Monday, March 30, 2009

Clearly, This Is Not WWII


My fingers have been twitching so much since I took the decision to leave my novel in a drawer for a week to ferment that I could probably have massaged all tension from the erector spinae of every football club from Land’s End Rov to John O Groats Wande.


So, to what miserable waste of time have I succumbed in order to prevent myself scratching a hole in the atmosphere?

Twitter.

I feel like a cretin wandering into a hall of mirrors to stroke the animals.

Hopefully, like The Rubettes, this will not only not last, but also come to be condemned as a tragic, tragic mistake in the not-too-distant future.

For now, however, I’m happy to Throw Away My Own Life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sock Monkey: The Doomsday Scenario Is Here



In spite of his age, sex and ability to wield a variety of weapons from sticks, camping knives and light sabres, Son of Whirl is rather partial to his cuddlies.

Every Saturday morning, when I drag him from his room to hoover the carpet and de-underpant the bookcase, I’m met by torrents of cuddly toys the moment I open the door. It’s like that scene in The Shining, where blood gushes into the corridor — only, instead of blood, it’s an avalanche of bears, owls, bats, penguins and other foam-stuffed beasts, spewed onto the landing by a bedroom that can’t take it any more. Stephen King knows nothing of true unspeakable horror.

And now there’s a new addition to this heap of faux fur.

Now there’s Sock Monkey

As you can see, said hosiery chimp has taken up pride of place on my desk. Partly this is because if he crosses the threshold into Son of Whirl’s Domain of Doom, he might just be the straw to break the camel’s back and put out the side of the house into next door’s yard — even though he’s a monkey, and nothing to do with lumpy denizens of the desert. Also, it’s because I love him. I’ve cuddled Sock Monkey to my bosom so much since he was conjured into being last night by Girly of Whirly that one of his arms became detached as we lay together in the moonlight.

But here’s the thing.

It turns out that Sock Monkey is a Replicator from an alien dimension. And with one glare of his beady button eyes, he can charm humans into creating more of his kind.

The world will not end in a blaze of fireballs, my friends.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Wrest For The Stickied


I do so hate to use the word bloggiversary — especially when talking to the police or shopping for carrots in the supermarket — but I fear the phrase is about to be thrust upon me like a demon of nomenclature, so I’m opting to voice its name NOW before it assumes any power over my miserable mortal soul.


Odd though it seems (and you may wish to consider here a lopsided testicle and a lopsided breast momentarily assuming the same height above sea level in the scenario of your choice)*, I began this blog just under a year ago comme ca. Funny how things turn out.

So, I’m hoping to do something special next Wednesday to celebrate. I may even shave.

Left to my own devices, I’m bound to offer up something predictable, so it may help me in my cogitatory squirm (I envisioned 887 metres, btw. A mule and the woman who did David Hasselhoff’s hair the night he sang by the Berlin Wall. Oh — and Lovelace Watkins.), if you, my dedicated/deluded chummes de terre, threw in a few suggestions.

You may wish to consider which posts have delighted you the most over the past year. Or you may wish to propose a bold new horizon towards which my disembodied eye might bounce, ‘sif hurled by some steroid-pumped shot putter. Or you may wish to screech what the hell do I care? Hey, why don’t you just shoot yourself, or get someone to help you with that thing where you lie buried under a pile of sand apart from your head till the ants suck the syrup from your spinal cord, or what about every record Elvis ever made, all played AT ONCE, at 150 decibels, transmitted to your nasal cavity via an asbestos seismograph needle? Huh? Huh?

Last time I prostrated myself before the Doc Martens of your mercy, you got a quiz...


* or hamsters. Mmmmm. Nice furry hamsters.

Drift Off Darryl 1



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When Atrophy Turns To Haemorrhage


Curse facial hair! Curse it till every last follicle pops from my flesh! Even if it ruins my dinner!


I've had it with shaving.

Somewhere in a slaughterhouse in a part of the world whose citizens have less regard for the wellbeing of animals than the sanctity of their sharp instrument sharpening rituals, there are heaps upon heaps of beheaded birds with necks easier on both the eye and the white shirt collar than my own currently slashed specimen.

Every morning since Friday, I've had to swim for the toothpaste.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

S'Mothering Sunday


Thanks to the wonderful Robin S, it’s time once again for the growing number of online fiction readers dedicated to “that ole voice thang” to flex their combined neck architecture.


This time we’re trying out children’s fiction, a genre which you’d think would feature no swearing, but as this was an outside broadcast (for Maurice, even though he’d mysteriously bogged off), I did let slip the odd cusstodial sentence.

