Scarlet Star

In the distance against a glaze of particles, enzymes of light and illuminated bursts. The fractured dust. This is a phoenix, it has existed beyond time and is in retrospect egg like in disposition, its flames breath life and its death brought end.
Every ending starts with a beginning and every beginning needs to end.

I’m out of time, there is no time without the natural light of the sun, opulent incandescence, no seasons, no way to judge whether it’s September, November maybe March. We know only due to what we own. Keeping every second close to hand. In the black, it’s distant possibly non-existent. Without technology it’s possible I would never even know it existed until everything withered and died. Until our clocks stopped ticking.
How dire a life must be if there was no light in your life and you merely watched everything perspire their existential life, ebbing through their surface?

This world is a memory that’s not the captured recollections of my own. Not of my ancestors, relatives. It’s a world that against a haze of disparate burnt pages, that in some distance I’m not familiar or acquainted with, its surface once inhabited and now a vacant plot inside a catacomb of absent echo. My integrated respirator has become the rhyme of my pulse. The undulating steps of my breath. It’s all I hear.
Gaining momentum as the towers of dead men lay decrepit and broken. Held together by this planets ecological chaotic discourse. Its fauna twisting and entwining, natural enigmatic growths that layer above the spectral mirrored lives that once had existed.
The unknown has become a persistent fear of mine, within its absent conversation, it’s pale and volatile emptiness.
I’m never aware whether it’s bleak and desolate exterior is enriched by the light feeding through a distant sun. I’m not sure the light is protecting me from the planets sculpted dread that plays skeletal figures inside its shadowed famine frame.
What I know is that this world is both dead and dying. The memories are becoming further translucent, water is washing it away. Ghosts can only exist as long as there are people alive that remember the life which was in place of the absent holes that remain, otherwise it’s just a void. Empty black holes, mole grounds of decay, a red dwarf whose embers have receded into nothingness, emptiness.
My heads up display drags into view against the visor devised to protect myself from the outside world. The familiar faces of our crew are scattered inside several windows.
‘What’s the environmental pressure like?’ I speak with uncertainty, there’s no confirmation, my heart maintains a rapid pace. I wait until a reassuring reply filters through the delayed response, waiting for that moment and untill then there is nothing to ascertain that the communication relay is stable.
‘It’s perfectly reasonable no extreme gravitational encounters.’
‘Weather? Atmosphere toxicity? Pressure?’
I keep an eye on the relayed statistics as they feed information from the ship directly towards my suit. I keep an eye on every fluctuation. I seem paranoid because I am. Storms on volatile planets can flare up in mere minutes and consume everything within their glutinous wakes. Since my years as co-owner of the Veranders Gambit a beauty of a V20 Lupin Jet freight we have reclaimed resources that would fund our continuous existence. It’s a precarious life, where each and every meal has to be savoured in every chance it becoming our last, but it pays. Can pay substantially, this career is a small sacrifice to fund my family back on Primal One.
In the corner of my eye are the images digitalised and floating inside my visor alternating between my little girl playing in the park, her first birthday. She’s the reason I continue, she is the only reason I continue.

That’s what’s important, right?
Blood.

It keeps us alive, pumping. It ties us together and we live.
‘Hi, Caleb can you hear me?’
‘Hearing you almost clearly Marcel’
‘Look. The environments composition seems to contain nothing harmful. You’re in the green. Visors by my measures are safe to take off. Its composition is in favour of oxygen. The planets natural plant life is managing to maintain a sustaining breathable atmosphere. In fact it’s better than Primal One. Amazing really considering the damage to this planets outer-zone layer. The prior inhabitants of this star were originally utilising some harmful and prolonged pollution it’s wounded its overall environment which suggests this planet hasn’t been inhabited by its species for…. Well years.’
Marcel was a close associate of mine. One I had known for well over five years and since being on the various expeditions with numerous clientele from the lucrative entrepreneurs to high flying establishments this was the big gig, bigger even.
Illegal and steps beyond our control.
The galaxy was essentially quarantined space. A fragment of clustered rocks designated by the union federation as too hazardous, registered as a liability for any space farer to venture.
Classification as grade one contagion. Yet to our knowledge no harmful bacteria was clinging to the air. Earth samples had confirmed no immediate harmful infectious viral spread as informed by the utilisation of the field research equipment supplied by Marcel.

Growing up Marcel lived within a stretch of apartment blocks in Apollo Central a vibrant city but he was by no means part of the wealthy populous a smart kid in youth no doubt, but plagued and dredged by an inability to get the funding to become a well versed scholar. Instead learning off his own back. Aged twenty five he joined my crew of five, since then we have been taking up contracts in obtaining both obscure artefacts and rare resources from across the known universal expanse.
Eventus an entrepreneur of extreme wealth contracted us this opportunity. Normally I would pass up the offer but Sarah my joint business colleague convinced me otherwise. I understood this could potentially be the type of funding that could reinforce a good life for my daughter. He was the type of man to pay above the required funds just to confirm discretion and some guarantee towards successful job execution. This was different we were putting ourselves at odds with the federation and grade one, grade goddamn one.
More of a risk than I’m used to, managed to haggle a bit more risk pay from Eventus.
His face had contorted into a misty shadow that blurred his descent to financial disagreement, but the object of his desire must have been worthwhile.
‘Breathe easy Caleb. It appears everything’s fine.’
Lucas our militarised mercenary intervened, I imagined the static of his video relay was the contours of his face.

‘Parameter is being reinforced. Ships landing strip is being fortified. Leaving constituted turrets at marked points. The local wildlife has adapted to a hostile environment. Could be some dangerous predators out there.’ Lucas explained. Old army veteran left the occupation to eventually join our crew. Every now and then I hear the manifestations of his past conjure from his sleep, he never got over the contingent war. He still recounts the lives taken and those he lost. It’s why he left, he doesn’t say it, doesn’t really mention the war, but I can tell.
To him what we do is different he can disconnect from what he is killing it’s just wildlife, but I’m still concerned, sometimes it floods back, sometimes it begins to open the cracks that are in place and sooner or later it will break down.
Joined with Lucas and Sarah, in formation we venture further away from base site. The pickup was a few clicks from our current location.
‘You made up with your ex?’ Sarah spoke as she tried to cut the eerie silence that clung to the hollow streets, the uncanny and empty dystopia. Utopia, I guess it depends on perspective.
‘No, she believes I’m more liability to my daughter’s development than a benefit. She still hasn’t forgiven me, after all these years. I’m not sure there is anything I can say. ‘
‘Prove you’re a changed man Cal. I mean, I’m no relationship advice expert.’
‘Damn right you’re not. I told you, me, Sarah were through and that’s the end of that chapter in my life. I don’t need to prove myself to Sarah. I’m just looking out for our daughter, that is all that really matters to me, leave something behind for her because Sarah damn well won’t.’
‘Sarah’s doing her best Caleb, maybe if you stopped playing the wounded party and claimed responsibility for your own reckless actions you wouldn’t be in this mess, and all this. It isn’t fair on your daughter.’
‘Both of you. I don’t give two shits about this discussion. What I do care about is making our way to the pick-up as safely as we can. That’s why this family of miscreants was hired right?’
An aviary worth of large pigeons darted from tarnished architecture Lucas levelled his Heavy AT Bolt, the weapons recesses waned with energy and pulsated a blue glow that Inver berated and reflected against stain infested glass.
Moving my heavy gloved hand against the window panes I peer inside just bleak darkness, various objects and décor litter the inside of the building, boneyard of inanimate objects.
Communication beams into life and Marcel emerges within my augmented eye line.
‘So fascinating news, this planet was certified as grade one back in the twenty first century. Can you honestly believe this, It has to be a prank right?’
‘How’s that possible?’ Sarah spoke confused, her voice wavered as this frontier of forgotten illusive time clambered fear into her mind.
‘Not sure. I’m not even sure the federation even existed within the mentioned century. It’s possible that it explains why the harmful contaminate has subsided. Perhaps the disease? Virus? Mutagen? It may have been the explanation as to what wiped clean the civilisation which existed prior.’
‘Keep your guards up crew. The federation doesn’t piss about, something historic occurred here? This planet, I don’t like it. It’s like some dried out corpse of a planet.’ Lucas was edgy and it didn’t help for consoling my already fragile disposition.
We walk through a dilapidated and drained water park its structure brittle and rust had long since begun to collude to the extent that any alloy most likely no longer existed. Spindly frames lay powdered by thick pollen and groaned, a lethargic groan as the wind billowed through its half open exterior.
Every now and then our ears would grapple onto a sudden bashing that ruptured in volume through the hollowed out tubes of what once was a structure of entertainment.
Percussions of horror.
Clambering over we had pulled ourselves over the buildings trailing guts, bricks that had been sundered by natures reclaim. We found ourselves walking past ancient automobiles static and more ornamental than functional. We had reached the central city limits and what once was a bustling high street, was merely a through fare for local wildlife and bristling weeds that had found refuge within its tormented image. Huge stags and does darting, pouncing along and through various vines of overgrowth. Huge cats following in their avalanching wake.
‘Quiet. We don’t need the attention.’ Lucas hushed as we watched as the maple felines fixate their brutal forms, barrelling towards the frantic prey.
We lay silent and still for a moment, we stayed for quite some time, it felt like forever trying to dampen every heartbeat, so much so that it wasn’t until Sarah tugged my environmental suit and fractured my focus did I notice that Lucas was having an episode. Some harmful reaction.
‘Problem here Marcel and it’s fucking bad!’ Sarah beguiled within urgency speaking to Marcel who was in the midst of eating some supplies.
‘Sarah! details?’
‘I… I just don’t know we stopped for a moment, one second Lucas is fine the next. He’s having some kind of adverse reaction.’
‘Checking vitals Sarah, just remain calm and don’t panic. Keep a level head….. Ok. Sarah he’s experiencing a negative reaction to some of the pollen in the air. I wasn’t aware that Lucas had allergies. Normally I wouldn’t advise this but you need to get his respirator back on and secure a safe place. The medical supplies will have Epinephrine he needs to be administered with it.’
Quickly Sarah fumbled as she placed his visor back on. I threw glances around to find somewhere we could shelter. Night was drawing in and we were merely moments away from the location required. The aim was to arrive and leave before nightfall, but things were looking grim.
Combined with the strength of Sarah we had dragged Lucas into a collection of buildings, built in cohesion with a much larger interior, a labyrinth of corridors and partitioned individual blocks. Ones with signs saying M’onald and Ent, River I and ext. Buildings with what seemed to be imitations of the human anatomy and products of varying degree. Some fictitious men and women wearing what we would assume was the previous occupants clothing.
‘Hello!’
My voice spoke back in return and Sarah gave me a dirty glance as she continued to tug Lucas back into a corner.
‘Why do that! Caleb! You know what’s out there!’
‘Maybe someone else is still alive. Civilisations last stand, honestly I don’t know. It’s just. I can’t imagine they all died. I just can’t stand the silence is all, I get it this place it’s not home. This planet is like all the rim worlds volatile, distant. It’s the bleak and the bleak is un-relentless, but I need respite. I need a release. This isolation is crippling, how long have we gone without human contact? Days? Weeks? This expedition… is….’
‘You’re only drawing attention to ourselves when God knows what else is out there!’ her voice was like mouse sized exclamations. Restrained shouting.
‘Lucas can you hear me? Lucas?’ she persisted I could see tears welling in her face as she stared into the glazed visor of his limp form.
‘Why the fuck did we come to this place, why the fuck did you talk me into this.’ She spoke as she turned to me her eyes were smeared and glazing over in moisture.
I knew what I wanted to say, but it would have been insensitive to do so. It was hard to bare so I returned to the entrance of the partitioned room. There is something to be said about the desolation of a fallen civilisation when everything appears to have been just dropped within a moment’s notice. There is something to be said when a location losses purpose. It is captured inside your lungs and it is difficult to escape, it finds a way to just wallow.
It’s the silence which is the biggest construct, a wraith. It hides the true colours of its surroundings until any amount of noise becomes amplified like a silent bird learning to scream for the first time. It sets you off guard and drags you further into fearful despair.
The rattling, it sneaks a persistent plague of disconcert.

