Author Archives: steve
Time for another Pitch generation phase ™.
Two weeks, at least two Pitches each.
Also: POIDH. Add a shiny, Creative Commons licensed, photo to make it pretty.
“Look, I know you don’t really want to be here. It’s awkward for me too. But I think it’s important.”
“I just… I just want a chance to say my piece and then I won’t bother you again. I promise. Does that sound okay?”
“I have to admit: you’re not what I expected. Taller, for one. Smarter. Dressed smarter, I mean. That’s a great suit. Where did you get it? It doesn’t matter. It’s probably more than I could afford anyway. Me? Postman. Delivering the mail. See: I’ve the bag and everything. I know that almost everything’s electronic these days, but you’d be surprised how much stuff still gets sent through the post. Weird stuff too. The other day I – Oh! Here you come. No more practising.”
“Hi. You must be… Peter, right?”
“Yes! Yes, that’s me. Peter, yes. Pleased to meet, very pleased.”
“That’s great, Peter, great. You can let go of my hand now.”
“Oh, sorry, yes. Yes! Right you are. Sorry. Yes.”
“No problem. Let’s sit, shall we?”
“Yes. After you. Please. Let me get your chair.”
“Thank you. Waiter? Double espresso and a tea. Quickly, please. I see the transplant took well, Peter. Here you are, bouncing around.”
“I wanted to say… thank you. You saved my life.”
“That’s very kind, but perhaps a little bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t using my soul; you needed one. I saw it as more of a business transaction.”
“Yes, but now you’ll go to Hell. And I’ll go to Heaven. For ever.”
“I don’t think that will be a problem. Let’s just say I have friends in… low places.”
“I don’t understand.”
“No, I don’t suppose you do. Ah, my coffee, excellent. May I smoke here?”
“Same as yesterday. Cold. Too cold. Look at it.”
“What? Looks like coffee. It’s coffee.”
“It’s not just coffee. It’s my coffee, and it’s fucking cold. Again. Just like yesterday. And the day before.”
“Are you going to make a scene? Shall I come back in a few minutes?”
“No, stay right there, I’m going to sort this out and we can get down to it.”
“So, it all picks up speed from Wednesday, when we have six of them coming in. Fresh off the blocks, too, so you’ll have your work cut out for you. Be gentle with them this time. Thursday has another five, mid-range this time. Friday’s a bit slower and – you’re not even listening are you?”
“Hmm, no. I mean yes. Wednesday six little ones, Thursday five at half mast, Friday slow. There he is.”
“The waiter. Must have been hiding in the kitchen. Hey! Here. Yes, over here.”
“Jesus, make it quick, will you?”
“Hi. I’m afraid this coffee’s no good. Here, pick it up. See? Cold. Too cold. You can hold the cup for more than a few seconds. That means it’s too cold. Bring me a hot one, won’t you? There’s a good chap. Let’s see how he does this time.”
“I don’t know how people put up with you. Still living on your own?”
“I like my freedom.”
“Why do you keep coming here if the coffee’s so bad?”
“Haven’t I told you before? It’s wonderful for eavesdropping. Best way for people in our line of work to pick up business.”
A popular archetype in Korean animation, or Han-guk Manhwa Aenimeisyeon (한국 만화 애니메이션).
The Astragal is a young woman who is linked to, and can communicate with, the three-legged crow. She is typically cast in a supporting role, helping the heroine of the story regain her power using the power of the sun, at a key moment in the story.
The practise of using super-glue to attach trucker hats, often with offensive slogans, to the highest point of a window in a public place. Most popular on government buildings, especially those with purely administrative functions.
Window capping (Window trucking in Northern Ireland, Glass Capping in Australia and New Zealand, Mettre un chapeau sur qu’il in France) originated as an Internet meme during 2011, in a similar manner to the appearance Planking, Owling, and related disciplines.
At the time of writing, there have been 417 official claims as inventors of planking, including several major politicians and musicians.
The prison guard to the new arrival.
The club bouncer to the under-age teeny-bopper.
The mother to the child with muddy shoes in the kitchen.
150 words, one week.
Three weeks to write 500 words.
Tell us what happened, why it’s so important, and how it changed everything.
Stories from tables in a smoky cafe.
Brief snatches of conversation overheard by the waiters and waitresses as they bring more coffee.
Two tables each.
250 words per table.
2 weeks for each table, making four weeks total.
