Fiction Fragment: Wake-up Call

The dreaded novel is back in production – the following is a sneaky blick-breaker/first draft that has already been combined with something else to be a bit different in the typed up main draft. Confused? Just roll with it.

I woke from a dream of confusion and pursuit into a tangle of bedsheets and the hollowed eyes of a dead girl. I wish I could say it was the most horrifying thing I’d experienced this week. With everything that was going on my nerves were not as calm and sanguine as I might have hoped.

My scream was embarrassingly shrill. Autumn flinched back and disappeared just as Kay barrelled into the room. She glared at the spot our guest had just been standing in, as if daring her to reappear.

“I’m okay; just startled, that’s all.”

“Keep away!” Kay hissed to the empty air. I couldn’t help chuckling, which earned me a glare of my own.

“I think she was just curious Kay. I wasn’t having the most restful sleep; you know how I thrash about.” Kay pulled a face but came over for a kiss anyway.

” Well it’s time you were up anyway. Everyone’s here and coffee’s brewing. Better put some clothes on so you don’t frighten anyone else before breakfast.” She rubbed noses with me in lieu of another kiss, and straightened back up. 

I could hear sounds from the other room now I was more alert, but I was still glad of the warning. The prospect of walking into a room full of relative strangers in only my skivvies and no warning was enough to start my stomach churning.

There you have it – my dirty little secret: I’m not a morning person, and especially not in company. I’d rather square off against the flayer of pixies than face people before I’m dressed and caffeinated.

Ten minutes later, I felt up to rejoining the human race. Well, a number of its representatives in the next room anyway. Kay had grabbed some of my bulkier and more shapeless clothing from the wardrobe and left them out, so I pulled them on and tugged everything back more or less where it was supposed to be. Then I inspected myself in the mirror.

I looked pale. The bags under my eyes had seen better days and had obviously called for reinforcements. I ruffled my own hair a bit to try and tease some form and shape to it, but resigned myself to it being beyond help for now. I just hoped everyone else was having a bad hair morning too.

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Celebration Time

Even in the middle of crapness, people keep insisting on having parties and celebrations of significant life events. It’s almost as if the universe doesn’t give two figs and insists on proceeding on its way. How depressing must that be for people trying to ruin things for everyone else…

So, two nice things in my microcosm today: Lady M and I were able to go out to the local Harris+Hoole so that she could have her old favourite breakfast: eggs benedict. Her diet while healing her ulcer has prevented her from having most of the ingredients of the dish, so the look of joy at the prospect lit the room.

Secondly, it was a friend’s 40th birthday today, so I went to fly the flag and we had a lovely barbecue under bright cloudless skies. I met some great new people, and reconnected with old friends, and basically had an afternoon of chatter and nonsense. Great fun.

Just thought, after an extended period of grimness, that celebrating fun was a good thing.

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Things In Common

I think one of the more difficult things to deal with sometimes, especially in this age of social media, is seeing evidence that life continues. Being poly has brought me amazing highs and lows and everything in between. It’s taught me things about myself, and introduced me to amazing people; it’s also reinforced that people are people, and we’re all as vulnerable and daft and sometimes dumb as each other in more or less equal measures.

Social media is just as double edged, especially when you see people you used to be close with posting pictures of the people now in their lives. On the one hand there’s happiness that they’re happy, but then there’s that little twinge. I think everyone gets that, no matter the genders or relationship models in question – further underlining the commonality that links us in Pride Month and in the face of those intent in driving violent wedges between communities.

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Short Story: Harping On

Out of the frying pan, and into the fire: a well-loved and abused phrase that often stands for “Oops”, and is usually trotted out by those looking forward to indulging in some schadenfreude on behalf of friends, family, or someone they’ve just seen in the media.

I don’t think I’ve ever known someone use it in real-time while things are actually going horribly and yet oh-so-predictably wrong. Like me, they tend to go with short, sharp, expletives to relieve the stress of the moment.

