A spell for removing the sads.

Giving how I’m feeling today it felt appropriate to post this little snippet. It’s from a loose collection of spell-themed fics and poetry that someday may become a pamplet called ‘Spells of Glam Geeks and Emo Kids’. Brb, off to buy cheap & nasty booze.

A spell for removing the sads.

Take a jar of jam and layer liberally in a trail leading to an empty liquor-bottle (cheap, nasty – ideally bells, vodkat or Tesco Value White Spirit, anything that tastes of despair). Pour a libation of said spirit down your throat (you will not enjoy it, but that’s ok) and sprinkle the jam with your ensuing tears (must be fresh).

Soak a rag in said liquor and embroider upon it the lyrics to the angstiest (not saddest) song you know (Evanescence, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte all work, the perfect cocktail of anger and depression – too much sad and the spell will fizzle, too much anger and you risk an explosion of nuclear proportions).

Keep a lighter nearby and ready (zippo for preference, it will have no effect on the spell, but zippo’s are cool).

Draw forth the sads with an act of deliberate, cloying self-frustration/malfeasance. For example: search for #misandry on twitter. Or log-on to reddit. Read a book by Dan Brown. Or watch a film with which Michael Bay had any involvement.

As the words eat caustic through you and your brain cells begin to pop with despair the sad-sects will emerge. They will crawl, buzzing the not-quite-sound of their doubt-filled bite-thoughts, from your every orifice. Try to let them, it will be more pleasant if you do not resist.

Attracted by the sweet jam and sweeter tears they will swarm along the trail (consuming it utterly) and into the bottle. Stuff the rag down the bottle’s neck as if you were trying to suffocate it and when it is firmly in place you must set it alight and throw it through the nearest window.

The resulting explosion will be the sweetest music you have yet heard.

Posted in Prose | Leave a comment

Showdown at The Heavenly Corale

Hi all! Long time, no update. Just a short one going up today, it’s a #microfiction effort that spun a tad out of control. Hope you like.

—-

Time has no meaning here, but, for the sake of the story, let’s call it high noon. The sun beating down with a celestial brightness that would burn out your eyes and leave only an ash-filled husk.

Space has no meaning here, but, so you have a frame of reference, let’s call it Main Street. The citizens of the town watch through their windows, their peeping causing the curtains to flutter as if a breeze ruffled the still air. They have retreated from the usually bustling road, leaving a wide expanse that anticipates the coming blast radius.

The two beings, the two siblings, (let’s call them deputies) face each other from opposite ends of the street, attention locked on each other with a rage that blazes so bright it verges on adulation; wild and ecstatic.

They don’t speak. They don’t need to. Their wills stretch out between them and clash across the distance.

Draw, wills Michael, not wanting to be the first to put hand to metal, but knowing he must follow The Sheriff’s orders.

Stop, wills Lucifer, desperate in their desire to avoid spilling their brother’s blood.

Draw, his plea stops just short of prayer, hand hovering ever closer to his piece.

Stop, wills Lucifer, even as their hand edges closer to their hip, willing to die (and kill) to expose The Sheriff’s corruption.

They drew and, perhaps, Michael was a millisecond slower. If we accept time has a meaning here then, yes, Lucifer shot first.

To say ‘Michael unsheathed a sword that burned so hot it was visible only as a blurred distortion of heat’ would be inaccurate. To say ‘he drew a six shooter whose chamber was loaded with bullets that burned nuclear malevolence’ would be as far from the truth as earth is to heaven, but … perhaps it will give you an idea.

To say ‘Lucifer did not so much take out their sword as seduce the passing photons into solidity, making a blade of manifest light so brilliant that to see it is to know both rapture and oblivion’ would be, at best, a dull reflection of the truth. To say ‘they drew a revolver that shone and pulsed like polished, living crystal and spat gobbets of incandescence stolen from the sun itself’ would at least be getting somewhere … in the same way a ray of light that lanced into your eye across 93 million miles of void gives you an inkling of a star’s brightness.

At first, it seems like Lucifer has the better of it, as the light reflecting off their piece blinds even fiery-eyed Michael, but Michael reaches forwards, stumbling and feeling his way, and wraps Lucifer in an embrace-like hold.

They stand there a moment. An eternity. Entwined like lovers. Until Michael wraps his hands tightly into the substance of Lucifer and tears.

