Song: Girls – Marina and the Diamonds.

Admittedly, more of a sketch of a beginning than a story in itself.


Bronagh snapped the magic off with a sharp twist of her fingers and peered into a small hand mirror. The midnight blue tone she had pulled over her eyes worked well to soften their natural searing black, she would have to thank Simeon for the advice when she returned. Her jawline and nose though remained a touch too sharp and long to be truly pleasing. Not that she could quite bring herself to spend any more effort on correcting them. Or her dress for that matter. Even with the addition of a dusky purple, its colour still looked too much like tarnished silver. The arbiters of style that made up the Faerie Court would just have to remain displeased with her. It was the only thing they ever seemed to agree on, it would be a shame to ruin that now. Especially today.

Flicking the mirror into a neat tuck inside the Veil, Bronagh pushed back her hair (not black enough to be fashionable, not grey enough to be striking), set her shoulders (still too boney), and set her hands (a pair of pale spiders) against the throne room doors. Despite their great weight, they glided open effortlessly and she moved into the refined hubbub of court life. Each being here was a vision of perfection. Softly curving flesh dressed in shifting silks, shining locks of hair tumbling artlessly across shoulders, lips pert, eyes gleaming as they swapped gossip like gospel. This fantastical parody of a functioning government sickened Bronagh. Being one of a handful who could remember what it was like before Dee wormed his way through the Veil, she remembered the fierce administration of the original Faerie Court. But she did have to admit, the current Court surpassed themselves daily in the goal of obeying every human dictate as if they were still a colony. Tightly strung with pain and pride, they followed the human ideals with cattish aloofness, determined to out human the humans. Some days it felt as if the Emancipation Charter had never been made.

The room was rather more full than usual, certainly more full than she had predicted. But that was to be expected, today was going to be memorable, sustaining Bronagh for the decades, even centuries, of work to come. Even so, she did not appreciated the crowds that hampered her way to a quiet space at the edges. Let others make insipid conversation, she just needed a position from which to observe. A squarish human-made vase near to the dais forced a small eddie into which she squeezed herself in and checked her sight lines. When the proceedings started and everyone turned towards the throne she would be able to spy their expressions, and her own view of the Queen would be second to none. Perfect. She settled down to wait, eyes trained on the crowd, watching every move.

Her patience was quickly rewarded as the Faerie Queen soon entered, gliding from her private rooms set to the left, and daintily arranging herself on the confection of a throne. Raised another two feet from the top of the dais, and gilded within an inch of its life, it forced the Court to crane their necks backwards as they gazed upon their ruler. Bronagh remembered her election, how the then young fae had clasped her hands as if she’d won a pageant at the announcement, and how, as her face became more and more doctored with glamour, the parliament had emptied of all but one chair. These days, any proceedings were merely for show. Of course, this was allowed to happen thanks to a rush-job of a government to fill the vacuum of the abdicating British, but Bronagh still liked to blame the Queen. As usual, the thick scent of lavender washed from the Queen, a quaint affection that failed to hide the scent of old age that clung to her skin. Like all Queens, she had human heritage. A natural cap to how long any Queen would be able to lead the Faerie Court, impossible to surmount, and something that this foppish queen was staring at the business end of. Her predecessors had worn it with pride, a sign of their station and privilege. But this one was vain as a peacock, and a glutton for power to boot.

The longer she stayed on the throne, the more uneasy Bronagh became.

A skinny shadow of a human woman scurried in the Queen’s wake, setting herself at the foot of a throne on a green pouf. Bronagh had heard rumour that, on the other side of the Veil. this woman was of some station and power, but she had a hard time believing it of the toadying woman. Always at heel and leaning in every few moments to flatter the Queen, Bronagh just could not see her as anything of merit, let alone a functioning ambassador of the human world, and so she did not let her thoughts linger on her long. A bigger fish was on its way.

Though a mere baron, Gladius was the archetypal elf. A delight to look upon with his sea green eyes and long, gold painted limbs, his every manner charmingly roguish. The Court swooned at his feet and the Queen allowed him every privilege. Ones that included stepping up to the throne without invite.

“My darling, dearest Queen! It has been much too long, I feared I would wither away before I next saw you. But now I can consider myself rejuvenated.” Bronagh stifled a gag, he was laying it on a bit thick today. “Do you wish me to silence the Court so that you may speak?” By this point not a single person stirred, but, always one to amuse herself in theatrics, the Faerie Queen accepted with a small laugh.

