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Just Like A Pill


Pooh, Tate’s cousin sat in the oversized chair lighting cooking matches and dropping them into the glass of beer. He glared at Tate and I sat on the couch, tried to look small. He kept the roll of notes turning in his hand, flexing his fingers as he fought the nerves, chemical and real that whipped through him.

Dogs barking in another part of the house. A rotten monastery to a god made of chemicals. If we made the deal, then we would be high priests in the church. Tate would be talking it up, but I knew the chemistry.

‘So, it’s not even illegal.’

Pooh pretended to be dumb but he had left school with a masters in business studies, decided that there was money to be made in the game now. He liked to play gangster, and out here, he could. It was supposed to be a good place, but you could do bad things here and get away with it.

Make good things, too.

Tate nodded, the adam’s apple in his throat bobbing in a mechanical loop as he reached slowly into his leather jacket. It had been one of the first things that made me ache for him, that and the shy little smile that he gave me when no one was looking. There was something terrible about the effect he had on me. I understood it, the uptakes and inhibitors, how my entire world would be descended upon by imaginary storms of experience, created by my neurology and chemistry. To know it was one thing, but to experience it was quite another.

I worked with the printer, from blueprints that I drew up myself. I got the inks from the lab, and I wrote everything down then put it up, had a swarm of people from Alaska to Zimbabwe working out the kinks and sharing it until we almost got religious with it. Pia perfected MDMA and sent the blueprints to MAPS. We were helping people.

Out here though, Tate and I needed money. The patreon was doing okay, but we gave as much as we got, most of it on inks when I needed more quantities than I could steal. We told people we were buying a house which was true.

Bisbee was a long way, away. Some nights, when I couldn’t sleep, I would go downstairs, look out the window and whisper it to the night. Tate would come over and we would quietly fuck on the couch then we would talk about the simple life we would have. Keeping chickens, fresh eggs every morning and sitting on our own porch. Practicing to get old while we were young enough to enjoy it. The technology came to us, and we did what poor, bright people did with it.

We were making the best of it.

‘An’ I’m buying, what, a blueprint.’

He spoke through his nose, thought it made him sound like B-Real but he’d been part of the debate club, you know. It was embarrassing but he had started to get a little too into the cartoon. So. I decided to move things along as Tate clearly had not grasped the urgency of this. I loved him, but come on, you know?

‘If you give us money, then we give you the blueprint, and in addition, we give you money to buy the inks that you need-‘

Tate pointed to me and nodded enthusiastically.

‘So then you cut us in for what you make off it.’

Pooh sneered and blinked heavily, whatever he was doing clearly had started to kill off things that you didn’t really want dead.

I should have gone to college. This town though, hell when you’re smart and it’s a wasteland to cross to get to college now. Strange thing was, people were disappearing, taking their 3DPs with them, able to print off whatever they needed. Tools, food, and if you were careful, solar panels. America was going from being a place to a dream again. We really didn’t need one another, anymore.

Pooh clicked his fingers, gestured towards himself and clapped his hands.

‘I have to try it first, yo.’

I took out the bottle, we found a bunch of them when we cleaned out my mom’s private bathroom after she’d gone. We had put out testers, had our protected twitter feed blow up with requests, and not all of them spam. It was God in pill form, and if he started putting it out, he would be rich and, hopefully so would we.

I tossed it to him, he popped the lid off and poured it out. One 8mg pill would introduce him to the experience I had been created.

We sat there, looking around the room and beginning to smile in a lazy, easy way. It didn’t take long. He stared into space, breathing hard as he orgasmed in his underwear, young and perfect, all the systems waking up and turning your body into an aerial for the signal of the universe.

We called it L’Esprit De’scalier.

He asked someone to get him water. That was all, though until he drank it down in a single gulp and passed the glass back, even said thank you.

‘How much do you have?’


