Turn back

The village was quiet and cold. The old stonework, grey in the dim evening light, soaking in the silence and revelling in it. The scar of my car engine rumbling through the streets seemed to draw the shadows in, coalescing at the corners of my headlamps and pooling in the dark nook of the doorway. I parked my car and shut of the engine swiftly, eager to withdraw my mark, plunging the street into an eerie darkness.

I collected my things and stepped up to the door, my breath appearing in wisps, my trainers tapping like heals on the frozen ground. I rapped gently and the door creaked open at my touch revealing an empty lobby and I hesitantly stepped inside.

“Hello?” I called into the void my voice echoing off the bare walls. I leaned through the doorway to my right, a sparse living area with sofas, a coffee table, and a dining area at the back, all untouched. I squinted, something catching my eye at the back of the room and I made for it. On the floor under on of the dining chairs lay a book, open as if dropped mid flow…

The quietest giggle, a childlike chuckle darting across the landing. I ran back to the hall, dropping my bag, the clatter ringing out as fingers of cold grasped at my heart, and yet I felt drawn, compelled. The boards creaked underfoot as I cautiously scaled the stairs.

The thick silence returned and I waded through it, heart pounding in my ears. The landing was as empty as I expected, the walls lined with doors. I should turn back. Now is the time you’re supposed to turn back.

A long piercing creak and a door to my left slid open. Leave. Go down the stairs, out the door, jump in the car and go.

Do it!

But my fingers tingled, like the wood of the door was an old friend, and my feet carried me forward like they longed to know. I took a breath, grasped the brass handle and pushed the door open.

“SURPRISE!” Lights, streamers, friendly faces, joy, excitement, and relief. Funny how your mind runs away with you.



Jack sat in the cockpit of the Animo, feet resting on the left hand side of the console. Long practice ensured his battered leather boots rested in a space where they didn’t actually touch any of the buttons and switches, and anyway, the left bank of the console held all the docking controls which were inactive until the Animo was in range of a station, or planetside. Docking at a station was a rare enough occurrence, but Jack had never taken the little ship down into atmosphere. Couldn’t remember the last time he himself had stood on rock, in fact. Not in a long, long time, not since…

The sharp beep of the proximity alarm pulled him out of his thoughts, and he shifted himself in the seat, dropping his feet to the floor as he reached out to tap a flashing button on the right console.
“What’ve we got, buddy?”
Jack regularly spoke to his battered little ship, even though he’d never receive a reply; he’d never forked out for the expensive ship AI voicepack extension. The habit was born out of solitude, not a desire for conversation. A green overlay blinked on, filling the edges of the viewscreen with details of ship status, current flightpath details, and the reason for the alarm; an incoming ship.

A rendering of the ship was displayed, and Jack sighed; he recognised it.
“Fucking pirates,” he muttered, and typed in the activation code for the jumpdrive. It would have to warm up, however. “Let’s hope they’re feeling talkative today, eh?”
He called up a chart of the surrounding area, his eyes settling on a nebula not too far off. “That should work…”

The blip of the approaching ship moved closer, and as soon as it was within comms range the call light started flashing. Jack glanced at the jumpdrive counter; 18%. He’d have to keep them talking as long as he could. He let the call light flash til he saw the ship itself come into visual range. The real thing looked more threatening than the rendering, the nose of the ship painted with a snarling face, and three sets of vicious looking laser cannons. The pirate ship was at least twice the size of the Animo, and where Jack’s ship was a basic wedge shape with some aerodynamic curve to the edges, the pirate seemed made only of angles.

As the familiar ship came to a halt five hundred metres away, Jack took a deep breath and thumbed the flashing call button. The comms screen on the console blinked to life, and Jack saw two familiar figures sat in a dual cockpit. One figure was humanoid but reptilian, its mouth a curve of jagged fangs set in a grey-blue lizard face, eyes cold and calculating. The other was human, or close enough; there was something rat-like in the man’s features.
“Fungus and Xith,” said Jack, and the man, Fungus, smiled wider.
“Jacko! I thought it was you!”
“What do you want?”
Jack had encountered this pair once before, when they’d stolen his whole shipment of axis crystals and left him crippled and drifting in space.
“How you doing, kid?”
“I was doing great. What do you want?”
“Whatever you’ve got,” hissed Xith.
“What you carrying, Jack?” Fungus’ smile was turning malevolent.
“Nothing you can make much profit on, Fungus, so don’t bother.”
Jack glanced at the jumpdrive counter. 49%. Back on the screen, Fungus was looking offended, Xith murderous. They began flicking switches on their consoles, and Jack’s sensors began to give more warnings as he saw the cannons begin to shift their aim.
“Is he telling us what to do, Xith?”
“I think he is, Fungus. I don’t like that.”
Unobtrusively as he could, Jack eased his feet into the booster grips and settled himself, powering up the engines and his own two tiny cannons. He placed his hands on the sticks and rolled his shoulders.

“Look, guys, it’s lovely to see you again, but I really can’t talk. I’ve got farming supplies to deliver to the Atreyan Outpost. Just tools and seeds, that’s all.”
“Maybe you have, and maybe you’ve got more axis crystals. Either way, it’s ours now.” Xith’s sibilant voice sent a shiver down Jack’s spine, and he forced himself to smile at her.
“Go fuck yourself,” he said, and threw the engines to 100%. The Animo shot forward and upward, skimming the hull of the pirate ship as it soared over the top. Jack saw Fungus and Xith actually duck in their seats before he closed the call and pressed his feet down hard, firing the boosters and making his little ship leap forward.

The jumpdrive counter was at 56% as the proximity alert flashed again; Fungus and Xith were following. Suddenly the black above the Animo was peppered with blue laser fire as they let rip with their cannons. Lifting one foot off the booster Jack sent the Animo into a spin and then flipped the ship around, driving straight at the oncoming pirates. He let them have both cannons on constant fire as he spiralled towards them, though he knew they’d barely scratch them; it was a bluff and a surprise more than a real attack. The Animo shuddered as some laser fire hit, but the shock tactic worked and they steered out of the way of his apparent suicide run.

The jumpdrive counter was now at 73%, and Jack brought the ship around, centring the snub nose on the distant nebula and opening the throttle. The call alert was flashing wildly but he ignored it, hands and feet shifting wildly as he tried to make himself hard to hit. 82%. The pirates were gaining, so he spiralled again. 93%. They dropped back, letting him gain ground, and Jack’s chest tightened with a sickening feeling. 95%. A new alarm blared; the missile sensor. On the radar he saw two small dots rocketing out from the larger ship and streaking towards him.

“Come on, buddy,” he muttered, as the counter flashed to 99%. He stabbed a button on the console and a spray of flares was released behind the Animo. The two missiles, confused by the heat signatures, exploded just as the jumpdrive counter flashed to 100%. Jack slammed his hand on the button to engage the drive, and the stars in the viewscreen elongated as the Animo shot forward, vanishing from the chasing pirate ship’s sensors. Jack breathed a sigh of relief, and after ten minutes disengaged the drive. The nebula he’d passed through would block all traces of his path, and when they realised that, he felt sure Fungus and Xith would give up any chase.

