EDIT: This piece has gone much bigger than expected. I’m blown away. I was editing during the day to add clarifications onto the end, but I’ve gone back and worked them into the body of the text. The Treasury data breach has been a shitshow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger disconnect between the experts and the pundits, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a security guy, for what it’s worth: I’m a writer at a tech firm, but I’m fascinated by security and over the last few days I’ve been talking to people who actually know their stuff. Almost unanimously they’re calling this a breach. Almost unanimously, the pundits are off shouting that it’s “not a hack!”. Right from the[…]
I don’t publish everything I write. An overwhelming majority of things, really. They’ve been sitting in a folder and I wanted to get them out there. It’s not because they’re bad: some are bad fit for anywhere paying and I don’t know what to do with them; some were written for a weekly fiction competition I enter and have been sitting in a forum archive that’s hard to point people at; some of them were written for a specific publication and rejected, but I’m still proud of them and wanted to put them out there. This site exists for all my other fiction to exist in one place: the fiction that didn’t quite make it, that I still love.
I wake up at 3am with Karl Marx looming over me. “There is a spectre haunting this bedroom,” he says, “the spectre of—”
I wave him away: I know the punchline. A communist! he’ll say and he’ll grin and spread his translucent hands wide, dadlike and expectant. He’s corny, but at least he’s not the other guy.
2 Dear Ted, hello. I find myself laid out before the horn of morning– I last wrote from the grey and yet my hands shake still. The dew holds a memory of frost yet I wander ever onwards. 2.1 Dear Ted, I have been diving again. I chased a strange gossamer worm to the bottom of the world. It taught me nothing. It made me afraid. 2.1.1 Dear Ted, Do not worry. I have said it before but I mean it this time. There is a cliff with a giant below. His eyes are open but mine are too; I know his name. 3 Dear Ted, I became lost somewhere in the whirl of it– a thousand channels blaring and the men[…]
I wish my dad had drank himself to death. Instead, whenever he got mad, he’d grip his thumb inside his palm and his breathing would get weird and tight. After years of barely-suppressed anger, patches of his cheeks and nose went the purple-red of good beetroot – a whisky shine without the whisky. The coronary was the least surprising thing that ever happened to him: he’d been alone, sitting in his chair, watching the TV blare something about immigrant hordes. With nobody else to shout at – not me, not mum, not even old Ms Potts from next-door, who stayed far away from the fence – all his anger went inwards and popped his fucking heart. He insisted throughout his entire life that alcohol was[…]
NB: this piece was written for the I Don’t Even Own a Television podcast’s short story competition, where the prompt was ‘Shaq is about to eat five gyros’. It was soundly and fairly beaten by the actual winner, but I’m still very proud of it, and to this day I’m sad I never got to hear Chris Collision read it. It is immensely silly, and for some reason remains one of my most popular stories. Shaq stared at the menu, and wept. He wanted the gyro with fries. He wanted the gyro without fries. He wanted the chicken gyro, and the lamb gyro. Most of all, he wanted the dark pleasure of the Everything gyro, which contained chicken, lamb, and a superposition of both fries[…]
Beyond the west of the world, where the sun cannot be seen, lies Crow Hearth – the city of ice and stone. A city out of time, lost beneath the snow and beyond the turn of the world. Men scurry through the lightless streets, holding their warm coats close until they can escape down into the rats’ nest of heated tunnels that make the bulk of the city. Down now, down again. Through the tunnels. Follow the insistent ticking that lives somewhere behind the mind and pushes further onward. Don’t touch the men with blue-and-white carbuncles upon their skin, and pale light in their eyes – they are touched by the Heart and lost to the world. Down now, down again. Tick tick tick.[…]
Every day, Rose went out beyond the hawker stands –out beyond the torn-up fences and beat-up dock workers– to the place where the water was clear. Every day, she went to the ocean to weep. The siyokoy took her son when he was out swimming: the niños ate her little niño. She would cry, and scream, and strike the water with her fists. Then, she would return home and cry, and scream, and strike her remaining sons while they cowered in the corner. If you’d asked her, she couldn’t tell you why. Patti saw, and didn’t know what to do. She watched and hid in trees, on rooftops, behind a jumble of TV aerials. She walked on her hands to keep a low profile, and[…]
Tremblay lay against gunwale, smoking a cheroot. The wind whipped up around the ship, and snatched away his smoke. A thousand miles of open ocean lay before him but hells, he loved a challenge. He didn’t have magic, or money, or even a crew; he had a boat, and a broken heart, and the wind behind him. Welta would’ve known what to do but he was– –elsewhere. Elsewhere with his beautiful smile and his wonderful strong arms. Elsewhere with his mushy poems and his big eyes that teared up when he heard the wrong song. Tremblay ran a hand through his greying hair: was he really getting so old? When they’d met, they were the same age. As Tremblay’d got slower, and heavier, Welta[…]
In Enji, the citizens fell through the world. On the eighth day of summer when the sun was high over the sand, their floors and streets swallowed them. Many died or disappeared, but some did not – they were stuck jutting from the earth, alive, with twisted limbs and bent backs. This is not interesting in-and-of-itself; in the world of Ataal, such things are commonplace. Enji is different, because Enji went on. On the eighth day of summer, not all of Enji was inside Enji. Not all of a city’s work happens in the city: farmers in the fields, hunters in the desert, mystics sitting upon marble pillars. They did not fall through the earth and when they returned home, they found their loved ones[…]