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Writers and Businesses, Why Do You Suffer This Common Issue?

If you’re a business owner with an online presence

You want to have the following:

Strong, emotionally engaging story-driven content

Which understands what you are about and what you want

Perhaps you’re an aspiring writer

You want to have the following:

A process to complete your work

Strong, emotionally engaging plot and execution

These are universal needs aren’t they? Where art and commerce meet and I am offering my expertise to help you negotiate that space.

Why suffer with inadequate content, when you can hire someone who brings quality, craft and insight to everything they do?

I offer a range of services and packages, with client referrals on request.

If you want to stop suffering, get in touch

What else do you have to lose?

 

 

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short fiction, social media

The Dragon’s House

 

The Dragon’s House

 

1.

 

The afternoon sun had muted into the first smears of grey twilight. The house squatted in the middle of a good stretch of land, ugly but with good bones like a palsied supermodel. It was far from the nearest town which was a rough, rusted idea of a town thanks to the downturn. They couldn’t resist a chance to be cruel in person. All their expense and planning held no more import than a playground prank but it fitted their inward cultural perceptions of brash, righteous youth. They were bright and sharp with the need to be cruel, spending a cultural inheritance of arrogance without ever feeling they had wasted a single cent. It would make for good content, they told themselves as they cavorted across the field to the house with the rental car locked up on the side of the road.

 

Chris held up the phone as Maria stuck her tongue out and gave him the finger. Her eyes glittered with excitement before her face softened into a broad smile. They were as much enamoured of themselves as they were one another, tied into a perfect knot of narcissism.

 

‘So tell everyone where we’re going today.’ Chris said.

 

Paul looked towards the house and leaned back, raised his arms and hollered to the sky.

 

‘To THE DRAGON’S LAIR, HOO HA.’ he said.

 

Chris and Maria exchanged wearied glances before Chris lowered his phone and sneered.

 

‘If you’re going to say cool things for the video, maybe tell me next time?’ he said.

 

Paul snorted and pulled his greatcoat around his bloated stomach like a security blanket, glowering above the matted spade of beard which hung from his chin. His hair flew up around his face as he glared at Maria. Maria and Chris shared another knowing look. Chris focused his phone on the house.

 

‘Say it again.’ he said.

 

Paul wheeled around and belted out the phrase again. Chin up, chest out and fists to the sky in a roar of youthful defiance. It was authentic until he finished and gave Chris a desperate, quivering look before he put his hands into his pockets.

 

‘It’ll look good to cut to.’ Paul said.

 

Chris nodded. Paul was right, but he resented how intuitive he was with the technical side of things. They were complementary in their opposition. Chris was a realist pretending to be a romantic and Paul was the opposite. It was why Chris was the face of the channel, glib and charming with the willingness to be cruel in pursuit of his desires and Paul orbited, making everything look good and begging for a moment’s screen time with mewling, wet eyes.

 

Maria had pointed out a few things about Paul, late at night, with her small breasts crushed against Chris’ forearm, listing off her observations in a rattling whisper as they made ruined hills of his sheets. She was on their channel all the time, and Paul had pointed out the dip in views, but Chris enjoyed fucking her too much to see his concerns beyond a vague envious bleating. Paul was their audience, Chris knew, but it made sense to try new things. It was Paul’s job to make them work.

 

He thought of Paul, if at all, with a contempt it had grown harder to hide when they were together. Chris wanted to be needed, but not to need. Paul, with his soft, round body and pleading, wet eyes handled the technical side of their channel. A better man would have been grateful but Chris’ anima kept him resentful of Paul long past the point of being healthy for either of them.

 

Chris was sharp with everyone he spoke to, then whipped out tactile bursts of affection and apology whilst Paul spent hours grazing through an endless amount of food whilst sulking about the wifi connections and how much the trip was eating into his data. Maria whined to Chris, flirted in front of him and even teased Paul, but his eagerness bored her. Europe had been a ramshackle affair, but the videos had done well, all of them teasing the last stop before they flew home.

 

The Dragon’s House.

 

2.

