Melancholia

We brake once more on the waves of our love.
Trying not to drown.
But your current rises below and above.
Fixing watery crowns.
But a latent strength takes me beyond the seam.
Crashing me to the shore.
Littered by the ghosts of long dead dreams.
To haunt me, evermore.

Nothing Lasts Forever

He spun the coin, watching it take off in its own little orbit. Whizzing and chasing itself as it spun around. It usually took a few seconds, it never happened right away. At least not yet. The blurred smudge of the coin slowly began to take shape as it slowed down. It was a pound coin, the closest thing to gold he could find. The year embossed on the metal was 1989, that was very important, though few would ever see the date.

The blurring lines of the coin began to slow, but as they did, they stretched outwards, spreading across the surface like a wave. He’d seen it a few times before of course, but each time he did it seemed to entrance him. The waves grew wider and wider as the coin began to slow. The blurred waves taking on an oily shine, catching rainbow marks as they swam outwards like the tide.

And then the coin stopped spinning, it hung there on its side static and humming slightly as the waves that had spread stopped everything. Time was his now, and he moved in towards the coin, the waves forcing him in slow motion. He felt the tightness in his lungs, but he pressed on, like trudging through water. He reached out, his fingers finding the way towards the coin. When they touched, a radiating light exploded outward in the room, blinding him in an instant.

This was the part he always had trouble with.

June 23. 2014. June 23 2014. June 23 2014.

He repeated it in his mind over and over like a mantra. He’d been told to visualise the numbers, but his mind always struggled with that part. It would make things easier if he did, but he was used to difficult.

With a rush of air and collapsing of light, he was thrown into something that he could never quite describe. He was always thankful to land the other side though, his eyes and his hands always burning for some reason. But his lungs thankful for the air on the other side. The air back in 2014. A simpler time.

It was for him at least. Which is why he usually came back to then. Back to here.

He looked around now, the familiar softly warming his heart. There were different approaches to his time jumping, it had been explained to him. He could land in a different place, anywhere in the world if he chose. He wasn’t restricted to when or where, or if he’d ever set foot on that part of the earth. But these steps always required more, and he was only really interested in this place, this time. It brought him a comfort that the present and the future no longer held.

He was in the apartment he’d just left, but it all looked very different. He felt the lighter atmosphere in an instant. Gone were the heavy furnishings or blinds to trap the light. That precious light was welcomed in, the blinds open and the door to the balcony cast wide as if calling out to the sea. He could hear the see, even though it was quite far below. The crashing sounds of the waves seeming to catch in the updraft and lift the sounds up to the 28th floor. He knew the view well, and much preferred it here in 2014, then in the present. Here he could take their hand and trace the line of the coast off in the distance. In the present it only called him to the rocks below, the sirens that dwelt there luring him to the ends of overwhelm.

He looked at the clock on the wall, and knew they’d be back any minute. He always liked to watch them coming in through the door. That paradox of frustration and relief at coming back from the end of a long day.

And there they were, coming in through the door. He went across to the entrance and breathed in their sweet smell as they walked right through him. He knew his own self would appear any minute, coming out of the shower and greeting them. It pained him not to be able to touch, but he was glad that sight and smell both worked normally. He saw himself then exit the bathroom, tying the towel around himself and coming over to kiss them. He ghostly traced his own steps, merging with himself and following through with the kiss. He closed his eyes despite himself, but quickly opened them and took them in his spirit like arms.

He missed the kisses. He missed their touch. He missed so much of what was now all around him which was why he returned here so often. He watched them both moving around. The kettle now being boiled as the coffee and tea was prepared. Bag dumped on the sofa. He breathed it all in, the preciousness in the ordinary.

He could stay forever if he liked, and indeed he had stayed for long periods of time before. But time being the linear monster that it is, he found he had to wait out the times when they would sleep. He could not sleep here, back in time. His body wouldn’t allow it. It was as if it was constantly battling some force which pushed it on. So, he spent hours watching them sleep, watching them dream. This was always a good time to come, because he loved this day. The 23rd. He knew the evening well and he never got bored of seeing their reaction.