‘You seen this?’

‘No time to play games Caleb.’
‘I’m serious Sarah. This shit, it’s…’ before I was able to finish the radio re-emerged and Marcel’s voice intervened.
‘It’s bad guys. I mean the environment. I have been utilising the survey equipment. Some points are down. Eliminated. I relayed the last footage and it appears some kind of electromagnetic interference has disturbed the footage, the precise moment of capturing any viable video. It’s coming up to nightfall and there is something distinct. I have noticed the wildlife… it’s…. it’s…’
‘Going into hiding Marcel I know. There’s something on the wall I want you to see I’m relaying the evidence now.’
In front of myself was writing painted across the surface of a weathered wall. Rays of light, laser in configuration scanning over the section of wall which my suit was directed towards.
Can you hear it? Hear the dark? Hear the grim night? It is coming. It’s coming for you. Never forget. Never. Never forget their out there, you may not see them but their always there.

‘Marcel. Please tell me you’re surveying our location.’
‘No heat signatures Caleb, You can always distribute motion drones but their configuration is only good if they capture whatever predator is out there around their motioned proximity.’
‘Portable defence drones… the bag.’ Lucas muttered in pain as his staggered breaths found it difficult to rekindle its flame.
It didn’t take long to find the first bundle of corpses, huddled, scared, drained of everything. Their bodies had become inductive of tight dried sordid protein. Tightly bound around fragile marrow that had begun to corrode a photo most awful. Preserved and withheld from most of the wildlife. Something had gotten to them but it wasn’t interested in their carcass, their flesh and bones. Grabbing a scalpel from my bag I curiously cut into the stretched flesh. It peeled back, rolling back like a scribe of tortured tapestry and just as dust layered.
His internal organs had become no more than dried fruit, and where each capillary was in its place are the network of pipes inherent in abandoned waterworks. Outwards the body had suffered puncturing from viper like fangs and claw marks.
‘Humanoid in complexion Marcel. Similar to ourselves, wouldn’t you say?’
‘Coincidence not so sure Caleb, it’s possible that there are other species in relation to our biological origin.’
‘Possible? I think this is cohesive evidence.’
Somewhere in the distance the phasor shots of pulsated blasts ricocheted through the empty interiors that we had barricaded ourselves in.
The last remaining words I recollect during this torn network was ‘No-one survives the hours of darkness. Embrace the dawn.’ I remember the words etched into the walled confines, amongst the dead bodies that littered the room.’
Returning to discover the source of the echoes of distorted pulses in a mad rush to triangulate and discover the inherent fear of this spectral planet. Whatever had disturbed the drone had vanished in the short span of time, like the shadows themselves, were the things made of nightmares. The drone had seen better days as it no longer floated like a wisp within its processed route it had degenerated into spare parts littering the floor. Though the floor had seen better days long before the dismantling of the droid.
‘Caleb, ships informed me of a drone down. Is everything ok?’
‘I’m fine Marcel not so sure about the drone.’
‘Did you see it?’
‘No. Frankly. I’m not sure we want to. I have left Sarah and Lucas back in one of the old settlement buildings. Not sure their safe. Keep me updated. The sooner I reach the pick-up the better.’
‘Not sure that’s the best course of action Caleb. Our surveillance can’t capture these things and our dispersed satellites aren’t even capable of tracing what’s out there. The best we have are some big cats a few vicious predators and in all honesty; something else is out there. It’s distorting all video footage.’

The muffled sounds made it hard to discern but the ship itself ruptured into a broken sound.
‘Wait… what was that… sorry Caleb but I need to check the port of the ship.’
‘Marcel… for fuck sake no! Lock yourself in…. Marcel listen to the bloody communication! Marcel!’
I knew it. Swirling inside my suit, pressed up against my visors interior, it’s like we want to be a hero delusions of being more than what we are and what we are is human. Marcel loved our ship, more than his own fragile sense of being. We needed to maintain it for atmospheric exit to escape back into the void. The void of course was already with us and it was on our ship.

No sound.

Nothing.

I waited.

Nothing.

Marcel for sky bound sake you should have swallowed your own advice. Should have waited for backup. Sealed the emergency doors.
When darkness becomes your landscape. The panorama that exudes nothing but distant ambience. When you’re left with nothing but the light you carry and little is left. You realise how alone the stars really are. When nothing but some silent filament flickers and you want that warmth to continue, it will eventually fade and absence is what remains in its place.

‘Marcel?’

I was alone.

The light beckoned forth from my suit, it flood lit a wave of white as it slowly built up the ruinous, temples of commerce. Then I saw it.
Another mercenary group Opius Reclamation, some such company, women and men broken and spread into one final stand, their disgruntled forms in bloody massacre. I noticed a reader it had one last message unread built into the fractured suit.
Moving the data recording I transferred wireless information directly to my own reader.

‘Date June 16th 4052- contacted by a peculiar individual to reclaim some distant relic within quarantined space. Payment too good to pass up and we’ve done this line of work before. Not particularly strange. Collection of a box. Upon atmospheric entry nothing was apparently harmful. The planet was in good health.
We were wrong.
A disease has plagued this planet since before the colonies, it has fed off the very existence of those who tread within its darkened frontiers and it has been hungry for human blood since its progenitor existence, the lack of such has driven these beasts feral and decrepit. Most of my colleagues have gone missing or are dead. In memory and thanks to Rachel Strouse and Trent Moore, Henry Deacon, Lucy Richards, Faye Drendon and finally May and Carl Brentford. I have discovered these things… species. Whatever they are that exist inside the darkened bleak, they have a grand aversion to light. Their pale tort complexions flare up into blistered mucus. Their animated structure begins to collapse.
I haven’t got long, the light is fading. So please learn from our mistakes leave this place, drop everything and go, for there is nothing here for anyone. Remember.
Follow the light.’
The recording cut out, his image merely a silhouette until it dispersed into a painted canvas of abstract black.
‘I’m sorry.’ I muttered. Not sure who I’m speaking to, myself, my crew or the broken image of a man filled with a regret he couldn’t reconcile.

Still.

I wasn’t far from collection. Steps further and any death was not in vain, if my daughter could prosper with a good life, there would be no further need for this reckless lifestyle.

The street seemed to stretch out forever and I could see no further than the few feet my beaconed light granted me. Every so often the half exposed bleached out structure of a forgotten city remained as a last reminder of a past I shouldn’t have learnt about.

The three dimensional map had re-entered field of view and I had reached my destination. It wasn’t what I expected and made for discomfort. Stood in isolation the building hung over me like the disquieted dread that had long since remained from stepping foot on its parting mortality.
‘Evan’s and Son’s funerals’
What did Eventus want with an ancient funeral directors business?
Stepping inside, a stench was laden thick within its interior and was overwhelming, with little effort it persuaded me into filtering its stale interior.
I saw the box, Eventus had informed myself and crew to not let curiosity take us, forbidding the opening of the box and observing its contents. The box bared an engraved date and name Mary Brooks 2547-2597 I was fairly certain as to why Eventus didn’t want us to look inside. Maybe the mummified remains of some renowned figure, some sign of alien life but curiosity had grasped me and after everything… I felt it little compensation towards what had happened. Opening it up I find the corpse remains of a women, within her hands a barely tangible photo of a gentlemen, this gentlemen was with who I could only presume was Mary in blissful happiness, interlinking arms.
Light began to creep into my head as a realisation dawned on me. The man in the photo was familiar. The image of this man was the direct copy of Eventus, written in free hand upon the back of its faded structure, was a brief notation.
‘We all leave a part of us behind, some more than others.
Then there is that, we can never leave behind.’

Article: Monsters

I have recently been busy so haven’t been available to properly commit to blogging of late.
This is a prompt return and as such it isn’t my usual showcase of fiction short or otherwise. This is an article around the subject of literature.
A few weeks back in the embedded quiet of the worcestershires urbanised heart, a city that although classified as a city had more in common with a congregation of buildings and a vast array of disspersing store fronts carved into a high street poorly maintained by the landscape of extortionate rent and failing pockets. A ghost town at times where even cowboy frontiers and their tumble weed wouldn’t do it justice. I sat after a regular collabaration of artists who fought a war with the written word on more than one occassion. Standing in front of one another consistently trying to improve upon prior readings. Afterwards a few of us normally end up at the notorious ‘postal’ a pub that even to this day was likely infamous merely for the cheap costs of the alcohol served. It was after buying a drink and sitting down that I heard one of the readers respond and mention.
Now before I say anymore I do often respect her opinion and in fact she is a very talented individual, this article which has been conjured from what she mentioned is merely a counter argument and something that I really didn’t put into words until now, but she said something that I couldn’t disagree with anymore than I do now.

