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The Lightning Rides

An excerpt from something new. Also new Dahlia Bliss is coming as well.

Zephyros ran through the night, calling The Lightning until his head pounded with the effort of speaking it. 

The thumping hooves of their horses and the joyous, terrified cries of men going to war. 

As a sixty feet column of brilliant white and blue light sliced through the trees in a serpentine arc, Zephyros Barak prayed for Ansel Mercer’s men to give up their pursuit.

He had shared his circumstances of birth with Mercer over dinner that same evening. Hatched from The Divine Egg, stolen from a dragon goddess who was tricked into surrender by his father. Mercer had sputtered on his wine and sat back aghast. 

Zephyros remembered the statutes in the hallway. The shard of diamond around his neck, hung on a length of cord. He believed they were affectations,  not beliefs held without shame. 

Zephyros put his hands up, spluttered something about being house trained.

Humour, he discovered, was another skill he lacked experience in. 

When Mercer reached to slash at him, screaming the word, abomination,  Zephyros realised he had been too honest about his circumstances.  Taking a wound to his forearm had distracted him from the concentration used to Speak, so instead he had ran, relying on surprise to make it out of the chamber, and then the courtyard before Mercer could act on his outrage. 

Zephyros remembered the papers he had left behind. A modest proposal to fund an expedition, researches and cataloguing the unknown lands to the south. He had planned to appeal to Mercers noblesse oblige but then he had plans for all sorts of things. 

His left forearm was sodden with blood, soaking through the sleeve of his robe and each step made it sing with pain. The wavering edges of his vision spoke to a blood loss which would overcome him faster than the men at his heels.

Ahead, the forest was growing thicker, and he continued his frenzied retreat as he heard arrows fly ahead.

Zephyros prayed the assertions of a greater destiny were not his moment of ironic demise. Which was when the arrow slammed into his left shoulder and he cries out with shock. He reached out, tested the shaft where it had gone in and his fingertips were sodden with blood.

Each breath was a furnace in his chest, and The Lightning slipped from his acuity.

Zephyros tried to keep up his pace but his wounds were bold with exhaustion and soon, he was staggering and stumbling over his feet as the shouts grew muted behind him.

Let me know what you think.

Categories
blogging books creative writing women

Platforms

So, I have a mailing list as a place where you can find out what I’m doing and thinking. It’s becoming increasingly attractive as a place to share.

If you’ve not been in a cave, then you’ve seen the way platforms change who they want to speak there.

I would like it if you signed up.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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creative writing men wisdom writing

Father

If you had to invent your version of father,  or yours let you down. If you’ve let your children down, then I’m with you.
We project that it’s easy but it isn’t. A lot of it is you give up the time with them. A necessary separation from people you’d die for,  to support them. You don’t say anything about it because whining about it doesn’t matter. Yet you look at them and find comfort in having something worth dying for.

For me, my mistakes were in being afraid of them not liking me for making decisions which conflicted with their immediate desires.

I tell them I love them. They know what I mean by that. I’ve tested it but I know it exists and I thrive on it.

No man will tell you how it hurts to miss a moment of their children. How it hurts not to. You’re eternal and disposable in the same moment.

The moments of rage and terror come from your children.

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books creative writing fiction short fiction women

Sign Up To My Mailing List

I write about what I’m working on and thinking.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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Watching The Audience

In conversation with a good friend, and what came up was a question which was worth asking:

What stops you from supporting my work? Or engaging with me on here?

It sounds awful doesn’t it? However, in my defence, a writer wants to be read. If you’re a parent, it relates to that combination of intense protective instinct and also narcissistic validation but without the raw biological wonder of it.

Still, no one owes me anything. However, there’s a few of you out there and whether you’re reading or not, 1300 plus people is a good crowd. The analogy of a gig comes to mind, I’m on stage and in front of the microphone. (Good writing is a lot like burlesque but that image is too distracting) and I’m wondering who’s listening. Who goes home and posts they enjoyed it or it sucked.

Indulge me, if you’d be so kind.

There is also the mailing list which is here:

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

And, of course, books.

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blogging creative writing

Lock down

No, not the main one. I’m just taking a few days to replenish. Thank you so much for your kind words and investment in my work. Don’t be afraid to comment and say hi. Read books, enjoy the moments and realise most happiness is accidental. Take care of yourself and each other.

Categories
creative writing fiction war

White Rabbit

“Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore, the injury is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.” 
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince. 

1.

Ibrahim walked down the street, cursing Ellen for making him clean out the frier again before he left to attend mosque with his uncle. He hated the job, but Mohammed insisted he finish out the summer before he got him an internship at the firm. 

