“And then he wished for Peace On Earth!”

Three Wishes

[Original image: Free At Last by ritwikdey on Flickr]

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.

Posted in 2011-10-10 to 2011-10-23 - Wassup, Pitches?, 2011-11-14 to 2011-12-04, Completed, Pitches | 7 Comments

Cautionary Tales from the Security Theatre

[Original image: security screening at denver airport by Inha Leex Hale on Flickr]

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.

Posted in 2011-10-10 to 2011-10-23 - Wassup, Pitches?, Pitches | Comments Off

Thomas Green

Thomas was going through a shoe phase. A year ago it had been vacuum cleaners, but this week it was shoes that engaged his entire attention. He had already spent the greater part of this journey intently examining the workings of the buckle on his mother’s flats – hard, shiny brass against the wrinkled, twisted tan leather strap.

But now he had noticed the shiny black shoes across the carriage, with long, enticing laces neatly tied, on the feet of the man with the animal face. But every time he wondered over his mother would drag him back and give him a hard look: it was very frustrating.

When the weird lady with the tattoos drops something he leaps out, his mother can hardly chide him for being helpful.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Train update

Passenger list, as it stands:

  1. Sir Reginald; Sees 4,5,9, now running off down the carriage (away from the cops?)
  2. Maggie Richards; Near 6; Sees 7
  3. Wendale Winters; Motion Sick ; Near 8. Now throwing up.
  4. Constable Bill Collington (Cop 1); sees 9 and 5;
  5. Cop 2,with 4
  6. Fat Guy; next to 2;
  7. Anne White; standing near 2 and 6
  8. Mr Grey (Button and Tie Guy); opposite to 3.
  9. Walter Millian; Walrus; Sees 10,11,1; near 4 and 5
  10. Isadora Green and her son Thomas (Toddler and Mother in Red Skirt); child now being slapped by 13; Isadora fighting 13.
  11. Two Teens. Near 3,10
  12. High Priestess Vathi; sees 10
  13. Serenity Jones: Next to 3 and opposite 8
Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | 7 Comments

Sophia Conti

Tonight, she will be devoured by the devil.

She is unable to resist. She feels him, radiating heat, pulsating like a bulge in reality. This is why she is on this train, this is why she needs to bear the erupting teenager, the clumsy slut, the stinking drunk. To catch a devil.

She turns to the blind man beside her like she would to her family confessor. “Some things are fated, do you understand?” He nods, turning his sightless eyes towards her. “But there is honour in trying to resist such fate, isn’t there?” he answers. They pretend this talk is about the travelsick young man.

The Comtessa imagines resisting fate. She remembers a blind man’s meticulous touch, the precision of it. She pretends to have the luxury of choice.

“Thank you”, she whispers to the blind man. Then she stands up, feeling the weight of her family, her clan, her coven all upon her again. “Mr Mestopheles, I believe?”

Black eyes burn through her. A cold, perfect hand takes hers.

Tonight, she will be devoured by the devil.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Wassup, Pitches?

Man with light bulb for head

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!

View all Pitches

Posted in 2011-10-10 to 2011-10-23 | Comments Off

Mr Mephistopheles

I’m here.

I’m back.

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.”

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Bob Flanagan

Every time I decide to do it the world undermines me. All my life people have told me I’m a fighter but that’s obvious to anyone who understands my disease. There are only two kinds of CF sufferers: the fighters and the suicides. This month it was, at last, time to change sides: I have closed my accounts, settled my will and written my eulogy.

But this simple train ride undermines me.

It was that vomiting guy that started it – he actually looked worst than I feel most days – I felt for him. First I was reminded that I’ve never danced on a public train and then that kid came in through the window. He looked so alive; like his head was about to explode with the sheer rush of it. It seems stupid to die without trying that.

Before we reach the station I’m a fighter again.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Marcus Stein

That’s it. I’m going to be late.

It’s this damn train, isn’t it, this damn so-called public transport “system”, ha! A system needs to function to deserve that name.

Enough. I close my eyes and pretend to sleep, but actually I’m doing my breathing mantra and regulating my heart rate. I’m getting pretty good at it, I think.

What the heck is going on there, now? I just bloody hope no-one pulls the emergency brake, I would totally lapse my anger management principles on their ass. Oh God, cops? Can this day get any more unbalanced? If I had an aura (I’m still undecided about that) it would be turning black right now.

Ouch! What the – is someone shooting or something? That was sore, not like bullet sore, like a kick in the chest sore. What the hell?

But it’s stopped. A kind woman I had not noticed before comes up to me. “You look much better now”, she says, and I do feel better, better than ever. I take her hand.

Behind me, my lifeless head slowly tilts to rest on an unsuspecting shoulder. I look peaceful.

I nearly don’t recognise myself.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Zoe (Heart)

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?

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Chester Adams

Trucker sat next to Victoria once. None of us believed it, but he’s got a pic and all. Said David was away, she was feeling lonely, riding the train, to find someone to talk to, like.

So Trucker says. The pic looks real, anyways.

But me, I never gets to sit to no-one famous. You’d think all of them TV stars is too important for the miracle of public transport, or something. Probably have their own train, like. Or, you know, a limo.

So anyways, this bloke next to me. Man, I swear that’s Neville Noon. That’s what I call a dilemma, now. I have all his books. I’m nearly pissing in my pants. But can I ask for a picture? What am I gonna tell my mates: “That’s Neville Noon that is, he’s like brilliant, he’s the next Stephen King?” Man, those guys like struggle to make out the punchline on Andy Capp. Crap.

