Monday, May 31, 2010

Dillon's Fabrication

Dillon's Fabrication had been abandoned since the bottom fell out of the steel industry in the eighties. It had been for sale ever since, though the signs had long since deteriorated and the car park was now a mass of weeds and buddleias. The brick building was gradually being reclaimed by nature. Grass grew from the gutters and Ivy snaked up the sagging walls. Windows like expressionless eyes pierced the facade, most of them broken by three generations of shoolkids.

Harry Fletcher had ignored the "Private Property" signs; walked heedless past the 'Danger: No Entry" and used the 'Unsafe Building: Keep Away' as a means to block one of the broken windows from the rain. A few minor thefts in the area had furnished him with the rudiments of camping and a tent pitched beneath the cavernous roof of the factory floor was surprisingly comfortable.

He spent the summer there, stealing food when he couldn't fish or hunt , intending to seek better quarters in the autumn. As the temperature fell he became less enthused by the prospect of moving on and when the first snow of winter lay thick on the ground he burrowed further into his sleeping bag and rationed his food.

It was the kids throwing snowballs that did it. A competition to throw one onto the roof led to a minor avalanche and a partial collapse. They ran away, unaware of Harry Fletcher, his leg trapped under a roofing bean inside the derelict building

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mixer

Felicia watched the girl take a glass of wine from the tray and wander nonchalantly over to the sculpture Canis Erotica –a semi-supine Great Dane with the head, breasts and arms of a twenty-something hooker. It was supposed to be a comment on the pornography of advertisements but there was something about the way the girl touched the padded synthiskin that was pornographic in itself.

She made her way to Jasfoup, who was using the exhibition preview mixer to pass out business cards and collect signatures for a petition against petitions. She pulled him away from his latest mark, a middle aged woman with a bank balance larger than some countries. "Who's your friend?"

Jasfoup followed her gaze. Amanda, who looked fine under the minor glamour Julie had given her, had obviously been licking the sculptures.

She'd left her tongue behind.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Musings of a Fallen Angel


God made the Earth in six days and then made mortals to take care of it. It was all very harmonious until the Tree of Knowledge. Harmony equals tedium.

God is in all things, supposedly. Why, then, did they blame the devil for the snake? It was God all along, livening things up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Perfect Husband


I remember your mum. She always smelled of peppermints and night cream. She was always kind– begged me to take good care of you. And I did, didn't? You didn't feel a thing when I pushed the spike up through the corner of your eye into your pretty, pretty brain. What's that? More oatmeal?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cooking the Books

"What do you think?" Jasfoup deVille held a book in front of Harold's nose, distressingly too close for the purveyor of antiquarian books to read the title. He caught hold of it and backed away.

"I say." Harold stared at the cover, tracing the filigree gold leaf with his little finger. "Where did you get this? I've never even heard of it." He opened up the cover. "Is this hand stitched?"

Jasfoup nodded, his best knowing smile firmly attached to the gesture.

"And gold leaf on the inside too?" Harold took a fresh pair of cotton gloves from his top drawer and buttoned them on. "This...this is handwritten...in Italian. What is it?"

"A cookbook, written in 1596, under the nom-de-plume of Javiol Feldpuse.

"Who was it really?"

"Oh Harold." Jasfoup patted him on the back. "You were never very good with anagrams."

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Gourmet

She lies unresponsive on a cot laced with nylon straps. A single bare bulb illuminated her chamber but she will not complain when he turns it out and leaves her in the cellar's darkness.

He tilts the bed upwards and feeds her Marvel powdered milk mixed with eggs for protein. She eats mechanically, chewing and swallowing when her mouth is full, stopping when its empty. He talks to her as each spoonful is transferred from bowl to mouth. He feeds her once a day, not that she recognises the passage of time.

He checks her for sores and blemishes, rubs her sores with lineament before dressing them with bandages. Checks her pulse and blood pressure, marking both on a paper chart hung from a hook on the wall.