Quickly now, write a story. Two hundred and fifty in the Queen’s English.
Jolly good show.
Time: 2 weeks.
You can take to the High Seas, torrent off down the Information Superhighway, or something else entirely.
The only constraint is that there must be a Jolly Roger in your story somewhere.
Time: 2 weeks.
Second cousin, twice removed, on the mother’s side, female. The male equivalent is Dirmar.
The name is believed to be derived from a Bavarian king in the 12th century, who, upon being informed that he twelve second cousins, twice removed, on his mother’s side, exclaimed: “Dormer!”
The egg-like feeling of a freshly shaved head.
The term is traditionally applied only to a smooth scalp while in a professional barber shop. Once the person leaves the barber’s, the scalp remains ovolic for a maximum of twelve minutes (depending on air temperature, humidity, and other pertinent factors).
That was the day it happened.
“Superpowers” they called it. Like everyone was suddenly flying or had x-ray vision. But it wasn’t like that: it was mostly small, strange things.
My buddy Mike gained an incredible sense of smell. Could tell you where you’d been days ago. But the power only worked one day a week. My old lady’s left arm became fireproof. Just the arm, just the left.
I was sitting waiting in Grand Central one day. She was late, as usual. I looked down at my watch, then up at the station clock: 11.24. I’d been there almost an hour. I stared down at my watch again, sighed. My eyes widened as I followed the hands of my watch slow down, then wind backwards, then stop at 11.05. I looked back up at the station clock: 11.24.
In the morning I tried again. My watch was on the breakfast counter. I concentrated on it, hard, and saw it slow. A fly took off from a dirty plate in the sink and flew across my face. As it crossed over my watch it slowed down, then stopped: it suspended in the air. I concentrated harder, and the hands started turning back. The fly moved backwards along its flight path. About ten centimetres out it suddenly burst from the bubble, sped up, shot away on another trajectory.
Before I knew it I’d jumped back to the day we all got our powers. Then three days before. Then a fortnight. Then a year. Then more. Then I knew I’d lost control of it.
And now I’m scratching this into a cave wall with an arrow head. And then I feel the familiar tingle, and I know I’m about to go again.
I was in a bad mood that day. Worse than usual, I mean. I had been there on my own for what felt like decades. It’s always hard to tell the exact passing of time when you’re inside, isn’t it? It feels like that edge between being asleep and awake: not quite on either side.
I understanded that I needed to be punished. I deserved a less spacious cage. But at least when I was in a lamp I was moving around in the world quite a lot. And sometimes you can sense other Djinn nearby. You ever get that? Like a tingling in your fingertips. If you were corporeal, I mean.
Where was I? Ah, yes: bad mood. I needed to grant some wishes. I was feeling rough around the edges. Bad comedown. Then I sensed him. A bit flat and flavourless maybe, but better than nothing. He must have been quite determind: once I was out, I could see that the weather was rough. Gale force winds, rain hammering down. But, he made it to the door of my lighthouse. He didn’t even try to peer through the porthole, just peeled off a glove and rubbed at it.
I welcomed the familiar sting of it as I twisted and turned my way into the flesh that had formed itself up from the stone and moss. I have a theory about the bodies we use, by the way. Something to do with spare wishes, balancing of energies from retractions, things like that. Later, though. More details later. I opened the door to my bland friend.
He stared at me. Looked me up and down.
“Three, correct? Anything I want?”
It had been a long time since I’d had one of those. Usually I needed to do some parlour tricks as a convincer.
“Aye.” I told him. “Three.” I lit my pipe.
I played the old one, two, switch on him. No surprises for the first two. He got what he asked for. Got him feeling comfortable for the last big wish. The finale. The blockbuster.
“I want to be connected. I want to feel connected. To the world.”
I nodded and told him to close his eyes. Completely unnecessary of course, but I like to keep the showmanship going. I licked my thumb and pushed it gently against his forehead. The air crackled with static as I broke his body down into bits and bytes. I pushed his conciousness into the Internet, into telephone networks.
I left him feel every cut of data being chopped into packets. I let him feel the crunch of the data colliding at the end of each journey. I let him feel the stretch of being pulled half way around the world, then back again.
I just had time for a quick chuckle and a glance up at the Fresnel lens before I stung out of the flesh, back to the aether.