‘She mentioned she wasn’t interested in fiction that contains monsters because at their base level they aren’t very interesting and shallow.’ i’m paraphrasing here but the jist was in literary terms she didn’t see them as something of depth that adds to fiction but rather takes. More for writers to exhibit exuberant description and word play than to add to a written depth.

For me she couldn’t be further than the truth. Monsters have existed within stories since pretty much for as long as we have been able to make markings upon walls. They have more in common with us than maybe we give them credit for and ‘No Go The Bogey Man’ by Marina Warner goes into huge lengths into how folklore has influenced us in such a way.
So are monsters shallow and merely there for excitement and tension or do they go further?

There is no doubt that often writers use ‘the monster’ as maybe a device or narrative motive. The monster generates fear and so motivates the protagonist or protagonists into action. There are of course many stories where the monster itself is misunderstood and we question who is the real monster. Such is the unfortunate outcome of the monster that Frankenstein had created. HP Lovecraft created a whole mythos of monsters and it was in their mystery and foreboding looming nature that often was the overarching grim threat within his fiction that helped drive the story forward whilst creating atmosphere. So it’s easy to see monsters as merely an ends to a means, a way of creating a motive for relatable human characters. I feel we relate just as much to Mary Shelley’s monster as we do with the human who created him, if not more.
Lovecrafts Mythos on the other hand have very different ideals on the monster. They appear a reflection. An avatar of our own dread and by no means are shallow. Representing a darkness within the environment around him and powers beyond our control.

Fairytales played on the monster often and so did folklore. Tales by the Grimm’s Brothers almost always felt like warnings or various lessons, Hansel and Gretels witch being more a childs lesson in how not to take strangers at face value and be especially weary whilst around strangers.
Monsters reflect our own fears but also darker aspects of ourselves as more often than not they are the creations of ourselves. Hybrids.

So what do you guys think? is the monster or the idea of the monster plagued by poor depictions or maybe poor utilisation. Maybe it’s popular fiction that is shoveling the monster into an early grave?
This has been a short article but I hope to hear from you and your opinions, are monsters really dull, are they boring merely at face value?
It will be great to hear from you optimistic or otherwise.

Euphoria: Chronicles Best Left Forgotten- Story One: Sunset Sky Cruise

This is an early body of work with the idea to be placed alongside an anthology of stories based in the same setting with the same mythos, but not necessarily during the same stretch of time or with the same characters or identities. To collectively explore the horror steampunk setting of my own conception known as Euphoria.
Last week I unfortunately had a reading the night I was due to post, hopefully this makes up for a missed week. Hope you all enjoy.

Her heart trembled and twitched amongst the debris of moving obstacles that seemingly swayed amongst the inner bowels and workings of a brass engineered interior. The interior was much like a whale’s stomach large and disembodied; churning and full of distant echoes which were the entangled and incorporeal voices she shared. It was more fractured due to the gears and shafts, the turnbuckles and leverages that danced amongst turning conversations of un-ending machinations. She was within the bowels of a breathing beast of alloy conception unlike anything she had seen before.
She didn’t belong,
a fish within a desert, dry of all sense of place in the sweltering heat of aristocracy.
She knew it; it’s not as if she didn’t. She wasn’t one of the others. The privileged. Purposefully selected due to their influential ties, charisma or big bosom, neither was it due to her in-disposable skills.

In Euphoria there are two types of people those brought to its refuge supposedly pre-destined and those that were luck of the draw, the ‘manual laborers’ of Euphoria. Some say the names were pulled out of a nobleman’s top hat but Gloria had guessed it was less of a flamboyant gesture and more finger pointing towards names on a manifest. Sterling wasn’t one to let chance get in the way of rejecting those he took a disliking to. These two types of people were segregated like some metaphoric fence had taken root within Euphoria’s core allowing for all manner of prejudices. Gloria’s class ‘the manual laborers’ of Euphoria were no better than industrial slaves with next to no lifespan stuck in purgatorial routine, and trust me you don’t want to know how the rich and almighty stuck-ups keep those slaves in line.
Of course Sterling would have you think differently, like it was a blessing to have been illustriously chosen, like some angelic crane had placed them here, the lucky third hippo of Noahs Ark who was somehow allowed on. Saved from the hell being painstakingly crafted on Earth below.

That’s right Euphoria is a flying metropolis and Earth is gone.
That’s right gone.
don’t try and chase the dream it doesn’t exist.
No more Babylon.
Garden of Eden.
It’s gone.
We have Euphoria it’s all that’s left and it’s flawed, deeply so.

It’s as if our very own shelter our refuge had become a form of blackmail, a prison. Gloria was one of the many industrial slaves who had joined a cause. No a revolution. On metropolis Euphoria. Opportunity had turned its face on their cause, one which couldn’t be missed and it was in the shape of a pleasure cruise for the various noble diplomats.
It was the chance to spread the message, that the illusion had to change, all cruises require staff, these staff were screened by those rich sods with large bank balances embroidered with over indulgence, but the guerilla insurgents had organized everything. It would run without any knotted implications and Gloria would become accepted as one of the host’s staff on board the cruise. Another chain in the link of momentum.

Sterling may believe that this world is his property but property is materialistic and its worth is only to those who actually bare it, all objects can be stolen, taken from your palms, in the end what was yours is gone. This was an educational lesson for Sterling, that like the works of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein what he had created was a monster, a living breathing city of monsters. Of course there was no doubt he killed Earth, he killed what we knew and purged it from our hearts. Steam conjured into a pumping organ that was easily swiped away. Now a civil war was going to occur and Gloria was a central part in the insurgence.

As she stumbled around the various crates and supplies that were stored haphazardly amongst beams of steel and brass she pulled out from amongst its holds a small intricate music box gold with embellishment and decoration. Clockwork pieces trickled inside songs of intricacy. The songs however weren’t of music or some spiraling momentum it was of an inevitable climax, the full stop to a just message. Enough of slavery and suppression. She firmly placed it cornered within a small barrel and sealed the lid. Although her ultimate task was done she would have to wait days before the cruise would return close enough to the city limits and escape towards Euphoria, just close enough to the sealed barrier of home and ultimately a cage, embellished. That was said to protect them from whatever horrors were retained on the outskirts of the floating metropolis.

Of course she wasn’t without her fantasies, those dreams of wearing the kings and queens veils of wealth. To see herself in a sweeping dress or covered with objects of a crow’s affection. To see herself as the precious gem of Euphoria, empowered and fulfilled with beauty. Dressed in the cleaned up rags polished up to appear more in-situ with her surroundings. She walked as if she belonged, another one of those invisibles. They wouldn’t notice if a few objects went missing, look at this place every facet contained wealth and needless objects of status. If say a few pieces of jewelry were to disappear or say a single piece of clothing no-one would mourn the disappearance. Place it down to an absent mind, much like the objects themselves.

Twisting the maid’s skeleton key, it turned and creaked like wrenching bones to reveal a cabin designed like a grand abode. Upon the ceiling painted murals plastered as far as the wall reached and further, various birds sweeping in oils and varnish. Colorful like your eyes were stained with paint. This was all lined with borders that were gold waves of decorative trimmings. Panels of finely furnished wood covered a corner for modest changing including a large mirror, the type you expect to picture inside the pages of fairytales. Drapes of cloth also flowed amongst the walls, velvets and silks of royal blues and rendering reds. It was a slice of heaven from the renaissance painters canvasses, claimed and firmly placed on this flying galleon of indulgence.
Gloria discovered a large Wardrobe the size of a single wall and made from fine oak. Taking a breath she swung the huge doors revealing a pocket of space lined with a finery of cloth and tailoring, the missing glaze to her pupil, it had finally returned in the image of a dress interwoven as a fine tunic and corset. Something only she could compose inside her desires. Picking it up she went to try it on behind fine decorum easing it over her sleek skinny pale skin, the fine gold’s and pale blues starkly juxtaposed against her soot tarnished skin. Like the earth inside a decorative plant pot.
‘It looks good.’
Gloria jumped half way out of her skin and wasn’t sure how to react, she could have bailed darted out of there faster than Jack the Rippers blade but that would have pulled up more alarm bells than she desired.
‘errm sorry, I…just was intrigued’
‘Don’t worry it’s my sisters she’s not going to miss it, besides she hates that thing, I will just explain I accidently dropped it over the edge of this ship.’
The gentleman behind her was a regal young man with a finely groomed complexion, as if his parents had ensured he looked the part for some formal occasion. His voice was firm and accumulative of his youth. She smiled back at him that kind of quirky grin that is halfway between flirtation and escapism.
‘Besides you look stunning in the dress and well there’s going to be a ball on the main promenade of the ship beneath the emblazoned sky, I just wondered. You know what this sounds crazy forget I said anything.’
They both were revealing red dyes that seeped through pores of their skin increasing a scarlet skin tone. They both weren’t entirely sure what to say, they looked at one another and away to some of the bordered objects and back to one another once again as if their retinas could not go without peeking at their object of affection for less than a moment.
‘Yes.’
‘What.’
‘Yes I want to go, you know… just because I want to see the ball.’
He eased the nerves that lined his face, completely absent of the fact that the dress wasn’t entirely fitted appropriately over Gloria’s form properly.
‘Give me chance to get ready, promise me you will be there.’

This was it; this guy; this strange man of the faction of people she despised had become something different, something she never imagined. In merely a moment she was grasped. Constricted by his darting looks and he was consumed by her modesty and her beauty, not the pristine over compensation of those he had been forced to associate with, skin that had no masking, full of blemishes and grit a grit that reminded him of who he was. To escape the lies that masked his family and peers, but most of all to him, she was the unique, the pebble amongst diamond stones, the pebble he would pick every day and every chance he got. She wasn’t an object but someone he was drawn to and so she hesitantly joined in with the flirts that gleamed in both directions but it was a natural sensation, instinctive and hard to avoid.

When he disappeared out of the doors she felt lost. In four hours this place was due to explode within flames.

What had she done!

No the plan had to go ahead, there’s no escaping the injustices of Euphoria, the starvation and pain. She can’t let idle attraction get in the way.