 

Ernst Winkler had started a video channel online. He would spit and enthuse about his love of heavy metal, brown hair blown out from his acromegalic face in corkscrew curls. His gap-toothed smile and childish earnestness drew him an audience. A manlet, with too much innocence to hide but too little adulthood to harness into charm. There was an amusing dissonance, in he titled himself Konig Drache, or King Dragon, referring to his German heritage. Despite the remote location and the clear disarray of his life, he made sure he paid for internet access He denied himself small pleasures, even essentials to ensure the world had access to the life he presented.

 

People asked questions. He answered everything without guile, saw it all as a glorious portal to a world of friends, people who didn’t dismiss him for his lack of personal hygiene, who saw his mood swings for their expressions of enthusiasm over anything approaching violence.

 

It was a world of people who didn’t have to live with him.

 

Ernst fell in love. His open surrender was a thing of warmth, expressed on his channel, as everything was. He composed doggerel for Julie and proposed to her in a live stream.

 

She rejected him in front of thousands and then revealed she was thirteen years old. Ernst ended the live stream with a click and sat there. A small, thin smile grew across his face like an ulcer.

 

No one had seen his smile and lived. Some parts of himself were private, controlled in a way which contradicted the amiable squalor he projected.  He withdrew a tattered journal from where it sat by his feet and opened it up, ticked an item off his list and set it down again.

 

Create controversy and mockery before leaking home address.

 

He recorded a response video. Ernst chose anger over pain, but he made sure he wept at intervals, having practiced in the mirror and watching the impact of his actions on his mother and sister. They had fled the house six years ago after the death of his father. He volunteered the information, planted it like a landmine in the mulch of his public image. He had visitors within a week of the news, and at first, he chased them away, waddling along, face flushed with an indignation he didn’t feel but recalled from his father as he threw things in their direction.

 

He changed his approach when people expected it. At night, he would surf the other channels, studying his reaction and tweaking it for subsequent visitors. Many of them never entered the property, and those who did, were not strangers to him. People were so keen to give up their intimate details if they thought there was attention involved. The internet was a bucket of crabs, ceaseless rivalry and activity which as time went on, became an opportunity for him to indulge himself without attracting too much attention.

Much like the three visitors he saw coming up the path. Ernst knew the distance they had travelled and watched their videos of their pilgrimage. Judging by the amount of subscribers, he was one of the few watching, and when he walked down the stairs, he stopped by the garage and picked up a wrench, thick and cold but crusted with blood and oil, pushed it through his belt at the small of his back and pushed his t-shirt over it.

 

He loved his audience.

 

3.

 

He was a foot taller than Paul but he stood with stiff shoulders as he shuffled his weight from one foot to another.  His black Scorpions t-shirt was faded to the colour of ash with the band logo reduced to an outline. His jeans were stiff with dirt and old sweat, faded white at the thighs and knees and tucked into unlaced boots which had the colour and consistency of wet cardboard. Ernst grinned beneath the kinked corona of unwashed hair which framed his face. He gave the two men a perfunctory glance, but he stared at Maria. His interest in her was familiar, yet not without a growing loathing for how unguarded it was. Behind him, they heard the grunting snuffles of the pigs in their pens, and the dissonant buzz of flies in a duet which made their fillings ache.

 

Chris said hi to break the tension.

 

‘It is lovely to see you.’ Ernst said.  

 

She caught the spicy, sour musk of his unwashed skin and wrinkled her nose with repugnance. His welcome was unwanted and courtesy made for tepid, forgettable footage which defeated the object of their visit. She spoke through gritted teeth, lips drawn back to approximate a smile and broke the connection between them as she whispered to Chris to keep filming.

 

Chris looked at the phone in his hand with disappointment before he tossed it to Paul.

 

‘Here, keep it on him.’

 

Chris raised his hand and smiled, said hi as Paul filmed the encounter.

 

‘I’m not great with people.’ Ernst said.

 

His grin raised his cheekbones until they were knuckles protruding through his sallow skin.

 

Paul and Chris exchanged a single, terse nod before they carried on.

 

‘Have you travelled far?’ Ernst said.

 

The three of them shrugged, keen to appear aloof and effortless to further enhance the perceived wealth of social currency they had over him.