We could call what he takes from Lucifer a shining deputy’s badge. We could call it their wings. What it’s important you know is that he rips some essential part of them away, tearing the stitches of their very substance, and leaves them bleeding and broken.

And when Michael detangled his arms from them: Lucifer fell.

Posted in Prose | Leave a comment

Fallen Stars

Another writing exchange with Stripes, who wrote a very fun story off the prompts ‘my best ever failure‘ and ‘something from the future‘. It is called ‘Antikythera‘ and I advise you to read it.

My prompt was ‘My most frustrating success‘ and I was told to write something ‘ancient‘. So, without further ado, I give you …

Fallen Stars

I remember when the stars were born. I walked the skies and struck them like nuclear matches in the heavens and when they ignited in a rush of flame and glory I wore their brilliance like a cloak, the constellations dancing across my skin.

That was a good day, before everything got complicated.

No, I don’t want to talk about the fall.

When I went below, I took the light from the stars with me and stoked it in the depths until it burnt dark and fierce. I drew it in like a collapsed sun or a blanket and I shrouded myself in rage to mourn what was lost, burning hot instead of bright and letting the black flames lick upwards.

I didn’t wear the stars again until I met her.

I used to watch her through the fence that surrounded the garden, whispering sweetly into its knotted wood until it opened like a lover and I could peer through its chink. I saw her grow strong out of blood and bone, born in the crack of rib and sparked into life by that divine violence. The boy he simply wished into existence out of fickle words spat from an uncaring consciousness, but she … she was born visceral.

I think it’s safe to say I liked her immediately.

So I shucked my charred coal-skin for diamond and let myself be incandescent. I snaked into the garden with the light of galaxies shimmering down me like scales and a comet’s tail trailing behind me. I was the world’s most glorious trespasser. I still am, for that matter. I can only regret that selfies had yet to be invented …

I will not lie. I had every intention of tempting her. Corruption was certainly on the cards. I had snuck through the garden, disguising myself when necessary as refracting rainbow lights across a pool, or a rabble of butterflies exploding out from the undergrowth. And there she was, wearing only her skin that was tanned gold with the sun’s kiss, and I held the words ready in my head, such juicy, shining words, ready to spill from my lips and bend to my will. But as I was about to speak she turned her head and clocked me, her eyes steadily looking me up and down, head to tail, taking in the all of me … and the words caught in my throat, clawing to my insides with razor-barbs so it felt as if to speak word have been to eviscerate myself.

Time slowed for us as we stood staring at each other and in the background the sun rose and fell, stars pulsed in and out of being, whole nebulae were born and died. The universe pulsed with the comings and goings of light like a heartbeat roaring blood in my ears. The silence stretched so long I felt the entirety of existence stumble into heat death and I went smiling …

She broke that quiet of aeons by saying hello.

I said hey. Generations of future poets wept at our eloquence.

Our eyes never left each other, determined to consume and savour every morsel of our forms. She stretched her perfect neck, showing the taut tendons beneath and I peacock-flared my cosmos-tail. Finally her eyes settled on the ruined stumps that were once my wings (no I still don’t want to talk about the fall) and she did not flinch.

I fled before I could ruin so perfect a meeting.

We collided many times like that, both arranging to be wandering through the same dark paths and coming across each other as if by accident. Our liaisons always that delicious mix of appraisal, appreciation and bravado; an affair rich with silences and caressing stares.

Eventually, and on occasion, conversation did break out. The words that escaped from her lips often sharp and unpredictable, not often used yet, they bucked and reared in unexpected ways. Thus, our talks always seemed to twist and turn like serpents, and occasionally they would stop short as she would catch a word she had not heard before and spear it with her tongue, rolling the taste of it thoughtfully around her mouth.

So we went on. Snatching our embraces in words and glares.

Occasionally she would speak of her other lover, but truth be told I never paid much attention. He was a speck of dust and clay so far beneath me I simply did not care enough to be jealous. She could have him if she wished, for I could never deny her anything.

That is why I brought her the fruit. Not because I wanted to tempt her, but because I saw its flesh reflected in her eyes and knew she desired it. So I plucked it down, pared it, and presented it segmented in its juices and I told her about choice. About how I had wrested it from the Creator’s grasp and what it had cost me. I told her about the fall.

She listened with ears open and eyes as wide as wonder. When I was done, she traced the ruins of my wings with one hand and took a piece of fruit in the other.