He switched over to autopilot, setting the Animo back on course for the Ateryan system and adding instructions to alert him if anything else came within range. Then Jack stood, stretching himself, then headed down the short corridor to his cabin. He lowered himself onto his bunk, placing his hands behind his head and closing his eyes. He’d had more than enough excitement for one day…

* * *

Cathy watched Jack for a few moments longer as he lay on his bunk, and then she turned away from the small screen and looked at the figure in the bed. The man’s body was frail, his limbs atrophied from lack of use, and the rough stubble which stood out starkly on his pale face was developing into a beard. Cathy made a mental note to arrange for him to have a shave again soon. The top of his head was covered with a criss-cross arrangement of metal and wires and tiny lights, feeding into pads attached to various key points on his cranium. She bent closer to examine the connections, and nodded to herself, satisfied.

She moved to the door, turning back once to look at the man in the bed. A black and silver cable stretched from the cranial cap to a small black box on the bedside cabinet, and two lights on the black box blinked constantly, as the microcomputer within processed the received signals and fed them back. The screen on the wall displayed the results of the process, allowing any visitors to watch.

It was a new technology, and had its objectors, of course. But as far as Cathy was concerned, it was the right thing to do. It gave the patients a life to live that would otherwise be impossible. She made some notes on her clipboard and stepped out of the room, heading down the corridor to the next patient’s room.

In the hospital room, the man’s broken body slept a deep, regulated slumber.

In the comfortable hospital bed, Jack dreamed.

And in the small black box on the bedside table, he lived.

Conversations in the Dark

The thick curtains were drawn leaving Brian sitting in the dark. He didn’t mind though, he liked the dark. Every day after school he ran home, leapt up the stairs and wrapped himself in the darkness like it was a warm blanket. In Brian’s experience, there were no monsters in the dark. The monsters were out there in the light. Out there with their fake smiles, sharp words and cruel fists. In here he could be alone. Well, usually.

Today something was a little different. Today the darkness felt heavier than usual. Pregnant with something out of the ordinary. With a shiver, Brian hugged his duvet tighter and scanned the darkened corners one by one searching for movement. His eyes ached as he looked from one corner to another trying to pierce the gloom. Nothing presented itself but the feeling persisted. Brian felt long, bony fingers caressing the back of his neck. He flinched and spun but there was nothing there, just him and the darkness.

Concerned by this strange change in his usually homely room Brian stood, careful to keep his duvet wrapped around him, and moved to open the curtain. He reached out a hand but before his fingers closed on the thick black cloth he heard a buzzing behind him. He spun his heart pounding in his chest then let out a sigh when he saw the cause. On his desk, his phone was lighting up. He had a message. He waddled over to his desk and picked up the phone, swiping the screen open with his thumb. He read the message and tossed the phone onto the desk with a scowl.


He turned back to the window but as he did he caught something out of the corner of his eye and felt something brush his cheek, soft as a spiderweb. He looked quickly from left to right but still, all he saw was darkness. He hurried forward to the curtain but as his hand brushed the cloth a voice hissed out from the corner.


Brian froze, his heart lurching in his chest. He smelt the acrid stench of sulphur and felt two eyes burning into his back. He wanted to turn, to look and see nothing and confirm that it was his imagination, but he daren’t. What if there was something? It was better not to look. Not to know. So instead, he let his hand fall from the curtain.

“Who… who… who’s there?” he whispered his mouth suddenly dry.

Why don’t you turn around and look?

Brian felt himself turn, though his mind screamed at him not too. He wasn’t in control any more. It was.

When he turned all he saw was the darkness but he felt it there, just beyond his vision. Watching. Waiting. A sly smile on the face, a flash of razor-sharp teeth and just a flicker of a burning red eye. Brian screwed his eyes shut so hard white lights danced in his vision.

Do you know why I’m here Brian? The voice was right by his ear now. He thought he could feel the things fetid breath on his cheek and he flinched, folding in on himself like a hedgehog curling into a ball. Only he didn’t have sharp spines to protect him. He had nothing. No one.

I asked you a question boy.

“N… N… No…” whimpered Brian clenching his fists at his sides to stop them shaking.

The thing chuckled. A low, rumbling cackle with nothing of humour in it.

I’m here because you are a fat, pathetic waste of skin and I don’t like a waste. Here you are snivelling in your room on your own, again. Hiding from the world. Well, I have a use for you boy. You can entertain me. Would you like that?

The silence stretched as Brian stood frozen in place.

I said, would you like that boy?

“N..n…n…n…No,” stammered Brian.


He felt something warm, wet and rough run up his cheek as the thing licked the tears from his face.

Oh, we’re going to have so much fun, Well I am anyway. You… Not so much.

Brian let out a whimper as the things saliva burned a line up his cheek.

Now open your eyes boy, it’s no fun if you can’t see.

Brian felt his eyes opening of their own accord and as they did they locked on something shining mere inches in front of his face. A long thin blade catching a sliver of sunshine coming in from the window. He let out a low moan. Fresh tears sprang into his eyes and his heart pounded in his chest but he couldn’t move. He was locked in place, mesmerised by the shining thing.

Don’t worry I won’t feel a thing said the voice but Brian barely heard it. All his focus was on the blade as it slowly dipped down, lower, lower until it was just below the leg of his boxer shorts. Then it darted forward, fast as a viper and opened a ribbon of scarlet on his leg. For a second he felt nothing, then the cut started to warm. It got hotter and hotter until it burned him like a thousand suns. The thing started to laugh.

The blade darted forward again and again. Each time Brian flinched but did not cry out. Tears streamed down his face in a torrent and his breath came in short sharp gasps but he did not cry out. By the tenth stroke, all his whole body burned and shook. He couldn’t see his whole mind was consumed with the pain and the hideous laughter of thing. Blood ran down his legs, in a warm wave pooling on the filthy rug at his feet but he had no room in his mind for it. All there was pain and laughter.

The moment stretched for an eternity, the blade snapping forward, the searing pain and the laughter. Brian knew that if this kept up he would bleed to death, but it was a distant thing. A worry for another day. Another life. He should stop, but he couldn’t. Wouldn’t. He wasn’t in control. It was in control.

“Brian, your tea’s ready.” The sound of his mother’s voice hit him like a bucket of cold water. The rushing in his ears subsided, the laughter faded and all that remained was the darkness.

“Brian, don’t let it get cold,” his mother called again. “It’s spaghetti bolognese, your favourite.”

“I’ll be right there Mum I’m just tidying up,” he said looking down at the razor in his blood-slicked hand. He wrapped it in tissue paper and dropped it into the bin the slid open his desk drawer and pulled out a length of bandage to cover the cuts on his legs. His mum could never find out. She wouldn’t understand.