 

‘You live a long way from anywhere, man.’ Chris said. His voice was a stoned drawl, approximating cool but communicating a veiled contempt.

 

‘You want to come in and see the house?’ he said.

 

They accepted and followed him inside.

 

Paul recalled the videos, all the extra rooms packed with refuse until Ernst lived in one room of the house. Yellowing stacks of newspapers and magazines littered the rooms, and each breath they took tasted of dust and excrement. Maria smelled the sour tang of spoiled food and milk as they walked past what used to be the kitchen. They followed him up the stairs, where the lights had stopped working, keeping the upstairs in a perpetual state of twilight. He turned and faced them then gestured to a mildewed rug a few feet ahead of the group.

 

‘Be careful, some boards are loose.’ he said.

 

Paul nodded as he continued filming. Chris and Maria walked ahead. Neither of them watched how Ernst moved, darting around the edges of the mildewed rug a few feet in front before they followed him.

 

There was enough time to cry out as the edges of the rug leapt up and they fell through the floor. Chris and Maria fell first. Paul slipped and fell forwards, plummeted after them but landed to the right, slamming into the ground with enough force to push the air from his lungs.

 

Paul wheezed and rolled onto his side. Maria wailed as she laid there, her right arm folded under her and her left leg bent in an impossible direction. Paul saw, from the corner of his eye, how she tried to lift her head. Her lips were red with blood and her eyes were unfocused as she looked at him.

 

‘Is Chris ok?’ she said.

 

Paul couldn’t make out the details, but there was a slow, expanding puddle of blood on the floor beneath him. He hung from the metal spears, pierced through his throat, stomach, groin and both thighs. As a final insult, one spear had pushed through the soft flesh under his chin and his head was pushed back, with his face twisted into a final expression of distended, awful shock. All the beauty had fled from him and left behind ripped, bleeding meat.Paul tried to stand up. A flare of sharp, unstable pain burst in his right hip and kept him on the floor.

 

‘Does he look ok, you stupid cunt.’ he said.

 

Maria tried to sit up, but collapsed forwards, shrieking and insensible like a fresh widow. Paul wrestled with his own bulk to get upright. Her screams stabbed him through the temples but he focused on getting himself upright, working on a blind, primal need to survive.  

 

He looked up and saw the ceiling in the hallway, wondered how far they had fallen. Paul stared at Chris’ body. The air down here was close, thick with the stink of blood and voided bowels. Paul gagged as he took a deep breath. There was little to no light down here, and so he had to find his bearings by touch. A single door was set into the wall and he turned the handle to find it locked. Maria was weeping as she dragged herself away from Chris and shouted upwards.

 

‘Please let us go.’ she said.

 

Paul tried to force the door, but it took all his effort to stay upright, let alone use his bulk to help him get out. Maria’s calls degraded into sobs of self-pity and fear, which angered Paul.

 

‘Shut the fuck up.’ he said, between gritted teeth.

 

She stopped talking and looked at him with pleading, desperate eyes.

 

He shook the door in its frame but it did not move. Paul hurt all over, but a dire need to live kept him moving, trying, acting to avoid dying. They had laughed at him, seeing him as a clumsy, ugly clown they could provoke into fits of rage for their audience’s amusement. The world needed people like Ernst to make themselves feel better, but as Paul stared around him, he realised no one had ever asked what Ernst got out of it.

 

Now, he knew..

 

Ernst was in no hurry as he walked down the stairs. It pleased him he didn’t need the wrench tucked into his belt at the back. His favourite tools were in the kitchen. They had been his father’s tools, and he kept them polished and sharp, no matter how often he used them. He stripped off then tied on a leather and chain-mail apron, slipped on the leather gloves and flexed his fingers. Despite the filth, he knew where everything was, and he kept the important things clean and in good repair. It was a lesson which passed from father to son, but Ernst used his skills for entertainment over employment. His father’s intuition about his son seethed inside him until he walked out to the pigs with a shotgun and prescribed himself a cure for his paternal disappointment.

 

He retrieved the key from where it hung around his thick neck and sung to himself.

