Thursday, 29 December 2011

Self Service Seduction video

Filmed by Ed Sinclair at HEADcrash cabaret on 21st December 2011. Thanks Ed. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Zombie Love Song - video

Filmed by Ed Sinclair at HEADCrash Cabaret at the Birdcage 21st December 2011.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Cat in a Fez


While taking a swim off Los Mochis
in the temperate Sea of Cortes,
I happened upon a small island
on which lived a Cat in a Fez.

As I stumbled ashore I first glimpsed him,
a flash of tassel and red through the trees.
There were rumours that he granted wishes,
there were rumours that he ate your knees.

I'd never been fond of my knee caps
and I was in need of a new microwave.
So I crept along after the beastie
and followed him into a cave.

The inside of his lair was astounding
and I fell to the ground in my shock.
I could see hats of all kinds in the cavern;
perhaps my sanity had taken a knock?

The Cat in the Fez sat there knitting
an elaborate woollen beret,
around him were threads, scissors, fabric
and the needles and yarn for crochet.

To start with I thought I was crazy
till the magical moggy exclaimed,
'Good morning, may I grant you some wishes?
'As it is wishes for which I am famed.'

I explained about the microwave oven
then came the reply of the Cat:
'I'm afraid that I only grants wishes
that involve the procurement of hats.'

'I can see that you are disappointed,'
he continued to knit as we sat.
'It's a specialist field, I realise,
'but don't forget that I am just a cat.'

I had to concede him the point there,
I'd been blinded by material greed.
So I ordered a Stetson and a Cloth Cap
and a Sombrero made of ribbons and tweed.

I'm still waiting for my items to come through.
They've been dispatched, so the email says.
But really I think I was swindled,
swindled by a Cat in a Fez. 





Illustrated by Hannah Radenkova at hannahradenkova.blogspot.com 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Mathematician's Lament


 I think this would be the perfect song for Rhianna or Katy Perry to pop on their next album. (Call me Girls!)

Mathematician's Lament
How do I love you? Let me quantify the variables.
There are no constraints on the meta-data of your tables.
I love you as pi to the forty sixth decimal place;
No theorem yet devised can define the beauty of your face.
I love you with a p-value significant to zero point zero five,
Your correlation coefficients cause my blood pressure to rise.
I've studied your hypotenuse, and your angles I've defined.
The circles of our Venn Diagram are perfectly aligned.
Your bar charts are remarkable, your line graphs make me melt.
Reviewing your index notation Is the best I've ever felt!
My scattergraphs suggest our hearts have strong positive correlation,
But our love can never be: too vast is our standard deviation.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

So I Married a Bond Villain


Veronica Kent knew that things weren't right
when she found a severed hand in recycling bin one night.
Bloody fingers on old magazines were an unexpected fright.
Veronica Kent knew that things weren't right.

She confronted her husband (who hadn't been the same
since he had a full face transplant and changed his name.)
He said that he'd found it, an excuse somewhat lame.
So she thought she'd sneak around; play him at his own game.

He often left his Thumbscrews untidily on the floor.
There was blood on his shirts that he couldn't account for.
His favourite y-fronts concealed a grappling hook and claw.
She'd washed his pants a thousand times and never seen those before!

She found a suitcase filled with cash, in small denominations
and a drawer filled with blueprints and sinister machinations.
His browser history was full of research on the United Nations
(which wasn't a pop group, as he'd claimed, but an international organisation.)

All this weird paraphernalia made Veronica stop and think:
there was the filthy AK-47 lying in the sink,
and photos on the notice board with people crossed out in red ink.
There was a realisation to be had here, and Veronica was on the brink.

Now she put two and two together, it was as clear as day,
Harry didn't work in the factory on Mount Pleasant Way.
Those trips to Washington DC were more than holidays
and whenever he said he'd “get a Chinese”, he never returned with a takeaway.

So those vials of smallpox in the fridge by the chicken
were not a culinary ingredient to make cake mix thicken!
But what really caused Veronica's heart rate to quicken
was the package they received, in the post, that was ticking!


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Kinky Boots - a Lipogram

Andy over at hippierage.blogspot.com challenged me to write a lipogram about the fall of the Roman Empire without using the letter U. An impossible task. That was until I found out that some historians consider the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to be the final death rattle for the Roman Empire. When I unearthed the story of Emperor Constantine's purple boots, I knew I'd found my poem.

Kinky Boots - The Last Roman Emperor

A snappy dresser,Constantine,
always down with the latest trends.
Battleward in lilac robes.
A fashionista right till the end.


Sieges didn't stop his flare
for weaving feathers in his hair.
Nor did raging, warring Ottomen
stop him wearing diamonds and pearls like Sophia Loren.

A snappy dresser, Constantine,
defended Constantinople.
Stood by his men in times of strife
wearing chain-mail carved from opals.

 And when, at last, his Empire fell,
Conny let forth an ear-splitting yell:
"Come on lads, let's get the twats
who got blood on my vintage trilby hat."

The snappiest dresser, Constantine,

never strayed far from his pavonine roots.
Soon the Marble Emperor of violet will wake once more,
as patron saint of kinky boots.


Monday, 17 October 2011

A Family of Astronauts - Lipogram

A lipogram is a type of constrained poem in which a letter or a group of letters are deliberately omitted. This is a lipogram written without using the letter E.

A family of Astronauts

My pain is still raw.
                           That night -
half-hungry, half-mad and full
of longing - I watch your sky for
signs of stars. That night I saw
four. Stars for all of us. Gold
insignia marks you out for him
                         in photographs.

(Don't do anything drastic.)

Mostly, I am happy.
                                But that night
I saw your ghost crawl fitfully along
his brow; an ugly torpidity of past
scars. And you, a youth who ran hard
and fast and lost his way among cold
lights of stars. I am not hurt,
                                         not now.

(Don't do anything drastic.)

I am almost happy. But,
                                    I saw him
look at your photographs with warm
admiration again. I will not allow our
son follow you, chasing shadows to
distant lands for King and Country.
No gold insignia. I will not put on a
                             black shroud again.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Shaving Grace

You've asked me six times now, I assure you I'm certain,
that I will not wax the hair off my fuzzy love curtains.
While you might enjoy the plucked chicken look
I'd rather not get razor rash on my intimate nook.
I like my crotch-blossom and no matter what you say,
my short and curlies have not out-lived their stay!
My map of Tasmania will not be deforested,
and if you come near with Immac I'll have you arrested!
What's wrong with you? Have you only seen women in porn?
This is one meaty pocket that will not be shorn.
You resistance on this issue leaves very little scope for me
so I'll just flatly refuse to indulge in any pubic topiary.
No landing strip or Brazilian - my lady garden unweeded -
I might even buy extensions if my words are not heeded.
I'm a mammal not a mollusc, let me stay hairy!
Surely the twelve-year-old girl look is a little bit scary?
If we can't come to a compromise our sex life can't be saved
(and by compromise I mean that I'm not getting shaved!)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Eve - A Univocalism

A univocalism is a poem that contains only one vowel. This is my first attempt at one of these, and I've only used the vowel E. Let me know what you think, and see if you can spot any cheeky a, i, o or u that might have crept in!

Eve

Present tense.
Seven twenty seven PM.

Eve enters between beech trees.
Dressed decently:
red tweed dress,
her emergency dress.

Nerves peck her neck:
needles, nettles.
Pete, defenceless, smells mercy.

Serves entrée.
Entente held.
Eggshells.

Then Eve sneers.
She tells Pete he's been left.
'Jeff resembles Derek Hess,' she tells Pete,
'Nevertheless, Jeff's better.'

Perplexed, Pete begs Eve.
Eve leers, rejects Pete.
'Jeff!' She trembles, 'He's three men!'

Jekyll/Hyde/Jeff?

Pete's strength left.
Rejected, he
requests the cheque.

Eve sends Pete letters.
Eleventh September:
'Herpes?'
Eve's just desserts.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Writer's Circle Post - September 2011

Having taken on board some of your comments from the last few months, I decided to work on character and voice this week. While I personally am not comfortable with swearing in writing, I've had to give it a go because this character is a swearer. If you're offended by casual swearing, please don't read this. Members of the circle, let me know if you think the voice and character are distinctive. Comments are welcome and encouraged!


Service station

I guess the first time I realised I was in Hell was when I saw the price of the burgers. Up until that point I figured I was just having a mental breakdown. Or a blackout. I'd taken a lot of pills that night, not all of them had smiley faces on 'em either. I've had blackouts before. No big deal. And fits. Something about the brain firing off random electricity that makes you see all kinds of weird shit. Last fit I had was when I caned three grams of speed just after I'd started taking my meds. The hallucinations were wild. I could hear colours and smell shapes. It was fucking sick. I got sweats in the night and I kept thinking there was this woman with a kangaroo's head locked in my bedroom. As I recall she had fourteen breasts, more tongue that a girl should and pretty low self esteem. Not a bad experience, even if I was in a coma for six months. Doctors reckoned I lost fifteen percent of my brain cells that night. Fuck knows how many have gone this time.

I started my night in a hotel room in Soho, nestled between the thighs of some bitch I'd picked up in the bar. She was about as lively as cold salami, but I didn't have nowhere else to be and besides, I felt like I was doing her a favour. The poor bitch looked half-starved and I was gunna offer her free run of the mini bar, post-fuck. Then, mid-thrust, I'm suddenly here. There's this blinding white light all around and I'm lying face down, mouthful of lino, nursing a painfully unspent load.