Oh, what the fuck: “Look, mate, sorry to bother, but are you like maybe – ”

“Yeah, it’s me, love”, interrupts this sunburnt geezer, jumping up, doing like air guitar or something. Fucking up my whole approach.

“Who the fuck are you, Grandad?” Geez.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Martin Heart

Martin lives in a different world. His world is vivid and thrumming; overflowing with a rich complexity that his fellow passengers barely notice.

He sits, rocking slightly with the movement of the train, in the corner seat. An echoing thrup-thrup means they’re switched from the main track and he feels the driver ease up on the power: approaching a station. He wonders which window that kid bashing around on the roof is going choose for his grand entrance.

Despite the drunkard’s reek he smells an Italian countess: the perfect floral notes speak of perfume over priced and over applied. It intrigues him. Just as he is intrigued by the woman who smells of fear and goat’s blood and whose clothes rustled so strangely.

Martin loves train travel: it’s intriguing for a blind man.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Nigel “Crusher” Roberts

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?”

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Winnifred Jenkins

“Hello, my name is Winnifred.”
The train rocks forward, backward. Soothing.
“Winnifred Jenkins.“
There’s a bit of a commotion, now.
“People call me Winnie.”
Why is everyone shouting?
“I’ve always wanted to work for Arcadia Inc.”
There is definitely some sort of situation now. With Kung Fu. Or something.
“I’m sorry I’m late. Some trouble on the train.”
Is that a dagger? Why are those symbols glowing?
“No, nothing serious, not really…”
Blood. Blood everywhere.
“Excuse the stains. Like I said, a little trouble…”
Does no one hear her speak the killing words?
“No, of course I don’t need to see a doctor.”
Does no one see the man in grey, the man with the dead eyes?
“Most of the blood isn’t even mine…”
He reaches into the black torrent of her curse, he reaches into her black heart.
“I would have rather died than missed this opportunity…”
He turns her inside out, he folds her up. She’s gone.
“It was nothing, really.”
His icy hand reaches inside me, inside everyone.
“I guess I keep cool in a crisis.”
I give him my memory. I give it willingly.
“I’ve already forgotten all about it. Let’s talk about the job, shall we?”

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Susan Hampton

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…

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Neville Noon

Neville never had this problem, usually it was easy: it just poured forth. His boyfriend once said he had verbal diarrhoea but since the third novel went big he’s had nothing left: constipation.

“Walrus face: it isn’t easy being different” – original but dumb. Maybe he could write a murder mystery, trains are popular, but then the orient express wasn’t populated by drunks and crazies. He could try horror again; that woman in red could be possessed, or maybe her kid.  The guy with the retro-tie could be a someone – he looks shifty.

Inside Neville knows he’s a sappy romance writer: an unrequited love between the two cops is more his speed. At least it would sell.


Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Serenity Jones

I’m torturing the guy next to me.

It’s delicious: I rub his shoulder with mine, accidentally like. I bend over to pick up my handbag, give him a good view, heck, let my tit actually touch his knee. He’s ready to explode, all red in the face. I’m unstoppable.

I love flirting on trains. The caught glance, the fake innocence. We sit motionless, all proper, but underneath there is this electric current of sex appeal. And it’s subtle: a glance here, a strand of hair brushed away here. An occasional cleavage glimpse, sure, I like to play the game harder than most.

The guy across the carriage wants to play too. The way he’s not-looking at me. He stares, fixed-like, at the commotion down the carriage, cops and whatnot, and then his head will just sort of casually swivel and he’s taking me in. I’m playing, I’m in. I can take two at a time. Last September  I eye-fucked like an entire Italian football team. I can play.

I lift up my arms, stretch, let my hand stroke boy-next-to-me’s hair. So soft. He turns, looks at me. That’s it, baby, I think.

And then he explodes.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Jack Flash

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.

Achievement un-fucking-locked.

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.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Anne White

That poor woman in the paisley dress peeping out from behind the overflowing obesity of her co-passenger: she looks like she might be suffocating. She should just tell him to move up; scowling nervously rarely works.

I wonder what she sees when she looks at me.  I look fit for seventy but the years of alpine climbing didn’t do much for my skin. She probable thinks I’m some old granny off to collect my pension. I need a certificate about my heart before I go to Bolivia next week so I’m going to visit Michael: an old friend who stills keeps a medical practice. I hope he’ll write me a note if I demonstrate that I’m just as ‘aerobically fit’ as I was in Seoul a decade ago.

I fiddle with this tiny black camera my grandchildren gave me – it’s incredible how they don’t use film anymore. I’ve finally got the hang of the hellish device; if only something interesting would happen on this train I could try some shots.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off

Isadora Green

It’s over in seconds. Bitch is down, and my hands aren’t even shaking. A basic kotegaishi throw made sense, and I am pleased at how calmly I managed to assess the available space. Given that psycho-bitch actually SLAPPED my baby, hell,  that she was about to pull a dagger, I am cool as a cucumber. Just like they said in self-defence class: “Everything will come together when you need it most.”

My senses are still accelerated. As if in slow motion, I see the cops falling into place, too late, too late. The walrus man is comforting Thomas. Good. I squeeze my knee deeper into the psycho-bitch’s neck. The cops shout. Those teen girls put on red hats, and sing.

A man in a suit is here now. I see droplets of vomit on his shoes, scattering like water. “Thank you, Ma’am, Agent Grey here. I’ll take it from here. Very well done, Ma’am”.

The cops lower their guns. The tape speeds up. I’m back.

Thank goodness for that self defence class. That self defence … when on earth did I take a self defence class?

My eyes meet the agent’s knowing smile.

Posted in 2011-08-15 to 2011-10-09 - The Train | Comments Off