He noticed it then, glittering on the table. And surprisingly, so did they. The coin was shimmering, the sunlight catching the dulled yellow from the pound coin. Then they both went across to the table, he watched them move as if in some strange dream. This couldn’t happen, he could not disrupt the past. But it was happening, nonetheless. Before he knew it, the coin was in their hands, tossing upwards. It landed on the palm, their hand covering it.

Heads or tails?

Try again.

Flick, up in the air.

He reached for it himself but missed and watched as they again hid it under their hand.

His old self grabbed them, both of them laughing. Then they made a dash for the balcony. The joy carrying itself out into the outside to share with the world. Grabbed again, but this time fought back, tugging at the towel to share even more with the world.

He watched this all in a stunned state, as if unable to move. He shook himself back to, but by then it was too late. Another toss into the air and this time the coin spun upwards with such a force it was as if it were being called back by God.

Over the sides it flew, watched by them both and by he himself before he launched himself over the side.

It made no sense. He’d never been told this could happen. They were never able to see the coin before. Or had they just never noticed it? He thought suddenly to himself. They couldn’t interact with him, that is what he’d been told. But something was different this time.

He sped towards the coin, himself hurtling down towards the ground, the rocks below coming up fast like pointy teeth. No matter, he would just touch the coin and reset. He could not be hurt back here. He didn’t quite know what would happen if he did land, but it didn’t matter as his hand clenched around the coin.

But it did matter, for his ghostly hand went right on through the solidness of the coin. And those rocks found his body quicker than he could blink.

The pain was real, and instant. In his tumble he had twisted slightly, the jaggered rocks that his body had smashed against had greeted the blood like the ocean spray, disrupting it outward. He lay there for but a moment still alive, looking upwards as he could see the figures on the balcony looking on before disappearing back inside. Back into the lives they would live together for only a couple of more years.

As he passed, he heard the clock ticking and he could see in his mind the coin spinning.

Though he had paid attention to the date of the coin, which was indeed most important, what hadn’t been explained were the little rings of dots that circle the pound coin. A normal coin he’d assumed at first. But each time he had jumped, a little dot had disappeared. The coin, which now lay just below the surface, washed by those south pacific waves, had its last little dot slowly disappear.

Nothing, it seems, lasts forever.

Resplendent consumption

Though the dark spreads doubt and fear.
It is in the light where she creeps near.
For shadows and gloom she leaves in her wake.
With mournful tunes and deathly ache.
The light is what she needs to feed.
A pulsing urge, like a sprouting weed.
She sucks the light like marrow from bone.
And crawls inside that place called home.
She splits the joy and hope in two.
Suckles each like morning due.
Savouring each fantastic pleasure.
That shrivels for you, but to her is treasure.
This dark and heavy visiting member.
Will drain the light to a dying ember.
And leave you feeling almost dead.
While she licks these words inside your head.
That if darkness fades and you feel lighter.
If hope does spread and things feel brighter.
She will return, like a rolling cloud.
To kill the light with her consuming shroud.

Into the night (story reading)


It was cold, the floor was always cold. Bare foot or with socks. The coldness seemed to spread with each step, like walking on ice. But it didn’t matter so much tonight.

He flung the duvet back and they woke with a start, their eyes suddenly ablaze.

“Is it time?” they asked, sitting up and pushing back into the deep plush pillows.

“It is, let’s go.” He spoke, calmly but with an urgency…..

 

Read on

Tea?

“Take milk in your tea Janine?” the old lady called, her purple hands gripping the milk jug tightly. She stood by the fridge, the yellow light illuminating her aged face. The small creature in the chair shook her head.

“Odd. Couldn’t have a tea without a nice bit of milk, me!” She said, and as if to prove the point; she slopped the milk in her own cup on the table, bringing the contents up to the brim. She returned the milk jug back to the fridge and sat down opposite the girl.

“Digestive?” She asked, nudging the plate full of biscuits towards the young creature.

She shook her head again, her coloured red hair falling down in front of her face.

“You kids these days, never eat anything. All skin and bone. When I was a child, my mother used to feed us dripping on bread. That would put meat on you!”

She pulled the plate of biscuits back towards her and stole one up off the china. She took a bite. The girl watched as the crumbs fell onto her flowery blouse carelessly, some falling on the dark wooden table beneath.

