Way Out

Mission log: October 9th 2052, Captain David Borden recording. 

The rest of the crew are down in their bunks and NASA has asked me to record a final message to anyone back home. 

Home. When I left I felt like I didn’t really have one. The whole Earth was my home, which is to say nowhere was. I’m sure by now you’ve been given the salient details of my current situation, but the way the mission has gone… I think the technical term is fubar. We over-shot the point at which we were supposed to have main engine shutdown, burned through more fuel than we were supposed to, then through the reserve tank as we brought ourselves back under control. 

And now we’re here. We don’t even have a name for the planet we’ve arrived at, just a designation number. S/2043 S921. If you want to imagine it, it’s something like Saturn. It has two sets of rings, not as flat and neat as Saturn’s but from our point of view they form an X shape around the planet itself, which is predominantly dark yellow, with streaks of brown and gold. It doesn’t have any moons, and the star of this system is, for all it matters to you, the same as our sun.

Aside from that, everything is black. The planet is bright enough right now that we can’t even see any stars out of the front windows of the command capsule. But it is a beautiful sight. I’m sitting here looking at a view that only three human beings have ever seen, and all I can think about is how empty the experience is without someone to share it with. The black isn’t just the absence of colour, it’s the absence of light, and more than anything I’m feeling the absence of you. 

So this is my apology. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being so detached. I thought I had to be to be able to take this mission and be everything everyone down there needed me to be. I should have told you every day that you were the best thing to ever happen to me. All the awards and accolades and notoriety of being a pilot and an astronaut, isn’t really worth very much without someone to come home to. And now I never can come home, to you or anyone. 

I wanted to be a hero. The next Neil Armstrong. We’d never say it outside the crew but the weight of the world on our shoulders was more of a burden than we admit. If I’m remembered for nothing else from this failed mission it’s that you can’t fake it forever. You can’t carry on just saying the things you know you’re supposed to forever, at some point you have to reckon with the fact that inside your instincts can’t be ignored and they’re usually right. There’s a truth in them that can’t be denied. As much as I wanted to be the hero up here, there’s so much I still wanted to do down there. 

But don’t cry for me. I knew there were risks, I guess. You never think it’s going to happen to you. Even if something went wrong in the mission, chances are either NASA would be able to fix it, or we’d be killed instantly. No point sugar-coating that… It’s no fun knowing the end is coming, and you can’t do anything but make it sooner… 

We were issued with suicide pills. They may not even let me tell you this, relaying the transmission to you. We have a pill each, we swallow it, we go to sleep and never wake up. For this eventuality, I suppose, and others. We were all in favour of crashing the ship into the planet and going out in a blaze of glory, but NASA thinks we should leave ourselves in orbit, just in case anybody ever finds the ship, they can see where it came from and why. We only have sub-light propulsion systems now, can’t even make another jump to a planet that might be more hospitable. Not that we can find one from here either. 

It sounds like a great life, exploring the galaxy, visiting new worlds and far-off planets. And maybe had the mission been a success I’d think so too. But I sit here and think about all of the trips we took to Europe, and all the places on Earth we hadn’t been yet. I’d have like to see the Taj Mahal in person. Sydney Opera House. Turns out you can’t actually see the Great Wall of China from space, so you should add that one to the list too. You should go. But find someone to take with you, please. Isolation isn’t good for the soul. Believe me, there’s only four of us within five lightyears.

The pill is starting to take effect now. I can feel my eyelids getting heavy. But I want you to know, that when I drift off for this permanent sleep, I hope I dream of you. I’m not in pain. I mean, I am. I have been this whole week since I realised we’re not coming back to you. But you can lie, right? Tell everyone I was tough and joking around. 

I love you Jenn. Goodnight.


Last Flight of the Demonstar

“What have you done Steve? What have you started?”
The squirrel stared at me through the haze of smoke and grinned around the glowing stub of his cigar. He and three other strange figures sat at the coffee table in the middle of the main room of the suite, and Steve was dealing cards to each of them. All four had a pile of chips in front of them; the smell of fried potato was what had brought me out of the room in the first place.
“Relax Max!” he said, and blew out another cloud of smoke. “Me and the boys thought we’d just have a quick game. You want in?”
The squirrel gestured to the space between him and Feathers McGraw, a small hippo wearing a green waistcoat, a green bowler hat and who had a monocle clamped in one eye.
“No I don’t want in, Steve!” I resisted the urge grab him by the fur and shake him. “You can’t play a game now, the guys will be here in a minute!”

Furiously I waved at the cigar smoke that was rapidly filling the room, and moved to the window and thrust it open, gulping in the cold night air.
“What are they coming here for?” Steve demanded, sounding annoyed.
“Band meeting,” I told him. “We’re on in two hours, for Christ sake!”
“That explains your crazy get up then,” muttered Captain Squizzletips, delicately picking his nose with the tips of one of his tails.
“Says the bright blue monkey with three tails and yellow feathers!” I said, and snatched a magazine from the table by the window and threw it at him. “And don’t you dare wipe that on the sofa, use a tissue!” I turned back to look out the window, breathing deeply. I didn’t need this, not now. Not before a show.

I heard the soft scuffing of feet on the carpet and Sally came to stand beside me. She was the tallest of them, but the top of her head only reached my waist. I stared out at the city below, and then I felt a small clawed hand tugging at the hem of my shirt.
“Are you alright Max?”
Sighing, I looked down at her; her curious, crocodile-like body was covered by the brightly coloured summer dress, and I’d helped her cut slits in the back so that her white feathery wings could fit through.
“I’m alright,” I said. “I’m just… This is the last one, you know? Last Flight of the Demonstar…”
“But that’s good, isn’t it?” she asked, her eyes full of confusion. “You get to rest for a month or two, and then it’s back in the studio with the guys!” I shrugged, and the confusion changed to concern. “What is it?”

I shook my head, unwilling to voice the thoughts that were preying on my mind. I flashed her a grin, and turned back to the room, seeing that Steve and the others were still gathered round the table.
“Steve, I mean it!” I groaned, by body sagging with despair. “You can’t play now!”
“Just a quick one,” Steve said, not looking at me, “I’ve got a killer hand here…”
Just then there was a thumping at the door to the suite and Jake’s voice shouting through the door.
“Come on then, dickhead, let us in!”

Feathers let out a very un-hippo-like squeak, and ducked under the table. Steve threw his cards down angrily, glaring at the door.
“Who the hell is that?” he demanded. “What do they want?”
“It’s the rest of the band,” I told him. “Band meeting, like before every other show we’ve ever done!” I snatched the bin from beside the sofa and hastily swept the piles of chips off the table into it, leaving greasy smears across the expensive coffee table. Steve tried to protest but I pushed him away from the table. “Come on, you need to get out of sight!”

