fiction, short fiction, Uncategorized

Queue

His hair was thin, laying odd where he had taken his hat off upon coming into the bank. He had dyed it at some point, trading the recognisable golden-blonde halo for a dull, tobacco brown. It was more honest, like the man had been a useful shell, something to discard when the need arose. What lived inside that man was one person in front of her.

 

There was a livid white headed pimple visible above the collar of his shirt with a circle of inflamed skin around it. He carried the packed sour musk of poor hygiene. He had tried to make an effort with his clothes but he looked fragile. He had walked around as a god in a crisp white polo shirt and shorts, the silver whistle dangling between the cleft of his pectorals as he shouted out plays from the dugout.

 

He used to smell of nautical aftershave, a clean bold smell to him that reminded her of limes and now made her mouth fill up with vomit if she ever caught a whiff of it. She could not see his hands. She remembered how they would rest on the line of her neck.

 

He looked shorter than she remembered. The years had whittled him down whilst hers had been building a body that she considered hers again.

 

She leaned out and saw the harassed teller struggle to remain polite with the elderly gentleman, his balding head shining and fragile in the afternoon light as he tried to remember his account number.

 

This was the second day of following him, but the first that she did not have to rely on guessing where he might have been. She had watched him stop at the store and pick up a copy of a magazine he kept rolled up and inside a plastic bag that he brought with him. His chest would rise from excitement and look both ways as he left the store to return home.

 

She had walked in and shoplifted three magazines, took them back under her coat to her hotel room and took them apart. She removed the staples with needle nose pliers and replaced them with wire transmitters that fed to an app on her phone. All ordered over the internet which he probably was banned from going on. Hence the need for analogue release, which was a slick, distasteful thing to consider and she spat it away.

 

Returning the magazines was more difficult than stealing them had been. She did it in five trips, losing her nerve on the third and fourth. She watched him go back to the store.

 

She watched him go to the store, return home with milk, bread and another magazine. Her phone beeped with a connection. He did not have a cellphone which was almost an atavism these days, but she could follow him.

 

She looked different too. She had become a woman which would not interest him anymore.

 

She had never picked up a baseball bat again and had switched to judo. After getting her black belt in that and competing at a state level, she had begun to study Brazilian ju-jitsu and even got into muay thai kickboxing. Her hair was still long, tucked up beneath a ball cap. Her complexion was soft, hints of peach and milky coffee. She wore a long green sweater with sleeves that hung over her hands and black leggings with unlaced boots. The clothes softened her, hid the cast of her shoulders and the raw, callused strength in her hands from all the years gripping the thick white material of the ghi. She had no intention of fighting him because it would be too quick, too awkward.

 

In the queue he turned and glanced at her, gave a distant but sickly smile then turned away.

 

It stung that he did not recognise her.

 

She kept her eyes on him, feeding her hate for him to keep her alert.

 

It became his turn to conduct business with the teller.

 

He was closing his account, which warranted one of the bank’s officers coming over to speak with him. She stood there, looking straight ahead as close as she had been since the trail. Her heart pounded in her chest and her limbs shook with the need to strike out at him.

 

Every heavy bag bore his face that she threw knees and elbows into.

 

She turned around and walked away. She was desperate for some fresh air.

 

She stood three people behind him in the post office as he filled out some forms to have his mail forwarded to him.

 

She stood outside the travel agents as he spoke to the travel agent, shook hands with her but failed to see the speed with which she reached for the hand sanitizer when he had left.

 

She did not follow him into the coffee shop. She had followed him for long enough, now it was time to hunt him.

 

2.

 

He let himself into his apartment and shut the door behind him. He stood against it and exhaled deeply as he stretched out his lower back. He switched the light on and stood the bag of groceries on the table. He reached into his coat and pulled out a pouch of rolling tobacco, made himself a cigarette and sat underneath the blinking fluorescent light, smoked it and stared out at nothing.

 

He shut his eyes and felt a vein in his temple throb with the beginnings of a headache.

 

He finished the cigarette and stubbed it out before putting the groceries away. He was too exhausted to eat; he had planned to jerk off and go to sleep. Tomorrow would be a new day for him, he told himself, one more day and he could go somewhere else, start again.

