Author Archives: steve
They 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.
Seventeen. 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.
If 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.
The 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.
Every superhero needs a good origin story.
Fictioneers can either write themselves a brand new superhero or rewrite the origin story of an existing superhero.
The world is your (mutant) oyster!
p.s. the Gamma Rays coming from your computer screen attract radioactive spiders: check yourself for bites!
Time: 2 weeks
[Image Darkening Clockwork by matthileo on Flickr]
A man walks into a shop in Greenwich and buys the finest clock that he can afford on his modest salary.
It is a gift for his as yet unborn daughter.
Our stories follow the clock as it passes down the generations, being fixed, reboxed, remade.
You find an old lantern in a junk shop one day. You buy it, take it home, polish it up.
Out pops a Genie and offers you three wishes. Your word your requests carefully, so as not to get caught out.
But you do. People always do.
Every few thousand years, the Genie’s Guild brings together its best and brightest to share stories of Wishers and their Wishes. The best stories, the tales of the most creative and cruel interpretations of a Wish, win the Genie freedom from their lanternic prison. The rest go back to the bottle.
Our job, Fictious folk, is to transcribe the scrolls containing these tales.
Time: 3 weeks.
Words: about 500.
Recent years have seen a massive increase in our safety when taking international flights.
Pornoscanners have stopped The Terrorists taking chainsaws onto planes.
Moving our bottles of liquids into zip lock bags has meant that planes have been keep dry enough.
Taking our laptops out of their bags before having them scanned has stopped… um… some bad things.
Collectively, this family of measures is called Security Theatre.
I would like to hear Cautionary Tales from the Security Theatre.
Please to writings them.
Since Jo is away (possibly with the faeries) for two weeks, we’ll be taking a short break from Project action, and having a Pitch Generation Phase (or PGP, as the kids on the street are calling it).
Have at it!
It’s been so long.
I’d forgotten how good everything… smells, tastes.
I can feel them all. I’m connected to them all. I know all their stories. Everyone on the train.
I must find my acolytes. They will help me get back to full strength.
Then it won’t be just everyone on the train. It will be the city. The country. The world.
All of them will know my love.
Reginald isn’t looking where he’s going and runs into me.
My feet are firmly planted on the ground, so he is the one that falls.
“Jesus Christ, look where you’re going,” he shouts and slurs at me.
“Oh no,” I say, smiling down at him angelically. I offer him a hand to help him back to his feet. “I’m the other one.”
All these people should chill out. Really. It’s like they have no self control.
Look at me, for example. I’m excited, yes. Very, actually. Train full of interesting people, you want to walk around, say hi.
But I’m calm. Sitting with my man. Just taking it easy.
Some guy runs up towards us, runs headfirst into the door between the carriages. I shout at him. Seems appropriate somehow. He’s loud and he smells funny.
Two guys with funny hats pick him up and start pushing him around. I shout at them too, for good measure. They give me a funny look, so I turn away.
The air suddenly gets cold around us. That’s weird. I lick my nose reflexively, scratch my ear.
That lady looks kind of funny. Sort of like a cat. Here, but not here. She’s smiling, though, so I smile back at her as our eyes meet.
Martin reaches down to me, so I give him a lick on the hand. He lets out a little laugh.
He’s a good boss.
I wonder where we’ll go today?
You can never be too careful. Not if you don’t want to be seen. It’s rush hour, right? Lots of people. Lots of eyes.
So I went a bit more full-on than usual.
Moustache, yes, of course.
Sunglasses. Classic Ray-Bans.
Hat. Fedora. I prefer a Trilby, looks nicer, but the forehead coverage isn’t so good. You can’t beat a Fez for comedy value, but it’s hardly low key, is it?
Trench coat, black. Discreet. Sharp.
Oh, shit. I think I’ve been made. I guess with the reunion tour on, it’s to be expected.
The woman across from me looks like she’s about to ask for my autograph. She’s got a pen and paper at the ready. She’s been talking to herself for a few minutes. Must be rehearsing what she’ll say. I’ve seen fans do it before.
So I stand up, fling the disguise off, do the sign of the horns. Fans love that.
“Yeah, it’s me, love,” I nod to Miss Secretary. “No pushing, hey,” I say, pointing at window-crashing Sk8r Boi.
“Who the fuck are you, Grandad?”
Darkness. Peaceful, restful, darkness. I don’t let myself enjoy it too much, though: it never lasts. Sure enough, within what feels like seconds, I can hear the hub-bub buliding, melting me back in. The fuzzy images become crisper, the screeching of the train on the tracks sharper.