“I love you, darling,” called his mother he voice receeding as she walked off down the stairs.

“I Love you too Mum.”

I Love you too mum, mocked the voice in his head.

Plot Twist

“You want to call the story ‘Plot Twist’?” I questioned, looking up from the television and tilting my head at her.
She looked over her laptop at me, suddenly smirking at the sight of my face, “Oh no. Absolutely fuck off, I can feel the judgement from here!”.
“Well… it ruins it a bit, doesn’t it? The reader will know it’s coming! Like, surely, if you read a collection of stories… let’s say… for a competition, and the theme was ‘plot twists’, you wouldn’t be impressed. You’d just be waiting for the twist to come.”
“Fuck off… you are absolutely right”
I laughed out loud as she hid her face behind her hands, grinning, embarrassed. It’s a smile that had never failed to make me melt, that made every romantic cliche reasonable, one that made Valentines Day like Christmas. Her two front teeth had this small gap between them and she hated it, but she was something stunning to me. And her writing was excellent, even when she fell short with the title. She wrote about adventure and danger and amazing, intricate worlds. She created these incredible characters full of heartache and passion and I know I love them because each of them, in some way, are crafted from parts of her. She took her own pain and made poem out of story. And even though she wasn’t a princess fighting a dragon to save her kingdom, or a demigod taking on every deity in the Heavens, like the heroines of her stories, she’s was as strong as every one of them too. Even sat there in her pajamas and fluffy socks on my sofa, where she’d been all day.
I don’t know why it’s that memory that always returns to me, fragmented and rose tinted and wonderful, but it is.

Sometimes, I sit there with her most recent book on my lap. Open to the third page.


Dedicated to Nadia, my best friend and loyal sidekick. You inspire me.


The book was a bestseller for weeks. Thousand of copies across the globe bought, thousands of eyes scanning over that little dedication. To me. For me.


The princess dies in this one. Plot twist!

Oh God, I should have seen it coming.
It was so obvious. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe I could have been there.

I should have seen it coming.


April Feels, Bro

So we’re at the Spring Time, Midway, crazy part of Novel Dreamers!

If you’ve been paying attention, or if you’d like to find them all in one place, you’ll know that all the March pieces are in and ready to vote on at the Voting Page.

As for my writers, they’re about to go and do some fun writing on the following theme:


Yes, dear writers, I want you to plot twist like M. Knight Shyamalan! Because April 1st, y’all!

As an added bit of fun, not only will I be voting for my top three at the hand in next month, but the best three plot twists (in my opinion) will be receiving 3, 2, and 1 votes accordingly.

Anywho. I got 6 plays, 2 novels, and 3 Dungeons and Dragons Campaigns to write.



The Highwayman’s Trick

Let me ask you this.

If I held a gun to your head, would you even care what the options I were giving you are? I mean, if I placed the barrel of a pistol on your temple and started along the lines of “No pressure, but given the option, would you say you’re a leg or a breast man?”, how far into the sentence would your attention drift from my velvet voice and down to the terrible trickling that is currently running down your leg?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to be holding a gun to your head. I am unfortunately in no such position to do so. I don’t think I’d do that anyway, it’s not in my horoscope or personality type; whatever those are. It would probably be the nature of my companion that I share this cell with…

Sorry, that wasn’t vey helpful. Picture the scene; an Elizabethan prison cell with torches on the walls and hay on the floor. Two men sit in opposite corners of the room, scowling at one another. One is dressed in a heavy duster coat, tricorn hat, tough trousers, riding boots, and a lot of scarfs and fabrics with pockets; he is not me. I am the second man in the room, wearing a simple shirt, waistcoat, trousers, and shoes. Oh, and a potato sack over my head. I know this for three reasons:

1-      The inside of the bag smells heavily of potatoes.

2-      The outside of the bag is printed with a very Irish sounding family name, along with the statement “and sons, Quality Potatoes.”

3-      I have a very strong feeling of de ja vu and I’m sure it was a potato sack the last time too.

The reason we are sat on either side of the cell is because of the conversation we just had, that lead to a fight, that lead to me miraculously landing a punch on him – in the mouth – and him going off in a strop. I didn’t push the fight any further because I didn’t actually expect to land the punch. Right, sorry. Why did we fight? Well this is how the conversation went:

Setting: the cell I’ve been talking about. Characters: The Highwayman – Stan, and The Narrator or me – James. Context: James has just been thrown into the cell by a rather gropey guard and isn’t too happy as he’s just been found guilty for a crime he did not commit. The rest will be explained post-haste.

Stan:                      Any last words, scum?

James’ breathing speeds up, and he starts to fidget.

Stan:                      Well?

James:                  I, erm, I never done it, sir!

Stan:                      (Laughing) Never done it, boy? I haven’t heard that one before!

James:                  Honest, sir. I was set up, it were that damn highwayman. He stopped I on the Thunder Road. I knew there was something strange about him the moment he hesitated. Talked a while, he did, then left. Didn’t even rob me, sir. Must have planted it as we were in dialogue.

Stan:                      Don’t try to fool me, boy! I knows your type. You try speaking up and suddenly you think the airs and graces will save you. Well it ain’t happening!

Stan comes over and kicks James in the back of the knee, causing him to drop to his knees. Stan places a noose around James’ neck and steps back. Stan pretends to talk to another person over his shoulder

Stan:                      Here, Steven. Reckon this one will piss himself?

He stands grinning at James for a moment, then realises there is no reply and starts looking over his shoulder. He walks over to the door as he calls.

Stan:                      Steven? Steven? Steven!

He rushes back to James’ shoulder

Stan:                      Must be getting the scythe ready

James:                  (Panicking) What the hell does he need a scythe for if you’re gonna hang me?!

Stan:                      (Laughing) Oh boy! My sweet sweet (hesitates) what’s your name?

James:                  What does that matter? Surely it’ll make your job harder knowing my name?

Stan pauses on this a second

Stan:                      How so?

James:                  Well you know what they say. If you have to put down a calf, it’s easier if your little girl hasn’t started referring to it as Daisy

Stan:                      Never heard that one, you trying to save your skin again?

He grabs the noose and yanks it about. James screams and then whimpers

James:                  No! NO! I promise, sir! I just mean that it’s harder to kill something you have an emotional attachment to?!

Stan:                      Alright, alright, quit your mewling. Now, your name?

James:                  James Cobbs, sir

Stan:                      Stop with the bloody sir, Cobbs! Now, the reason our Steven is off getting the scythe is a very simple one. After we’ve hung you, we gotta put you into these barrels to send you off to the physicians at the local university. Problem is that the campus is made of four different schools, you see. Well you don’t, what with that (refers to the bag), but you get my point. Anyway, the four doctors are interested in different parts of you and they likes the parts fresh. So as soon as you start dancing the invisible waltz, we’ll be cutting you ZIIP (gestures over James’ neck and his shoulders and thighs) into the segments. Head. Body. Limbs.