 

He walked to the door.

 

‘Would you like to come out?’ he said.

 

‘If you stand back, I can unlock the door. You could save your friend.’ he said.

 

He sang his words over speaking. He could not contain his excitement for too long, like a child at a birthday party where everything was perfect.

 

He slipped the key in the lock before the door rattled in its hinges again. Ernst laughed and knocked on the door with the handle of the butcher knife.

 

‘No, no, no. You need to stand back.’ he said.

 

The resigned silence seeped through the walls.  Ernst expected a final, desperate push to escape the situation which was why the butcher knife stayed in his hand.

 

This would be fun.

 

‘Excellent.’ he said.

 

He unlocked the door and walked into the room.

 

Ernst held the knife in a good firm grip and held it upwards as he kept eye contact with the scared boy in front of him. He was fast for his size and the boy did not have time to scream before Ernst let him run onto the blade.  

 

Blood ran down the boy’s chin as he coughed and gasped, spraying Ernst’s face. Ernst put his weight behind the blade and bent at the knees driving it up deep into the boy’s chest cavity. With a firm twist, he turned the blade and watched the light die in the boy’s eyes before he gave a final, pathetic shudder and collapsed like a puppet with its strings cut. Ernst stared into his eyes, disappointed that the boy had died so soon.  Ernst pushed him away and left the knife buried underneath his sternum. He made fists with his hands as he walked towards the girl. She was crippled, but there was still fear and hope present in her eyes.

 

He had reinforced the gloves with pockets of powdered lead at the knuckles and plates of Kevlar over the fingers. Maria dragged herself backwards as he walked towards her.

Ernst panted with delight as he threw himself down on her.  He felt her collarbone snap beneath his fists. She gurgled with a galvanic shudder as he put his knees either side of her chest to straddle her.

 

His enormous thighs pinned her arms to her sides and he enjoyed how close her face was to his distended, sour crotch.

 

‘Please don’t kill me.’ she said.

 

He tilted his head to one side and smiled.

 

‘Then how will I have any fun?’ he said.

 

Ernst slapped her across the cheek, almost playful but the lead and the Kevlar smacked against her cheek and knocked out a tooth. She turned her head to one side and spat the incisor away. Maria burst into tears and Ernst realised she would be boring. He balled his hand into a fist and clubbed her left eye socket until it cracked before he eased his thick, gloved fingers around the eye and squeezed it like a grape, smearing the tissue between his fingers before he wiped it on the front of his apron. Maria’s bladder let go, but Ernst ignored the acrid stink of piss as he punched her face into pieces.

 

It took six careful blows to bring out the aesthetic he craved. Bone splinters and raw, exposed flesh.  He adjusted his position, kicking her knees apart with haste as he heaved the apron over her stomach. His excitement hurried his release and he shuddered like a salted slug between her twitching thighs. As one appetite ebbed away, another returned to replace it like waves on a beach

 

The best cuts of meat would go in the massive chest freezer. The rest would go to the pigs, he decided as he dragged the girl by her heels.  He used their phones, open like an unlocked house and removed all trace of his involvement with a suite of software tools he had built or appropriated over the years.

 

It was after midnight before he sat down at his computer when it pinged with a new subscriber alert. He grinned and breathed in the faint stink of blood and meat, then breathed it out like fire.

 

 

 

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A Request.

Freedom of speech is too important for a society to be dismissed and must be protected at all costs. The realisation of how we don’t have it is an unpleasant situation.

Today, a man, Markus Meechum, is being sentenced for the crime of posting videos where he taught his girlfriend’s pug to raise a paw as a Hitler salute. A ridiculous joke, with no intention beyond satire and yet he’s facing jail for it.

I don’t ask much of you, and yet I am asking today for you to do something to help this man out.

If you’re British, write to your MP and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com is where you can find your member of parliament and please be polite and cogent in your letter. Avoid swearing or insulting them but point out how such measures have a negative impact on all of us.

There are things worth fighting for and this is one of them.

Do something about it.

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Announcement

I am launching a Patreon page where you can sign up to exclusive offers and prizes in return for your ongoing support.