 

He unbuttoned his shirt in the doorway of his bedroom when he heard the creak of a floorboard behind him and started to turn.

 

The knee in the small of his back pushed the air from his lungs and he went to fall forward until he felt a pair of hands clamp onto his shoulders and pulled him back into the hallway. He tried to turn around, but the hands pulled him up.

 

He tried to speak, but he would be punished with another punch or a knee. He kept trying to move into the bedroom, but she used his shirt as a rein. He probably still thought it was a man beating him up.

 

He threw his arm up to shove her away, which she took in the shoulder and returned with a crisp jab to his nose that spread it across his face in a wet crack. Agony bolted through his head, splitting his brain in two with its bright fury.

 

He covered his face in his hands and she watched blood trickling between his fingers.

 

‘Get up, Coach.’ she said.

 

He pulled his hands away, the lower half of his face dark and shining with blood. His teeth were small and dull in his mouth, and his eyes welled up with tears.

 

‘No, please. I’ve been on a program. I can’t even talk to children anymore.’ he said.

 

She shook her head and took her cap off, stepped forward into the light.

 

‘You’re talking to one right now. ‘

 

Her eyes were dry and cold.

 

‘I was just going to scare you at first. I wanted you to know what that felt like.’

 

He put his hands up in front of him and shook his head.

 

‘Please, I’m a good person, I wasn’t but I’m trying to be.’

 

She stepped forwards and stared into his eyes.

 

‘I’ve followed you, Coach, what you were doing weren’t the actions of a good man.’

 

She ran her tongue across her lips.

 

‘None of them were, not ever.’

 

Her voice regressed and she was ten years old again, looking into his eyes and knowing what the sun would like if it had a face.

 

Before it scorched something inside her, made it charred and dead.

 

It was the little girl who made her run forward.

 

The choke went in quick and deep. Between her crossed thighs, his face turned purple and swollen, his eyes turning red from where blood vessels haemorrhaged as she constricted his blood supply to his brain.

 

She kept his arm straight and held between her hands until it went slack, then stayed on until her abdomen and thighs started to cramp. She crawled off him, fighting the burn of lactic acid from the effort of keeping the choke held in.

 

The air had begun to smell damp around him and she got away.

 

She slipped out of the room, then the building and pulled her hood up then jammed her hands in her pockets.

 

The queue for the Greyhound wasn’t long, but she kept looking ahead, waiting for the wail of sirens and it was when she got on and looked out of the window that she started to cry again. She curled her knees up to her chest and hugged herself.

 

She thought of home, and for the first time, did not feel sick.

 

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book reviews, books, fiction, romance, Uncategorized, women

Until She Sings – Beta Readers Wanted

I am looking for beta readers for this project.

UNTIL SHE SINGS

M B BLISSETT

You cannot stay silent if you want to be heard.

Caitlin Ross, a young singer-songwriter, makes her debut at an open mic night playing and singing her own songs for the first time. Struggling in her relationship with her once, nearly famous boyfriend Luke, Caitlin’s performance lends a new spotlight for him to pirate. But Caitlin has grown weary of life in Luke’s shadow.
When a handsome stranger, Daniel,  introduces himself after her set, the attraction is immediate and all consuming. His pursuit quickly throws Luke’s failings as a partner into stark relief. And she quickly finds herself caught between the past and the future, chained to the former by her guilt over Luke’s dependence upon her.

I am looking for beta readers, so please get in touch if you are interested in providing me with feedback on the book.

 

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books, fiction, writing

Shes Here by M B Blissett

I have a completed book, and am developing it for self-publishing.

I am asking, you, my readers if any of you would like to read it and offer feedback on it.

This is the general story:
SHE’S HERE
TOMMY MARTIN is a successful stand up comedian, back off his first tour since the death of his wife SOPHIE, leaving him as a single father to PENNY. When he meets EVELYN, an artist, he embarks on the first romantic relationship since the death of his wife. He experiences unusual, violent events around him, which he cannot explain.

If you are interested, please leave a comment or get in touch.

