Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fire and Brass #1

I wrote this, exhausted and slightly delirious and with a seriously over-active imagination on the way back from London yesterday. It is largely unedited. I would say it may continue... but you know me better than to hope, don't you?

A blood red sun sets beyond us. Perhaps we will turn towards the horizon and plunge into the fire.

What lays beyond? A realm of sulphur and flame, brass cities shining amidst the inferno of the elemental reality.

The track turns to dark and strange un-Earthly material; anything strong would twist and bend in the heat. The surface of the train steams, leaving a trail of white behind it, from which imps and beasts grasp drops to drink.

The train pulls up to a station, little more than an obsidian platform and bench. Deserted. The passengers wait for the train to pull away or reverse for the old familiar world of blue and green. When at last one ventures into the driver's cabin, the passengers realise they are alone.

Slowly, in ones and twos they ventures onto the platform and into the town beyond: squat barrels of granite and brass gathered around a tower of black stone, like wildflowers around a great oak.

Doors slam at the other-worlders' approach and eyes like glowing embers peer from cracked, soot-blackened windows.

A shriek from the platform splits the air: with a squeal of steel, the train pulls away deeper into this realm of fire. Follow the tracks; there on the horizon, the shining of a thousand lamps on a thousand brass spires.

With all eyes upon their vanishing hope of escape, no-one spots the shadow until it is upon them. The banker's breath is stolen from him in a swipe. He was so sure and confident and now he is gone. The art student is next, just fast enough to turn, not fast enough to scream. The bar woman howled and by this she saved the others but can not she herself.

They run to the alleys, to the platform, they hide between trash cans than burn at a touch, they beat their fists bloody upon the townsfolks' doors and scream themselves hoarse, and the darkness finds them all. By twos and threes it plucks them from the dirt and throws them to the skies.

The soldier stands in the crossroads and shouts, arms waving, as the mother and her sons run. It takes them first then returns for him. The nurse tries to bargain, calling out to ask what it wants. In its own time, it steals his breath too.

Only the lovers, who have kept to the edge of the crowd, run to the tower. They circle it around, again, but find neither door nor window nor any marking. The diminishing screams from the town are the only sounds - soon the darkness will come for them.

So they hold each other, and fall to the ground and prayed? They prayed to anyone that was listening, any god or spirit or demon: take me. Let her live. Take me instead.

And a clawed hand wraps around their bellies. And all is darkness.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Don't Drown

TW: War, murder, rape, (spoilers) drowning


Here's another little Twine thing, made in a few hours in response to the awfulness of the past... well, forever really.

Friday, 17 May 2013


Trigger warning: suicide, depression, blood

Something I felt like writing having seen Amanda Palmer's keynote speech to the Muse and Marketplace Conference, and listening to Hugh Laurie's music and an album of swing music. Also given a lot of the thoughts and news and discussions that have been going around me lately.

I've never been to America, nor a blues club, nor the 1930s, so this won't be historically accurate of anything. Just my imaginings.


The clatter of the railcar, bell ringing, fades into the night as you cross the liminal point. The club is dim and smoky as ever, a familiar sensation like the a mother’s embrace or that first cup of coffee on a wet November morning. On the stage at the back, Joe strokes the ivories - a low and slow mournful rhythm, more a sigh that a tune - and he gives you a nod.

“Hey, beautiful. What can I get you?” The usual you tell her and she pours a double. Lizzy always has a smile for you, though she’s looking tired lately. Has her shift just started or is she just getting off? “George isn’t coming in, so I’m here all night.”

You take your glass over to your spot - a little two-seater under the stairs, full view of the room but out of the way. The nights you’ve wiled away on this couch, alone or pressed up against another body, everyone getting drunk and no-one really listening to the band. Nights filled with howling laughter, screaming arguments and filthy, passionate fumblings high on the thrill of exhibition but the band just kept on and no-one paid no mind. There’s the cigarette burn Nina left when she dropped it, distracted by the cocktail some rich kid threw down her top. Nina made her regret it, of course, and she ended up paying for the couch, too, but Lizzy never bothered to replace it. And on the coffee table there, the ring of bubbled and discolored varnish from that trick Johnny-From-Milwaukee tried with a martini glass and a lighter.

When was it you last saw George, anyway, you wonder? It used to be he’d be in every night, opening time, whether he was on shift or not. Sometimes you’d come in to find him playing the piano, and he’d sheepishly close the lid. He wasn’t bad; you and Lizzy had always told him he should play for the club somenight but nothing came of it.

People are coming in now: ones, twos, threes. They head to the bar and fill up the benches and chairs around, but leave you and your corner alone. A few familiar faces but none of the old crowd. The scene is changing, leaving you behind. Nina’s gone, Billy and Danny not long after that. Joe’s looking to go north, apparently, join some big band on tour. How much longer before it’s just you and the club?