I certainly didn’t use it when the harpy came barrelling down off the roof while I dragged the stupified Mr Feeny away from the pub garden table and it’s foul contents. I was too busy making us both zigzag towards safety to dodge filthy razor-sharp claws. I think I remember thinking: “Dungeons and Dragons totally lied about these things.”

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Birthday Season

If there’s one thing guaranteed to make you do a double-take and wonder where the time went its the realisation that your children are all grown up – or at least have hit eighteen. 

We’re right in the middle of a short cluster of them with one of my neices, my daughter and my daughter’s best friend all reaching their majority within the space of a few short weeks of each other. The Charleesi is yet to have hers, but this weekend we had a gathering to celebrate her cousin’s birthday.

Surrounded by the extended family, she endured us with good grace, and it was a pleasant few hours on a gloriously sunny day.

And of course it’s a wonderful thing, but for myself and my brother B there was one short moment of looking at each other at the bar with a shared bemusement of “how did this happen?” There was self-conscious eye rolling, and a bit of shoulder shrugging, and then we got the drinks in to return to everyone else. 

I’d love to report that I was a sparkling addition to the party, but between the various strains going on and my perennial feeling of being the outsider I mostly people-watched and blended into the background. My neice seemed to be having a good time, and that was more important.

Another few weeks and, right in the middle of her A-Levels, it’s the turn of the Charleesi. We’ll see then if I’m any more used to the concept

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Uncle Ranty’s Assistants Speak Up

You may be wondering why we’ve called you here today. Some of the more alert among you may also have noticed that we’re not Uncle Ranty. It’s the hair, isn’t it? No, Uncle Ranty can’t come to the keyboard right now. We kind of wish we could say it was because he’d been locked up for eating his third least-hated editor – but there’s no evidence of that, so we’re stuck with him for now.

Truth be told, as of the last time we saw him, he’s locked himself in the bathroom with a water resistant games console to play Skyrim. His last intelligible words were: “Screw this, I’ve had enough of this garbage. I’m off to live in a fantasy world to rival that of any poxy reader of a right wing UK newspaper.”

He also said something about forcibly extracting editors’ heads from tax-evading owners’ rectums, but we’re not entirely sure what he means by that. He seemed to be deeply annoyed by the wall-to-wall intrusive horror-porn reporting on the Manchester bombing this week.

Now, that last is a bit of a conjecture because by then he was also muttering about eating a TARDIS at the weekend, and threatening to go back and cancel our mothers if we didn’t bring him pizza.

From a quiet sit down with his scribbled notes, screen captures from his phone, and some of the less colourful swearing it looks like he was going to, uh, discuss the tabloid calls for suspension of the presumption of innocence, as well as their use of the phrase ‘final solution’.

Uncle Ranty may return soon, but from the noises coming from the other room he’s preferring to shout at virtual dragons and limit his weapon brandishing to the virtual realms. We’ll keep him distracted so he doesn’t make things worse.

As his assistants, we’d just like to say: be kind to each other and yourselves, and be a force for good just like all the amazing people who have rallied to help in Manchester. Don’t be a dick, it really doesn’t help.

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Fiction Fragment: Band Night

I started this last night but wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go with it, so I’ll stick it up here as a fragment – and if inspiration wanders back I’ll develop it further:

The band played on. That was what stuck with him as a memory later. In the middle of all the unfurling chaos; the explosions and sparks, the screams and shouts; the band played on. Their clothing was pristine and uniform. Their hair gelled and teased to coiffed perfection, they looked like they had stepped off an album cover, or a promotional photoshoot.

Even when a seven foot biker was bodily tossed at the stage, the lead singer merely swayed his upper torso a lazy few inches out of the way. He didn’t break a sweat, the beat, or his rhythm. The drummer broke the biker’s neck instead as he tried to clamber back upright on the drumset.

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