The floor was fucking cold. That kind of squeaky, plasticy shit that sticks to your trainers so you have to tear your soles away from the surface, like you're doing some kind of shit dancing. Like the floors you get in cinemas. Christ, it was revolting. All I could smell was the stink of re-fried potatoes, bleach and vomit. A total buzz kill. I sobered up pretty quick and lost my erection even quicker, I can tell you.

I read somewhere that in dreams you can't feel pain – and my neck was fucking killing me – so I guess I should've realised then that something wasn't kosher, but my head was fucked from the blonde in the hotel and all that whiskey. So I didn't clock that something was wrong. I just figured I was having another 'episode' so I might as well enjoy the ride.

I flipped over on my back and all I could see was this massive white space, reaching up out of sight above me. Like the building was taller than it was possible for me to comprehend, you know? And the whole place was painted white, like a fucking sanatorium or something. But it was a dirty white, like there'd once been a flood, proper biblical-like, that'd left a thin film of shit over everything.

There were lines of neon strip lights built into the walls, just pumping in this sickly, white light. It kind of made the walls look even more dirty, like teeth stained with nicotine. And there was this buzzing, like the sound of air conditioning, but the weren't no breeze. Like someone was playing the noise of AC without bothering to actually blow any God damn air through the place.

After a good few minutes, I thought I better get up and take a look around, see if there was any lager in this shithole. I got to my feet, a little unsteady. If I was hallucinating, then my imagination had been fried along with the rest of my brain.

First thing I noticed, once I was on my feet, was the arcade. Some small alcove on the opposite wall filled with those massive arcade machines like they used to have in the Trocadero. Next to that there was this tiny shop selling skin mags and bottles of water. There were a few plastic tables and chairs clustered together in the middle of the hallway between me and the arcade. No people though. Not a fucking soul.

Behind me was a row of three fast food joints, selling disgusting shit – burgers, fries, kebabs – real down-market shit. They weren't fucking cheap either. And I hate to pay over the odds for shit that I'm not even gonna fucking enjoy anyway.

So it's clear that I'm in some sort of weird motorway service station. And the burgers cost too much and there's no sign for the bathrooms and I walk across to the shop and even the women in the porn mags look miserable and bored. And I can't even play the fucking slot machines coz I left all my money in my other jeans.

It must be hell. I must've had a heart attack while screwing that blonde. I can't believe this. I'm only 32. I was only 32. Christ, I'd got some much shit left to do. I never even had a threesome!

Still, if this hell, then it's not as bad as the Sunday school teacher said. No fire and brimstone, no demons with red hot pokers. No enforced sodomy. At least not yet. Ha, just had a quick look round, in case some fucker with his cock out was creeping up on me. Nothing yet though. Just that God Damn buzzing. It's pretty hot in here too.

I don't even know how long I've been here. Maybe they've buried me by now. Maybe that bitch ran out on me in the hotel room, left the maid to find me the next morning. What a way to go. I never liked waiting for shit. Instant gratification, that's what the therapist called it. He said it was one of the traits of my disorder. What a prick. There's nothing wrong with me. Just a bit of temper. Can I help it if people get on my tits? Christ, I wonder how long I've been here. It could have been days.

I guess it must be my own private hell. It'd explain why there's no one else here. And why I'm waiting. Fuck, I hate waiting. I told him, 'I hate waiting. If you make me wait, I'll make sure you regret it.' I fucking warned him. You can't say I didn't warn him.

The light doesn't change, you know? It doesn't get dimmer in the night time, or brighter when it's day. So I can't even tell what time it is. There aren't any windows. No exit either. The shit in the kitchen of the burger bar is bland but edible. I still haven't seen anyone else. There must be someone here though, coz the fridge is always full. Unless it's some kind of weird hell-magic. I guess that's it.

The video games aren't even working. On the screen on each one is some weird little message: 'Loading, please wait.' I stood in front of one machine for hours, but the fucking thing didn't load. It didn't even load when I kicked it. Stupid fucking machine.

I wonder how my mum's coping without me. She's probably relived. I was a total fucking nightmare. We hadn't talked since I went back inside. Even when I got out in 2010, she didn't call. I guess there are some things even a mother can't forgive.

I barely notice the buzzing now.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Failing to be Cool

Wearing jeans so tight I can't feel my legs,
Telling the girls I'm vegan, though I still eat eggs.
Wearing factor 400 to keep my skin paler,
Once overdosed on my blue inhaler.
Getting a SNES controller tattooed on my torso,
Keeping a copy of Nietzsche on view in my Corsa.
My beat-up leather jacket cost five hundred quid,
Got all my loose skin pierced 'cept my right eyelid.
Wearing thick-rimmed glasses though my vision's perfect,
Playing jazz bassoon 'til the beats are wreaked.
Taking photos at gigs with my SLR,
Riding a unicycle to work though I could take the car.
Taking a misinformed interest in current affairs,
Buying every item of clothing that Alexa Chung wears.
Trying to be eccentric but coming off contrived,
The pursuit of a bohemian lifestyle is what's keeping me alive.
Almost got the look down and then they go and change the rules,
I'm always one step behind, failing to be cool.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Regular Exercise

Welcome to Tone'n'Groan's Gym! 'Your passport to slim!'
(It looks like you came just in time.)
We've got a myriad of stuff to help you get buff
and coax you back into your prime.

Maybe you're keen for the Rowing Machine
or to try the sports field for a run?
You'll feel a pleasant sensation from the Power Plate's vibration,
so wipe down the seat when you're done.

We've got weights for your biceps and straps for your triceps;
contraptions that make grown men cry.
Working on the Cross Trainer, you're guaranteed to gain-a
new muscle below your left eye.

Some of it may look sadistic but the training's holistic
and included within the fees too!
But try to remember, when on the Ab-Extender
today's safety word is 'kangaroo'.

How about the treadmill? A pointless struggle uphill,
great for those with a lack of ambition!
Run as far as you can and end up where you began,
such is the futility of the human condition.

We'll push you to the maximum to tone your legs and thighs and bum
but our technique has become more sedate
since – on the point of collapse – one bloke had an anal prolapse
While straining too hard with the weights.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Writer's Circle post - August 2011

Three stone steps led down to the club from the street. The bar was private and a sign on the wall by the door proclaimed it to be 'A high class establishment, accessible by invitation only.' Someone had vomited on the floor just beyond the front porch and the heavy door had been pushed aside, smearing the regurgitated curry across the flagstones like a scented welcome mat.

The bar itself was vast and low-ceilinged; a subterranean gymnasium where her thoughts seemed to echo off the dripping brickwork. She felt the expanse of the space rather than saw it. The noise of her footsteps fell away unseen. The bar was dark, not through lack of light, but rather from the abundance of darkness. It clustered around the tables and weaved across the floor, until the woman in the nurse's uniform felt like the room was writhing with shadows.

It was a place to be endured. A seedy, sorrowful, squalid, stinking pit of human misery. It was the sort of establishment which could be unfavourably compared to major bowel surgery.

If he was anywhere, it would be here.

Three snooker tables crouched, stock-still and mesmerised by the green-shaded lamps under which they stood. The tables were roughly-hewn and bestial. They creaked and groaned, moving their weight imperceptibly from foot to foot. Snooker balls rolled within their vast bellies, growling like claps of thunder. Each table was tethered to a vast iron bolt on the floor, linked by heavy steel chains. The chains were taught and the tables were crowded by the door, like baize-skinned guard dogs, sniffing the air and snarling at the intruder.

The woman in the nurse's uniform took off her sun glasses and deftly wove them through a shirt button hole, ensuring they emphasised the curve of her breasts. She smoothed her hair, which flowed to her shoulders in red, glossy curls, and peered into the foggy gloom. The air was thick with scents that seemed to have solidified, reducing her visibility to just a few metres ahead of her. Breathing through her month so as to avoid the stench, her tongue became heavy with the taste of sweat, as if she had licked the armpit of the Chaos God himself. I just won't breath she told herself. And she stopped.

As she walked on through the maze of upended tables and chairs, she noticed a parade of gambling machines and mechanical pinball games, slumped against the columns that ran the length of the room. Each machine bore a science-fiction theme; their lights provided a temporary source of comfort, like the glow from a lighthouse might calm a vexed sailor in a storm.

Lilith was sure, then, that her disguise had been the right decision. She would get the information she needed.

After several uncertain steps – and a careful detour around what she hoped was a sleeping man – Lilith perceived the neon glow of the bar itself rise up out of the mist like some incredibly disappointing medieval fortress. The bartender, a small man with elaborately-styled ear-hair and more teeth than was necessary in one mouth, wiped a greasy rag along a greasy bar. He wore a T-Shirt bearing the slogan 'Klingons do it in full battle armour' and he was missing the third finger of his left hand. Congealed at his lips was a fat cigar which he chewed incessantly, like a cow chewing cud.

The bartender had noticed the woman as soon as she had entered the club. His eyesight was keen and his loneliness keener still. How could he have failed to see her? She was everything he had ever wanted in a woman. Tall and achingly beautiful, with masses of red curls that flowed from her head like a white dwarf going supernova. She wore a nurses' uniform, cut unprofessionally high on her rounded thighs, so that a flash of stocking-top was clearly visible. The cherry lace of her underwear made the bartender feel light-headed, and his long-forgotten libido stirred fitfully in his trousers.

The woman stopped walking and wiped a bead of sweat from her collar bone, her tapered fingertips brushing her bosom as she did so. The bartender was an observant man. He had already noticed that the woman in the nurse's uniform had blue skin. What he also come to realise, in a moment of giddy pleasure, were her breasts. All three of them. A small moan of excitement escaped the bartender's thin lips as he felt a bolt a fission ricochet through his body, ending in a curious tingling in the missing finger of his left hand.