Grumbling incoherently Steve stomped across the room and threw himself into an armchair as the Captain and Feathers started to pick up the cards that had been dealt. I hissed at them to leave them and moved over to the door, turning to speak quietly over my shoulder before I opened it.
“Don’t worry, just keep out of the way, alright?”
They nodded, retreating to the same chair Steve was sulking in. Captain Squizzletips climbed up to perch on one arm, while Feathers scrambled gracelessly up to sit on the other. With a fluttering of her white wings Sally flew across the room and sat herself on the back of the chair. The chair was out of the way, and they should be safe enough there. Thankfully Sally’s wingbeats had also managed to banish the last of the cigar smoke from the room as well. I grinned at them and then opened the door.

“Hello lads,” I said, and grinned at my bandmates. Jake (lead guitar) stood with his fist raised ready to hit the door again, the rest behind him; Eric (rhythm guitar), Mikey (bass) and Pegs (drums).
“What took you so long?” Jake demanded as they passed by me into the suite.
“Sorry, was getting dressed.”
They moved to the sofas by the coffee table and arranged themselves in their usual places. The hotel suite, the city, even the country might be different each time, but this was Asteroid’s tenth world tour. We knew each other and we knew our routine. I moved to the wide black armchair between the sofas and sat, ready to start. Before I could speak, however, Pegs piped up, sniffing the air.
“What’s the smell?”
“Bloody cigars again, I’ll bet,” said Mikey. “You’re an odd one, Max. Why do you only smoke them when no one is here?”
“For the millionth time, Mikey, I don’t smoke!” I said, exasperated. I risked a quick, dagger-filled glance across the room to Steve, who stuck his tongue out at me. “Sometimes I light one and let it burn, that’s all. I just… like the smell.”
“Whatever you say…” Muttered Mikey, shaking his head. Then Pegs cut him off.
“And why does it stink of chips in here?”
“And there’s grease marks all over this table you know,” added Eric, and I laughed.
“Blood hell guys! Look, I was hungry, I ordered some chips from room service!”
“Didn’t they come on a plate?” Asked Pegs as he idly drew rude pictures in the grease marks.
“Oh fucking hell, enough!” Shouted Jake, and we all raised a middle finger in his direction. “Come on though, we’re on in two hours! Less, now!”
“Calm down dear,” Pegs mocked him. “You’ll still have time to do your hair before the show!”
We all laughed; Jake had a mane of blond hair he was very proud of, and we’d been late starting a gig more than once because he took so long to get ready. Still grinning, I shifted forward on the chair, perching on the edge and resting my hands on my shoulders.

“Jake’s right,” I said. “Time to put our game faces on.” The rest of them nodded, and I smiled. “So this is it guys; last one. Last show. It’s been a good one, and I don’t think we change anything tonight. The album speaks for itself, the songs work, I think we just give it everything for this last one.”
“What about the finale?” Eric asked. “We doing anything special?”
“Actually, yes,” I said, and four sets of eyebrows rose in surprise; I was never the one to suggest a finale, I usually left it to them to choose. They were intrigued, and so I did my very best to keep a straight face as I continued. “We’ll have to wing it, but I’m thinking we offer up an epic, fantasy thrash metal take on The Birdy Song.”
I grinned, waggling my eyebrows and waiting for the tirade of abuse, but the four of them sat there in silence. And then after a moment, all four of them nodded as smile spread over their faces.
“Nice,” Pegs said, “that’ll be fucking mental!”
“Guys… It a joke.”
“Oh,” said Eric, and all four of them looked slightly disappointed.

This is what it’d always been like with us; despite everything I seemed to manage to be the down to earth one, even with Steve and Feathers and the rest of them mucking about. Back when we were starting out, trying to come up with a band name, we were talking about our influences. We all agreed we were trying to create a kind of sound that was somewhere between the bands Thunder and Rush, both of whom we all worshipped like gods. So I jokingly said, if we’re aiming for a merging of the two, why not call ourselves ‘Thrush’.

I was expecting some rolled eyes, maybe a groan or two, but all four of them looked at me like I’d had the best idea in history. Took me half an hour to convince them I wasn’t being serious, and come up with something better… In the end I’d suggested Asteroid, and they’d all liked it; it was a nod to our geeky side, and also symbolic of the impact we wanted to make on the scene. Also, of course, it just sounded cool.

Back in the present moment, Eric leaned forward and grabbed a few of the cards that were scattered across the table and looked at them idly as the others were discussing songs for the finale. No one had an idea that felt right to everyone else, and in the end they looked to me again.
“Well,” I said quietly, “I thought maybe we hit them with a second go at Flight of the Demonstar.”
It was the main track of the album, a solid nine minutes of awesome; Demonstar, the reluctant hero of the story, tries to flee and outrun his destiny, but the Lord of Shadows, the antagonist, catches up with him and in the end he has no choice but to face him. It culminates in an epic crescendo of drums and guitar and towering vocals from me and a choir of vikings we’d brought in for the album recording, and who’d agreed to tour with us too. All of us agreed it was our best song, our best album.
“So that seems the only choice,” I continued. “But we really fucking smash it out, even more than usual. Make it an epic last flight for us and the fans too.”

No one spoke, but they were all nodding, faces split by wide grins. Across the room, Steve and the others gave me eight thumbs up. Well, Captain Squizzletips used his feet too, so technically it was ten.
“Fuckin’ yes,” Jake breathed. “Let’s do this!”
We talked about a few other things, but in a few minutes the guys were rising to go. We each had our own little routines before we did a show, and we knew they were important.

Eric was still holding the cards as he rose.
“What’s with the cards?” he asked, his eyes curious.
“I was playing solitaire earlier, that’s all.” Eric raised his eyebrows and dropped the cards onto the table.
“That’s an odd deck for solitaire,” he murmured. I looked down at the cards and saw they were an odd lot indeed. Some of them were ‘normal’ playing cards, a few were a DC Bombshells set (specifically Poison Ivy and Catwoman), and a few others appeared to be from Uno, and still others from Happy Families… Steve, you bastard, I thought furiously, but I shrugged and grinned.
“And it’s an odd hunger that makes you order a fuck ton of chips only to throw them away,” said Mikey, staring into the bin by the sofa. I shrugged again, wondering frantically what I could say, when Jake chimed in, chuckling.
“Hey, let the man be eccentric,” he said. “Whatever goes on in that crazy head, out of it come the songs that made Asteroid fucking legendary.”
“Speaking of which,” Pegs added, “what’s next? Got anything yet?”

I tried to ignore the cold weight that settled in my stomach and forced myself to relax. I shrugged and smiled.
“Not sure yet. Got some ideas, but nothing sure as yet. I mean, part of me even wonders…” Everyone was silent as I trailed off. I felt eight pairs of eyes intent on me; my band mates and my… Other friends. The words were there, but I couldn’t release them. Not yet. So I just shrugged and grinned, and my band mates relaxed.