James:                  But that’s only three. What’s the fourth?

Stan starts to laugh, he comes round the back of James and places his hands on his shoulders, massaging him slowly.

Stan:                      Oh, my boy, my sweet innocent Cobbs. There’s a specialist subject that all men are slightly too concerned with to think of about it until it’s endangered.

James:                  And what is that?

Stan:                      Your cock, Cobbs. Your John Thomas. Your prick, man!

Stan grabs down and James let’s out a sob, Stan falls back laughing

James:                  God, man! Have you no sympathy for a man before the gates of heaven?

Stan:                      Ah, Cobbs. You’re neither at the gates of heaven or the tavern backdoor to hell. Why not sit and drink with me a while?

Stan goes over to him and undoes his binding, James gives no fight as Stan helps him to his feet.

Stan:                      Now, let’s get a look at you!

Stan removes the bag from James’ head. James takes a moment to regain sight and then their faces drop as they recognise one another.

Both:                     YOU!


Yes, dear friend. The very highwayman that had got me into this cell is here with me. And we have been here for many years. Over the hour we shall squabble, fight, laugh, and cry. By the end of the hour, the sounds of the gallows crowd will build up overhead and we will become scared and somewhat anxious. Stan will explain that he’s never been good at robbing people but really liked the highwayman outfit, and I shall find that I am one of his few victims. We will both come to learn that the worst thing you can give a highwayman is your time, as he then seems to step out of the cell and leaves me to die. And the lights drop, as if through some arcane means, and I fear my end is near.

I think back to the brief moments that Stan accosted me on the roadside, before leaving my cart untouched. I remember the stone in pit of my stomach as I reached London’s outskirts and the guards come to check the contents of my wagon. I remember the brief elation when the guards finally step away, happy but not pushing any further.

And then the sound of metal against stone.

I turn to see the box scatter across the floor as the door of the wagon shuts, and an ‘obviously not my necklace’ falls out of the little jewellery box.

And as the pounding of the boots down the corridor come to meet me, I start to grin.

The audience that have gathered for my execution are confused; as is the hangman.

As the noose passes over my head I whisper, “check the cart again.”

They have no idea I’m ahead of the whole thing.

The guard who checks my carriage whilst I dance on the air finds the quartered body of James Cobbs.

And I flit back to my home. Leaving the body to disintegrate in front of a crowd of god-fearing humans…

I do love theatrics.

Joust in the Nick of Time

Gather round boys and girls and let me tell you a tale; a tale of intrigue, valour and one woman’s fight for equality in a man’s world. 

Juliette Favreau, the only daughter of Lord Jerome Favreau and Lady Mathilde Favreau of the Avignon Favreau’s and most coveted beauty in all of France balled her fist and slammed it into the grinning face in front of her.

His eyes widened in shock for a split second and then glazed over as he slumped to the hard marble floor. Juliette scowled down at Lord Durand’s prone figure then lifting the hem of her dress so as to avoid the slowly expanding pool of blood hopped over the rotund aristocrat and strode across the ballroom her narrow eyes fixed on two figures in one corner.

“Oh merde,” cursed Mathilde Favreau. “I told that buffoon not to mention us, I knew if he said we approved the match this would happen. Well maybe not exactly this,” she said waving her silk fan at where Lord Durand’s footmen were trying desperately to revive their liege. “But I knew she wouldn’t go for it what was he thinking?”

“Lord Durand is not well know for his skills in thinking,” pointed out Jerome Favreau with a sigh.

“He isn’t a bad looking man, he’s within a suitable age and is well know for his deep pockets…”

“…and his short arms,” interjected Jerome.

“Don’t start with me Jerome,” hissed Mathilde. “You agreed to this match too you know.”


“Well she has to marry someone…”

“I’ll marry who I bloody well choose mother, and I’d thank you to keep you big nose out of it,” fumed Juliette.

“But dear, Lord Durand is a good friend to King Henry…”

“I don’t care if he’s a good friend to Jesus Christ I’m not marrying him…”

“Dear…” began Mathilde.

“No the man is a moron…”

“Julie…” tried Jerome.

“And he smells of fish. I mean there isn’t even any fish being served how the hell does he smell of fish?”

“I mean he’s not as much of a moron as King Henry but…”

“Juliette!” exclaimed Mathilde grabbing her daughter by the wrist. Juliette looked round to give her mother a piece of her mind but she stopped when she saw her mother eyes wide, face pale.

“A moron am I?” asked King Henry with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, but it’s not your fault all that inbreeding can’t be good for you,” said Juliette dismissively.

The King’s face flushed with fury. “You’ll marry who I damn well tell you girl or I’ll lock you up and throw away the key.

“I bloody well won’t you’re not the boss of me.”

“I’m the boss of everyone I’m the King of all of France.”

“Well you’re not the king of my knickers,” replied Juliette defiantly hands on her hips. “and I’ll not drop them for some fat, fishy idiot just on your say so.”

The King was apoplectic with rage and started pacing back and forth clenching and unclenching his fists. “I’m the King of France and some little strumpet  means to defy me? No. No. This cannot stand, this cannot stand!”

“Might I suggest a solution?” ventured Jerome shooting his daughter a ‘shut-up and let me save your life look’. “How about a wager? Juliette does so love a wager.”

“What kind of a wager?” asked the King cautiously.

“If you can beat me in a joust you can pick who I marry,” said Juliette jumping in before her father could speak.

“A joust? You a girl?”

“What’s the matter you chicken?”

“It’s not seemly, jousting with a woman…”

“Buck, buck, buck, buck, buck…” clucked Juliette flapping her arms like a chickens.

“Fine, I’ll thrash you and then you’ll marry who I bloody well tell you to,” spat the King. “I’ll see you in the lists.”


“This is a stupid idea,” said Jerome for the fifteenth time as he paced in front of his daughter’s horse Buttercup. “You’ve never even held a lance before.”

“Ah nonsense,” said Juliette with a dismissive wave. “If that lump Durand can do it how hard can it be? Pass me a lance.”

Jerome signalled to his page who hefted a lance from the rack and held it out to Juliette. Juliette took it and nearly toppled from Buttercup before she let the weapon crash to the ground.

“That’s pretty heavy,” she said with a frown. “Do you have anything smaller?”

“It’s time milady,” said a groom in the livery of house Valois poking his head through the tent flap. “They’re calling for you in the lists.”



Juliette hefted her lance and closed the visor of her helmet with a thump. “Bloody men,” she muttered her voice echoing around the steel helmet. “Always thinking they know best well we’ll see if bloody King Henry knows best.”