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book reviews, books, fiction, reading, Uncategorized

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumoured healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again – but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realisation about a horrifying future.

What I liked

Lots of provocative and clever ideas but nothing at the expense of the story

Well-realised history and back story

Different time periods don’t jar the flow of narrative

Comic book energy and invention.

Exciting and considered extrapolation of Nigeria in 2066.

What I didn’t like

Nothing.

It’s a heady cocktail of ideas, poured over a careful story. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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creative writing, editing, fiction, writing

Available to help with your writing

https://www.fiverr.com/s2/8b080029fa?utm_source=org.wordpress.android_Mobile

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creative writing, fairy stories, fiction, short fiction

Thorne – Origin

Thorne is my Dungeons and Dragons character, as I will be, after a long period, playing again. I thought I would share what I’ve written, and also it will serve as a record of the game itself, which I am looking forward to. I’m into the things I like without shame and role playing games are incredible ways to interact with others. 

 

The mornings were my favourite time of day. Wine coloured skies and air so clean its taste is still fresh in my mind.

 

Lilandra, my wife rose with me and we broke fast. We lived without fear of the future, clothed in the promise of children together. She carried our child inside her, and each morning, my lips pressed against the curve of her stomach before my work took me to the woods.

 

My hunt took me all over, and sometimes it would be dusk before my return home. The hunt had been plentiful and my pockets were full with coins from the meat sold at Syngorn but it was dark before home fell into my vision.

 

Beneath the darkness came my doom.

 

Crinamorte.

 

A clan of vampires, and undead allies, travelling south and wreaking havoc along the way. At the time, such news had not reached our part of the world, but my education began with Lilandra’s screams from our home tree.

 

She was bound at the wrists and ankles, whilst they waited for my return. A pair, male and female, clad in ragged finery and teeth shining with blood. They moved, too fast to be seen and dashed me to the ground.

 

When my senses returned, Lilandra was drained of blood and one of them took a knife to her belly. She looked up, and there was a shred of something pink at the corner of her mouth.

 

My mind broke at that point. They left me, insensible and wounded and set fire to my house. As they left, between broken and bleeding lips, my question amused them.

 

‘Why?’

 

The male, with his bald, pale head smiled and cocked his head, revealing his dripping, sharp fangs.

 

‘You were home.’

 

They left me to the flames.

 

I crawled away and fell to the forest floor, watched my house and wife burn. I laid there for days, waiting to die until a pair of travellers gave me aid and healing. My burnt and broken flesh renewed, but my mind?

 

No, not all of it healed.

 

In Syngorn, my remaining time was set to the task of drinking myself to death. Someone heard my oft-repeated tale and took pity on a soul-sick wood elf, which was how Ulrich found me.

 

He hunted monsters, and the undead were his most hated foe. He listened to me, swathed in a fur cloak with a mastiff bitch at his feet whilst he poured me wine to keep me talking. When my story ended, he offered to take up my cause. In a moment of terrible clarity, I decided a revenge delegated was a revenge denied. I asked him to teach me his ways and he looked at me with disdain.

 

Two shots with a borrowed shortbow into a wine butt convinced him of my utility. He clapped my shoulder and laughed with surprise. His tutelage was unsparing and cruel but my rage and grief drove me to excel. My expertise as a hunter and woodsman put me in good stead to absorb his lessons.

 

My first kill was good but it did not ease the call for vengeance which howled in my bones. Vampires were powerful, and so Ulrich taught me the strategies to kill the undead. Before long, Ulrich’s eyes saw less and he walked slower than before. After a long night helping Grimm, his bitch mastiff give birth to a litter of puppies, he fell asleep and did not awake. All but one of the pups died, and Grimm never recovered, and so after burying them all, I returned to Syngorn.

 

I paid for information on the Crinamorte from the Sparrows. It was not good news, they had power and influence in addition to their undead curse. The undead were growing bolder, and now I had burdened myself with a debt to a guild of thieves.

 

A boat awaits, and the first opportunity to repay this debt. It will take resources and planning to take them down, allies too, if such can be found.  

 

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fiction, men, war

the bullet found him

He ran in his dreams.