“Baron Gladius, it has not even been two hours since you last left my side! But if you will, I wish to speak to the Court of two quite momentous occasions.”

Two? There should only be one. Bronagh did not like it when the Court did not do as predicted. It was normally such a simple beast, but even the most docile horse could throw its rider. Gladius bellowed for silence across the still room, keen to make the most of every scrap of power he was given.

“Sanga, step forward,” the Queen called softly and a sylph with burnished skin stepped forward. “Welcome, my dear Lady, back into our ranks. For those who have not yet heard, Landy Sanga has regained her land and therefore her place with us. It fills my heart to see her once again as I am sure it does for all of you. But it does come at the heavy price of the death of its human owner, Sir Garret, without heir. As per the Charter, all land retained by humans will revert to its original owner on the occasion of their death without direct descendant. I am glad you are here, but wish it was not for such a painful occasion. I am sure Ambassador Etain will however convey our sorrows to Sir Garret’s friends and peers.” Lady Sanga bowed, her murmured thanks only just heard above the smattering of applause.  

Bronagh could barely breathe. Sanga thankfully had not once looked her way, and they had been careful to keep their distance from one another, but something itched at her. The human Ambassador did not look remotely sad at the death of one of her own, and the Queen’s face took on the expression of anticipation. They could not know what she had done. 

“And now for my second treat to you all. Mistress Bronagh, please present yourself.”



Passenger – The Last Unicorn

They’d gravitated towards each other, each feeling the other’s pull in the crowded room, and at first glance they had seen something of themselves in the other. Loss. Pain. Inconsolable, and yet longing for some kind of consolation.

Their eyes had met, and they had shared a sad smile, seeing the truth in each other in that first glance. And so they had begun to talk.


The room was simple, unassuming. A table, chairs. The bed. Anonymous. Mutual consent had brought them here, an understanding they shared and an ache they each felt, and they stood before each other, close enough to touch and yet separated by miles.

“This isn’t…”

He couldn’t find the words. He feared to cause her pain, even as he knew that he could not, would not, and he feared being hurt himself. He shook his head, frustrated at his stupidity and his arrogance. She placed her hand on his cheek and held his gaze with bright blue eyes. Eyes he might have drowned in, he thought, if not for…

“You love who you love,” she said. “And so do I.”

He nodded, and her hand slid round to the back of his neck, and she pulled him toward her, their lips meeting in a kiss, cautious but urgent.


They twined about each other in the darkness of the room, their embrace eager, needful. There was no holding back in the darkness, no need to lie, for the truth was plain for both of them. Their shapes were imperfect together, neither feeling the connection, the seamless, perfect joining that they had both known and lost. But there was a connection, a joining, and as their bodies rose to meet each other in the shadows of that anonymous room, they found release and a kind of comfort.


The room was still hidden by the night when she woke, too conscious of the unfamiliar breathing pattern beside her, the incorrect comfort of the arms that held her. She lay in the darkness, comparing and remembering, despite herself. When he pulled away from her in his sleep, curling in on himself, she had not resisted.


Eventually the light of morning bled slowly into the room, filtering through the ill-fitting curtains to trace out the shapes of the table, the chairs, the large bed. Their two bodies curled inward, side by side; together, but alone again. Solitary once more as the morning chased away the shadows and illuminated the truth.

She watched his face slowly emerge from the darkness, listened as the rhythm of his breathing shifted as he, too, drew toward waking. He was handsome enough, she thought, but he wasn’t…

He woke, his body shifting slightly as he drew in a deep breath. His eyes opened slowly, and met hers. They looked at each other in the faint light and shadows, an understanding between them. After long minutes, she spoke quietly.

“What’s her name?”

“Who?” The question was unnecessary, and they both knew it. Her eyes stayed focused on his, and he shrugged, smiling. “Sorry.”

He turned away from her then, shifting onto his back and lifting his shoulders, swinging his legs out of the bed, the wooden floor cold on his soles. He rose, moving across the room to the window, and she watched his tall, slightly too thin frame. He looked out at the town, which was slowly coming to life as the morning sun rose higher over the horizon. He thought he heard the ocean, the faint whisper of crashing waves, but that was impossible, of course. The ocean was half a world away from here. The sky was lightening slowly, and for a while he stood, watching the blue shifting shades towards bright daylight. He still felt her eyes on him, and he sighed, pressing his forehead against the cool glass of the window and closing his eyes.