He didn’t want to be late. Mohammed was fastidious without being vain and he had known nothing but his faith, but he did business without it being a problem. 

Ibrahim drew comments and stares. No one wanted to feel alien in their own skin.  He would slip out of the way, finding something to do in the back until their attention went elsewhere, or he pretended not to have heard anything. He simpered and it hurt to do it, but once he was working with his uncle, he would earn respect without being made to suffer for it. 

He was running late. 

He saw the mosque and quickened his pace before a massive hand slapped him backwards. He smelled his hair burning and his eardrops popped like balloons as he fell backwards, breaking his coccyx against the sidewalk. 

Ibrahim lay there, mute with pain as his hair burned and his body turned inside out with pain. He had bitten his tongue and each swallow tasted of burnt copper as he struggled to breathe. 

2.

Jessica drew on the cigarette, tried not to stare at the small throng of protesters who came every day. 
Wizened and pale, tan and hardy, they would take turns, behaving like fundamentalist ants, blazing with a narcissistic zeal which irritated her. 
David’s work took him all over the world, and since she had emigrated and married Blake, she kept up the correspondence, never getting a reply from him despite the anguish it created for her. She still loved David, but life demanded a compromise. Letting go had taken the desperation of an animal chewing off a limb to escape a trap, but the pain stayed with her. 

The women who came fueled her passion when she debated Blake about her work. He presented her with rational arguments, numbers on paper to show they didn’t need her to work. She could stay home with Brian, but Jessica saw it as a comfortable path to death. She loved her husband, but she couldn’t live as an appendage to him. Marriage was difficult enough, let alone one which served as a gilded cage for her. 

The cigarette burned the back of her throat and she tossed it to the ground before she went back inside. 

The door slammed into her, fractured her skull and the door handle punched through her left hip, propelled by the force of the explosion. She died before she hit the ground; the door stuck to her as a final, cruel insult from the universe.

3.

Terry took off the balaclava and wiped his face. 
He had put on a show for the video, speaking in a bombastic tone which he had borrowed from professional wrestling promotions and Alex Jones and it had tested his reserves of stamina to keep up the indignant righteousness necessary to put his point across. 

The motel room smelled of powdered soup and stale cum, but he could use it for meetings and videos so he never gave Pete too much shit about it. He wanted to protect his family, and if it meant going out of his way a little, it was a minor price to pay. Their enemies were everywhere, and he loved his family too much to put them in harm’s way. 

He waited for the video to upload, sent messages to the others through an app which sent photo messages and deleted them after being watched. Terry knew the risks, but the technology was there to protect them, despite what people believed. 

Terry looked at himself in the smeared full-length mirror. The stubble on his cheeks and his lean, intense build gave him a renewed pride in his work. He ran on righteousness, and all the energy made him restless, had him capable of working eight hours on his construction job and then organising the rest of the guys until he collapsed into bed next to his sleeping wife. He got up, tucked the balaclava under the pillow before he left the room. 

He watched the news when he got home, drank a beer as he watched the footage of the emergency services and struggled to hide his delight at the success of their first major operation. Once the video went live, people would know their group’s name but not his. 

The capitulation to progressive forces had castrated his country and it made him fear for his children’s future enough to act as he did. Other people had come into his world, convinced of his fears enough to help, and once he had found his tribe, it became a thing of logistics over rhetoric. 

Jenny called him upstairs and he drained the last swallow of beer before he switched the tv off and went to bed. 

It had been a magnificent day. 

4.

David slipped out of the hotel room. He had broken up and flushed the syringe down the toilet, wiped everything down to remove any trace of his presence with a practised care as the body cooled on the unmade bed. 

He got into the waiting car and sat back, closing his eyes as it drove away. The arrogance of his targets never surprised him, and this one had been boasting about his company’s work for the intelligence community. David did not inform him such behaviour had signed his death warrant 

Bastard of the British Empire, he told himself. He loathed the arrogance of San Francisco and was eager to get back to London. David denied his feelings unless it was three a.m and he thought of her. 

Doing the right thing hurt him, but it kept her safe and him a secret. 

The safe house was across town, and he took a long hot shower, ordered take out and sat down to relax with a few hours of inane American television. He made the mistake of watching the news, and when he saw the photo of her, he convulsed with feelings he thought buried in the graveyard of his soul. 

Three years ago, David had bare flames held to his feet, threatening to perform the same function on his genitals before the SAS team burst in. 

His grief galvanised into something familiar to him. 

Anger. 

When it abated, he took out his phone and made a phone call. 

Two hours later, David was on a plane to Illinois.

5.

Mike struggled to contain his excitement as Terry passed him a beer. 

‘What’s next?’ he said. 

