A Spontaneous Rant

[Disclaimer: The following may offend you if you permanently look attractive and stylish. However, if that is you, I don’t really care about offending you. In fact, take all the offence you can handle with your charmed existence. I’m not at all bitter.]

<insert bitterness>

What’s the deal with these people who walk around looking good all the time? How do they have the energy to do that?

The types you pass on the street and think ‘ah damn, I look bad today, or at least I look human…’ because there are these preened gods strutting around. All these guys in turned up jeans and ralph lauren polos and it’s January for goodness sake, aren’t you and your stick-thin model girlfriend cold?

Look at me (your look, silly-attractive man, is no more than a cursory, derisory glance). I’m wearing safety shoes because it looked like rain (if not snow!) and my battered brown work shoes have a hole in the bottom which means my sock would get wet, and the same black trousers I’ve worn to work for the last year (I wash them at weekends, ok?!) and while my shirt (no tie, admittedly) is pretty smart, it’s completely covered by the massive ski jacket I’m wearing because it’s January and it’s more comfortable to be a shapeless lump than to be stylish.

Granted, I can scrub up alright when I make the effort – nice shirt, skinny jeans, contact lenses, a bit of a pout – but that takes time and effort and is generally reserved for nights out, or dinner parties, or dates, and is not something I can maintain every day!

And you strut past, clearly not on a date or a night out as it’s 4pm on a Thursday in an industrial estate SO WHY HAVE YOU BOTHERED, while I trudge along in my safety shoes looking grey and dreary but I have the last laugh because when I finally get into my glamorous transportation (bus) I can snuggle up at a window seat and keep my boring black beanie on because it’s cold (January!!) and read 1984 and damn that book is good.

<end bitterness>

[Note from the author, after he’d calmed down a bit and apparently started speaking in the third person: The conclusions to draw from all this must be that I get grumpy when it’s cold and that having a good book into which to escape can make everything better.]

 

A Snapshot, A Prison

I slept and it crept:
brittle white china
a cold pressure
pressing down (and out)
the life of the world

No one really lives today
A few others scuttle past
but they are transient
animated only briefly
between warm oases
and safe havens

I alone stride
in wonder
at the paralysing power
The Earth still holds
over the might of man

Wishes (Part Six)

[If this doesn’t immediately make sense, you may not have read the previous five parts! That, or you’d like a quick refresh (it has been a while since Part Five) or perhaps you’d like to read my other flash fiction series. In all these cases, click here]

“She plays with an effortless grace doubtless honed by ballet lessons in her formative years,” I read aloud.

Vix sniggered. “They’ll have got that from talking to Mum. She dragged me there every week for a year. I refused to wear pink so I was the only one in the class in blue.”

“That wasn’t a major influence on your playing style then?”

“Well, I still won’t wear pink…”

I laughed and scanned the rest of the article – it moved onto me and so I refrained from reading it. The pressure of our burgeoning reputations was getting to me. We’d trained with the England squad last week, and after an uncharacteristic miss I’d had a panic attack and gone to the physio’s room to calm down. My stats were near perfect and every error had a significant impact. I led Vix in half a dozen categories and trailed her in six others. My soon-to-be international teammate ‒ we were expected to make our international debuts next month, a fact I still couldn’t believe –  Alan was having his hamstring tended to.

“Turned inside out by that girl of yours,” he’d said to me with a wry grin. “You’ll take my place in the next squad I expect.”

I had smiled and offered my condolences, but my heart had skipped a joyous beat with his words.

We were sat in my flat, relaxing the evening before the Championship game, and I was reading the preview online. The article barely mentioned the opposition; instead it was being billed as ‘the pinnacle of a golden year for a golden couple’ – a celebration of Vix and me. Everyone seemed to know we would win, but we had to go out and wow. We couldn’t have put any more work in than we had, yet I wasn’t confident at all.

‘There’s something you’ve forgotten,’ my brain kept whispering to me. ‘Something you’ve forgotten all this time.’

I lay awake that night, the voice whispering to me again and again as a wrinkled face I didn’t know swam through my head. I was just drifting off to sleep when Vix grabbed my arm.