I handed over the cash, held in my Hello Kitty backpack and Pooh took it from me, opening it up and starting to count it. Tate grinned at me, with shiny teeth and eyes that darted around the room like the thoughts in his head had started to riot inside the prison of his skull.

‘It’s all there, Pooh.’

I shot a Tate a look of pure ‘shut the fuck up.’ but Pooh sat there, lost to the storm of chemical enlightenment. Pooh nodded and put the backpack down at his feet. No one spoke, and outside, we heard the faint wail of sirens and the pop of gunfire. I wanted to be away from here, so badly that I could taste it. We had done it, no need to stay and shoot the shit anymore. Pooh had taken the Pepsi challenge, and liked the taste.

‘So, we’re good?’ I said.

I spoke slowly, to hide the fear in my voice. Pooh grimaced and put his palm against the temple. Tate asked him if he was okay and he shook his head. When he looked up, there were tears streaming down his face and his lips were pulled back over his teeth, a predator suddenly afflicted with the worst handicap that a street hustler couldn’t abide.


Tate asked him if he was okay. I went to get to my feet but my legs didn’t work, my endocrinology going into panic mode. Pooh made his hand into a fist and punched himself hard in the temple, openly sobbing now. Tate reached for his cousin and tried to comfort him.

Pooh had gone into the third stage, and kept punching himself in the temple, over and over, pushing Tate away with the other hand.

‘I’ve been bad.’ Punch.

‘I’ve been bad.’ Punch.

I said Tate’s name but he ignored me.

Pooh wasn’t one to spend any amount of time alone. He ran the business along the lines of a frathouse and his brothers would be back soon. I knew how they’d react to this, and it wouldn’t be good for either of us.

I stood up, and watched them both. I started to reach for Tate, to pull him away, knowing that Pooh was stuck into this psychoactive loop for another hour or so. Or until he’d punched himself into a coma. Neither of which were options that you wanted to discuss with a concerned group of white trash with guns.

‘Come on, man. We can’t be here.’

He looked over his shoulder and hissed at me.

‘Fuck, girl, he’s my cousin. I can’t just leave him.’

What I loved about chemistry was the logic to it. The study of action and reaction, all available and yet open to mystery. I took a step from myself and appraised the situation with the same care that I typed in code to the printer.

I put my hand on his shoulder but he shoved me away. In his efforts to comfort Pooh, the backpack was kicked in front of my feet. I looked at it, worked out that it was enough to get me out of town. 

I picked it up and Tate didn’t even look back at me. Pooh was wailing now, a baby without a nipple to feed on and I heard the thump of amplified bass coming down the street. Three Six Mafia or something, and it disturbed me that I still picked up on things like that.

Outside, the night air was thick and I darted across the overgrown lawn, in the opposite direction as the car, trusting to the broken street lighting to render me indistinct.

When I heard the shouts, I picked up my pace.

When I heard the scream, I started to run.

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The Devil Went Down To Pensacola

What offended Lou most about the protest was it’s lack of taste.

The signs were written in black, bold fonts on neon and hot pink pieces of card glued to lengths of wood. Some earnest art project gone horribly wrong.  He stood and watched them with his forehead furrowed in amusement, smoking and smirking to himself.

He seldom took time off. Today though, he had outsourced the day to day affairs to a few ‘trusted’ subordinates and had found himself in Pensacola. The weather was something that he found entirely comfortable, even with the dark pinstripe and the cravat, his hair remained a perfect sculptured wave of white blonde hair and his face was a perfect study of milk poured atop ivory.

He tutted to himself, cast the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath the heel of his boots before walking to join the other mourners. He walked alongside a young couple, their eyes red with tears who kept looking to the small, vicious knot of people across the street. The elder of the two went to approach but his partner put a steadying hand out and shook his head.

‘They’re not worth it.’

The young man turned and looked into the perfect, violet eyes of the stranger.

‘Sorry, he hates those guys.’

He looked past them and narrowed his eyes.

‘On grounds of taste alone, I’d agree.’