“And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for,” began the announcer. “A first for our fare nation and the whole world as our good King faces off against Lady Juliette Favreau…”

The announcer droned on as her groom led Buttercup to the end of the list; Juliette blocked him out and concentrated on waving her lance up and down to get a feel for it. “Just stick him with the pointy end Juliette, it’s not rocket science. no need to get him in his smug face, although that would be preferable just point it…” There was a loud crack and Buttercup was off galloping. Juliette could see the world whizzing by at a tremendous pace through the gap in her visor, then the charging figure of the King filled her view.

Juliette raised her lance, pointed it at his face and held her breath. The world slowed to a crawl; she watched in amazement as her lance clipped the King taking his helmet clean off. She saw the surprise and anger in his eyes. “I did it! I did it” she thought. “I beat the basta… oh that’s not good.” She felt a pressure in her shoulder and the world slammed back into full speed as she shot off the back of Buttercup and slammed into the hard dirt.

“Shit,” she said lifting the visor on her helmet. “So close.” She tried to climb to her feet but couldn’t do more than force herself into a vague sitting position as the cheers of the crowd turned to gasps of astonishment and then groans of despair. Juliette looked over to where the King, wild-eyed with fury was signalling to his page for another lance. When one appeared he snatched it from his hand, kicked his horse in the ribs and charged forward towards her again.

Laying on her back in the dirt Juliette saw her death riding towards her. Juliette prayed to God that a righteous vengeance would come to the King for all he had done to her. then with a deep breath to calm her racing heart, she locked her eyes on the petty man with a dented shield and a lance tipped with shining steel. The ground underneath her trembled as the giant roan charger bore down on her but she refused to look away; if he was to kill her he’d God damn do it looking her in the eye, the coward.

With horse mere feet from her the sky lit up with a blinding light and Juliette turned away scrunching her eyes closed. Her eyes burned with invisible fire and even closed she could see nothing but the fearsome white light. There was a roar and a dull thud and then nothing. Juliette opened her watering eyes a crack

“Great Scott!” exclaimed the older man, his shock of white hair swaying as he looked climbed out of a strange metal carriage and looked around the lists. “This isn’t 1955!” He ducked his head back inside. “Egads, it’s 1559! Damn my dyslexia! Come on Einstein we need to get… Back to the future!”

He ducked back into his carriage and it rolled backwards then tore off down the lists and vanished with a deafening roar in a burst of flames. Through the haze of smoke Juliette could just make out the crumpled form of King Henry II where the strange carriage had crushed him against the tilt barrier.

“Umm… thanks God,” muttered Juliette crossing herself. “Thanks a lot.”

And that my friends is the tale of how an unlikely young woman saved all of France from the evil grasp of King Henry II.

The Sheltering Bones

Kal burst into waking, a scream caught behind his clenched teeth. His body lurched into a crouch, hands clutching at the cold ground and his eyes darting about the shadowy space. There were no slow, gradual wakings for him anymore, nor for anyone else; not since the God Wars had started. Slowly, agonisingly, his heartbeat slowed, his breathing calmed. The thickness of the silence and the darkness reassured him that he was alone. He sank into a sitting position, his arms wrapped round his knees, pulling them close to his chest. His breath frosted in the cold air as he waited for the light of dawn.


They had come from the distant stars, falling onto the world in the thousands. Some had hailed them as gods come to punish the sins of the world, others said they sought only to conquer, claim this world for their own, but soon enough the truth became clear; they had no interest in this world, or its tiny inhabitants. It was just another battlefield. They were huge and mighty and full of wrath, and they brought their own war with them. They were unknown gods fighting an unknown war, they fought and died across the world for two years until it was a shattered wasteland and then, at last, they moved on. They left behind a broken world littered with the bodies of their fallen, and the few remnants of humanity that had survived hoped desperately that they would not return.

When the god-giants had come, Kal had been living with his parents and his sister, Effy, in a city. In those shattering first days it quickly became clear that staying the cities was foolish and likely fatal, and so they had gathered what they could and left. Kal’s father had led them, hiding his own despair and terror beneath a quiet confidence, swearing each night that they would survive. And together they had done, for a two months. The destruction of the world that was took so little time; as each city was crushed it seemed mankind lost something of what it had gained over thousands of years. No one was safe, and people grouped together for survival. Kal’s parents had gone scavenging but had not returned. Hiding Effy and telling her to stay put, no matter what, Kal had gone to look for them.

He’d found his parents not far from their shelter. His father’s torso was sliced from shoulder to waist, the snow blood red beneath him. His mother lay on her back, most of the blade of her husband’s long dagger buried in her chest. The handle, with perhaps 6 inches of broken blade, lay in a clean patch of snow between them. Kal could not say how long he had stood above them, staring at them. Finally he reached down and took up his father’s broken blade, and went to find his sister.


The cold light of morning at last arrived, and Kal shook himself to stem the flow of memory. He stood slowly, stretching his cold, aching body. He looked once about the cave that had been his home for the night, and then unblocked the entrance. The sun was just above the horizon, and a bitterly cold wind cut straight through Kal’s clothes. He got some dried meat and oatcakes from his bag for breakfast, and then turned to the west. He took the first bite as he began to walk.

He saw the god-giant around mid-morning. The day was becoming bright and clear, and as he looked ahead to see the cliffs he’d expected, but also something more. Soon after he was certain, could even make out some details. The thing had been enormous, one of the largest Kal had seen. It wore some pieces of armour, dented and damaged, and a strange thing that might have been some kind of gun lay shattered on the ground beside it. The thing sat at the base of the cliffs, back resting against them, legs stretched out. A giant sword had been driven through its chest, pinning it down even had it wanted to move. But the thing was long, long dead. Such a specimen would be ripe for scavengers, and so Kal squinted, trying to see more detail of the god-giant. They’d take what they could of cloth and metal and flesh and bone, picking at the bodies till nothing was left. But this body looked intact… Soon enough Kal could make out tiny shapes moving all over the giant corpse.

“So this is what we’ve come to,” Kal murmured, watching perhaps twenty of his fellow humans clambering over the dead, frozen body, salvaging what they could whilst the light was bright, before the Slithers emerged from their burrows. Thinking of those strange creatures, the parasites the nameless giants had brought with them, Kal shuddered. Insects they were, but as large as a man and five times as strong. To meet one was to face almost certain death, as he knew only too well… Kal closed his eyes tight, trying to shut out the memory before it could overwhelm him, but he knew it was futile…


The God Wars lasted perhaps a year, no more. But at the end of that year the world was a shattered husk, thrust into a new ice age by the destruction caused by the god-giants. At the end of the year they moved on, leaving only their dead. And the parasites that fed on them.

