Some written pieces deal with themes around horror and other topics that readers may find challenging.
Standing in this desolate, destroyed space I feel nothing but anger and sadness. I shall take you back to the beginning before everything changed.
Eighteen months ago, I was standing in the front of this classroom with a sea of cherub like faces staring back at me with hope and innocence in their bright, sparkly eyes. I was there on a placement teaching English to a classful of happy, carefree eleven year old Ukrainian children, we had covered the basics, their name, age, how to ask “how are you today?” but above all “please” and “thank you”.
I loved being there because I was learning a new language, a new culture, a new meaning to life. Teaching these children was giving me a purpose and I was personally thriving, becoming a better teacher, a better listener but for me, principally becoming a better person. Someone I was proud to be.
I remember looking at clock and it was 11.06am, let’s make this fun I thought! I went to the cupboard and retrieved a classroom favourite “Guess Who?” the English version, the children also learned better when it was entertaining and enjoyable.
I’d just turned around with the stack of boxes in my arms, which were precariously leaning to the left, when I heard a shaky voice from behind ask “Miss, what’s that noise (Міс, що це за шум)?”, with all the chatter and excitement from the room I hadn’t really been paying attention. I looked up, towards the windows and to my horror I could see Russian planes flying low overhead.
“Whoosh!” I knew I had minutes to get these children to safety. I threw the boxes. Trying to remain as calm as possible and in my best Ukrainian I told my children “Children, we need to leave the classroom NOW, just like we’ve practised (Діти, нам потрібно вийти з класу ЗАРАЗ, так само, як ми практикували)”. The children knew that there was a war going on in their homeland and that their fathers, older brothers, and uncles had all volunteered to protect their country.
With amazing bravery, the children lined up, panicking but calmly reciting the rollcall we had practiced so many time before, never actually believing we would need to demonstrate it.
With composure and determination, we marched to the bomb shelter, which was located under the gym. Once my children were safe, I returned to the classroom to gather my thoughts but also to try and salvage some of the children’s personal belongings, such as teddies, reading books and photographs hoping to relief some the fear and anxiety that they no doubt would be feeling.
I still shudder at the thought of what was to come. The windows shaking, the booming of the fighter jet engines roaring in my ears. I felt the pressure around me change. Then black.
“My children! I need to get to them! (Діти мої! мені потрібно до них дістатися!)” my internal voice was screaming but I was trapped under a table. With immense effort, I heaved the table up, staggering to my feet. I knew in that moment my class, my life and my little humans would never be the same. This was an act of undeniable war.
YOUTH: VOL 1
A memoir of time that I say, a time of the bitter but clear breath which exhaled from the rose red cheeks of a jovial child, a child of innocence and clarity. No worries to the fluctuating world which intertwines to the direct but enchanting splits of suttle aquatic drops; on ravaged gravel that shifts its position on pressure, sludged by those small delicate ripples that manifest under our feet; in this instance the feet of youth. Youth snuggled under the fur hoods of allusion, allusion being the stagnant of freedom and time; time that is stagnated in my eyes of mine to her’s, sense of belonging meant for me and only me; the past which slips through the hands just like the aquatic drops of freedom and fascination, under their bitter truth of arctic sharpes forming the sense of frozen blood underneath. I once stood silent with fascination and a tint of glare to the iris, illuminating under those royal ocean blues, accompanied once again, my aquatic drops, youth.
UNDER A GREEN SEA: VOL 2
I stand beneath the archway of green; leaves, bark, and moist mellows, next to and underneath, my nose encapsulated by the sense of spring, sharp grass and desolate warmth; ocean blues are mine, the same blues of her’s, the blues which carved out my dreadful smile of mine, a smile of her flock, a little one yet to depart but filled with the sense of enchanting joy, the walk of mine and her’s, monday to friday, my final sense of belonging and inclusion, but my sense of enchanting fantasy filled with allusion.
MILHOUSE: VOL 3
Screams of my peers, excitement around, suttle breeze that brakes the sharp heat, I remember those faces so vividly but their the contrast of my identity, that of family that would follow me to my adolescents, from eight to three, five within the week, my knowledge of belonging and identity with that of future integrity followed by her smile of my growth, the new age is dawn; relationships split, the same split of the aquatic drops that divert the continuity of my subtle but warm suburban life, that of my no longer youth, and the shift of those ocean blues.
IT'S OVER NOW: VOL 4
No longer their or never was, dropped by a foreign entity, my current existence no longer suburban but urban, still within the six a week, university beyond that peak, only isolation of a bitter cold, my life stands behind a yellow line and fabricated voices for vessels of the broken, no longer my aquatic joy but rather presence of time, heavy downfall summer forever gone, crowds of urban abundance, briefcases and long trench coats; black to follow suit, mechanical doors, purple and white. I sit with the presence of ambiguity, blindness staring out this clear screen, into the underdraft downfall of those aquatic pearls; sense all but lost; British rain.
The war took away the puzzles that made up my life, changed dozens of pieces and carelessly threw it in my face. Now I have to collect these parts again on the dirty floor and assemble them into a complete composition.
I sometimes forget about February 24, people and terrible scars on my heart remind me. The tears that were languishing in the eyes, again want to flow out like then... And the voice trembles. In fact, a part of me died back in March, just in time for my birthday. I did not understand such injustice then. I was looking for reasons why I should give up my plans and dreams, and it was even more painful than others: looking at the fresh, deep wrinkles of my relatives and only imagining how people feel under shelling, seeing atrocities against defenders. Read stories that will one day become a scary story in the hands of a writer. But not a single word can describe the horror that Ukrainians experienced.
You know, I used to dream so much about the continuation of the weekend, and now instead of the first lessons, every Monday is usually anxiety. I used to hide away from the window, but now I just listen. This sound, which she was afraid of since childhood, will forever remain an imprint in her heart. A heavy and painful scar, to which people are already, unfortunately, getting used to, walking down the street during missile threats. Such a soulless sound, but one that kills so many innocent souls.
It became painful to look at the children. They grew up so fast. My little friend, who used to go to the 2nd grade with a smile, has become so serious, and his quirk seems to have faded under the gloomy sun of these days. But all people get used to it. Like a bird first learning to spread its wings, Ukrainians adapt to constant power outages and water shut-off. So I always collect water at home and, just in case, charge my phone to 100%. Just a habit or, rather, a part of life.
Regarding the school process, despite the difficulties, we always have independent and scheduled tests. For the first time, I think that it would not be interesting without them. And this connection: at 2 o'clock in the morning, you, tired, perform another task, and on the other side, the teacher, just as tired, patiently checks dozens of works sent later, because "there was no light" or "problems with the Internet". It's strange, but I'm grateful to be able to do tests and follow deadlines, because some people don't even have that opportunity.
After 267 days, I still don't understand this injustice, I read the news less often, but every time it's hard to look at posts about people whose lives were once turbulent, and now their hobbies and aspirations are told in the past tense.
It snowed. At first there was joy! But what about the soldiers in the trenches. However, the happiness factor in the world should not decrease, as one soldier said, so I smile at the white snowflakes on my nose and think about how I will throw a snowflake at a friend.
This is how the war changed my life and that of millions of Ukrainians. However, we will put this puzzle together again, because we have always been like this. To be honest, no one has ever inspired me as much as every tear of my compatriot and the heavy smile of the defenders. I believe in Ukraine and I will smile, because now is not the time to cry! Just go to victory!
