Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Seven Eleven Stories - Volume Two

Seven Eleven Stories, Volume 2: “A Very Convenient Christmas” is the reason for the season—your virtual Christmas stocking stuffer package of bittersweet holiday shards. Amber Burke’s black and white film colored candy cane of surrealism, “Transfer,” will dance in your mouth and leave you wondering where you left your belongings. Adam Marks' blood-sausage breakfast of a hootenanny, “A Thousand Flaws,” will have you counting on fingers and toes with a British accent, running out of digits and giving up. Then let Mia Sparrow’s “Bite Me” melt in your mouth and clog your rotten Scrooge heart until it bursts with Christmas spirit and whatever other internal organs remain intact this time of year. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Now... continued

"How do we know time exists?" asked Professor Kimber. No response. "What is time?" He'd have to explain. "Time is the progress of entropy." He looked away. Wasn't the Alt-Right supposed to be cleverer than this? Professor Kimber paced a little. "You can know time is passing without a clock, without any visual reference at all." He stopped, turned and looked at his subject. "We exist..." he corrected himself, "we have been forced to exist in an impure universe, a motive universe..." His pedagogical instinct kicked in. Professor Kimber dragged a flip-chart across the room and took up a pen. "We are moving from a point of pure, concentrated energy..." He illustrated this with a pristine asterisk. He drew an arrow left to right, "to a point of absolute, undifferentiated, dispersed matter." He showed this using a scatter of infidel dots.

"But" said the Young Man tied to the chair in Kimber's padded laboratory, "if the original state was pure how could it degenerate?"

This was something. "A good question" said Kimber. He put the pen away and started pacing again. "This is why..."

"I mean" the Young Man continued, smiling "don't pictures of the young universe show fluctuations in in background radiation?"

He was smart, this boy, bright, if a little placid. It was almost a shame, Kimber thought, that they sent him along. Still, you needed an Avatar to contact the Spirit. "This is why" said Kimber, "we are at war with the Quantum Marxists and other celebrants of the mongrel reality. This universe is ruled by probability, change and motion. There is no frame of reference. This underpins the dialectic, the source of their heinous theories of tolerance and progress..." the words seeped out of his mouth like acid. Kimber fetched a device, a silver helmet decorated with symbols and with cables and lights protruding. "Our movement will prevail" he said. "We will halt the march of time and entropy, that is why we do what we do" he said, putting the helmet on the Young man's head. "Quantity shall no longer become quality and we shall be titans..." he adjusted a set of dials on a console, halfway across the room. He looked back at the Young Man who seemed suddenly afraid. "Our powers will be unlimited." Kimber smiled a saggy old leer.

The Young Man asked plaintively, "will it hurt?" There was a short pause.

"Your sacrifice will be noted" said Kimber. He flipped the master-switch before the Young Man could say anything else. The Spirit was invoked.

Monday, 12 December 2016

A Reality Manager's Work is Never Done

I'm currently in a phase of finishing, altering and recovering stories. This is something I like but I suspect won't stand much of a chance with any anthology or magazine quite soon so enjoy, or don't.

I am merely a psychologist, a professional psychologist with a practice of my own, but when I’m seconded to the Agency That Cannot Be Named1 I become the Reality Manager. The job of the Agency That Cannot Be Named is to parse world news, political gossip and internet traffic on behalf of the government. Given the amount of information out there, not to mention the urgent, competitive ethos at the Agency, it’s not surprising that a few manias develop every now and then and when they do I am called up.
             Don’t be fooled, these are not petty rows among grey, passive bureaucrats. Not so long ago an agent was working late at a facility in Stanmore when for no good reason he chopped himself into several pieces, threw his body parts into a utility room and locked himself in from the outside. There were no clues as to what happened, aside from the fingerprints and human hair found on the scene, not to mention the security video of five hooded figures hacking the agent to death. It was a mystery.
The Agent had been working on data showing a correlation between global warming and Islamic fundamentalism. This angered not a few in the Agency who had been briefing sources over a number of years that climate change was invented in 1975 by a conspiracy between the Green Party, the London School of Economics and the BBC Natural History Unit. If he found a causal link between the two factors the Agent would have knocked the bottom out of several long-term infiltration projects.
No one could prove anything though, and disbandment or prosecution would be dangerous for morale, not to mention the time and effort it would take developing new identities so the agents could reintegrate into civilian society, so my second job was invented. My role is to alleviate operational manias and if possible reconcile them with reality. I am the Reality Manager. Where there are opposing delusions I have to reconcile them as well.
A good example would be the Case of the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition was a dangerous man, a dark horse. He was made party leader unexpectedly. Despite being a cabinet minister in a previous government his background, his past was dangerously unfactored.
He was the son of a refugee socialist foreigner. He once attended a demonstration where other socialists were present. He was on the record as praising Clement Atlee. Despite having children he was unmarried. All this aroused interest and concern in the Agency. Then came his policy announcements: a modest increase in the minimum wage, utility price freezes, Venezuelan rent controls, Monster Munch to be nationalised, the BBC to be broadcast into every home, bacon sandwiches to be made illegal, bananas to be made straight, a free swan for every asylum seeker, Baa-Baa Green-Sheep as the national anthem and the abolition of slavery.
Two theories arose in the Agency That Cannot Be Named to explain the Case of the Leader of the Opposition:

  1. He is a Russian Communist Spy sent forward in time to overthrow British Capitalism.
  1. The USSR still exists.

The second ruminescence was easy to grasp: “You can’t trust Ivan,” I remember one particular Agent saying. The agents who followed this line were largely veterans. Operational inertia was at play here. Once you’ve spent half your adult life chasing Russians round Central London it was hard to stop. That said the faction did recruit a number of younger agents, often ambitious but lazy and prematurely nostalgic. The first theory was a bit more complicated however. I spoke to one of its prime movers, Field Agent Andy Bilson (not his real name2). He told me:

“It’s really very simple. What happened to the space race? It got to 1973 then it stalled. Why, because they brought more than just rocks and dust back from the Moon. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity says the faster you travel the slower time passes. The Leader of the Opposition was not born in the 1960s, he was from the 1960s. That’s why the Russians had all those long-duration missions on their space stations, they were creating sleeper cells.”

If Einstein heard this he would be spinning in his grave3. I asked Bilson how he linked this to the Leader of the Opposition? He told me he’d been working recently in Eastern Europe. They were at a top-secret rendition facility when his partner, Agent Fissure, had a Ukrainian taxi-driver, a frustrating hold-out who claimed he knew nothing, in a stress-hold. After ten minutes the taxi-driver started shouting: “Miliband! Miliband!”
Two hours later they had the whole story down. The taxi driver used to be a rocket engineer during the Soviet era. He was busted down for objecting to the prolonged missions, the deleterious effects of microgravity and radiation4. That’s why he was a taxi driver and Ed Miliband, a commissar at the laboratory where the taxi driver used to work, real name Eduard Mikoyan5, was a Soviet spy.
How to resolve this? One side, the Future Perfect faction, preferred to arrange assassination. Their opponents, the Structuralists, favoured the long-view. If the USSR still existed then it was an institutional, not a personal problem. Preparations were being made for an army coup if the opposition party won6.
The arguments were furious. The future of the nation was in the balance after all. Something had to be done. This had to be nipped in the bud before agency staff started breaking windows, cutting brakes or slipping polonium 210 into the coffee machine.
It was too late to point out this was a likely Department of Misinformation ruse gone too far. That would just escalate matters, full on inter-agency war. Instead, after several months shuttling between factions7, I managed to broker a compromise solution, accepting that Russia’s natural elevation8 and multiple time zones would likely cause some temporal distortion that could lead either to the USSR still existing or Ed Miliband/Eduard Mikoyan being thrown forward in time to 2010 and accidentally made the leader of the Labour Party. We eventually all agreed would be better not to prejudge the result of the election but instead activate agents within the opposition party, the media and the International Space Station to monitor the situation. Both factions agreed to de-escalate their respective plots. There was even a little document, a form signed by both sides. We called it the Canteen Covenant.
That was six years ago. Of course it all went out the window when Labour lost the 2015 election. Now we have a new Leader of the Opposition who actually is a socialist, and the faction fights broke out again. I could tell you all about the manias I have to deal with now but then I’d have to erase your memory with a magnetic brain-wipe and, trust me, you wouldn’t want that. A reality manager’s work is never done.


1 You know the one I mean though. It’s based in the big building we all work in on Vauxhall round-a-about that doesn’t have a postcode or photo on Google Maps.
2 It is his real name.
3 If his brain hadn’t been preserved in a secret laboratory under the Pentagon
4 Apparently, due to some property of coronal mass ejections, a few cosmonauts developed counter revolutionary superpowers, I asked what powers but Bilson did not elaborate on this to me.
5 Not his real name.
6 With Prince Harry elevated to King, Nigel Farage as Prime Minister, Jeremy Clarkson Director General of the BBC and Gary Barlow as Head of Entertainment at Butlins Death Camps.
7 Literally, the rival groups occupied opposite ends of the canteen at lunchtimes, refusing to speak to each other and occasionally flicking food at each other.
8 I made that bit up. Russia is in fact mostly swamp and grassland.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A senior researcher explains visual dissociation

The best actors don’t act, they believe. They don’t act as if they’re a boxer, gangster or drug addicted saxophonist, they believe they are a boxer, gangster or drug addicted saxophonist. The same goes for undercover agents.

The most difficult jobs require deep, prolonged cover. There are those who are able to maintain an identity for years on end, but everyone has their limits. Even after the completion of the case there is a tendency for agents to go off the rails. Untreated, 63% of all undercover Field Agents require some sort of counselling and/or early retirement, which, as you can imagine, is a tremendous burden to the Department.

The solution is Visual Dissociation. Like all great inventions it’s really very simple. It works along the same likes as Verbal Dissociation. This is something you may well have tried. If you look at a word for long enough, perhaps repeat it out loud or in your mind, the chain of letters will begin to dissociate from the sound and the meaning attached. For a short while the word becomes completely unfamiliar.

Can this be repeated with other signs and signifiers? The answer is yes. Research has shown it is possible to erase someone’s identity through prolonged exposure to images of their face. This is true of the face, not the body. Though people feel like they occupy their body, it is the face that functions as the avatar. The meaning of a person is channeled through their face. Put it another way, no one could pick out their elbow in a line up.