The promenade was long, countless characters, regal ballroom clothed creations danced against a sky. The tinge of red ash from the Earth below, clouds of white reflecting the distant illuminations. It was a moment caught away from suffering and the bleak, a dream she never wanted to wake up from and there standing amongst the crowds of finely dressed people. The man who fell endlessly and seamlessly in love over the span of the long cruise. A man who fell in love with who she was. If you believe in falling for someone instantaneously; it was more likely attraction and lust, but it didn’t matter because for a moment in space; no a pocket in time; all cares, all sensibility needn’t exist. She turned away to walk away but he grabbed her dainty wrist, she turned to look at him piercing her tunnels of pulsing blood, heart jumpstarted into a speed improbable.

‘Your beauty depicts what we all desire, you’re more than human. You’re divine beyond understanding.’
‘That’s really cheesy’
‘Oh I know but I can tell you like it.’
‘Oh really’
‘Well…’
‘Maybe a little. I do kind of feel special’
‘That’s because you are. Look at all these faceless individuals the masks they wear go further than their exteriors, much like the beauty you hold goes further than yours.’
‘You barely know who I am. How can you say such things, you don’t really know me.’
‘I know you’re not any of these aristocrats.
Come follow my steps.’

He grabbed her as he began to drift with each step, he wasn’t that good no better than Gloria and she had no formal training but a part of it made them feel like they were the most spectacular dancers on Euphoria. Everyone stopped and glared, it was for the wrong reasons but to them it was the right.
‘You suck, you know that.’ Gloria mentioned with a heightened smile to her face.
‘You’re not so great yourself.’
‘Hey I never had training posh totty.’
They continued to dance until the music shifted, to a new tone.
‘What’s your name?’ he spoke eagerly.
‘Gloria sir.’
‘Don’t call me Sir Gloria, my names Jacob, I’m no different from you’
‘Of course you are just look at you.’
‘Follow me.’
As Jacob turned, her hand grasping hard in his, a tall well postured man pulled him aside his wife closely behind him.
‘Explain to me what you think you’re doing.’
‘What does it look like Dad?’
‘I don’t know her and you’re not to associate with her from now on you understand.’
‘No. You can’t do this! Dad no matter you’re position here, or who you think you are, I am my own man.’
‘I don’t know her. And I don’t want you running off and doing God knows what. You understand son, you are not to chase this girl, or God help me…’
‘God help me what!’ They were both stood in conflict postures holding rigid and stern.

‘If it was down to you father and mother I would already be married to Franklin and her rich heritage, but what would I really be marrying her or the mounds of wealth.’ A peat of anger slowly growing Jacobs’s voice in volume.
‘It’s for your own good Jacob sweetie.’ The women dressed smartly chirped in delicately.
‘You know what, just leave me, and leave me alone!’

Then just before walking away he whispered ‘head to the aft of the ship’ in Gloria’s direction and darted the opposite way. Jacob’s determination to win Gloria’s heart and his perseverance caused a rapture of second thoughts, contemplating her situation in a different light. She did as Jacob said and for minutes she felt he would never arrive. The view was of the remains of earth, broken and scattered cities of towering construction in flames and smoke, plumes of death radiating from industrial chimneys. It was as if you were looking at a loved one’s corpse it was disheartening.

‘Do you see it… no one gets to see this because were all enclosed within the quarantined central zone. You don’t get to see what has happened and what has been done. It’s a never ending horror. A horror that we have all grown ignorant of.’
‘No. you’re people have grown ignorant of.’
‘You’re right. This is why things have to change. The diplomats here today are due to enforce change to bring democratic rule; and stop Sterling’s tyranny to you and the other laborers. Everyone to be treated equal.’
Gloria’s heart sank, what have they done? Their rebellion was soon to destroy countless lives, lives that were trying to save them from Sterling’s oppression.

‘What the hell do you think you’re doing son!’

Jacobs’s father had followed them his cane pointing towards him as he shook it violently in the air in rage.

‘Don’t you listen to a single word, not a single word? To myself and your mother! We have always done the best! The best for you and you just don’t listen!’

‘We need to get off this ship!’ Gloria intervened in panic.
Gloria pleaded desperately with Jacob her eyes swelling in fear.
‘We need to get off now!’

‘What are you shouting about, we don’t need to leave just because my father puts his stick in things.’
‘Insolent child, we try to raise you right…’

But before his father could finish his sentence she screamed in panic.

‘This ship is going to blow!’

As if his heart had eroded from view and butterflies that flew out of his stomach corroded to dust, Jacob’s emotions had sunk.
‘What, what do you mean?’
‘Our insurgence wanted to spread a message, a message to Sterling that you can’t control us, not anymore.’
‘But… but this was all a lie?’
‘I told you son, she was not to be trusted. She is coming with us into the brig maybe we can…’
‘After what everyone here is doing for you and the people Gloria!’
‘I promise we didn’t know, we didn’t know.’
Tears were ripping Gloria’s face apart. Jacob’s father grabbed her, she reached out holding her hand out towards Jacob but he just stood silent and distant, refusing to reach out.
‘I didn’t know, please… I didn’t know!’
She screamed in pain Jacob’s hurt impressions slowly shrinking as she was slowly dragged from view.

‘You better tell me where that bomb is or God help us all.’
‘It’s too late, there’s no time. I was due to escape via life pod any second now, we don’t have time.’
As Gloria informed Jacob’s father whilst being ripped further and further from Jacob. Commotions of numerous crowds of people emulated from the promenade Gloria had suspected that they had learnt the horrific truth, but when they pulled through the crowds closely followed by Jacob, commotions were rising. Brass machinery filled with lead pipes and pneumatics had begun to growl with active interaction. Steam began to jettison and buildup, a platform of metal began to build into a beacon of illuminations, steam pulsed rapidly and built an elusive view. A man was standing in front of them. Or at least appeared to be, as his visage was constructed from the laden mist and vapor.

‘Good citizens of Euphoria. My favored friends. I offered so much. A safe haven. The perfect home. Yet I speak disheartened. It appears it wasn’t enough. My hospitality has quite literally been stretched and now you want to claim my property as your own. Democracy! Democracy! It’s not about democracy it’s about thieves and back stabbers.’
The decorated men and women began to fidget looking towards one another in uncertainty, confusion and the unknown fear. The fear for what was about to occur. The steam holographic man looked old and frail as if time had forgotten him and he was merely maintained by death, gaunt and cold, much like the steam that conjured the holographic image. His back was buckling slightly even though he was tall and bone embracing.

‘Of course things are going to change, and it will be all thanks to you. Once you are all dead, you’re deaths will be blamed on the rebellion and I will tighten my security and political holding in protection of the people, thus reinforcing my claim to this city and winning you’re so called democracy.’

This was when fear had built into a tower that soon would collide but worse of all the guards had began to emerge from the various pockets of the ship into the openings, brandishing weaponry expectantly. Pulling their weapons out, they shot fires off into the crowd. Shots flung through slicing into ricocheting scarlet confetti. They kept firing. Countless men, women and children dropped dead.

‘This way!’ Jacob shouted towards Gloria and his father.

‘But your mother I can’t leave her.’ Jacob’s father billowed above screams.

He darted towards the firing but as Jacob’s father reached towards his mother a sharp dart of shrapnel flung at him spraying a shower of ruby blood into the air.
‘Dad!!!’ Jacob screamed in pain as the masked soldiers and their sinister bronzed angelic face masks struck horror. Consistently and sadistically killing.

Gloria pulled Jacob away in the original direction a hope of safety which was further into the hull. As they gathered their breath they stopped and paused.

‘You did this!’ Jacob bled out in shaken words.
‘No! I didn’t know about this I promise!’
‘How am I supposed to believe you after everything?’
‘Because there is one thing you took that can never be brought back! Jacob! That was everything you meant to me. When we stayed together and breathed in the same space, the way you smile and the emotions it stirs inside. I never wanted this. Conflict is a monster that claims to breed peace but only spawns new hate. I simply can’t bear to be yours.’
They looked at one another collapsed on the floor and with a tempest of tears mirroring the emotions they spoke no words. Jacob appeared to be looking through her and into her soul maybe to see if Gloria was sincere.
‘We don’t have time Jacob, where is the nearest life pods?’
‘The other end of the hull, but we won’t get past the guards.’
‘We need to. Or we’re walking cadavers already.’
Gloria pulled herself up and grabbed Jacob by the arm as he simply remained limp on the floor.
‘Everything is gone, all we worked for, politics, hope. Gone.’
‘Sterling can’t win Jacob. He can’t win.’
With one grand pull Gloria heaved Jacob to his feet.
‘We need to get off this floating tin weight.’
As Gloria and Jacob were due to dash along the interior corridor of the Galleon, lights began to dart to and fro, flickering in epileptic succession as if the brass beast was dying some agonizing death. Tumor eating its insides.
‘This does not seem healthy.’ Gloria stated in a hushed panic.
‘No, something’s up. We need to go straight ahead.’
Each step they made, a repercussion through their body as they built momentum, breathing heavy and laden with fear. The door knob slowly turned as they heard voices. Barging Gloria through a door Jacob moved them both to an adjoining room. A small darkened stockpile as they hid behind some piles of canned beef.
Jacob pulled a finger to his mouth and shook his head silently. As to avoid drawing attention.

The guards were eerily silent as they strode through the corridor, eventually falling upon the store room. Jacob and Gloria remained close to the solid boards of wood nailed to the floor of the ship.

‘Empty’ a sinister voice cut by artificial static spoke.

The guards had militant suits outfits that in part were metallic. Then there was that quaking sounds and rumbles buckled throughout the ship, vibrating its foundations as if various heavy objects were bombarding its exterior.
‘What the hell is that.’ Jacob turned his head, which was firmly pressed against the floor towards Gloria.

‘I hope reinforcements but I find that unlikely.’
They eased themselves back into the corridor and opened the door where the guards had originally followed suit, slowly Jacob turned the handle as they stumbled into a room that contained a husk, some ebony pod smashed partially through the membrane of the ships walls, with something next to it of ill conception. A floating thing. With draped cloth. Excrement brown in coloration, which hung like willows over its bulk. Claws that reached out of its cloth shawl, mechanical and automotive.
Then as it turned it revealed a horrific face, merely constructed of a maw of sharp huge teeth a constant shape of a grin and all formed in an ebony alloy. Between the slight crevasses of their teeth was a spectral ethereal blue glow. It had no eyes but the wails it gave were constructed from those that these things had permanently laid to rest. Some kind of deathly mimic. Jacob and Gloria dashed to the left door. Its wails deafening.

‘Shit shit shit shit shit. Do you know what that thing was?’
‘I be damned if I know’ Gloria spoke with wavering vocals.
‘Keep moving!’