Terry scratched his chin and smiled. 

‘Nothing for now.’ he said. 

Mike grimaced as he shook his head. 

‘It’s not enough, Terry. We need to get our message out.’ he said. 

Terry grimaced at Mike’s immature enthusiasm.  It was a warm evening and they sat on the porch, keeping the conversation neutral until Jenny put Rachel to bed and they were free to discuss things. 

‘Do you remember Waco, Mike?’ he said.

Mike swallowed and nodded. He had been in awe of Terry’s pilgrimage and his righteous anger at government intrusion into people’s lives. They condoned the tide of Muslim immigration and paid lip service to the sanctity of the unborn to such a degree it had prompted a response from the men of the White Rabbit Militia to stop talking and act. Mike resented the slow pace of their work, but Terry was so certain it killed his doubts. 

‘We’ve shown our hand. It’s now up to others whether they heed the call to action.’ 

Mike had built the bombs for both targets. Pete had been in the Marines until he got kicked out, Chris ran the website and social media feeds, but it was Terry who was the calm centre of the group. Mike wondered if Terry’s aloofness was a test of his character, but washed his anxious, frightened thoughts down with a deep pull on the bottle of beer before he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. 

‘OK, I get it.’ he said. 

Terry smiled and clapped Michael on the shoulder. 

‘We can’t go into this thinking we’ll get away with it, Mike. We’ve got to accept the price of liberty and the consequences.’ Terry said. 

Mike felt blessed by Terry’s touch but kept his face still. Instead, he gave a terse nod and made a face he hoped looked like the right mix of determination and gravity. 

‘Right on, Terry. Right on.’ 

Terry lit a cigarette and sat back in his chair. 

‘We’ve just got started, Mike.’ he said. 

If Terry had asked him to cut one of his testicles off, Mike would have asked him which one before doubting him. He wondered who would play him in the movie; he hoped for the guy from Stranger Things, the sheriff with the guy from CSI New York as Terry. 

Mike had big dreams, but he was glad Terry was there to keep things calm and even. The work was getting started. 

6.

David watched the video on repeat. He looked past the man on the screen, focused on the details behind him. 

He noted the furniture, and the colour of the paint on the walls. David wrote the details in the blank pages of the ledger he carried everywhere.He contacted his handler, Larry, through My Little Pony message board, where he left a message and waited for his phone to ring. 

David answered on the first ring. 

‘Where are you?’ Larry said.

‘Personal matter. There’s nothing in the pipeline so I’m taking time off.’ he said. 

Larry grunted with disbelief. 

‘You pulled one of my analysts to look up everything on a pair of bombings in Illinois, David.’ 

David said nothing. 

‘There was a woman killed. British, according to the news. Look, the FBI are all over this. Just come home and I’ll light a fire under their arses to get it dealt with.’ Larry said. 

David swallowed, his throat tight with regret and a cold, hard anger. Watching the videos fed something terrible in him, kept the wound open and bleeding without the mercy of unconsciousness to ease it. 

‘I know, Larry. I’m taking leave. I’ll behave myself.’ he said.

Larry sighed with a longstanding weariness. 

‘If this turns out to be another Rotherham situation, we’re both fucked.’ he said. 

The police still found bodies, members of a child grooming gang. David accepted the damage within himself, but he used it, like a wolf uses its howl to communicate. 

‘No, it won’t be like Rotherham.’ he said. 

David saw an email had come through and opened it. 
Forensics reports, eyewitness testimony, warrants to investigate militia activity all scanned and converted to digital files. David told Larry he would be in touch and switched off the phone.

A viscous tension pooled in his eye sockets, but he read through everything. He made notes of the names before he opened his briefcase and found the FBI badge, slipped it into the pocket of his suit jacket and stood up.  

He called a cab to the hospital.

7.

Ibrahim drifted in and out of a cotton soft haze of narcotics. He would emerge to see daylight then drift off, returning to find it was dark as time passed on, indifferent to his grief and trauma. 

He awoke to see the man sat at the end of his bed. 

‘Hello, Ibrahim.’ he said.

Through his one eye, Ibrahim saw him stand up and walk over to the side of the bed. He spoke to Ibrahim in perfect Arabic, introduced himself as Special Agent Garrett and wondered if he could ask him a few questions. 

Ibrahim’s eye sparkled with tears as he nodded. 

‘I understand there will be complications from your injuries and your recollections might be unclear but anything you can give me will help me catch these people.’ 

Ibrahim noted the use of the singular and tried to focus on the man. His use of Arabic was comforting but also unnerving to him. 

He nodded and answered the man’s questions. They confused him, details about the routines of the mosque and its proximity to other places in town, before he asked after Ibrahim’s uncle. 