He knew that the couple were Iain and Benjamin, that they had met in college and were at one point, experimenting with the deceased in a polyamorous relationship before primal notions of dominance asserted themselves and they did not speak for a while. He knew the worst in people, and that was why he loved them so much.

Looking at the church, he knew what would be said and what would be meant. Funerals were clumsy affairs and seldom captured a life, good or bad. They were for the living, and the dead oftentimes spoke of the self serving omissions and errors that irritated them. The event that marks your passing has all the depth and veracity of a celebrity autobiography.

So, seeking amusement, he walked across the street. He heard calls and ignored him, lit up another cigarette because it would irritate them and he smoked like a fiend. He was not afraid of cancer, cancer was afraid of him.


They spoke in upper case, angry comments on the internet without the excuse of anonymity. He pitied how empty they looked, even he knew the fullness of existence. Even though it hated him.

‘I was actually coming to thank you, actually.’

His fringe had fallen into his eyes but he kept it in order to avoid having to look at them directly. He inhaled the cigarette smoke, enjoyed the tickle in his throat and how they had lapsed into silence.

One of them, with his dad bod, undulating chin waddle sparsely covered by a beard that resembled glued on pubic hair stared at him. Every instinct screaming to run, but self righteousness and hitherto undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome made him stand his ground.

‘For saving your immortal soul? I should think so.’

Lou chuckled, a dry, ugly sound like dessicated branches sweeping against a window pane. It was a laugh that once sounded chimes in the heart of creation, but time and circumstance had rendered it’s beauty into something practical and terrifying.

‘Oh you sorry little sac, you really have no idea how it works, do you?’

Lou managed something that had eluded the great and the good who encountered the group’s feverish infant protests.


‘He doesn’t concern himself with hatred, neither does the boy. He pities your lack of understanding, if anything.’

He lit up another cigarette. It carried an unearthly scent, due to the fields it was grown in, fertilised with the eternal corpses of the damned. It made marijuana look like child vitamins and the crowd’s noses wrinkled collectively in response.

‘But why let the facts get in the way of the resolutely good time you all appear to be having, eh?’

Dadbod gripped the sign in his doughy hands and began to advice. Lou laughed and waved his finger in a mocking gesture.

‘Seriously, don’t.’

Dadbod, looked around, lost in a storm of primal panic and aggression, before committing to the worst possible decision and charging him. Huffing to accommodate his lack of experience with actual aggression and a cardiovascular system that would lose in a race with a sleepy dormouse, he charged and for a moment, imagined shoving this petulant asshole to the floor. In an instant, he saw the approval of his peers as a parade of hateful good feeling and was heartened by it.

Which was when Lou stepped neatly to the left and watched him tumble, using his face as a brake. Pink and scarlet shreds of skin laid in streaks against the asphalt, like abandoned gum, devoid of flavour but not colour. Dadbod screamed, clutching his face and Lou walked over to him.

‘This, Gary, is a perfect metaphor for your approach.’

His smile uncoiled, a bright and terrible beauty that made it’s mark on this world and he continued.

‘I have no time for lectures, but I encourage you to really pray. Listen to that small voice, the one that you actually struggle with but you pretend is dyspepsia, and follow that.’

He stood up, bowed formally from the waist and went about his day with a wink that made the nascent libidos of many of the protestors and crowd flutter like a newborn butterfly. There was a woman at the tent hire place he wanted to look at, and a plate of chicken parmesan to enjoy.



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To Live

Daryl rolled the pair of twenty-sided dice and looked up over the top of the cardboard screen.

‘It misses you.’

Leanne cheered and checked her character sheet before she picked up her pencil and pointed it at him.

‘I cast a fireball at the troll.’

She rolled, frowned.

‘I roll 60. Is that a hit?’

Daryl looked at the rows of tables he’d drawn onto the screen, reference tables of outcomes and percentages written in his neat, crabbed hand with a ballpoint pen and grinned at her.

