I watch as the world passes by without me. From my perch atop the old Record Ridgway factory, I can see for miles across the city. The void is calling me. It’s the only one that ever does.
I’m just high enough to trigger that strange human urge to jump, but low enough to know that, unless I’m lucky, it would only leave me with broken bones. Cold stone and corrugated sheeting surround me, rust, broken glass and thick moss covering everything like a post-apocalyptic botanical garden of abandonment.
I sit on the concrete lip and admire the frescoes of graffiti that punctuate the 1930s architecture. Ninety odd years didn’t seem too long a time, all things considered, but the view from here has changed drastically in that time. So has the world. The men who had worked their trade in the factory below were long gone. My granddad had been one of them. The company was sold to an American firm, and all production moved to China. Sheffield Steel couldn’t hold a candle to Chinese slave labour apparently.
Despite the brooding figure that I may strike, I am no vigilante or prowler of the night. In fact, it’s eight in the morning on a cold Tuesday, and I’m hunched up in a little ball up here with a pounding headache after drinking a full bottle of Jack the night before. Why choose a derelict factory? Why not? I find it a good place to reflect. The factory, like me, is little more than a ghost. Why do I need to reflect? Personal failure, as per usual. Continue reading
A cannonball crashed through the wall of Buccaneer Jones’ tiny cabin. He yelped and fell out of his bunk, then frantically scurried underneath it. He stared through the hole in the wall at the raging ocean outside, and the pirate ship that was rapidly approaching.
There was a thunderous noise from above as The Singing Seal returned fire with its own cannons. Buccaneer grabbed a padded hat from a hook and rammed it onto his head, the thick material covering his ears to muffle the sounds. He picked up a dog-eared old botanical encyclopedia then shuffled back beneath his bunk and tried his hardest to ignore the battle around him, even as sea water sloshed into his cabin from the hole and the smell of gunpowder swirled around him.
The two ships closed the distance until men and women could swing from one to another with cutlasses gripped between their teeth. Now shouts and laughter filled the air, punctuated with pistol shots and the clang of swords.
Buccaneer sighed and started to hum loudly. Despite his name, Buccaneer didn’t like fighting. In fact, he hated it, just like he hated his name. To his friends he was just Bucc. Not that he had many. Bucc was considered odd by most people. He didn’t like violence, couldn’t stand loud noises, and he willingly washed at least once a week. How were you supposed to treat someone who didn’t like to fight, pillage, and drink? Continue reading
(Book two of Thorns of the Shadow. Contains spoilers of book one.)
Heat rolled in shimmering waves across every surface. The sun hung proudly in a cloudless sky above. It was the kind of day that seemed to drag on and seep the energy from the world.
On a suburban street, in a house like every other upon it, a young woman sat slouched across a sofa where she had been for the past few hours without moving. She was called Catherine Redthorn, but preferred to go by KT. Her black hair ended half way down her back and she had an athletic build that was currently clad in black jeans and a simple white vest. A few scars marked her arms but many more lay hidden in a chaotic pattern across her torso.
On the other end of the sofa was the sprawled out shape of her twin brother, Mordekai, known better as Kai. He was taller and broader than his sister but shared her green eyes and love of dark clothing. He too bore scars, as did their mother and father, but nothing near to the level that punctuated KT’s skin. Continue reading
The sharp click of the button was not the end or the beginning of events. It was the last step in a long process that led to the partial collapse of the very fabric of the universe. Beyond a sheet of transparent carbon alloy the infinite darkness of space shimmered. A million stars pulsed in unison and time itself shuddered with the uncertainty of a failing reality.
“Kiss my living life goodbye
Embrace the fact that I will die
Know that all is but a lie
And never ask your maker why
Tomorrow comes tomorrow passed
Our shattered dreams are all that last
The dice of fate have now been cast
I know my birth of sleep draws fast.”