There was a salty sea-like smell, almost a taste. The nearest piece of coastline was more than 60 miles away. The smell began tickling your nostrils a few paces away from the door. Once you entered the room, it became almost sweet. Like the smell of meat just before it turns. The strangest thing was that the smell would stay with my shoes for days afterwards. was exquisitely neat and smelled of burnt lavender. There were some Dresden shepherds and shepherdessesThey were somewhat cracked and crumbled, much like the host.The two figures shared three hands between them and the legs of the bases were broken: they listed towards each other like drunkards on a street corner on a Saturday night., on the mantelpieceIf I hadn’t had to sit through hours of his blathering about it before he had it installed, I would have sworn that the mantelpiece was made of lino. Bargain bin cast offs at that. As it was, I knew that he’d paid through the nose to have it imported from Balochistan. The stone itself wasn’t cheap, but the bribes for the Customs officials to turn a blind eye to the boys he was smuggling in with the stone had nearly bankrupted him. “Worth every penny,” he had leered at me over a glass of port one night., simpering sweetly. There were framed water-coloursThe frames at least matched the elegance of the furniture: rich, smooth, wood; crisp lines. The paintings themselves were a different story. The scenes depicted were easily recognisable as various views from the gardens because the house itself was so striking. The technique left something to be desired, however. The flat washes were heavy-handed and the wet in wet looked more like accidents than artistic endeavour., two samplers“ABCDEFGHIJKL
How… unimaginative., and three needlework picturesThe most polite way to describe the content of the pictures would be “unconventional.” At first glance they seemed innocent enough, but perhaps haphazardly made. Closer inspection revealed something perhaps more sinister: occult symbols and iconography. I never dared to ask directly if the pictures were their equivalent of a crucifix, for fear of a direct answer. on the wall. There were some photographsSeventeen. The number of photos he had of his niece and two nephews was now seventeen. The first few that went up felt like he was just the proud uncle. After the tenth one found its place on the the wall it started to become a little odd. Then he started making ever more elaborate frames for them: card; tissue paper; buttons; glitter.I suppose that’s why he was always hanging around Mrs Williams’ haberdashery as a boy. of what were obviously nephews and nieces and some good furniture – a Chippendale deskThe desk was exquisite: a thing of beauty. It was one of the few things in the house that I coveted. While so many other things were in a state of disrepair (the curtains, the Afghans), he kept the desk in the most mint of conditions. I would have loved to have a rummage around in his drawers, but he never left it unattended. It was almost as if he was frightened it would run off if it looked around and realised where it was., some little satin-wood tablesThe tables were of such a high quality and craftsmanship that the knitted coasters splayed upon them jarred all the more. The surfaces were often slightly sticky to the touch, as though they’d been cleaned in a hurry upon hearing the door bell. – and a hideous and rather uncomfortable Victorian sofaI chose to remain standing rather than sit on the sofa. It’s not so much the uncomfortableness of it, more that dark patch at one end. Who knows what it is, or how long it’s been there. Are those claw marks in the wood? My goodness.
The tables were of such a high quality and craftsmanship that the knitted coasters splayed upon them jarred all the more.
The surfaces were often slightly sticky to the touch, as though they’d been cleaned in a hurry upon hearing the door bell.
The strongest memory I have of the drawing room is the smell.
There was a salty sea-like smell, almost a taste. The nearest piece of coastline was more than 60 miles away.
The smell began tickling your nostrils a few paces away from the door.
Once you entered the room, it became almost sweet. Like the smell of meat just before it turns.
The strangest thing was that the smell would stay with my shoes for days afterwards. Nothing else: just my shoes.
The most polite way to describe the content of the pictures would be “unconventional.”
At first glance they seemed innocent enough, but perhaps haphazardly made.
Closer inspection revealed something perhaps more sinister: occult symbols and iconography.
I never dared to ask directly if the pictures were their equivalent of a crucifix, for fear of a direct answer.
The desk was exquisite: a thing of beauty. It was one of the few things in the house that I coveted.
While so many other things were in a state of disrepair (the curtains, the Afghans), he kept the desk in the most mint of conditions.
I would have loved to have a rummage around in his drawers, but he never left it unattended. It was almost as if he was frightened it would run off if it looked around and realised where it was.
I chose to remain standing rather than sit on the sofa. It’s not so much the uncomfortableness of it, more that dark patch at one end. Who knows what it is, or how long it’s been there.
Are those claw marks in the wood? My goodness.