Ibrahim cleared his throat. 

‘You’re not from the FBI, are you?’ he said. 

The man put his hand over Ibrahim’s and put his mouth to his ear to whisper.

‘The Prophet never avenged for his own self, Ibrahim. Neither will you.’ he said. 

Ibrahim wept as much as the drugs allowed him, and the man left without speaking further. Ibrahim prayed for him.

8.

Rick gave the man a pamphlet as he walked past the clinic. He stopped and looked at it like someone had spat into his hand, but he folded it before tucking it into the pocket of his suit. 

‘I understand you were at the clinic.’ the man said. 

Rick had been on a coffee run, but the second hand glory was too powerful to resist and his assumption of divine providence made him something of a martyr to the rest of the congregation. 
There was no one alive from the small group to contradict him, aside from Betty, and she was in an unresponsive coma from where a brick had glanced off her temple, propelled by the force of the explosion. 

Rick could not meet the implacable gaze and he gulped, struggling to contain himself. 

‘Yes, sir, God’s wrath is a terrible and beautiful thing to see.’ 

The man’s face tightened and his lips drew back over his teeth. His brown eyes burned with something cold and vicious which made Rick step backwards. 

‘What did you see?’ the man said. 

He had heard the explosion, and as he drew closer, smelled the smoke and blood. He had stumbled over someone’s dismembered arm and saw how the clinic door had impaled the British nurse. 

The man grimaced and stepped towards Rick. 

‘Did she say anything?’ 

Rick tried to back away but the man’s fingers clamped around his elbow, pinching into the soft meat of his triceps and found a set of nerves which shot agony through his arm, pinned him to the spot as he looked around for someone to help. 

Rick told him. The man walked away. 

There were fifty pamphlets left but Rick went home, locked the door and drew the curtains, watched the 700 Club and struggled not to cry with humiliation. If God were watching, he would understand, he told himself. 

9.

Mike soldered the wires with care, humming to himself as he worked on the last electronic components of the device, the guts of an old cell phone re-purposed to allow them to activate the explosion via bluetooth. The rest of the device was plastic and ceramic around a core of C4 explosive, studded with nails and razor blades. It fit inside a Blue’s Clues lunchbox, and there were six boxes of similar dimensions in the packing crate below his feet. 

His workshop was in the garage. 
It had been a labour of love, built to indulge his hobby of amateur electronics before he met Terry and figured out a recent use for the space and equipment. For a bomb maker, Mike was proud he had all his fingers and limbs, but the information was available, even from the jihadists who posted details and schematics amongst upper case rants on the depravity of the American people. Ideology left so little room for nuance. 

The tube light flickered overhead and went out. Mike swore under his breath and set the iron down on the bench, switched it off with a brush of his thumb. He pushed his stool back, thinking about where the spares were. 

He did not have time to scream before the cloth clamped around his nose and mouth, the high chemical stink insinuating into his head as he passed out from the force. Someone caught him as he fell into a deep, implacable blackness. 

Mike awoke with the worst headache and strapped to the recliner in the living room with bungee cords. Someone had turned his Xbox and tv on, so the introduction music on Battlefield One shook the air. Mrs Foster was his only neighbour and she had gone to her grandson in Columbus for a long weekend. 

‘Good evening, Mike.’ 

He could not place the accent. He narrowed his eyes and looked around his living room. 

‘What is this?’ he said. 

A low chuckle caressed the back of his neck and he shuddered. 

‘Tell me the names of the other militia members and where they meet.’ he said. 

Mike grunted and struggled against the cords. 

The man walked around to face him. He was tan, with short dark hair and spectacles, wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. He held a stained white towel in one hand and a litre bottle of water in the other. 

‘Fuck you.’ Mike said. 

His anger was genuine, but the fear grew more intense with each second. 

The man laughed and Mike recognised the accent. British. 

‘Now, Mike, I admire your bravado but I had a look in your garage and you’re better off telling me what I want to know.’ he said. 

Mike’s laughter died in his throat as the man walked towards him. 

‘I won’t tell you anything.’ Mike said.

 The man lifted the towel up and raised his eyebrows. 

‘This isn’t for refreshment, Mike. No, this is your sad little group’s biggest fear come to life.’ he said. 

Mike squeezed out tears and grimaced as he shook his head over and over. The swelling strings of the soundtrack sounded mocking and grated his ears. 

The man sat on the couch and put the towel and bottle on the coffee table. 

‘I only make the stuff. We’re fighting a war, man. We’re dying out.’ Mike said.

They were Terry’s words, not his, and the man smiled as he sat back on the couch. 