 

There was the recollection of his uncoiled youth. Slim and taut with muscle, even at twelve. It taints his memories of his youth with crude washes of horror and regret.

 

These dreams woke him, trembling and confused. It was a long time ago, and yet these dreams returned like a recurring complaint. He was a man who could have someone killed with a phone call, but in his dreams, he ran from the train with the snap of bullets passing by him.

 

He got up, poured himself a good measure of single malt, lit a cigarette and walked to the living room.

 

Benny stood up when he walked in, his mouth twisted into a knot of concern but Ernest waved him off. Despite wearing nothing but a robe, Benny responded to him like he were in an expensive suit, but Ernest sat down and looked at his employee with something close to need.

 

‘Do you ever have bad dreams, Benny?’ he said.

 

His voice was a thin, reedy whisper but Benny furrowed his brow and considered the question with great importance. He shook his head and emitted a small squeak of a no.

 

Ernest chuckled and took a sip of the whisky. He sat back and drew on the cigarette.

 

‘Is everything ok, Mr Wolfowitz?’

 

Ernest let his head tilt backwards as he blew out a plume of smoke.

 

‘I guess. You can sit down, Benny. I’m worried you can see my cock from there.’

 

Benny sat down fast enough to make the cushions jump and Ernest sat up to look across at him. He ran his tongue across his lips, left to right, before he let it settle in the right corner of his mouth. His eyelids were low as he took another pull on the cigarette before settling into the couch.

 

‘Thanks for not saying either way. I make you nervous, huh?’ he said.

 

Benny nodded and flicked a nervous smile. His moustache was sweating as he looked at his boss.

 

‘Just this is the first time I’ve sat across from you. You said, if I see you, it means something’s gone wrong.’ he said.

 

Ernest recalled saying it, and a small burst of regret singed his insides.

 

‘I meant, I need no interruptions, Benny. I’m not an asshole to you guys.’ he said.

 

Ernest set the tumbler down on the floor by his feet as he adjusted his robe.

 

Relax. We’re just talking,” he said.

 

Benny had never served, but he nodded in agreement again and say thank you. His reaction pleased Ernest, who picked up the tumbler again and took another appreciative sip. Its warm burn relaxed him as he blinked and chased it down with a puff on the cigarette.

 

‘I have this dream, Benny. The same dream, over and over.’

 

2.

You know the worst thing?

 

How ordinary those men were. You think of them as monsters but it is too easy, gives you an out if you ever wonder about your own capacity for evil, Benny, I tell you. A unit of volunteers, police in their own country, but they volunteered to come and do their duty.

 

They came to the village at night. Pulled from our houses like vermin, gathered together in the square as they watched us, made sure we didn’t run away. My father had died last year, so I was the only man left in my family.

 

There was nothing I could do. Nothing at all. Twelve years old, and looking at those men, barbers and engineers at home but here. Gathering us up to take a train.

 

. They kept the men together, and packed us in so tight, Such a thing, I couldn’t breathe, but I was thin and so I moved to the sides, pressed to find any cool, clean air to breathe in. Each breath stunk of other people, all of us, soiled and doomed.

 

Such a thing to smell, Benny, I tell you.  

 

Escape? No, such a thing was a dream and I was very much awake.

 

But I didn’t stop looking. They were not smart men, who put us in these carriages. Some of them smelled of too much beer and looked at us like they expected us to tell them what to do. One of them was slack on securing the door. I watched him do it.

 

But I remembered, Benny, and when we got to the train yards, it would pass the woods outside my village.

 

The woods were my favourite place to play, I knew them well.

 

My hands shook as the train slowed down, ready to take on more passengers. My heart was in my throat but I made myself push the door open. The night air fell on me like a cool wave, and I cried out with a savage joy. There was a rough hand at my back then I was tumbling forwards, landing in the dirt hard enough to knock the air from my lungs.

 

I got to my feet, heard the shouts go up and then the guns firing at me.

 

Have you ever ran like your life depended on it?

 

It is not an easy thing to do. Part of you wants the defeat, like a wound which can never heal and it gives you a reason to be clumsy, Benny, but fight it when it comes.

 

They were not good shots. It was not a matter of pride for them, to be competent soldiers. It was to my fortune they missed me.