The process of visual dissociation can be hurried along by mind-altering drugs though they are not necessary. Either way you start by exposing the subject to pictures of their face, pictures they know and have seen before. Begin slowly but prolong the process, both the amount of time the subject spends on each photograph and the length of the session.. After 24-36 hours the subject is usually develops a profound ambivalence towards their image, some even begin dissociating at this point.

Unless the subject is fully free of their moorings the next step is to start the dissociation. The subject is shown pictures of themselves inserted into scenarios they know unrealistic or impossible. When the subject questions this they are told, emphatically if needs be, that the scenario depicted happened and is real. The scenes depicted gradually change from neutral and mundane to embarrassing, upsetting, compromising, obscene and horrific. The subject is eventually repelled by their former identity and become ready to assume a new one. The process of deconstruction and rebuilding can again take up to another 24-36 hours.

The total process cannot go much longer than three full days. Visual Dissociation has a 60-66% success rate. Any longer and the odds of permanent psychosis shorten dramatically. Any longer than 96 hours and the subject is guaranteed to break down irreparably, requiring termination. Visual Dissociation is still a top secret process, for this reason it is not advised for existing agents willing to go undercover. It is best used on recent recruits, particularly Category D. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Trump hits the phones


"What is it Jeeves?"

"You rang the wrong China."

"What'd you mean 'the wrong China?'"

"There's two Chinas."

"How can there be two Chinas?"

"Sir, there's one in Taiwan."

"And which one do I nuke?"

"Neither, Sir..."

"So who did we nuke in '45?"

"The Japanese, Sir..."

"What, and they were the Germans, right?"

"No, Sir..."

"Jeez, this is confusing, and who are you?"

"I'm the Mailman, Sir..."

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The North is Endless

This is something much more likely to see the light of day than "Now." It's a found account story, partly inspired by a spellcheck slip, "the north is endless," and partly by creating wanting to create a polar-opposite of At the Mountains of Madness. This is part one. You probably won't get other bits.

Preliminary note

The following is a transcript of a recording discovered in [Redacted] University Audio Library. The recording was made using a 1980s-standard Dictaphone.

Day One

Voice: Boarded the plane... waiting to take off... this is the audio log of Staff Sargeant Crane of the 821st Air Base Group, Thule, Greenland. I am... [inaudible] I'm recording an entry... It's a lovely day, April 23rd... 10:10am and the sun is shining... I'm accompanied by Airman Danforth... [inaudible] Sorry! Senior Airman Danforth...


Danforth: Hi.

Crane: Only temporarily demoted, He will be our pilot. Co-pilot is Airman Dyer… Who is not speaking… also Flight Engineer Rasmussen of the Danish Royal Airforce...

Rasmussen: Hello.

Crane: And Doctor Ross, accompanying us from the National Weather Service... 

Ross: That's me.

Crane:  I am Commanding Officer of the Search and Rescue team leading an expedition from the Thule base to locate and if needs be contain a reported anomaly several hundred miles into the interior of the mainland, the details of which are still being established but the essentials are 1) intermittent but frequent radio signals of unknown origins accompanied by 2) less frequent bursts of radiation, visible in the night sky from 23:19 hours yesterday as flashes on the horizon. Prior to this expedition two satellite passes were unable to locate and engage the source of the anomaly, detailed briefing is to follow. We are proceeding in a Cessna light aircraft with 20 days of food and supplies and around 200 hours of fuel. I do not anticipate being on the ice-field for that long.


Crane: We are approximately ten minutes into our flight. Thule Base is receding... Up in front is the ice-field. There is about three and a half hours of daylight left... This is... This is a truly vast country... The far north... You can only really appreciate how... endless it seems... the sense of it from the air... Broken only by occasional hills… Every time I see the uplands... All is well. We will begin triangulating the signal shortly.


Crane: It’s now approximately fifty-five minutes after take-off and we are making great progress. We are currently receiving the anomalous radio signals loud... if not clear. You might be able to [a mixture of static, tonal sounds and voices] How soon did we begin receiving?

Ross: Almost immediately. The signal has been more or less consistent.

Crane: What about the radiation?

Ross: Nothing much really, it's all, uh... oh, there's a spike.

Crane: Is it dangerous?

Ross: It's hard to tell at this range. We are still several hundred miles away, bearing east-northeast. 


Ross: Here, listen...

Metallic grinding and animal sounds, akin to roaring.


Crane: End of day one, almost. 18:25pm. We have made camp; about to report to base... The, uh, location of the anomaly has been narrowed down to a twenty mile radius. We expect to... It's odd that the intercept planes were not able to locate... whatever this is. I suppose it will all come out in the briefing... This is not our usual mission… I'm looking at the eastern horizon. There are flashes in the long twilight, maybe one every few minutes... They're not regular. They come in several colours. We have seen white, red, green and indigo. Wind is gusting considerably, short blasts from the uplands. It is unclear whether this is connected to the emissions… Rasmussen is here.

Rasmussen: Lucas.

Crane: What?

Rasmussen: Please, call me Lucas.

Crane: Ok, um, so, Lucas, why’re you here?

Rasmussen: I volunteered.

Crane: But, [inaudible] motive-wise…?

Rasmussen: I’m sorry I don’t…?

Crane: What prompted [inaudible due to wind] volunteer?

Rasmussen: Curiosity, I guess; that and the pay. I work at the base [inaudible] civilian engineer. If all goes well…

Prolonged gusts of wind hit. Mostly inaudible except for occasional fragments, e.g. ‘get inside’ or ‘secure the tents.’

Voice: Unknown flying object was spotted 22:55 hours, altitude approximately 2,000 metres, bearing east-northeast a controlled arc at an estimated speed of 440mph. Command Control attempted to contact the object but was unsuccessful. The object disappeared after seventeen seconds. At 23:10 Command Control began receiving a radio signal on standard USAF distress frequency. Signal was largely unclear but some variety of English. No American or Allied craft is known to be lost. Russians currently deny any involvement. Unable to pinpoint location via satellite pass. Intermittent radiation bursts began at 23:19, high-energy, electromagnetic radiation, largely directed upwards. Bursts continue to be detected. Please repeat: over.

Crane repeats message.

Crane: [Whispering – wind noises in background] Early morning now, let’s see, 3.19am. Gusts of wind have been intermittent but frequent. Thank goodness for the snow-wall we built. It’s difficult to get much sleep though the others seem to be… Keep trying. The sound has an unusual quality, akin to howling.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Now - another excerpt

I'm going to have to try again to get my politics/crime/urban fantasy ideas wrapped into a full story. I've tried twice. The last time failed mostly because the lead character was undeveloped. I need a proper story arc but I'm slowly getting towards a decent lead, Detective Yara Lightfoot, see below. I picture her as a charming cynic, actually a nihilist with a hidden idealism that makes her an unusual police officer. This side should come to the fore as the story develops. Maybe I'll work on her and the character will provide the plot. Meanwhile, I've definitely got plans for Little Frank.

DCI Yara Lightfoot strode into her office. "What have you got for me?" she asked. "What crazy crap has the world dropped for us today?"

"Let's see" said Little Frank, who had been waiting for her, ready, at his desk. He brought up some cases on his computer. "We've got a dead cult leader..." he peered at the screen, "Martin Ranfurly-Smythe, funny name, an actor in real life apparently."

DCI Lightfoot smiled at this. She sat in her chair at her desk, leaned back and listened. "And...?"

"He led the First Order of Odobena" said Little Frank.

"What's that...?"

"Walrus worshipers" said Little Frank.


"You can worship anything you like" he added. 

DCI Lightfoot wasn't impressed it seemed. She fetched a box out from under her desk, eventually asking "what did he die of? It must be suspicious, violent, something like that..."

"Broken neck" said Little Frank, "fractured skull, a few ribs... They found him like that in Old St Pancras churchyard."

"What was he doing there?"

"Well" said Little Frank, "according to this, word has it, Lord Hufflepuff and his followers were trying to revive the walrus that was buried there."

"Buried there...?"

"Yeah, some time in the 1820s" said Little Frank, "though it was dug up in 2003."

"OK" said Yara, cautiously. She started nibbling on a doughnut. 

"But, anyway, despite this obvious difficulty, according to SAMCS sources they succeeded."


"And the walrus killed Wotshisface..."

"A bit ungrateful" DCI Lightfoot grinned. "Doughnut...?" she offered.

"No thanks" said Little Frank. "Anyway, the walrus is now at large, somewhere in London."

"Or someone's got an angry magic walrus" added DCI Lightfoot. "Interesting, but until we find this magic walrus it sounds more like a cult-squad job and what would we charge anyone with?" Little Frank shrugged. "What else is there?" Lightfoot asked. "What about the parakeet situation?"

"All quiet on that front" said Little Frank. He looked a little crestfallen. "The gangs are sticking to the postcodes, respecting the truce." There was a pause, guilty sounding silence then Little Frank added, "there is one other thing."


"The shooting" said Little Frank, "the university shooting..."

"Why...?" DCI Lightfoot seemed shocked. She sat forward in her chair.

"The Regulars have been in touch already" said Little Frank. "They're preparing to hand it over as we speak. The thing is..."


"The police on the scene got the footage back, the CCTV footage and... well. The shooter wasn't carrying anything. Eyewitnesses said he had an assault rifle but the footage disagrees. Then a man came in..."

"A man...?"

"A man, unarmed, halfway through the massacre. He goes up to the killer, says something to him and the killer shoots himself... with nothing and the guy just... leaves..."

"He shoots himself...?"

"With nothing" Little Frank confirmed, "just his empty hands."

DCI Lightfoot sat back again, finished her doughnut, and after a moment's silence, exclaimed, "brilliant! Let's do it!"

Friday, 11 November 2016

Acceptance speech

[To camera] Sorry to keep you complicated, thank you. Very, very complicated. Biggly.


Very Hilary campaign period hard family very her debt owe about call major I've worked.

Leery applause

[To audience] Sincerely, I very mean that.

Confused applause

Biggly. [To camera] All time Republicans across this division grab her. The beauty of me is grab her. I bind America with my long, documented fingers. Grab her with my Republicans. Bind my time.  Just words. I get this together.

Renewed applause - some barking - fingers fall off

[To self] I be me time. [To journalist] You're going to know what plans 'till we figure out what's going on. [To camera] A president citizen will land.

An interruption

Land pledge the guy! [Imitates journalist] Don't worry, I'll pay the legal fees. Yuge. This is important to me.

Applause and wings opening

[To camera] I'm reaching out to you for your pussy so I can pay the legal fees. Work together you we can reaching and country.

Another interruption

Knock the Muslim out of them. Grab them by the wall! I'll pay the coat. Keep his wall! Knock the crap out of them.

Applause and crap getting knocked

[To camera] Biggly. Yuge. Beautiful. Ours was not ein campaign but das movement of ein volk das vaterland for ze glory of ze yuge!


Bomb the grab out of them. It's a movement of all Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve biggly. It's going to beautiful.

It's hideous

[To opponent] Grab her by the Mexicans. Our task dream. In all projects Mexico build a dream wall. I've American nation nation nation yuge. [To rally] Let it be to us a symbol of eternal struggle. Grab her by the fingers. [To Berlin] We see in  flag the victorious sign of fingers and the purity of our blood. We want this flag to be a documented symbol of pussy salvation, a sign that faith in these great China possessions is alive in our people. [To moderator] They're just words. Crooked words. Will well potential salvation will be and forgotten so realize gotten to going to be beautiful. Russia Putin China drugs. Biggly. 

Lights go out

[To camera] Be her know opportunity potential tax dream fullest or or gotten to be or forgotten tremendous men bomb the grab out of them every potential a gotten realize. Tremendous thing of forgotten. Every her men grab her to going to well country a going potential.

Tentacles extend

I fairly do not have ground. I see circles. Grab the bomb out of them. Phone Putin.

Mouth opens - jaw detaches - bats escape

Gghght gughshchump.

Tongue extrudes - lens dampens with green vapour


Swallows TV camera - renewed applause

Friday, 4 November 2016

"Now..." an excerpt

It was over in... minutes. The only reason I know was I looked at the clock at the back of the hall at the beginning and at the end. It's stuck in my mind: 10.33 at the start.

The lecture was started, under way. I was awake, but I could see a few were dropping off. It had been a large one the night before. Other people I know, friends skipped class. They were lucky.

The door at the back clacked shut, closed, a few of us turned to look; that's when I got that glimpse of the clock, at the back of the room. It was Jimmy who was late. The lecturer, Mr Hendrick stopped, he stopped speaking, I think. We all knew Jimmy. He was top of the group. It was a bit of a surprise to see him late, but still. He said something like:

Don't mind me.”

And Mr Hendrick got back on with the class. It was all fine. Thinking about it now I can remember hearing this clicking and clacking behind my head, which was Jimmy... setting up. I, uh... I, like, didn't give it a thought though, why would you? Like, seconds later I saw Mr Hendrick stop. He looked up and said:


And then there was these two zaps, real quick. First his chest, then his head blew open. It seemed to be happening in slow motion. It wasn't real, it was... astonishing. I'll never forget it.

I turned in this slow arc. I could see Jimmy with this gun, this huge gun in his hands and an incredible, inflamed look on his face. Then he just started letting off rounds, everywhere. I crouched down as low as I could. I don't know how any of it missed me. There were bits of wood and metal and glass flying everywhere.

After a few seconds there was a pause. I could see Jimmy through a gap in one of the seats. There was a few dozen people in the room, across different rows. Jimmy started looking along the rows, methodically, for survivors. He found one woman, zap, dead, he finished her off. There was not much screaming or crying, I remember, I don't know why. It was very strange.

This happened a few times. It was so quiet and methodical and slow. A couple of people bolted. They must have been trying to get to the front door. Jimmy cut them down. Calm. They didn't stand a chance. One guy used the distraction. He leapt up and tried to wrest Jimmy's gun away, grab it, take it away. He almost managed it too. Guthrie, yes, that was his name. I knew him a bit, see. They sort of wrestled. Then Guthrie got shot in the chest. He fell like a doll.

I figured we were all dead. I sort of thought it without thinking, if you know what I mean…? Unless... I saw... I was down the front of the room. There was a fire exit not far from the lecturn. I tried creeping toward it, the exit, while this all was going on. I got to the point where I had to make a run for it because there was a gap, the last five or so metres and I almost got to the door when I felt this pop, this bursting sensation in my right knee and just collapsed. It was like my legs had disappeared.

I was on my front. I couldn't get up but I could see Jimmy approaching out the corner of my eye. I don't know how I felt. It was all so strange, so slow. My heart was going, blood pounding. My head, I couldn't think. I had no thoughts anymore. Then there was this click. I closed my eyes... But then I heard this voice. It was a man's voice, coming from the back of the room. He said:

That'll do Jimmy.”

I couldn't see. I felt like I was going to black out. Then Jimmy said, “I understand.”

Then there was another zap. I was still alive, but when I turned round Johnny was dead: 10.36 at the end. Then the pain hit and I blacked out.

[note: the picture is from here.]

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


The BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Golemetry is a practical, work-related course. You learn by completing projects and assignments that are based on briefs that reflect Alchemical Industry today.
The course will introduce you to core Golem-making skills such as drawing, chi-scape channeling, astral projection and living sculpture. It also provides a good base to go on to a more advanced qualification such as the Level 3 Occult Design course. The Level 3 course is equivalent to 3 A Levels and is a springboard to University or further study. You could end up working within the Alchemical Industries as anything from a Golem Designer to a Bio-Building Architect.
In order to enhance your experience you can also expect to take various Golem-related trips and speak to industry professionals, either through visiting Artist Studios, listening to guest speakers or as part of our mentor scheme: Learning the Way of Clay. This initiative provides the opportunity to be mentored for a year by current Occult Arts professionals. As a celebration on graduation you will also be given the opportunity to showcase your work in the college on site gallery space or combat arena.
The course is 1 academic year long and is worth 60 credits delivered over 360 guided learning hours. The Level 2 Edexcel BTEC Diploma in Golemetry is a qualification that consists of 6 mandatory units plus optional units in any of the following areas:
History of Witchcraft
Charmed Fashion and Defensive Symbology
Fiona O'Weatherwax
Fiona studied Occult Art at The Rochdale College of Art and was awarded a BA in Golem Design from the University of Rutland. She spent 10 years as a Props Master in the UK and USA working with a host of international theatre companies including The Royal Shakespeare Company and San Francisco Mannequin Opera, before focussing solely on designing for film. She is preparing to research the use of electronic technologies within Golem Design for a Masters at the IoE.
Bryan Parson-Parsons Jnr
Parson studied painting at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Lower Education (BA) and School of Prognostic Art London (MA). Bryan's art practice has changed to encompass collaborative work, video reanimation and robot performance. He is currently carrying out research at the Institute of Education, investigating art practice as a basis of mapping the collective unconscious.
Foteini Jones
Foteini studied and taught Non-Visible Photography in a vocational training institute in Greece before arriving in the UK where she continued her studies in Wood Reanimation (BA), gained a teacher's qualification (PGCE) and completed research on Golem Design in Education (MA). Foteini now uses digital technologies in her work, producing salvage animation, chi-mapping and 5D video projects. She is currently working on a free-lance basis as an editor and chi-gardener alongside teaching.

Microfiction ahoy!

FWIW, my ten-word story They Were Hard To Please, featured in Dimeshow Review. OK, it is pretty good.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Television Handed Ghostess in Sein Und Werden

You wait and work all summer to get a story published and two... etc, etc. This is The Television Handed Ghostess, parts one and two. I like this story and, happily, so do the good folk at Sein Und Werden. It's part of the Autumn 2016, Giallo edition of the magazine. It will be the last edition for some time unless an interim editor/programmer can be found to sub for the super talented editor, who is taking time off to do an MA (good luck with that). When and if Sein... comes back it will be good. This is the full edition, lots to enjoy. Meanwhile, I hope to have at least three more pieces out before the end of the year, but we will see.

Hallo Leon in The40p.com

A link finally, something I hoped to put up back in April (not this but for another story). My story, Hallo Leon, has been accepted by good people at The40p.com. It's a paying short story website, the fee is... 40p. If anyone who is reading this is a writer do give The40p a try with your stories. Meanwhile, I've been sitting on this little beauty for nearly three years. It's a slipstream tale about an invasion of memory in a disappearing part of London. This is the setting for the opening and closing scene, a pub in Homerton, opposite the hospital, now gone (the picture is from here), currently being turned into a block of flats.

Anyway, enjoy... for 40p.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Vandals Took the Handles

Something in the basement
Got paid in medicine
Laid in the government
Thinking in the pavement
Get the trench coat badge off
Mixing in the pig cough
Many plants of soot say
Talking the phone away
Maggie tapped the heat foot
Orders from the bed put
DA in the anyway
Black fleet in early May
Hard around, jump barred
Write ink if you fail
Sick well, hang bail
Try get anything's
Hard to sell
Join the braille
Get dressed, shift her
Try to please the born well
Buy gifts, please pants
Romance and the warm dance
Twenty years of him
And they put you on blessed pants

Friday, 30 September 2016

A Friday-Night Cut Up

Striding pistol reached an assured morning, come have assassin. “Thank you, cocktail pictures. Who pictures woman, Sir?”

“Who supple, gasped. pretty pictures gasped. make-up of dress, like Sir?”

“Who pretty was of heavy look dress, dress, like he Sir!”

Day empire, trade shocked, mail-order puff climbed all to a parcel. Multi-million parcel dropped the mail-order a envoy. A mail-order the Cold agency. It the all day Russia. Woman parcel. Two he had were sent he fondled them. Back had he sent post. He hardly had fair good letters good then  glanced cast man worth Peter.

Her magician brought impossible to put, brought her the protection. Under fold was of brought opportunity.

"Here’s world, tickets into you", the visa was crucial (crucial your edge men idea).

“You’re work even situation here, maintain". He is non-existent Natalia. "Your scholarship was non-existent here, Natalia."

The demand locked ironically, up ironically, in luxurious and pretty magician supply part. Off in his connections and monopoly ensured. Secretaries trade gay prince matches, French only get French Knighthood.

"Mail-order was I mail-order mail-order mail-order am was bride, was now assassin." Produced A pistol took a and pistol took a took pistol, "come for, come for, come for you."

Image is from here.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Mail Order

Here's something short. It failed to win a recent competition for an Irish website called Brilliant Flash Fiction. The theme was It Came In The Mail. The word limit was 500 words, which is very tough. This didn't make the grade, so I'm inflicting it on you. Ha! Yeah, it's a bit blunt and simultaneously info-dumpy, but I like the core idea and it's got nowhere else to go. Some news is coming soon about published work though. Hooray!