Kal had cared for his sister, had protected her as best he could. But she was only a child in a world of ice and monsters. Fear and hunger and loss took their toll, and one night Kal had lain beside her, holding her close to share his warmth as the two clouds of their breathing became one. He cried then, where he had not cried for his parents; he had no reason to hide it any more. He wept, and held his sister close, and as his tears froze sleep finally claimed him…

Shaking woke him, confused and exhausted, he realised Effy was shaking him, her hands gripping his shirt… But she was gone, he knew that, couldn’t deny it, and so what then was… An insectoid hiss and clicking noise pulled Kal violently awake, and he sat up, looking at the body that had been his sister. Effy’s body was shuddering and twitching because something was devouring her. The creature, large and insectoid and purple-grey, had burrowed into Effy’s side and started to feast even as Kal had held her tight. He choked out a sound, part horror and part rage, and the creature stopped moving. Slowly the head withdrew from his sister’s torso and faced him, stained crimson and dripping with thick, cold blood. A Slither, not fully grown, but still it was a thing out of a nightmare, fangs and mandibles and purple-grey chitin.

Blindly Kal’s hands sought his father’s broken sword, and he brought the blade up just as the nightmare thing lunged…


It was mid-afternoon when Kal reached the corpse. He could see no more scavengers, and was relieved. He did not get on so well with people any more, seeking solitude rather than companionship. In the new world, that might perhaps be the path to oblivion, but he felt it was the right path.

He did not know where he was aiming for until he stood on the huge knee, looking up at the head. The eye sockets were dark, a cracked metal helm sat on the skull… And Kal realised he had been looking for this corpse, this giant for a long time. Nodding to himself he began to climb.

As he scaled the massive body, Kal saw that the giant had been picked clean, every scrap of useful material seemed to be gone. This could well mean that few scavengers would be back this way, which would suit his purposes. Finally Kal stood in the eye socket, looking into the dark recess of the fallen giant’s skull. He pulled his torch from his back and shone it into the darkness. With a cry of fear Kal leapt back, just stopping himself from tumbling over the edge to escape the nightmare, when he realised it was not moving…

It was a Slither, much larger and very different from the others he had seen. Heart pounding, Kal realised he held his two knives at the ready, but the creature was clearly already dead. He sheathed his father’s blade, but held the second knife, the one he had made from the fangs of the creature that had devoured Effy, he held ready, just in case. Cautiously he approached the nightmarish head, but it did not move. He tapped it once with his chitin dagger, and the head of the Slither tumbled from the body. It was truly long dead.

Stepping further into the cavern of the giant’s skull, Kal shone his torch about the space. It was… empty. There was no other way to describe it, the skull was almost entirely empty. The strange Slither had been some parasite, living in the corpse, devouring its brain till there was no more to eat…

Kal wondered if he should move on from here. There could be more Slithers about the corpse, and yet… He knew, somehow, that there were no more threats hiding in this giant. He’d paid his price, lost his life in war, lost his mind and memory to parasites…
“He’s paid his price.”

And with the words came a sense of kinship with this dead warrior, and following that an idea formed in Kal’s mind. Perhaps it was the thing he had always been looking for, or perhaps it was new, he could not say. The cavernous skull could be a shelter. The chitin of the dead Slither would make tools. The sun would rise and shine on him through the giants eyes each morning…

Dark was beginning to fall as Kal knew at last that the time for running from the past was done. He shrugged out of his pack, light a small fire for warmth, and settled himself for the night. He thought of his mother and father, of Effy who he had tried to save…
“I paid my price,” he whispered.

And so, curled within the mind of dead, frozen god, Kal slept.

Carnival House

Alex sat up in bed as his heart thundering in his chest; his panicked eyes darting wildly around the room as he hugged his sweat soaked pillow to his chest, a pitiful shield against the darkness. In his dream fogged mind he swore he could smell the stale stench of sweat, bad ale and worst of all the sharp metallic scent of his mothers blood on his father’s knuckles. His stomach roiled and his eyes stung with unshed tears. After a long moment his eyes seemed to focus, his breathing lost its ragged edge and his hands loosened their death grip on his dirty straw pillow as the nightmare started to fade.

Alex let out a low sigh and rubbed his face with his hands; no matter how many times he had that dream it never lost it’s impact. After his first few weeks at Carnival House he’d learned to control the screams his screams – the other boys didn’t appreciate being woken and were not shy about showing him their displeasure – but most nights he still awoke early, drenched in sweat with the images of his father’s snarling face burned into his retinas.Knowing his sleep was over for the night Alex levered himself up in his shabby cot and looked around the room in the cold, grey morning light.

Carnival House had been home for the last five years, since his father killed his mother and beat Alex to within an inch of his life in a drunken rage. It was the place where the government sent those kids who were considered too damaged for rehoming. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ Jonesy the jug-eared kid in bed next to Alex had told him on his first day. ‘They say they’ll find us a home alright. They say it but really it’s just a half-way house, somewhere to put all us notrights until we’re old enough to put out on the streets.’ Jonesy had been right, in Alex’s entire time at the orphanage he’d never heard of a single kid that had been rehomed.

He slipped out from under his damp blanket and dropped soundlessly to the cold stone floor; beds stretched as far as they eye could see in the half-light of the cold morning. This room alone had 60 beds each holding a shifting moaning form, no one slept well in Carnival House, the place had an air of fear and taste of pain to it. Rumor had it the place was originally a hotel where the mad owner tortured and killed his guests; if the new owners where anything to go by Alex could believe it. Gregor Hynd, the warden of Carnival House, was a sadistic fuck with was a taste blood.

Only one bed in the dorm was empty, the one across the room from Alex’s bed, That bed belonged to Simon. At the far end of the room one of the new kids started sobbing, some kids didn’t last a week, some didn’t last a day but everyone broke eventually. Alex had cried like a baby his third night when he realised that he was never going home. He felt no shame looking back now everybody cried, everyone except Simon that is. In the long history of Carnival House no one could name any  new kid who did not to cry bar Simon; those people who knew him swore he didn’t have it in him. Alex did his best to stay away from Simon, the boy wasn’t all there. Not that he was slow or a nutter or anything like that, he was razor sharp, intense in fact. It was more that he had a way of looking at you like you were a frog he’d like to dissect; he gave Alex the creeps.

Alex padded silently down the aisle between the low cots when the door at the end of room opened a crack and a small form slipped inside. The boy scampered down the hall and whispered urgently shaking sleeping feet as he passed.

“What’s the deal?” Alex hissed to the boy as the dorm slowly came alive.

“Simon is back!” he replied and the word spread down through the dorm like wildfire. “Simon is back. Simon is back. Simon is back.”


Simon shot a glare at Gregor as the giant warden of the orphanage opened the thick steel door of the basement and stepped inside. Gregor closed the door without taking his eyes off Simon and slid the bolt home with a crash. Simon shrugged, he knew a scare tactic when he saw one, he used them himself often enough after all,  and he wasn’t biting.

“Now isn’t that better Simon?” said Gregor licking his lips. “Now we can talk in peace.”

Simon raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

“Oh, ho, ho. So it’s the silent treatment eh?” said Gregor taking a step closer to Simon. “There’s no need for all of that, just tell me where you’ve been and with whom and all this will be forgotten.”