In a normal life, lived a very normal girl who lived in the shadows of her mind. Sat beside her was a box of matches that she carried everywhere. Counting each one carefully, she realised she had a few left. The cry of darkness that cast the shadows as she walked on by, was louder. She was just a small part of the diminishingly large world. It was unlit and never spoke the words of wisdom that everybody had said it would. Sometimes it was peaceful, making it easier to fight for the worth of every day but she was itching to find peace somewhere else. A speck of light burnt through the clouds as if it was an animal caged by a ringmaster. An irregular feeling soared through her brain. A feeling that was so unfamiliar. The thought of adventuring out to overcome the fears from the past she had, wanting to let it slip through her fingers, releasing it. It was somewhat comforting being amid the world’s creations. The girl had won many battles with her own mind and had the scars to prove it. She didn’t know if she should wave a white flag and surrender or burden herself more. All the pain endured came with reason, but she wanted to live. Stepping back to heal from duel after duel was needed although she continued to suffer on the front line. She picked up her matches, tied a red ribbon in her hair and out of the nest she flew. For the first time in a while, she was rediscovering herself and the black and white world that was so homely, flickered back and forth to a world full of saturated colours that were unfamiliar. That was a life that she could live. Outside the nest was strange. It didn’t look normal, at least it wasn’t how she expected it to look. Grey, the sky gloomed and danced in the minimal light of the moon. Continuing alone, she came across a cave. It was big, dark and everything else it could be to warn her not to enter. It got a little too dark and as it happens, she grabbed the match box from inside her pocket. Only three remained. With those three, she tried to find her way. As the sky faded into the night, the wind crept along with it like a merciless army of soldiers mounted on horseback. The red ribbon came loose and dispersed into the wind, waving as it departed. She struck a match on the side of the box and the flame grew tall but as the wind spun around her, the flame soon died. Out went the second… and then the third. She had none left to strike, in came the darkness with its long strides and she was alone again. In the dark, all alone. Again.
The wind was calm and slow. The robot girl and her family are at the beach enjoying the crashing sea. She felt something stirring. Her parents started to argue, the father shouted, the mother cried, and the robot girl just sat there. The wind increased; the robot girl's gears began to hurt inside. The wind got stronger and more violent. The father left. The mother walked towards the robot girl and whispered; ‘It’s not real’ and switched her off without hesitation.
The wind was calm and slow. The robot girl woke up, not remembering what happened. She got out of bed and walked to the shouting she heard downstairs. It came from the kitchen. The wind increased steadily. From a distance, she saw the father and mother arguing, throwing, and smashing things. The robot girl tried to cover her ears, but she could still hear them through her gears. The mother walked towards the robot girl, she again whispered into her so-called ear; ‘It’s not real’ and switched her off.
The wind was calm and slow. The robot girl woke up again, not remembering what happened. She got up and went to the park. She sat on the swing and drowned herself in thoughts, she heard something coming from the distance. Litter started to fly; she walked towards the arguing in the distance. The mother and father were arguing in the streets. He shoved and punched, she cried and tried to defend herself, but she saw the robot girl in the distance and ran towards her. The robot girl's gears started to turn faster and faster, she whispered into her mechanical ear; ‘it’s not real’ and switched her off.
The wind was calm and slow. The robot girl woke again not remembering what happened. She got up and slowly went downstairs. She sat in the living room nervously with the father and mother. She did not know why she felt this way, but things started to stir up again. The trees dance outside. The father and mother argued. They shouted, threw things, and got violent. The father stormed out slamming the door, only leaving broken glass and smashed up furniture behind. The robot girl's gears started to turn and hurt again. The mother walked towards the robot girl and whispers; ‘it’s not real’ and switched her off.
The wind was calm and slow. The robot girl woke up, once again not remembering what happened. There was no arguing, but it felt like something was pulling her towards the office room. She saw the 3D screen was left on. She then opened the drawer and saw a bunch of memory cards that were once attached to her system; she connected herself to the system and her memories came flooding back on the screen.
On warm autumn evenings I enter the forest at dusk with my friends; where stains of amber, scarlet and gold illuminate the sky. Here one of us would seek, while the rest hide. I was often hiding, rarely seeking. I didn't mind this though. The many hiding places of the mysterious, enchanted, forest kept me occupied; from the tall, towering trees, to the hidden holes underground, there were many places to choose.
This time in particular, I was hunched behind an enormous tree. My body was as little as an ant compared to the magnificently monstrous tree. No-one could surely find me hiding here. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, as both fear and excitement filled me. Fear from the thought of possibly getting lost in such a place surrounded by nothing but the beauty of nature. But also, excitement from being such a place, where the cool breeze tickled my skin. The greenish-brittle brown branches of the tree swayed in unison with the soft wind above me.
The forest was usually dark at this time, only hints of the vibrant pigments of the sunset peeking through the trees. The view was magical from where I was crouched, looking as if someone had spent hours painting an elegant picture. The sun slowly made its way down, leaving hints of amber reflecting on the bark of the trees and burning through the wood. The sound of shattered glass emphasized the crunching leaves beneath my feet, as I adjusted in my hiding place.
I took a deep breath, only to inhale the composting scent of moss, which rose up in waves like an unpleasant odour, invading my nostrils. I made sure not to breathe too loudly so as not to give away my hiding spot easily, however the strong stench of nature made that difficult to do so. The wind began to pick up causing the trees to lash and crash against each other, like drumsticks in the hands of a giant.
I gently rest my head against the rough tree, enjoying the leafy scenery before me, knowing it would take them a while to find me here.
The smell of freshly cut grass drifted through the air as I peered through the iron barred fence. My curiosity had gotten the better of me, the place was abandoned currently. Swings swayed forlornly, the slide sagged in loneliness and even the climbing frame seemed gloomy despite the fine weather. I ran my fingers down the bars of the fence lost in thought as I stared at the school hidden behind the playground. I should have left then. I didn’t, as a sharp echoing bell rung. I began to scramble away from this unknown world as all hell let loose. They spewed out of the door. Their matching uniforms turning them into one huge creature. The noise… the noise was deafening and unending: screaming, yelling, glee and anger. It hit my ears like a wall of sound or a great crashing wave, drowning out all else, drawing me in. Tree roots ensnared my feet. My heart raced. They would see me.
I fell to my knees, “loud… so... …loud…”
They were everywhere, stampeding across and up the slides; ones on the tower screaming at the gremlins that sprinted up the slide itself, leaping and soaring off of the swings. They laughed and jeered at those skulking in the corners where no light fell, and the noise would not stop. I could not bear to look at their wild faces, dripping with half-eaten food and the untouchable arrogance of children.
A shadow fell over me; a pack of grinning devils, under five feet yet as tall as the sky itself. I shrank further. My eyes fled from theirs locking on to the minuscule rocks on the ground. In their fine yet jagged detail they held more strength than me.
Rocks… look at the rocks…
“…!” rage is in the air.
… Flinching… can’t breathe … must…
Darkness, it swallows my vison whole, I’m falling. I curl tighter. Then, the chants begin, I feel the rhythm more than the words. Although some slip through.
“Weirdo. “Fool” “…Don’t belong…” “…Freak…”
My chest is so tight, it is encased in fire. Monsters are dancing around me, slipping right through the metal fence, my barrier no more. Their clawed finger tips snatching at my dark curly hair; sharply scarring my skull as they dig down, grabbing at my shoulders and shrieking in my ears. My mind flatlines, my eyes no longer see. I no longer hear, a constant vibrating. No thoughts come, yet my head rushes. I clench my fists tight, the pain is almost relieving, reminding me reality existed.