Lilith looked at the bartender from beneath her eyelashes, smiled coyly and placed a cigarette between her lips, lighting it with a match she had retrieved from one of her cleavages. The bartender stared open-mouthed.

'Ere, you can't smoke that in here!' he whispered, unsure of his position. He took an ill-timed drag on his own cigar, 'It's 'ealth and safety.'

The blue woman smiled again. For a moment the bartender thought she may not have heard him. But, as he watched, and without taking her eyes off him for a second, she plucked the lit cigarette from her lips. Then, without warning, she pressed the burning ash into the skin of her breast. The bartender flinched as he heard the sizzle of burning flesh. The sound set his teeth on edge, (a dangerous notion, considering just how many teeth he had.) He wiped the greasy rag across his forehead, which left a trail of residue on his already filthy face. The woman continued to smile. She had discarded the spent cigarette now and moved closer to join him. She lent forward, resting her ample bosom on the bar. Her breasts were unblemished.

'I'm looking for Pete.'

She touched the bartender's arm with her long fingers, her eyes boring into his soul. He felt like she could ask him anything and he would comply. Just to taste that blue skin, to catch that perfect flesh with his lips. He might even be persuaded to remove his cigar.

'Where is Pete?' The woman asked. 'If you tell me, I might make it worth your while.' She performed a complicated and obscene gesture with her hands that made beads of sweat run down the bartender's back. Something in his heart (or some other blood-filled organ) told him he should help the nice young lady, but his thoughts were interrupted by a voice from a far-off corner.

'Leave him alone Lilith. I'm over here.'

The blue woman winked at the bartender. 'Maybe next time, cutie.' She purred,before retreating towards the direction of the voice.

The bartender considered going down to the cellar to gather his thoughts.

***

'I knew I'd find you here.'

Lilith perched on a low bar stool and lit a cigarette. She had reverted back to her normal human form, aware that Pete would not speak to her if she was in 'whore mode', as he so affectionately described it. Her ability to shift shape in order to capture her prey was one of her more interesting qualities, a sort of sexual camouflage that allowed her to feed and move among the shadows, gathering knowledge and harvesting men's souls as she went.

Pete was slumped in a stained leather armchair, a pint of breakfast lager squeezed tightly into his fat fist. He had gained at least three stone since Lilith had last encountered him and lost almost all his hair. The remaining follicles were bright white and clumped together around the crown of his head, as if the individual hairs had sought safety in numbers.

Lilith offered Pete a cigarette. He made a face and waved the packet away with his left hand, while simultaneously draining his pint. He belched contentedly.

'Well,' he said after a time, 'you've found me. Now what is it that you want?'

Lilith shuffled in her seat and ignored the question. 'What is this place? It smells like something died in here!'

'It's a themed pub.'

'And the theme is..?'

'Existential despair.'

Lilith nodded. Hair was mousey brown now, shoulder-length and uninteresting. She was of slight build and the nurses uniform she had filled so impressively as the bartender's fantasy, now hung limply around her bony shoulders, as if the shirt still contained it's coat-hanger. Her face was still beautiful, but it was an unconventional, understated beauty. Subtlety was what attracted Pete.

'What are you doing here anyway?' She asked.

Pete coughed and pointed the rim of his empty pint glass to a poster on the wall behind him. Lilith peered through the gloom to decipher the crudely written calligraphy.

'Darts Tournament?' She said incredulously, 'I don't understand.'

Pete placed the glass on the floor by his feet and arched himself forward in the seat, his large hand foraging in the pocket of his jeans. He removed a pound coin from his trousers and rolled it around his plate-like palm.

'Prize money,' he said simply. 'Two hundred and fifty quid for chucking a few arrows? Easiest money I'll ever make.'

Lilith narrowed her eyes, then opened them wide with a look of shocked embarrassment. 'You can't be serious Pete? After everything you said about using your powers for the good of humanity?' She looked away. 'If you needed money, all you have to do was ask.'

Pete spat on to the polished floor. 'I know how you earn your money. Besides, this place doesn't mind how I win, as long as I buy the rounds.'

'Sure. And how much of that two fifty goes straight back into the till at the bar?'

As if on cue, the bartender scuttled over, bringing Pete a fresh pint of straw-coloured ale. He seemed genuinely surprised to see Lilith, unaware that she was his blue goddess unmasked.

Pete waited until the bartender had disappeared into the gloom. Then he leaned forward, his voice barely even a whisper. 'Look, Lilith. You gave up the right to give a shit about me three years ago. So don't you dare come here and tell me how to live my life. I didn't invite you back, so just say what you've got to say and get out.'

He threw the pound coin down onto the table that sat between them. His fingers had deftly moulded the metal into a precision spinning top, which whirled across the counter between them. The Queen's face stretched across the surface of the ornament, slightly squashed by the metamorphosis making the monarch look more than a little cross-eyed. Though maybe this was from dizziness rather than from supernatural manipulation.

'I know you felt it.' Lilith said, watching the misshapen coin spin across the table. 'We all felt it. The call.' She paused for a second, studying Pete's features carefully. His face remained expressionless. 'We've been summoned.' Lilith said, rubbing the back of her neck with her long tapered fingers.

Pete took a long slug from his beer. His eyes were already beginning to slide out of focus. 'I didn't feel nothing' he said thickly, the metal of his belt buckle bowing beneath his rising emotions. 'Even if I did feel it, I'm not going back there. It's not my responsibility. I'm happy here.'

Lilith sighed and rose from her seat. 'If that's the way you feel about it, I guess there's nothing I can do.' She shrugged her handbag onto her shoulder. 'It was nice to see you again Pete,' she whispered, before disappearing off through the gloom.

After several minutes, he heard the door of the bar close and knew that she had left his life forever. He set his pint down on the table and collected up the knives and forks which lay around his chair. The force of his emotion had pulled the cutlery towards him and distorted each item horribly. He stuffed the metal wares down behind the armchair cushion and sighed. The fingers of his fat hands pressed the flesh at the back of his neck. The microchip there buzzed and vibrated like a trapped insect. It was the call.



Saturday, 20 August 2011

Song

And they began to sing.

At first it was barely a whisper. A memory of melody. It lifted the faces of weary commuters and alighted on the lips of tourists. It burst forth from mouths of men and women, shaking the tired circles from their eyes as they lifted their faces skywards and breathed in the rhythm. There were no words, only the realisation; the gentle, glorious dawning of the song.

Slowly, the sound of the traffic died away. Drivers left their cars and stood in the street, the song dancing on their tongues. As more voices joined the chorus, the tune began to change. The beauty of the music soared, multiplied and manipulated by the variety of the voices. It rose and fell with the intonations of thousands, all accents and languages merging into music, into song.

The music changed and the voices grew stronger. More people came. The low, primal notes leapt from their lungs until the air oscillated with their music and their joy. The song spoke of what could be. The vital, visceral sounds of life, amplified by many mouths, many hearts. They sang. And in singing, they knew they were not alone.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Publication - Pins on The Pygmy Giant

The Pygmy Giant - an online showcase for British writers of short prose, poetry and non-fiction - have published my short 'Pins'. You can find it here:
http://thepygmygiant.com/2011/08/05/pins/

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Publication - Forward Press Poetry

My poem 'self service seduction' has been picked to be published in an anthology published in October by Forward Press Poetry. 200 poems were chosen, but the 50 that the judges deem superior will be put forward to the Poetry Slam competition. Poets will perform their work in front of judges and an audience and the winning poet will receive a publishing contract with Forward Press or £1,000 cash! Fingers crossed and wish me luck.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Publication - Trashed Organ Magazine

Trashed Organ is a Newcastle based literature, music and events collective which seeks to bring 'gutter poetics' to the masses. The Organ Grinders have recently branched out into zine publication. The first issue 'Music'



was published in early 2011 and the very first poem in the collection is one of mine! So that's nice.



I sent in two poems for consideration, and I actually prefer the one that they didn't publish. Both submissions are below, see what you think...

Accordion
Twirling a metaphorical
moustache, the squeezebox
bellows. An instrumental gentleman,
wheezing melodies through
pleated cloth. Folklore spills
from keys like history tamed
in minims. An asthmatic zephyr,
he sings The Suburbs to sleep.


The Prophet
The screech of the accordion;
a lacklustre, discordant hum,

eerie as the beating drum,
as final as the setting sun.

The thread of time is finely-spun,
and all round the buskers come

to hear the prophecy of one
who bellows that the race is run –

'The end is nigh! The horsemen come!'
'Repent! Recant! What have you done?'

The sands of chance through glass have run,
and still the music carries on.

The keys are worked by fingers numb,
a warning played with blackened thumbs

'Time is short, we have but none.'
'Are you proud of what you've done?'

And still the music carries on,
pressed to your chest like a loaded gun.

It rises through the panicked throng.
That lacklustre, discordant hum,

inducing dread in all who come.
As eerie as the beating drum.

Pray for release and find ye none,
the rhythm they cannot outrun.

The busker taps a hoof cloven
In time with the accordion.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Zombie Love Song

I fancy you rotten, to the point of mutation,
I'm basically falling apart,
And if I had left some vaginal sensation,
I'd want copulation to start.

But I'm too fragile right now to start dating my dear,
My lips might come off in your mits
I've already lost all my teeth and one ear
You're smile's got me falling to bits.

Or it could be the exposure to intense radiation
That's left me with aches and with pains?
I'm quite open to rational negotiation:
Shag me or I will eat your brains.

