Saturday, 23 August 2014


Just black.
Hughie turned his head to the left and then to the right, scanning the cellar. There was nothing to be seen. Nothing visible anyway.
But he knew he wasn't alone.
At first it was intuition. Or something unknown to him. All he knew was that he knew.
It took a few minutes for his vision to return, his eyes seeing despite the lack of light, his brain needing to see and finding things, even though they weren't there. Putting his hands out in front of him, the red and grey blotches lacked substance; hallucinations brought forth to fill the nothingness presented to him. His feet still moved though, his shuffling feet searching as he inched forward toward...
Toward what?
Something. Definitely something. Something sharing the space with him. He knew it was there even though he knew his eyes were tricking him. His ears too. He'd thought he could hear it, but when it turned when he did and stopped when he did, he realised it was only himself he could hear. His breath or the blood rushing through his veins. Or something else.
And then it fell on his head.

Friday, 15 August 2014

A meeting...

She moved down the aisle with a look of self-confidence. Either that or she was the ultimate introvert and nothing or no-one else existed for her. She was a little over five feet tall, dressed in blacks, greys and a dark floral print. Like camouflage; not wanting anyone else to notice her. A little soft goth not wanting interaction.
However, her subdued nature enthralled me. What was her story? Who was she? How did she live? I imagined her as an artist, painting illustrations of flowers for a publication with less than a hundred subscribers; her immaculate representations unseen by most of the world; being avidly viewed by only a couple of dozen appreciative botanists in studys as far apart as Helsinki and Honolulu. Or maybe she was a webpage designer; constantly developing page templates using HTML and rarely venturing out in the daylight. Her work'd be seen in thousands of places across the whole of the internet and no-one would ever be able to put a name to the one-woman studio creating them all.

I had to know more about her.

Waiting until she stopped to pick up a packet of pasta - who knew how many types there were - I judged my move perfectly, reaching out to take hold of the fettuccine at the same time as she did, delighting in the way her eyes turned to mine: looking puzzled behind the dark rims propped against her nose.

“I'm sorry,” I said, keeping hold of the other end of the wrapper. “I was just needing some pasta.”

“Me, too,” Miss Soft Goth, replied. “But,” she said, raising a perfectly plucked eyebrow, “there are some more packets behind it.”

I sighed, not wanting to lose this opportunity. “Of course there are, ma'am. But...” I began, studying her feverishly to look for some reason to keep her attention a little longer. She'd got no rings on her fingers; just a friendship bracelet that looked hand-crafted and a stylishly simple dial-faced watch with a silver bracelet and a single gemstone at the twelve o'clock position. Her clothes were drab but well made, with a high-end quality that suggested they were either hideously expensive or vintage garments bought from an exclusive boutique shop. And her glasses; her glasses were dark-rimmed and framed with a minimum of decoration. A monogrammed letter, that's all, positioned discretely against the hinge; the letter and the hinge both finished in a dull lustre. Expensive again. She was classy.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Between Worlds

Just one stumble and everything began to unravel.

Paige had been hurrying home late from the office and it'd been a long day for her. Of course, she had her arms full of folders and her case jammed beneath her arm, and she'd just about managed to make it to the station in time to catch the last train home when she tripped over that case in the gangway. Then everything went flying. Papers and folders and her precious tablet computer and..

And then reality ripped apart.

She'd been flying through the air like a besuited super-hero with pearl necklace and bangs when things got strange. One moment she'd been trying to track the flight of her most important items and the next she was soaring just above the ground, her attention suddenly caught by a grimacing scaly creature stepping out from an open locker. Just as casual as you like.

And Scaly saw her looking too. In fact, he even gave her a nod as he placed himself under her tablet, clutching it to his chest and then to his side as he prepared to make his escape.

Of course, she was having none of that. She'd no idea where this creature had come from, but she knew there'd be hell to pay if she lost the work she had on her computer. Scaly may have been ugly enough to make yoghurt from milk at a glance but the real ogres worked in her office.  

Friday, 8 August 2014

Happy Birthday?