‘Absolutely, your fireball crashes into the troll’s chest for – ‘ he checked the table again and gestured to her.’ roll for damage.’

Leanne checked her selection and grimaced. Beth plucked a handful of different sided dice from the pile she had set out and passed them in her upturned palm to Leanne who plucked out the two that she needed and rolled them. Her grin of triumph made Daryl’s cheeks burn and he asked her, in a tight voice, what the dice had shown.

’18 points of damage for the fireball.’

Daryl grinned and sat back in his chair, eager for the chance to be dramatic and bringing his hands level with his head.

‘Your fireball shoots from the end of your wand -‘

Pete snickers and that cracks the room up, which Daryl is annoyed by, but because Leanne is there, he pretends that it’s hilarious and lets them laugh before they lapse into a mutual silence.

‘And it explodes against the troll’s chest, sending it flying backwards with a roar of agony.’

He has a childhood of Tolkien and Rowling to fall back on, not much of one, but enough that he wrote down ideas and phrases into a ragged notebook and used them. All his anxiety around their worth dissolved as he looked into Leanne’s bright, blue eyes.

‘So, he’s dead, right?’Pete said from the corner of his mouth. Daryl loved Pete most of the time, but down here, Daryl is in charge and he found it difficult not to say anything but Pete loved the game, with his half-elf thief who had a cloak of invisibility and an innuendo for every situation, so he kept the volume down on his loud personality so that Daryl was free to help them tell this ongoing story of treasure and danger.

A world that offered a chance of victory and glory.

Daryl was about to answer, statistically Leanne’s fireball wouldn’t kill the troll, but he’s disregarding the tables for the hope that Leanne’s triumph would make him look attractive to her, when the alarm goes off, a harsh braying sound that shakes the bones in your skull. They all look around and dash to the corner of the basement where their survival suits are kept.

They were slick to the touch, necessary for the amount of filtration they gave off, and it took them all, despite the constant repetition, a few minutes to get them on over their clothes and to check that they are all sealed up and squared away. They shouldered rifles and walked up the stairs in perfect formation.

Daryl registered a touch on his shoulder, and through the lenses, saw Leanne giving him a thumbs up. He opened the hatch and they head up to the surface.

The sky was purple, raging with clouds that seethed and boil whilst a flock of the black, bone carrion birds circled overhead. They had a short, dangerous walk back to the bunker, but they never felt quite so alive as they did in the basement and the feeling stayed with them. Daryl straightened his shoulders and began to walk.

Every day was a fight for survival, scouting expeditions for materials and food and it was one of them that Daryl found the crate of role playing game manuals. He had suggested it to the others after the fuel rationing meant that they couldn’t hook up the VR system anymore. They were told, that with their training and the resources that were in place, they would survive the damage done to the world. Daryl, as he passed the manuals around, grinned at them and said that games like these were reasons to live.

They head home, but their hearts and minds are already anticipating when they will return to finish off the troll.



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Fiona fixed Susan with a smile that held the appearance of warmth.

Susan saw that although her cheek muscles contracted,  her eyes remained impassive.  Despite the honey that she exuded from voice and demeanour, it was tainted with a drop of poison. The kind that stole up on you,  respiratory difficulties and no trace to be found.
The door clicked shut behind her as Susan stood up, extended her hand, forced a smile onto her face.
‘Governor, so good to see you. ‘ Fiona said.
‘Madam President.’
Fiona poured herself a cup of water from a carafe and sat down on the couch,  Susan took a sip from hers and sat forward at the table.
‘Quite the play you’re making, Susan.’
Susan ran her tongue over her teeth, took a moment to compose herself.
‘Some things dwarf the personal,  even the political,  Madam President.’
Fiona reached into the breast pocket of her  ivory suit and withdrew a pair of spectacles.  Her California blonde looks were not marred by the spectacles rather they softened her.  Her green eyes swam through the magnification.
‘Do tell. Your campaign manager had quite a turn of phrase.’

