Bag of Pain

Oskar was eleven when he first used it. Still a boy, too young to be told his parents had perished at sea. Looking back, he was surprised his father had even explained it to him…

No, that’s right – Oskar had found him using it. He was maybe eight or so then, and after waking from a bad dream he wandered down the corridor in time to see his father disappear into the room opposite the master bedroom. It had always been locked, and so a curiosity filled Oskar. Memories of the bad dream disappeared in an instant and he tip-toed the rest of the way, pausing at the door. It was a small, simple room, with a spluttering torch on the wall casting long shadows over the scene.

His father stood hunched over a large leather sack, his hands clenched in front of his face. His body shook with exertion and Oskar remembered clearly how odd his white knuckles had seemed on his normally ruddy hands. Slowly, the king clasped his hands as if crushing something between his palms. He rubbed them together and Oskar saw a thin stream of dust fall into the gaping bag. The dust glistened in the light and sent bright reflections across his father’s face.

When the dust stopped, his father straightened up and sighed. Only then did Oskar make himself known.

“What’s that, father?” he asked. The king smiled as he turned and did not seem surprised to see him.

“Oskar! It appears Fate has decided I will share this with you now. I had thought a bit older, well…This bag allows me to take away my worst feelings, and grind them into dust to settle here, so that I may rule as well as I am able.”

“I had a bad dream,” Oskar said. His father chuckled.

“I think a bad dream we can sort out ourselves. It will grow full eventually, so I must be sparing with my bag.”

Oskar nodded. He knew his father had been greatly saddened by Sir Peter’s rebellion. Sir Peter had been a good servant and his execution, though necessary, had been deliberated at length in the court – Oskar had listened at the door.

At eleven, the night he was crowned the new king, he had found the key in his father’s wardrobe and unlocked the room for himself. It was as before – the torch on the wall, which he lit with a trembling hand, and the bag slumped in the corner. He ground up his pain and let it trickle into the bag.

Now twenty-three, and in a dozen years of war, famine and plague, King Oskar had filled the bag. He stood over it the night his young wife passed away during childbirth, and a few grains of her death spilled over the rim onto the flagstones. They glinted menacingly at him. But what harm could the dust do? Oskar turned to leave the room, but a vision clouded his brain, its power pulling him to his knees. He was back touring the villages nearby, seeing the plague victims piled outside the houses, their dead faces grinning taut over their skulls. The sadness was as deep this time as at the event itself, and when the vision cleared Oskar rushed to pick up each grain. They burned his hands like white-hot coals, but he needed to put these memories away again. As he brushed the last few into the bag, they disturbed new grains which slid over the coarse lip and onto the floor.

The corn famine. Diseased ears rotting in the fields, while his subjects wasted away. The flood that carried off an entire village. Frantically, blindly, he scooped these specks off the floor. The nomad hordes that rode through the coastal towns, pillaging and murdering with abandon. Still more grains spilled, more visions came.

There was a knock. Oskar looked up, he was back in the room, in the castle, though he could feel the visions tearing still at the corners of his mind. The midwife stood at the open door, holding a bundle in her arms. His newborn son. Heir to all this suffering.

Oskar stood, walked slowly to the midwife and took his son from her. Bade her leave them to mourn. Closed the door. Walked back to the bag, and laid his son atop it. And wept.

Experiment Three: The Answers

Once again I come to the big reveal for the latest bout of poetic guesswork with little of surprise to reveal… Obscure though it seemed (kudos to Nurse Kelly, author of a wonderful and diverse blog, for some brave stabs at it!) the mystery fell away under the keen eye of Jane Basil, insightful as ever. Nevertheless, if you missed it:

This was the theme. Pretty much all of it. Lots of Freemasonry-y stuff going on. The square and compass is a Masonic symbol often accompanied by the letter G, hence the title. The fellow craftsmen, the lodge, the Arch (from the Holy Royal Arch degree) and convocations (meetings) are all mysterious, secretive Masonic lingo. The ‘plot’ was someone joining and working their way up a lodge,  attaining the rank of Master.

As for why I wrote this… Honestly, I was just reading up on Freemasonry on wikipedia and found it interesting, plus the volume of ‘codewords’ made me think I could make a nice obscure piece out of it! I tried to tread the line between emphasising words (like capitalising Craft) and using them with their normal meanings.

And that was that, really! One aside – I wrote this a little while ago and now have no idea what the line ‘I entered first, without worry, my fellow craftsmen spoke not the second time either’ means. It could be significant Masonic chat, it could be a total red herring. If anyone knows, do tell!

Thanks again for everyone’s input – ’til next time folks!