“Amalthea,” he murmured, and then he turned back to the woman, a sad smile on his face. “Her name is Amalthea.”

She stepped towards him, hand held out in entreaty, and he moved to her, arms enclosing her. In the shadowy room they stood, entwined in an embrace that brought both comfort and pain.

They neither of them had who they wanted. But for now, at least, they had each other.

I Know a Guy with a Golden Touch

This story was inspired by…

Deep in the heart of Phrygia on the Sangarios River sat the mighty city of Gordion. Gordion was the greatest city the world had ever known (according to the the great Bard Yelpio) and was known to be home to the most beautiful women, the most exquisite crafts and more importantly the largest pile of gold ever assembled. All of which was probably why it was currently encircled by ten thousand angry Cimmerian’s waving pointy things and demanding to be let in… again.

While outside the walls the massed forces of the Cimmerian’s formed up for another assault, breaching ladders and battering rams in hand,  inside men wearing grim faces and studded leather looked on with sinking hearts. They might have had the finest blades, the tallest walls and the stoutest hearts but they were outnumbered ten to one and everyone knew if you threw enough shit some of it would eventually stick.

While the two opposing forces eyed each other like strange cats, hissing in the night, in the highest tower of Gordion the council tried to come up with a plan.

“Gordion has never been taken and it never will,” blustered the red-faced General Jaffir as he stalked up and down the room.

“They out number us ten to one,” replied High Steward Demir with a wave of a manicured hand. “In the end numbers will tell.”

“Nonsense! These walls have seen a hundred battles, they are too tall and too thick to breach.”

“Apparently, they aren’t the only ones to thick to breach. We must sue for peace.”

“Sue for peace? Sue for peace!?” bellowed the irate General sending spittle flying. “We are Phrygians! We have the largest empire in the world. We do not sue for peace, we find out enemies and crush them.”

“They’re charging again,” said Sanem from over by the window. The low buzz of voices rose and in the distance drums could be heard. Sanem watched in silence as the wave of men threw themselves against the wall. Ladders were raised and thrown down, arrows flew on both sides and everywhere she looked men fell. After several minutes of intense fighting a horn sounded and the wave of men retreated leaving the plain dotted with the dead and dying.

A ragged shout went up from the defenders but it felt hollow, more for show than any genuine joy. They had inflicted a heavy price on the attackers killing twenty men for every man they lost but the each man lost on their side felt like a mortal blow, the line stretching thinner and thinner while outside the walls the mass seemed undiminished.

“They are winning,” she said at length. “Slowly and with a huge cost but they are winning.”

“How can they be winning? We the best equipment, the best training, the best mercenaries.”

“We had the best mercenaries…”

“Those bastards! When I get my hands on that slimy…”

“They knew which way the wind was blowing as soon as they saw the Cimmerian army. They were out beyond the wall turning coat before they had even set up camp.”

“Well what would you suggest we do about it?” asked Demir looking down his nose at the Princess.

“The same thing I’ve been saying for the last hour…”

“You can’t honestly believe he would make a difference.”

“He is the King,” she replied spinning and fixing his with a glare. “Of course he will make a difference.”

“He never was much of a fighter and that was before the… incident. What good would he do now?” asked General Jaffir, dropping heavily into a wooden chair which groaned in protest.

“You know his powers, simply seeing him would be a lift to the people.”

“A lift?” scoffed  Demir. “The man is a murderer.”

“It was an accident.”

“He singly-handedly ruined the economy.”

“He was trying to do the right thing.”

“It’s his fault we’re in this mess. He made the whole of Phrygia a target.”

“He’s a menace.”

“He’s our only hope!”

“Fine but when this back fires I expect you to do the right thing and end this madness before all we have left is castle full of bodies.”


The sun rose on Gordion the next morning to find the whole of the Phrygian army, minus a few sharp-eyed men who remained on the wall to warn of attack, arrayed in the main square facing the steps to the inner keep. They had been roused from their beds with no explanation and now huddled together shifting nervously and eyeing the heavy wooden doors with trepidation. There was a rumour that surrender was imminent and it was widely known that the Cimmerian’s did not treat their captives respectfully.

After several minutes of anxious waiting a bell tolled and the doors swung open. The chattering of the crowd vanished and silence hung over the gathered men. As the members of the Council stepped forward followed by a man with long brown hair, flowing golden robes and his hands held behind his back.

