Sunday 27 March 2011

Writing in the Dark

James Barker wrote down his unhealthy urges. Years ago his psychiatrist told him to keep a dream diary, as a way of purging his thoughts, a way of getting them out of his head. And it worked.

He had been, in a way, a daydreamer; though every dream had been a nightmare. Not actually wanting to kill anyone, he took those murderous inclinations to a professional. Those thoughts became words, became separate from him. It was blissful release.

Slowly, diaries became stories. He put his thoughts in other people’s heads, imaginary people, anywhere but his own head. And eventually, he published his first novel.

It was the first time his wife read his writing.

She asked him to stop. Poor Marjorie didn’t understand, couldn’t understand, how such vile things, such vicious inhumanity, came from his sweet head. Calm, rational, loving James. She begged him to stop.

James loved Marjorie, there wasn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for her, and maybe, he thought, maybe his penance was done. The thoughts were well and truly out there now, disseminated, spread so thin in so many people’s heads (the book had fast become a bestseller).

So he stopped writing. For Marjorie.

The first week was fine. The words itched, but he could ignore that.

A month in and the words were scrabbling at the inside of his skull, clawing and scratching, biting, gouging, slashing and screaming.

He had to let them out.

So he found a job that, unsuspecting, let him conceal the bloodthirsty thoughts, phrases and paragraphs of his malignant imagination. The words had their regular release, and Marjorie was happy.

For most of a decade he hid them.

Then came a twist that James might once have written, but never saw coming. The police needed a grave dug up, a body exhumed; part of an unrelated investigation. What they found was not what they were looking for. What they found were words, reams of words over every piece of skin that would be out of sight of the grieving family. Angry black ink on decaying flesh, where no one would look, only the undertaker. Only James Barker.

Recommended Reading:

Living in a Box by Lily Childs
Beautiful in places, twisted and dark throughout.

Soul Acquisitions by Zaiure
Something a little lighter. Great piece of anthropomorphic personification.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Murder between the Stars

I am nothing but a flea to this behemoth of a starship, less, but I shall be its downfall.

I am invisible as I walk these hollow corridors; these rusted echoing hallways where no one knows to look for me. I am an acceptable fluctuation of resources; I exist within the boundaries of expected levels.

The crew are astronauts, explorers, heroes. And villains.

They ride this monstrous machine-beast through lower dimensions not meant for our kind of thought, let alone our kind of physicality; layers of the universe meant for smaller, low-energy creatures. They rupture delicate boundaries for the sake of speed and distance. And they do so uncaring of the consequences.

They are no longer even human. To tolerate awareness of this howling existence they must be engineered, made different, made more and made less. They must be aware of what it is they navigate, and they must not shy from the pain they cause, the pain they could not help but feel if they were any kind of human anymore.

And I made them this way.

By now my superiors will know I can’t be found. They will know the reasons. And they will be demanding to know why they can do nothing about it. Cowering technicians will be trying to explain to military men why there is no way of communicating with a ship that, relative to our universe, is travelling so much faster than the speed of light that were it to re-enter without drastic deceleration it would have so much mass it would instantly consume itself and everything around it in the ravenous hunger of a newborn black hole.

There is no danger of that, though. When it does re-enter the native universe deceleration is assured as the ship rips forcibly through dimensional membranes – it was designed that way. Unfortunately it is an act as violent and harmful as it sounds, and these alien dimensions are richer in life than our ocean ever was, even before we polluted it sterile. The turmoil and damage will be horrendous.

I secretly suspect that is why this craft was abandoned by whatever race built it, millennia before we stumbled across it. Whether their morals got the better of them before they used it, or whether guilt drove them to cease, I couldn’t say. Maybe I am wrong and there is some other reason. Maybe they were uncaring too. I would say inhuman, but that would seem to be a misnomer, in the face of current evidence.

I can feel this foreign dimension pressing on me, even though I have no contact with it. My mind feels disparate, affected, particulate. My mutiny has already been staged though, the virus already roams these sepulchrous passages. Soon my life’s work will be undone, the crew will be undone. This mighty thing will never re-enter the home dimension, it will remain here, where no other race of my dimension can stumble upon it and make the wrong decision again, the decision we made: to use it.

Recommended Reading:

Banshee Lullabies by Chazley Dotson.
Simply outstanding writing. Does one of my favourite things... makes the unreal, real. And does it with such feeling.

and My Space Plane by John Wiswell.
Very funny and uses an interesting and clever structure. A great example of just what is possible in the flash form.

Sunday 13 March 2011


So, they had come for him at last.

The man at the door looked respectable at first glance: nice suit (no tie), short dark hair (well-cut, but not over-styled), suitcase. He had his ID card held out ready; he was from Licensing. Ash had known it was only a matter of time. The card looked genuine (Ash had seen enough fake ones), and he looked at the face on the card, then the face on the man. The man’s thin lips were drawn in a friendly smile, eerily identical to the picture on the card, but the card didn’t convey the icy intent in those blue eyes; that look (Ash had seen it before) that meant I mean you no good.