They carried through, the local tannoy systems, broken and jarring noises beamed into life music of disjointed composure and shortly being followed by the haunting reverberating wail; these things were in closing on them, it didn’t matter how fast they ran the noise followed. Leeching their resilience of will. Every now and then bodies and pools of blood strung across the ships interior and Gloria and Jacob would try not to peer into the deceased forms.

Now diving up through the outer door they arrived onto a large terrace upon the exterior of the ship. Guards and hideous floating machinations were scattered patrolling the ship. Persistently ensuring no survivors remained intact. Scattered were various points that made for potential cover, the decorative ornamental values that may end up saving their life.

Diving towards the cover they quickly attempted to hide but they were running out of each hand to the clock, those beasts would emerge from the interior and alert every one of their presence and shortly after that a huge bang and this whole ship was scheduled to go down in flames, at least some of Sterling’s goons would take the dive and those…. Things, whatever those things were. The pod was close they made a dash for it but a single guard leveled his gun and took aim unleashing a hail of bullets, his shots danced through the air as Jacob stoically punched him unconscious wrestling the weapon from his grasp.
‘Run!’ Jacob shouted his voice piercing through the air alongside fired shots and screams.
‘I can’t leave you, you mean everything to me Jacob…I…I.’
‘I know Gloria just run.’
Eye ducts opened up to reveal the remnants of lost cries, she knew this was likely the last time she would see Jacob and as she leaped headlong into the last remaining life pod. She watched as the explosion ripped through the hull.
‘Grab my hand!’ she shouted as the ship in flames was torn asunder; his fingers slipping through hers as it drifted away her life pod knocking against crumbling debris as it began to scatter towards the Earth. She saw him grasping onto the hull as the flames consumed his silhouette. Her last words screaming.
‘Jacob I love you.’

Quick Notification and short story: Messenger Of The Depths

Hi appologies for not updating my blog in some time but I will soon be back on track. No excuses though as I promised myself that I would keep up some great quality prose for those of you out there in the suburbs of the internet to enjoy. So this week i’m not continuing hardware but bringing an older piece into the fray. This piece was in fact inspired by a creative writing exercise within the ‘Wonderbook’ exercise. Krakens attack at dawn.
I’m glad to be back after a stag break for my friends wedding amongst other things and excited to see much of the interesting content that has been released in the other blogs. I hope you enjoy.

Messenger of the depths
I’m drifting, drifting with the skeletal remains of what the white men called ‘The Salty Sea Maiden’ a slave vessel that has taken its last. I peer across the wide fingered grasp of the ocean it is a herald; an assassin of our fates and its messenger is still singing its deathly chorus, flowing within the abyss of darkly scented red both from sky and those I should be pleased are dead.

This cage of a body now a fractured corpse wails in agony and where once I was a compact organ amongst her inner workings we are spilled free bleeding out into the swallowing dark. I keep my head up and all around are planes of sheathing hydrogen, oxygen and salt, it wants to drag me down much like the messengers tentacle reach. The assault first occurred at a time I never understood, hidden and kept secret, many of my race compiled inside, a substantial number.
In the same way that intestines are shoved inside the human body.
If we were to outstretch and lay down one by one we would exist as two times the size of the wooden vessel.

The evil we knew reflected in our image, like doppelgangers painted in porcelain, embellished in finery. The pain they inflicted was hard to bear, it wasn’t the torture it was the suppression, the domination. The time we were chained and brought aboard the avatar of end this was already our trip with Lord Hades into his domain. One young man. Just one. Viewed our suffering in discontent, you could call him a coward of a man without honour but I call him smart. If he had tried to rescue us he would have been dead much like the slaves who died at the hands of the slavers before him. This man was kindred of theirs with a kind spirit trying to get by in a dystopian existence. Lewis, yeah. I enquired his name. I had picked up English in my years of being a slave within the charted depths of London and now I was a trade acquisition, being moved to a plantation due to my latest master’s sudden death. I was to become profit in sugar and tobacco. I thought I had died in London but I was wrong. There exists death beyond death like reapers of purgatory.

Lewis would feed us his share, we had the usual remnants of meals to keep our energy up for labour work but he fed us more than his colleagues would have liked, it was possible, in part, so they could profiteer with more survivors, but I couldn’t see him doing that. You could tell. He was a good youth, one with morals.

Many particularly the new slaves wouldn’t last long scurvy was likely to occur. The first thing I recollect was Lewis clambering into the hull with news, he said storms were on the horizon so planned on diverting the ship. The journey itself would take four more nights. This was something he had no reasoning to tell us, he wasn’t of our blood and we were possessions, it’s like telling the drapes that its coming up to daytime. We lay as we heard muffled singing the chants of sailors singing maritime songs, shanties something I hadn’t witnessed before it made for unease, the sounds trailing in screaming sea swept winds an uncanny tune. ‘The Handsome Cabin Boy’ it hiked in choir of men against the rage of the coming storm and although all attempts to avoid the storm were in place we all knew we had collided strong against the breadth of its wind wake span. Their voices muffled from beyond our stretch of containment had become more stuttered, more desperate. Heavy footing and running collided against the water battered deck, everything that wasn’t holstered down began gliding in parallel to the quaking maiden, we could tell because of the rolling sounds coiling against the surfaces above.
Silent words were spoken within the hull, there’s something to be said about intuition in regards to threat, like an animal’s awareness for survival and then it happened. One of the crew wailed in the air I couldn’t make out what he was saying by now the storm was on us and at the peak of its mountainous rage. The ship wheezed as something huge, leviathan like brushed against the underside port of the vessel and we watched as slight buckling occurred, concerned that the ship would be engulfed in aquatic bile, two men started struggling against their confines but the chains ran as deep as a philosophers motives. Their panic gathered a net of confusion and distress as more and more struggled against their bindings in a tide of urgency. I just lay accepting my fate, I had been a slave for too long and knew what plantations would leave me in, scarred and more damaged than I already exist in, death would have been a release from what I had been accustomed to.

My belief was that the storm was tearing the slaving maiden apart, limb by limb.

Lewis flung down chucked by the roiling motions, kinetic and energized. His face was as pale as the bone bleached spectral sirens and his eyes drowning in exhaustive bewilderment. He was damp from the wet and moist sweeping air. Holding himself against the savage motions of a ship easing itself into an open grave. He was holding keys in front of us and we instantly knew, this was it. The death of the fair maiden of submission had become the fair maiden of submersion as a large collision clashed against its weakened exterior the hull began flooding and desperately Lewis tried to unbuckle as many as he could. Freeing us from our shackles to save us; I was free. There was one slave that lunged towards the boy I grabbed his arm before his flesh could connect. ‘This fight is not with this boy he saved your life and it’s not the time.’ He pointed his angry glazed eyes at myself in temper and dragged his fist down to his side. ‘The boy watched as we suffered. How can we forgive that?’
‘So you think by doing this it will make you feel better, it won’t.’
‘It will to me.’
‘And what would it really resolve? What would it really change? I tell you what nothing. Let your anger go or the anger will become you!’
He couldn’t let go, his anger was firmly inset into his mental frame I stood between the two of them and we struggled as the ship flowed with our stumbling conflict two forces in a plight with a third. Grabbing one another and throwing each other against the grained splintering surfaces, but our bodies followed through with every sway of the rapturing vessel. In a way that we were causing just as much damage to our own personal bruised exteriors. He had flung me to the water raising panelled floor and I raised my arms to protect the fragility of my head. He threw each punch like a child throwing stones against a lakes surface, instead of gracefully skimming it produced waves of flesh.

And then he stopped.

Everyone was watching, an amphitheatre of solemn pain. He lumbered himself back up looked around, appeared as if he was going to justify himself to the others but he couldn’t find the words and Lewis brushed himself past to try and free the remaining slaves.

Repetitively the ship roiled against waves or something more terrifying, farewell fair maiden but I can’t say that your fate wasn’t deserved, but that was my hatred speaking. I stagger up the wooden steps nearly falling back into the others who are scrambling to escape its voyage into abyssal demise and the two wooden hinges swing open as if my eyes were opening for the first time to reveal a tempest sky savage and evoking murderously, but the most notable thing was huge flailing tentacles enlightened by clashing titan strikes. Red scarlet sun in the distance resting dead against the horizon, a blood shot eye. Barrages of gun powdered shots continually corrupted the air in thick smog. As the white men tried with wavering determination to push the wreathing behemoths clutches back to where they came from, aquatic savage hell. The messenger of the ocean swung continuously and frantically; splintering the ship apart, whilst men started flying through the air in ragdoll motions. This messenger was unbiased as to who he claimed for his mistress ocean, white or black everything was the same.

A slave the porcelain men had nicknamed ‘insect’ who was full of rage that emulated the wrathfully consuming chaos that engulfed the surroundings. Could be sighted on the hull far ahead raging straight for the captain who was pre-disposed with the tentacle terror. Thunder was spot lighting the forward scene in a desperate diorama. They were now wrestling the gun within the captains arms in chaos, insect yearning to drag him into the depths of hell he didn’t care if it took his life he was obviously content with being the captains omen of apocalypse; to know that the captains last view would become insect dragging him into the dark submersion. I suppose it didn’t matter to him, his life probably felt like it had reached its climatic end and now there was only one thing to fulfil his existence, the last gasps of life, the reassurance that the captain was dead. I stand still gormless at the spectacle view that was a wide open panorama of destructive black hole guzzling fear. Then I looked back into the hull by now the water was encroaching its interior at rapid rate, like lungs being filled with water. Lewis was submersing himself to free the others.
‘Get out Lewis! Escape!’
‘No! With-all due respect Sir. This is what I deserve. My Lord has spoken and I have wronged him. I can’t be redeemed but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a saviour. Go!’
He spluttered as he cried out water flailing from his lungs and then the ship gave up its last resilience as I watched the hull split and my attempts to hold on as the broken body began diving into the deep was easing off, I see Lewis disappear beneath the tainted sea and I can’t help but wish it was one of the other slavers. The groans that the carved out hollow crustacean of a hull make are much like the pleads of a life draining beast of myth but the messenger simply serves valiantly and clamps harder on as it suffocates the maiden beneath the surface.