When things get moving over at Robin’s, I’ll put a link to the relevant post HERE.

Meanwhile, I hope you have fun with this one. It’s quite long, but this is not a chapter to be split in half.

Oh — and if you’re a mum/mom*, have a pleasant Mothering Sunday.


* ‘mom’ is a word used at Whirl Towers to describe any stew-like dish that can be thrown together in under 10 minutes...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mutant Alien Croc Attack




From the swamps, they will crawl.

Into your neck, they will plunge their fangs.

The heck out of your CD collection, they will plunder your Nana Mouskouri.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Famous Last Words


My favourite character has just uttered them. And now he’s disappeared behind the final full stop of his final chapter, never to be seen again.


Maybe this is why my current batch of edits have been such a pain in the rumpoid wherewithal. I’ve killed off plenty of characters, mostly with considerable vim, but as my festival of gore turns out not to be so mortal for the entire cast as (say) The Blair Witch Project or Annie Get Your Gun (the unsung pinnacle of the zombie movie genre if ever I saw one), a handful of characters get to make it to the end — and I have to let them go.

So, nearly finished with the WIP, now, and I’m feeling kind of happy/sad (cue sound of violin & howling dog. No — make that Stan Laurel playing a saw. And Felix the cat).

Here’s his first appearance (on TV, as it happens — but that’s another story)...

Flambecchioooooo!
Haloumi burst through a shimmer of steam into the stainless steel sheen of an enormous kitchen, accompanied by the mustachioed restaurant manager and his team of goggle-eyed chefs and waiters.
‘What-a-will it be tonight, Mr Haloumi?’
‘Tonight, I’m going to deep fry an omelette — my own special recipe. Sauteed with striplets of baby zander and fresh razor sliced ostrich eggs seasoned with pistachio nuts and myrrh, ready in forty-five seconds and — who’s your favourite pop star, Franco?’
‘Don’ listen to pop. Is opera for me.’
‘Julio Castratio?’
‘Is OK! Very nice! Yes!’
Haloumi swang himself up through a maze of scaffolding till he was stood over a spa pool of bubbling extra virgin olive oil. Three dancing underwear models caressed a sparkly aqualung onto his back, and with a trademark cheeky wink to the housewives of the nation, he somersaulted backwards off a springboard, casually throwing out his hand to catch a spinning bowl of pinky yellowy omelette mix the second his head plunged into the sizzling liquid.

SPLOOOOIIISSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Directly Outside 7


Directly outside my window, grey steam spills from the drainage channels, licking at the yellow air with poisoned wisps.


I’ve seen this all before. Yeah. Either there’ll be the swill of septic body parts, vomited onto the flagstones, or a cartoon monkey severed into floppy segments by the grill, each one flapping around like a wafer-thin doppleganger of its immediate neighbour — only not quite, just to spook me.

Not quite?

Not at all.

With a rumble that dislodges the unwashed sweat from my toenails, an armoured vehicle rolls into the courtyard. It’s distinctly sci-fi: 1979 Alien to be precise, with overtones of Judge Dredd shoulder pads and cannons smoking like muskets.

A ridiculous trumpet sounds, and I laugh before I think to stay quiet. Should be an alarm or a fanfare, surely? So why am I thinking of Tom chasing Jerry round a chair? Ha! That’s funny.

Uh oh — some creatures clamber out into the mist.

Orcs.

Really, I have no idea what they are, but emblazoned across their rusting armour in splats of lime green paint, it says O.R.C.S. No time to figure out the acronym so I’m sticking with bulbous snouts beneath those helmets. And an inability to comprehend soap.

As they snap into formation round the vehicle, likely, they’re taking up guard posts. But the way they’re leaping around, they might as well be a dance troupe. Just my luck. In an infinite universe, I get the orcs who work out to Cyndi Lauper.

Nothing happens for a while — it makes for crappy fiction, I know, but I’m enjoying myself so much I don’t care. I can’t manage the splits, even in my skimpies, but these guys are hitting the big one eighty wearing more heavy metal than the combined studded jacket contents of an Iron Maiden audience. If I wasn’t chained up, I’d applaud.

I’m laughing so much, I don’t see the wizard arrive. He climbs out of the vehicle, I guess. I dunno. And before you ask, no, he’s not got W.I.Z.A.R.D sprayed across his pointy hat. It’s his eyes, you know? Devious looking, darting, and W for Wizard weird.

So this is where I really start paying attention. ‘Cos the orcs stop dancing and the muskets on the vehicle start whirling around, like they’re picking out targets in the sky. But it’s the wizard, he’s the one. He’s the one I’m looking at.