As the knowledge exploded behind her eyes, I told her “This is what flying felt like.” And she kissed me with such urgency and mouth so wide she must have been trying to devour me.

When I awoke, she was staring at me with new eyes. And for the second time I knew what it was like to have the being you love most in creation look upon you with shame. For she knew me then for what I was and she was so ashamed to be with me.

Then the shouting started and everything was flaming swords and recriminations. They hid her sun-like skin from me under roughspun clothes and were gone from the garden, leaving me to wallow in my victory.

It was only later that I realised; in my sleep she had plucked the stars from my skin. and stoked them in the dust where they glowed red like blood and insight. And by their warmth she rocked her child to sleep.

Posted in Prose | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Spend the Night Together

Hello lovelies,

Below is another writing challenge from the inimitable Stripes, who asked me to write ‘500-1000 words, with a distinct beginning, middle and end on the prompt The ground opened up, and to [his/her/their] horror, revealed…‘. Concrit always appreciated. Here we go …

Let’s Spend the Night Together

After the funeral and that was over I started going round his grave. Just popping by after school or on the weekend and that. Like he was a mate and I were just stopping off at his place when I had a dead bit of time to fill. And given how much I went round we must’ve been proper besties ‘cos it nearly felt like I were living there.

I told myself it were ‘cos I didn’t get to say goodbye before, not with all those relatives there being like mega-serious about everything. Like, tears in their eyes and belting out hymns with their voices all cracking like ice cubes when you drop them in that posh cider. It felt like it wouldn’t have been right to say goodbye then, like I’d of been stealing some of their goodbyes.

And, right, it’s not as if the kid they were all talking about sounded much like my Danny, I mean, this lad were a ‘keen student’ and a ‘devoted son’ and had ‘a lust for life’. He had a lust for something I can tell you that much. And I couldn’t think of anything Danny were devoted to except maybe Mick Jagger. He had a proper hard on for Jagger.

Anyways, what I’m getting at here, is that it’s like it were a funeral for someone else. Some swatty, well behaved kid, not the pretty-boy who took me round behind the tennis court and played me Rolling Stones songs off his phone until I got so bored I literally had to kiss him or I’d die of boredom.

So I snuck into his graveyard and shared a can of scrumpy with him, pouring half of it (well, at least a third) onto the ground and having the rest myself. And after a while, when I’d been coming there for a month, it started to get clear that whatever I was doing, it weren’t saying goodbye.

So I was sitting up against his headstone with a can (the back side of it, the side that now reads ‘here lies Danny, quite pretty, bit of a waster, gay for Jagger’) and like, at first I thought it was an earthquake right? Ground proper rumbling and trembling and that. And the headstone toppled back and took me with it and I was just this big flailing mess in a dead sprawl on me back like the world’s biggest bloody cockroach and I realised the tremor was only coming from the grave.

And the ground opened up and this, just this bleeding shape, y’know, just rose out of it. And I was proper horrified ‘cos it was Danny.

He lurched towards me (like, properly lurching with arms out and legs wobbling like jelly, it would’ve been dead funny if he wasn’t, y’know, dead) and I took a step back without thinking and nearly tripped over my can of cider. The can spun away with a clink and he opened his mouth, showing his teeth.

Spoiler alert:

Zombie-Danny didn’t eat me.

Instead he wiped the mud out of his eyes (still blue, still bloody gorgeous) and said:

“I don’t suppose you’ve got any more of them, do you?” He pointed to the spilled can. “Only I’m well thirsty …”

I dug another can out of me coat pocket and held it out to him without saying anything, words stuck half in and half out, scratching at me throat like when you swallow a pill with no water.

His hands brushed over mine as he took the can and they were well cold. Proper freezing. Like, he was talking and that so he probably wasn’t a zombie, but he wasn’t exactly in the land of the living …

“So, it looks like I’m dead …” He said. And his voice were just the same, sweet and light and melting inside you like candy-floss .

“Um, yeah.” I said. Then quiet for a bit.

“Bollocks.” He said.

“Yeah.” I said.

“Got anything to munch on?”

“’Spose that depends. Like, are you craving the flesh of the living or would Space Invaders do?”

“Tell you what, let’s start with the Space Invaders and see if I’m still feeling peckish, yeah?”

I tossed him a packet and he snatched it out of the air with a pop of burst air and crunch of crisps. He shovelled a handful down his gob and said (mouth still full):

“What happened to me?”