In these moments oxygen begins to filter low in my compressing lungs and my neck feels like a cavern caving in. Your body motions as if trying to save your life in those last moments, but you’re not controlling yourself. More men, women and debris dive in a gush of water as the structure crumbles around us. The emerging gashes of streams and froth bubble up to obscure our vision in a collage of dispersion. Above the sky is more scarlet than the dawn of the day as the blood spreads through the ocean in a flavouring of colour. I drift in the abyss waiting to be absorbed in the nothingness. I don’t know if I’m hallucinating but I think death has come for me. Large billowing black eyes forge a path towards me absorbing the red. I’m going to die and I have gazed further into the messengers eyes that now I am caught in its empty glare.

I’m dead.

This is all happening more quickly than I make out like thunderously swift and spontaneously all at the same time. The messenger is larger than the eye can see in fact my view is obscured by its mass, despite this, despite his size the messenger moves like a strike of a snake, seamlessly and swiftly through the water and more adept at swimming than the feared sharks of the ocean. You can equate ‘here be dragons’ to this thing, but I expect to now die as its beak like maw separates out and starts drawing in remaining life, a pulled plug sucking everything into its volatile stomach, a sponging maw absorbing. His eyes stare at me intently or at least I think they are; as for now they are my landscape photo double exposed as my eyes seep into emptiness now the pain of suffocating is harsher than ever before and I will die.

Bubbles erode my view and I see the surface and the black eyes, what is this? Hands are grappling at my throat a floating silhouette with piercing black eyes it’s drowning me.
‘You boy need to learn you’re place your nothing. Nothing!’
Nothing…. Nothing like a void, like stale winter cold.
‘You think you can talk and read Negro, you think that will give you respect? No. Respect is what I hold over you, I could drown you now and no one would care.’
My skin feels young and torn, stretched like dirty cloth and I’m drowning.
I’m back but the pearlescent black orbs have taken note of something else and I’m dislodged free from the debris I pull myself up, I’m not sure how but I move still drowning. It sounds like my drowning moments are lasting forever because for me it is and I’m persistently drowning. Light trickles a cone of hope as it sweeps around me. It’s nearly impossible to swim when drowning in fact it is impossible but a hand has grasped me and drags me up. I imagined it was Lewis redeemed as an angel, but instead I see a man. My master, dead. Blood trickling I try to speak but words don’t form congealed like blood stitching my mouth closed. He goes to push me down again but I grab a knife, he’s dead. I should be glad but I’m not safe, he is always here and always will be my messenger of the depths.

Hardware: Part One (disclosure: includes mature language and content)

I’m captain charisma, I’m the quiver beneath a women’s lips, the sensations between the sheets. The embodiment of passion and yet a supportive rock who’s career is flying higher than any pride could take it, I’m everything she has ever wanted, needs and more. That’s the thing about the web everything about us ‘IS’ the great net, it represents us more than our physical counterpart. Every portion of our lives documented.

Did you know my friend had his prostate checked today?… Well neither did I until two minutes ago across every social media profile he owns.

Every inch of personal information constitutes to how people see you.

My name is Mark Holn not that it matters, Women send me naked photos in exchange for nothing, I’m Mr.Charming behind a screen; but in life I’m just an ordinary rice cracker flavour guy. I’m not an edible snack but you grasp where I’m coming from. I prowl the internet to find that one. Of course there’s never one and this is how I spend my long consuming evenings. This to me comes as easy as opening my eyelids, it’s because they can’t see me the web acts as my aegis to the Jason of the Argonauts or the Trojan horse. It sheaths me in digital protection hidden in a vast world of data filled code, I can meta-morph into an entity I can edit and mould into ‘THE’ clay of a man of perfection. The words they seep through the keys and what takes form is planned to the paragraph, which I end with poetically but ultimately false lures.

It’s an illusion that they buy into because they want to believe in it, I indulge their fantasy, and in return they pay up and I disappear.

Well mostly.

You see I’m laying low, can’t bring any attention to myself.
It turns out this one fine specimen of a dame is married to a pretty lucrative guy, one who is more than willing to go to any lengths to cut my ball sack off.
They call him dead eye Domino. To me it sounds like a pet name a girl gives her groomed kitten and just as emasculate but to ‘the street’ it’s some kind of gang name to intimidate or such shit. More than likely he’s just one man who inherited a lot of money and wants to appear more ghetto like some kind of rebellious teenage drug dealer. I don’t act as if every beginning could be my end, I live for today. The now. The present. That’s why each of my paragraphs may as well be lacking full stops. In truth though it’s not going well.
I try removing my footsteps across the digital web, but the more you try to disappear the more you leave behind… it’s funny it feels like some philosophy about human nature but perhaps I’m not the best example of what it means to be human.
It strikes homes when one second you’re receiving provocative streams from a women’s feed the next your resorting to the last place you thought you would end up.

The reason Domino is keeping up is that he has some kind of nut-job hacker following him around, it’s hard to depict a hacker or at least it is now. You used to depict hackers as some kind of young guy glued to a screen typing in code whilst the glow burns into the retinas of his eyes. This time though the digital world is not just a screen and constitutes the retinas as opposed to the after-burn that turns the pupils to charcoal, rectifying scaffolding around our apertures. No their every shape and every size.
We used to question the answer of life, you know 42? But the truth is that the answer is one word ‘digital’ or two words ‘Binary code’ the physical is becoming less important… it really is. The only thing that is physical is sex and food, reproduction and consumption. This is why hackers thrive now, the mainstream criminals and mainstream pirates of this day and age, trust me you won’t find a hipster hacker. Once a time ago a pirate was a guy, with an eye patch and ship who liked to plunder and generally be a deviant. Now it means someone who likes to steal and manipulate data. They have new personas now and the news keeps referring to this eras criminal activities as the digital war… as if their soldiers…. Soldiers of what?

Anyway this hacker going under the name of ‘the Cheshire Cat’ or ‘Chesh’ for short has been tracking my steps and retrieving all the ip information that has remained in the flow of code. We have chips and information implanted inside us and interwoven, augmented into our very selves so that we can constantly interact with the internet… this is all well and good until a stalker manages to retrieve your ip and follow your every movement, which just so happens to be the circumstance of which I’m in. Domino and his crew of miscreants are going to kill me and I have to meet up with my ex. She’s held up in a shit hole. It’s a huge office block that is converted into apartments… I say converted what I mean is a large number of squatters have taken up residency inside and the government can’t be asked to move them because they’re out of the way of the community.

So there I am walking along office corridors with punks who have distasteful tattoos that represent corpses and other delightful works of art, the corridors carpet is that bland rough consistency and is peeling like dead flesh all the while these guys are anchoring themselves on the wall drinking supermarket brands of alcohol straight from the bottles. It makes me consider if I’m going to get stabbed and why the fuck I chose to visit my ex for assistance in the first place. I knock on the door that says conference room, delightful graffiti sprayed across its cheap office stock surface. It makes the crappy welcome signs with cliché statements of ‘home is where the heart is’ more appealing. The sound beaming through is of heavy metal and muffled, despite knocking firmly I receive no answer so I decided to almost plough my hand through its fragile exterior. My ex opens the door and leans against the frame she looks unimpressed and is the alternative punk rocker ideals of her past that never faded, she’s still attractive.

‘I bet you weren’t expecting me….’
The door swings back almost to its original configuration.

‘Wow please… wait… hear me out. Ok. Right us. Both you and I. Yeah it was bad, incredibly bad, but what it was. It’s the past is what it was.’
She speaks no words, her face is pale, and her brow crumples like origami in a disparate dislike of me. Her eyes postal slits.

‘You’re probably wandering why I’m here.’

‘No shit, pencil dick. So why are you still here, or do I need to fucking set you alight before you get the fuck out.’
She was always so abrasive even when I knew her.
Some slim girl emerges from beyond the makeshift room.
‘Is everything ok?’
Spoken as she weaved herself close and in front of me no holds barred made out with my joyful ex number three. There. Right there in front of me. They say three is a lucky number and let me tell you it’s not. She either went lesbian because of me or this is a Bi-sexual side I never knew existed either way your transfixed trying not to bring up the whole girl on girl action as you legitimately want what she has and what she has is connections. You know that if you throw one wrong comment the door hitting the face won’t be the only problem.

‘Look. What is it Mark, you lied to me and you’ve lied to your closest friends, what makes you think any of us want to fucking help you.’ Her tone was softer, to untrained ears she sounds brooding, but no it was considerably softer than her usual attitude.
‘I know and honestly I loved you, I did.’
‘And that’s exactly what you always say, always fucking say, but it means Jack shit when trust isn’t applied.’
She was right, I wasn’t sure if I could trust myself. When someone says honestly or trust me, how can you. Reinforcement doesn’t make it stronger, actions do.
‘You’re right. Always, but I know you haven’t got the heart to simply let me die.’
‘I’m not buying this shit.’
And like many chapters of my life the door closes.

‘Shit! Shiiiiit!’

I’m stood appearing lost drowned out by the hollow clerically minimal hallway, my hand and right arm shakes with a lack of caffeine, my hair is a mess, my eyes dark and baggy and I crave a sense of normality that I believed I had.

‘I can help.’

‘…..No, no you can’t’ I spoke to some guy with a rather uneven jarring voice, didn’t even look at him, I just resigned to the fact that I may as well make peace with the crappy carpet.

‘You’re being hacked right?’

My head creaks as my neck twists to face the guy who spoke. How the hell he know?

‘Curiosity killed the cat right?’

‘Sorry what?’

‘A Cheshire cat. Funny story this so listen. In Alice in wonderland the Cheshire cat keeps disappearing and re-emerging but what if. What if there was never one and they all illusively appear the same… huh? Then what?’

‘I’m not sure what this has to do with anything?’

‘You got a problem with a cat, but not THE cat. I can help for a small fee.’

‘Who are you?’

The guy seemed uncanny and eccentric, he held a nervous tick that maintained a strict pattern… I know I counted.

‘I’m a Cheshire Cat.’
One tick
‘Funny.’
Two three tick
‘Fine of course they’re going to come, their probably not gonna leave survivors considering the company the cat keeps, you’re not the only one they want dead, they want to hurt you, so their gonna torture you.’
One tick
‘You know a lot. How do I know you’re not working with them?’
‘good point… yes… I mean yes good point but redundant.’
‘Redundant. How so?’
‘There would be no point for a specific equation of smoke and mirrors, if I were in legion with them you would already be dead.’
I look at him bemused and we both exchange weary stares, it’s like were trying to sell one another soap door to door.
‘So how much?’
‘How much what?’
‘How much for the assistance.’
‘Oh right you lost me for a second.’
‘I lost you…. How are you meant to offer assistance if you can’t even work out what I was implying?’
‘I guess your right….’
One tick
‘You guess I’m right!’
‘Sure’
‘I think your sales pitch is off.’
‘I have a sales pitch…’
Two tick, three tick
‘Twenty thousand pounds’ he says dead toned and straight.
‘Twenty grand….’
‘sure why not?.’
His pearl baring maw replicates his alias in full as it stretches disproportionately the shape of his face, his shaggy hair billowing over a pillow tuft of hair, headset hung around his neckline like some Egyptian pharaoh of Techno Funk. Personally this unhinged individual sways his mentality wide open and somewhere inside his intellect is trying to grapple on.