“Men of Phrygia,” said Princess Sanem stepping forwards. “We have suffered at the hands of the Cimmerian dogs and their traitorous allies for too long. Each and every one of us has seen a friend, a brother or a father fall in battle. Well no more! Now we strike back and end the war once and for all and to lead you in battle I present to you our fearless leader. The King of Phrygia the greatest city that ever was or will be. King Midas!”

The King stepped forward and waved.

“Hi everyone.”

The silence evaporated as everyone started talking at once.

“Just get him a horse and a sword before they all turn on us,” hissed Demir.

The general signalled and two grooms ran up one leading a stout white charger and the other holding an immaculately wrought broadsword. The King stepped forward and took the sword from the groom. As soon as he touched it bright yellow sprang from his hand and raced up the blade until, after only a few seconds, the shining steel had been transformed into solid gold. King Midas thumbed the edge with a frown.

“It’s a it dull Jaffir,” he said with a frown.

“Don’t worry sire it’s only ceremonial anyway your loyal subjects will protect you.”

King Midas pondered for a moment then shrugged and stepped towards the groom holding the horse. The man shied away backing up a step before the General halted him with a stern look.

“Keep your hands in the air sire, there’s a good King let the groom get you settled.” He waved to the groom and after a long pause his eyes darting left and right the groom eventually grabbed the King around the waist and, using a box for height, heaved the king into the saddle.

“Now try not to touch the horse father,” said Sanem stepping up to the King and resting a hand on his leg. “You know what happened last time.”

The King let out a long breath. “Are you sure this is a good idea darling? I mean I’ve not been in battle for thirty years and that as before all this.” he waved the useless golden sword.

“Don’t worry father just lead the men out, they will do the rest. Just steer with your legs and try not to touch anything that you like, including me. Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be…”

“Good luck father. I love you,” as she said those words she slapped the horses flank and it leapt forwards towards the gate.

“After me meeeeeeeeeen!” shouted the king and the soldiers in the square looked at each other for a moment before charging after the departing noble battle cries on their lips.


King Midas was on the first man before his army had made it halfway across the battle field. The Cimmerian was a brute of a man in thick plate mail wielding a giant war hammer. His first blow knocked the golden sword right out of the king’s hand and sent it skittering off across the battlefield followed by a handful of kicking a biting warriors. King Midas tried to turn his horse but before he could the great war hammer rose and fell. The king closed his eyes threw his hands in front of his face an waited for the end. After a few seconds when the end didn’t come he opened his eyes to see a golden statue of the Cimmerian in front of him.

As he stared in disbelief a second Cimmerian swung a sword at him. King Midas batted it aside and that man too turned to gold. A third stepped forward and King Midas grabbed him by the collar before he could attack and again the man was replaced by a gold statue. Seeing his power in person the remaining Cimmerians turned and ran. By the time the King’s army finally reached him the whole army was running for their lives.

Flesh and Bone

No one knew where she came from, but that she’d always been there. Sat, alone, atop the cliffs looking over the ocean. Never moving, never leaving, always staring out to sea, her eyes still on the horizon.

She saw ice ages come and go, carving great scars in the landscape as they split rock with their slow, beautiful power. The cliff face itself has moved miles without her ever noticing, the eroding winds and millennia passing in the blink of her eye. She saw the waters explode with life, from simple celled sludge to bright fish, plants, and reptiles. Then the land around, the rich green space, was suddenly full of animals, sniffing around her and taking her in. The reptiles became birds that filled the sky, giant creatures stalked the lands, small, speedy mammals bounced around her, and not before long tall bipeds began to walk the globe before her, conquering it’s four corners and claiming it as their own. And still she sat there, patiently waiting.

The bipeds formed tribes. The tribes formed together into nomadic clans. They settled down and built small farmsteads and villages. Those with the bigger farms made more food, more food lead to more power. These powerful villages attracted more and more people and grew into towns, the towns into cities with great walls and defences. The towns would fight against each other, throwing wave of men into battle, leaving dozens  dead. As the years flew past her, the towns grew bigger and so did the battles. The dead went from dozens to hundreds to thousands as wars were fought between towns, then counties, kingdoms and countries.

And still she sat, alone.