We said our goodbyes, agreeing to meet in the lobby in an hour to head to the stage. As the door closed behind them I heard the flapping of wings and scurrying feet. In moments I was assailed by Steve and his companions.
“What the hell was that about?” Steve demanded and I shrugged.
“Nothing much. Just a thought I’ve been having. But we can talk about it after.”
“What is it, Max?” Sally asked, and once again her voice was concerned. I smiled and told her it was nothing, and wandered into the bedroom to finish dressing. Soon enough I was stage-ready; black boots, dark jeans, renaissance-style shirt and long black coat, a strange crossbreed of duster and pirate coat. As I turned away from the mirror I saw all four of them standing in a row, watching me with wide, worried eyes.
“What?” I asked, but neither of them spoke. I sighed. “Come on guys, I don’t have time for this.”
“We ain’t stupid you know,” Steve said, and Captain Squizzletips nodded.
“You might fool Jake and the others, but you can’t fool us.”
“Something’s wrong, Max,” Sally said. “We know it is. Talk to us.”

I tried to laugh it off, but it sounded hollow and false even to me. With a resigned sigh I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at them each in turn. They were an odd lot, to be sure, but they were also my friends. They might even be a part of me, though I still hadn’t come to any definite conclusion about that. It didn’t really make a difference; they’d always been true to me. They deserved my honesty. I look up at the ceiling for a moment, searching for the words to begin.
“I just keep thinking about what comes next, you know? I mean, everyone seems pretty unanimous that Flight of the Demonstar is the best thing we’ve ever done, and is truly one of the great albums in music history. And it’s true; I’m not being egocentric, but the fact is we were all at the top of our game creating it, and we’ve smashed this tour every single show.
“So I keep wondering, how do we follow this? How do I follow it? I don’t know if I can write songs like this again. And what if I try to, and it doesn’t work? What if we try and top this album, and we crash and burn?”

It sounded petty even as I was saying it, but Steve, Sally, Captain Squizzletips and Feathers McGraw all looked at me with sympathy and understanding. They got it. Sally stepped forward and gripped my hands with her scaly claws.
“Self-doubt is natural, Max. It’s a part of the creative process. But you can’t let it wipe away your self-belief. Look at what you’ve got; you’ve got a great band, you’ve got friends back home, you’ve got a home when you get to stay there. You’ve got your health.”
“Physically, at least,” Steve muttered, and Sally whacked him with one of her wings without turning from Max.
“You’ve got us four…” she finished. “You’ve got a lot to believe in.”
“Joking aside matey,” Steve added, “you’re where you are because of who you are. And you’ve got more songs in you. As good, if not better I reckon.”
I smiled, but before I could say thank you Feathers stepped forward. He held up two digits of his grey hippos paw and looked serious. I’d never heard him speak, never heard him make any noises beside the occasional un-hippo-like squeak in fact, and I was pretty sure he couldn’t.
“You have two things to say?” I ventured, and Feathers nodded. He pulled his small notebook and pen from his waistcoat pocket and scribbled for a moment, then he tore out the page and handed it to me. I read it curiously:


The unwise man
is awake all night
worries over and again.
When morning rises
he is restless still,
his burden as before.

“So you’re saying worrying about it isn’t helping me?” I asked, and the small hippo nodded. “Fair point. And the second thing is…?”
I was expecting a second note, but Feathers pocketed the notebook and pen again and took off his green bowler hat. He reached inside and pulled out a battered, slightly squashed, yellow and brown banana. He held it out to me, and gingerly I took it.
“A banana?”
Feathers nodded, looking very pleased with himself. His three companions looked as puzzled as I felt.
“Um. Thanks.”
After a moment Captain Squizzletips shook his head and spoke up.
“Look, I think what we’re all trying to say, albeit in very different ways, is we understand your worries. But we don’t think you should let them be the reason you stop doing what you love.”
The four of them nodded vigorously and I couldn’t help but smile.
“Thanks guys,” I said quietly, and they each grinned back at me. Then Steve pulled another cigar seemingly out of the air and planted it firmly in his mouth.
“Now get downstairs you great lump,” he said. “Get on that stage and sing your bloody lungs out!”

So that’s what I did.

* * *

Asteroid was famous for epic shows, and this latest tour was the biggest yet. There was video projection, animatronics, dancers, actual real Vikings… All this, and the five of us all loving every second of it. It was a show, a story, a journey we went on every night, telling the epic saga of Demonstar; a man of no consequence who stood alone against the vile Lord of Shadows, and did not quite die. Having fought his way back from the underworld he found that the world had united behind him, begging him to lead them to freedom. Fearing the responsibility he tried to run, until the love of a fearsome warrior princess and the sacrifice of a friend gave him the strength to face his destiny head on. It was epic. It was absurd. It was fucking glorious and the crowd, not to mention we, loved every moment of it. Finally the last chords faded to silence, and then the joyous screaming of the thousands in the audience crashed over us.

I shared a grin with Jake and the rest of the band, and then stepped to the mic. The crowd hushed quickly; usually we just launched into the encore, but this time I wanted to say something.
“Hey,” I said, and a roar went up. I grinned and rolled my eyes, waiting till it died away. “Thanks for coming. This is going to be our last song. Last song on our last show of the tour. So we wanted to finish on something… pretty epic.” Another roar crashed and faded. “It’s been an amazing journey for us so far, and who knows what comes next. But this tour has been something special, so we’re going to finish with…” A count of three… two… one… and I shouted “The Last Flight of the Demonstar!”

The crowd erupted, but their noise was drown as thirty actual Vikings started chanting the opening of our best ever song.
Steve and the others had watched the show from the side of the stage as they always did, but as I launched into the first verse they ran out on stage to join me. As Asteroid gave the best performance gave the best performance of our lives I danced and capered with Steve, Sally, Captain Squizzletips and Feather McGraw. No one else could see them, I probably looked like a madman, but I didn’t give a damn; they were my friends and this was the greatest night in the world.

All too soon the song drew to a crescendo, and Jake, Eric, Mikey, Pegs and I stood together as I belted out the final chorus, thousands of voices raised to join mine:

The Lord of Shadows is coming for you
The Night of Endings is starting for you
Dance away your final night
Raise your sword and show your might
Time to save the world again!

The music faded into the euphoric roar of the crowd as the epic show came to a final close. I hugged the band, I hugged my friends, and I walked to the front of the stage and stood, feeling the noise of the crowd buffeting me. I couldn’t stop grinning. This was it. I opened my eyes and saw the Captain, Steve and Feathers running across the crowd, hopping from head to head as Sally glided over them. And in the night sky above them, nestled amongst the clouds, a great serpentine head looked down at me.
“A star dragon,” I murmured. “Star Dragon and the Night of Storms…”
It was no more than a title, not even an idea, not yet. But as the crowd’s roar crested again I looked up at the midnight blue dragon and it winked at me.