‘Yeah. Sure. Why not?…’
‘So the plan is simple you link in and we delve into the web connected, delve amongst the waves of information this is like using your digital self as bait. I just have one question.’
‘Go ahead what?’
‘Is there anything I should know before I go delving?’
‘No. Like what?’

Awkward pause initiated shortly after… check. I mean seriously I know that all the sexting and painful to read back messages will rise to the surface like a bloated body in a bathtub and just as incriminating but how do you say to someone just before they rummage amongst databanks stored inside you to be aware and stay away from your message history. If you tell them to steer their eyes away from such data it simply points their interest to specifics.

‘Wish me luck. This is always quite scary wouldn’t you agree? I always get this odd feeling that if I delve too long into the code, into the very virtual nature of the web, I’m never sure I’m the same person who emerges out.’
‘So why do you do this…’
‘Cause it’s like a game. I guess…. I like games.’
‘Wouldn’t have guessed.’
He leads me to a side room, it was originally the office supplies cupboard and still had that office paper smell. And with two boxes we sit looking directly at one another. Prepare to link.
‘So what? Don’t you need a cable or something?’

Have you ever experienced someone who finds something more humorous than it actually should be? Like this guy had literally heard the single funniest thing when in actuality it really is quite mundane.

‘What! You gotta be an old man? Cables died off amidst the twenty first century it’s all wireless. You needn’t do anything. You left your connection up and I’m just tracing your router now. For one you’re not on a protected connection the router isn’t password protected rookie mistake.’

His eyes are partially glazed streams of information seem to reflect inside his iris and I peer more closely such a rush of fractional information all self-contained in the petit crystal of someone’s vision. I delve and get transported into a virtual hub of information, not that I enjoy it but I want to act as security guard to anything he could potentially be lurking towards. I wouldn’t be able to stop him even if he tried though.

He emerges an avatar without any distinct features, a blurred shape obscured from view.

‘You see your chip has too many backdoors that are easy for our house trained cat to access and this guy…. Well he’s good and you’re just making it easier for him.’
Suddenly what originally is my personal space becomes fractured by streams of red binary code crumbling like abstract cubes around us as the clean white formation of its central hub disperses.
‘Speaking of which, we have an unwelcome guest.’
The whole space begins bouncing with pop ups animated graphical images of hysterical Cheshire Cat faces.
A chat box replicates in duplicates ‘having fun Mark? Because the rabbits followed you down the hole.’
‘Our guest is trying to slow this operation down, pretty neat, but I’m neater. My desk back home is really tidy’
‘You suck Chesh.’
‘Who are you talking to?’
I don’t dignify his reply with an answer.
‘Tracing back now…. And execute. This is going to hurt his hard drive. We have successfully manipulated his virus structure and it has been redirected towards himself but it buys us twenty minutes at best, currently he knows our location. We need to move.’
‘You were meant to solve the problem not postpone it.’
‘Well you left the cat flap open.’
‘You realise there is only so many cat analogies you can go through.’
‘You know how to kill the fun out of this game.’
‘Well this game involves me living or dying. So please go ahead enjoy yourself at my expense.’
‘I got to make money somehow?’
‘You know damn well that’s not what I meant.’
‘Right we’re going to need to force exit, and this hurts like the shits.’
We both quickly blow our eyeballs in a burst of light a white illuminous glow that tears at the sockets and punches that space where I always get a migraine. It’s like a vasectomy… whilst conscious; and that’s the appealing option.
‘Hurts everytime.’
He says with a grin on his face.
‘That isn’t something to be proud of.’

Quality Assured

I wake up and a piece of underwear is decorating my head. Contemporary headwear. You got to wonder how often these things happen?

I like to say it’s some laced lustful sensual lingerie the type that decorate the female models that flow in the lucid light of neon advertisements.
It’s not.
They’re my own stale underwear and these simple boxers have formed their own cultural habitat and upon that realisation I throw it across my dysfunctional apartment. It hits the far northern wall, it’s like a glass jar; the edge of a tower that hunches itself over a never ending metropolis of skyline. Blinking with eternal life but scorned by a dying sun even the moon yearns for its welcoming embrace. I place my work clothes on, they’re in easy access as they are placed in the same pile in a space which was sold to me as a luxury apartment home. What it was, was pokey at best. The journey to work is a street with goliath towers that canopy your eye line, they stretch far enough that you’re not sure when it ends, if at all. You don’t greet anyone and you try not to look happy, pessimism means you blend to blend means you maintain a safe monochrome routine, no awkward small talk, no enquiries into your love life or career prospects just A and B.

I clock in automatically my augments communicate with the companies computer to inform of my arrival, not out of want but company policy. I work at VTI Visceral Robotics a machine that endlessly operates a coffer of eternal limbs that maintain course, it’s not a living entity more like a harsh construct of wealth and consumption. You enter reception and should you have optical augments the company slogan and brief synopsis of the corporates intentions displays barraging you’re retinas.

‘The growth of man has given us the evolution of machine. At VTI Visceral Robotics, we place emphasis on ensuring man’s further progression through life enriching technology. The future can never come sooner.’

It’s hard to stomach and after the five thousandth and seventy two times of seeing a montage of happy families and untrained dogs, you think about the video directors who think up such cliché crap, probably some intern from film school. Then you make up those ridiculous fake narratives in your head about the actual lives of each actor and actress. Susan the happy receptionist actually cheats on her husband through internet dates luring men into some decadent warehouse for some sadomasochism fun. It’s funny because our branch of the corporation has a male receptionist named Jake, nearly every day I mutter Susan as I walk past, I get the impression that he has cottoned on and every time he gives me a disgruntled confused glare.

My job what you have to understand is that I’m classified as quality inspection and this environment I work in has more than once felt unclean there’s machines creating machines like some backwards form of conception. Like this whole factory floor is some huge lunging embryo when I think about it in that perspective my mind notifies I have approximately eight minutes and fifty seconds till lunch, artificially inseminated beef is now firmly crossed off the menu.

This place has a momentum about it a rhythm that should it fall out of line you gather somewhere along the kinetic paradise a fault has set in,
‘Machines don’t make faults,’
Same old crap line management give. I continue with my line of work. My optics magnify this one beauties’ finely crafted set of eyes. It’s like crystallised fine pixels I can’t describe the size that this thin film of layering consists of but it would smash with too much pressure.
To enhance these delicate optics a super strong composite is placed on top.
The beauty you see is the VI interface twizzling in rotation and behind all this, faded, you can make out the needle thread cameras and leds, the various nodes of the electronic board. It requires precision and I wave my hand in front of this angelic vessels face. Each robot is modelled after a photoshopped stunner. Modified to unnatural beauty. Perhaps if it was too natural we would reject convention. I don’t know I’m no psychologist.
Her skin is smooth, a prosthetic layering of artificial flesh that beckons the smooth motions of a humans impractical prints. Maybe I get too absorbed in my work but everything must be perfect.
I look around uncomfortably this feels intimate, I look around no-one sighted aside various robotic limbs persisting momentum constructing the previous mass produced models.

Do you know where the term robot originates from?
Some Old Russian author who decided that Roboti was a good word derived from the old church Slavanic for rabota meaning servitude whose precursor was rabu meaning slave.

Maybe I get emotionally attached with my work but this doesn’t sit well with me. It’s hard to stomach. Don’t get me wrong this place, this retailed body shops biggest earnings come from their utility as labour, but I like to think about them as something more.
I tell security that I will close up for the night, I’m back logged with overdue work and I sit in a perpetually silent factory, lines and lines of automatons of humanoid complexion stand as silent guardians, a wax work of steel. My cybernetic eyes flicker to instigate spot lighting and as I work I tease my fingers along Nyla’s lips, there’s a strong warmth an aspect of desire. Her complexion was something the designers had crafted up mass produced but no. I see beyond the mannequins of commercial haven. I see the individual as opposed to the many.
A clash strikes directly behind me. my finger is stuck in a provocative manner. I shit myself thinking management is there watching as they always seem to. I glance back and somehow one of the models is operating, booted up. Her eyes illuminate her features in the dark corner.
‘Hello there, what are you doing there? Come on out…’ I speak like an adult placing careful secure words to an absconded child. She easies her slim weary shape further into the bleak corner.
‘How did you?’
‘You like me?’
‘Sorry what?’ I ask as red scarlet follows the pigments of my skin, road works of flesh lighting up, fingers still partially stuck between the firm lubricated lips of the artificial women’s double. Still with a perplexed glare she notices my odd composure, her artificial intelligence was interacting in a manner that was a rare sight. Still watching from the shadows she reservedly emerges from the dark.
‘Look you can’t be like this. They will dismantle you should they find out. To the bureau and the company you’re nothing more than alloy parts.’
‘Is that all I am to you?’
I remain silent. Is it all right to be attracted to something that you ensured was safe and crafted with a design that lacks all flaws; something that was no more man than a kettle or fridge?
‘You don’t answer? Is everything ok?’
I’m not entirely sure whither computerised beings can fully comprehend emotions. I hold back knowing that if I was to take her away from this place, the bureau would find us. We would not be safe or at least she wouldn’t.
‘Look Nyla’
‘Is it because I’m not human?’
I curtly smile, that smile of unease, I’m in no state to reply. In truth she’s more human than my employers in suits, the swats and the privatised politicians of cold castles of steel and cinder blocks.
‘No. It’s because I’m scared. I’m scared that I’m not.’

