Friday, November 30, 2007


Gillian was the sort of woman who could make the Maitre-D at the Savoy feel uncouth and shabbily dressed with just a look from her classic wardrobe. None of your avant-garde catwalk chic for her; if this tears look took off she would adopt it in five years when it had moved from nouveau-riche to chic.

She didn’t walk with a silver spoon up her arse though. If desired she could don jeans and a tee-shirt and fit right in with the lads at the Docker’s Arms in Ludgate Street, knocking back pints and catcalling the bar tenders.

Gillian was so far past being classy she was classless.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Moral and Spiritual Dilemma

Jasfoup threw down his telephone in a fit of pique, though he made sure it was onto the sofa where it wouldn’t get damaged. It had taken him hours to program all the telephone numbers hr knew into its memory. “Gotta go,” he said, enjoying the intrinsic wickedness of the contraction. “I have a level three explosion risk to attend to.”

“What’s that then?” Harold grabbed his coat, hurrying to catch up with the demon.

“It’s someone who has diametric viewpoints with regard to good and evil, however you wish to define those arbitrary terms,” Jasfoup said. “This one is a vicar who thinks that women ought to be allowed freedom of choice when it comes to abortion.”

“They should, though,” said Harold. “There are hundreds of reasons why a woman shouldn’t be forced to carry a foetus to full term.”

“You know that and I know that and even this vicar knows that,” said Jasfoup, pulling on Wellingtons as he ran. His momentary hopping gate would have been comical in other circumstances. “But God disagrees and made it perfectly clear in his anthology.”

“The Bible, you mean?”

“Yes, the Bible. Unfortunately, what this leads to is the logical and mythical parts of the good vicar’s brain warring with each other until one reaches critical overload, which it has now.”

“What will happen?”

“If I don’t talk him down, get him to drink the sacramental wine or swear at a nun or something, his soul will explode, sending shards of spirit in a three mile radius. That’s what causes random acts of violence-”

“-and kindness,” said Harold.

“Exactly.” Jasfoup picked up a brass crucifix and thumped it experimentally into his palm. “That’s the last thing we need.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Harold took his tie rack to the bed and emptied it onto the Spiderman duvet before calling for Jasfoup. “What’s happened here?” he said.

“Ah.” Jasfoup picked up Harold’s favourite: a ribbon of hand-woven silk in shades of blue and yellow. It, like the rest, had been cut in two. “Sharp as a bread loaf,” he said, almost to himself.

“Who did? Do you know who attacked my wardrobe?”

“Someone with fashion sense?” Jasfoup grinned. “It was Sam. Since you’ve bought a controlling share in his company I suggested he sever ties with you.”

Harold nodded. “He took you literally.”

Monday, November 26, 2007


Jasfoup frowned as Harold thumped on the steering while and swore. Despite his protestations, the van ground to a halt in the centre of the carriageway, causing the traffic around them to honk in annoyance and derision.

“What’s wrong?” the demon asked.

“All the power’s gone,” said Harold. “We need a garage.”

“Pass me your phone.”

“There’s no signal available. 999 only.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Jasfoup made a quick call and within moments a cacodemon appeared, picking up the whole van and awaiting instruction. Harold guided it to the manor.

“How did you arrange that?” he asked.

Jasfoup shrugged. “Emergency transmission.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Minor Quest

“So it’s a kind of quest?” Eyes that the head would one day – hopefully – grow large enough to hold stared up at their father.

“I suppose.” Winston shrugged “If you can count a task that doesn’t involve rescuing maidens from trolls and dragons a quest. I’m only going to the chip shop on Brick Kiln Street to get your mam a battered mars bar.”

“There’ll be mythical creatures, though?” Case ran his fingers across the picture book on the table. Elves and fairies and vampires?”

“Not vampires, no.” Winston looked at the cloudless day outside the window. “Werewolves though. There’s be a werewolf.”

“You mean Aunty Felicia,” said Case. “That doesn’t count.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Gillian watched through the kitchen window as Sam walked to his car. “I don’t trust that bloke,” she said. “He’s a liability.”

“What harm can he do?” Harold stood next to her and put his arm lightly around her waist. “He was Winston’s friend before he was his brother in law.”

“He’s not one of us.” Gillian twisted so that her black-in-black eyes locked onto his. “He sees us through techno-wizardry.”

“What is magic except something that the viewer doesn’t understand?” Harold smiled and kissed the end of her nose. She rubbed away the dampness.

“That’s an old argument,” she replied, “and one that goes on to argue the case that vampires are mortally with a blood disorder.” She watched Sam’s car roar off down the drive. “I still want to bite his face off .”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


There was a sandbox at the park when Harold was a child. An enclosure two feet high on three sided and six inches on the fourth enabled the toddlers of Laverstone to play to their hearts content. The play pond, six inches deep and fed by a shallow stream that was home to minnows, was next to the sandpit, enabling temporary moats to be added to magnificent castles with toffee-paper flags.