You’re probably wondering how does a rock and roll man like myself find time to stay sane in body and mind? The answer is… Well, one out of two’s not that bad, is it?


“You’re probably wondering how does a rock ‘n’ roll man like myself find time to stay sane in body and mind. The answer is vicious masturbatory habits.”

Six months ago, such a card combination would have been followed by raucous laughter, but now it barely elicited a murmur. They were slumped around a game of Cards Against Humanity, unsure what would happen next. Would one of them eventually summon the energy to laugh? Maybe the dusty radio sat on a high shelf would finally say something. Perhaps there would be a miracle, and there would be life after death again. But such hope had been disintegrated by a thousand explosions of searing light, wiping out millions of souls and the virus that bought them back. Each one of them had witnessed the devastation administered so quickly by god-like hands, and they were envious.

Karen was the first to throw in her cards, she’d pulled out another tooth out after lunch, and her softening bones burned from the inside out. Not a word was spoken as she limped to her cot and tugged a small box from underneath. It was her time to pass out of the world, to save the little dignity that had not been stolen from her wretched body. Taking the needle hidden safe inside, she sunk it deep into her arm, releasing the barbiturates with a push of her thumb. As the bitter drug slipped through her veins, she took comfort in the warmth of the companions that surrounded her, that laid their hands on her dying body as they had all done for those who went before her. Although the silence of death ushered her into cold and empty isolation, she would not take the final step alone.

It only took a few minutes for the rush of death to take over, suffocating her lungs and crushing her heart until her soul flew free. No longer held in agonising rictus, the body slumped, jaw hanging open to reveal the maw of necrotic flesh in her mouth that she had kept hidden for weeks now. Not one of them even grimaced as they picked up her remains, each aware of their own living rot.

The door might have only been a handful of feet from the table, but their wasted muscles cramped and cried under her meagre weight. They didn’t bother to don scarfs over their faces as they once used to when going outside. There wasn’t any point when the radiation carried in the eddies of dust also laced their water. It was not far from the door that they dropped the body, unable to care for it any longer, and with it they abandoned the meagre hope that they had carried with them since the world ended. Before the dead returned to walk with the living, before the governments, drowning in moral and bureaucratic fear, had taken to exterminating the virus without thought of consequence, Karen had been a person who blazed with furious life. But when the bombs exploded and the black rains ran, the brilliance had leached from her, the following dust storms scouring away what little remained. The death of someone so saturated in energy, so suited to the second life briefly offered, had eradicated the group’s will to survive. Collapsing into their cots, they each began to embrace the decay crawling through their limbs as if the maggots already feasted.

A hacking cough clawed through the quiet, accompanied by retching as someone cleared their lungs of phlegm. It spattered across the outside of the door. Three tentative knocks followed. One of them, having no fear left, eased themselves up to swing open the door. Karen stood at the threshold wiping the last of the sputum from her chin. A cheeky grin spread across her face as she watched the hope rekindle in the wasted faces before her as she strode in, no pain or exhaustion dragging at her steps.

“I’m gonna let you into a secret. I really shouldn’t be here.”

Star Nicholas II

“The star died; despite everything I did, everything I tried to do…” “That’s how the story is going to end, unless you listen to me this time” were the irritable words that hissed from Culper’s cracked and bleeding lips as her veiny hand shot up to blast a bubbling blue portal into the frosted brick wall. The cluster of soldiers in cobbled-together reds had barely turned the corner as Culper swung her companion through the rift, with only the slowly dissipating plume of her icy white rebuke left behind as the blue circle closed.


Poe’s body slammed, almost perfectly horizontally, onto the middle of the table of a regency dinner much to the horror of the party guests. He groaned into the venison as wobbly-haired ponces shrieked accusations of witchery, whilst one solitary and particularly dense guest applauded the host’s ingenious surprise entertainment. Two heavy, mismatched boots landed either side of Poe’s neck and he knew best to keep his head meat-facing for the time being. He felt the accusatory gaze shift from him to the wispy haired, electric eyed woman with both feet planted firmly in ridiculous platefuls of now crushed meals. Silence hit the room as hard as Poe had entered it, until a giggle emerged from aforementioned moron squeezed into her pastel pink corset. Culper sufficiently shot her in the face which, it is safe to assume, was a fairly simple indication for a mass Georgian exodus of the dining hall. Culper gently writhed her fingers into her palm, extinguishing the sapphire glow that crackled in the centre. She hopped off the table, wiping her boots on the chair cushions on her way down, and strode towards the gigantic doors. Poe listened as Culper rammed her hip into the lock, somehow bolting it, and as the somewhat cakey clipping of her feet on the marble casually made their way to close the rest of the doors. “What did we learn?”

Poe sighed heavily, inhaling an upsetting meaty warmth. “What did we learn, Poe?” Culper pressed again in a patronisingly melodic tone reserved solely for lecturing. “Don’t befriend the target” Poe muffled meatily. “And?” she probed. “Make sure you know the difference between the attackers and the defence”. “Becaaause?” “Because…” Poe resigned, “you may mistakenly let a friendly looking Bolshevik into the plan to save the star, forcing them to kill him and his family quicker whilst risking personal safety.” Culper’s hand, still warm from transit, patted Poe’s head. “There we go”, she exhaled, wandering off to scavenge for alcohols still intact on the table, “And by Kuiper’s belt, for the last time it’s TSAR, Poe.” The student lifted himself off the feat, picking out flakes of various hams and potato fragments that were now embedded in his eyelashes, and plonked himself on the edge of the table. “Okay, sorry, TSAR then”, he sulked, “but I’m sure he wasn’t so bad, I mean the Russian’s started making pilgrimages to Ekaterinburg in the Twentieth Ten’s and-“ An empty bottle flew in his direction, with Poe barely moving out the way of its projectile. “Stop with the fluffy-headed, andy pandy nonsense” belched his partner. There were a lot of things Culper would say that Poe did not quite understand, many of which were obscure references she had worked hard to pick up and throw out at will. Poe assumed that “andy pandy” was one of those, but regardless he understood that her threat was still very much looming. It was best to keep moving whilst various cutlery and dinner wares flew at great speed in his direction. “We are not contracted to buddy up with the targets. We get in at the fixed point in time, we get them out before they get their brains blown out and we take them to the Museum for processing by the Curator. This is not, and will not, be another Hitler incident!” Another plate crashed into the wall. Hitler-gate was legendary in the ranks as the greatest cock-up in the HPI (Historical Persons of Interest). Supposedly another of Culper’s squirts struck up some sort of vegetarian friendship with the dictator and, in some untraceable and likely indescribable occurrence led to Hitler, alongside his neue salad munching freund, was nowhere to be seen in any of the alternate realities. Some of the older recruits used to suggest that Culper was actually privy to what happened down in the bunker, but the resounding factor that remained was that the Curator was displeased.