* * * *

The railcar clatters along the rails, lurching down hills and around corners. You’re alone on the car, but for the driver and a dozing drunk, his suit crumpled like he’s worn it since Wednesday. A breeze through the open walls sets a chill through your clothes and you wonder if it’s too late to turn back. But you’re heading the wrong way for home and you’re almost there.

Maybe he just hungover, or took a night off for someone’s birthday. George has a brother, right? Didn’t he say his birthday was coming up soon? Liz didn’t know, and was too busy at the bar for the third degree.

Had he been coming in less and less often? Had he been hiding away and drinking more? You are sure you talked to him Tuesday, didn’t you? Or was that last week?

You remember, last July, Liz and Joe were celebrating their engagement. They closed the club, invited all their friends and announced the good news. What a night! You’ve never known so much beer, wine, gin and cocktails drunk in one sitting. Joe and the guys played all night and everyone danced. George lead the speeches and made sure the happy couple didn’t have to lift a finger. He made the party something really special. And he got on pretty well with Nina, as you remember. Everyone said that they’d be next to tie the knot but... well, that didn’t happen.

When was the last time you saw him smile?

* * * *

The railcar dropped you off two blocks from George’s place. The streets are lit only by the candles and electric lights flooding from the apartment blocks on the north side. This time of the morning, the streets are quiet and bare, everyone either tucked up at home or still packed in to the bars before they close.

You have only been to George’s a couple of times, and both times you were drunk, dragged along by Lizzy. “We’ve got to take the party to Georgey!” she’d say, over and over. Everything looks different in a cocktail-fuelled haze, but that grocery looks familiar and you remember crossing train tracks like these.

The apartments are built around their own courtyard and you let yourself in, the door not being locked. A woman is still out, scrubbing washing on a board, and she gives you a wary look. You consider asking her if George lives here but you don’t. There is a gramophone playing from a window on the second floor and you climb the stairs to the balcony. Fats Waller, isn’t it? George is always humming his music.

‘I don't stay out late
Don't care to go
I'm home about eight
Just me and my radio
Ain't misbehavin'
I'm savin' my love for you.’

The track runs out, needle scratching over the vinyl, as you reach the door. It isn’t locked and, holding your breath, you push it open. The kitchen beyond is dark but for lamplight from beyond the window.




There’s a click and a flash of light - the electric bulb turned on and you blink away the spots, arm raised instinctively to your face. But the spots fade and there’s George, shirtless, pale, unshaven. He holds a knife in his hand and it’s all you can look at. 8 inches of shining patent steel carving knife...

And you see the red and white lines down his arm, the blood running across his palm and fingers to drip-drip-drip on the floor boards, seeping into the woodwork.

Put the knife down, George... put it down.

His grip tenses, and you flinch, ready for the strike, but the knife hits the floor and George slumps into a chair. “You came for me? How did you know?”

Easy, you tell him. I know the blues.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Twine Game: Empress

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, monarchs of all ages, I made a thing.


Inspired by Twine games made by such wonderful women as Porpentine and Anna Anthropy, I made a decision to finally make and finish a game. Empress is a two minute day dream, but it is finished.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Black Light

A little something before I collapse into bed...


Her hands were wrapped around the cold steel railing, gripping tight with necrotic tissues pulled taught. Usually peering down upon the customers would bring her some measure of sensation, a vicarious... not pleasure, so much as anticipation of release, but tonight nothing filled the space were her soul remained but a drone. She never could describe it, even to herself, and kindred always knew themselves. It was as if she were deafened by a roaring wind or vast hive or hornets, she thought, only the buzzing was in her nerves. Like static.

Perhaps tonight she would taste the fruit, she thought. However her store was running low and the strange little man had not hinted at when he might return. She half-hoped he knew when she needed him and come this night or the next but nothing so serendipitous could mean good fortune.

Below, the club pumped with deep throbbing beats, the mass of flesh running with sweat and spilled cocktails and lager jumping, grinding to the rhythm. It was all so boring to one cut off from it all. She would never be one with the crowd again. She had her wealth, her club, her pale youthful looks, her raven hair, her dark power, but she would never have that again. Sometimes she wondered if missed that existence and all that came with it, or if it was simple a case of desiring what was not hers.

She realised she was clenching her teeth and surprised a snarl as the herd moved, forming a bow wave around a new arrival through the doors. They moved like sheep giving a wild ram space - unafraid, but unsure the danger it posed. For his part, this wolf in sheep's clothing, he soaked it in. He basked in their reaction and strode through the breaking crowd as if picking a target to descend upon. Mostly likely that wasn't far from the truth.

But she would not allow that! Not in her club, not so blatantly and certainly not without asking nicely first.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Another Year, Another Blog

'Allo, g'vner. Yeaaah, I forgot the las' one. Again. Scatter-brained, I am, I knows it.

Oh, well, life goes on. I can't make any promises as to the longevity of this blog, how often it may be posted to or... well, anything much at all really. But I try.

As for why I've started this blog a-new rather than continue the old one? Convinience, to tell the truth. Besides, using Blogger for both writing and games means I am more likely to keep them both updated. Or at least that's the theory.