“Me’ husband used to love digestive biscuits, his favourite they were. Always dunking them in his tea. He used to get so mad if they fell in.” She laughed at the memory and took another bite from her own biscuit which had escaped the perilous dunk intact. The clock on the wall behind them ticked away merrily, filling the silence with its pendulous rhythm.

Her kitchen was small but clean. It was dated, like most kitchens of the elderly; but was cosy in an old cottage way. The two of them sat at the table while the afternoon sun shone through the windows. The girl shifted in her seat. The old lady looked up.

“Are you uncomfortable?” She asked sweetly.

The girl didn’t say anything but continued to stare at her across the table.

“Would you like me to call your parents to come and pick you up? It’s getting late.” She said. She drank some of her tea casually.

At this the girl raised her head slightly.

The old lady nodded. She put down her cup and slid her chair back. She walked around the table slowly, holding her side where her hip usually acted up this time of the day. She stood behind the girl and pulled the tape off her mouth. It was wet slightly as the girls’ tears had trickled down upon it.

“Please, let me go. I’m so sorry. Please, I just want to get out of here. I won’t tell anyone….” The girl sobbed. Her eyes were as red as her coloured hair. Her hands were tied to the back of the chair with a belt, which had belonged to the husband who had so enjoyed digestive biscuits.

“I’d be happy to. But what’s to stop you coming back, eh? Or breaking into Ethel’s house next door?” the old woman said. And with this she reached to the counter and picked up the large bread knife she had on her chopping board. She placed it down next to the girl, whose eyes flared at the sight of it.

“We won’t. We won’t I swear, please just let me and the others go.” The girl, no older than fifteen, wailed. The old lady chuckled.

“Oh, I’m afraid Jack has been having some fun with your friends down in the cellar. I doubt there’s much left of them now. He’s such a good dog. Very loyal.” The old woman said. She picked up the knife and slipped it through the belt buckle, freeing the girl’s hands.

The girl sat there, the weight of the situation falling upon her in that heavy moment. She glanced at the back door, not far really. If she pushed the old lady and made a run for it, she could probably make it. But what if it was locked? The old lady walked back around the table, the knife in her hand, the other holding her dodgy hip. She heaved heavily; years of smoking had finally caught up with her.

“Well. I’m not going to hurt you; not like you’d do to me I’d say. I think a fright is bad enough for a girl your age.”

“Then what do you want?” The girl asked, fresh confusion in her skull.

The old lady looked at her with her milky eyes, as if surprised by the question.

“Why, to have some tea of course.” She said, lifting her cup; indicating she should do the same. The girl stared for a moment longer before conceding and picked up the tea that sat on the table in front of her. Her hands shook and were sore from being bound to the chair. She was unsure of playing along, but now her hands were free, she sensed a bit more of a chance of escape.

Lifting it to her lips she sipped from the cup, the scorching water burning her mouth in her haste to drink it. She flashed her eyes to the old lady, as if to say ‘okay, now let me go’.

“There. That wasn’t too bad, was it?” She said, sipping her own mug which had a picture of Charles and Diana on the china. She closed her eyes, savouring the brewy goodness of a warm cup of tea, deeply satisfied.

It had been about a month ago that she’d had rats in her garden, and a nice chap from the council had brought some traps and some rat poison to do away with the horrid beasts.


Taken from Impermanence of things – out now

Impermanence of things of things book cover

Nemesis (Story reading)


Silence came only when she closed her eyes. When she could visually shut the world up for a moment. She had practised to do this, years of trying to silence the noises and the demands of all around her. Her world was her own when her eyes were wide shut. These weren’t flights of fancy into different realms, or some grapple with mental tectonic plates. She had a quiet space and peaceful world in her head which was the copy of the world around her.

It was just devoid of others.

Other people troubled, angered, confronted, demanded and taxed her. They played on her time and patience, milking off her generosity as if it were an endless source. How much should she have to contend with? What was a reasonable demand on her each day that she woke, roamed and entertained this thing called life? Must she always be left reduced by a need to give…..