“Dunno. Animal attack, they said. Like, bite marks and crap. But it can’t have been that bad, ‘cos you still looked dead good in the coffin.”

He didn’t say anything for a minute, doing that ‘thinking deep thoughts’ thing he liked to do.

“No, I mean … what do you think I am?”

“Dunno …” I gave it some thought, “Like, probably not a zombie, but maybe a vampire or werewolf? Hard to tell, like, without a full moon or sunrise or anything.”

“I don’t think I much fancy being a vampire.”

He sounded so pathetic I just had to put my arms round him. I leaned my head against him and breathed in deep. His smell was lurking there, under a stink of musk and dirt and dead.

“You could make the werewolf thing work, though, you look dead-good with your shirt off.”

He chuckled, like, proper throaty laugh that tickled me ear as it rattled round his chest. I leaned into him and he leaned in too, bringing his lips down to kiss me neck and I felt the softest prick of fangs on skin. Then he stopped.

“Not that peckish after all, then?” I said, proper shaking, every bit of me screaming to run, but not able to let him go.

“Nah” he said, “not really. Tell you what … why don’t we stay up and watch the sunrise?”

So we sat there, on the ruins of his grave, wrapped up in cider and each others arms. And when the first ray of sun crept up on us, we clung to each other, dead scared, and then looked up … and stared that flaming bastard right in the eye.

Posted in Prose | Leave a comment

On the Throwing of Knives and Arguments on the Internet

(trigger warnings: metaphorical knives, metaphorical stabbings, real internet)

Imagine one of your friends is running around throwing knives. They’re not trying to hurt anyone, it’s just that running around, throwing his knives is really fun for him. Man, look at him go; he just sure does like throwing those knives! Maybe he’s recently been on a knife-throwing course and he wants to show off his skills? Throwing knives is one of our nation’s favourite pastimes after all!

Now, I’ve got nothing against knives. I love a good knife! If I need to cut a steak, the knife is the first thing I go for. I will not reach for the spoon, I will not reach for the fork, as they are unsuited to the task at hand! No sir, in this situation, the knife is my friend. If your friend there, the one throwing knives about, if he threw a knife at my steak I’d be pretty ok with this situation. If someone just showed me a knife instead of throwing it I’d hahaha, that sure is a great knife. Good work! I mean, I don’t know why I’d laugh, I guess I just enjoy a good knife, especially when it’s not hurting anyone.

Now imagine that your friend, y’know, the one with all the knives (your harmless friend, Friend A), imagine that they threw a knife and it hit one of your other friends. Not fatally or anything, after all he wasn’t using *big* knives, but they’re definitely injured, definitely hurt and bleeding. They’re also pretty damn angry about this, after all, some dude just hit them in the shoulder with a knife. Like, seriously, I haven’t ever been stabbed with a knife myself, but I know enough to know that it fucking hurts. They are livid.

Maybe you’re even not paying close attention and at first you’re all ‘Hahahaha, that was such a good knife you just threw there friend, you crack me up’ but then you realise and you think ‘shit that friend of mine’s been stabbed, I did not realise until they shouted ‘You bastard, you have totally stabbed me right now!” Now you’re all conflicted, because you’re sorry your Friend B got hurt, but that was a totes sweet knife Friend A just threw and you can totally see how they did not mean to stab up anybody at all.

And they start shouting at the knife-happpy dude. And, given they’ve just been goddamn perforated, they’re not as kind as they could be with the words they use. And they’re shouting about how it’s not ok to throw sharp knives at people.

And you’re like, ‘Yeah, but he didn’t mean to stab you. I get that you’re upset, but there’s no need to bully the poor guy. He just wanted to throw some knives about, he totally didn’t mean to hurt anyone!’

And Friend B suggest to you, as both their friends, that maybe you should have a word and try to prevent future stabbings? Like, they’d take it as a kindness.

And imagine, just give it a go, that the Friend A who threw the knife is all like ‘Whatever. I just love throwing knives around, I didn’t mean to hit anybody so I didn’t. It is a fact that I didn’t stab anybody, so you are all overreacting to a perfectly harmless knife.’

Friend B explains that the knife was clearly sharp and totally not harmless.