She started to garner attention from the people; amazed, horrified, curious by her presence. Queues of people started to form. Some were there to question her, poke her, take scientific reading and measurements, only to scuttle off and try and find some sort of logic from the results. Others came with garlands of flowers and tributes to lay at her feet, to treat her as a Goddess of a higher power, only to be met with silence. The rest came to announce their undying love; men, women, the young, the old, everyone from every background came to declare their boundless adoration and would leave in tears when she didn’t even move her eyes from the ocean to look at them. She’d just sit in silence, alone.

And so she stayed, silent, for almost all of time. And then one day she spoke.

There was no fanfare, no grand announcement. She didn’t even move to look at the one person within earshot, the one who would go off to tell the world of the development. Quietly, with a soft coo of a dove, it was a simple message.

“I’m worried it’s just something my soul needs.”

The man who heard it dropped his farming tools and ran. He ran through the nearest village, shouting the message to the heavens. He kept running, from town to town, carrying the message until he reached the seat of power and government. Presented to the heads of state, those with the most power, he recalled the tale with haste. After the routine scepticism had worn off, for these people had gone beyond the belief of magic and were now rational, the gathered themselves together along with the greatest scientists, doctors, philosophers, and scribes, a parade descended upon her position at the top of the cliff.

For years she repeated the sentence over and over again, as regular as clockwork. It was written down, the message analysed by top theologians, then the politicians, then the clergy. Everyone had their opinion on what it meant and why she was suddenly talking. Some said is was an ecological mantra, others decided it was a message from God, others built their own religion from it. But no one ever asked her.

One day, as is the way of these things, the World knew what she had been talking about. Reports came in that the woman on the cliff had stopped looking out to sea, and the cameras of the World raced to capture her new target. Night had fallen when the first lorries and reporters arrived and at first they saw nothing of any real difference. But as they got closer, sneaking through the crowds that had formed and passing under caution tape erected by the local forces, they trained their cameras on her. She was looking up at the stars, her eyes wide open, unblinking. And with the population of the planet watching she spoke fresh words for the first time in a century:

“I feel hurt and I feel shame. I am more than just these bones.”

And without saying another word, she stood. She’d never moved before, but it was executed with such grace and strength she looked like a ballerina limbering for a recital. She turned back to the baying crowd, smiled faintly, and fell forwards off the cliff edge.

There was no cry, no splash, no horror. Those watching felt a calmness fall over them, the weight of the world released from their shoulders. And everyone looked up as one, hoping to see her fly off into the night, triumphant. But nothing was there, just the darkness, stretching off into infinity.

People started to chatter and disperse, the cameras recorded their pieces and were packed away. The questions were asked, left unanswered and forgotten. But that wasn’t the end of her story. For those that stayed around, staring up to the skies and looking where she looked, something was happening. One by one, slowly and softly, the stars were slowly fading.

It started as a single, faint blur in the nights sky, just over the belt of Orion. But as the years ticked by the blur grew and became darker. And again, the greatest scientists, doctors, philosophers, and scribes all gave their theories and answers to those in charge, but this time their squabbling couldn’t help. They spent years forming committees, making plans and strategies, arguing over funding and fonts, contingency planning and emergency conferences, but they couldn’t stop the darkness.

And how we got here, my child. Sat alone in the darkness, freezing and dying. What did she want? No one still knows. Maybe she simply wanted to be loved, not idolised or worshipped, not fawned over and spoilt, but loved. Maybe she’s punishing us. She saw millions of years of this World as it grew, and it was only when she saw us did she ever cry out for help.

Whatever it was, we didn’t listen. And now we’re alone in the darkness, with you lying next to me. Just flesh and bone. Something my soul needs.

Based on Flesh and Bone by Keaton Henson.

Music be the Fruit of Writing

And it’s March.

This year is flying by. Please stop.

Right now, the gang are all exhausted from their Faith pieces, which will be available for voting shortly on the Voting Page. I hope you enjoyed reading them because we’re now going into the void of weird stuff.

The theme is a very simple one this month, so I shan’t keep you all. This month I want the writers to GO TO YOUR MUSIC PLAYER OF CHOICE, PRESS SHUFFLE, AND USE THE FIRST SONG AS YOUR STIMULUS.

If you could share the song with the piece, that’d be most appreciated 😉


Have fun, treacles!

Dreaming Again

Inspired by I’m Dreaming Again by Thunder

The two of them sat in the recording room with paper everywhere. There was a palpable atmosphere to the room, and it was not just the humid, lack of air-con heat that seemed to be settling in for the long haul. Each piece of paper had scrawling of lyrics, chords, scribbling over said writing, corrections, vetoes, and back tracking.