Angelina puffed her cheeks up large, like a food-carrying hamster. Nine candles this year. She was such a big girl now.

Lilly smiled as her girl blew out a huge breath, slobber and drool showering across the candles and the icing. Damn, if the puffing didn't put those candles out, the showering certainly would. She stepped back from the table as Angie's parents moved in closer again, flanking her on either side, wanting to make sure no-one got hurt when she got to wield the family heirloom cake-knife: solid silver and at least as heavy as a candlestick.

Lilly smiled again, her face now shadowed and her lips pressed tightly against each other. She looked blank for a moment, pulled in a long deep breath and then left, not to return until next year at this time.

The Razor's Edge


Sitting with her sleeves up, sliding the razor's edge across her forearm, enjoying the tug of the blade as it sawed back and forth. To and fro. Stirring the down of the hair there as it dragged along over it, the pressure intensifying as she gave the cut-throat more weight.

It was a dark night outside, just the stars and the moon lighting her room. Downstairs her dad was probably asleep, passed out in front of the telly, surrounded by the dead bodies of three or four six-packs. If Jayne was lucky, it'd be more and he'd not wake until the sun came up again: stamping up the wooden stairs to her room and demanding that she get up immediately and make his breakfast. Or feel the bite of his belt.

But if she was unlucky, he'd wake up in the small hours, alone and feeling his grief again. And then when he pulled his belt out from its loops, she'd be afraid for another reason.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

It's Got to Be Perfect...

We're all looking for perfection. The ideal that marks the end of the road. Job done. Nothing more to do. Game over.

How horrible. Just imagine that you could get there. Find that elusive 'it' that makes the difference between damn near perfect and the totality of it all. You'd be happy then – for a while. You could ride on that for a good time: being the man or woman who achieved the golden one oh oh. You could show off your achievement – you did get photos, didn't you – and then one day you'd come to a shuddering halt. Crippled and frightened.

What do you do next?

Imagine you're an artist or a writer, making a career or a living out of what you do. You've worked hard, studied, feted the attention of the people you respect, learned their secrets and got their respect. You've spent years perfecting your techniques and honing your vision so that the art you produce is incontroversially as good, if not better than anyone else in your field can do. Repeatedly. Every time.

And then it happens.

Just imagine it. You're there at the top of the hill. Looking down. No-one better than you on that day. Anywhere.

So you roll along, enjoying your fame. But what do you do when the crowds aren't there? When you have to carry on and produce the next commission. How do you prepare yourself for that; knowing you'll most likely not achieve perfection this time? Even the thought you might not will probably be enough to make you hesitate and hold back.

And then it's all downhill from there. People will say you've past your best: that you're washed up. Even though you might be better than everyone else, you'll still be less than you were. A has-been. Maybe you could keep at your art but every piece you do will be a disappointment.

And so you'll give up.

You might continue with your art but the heart will be lost.


Of course, this isn't likely to happen to anyone. Art is a subjective media and you can never satisfy everyone's ideals. Especially your own. And I'd never make the claim that I've ever achieved perfection in what I do and that I can't improve on what I've done before. But there's a difference between that and my seeking to perfect everything I do. The 'best I can do today' is often what you need to do. Sometimes you need to accept that and let it go. Release it into the world.

And move on.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Creators - A Work in Progress

His eyes were indigo like a bruise but with a wild intensity she'd never seen before.

(Creators - a work in progress.)


She had boot-brown hair and the cutest retrousse nose. And a smile that made it like seem the sun had gone in whenever it fell from her lips. Not that it ever did when Charles was around. She loved that guy. Loved him better than she did herself: not that she'd ever suffered from that failing. She broke hearts every day, just by walking away, although you couldn't hate her for that. She was a packet of love in human form, that's all.

He always knew when Amelie was coming in: the ticking of the wheels on her bicycle always gave her away. And every time he stood waiting behind the door of his shop to kiss her, he surprised her. She was a dreamer though and everything about the world either delighted or startled her.

And she never once guessed how he knew she was coming.