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.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off

Window capping

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.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off


To walk in a glacially slow, hip-swinging manner due to the utterly misguided belief that it increases ones sex appeal. To sconce in a public place is to invite openly confused stares which will inevitably be remembered by the sconcer as  glances of politely suppressed lust.

Not to be confused with Cunues which is usually used in a more intimate setting and refers to the glacially slow removal of clothing while walking back and forth.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off


In Russian mythology, Fortochka is an unwelcome spectre of narrative dissatisfaction.

In  many versions of “Gregor and the Dragon”, for example, Fortochka convinces Gregor to take up potato farming in Uzbekistan rather than face the dragon. In “Mischa’s deal with the Devil”, Fortochka is sometimes seen taking Mischa to a legal advisor who helps him with his infernal contract.

Some researchers argue that Fortochka is more likely to make an appearance late at night, when babushkas get sleepy and the story needs a quick ending. Others, however, claim that Fortochka is the foremost, unsung, villain of Russian fairy tale.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off


A rare state reached only in certain tiny Welsh pubs of a particular level of quaintness. The prerequisite is a happy event, such as an encounter with a winsome wench or possibly the imminent arrival of a bonny babe. The patron in question can be said to be “gadrooning” once he has reached a perfect balance between wanting to buy another round for all and sundry, and going back to participate in the happy event.

Gadrooning, when done correctly, can take hours. A well timed squinch may help things progress – if the barman can be made to play along.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off

Not in here, Cupcake.

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.
Bring it.

Posted in 2012-08-20 to 2012-08-26, Pitches | Comments Off

It began yesterday and it will end tomorrow.


Three weeks to write 500 words.
Tell us what happened, why it’s so important, and how it changed everything.

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Coffee & Cigarettes

Coffee & Cigarettes

Inspired by the movie of the same name, and by how much fun The Train project was.

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.
Mainly dialogue.
2 weeks for each table, making four weeks total.

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05, Pitches | 2 Comments

Keep Calm And Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

Quickly now, write a story. Two hundred and fifty in the Queen’s English.
Jolly good show.

Time: 2 weeks.
Words: 250.

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Give me an R



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.
Words: 300.

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Technical word referring the the largest pipe of a pipe organ. The Brahmasthan has the greatest air volume and thus sustained notes require the greatest effort of the part of the bellows operators. It is also the lowest pitched pipe and often associated with incontinence among the elder parish members.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off


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!”
[citation needed]

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off


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).

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off

March 7th, 2012.

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.

Posted in 2011-12-05 to 2011-12-18 - Superhero Origin Stories | Comments Off

Quantum [Man/Woman] Happens

You know me. I’m that [kid/girl/chap/dude/freak/recruit], in the [back row/audit team/laundromat/other platoon/cafeteria], whose name you nearly remember, who you once [shared a bus seat with/got coffee for/borrowed a quarter from/bought dope from/had a one night stand with]. I was on that [school trip we took/last minute project/reconnaissance mission/cleaning detail/expedition/road trip to Vegas], remember? [The science lab. / That mountain cave. / The night of the freak storm. / That mysterious enemy base. / That members-only club.]

I got to the [bus/taxi/shuttle/helicopter/party/briefing]  late, ended up [next to that fat kid/taking the minutes/doing the clean-up/standing all the way/running/fired]. The [lab/club/client site/forest/tunnel/casino/road] was [cold/messy/loud/humid/dark/wet].  You were all [having fun/getting on with it/following orders/taking stock/organised]. I hung back. I didn’t want [any trouble/to be killed/extra work/you to notice me/anymore to drink].

It’s strange how [Mr White’s/the client’s/Roger’s/all the girls’/the presenter’s] attention was elsewhere that moment, how all the [scientists/secretaries/team leaders/reporters/soldiers] got [important calls/sand in their eyes/the urge for a cigarette] at just that second. How you all turned away, all at once, at that one crucial moment when I [stumbled and fell into that vat/was bitten by that spider/got shot by that strange dart/looked up into those dark spots on the sun/read the forbidden words/snorted what looked like perfectly good coke].

How unavoidable it seems in hindsight. I remember the pain, the heat; I remember your screams.

I remember becoming.

In the infinite universes, in a myriad untold ways… Quantum [Man/Woman] happens.

Every time.


Posted in 2011-12-05 to 2011-12-18 - Superhero Origin Stories | Comments Off

Tannie Wessels – Origins

In the Thi’si retreat high in the mountains of Nepal the warrior monks began the final cycle of the chant they had begun 200 years before.  This prayer was given to call the spirit of the great warrior Seiyan, an arhat whose enlightenment had led him beyond the strictures of space and time. On the altar kneels the Assiri: a beautiful, golden youth with dark hair and fierce eyes. Since his careful selection in childhood the best teachers have dedicated their lives to moulding him into the perfect vessel. When the cycle completes a perfect silence falls over the monastery. They gaze expectantly at the Assiri.