Good morning, Natalia.” Striding through his office he greeted his secretary with an assured smile. “You look radiant.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Through a door to his room, Peter sat at his desk. Another day ruling his empire, a multi-million pound mail-order bride agency.
It all began in Russia. Peter had been a British trade envoy. When the Cold War was over Peter decided to branch out.
Back in the day Peter had met a man in an underground fair in Moscow, a magician who only had one trick but it was a good one. He folded things that were impossible to fold and put them into spaces they could not fit. The climax of his act was putting his assistant into a matchbox and taking her out again, unharmed. Peter saw an opportunity. He brought the magician under his protection.
There was so many desperate people in Russia, young women in particular, who would do anything for a better life. Peter's idea was having the magician fold them into parcels and mailing them to rich, lonely men across the free world, saving on visa and plane tickets (a crucial edge in the market).
He still had to drum up demand but that was easy. Peter had many connections. He fed his clients with pretty pictures and beautiful promises. He ensured supply in much the same way. Keeping his monopoly was the most difficult part. Peter had the magician bought off and, ironically, locked away in luxurious captivity, a mansion in Sochi where he lived and worked under guard.
The situation in Russia stabilised. Peter had to work harder. A fake casting company here, a non-existent scholarship there helped maintain supply. Rival firms tried to extract his trade-secret, sometimes even steal his magician outright. Peter always dealt with his rivals, problems to be packed away. He was a clever man.
“Here’s your mail, Sir.”
“Thank you, Natalia.”
“You’re welcome, Sir.”
He was an important man too. His only regret was his trade wasn’t recognised enough to get him a Knighthood, even though he’d found matches for two Senior Secretaries, a gay Saudi prince and a French ambassador.
Natalia left. Peter fondled his post, two letters and a parcel. He chuckled. Who sent mail anymore? He did, he supposed, but the letters were hardly worth reading. He glanced then cast them aside. Someone should find a way to send brides as an email attachment he thought. He laughed again as he prized open the parcel. There was a puff of air, it sprang apart. Shocked, Peter dropped the parcel. It fell to the floor and a woman climbed out.
“Who are you?” he gasped. The woman was tall, tanned, supple, wearing heavy make-up and a short cocktail dress, like one of his pretty pictures. The Woman said:

“I was a mail-order bride, now I am a mail-order assassin.” She reached behind her back, produced a pistol and took aim, “and I have come for you.”

Friday, 16 September 2016

Work in Progress

July 10th - 16:29pm.

Interview, Christine Hyatt-Khan, Deputy Head of Compliance Unit for the Guild of Magicians and Psychic Practitioners, GMPP Headquarters, Euston.

Audio transcript

Containment Agent Lightfoot: Thank you for having us.

Christine Hyatt-Khan: Not at all, we always try to cooperate with the DoM. How may I be of assistance?

CAL: I, we are conducting an investigation into two robberies, bank robberies, rather unusual ones that...

CHK: I think I've heard about these, one was in Hackney and the other was in Ealing.

Detective Inspector Baptiste: In Shepherd's Bush, actually.

CHK: Yes, of course.

DIB: How did you come to know about these?

CHK: My word, is there a D-Notice out? I never...

CAL: Please...

CHK: I'm sorry, I... I'm sure you understand that you're not the only ones out there with ears to the ground. I help run the Order's Compliance Unit...

CAL: [Interrupting] Expel anyone recently?

CHK: Oh, we do it all the time. What would be the point of having a secret order if you didn't throw people out on a regular basis? [DIB laughs] Your assistant gets it.

CAL: Partner.

CHK: I'm sorry?

CAL: Partner; we're working together on the case.

CHK: Wonderful [claps hands] anyway, I jest. There have been a few cases recently that I and my colleagues have had to deal with but nothing I think that could be related to this. All details are confidential of course.

CAL: You say 'of course' but confidential doesn't get us very far.

CHK: Maybe not...

CAL: [Continuing] But, of course, we have the power to make it not confidential, if you know what I mean.

CHK: I certainly do. [Sighs] Like I say, we always try to cooperate with the DoM...

CAL: But...?

CHK: For every quid there's a pro quo and vice versa.

DIB: You mean, what's in it for you?

CHK: For me? No. I am but a humble servant of the order.

CAL: I can't promise anything.

CHK: You can promise anything, whether you deliver is another matter. I might remind the Department of Metaphysics that the Guild of Magicians and Psychic Practitioners has delivered over four decades of industrial peace, [pause] well, relative peace.

CAL: I'm not a negotiator. What does the order want?

CHK: The Witch Factory.

CAL: I see. A bit ambitious that?

CHK: We have the members, we just don't have the recognition.

CAL: I can't make the Department intervene.

CHK: You can pass the message to your superiors.

CAL: And in return...?

CHK: Very well. I know the details of the robberies but I must ask, what is your theory? How do you think they did it?

CAL: Portal building, travel between universes. [CHK snorts with derision] That's one of the lesser theories, though it could be true.

CHK: Why rob a bank in a different universe?

CAL: Quite, it's that or extended temporary world building.

CHK: The artificial universe.

DIB: That was your specialty, wasn't it.

CHK: Well, I...

DIB: [Continuing] You're an expert in this field.

CHK: I was but I did lots of other things as well.

DIB: But you know the essentials, what would it take to build a replica of a bank branch in order to rob the original?