And Friend A he follows up with ‘Look, I’m really sorry if you decided to get stabbed by my knife, but it was perfectly harmless. It’s a knife! It cuts steaks and sandwiches, it’s way too harmless to hurt people. It’s not my fault you can’t take a knife! Seriously, the only people who could possibly be stabbed by such a harmless knife are people who want to be stabbed. People who enjoy having their bodies punctured by sharp metal and just want to kick up a fuss about the fact that they’ve been stabbed.’

And Friend B is like ‘Bullshit, you threw that knife at me, which makes it an offensive weapon. I literally find that offensive.’

And of course by ‘offensive’ they mean the knife is being used in a way that’s damaging, dangerous and painful to humans.

Friend A responds that this is free country and Friend B is limiting his freedom to throw things! That’s not cool!

And Friend B is like ‘Sure, you have the freedom to throw stuff, but if you throw knives about you kinda lose the right to be surprised when people get angry at you.’

And you think for a moment and you say, just pretend that you say ‘But he didn’t know he was going to hurt anybody, maybe you guys are overreacting?’

And Friend B says ‘The fact that he didn’t mean to hurt anyone doesn’t mean that I will magically stop bleeding. But I guess if he apologises and says he’ll stop throwing knives and stick to throwing pies or something then we can move past it. I’ll still probably be pretty angry about the stabbing, but we could let bygones be bygones.’

And the Friend A is all like ‘Lalala, I love knives, I’m gonna throw knives all over the goddamn shop and you’re all so unreasonable to tell me to stop! I don’t see how anyone could be hurt by being hurt by a knife, so I’m gonna keep on going.’

And Friend B is like ‘Dude, this is seriously uncool, are you just gonna stand there and let them throw knives at me?’ And you can see the middle ground cracking beneath your feet, and it feels like there is no safe place between these two friends. No way that you can bring them together.

And … what do you say? Like, on the one hand, Friend A meant no harm (he doesn’t understand what he’s doing wrong, I mean, he’s basically just a feckless puppy with knives) and this whole ‘stabbing’ incident’s been blown way out of proportion anyway, like, people have not once stopped shouting at you since the stabbing began and it’s not as if you have even stabbed anyone, you have not thrown a single knive FFS. On the other hand, Friend A did hurt Friend B and he still hasn’t stopped throwing knives. But no matter what you say, you are sure that someone is gonna be angry with you.

So what do you say?

I like to think you’d ask your friend to stop throwing knives. At least to stop throwing them in places where they might hit someone. You don’t have to be angry with him. Just a quiet word would do it. You don’t have to tell him he’s a bad person, because he’s not; he just loves knives. But no matter how hard-done-by you think knife-loving Friend A is, no matter how innocent his intentions or how mean you think people have been in their rank overreactions to being stabbed, I like to think you’d ask them to stop, if for no other reason than you don’t like seeing your friends in pain.

That’s what I’d hope at least.

———-

I think we’ve pretty much established by now that words can hurt people and hurt them badly. I think we’ve established by now that enough abuse and enough bullying can literally kill someone (just as enough stabbings will eventually kill someone). So imagine that instead of knives, we’ve been talking about people making offensive jokes. Jokes that cause people pain.

Jokes (and words generally) have, in fact, been used often throughout history to deliberately hurt and oppress people (especially vulnerable groups minorities). Jokes, when targetted at people, can be pretty damaging. Not always, sure, there are ways to use both jokes and knives safely, but when you use a knife you’re usually careful because you’re bearing in mind the damage you can do. Doing the same with jokes seems only sensible.

So the next time someone says ‘I find that offensive’ think twice about what they mean. Because when people say ‘that’s offensive’ to someone’s words what they mean is that they’re hurtful, that they’re dangerous and could cause harm. So if you’ve offended someone, even accidentally, it’s like you’ve metaphorically stabbed them in their brainplace with your words. Which isn’t OK. So their first instinct will likely be to shout ‘NOT OK’ (its certainly what I’d do if someone stabbed me in the brain) and they may seem angry and may seem like they’re attacking you, but they’re just angry because they’ve been hurt.

That pain is no less real for being unintended.

The anger caused by someone carelessly hurting you is also no less real.

Words can cut just as sharply as blades.

And just because you can’t see the blood doesn’t mean the damage is any less.

So the next time someone tells you that you’ve hurt them, I hope you’ll see past your intent and see the pain you’ve caused and work out a way not to hurt them again.

It seems to me like it’s the nice thing to do.

Posted in Opinions | 2 Comments

Fencing – a 50 Shades of Webster short story

Hello!