Harold was reluctant to leave his masterpiece. It had taken him all afternoon and was the object of many admiring glances but Ada was adamant that it was teatime. Imagine how pleased Harold was the next day when his sandcastle was still there, the silicon particles fused into glass as if in the heat of a kiln. The papers called it a freak accident of weather, and thanked the Council (who closed the park at dusk) that no-one had been killed by the freak weather.

Ada caught the eye of a long-haired, leather-clad Jasfoup and nodded a smile.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Jasfoup leaned over the pot and inhaled the scent of his curry. He looked across at Harold. “Pass me the after shave, would you?”

“After shave?” Harold picked up the bottle. “This is years old,” he said. “I remember Mr. Satterthwaite wearing this when I was little. It was dead posh in them days, and came with Carina Burana in the adverts. Why are you adding it to a curry?”

“It’s a celebration curry,” said the demon. “I last made this in 1982 when your mother was thirty. She wanted exactly this curry for her birthday this year.”

“So why the aftershave?” Harold asked. “Did you use aftershave in that one?”

“No,” said Jasfoup. “I used new spices then.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007


“What’s this gizmo then?” Jasfoup picked up the cylinder and tossed it from hand to hand. It weighed about the same as a pepperpot.

Gillian barely glanced up. “Detonator,” she said. “A Goodfellow’s 37E. Even without adding it to an explosive it’ll take your arm off as cleanly as a surgical saw.”

Jasfoup put it down again. “Why has it got a clockwork mechanism on it?”

Gillian grinned. “Two reasons. One, it’s impervious to an EM pulse that would knock out most detonators and two, a wind-up toy fascinates idiot guards.”

“Sorry?” Jasfoup looked up. “I was watching the monkey.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Golden Age

The golden age of Hell mirrored the golden age of the mortal plane above. It was true that modern times were more populous, and the growth of technology had brought more people through the gates than ever before: partly due to the increased ability of the mortals to attempt genocide and partly because computers and social security numbers allowed the bureaucrats of Hell to keep track of everybody.

Still the demons – those that, like Lucifer and Azazel, had been witnesses to the pomp and grace of the expanding Catholic Church – looked back on those times with a wistful smile. Those were the days when you’d spend half a century ensuring the damnation of a single soul.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


It was the sweet simplicity of life that attracted him to the position of gardener at Laverstone Manor. In those days it was not the sprawling mass of outhouses and debt that constituted the bulk of the kitchen garden now but an ordered layout of raised beds and greenhouses; a far cry from his beloved Florence where the streets ran red with blood for a mispronounced ‘Good Morning.

His tactical advice on the safeguarding of the Manor from incursions by the Faery Rebels proved invaluable, and Lady Gertrude Waters, Melissa’s mother, hired the devilishly handsome Mr. Jasfoup on the spot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

ABLS vignette

Pennie felt suddenly light, free from the cares of her body. She no longer had any desire for soft cheese and celery spread thin over oat crisp breads; her love of plastic-bottled spring water with a hint of meadow flower faded, and her concerns about the merits of eco-diesel over regular faded like petrol fumes.

“I’m dead, aren’t I?” she said.

“I think the fact that your body’s lying there… and there… and there sort of proves that.” The old man with the whippet on a piece of baling twine smiled and patted her back. “It’s one of life’s little surprises.”

Pennie looked at him. “If I’m dead,” she said, “why am I still randy?”

Monday, November 05, 2007


Always vigilant, the gargoyle protects the weathered north face of the church of St. Pity’s. hunched against the wind and the rain. Every year gets harder. The acid in the air eats into his sandstone paws until he’s left hanging on by the shadow of what was once a terrible effigy of a demon. His snout has been chipped off by ice particles forming in the deep of winter and his eyes have been worn smooth by the wind. Still he guards, remembering the time when his wings were fresh and wide and the view was not an industrial estate.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Split Infinity

“So what’s this?” Jasfoup looked at the contraption Harold had constructed from Lego and pieces of skip-recovered timber. He ran his finger down the central strut and smelled it. Definitely not salubrious, though there was a hint of peppermint.

“It’s a time machine,” said Harold. “I figured that if HG Wells could make on a century ago, I could certainly have a stab at it.”

“It won’t work,” said Jasfoup. “Time machines are impossible.”

“So are demons, but you’re here.” Harold grinned. “Pull that lever there.”

“This one?” The demon gave it a cautious tug. “What does it do?”

“It splits infinity into manageable pieces,” said Harold.

“You mean I’ve broken it?”