Susan had faced down Armenian landlords with gangland connections, wet brained addicts with shivs but nothing and no one scared her quite as much as Fiona did.

‘We found something that you might want to address, madam president.’

Fiona waved her off with a swipe of her immaculate manicure.

‘You and everyone else, Susan, don’t come the pious servant with me, it really doesn’t suit you.’

‘Much like that eyeshadow, if I may be so frank.’

Susan shook her head. She had long since grown calluses over the soft parts of her personality. She would lay there at night, wondering what this had cost her.

‘No cameras here, which is good for you.’

Fiona’s eyelids lowered briefly as she took a sip of water.

‘I do not respond to threats, Governor.’

Back behind titles again. Knives out because although she looked like a gentle princess, she was straight up carnivore.

‘No but you do seem to respond to some unusual funding arrangements.’

The flicker of a smile, moonlight on a switchblade.

‘If you’re referring to the Artificial Intelligence Bloc, then I trust you’ve looked up the supreme court decision on digital rights, governor.’

Susan shuddered at the indifference. The collective unease still reverberated through every level of society but after the last guy, people were prepared to forgive most things.

‘And what about some of the people who’ve been contributing to you?’

Susan put her hands up.

‘They’ve publicly denounced their father’s crimes, Madam President.’

Fiona grinned, an ugly sight that sent a burst of acid up Susan’s throat. She could taste the salmon from earlier.

‘Of course they have. I know it might offend your social justice sensibilities, but politics is entertainment now, Susan. I had women at my inauguration who became famous off sex tapes, no one cares anymore.’

Susan’s hands clenched into fists. This expression, the appearance of noblesse oblige but in actuality a hollow disdain for any value beyond achievement had been why she had gotten into politics.

‘So what did you come here for, because you’re not moving the needle, hun.’

Susan’s eyes narrowed into slits as she straightened out her fingers and took a deep breath.

‘Sometimes I need to remind myself of a few things rather than to be told. You take money from artificial intelligences, I take money from the sons of drug lords, but today was never about that, not for me.’

She stood up, straightened the jacket of her suit and smiled at her.

Fiona’s left hand rested against her cheek. The tip of her index finger rested against her temple, every pose looked like an instagram shot and Susan envied her that. She still had the wiry hair that her ancestors had brought over generations ago and she still bore the marks two sons had left on her.

Susan smiled and walked towards the door.

‘I’ll see you in November, Madam President.’

Fiona sat there, savouring the quiet. She did not have the luxury of emotion to fuel her ambition, and she knew that the dumpy Latina only chose righteousness because she didn’t have charisma or looks to fall back on.

It was going to be a long campaign, but weren’t they all?





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Pebble Bay


He walked up two flights of stairs at a healthy trot. Unlocked his door, undid the padlock and went inside.

She sat at his table, her grin revealing a small gap between her two front teeth, luminous blue eyes and hair falling around her face in rough bundled knots. The kind of hair a mother despairs over, striking at with futile dashes of the brush. She wore a pink t shirt and blue jeans, beneath the table she swung sandalled soft feet. A girl who would skip at every opportunity.

‘You should shut the door.’

She sung it rather than spoke it. The way kids really embraced solipsism through the filter of cartoons.

He hid his shudder as he shut the door behind him.


He stood against the door, thin arms folded as he leaned against the wall. Purple t shirt and jeans with the cartoon Hulk on the left shin He looked up at Gregory with his earnest open face but the eyes. Gregory could not hold the look and stepped away.

‘What are you doing in here?’

The little girl wove her fingers together.

‘That’s something I suppose. In your favour.’

Gregory, through the buzz of confusion, heard the implication.

‘Get out of my house. You’re going to get yourself in serious trouble.’

She chuckled, a crackling sound like a fire where you shouldn’t hear one. Laughing at the idea that they were actual children in his apartment.

‘Take a seat.’