The singer had first heard that tune whilst still in her mother’s womb and would hear it again as they closed her tomb. She giggled uncontrollably. The world was just so damn musical. No matter what language or species, people made poetry and sang songs. Her own thoughts danced a merry jive through her head.
The words were from an old nursery rhyme. Like all good songs for young children, the topic was about as morbid as possible. Children seemed drawn to the darkness of the world like twisted mirrors of moths, seeking out that which killed them until their wings were clipped and their bodies wrapped in a cocoon of rules and culture before emerging as fat caterpillars good for nothing beyond eating and breeding.
And here she was, Zorya Triumph, a caterpillar given wings. Wings that could tear the universe asunder. As such, she had named the ship Cataclysm and Butterflies. She laughed again, multi-shaded blue hair falling across her face as she rocked back and forth on her chair. The strands danced like blue flames. Continue reading
They always said that if there ever was a God then He must have had a cruel sense of humour. Anything that would give free will then punish its use could hardly be rational. To know everything yet constantly test His children. To be all loving yet let children starve and die. To be all powerful yet never cast out evil. Yeah, that guy is a real joker. A joker, a sadist or a fraud.
We, as a society, cast Him out of our lives. I guess you could say that He had the last laugh though. Do you want to know the punchline? He passed his mantle down to us and gave us all of the power that we could ever dream of. We could have saved the world.
Instead we destroyed it.
It was a time of gods and madmen. Of chaos, death and destruction. Battles were fought which made history’s greatest wars seem like playground drama. Lives were forever changed and we had nobody to blame but our own human nature.
It all began on a day like any other. Cliché, I know, but that’s how it is. All days are normal until something extraordinary happens. It was early Spring, one of the first warm days of the year. It was also a Thursday, if that’s important to you, in the year of our Lord 2019 AD. 53,567 people had already died that day. That’s nothing though. Over double that die every day on Earth. Makes you think, right? Continue reading
Birds scattered as the old morning bell began to toll, its deep echoes ringing throughout the city of Pastrino. The noise was met by stirrings as the city below began to awaken and the people rose from slumber to begin their day’s work. All except one that is: Trey Sted. He was still fast asleep like he was most mornings.
People were amazed at how he could sleep through the morning bell because it could wake up everyone else in Pastrino, even those on the outskirts of the sprawling city. Ironically, his house stood in the shadow of the bell tower on the wide hill that marked the centre of the city. It left any who were that close to the tower with ringing ears when it chimed, but Trey never even stirred from his sleep.
“Trey, wake up! Trey, get out of bed!” his mother called from the doorway. Trey didn’t move. His cheap woollen cover was wrapped tightly around him like a cocoon even though it was the middle of summer. His mother called again. “Trey, get up now or you’ll be sorry.” Still he lay motionless. “I warned you, Trey.” Continue reading
A dark shape flew through heavy clouds above Abernethy Forest. In a land of ancient myths such as Scotland, where mountains vie with dark forests and cold winds cut across the rugged landscape, it was all too easy to see contorted faces staring down from the icy heavens. The shape disappeared into the churning clouds before erupting out again to swoop down low above the treetops. Leathery wings glided serenely for several seconds then lunged into the greenery to vanish from sight completely.
There were few signs of civilisation here, a single structure standing alone in the forest’s embrace being the only mark of humanity for miles. It was a large wooden building known as Aife’s Lodge. Once it had been a private manor house but had since been converted into a hotel. Fitting with its remote location, it was the kind of place where people went to escape society completely.
The clouds parted just enough to reveal the moon through the black veiled sky. A warped howl echoed through the snowy night. No one heard it over the night’s festivities. It was just before midnight on New Year’s Eve and the few guests of Aife’s Lodge had forgone seclusion and gathered together in the main hall to celebrate. A stone fireplace dominated one wall while numerous mounted animals showcased the local fauna. Long dead deer and wildcats seemed almost alive in the flickering light. The guests mingled awkwardly in groups of two or three, the conversations gradually becoming less passive as the alcohol flowed. Continue reading
It has been over a year since I first posted an extract of my current story. In that time I have learned a lot about editing and actually pushed to get reader feedback so now have a far more polished version of the story. This polishing isn’t fully finished yet but I figured that I would show how far the story has come by posting the 1st chapter of its current draft.