When Simon still said nothing, Gregor’s face screwed up in anger and he rushed forward swinging a meaty fist. Gregor pulled his punch at the last second his fist so close so Simon’s face he could feel the hairs on his knuckles brushing his cheek. Gregor growled and ground his teeth in frustration; Simon hadn’t even flinched.

“You think you’re tough boy?” spat Gregor. “You think your a big man I’ll show you who the big man here is.”

He pulled back his arm and crashed his fist into Simon’s stomach and Simon folded to the floor with a grunt the air rushing from his lungs. Gregor’s smile was cut short as Simon slowly dragged himself to his feet a smile on his face.

“Oh, what a big man you are!” he laughed. “Hey, let me buy you a pack of gum. I’ll show you how to chew it.”

The next punch caught him right on the temple and sent him spinning to the floor a gob of blood flying to hit the wall with a sickening splat; Simon just lay there laughing. When Simon tried to push himself to his feet the giant warden rushed forward and delivered a vicious kick in the ribs. The crack echoed around the room and now Simon’s laughter came with a oh of pain at the end. Wild-eyed Gregor stared at Simon shaking with impotent rage.

“OK, OK, you win Gregor,” said Simon holding up a hand when his laughter finally subsided. “I’ll tell you who I was with.”

“Fine.” Gregor said unclenching his fists.  “There was no need for this you know, I’m a reasonable man. Just tell me who you were with and what you were doing and we can pretend this never happened.”

Simon pushed himself ponderously to his feet favouring his left side. “I was with that spastic kid of yours, we were double teaming your fat ugly wife, it wasn’t one of my finest conquests but needs must.” Simon laughed again until Gregor charged in, grabbed him by the throat and slammed him to the floor. Simon’s head bounced off the cold stone tiles. He stopped laughing, his mouth twisted into a scowl and his stare burned into Gregor’s very soul. “Careful now Gregor,” he whispered. “You’re going to get off me now and leave me here. If you touch me again it’s your son that will suffer.”

“Don’t you say his name, don’t you even think about him or I swear to God I’ll break every bone in your body you little shit,” spat the warden his face inches from Simon’s.

“James,” said Simon his eyes flashing. “Poor old spasticated James. What do you think he’s doing right now? I’m going to guess sitting in a puddle of his own piss drooling and playing with himself.”

Gregor let go of Simon and stood his every move tense, his face a mask of pure hatred. “Remember you asked for this,” he growled walking over to the workbench in the corner. Simon watched laughing as he slapped the top off a plastic box and rooted around finally coming up with a thick steel wrench. “I offered you and out and you spat in my face. Well now we’ll see how tough you really are.”

He stalked back over to where Simon lay smiling and lifted the wrench above his head. “Last chance Simon, take it back.”

A mad giggle escaped Simon’s lips and Gregor lashed down with the wrench catching Simon a glancing blow that rocked his head to the side sending a shower of blood into the furious wardens face. Gregor wiped the blood from his eyes and when he looked down his heart nearly stopped in his chest. The boy looked like he’d gone 12 rounds with a heavyweight. His right eye was swollen closed and his face a red mask of blood from the jagged cut in his scalp but Simon just looked up at him smiling a demonic smile with red stained his teeth.

“You didn’t say Simon says,” he laughed.

Gregor backed slowly away and dropped the bloody wrench to the floor. “You’re mad,” he muttered. “You’re completely mad.”

“What’s the matter warden?” asked Simon crawling forward leaving a trail of blood in his wake. “Don’t have the stomach for it?”

Gregor turned on his heel ran from the bloody boy in the basement, he threw himself through the door and slammed it shut behind him sending the bolt home with a mighty crash. Simon heard his footsteps moving swiftly off up the corridor and let the smile fall from his face for the first time. His jaw clenched and his stomach roiled as he tallied the damage. “I warned him,” he whispered rocking back and forth. “Simon says, they boy is going to get it, Simon says.”

Simon felt the rage burning within him. He fanned the flames with memories, each blow from Gregor feeding the fire. As the blaze grew the cold of the floor receded; he was warmed by the fire, warmed by his righteous anger, he wrapped it around him like a blanket.

He sat like that for sometime, brooding in the darkness his mind a white hot blur, beating at his skull like a caged animal, roaring in protest at the unfairness of it all. In his mind everything moved faster than it should, the steady drip of rain on the road outside moving slightly quicker than usual. The rain, the cars driving by, even his own breathing was fast, out of sync with the world slightly. Like an itch he could not scratch the noises of a world just out of kilter fueled his anger. He could hear his blood rushing through his veins, a deafening torrent, the boiling river of his anger. Teetering on the brink of madness Simon forced himself to take a deep breath, then another, the world slowly  dropped back in to sync with him and he swallowed his anger. It settled as a white hot ball in his stomach, he could feel it burning, his eyes snapped open, icy blue fire.

“Time to get out of here and pay someone a little visit,” he whispered in a cold hard voice.


Simon rapped on the door with a jaunty do do do do do, do do. It was the kind of a knock that he imagined a jolly old postman would do in a straight to TV movie so you knew he was one of the good guys. After a minute or two of silence Simon heard a shuffling coming slowly closer and then a slow ponderous voice came from behind the thick wood of the door.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s Simon, James. I’m a dear friend of your fathers.”

“Dad told me never to answer the door to strangers,” Slurred the voice. “I can’t get into trouble, no sir.”

“Very wise James, very wise but as I said my name is Simon and I’m a dear friend of your father. So you see I’m not a stranger at all, why not open the door and let me in?” There was a long pause and Simon felt he could almost here the cogs grinding in the spastic’s head. “I have a present for you.”

There was the swish of metal on metal and the door opened with a creak. “Present? What kind of present?” said the boy poking his head around the door. Simon felt his stomach turn at the sight of his vacant eyes, fat tongue lolling from his mouth dripping saliva on his already stained shirt.

“Oh, James,” smiled Simon sadly sliding the rusty kitchen knife out of belt of his trousers. “I didn’t say Simon says.”

James backed away his dull eyes wide with confusion as Simon strode across the threshold and pushed the door closed behind him with a soft click. “Now James. James, James, James what shall we do with you?” He waved the knife slowly back and forth the light glinting off the dirty blade highlighting the madness in his cold, hard eyes.

April. I got nothing to pun…

Hello ND Fans! (Wow, really?)

Welcome to the post that signifies the beginning of the April challenge and maybe an interesting time for the writers. By now you should be able to start voting (click here) for March and basically choosing which of the writers you’ll be visiting in the loony bin because this month we’re going MACABRE. I know, April Fools, April Showers brings May Flowers well shut up reader! Last month I gave bloody Queen to a writer as inspiration for a love story and she gave me a court case! They (she) needs room to breathe!