 

Others behind me, were not so lucky, but they died free.

 

Still, they died.

 

The worst thing is, I don’t dream about my mother or my sisters. My father had been dead for three years by then. None of those things bother me, Benny, but do you know what does?

 

In my dreams, Benny, I dream about them shooting me. Or worse, catching me and putting me onto the train again. What sort of man thinks about those things?

 

What sort of man dreams about the bullet which never found you?

 

3.

 

Benny fought back tears as he coughed into his hand before he looked up at his boss.

 

‘We all have times when we think about how things could have gone down, Mr Wolfowitz.’ he said.

 

Ernest tilted his head to one side, curious despite his exhaustion.

 

‘But I didn’t get shot, Benny. I made it, and then from there to all of this.’ he said.

 

There was no need for a gesture, Benny knew. If you worked for Mr Wolf, you knew what he did to keep what was his and added to it with the same fervour. If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, then Ernest Wolfowitz was the hardest working man in crime. One of the wealthiest too, and he had moved a lot of dirty cash in clean, legitimate vehicles but if you bought a dime bag, Mr Wolf made money from it.

 

‘I know, but we still think about it. If it makes you feel fortunate, then it’s God talking to you.’

 

Ernest frowned and picked up his glass.

 

‘He does not talk Benny. Not since he packed my family into the trains.’

 

Benny sat back, remembering how his girlfriend had told him to stay off religion or politics in polite conversation with anyone you didn’t want to piss off. He folded his hands and put them into his lap.

 

‘Sometimes he doesn’t say nice things, but he tells you the truth.’ he said.

 

Ernest watched him before he drained the rest of the glass and stubbed out the cigarette in the ashtray. He got up, adjusted himself inside his robe and walked away without speaking. Benny stood up as he left, but Ernest did not acknowledge the gesture. Benny waited until he heard the click of the bedroom door before he sat down.

 

He wondered how much trouble he was in until dawn when the next guy came in to take over and he drove back to his apartment. When the phone rang, he heard Yanni, one of Mr Wolf’s lieutenants, tell him a car was outside.

 

Benny ran to the bathroom and vomited before rinsing his mouth out with water and throwing on a jacket as he ran downstairs.

 

Someone set a chess board up in the study. Mr Wolf sat with a crystal decanter of scotch and a welcoming smile which unnerved Benny as he looked at the empty chair opposite him.

 

‘Sit down, Benny.’ he said.

 

Benny sat down and looked at Mr Wolf.

 

‘Am I in trouble, sir?’ he said.

 

Ernest shook his head.

 

‘If you were, you’d know.’ he said.

 

This, Benny knew, was Mr Wolf. The old man last night, he wasn’t someone to mess with, but this man before him, although he wore the same face, held himself apart from everyone and everything.

 

Mr Wolf poured Benny a drink and handed it to him.

 

‘No, Benny, I thought it useful to talk about God with someone I trust not to tell anyone.’ he said.

 

Benny went to say like a confession but remembered his girlfriend’s advice and bit down on his tongue. The scotch stung him, but he kept his impulse under control.

 

‘Mr Wolf.’ he said.

 

Ernest shook his head.

 

‘No, Benny, call me Ernest.’ he said.

 

It was the start of a great friendship. They held one another’s confidence for five years before a stroke took out Mr Wolf and left him bedridden. Benny took half a million from the Garcia Cartel to hold a pillow to his friend’s face, but as he felt him relax. Benny was glad at the end, it was down to him. Tears ran down his face as he leaned over and whispered into Ernest’s ear.

 

‘The bullet found you.’  he said.

 

Benny recognised himself in the ordinary men who shoved Ernest’s family into the streets, and it had killed his own faith. As Ernest died, part of Benny died with him. The rest of it followed a week later when the Garcia Cartel decided Benny was too expensive to keep around.

 

It was on a train out of the city, Benny had sat in first class, which made him easy to find. When the three men, not much more than boys, closed the doors behind them, Benny smiled. They were competent, and they promised to be quick.

 

His bullet had found him, too.

 

He looked forward to telling Ernest about it.

 

 

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