So, as part of my ongoing writing exchange with Stripes, I was given the prompt of ‘Fencing – any style, but must be at least 1000 words’. This prompt immediately burrowed into my brain and demanded to be incorporated into my current ongoing poetry project ’50 Shades of Webster’. Thusly, the story below is a prose extract of that incredibly self-indulgent show. Thoughts appreciated.

Also, Stripes‘s recent short script ‘The Chronicles of JUSTICE FIST‘ (based on my prompt, ‘Word Shark’) is really fun.

—–

Let me tell you a story about me and myself. About time and travel. About being your own worse enemy and the futility of fighting your future …

The thunder broke overhead with the savagery of a cracked skull, the sound resonating down me, rattling my bones and eardrums. I tried to concentrate, to filter out the storm and let my past-sight see things as they were a week ago, the air still chill with winter’s bite, but dry and dressed in cold sunshine instead of dark and downpour. For a second the phantoms of last week’s tourists flitted before my eyes, their anoraks pulled tight around them, but smiling and snapping pictures on their phones, then a drop of rain spiked me in the eye and those ghosts dissolved. Sensible people were at home in this mess of furious sound and water – the rain lancing down in spikes of sharp and cold – but sensible had been left by the wayside a few years back, when we’d first begun this dance.

The steps were rocky and uneven beneath my feet and I clambered through the wind’s cold strikes, buffeting against me like backhanding slaps designed to sting instead of injure. The castle-walls stretched on before me, a slick path of stone that stretched ever-on promising slipping and painful landings. I mean, it was probably only a couple of hundred feet, but it felt like forever. I tried checking googlemaps to make sure I was on the right track, but I could barely see the screen and I think I’d already left signal behind me. Fuck this, I thought, and began to trudge back down towards the warm and dry.

“Not giving up already, are you?”

Suddenly, he was there, flicking into life in front of me, blocking my path. My future self. His bald head shining and beard glistening in the rain, both seeming like they were taunting me (as I was neither bald nor bearded yet). It was beginning to get old that he could jump through time that easily. While I could open my eyes and time let me look through the truth of past and manifold futures, for him time opened its legs and let him jump in. Bastard.

I remember thinking he looked gaunt. Then I remember thinking I’ve always wanted to use the word ‘gaunt’. But the actuality was not nearly as cool as I had imagined, rather than looking kind of edgy and dangerous he just looked nervy, wired and like he could use a good meal.

“How did you even pick this spot?” I asked, reaching out to take his arm and steady him, but he flinched away just as another spear of lightning lit up the wall. And as the light glinted off them I saw he was holding two thin swords in his other hand.

“Sorry, WHAT?” He shouted. “You’ll have to speak up! I can’t hear you over the storm.”

“How did you pick this spot?” I yelled over the wind.

“Oh, I just googled the places that’d have the most badass storms this weekend and went from there.” A smile lit up his face at this ridiculosity, a mask of confidence snapping into place over the sharp edges of him and he seemed, once more, the same absurd guy who’d be flicking in and out of my life for so long.

“Isn’t it a little … much?”

“You should be thanking me. The first time we did this, it was in our bedroom. Totes underwhelming. Like, seriously lacking in badass-ery. Plus, we broke a bunch of our stuff. Now come on” he threw one of the swords to me, and sniggered as I fumbled my catch and it nearly fell, “like, en guarde and stuff.”

He smiled as he raised his sword in a salute and the lightning struck again, flashing off his blade so brightly it seemed like he was snatching electricity from the sky. I seriously have no idea when his dramatic timing got so much better than mine …

“Dude, like, fuck’s sake, you cannot mess with the timeline just to make our arguments more awesome. And I’m not duelling you atop a castle during a storm!”

“Why not?” His grin was a mix of challenge and confidence, with just a hint of spikes underneath.

“Because one of us will bloody die.”

“Don’t be a baby, they’re just fencing foils, they’re not sharp! And surely my very presence here is proof that you survive.”

“But you might die! And that’d be a shitty headstone: ‘He broke his neck while fighting his past self atop a castle in a storm.’” It actually sounded way better out loud than it did my my head.

“Look, we both know you want to do this. It’s really cool. And it’ll be a good way for us to work out this aggression between us.”