“Loser” a voice jeers above the cacophony. The hateful yells turned into maniacal cackles. Eyes bore into the back of my mind, grinning snarling faces with too many pointed teeth and luminescent green skin. My legs moulded with the ground and chains held me still. My whole body screamed to run but my mind remained blank and my legs heavy. I clutched my head, arching my back, “s-stop…”
A D&D Story
Born from a long line of Royal assassins, I had to be the one that suffered the most. At a young age of five years my family home was discovered and destroyed, I was the only survivor of the attack. Hidden in the darkest parts of the cave of which my family founded and built a mansion in, hidden by all eyes other than dark Elves and assassins alike, far in the black rose garden, lies a small, dusty bunker my mother left me in before leaving me to fight for my protection.
Three days later a former fellow assassin, who was loyal to my family came along and found me in the bunker my farther built to protect me in. Sirius was his name, I never forgot what happened that night where my family were slaughtered, Sirius took me in as if I was his own, as a loyal Servant to my family for 50 years of service he stood by me. Since then, he took me to his home on the other side of the dark Elvin Forest, in a dark lively village of all types of elves, where all types of homes, shops and stables were around the area. I was scared but fearless while entering the Village, Sirius’s house was one of the many engraved houses in the dark Elvin oak tree, there was where I stayed for the rest of my life, well mostly.
Throughout the years, Sirius has taught me the ways of the Assassins and my Family Royal Bloodline, I now know more about my Family’s bloodline more than ever than before and I knew that I had to keep the legacy alive until the end of Elvin times. From then I grew, and my eyes changed from fiery amber to ocean blue and that all happened when Sirius found me, but I did not notice until I was thirteen years of age. My training was getting more vigorous and harder than the first hard parts of training, for my training is not just about the basics. It is the combination of all the basics in one which means my next part of training is out there in the open, with climbing on structure walls, houses rooftops and busy marketplaces. My training went on and on, I thought once I would fall to my death for, I was near the top of the village which was mountains high. Luckily, I didn’t fall into the hole of the dark abyss, from there I scarily and carefully climbed down the walls of the village.
I guess we look odd together but she's such a sweet old lady and I love taking her shopping and going on walks. Looking after her however I can. We might not always get along because of the age difference: I’m 25 and she’s a whole 87! We have very different minds, but I still treat her like my mother.
At first it was all about the money but after a while I grew very close to her and now I would hate to see her go. My heart would not be able to take all the pain. She is a kind lady although she can be quite short sometimes. I call her Tiny Pie and she loves it. We giggle together which shows me she’s really happy. She has long beautiful locs that go all the way down to her mid-back. Sometimes I even give her a re-twist and a head massage.
I know this isn't part of my job, but I don't really care. I would rather make someone feel loved than leave her to be sad and alone. It's like I get to be the family she no longer has. I always stay longer than I’m required to because I actually love her. Sometimes I wish she really was my mother but it's alright, I get to see her every other day. The same time, the same place.
She walks slowly towards me at the door and all I see is her warm smile and my heart melts because each new day might be our last together.
It’s not like they described in the stories. It’s a false alarm. People are worse than animals. When it’s time to drop their masks, you only see monsters. These are the words Mum keeps repeating to me.
It’s 9 in the morning. The same morning every day. Mum makes breakfast or, should I say, puts beans on a plate? Meanwhile I keep staring from the window: the only thing I do since I was born. Seeing all these creeping monsters out there brings me alive. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of them or not, but surely, I’m sick of being trapped in here.
I went to the kitchen, where my mum belongs. “Mum! I’m so bored. It’s been nine whole years since I was born a I’ve never seen anything in life, but you. I’m old enough to go out with you now and see what it’s like to smell fresh air.”
Mum turned her eyes towards me. She left the knife on the table and came so close to me I could feel her breath on my face. “I have had this conversation with you millions of times, and I will never change my mind and give up on your life. You are the whole world to me so stop it!” she whispered firmly.
I took a step back so I could see her red face more clearly. “I was born and raised in this kitchen. I have never met a human or a tree, or been able to touch the rain or the earth. Please! You promised, one day you’d let me out.” I moved to the window and opened it. “Look at these creatures: humans, zombies – call them what you want – but they do nothing but walk around themselves. They are harmless!”
Mum ran to the window and slammed it shut, lifting me onto a chair close by. “These monsters are hungry for your flesh. They will never rest until they drink the last drop of your blood. And stop saying “people.” There are no humans left: those who still breathe would be willing to eat you alive for a slice of bread. Now, sit there and be grateful our house is far enough from the road!”
I crossed my arms to let her know I was angry. “And one more thing…no breakfast for you today.” I started to cry, knowing she would come back soon with sweets to calm me down.
I have fallen gravely ill. For I have looked upon a beauty far greater than the endless odes and legends could ever have warned of. A woman with eyes of everyone and a face full of softness and warmth. If some wretched, godless creature should stray so far down a path with no salvation that they could slice open this dear face, it would still remain a face to be adored. So full of peace, ignorant to the fact the gentle smile on her lips is the reason for my neoteric pain.
Residents of our anguished planet tend to reek of pretentiousness and mental wounds. The woman is no exception to this. Yet, she has an element of total transparency which allows for these faults and grotesques to simply add to the serene state of her being. She overcomes imperfections by allowing them to exist within her. Though I attempt again and again to communicate this woman’s splendour, it proves to be incommunicable, incomprehensible. She is iridescent.
To allow your gaze to meet hers, is not to say you will wish to be her lady-love, to seduce her. It is to fall in anguish, to feel your stomach clench and begin to rot all whilst you search for solace within the absurdity of her beauty. Perhaps she is an apparition. Or a duppy. She’s here to teach us, no guide us towards, towards something. The mind scrambles to find a plausible reason as to why one person should possess such power, consumed and obsessed with discovering who she is and why she is here. The mind shall be disappointed to find, there is no answer.
Perhaps, if we were able to simply allow something to be beautiful, without needlessly searching for a reason why, we would be allowed to have access to larger quantities of it. Yet the selfish human urge to understand prevents us from simply appreciating. And perhaps, if I too could resist these urges, I would be well, no longer captive to such illness. I would be released from the shackles of my own mind and I could dance and dance and eat fruits by the riverbanks. I could love, I could smile, I could be beautiful.
INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE - DAY
A solitary figure is sitting down, leant against the window of the train carriage, looking bored. This is EDDIE. He is fifteen, wearing a plain t-shirt and has his hands buried in the pockets of his shorts. His backpack is slumped against his worn-down trainers. There is an almost-overflowing duffel bag shoved in the luggage compartment. He is listening to music through wired earphones.
INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE - LATER
Eddie fidgets with the earphone wire, upright and rigid. He looks restless.
Eddie’s phone rings. He picks it up and sees ”Mom” displayed on the screen. After realising who is calling him, Eddie abruptly unplugs his earphones and shoves them in his pocket. He stares at the screen for a few seconds, then answers the phone.
Hi. Yeah, I’m on the trai-
Eddie closes his mouth, irritated. He is interrupted by his mother who continues on an inaudible rant.
Mm, I know it’s a long trip. Yes, I’ve got my phone charger.
Eddie pauses again, expression turning sour.
It‘s not my fault he moved back up to Glasgow! …It’s not your fault either, I know, I’m not saying-
Interrupted again, Eddie tunes out of the conversation. He sits for a while with the phone to his ear, expression blank.
Yep, he’s picking me up from the station. No, he will. He texted me, he said he’ll be there. I- okay. Yeah. Bye.
Eddie hangs up the phone. He looks out the window.
INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE - CONTINUOUS
The train pulls to a stop. A warbling announcement states the arrival at Tamworth station. Eddie glances moodily at the sign outside the window.