From under his robes, he takes out a crystal ball. It’s not like I’m any expert in magic or anything, but that’s precisely what it is.

So the wizard’s waving his hands over the surface of the glass and he’s making with the incantations and the orcs are banging on drums, and before I know it, the walls of my cell white out — a weird kind of white like a cloud reflected in mother-of-pearl. Then it dawns on me: whatever these guys are after, they’re about to get it from me — and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

Then a voice echoes round my newly appointed cell. I turn to see if it synchs with either of the wizard’s mouths (W for weird, right?), but I can’t see the window any more.

“So, almighty oracle,” he says. I straighten my hair and beard, hitch up my rags and smile. He’s got to be looking, surely? “Beans or bananas?” he continues.

Beans or bananas? For what? To eat? To wear? To transmute into flying demons? How the hell should I know?

I wait a while, bow and curtsey, hoping for some sort of hint, like him saying, “we really want bananas, please tell us to pick bananas,” but all I hear is breathing, like the orcs are getting impatient. I figure I have to make a choice, before they smash the crystal ball or smash the window (or worse) — but how do I decide? If I go with bananas, is it because I imagined the wizard wanting them, or because he’s implanted the thought in my mind? In which case, it might be beans; a triple double bluff, and in any case orcs seem more like bean kind of guys than banana kind of guys, don’t they? If they’re actually orcs?

So I take a risk: I go with bananas.

If it’s a toss-up between beans and bananas, you’ve got to go for the bananas, every time. Unless you should have gone for beans. Eeeeeeek — too late.

I gulp and duck and listen out.

Slurping, definitely slurping.


But are they eating them or — eeeew. And is it bananas anyhow? Or are they refuelling the vehicle? Like eco-fuel? I’m no connoisseur of slurping. Maybe I should have paid more attention when I had the freedom to make out. Or cook risotto. Or de-worm the cat. To be honest, they could be doing anything. With anything. Anything involving slurping. And since no boots or cudgels have come smashing through the glass, I guess they must be happy. So I sit back down on my bed and wait.

It goes on an age — hypnotic, like an ambient CD without the whales. Or pan pipes, harps or crashing waves. Yeah, one of those ambient CDs featuring only slurping. Ha! I try to keep my eyes open, I want to know what happens. I could be in danger, I dunno. Doesn’t feel like it, though. Feels sleepy. A funny kind of slurpy sleepy.

For once, I’m glad I’m trapped in this place. Doomed only to witness as the world spins by, directly outside...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is The Future Forwards Or Backwards When All Is At A Standstill?


A couple of houses down the street, there’s an old woman who lives with her son. She’s pretty sprightly for her age, and always cheery in spite of her circumstances. Her son has Alzheimers. When we first moved in to Chez Whirl, we though he was her husband, he looked so drawn.


Most days, he shuffles up and down outside the house in his slippers, and he’s always got a fag on. It’s clearly a struggle for him to light them and his fingers are like scorched bark. Some nights, when Girly of Whirly and I are sat sprawled in front of the TV, or having a heated argument requiring the hurling of fruit and marshmallows, he’ll knock at the door to let us know the car is unlocked. One night, he walked right in to our living room while we were having tea. This is what he does as he shuffles up and down — this, and returning stray cats. If you’ve never experienced someone turning up on your doorstep with a cat every 20 minutes during The X Factor, believe me, it isn’t funny. Especially if it’s the same cat. Right now it’s Bongo from four streets away (clearly she has issues) but it’s only a matter of time before it’s Kashka again. Or his mum’s out and he needs help unlocking his front door.

So, tonight, I found him in my local corner shop on my way back from town. He was standing at the counter in his slippers, his bones stacked up over his ankles by the same miraculous force of nature that stops drunks falling flat on their faces. Only not funny. I have no idea how he’d managed to buy anything — his powers of speech have been reduced to an idiot mumble. So I suppose he must have wandered round and picked up something he fancied and presented it to the nearest person, same as he does with the cats.

But here’s the thing.

When the girl behind the counter gave him his change, he hovered in the air for an age, like he hadn’t the faintest idea who he was or what he was supposed to do. The girl’s face crinkled up with embarrassment as she visibly shrank a few inches, and for a moment, I thought I was about to witness “a scene”.

I was.

He tipped his handful of 5ps and coppers into a Guide Dogs For The Blind tin a single shaky coin at a time, then shuffled out of the shop into oblivion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tasty Snack — Or Corporate Self-Annihilation?


Is it me, or does every single one of Walkers' brave new potato crisp flavours taste, smell and prompt the gagging reflex like cornified husks of poodle rectum flesh doused in Beelzebub's bile?


I demand that Gary Lineker be compulsorily vapourised.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Briefly McPiefly, The Flatulent Scottish Laird


It’s a sunny Friday morning and I’m tucked up in bed with a pint of tea, a couple of kilos of Geoff — and my laptop. It’s the final furlong of my WIP, the Chapter That Will Not Be Written, but in spite of that I’m a good 500 words in already and I haven’t needed to stop for marmalade. To quote Kevin Spacey: what a smarmy fucker I am. No — that was the interview with Jonathan Ross. What was it he said in American Beauty? Oh yes. “I rule.”


Funnily enough, what seems to be holding me up at the moment is my thoughts about the next project. When I began being visited by the phantoms of my current WIP (too long ago for me to admit to), I was embroiled in circumstances which left me (and I’ll quote my Mum here, bless her) “with no time to wipe my own arse”, and though I have a few diary entries that hint at my then desire to flesh this one out when all this is over (along with a reference to the proposed title), I have no conscious recollection of actually thinking about it at all. It all went on in the background, it seems, until one night, when I sat myself down in a pub to guzzle some celebratory beer, and I wrote out some notes on a sheet of A4. I still have that page and it turns out to highlight the bare bones of my current plot, along with most of the major players. No idea how that happened.

This time, it’s different. Thanks to Natalie*, I’ve been thinking about elves, and a book I planned to write in 1994 (which I’d presumed was as dead and buried as Curt Cobain’s hopes for 1995) has suddenly sprung to life and I’m getting so terribly excited I’ve had to go shopping twice this week for those absorbent pants the Queen Mum used to wear.

But I digress. Back to the ending...


* Cue trumpet fanfare, cartoon animals and more ice cream than you can eat.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Maybe I Should Have Gone With The Android Romance...


Many thanks to
Writtenwyrdd for alerting me to this contest.

I never made it through to the top three, but did receive something of a mention, albeit a weeny one — not bad considering I don’t write sci-fi.

So, before it’s consigned to the zip archive twilight of my hard drive, here’s my entry...


The Briefcase

My journey home from work is always the same: a migraine kaleidoscope of greyed-out faces shaken in a deadbeat shuttle. But not tonight.

I never saw the guy sit down. One minute I’m checking my biostats, next I’m looking over the aisle at him, wondering why he’s staring at the empty briefcase on his lap. Maybe they’re rationing his Oxygen. Or maybe he’s just a weirdo. Whatever: he kinda fascinates me. So I stare out at the stars a while, keeping tabs on his reflection while the bozos squashed up next to me drawl into their voxcomms.

Then I see him stick out a finger. It’s like he’s pointing at something, but when I look, it’s just some fat chick plugged into the drinks machine. I figure maybe he’s gonna pick his nose — eeew.

That’s when it all starts.

He pulls his finger right off his hand and tosses it in the case. I tellya, I’m a Jesus H. Christ kinda guy, but I don’t say jack shit. Before I know it, he’s yanking this skinny arm right out of his sleeve and folding it up real careful in the corner of the case.

I turn to the bozos. You see that? But it’s like nothing’s happening, nothing at all.

A swishing sound lures me back to the guy. The briefcase looks like it’s slipping off his legs. He grabs it — but they ain’t fingers. Those stubby black piggies are toes, and they creep over the edge of the case like surveillance bots, dragging a bony leg behind them. The kid next to me looks straight over, but he don’t see a thing. Is he blind? The other leg’s shuffling out the end of the guy’s pants and crawling up the side of the seat and he don’t freakin’ see it? And the sickening crunch as the guy twists his goddamn head off — don’t no-one freakin’ hear it?

The head lands in the case with a thud, and the arm curls close around it. Everything stops and I’m hoping, maybe it’s over. The torso’s sat slumped in the seat like an amputee snuff movie extra. No way is it fitting in that case! And then I hear this gurgle — low and rumbly like a recyc drain — and the guy’s insides come pouring out the top of his neck. I see lungs but the rest is just guts: a coil of bloody intestines, looping round inside the case while the ribcage folds over and over till it’s the size of an antigrav boot. A finger hooks under the breastbone and tugs the squished torso inside. When the briefcase lid slams shut, the whole shuttle seems to shudder. I rub my eyes. Heh. My stop.

*

It’s 3am now and I’m sat here in my cabin with the briefcase on my lap. I know I got to open it, but I’m scared of what I’m gonna find.

Body parts, maybe I can handle. But what if there’s nothing inside?