Friday, 5 November 2010

Cold Case

"Hey, guy, any cold sodas?" The kid exuded youthful disdain, hands thrust deep in dark pockets, eyes hard.

Adams observed the swagger. Shoplifter? he thought Stick up guy?  "Sure," he said. "Big cooler in back of aisle three."

You could get there from two but the convex mirror had a better view of three.

Adams watched, drumming the cash box with the pistol kept inside.

Serving other customers, it was a while before he realised the kid'd been back there for near half an hour.

He headed down.

The fridge hummed, deep and buzzing like a two ton wasp.

On the floor in the fluorescent light specks of liquid glinted, a small dark scrap of fabric was caught in the door seal like a lolling tongue, and, in the shadows, a gun.

Adams bent, sciatica flaring. Damn kids, he thought.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Elements and Classification

Much like Hip Hop, story, for me, has four elements*: character, setting, conflict and resolution.

My rule for the shorts I’ve been writing is to try and include at least three from the list, as well as attempting to craft a semblance of beginning, middle and end - even when I’m trying to follow William Goldman’s advice to come in as late as possible and get out as early as you can.

I think I’ve been moderately successful this month, with only a very few sailing in to the land of vignette rather than being a fully fledged story.

I also very much like Orson Scott Card’s concept of MICE (Milieu, Idea, Character and Event) and I think my four elements are strongly correlated.

Genre, on the other hand, has always been a thornier problem. Record shops always confuse me with their plethora of genres and sub-genres.  And according to my mp3 tags I like a multi-headed hydra of ambiguously titled genres that seem to bear no relation to what I’m listening to, with artists sorted differently depending on album or even track.

I’ll admit I’ve always preferred alphabetical order to organise my music, and I had a friend once who categorized his 12” sleeves by colour, but when it comes to fiction it’s more difficult. I think most of what I write would be classified as speculative fiction, which seems happily to contain horror, science fiction and fantasy, but even within these sub-genres it feels there’s a lot of cross over. Purists may well disagree.

Notwithstanding. I’ve made a first weak stab at categorising my stories so that they have a context that reflects my intent and hopefully this’ll helps readers who are looking for a hit of something specific.
Some are still category-less: if anyone would like to suggest categories for these orphans, feel free.

The other thing I’ve noticed this month is that some of my stories have begun referencing each other; being drawn together under some unseen internal magnetic field. I’m not going to point out which ones yet, although hopefully they’ll be obvious.

What I am going to do it to try and tie up some of the threads into what I hope will be a coherent whole by the end of this month, by which point I’ll label them and give them their own little page.

*as it happens, there seems to be no actual consensus on how many elements there are, but this works well enough for me. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

On the importance of good oral hygiene

The motionless figure lay raggedly on the floor, an expression of horror contorting his face. 

Holmes knelt at the body, the fourth found in as many days since the full moon. He reached inside the coat pocket, tossing me what he found there. 

"One M. Garou you'll find," Holmes pronounced.

"Where has this one been bitten?" I inquired.

 "Watson, look at his teeth."

The practice of dentistry was never my strong suit, yet as I looked at the yellowing teeth I saw the missing bicuspid, the canine teeth set at an unusual angle.

"These match the bite marks," I said, astounded, "but surely it was a great hound?"

"Honestly Watson, what have I told you about the improbable?" Holmes chuckled. "You skirt the truth quite delicately. Examine him. You'll find a shot to the upper chest. The bullet will be silver."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Living Colour

As the museum burned the police watched Hobbs and his statuary carefully.

As wax dripped and ran, twisting and warping into esoteric and erotic poses, steel and aluminium wire was laid bare.

"Using human beings as armatures?" Hobbs laughed. "God how beastly. Not to mention graceless and impractical."

Lighting a tallow candle he gazed lovingly around his room. "Painting has always been my love, the anatomy and mechanics of the strange my muse."

Blasted landscapes from which twisted smoking limbs curled strangely under multiple moons, outré and gibbous.

Corpse-like portraits, amoeboid, bloated and obscene, painted in livid intestinal shades cast baleful gazes.

Hobbs smiled broadly as the police dismissed his paintings with disgust.

Each blasphemous canvas rendered lavishly in thick, lustrous pigment; bone white, blood red, spleen mauve.

Pigments rendered from the living flesh of Hobbs's many, many victims.

Prisoner's Cinema

Probing in darkness with his tongue, Holbeck was pretty sure his gums were shrinking.

Pulled back into light, he watched with a grim, detached fascination as old scars ran wet, opening again like painful memories.

Barlow, the warden, rolled an orange around one broad, thick hand.

"This all can stop, " he said, "you know what we want."

He thrust his hand forward. Sharp citrus scent filled Holbeck's nostrils, an acidic life-giving tang.

Holbeck stared mutely at his body, daubed purple with weeping blotches.

His silence: rewarded with being thrust back in the hole.

A phosphor glow burst in the darkness, a shower of lights coalescing; approaching.

The filmy, translucent form of Sara shone before Holbeck.

Peace, my love, she whispered. Great dark wings enfolded him, sighing.

Say nothing. You will be rewarded.

Hope filled him, and she was gone.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Scott watched the city from what he laughingly called his Penthouse.

They were there as always, the shuffling infected, clogging the streets like a putrid cholesterol.

Safe behind his barricade Scott spooned beans into a battered pan.

Three hours till night fell, the crowds thinned out and he could make another supply run.

Later, crossing the plaza, Scott saw them.

One fed, gnawing at a girl's neck. Scott fired once, shearing away it's head, stepping forward he discharged again into the girl.

Hearing others approaching he ran, scattering his plunder like chaff. 

A muffled pounding shocked Scott awake; they had found him. 

He opened fire indiscriminately from his shielded embrasure into the screaming throng below.

Behind Scott a heavily armed rapid intervention team spilled through a splintering door, a cacophony of shouted commands.

Scott heard only moans as they approached.


"Who did you say you represented?"

"Interested parties." The man smiled, his tongue flickering. "Parties who, I may remind you, have significant resources at their disposal."

Harry wondered why the offer of money sounded so much like a threat.

The buyer leaned in, steepling his gloved fingers.

The object on the table between them was greenish stone striated with black.

Frankly, it creeped Harry out, being all tentacles and gold flecks that reflected strange internal lights, but his nose for value said it reeked cash.

"I've had academic interest," Harry said, "an archaeology professor from Massachusetts has expressed great – "

"Morgan? A dabbler." The buyer waved his hand contemptuously in arcane shapes and stormed out.

Harry stared after, absently scratching a scleroidal rash that had sprung up in the folds of his neck. Unnoticed, the statue began emitting a pallid light.