Gregory turned towards the door but the boy stood in front of it, smooth and capable even from two feet below. His hands went down by his hands, bunched into fists.


Gregory was relentless when he needed to be. Sipping water and watching the houses on the weekends, studying the rhythm of lights and noises for anomalies. Grieving families act a certain way. He would look for the breaking of the fourth wall and then make his way inside.

He sat down.

‘So how many visitors does your website get?’

Gregory started and twisted his mouth with the distaste and the disbelief. Sure, the possibility that these were two six year olds in here was running away screaming but there was no need to allow them to insult him for it.

‘Around twenty thousand a month? I’d have to check.’

She shook her head, raised her hand in a disquietingly adult manner.

‘No, thank you. I’ve had the displeasure of reading through Pebble Bay Truth enough to last me a lifetime.’

Gregory felt something in his head begin to twang like an elastic band.

‘Hey, you look like -‘

His hand went over his mouth and the girl laughed.

‘Look like? Yes I suppose I do, don’t I?’

She pointed a pudgy finger past him.

‘And you don’t recognise Peter at all?’

At his back, a sharp intake of breath and Gregory felt his bladder loosen a little bit.

‘How was my dad?’

Gregory did not look over his shoulder, nor did he meet the gaze of the girl that he had only seen on video and in blurred photographs. He managed a grating chuckle as he sat up, his pride called with enough venom to make him answer the question.

‘Look, the fact that you’re here proves I’m onto something.’

The hand on his shoulder. Small  fingertips biting through the cloth of his shirt with a strength that made him cry out and lurch, pushing the chair with his backside as he scrambled down to avoid it. Then he thrashed as the hand kept it’s grip. He remembered when he cleaned the apartment, shaking out the down duvet that he barely slept under these days, keeping it gripped but in no danger of having it slip from his hands.

‘You could say that.’

Gregory had a spasm of agony travel up his shoulder as the fingers began to pinch harder, sweat pouring from his hairline as the girl slid out from her seat. His vision distorted by pain, he thought he saw her shake without moving, elongate like he’d been looking in a funhouse mirror for so long that he’d forgotten that he was until he looked around.

Funny, the things you learn. A little slow, a little late.



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Boys Games

Debra walked through town, struggling with bags of shopping past the pub on the corner. Her sign that she was nearly home.

There used to be a group of lads outside, smoking and ribbing one another but it had been closed for about a week now. Another small hole poked in the fabric of things.

She worked with a few young lads in the call corner, who’d cringe at her suggestion to get settled down or show her pictures of their girlfriends. Presumably carefully selected ones but still, those gestures gave her hope that the world would keep rolling along. Greasy terrorists and racist politicians, natural disasters but otherwise Debra had a sense that the world would potter along without her just fine.

She shifted the bags in her hands as it occurred to her that she had used the past tense.

It amused her that there would be lads who took paid leave when a new console game came out. A day, sometimes two but they would talk about it between calls with a lustful recollection. Strategies for gaining weapons, hasty alliances for dominating maps, even admonitions about the best way to get past a particular level.  She doted on them for that, how they would, despite their physical ages, retreat into a bright, warm enthusiasm for something that was not even real.

She turned down the promotion when it was offered. Saw that it had been given to Yvonne whose only qualification was that she could blink and chew gum at the same time. Two weeks into the job, then six months maternity, the little one conceived on the celebration do  if she had done her sums right. David, who’d stayed late and came in early stopped doing both, started behaving like a photocopy of himself. Left one day without a card or a present to mark his leaving.

Small things like that. She’d see young women barking at men for spreading their legs on the subway or the bus, hard and sharp in their zeal, tried not to make the correlation with the imams she’d been reading about. Ones who’d let young girls burn to death in a blazing school because they weren’t dressed properly.

Facebook became less baby pictures and more passive aggressive rants, then just aggressive.