Taken from ‘Dislocated’ – out now

The Hawthorne Project (out now)

The neighborhood of west Hawthorne Drive in quiet Greenfield Wisconsin is filled with dark stories and darker rumors. There’s the haunting by a faceless creature. They’ve all seen it. They’ve all experienced its presence. On the one hand, it seems to desire the life of mortals, on the other, it befriends a small boy. It both mocks and assists. Runs away and stands face-to-faceless face.

And not to mention the mysterious death of the street’s namesake, Jim Hawthorne. His strange and reclusive widow peers from behind her drawn curtains, rarely leaving her home, but to walk her little dog or tend her manicured gardens… yet she’s not one for giving up any of the cul-de-sac’s secrets.

But in the days leading up to Halloween, events take a more sinister turn, including strange visitations, an eerie violet haze in the sky, attempting murder, breaking-and-entering, and multiple police check-ins… until not one of the residents can deny: something or someone is here to stay.

Featured authors:

  • River Dixon
  • Chisto Healy
  • Tristan Drue Rogers & Sarah Anne Rogers
  • Lou Rasmus
  • Mark Ryan
  • Mark Towse
  • Joshua Marsella
  • Darren Diarmuid
  • Robert Birkhofer
  • Jeremiah Fox

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Into the night

It was cold, the floor was always cold. Bare foot or with socks. The coldness seemed to spread with each step, like walking on ice. But it didn’t matter so much tonight.

He flung the duvet back and they woke with a start, their eyes suddenly ablaze.

“Is it time?” they asked, sitting up and pushing back into the deep plush pillows.

“It is, let’s go.” He spoke, calmly but with an urgency.

They swivelled in the bed, pushing their legs out and jumping into the situation. He watched them, agile and prepared, they’d practised this of course. How many times, twenty, thirty? Not enough, he knew that. Time was the essence here.

The darkness leaked inside the room like a can of oil, the little light he carried seemed to dismal in the overwhelm, but it did its job, and he shone the light now in their direction as they pulled on their shoes.

No time to change, just the shoes; they would be running of course.

“Ready, let’s go. Do you have…?” But they had spotted the box on the side near to him.

“Got it.” He said, and he picked the box up now and they both raced out of the bedroom.

He noticed the clock on the landing as they ran down the stairs, in the gloom he could still make out the hands of the grandfather clock ticking regimentally around and around. The clock had survived so much, seen so much. Been restored after many years hidden away from the Nazis, the greedy family members and the corrosion of time itself. Now it stood in full glory on the landing in their house, signalling the time for all who dwelt inside. Now it confessed the time to be two thirty in the morning. Time to move.

They raced down the stairs and towards the back of the house, crashing through the door quickly, not minding it was unlocked. They never did lock the doors; the danger did not lie there. They knew where horror lived.

In their bed clothes they raced, out into the air which was cold on their skin. No moon tonight, or if there were it was hidden behind the huge puffs of clouds that blanketed the sky. It made the night heavy, and they could feel it press upon them as they found themselves into the trees that began the woods at the rear of their house. No neighbours, they were too far away from them. The nearest house was three miles towards Grankvort, and that was in good weather. They made it this way, they needed the space and the separation from others.

The pine trees were close together, and sharp. They felt the needles as they sped through, though thankful for the running shoes which kept the rocks and fallen needles at bay. The little light he carried clung on to life in the face of the breath of the world which threatened to extinguish it.

“Wait!” they said, holding up their hand and pulling him to a stop.

He heard it then too, the sound of music off in the distance.

“There shouldn’t be anyone around, I don’t think it will work with others near.” They said.

He looked around himself, trying to locate the source of the sound in the claustrophobic woods.  He saw it then, a tiny glow moving through the trees, like a little firefly.

“There!” he said, and they turned to look also.

“Damn.” They replied, hurrying off without warning towards the light. He moved on quickly too, following them.

“What can we do?” He asked, catching himself on the trees.

“They will have to join us, there’s no time.” They said, seeming to glide through the thicket effortlessly.

As they got closer, they could hear the sound clearer now, the sound of orchestral music drifting outwards, hauntingly. Then he spotted the woman. She was tall, almost as tall as he, with a hood covering her head. He could see her hair tumbling out of the dark hood, like spilt gold leaking from a black lake. She was moving slowly, as if unsure of which way to go herself when they both suddenly burst out into her path, and she turned with surprise.