Liefe Wessels is sitting on her uncomfortable couch in Kuilsriver. She has never been wealthy and long years of hardship show in her lined face. This year her third child will leave home and for a moment she cheerfully contemplates her autumn years of soap operas and church fetes.

As the enlightenment of Seiyan descends upon her she sighs deeply – time to have a little talk with that violent drunk, Mr Johnson, at number 22 and then on to the central African problem. But before all the work begins she thinks to indulge a childhood fantasy. As she looks about at ancient Gaza, 2500BCE, she smiles: she had always dreamed of seeing the pyramids.

Posted in 2011-12-05 to 2011-12-18 - Superhero Origin Stories | Comments Off

Red and white

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.

Posted in 2011-11-14 to 2011-12-04 - And then he wished for Peace On Earth! | 1 Comment

The Game

The first card fluttered onto the table, feather-light. “A simple opening”, said Abdul Ibn Hassan, resplendent in red. On the face of the card, a lone bird floated in an endless sky. “I wish I could fly”, it whispered in a young woman’s voice. It looked at us bitterly. “She missed her next two wishes, too”, added Abdul. “Bird brains, you know.”

We nodded. A traditional start, but that is what I was expecting. Fakir Rabdan, floating on his cloud of golden dust, drew the next card from his curling beard. It clinked like falling coins. On it, a beautiful young man looked into a mirror, hands raised to his face. He shimmered, gleamed, shone, but did not move. “I wish to be beautiful, and rich!” cried a young voice. “Everything I touch should turn to gold”. Fakir smiled, teeth like diamonds. “You bait them with your frippery, Fakir!” protested Abdul, smiling. But that, we knew, was allowed.

“Your turn, Safik!”

I knew to start low. It would not do, to overplay my hand this early in the game. The stakes were too high.

A guitar riff, a drum beat. My card vibrated with unheard rhythms. Thousands of teenage girls raised up pictures of a man with straggly blond hair and smudged eyeliner. They  cried and screamed as a coffin was carried through crowded streets. “I want to be famous” sang a rough voice, wistfully.

The others looked at me quizzically. “The most famous ones are always dead”, I explained. The card shivered, but stayed.

And so we played.

We brought dead loved ones back to life: Abdul made them soulless and ravenous, Fakir left them buried alive. I had them kidnapped by secret agents and experimented on.

We granted immortality: The cards showed wizened, shrunken ancients;  walking skeletons; soulless cyborgs.

We offered happiness: mindless idiocy, delusional schizophrenia. Grinning maniacs frozen in eternal ecstasy.

The points racked up, in their secret ways, in complicated combinations. We all felt the game’s tides change again and again as the super-strong crushed their lovers, men stepped on the moon and could not find breath to ask for air, women asked for beauty and were disowned by their families. Round and round we went, each hoping it would be our turn to win.

The game is played for the highest stakes.

“The end game, my dear friends”, announced Fakir finally, stroking his silver beard. He was in the lead: his last card, a city trapped in a perfect day, doomed to relive it again and again, never changing, still glowed faintly atop the tall pile on the table.

Abdul carefully removed one last card from his crimson turban. He smiled his sly smile as he laid it down. “Peace on Earth” asked a sweet voice from within.  A soft glow touched every being in the world. For one small moment no creature harmed another. It was as if the world held its breath.

The moment passed, and violence resumed. “Peace on Earth” laughed Abdul. “How about that!” He was right to laugh. He was in the lead now.

Fakir, pale and drawn, reached into the recesses of his kaftan. He presented his last card. It hovered and twirled in the air over the table. “Total control over reality” said a confident voice. The air inside the card stood still. “He needs to move individual molecules to get anything to happen”, explained Fakir. A man was frozen, helpless, in the middle of his card. Fakir beamed; his lead was restored.

My opponents turned to me. “The last move is yours, Safik.” Fakir’s lead over me was vast. “Even if you cannot win, you must play”, Abdul reminded me. Those are the rules of this ancient game, a game played for the highest stake: one jinn’s freedom.

I drew my last card out from my heart, where I hid my greatest secrets. It showed a young man in torn jeans rubbing an ancient oil lamp. A jinn emerged, majestic and blue. The scene was silent, but jinn and man talked or a long while, with much scratching of heads and waving of hands. Finally, they shook hands.

“I wish to become the Jinn, Safik Al Shahad, and take his place in the lamp”, said a young voice, resounding clean and clear all around us. The card swelled, grew.

Turned itself inside out.

Comprehension dawned on the red face, then the golden one. The game was won. I felt myself lifting up from the table, away from my lamp, free at last. I looked down on myself and saw my old, torn jeans.

I was back.