 A small white napkin stained with various wine splatters waved furiously from under the table. “It won’t happen again, I promise!”, begged Poe as slowly rose with the cloth, “Can we try again? I won’t cock it up again I swear. By the book.”


The angry Russian man with disconcerting facial hair slugged Culper one square on her battered jaw, and she slumped forward on the chair to which she was bound. Red spittle and a bit of tooth fell from her gaping mouth and bounced off the cold, dirty floor of the very same improvised-prison they had just escaped. The idiot boy cocked up again. Contrary to opinion, there were a limited number of realities that could be accessed by the travellers, and Poe had knocked off one of the few remaining avenues. Another punch suckered into her cheek bone, and something cracked out of place. “I ask you again. Where is your co-conspirator?” growled the Russian to Culper as three of his red comrads glared at her like the homemade album cover of a moody teenage rap crew. Culper raised her head to shoot back a harsh stare, but hesistated a moment. Through the wintery locks that fell over her face, she could just see The Tsar and his family tip toeing up the cellar stairs behind the backs of the guards with Poe swiftly following, giving a fairly inappropriate thumbs up as he went up and out the back door. Culper snorted with a wry smile. “Well, what do you have to say?” probed the Russian. Culper grinned. Memories of Hitlergate had been punched forward into her head. Waiting until her cohort and the cargo were out of sight, she leaned forward coyly and whispered to the Russian: “Now I know what you’re thinking, performing a vasectomy on a Badger using your wife’s shoes with a gun to your head sounds like a serious situation…”


Not Mostly Harmless

I’m gonna let you into a secret. I shouldn’t really be here.

“Will you please shut up?” cursed Lara under her breath.

No! I’ve been telling you for weeks that I’m not supposed to be here, it’s a bloody travesty. I’m supposed to be going to the Bolerian Pleasure Planet not bloody Connaught.

“Well you’re here now can’t you just make the best of it?”

No! No I can’t… You know what they have on the Bolerian Pleasure Planet? The finest food, the trippiest drugs and the dirtiest hookers in all the universe. You know what they don’t have? Psychotic aliens with a penchant for cutting off people’s heads and putting them on their mantelpiece.

“Yes, yes and I’m sure there is a nice passage in the guide already telling people that, what there isn’t is a passage telling people about Connaught. That’s why we’re here to do some research and let people know what it’s really like.”

What it’s really like? What it’s really like?!?! Look around you moron it’s fucking horrible.

As if to emphasise the point an piercing scream echoed down the street where Lara and G37894 – her own personal researchers copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – were hiding behind some bins.

“That could have been a scream of delight,” said Lara edging unconsciously further behind the bins.

“Argh! No stop trying to rip off my head!!!” came a panicked cry.

“They could be roleplaying?”

“Please no! Help, someone anyone I’m deadly serious that I need help.”

“Oh come on!” shouted Lara “You’re ruining my point here!” The only answer was the sound of a head being ripped from a living body.

Told you, terrible; look I’ll put that in the book. Lara saw the words Connaught: Terrible. Appear on G37894’s screen. See I’ve written it down can we go now?

“Look we’ve only been here five minutes… let’s just have a look around get a feel for the place, maybe check out a couple of restaurants and then when we have more to go on we can leave, deal?”

More to go on? You need more after hearing that?

“Shh! I think someone is coming,” hissed Lara.

No! I will not be silenced! 

Lara tilted G37894 to one side and flipped the mute button. The guide vibrated and as Lara flipped it open to disable the vibrate function the screen lit up with the word dick repeated over and over. Lara rolled her eyes and jammed G37894 into her pack just as a pair of fearsome looking Predators rounded the corner shoulder guns whipping from side to side searching for a target.

Lara inched back further behind the bins. The lead Predator tapped the second on his shoulder and pointed to the bins where Lara was hiding and in unison they slapped their wrists and vanished. Lara froze not daring even to breathe. She stayed that way for what felt like an eternity, her lungs burning screaming for air then there was a flash and the bin to her right exploded. Trash rained down from the sky and a family of green, scaly cats scattered with a loud hiss. The Predators flashed back into existence the one at the back doubling over with laughter while the one in the front cursed him out. Lara covered in trash and smelly bin water edged backwards then legged it down the nearest alleyway.


The day didn’t really get much better from there. In the next two hours Lara saw fifteen killings, four street fights and one of the worst slam poetry recitals she’d ever witnessed; it was almost a relief when a passing mob of Predators drunk on killing tore the beret wearing muppet to pieces. Connaught it turned out really was terrible, which G37894 made a point of saying any time Lara took him out of her pack to make notes.

Can we go now?

“Fine,” sighed Lara. “I’d usually try to get a couple of days worth of data but I think we have managed to capture the spirit of the place.”

I’ll be washing the spirit of the place out of my charger socket for a month

“I could use a shower,” agreed Lara. “We were a bit close to that poet when that big fella torn his arm off and started slapping him with it. Anyway I think the ship is just down there on the left let’s go.”

Lara ducked out from behind a gore stained building and trotted cautiously off down the street, when she reached the corner she stopped dead.

What is it?

“Tourist information,” replied Lara pointing to the little office opposite.

Don’t even think about it.

“I’ll just stick my head in maybe they have some brochures or something we can take with us for the ride home.”

Or maybe they’ll have a big knife for us they will use to pry our lid off and mess with our insides.

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic,” said Lara crossing the street to the Tourist Information office. “If one place is going to be safe it’s tourist information.”

Lara turned the handle and stepped inside the dusty little office to be confronted by a small elderly Predator buffing the flesh off a skull.

“Umm… maybe I’ll come back another time,” said Lara edging back out of the door.

“Oh no you don’t!” cried the Predator her shoulder gun swinging to point at Lara. “Get in here!”

Lara threw her hands in the air and stopped dead.

“That’s a nice skull you have there,” said the Predator looking her over critically. “It would look real nice on my shelf.” She waved her hand to a horrifying shelf crammed with the polished skulls of hundreds of creatures. “I’ve always wanted a human but never did get round to going to Earth.”

Told you so

“Hush you,” hissed Lara.

“Oh what have you got there missy?” asked the Predator. “Some kind of talking computer? Why don’t you show old Gertie?”

Don’t even think about it

Lara slid her hand into her pack and brought out G37894. “It’s my copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He’s called G37894.”

I’d say nice top meet you but it’s really not

“Be nice you,” said Lara. “We don’t want to make her mad.”

I think mad is their default setting

“What’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” asked Gertie dropping the skull she was working on to the desk and trundling over for a closer look.

“It’s a book with entries for everywhere in the Galaxy so people know what to expect when they visit, kind of like a travel guide.”

“Do you have an entry for Connaught?”