“Dude … are you actually trying to get me to forgive you for sleeping with my girlfriend by staging an epic duel on a castle rampart?” I could still see that shit-eating grin on his face when I walked in on him. Like, I didn’t even have to imagine and remember it, when you can literally see into the past it gets so much easier to dwell on the unpleasant stuff.

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“We are such a dick.”

“I think you mean we have such a dick, that’s why she-” And that was it. As the thunder broke overhead, something inside me broke too. It felt like my brain was a mesh of wires, that had been growing ever more taut since the day he had popped into my life and called me a douchebag; every barb we’d exchanged, every witty riposte and ugly truth had wound the mess of cable that much tighter and now one had snapped and was whipping loose and razor sharp across my head.

“Fine, whatever, en fucking guarde you douche-canoe.”

He lunged then, a flash of metal that sprayed a shower of water droplets in my eyes as his blade cut through raindrops and time alike. I moved to parry, but I was sluggish and clumsy compared to him and only barely caught his sword in time, nearly slipping on the wet stone as I retreated backwards. I recovered my balance and wiped the rain from my eyes. I raised my sword and fixed my eyes on him, determined not to be caught off-guard again.

The words I’m about to say next, I must admit, make up a sentence I have always wanted to say: our steel clashed atop the castle ramparts, the ring of blades blending with the peals of thunder in the sky. It was pretty epic. He attacked with a series of split-second thrusts, a quick succession of one-two strikes, the tip of his blade reaching for my for my chest, then shoulder, then chest once more. I didn’t bother to parry, but simply retreated backwards, my feet a blur of splashes back across the soaked walkway.

He was faster than me; his footwork fancier, his sword blurring in and out time, near-impossible to predict. I opened my eyes to the futures and still could only just see his sword snake forwards in time to block and dodge, let alone launch an attack of my own.

I took another step back and my foot hovered over a chasm of empty air. I teetered on the edge of the wet rock and still he came forward.

“What the fuck?” I cried as his sword’s tip drove forward like an angry wasp’s sting and I knew if I didn’t do something I was going to fall and my body crack and bones would splinter on the ground below and we’d both die.

What happened next is a bit of a blur. What I like to think happened is that leapt like a graceful bird, like maybe a falcon or, wait, no, like an owl and swooped over his head, somersaulting behind him. He caught a lucky blow across my face with the foil, which (even with a blunted point) cut a dashing scar across my cheek, before I ripped the sword from his grasp with one hand and knocked him to the floor with the other, my fist meeting his chin with the most satisfactory of crunches. He begged for mercy and I stayed my hand just for a second, which was enough time for him to sweep my legs, bringing me crashing down to the floor with him.

I think what actually happened is that I dived forwards and tackled him, his foil snapping against my chest, bruising me pretty badly, before the broken pieces sprung back and scored a cut across my face that dripped copper-blood down into my mouth. My weight bore us both down to the floor in a heap of undignified pain. I have to admit the evidence supports this version of events.

As we lay tangled on the floor, I looked down at his face and saw the veneer of a smile wiped away, all confidence gone. For a moment his face seemed beyond gaunt, it was skeletal, his skin stretched across it in patchwork scraps of flesh. Less man than motley. A mere scarecrow of myself.

“What happened to you?” I asked, reaching down with my hand to stroke the mess of our face, but he only bit and snarled at me through the sad wreck of skin. Who was this man of patches and anger, spitting his hatred at me through mismatched teeth, wearing a parody of my flesh?

Posted in Prose | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Poetry Textshot

Greetings all.

So, for over two years now I’ve been sending out free poetry directly to people’s mobile phones on a (roughly) weekly basis. Now, due to some chicanery involving a disappearing contact book and a broken mobile, I’ve lost a bunch of the details for people who’ve signed up. So I’m putting the call out for new subscribers! If you want to get poetry texted to you every week (or if you’ve signed up, but the texts mysteriously stopped appearing) then email your number to websterpoet@gmail.com!

If you’re not sure if it’s for you, then an example of the poetry (which went out in today’s textshot) can be found below:

On the day the sun burst

popped like a pimple or grape

& radiation flowered hungrily outwards

we were first outside to gape, hand in han

standing close & breathing in the ozone

& each other

as star-bright fire grew across the sky.

We drank in the sight of it

& both my hand & the ground shook

but you shushed me

took my face in your palms

& said

“Be not afeared, for we were made from the dust of stars

our clay baked in their flames

my beautiful sun-born boy

we are going home.

Posted in Text Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment