Woohoo! NaNoWriMo!

“Great,” thought the lonely mug tree, “just when I thought I’d got the measure of this kitchen, they go and mess it all up again.”

He paused.

“Fuck,” he added, to make sure that anyone reading his thoughts would garner the impression that he was mature enough to know how to swear, but not hoity toity enough not to. Plus, he wanted to court controversy, and secretly wanted his thoughts to be banned.

Just then, a very heavy lorry trundled down the small residential cul-de-sac, rattling the windows and agitating the neighbourhood pussycats. The mug tree was startled by the event, and found himself bounced millimetrewise closer to the edge of the formica.

Fiction Peril Poetry

Anecdotal Warning About Hitch-hikers

*The sun had long since set, I was driving over a bridge,
She suddenly came into view, her thumb up for a lift.
I brought the car to a sudden halt, from behind I heard a beep,
And just one minute later she was in the passenger seat.*

*I’d offered her a lift, as previously stated,
As her direction and my own approximately correlated.
Two minutes down the road, things went a bit downhill,
When she produced a hefty knife, and this made me feel quite ill.*

*Now I am in pieces and not in the metaphorical sense,
She’s kept my hand as a souvenir and chucked the rest over a fence
And my car is in a canyon in a very remote place
And my girlfriend will be worried because I’m not usually late.*

*There’s a rat or mouse chewing on my ear, it tickles quite a bit.
Well, it would if I were still alive, right now I can’t feel shit.
I can’t hear any traffic, and it looks like it might snow.
Despite what you might think, it wasn’t such a bad way to go.*


Somewhere Peaceful and Isolated

But what if there was never going to be a right time? It’s very difficult to suddenly turn round one day and say “Oh, and by the way, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.” There needs to be some sort of catalyst, some sort of entry to the subject, before it can even be considered.

*“Dave said something really weird yesterday.”*

She was talking, but Chris wasn’t paying any attention to her. His mind was elsewhere, playing hopscotch in a sea of fantasies and desires. He pictured the two of them on a beach, or in a meadow, or somewhere else peaceful and isolated. He’d be looking deep into her eyes, and running his fingers through her hair, and maybe they’d be eating pork pies on a picnic blanket, and running barefoot through the surf.

*“He just randomly announced that he loves me. I was quite surprised.”*

Chris was snapped back into reality. A sudden intake of breath.

“Oh yes?”

*“Yeah. Can you imagine that? Spending years pretending to be my friend, and then… this!”*

Chris kept his focus firmly on the pavement. He studied the regularity of the slabs, the moss that grew in the cracks, the way that the roots from the trees were forcing the surface up and causing large bumps in the ground every few feet.

*“I think that I’m avoiding him now.”*

Chris briefly tested his mouth for moisture and stability. He didn’t want this next sentence to come out all squeaky or shaky.

“Yeah, I don’t blame you. God, what a weirdo.”

Well, that answers that then.


Something that I felt like writing

From the Fiction department:

He couldn’t help feeling a little bit smug at his predicament. Not because it was a particularly enviable situation to be in, but because he had so accurately foretold it.

The last few weeks had been hectic, while she was packing all her possessions and making arrangements for her new flat. As they were dividing up their CDs, there had been plenty of opportunities for reminiscing, over both good times and bad. The passion involved in these final formalities had startled him, and he had found himself wondering whether this was the right thing to be doing. Was it possible that all this was a big mistake, and if he opened his mouth now and said what he was feeling, maybe they could forget all this nonsense? Well, yes, that is what would have happened, but only for a few months, before things returned to their old ways. And anyway, that’s not what happened, so let’s move swiftly on.

The final move was very sudden. It all took place on one day. It seemed that when she left, she took pretty much everything in the flat. In truth, she actually took away less than she left behind, but the mind has a tendency to wallow when so many reminders pass in front of you in such a short time. The enormous pile of boxes and bags in the living room was siphoned off into cars, and within an hour the boxes were gone, and she was gone. There was no grand teary goodbye. They would either meet again or they wouldn’t. If they were going to, then a big goodbye would clearly be unnecessary. And if they weren’t, then fate must have a good reason for her actions.

The carpet was strewn with dust and dirt and bits of cardboard, so he equipped himself with a vacuum cleaner and navigated his way around the furniture. After all, as long as you leave the furniture in one place, then the dust can’t get under it, right?

This task completed, he performed a few other necessary tasks to convert a flat for two into the world’s most awesome batchelor pad. He cleaned the bathroom, and moved his razor from inside the cupboard to the convenient surface next to the sink, where it quite patently belongs.

He dedicated the entirety of the bottom two shelves of the fridge to beer and beer alone. The one can that had been in the door was opened and poured into his favourite Guinness glass, the one that he never used to be able to use because it was always on the coffee table with the dregs of some elderflower cordial or suchlike in it. Can I use that glass? No, I’m not finished yet. We’ve got plenty of other glasses. Nag nag nag.

He removed the dinner plates from the cupboard, the ones that they had bought together. He briefly considered a ceremonial plate smashing, but then thought better of it, and returned them to the cupboard, albeit underneath the two chipped plates that he had owned since University.

He stood in the middle of the sitting room that was now his kingdom, and saw that it was good. His face bore the smug grin of which I spoke so many paragraphs ago. His mind bore the realisation that he was alone. His friends had long since been relegated to the status of acquaintances, as she had gradually drawn him away from them. He didn’t think that it had been her intention to harm him, or make him depend upon her, though that was always a possibility. It was just that she was a quiet-evening-in kind of girl. She had a tendency to read a lot of books, and before she had met him, her life existed mainly in her own mind. I guess she just wasn’t a social animal. He had always been quite content with the single life, but ever open to the concept of love. He kept a tight circle of friends, and looked to them for the support that kept things in perspective when sleep refused to come, and the mind suddenly wants to know what it all means and where it is all going.

But where were they now? The world had changed around him, and there was nowhere to go. Some of them were paired off now, enjoying their little oasis of bliss, with no real requirement for his friendship right now. Some of them were miles away, perhaps back in the town where they’d shared those riotous nights in the pub, or perhaps they’d moved to somewhere else entirely to find the action. Some of them were so long-forgotten that he wasn’t sure that he knew their addresses anymore.

And so here he was. Probably at least a hundred miles from the nearest person that he had ever considered to be a friend. Hi, do you remember me? We were friends once. Yeah, I remember you. How’s it going? Not too good, can we talk? Sorry, mate, not a good time. How about next week?

He sought a pen, turned to a blank page and wrote “List of Options” at the top.


A Routine Case

The woman who would later reveal her name to be Dorothy looked up at me through the windscreen like a pouty puppy looking up through a car windscreen. I adjusted my trilby and spat my long-extinguished cigarette out onto the tarmac.

“Hey, ain’t that a bit dangerous?” she said, looking around her like an inquisitive yoghurt. The air moved around her like a confused bumblebee at an Olympic opening ceremony.

“It’s flameless.” I replied, my voice hinting at the burning sensation that this woman was creating within me. Her beautiful brown eye and her beautiful green eye reached into my body like a rubber-gloved surgeon performing a colon inspection, piercing me as if the surgeon had forgotten to put their keys down beforehand.

Something about her was familiar.

“Something about you is familiar.” I said.

Our eyes met for a second. Then she disappeared out of my life in a cloud of tyre smoke, never to be seen again for the next four minutes. I shook my head and went to find a mop to clear up the puddle of petrol on the forecourt.

“What an odd woman.” I said out loud, to no-one in particular.

*Originally posted here*


The Game

We used to play the game endlessly in the coffee shops of New York.

I still remember the last time that we played, and I beat all of our previous records. It’s a memory that I know will stay in my mind forever, and it gets triggered at the strangest of times, and by the strangest of things.

It was her turn to measure, and my turn to smoke. We were sat at a metal table, huddled together for privacy.

Are you ready? she asked me.

I paused. Composed myself. Took a last deep breath, filling my lungs with the conditioned air and exhaling every last molecule.

Go! she whispered.

I performed the motion fluidly, just like we’d practised between us hundreds of times. The cigarette was out of the packet and in my mouth within about 0.3 seconds. A flame was licking from the spout of the lighter about 0.2 seconds later. By the time 1.1 seconds had elapsed, I was breathing in the deep, foamy smoke.

I dragged and dragged, the tip of the cigarette glowing like iron in the foundry. I breathed out through my nose as I breathed in through my mouth, my head shrouded in the clouds, my visibility reducing to nothing.

The seconds went by like hours. Everything became nothing, and nothing became even less. I didn’t falter for a second. This game wasn’t a cross-country race. It was a sprint. A long, hard sprint.

A voice was heard to say Excuse me – you can’t smoke in here.

…and stop

I stopped and removed the cigarette from my mouth. A ruler was produced.

She measured the length of ash hanging from the tip of the cigarette, and looked me in the eye with total adoration.

Very impressive, Pete. You win.

*Originally posted here*


I owe you an explanation

There are a wealth of good reasons why I have not been around here much lately, and I really do owe you all an explanation.

Once there was a farmer who worked the land. He had three sons, called Aaron, Bbron and Ccron.

As he grew old, he decided that he would need to work out how to divide up his land between his sons when he finally became too old to look after the land himself.

To Aaron, he gave a marker pen. He said to Aaron “Aaron, shove this marker pen up your nose.”

To Bbron, he gave a paintbrush. He said to Bbron “Bbron, take this paintbrush and ram it where the sun doesn’t shine.”

To Ccron, he gave a bucket of cow shit. He said to Ccron “Ccron, I always hated you, ya fucking wanker.”

His sons stared at him in disbelief. “But father, ” they said “How does this help you to decide how to share up the land when you get too old to look after the land yourself?”

He replied “Fuck you all, you bunch of pussies! I’m selling the farm and retiring to the Isle of Wight!”

His sons were shocked. “You fucking twat.” they said.

He could only reply “Fuck you.”

*Originally posted here*

Fiction Peril

Oh, it WAS a dream

As her eyes drifted open, she realised that her dream had been reality.

The party, the explosion, the dismembered bodies strewn about the garden. All of it was real.

The horned beasts descending from hovering motorcycles, impaling the survivors on their spears. All of it had been real.

The horrific screams, as the elegantly dressed partygoers were torn limb from limb, the remains of their torsos being tossed this way and that, into the fountain and the pond and the summerhouse. All of it.

At that point all of her friends stood up and laughed at her for falling for their little practical joke. How stupid she was.

Fiction Peril

A short story about lunch

It happened somewhere around what he thought was Poland. While planning his round-the-world trip, he hadn’t made any sort of contingency plan for implementation in the eventuality that he faced a huge red plastic wall.

But it was all perfectly clear now. He’d been standing on top of a sandwich all along. How can he have failed to realise this? If only he’d stood back once in a while, and looked at the bigger picture. The enormous apple to his left. The tough, gargantuan thermos flask behind him. It all made sense now.

“If only I’d known sooner,” he thought to himself. “I would have lived my life with more virtue.”

But it was too late now. The lunchbox closed over his head, and there was darkness.


The Robert Palmer Crazy Food Game

This is a game that Robert Palmer introduced me to when we used to buy petrol at the same garage. It’s very simple.

  1. Buy some food, the greasier the better.
  2. Buy some barbecue dip.
  3. Put both in the fridge.
  4. Wait for a few days.
  5. Take food out of the fridge.
  6. Record a cover version of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” with UB40.
  7. See how much of the food and barbecue dip you can eat before you run to the bathroom screaming, or throw it into the bin in a fit of repulsion.
  8. Kick your shoes off, do not fear.
  9. Bring that bottle over here.
  10. I’ll be your baby tonight.