Monday, 28 March 2011


And now, another properly finished story. Although it's debatable as to whether you can actually call this one a story. Who cares though, it won a short story competition so it must be!


The club is closing. The club closed hours ago. The club is just opening.

Walking back from the club. Another cold morning. Most of them are cold.
One day is dead now. As it passes, another springs gasping into life.
The crossing point is 12:33. This is sometimes the time but not always.

This is Sunderland, in the last century. You are out of place now. By the river, under the bridge; but you will be alright. The sailors are watching over you.
Here on the campus walkway, abnormally-sized nuts and bolts regard you with an artisan’s dismissal. They were here before you. Who are you to judge them, to even try and comprehend the thoughts and feelings of the people who created them, their uncanny forms hewn out of human struggle, out of hope, out of love?
Next to the nuts and bolts, a twisting abstract sculpture of monuments long since gone bends itself into the sky and remembers all that was.

You have no idea what happened here.

Far from the riverside, the city’s unremarkable lights paint cryptic yet comforting messages; reaching across to embrace. Here we are, they say; here we were and here we will be again.

She’s standing next to you and she’s talking about that boyfriend, the one from Scotland. The one who had to go away.
And it looked like it was going to happen for a very long time. You never know what’s going to happen, she says, brightening against the funereal weather with the lightest of smiles. You really do never know. Everything could change and you could be left standing with nothing.
The statue on the walkway of sailors and ships and industry collapsed and moved away just sits and reaches. This night, it has nothing to say.

Me and me nan, another girl says, somewhere else. My nan died and we were really close. She’s leaning in close since the music is so loud, and you feel time slipping away: a subtle loss of the self, annihilated by the music, folded out of existence by the stains in the carpet. There is writing on the table. The words say; get out now.

Disappearing like temporary internet files. This folder is empty. This file has either been moved or deleted. We’re sorry it didn’t work out.

A Blue screen event. Shut down like a kick in the teeth. The year is 1997.
That man could take over the world. That man could take the world down.
The hungry caterpillar drank all the oil in the soil. We stand now, symbolic in your hyperbolic shadow. We are free at last but we do not know it; having been swept away in tides of false rhetoric and duplicitous doubletalk.

I start wars yet break hearts. Who am I?

York. The pamphlet directs you to the statue of Mars, the Roman God of War. He stands untouched by spectacle next to some plaques and a content museum guard with a laminated badge.
Mars is not in the mood for conversation this morning; he has grown tired of advertising the fashions of lost art and chocolate bars. He remembers a time when destruction was the norm. He’s just mad because someone bashed his nose off aeons ago, and now he’s lost face. No pun intended.
Those were simpler days, of course. March was the colour red. Now it’s just a month like any other; except when people are born, and die.
They still fight in March. Just like any other.

Of all the deities, many of these faces have stared at you across the years. Some of them were loving, some condemning; but when night finally came to protect you, most of them became vast and moon-like and faraway and could not help you anymore.
Some were left alone. When in a room surrounded by others, the food contained more obvious flavours; hints of recipes concocted to forge understandings between those who could not speak. The lady and the tramp.

If we stand at the crossroads and the devil asks us who has the best tunes, what is our answer?

The year is 2002. This morning she wears your name even if she has been sleeping with someone else. Her eyes speak truth but her body lies.
The dishes just keep coming. They have little or no concern for human thought or feeling. They know that one day they will not be here.
Sarah brings you a drink. She is from south Africa and is beautiful, kind and perfect. In two months you will no longer know her. She will be in London and gone.
Dana is from new Zealand. She is broken and suicidal. She is also perfect, but no one notices here.

No one comes here. Here is the end of the world. Things falling apart, then pulled back together again. Bodies shifted into planetary conjunctions by aloof high-born entities who learned so much about themselves that they were forced to admit that they didn’t even exist anyway, and so could not ever possibly be held responsible for these actions. It was someone else wot dun it, guv.

A house on the top of a hill. The ashtrays are filled to overfilling and someone has fallen on the floor again. Inside, the premature burial becomes premature rebirth.

The tale of the reoccurring dream of the school room that can never be found is told here;
The corridors are after hours. Most of the lights are out. You walk, you search; running into unfamiliar turns that stab your heart with remembrances of opportunity leased to the gods of invisible education.
You turn a corner. There is a door left open. Inside, the classroom is just as you remember it. But not.
And still she is there. The only one. Still younger than you, just. Still silent, gazing down at a desk. The hair a little darker than usual; that acne you recall that did clear up. Still there.

A million internet searches and nothing found. Whose jumped-up idea of a good idea was that?

On the path facing the loch two people sit shivering and watching the water as it flirts with motion. Sometimes they see the mountains.
Somewhere out there in the labyrinthine darkness that shrouds their nebulous and arcane presence, there are goblins; the cold-troll-hearted denizens of the places beneath where you once were. The kobolds who scurry about their closeted ways: down in the pixy mines; in the monotonous places no human eyes have ever been opened enough to see.
Across the stillest night they say to you; listen. You can’t hear anything.
The person beside you says, Oh my god, that’s terrible. do you want my coat?