“That’s why we’re here to do some research and provide an entry for the book.”

“So what are you going to say?”


“You’re not helping G.”

“Oh no, no that won’t do at all we need a nice entry so then we will get some tourists coming here. Tourists with shiny skulls we can put on our shelves. I tell you what do us a good review and I’ll let you go, skull and all how’s that?”

Lara looked at G37894, I think we can do that give us a minute. The Predator nodded and went back to cleaning the skull on her desk. Lara went to the corner of the office and crouched down whispering to G37894. “What does the entry we have so far say?”

Connaught, come for the creepy skull souvenirs, stay because you’ve been beheaded and turned into a creepy skull souvenir.

“I’ll be honest I’m not sure the tourist board is going to go for that,” replied Lara. “How about we try to tart it up a little?”

Fine but I take no responsibility for any stupid tourists who end up a head shorter and significantly less talkative… 

“Just do it,” hissed Lara. “Trust me I look much better in my original packaging. Besides don’t think they’d stop at me, I saw an iPad back there with her fascia hanging off and it wasn’t pretty.

“Kill me,” moaned Siri from the mangled tablet on the horror shelf.

Green letters ran down the screen so fast Lara couldn’t read them as G37894 drafted and discarded pitch after pitch faster than the human brain could process them. The writing got faster and faster and smoke started to creep out of the corner of the small screen. Lara waved G37894 up and down to waft away the smoke but it just got thicker and blacker until a gout of flame burst from the side of the screen. Cursing Lara dropped G37894 and as he clattered to the hard stone floor the screen lit up flashing green words showing the new entry in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for Connaught, home of the most bloodthirsty race of hunters in the universe:

Connaught the Predator Home World was known throughout the galaxy as a perfect Utopia. Here the endless war between the Aliens with their duck comrades and the Predators with their pigeon brothers was a distant thing.



The star died; despite everything I did, everything I tried to do, that’s how this story is going to end, unless you listen to me this time.


Right, sit rep for those not keeping up and for my own meta-purposes. I’ve woken up dead, I’ve accidentally caused the outbreak of a zombie virus, I’ve fought a massive zombie bodyguard who turned into a weird love child of Dwayne Johnson, The Joker and Sid Vicious. I’ve defied death (TWICE) and got hit on by some hotty vampire with Frankenstein as an assistant. I’ve fallen to my death, defied it again, and got deep with a lycan. I’m starting to think that that last part might have been concussion.  Either way, I feel in control of all my faculties and I am at my endgame, or there abouts. Two parts stand between me and victory. I am completely shitting myself at the thought of getting hit by that monster again.

Ah well, I click my neck and head towards the nearest door; this was lucky as I narrowly avoided begin crushed by a 300-pound mammoth body that turned into Angel Delight as it reached the garden.

“That lycan is gonna be pissed!” I exclaimed, to nobody in general. I stepped closer to the large pizza wondering what the hell was going on. I recognised the green clumps of hair in the gloopy mess and realised I’d just been replaced in the job of eliminator. Denzel Washington was here! I looked up to the tower and spotted a small red blip in the hole in the wall and realised that either Denzel was looking into playing Ru Paul or it wasn’t that famed actor of such great films such as…

Shit, it was The Equaliser.


1954 steps later, I was standing in front of the vampiric angel who looked pretty pleased with herself. I saw no sign of the little man with the god complex but I’m sure that if I kick this door to swing back on itself…

“Owwie!” A faint voice cried behind the solid oak; found him.

“Very good, Mr Spy,” said the vampire as she glided towards the hearth. “I was not expecting you to make it back up here so thought I’d come do it myself. Never send a man to do a woman’s job, no?” She picked up a goblet of what I can only assume was merlot, as no self-respecting would be seen dead drinking blood before 12. “What in hell’s name are you wearing?!”

Ah, she had noticed my pit stop on the way up here. I had picked up a sword and shield with light armour and was pulling my best Zelda impression. His name is Zelda, right? Here was my Ganon; my endgame. Oh, and that last fucking closing line. Right, let’s bullshit our way out of this one like we always do!

I readied my sword, preparing to tackle the dragon of a woman. She was a very attractive dragon. Not like Smaug or Wales, but like the dragon in the Beowulf film in 2009. As I prepared to face what could possibly be my actual ACTUAL death, I remembered a night back at the academy; the place I had learned the tricks of the trade.

We sat around a hearth, not too dissimilar to the one in this very room, and we were talking to our commanding officer over a dram of liquid fire. He had been sharing old war stories and reminding us that once we leave, we were on our own. We were about to leave when Jenkins asked the commanding officer the question we had all been creating rumours about since we started the academy.

“Sir, how did you get that scar on your side of your head?”

He chuckled at this; something that we had not expected. He drained his tumbler and then cracked his knuckles. He stretched in his chair.

“Let’s just say this, my boys. One day you’ll find yourself fighting for your life and it’ll seem completely normal to you but to the outside eye it’s completely bonkers!” he chuckled again.

“What does that mean?” Asked Jenkins.

“I got this scar in a previous life. It was the reason I came to the academy, but not a student. I came as a consultant. I was held at gunpoint by a woman who was at large to the MI6 for stealing information. She wanted me to save the life of her pet badger in the middle of my living room.”

We looked at him in absolute shock and confusion.

“Now I know what you’re thinking, performing a vasectomy on a badger using your wife’s shoes with a gun to your head suggests a serious situation.”



“I’m gonna let you into a secret. I shouldn’t really be here.”

She chuckled softly and glided over to the short creature sorting the machinery and whispered something into it’s ear. With a flurry of a lab coat, it produced a remote from the inner workings and handed it to the lady.

“I believe you have met Frank?” she asked as she headed for a stack of monitors. For a split second I was lost, not sure who she was referring to, but then she turned on the monitors and the Bret Michaels bodybuilder appeared. He was sat at the head of a large wooden table with a bottle of Fireball Whiskey.

“Frank? Really? Fucking Frank?”

She looked taken aback. “What is wrong with the name Frank?”

I took in this vision of a woman and realised that there had to be a floor and unfortunately I had stumbled into it. I cleared my throat…

“A) This is to subtlety what broad strokes are to pointillism. Just in case your disgusting disguise of culture is more dense than first inspection, pointillism is the art form of creating a larger image from small specific placement of paint. B) Frankenstein was never the large mammoth creation! Victor Frankenstein is Frankenstein, the creature in most instances does not have a name. Calling that thing on the screen there Frank is just low par on several levels.”

The room went silent and she held me in her gaze; then she began to laugh with complete mirth. After a minute she subsided and returned her gaze to me.