CHK: Well, apart from mundane things like a copy of the staff rota and a detailed schematic of the building you would absolutely have to have two things 1) a Fix, something to harness latent energy, solar radiation, orgones, that kind of thing and 2) a Reality Anchor, something to maintain the structural integrity of the replica for the duration, not to mention allow for a route back into the universe proper.

DIB: Like an escape vehicle?

CHK: Something like that, yes! However, how many people were there in the video, members of the public I mean?

CAL: Several.

CHK: All identified; have you spoken to them?

CAL: All of them.

CHK: [Shakes head] Either they were all in on it or the robbers would have to have known, somehow, who was going to be in each branch at the exact moment the robberies took place.

CAL: I see.

CHK: Do you have pictures of the robbers?

DIB: We do.

CHK: May I have a look?

DIB: [Looks to CAL] Sure [gives pictures to CHK].

CHK: [Looking at pictures] As I suspected. These aren't people, they're avatars, see...? War, pestilence, famine and...

CAL: Bandana...

CHK: Well, that's where that particular theory falls down but I suspect these are not people but programmes. I could probably confirm it for you if you showed me the footage.

CAL: [Abruptly] No, I think that's enough to be getting on with. Thank you for your time, you've been very helpful.

CHK: We always try to cooperate with the DoM.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Work in Progress

July 9th 2007 – 2:10pm

Offices of Walrus Inc, Tileyard Road, N7. Interview with Edward Ellis, proprietor and manager of Walrus Inc. Audio transcript

Containment Agent Lightfoot: Eddie.

Edward Ellis: Yara! What brings you here...? And with a friend.

CAL: Colleague, this is Detective Inspector Baptiste.

EE: I promise I'll have my tax return done soon. It's all above board here. I...

CAL: We're here on another matter, two things actually.


CAL: DI Baptiste is seconded to an investigation of mine. Besides... self-employed tax returns are supposed to be done by January...

EE: That's good [smiles audibly].

CAL: If you please...?

DI Baptiste: Do you know of or anything about two armed robberies that took place last week in Hackney...

EE: Please, honestly, this is a respectable, licensed establishment. I wouldn't do anything that...

DIB: If you've heard anything about them at all, July second and seventh...?

EE: What would I know...?

DIB: I don't know, this looks like a bit of a no-questions-asked establishment. Perhaps...

CAL: [Interrupts] The picture...

DIB: Of course [hands EE a photograph]. This picture; do you recognise the device held by the gentleman at all?

EE: [Pause] Hard to say from that. This picture, yeah, it's from the robbery?

CAL: A still from a video recording. It was used, we think, to remotely unlock a safe.

EE: But...?

CAL: It's not a jamming device. We think it might be a calculator of some kind. [EE laughs softly] Well, it can't be a jammer because.

EE: Because it only took out the safe, every other device was left unharmed.

DIB: That's what we thought.

EE: It's not impossible to do direct electronic jamming but it's difficult and [looks at photo again] whatever this fella's got, it's not going to do that. [Pause] There's more, I take it...?
CAL: There is...

EE: I mean, this is almost borderline; why is the DoM taking an interest in bank robbery?

DIB: None of the events caught on camera actually happened in real life.

EE: Ah! Well, if I may say so, I think that's what you need to be getting on with there [hands back picture to CAL].

DIB: But the events were real. They happened. The financial losses occurring actually occurred and we want to know how. This device unlocked a fully protected safe in less than thirty seconds. How many combinations can you get from an electronic lock.

EE: Well, you should know, that depends on the lock but, technically speaking, it's infinite.

DIB: What about ten figures, how many variations on that?

EE: That's easy, ten to the power of nine, or one billion... That's if you just use numbers. If you throw in letter or symbols it goes up much higher.

CAL: This safe had a twenty-three digit combination.

EE: And there's that number again.

CAL: Indeed... But what kind of computing power would that take to solve in half a minute...? A rough guess...?

EE: You'd have to, I don't know, borrow Google's cloud farm in Ireland.

CAL: Could you do that?

EE: Could a bank robber do that? [Laughs] Don't be daft!

CAL: You have to ask daft questions sometimes. Facts are...

EE: [Finishing sentence] Surrounded by errors, I know.

CAL: What about quantum computing?

EE: A legend... mostly, especially around here. If someone's cracked quantum computing they've kept it to themselves. I mean, if you did build a quantum computer why would you use it to rob a bank. How much was taken...?

CAL: I get your point.

EE: What about Chemical Luck?

DIB: What's that?

EE: Chemical Luck, I've heard about it. Your lot have been testing strains of it up in Stanmore [CAL shrugs]. It's a quantum action molecule. It affects probabilities at a sub-atomic level, sort of slows the world down, develops a spread of simultaneous possibilities. You can be Schrodinger's Bank Robber, if you had a bit of Chemical Luck in you. It'd give you the time and the means to test twenty three to the power of twenty two combinations.

CAL: I see. Thank you for your time, Eddie. We best be pushing on.

EE: Not a problem. [Pause] What was the other thing?

CAL: Oh yes. I have a scrying ball that's playing up, getting really poor reception.

EE: They're never that reliable, I must say but... I've got a lot on this week. Bring it in first thing next Monday and I can have a look at it for you.

CAL: Cheers. Come on, let's go.


There is no such think as Chemical Luck. It was developed as part of a misinformation campaign after details relating to late-stage research into quantum computing was leaked from the Department of Metaphysics Research Wing in Stanmore.