Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Pilot

Daniel clenched the stick tighter. Fruggin’ ‘ceratops. He throttled back and dipped the nose, the F14 vibrated violently, briefly, then settled into its shallow dive. In his peripheral vision he saw the treetops rise slowly up toward him, then the altitude warning began to ping. Fruggin’ ‘ceratops. Daniel held steady. He turned his head to allow him a better view through the HUD. He saw the clearing and the grey lumps of the dinosaurs tiny then small then getting bigger, the prerecorded voice calmly asked pull up, pull up. He was close enough to see one of the triceratops turn its horned head as he squeezed the trigger, the minigun thrummed beneath his seat, he opened his jaws, the perfect killing machine, a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a fighter jet.

He pulled back hard, wrestling the huge plane’s nose skyward, servos and ailerons and stressed steel skin resisting then relenting. He punched the afterburners and was pushed back into the chair. The g-force made him giddy. Daniel whooped and spittle flecked the canopy. Fruggin’ ‘ceratops, they weren’t expecting that. Ha ha!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Nice Easy Start

A nice easy start? Bollocks.

I don’t want to fall. The tendons anchored in my forearms sing. Everything is tight. Everything. I could stay here indefinitely but that isn’t really an option. Climb or fall. The excitement in the back of my throat sours into fear, spreading out, quickening my breath, imagination tumbling. Is the equipment good, the rope knotted right, harness buckled tight. Bollocks. I think I’m stuck. How far above the gear am I? Too far, I don’t want to let go. Breathe, blow. Drop your heel.

What will they tell my parents? What if someone checks my internet history?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Staying In

“I like it balmy” She had said “With an L not an R”

So they lay there sweating, the heating on high, sun outside, still heavy air. Pretending it was a New York summer instead of a London spring. Him naked, her semi-nakedness made somehow more blatant by the open dressing gown. He lay on his back with his head on her belly, drifting in and out of sleep as the percussive music wove together his conscious and unconscious thoughts.

Suddenly, gripped by the fear that he may have been talking in his sleep he forces his eyes open and turns his head to see her wake from parallel dreams.

Soft belly fat, muscles underneath. Her ribs by one ear her pelvis by the other. That subterranean thump of this girl’s heart sounding from somewhere deep inside.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Resurrection

Already I find it hard to imagine my old life, it doesn’t even seem like it happened to me, but somebody who I know, a friend who has since drifted away. So big is the change, geographical in scale that the borders haven’t been redrawn so much as I have become an entirely different country. Subsidence, erosion, a gradual loss of topsoil, the occasional tectonic tremor may have been hints but the final event was so sudden, so fierce that the landscape and all the tiny people who roamed it didn’t stand a chance. They were engulfed, crushed, wiped out before they had chance to take in what was happening (even though they had seen the signs, the failed crops, the way the birds hadn’t returned that spring, but they had convinced themselves that it would never actually happen in their lifetime). The land folded in on itself, fell into the sea, rose up as strange new mountains.

Recently an archaeologist arrived by boat. She is pretty and young and still passionate. Her love for academia has yet to be ground down by the day-to-day effort of making a living from it. She has found bones, not yet complete skeletons but many fragments and there is a picture emerging, the edges of which she has yet to discover. Best of all she enjoys it here. The weather is mild, the midges don’t seem interested in her. The view from the tent is still beautiful enough to surprise her most mornings.

Monday, March 12, 2007


That night in the near dark they were haunted by doors.

Abi, who was older and used to these hauntings no longer cared what was on the other side of her door.

In her room, even though it was too dark to make out, Lucy was quietly excited about what her door might contain or where it might lead to.

Terrified, Emma pulled the duvet up to her nose. Too scared to flee she crossed her toes and prayed for the morning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bertie Ross

Brian awoke with a start. For a brief moment he imagined everyone was staring at him, but the feeling passed as he blinked the sleep away. After the clatter and white noise rush of his dreams the train was noticeably quiet, just the sound of moving air and rumble of wheels from somewhere distant outside. It was busy though, enough that people stood swaying like synchronised drunks in the aisle.

They were leaving the city now, through a derelict looking industrial park. Worn down looking metal sheds, sad machinery and baleful silos slid indifferently past. It was the middle of the day but Brain couldn’t spot a single human being. A hundred miles of scenery scrolled by. Urban housing fading to industrial sprawl fading to open countryside and then back again as the train approached Leamington.

Bertie Ross’ house was pretty much as he had expected: Ramshackle. The organic chaos of shrubs and vines in the small front yard seemed to continue inside the front hallway. Overlapping leaves and twisted branches where replaced by stacked ephemera on row after row of mismatched shelves. Hundreds of books. Small ceramic statuettes lying on their sides, scraps of papers, pens. Dust. Old things and dead skin, a warm-but-not-in-a-pleasant-way human smell. The voice in the intercom guided Brian toward the rear of the house, past half open doors onto half lit rooms filled with more shelves and boxes piled so deep and high that it became impossible to judge the true volume of the building.

The crumpled old man Brian found seemed apt. Once the collecting gravity it seemed now Bertie Ross was being crushed under the weight of the things around him, squeezed into this one last room and pushed into the sagging brown chair. Brain was surprised by just how ancient the man looked. There was no make-up let alone surgery. His clothes didn’t fit. His clothes were so out of style Brian couldn’t even tell how out of style they were. Three plastic dwarves shuffled around the room laying out tea and biscuits on a low coffee table. The jerky movement made him nervous, his distrust of the robots heightened further by their designed-in subservient stooped posture and downcast blank faces.

“Sit down, sit down, son”. Brian looked up, the man’s sing song accented voice seemed lifted straight from an old movie. Bertie Ross was smiling a curious half-smile, looking straight at him while vaguely gesturing at the only empty chair in the room.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A thin spike of nausea rose through his body. What am I doing? Brian asked himself.

He was seeing her under perfectly legitimate circumstances. A follow up interview. She had left a message, there was more to talk about, things she hadn't considered when they first spoke. Maybe she had seen the man at the cafe. Not that it mattered to Brian, it was just another reason to see her.

Like all kids of his generation he had a list of childhood diagnoses he carried round like a notebook of prewritten excuses. Protanomaly. High metabolism. Something on the very fringes of the broadest spectrum definition of Aspergers. Well that's what the doctor had said. His mum had said he shouldn't worry about being a little awkward, that even she was a little awkward. But he was back in that wheel within a wheel, watching himself thinking. Did everyone do this? Analysing his emotions, root causes. A network of paranoia, fears and worries that extended back even before puberty. Empricising every decision, the reactions of those around him. Breaking them down into threads and repeating patterns. This cold calculating was psychopathic behavior, surely?

He hadn't seen Rachel in nine days.