“My dear little spy man, I know of this literary slight that you refer to. However I do not call Frank Frank because he is like the creation from Mary Shelley’s documentation of my dear friend’s work. You may ask Viktor himself,” she gestured to the small man in the lab coat. He nodded curtly and returned to his work. “Frank,” she continued, “is simply the name of the man that is now downing Dutch courage there before coming to terms with what he should do with his new lease of life. He is an anomaly in the desired outcome of our experiment.”


You could hear a penny drop.

The penny dropped.

“This was you?!” If I had control of my limbs I would be backing away at this point.

“Come come, Mr Spy. This is the way of the worlds! In all stories there is a protagonist and an antagonist; you need a bad guy to overcome, surely?”

“I’m not a fucking hero! I already said I’m a Wade Wilson anti-hero type in a previous part of this shit!” I can’t believe she hadn’t been keeping up with the narrative. Bloody Vampires!

“Ah but an anti-hero is still a protagonist, the ends justify the means. The only difference is you chuckle as you kill whilst someone like Spider-Man believe that you shouldn’t kill. I want you to go and rectify my error…”

No comment.

“Frank, Mr Spy man. I want you to go kill Frank.”

This time it was my turn to laugh.

“And how do you suppose I do this, what with you using your funky mind powers and your feminine wiles to keep me from making a move no matter how hard I try?”

With this I dropped to the floor; for the first time since the fight, my body experiencing sensations and this time it wasn’t pain!

“So what’s stopping me from just killing the pair of you and leaving without having to do any other work?” There was no response, so I answered myself. “Oh yeah, your Jean Grey mind shit. What’s the pay?”

“How about I don’t kill you?”

“HA!” I exclaimed, “jokes on you! I’m already dead!”

“I am well aware, Mr Spy,” she strode to the desk where several bottles of purple liquids on. “However, I have a cure to bring you back. You may take this as payment and whatever you can carry from the surrounding mansion.”

I clicked my neck and headed for the door.

“Time to make the fucking chimichangas!”



1915 steps later, I stood at the bottom of the small staircase leading to the top room where this whole spunk bubble of a day had started. I took a quick check of the steps in front of me and realised the architect responsible for this monstrosity of a building was clearly a John Buchan fan. I skipped the bottom step to ruin the gag and 38 steps later I stood at the hole that was the doorway to the oval room. I couldn’t see the beast anywhere and remembered he had moved down to a dining room, so I turned to descend again and took a fist square on in the face. I flew across the room and out of the gash in the wall I had been dropped out of not 30 minutes (or about 1200 words ago).

I hit the ground, dazed and confused. The gardener turned to see me slowly crawl out of the crater I had created on landing.

“Are you okay there, lad?” He asked warily.

I stuck up my broken index finger to make a point to the old man, but my witty remark came out a little absurd…

“Connaught – the predator home world – was known throughout the galaxy as a perfect utopia. Here the endless war between the Aliens with their duck comrades and the Predators with their pigeon brothers was a distant thing.”




N.B. I know that was really reaching but come the fuck on!

Deadpooled ;) PART 4 OF 8

You’re probably wondering, how does a rock and roll man like myself find time to remain sane in body and mind. The answer is references; sweet unadulterated pop culture and niche references.

People who have spent more than a fleeting moment with me shall attest to this. It’s funny to watch them look baffled by the three jumps ahead quotes that land with a look of half confusion and disappointment. This has been a familiar look; since birth really…

Anyway! I digress.

So I’m hanging from the gargoyle and my arms are starting to burn with all the swinging – of both punches and from stonework – so I try to find a more comfortable position. I manage to swing my foot onto the ledge to the side of me, then pathetically reaching with the other and throwing myself into the wall. We embrace for a second; sweet, loving wall. Then I fell on my face.

I looked up, disorientated, to find myself in some kind of lab. There was a short figure stood in the shadows, busying around with several jars and beakers. It turned and walked towards me and I was under the impression it was about the acknowledge me but it simply stepped over my head and continued to the other side of the room where it started playing with a very knobby device that was humming and whirring quietly to itself.

“It seems we have an unexpected guest,” said a voice. It did not belong to the being by the angry audible apparatus, but came from somewhere above. It was low and smokey, almost sultry but with a hint of an accent; it sent shivers down my already frosty spine. I tried to turn my head to inspect who’s this voice might be but I was somehow glued to the spot (maybe the machine was some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?). The voice continued,,,

“What have we here? Little spy man was meant to die from the Legionetta Virus.”

I swung up like a feather in the breeze, frozen in the murder victim pose and not enjoying the lack of control to the situation. I was, however, now face to face with the exotic voiced person. She was breath taking-ly beautiful, like Kate Beckinsale with a hit of Amy MacDonald. She wore a gothic red dress with velvet gloves, though it was a very modern take; I believe it’s called a mullet dress. What? Don’t look at me like that! Guys can be interested in fashion too! Just don’t get it for a wedding dress, unless you’re marrying Axel.

“What are you doing here, little spy man?” She asked, running her nail under my chin. There was a dark red tinge to her iris and her purple lipstick had flecks of rouge as well. I was brought back from my daydream by a slap across the face. “I said what are you doing here?” I chuckled as she returned the ability to breath, thus speak; she had done that on purpose! I craned my neck forward and whispered with a cheeky grin and a wink…

“I’m gonna let you into a secret. I shouldn’t really be here.”

Deadpooled ;) Part 2 of 8

So as I mentioned in the opening of this month, I will be writing a continuous example piece this month because I am not writing an example next month. This also poses quite a challenge to try and make a solid through-line with each of the opening and closing lines that the writers have been given. So without further ado, part 2…


“I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”

My fist throbbed from slamming it into the thick skull of the cowboy abomination. Now this really ruins my day, I mean it’s a shitty one to begin with but come on! I wake up a zombie after taking out my target; I find my iPod is also dead; The security guard has been replaced with a six-foot Toby Keith fan and now I’m struggling to come across as cool and heroic in my own fucking short story! I find myself questioning if my psychiatrist was right when he said that life is a half full kinda place.

By now he had regained his footing and was bearing down on me with a look of pure hatred. I don’t know if he was angry with me for his jaw or his employer – probably both – but the post-mortem rage was looking directly at me. He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and lifted me to eye level.

“Lishen you little sshhit, I’ve been through hell and back thish morning with the assashination attempt…”

“Assassination,” I cut in. I think the head on the desk behind us proved the attempt was successful. He punched me hard in the stomach, which caught me off guard and so I let him have his little victory.

“Ash I wash shaying, you try to kill my employer which leadsh to me being killed. I wake up with thish acrid tashte in my mouth and shuddenly I’m eating my shecond-in-comma-…” the last part was lost on me as I had placed my foot in his bollocksh; apologies, I couldn’t resist. He dropped me and I sprung back on landing into a roundhouse to his face. His bulk and brute strength gave him an advantage over me but he was slow and heavy which meant in a flurry of hits I had him on the offensive. I continued to throw punch after punch as he tried to block them but he was losing ground.