“It’s useless,” the woman said, her voice slightly hoarse from lack of hydration. “They’re written the way they were for a reason. You don’t fix something if it isn’t broken.”

The man sighed and rubbed the palm of his fretting hand, starting to ache from the amount of complex chordings the songs required. The two of them looked battered. She was a slim thing, with short brownish blonde hair, green eyes, and a smile that made you worry what she was concocting. He stood about a foot taller, and probably nearly a foot wider, with messy greying brown hair, and bags under his eyes that looked like the cause of his slight stoop.

“Great input as always.” She huffed and started tidying the papers into more organised mounds of mess.

“I don’t know why you want to change the way we play them anyway?” He offered as he stretched out in the chair. “The songs were good enough how they were, surely? I mean the record company seemed to like them.”

“Yeah, but it’s write a new album’s worth of songs or rework the old stuff in new ways and keep people waiting for that previously mentioned album. Which would you prefer?” She placed the pile on the piano and sat at it. Clicking her knuckles, she started to hammer out the beginning riff to Empty City. It was a crowd pleaser from the moment it hit the shelves, but that’s the problem with writing a great song; people want it every show. It had started to lose it’s feel, and although he did his best to make it different – changing up the way his playing or his solos – it always felt like flogging a dead horse by the end of the tour. That had been the reason she had suggested reworking some of the songs in the first place.

If we redo some of the ones that are losing their flame, and throw in some lesser played tracks, people will lap it up, she had said to the Label Rep at the monthly update meeting.

“I’m happy to write some new songs!” He chimed in, knocking her from her day dream and also the held chord ringing out through the room. “I’ve been trying to suggest new stuff since you mentioned a new album. The term ‘new’ really resonated with me, yunno?” The sarcastic quip on the end blended with the B Diminished chord to cause a need to pace. Up she got and walked over to the whiteboard on the wall, grabbed the marker and started making notes.

Miracle Man is bang on, as is Bigger Than Both of Us

“And I think Girl’s Going Out of Her Head will be well received. It’s completely off the wall compared to the other two.”

“So that’s three, we were looking at the acoustic version of Blown Away…” she trailed off mid sentence as a thought struck her. “We could always do Dreaming?”

His face dropped and he looked like she had just told him that he’d been fired.

“We both agreed we’d not play that again…” he said with a stern voice; juxtaposed against his usual carefree and sarky norm.

“People are going to be expecting the big numbers!” She shouted, tired of the pussyfooting.

“Then we’ll do a version of Low Life and She’s So Fine! What about Loser?”

“Oh, if we’re not doing Dreaming, we’re definitely not doing fucking Loser!”

The two of them stood staring daggers at one another, the heat of the room seemed to have gone up a degree or two. As per usual, he broke first.

“You left me, remember?”

She threw her hands up in desperation. “How could I forget?! Mr Never Forget’s A Fucking Thing! Shall we go completely on the nose and do Love Walked In but change it to Love Walked Out?!”

“Fuck me,” he retorted. “I’m glad you saved that one for now, because the five star reviews wouldn’t be enough. Step aside, Shakespeare!” He put the guitar down and waltzed over to the piano, starting to play the the opening of Love Walked In and started to wail in a strangled cat fashion:

“So tired of waiting, I walked an empty land,

I was looking for something to help me understand,

Cos bad luck kept turning my dreams into sand.

I didn’t want pity, I’d had my share, my friends,

I wanted somebody more special than the rest,

I was aching inside, like I was approaching the end.

Just about that moment, the timing was so right,

She appeared like a vision, sent down to my life,

I thought I was dreaming when I saw you that night

But then Love Walked Out of my door,

That familiar feeling, I’d had once before.

Love Walked Out of my door, and it felt so beige.

Like a long lost love freed from a cage,

Making you whole again.”

She stood with her arms crossed, watching him mock her words so easily. The marker pen dropped to the floor, pulling him from the clowning around and, opening his eyes, saw she was gone. He sighed, and the breath deflated him on several levels. She had left before. Always when he needed her the most.

“I’m not ready to play it again,” he called out to the room at large. The heat of the room started to drop and he looked around, hoping she’d appear once again. “You know that song goes both ways now.”