‘Who’s dying out? White men? Now there, you and I have common ground. I’m doing the work you and your friends dream of, but it’s more complicated than that.’ he said. 

His tone was generous, without the coiled sense of threat Mike had absorbed from movies and television. He looked around him.

‘Do you read comics, Mike?’ he said. 

Mike nodded in furious agreement. The man smirked and looked at Mike.

‘I’ve always been a nerd for them. Not so much the superheroes, but I grew up with 2000 A.D. We never went into superheroes so much, but comics, shit, I’ve got tons of them in storage. Have you ever read Preacher?’ he said. 

Mike hadn’t. He wished he had. He lowered his chin and shook his head. 

‘There’s one of my favourite lines where Jesse, he’s got the Word of God, and he ends up a sheriff of this place called Salvation after getting chucked out a plane, and there are these Klan types and he walks up to one and tears his hood off.’ 

The man was smiling as he mimicked the action. Mike’s stomach clenched with fear and confusion. 

‘He says something which struck me as profound for a comic book. Why are the biggest champions of the race the worst examples of it?’ he said. 

Mike recoiled at the insult and struggled against the bonds without hope. 

The man chuckled. 

‘You’re buying into a narrative. The same one used to keep everyone down. Being a victim means you avoid having to take responsibility. If you’re black or disabled, gay or white, then it’s not your fault if you fail at anything, is it?’ 

Mike had no answer for him. The righteousness of his cause was real to him, and the man’s mockery stung more than the chemicals used to knock him out. 

‘You’re weak, all of you. Bombing mosques and a women’s health clinic, that’s weak shit.’ he said. 

Mike wept, but it garnered no reaction from the man at all. He sighed and waited for him to stop crying.

‘You’re a talented boy, Mike. You should be proud of your craft, despite being a massive cunt.’ he said. 

‘It didn’t throw me. I’ve got a nose for these things, and when I found the groups you were into on Facebook, one phone call and I had your name and address.’ he said. 

Mike shuddered and wept again. He did not see the blow coming until it turned his face, a stinging rebuke which blasted his self pity away. 

‘Please, don’t kill me.’ he said. 

The man stood up and ran his tongue over his lips. 

‘The nurse at the clinic. I knew her.’ he said. 

‘I met the boy who will never walk again.’ he said. 

His voice had roughened and Mike wondered if it was a trick of the light at the dampness in the man’s eyes before he picked up the towel and bottle. 

‘But the nurse, Mike, I fucking loved her to the bone and I let her go because I thought this was more important.’ he said. 

He unscrewed the lid on the bottle and tossed it to the carpet as he walked behind the recliner.

‘A man, Mike, has to have a purpose, even if it costs him to follow it.’ he said. 

His voice cracked with emotion, which frightened Mike more than when he was glib and relaxed. 

Mike writhed as the man held the towel over his face. 

‘You’ll understand it when I’m done.’ he said. 

Mike’s lungs heaved as he struggled for air beneath the careful deluge of water through the towel. His panicked breaths drew on every fibre of his being, but he broke without too much effort. 

 Mike shrieked out names and addresses. The man made Mike repeat them without attempting to write them down. 

‘I’m sorry I had to do it, Mike. I’ll make this quick.’ he said. 

Mike wondered what he meant before the palm came up and hit him square in the centre of his face, driving the nasal bone into his brain. 

David helped himself to a few things. The rest was left to the fire.  

10.

Chris rang Terry whilst he was on his lunch. Terry said nothing until his babbling had smoothed out into a choked sob. 

‘Mike didn’t touch drugs, this has to be something else.’ he said 

Terry told him to get the others and meet at the motel tonight. He ended the call and went back to the site, looking at the house he was building and wondering if he would see it completed. A bitter sense of resolve washed over him as he slipped his phone back into his pocket. 

‘It’s exemplary work.’ 

Terry turned and looked at the man who stood next to him. He wore a black pinstripe suit and smiled at Terry with a familiarity which tested his taciturn expression.

‘Thanks, I should get back to it. Can’t get the help these days.’ he said. 

‘Beaners or niggers?’ the man said. 

Terry scowled as he walked away.

‘I find having the courage of your convictions shows the measure of a man, Terry.’ he said. 

Terry froze as his heart thumped. He swallowed and tasted copper as he stood up straight and turned around with care.

‘Do I know you, mister?’ he said. 

The man shook his head.

‘No, you don’t. I bumped into Jenny when she dropped Rachel at daycare. That is one beautiful family you’ve got there, Terry.’ he said.

Terry snorted through his nose and stood there, calculating the distance it would take to get close to the man and whether he could take him down. He had left the gun in the car, unloaded as the law demanded, but he itched to have it with him. 