Seagulls gather over playgrounds. Mould-inviting bread is thrown onto garage roofs and the birds redesign their plans, without recourse to human communication or consultation; yet still giving in to co-dependence.
Somehow both still find sustenance. Human civilizations always grow out of water-rich settlements. But bread helps too.

Flashpoints and little eclipses. That drunk Spaniard spends the night on the couch in the worn hotel lounge. The porter waits, mildly anxious and utterly awake.
The time is now 4:18. We need charge him nothing: since, at this time of night, no price is placed on solace.

Cologne. A cathedral haunted by the ghosts of everyone that left their fears and insecurities locked up in the gargoyles for safe keeping. Somewhere someone drunkenly barges their way into the wrong toilet; half-singing, half declaring, we could be heroes; not the German version.

Decisions are things to be made, ignored or sometimes ran away from. But at the end of them, there will always be progress.
The last man on earth. I disappear but can never be found. What am I?

Many centuries have come and said goodbye. When the others come to visit this planet, peeking their multifaceted compound eyes through masses of overgrowing vegetation, startling the animals who had for so long been untroubled by the presence of any intelligence higher than themselves, they might perhaps uncover just the faintest broken remnants of something white and ancient poking its nature-scoured hand out of the Earth. The aliens have no means of discerning the year and so cannot even begin to date the artifact; they have no such words as nature, broken or white. Months and calendars are also foreign to them; yet despite this, they love numbers.

Visiting times are communicated by the orderly. There is noise on the phone; perhaps it is a clipboard being adjusted: or someone passing.
You just need to do something with your life, the man says, searching the cabinet beside his bed for one of the soft drinks everyone has brought him. Be your own man.
Someone dying has died here long ago. The cleaners have been and gone.

This table is tan, smooth and completely unmarked. She holds my hand carefully, running one finger up and down the inside of my palm. A life in miniature.
The swirl and the coffee stirred. If there is coffee then after all the tears are done, everything will always be okay. Raindrops and thunder.

Just drifting off to sleep. A green glow from the nightlight protecting the dark from itself.
I am incomplete yet was finished centuries ago. What am I?

A park morning. The dog runs by the tower blocks that stand watching the horizon like pensive parents; acting as custodians of the light and dark, their dirt-encrusted offspring soon to be loosed again into the day to do whatever they wish with their lives; sometimes die, sometimes live - but always survive.
The dog doesn’t notice. It is chasing an idle woodpigeon. The woodpigeon escapes.

And in some stories, there is walking on the surface of the moon. Except in those stories seen in numinous dreamtime, it never seems all that much like the moon but more like a foreign country. And that is the past; a place we can never visit again. You only need to go there once. A landfill with nothing in it.

Spiderwebs draped from leaf to leaf in the early December chill. Ladybirds later, traversing cautiously, knowing that one day soon they will all be nearly extinct.
A tiny book store emptied of books and ready to be filled with new ones. Another morning wreathed in fog that seeks to hide creation from itself. A werewolf or a phantom.
Lives disappearing, but not yours. Not yours.

Canadian snowdrifts. Kids running on and on forever, knowing that one day, they might be free to cast off those mittens and never need to go back home ever again.
I could be here, yet am there and everywhere. Where am I?

The front cover of the comic book is missing. All stories of revenge becoming the same if you squint at them in the right light; just stories of forgetting, remembering, hitting back, then accepting the Greek myths, the word of the Bible. The sound of someone else’s voice at four minutes past three in the morning in a pitch dark room in a small terraced house in the middle of the wilderness of nowhere that is the UK, in 1985.

Planes go overhead. The moving and the stationary. The wood by the sides of the train-track just begs to be collected. Not far off is the same-so-called wood the branches came from; but there is a darkness at the heart of that wood; the feeling that there is every chance that the wood may become a forest, and that the forest might become a path: just an endless road in the murk of brown-green, leading to nothing, and something: and nowhere. Although sometimes, if not always, there is a something behind a nothing.
The eye of the needle. The way of the warrior.
Who knows what the magician has hidden behind the curtain?

Across the void of possible occurrences I bleed in the National grid. Hydroelectric stations pulse my messages out to workplaces. The ebb and flow of yellow coloured lines moves hither and thither.
Acceleration seen from the stratosphere. Fifty billion points of light become snakes; rushing, slithering, multiplying: subdividing.
Satellite masts and frost on the morning quiet. Spacemen at home in space, looking down.

A tiny kitten is released for the first time from the safe, defined corners of its first home into the tearing noise and borderless nightmare of the savage outside. With this disaster of understanding comes knowledge; of sorts.

A becoming of gold is forecast. The way of all things unfolding. Like shooting fish in a barrel, in the dark. A name unknown.

A gnosis that was here is now everywhere. The lady went into the cabinet yet somehow she is now not there.
I shall now saw myself in half. You never know what’s going to happen.

Days of conjuration will be left behind. The imagining is all that remains. The past; the future. The inbetweens.

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