’re like real people now.
I still don’t feel real, a little like a player in a play. I hope that soon the curtains going to come back, the audience will applaud and I can go home. 
I hope he makes you smile. You have a lovely smile. 
I hope you don’t mind this little intrusion. 
And yes I hope it wiggles a little pin in a wound you thought had closed years ago. Who doesn’t want to feel special.
In conclusion…….. Is there a conclusion?
Not really. I’m trying to be a better person. I fail pretty much everyday but I’m only a man.
I try to see the good in everything. I try, I really do. 
Mostly I fail but I try.
I hold open doors for old ladies, I try to remember my manners, and I don’t play cards on Sundays.
Apparently that’s important. 
Look I’m not good at this. It doesn’t help that I’m floundering around for some meaning. Is the meaning a deeper truth I’m not sure I want to admit?
Probably.
We all lie to ourselves to protect our self image. I’m a fucking good liar. 
[deletia]

  bye.