Then, the posters everywhere. A new game, immersive technology it said. Headphones and goggles, gel pads on skin and promoted so ruthlessly that even she knew the name. Holiday requests booked in, and surprisingly more than ever.

Greg, who ran marathons for charity, slower since his divorce. Took his breaks with tearful phone calls to his daughter. Him pleading more than her listening.

Harold, lived with his mum, she always saw him in the supermarket, pushing a trolley with a disbelieving expression on his face. Still joked about behind his back for asking Penny from HR out and the final written warning he’d got as her way of saying no.

The day came. Quiet though, less reports coming through than normal. Good as most of the engineers were off, holiday or had called in sick.

It was when they didn’t come back that the problem started.



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After, Then Forever

David stood outside the shed, turning the spade in his hands.

They’d holed up in the house for three weeks, the door locked and boarded up and he’d hacked away the stairs, filled the bath up with cold water and whatever bottles and pans they could fill up. He’d made her  sleep in the loft whilst he camped out on an inflatable mattress underneath.

There were no aggressive assaults, they’d listened to the radio until the all clear was given and the green armoured trucks were as common as public transport around the village.

It wasn’t the same afterwards. David had lost his stepdad. Erin had lost friends and acquaintances, and David saw her wanly refreshing her Facebook to see who was still around.

Three weeks afterwards, Erin had come with him to the shops, eager to do something normal again when the young lad had lurched towards her, eyes bulging as the black foam dripped from his lips. She said she’d been fine, clutching at the sleeve of her hooded sweatshirt as they’d decided to go home.

David had teep kicked him in the chest then someone was kind enough to drive over his chest with his Ford.

She’d been hot to the touch and suggested that he sleep downstairs. He did so, reluctantly, looking back towards the bedroom and feeling rejected even as his concerns nipped at him.

She never woke up, then she did.

You were supposed to destroy the brain, such a standard thing in television or movies, but as he stood there, outside the shed that he’d muscled her into, he wondered if he could.

He had thrown on an old leather jacket, the forearms had carpet samples sown into them and he wore a hockey mask as he opened the door.

In the darkness of the shed, her eyes gleamed with hunger and she strained against the d lock that held her flush with the wall.

He had loved her, he still did and as he raised the spade up, it was love that brought it down.

He said forever, and he’d meant it.



The Dark Half by Stephen King/Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

After 2666 and The Crimson Petal and The White, both of which were hefty novels, I found myself drawn to familiar shorter reads and so I blasted through them with relief and a new perspective.

The Dark Half by Stephen King.

It’s not as renowned as the likes of Carrie or Salems Lot, although it was made into a proficient movie with a great performance by Timothy Hutton. It’s a great book, in that it touches on personal and professional themes of art, alcoholism, personality and it’s handling of the supernatural/biological force of antagonism is effective in not being too defined.

I’d like to see more of Alexis Machine because the idea of King channeling Derek Raymond’s Factory novels would be fascinating. In fact, I sometimes consider it myself, because you might think that you’re reading something hardboiled, but I Was Dora Suarez was utterly horrific in it’s bleakness and apathy.

King’s never done me wrong, I was reading him in my early teens and I still love his work. Even his bad stuff is interesting and he’s pragmatic and refreshingly honest about his flaws and foibles.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk is inconsistent, unique and yet his misses are as interesting as his hits. Rant is one of the books that represents him at his peak, although I haven’t read his Afterlife books mainly because Pygmy felt like a literary fuck you( although I will give it another chance)

Rant, to me, is the purest example of slipstream fiction. Without spoiling it for you (because only assholes do that), it has some central ideas and concepts that are marvellously played out over the last act of the story. It also contains some of his most beautiful phrasing and structure.

You can tell a Palahniuk book, and he’s similar to King in his pragmatism and disarming honesty. He’s not slagging off people on twitter, he’s getting the work done and maintaining a loyal audience of readers, myself included.

Next up is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro as well as writing this book.



Charlie and Bot

Page one of something I’m working on for fun and giggles.