As the nearest doors open, Eddie watches a small crowd boarding the train. A WOMAN with a BABY approaches the seat opposite him and sits down. She gives an awkward smile, which he does not return. He instead plugs his earphones back in and continues to stare out the window. The woman appears unfazed.
INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE - CONTINUOUS
Eddie glances at the pair, noticing the baby grinning at him whilst holding onto a toy. They drop it onto the floor.
It is inches from Eddie’s trainers and the woman looks at him expectantly. Eddie breaks eye contact and looks back to the window. The woman rolls her eyes and picks up the toy herself. Eddie appears apathetic that he’s caused offence.
An ELDERLY MAN sat next to Eddie watches the ordeal. He glances over at Eddie.
Now, there’s no need to be like that.
Eddie looks horrified that he’s being spoken to by a stranger. The train slows to a stop and the woman departs with her baby.
What? I didn’t do anything.
It‘s just manners, son.
Biting down a snarky retort, Eddie folds his arms and resumes glaring out of the window.
INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE - CONTINUOUS
The man looks to Eddie again, amused.
You travelling far then?
The lights of the theatre shone like a thousand stars.
The curtain rose; the light faded. All that remained was the calling stage, demanding my immediate attention.
Colourful music encased the auditorium seats and incapacitated all other perceptions of the world around me. The beat of the drums pulsed with absolutist resolve. Keys from the piano were being struck by lightning, they were electrifying. Immediately my passion was sparked into existence. I knew instinctually; that was the beginning of my life -despite the eight years I had already spent on this once meaningless planet-. A new purpose for living rose within me with uncontrollable haste.
The mighty music started dimming to a slow, small symphony. Silence echoed loudly in the ethereal room. Talent screamed across the stage falling gracefully to a halt. Front and centre, the entire audience was captivated, but none more so than me. Soon an army occupied the towering wooden alter. Despite being so far from the place I so longed to be, clarity baptised me and woke a sleeping beast in my quickened heart. It leaped and bounded and pounded at my ribcage. Desperately. Nothing seemed more important than the pioneers (personally my heroes) looming over me in the most intimidating yet encouraging way.
With their feet carrying them away, as if riding on the wind, actors soared across the stage. They built a story with their siren voices and puppeteering flesh. Some screamed in sacrilegious fear. Others wept with the sorrow; their tormented souls could be felt in my every nerve. Tragedy seeped into the ever-growing tale on stage. The story twisted and turned like the knife of excitement that brutally pushed and ploughed into my pliable aspiration. As if it were a scalpel implanting a never-ending dream into each fibre of muscle, each layer of skin in my petite body.
However, the drama (the tragic nature of the play) ended abruptly; the technicolour tune revived itself. One singular entity overtook the spotlight. Words poured out of their mouth like a waterfall, I could feel the escaped droplets falling down my cheeks. A smile placed itself on my face as the masked professional reunited with all their comrades on the wooden fairyland. The tension that held me in a chokehold had dissipated with the words of one being. Regardless, the air my lungs so fundamentally craved evaded me. All the words captured in the swirling tornado of my gut continued to stay put.
It was not until the last bow, when time moved again, that I jumped to my feet and applauded. Each time my hands met; an unconscious prayer manifested. My hopes to soon be the one standing up there, enveloped by a rainbow shower of melody and the ability to transform and transfix all present life was irrefutable in that moment.
Finally, my inspiration (incarnated) exited, the ceiling flames reignited. Though the play had ended, its show was far from over.
The curtain fell, but soon, a new star would rise…
Fascination with the sky is fascination with feeling like a single part of a series of systems.
The sky, holding all the information of unsaid memories and thoughts sprung upon people. All so temporary and mortal, so unexpected this life was. So coincidental, that we were born as us, with our minds – on a planet just right for us. It should be impossible that this exists at all. Life – the system, statistically so rare that we shouldn’t be here - but we are, and that in itself, such a small thought, is huge. Larger than the planets, the moons, the stars that fill the gaps in between.
But within this huge reality I have fallen in love with feeling small. So small, I may not even be here – may not even exist. Not like I don’t want to exist, but maybe it would be nicer, sometimes, if nobody noticed me. To walk around like a ghost, haunting these halls forevermore as if that’s all I was here for to begin with.
When all of me feels tiny, I can fit through a mouse’s hole, run through vents and float through the air on top of a leaf: my own personal plane, and not a single soul would even see.
Small like standing in a bustling city of lights, smoke, sound, and movement. Like sitting under countless blinking stars which lie quietly on a deep blue blanket of never-ending nothingness. I do, truly, love it when the sky makes me feel insignificant. I’m almost as small as nothing – but I’m still there, still counted.
Only sometimes it gets big and when things get big I get scared. Eyes on me in a room makes everything get larger. Like somebody just zoomed in on a photo and now I am the only person in frame. Sometimes things get so huge that they seem unconquerable. Unconquerable like brushing my teeth, or having a shower, or washing my hands when I can see the grime building up under my nails. But I’ll leave those mountains for tomorrow, I’ll conquer them tomorrow – today is already big enough in my head.
These thing in my head get so big, like they’ve engulfed the entirety of the solar system in one and now everything revolves around the problem of which I face.
I get big – I grow so big that the walls enclose around my knees, the ceiling crumbles under my head and my feet press against my shoes leaving a burning sensation which I know will blister. It’s all hot, sticky, uncomfortable and I can feel the damp strands of hair on the back of my neck, but I cannot reach to move them.
I find that this room can no longer contain me, myself. I am somewhere else in my head. Somewhere bigger to make me feel small again and let me shrink down, down back to my insignificant form.
Even when you are not alone, you feel alone. The most people can give is reassurance. Someone is out there. Strangers. Looking for me, wanting me. Yet I am cut away from the wires that truly mattered.
Yes, I am homeless. The box takes different forms. Often two brick walls, a metal gate from behind and a barrier of people. Like a current, I scan over thousands of different faces a day. On rare occasions I make eye-contact and analyse what their lives are like. An average person’s eyes are busy. Often distracted, glued to a phone, focused on others; but they’re always colourful. Like chaos, there is always something busy. But when a person looks into my eyes, all they see is dull. I’m a painted man of grey, a grey collage for clothes and a static expression. Steel-coloured like a machine, I repeat the same pleas into the people. My only fuel being a spark of hope, one that longs for normality.
What burns wires are fires. Fires that are sparked from the lighter in my pocket. A sense of (warm )relief is my priority over food – a choice that burnt my string of luck thin. Often when the night crawls in, I try to create warmth for myself. With sticks and waste, I often create a little glow. Oranges that brighten the grey expressions on my face and worn clothes. The fire attracts others like flies to a light. These are other people reduced to the streets. Some nights I’m not so lucky, as I attract not only pests but parasites. With no one to strengthen your wire with copper, you fall victim in seconds. Little things such as fire and scraps from bins are luxuries. Luxuries that the desperate want.
So often I fought for myself and ran away. Sometimes I was chased for hours just like the demons in the cranium would.
One morning I awoke from my bedraggled state. Same canvas, same face with more grit on my skin. I noticed an advertisement that had reduced prices on bus tickets. Last time I sat in the bus was…
I’ve been good to myself and kept my coins. I echoed to the crowd. I fought the tug of addiction. I even starved the next night, just to ensure I got at least £2. It took a few days of what was meant to be self-love – turned into consistent labour of willpower. But I made it.
Bus drivers tend to look at you funny when you give them a chore. If he knew of my background, he would know why. I picked the longest route the bus could. With my ticket, I picked a seat. I stuck out in the rows of people because of my dullness. Like a visual juxtaposition who’s poignant. When the journey began, I began to feel the slow ease of relief. That relief is normality. I smiled, ignoring my crude reflection on the glass.