I lean over and glance at a watch: a quarter to nine. I am not surprised.
The world becomes louder and brighter. I am not surprised.
I look at the maps on the wall. I glance out a window. We’re heading towards Central Station. I am not surprised.
I am surprised, however, when a young lad comes swinging in through the window like some kind of extreme sports gibbon, passing straight through me, and plonking himself down in the seat I was on. I stumble backwards, a wave of prickly fire running through me. It must have been at least a hundred trains since that has happened. Or has it been two hundred? After a while I stopped counting.
My young friend there looks like a good place to start today’s haunting…
Fucking hell yes! Enzo was right about this shit, man. What a fucking rush! The blood is pumping so hard I swear I’m going to pop a fucking vein. Or an eardrum.
Middle of rush hour. None of the rest of the crew would have dared to do this shit. This will be about worth at least 100 points. Straight to the top of leaderboard, and staying there for a while.
I stick my fingertips around the edge of the window. Ow, fuck. A few drops of blood splatter on the window, but it pops open. I slide off the roof and into the carriage, plonk myself down next to this big fat guy. He almost drops his fucking cheeseburger when he realises where I just came from.
“Hi, Slim. You gonna finish that?” I say, then grab his soda without waiting for a reply.
Can’t fucking wait to see what tomorrow’s Challenge is.
I breathe a great sigh of relief as the two policemen walk straight past me. My ceremonial robes are hidden under these peculiar clothes I acquired from the Shopping Mall, but sometimes law enforcers have a way of sniffing out trouble. Like a bloodhound and a freshly buried corpse. This won’t be like Hastings, though. There will be bodies, of course. Many, many, bodies. But it’s already too late to do anything about it.
I pull my canvas satchel from the rack above my head. A few of the goatblood candles drop and roll along the floor. Some of the sheep stare at me. A young boy sitting with his mother smiles at me and passes back the candle that rolled to his feet. I snatch it back, snarling. Fool. Soon there will be no more smiling. The rain of blood and fire and madness that -
“Your dress is pretty. What are the marks on your face?”
My hand goes up to the freshly carved tattoo on my cheek. I slap him hard across his. The mother stands up, shouting. The police hear the disturbance and turn around. I reach into my satchel for the ritual dagger.
Why do I always get the terrible assignments? Why do I always get sent to the backwaters? Without transport, too. Forced to ride these filthy meat wagons with all the locals. The one next to me jumps up and runs off down the carriage, leaving a cloud of ethanol fumes in his wake. The one that was changing colour suddenly erupts, pouring his stomach contents over another one. This is so disgusting. I can’t wait to get out of here.
My suit is awful, too. It barely fits. It feels stretched in every direction. I know the number of suits that Head Office has is limited, but there must have been a better fit for me than this. I feel like it could pop off of me at any moment, and then I’d be in real trouble. The paperwork alone would keep me in the office for months.
Next time I’m going to be specific on my forms: no human planets. I just can’t take the smell.
The walrus is staring at me again, with those beady little eyes. What does it want? I just want to be left alone. I pull my robes around me a little tighter, trying to keep out the cold of its stare.
Oh no. Further down the carriage: blue boys, with their big, tall, heads. The Queen must have sent them after me again. Dammit, woman, I told you it’s over between us! She just can’t let go, you know. Sentimental old bat.
I take another swig, crumpling the brown paper bag.
“Not this time, boys!” I shout, taking off down the carriage.
Those architects have a lot of (very) funny-sounding names for (quite) funny-looking bits of buildings.
In the spirit of The Meaning of Liff (and it’s many spin-offs and brethren), I think we should take back those words, make them our own again, dagnabbit!
The Architectural Element Stubs category of Wikipedia is a goldmine of the WhosAWhatNow of architectural terms. And I’ll take my Dais to the Newel of anyone who disagrees. That’ll wipe the Squinch off their face.
If that doesn’t float your boat, there’s always the mainstream Glossary of Architecture for your Doric Flushwork or Arris Spandrels.
Excuse me, I must go and shower now.
p.s. short and sharp Project.
Time: two weeks.
Words: 100 per item.
Items: at least one per week.
In my country, we call it Cluedo. In the uncivilised world, it is called Clue. The game of murder that’s fun for all the family!
You pick a person, a piece, and a place, and write a story in about 250 words in two weeks. The only constraint is that it should not involve murder.
Each one of the characters should have one story each.