Waiting for some sort of response, he got nothing but silence in return. Taking another deep breath, he stepped over to the guitar, dropped it down to a Drop D tuning and started to busk those opening chords; his eyes started to water just at the thought. Not knowing how to get the verse to work, he jumped to a simply strummed version of the chorus:

“When I feel the touch of your hand, but there’s no one around,

I know that I’m dreaming

When I wake up to find it’s only me and the night,

I know that I’m dreaming again.”

He let the last chord ring out and his voice trail out. A knock at the door woke him from his own day dream. A slick haired man with headset poked his head around the door.

“Erm, sorry to interrupt, Sir. Warm up act is done, we’re ready to go when you are.” The disembodied head said before disappearing back out.

The guitarist cleared his throat and stood, guitar in hand. Stepping out into the corridor the green room and wandering towards the stage door, the magazine blew off the piano in the green room onto the floor. The front page a simple copy of the poster that hung on the walls outside the theatre, but covered with the headline: ACOUSTIC DUO RETURN AS SOLO ACT ON THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF LEAD SINGER.

Sod’s Parable


[1]There is only one concept that every single being in this universe can be certain of and that is Sod’s Law. The ineffable, marrow-deep programming of reality if one thing is blindly assumed, the opposite is guaranteed to occur.

[2]However, as with all laws, once one is cognisant of it, one can – in theory – manipulate it. Fair warning however, to achieve effective manipulation, one must be less than a pale shadow. Any more that the barest whisper of a thought abandoned immediately will trigger the Double-Down Effect. One moment you are but an insignificant mote between the great cogs, the next you are a fluorescent cockroach screaming in the bathtub.

[3]You are going to get squashed.


[1]This is equally true of repeating that thought, no matter how thin or protean.

[2] Think of it as layering pages of acetate with the faintest tint. At first, nothing is discernible. But as the layers build up and up, so does the colour, brightening, growing bolder until it is a glaring point in the deep darkness.

[3]It is spotted swiftly. Smothered instantly.


[1] Perhaps, this is better illustrated.

[2] There once was a lad, no more than fourteen years of age. His mother, heavy with pain, slid him a fiver, said that he was of age now, so get her a pack of ten. It is without much surprise, that the pack of ten quickly became a pack of nine in the curious boy’s hands. And soon enough, half his weekly allowance was sent into his lungs.

[3] It is sad, but it was the Eighties. On the other hand, the mother quit three decades later. She was diagnosed with cancer not long after.

[4] The lad puffed his way through his teens, into his early twenties and his first child’s birth, and during this time not once did he take a driving test. Why would he when he had a girlfriend and a bevy of mates to take him wherever he wanted.

[3] As useful as this was, it did mean he spend not an insignificant amount of time waiting on a cold curbside for errant drivers. Of course he was a bright lad, and fags in hand, realised quite quickly a pattern of Sod’s Law.

[4] Whenever they were late, he’d light up to pass the time, and before he was even halfway down to the filter – just as he was slipping into the nicotine buzz – they would arrive. It was not long before he put it into practise.

[5] Remember, however, he was but an initiate.

[6] He thought too long, contemplated too hard, revealing his skullduggery to the universe, who put a stop to it. The lad’s girlfriend, suffered an almighty puncture on the way over, her spare likewise flat and due to be replaced the next morning.

[7]He now knew Sod’s Law was not to be trusted, learning what everyone knew by instinct, the hard way.

[8] Life went on, as it does, and the lad puffed away the rest of his twenties, his thirties, the birth of two more children. By this time, he looked like an over-baked potato, but he was at least a little wiser. Realising his youthful mistake, the once-lad was careful to only barely skirt the thought as he waited in his living room, eyes fixed to the road outside, not looking as he reached out for that cigarette to summon his wayward driver.

[9]Remember, however, the acetate.

[10] He did this for years until he was a burning red in the eye of the universe. He had not truly heeded to the Law, and indeed had extended his manipulations into the rest of his life, twitching and tugging at thread with gleeful, studied thoughtlessness. Never once quite receiving the comeuppance he so deserved.

[11] Until, that is, his forty-fifth birthday. Fag dangling from his lip, he waited at the end of his drive, impatient for his lift. Reaching up with a nonchalant hand to flick away the ash, he barely turned in time to see the minibus arrive early, his mates’ faces bloodless as they skewed around the bend too tight, too fast. It was over in seven seconds, enough time for the once-lad to feel the burst of flesh and organs, and the universe laughing.


[1] And this is the final warning. The Double-Down Effect is exponential.