“She’s dead you boneheaded prick. Why are you still fighting for her?” I chanced between blows, slightly bored with the monotonous drumming against his abdomen.

“There’sh an antidote. Shomewhere in thish room, she hash the formula to bring me back to life.”

I stopped swinging at this. From the brief experience of life after death I had so far endured I was not too pained to continue; however, it’s bloody cold and I can’t really taste much so I wouldn’t mind drinking that formula before going for my post assassination steak. What I wasn’t expecting was this was payback for the groin shot. He swung his fist and caught me right it the side of the head and the room spiralled. I came to about a minute later to see the big bastard bent double.

“Har har har, puny hitman can’t even take little shmack to shide of head!” he howled, beating his hand against his thigh and wiping his eyes with the back of his other. There was a small glass vial in his hand which glowed a neon violet. He lifted the vial to his lips and drank the whole thing in one, letting the last little bit drip into his mouth. He started laughing again, but this time it seemed more maniacal. Smoke started to erupt from his nostrils and his ears but he kept cackling. Purple fumes rose off his skin and he kept on cackling. His skin was going visibly pale and hair a mottled shade of green and he kept laughing. Before we cut hard into the copyright of another comic series and also had to lower ourselves into a place that can’t even remember they don’t have to put Comics after their company name – the C stands for Comics, for gods’ sake – I looked to the heavens.

“What have you done, Steven. What have you started?”

I have a Cunning(ham) Plan…

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

Wow, it’s July’s challenge already. There’s only one more month to go after this until will find the winning writer for DAGNA’S WRITER OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!

Slowly but surely, you should find that you are able to vote for your favourite parodies that have been entered for June’s challenge by clicking here. For those of you wondering what the hell I’m going on about with the title to this month’s blog, allow me to explain.

Merce Cunningham is a name that I have written and spoken so many times as someone who studied contact improvisation at university. One of the incredible things I remember about reading and listening to lectures about the work of Cunningham was his use of chance. He would roll a dice to decide the lighting or structure of a performance at the tech rehearsal and allow the very nature of improvisation and fate intertwine. I decided to borrow this to engage an idea I’ve had for Novel Dreamers for a while and as such I give you my cunning plan…

Each writer will be receiving an opening and closing sentence that they must incorporate into their writing this month. They must weave a tale that get’s the reader from that opening gambit to the closing line by any means they want. The twist comes in when you find that I’ve pulled the writers into a pool and pulled their names at random to create an order which is as follows:

  1. Steve Archer
  2. Hannah Torrance
  3. Matt Beames
  4. Kyra Leigh
  5. Picto Pirate
  6. Leanne Pearce
  7. Kirsty Mealing
  8. Richard Leverton

After doing this, I requested from friends to offer opening lines to short stories and then numbered each entrance and pulled a line for each writer which I shan’t share here but they will be emboldened in the hand in pieces as you’ll see in the following example piece shortly. So each writer has an opening line, but what about the closing line? Well each proceeding writer is using the previous writer’s opening line as their own closing line, as such:

  1. Steve Archer Closes/Hannah Torrance Opens
  2. Hannah Torrance Closes/Matt Beames Opens
  3. Matt Beames Closes/Kyra Leigh Opens

This follows all the way along until Richard takes my opening sentence as his closing creating an infinite loop! It’ll become much clearer over the month as my challenge for the example piece is to try give an entire example of what I’m trying to do. The example you’re about to see is the short piece I’ve written with my opening line and my closing line/Hannah Torrance’s opening line. In 4 days time I shall upload my example piece for Hannah’s opening line to Beamesy’s opening line, culminating in a full text by the hand in weekend as I don’t have an example piece to write next month 😦 (more on that next month).

So until then, dear readers, enjoy the work so far of these incredible writers, put up with my example piece and following 7 pieces to come and above all, give these guys the votes they need and deserve!




Deadpooled 😉

You know it’s not going to be a great day when you wake up dead, and you can be fairly sure it’ll be a bad day when you wake up dead with a hangover, an empty bottle of tequila, and the head of the princess of Lichtenstein. Talk about your Hollywood wet dream! It’s everything a summer blockbuster needs according to the coke fuelled, beige imagination sporting calculators in suits. Luring opening line; zombies; The Hangover part fucking too many and a gritty realism with the head of some blonde bimbo with a huge black dildo being bit in two by the ensuing rigamortis. Warm Bodies eat your fucking heart out!

For what it’s worth, my name is Rick. Well it used to be Rick and as I’m apparently “undead” I feel like I can keep the moniker for the foreseeable future. Fuck off with your question of “is your last name Grimes?” before you even start. Yes, this is a zombie story but I’m far from playing brooding hero with the dark past; I’m more of your Wade Wilson type. I am a mercenary, who has been paid…

Was I even fucking paid?!

Right. I was hopefully paid by some royal family associate to come to Lichtenstein – which I thought was the actual place in Wolfenstein – to remove the current threat to international relations all round. What I wasn’t expecting was for Miss Uncongeniality over there had the keys to the new improved formula Neo Nazi nightmare that is the Lemming Strain. Ok, it’s not actually called the Lemming Strain but I didn’t pay attention in the briefing and people are dropping like… you get where I’m going; if you don’t, shut up and go play Lemmings. So boring shit, nothing new, every bloody story/film/game has some stupid government doing dubious things and a few months later everyone’s walking around like students at fresher’s week (bites and all). One thing we hadn’t expected was certain people have DNA that react differently to the strain and as such they are fucking unstoppable; like OJ Simpson unstoppable. Which is where you join me now with the door exploded open into splinters as a 6ft musclebound cowboy strode through the remaining frame.

“Puny ex-man is not doing good, no?” His English was as bad as his aftershave, though that may have been the roadkill of a mullet he was rocking.

“I did the Deadpool reference earlier, asshole. He isn’t an…” I feel like bad guys don’t leave time for witty repartee before or between punches. The air kicked out of my lungs quicker than a fat kid on a waterslide and I flew across the room before sliding down the wall that caught me. I looked up at the mountain of a zombie in front of me, not completely sure why I opened my mouth to begin with. These things were just unfair, yeah I said it! A small part of your DNA gives you the ability to retain your mental faculties after death and gives you enhanced abilities; great! Some people unconsciously choose to forgo mental capacity for increased physical capability and this brute of a man was one of those bastards. Guess who gets to try take him down?

I threw myself at the midst of the sinuous monster, he braced himself for my tackle. I expected this and leaped up, placing my foot on his upper thigh and launched myself over him before bringing all my weight down in my fist as it connected with his jaw and shattered (his jaw, haters please!) as I landed in a pretty badass Blade like one knee bow. Then he started chuckling and I turned to see him click his few remaining fragments back into place.

“You bwoke my jaw, fuckface” he glowered in hatred at me, finally pausing before swinging!

“I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”