So the gang get to write about macabre stuff. Where is the weird little addition Steven? I hear you ask. Well…

For bonus points, I’m offering a list of serial killers to feature as stars, extras or maybe just inspiration for our writers pieces. These are at the writers own choice and/or risk as some of the listed could be described as NSFW…

There are some dark people out there, or not anymore because of the death penalty

ANYWAY, I had to do a example piece. I actually learned restraint with my dark voices of my brain. So enjoy my slightly disturbed brain and we’ll see you next month!

The Interview Room

He sat in the office, staring at the ornate clock behind the plush chair opposite.
How many fucking times have I had to stare at that clock? He thought, hatefully. But still it went on ticking, almost intentionally catching each second with a sarcastic and sharp ‘CLICK!’ He hated that stupid fucking clock. He stretched out to gain feeling once more in his extremities. The plush chair in front of him was somewhat of a polar opposite to the hard backed wooden chair in which he found himself once more. Though, this time felt very different…

Suddenly the door to his left opened and in stepped a portly gentleman with grey wispy hair on the sides of his head. His grey suit, along with his long moustache gave him the look of a walrus; the dark green tie falling into place as seaweed caught in the debris.

“Radley, isn’t it?” The blob of a man asked as he stepped around the desk; stepped around being used in the most malleable of its phrasing.

“I’d prefer John, if it’s all the same” John Radley straightened his posture on his chair, letting out a series of cracks from his aged spine. The executive’s chair let out an almighty sigh as the larger man sat down.

“Oh,” he said with a hint of surprise, not like himself at all. “John, you say? Quite. Well John, my name is Mr Green… “

“No it isn’t” John smirked at him. The three chins were quivering in silent outrage at the interruption. The fact that the comment also showed a level of knowledge that his new employer did not agree with just made John smirk that bit more.

“Your name is Charles Eribesque. You are the bastard child of the late Xavier Eribesque, though not to the public. To the public, you are Albert Green: Charity owner, Philanthropist and generally all round nice guy.” He hadn’t meant to put the emphasis on round but he couldn’t help himself now he was in his stride. Albert’s eyes grew wider with astonishment as the creature before him turned from an embodiment of hate to a confident and unbridled power house. The ropes around his wrists and ankles looked like they would let go in an instant, if he only asked.

“Well Mr. Radley, you do your homework don’t you?” Albert stood and went to the mantle and picked up the clock, turning to place it on the table in front of John. The ticking resonated through the wooden body and then the table, giving the feeling that the noise was filling the entire room. “And what, pray tell, do you know about Charles Eribesque?”

What do I know of Charles Eribesque? He asks as if he were referring to someone else.

“You want me to go the short road or the long?” John asked, trying to buy time to think. He knew that around his old employer’s office were secret buttons to alert his team of the situation.

Xavier had died more than four weeks ago now and his dirty little secret had somehow worked his way into the business and up to the point of assistant, now head CEO. The announcement of his promotion mere days before Xavier’s demise only confirmed Radley’s suspicions.

“No need to drag out the exposition, Mr Radley. How far did the old dog dig before the viper caught him by the gullet?” He sat back into the chair and made a steeple of his fingers, looking triumphant and smug.

“Your father…”

“DO NOT PATRONISE ME!” The bulk may hold him down but John realised how quickly Eribesque could move. His age finally started to show on his face and Charles played on it. “Yes, I know about your past as much as you know of mine. Decorated war veteran turned detective who retires into a security team at my father’s behest. So please, I’ve shared; your turn.” He sat back down, though looked less placid than previous.

“I don’t know…”

Once more the hands came down on the table with ridiculous speed, and John kicked up to try and catch him off guard. The problem, however, was his body was a lot older than his mind and it could not produce the effect he had so desired. The fat dustbin lid of a hand swooped up the clock and connected with John’s temple…


He awoke once more into the office of his late employer. He looked up at the ornate clock behind the plush chair opposite. His head pounded and took all his might to lift it to the angle before dripping and rolling to one side, revealing Charles sat in the corner of the room. He had his back turned and appeared to be polishing what was revealed to be a handheld drill as he turned at John’s sudden groan. He crossed the room towards him and placed his face a mere breath away from John’s; revealing the stark white makeup he had applied with blue diamonds around the eyes and the red, jagged smile.

“1994, do you remember?”

John’s vision spun as his brain swam from the nausea to try recall anything from the year.

“1994! Do you remember!”

Charles slapped him across the face and backed off, circling like a lion in a cage.

“Okay, how about something more relevant. Do you remember when you met me in 1978?” The fire in his eyes pushed more and more at John’s hippocampus.

“You were, the last Gacy boy. I took you in after before the trial to protect you.” His mind flashed back to the visions of the crawlspace under the building. Gacy had tried to destroy the evidence of his, as he put it, “unlicensed cemetery” by releasing the sump pump to fill the space with water. John had been present when the first body parts floated to the top, grey and decaying. He was pulled back to the present by another slap to the face…

“SO 1994! Do. You. Remember?”

“I executed him, May of that year. This isn’t the way to get revenge, Charles. I killed him for you. You don’t need to go on with that hate.”

The man cackled in front of him, distorting the clown face into something much more terrifying. He stepped over to the desk and the drill set.

“Do you know what I did when I made my first million? I bought his house. I wanted to rebuild his legacy. He was like a father to me AND YOU TOOK HIM!” He began pacing once more. John’s head was starting to play ball.

“You asked what I knew about you. I know you bought the house. I also know about your little vendetta; 33 victims, all named John. I assumed it was in outrage at him.”

“You were wrong!” He grabbed the drill and almost glided over to John, wrapping one arm like a vice around his neck and placing the drill bit to the back of his cranium. “You took Jeffery Dahmer from me that same year.”

John’s entire body tensed. His confidence had been his downfall. He thought he could overpower Charles and get out in time, but his time had come. He decided to go out fighting…

“Dahmer was killed by an inmate, Charles. Not me! You gonna blame me for Chikatilo as well? You fucking psychopaths are all the same! Especially you, you fat, unimaginative prick!” He swung his head to the side, scraping the drill bit across his scalp though cracking Eribesque’s nose on connection. Charles had not expected such a fight, John knew and this might be the thing that saved him. “You kill 33 men called John in honour of that fat puff and think it gives you the right to wear his mask? Look at you, you pathetic piece of shi…”

The end of the sentence was lost beneath the sound of the drill whirring against bone. He somehow heard it before feeling the intense pain. Moments later he waited, expecting it to penetrate his brain and rip him into oblivion but the firey patch of his scalp soon was simply vibrating from the throbbing of blood vessels rather than the of the drills volition. He could barely make out what Charles spoke to him, there was a whistling that he couldn’t tell was coming from inside his head or the room.

“Oh no, my sweet. You won’t go that easy, I have to test another theory before you go in the crawl space.”

The last thing John saw before blacking out one more time was the old fashioned kettle in the Killer Clown’s hand…