Dec
2016

For home.

The day had been short, lit by a mocking sunlight that refused to admit Christmas cheer into its long black shadows. People now churn through the streets of the City, pushing home, diving here and there from the crowd to chance a last-minute bit of gift shopping. The dark evening barely intrudes in the continuous stream of headlights, streetlights and the bobbing rectangles of phone screens, frantically being consulted for opening times, stock levels, last trains.

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Oct
2016

Just a minute, sir.

“Oh sir, please don’t be alarmed by my face. Happened a few years back now, hardly think of it myself, the pox took a big chunk of it, hardly think of it at all. Yes, it worries people at first, sir, but pay it no mind. What’s inside that counts, isn’t it?
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“They say I died, sir, yes, that’s what I’ve heard. Dead as a doornail on the doctor’s table, just for a minute. Just a minute, and then the doctor brought me back, right as rain. Fit as a flea. But for that minute sir…

“I don’t like to talk about it, sir, no I really don’t. But I’ll tell you what I’ve told the Master and almost no one else, I remember that minute. Clear as day. Like it happened just now. It didn’t happen just now, it was years ago as I say, but I remember it clear as a bell. And do you know what I remember?

“Nothing. Quiet as the grave it was, sir. Black as pitch. No angels singing, no souls burning in torment. No Heaven, sir, and no Hell. There was nothing, and I was in that nothing, alone, for a whole minute. Toiling in black for 60 seconds, that’s what I was. You’d think it was peaceful, wouldn’t you, sir? You’d think it was rest? I didn’t feel any peace. No rest there, sir.

“Now we come to it, sir. Down here, please. Yes. I’m not asking you, sir. I’m telling you what the Master told me to do. Take you down here, sir. Quick as a flash, sir, down the stairs. Don’t make me push you, sir. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.

“Why bother talking to you at all, sir? Why, I could have just wrapped you in a blanket and carried you down here! But the master has his ways, funny way some of them. Wanted you to hear my little story, he did, sir. Wanted you to know about that minute. Told me to tell you, sir, that you have a lot of minutes ahead of you.”

Sep
2016

Tube Chat.

The person opposite looks nervous. It’s not a ram-packed Tube carriage, but there are plenty of people here. That should mean it’s safe, but no. I am wearing a “Tube Chat?” badge, and in so doing have become the physical manifestation of urban ennui. Talk to me, stranger. Chat. Come out of your self-imposed bubble of personal space and let’s yak it up.

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Sep
2016

CONTENT

“It’s really exciting,” said the studio executive, straightening his tie and holding out his hand. His guest shook it warily. “We almost never run tours so I think you’ll agree it’s a bit of a treat.”


“It’s a great privilege,” said his guest. “Can I just ask – how do you create so much content on such a small plot? The studios are…”

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Jun
2016

Bite Down

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He bites down and it tastes of wolves, jaws clashing in the deep of the woods, it tastes of soured milk spilled carelessly across stone, it tastes of the copper-coin heave-inducing flatness of his own blood. He bites down, pressing his teeth together, feeling them meet in the middle. Harder, and his teeth begin to crack and splinter under the pressure. He whimpers and shrieks, voice muffled and tortured by his self-inflicted pain. The creature in his jaws squeals likewise, squalls like the sea. Strands of muscle shear through and he continues to bite down.

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Jun
2016

Seed Money

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Seed money, he called it. The few coins tossed into the violin case at the start of the day. No, the viola case. He would always correct me on that, and eventually it became our joke. How’s the violin practice going? It’s a viola, and I need as much practice as you need lessons in cheek. At that I would put whatever change I had into the case. Always I had some money, carefully preserved from whatever I’d bought earlier that morning.

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May
2016

Tower of Silence

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She sat with me as the birds began to circle. They knew the tower; to them it was a source of fresh food, easily taken and safe from competition. Because they are birds, they never stopped to wonder why or how. Because I was like them, neither did I. It just happened. When we die, we are placed here for them. Not an offering, not a sacrifice, there is no meaning for the birds and the birds have no meaning for us. We are, in the end, meat, sinew, bone. A meal. I hope I was a feast.

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May
2016

Hounded

I left him tied up outside the polling station while I went in to vote. The queue was short, but there were only two booths and a lot of slips of paper. More in hope than in expectation, I voted Labour all the way. I’m dyed-in-the-wool, I’ll never change and it almost doesn’t matter what the party does. Is that wrong?
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