“Oh!” She exclaimed, but not out of fear. Almost as if she expected someone, but not so suddenly.

“What are you doing?” They asked her suddenly, he held the light up to her face and she drew back her hood in politeness.

“I’m sorry, is this your land?” She returned back.

“What are you doing here?” they asked again, ignoring her own question. The woman paused before answering which agitated them.

“Well!?” They asked, turning to him. “There’s no time for this.”

“I’m just passing through, please I don’t mean any harm.” The woman replied with a smile.

“It doesn’t matter, come along; you’re involved now.” And with that, they took her hand and pulled her off into the trees, running once more.

“Wait, what is going on….” The woman cried but was pulled on through, with the branches smacking her as they sped.

He followed on, trying to keep up. He should be leading he knew, having the light in hand; but they sped on at such a speed he had to double his efforts to stay with them.

They burst forth suddenly out of the trees, and he knew they had made it, and quickly too despite the stop with the woman. She now was hunched over, trying to catch her breath.

They stood by the edge of a ravine; the darkness below threatened an unknown demise, but he knew it was not that deep. He had climbed it of course, they had checked out all the areas near to them, and he knew the floor of the ravine was spongy and mossy. The rocks around them jutted upwards, like grey teeth, and he went across to one now and placed the box on top.

“How long?” they asked him, he looked at his watch. They had two minutes left.

“Two.” He said, and they smiled back. He could see the light above them now, streaming down like a dull torch from the sky.

“Wonderful, even though we’ve got a passenger.” They both looked at the woman now who stared back. She was neither scared nor angry at them, she merely stood there like a statue waiting for something to happen.

“Do you know what this is?” they asked the woman, pointing to the box on the rock.

She peered over, looking at the box which now began to hiss and glow with a dull light, its own reaching upwards.

“I’m not sure this is the right thing to do you know.” She said, almost with a knowing.

He stared at her, confused. The box had begun to come to life now, opening outwards and emitting a smoke. The dull lights danced and intermittingly blinked.

“What do you mean?” He asked.

They came over to him, putting their hand on his.

“Ignore her, we’ve prepared for this. If they have to come, it is better than being killed. We’re not going to murder anyone for this. We decided that.” They said, almost whispering.

“It won’t work how you expect it to.” The woman suddenly said, pulling up her hood as the smoke spread out around them, reaching upwards like little hands.

“Wait, wait….” He began but with a sudden flash of light his words were cut out. The box inverted on itself, pulling them in like a black hole. He watched as the woman remained standing, anchored to the spot as the two of them disappeared into the space created now in the place where the box was.

He felt it then, the pinching and the scraping. Slashes on his back and head became more and more apparent. He saw them and he held out his hand to them, they took them, and he could see the same red marks appearing. He tried to speak but the words were taken away by an invisible hand.

And suddenly it stopped, and all was quiet.

The woman coughed, dispersing the smoke in front of her with her hands. She pulled her hood back and stepped forward towards the box. It shuddered slightly on the rock, the lights inside finally dying to nothing and the beam above disappearing up into the dark clouds.

She picked the box up, whispering to it.

“I will keep you safe, but I told you it wouldn’t work.” She said, and she turned from the rocks and began her way back into the woods. Before long, the orchestral music softly began to lift up and out into the trees, as her little light flickered into life. A tiny glow through the dark wood which floated along with the music, like a small eye in a black sea of space.


Extirpate>Amalgamate

Stand in the middle of the wreckage.
The galaxy of regrets wash at your feet.
All open fields.
The tidal pull within you, feasting on black waves of idealism.
You bring your dreams to god.
Such food for a hungry beast.
The wind washes away, the dirt and decay of mountainous failure.
And who really cared. Who really cried over forgotten chances?
The road just diverged.
You detoured to this place where you can feel the grass under your feet.
Grounded.
Predisposed to deletion, to erase what was the stain and the dirt.
Such grand destructions.
But now it lies, bleached into your eyes.
Hung up in the gallery of your life.
And we now admire, devouring the stories of your past.
All parts that assimilated to the messiah of the meadow.
Here. Now. Living, breathing.
Being.