I'm not bad to look at, if you close half an eye
And beauty's only as deep as the skin
I shed mine fortnightly and it's the reasoning why
You should give up and let my love in!

If it weren't for this virus that's eating my flesh
Would you regard me with more than disdain?
We could steal a night of passion, start out afresh?
It's that, or I will eat your brains.

I've been chased by great films stars, Bruce Campbell, Will Smith,
Charlton Heston to name but a few.
I'm still in demand though my body's rotting and stiff
But the only human I want is you.

They say that we women are manipulative
When we find we have something to gain
But just want a man to settle down with.
Well, that, or I could eat your brains.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Whatever you want it to mean, Honey.

Pronoun verbed.
Noun verbed adverbedly.
Preposition proper-noun, pronoun verbed
conjunction verbed conjunction verbed.
Adjective noun.
Verb.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Writer's Circle post - June 2011

Self Defence

It was self defence.

Angelo swerved. The car skidded as it took the corner, engine screaming, and lurched forward onto the highway into oncoming traffic. Angelo flung up his arms as if to block a blow, as pain seethed through his muscles like venom. The wheel span beneath his grasp and he wrenched it to his right, wrestling the vehicle like a matador with a bull, until the wail of the engine subsided, and the car settled down to a steady pace, heading west.

Angelo shook his fringe from his eyes and glanced into the rear-view mirror, scanning the street as it rushed away and disappeared over the crest of the hill. The black Mercedes that had veered through the traffic over the bridge, almost perpetually bathed in the glow of his tail lights as it clung to him, had vanished. Angelo let out a deep sigh, coughed and ran a hand across his brow. His fingers came away wet. He was still bleeding.

Another glance into the mirror, this time to study his own face. His eyes were hollow, encircled by shadows, and dark bristles crept across his throat. The cut on his forehead was beginning to clot and he pressed his fingers to the bruising on his cheek, wincing at the pain.

He looked past himself, at the road behind. Still nothing.

The tires purred on the uneven concrete as Angelo took a right turn, followed by a left, then another left. The urban sprawl was unfamiliar to him, and each road – lined with signs he could not read – seemed disconcertingly similar to the last.

He might have been anywhere in Europe. There were no distinctive landmarks which might give away his present location. This part of the city contained no houses. No one lived here. Instead, vast office blocks loomed up from the pavements, glass and steel cascading upwards towards unknown peaks. The offices and factories were lit, but the light was static, still, dead.

The bundle that lay on the passenger seat occupied Angelo's every thought. It was all he could do not to stare at it. To stop the car, there on the highway, and peel back the silk in which it was wrapped. The idea filled him with nausea and he felt the bile rise in his chest, hot and painful. The package rolled drunkenly across the seat as the car turned another sharp corner. It disgusted him. Taking one hand from the wheel, Angelo tried in vain to wedge the object between the ridges of the upholstery, but it evaded his grasp.

He had only left the hotel fifteen minutes ago, but it felt as though he had been travelling for days. Would they be looking for him now? The carriageway plunged into a tunnel and Angelo wondered if he ought to make plans. A harsh yellow light strobed across his face as he drove beneath a string of street lamps, the unnatural glow reducing everything in the car to ghostly shades of grey.

In the absence of inspiration, Angelo took a right.

Every few seconds, he lifted his eyes to the mirror. With each stolen glimpse, his anxiety grew, twisting and squirming in his chest like a great caged animal. How long before they checked the room?

He shuddered and the car lurched a little as his right foot twitched involuntarily on the accelerator. The package had come to rest against his jacket on the passenger seat, but Angelo's mind was still drawn towards it with a dangerous magnetism. A morbid fascination washed over him, one which could not be quenched by these furtive, sideways glances. He wanted to fling it from the car window, sending out onto the highway to be crushed beneath the wheels of an articulated lorry. He wanted to drive until reached the sea and bury the sinister parcel beneath the waves. He wanted to open it.

He would try not to look again.

The glass and steel had gone now, replaced by neat rows of terrace houses and strips of neon light emitting from late night bars and betting shops. Here and there groups of men stood, talking animatedly and smoking cigarettes. They paused in their conversations to watch the strange car as it drove past their homes, in that disconcerting way that local people sometimes do. Angelo focused straight ahead, while the men stared. He felt their eyes on him as each man tried ferociously to recognise his face, distorted by the glass and the darkness.

Sweat dripped from Angelo's hairline. It bristled at the edges of his eyes and seeped into the deep lines around his mouth. The air in the car was acrid and as dry as tinder. He felt at any moment it might catch, and everything would burst into flames. Despite the stifling heat, he could not bring himself to open the window, not while there were men on street corners.

And a small, irrational voice had entered his head.

It had started in the hotel room, just after the white noise had cleared and the fog had lifted. After he had realised what he had done. It spoke with her accent, the little voice in his mind. An Irish lilt, with overtones of somewhere he could never quite place. Softly at first. Growing louder and stronger. Begging, pleading with him.

“No! Please! Stop!”

If he opened the windows, the voice might escape, and then everyone would know what he had done.

What had he done?

A sweeping curve in the road caught him off-guard and he was jolted from his reverie in just enough time to steer clear of the crash barrier. He felt a sickening thud as the bundle beside him rolled and slammed against the plush, leather interior of the car. It was a noise he felt rather than heard. Like the crack of someone striking him n the ribs with a pool cue.

Outside, the suburban landscape had fallen away, and in its place, hedge-hemmed fields and scattered farm buildings slipped past quietly, shadowy and grey-green in the darkness. There were fewer street lights out here, among the deep folds of the hills. But the glow of industry in the distance clouded the sky with a haze of red which obscured the stars.

Angelo checked the mirror again, but found that he was completely alone. The hotel room flashed uninvited into his skull and the scene flickered and stuttered across his mind's eye in sepia tones. It seemed like a thousand years ago now. In reality only a few minutes and a few miles separated Angelo from that room.

So much blood.

He changed into fifth gear and pressed firmly on the accelerator. There was nothing for it now but to keep going. The road had narrowed considerably, and was now only just wide enough for a single vehicle. Withered, spidery branches pulled at the bodywork as the car pushed through the flora along the track. Each time a leafy tendril struck the roof of the vehicle, Angelo felt his heart convulse. Even the smallest noise rang out like a gunshot.

A row of rosary beads hung from the rear view mirror, dancing an angry foxtrot across his field of vision with each pothole the wheels of the car encountered. Suddenly infuriated by their existence, Angelo reached up and ripped them down. The delicate brown wooden beads rained over the dashboard and into the foot well. Angelo cursed under his breath.

It was then that he heard it. Out there in the darkness, crouched beyond the reach of the head lamps. An other-worldly tattoo, low and accusatory, thumping against the metalwork of the car, as if the engine were trying to escape. The tone rising and falling in time with the rising and falling of Angelo's chest.

It stopped just as suddenly as it had begun. Each empty beat wavered in his chest, and he felt his shoulders loosen in time with the silence.

Four seconds.

Five.

Six.

Angelo felt a shiver, despite the intense heat of the car. The knocking of the engine jarred uncomfortably against the ever-quickening beat of his heart. He swallowed and felt his throat constrict. His breath escaped in laboured gasps, wheezing across his over-large tongue. The noise of his own body resonated in his ears and deadened the external senses. His breathing was too loud. His heart too fast. He took a deep breath and held it. The wheezing continued, rasping like a saw through his skull.

Gripping the steeling wheel tightly, Angelo shot a look to his left. The package had fallen onto its side. A deep stain was radiating from a pin point, sprawling across the material, like a delicate crimson flower.

The wheezing continued. Long rattling breaths that caused the air in Angelo's lungs to vibrate. He slammed on the breaks and the shaking wreck ground to halt. Edging towards the door, he grasped for the release. But terror clung to him, stapling him in place.

The package lay, face up, on the seat beside him. A small triangle of material jutted out, in slight relief. As he watched, he was aware of a slight movement of the cloth beneath. As the breathing continued, the wrapping gently rose and fell.

Impossible.

He was dimly aware that he was screaming. He could hear it as if from far away and under water. He saw the material swell and undulate in time with the deep grasping breaths and felt the gaze of cold, dead eyes, swivelling beneath silk to meet his own.

The screaming grew louder.

As if through a fogged mirror, Angelo saw his own hands reach down and, through the noise of his own screams, he ripped off the material, and opened the package.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Mantis

She sits apart, with lips like darts.
In fits and starts, she'll slit their hearts.
She spits and barks, omits no parts.
With fingers arched, she'll slit their hearts.
A question mark, no maps or charts.
In fits and starts, she'll slit their hearts.
Lips split apart, the man is marked.
In fits and starts, she'll slit his heart.
She'll get what's asked, make no remark.
With fingers arched, she'll slit his heart.
She splits apart, a witless art.
In fits and starts, she slit his heart.
And in her teeth are bits and parts
Of that poor boy's beating heart.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Publication - Crumpets and Tea

Crumpets and Tea is an online space for writers of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. My piece 'Zero' has been featured on the site today. See it here:

http://crumpetsandtea.me/zero/

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

publication - The Pygmy Giant

The Pygmy Giant is an online space for writers from the UK. It publishes short fiction, flash fiction and poetry and the writers on the site are incredibly talented and innovative.

I got my first submission published on this site this weekend - an informative article on Meerkats - which you can read here:

http://thepygmygiant.com/2011/06/04/meerkats/

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Publications

Good news everyone! My prose poem - The Astronaut, was commended in the Leaf Books micro fiction competition! It will be published as part of their winners collection! I've read some of the work that will be included in the book and it's of an incredibly high standard. So if you'd like to purchase a copy, you can do so here:

http://www.leafbooks.co.uk/New/Books/Pod.htm

None of the proceeds will go to me, but it's definitely a step in the right direction!

My poem 'Accordion' was also accepted for the first edition of Trashed Organ, a Newcastle-based Zine which brings together poets, musicians and artists into one lovely big creative ball. More information can be found here:

http://www.trashedorgan.co.uk/

I will put both poems up on this blog after they have been published. Watch this space.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Pins

That summer, I cut my hair to an awkward length. I found a pair of blunt scissors in a drawer in the dormitory kitchen, and simply removed the excess. All that dead wood – that thicket that fell over my breasts and back – was clipped away, until the blunt bristles skimmed the nape of my neck. My discarded plumage lay limp on the linoleum, and the memories with them had been plucked from my mind.

It was odd to feel the summer's breeze on my shoulders then, a violation from which I had previously been protected. My shroud had been shortened by circumstance. In its place, a sheet of spines now lay, pins flowing from my temples, puncturing the past until it died in my hands. So, with the vulnerable skin of my throat freshly exposed, I was sent home, hoping to find new solitude in my disguise.

The house looked just the same that summer. Red brick walls and iron gutters stood squarely at the end of the terrace, rhododendron and foxglove clamouring for space against the austere façade. The little pond - no more than a puddle due to the lack of rain - was punctuated by the soft fleshy commas of tadpoles. The old ford sierra sagged in the heat of the mid-morning sun like a damp rag on a washing line. The door to the house was still blue, the paint still peeling.

Victor sat on the steps that led up to the porch, staring coldly at me as I descended the path. He was smoking one of those filthy roll-up cigarettes and as I approached, his face clouded with confusion. A small, ugly ridge appeared between his brows as he recognised me.

I felt the jagged whiskers of his chin bruise my cheek before he had even stood to greet me, and each time I moved my head, the brush of my own hair would dig into my throat like pins into the soft flesh of a jumper. His eyes penetrated me, searching out my motives. My nerve flickered and he smiled.

Of course, he knew why I had done it. And with his knowledge, Victor seemed more dangerous to me than he had in January, when he had stroked my face and told me that he loved me. The jagged edges that sat just below my ears would not dissuade him, and I had been foolish to think that they might. Next year, I would shave my head.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Character-driven sketch

“Oh my God! You won't even believe it Cherise! I'm still shaking now! He was here! It was that film star. Yes, he was hear when you were on your lunch!

You know, that bloke who was in that film with the woman with the big face. Oh, you know, the one who does charity work and has five children from six different husbands. No, she wasn't here. But that film star was. The one that was in that film with the big-faced woman. You know, that film about the farmer and the ski instructor. We saw it at the cinema. There were loads of explosions, and this film star takes his shirt off in the middle of the supermarket.

No, not Asda's up the road! I mean in the film he takes his shirt off. The film about the ski instructor. Yes, the guy with the tiny eyes. Yes, he was here! In the shop! He ordered a coffee and everything!

No no, you're thinking of his brother. The one who never married, if you catch my drift. No, I mean the one who was in loads of films. Like the one about the man who turns into a three piece suite. Or the one about the aliens with five heads. And he played the middle head. You know, he has a band too. They were in the charts last year with that song that goes, di dum di dum. You remember? The drummer of the band had no toenails. Surely you remember him?No, the drummer wasn't here. But the guy who was in the film about the ski instructor was.

He was absolutely dreamy! Much taller than he seems on the telly. And he'd grown a bread. Really tangled and matted it was. I think it was a disguise, so the public wouldn't recognise him. But I knew who it was straight away. I went straight up to him to take his order. Honestly Cherise, I was more nervous than when I saw Jimmy Saville in Ikea!

He must have been researching a film role. No, not Jimmy Saville! This film star. What's his name. American guy. Though he hid his accent pretty well. Yes, he must be doing a film over here, because he was trying out his Glaswegian accent on me. But I knew it was him. He must be researching a film role. Why else would he be in Chiswick? He must have been working hard too, because he smelt really musky. You know, like he'd been working out with a personal trainer or something for hours. He must have to take his shirt off in his new film. He was looking a lot thinner than he does in the films. Though I suppose he must be playing a down and out. I think it's called method acting. You probably haven't heard of it.

We discussed his films. We, I spoke and he listened. I think he must have found it refreshing to meet someone who knows about art and culture like I do. He said he was just in the café to avoid the rain and that he hadn't any money. I knew what he meant. He was hiding out from the paparazzi and he'd probably left his wallet in the limo. I got him a coffee and a muffin. I'll pay for them later Cherise!

We were getting on so well, so I asked him for his number. He said he didn't have a phone. Which is a bit weird. But then I suppose he's one of these celebrities that's into those weird cult-y religions where you shun worldly possessions and give all your money to charity. His clothes were certainly second hand, and really, it's nice to see successful people giving back to the community. Honestly Cherise, I'd like to see you give some of your Addidas knock-offs to Oxfam one day – give a little back you know?

Still, I got his autograph. Three times. Well, my little cousins would kill me if they knew I'd been talking whatshisname without getting his autograph! I was just nipping into my bag to get my phone so I could have a picture with him, when Elise shouts at me to clean the milk frother. When I came back out the front, he was gone. I suppose he had a showbiz premier to get to. Shame really, we were getting on so well.

Yes Cherise, that guy with the blue eyes and the black hair. He was in that film about that horse that could tap dance. Yes! That's the one. God Cherise, you're finally up to speed! I've only been talking about him for the past five minutes!

You what? He died? Four years ago? The guy in the film about the ski instructor? Are you sure? Well, yes, I suppose a helicopter accident is nothing to joke about. But are you sure we're talking about the same person?

Oh.

So, who just signed my left breast?”

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Ironically comparing an obese nation's obsession with food to a warped religious fevour

Worship at the Church of gluttony,
Where hymns are bacony and prayers are buttery.
Chocolate and crisps are never missed,
By pious fizzy-drink recidivists.
Burgers and beer are our deities,
A parishioner's badge is diabetes.
We live in abhorrence of the diet,
Only sticky buns will our spirit quiet.
Eating just to fill the hole,
Till biscuit crumbs encrust our souls.
Our minds shrink down as our stomachs swell,
But an empty buffet is our hell.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Writer's Circle Post - April 2011

Last Rites

The writing was small but clearly legible, though the words themselves were foreign to me. The ink was red. The bloody smearings from the broken nose of a fountain pen decorated the four by two inch square of card that I held tightly to my chest.

This was my last chance.

I was worried that I might not be able to pronounce some of the more complicated syllables. It was vital to get every utterance exactly perfect. A mumble or misplaced 'e' might mean conjuring that which I did not intend to invoke. Rumour has it that a slip-up such as this had sired Kilroy. A burden that no world should have to bear twice.

I found the card in a book at the charity shop. I was admiring the full length skirts in the fuller-figured section – having just cashed my pension for the week and being in the mood to treat myself – when I noticed the black business card peaking from the pages of a dog-eared Mills and Boon. The tiny advertisement seemed to have been placed there just for me, so completely did it match my needs. Like finding a pound coin in your slipper, just as the ice cream van trundles into view. Serendipity had smiled upon me, and finally I would be able to recapture Frank's memory.

I placed the card carefully on the coffee table. I had covered the scuffed surface with a navy blue towel. It was closest I had to a black alter cloth, and was more appropriate than the table covering patterned with snowflakes that I used at Christmas time.

Bunty had been shut in the dining room, and the dimmer switch had been employed to give the room an ambience that it might have otherwise lacked. The porcelain figurines had been turned to face the wall, so as not to witness any of the diabolical goings-on. With this kind of affair, preparation is key.

Despite the fact that it was just after four pm, I shut the blinds in the lounge tightly. I often had a nap at this time of afternoon, after Countdown, so the warden would not be too incensed by my darkened window. I didn't want Maude or Lucy to drop by unexpectedly either. Maude's heart was weak, and she might not be able to handle a visit from the dreaded apparition. Lucy was built of sterner stuff, but was such a terrible gossip that the entire sheltered housing association would know before the day was out. I would never be asked to join the WI if they knew I were dabbling in the occult.

I fished a fat black candle from out of the draw in the kitchen and took Bunty a biscuit. The little dog yelped apprehensively, ever the voice of reason. But this was important to me, and since all other avenues had been exhausted, I was prepared to take drastic action. Once this was explained to him, Bunty became more subdued and while he did not expressly give his blessing, his protests were silenced.

I lit the candle in a saucer on the coffee table and, suddenly nervous, I removed my false teeth and raised my glasses to my cataracts. After a few deep breaths (and a sneaky glass of sherry to calm my nerves) I began the steady Latin chant, as the card instructed:

'Aquila, Antithesis, Nocte, Nacho, Carpe Diem,Lapis Luzuli!'

A great plume of smoke erupted from the candle's flickering flame, filling the room with acrid blue smoke that shimmered as if studded with stars. Or human eyes. The smoke caught in the back of my throat, tasting of fear and other people's vomit. I cast my hand out, searching vainly between the sofa cushions for my inhaler when, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the smoke vanished.

A great beast stood in the centre of the room, dwarfing the three piece suite and looking out of place beside my old record player on the side board. The demon's legs were similar to that of a goat, but his bare torso was a vivid green, with muscles that rippled and flexed beneath the surface of his emerald skin. His tail was fat and bushy, like a cat's, and swung about the room, knocking several of my Dorchester figurines off the mantelpiece. Had he been an ordinary house guest, I might have been moved to chastise him for this indiscretion, but as it was, I was too dumbfounded to utter a single word. I cowered in my seat, my gaze focused unwillingly on his blood red eyes.

“Who summons Shendu, all powerful demon and slayer of men, to the mortal realm?” The demon bellowed, wheeling his heads about the room menacingly, his tusks grazing the fringed lampshade.

“Erm, I did.” I squeaked, rising slowly to my feet.

The abomination looked me over haughtily. “Do you know that which you have unleashed upon the world? Can you even comprehend my might?” He waited for a response, and when none came, he continued with his sales pitch. “I have the power to smite your enemies, to cause unspeakable suffering to those who have wronged you. I can make your most sadistic fantasies a reality in one glorious, shining instant. I can send your adversaries to the depths of madness, plunge mortal minds the very pits of despair. I can even make unpleasant smells follow a school bully for the rest of his days.”

He held out a pamphlet that bore the heading 'Diabolical Services: A Menu of the Macabre'. I took it and held it limply in my shaking hands.

“Er, no, actually.” I squeaked. “I was interested in your other services.”

The demon raised all five of his eyebrows and surveyed me quizzically. Then his eyes fell to the card on the coffee table.

“Shit.”

He sat down heavily on the sofa beside me, his heads sagging against his domed chest. My bronchitis started to act up and I coughed noisily, flecks of spittle falling around my lips. As I wiped the moisture away with the sleeve of my cardigan, I could feel the monster's eyes upon me, the muscles in his cheeks twitching with ill-suppressed disgust.

We sat in silence for a few moments.

“Look,” Shendu breathed finally, “The smitings and slayings...well, they just don't bring in the cash like they used to. People are going soft. No one wants bloody revenge any more! All anyone seems to want nowadays is 'closure' and 'mediation'. I tell you, the day the invented marriage counselling, I saw my profits HALF! And then the recession hit, and things have just gone from bad to worse.” He looked up. “I had to diversify.”

I patted his knee and made soothing noises.

“But,” He continued, “And don't take this the wrong way, you're not quite the client I was imagining when I started this little sideline.” I felt all six of his eyes resting on my stained cardigan, baggy stockings and grey, thinning hair. “So, if you had any enemies you wanted me to crush instead..?”

“Look here!” I said, my confidence rising in line with the sense of indigence at being misled. “It says on your card that for twenty quid you will 'Take me to the depths of depravity and plug the mouth of hell with your sizeable demonic forces'. That's what I want. None of this revenge and murder nonsense.”

The demon sighed, expelling all the air from his lungs. His tail swung listlessly at his waist. I plucked a crisp twenty pound note from my purse and placed it on the table. “I'm just going to put a pot of tea on.” I said. “Let me know if you change your mind.” I got up from the sofa, and made as if to leave the room.

“All right love,” the Titan said, snatching the money from the table and pushing it into the pocket of his trousers. He eyed my cold-sored mouth dubiously, “But no kissing.”

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Prophet

The screech of the accordion;
a lacklustre, discordant hum,

eerie as the beating drum,
as final as the setting sun.

The thread of time is finely-spun,
and all round the buskers come

to hear the prophecy of one
who bellows that the race is run –

'The end is nigh! The horsemen come!'
'Repent! Recant! What have you done?'

The sands of chance through glass have run,
and still the music carries on.

The keys are worked by fingers numb,
a warning played with blackened thumbs

'Time is short, we have but none.'
'Are you proud of what you've done?'

And still the music carries on,
pressed to your chest like a loaded gun.

It rises through the panicked throng.
That lacklustre, discordant hum,

inducing dread in all who come.
As eerie as the beating drum.

Pray for release and find ye none,
the rhythm they cannot outrun.

The busker taps a hoof cloven
In time with the accordion.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The problem with Ely

Ely is a lovely city - incredibly posh and up-market - with a nice big Cathedral, lots of wonderful tea shops, a fantastic independent bookshop, the best antiques dealer in the county, and a beautiful river front. But...there's one person soiling it for everyone. I have immortalised the issue I have with this person in the form of a rhyme.

The Problem With Ely

It's a beautiful city, with one major downside,
the streets are slick with sick on which to slide.
On Friday evening the streets are clear,
but come the next morning, the unpleasantness appears.
It's regular as clock work, universally hated,
some posh toss-pot who struggles being inebriated.
Yes, the Ely Vomitter strikes again!
with chunks of peacock and grouse and hen
poured on to the streets in suspicious piles
so that getting to Waitrose is like a hurdles time trial.
The whiff of regurgitum floats on the breeze
and in a fit of despair I sink to my knees
(this is difficult to do with the streets washed with vom
but I find a dry patch to be melodramatic upon.)
'Why Ely Vomitter, do we really deserve this?'
'To have Saturday mornings marred by your gastric disservice?'
I've bought some wellington boots and some disinfectant spray
I won't let this upper-class up-chuck ruin my day!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Thief

Bumped into a woman and lifted her bag,
Hid round a corner and eyed up the swag:
Twelve snotty tissues, a hair brush, some fluff,
A flask of tepid tea; where's the valuable stuff?
Pick-pocketed a wallet from a man in a suit,
Slipped into an alleyway to count out the loot.
Two for one coupons from Pizza Express
And photos of his kids, nothing more, nothing less.
Pinched a tourist's backpack as she queued for the loo,
Sat down on a bench, with stolen goods to go through.
A leaflet for Tussaud's, a Union Jack souvenir
Nothing worth pilfering to be found anywhere.
The recessions affected us all, so I implore you
If you care about others, keep your handbag in full view
Instead of sending off cash to some worthy charity
Keep some pennies for a good cause, in your pockets for me.

Mrs Henry B. Nunn, the Taxidermist's Wife

Blood on the table,
entrails in the loo,
a taxidermist's gotta do
what a taxidermist's gotta do.
But she had a strong stomach
she didn't mind the gore;
in fact morbid curiosity
was what she married him for.
Skins drying flat
in the shed round the back,
glittery glass eyes
arranged all in stacks.
He was the best tanner in town,
endowed with a gift,
his fingers were nimble
and his service was swift,
but it wasn't his profession
which proved the last straw,
it was the regular mounting and stuffing
of Valerie next door.
When the taxidermist's wife
found out what he'd done,
it was the last the town saw
of Mr Henry B. Nunn.
Twenty years later –
when the old woman died –
agents came to the house
and found a nasty surprise:
the mounted remains
of Mr Henry B. Nunn
(she'd used his own tools
to ensure he couldn't run.)
Seems the taxidermist's wife
had learnt a thing or two,
though one of his eyes had come loose
as she'd used inferior glue.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Immodest Symphony

When you play the violin,
you'll always find me smiling.
Your elbows wild and free,
fingers dexterous as a flea.
Your E Sharps so beguiling,
sweet music you're compiling.
You play Brahms in the chord of C,
and I imagine you're fiddling with me.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Writer's circle post - February 2011

Snap

"Tom Cruise?"

"Yours."

"David Beckham?"

"Yours."

"Robert Downey Jr?"

"Mine."

"What?" Spluttered God, spilling his orange juice into his goatee. The juice dribbled down his chin and soaked into his Hawaiian shirt, staining almost instantly and leaving him looking like a sweaty fruit salad. He sighed heavily and bought both hands across his face, removing the facial hair and shrinking his nose while widening his cheekbones. With a flick of his wrists, the soiled shirt became a white t-shirt printed with the slogan 'I'm with stupid.'

"I do wish you wouldn't do that." Said Satan, peering with fascinated disgust at God's latest face. "It really creeps me out. Besides, your eyebrows are wonky."

God ignored him.

"Why do you get Robert Downey Jr?" God asked petulantly. The Devil took a sip of orange juice from his glass in order to delay answering. The glass - an ornate goblet made from the inverted skull of a shop-lifter - looked somewhat out of place in God's new walnut and granite fitted kitchen. Like eyeliner on a budgerigar. Still, Satan liked to maintain an air of malignancy, especially at brunch.

The Devil buttered a scone carefully and took a small bite, chewed thoughtfully and then swallowed. He took a crimson handkerchief from the pocket of his jeans and wiped his mouth slowly. God knew that he had to indulge Satan when he was in one of his antagonistic moods, or risk him sulking and holding his breath until he fainted. Again.

"Come on now" Said Satan, in answer to the question posed some paragraphs ago, "You know the rules! A prison stay, drug abuse? He's clearly one of mine."

"It just doesn't seem fair. You get all the rock stars and gangsters and all I get are the philanthropists, noble prize-winning scientists and country and western singers. If I have to hear about the discovery of the double-helix one more time, I think I'm going to scream!"

God sat at the breakfast bar (which the builders had kindly installed free of charge when he caught them pissing in the sink) and sighed again. "Sure, Darwin was fun for a while - remember when we showed up at his funeral and you told him he was going to your place for what he'd said about evolution? And I was dressed in my finest smiting robes? I hadn't worn them since the old days! The look on his face! But now who have I got to look forward to meeting? Justin Beiber?" He dissolved into silent sobs.

Satan sat down opposite God and patted him awkwardly on the shoulder. "There, there. You've got Mandela to look forward to."

God's shoulders stopped juddering and he looked up through newly-grown pink dreadlocks. His red-rimmed eyes twinkled with recognition. "Yeah," He said, "Yeah, I bet he'll have some good stories to tell!"

The Devil looked down at his perfectly manicured fingernails for a few moments, and a sly smile crept up his neck and onto his face like a particularly acrobatic woodlouse.

"Of course," He said slowly, "Mandela has been incarcerated."

God's face, now that of a stern West Indian woman, crumpled and fell.

"But, that was a corrupt regime, he was innocent, surely that doesn't count?"

"Rules are rules," Said Satan, massaging his knuckles gleefully. "My Goodness! What fun we'll have! Cocktails with Nelson and Adolf on the veranda, with a marvellous view of the fire pits. I can introduce him to Vlad and Benito, and Caligula will be thrilled to finally have someone to play boules with."

God was crestfallen. He demanded that they consult The Rule Book. The two deities spent twenty minutes searching for the text, which they found being used to prop up a wobbly table leg in the study. In removing the book from under the table, they displaced the cat from her perch atop a yellowing collection of What Car? Magazines. The cat had been lazily musing on the nature of existence, and whether God could be tried by the court of human rights for calling her 'Mrs Pussy Lumpkins.' She had concluded that, being a cat, she was not entitled to due judicial process and resolved to speak to her representatives about putting together a case for extreme mental cruelty. She was tipped from the table and shooed from the room. She croaked her displeasure, and went to phone her solicitor, to see if she might be entitled to compensation for wrongful dismissal.

Satan whisked the leather-bound Rule Book from God's hands and opened it out on the table.

"Here," He exclaimed after several minutes perusal, "Rule 64. No soul held in penal servitude can be eligible for entry into the Glorious Hereafter. See!" He picked up the book and shoved it in God's face. God squinted at the print before snatching the book from Satan and pulling it close around him, so that the Lord of the Underworld could not read it. God furtively removed a biro from the dinner jacket he was now wearing and hunched over the book. The sound of scratching came from within.

"Ah ha!" Said God triumphantly, a moment later, "You forgot to read the exceptions! You're going to be disappointed!"

The Devil smiled a tight-lipped smile and scratched his cheek with his middle finger, simultaneously making a rude gesture at his host. God didn't notice.

"'No soul, blah blah blah, except prisoners of war, Boy George and Nelson Mandela.' So there!"

"Boy George?" Satan pulled on the covers of the book, forcing them downwards and towards him, pulling God's fingers away one by one from the spine. He coupled this attack with a jab to the ribs and bit down hard on God's left shoulder.

"Now come on!" Said God, in a perfect parody of the Devil's pomposity, "Rules are rules, you said so yourself!"

Satan kicked him hard in the shin and God relinquished his prize with a yelp of pain that dislodged his eyebrows once more.

The Devil held the book open at arm's length above his head, while God danced around him, trying to catch hold of it again.

"Hold on," He said, placing his palm on God's nose and forcing him downwards and out of the way. "Wait a minute! That last bit is written in pen! In your handwriting!"

God shrugged. "I knew it was a bad idea to put Boy George in there. I got greedy - I'll admit that. But I just love Culture Club so much!" And with that, he stretched out flat on his back on the floor and sang Karma Chameleon at the top of his voice.

Satan listened for a while, but by the end of the second verse his patience began to wane. How could dreams and love be coloured red, gold and green? Not only was it inaccurate, it was positively garish. The Devil had always preferred Duran Duran.

"OK," He relented, "I'll give you a chance to win Nelson back. Think of it as a wager. A challenge. We'll play for his immortal soul!"

Those expecting a dramatic clap of thunder at this point will be left wanting, although the cat did emit a small burp from her seat on the stairs. Mortified at her own impropriety, she retreated to the relative safety of the bedroom.

God pulled himself to his feet, with the aid of a conveniently-place lamp-stand, which clattered to the floor as he rose from it. His face had changed once more, so that he now resembled a old farmer, complete with cloth cap and mutton-chop sideburns.

"Chess?" said God hopefully.

"No," Replied Satan. "I am sick to the back teeth of playing chess with you! We'll play cards, and you'd better turn off your omnipresence. I know you've been cheating at Gin Rummy. Poseidon has lost a lot of money through your tomfoolery!" Satan pressed his pockets, searching for a deck of cards. "And don't you think of cheating like you did last week with Diana."

God smiled benignly. "What a lovely girl." He said. "To be honest, she wasn't really qualified for your place."

"No, but she'd have some stories!"

"She does indeed," Said God smugly. "Why, only last night, she and Mother Teresa were discussing..."

"Shh,I'm not interested. I just don't think its fair that you failed to mention that you were the Deities and Demi-Gods Secondary School Tiddlywinks champion for six years running!"

"What can I say, I was athletic in my youth." Said God, without a hint of irony.

They had, by this time, returned to the kitchen and were now sitting opposite one another across the breakfast table. The scones and jam sat between them. The Devil produced a deck of cards from his left sleeve and gave them to his opponent to check.

A lengthy discussion followed about whether it was appropriate to be gambling for a man's immortal soul with 'Dr Lovelength's Extremely Naked Ladies' pornographic playing cards. Finally God found a more appropriate pack in his kitchen cupboard.

"Five card stud?" Suggested Satan, fanning out the pack with his thumb and shuffling the cards deftly. "Aces are high, jokers are wild?"

"Snap."

Satan dropped the cards mid-shuffle.

"You chose last time," Said God, "It's my turn to choose the game, and I choose the most formidable test of skill and dexterity, of observation and cat-like reflexes."

"Snap?"

"Snap."

So the game began in earnest. God placed down a jack, Satan followed him with a four. God played a six, the Devil countered with an ace. God put a king down and Satan conceded a ten. Sweat began to form on Satan's brow as he watched the pile of discarded cards grow with not a pair amongst them. God's fingers shook as he placed a nine down over a seven. The tension was almost non-existent.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours, each entity was down to his final card. The ace of hearts sneered belligerently up from the top of the deck, the only member of the cohort to truly recognise the ridiculousness of the situation.

God looked Satan square in the eye and pressed his last card into the deck. The two exchanged a long stare, neither wanting to be the first to break eye contact, yet both desperately wanting to see the card. In an instant, both pairs of eyes snapped down towards the pack.

The ace of spades.

God's reflexes were sharp, but Satan was faster.

"SNAP!" The Devil bellowed, as God slapped his own hand down impotently. "SNAP!" He shouted again, "And I think you'll find that means that Mandela is mine!"

God shot him a sour look.

"That's not fair!" He whined, "You cheated!" God folded his arms. "I'm going to tell on you!"

Satan sighed. The Man Who Ruled the Universe did not approve of God and Satan bickering. He would probably stop their pocket money, and Satan had his eye on a lovely new tidal wave.

"All right," Satan sighed, "I'll let you have Mandela." God's face shone with pleasure, which was especially eerily now that he has luminous green skin. "But," Satan continued, "You have to let me have Boy George."

Turmoil etched itself into every line on God's face. It was a tough decision.

"All right." He said at last, "You can have Boy George."

Satan cursed inwardly. He had always preferred Duran Duran.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Madness of Lyssa

Jimmy had never held a gun before. The smooth wooden shaft, which had at first been so cold to his touch, had now warmed beneath his grasp, until it was almost an extension of his own arm. It felt as though the blood that coursed in his veins also flowed through the workings of the machine, in a kind a perverse symbiosis that had begun as soon has his pale fingers stretched across the hellish device.

Moonlight glinted off the metalwork as Jimmy stood by the empty house. The scene was a study in shades of grey, as unreal as a black and white movie, in which his own eyes served as shutters. He pushed his eyelids shut, and kept them that way for a long time. The continuing weight in his arms confirmed the reality of the situation.

Unlike most in his position, Jimmy had never felt the need to own a gun. His father had a few shotguns in the house, but those had long since fallen into disrepair. Besides the land on which the herds grazed was so remote that cattle rustlers were seldom seen, and any thief foolish enough to creep by the house would be seen to by the dogs. He had locked them in the house tonight, but they didn't bark and whine like they might ordinarily have done. They were scared too. This was not a night for dogs.

Jimmy moped his brow with the back of his shirt-sleeve, juggling the weight of the shotgun from arm to arm as he did so. The yard was still in the moonlight. Not the calm stillness of a summer's evening, but the tense, expectant silence of a narrative yet to reach completion. Jimmy looked about the yard furtively, the gun poised against his shoulder, muzzle pointed out ahead like an eyeless touch. He knew that she was locked in the barn, but the trip to buy the gun had taken longer than he had anticipated, and there was every chance she might have worked her way loose from her temporary prison.

The madness had descended suddenly upon her that day – like a mist rolling in from across the hills – leaving behind little but a familiar husk, empty like the discarded skin of a rattlesnake. She tore through the yard, hissing and snarling, baring sharp teeth and lashing out at the farm hands as they tried to calm her with gentle words. Jimmy had called to her with infinite softness, and seen her turn from him in confusion and denial. It was then that he realised that he must purchase a gun.

He couldn't buy one from the village. He was too well known there, and folks would like it odd that he had chosen now of all times to suddenly acquire a firearm. No amount of explanation would quell their feverish curiosity. It was better to be secretive, and to end an epidemic before it was given the chance to take root. Jimmy was afraid of prison, but he was more frightened of the suffering that she might endure if he failed to act quickly. She had always been loyal to him. It was only right that he perform this final act for her.

So the gun was sought with quivering hands, purchased at a store two towns over, from a man who didn't ask questions and didn't check his cards. The gun was sought and driven back to the barn, which lay still and silent in the twilight, a sharp contrast to the disturbance of his mind.