I Am 99% Certain That Fate Just Tried To Kill Me

If you’ve ever seen any of the Final Destination films, you’ll know that ‘cheating Death’ by avoiding, through premonitions, disasters you would otherwise have been involved in makes Death pretty annoyed. Death then reclaims your life through bizarre chain-reaction accidents that always end gruesomely. Squeamish or hate spoilers? Skip to the next paragraph. Something like the sunbed locking and setting you on fire, or slipping backwards into a nailgun that then empties a round of nails through your face, that sort of thing. Often there’s a bit of buildup – the ‘evil’ trail of water from the dripping pipe in the first film which follows its victim around the bathroom attempting to make him slip as he does things like shave, pluck his noise hair with glintingly-sharp tweezers, and plug in an old, dodgily-wired radio, before he finally succumbs and is strangled by a clothesline. Typical.

Back to my life then: I’m at home and wander into the kitchen to make some toast. Pop some bread in the toaster and turn it on but ah – not plugged in. The microwave and the kettle are taking up the two sockets so I pull the microwave lead out, accidentally flicking on the socket as I do. I then go to plug the toaster into the live socket and start to sneeze mid-action, causing my hand to jerk a bit. Now I realise the sockets are pretty safe and plugging the toaster in, however jauntily, was unlikely to kill me. Nevertheless, it seemed an odd run of events and stayed my hand to switch the socket off first. As far as I’m aware, I haven’t cheated Death, so what’s this all about?

OK, during the course of writing this, I’ve maybe dropped to, say, 70% certain. Still, it was kinda weird…


[Part of a flash fic serial, one of two on this blog at the time of writing – you can find the rest here]

//mission update
//files downloaded from “Tom” (protection unit PU90-series model 147)

//extract activity log for Monday

/”scanned employee.anthony_swan
detained in safehouse.silo”/

//extract activity log for Wednesday

/”scanned employee.kerry_varney
detained in safehouse.silo”/


/”remaining targets are

//notes: List now 3 targets. 2 more detained this week, 5 in total. Likely resolution tomorrow. Will brief HQ on progress.

From: Base_4 ( [to be encrypted]
To: HQ ( [to be encrypted]
Subject: Racing Update from Paddock Four (private)


147 has run well. Slipped under the radar somewhat yesterday as usual! Five close finishes so far, three more races entered. One of them’s bound to be a winner! Should be good by Friday

We’ll catch up soon.


*This email and any attached files are confidential and copyright protected. If you are not the addressee, any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. Unless otherwise expressly agreed in writing, nothing stated in this communication shall be legally binding*

Don’t Waste It

[I listened to some rap, thought about some other music and wrote a song. Shout out to the diverse influences of Lethal Bizzle, Lonely Island and Electric Six]

Get a chance better grab it
We’re chasing dreams: white rabbit
Blink once and you’ll miss us
Blink twice we’ll be off with your missus
Live fast die famous
Mess up but stay blameless
You can’t touch us: Hammer
We’re messing up works: spanner

I only write when I want to
It’s a right then a left it’s a one-two
I’ll knock you out cold, you be falling
That’s what you get if you’re coming cold calling
I don’t get sold to, I’m a buyer
I’ll tell you what I want it’s my desire
They want to know why I keep starting fires
High voltage lifestyle: live wires
I don’t care if you want to be me
Just don’t stare every time you see me

Take my advice: live your own way
It doesn’t ever matter what they all say
Proved wrong when they said I couldn’t make it
It’s my song I ain’t ever got to fake it
It’s not long but the message lasts forever:
We stay strong ’cause we always stay together.

Experiment Three: G

[I’m at it again! Some more Poetic Experimentation for you – as ever, your thoughts on the what, why and how of this piece are welcome!]

Away, beyond, don’t look for me this time.

Square and compass guide me, following the line.

I entered first, without worry, my fellow craftsmen spoke not the second time either.

Third, and final, the final straw.

A companion gone to hide, to the South, to seek out what’s inside.

To be free, to be accepted.

Horizons melt and merge like amity and memories, fraternal destiny in front of me.

To lodge, my calling.

Mortal vice, folly and distraction. Release me.

A Master’s life for me, I’ve earned my Third Degree.

I’ll tread these humble steps no more.

A new path worn, the path of the Craft, wound to unwind behind my eyes, on the prize.

Left-right, up-down, past-future. Lying discarded to my sides. Love-hate, the Art and the Atheist.

My convocation awaits.

I pass beneath the Arch, where Holy men have passed before.

Royal blood runs deep here.

Skylance’s Silence

Evening all! Been a while.. firstly, thank you to the people who have been visiting the site during this quiet spell, it’s so encouraging to come back and see those stats but apologies for the lack of content! Life got busy of late and while it hasn’t exactly settled down (I’m now working four days a week away from home) I’m hoping to have a bit more downtime due to being cut off from all those other distractions like my social and sporting lives.

It means Skylance hasn’t been around a lot, pretty much all Jake at the moment, and he’s not as fun, honestly. The closest I’ve got to creative in the past month is coming up with a few lines of rap to fit using Three Doors Down’s Kryptonite as a hook – will maybe revisit that if I ever write more of it…

Anyway, you probably want some writing. This has just been a ramble, but I’ll post my third Poetic Experimentation piece straight after this. Good to be back!