The page will go live on 19/02/2018. I will post updates and then go live with it on the Monday evening. It’s time to take this up a notch and I hope you will be part of it.

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Have a look and see, I hope you’ll join me in the next phase of my career.

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IR8 G8M3R

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Markus’ dad used to kick the dog if he was pissed off about something. He would slip his shoe off to do it, punting it in the side with the heel of his foot and a shouted expletive. A familial ritual which was never spoken about, and when Biscuits got run over by a drunk driver when Markus had walked him over to the dog park and he’d gotten off the lead, no one mentioned it again.

 

Markus had the internet.

 

He sat hunched over the keyboard, talking shit into the headset as he aimed his cursor across the infinite digital battlefield with guys his age all over the world. Here, they were warriors without causes, because out there he worked shifts at a coffee shop and couldn’t afford to move out of the house. He moved down to the basement, jerked off over talking to women because regret hurt less than rejection and eked out a small, neutered life.

 

The anger never went away though. No matter how good he got at the game, it wasn’t enough.

 

He started streaming his games, enjoying the reaction his comments got, and when he started reading some of the links people sent him. When he wandered into work the next day, his eyes were dark with fatigue but how could you explain to your boss, with his weak chin and hipster sleeve tattoos, that one hundred thousand people were listening to you talk?

 

Markus enjoyed the power, how all these people asked him questions, sent him links and recorded response videos in response to things he’d said.

 

The feminism question came up.

 

He avoided it because Markus had been around the internet enough to know it was something you embraced or avoided. Milo Yiannopoulos had said it was cancer, and Markus had agreed, if you got it, it was probably a fight to the death.

 

It had started as a joke, and the reaction had been immediate.

 

He appreciated the response videos at first. The back and forth bumped up his ratings, and when he started getting cheques from advertising on his channel, he had to sit down, his head swimming with shock at getting money for just saying what was on his mind.

 

He decided to get the cancer, and go down fighting.

 

He recorded videos about feminism.

 

The Wage Gap.

 

The Pink Tax.

 

Rape Culture.

 

Transgenders.

 

Patriarchy.

 

He took it to operatic. By the time he started recording them, his delivery had sharpened to the point where he was entertaining, which made them more offensive to people on the internet. It was nice to quit the shifts at the coffee shop, and it was really nice to move out and buy an apartment but he never knew how to respond to all the emails.

 

Markus was enjoying it too much to wonder how long it would last.

 

New things drew people’s attention.

 

Which was when Dr Zoe Morgan, started recording her response videos and Markus fell, if not in love, then at least in hate, which was just as good and meant his fleshlight time had a feverish, furious intensity.

 

He wanted to go out and meet women. He’d get swiped on, but as soon as anyone searched for him, he would be unmatched. The search algorithm was a mirror and Markus did not like what he saw there. So, when she reached out, with her painstaking videos, trying to take him apart from fallacies and insults about his manhood.

 

He responded with a new level of invention, a kind of hatred which drew attention and views in the way dogshit drew flies. He recorded animations about her, mocking her nasal voice with a sound patch as he imagined her in pornographic scenarios. Animals. Bodily fluids.

 

She published a chat transcript.

 

Rachel. He’d had one of those three a.m. panic attacks where he went online to look at the views on his channel, to see tangible proof of his worth. Even a hate watch was advertising revenue for him, and Rachel had been commenting and emailed him a photo with the ripe promise of cleavage and full, soft lips. She caught him when he was weak, and he spilled a lot of the immature, inexperienced sentiment to her in a chat which left him shaking and happy at the same time.

 

He read his words again, feeling his shame slide up his throat like vomit as he clamped his hand over his mouth. Markus used to do it at home, and now in his own place, he wanted someone to hear his pain and come to help.

 

They were all on the internet, when they could have been spending time together.

 

Markus took 50ccs of anger and walked away from the laptop, trying to get into the space where he could record a response to it.

 

No, not a video.

 

He was on the server in five minutes. Her name and address.  A good part of town, and her degree was in sociology, of all fucking things. He picked up the phone and dialled 911.

 

Markus let his fear come, had it squeeze tears from his eyes and tighten his throat.