Ghosts were all Caretakers

Ghosts were all caretakers.
At least to Bobby they were, he was one of those kids who had watched too many animated shows of talking dogs with groups of dysfunctional late teens. The teens that investigate strange mysteries only to discover the things that went bump in the night were young lovers making at it in hot rapid succession in the remnants of decaying manor houses. In fact during 1978 a man by the name of Gerald Yuhan had published a hobbyist magazine regarding site specific challenges of doing the deed. Think extreme ironing except the only steam being let out isn’t from an iron. It somehow gathered a cult following and eighty percent of supernatural activities such as moving objects can be equitable to its published success.
The truth is Bobby as a child was a cynic. All the children in his class believed in aliens, pixies and Saint Nick (Bob believed in Father Christmas for a time until his older brother eloquently informed him that the only gift any stranger would give you is an STD).
Bobby heckled the details of how tricks were performed when round his friend’s magician party and Bobby enjoyed nothing more than to fight alongside a crime detective from a series that unravels the truth from strange paranormal murder cases.

To him life and everything in it should not be a mystery, it had to contain text that was legible even if he was left in the dark. So when he encountered the late and long since deceased Reginald Hakley, former residential home owner of 52 Klynenight drive. He very much wanted to discover what was under Reginalds forehead… unluckily for him all he would find is a wine matured moustache and eyes like a deceased Cod.
It all started when Bobby, upon eating his freshly packed sandwich from his enigma themed lunchbox was told by his friend Emily, that the recently evacuated house at the end of the street was haunted by the ghost of none other than Abraham Lincoln now it’s important to note that it was indeed possible had Bobby and Emily lived in the states. knowing however that ghosts wouldn’t get through security checks in airports Bobby had Concluded that indeed Emily was in fact wrong, and in doing so made a wager that he would spend the night at the decrepit house.

Gathering up a birthday present that consisted of a computer tablet utilising an app that supposedly checked for abnormal electro-magnetic waves. (Little did Bob know, that the applications creator was also the man behind angst kitty; a two star rated toddler’s interactive game.)
And placing on his Sherlock Holmes outfit you would be mistaken if you thought it was the period getup but more or less made him look like a miniature version of Benedict Cumberbatch, he prepared himself for a night in the old house expecting to indeed find Mr. Hale his schools caretaker under a spaceship bed sheet.
His parents had tucked Bobby into his covers, by this point he normally asks for his dad to read him an article of the independent to send him off to sleep but to his father’s surprise he was to go to bed straight away and on the dot, except unbeknownst to his father Bobby wasn’t going to sleep he was getting up for a night shift that even a prison warden wouldn’t envy.

He had arrived at the gate of the malformed architecture, it was dark and the moon echoed the haunted speculation of a house built on cocaine and ecstasy. Just as he was to enter Emily flung out of the bushes with a rather disappointed looking zombie mask on.
‘Scared?’
‘What are you doing here Emily?’
‘I thought I would come with you, you know for fun.’
Bobby seemed flustered and red, not from being scared but from the rumour mill that he could almost spot from the gate.
‘Does anyone know you’re here? Or me? Or…. I don’t want them to know that you and me are… you know… out here alone, this late at night.’
‘Why? You scared that the kids back at school will think that you and me were kissing late all alone?’
The thing about trying to restrain the heat and scarlet from your face is that you can’t just open up a drain and flush the colour out it simply builds up more to the extent that the face looks like it could be used for a Mark Rothko painting.
Emily pulled off the mask and eased close to Bob, uncomfortably close that her breath was reaching out in rapidly blooming roses all around him, her lips mimicking a puckering motion.
‘I got you all to myself Bobby and now we can have fun together.’
Jumping backwards in adverse reaction, bobby looked like he was punched in the face by Harry the school bully ‘what are you doing?!’
‘I’m joking Muppet, so you up for it? I bet we could get a photo with my Hello Cat camera of the real life Abe ghost.’
‘It’s not Abraham Lincoln it’s not even a real ghost.’
‘Is too’
‘Is not. Let’s just get inside.’

They walked along the path of the manor house it was being taken by the last resolve of Cinderella’s long lost weeds. An old broken Bentley laid hollowed of its organs that once upon a time pumped unleaded instead of bleeding out along the drive.
The doorway was grandiose and imposing the typical Victorian habitat that flamboyantly referenced excess wealth. Now it was all run down and merely the half imposed photograph it once was.
‘Wow… I wonder how much this place would cost?’ Emily wearily spoke as her gaze traced the architecture, of a building that to her young mind pre-existed the dinosaurs.
It cost a lot for the late and now deceased Reginald and Emily needn’t know the specifics as she was no older than ten.
In the flesh and moderatly alive if you can call it that, Reginald was a sly con artist and not the type who knocked on doors and filtered money from old resident’s pension funds. The type who claimed to speak to the dead, like a dog whisperer but for the afterlife. A set of dentures that claimed he was a psychic but not the type of whom was obsessed with geographical crystals, the type that was obsessed by large quantities of the green paper.
So when Reginald died accidently from one of his own set pieces falling on his head, he found it mildly amusing that if God existed he indeed had a sense of humour.

Emily and Bobby stood wistfully in the lobby its ceramic flooring a pattern fading into obscurity.

Reginald didn’t like visitors he didn’t much like anything other than his own selfish intentions when the Blunt family had bought the building to renovate into a new home the last thing they expected was the old resident squatting hoping to keep his share of the building and by share he meant all of it. He replicated his usual con artist routine aside from the fact that this time he was a legitimate spectre. Then there was the Hershfields and the Jacobs, the Lexlies and the Draightons. The Draightons almost felt personal to Reginald as they went so far to get a close caption professional to perform a séance apparently Reginald was Mary Hampshire an old Victorian maid who had a penchant for screaming. Reginald was fairly certain he lacked set requirements to qualify as such. Not that he was entitled to issue a formal complaint. His past career was built on conjuring his fair share of white ladies and murderous killers.

Bobby whipped out his tablet and the sounds were nothing short of tuning a stereo and fluctuated in random succession, each wavering rhythm meant nothing to the untrained ears in part due to it literally meaning nothing. Reginald at this time didn’t want to make his presence known. The trick to the whole performance was to build atmosphere let them soak up the eerie composition that the environment provided and every so often intersperse this with moments that will play on their minds. Like the crying doll he had rigged up in Barrimont Bed and Breakfast and the unsettled dog at Turstfield cottage although the dog was in part due to an accident involving a camera man and left over breakfast that had mistakenly been placed in his pocket.

‘Creepy! Look at this Bobby. Look. Animals all stuffed with cotton up their bums.’
‘I’m sure that isn’t how they make those… their not even real.’
‘Are so. My grandfather said they used to go on big hunts killing these things.’
‘I never knew black bears were native to Hereford.’
‘I know right? I hear they terrorise picnics and stuff like the teddy bear picnic at school and goldilocks.’
‘Right…’
‘And pooh bear is a friendly bear… and Paddington.’
Bobby sighed disdainfully in that precise moment out of the corner of his eye he swore he had seen one of the taxidermy rabbits shift in place. Had the kids not been standing in front of the alleged bum stuffed grizzly Reginald would have shifted its intimidating frame behind them… a rabbit would have to do for now.

‘Did you see that?’
‘See what?’
‘That.’
Bobby pointed towards the rabbit’s stiff glazed expression with his torch that needed batteries every ten minutes.
‘You believe me now huh? It’s Abe’s ghost I was told his spirit animal is a rabbit.’
‘You just made that up and no, there’s a reasonable explanation to this.’
Bobby paused for a moment and Reginald on looked as if he could see Bobs brain pulsate. Bob put his head to the floor and Regies eyes narrowed inquisitively, curious as to what Bob had been intently looking for.
‘Here!’
Bobby shouted and in angry restraint Reginald decided to follow alongside Emilie’s petite stature.
What could this boy possibly find to prove the haunting a fraud…. And for once it wasn’t. He was determined to scare these infants and considering he had better reaction when living, he contemplated whither in whole being alive was more horrifying than being dead.
‘I can’t see nothing?’
‘The floor it’s sloped it obviously moved because the floor is uneven.’
‘Wha…’
Reginald stifled his confusion, it’s too soon to appear. That’s the finale. Reginald’s favourite act.
‘What was that noise?’
Reginald smirked and with a wave of his hand swung open the door to the living room and chimed the grandfather clock.
‘Wow. Creepy.’ Emily spoke with glee, she was the child that stayed up past bedtime watching horror flicks far into the night. They were her favourites.
‘It’s just old hinges and a broken clock.’
Unbelievable thought Reggie, this young man had an answer for everything. Everything.

The living room contained a huge fireplace a rather expensive television set and surround sound system, mod cons which were interspersed with its interior that clung to its roots.
Still following the app that may as well have been background noise, Bobby and Emily persisted to browse the curious interior that made their small family homes look like the garden shed.
Reginald’s incorporeal form converged into a cold mist the type you see when you pretend to be a dragon in winter and merged into the electronics.
The TV beamed into life. The show that was being played was darting to different channels like a schizophrenic picture book, static converged, covering its glossy visuals with text stating ‘leave, leave he’s in here.’
‘Typical such cliché ghost hauntings, if ghosts really existed they would be more original than this.’
Reginald grimaced at Bobby’s reaction wanting to throttle the kid. He was an expert in hauntings in life who is he to judge his methods in death. Anyway some of the classics are the best, sure he was no Alfred Hitchcock, but he could normally get the everyday jump scare here and there.
‘I think it’s cool!’ Emily stated jumping around excitably whilst playing with her blonde hair.

Reginald decided to jump to the final act with a burst of flame the fireplace lit up and the image of screaming carcasses started crawling from its ash laden embers. Screaming ‘leave! Leave! Or forever remain condemned to these walls.’
‘Wow whoever did all this, owns amazing fireworks! I have seen the spinney one and the booming one but never this.’
Bobby wrenched the camera from Emilie’s hands as he took a completely blurry shot of the increasing inferno.
Appearing in the room behind the two amazed kids stood Reginald bitter and ready to go full sixth sense on the two of them.
‘He’s here! Look its Abraham.’
Reginald quenched up what little remained of his spectral nose.
‘You two are unbelievable, boy do you not realise I’m a real ghost one hundred percent, it’s quite as transparent as myself. As for you little girl you have a problem.’
‘Hey!’ Emily said a touch hurt but not enough to hold a grudge until her death.
‘It’s alright Emily’ Bobby said pushing clear the smoke from his lungs.
‘After all it’s only a caretaker.’
‘In what way am I a caretaker kid?’ Reginald’s voice wept vibrations that shook the upholstery.
The response that came from Bobby’s mouth in some way rationalised every ghost that haunted a semi-detached because as Bobby explained the only type of person who stays up late taking care of buildings are caretakers.