I soon closed my eyes to find I woke up in a different plane of existence. I turned towards a familiar face who smiled back and held my hand. My clothes weren’t ragged but whole. The children were in the seats in front of me, bickering. I felt clean too. I was nearly convinced that this dream was reality. With the sensation of embarking in a journey designed for average people – it evoked the lost fragment of my past. Reminded me of the family I once had.
Maybe I should stop buying cigarettes and get tickets instead. It mends the wires that were once cut.
Left in a basket of oranges lay a lemon. Its yellow appearance, different to the orange complexion of its roommates. They all had the most perfectly round structure. The lemon lay there with its egg-like structure and yellowy appearance, eager to be picked next.
It lay there day after day after day until no other fruit but itself remained. The sweet nature of the orange seemed to win the picker's attention every time. Never did the picker think about taking the lemon from the basket. Why would they? The oranges were obviously far better. They were sweeter, rounder and far less yellow. No matter how hard the lemon tried it could never be like an orange. The two are too different. Used for different purposes, different times, different places.
So the lemon lay there. Disappointed in itself and frustrated in the picker’s choices, it thought to itself ‘All my hard work is gone’. Until one day, a hand came into the basket and took the lemon so that it could be used the way a lemon should be used. That day was the happiest day of that lemon's life. Its dreams had been filled. Its hard work put to good use. Its target had been reached.
All that the lemon wanted was to be picked. And that dream, that hope, that wish was fulfilled. Though it took a long time, it was worth the wait because now the lemon knows that its future had meaning.
The uproar is ear – splitting.
My hands are pressed to my head so tightly it feels like my skull is being crushed. The mass of people running around me is immense, a hive mind of hostility. I have never seen primal hysteria on a human face before, and it is so terrifying that I feel the same deliriousness clawing its way up my throat. The creeping panic overtakes me and I slip, almost hitting the harsh cracked ground. My older sister, Xiang, scoops me up and carries me like she always used to when I was small. I instinctively curl up and peek through the gap between her arms, noticing the Gugong - it looks fossilised and sunken. People are collapsing, crumpling like puppets that don’t have strings to hold them anymore. I don’t understand why until I hear the shots and clock the scarlet ink exploding across their faces.
They must be trying to stop us.
Xiang looks straight ahead and I can see the mixture of anxiety and determination on her face as she races towards the mechanism everyone’s heading for, her breathing shaky. The unmistakeably metallic stench of blood reeks and I stuff my nose into my jumper but it lingers, seeping through the cloth. The dust is getting into my face and it’s becoming difficult to breathe. It reminds me of my hay fever, not that there’s any pollen left. I look up, for just a second – and see that we are almost there. In that one glimpse I make out pools of blood and stacks of the fallen, their waxy remains almost melting together in the desert heat. The fear that we might join them is paralysing.
Xiang’s frenetic pace hits new, metallic terrain and unflinching dread dawns on me as I hear the scraping sound of closing doors. If the atmosphere was frantic before, it was nothing compared to now. I hear people – bodies actually, no one is seen as a person anymore - being shoved to the ground and Xiang swerves to avoid them. My stomach feels like it’s being scooped away as she sways dangerously to the side. She must be exhausted, especially from carrying me, but she persists. I look up for one final time and with a jolt of anguish, realise that the doors are almost completely shut. They are right in front of us, they are so close, tantalisingly close…
Before I can register what is happening, I’m airborne, completely at a loss as to what’s happening. The sharp shock of impact on solid metal leaves me winded and I convulse in pain. Gasping for air I wildly scan for Xiang until a blurry figure cups my face in its hands, trying to steady me.
“It’s fine, you’re fine. It’s okay” Xiang reassures repeatedly to my panicky whimpering. She continues to hold my face like this until I start taking deep, shuddering breaths, slowly regaining my composure as I begin to take in the surroundings.
I hadn’t expected to find myself on those floodplains that afternoon. I hadn’t expected to find that body either, but life has this funny way of throwing what you least expect at you. It can be quite disconcerting.
I had received a call from a friend out on the coast. An urgent plumbing problem they had said. Being unwilling to fork anything over to those ‘slimy greedheads,’ they figured they would call up a favour from their old pal. I would have declined but the nasty combination of their general demeanour and knowledge of my address forced me into it. I had put my plumbing days long behind me for the benefit of my own wellbeing.
I was sweating heavily despite the frosty and bitter air, my posture being slightly lopsided as my bag of damned tools did their best to sabotage me. I had lost count of the hours for which I had been walking. No buses came out here and the rail service was raging against the government again. I had never learnt to drive after becoming a big fan of Marc Bolan. You just never know.
It was halfway between the two towns, propped up against the fence that marked the field. That’s where it was, staring vacantly out to sea. Unblinking and unmoving. Despite all the evidence to suggest so, it didn’t look as though it were dead. The position was too perfect, as if they were simply sitting and waiting. A regular body would have been sprawled out. It could easily have been mistaken for a statue at a quick glance.
The rain that had been spitting before began to intensify. I surveyed the floodplain, a sea of green against the grey void above. It would have been peaceful if it weren’t for the glaring issue. I felt like I should have been afraid, yet my brain had never given much attention to formulating a proper reaction to the situation I found myself in. It wasn’t breathing so there was no question on whether it should be dead, I knew that.
I turned my focus again to the floodplains, hoping that something simpler to focus on would give my brain the room it needed to devise an appropriate reaction. The word ‘glaring’ came back into my head. This was caused by the sheep nearby that were partaking in this action, specifically aimed at me. They too did not move. Upon some careful consideration, I decided not to ingest the rain, just to be sure.
Something took a tight hold on my leg. The wave of razor-sharp shivers shot down my body and my animal instincts screamed at me to flee. I looked down to face a picture of haunting rage.
“You dirty scum,” the body growled.
I now knew the appropriate response was to scream. A loud baa then caught my attention and I witnessed the sheep dragging my bag into their field.
It let go. I departed.
The Plague was long – remember it well. I cannot call it it’s true name – one that is scientific and sticky in the mouth like a dead-weight coated in gum; it has become too normal for many to bother. Old news. But Plague was how it felt at first.
It came from some tiny corner of the world, a town that sounded like a sneeze, but soon it was everywhere. We hadn’t realized the extent of how dependent we were – on each other, on good health, on our 21st century liberties. At first it was two weeks, but soon it was machines that kept people alive and breathing with the tick of a watch; it was nursing homes empty for the first time in a long time; it was ambulances, the only sound of traffic for days and days.
I paced in six walls – my bedroom. Round and round like a tiger or lion having run out of things to kill. I walked miles without really moving anywhere at all. I tore at my posters; I tore my homework. Nothing seemed to matter. I thought I saw shadows on the walls, but it was only my imagination of a fly-lord. Gradually, time came to mean nothing- the days dripped from one into another like a runny yolk and outside the changes in stars and sun came to mean nothing. When it got dark, I turned on a light, and when it was too light, I drew the curtains. That artificial room. My watch stopped. Even though I practically never left that place, dust began to settle over everything without my consent. I wiped it away and the next day it settled again like a tacky varnish. The motes no longer bothered to stir with my slowing breath. It had become a tomb.
I did not snap alive again, like in a movie. Mine was a slow change – like the wash of low tide, or the first buds of spring. How do you return from the dead? You don’t look back.
But where then to look? The outside was a distant dream – a promise perhaps of a future which quivered uncertainly, and around was claustrophobia of expectation, reputation, flagellation.
I picked up a pen – discarded long ago as useless in a world of keyboards and tv screens. This here redundant stylus had only one purpose: to write for pleasure and for myself. No teacher would see with the upload of work and worry, no friendly parent enquiring over message. Plague had brought the age of technology into the bedroom until privacy was gone – but with this here artifact, I was made anew.
Those secret diary pages were a comfort. Something dark and sticky and wondrous about the process of purging. The Plague had been terrible, but it taught me to look long inwards and drag, kicking, screaming, pleading, a bare soul to hold accountable. It taught me reckoning, the value of ‘useless curios’ like pencils and pens. It has made me a writer.
Bring up the carpets.
Pull back black, grey tufts of old dust like muted sheep parts in the wet grass. The grain now whispers, echoing a slimy breeze. It imitates pearled coving. It licks moth-hung skins, writhing with unused sin and thinness.
Now, lay naked unless cotton bathed upon the splice, allow seething strings to sex you.
Unzip from the skulled tip to toes webbing, cut between’t. Syrup shall not spill. Pink-raised patchwork stepped mooned from this unclean face.
Hold the grafted epidermis to the white-roomed sunlight, observe the mould.
Pin’t to a wall. A swelled sponge ripe with alcoholic promises will not do, instead spread honeyed clay with fresh hairs. Lusty origins birthed it, now hanging fattened. As the mud penetrates, scrape down the impurities of the flesh. Pray that they will heal.
Baptise the intricate mask, digging the sticky aphid-clung concoction and waste it to the waves.
Admire the colours of your rusted tool kit, swirl blushes with vein blue. First, bleach the leather with raw baby’s breath and daisies. Make't a palatable cream white.
Press swollen bones to the crusted, crushed oil, pull them apart with chalk nails. Mold gold amongst them.
Reuse the fine blonde hairs clumped clay and entangle that with powdered plastic.
Feed the weeping softly. Needle the clump to each follicle, align so each is filled. Agony will become bliss, for don’t we adore pain and vulnerability. We love to be stripped nude.
Even satin, a cheap silk will lie primary. The elder children flock in rouge and taupe, lacquer these heavily. It must weigh upon apple rounds and low mounds of hidden bone.
Pull them, stretch them. Dry it upon a clothesline like a derailed linen sheet, fluttering as a dull woman laughs in bad company.
Sand the eyes down until they are uncoloured marble. Red is for the heats and the moon. Allow them a texture of fleshy fruit and pained them with a blind colour. Plaster this over.
Prise off each nail and give the craving velveted hang something unbreakable.
Rinse the coarseness. It will not be soft, don't expect it to be so.
Slim silver and fine wool spun from nasty crow's feet, embrace and find them near each broken toe-piece.
Work as a mother. Dress as her.
Sleep with lemons and lavender for scent and preservation. Remain naked as to not alarm the mucus hiding.
Eat the remains.
You wake up. You stare, your thoughts trapped. And that is just it. Trapped to where, trapped to whom, trapped to why.
The ever-changing voice of time and unexplored ideas. Written, spoken, sunny or dancing around a growing fire of illuminated bodies.
Over they call, under and over, they run backwards and forth to an unassuming drum. On they run, the battle of the self contained in a web of a fragile and frail state. Impervious to the world around, as we all sing and dance on a trail lost and found. Lost in our art of changing ways, we beg, we implore. How can there be another day? When computers become screens unseen, when cameras flash by nights and voices become seen. Where do you hide when you are battling more than just the silver screens.
All the problems current and past looking over the future but you get stuck in a class. Out and out, run and hide but where can you look, if not to the sky?
Taken by your thoughts, for a joyride of sorts. A cat in a hat, oh but does it come back. A crow on the call once, twice, three times some more, a written word visible need I say much more?
A trapped space, by zeros and ones and the minuses come along just for the fun. How can you last when you are out on the run, how can you stop. Have fun, you are young.
That’s what you say and so do they, yet still you can barely wake up this day. When they say you can’t read, but for writing as well? You seem to be trapped in some form of hell.
If logging and logs are branching out fast, where is the chainsaw? It better come fast. Outgrowing ourselves and our selves and the same, it seems like today goes on again and again.
A ground hog, a hedgehog a wordplay of pigs. Up and down desires and it shakes like the twigs.
Dead are we all living within. Surely we see nose? if we can listen in?
Within the extremities of their thoughts, the many snarling eyes stared at me as
I walked down the aisle.
A little nap had set me 20 mins behind the supposed 'gate closure' time.
Half of those eyes I recognised; they had watch me run up the aircraft stairs, peeking through the oval shaped windows.
That time, the eyes sent a different message, a mix of pity and relief, housed on faces masked with smiles of disaffection.
I briskly walked down, to my window seat, struggling with my seat belt and thoughts.
I whispered silently to my encumbered mind – Like the scattered dust, your worries will always settle.
Soon after the sonorous voice of the flight attendant pierced my ears, my unconvinced thoughts sent me, back again to sleep.
She tiptoed through the patio doors of the beach front apartment trying as best she could not to disturb the seeping figure in the master bed. Quietly she slid through the doors with a backwards glance, turned and faced the beach and drew a deep breath of early morning air.
She inhaled the salty air, listened to the gentle, ebbing waves and immersed herself in the tranquillity of the moment. She sighed, slipped off her sandals and caressed the soft granular sand between her toes. Absorbing the already warm rays of sunshine from the developing sunrise, she watched the tide wistfully, starting to sway forward and back in time with the tide.
She’d always felt an affinity with the ocean. Such a vast expanse of space; the power to overwhelm, consume and envelop coupled with such beauty and peace. To have endless horizons, no constraints and do as it pleased. What a contrast to her own existence! She realised this was the first time in as long as she could remember that she’d heard her own thoughts clearly, without the cacophony of the city and life demands.
How tempting to stay and embrace the fathomless depths of simplicity exhibited by nature right in front of her. A zig-zagging line of small stakes in the sand extending into the waves was emerging in front of her with the outgoing tide. Stakes in the sand. How many of those had she brought about or been forced to embrace in the last few years? Decisions shaping and controlling her life, her direction, her destiny. Had they been the right decisions? Was this the path she really wanted to pursue? Had she honestly committed herself everlastingly … to this?
She walked slowly towards the wooden stakes feeling the pull of the waves and the limitlessness of their existence. Tentatively she placed a bare foot on the first stake, still wet from the seas cover. The coolness sent a shiver up through her body and reminded her that she still had the capacity to feel, to experience.
Balancing herself with arms outstretched, she drew herself up and stepped onto the next stake. It too was cool, damp, just as the first. She continued onto the third, the fourth. What at first felt invigorating, freeing, fresh and rejuvenating was in fact just a constant – the norm. All the stakes shared the same texture, the same characteristics moulded by their environment, established with age and exposure. Their suggestion of freedom leading to a limitless unknown in the ocean was in reality just an expression of manmade uniformity stretching forth towards an untameable natural power which will not be manipulated or changed. The pull of the tide and the ocean was as the pull of her destiny – determined by uncompromising powers out with of her control.
Without realising, she had stepped from stake to stake until she was ankle deep in numbingly cold waves and was starting to lose feeling in her toes. To be numb – that sounded bizarrely appealing.
‘It was All hallows eve, and the actions of one that sealed our fate. Why do mythology student’s think its a good idea to stick their noses in where it should never be? You would think “DANGER” would be enough of a warning.
His parents had said that their was private things in the attic that he should just put in a box labelled theirs. Shane had just finished doing the bedrooms ready for the move, his only job now was the attic, the attic always gave him a strange sense of foreboding, for as long as he can remember he has hated the attic, yet never knew why. This time was no different to the last thousand times he had been up here, only this time he had to stay for a lot longer than five minutes.
