Thursday, 31 March 2011

Ghost Story: The Waiter

Everyone knows that ghost stories don't exist.  That's exactly why they're so successful.  There are far many of them than there are of us.  How do they keep their secrets?

Well, some might say they keep their secrets in stories.  Legends of powerful magics and ancient artifacts give rise to 'common knowledge', which people tend to listen to (with rapture), then simply disregard as tall tales and old nonsense.  What better way to hide the truth than to make the truth so unbelievable that people simply don't accept it?  Even when presented with something that could expose the ghosts' existence or purpose, the human mind will simply search for the simplest living-world explanation.  But the truth is far more sinister than the stories let on...

Sunday, 27 March 2011


Warning... Some parts of this story may be unsuitable for small children, girls, or people of a squeamish nature.  The easily offended should also steer clear.  A mild reference to sex, strong references to comedy horror and potentially un-PC references to religion make this one to avoid.  Oh, and don't forget the blatant sexism in this disclaimer.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Assault on the Castle (Part 3): Welcome, Dreamers

Read parts 1 and 2 yet? If not, check them out here, first:

Assault on the Castle (Part 1): The Thief
Assault on the Castle (Part 2): Noir York City

That's how it started.  Three people, two worlds.  Confused, lost and (at least in the case of Shuyke) pretty angry about the whole thing.

The Thief had woken up first, possibly because he'd transferred first.  As his eyes opened, he realised he was in an unfamiliar room and leapt to his feet.  The last he remembered, he'd been in the top room of a tower with a strange fat man who called himself Dexley.  The room he was in now appeared to be carved out of the earth - there were roots and other underground artefacts protruding from the soil walls.  Oddly, the floor was stone flags, leading the Thief to wonder why the constructors hadn't tidied up the walls a bit.  There was no furniture in the room.  In the dim light, emanating from a single spherical globe embedded into the earthen ceiling, the Thief could see a doorway.

On the floor where he had been lay two strangers, apparently asleep - A man dressed in shabby suit jacket, torn trousers and a white shirt with bloodstains on; a girl in tight-fitting trousers, leather jacket with a dark red blouse, open at the top.

Shuyke and Joe awoke together, which was lucky, because it was also just as the Thief was kneeling down beside Shuyke - he claimed later that he was checking to see if she was alive.  Shuyke's hand flew out and grabbed the Thief by the throat.  Her eyes opened, and she glared at the Thief as she shoved him, struggling for breath into one of the walls.  "Who are you, where are we and... what the hell are you wearing?".

Ode to Flute

Ok... so this is one of those examples of my bad poetry... but I just can't help it!  Stay tuned today for episode 3 of Assault on the Castle (seriously... it's coming out today... finished or not!  Sorry for the wait!).

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ghost Story: The Woods

Contrary to popular theory, ghost stories don't always have to be set in a dark, mysterious wood, with gnarly old trees, blocking out what little light is available from the moon.  They don't always need to involve a small girl, lost, alone and frightened, being approached by a small host of woodland creatures of the night; beady eyes glinting red in the gloom.  Unfortunately, this is just one such story that feeds those ridiculous theories.

Casey sat crying on a tree stump; the mouldy damp seeping through her torn dress.  She had been playing hide-and-seek with her brother, Peter, and had decided to hide in the woods.  Peter had tried looking for her, but she had hidden well and he didn't find her.  Now she couldn't remember the way home and night had fallen (typical...).

Suddenly, Casey heard a noise behind her.  She turned round, but couldn't see anything in the dark.  Then something brushed past her cheek and she screamed.

"There's no need to be afraid, child." The voice was soft and alluring; feminine.  The velvet undertones spoke to Casey beyond just her ears and she calmed down. "There, there.  There's no need to cry."

"Who are you?"  Casey couldn't see the owner of the voice.  "Where are you?"

"I am the forest.  I am the lustful creatures of spring, running rampant through their mating rituals.  I am the midges, dancing pirouettes over the stream in the heat of summer.  I am the heavy-laden branches of autumn, too fat to sustain themselves another month; shedding their leaves and fruit like a snake sheds its skin.  I am the soft, decaying earth that feeds next year’s growth in winter.  I am all of these things, and I am everywhere.”

Now, Casey wasn’t as stupid as you might think.  She listened to the forest in rapture, but couldn’t help but notice a distinct theme of pessimism in the forest’s description of itself.  “But, forest, you speak only of the nasty things.  What about the chuckling of the brook and the glinting of sunlight off morning dew and the playful frolics of young rabbits through the undergrowth?”

“Hmph!  I am these things too.”  Said the forest, sulkily.  “But you soon tire of such things.  There are only so many times you can see a cute bunny rabbit flopping about, or so many hours you can spend listening to the incessant gurgling of a stream, with its population of trout and salmon popping up to wave their fins at you, or so many droplets of early morning dew you can gaze at before you grow utterly sick of it all.  Much better to stir up trouble when I can, introduce a few moulds of my own design to bring out interesting growth patterns in the trees; a gnarl here – some poison oak somewhere over there...”

“But that’s terrible!  If I lived in the forest, I would make sure to take pleasure in all the lovely things, and not encourage decay!”

“Oh really?  Ha! You wouldn’t last five minutes, city girl.  Run along to your stone home with your fake, fashioned lawn and leave the tending of the wild to the experts.”

“I wish I lived in the forest.  Then I would look after it better!” Cried Casey. 
Perhaps she wasn’t all that clever after all...

Peter never found his sister.  But since that day, all who visit the forest in the morning comment on how beautiful the dew is on the leaves and hanging on the webs.  And fishermen come from miles around to catch the trout and salmon in the chuckling stream, which seems to have an endless supply of fish (and chuckling).  And everywhere you go, look under a scrub or some brush and you’re almost guaranteed to see a rabbit.

Drawn on the way to Scotland, 31st March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Assault on The Castle (Part 2): Noir York City

Wait up - before you start: Have you read part 1?  

If not, click here: Assault on the Castle (Part 1): The Thief

An alley in the warehouse district...

It's dark. The dank street is littered with soggy flyers from a long-gone circus - the faces of clowns stare at me from boarded-up windows; the rain causing the ink to run, making them look more sinister than they already did.

The Castle is up ahead - a long-abandoned public house; now a den for thieves and junkies and an occasional meeting point for local gangs.  The Coombes, formerly the Coombe Street Boys before they let the girl in, are meeting there tonight.  They are meeting about me.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Assault on The Castle (Part 1): The Thief

It's night.  The vast wall looms up into the clear sky, blocking out the moon and casting a deep shadow over the path.  The Thief pads softly beside the wall, completely shrouded in darkness.

Top floor of the tower, through the double-locked steel door (watch out for the wire trap and pressure plates).  There's a table in the centre of the room; the item is hidden in the table top, beneath the leather covering.  The table's welfare is of no concern.

The Thief reviews his instructions - Top of the tower.  It's always at the top of the tower.  Why can't it be "as you walk in, on the left", or "under a stone outside the gate"?  Looking up, he can see the top of the tower above, outlined in stars. Why hadn't he stuck to picking pockets?