Posted in 2011-11-14 to 2011-12-04 - And then he wished for Peace On Earth! | Comments Off


Is it difficult to trick a spoilt prince into self destruction? What art is needed to lead a wise man filled with curiosity to his doom? Does it take a great skill to destroy true love’s purity? These are easy entertainments: the seeds of destruction written clear for all to see.

In the year 1099AD I sought such morsels of amusement at the walls of Jerusalem. I gazed down upon the thronging crowds of desperate men, dying far from home and sick with bloodlust, and I smiled at the abundance. That is when I first saw Samuel Dimante moving among the Christian lines. To my unnatural sight he shone: a calm, compassionate, thinking man unaffected by the raging torrents of hatred and lust that mortals call war. I saw a man of grace and honour; a healer and a priest standing uncorrupted amongst the horrors of his kind. I saw a fine opportunity.

I stood by him as he prayed for victory on a quiet knoll in the evening. ‘Just ask and it will be so’, I say too close to his ear. With the usual injunctions he turned on me, swearing to pay no heed to my deceitful talk. I laughed quietly in the dark, why would I deceive when the truth would suffice?

‘Your prayers will be answered and not by my hand: the Saracen cannot hold another day. Jerusalem will fall on the morrow. In your heart you know this, your commanders know it and the soldiers feel it in their blood.  Tomorrow all that has been suffered will be avenged. Tomorrow Christian men will ravage victorious through the streets of Jerusalem bringing God’s fierce retribution to the starving infidels within. At last those who have stood against your church will be brought to swift and savage justice – blood will run on the steps of the Temple of Solomon.’

‘In the morning, Sir, I will return to hear your prayers’

I was loathe to leave him that night but thoughtful men need time to think. And there was play enough to distract me: a young knight willing to trade his companion’s lives so that he could return to his lover alive – he should have said ‘alive and whole’. But when the dawn began to lighten the sky I had not forgotten Samuel Dimante and I stood beside him at his morning prayers.

‘Lord, should the walls, by your grace, fall today, let each soldier as he touches Jerusalem’s holy ground feel your compassionate grace. Give them the knowledge that all mankind are brothers in your sight – let them see only the pure souls within as you do and not the outwards trappings of belief. Amen.’

As he finished he slowly opened his eyes and looked straight into mine. Quietly I echoed his Amen and, with a slight smile, disappeared.

After the east bastion fell Samuel was among the first to penetrate the narrow city streets. All was chaos then: no man could tell Saracen from Christian, none could tell friend from foe. There was no ally to defend your back and no enemy before you; there was nought but angry, violent men filled with fear and battle-lust.

Mortal histories say the street of Jerusalem flowed ankle deep in blood that day in an orgy of violence rarely matched. Samuel was among the few survivors that day – he lived till old age in dark regret. That was not my doing, perhaps his God chose to spare him?

Posted in 2011-11-14 to 2011-12-04 - And then he wished for Peace On Earth! | Comments Off

In the Details – Final

The small drawing-roomwhen she was little, she came to the logical conclusion that this was the room for drawing in. Two nights without supper for drawing monsters on the wall paper. Now the monsters hid behind the stripes and supper was served without issue. was exquisitely neat and smelled of burnt lavender. There were some Dresden shepherds and shepherdessesShe imagined herself in the dress of the Shepherdess on the right. A pastoral naïve fancy. Pink with white trim. A bonnet and a crook. Nothing you could actually tend sheep in. But she’d be out of this house and on the moors. With a dark, dangerous shepherd boy helping her tend her flock. , on the mantelpieceUncle Alaister, leaning against it. The dark wood a prop for his elbow as he told stories of India and the Maharaj. His waxed mustache and carefully pressed suit. One hand tucked into the pocket of his waistcoat. Such a fucking liar. He’d never even been as far as Southampton. , simpering sweetly. There were framed water-coloursThe efforts of her mother. Simpering foolish scenes. Washed out and faded. She mulled the comparison between the art and the artist. And felt a suffocating beat of panic at her own prospects. , two samplers and three needlework picturesThe showy pieces of her sister. “Why can’t you be more like Maude?” on the wall. There were some photographsJeremy, awkward in his Sunday suit. He’d beat her at cards that day, and been allowed to run a hand along her calf to the top of her stockings. of what were obviously nephews and nieces and some good furniture – a Chippendale desk A gift from father to mother, and disliked from the start. Uncomfortable and brittle. A fitting metaphor, perhaps, for a marriage of good arrangement., some little satin-wood tables She loved those little tables. Perfect, smooth, beautifully crafted. The elegant legs and carefully inlayed wood. She longed to pick one up smash it against the wall. – and a hideous and rather uncomfortable Victorian sofaIt might have been uncomfortable, but she smiled every time she saw it, remembering a rather refreshing afternoon with Jeremy as he bent her over its upholstered arm and very vigorously introduced her to her favourite new parlor game..
Posted in 2011-10-24 to 2011-11-13 - In The Details | 1 Comment