The original version can be found here.
Once again, any feedback is welcome. Enjoy.
A dark shape flew through heavy clouds far above Abernethy Forest. In a land of ancient myths such as Scotland, where mountains vie with dark forests while snow and cold winds dominate the rugged landscape, it was all too easy to see contorted faces staring down from the icy heavens. The shape disappeared into the churning clouds before erupting out from the silently screaming mouth of an angry god to swoop down low above the treetops. Leathery wings glided serenely for several seconds then lunged into the greenery to vanish from sight completely.
A short distance from here was a large wooden building known as Aife’s Lodge. It had once been a private manor house but had been converted into a hotel in recent years. Fitting with its remote location it was the kind of place where people went to escape society completely.
The clouds parted just enough to reveal the moon through the black veiled sky. A warped howl echoed through the snowy night. Nobody heard it over the festivities though. It was just before midnight on New Year’s Eve and the few guests of Aife’s Lodge had forgone seclusion and gathered together in the main hall to celebrate. A stone fireplace dominated one wall while numerous stuffed animals showcased the local fauna. Long dead deer and wildcats seemed almost alive in the flickering light. The guests mingled awkwardly in groups of two or three, the conversations gradually becoming less passive as the alcohol flowed. Continue reading
All is not what it seems.
Have you ever put something down then find that it has gone?
Mummy and Daddy do it a lot.
“Where are my keys?” they ask. “I could have sworn that I left them here.”
They put it down to bad memories or say that somebody moved them.
But somebody didn’t move them, it was a something.
And that something is an Ippa.
Ippa are small fluffy creatures that live inside trees.
Their feet are big and soft and their hands are small and fast.
They have big eyes and little noses and mouths that like to laugh.
Each one has two things that make them special, their fur and their hat.
Some have blue fur some have pink. Others have orange, green or silvery zinc.
All the colours of the rainbow then more. All of the colours that you adore.
Then their hats are their pride and joy. Whether it’s a cap, a wrap or a top hat,
Paper, cloth and metal, big and small, the Ippa have them all. Continue reading
City walls of pale stone stood proudly on the horizon ahead. Around it rougher stone structures clung together in a hodge-podge of designs and materials like a cancer. Farmland covered the ground between the settlement and a lone hilltop many miles from it where a young man stood taking in the sight of the legendary city. Dense forests made a ring around it all.
It was early in the morning and the young man hoped to be within those walls come nightfall. He wiped an arm across his face to remove a trickle of sweat and grimaced at the smell that rose from his sleeve. He had been travelling by foot for over two weeks now without a single change of clothes. Washes had been few and far between and the summer’s heat had been like the innards of an oven for the entire time.
“If I intend to rejoin society today then I’d best make myself presentable. I smell worse than the old man’s attempt at cooking,” he said to himself.
Humming lightly, he made his way down the hill and veered toward a small stream that he had spotted from his vantage point. He found an area that was out of the way of the working men that dotted the surroundings and stripped off. The water was refreshingly cool but the man wasted no time with relaxing. He scrubbed himself clean then applied a flowery scented lotion from a bottle to himself until his entire body smelt faintly of roses.
He left the water then waited until the heat had dried him. The filthy clothes that he had worn were shoved into his pack and a fresh outfit of clean, well made wool was carefully donned. The clothes marked him above a peasant but they were still cheap and basic by any nobleman’s standard. He needed a shave but the slight beard and slightly too long brown hair did not detract from his handsomeness, simply adding a charming ruggedness to his already pleasant appearance. He would not be thrown out of any respectable establishment and that was all that the man needed.