 

‘Please, you need to send someone, there’s a man with a gun in the house across the street.’

 

He gave the address, then held the phone away from his face and cried out in alarm before disconnecting the call.

 

It didn’t feel as good as he hoped. Lashing out like this wasn’t as satisfying when he couldn’t see her face as the cops bust in.

 

2.

 

Jake flexed his fingers inside his gloves, gripping the barrel of the AR-15, trying not to think about his sister-in-law coming over tomorrow. She sneered at everything in her little sister’s house, and it made Jake itch to stand up and smack the smugness from her kike bitch face. Kelly was doomed to be single forever, with her multi-coloured hair and cats eye glasses, a permanent case of resting bitch face which haunted Jake’s dreams.

 

Last summer, she had announced she was trying out girls for a change and got upset when no one cared. Jake decided to be grateful on behalf of his fellow man in a dignified silence. He didn’t want to upset his Lisa over it. He loved her in a solid, quiet way but Kelly got under his skin like a chigger.

 

Underwood tapped him on the shoulder.

 

‘Get your head on straight, we’re on point.’

 

The call had come in, home invasion in a good area and the shift commander was a big fan of the SWAT unit and liked sending them in wherever possible. Uniforms were standing by, good cops but sometimes the police liked to remind people they were there.

 

Jake nodded and roadie-ran out of the truck, onto the sidewalk and up the steps of the house. He gauged the door wasn’t that strong and kicked it hard, inwards.

 

He saw half of the girl’s face, the locks of purple hair, the colour of cough syrup and the gleam of spectacles and the rifle was up. It was the thing in her hand, dark and long, which put his finger over it. A small prickle started in his upper lip, the residual irritation he felt for Kelly feeding and heightening the adrenaline coursing through his system. 

 

The red stain on the sweater made him pull it.

 

3.

 

A cherry red slushie, a single drop falling from the straw onto the front of her sweater as she had sat there, watching her hit count rise like t-cells in an infected patient. She had the first cheque in the bank, and she had been thinking about being able to move out. It was embarrassing to have a PhD and be living with her parents.

 

Picking fights with anti-feminists had been a good way to get attention.

 

Ir8G8m3r had been a great foil, and although she had found the idea of pretending to be someone else to get him talking about himself, she had fought a horrible, inappropriate emotion running though her.

 

Empathy. Another person who was screaming how together they were, how righteous yet without the ability to make real choices about their lives. She was angry at people who criticised her field because it was the source of her self-esteem. Rachel could not get a good paying job out of it, but she could call herself a doctor and no one could take it away from her.

 

Not without drawing blood.

 

She had sauntered to the door, flush with triumph at a future away from the house before it killed her.

 

The door had been kicked open as she checked her instagram feed on her phone. She had shrieked as the man in black combat armour aimed the rifle at her and fired.

 

Two rounds punched through her.One went through the brachial artery in her left arm and the other slipped in under her collarbone and punched through her subclavian artery. She did not fall down, the blood loss sending her deep into a pocket of deep, shuddering cold before she felt her legs go numb and the ground rushed up to meet her.

 

4.

 

Markus started getting messages.

 

They came in from everywhere, but really they were all one message.

 

He had been chatting with one of his friends, struggling not to tell him how he had swatted Rachel, when the messages came in. He left the chat server and checked his social media feeds.

 

The questions emerged, like lesions rising on the skin of his virtual self, and then the news reports. His anxiety buzzed in his head like insects had nested in there. It drowned out his thoughts, and even his perception of time, watching the world spit spite at him for his actions.

 

As he heard the thumping on his door, he thought about Bobby and wished he’d never gotten away from him, the lead slipping through his fingers as the car sped down the street. He wished he had said something to his dad, stood up to him for hurting something which had only known how to love him.

 

Markus knew how Bobby felt as he got up to answer the door.  

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Coffee is my OS

I don’t ask for anything from anyone who reads here beyond their time and attention. If you enjoy my work in any capacity and want to buy me a coffee for it, you can because asking is not easy and I do this as my purpose.

Thank you for reading and your support of my work.

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