‘Mister, you seem like a smart man, if you’ve got something to say, say it.’ he said. 

The man shook his head. 

‘No, this is me fucking with you for sport. I don’t say things, I act.’ he said. 

Terry’s hands shook as he reached for his phone and called Pete.

11.

Pete had set his rifle up from the back of the flatbed truck, hidden underneath a tarp with the scope trained on the window of the room they used. It was a.22 long rifle with a weaver scope and he had parked 150 yards away, just at the point where the round went from supersonic to subsonic. He adjusted for the drop at the distance, but after popping sand niggers in the desert, Pete liked to think he was defending his homeland enough to factor in the physics. 

Whoever the limey fuck was, he would not fuck with The White Rabbit and live. Pete hoped they had time to get clear. Running was an option, but Terry wanted this guy taken down. 

He chewed on the piece of jerky until it softened to the consistency of gum and sipped the bottle of water as he watched Chris and Terry enter the room. 

Nice and smooth, he thought. They would lure the guy in, get him by the window and Pete would shoot him. 

The White Rabbit understood the first rule of guerilla warfare:

Make your weaknesses your strengths. They were in a small, tight cell and able to react with speed.  Pete had liked Mike, and so laid there, he vowed to avenge his brother. Running sucked, but it meant they could come back harder and stronger when this fucker was in the ground. 

He looked through the sight and waited to make his shot. 

12.

Terry and Chris went through the motions of setting up a video, both touching the holstered pistols on their hips for unconscious reassurance as they waited for something to fall upon them. 

‘He’s a limey?’ Chris said. 

Terry grunted and nodded as he reached for the balaclava from underneath the pillow. 

‘Shut up and film me,’ he said. 

Chris nodded as Terry rolled the balaclava down over his head. He caught a whiff of something acrid and sharp before he tried to pull it off as he bellowed with horror. Chris dropped the camera with shock at the sight of Terry’s face. 

Red and pink sizzling blisters covered his face. He held his hands to his face and bolted past Chris to the door as he scratched for the door handle. Chris ran to him, turned him around and caught the stink of corroding flesh before he vomited down himself with shock at his friend’s ruined face. 

13.

Pete frowned as he reached for his phone, but he stopped when he felt the weight shift in the back of the truck before a hammer blow landed on the base of his skull. He tried to roll onto his side but a foot stamped between his shoulder blades and forced the breath from his lungs, cracking ribs and tearing the tip of his scapulae off as he struggled to improve his position. 

The man loomed above him.

‘I like to work with my hands.’ he said. 

Pete felt his life slip away in a series of judicious blows as the man beat him to death with his own rifle. 

14.

Chris dragged Terry outside, looking around as he watched Pete’s pick up rocking on its wheels as two men struggled in the back. He drew his gun and fired blindly as Terry mewled with agony, limp with the insult as the skin melted off his face. Chris felt something wet and gelid fall onto his shoulder and when he turned, Terry’s cheek had fallen off. He screamed and pushed him away as he cried out in horror. 

The figure stepped down from the truck and disappeared from view. 

Chris looked at the gun and met Terry’s eyes as they melted down his face like defrosted ice cream. Terry clutched at his shoulder and rasped out a single word.

‘Please.’ he said

Chris looked at his friend and raised the gun as he heard the faint cry of sirens in the distance. He squeezed the trigger as he gave his friend the gift of mercy. 

15.

Blake stood by the grave, numb and struggling to keep upright as he looked at the headstone. Life had paused at the worst moment, and he veered between bleak disconnection and anger at how the world had gone on without him. 

The news featured the arrest of the militia member who had turned on the others, then gunned down by police at a local motel used as a base of operations. 
Blake had watched the tearful wife of the leader and felt nothing but a grinding contempt as she denied all knowledge of the enterprise. He came to see Jessica’s grave every day even as the sympathy of others around him depleted by the raw gravitational pull of his pain. 

It was a warm afternoon when he saw the man walk over to him. 

‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ he said. 

A British accent drew Blake from his inward focus as he looked up. The man was unshaven, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses as he looked at the headstone. 

‘Did you know her?’ Blake said. 

The man nodded without taking his attention from the headstone.

‘Yes,’ he said. 

His voice was slow and rough with fatigue as he took off the sunglasses and offered his hand to him. The pain in the man’s eyes was almost too much to bear.  Blake took his hand with whatever grace was available to him. 

David looked at Blake, forced down by the tumultuous blend of emotions, envy and kinship for the mutual loss alongside the need to control his emotions.
 It was a beautiful day, but David felt like he was underneath a long, cold shadow wherever he went. An explanation of his association with Jessica would make things worse. He looked into Blake’s eyes with a cold frankness. 