As Jimmy stood facing the barn across the yard, he shivered, though the evening air was frustratingly close and warm. The house at his back did not feel like a protective cavalry, as he had hoped it might. It was more like an accusatory jury, peering down at him from the darkened windows, judging him before the crime had even been committed. A nervous cough escaped his lips, as he tried to clear the cotton that choked him. The sharp noise awakened her and the inhuman howling began afresh. The barn door shook in its frame as she threw herself at it again and again, trying in vain to escape, and to bite. Snarling, frustrated and increasingly unhinged, issued from the building, like the howling of a trapped animal hungry for flesh. She threatened him through unseen jaws, her unintelligible ranting making Jimmy's heart thud painfully against his chest, willing him to fly and leave her to starve in solitude like rat in a trap.

The frame of the door buckled and sagged against the barrage and Jimmy could see the whites of her eyes, red and streaming, searching him out through the cracks in the panels. Those eyes that had once looked at him with nothing but obedient affection were now so filled with menace and fear, as if she were drowning in her own maddening rage.

Without warning, Jimmy's knees failed, and his legs collapsed like a folding chair beneath him. He landed face down in the dirt, prostrate before the rising tide. The gun pressed painfully against his ribs, cradled between his body and the earth, as if he were shielding it from the horror of the night. He could still hear the bolt straining to contain her as she heaved against it with all her strength. He could still hear her shrieking and howling, her yelps twisted by fear and malice. These sounds seemed fainter now, as if he were suddenly very far from the scene, and all the time moving further away. The earth smelt familiar and comforting against his face.

He did not know how long he lay there, drinking in the heady scent of earth and slipping in and out of consciousness. When he finally rose, shaking, to his feet, the gun still clutched close to his body like a treasured infant, the barn was quiet. Had she exhausted her passions or had the door been broken in weary persistence whilst he slept? The barn remained intact and he stroked the shaft of the gun absently, relieved that the defences had held during his absence.

Without knowing just how he had achieved it, he found himself at the entrance to the barn, looking back at the dark shadows of the house and the scuff marks in the dirt where he had fallen. Now that he was closer, he could feel a low growl emanating from the building, like the grinding of a rusted engine, painful and pitiful in comparison to the sounds of blind fury which had preceded it. She was entering the final stages now, exhausted from the thrashing terror and consumed inwardly by the disease. There was still a chance that she might lash out when cornered, and an infected bite would draw the madness deep into his own blood. There was not a doctor for miles, and the cure was worse than the disease.

His hand stretched out towards the heavy iron bolt, as he struggled to position the shotgun against his shoulder, which was bruised from the fall. In his youth, he had often seen his brothers shoot tin cans, and tried to remember the correct stance. The bolt in the centre of the door was rusted and creaked as he touched it. The soft growl within grew louder. The breath caught within his chest as he wrenched the bolt sideways and swung open the door.

Nothing.

The growling continued, coming now in laborious, racking bursts, almost like sobbing. Jimmy stood motionless on the threshold, waiting for something to happen. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he could see her, stretched out across the bales of hay in the centre of the room. She was panting heavily; her eyes rolled upwards into her skull and her head jerked backwards in painful spasms. Her limbs were contorted beneath her, twitching and flexing in agony as she struggled to breath.

Jimmy steadied the gun against his good shoulder and took aim. He closed his eyes tightly and, conflicted by sin and duty and half hoping to miss, he fired a single shot. All at once, the panting ceased.

He threw the gun aside and ran to her. He couldn't touch her. The fur of her chest was already thick with matted blood and the froth that had blossomed around her nuzzle would still be infected. Vowing to get the rest of the dogs vaccinated first thing tomorrow morning, Jimmy wiped his eyes, and went back into the house.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Child-Catcher Seeks Employment

“Thanks for coming, take a seat,
We're pleased that you could make it
We'll try to keep this short and sweet
But we hope, if the job's offered, you'll take it.

We hear you're from Vulgaria?
Do you have a permit to work in the UK?
The locals would lapse into hysteria
If there was any migration foul play.

A lolly-pop attendant is a grand affair
The reflective jacket confers social stature
But it seems you have experience in childcare
Though here it's 'child-minder', not '-catcher.'

We'd like to offer you the position
I'd feel safe if my kids were in your care
Receiving a CRB check is our only condition.”
And with that, he was gone, like thin air.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Unrequited

Fold my shoulders
crack my back
let me know you're mine,
my chiropractor
like a tractor
ploughs the furrows of my spine.

Move my muscles
sooth my skin
I've lost all track of time,
musculoskeletal
experimental
every second Thursday at nine.

Transcendental
almost sexual
our bodies entwined,
origami
a spinal Swami
our sessions are sublime.

But you chriopract for others?
And worse than that, you're wed?
I thought you and I were lovers?
I'll take my knotted body elsewhere instead!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A commendation

My 100th post, and a spot of good news! I have received a commendation for my piece 'The Astronaut' in the Leaf Micro-Fiction Competition 2010. My short short-story will be published in their anthology and I'm really excited! It's not first place, but it's certainly a step in the right direction!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Self Service Seduction (Or being in love with the self-service checkout machine)

Press her touch screen,
touch her dials,
a velvet-voiced vixen,
with artificial feminine wiles.
You've got your favourite,
the one by the door,
you've tried to keep away,
but always go back for more.
She's a dogmatic dominatrix,
in tones of harsh insistence,
she'll mock your prowess,
'please wait for assistance.'
If you go too fast, she gets quite cross,
she's impatient if you're slow,
and if you treat her badly,
the whole shop has to know.
She's a temperamental nightmare,
a machine that's hell-conceived,
and her obsession with the clubcard
has to be seen to be believed!
You've tried to live without her,
but real assistants aren't as great,
and there's something weirdly satisfying
in the way she makes you wait.
She's a supermarket sauce-pot,
she makes you feel inferior,
But the way she beeps so teasingly
makes you long for her interior.
You want to put something unexpected
into her bagging area.
It's self-service seduction,
a plain and simple fact,
And since you were caught with your tongue in her coin slot,
you won't be invited back.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Writer's Circle Post - January 2011

No Florence

Lilith sucked lazily at the cigarette that hung from her lip, inhaling the chemicals deep into her lungs. She savoured the power of the smoke on her tongue, tasting it like a lover. Then, when the potency of the vapour was almost at its height, she expelled it out into the cold air. The smoke lingered in the stillness of the dark evening, curling like parchment towards a pale crescent moon.

She wondered listlessly about the evening ahead. Who would she take tonight? A question that had once filled her with passionate longing now fell flat, like a deflated balloon. Work had been such a drag these last few months.

Lilith took a moment to examine the lethargy that lay, crumpled in the place where otherwise a heart might have dwelt. Despite her current feelings, the job had seemed like the perfect way to feed her hunger. It allowed her to abuse her authority to the advantage of her desires. Men who might have run from her were now booking appointments and waiting in orderly queues for her services. It was convenient, there was no doubt about that. Lilith had never heard of McDonald's, but if she had, she might have laughed at the similarities between fast food and her current situation. But there was little challenge in stealing from the generous and the yielding of her victims only served to increase her longing for something more nutritious.

She missed the chase most of all. The giddy nausea that swan under her skin as she selected a victim and initiated the game. It was difficult enjoy the hunt if the fox presented himself to the hounds, rolled over to expose his fleshy underside and parted his fur to enable a clean bite. The game had been spoilt when Lilith broke the rules, and for that she was truly sorry. But it was too late to apologise now and in the end the only person who had been cheated was Lilith. The men would die regardless of how the game was played. Their part in the drama was small.

But her victims always went to their graves happy. How many other demons could boast such a service?

Lilith smiled and inhaled another lungful of smoke. She remembered the face her last victim, the bliss etched into every cell of his skin and they writhed together, performing his last rite. The chase may have been dampened, but the act itself was still exquisite.

Still, in this new shape, Lilith felt decidedly uncomfortable. The Hippocratic oath was anathema to her, and if her sisters could see the depths to which she had sunk...

Lilith plucked at the name badge on her lurid blue uniform. 'Lilith Stevens, Clinic Nurse.' She leant over and spat meditatively onto the ground. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it served her ultimate purpose. That purpose was to feed. She contented herself in the knowledge that she was the duplicitous arachnid, hollowing out the body of a larger insect and using its familiar colours to lure its prey.

And just like a predator, she would wait.

The wind had begun to bite now and frost had already begun to appear on the windscreens of the cars parked opposite the entrance to the clinic. Lilith finished the cigarette and immediately lit a second. There was no reason not to.

She considered returning to the chase. She could leave here and begin afresh. Prowling the nightclubs and seedy back-water drinking dens, where persuasion and charm would ensure that her exacting tastes were met. But it would be foolish to give up on such a good thing – especially given the steady influx of willing volunteers. Most were drifters and would not be missed. Suspicions would not be roused for some time.

As she began the third cigarette, a young man approached the entrance to the building. A dusting of snow clung to his hair and shoulders, and he brushed it off with a gloved hand as he moved through the automatic doors. Lilith watched with detached interest as the man stamped the snow from his boots and crossed the atrium in the manner of a child, fearful of being caught at mischief. Lilith smelt his scent and the taste of blood rose in her throat setting her eyes ablaze. It was time to steal. Time to feed.

She entered the building, moving silently through the open-plan space and alighting, like a glittering moth, at the reception desk. The young man glanced at her through long greasy hair.

“May I help you?” Lilith intoned.

“Yes,” Said the man, whose face was thin and pre-maturely lined, “I'm here to donate some sperm.” The man glanced down at his shoes once more as he uttered the last word.

“This way,” Lilith smiled, leading the stranger towards the donating room. He entered and she pulled the door closed behind him, her hand lingering on the handle. She sighed, it wasn't quite the as satisfying when the lambs came so willingly to the slaughter. She went into the room.