With dusty, callused hands he began sifting threw the years of boxes, junk and dust, sorting out trash from treasure, making sure to keep them separate, there were some things that would be classed as private that he had to put in the keep pile, not knowing if they were junk or not, things like sealed boxes with his parents names on them or files that were probably bound tighter than Cleopatra in her sarcophagus. He had been up there for an hour, and only got about a quarter of the large room done; when he came across something quite intriguing yet peculiar, as he was carefully going through an old beaten up clothes chest he came across a box, it was no bigger or thicker than a bible you would usually read from in church. Passing it gently between his hands turning it over to examine every sector of the box, what caught his eye about it was it had old Egyptian runes all over it, bound in what looked to be old rope made by twirling thin pieces of willow together.
Turning it over to what he assumed must of been the front, he was shocked at what he saw, in jagged writing as though someone did it with a knife, covered in blood no less, the words of warning ‘DON’T OPEN AT ANY COST, FOR A DARK, DARK WINTER SHALL BEFALL THOSE CLOSE, HEED THIS WARNING AND YOU SHALL SURVIVE AN ALL HALLOW NIGHT IN THE MOST GLORIOUS OF LIGHT!’ thinking to himself about what danger such a tiny box could possess, he hadn’t realised that his hands were moving of their own free will, along with tracing the foreign symbols, he found that his fingers were expertly unwinding the string, wind by wind.
“Wait, granny why did you stop there?”
“Yeah granny, what began, what was inside the box.”
the unanswered questions of the 2 young children would forever roam the scaled sky.
The end of the story is the end of life, for no man can survive the deadly cold of the serpent’s body that engulfed the world, hungry for anything above a whisper.
As I sort out the colours from the whites I wonder how we manage to accumulate so many dirty clothes in such a short space of time. It’s not a job I hate, just a pain; I often wonder where all those grey and pink socks come from as I know I haven’t bought any. Maybe the girls have borrowed these oddments from friends to confuse me. I’m sure these things come in pairs? Not in this house they don’t!
Oh the joys of having children!
Now, where is that top? I’m sure I washed it.
‘sorry sweetheart, you’ll have to wear something else. I know you wanted to wear it but, if I can’t find it I can’t wash it can I?
Mysteriously it emerges from under the bed with at least a dozen other things. Why we have a wash basket I’ll never know as it spends most of its time stood empty and alone on a corner of the landing.
Oh joy of joys! The sun has arrived and is beaming at me profusely as if to say
‘well here I am, make the most of me I won’t be around for long’
So here we go washing everything in sight, even clothes that don’t need washing get thrown in. Washing is contagious with me, once I start there’s no stopping me- except for one thing…
How come whenever I’m on my tenth load of the day, the skies suddenly seem to turn black and my tears of anger and frustration mingle with the raindrops.
Shit! My clothes are wet through AGAIN!
What is the point I ask myself? Oh well back to the drawing board.
This is when washing becomes a pain. It’s the time I hate the most because I know that the dreaded sock monster is about to strike again.
I’ve even contemplated laying traps to see if I can catch it in the act.
‘if I leave a few pairs dotted about the house maybe, just maybe it will turn up and I will be able to capture it. But, there’s one snag…
‘what’s that?’ I hear you ask
Jess! I’m sure that Jess scares it away with her constant barking.
I have a sneaky feeling that my monster is about nine years old. Tall, with blonde hair and green eyes. As yet I have no proof (you know how these things are). Therefore, I will wait with anticipation for the day when the dreaded sock monster will reveal itself in all it’s true colours, or, should I say shades of pink and grey, then we can do battle. I will banish it forever, never to return.
Until that day comes I will carry on with my hopeless vigil and my endless supply of odd socks. Or, there is one other solution, I could always just banish the socks instead.
On November 11th at 11:00am 1918 the guns fell silent… the dreadful war was over. A brave soldier slowly wondered through flanders field. Silence… The field was quiet, despite the tragic events that had happened the view was beautiful! Red poppies flooded on for miles, as the soldier adventured through the brightly coloured field he couldn’t help but think of those that had sadly lost their lives during those awful years. The calm breeze soothed his Thoughts. He thought positive for a few long minutes, he could go home to his family, he was alive. Shortly after guilt filled his mind, he felt bad for those that received that horrendous heartbreaking phone call, those that were told their son, daughter, husband or wife wouldn’t be coming home. The sound of rustling leaves and poppy stems beckoned through the frightful air. The red had meaning of the blood spilled on the ground, the green symbolised the grass of the battle field and the black centre represented widows and loved ones. Every year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we take a minute of silence for those who lost their life. Many clubs come together and attend a service and then parade a specific route to show their respect to the ones that had fallen. And at the end of the wreath laying service we get told ‘go home and tell your loved ones that people face their today for our tomorrow’.
Then the cadets and soldiers fall out…
~ lest we forget ~
It was humid, the dry air hanging heavy, weaving its way around leaving no room for moisture. The dry heat was almost suffocating, a scratchy and dry feeling placed onto whoever’s throat wandered into the vapid desert.
The moss green cacti stood tall in the desert, different ligaments protruding from out them, contorted in random different ways. Small white spikes sat on the surface of the cacti, a harsh prick to anyone that dared to touch.
A variety of sage bushes decorated the floor, though most of it had flecks of brown, dead and decaying due to the harsh conditions. They were dry and sharp like most things found in the desert. They sprouted from the ground unevenly, some longer and pointed, others a mess of dry twigs.
The sky hanging above was vibrant. A beautiful cerulean, surprisingly clear, no sun about to taunt any dwellers with its presence. Clouds drifted gently across the sky, pearly and gentle, making their way to their distant destinations solely, no urgency about it at all.
The dirt coating the floor was drier than the bushes, coarse and warm to the touch, the warmth seeping upwards if you stood still for too long.
Hills decorated the backdrop of the wastelands, covered in bushes and cacti sprouting all the way to the top. They were steep and almost unclimbable, though they receded down as they along to a small lump.
INT-HARU HOTEL: THE SPRING NATURE FIELD HALLWAY-DAY
With Nitro, Hilda and Kai.
Nitro strolls forwards.
He stops and turns to Kai and Hilda.
You two not going in?
Hm? Nah, you guys can go,
We’ll catch up with you later.
Hilda winks at Kai.
Kai didn’t respond.
Hilda turns around.
Kai isn’t there.
Hilda turns to Nitro.
Where is he?
A silent pause…
Nitro shrugs his shoulders.
I don’t know.
Nitro’s eyes widen.
He’s probably downstairs.
I think it’s a competition to him.
Without me?! How dare
Hilda’s voice echoes.
You’re gonna wake people up.
He ditched us.
Nitro facepalms and shakes his head.
Will you stop whining?
A silent pause…
Nitro strolls towards the closed lift.
Nitro turns around to Hilda.
I’ll meet you downstairs.
Hilda nods without saying anything.
The door slides open after Nitro presses the button.
The door slides closed.
Kai, when I’m down
there you’re fried.
Hilda turns to a doorway, dashes down the stairs with all her energy.
INT-HARU HOTEL: THE SPRING NATURE FIELD HOTEL GROUND FLOOR-DAY
Enters Ren, Kai, Robin, Ashley, Mina and Kiki.
Ashley checks the suitcases and the tickets with Kiki at reception.
Kai stretches energetically.
Ah! And that’s the
exercise for today.
Ren, you don’t know.
how many stairs
I have to run down, don’t you?
What is that supposed to
Robin collapses into a chair.
Kai’s eyes twinkled.
The competition from earlier,
The one I won...
Ren turns his head to Robin.
No, you didn’t. I was here first.
Robin nods effortlessly.
Ren turns his head back to Kai.
You lost, Kai.
Kai bangs his hand onto the table.
What?! No, you got to be kidding
Ren crosses his hands onto the back of his neck.
Ren smirks at Kai.
No, it’s a fact.
Ugh! That’s not fair, Ren!
Hilda dashes down the stairs exhausted.
And Nitro strolls out of the lift.
Ha! there’s Hilda now.
Everyone (the main cast) gazes at Hilda.
Hilda stops as she catches her breath.
There you are.
Hilda, I won—-
Shut up, I won--
No, I won, Ren.
Hilda, you lost because you’re slow.
What?! I’m not slow, you ditched us.
Kai winks at Hilda.
For a girl your age…
Kai still trying to catch his breath with his tongue hanging out.
Hilda’s face is red and hot.
What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Kai, grow up! you’re not
7 anymore. And the winner has already been decided.
Kai, you also ditched us!
You didn’t even plan the race.
So, it didn’t count.
END OF CHAPTER.
Ah, there is no greater thrill than that moment. Eyes full of tears and dust. Your lungs gasping for air as you are sprinting. Your legs are burning from exhaustion, knowing if you stop now “It will get you and the chances are you won’t survive the brutal impact”. This is goat running…
Goat running, a strange and entertaining form of sport found in the flat corrals of the farm called “Bester’s Corral”. An ancient water tree stands in the centre of a patch of ground. On the side stands a large building known as the Sugar Store. In this corral there are a few goats plus a nasty, old one called ‘Blind Goat’. He is a pale, thin old thing with eyes that are strangely pale. This is a creature that no one would like to find at night.
Friday the 14th of June, we arrived on the farm to discover that our cousins have a new kid named Davi. Davi was a grower and he was developing a nasty habit of attacking people that walked into his corral. One day when we walked through his camp to the water tree, and he attacks us. We scrambled up the water tree and right there and then; was the beginning of a new sport.
We walk into the corral: the freshness of the morning breeze around us. Shoes placed in the corner. The soil tickling the soles of your feet and the sweat is beading in your hair; it is the time to start.
Bravely we march towards Davi and we start with the ‘anger making’. To do this you stare at Davi; whilst staring you also kick up dust and make loud, challenging noises. Davi charges us at full speed. We sprint in the opposite direction. While you are running you look to check that everyone is safe. You smell the funny goat smell and you find to your horror that Davi is aiming for your rear!
This is the moment of truth, everyone else has out-skilled Davi with jumping, ducking, and diving. I am running alone. Blood started pumping through my body like crazy… Will I survive this?
I was having a great day – well week really and we did everything together. I had a new friend; I had only met him for a day but we were as close as anything.
I didn’t like him, but he wouldn’t go away so he had to stay. We went to the movies together; we went to school together and everything. My Mum didn’t like him either. Sometimes she would cry next to me hoping he would go away. I didn’t see the problem though.
A few weeks went by, and my new friend was still as close as ever. More people got to know about him, and I would get lots of gifts from them too.
A few weeks later I had a really bad illness and I had been feeling really unwell. When I told my Mum, she took me and my friend to hospital we stayed there a few nights; I began to feel worse…
The next morning my Mum and the doctor man came to me while I was laid in the hospital bed covered in bright, white, soft sheets. Mum was in tears again – shouting at the doctor. She then sat down next to me and trembling with fear she looked at the doctor and then looked at me. Then holding me tight in her arms she said I was going to sleep for a while…
As the doctor put the metal needle in my skin I cried in pain, holding tight to my Mum.
I said goodbye to her and to my friend, Luke… Leukaemia.
Yet another day in the city, full of pollution and condensed full of people as I stood on the underground train alone again whilst sipping on my warm coffee. The intercom then blares out of the speakers causing me to turn to look at the digital display, informing me my stop was next causing me to smile as this train was starting to become a war for space.
The train then came to a slow decent in speed to then come to a halt, informing me that I had reached my location and step off the nightmare called a train. Without hesitation, I walked out of the underground with a smile on my face until the air pollution hit me in the face once I stepped out.
The cars in London were always pouring out emissions causing my face to twist to a disgusted expression as I chugged my coffee to then throw it into the nearest bin which was almost overflowing but it’s something you’re used to seeing in places like this.
However, something caught my eye on top of the bin; it was a book, not a normal book though.
Out of curiosity, I grabbed it and started flicking through it to skim read it as it looked as if someone lost a book that they were reading but I soon realised it wasn’t the case; It detailed everything in my life and contained my name in it and knew where I grew up and lived now causing my brow to lift and my eyes to widen as my heart skipped a beat.
Was this some joke my friend was playing on me?
Then my arm suddenly no longer felt like it belonged to me as I tossed it into the bin, what on earth was happening?
My eyes landed on the inside of the bin as I debated reaching into it when I suddenly forgot why I was looking in the bin, but something drew me to that book, and it detailed everything I had just done.
I was inside a book; I was a story.
I didn’t know how to feel.
Should I be happy knowing that I was a ‘main character’ like people often obsessed over or should I be scared as I now had the realisation of the fact that everything, I did was decided for me and the reactions I received were planned by whoever wrote this?
With a portion of chips in his left hand, he used his right hand with less grease on his fingers to press number twelve followed by number fourteen.
The lift doors slide firmly shut and ascends at a healthy speed.
He puts a hand full of hot chips in his mouth before saying.
“I’m going to the Only Fools and Horses convention.”
“A few of the actors from the series will be there, plus guest stars from previous episodes. I’m hoping to get Grandad’s autograph and a signed picture of Trigger”.
“Oh, ok.” I said.
His smile, resembles that of a kid allowed to go to the sweet shop on his own for the first time. His face awash with excitement. His anticipation is contagious.
(Unfortunately, I’ve was never a die-hard fan of the TV series.)
The aroma and steam, coming from the hot portion of chips, drenched in what smelt like white vinegar, permeated the lift. Both of us look up as the floor numbers increase. 3rd floor, 4th floor, 5 floor, “It won’t be long now,” (gently reassuring myself in the attempt of lowering my anxiety levels that come alive whenever I’m in a confined space).
Suddenly there is a jolt, the light flickers in the lift and then silence is interrupted by him whistling the theme tune to Only Fools and Horses.
My ears, have informed me that he is so out of tune, the pitch he has chosen is high, and he’ll come unstuck before he hits the chorus, I avoid his gaze, lower my eyes and hope that in a matter of seconds the lift should be on the move, or so I thought.
Nervous laughter escaped from his mouth, along with some chips, this outburst encouraged my already anxious mind to question his sanity.
I cup my head in my hands. Impatience is fast becoming my best friend, and I am ready to try and workout why is this lift isn’t moving.
…”Is there an emergency telephone number we could call.”
My eyes start to scan the lift walls for an emergency telephone number or better still, an emergency button to press for Help.
Suddenly the gentleman burst into The Beatles song.
I need somebody (Help)
Good god, is he serious?
He attempts to sing the 1st verse but once again, he’s chosen a pitch that is much too high - I bite my bottom lip knowing, that his voice will cut-out well before he hits the last phrase of this beloved intro.
I scratch my head in disbelief.
In such a short space of time this stranger has managed to get on my second to last nerve.
To get on my last nerve, would be to give up hope of ever getting out of this lift with my sanity in tact and I’m not prepared to give up on that. So, I Clench my fist, bang on the door, and cry HELP…..