‘I killed them and I made it hurt, Blake. It doesn’t bring her back but you’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t you?’ he said. 

Blake furrowed his forehead as David let go of his hand and put his sunglasses on. He smiled at Blake and walked away. 

David’s phone rang and he answered it. Larry asked if he was coming back to work. David remembered the late nights with Jessica, back when this life was an idea and he had a choice to make about his future and the warmth of her skin, the overbite when she smiled and the way she rolled her cigarettes. 

David sighed and looked at the Lincoln.

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blogging creative writing

1300

Sometimes, these things matter, sometimes they don’t. However, I’ve now got 1300 of you who have subscribed or are following my website.

THANK YOU SO MUCH

It’s a great feeling to have work to share with you all that you can purchase, so having cast aside the title of aspiring, and then just writing, now self-publishing and making my work available, it is climbing one mountain then seeing an entire range of them ahead.

When no one else, even loved ones, gets excited for your work, then you have to find the excitement for it within yourself.

I think of it like regularly playing a gig for an audience of 1300 people. So thank you for your support, and if you like my work, don’t keep it to yourself, share it with your friends. Or your enemies, if you really don’t like my stuff. That will teach them to mess with you, I’m sure.

Categories
creative writing fiction short fiction women

A Guest At Thanksgiving

It had been fifteen, no seventeen years. 

She saw him on the stream, just as she was about to uproot herself from the couch, eyes burning with fatigue and head swimming like she’d been drinking, but late night news was soporific enough to form part of her night time routine. All of it was a ritual to mitigate the physical traces of twenty years policing, back when it meant something. They were discussing the riots somewhere, but these days the location didn’t matter, to the point where it felt like every state needed a good solid knot of antagonism to remain relevant. 

Time had been kind to him, Jessica thought, but then the last time hadn’t been a highlight of his young life to date. 

2.

Paul sat on the kerb, staring out at nothing, shuddering despite the blanket wrapped around him.The African medallion hung from his neck, swaying on the leather thong. There was a single drop of blood splattered across its front, blending in with the other painted colours. Detective Jessica Harris stood across from him as she kept an eye on the CSUs processing the scene. Paul glanced up, his brown eyes watering and before he ran his tongue over his lips and took a deep, fortifying breath. When he spoke, his voice was a fragile whisper, odd for a man of his build. 

‘You got a cigarette?’he said. 

She handed him a soft pack of Marlboro Lights. He took one but his hands shook too much to light it. Harris lit it for him and he inhaled with a junkie enthusiasm. When he thanked her, his voice was soft and mannered. 

He put the advertisement as a joke tweet. A list of priced services to provoke reactions. Running up on your creepy uncle cost twenty dollars. Mentioning Black Lives Matter and giving hard stares at anyone who challenged him was ten dollars. He said he would bring a plate and microwave it. He referenced Ving Rhames in ‘Baby Boy’ over Sidney Poitier in ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’. 

Erin Mayhew sent him a direct message and a few messages later, dropped a chunk of change in his bank account. A photo of her made the prospect appealing. Paul thought she was pretty with curled blonde hair, clear blue eyes and a full, soft build running to fat Her social media feeds were a little confrontational, even for him, but she sent him candid photographs, the leg cocked at the knee, turned to one side to soften how big she was in real life. There were a few, Paul said, he enjoyed before realising he was talking to a police detective.  

Harris noted how he paused afterwards before she asked him to continue. 

He picked her up from her dorm, driving an SUV and she kept touching his knee on the drive down. Paul looked away and Harris asked him what happened. 

They had fucked in the back seat, and Paul felt a little objectified even as she came three times. It was, he admitted, the only time she stopped talking about how awful her family were. 

He had a plate of ribs, chitlins, collared greens and cornbread wrapped in cellophane like a corpse in a body bag and adopted a rolling, belligerent swagger as Erin giggled and whispered how he should go all in on Trump. The money was good and it would be a good story to share online later, he told himself. 

3.

The table was heaving with food and a centrepiece which was a clamshell draped with twigs and dried flowers sprayed silver and gold. Erin’s parents, David and Maria were soft, polite people who struggled to make eye contact and when Paul passed his plate, his stomach soured with distaste as he stared out David without speaking. 

Erin grinned with an awful mania as they sat down. Paul told the detective how her uncle wore a MAGA hat at the table, and spoke to Paul about the last Kendrick Lamar album. They were polite to him and every cent he earned came up to haunt him. It was awkward and his nerves made his performance halting but he believed things would pan out for the best. Another hour, he told himself, then he could go back, smoke a bowl and play Fortnite until he fell asleep. There were rumours of an assignment to be handed in after the holidays, but his professor was sympathetic to the cause. 

Whatever that was, of course. 

Paul stared at Laura as she pulled a jar of vicodin out of her purse. She had a back injury and good insurance, dished out the pills from her purse and Paul shook his head when she offered. Erin took two and frowned at Paul before she said something to her uncle Eddie about Roy Moore. 

Paul cringed at Erin’s zeal before he noted how much it was reflected in her uncle and father’s arguments. They repeated talking points gleaned from the internet, their voices rising and falling as they scored points off one another. Paul saw sympathetic glances thrown his way from Laura and mother but he kept moving his stale cornbread around the plate and kept silent. 

The hairs went up on the nape of his neck when he heard three words which haunted him.

Black lives matter.

All lives matter.

He studied his plate like a midterm and wished he had been anywhere else than at the Mayhew Thanksgiving dinner. 

He asked Harris for another cigarette before he carried on. His hands shook harder and tears ran down his cheeks as he continued. 

What broke the moment was Erin mentioning the Trump admission recorded by Billy Bush, which was cue for Laura to defend Kevin Spacey and her sister turned, indignant and spraying flecks of turkey and sweet potato as she stated how her sister always resented her theatrical talent. 

Paul said he was relieved when the argument became personal rather than political but the observation lasted as long as it took for Laura to reach into her purse and take out something other than pain medicine. 

Just pain, he said. 

The Walther had a lady grip and it looked small in her hands as she lowered the barrel at her sister’s chest and pulled the trigger. 

Mrs Mayhew’s mouth formed into a perfect oh as she fell backwards, clutching her chest. Paul dived underneath the table as Laura turned and fired at her husband, his red MAGA hat flew off his head with the force of the bullet. Paul remembered how a section of his scalp flew upwards, like a toupee attempting to take flight but changing its mind at the last second. 

Erin smiled as her aunt shot her in the forehead. The small caliber round didn’t knock her backwards, and it left a small hole between her eyes as she fell forwards, hair wreathed around her face, which was buried in a hillock of mashed potato and gravy. 

‘Imagine that, your last breath then you’re breathing gravy for eternity,’ he said. 

Jessica nodded, tasted bile when she swallowed, and kept a soft expression of concern up. 

Mr Mayhew, in a last desperate act of self-sacrifice, leapt forwards and wrestled with her, his thick hands circling her fragile, braceleted wrists before she fired into the rounded bulk of his midsection and he slumped forwards, making choking sounds as he bled over the table.

‘Did you like the centrepiece?’ Laura said.

Her voice was a rasping screech as she pointed the gun at him. He nodded with as much enthusiasm as his terror allowed him. She smiled with a dreadful relief before she turned the gun on herself. 

He butted the cigarette out and looked up at the detective. The best ideas started as jokes, but so did some of the worst. 

Harris sat down on the kerb and asked about his family. He said they argued and loved with the same volume and his father had voted for Trump but he had his reasons. 

‘Families are fucking weird.’ he said. 

Harris smiled and nodded. She’d left her house after her husband had let their daughter pull down a tray of brownies from the kitchen table whilst he was playing with his phone and she had read him the riot act. She gave him the rest of the pack of cigarettes and gestured for the paramedics to come back to him. 

‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ she said.

Harris wanted to mean it, and judging by the soft, wet sobs Paul was fighting to suppress, he had a hard time of it. Most people went their whole lives without seeing anyone shot, and this man had seen a family murdered. 

The investigation cleared Paul of any wrongdoing, and when he was on MSNBC, eyes narrowed with theatrical pain and anger at the spasmodic violence of white people, which he described as ‘colonial’, she saw the expensive silk t shirt and how he had removed the Africa medallion, plus the good haircut and media training which charmed the show’s host. 

Jessica sat up, chuckled and rubbed her irritated eyes. It was rare for her to remember some of the people she ran into, but Paul was a surprise to see again. 

Before she ended the stream, she saw footage, like bad dinner theatre choreography, people jabbing at one another amidst plumes of smart smoke which marked them for surveillance, said a silent prayer she had retired before things fell apart. 

She awoke in the night, confused and upset, and as she made herself cocoa at four in the morning, Jessica remembered the matter of factness in Paul’s admission to playing the brute for profit and wondered why he had never stepped away from the table she had watched him sat at, earlier. 

Jessica went back to bed, grateful to be old but not alone. 

Categories
creative writing women

My New Addiction

This has been a recent and welcome discovery. There’s a lot of content but the warmth and enthusiasm is infectious and soon you’ll be hoping to find someone else who’s into it so you can talk to them about it.