At the bottom of the card it said ‘You are being recorded, it will be used as evidence against you’.

Once Ash had studied the card, Agent 42295 (no name) stepped straight into the house. Ash had to take two quick steps (almost a stumble) backwards.

“You haven’t got a licence.” The agent looked around the room, his sharp eyes darting and stabbing quickly, like a prison shiv, accusing and unapologetic.

“I cancelled it.”

“I know.”

“I don’t need a licence. The law says so.”

“The law, son, is my tool. Not yours. I know people like you. I’ve read your old blog, anarchist ballshit.”

“I don’t blog anymore.”

“People like you can never stop. We’ll find your new blog soon. Don’t you worry.”

“This is bollocks, the licence is bollocks. I don’t have to pay to think. And I don’t have to pay if I don’t blog.”

“Careful, son.” The agent’s smile got a little wider, and just a little scary. He held up his card again.

You are being recorded.

He picked up Ash’s board and tapped the spacebar. The screen fuzzed into sky blue existence in the air in front of the agent and a kitten unfurled a union jack with a password prompt on it.

The agent sneered. He typed something too quickly for Ash to follow, it certainly wasn’t the password; it looked about a hundred characters with no spaces. The laptop let him in (traitor).


“Oh, please. Amateur.” The agent pulled a clip from his pocket and pushed it into the board. A new icon flashed onscreen; it looked a bit like two swords (crossed cutlasses). The Agent pressed the icon without breaking the integrity of the display. Old school dials and gauges unfolded across the screen and started to fill.

“You can’t –“

“We can. Just cloning, son. We get this back to the office, it won’t even know it’s not your board.”

“And you’ll find nothing.” Ash felt disturbed, a stranger on his board, he felt tense and violated even though he knew there was nothing illegal on there. It felt even worse than having this abrupt, horrible man in his home. “I’ve written nothing. I don’t need a licence.”

“Everyone needs a licence.

“Everyone wants to get their thoughts heard, everyone wants to broadcast their ideas. Information doesn’t like being stuck in one head. And we gotta be there to protect people. Can’t just have any old ideas out there, can we?”

“Free speech used to be considered a basic human right!”

The agent laughed cruelly then, “Shit, son, can you imagine the chaos?”

Recommended reading: Nocturnal Omissions by Mazzz-in-Leeds.

I also blog: Will Write Flash Fiction For Food.
Because information really doesn't like being stuck in one head and I really do like to write. ;)

Sunday 6 March 2011

Pain's Embrace

“Scry for me, Neviah. Reveal to me what the pain reveals to you.”

The witch Neviah inclined her head, her dark eyes unreadable. The ruined, ragged skin of her face creased on one side in what might have been a half smile, a grimace of hatred, an addict’s fierce anticipation or a dozen darker intentions. Where her eyes said nothing her face whispered in a thousand hushed screams.

Her hands were as rough and pale as birch, the skin split and peeling to reveal raw flesh beneath. From a leather pouch she shook a small pile of white powder into one cupped hand then carefully poured some water from her tankard into it. Her eyes widened as she felt the mixture react and begin to burn her fingers, and with a sharp flick she flung the lime and water over her face, into her open eyes.

As her face began to redden and blister, and her eyes bubble, everyone in the tent flinched back, looking away, clenching their jaws against the desire to cry out, or the nausea; everyone but Lord Ephah, who had bid her do this thing. The lord looked on impassively, his gaze never straying from her, respecting her pain, revelling in it. He did not even look away to show his disdain at the weakness of his men.

Neviah rocked slowly on her crossed legs, making no sound but the hiss of a long, slow exhalation. She closed her sored eyelids and when she opened them again her eyes seemed untouched, dark but clear, intense. She spoke calmly, despite the corrosive mixture still at work on her face.

“Vengeance approaches, my lord. On his back he carries a weight of guilt that would crush other men. In his hands he bears a mighty sword; its blade is still stained from its first kill, though it has been cleaned of a hundred thousand since.”

Lord Ephah leaned forward, his pure white eyes narrowed in thought, “he has returned.”

Neviah’s breath rasped in what may have been a laugh, “yes, my lord.”

One of the generals stood forward, “who, my lord?”

“My brother.”

“But he cursed himself, exiled himself forever.”

Ephah stood and lashed out before the general could even blink, burying the dark axe Balat deep and thirstily in the fool’s chest. Not a drop of blood left the wound as the weapon drank heavily.

“Well maybe,” Ephah said coldly as the man fell to the floor, “maybe he finally realised that it was I who killed our sister, and not him.”

Neviah chuckled to herself as she licked the lime from her fingers with her bloody tongue.

Recommended Reading: Oasis Stories.
Consistently good, but check out Middle World Playground or Last Rights for starters.