The ocean’s hourglass

Once a month the universe tosses him a get out of jail card; allows him a ruffle and a blow dry from the sopping subaqueous saga, and shines a torchlight on the shores of hope.

He was never overly dramatic, but he can’t help but chortle and whistle as he sloshes from the waves onto the wet rocks, pinches his cold cheeks, and shakes his gills in anticipation.  Continue reading The ocean’s hourglass

The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

The Bubble is frothing at the edge cataclysm. Debt-starved zombies roam the streets of London, desperate to feast on the fresh credit ratings of the financially unburdened.

Sam and Laney are planning their getaway. Will they manage to avoid the malevolent plague and escape the city before it’s too late?

This was my entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition. Someone good won it. They always do.

Frame one of The Bubble Continue reading The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

Diving Bendethera

Orphans of the SaltFinn spat into the lenses of his binoculars, wiped them dry, then look down into the harbour.

From the red haze on the southern horizon, the coast ran cramped and arched between the dust and sea like a green wire. There were headlands, the most extreme of which formed the southern end of the bay, a prism of forest and stone that stretched out into the sea like a chain of pyramids. The tip they called the Nail and there was a cabin and a fire they would tend to at night to warn ships away from the bluffs, or to give those who had been driven into the rocks by the relentless northern gusts, those who survived, a point of reference on the hazardous climb from the shoreline. The fire had had not burned in months.

From the sea the face of the Nail resembled the face of a man, old and unwashed, with hollow eyes. Fringes of scrub grew in thick clusters around the promontory, tumbling around deep fissures and rocky orifices, a slab of sandstone shot out parallel to the ocean’s surface and sniffed at the winds, and the roots of trees, dead and living, fed into the shallows, stirring with each flow of air and water. Finn, who had not often look upon it, fancied it to be the face of someone he’d once known, his father, or a priest, perhaps. The personalities changed with every season, each new tide of the weather lending its own character to the vegetation to the jagged coastline. Every storm and fire and flood a new wrinkle on the face of Bendethera. Continue reading Diving Bendethera

Measuring Stars

The sound is proximate and consequential, like the crack of bone.

He wakes up and curls into a ball. He waits for a pain to tell him he’s broken something, or a betraying silence that says he has finally crushed his wife to death.

When his eyes adjust to the moonlight he realizes he is not in bed, but in the desert, alone and naked, and half-buried in sand. He raises his knees and finds a bowl of felled and splintered trees. Continue reading Measuring Stars

The Book, the Machine, and the Corpse of her Values

“Henrietta Saffron changed my life!” That was the one that really choked her goat. Who could have churned out something so deficient in irony than the straight-faced and loose-laced intellectuals of the seventies? Oh, but wait: “Required reading for the new age of the 80s.”

Droll.

By the nineties they’d crucified the last of the scepticism and inquiry and named her the most important writer of the nineteenth century.

Talk about tossing a banana into a bus-load of monkeys.

All for a book.

The Book. Continue reading The Book, the Machine, and the Corpse of her Values

Alcatraz Dolly (The New Guy)

Alcatraz Dolly

As soon as the new guy arrives, he gets the bed and I’m on the stool with my back to the wall, a lightening rod up my tail.

The warden’s jammed that book in my face again – the one about Mesopotamia, “land between rivers” – the only one in the whole damn library. And on account of my broken shoulder, my hand’s stuck in the air so it looks like I’m throwing the new guy a friendly wave, or waiting for an eventual high-five. As if I care. I don’t even get a chance to complain before it’s lights on.

There’s some interest though. There was bound to be. After all, there are two of us now.  Must be some kind of damn precedent. Continue reading Alcatraz Dolly (The New Guy)

Orphans of the Salt

Introductory ‘pilot’ chapter to Orphans of the Salt – a novel in progress

“I repeat—we have arrived at Tract 16.”

Captain Dinh’s announcement was still crackling through the public intercom as Rosco Haymarket hopped three steps at a time down to the zeppelin’s observation deck, a warm bowl of aphid jelly balanced loosely in his hand. “The Royal Caucus” had spent the last six weeks flying over the New Pacific and he was eager to see something other than the curve of ocean and sky. He threw the bowl into a refuse chute and collected a set of scopes from the equipment racks. Two recovery engineers were already at the windows, their heads pressed hard against the reinforced glass. Continue reading Orphans of the Salt

The Everday Prince’s travel guide

Rapunzel (2013 Edition)

From the Forest to the Enchanted Castle on a shoestring

Mesmerising, delightful and impossibly unpredictable – with its ancient traditions, supernatural fauna and innumerable castles, Rapunzel’s Forest is all this and more. Once the exclusive playground of wealthy heirs and hapless heroines, the Forest has relaxed its restrictive narrative conventions in recent years, attracting travelling royals and assertive maidens of all persuasions. The real adventure however, lies in the Enchanted Castle and, of course, its most famous resident, Rapunzel. Continue reading The Everday Prince’s travel guide

Across the border

It is not simple line on a map, or a fence that pinches against our wispy plains like a monk’s belt.

No, our border is a wall: as high and thick as a mountain. It strangles, silences, mutes the cracks of truncheon on bone. No one knows what lays beyond; only that the clouds and birds that pass over head fly somewhere, and we cannot. Continue reading Across the border

The way to Oma’s

The only way to get to Oma’s is to head west for two hours on the number 51 bus. Unless that is, you have a car. But junkies don’t own cars.

Rose descended into a street of broken lamps and boarded windows. A sheet of rain whipped against her face. She shrunk inside her red hoodie and stomped along the cracked footpath. This is the last time, I swear it. It was always the last time: last week was the last time, and the week before; but when the trust money came through each month, it drained her memory of promises like a borax flush, and somehow, ‘last’ always became ‘next’. Continue reading The way to Oma’s