Fear 101: In Conversation with To-Khash, Devourer of Souls

The ceiling is the best, just above the bed. Especially good if they’ve a big headboard – gives you some scuttling space. It works like this: get in as soon as possible.

Usually, the first dose of fear is when they push open the door and the lights are off. Take that chance and materialise on the ceiling. I like above the door as people rarely walk in looking straight up. If they’ve high ceilings (kudos, classy haunting!) then there may be some space above the door on the wall itself.

I expect most of you know my philosophy already, but just in case, I will always advocate building mass with your first dose. Clever positioning early on should mean you’re rarely seen in this stage, so get a good canvas to paint when dose two hits.

When the main light goes out, pay attention to shadow placement. Often wonderfully deep shadows aren’t exploited fully enough. Humans see more than they consciously realise and if you are just beyond the edges of their sight, you’re almost guaranteed a good shiver. Again, high ceilings are great for this but the far side of large furniture works too.

When developing features, bear in mind your method of scare. A lot of people have great visual techniques but is a grotesque face necessary when you end up going for an ankle grab from beneath the bed? I like to accentuate eyes, teeth and protruding features for when I make my descent from the ceiling.

Timing is everything here. An appearance immediately after lights out will get a reaction, sure, but remember the fear ‘differential’ is important. Lull them into safe dozing and then strike. I will wait for the human to turn off the light, check the room, lie down alert and then eventually shift into their ‘safe’ position (usually foetal, or holding a stuffed animal) before I let out a gruff, cold breath.

Be loud enough that they know it’s real, and close. This means they’ll turn slowly in the bed, daring themselves to look upwards towards the ceiling whence the noise came. I’m not there. Confusion: they look left, right, and then back up, into my slavering jaws…

A classic scare!

connectivity kills

People these days send such nothing messages
constantly connected with nothing to say
I hold such disdain for the mundane:

lol

and yet I clutch my phone, feel naked without its comforting weight
in my pocket or by my bed, so I can lie
rest it by my head
and keep updated with the minutiae
of all these friends, so close

yet we’ve barely spoke in person
and we meet again and barely do
because we know everything we’ve each been up to

each instagrammed meal and snapchatted evening
each whatsapp-planned social and facebooked event

’til eventually, and I know I’m right
can see it so clear
we will all sit together, in one room, unspeaking
but conversing through these cold digital media
our every thought

til they are all the same.

A Call For Help

[Hi! I had a really good idea for a piece, about our bodies being an analogy for our bodies of work that we share on here. Then I wrote this. I don’t feel it does the idea justice, so can y’all help me edit it? Sharply constructive criticism desired… I don’t know if the tone is right or the order makes sense, and whether I’ve spent enough time on some of the imagery… but if we get anywhere then maybe there’s a decent post to come out of this yet!]

Not shame, because no one should feel ashamed of themselves, but apprehension.
The anticipation of judgement.
To expose one’s self entirely, to say,
“here, here is my body.”
People will look and judge, will dissect, trying to spot weaknesses and flaws they can lay bare for the world to see.
Every day we throw more of ourselves out into the world.
“Look at me,” we say
“Judge me.”
So friends and foes flock round, draw their knives and see how we’ve grown today.
Our bodies are always growing
with each picture, piece or post we add to them.

[Oh yeah, any ideas for the featured image when I republish this as well? I can’t use that nonsense I knocked up in Paint. Thanks in advance, everyone!]

Healing

For Binks and Magic, who have great people around them.

*

It stings at first, like antiseptic clearing cuts
burns as scabs will, knitting us together
and aches the ache of muscles pulled apart
with perspiration to come back bigger, stronger
Our hearts must exercise as any other muscle.

Births are painful for a reason
Only from ashes do phoenix rise
Spring follows the bleakest season
and we know pain throughout our lives

The consolation’s simple: equilibrium
Happiness soon to return as you are due your turn
Tears: life grows where they fall in the desert of desolation
and their sparkle catches the eye of a new hope
one with the sense to see all you are worth

We learn to fly by falling
We laugh just as we cry
Rejection stings like healing
to tell us we’ll survive

*