He massages her legs. She's lost all feeling in them and no longer responds when he runs a cocktail stick along the sole of her foot. There is no twitch of the leg when he runs it along either calf, and she doesn't blink as it leaves a thin red line from her knee to the crease of her labia. The massage keeps the blood flowing smoothly and prevents the bed sores that are appearing with frightening regularity on other parts of her body.

He checks the straps as he reaches for a sponge to wipe away the tear of dried blood left over from his amateur lobotomy. As the shadow of his hand crosses her eye line her pupils dilate, but there is no further sign of life. He wonders if she's still locked away inside her own body, screaming to be released but there is no way to look for her id and the concept doesn't keep him awake at nights anyway.

She doesn't flinch as he cuts off a sliver of flesh with a scalpel. He saut├ęs the skin in a little salted butter but the sliver of flesh – no bigger than a tuppence – he eats raw. Ancient warriors thought that consuming the flesh of an enemy adds their power to your own. He just considers himself a gourmet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ada's Tea

Ada sipped at her tea as the speaker droned on about the poor starving artists and what they, as a community, could do to support them. They didn't look starving. All the artists she'd ever met* were so thin you could count the bones but the chaps with studios here looked as if they could stand to miss a few banquets.

The River Terrace complex housed sixteen studios – painters, sculptors and potters – the rent of which was almost twice that of her house. Hardly the grounds for starving, even if Frances Beamish's terrier could paint better pictures.

Ada put the tea cup under her chair and reached into her handbag for her crime novel. There were one or two people she wanted to murder herself, not least of which was whomever made that tea.


*except one: Lady Cottington was well off, well fed and mean as a clipper's sixpence.

Friday, May 21, 2010

St Marples'

St. Marples', in the centre of Laverstone Market, is a folly. You’d swear it was a church but it was never consecrated as one. It was build by Lord Caulder in 1859 when he was desperate to redeem his sins after contracting the ague in 1854, a relic of his sojourn in the Crimea. It was built without consent of the church, however, and when Lord Caulder presented it – as a fait accompli – the incumbent Bishop rejected it out of hand.

Now it houses the indoor antiques market (it used to be a second-hand market until programs like 'Boot Sale Antiques' and 'Cash in your Cellar' became popular) and the non-demoninational (the spelling was an intentional 'mistake') meeting rooms on the second floor. The tower is also home to several gargoyles and a colony of pipistrel bats.

It was sold in 2008 to Harold Waterman for the sum of £1, on condition he carry out renovations at his own expense.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gallery

The Downstairs Gallery, established in 2004 when Harold offered it at a reduced rent to the out-of-work gallery director Felicia Turling, generally plays host to three small exhibitions every month, with one week of each five-week period being reserved for taking down one show and putting up the next. Thus the gallery has only two exhibitions running for three weeks out of every four. Gallery One, the largest space at front-of-house, is generally filled with large two and three dimensional pieces while Gallery Two is reserved for watercolours and Gallery Three is kept as an intimate space for media presentations, avant-garde cinema and performance. In addition there are two rooms for use as teaching areas or meeting rooms for small groups.

It never fails to amuse Felicia that one of the rooms is rented long-term to Feminists Against Everything. Their rent is subsidised by the council and covers the rent for the whole of the rest of the building.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Power Outage

"What's all this?" Julie entered a room filled with candles and a table set for an intimate meal.

"I thought I'd entertain you with an intimate dinner. Just the two of us." Jasfoup took her coat, draped it over one arm and pulled out a chair for her. "I've made some Hot Blood Soup and we'll follow with a main course of Rats baked in Blood Sauce. Very tasty, apparently."

"Sounds... lovely." Julie unrolled her napkin. "I'll try anything once."

"Excellent." Jasfoup placed a bowl of hot red liquid in front of her.

"Thanks. I love the candles, but why is the whole house dark?"

"Oh." Jasfoup flashed here a self-satisfied grin. "I wanted the lights off so I shorted the power to the whole village. We can feast on the misery as we eat."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baggage Claim

Jasfoup loved aircraft flights. He loved the panic among the passengers during take-off, the panic when they hit turbulence and the panic when just one passenger in business class saw him in his true form. Once in a while he got Devious to sit on the aircraft wing, though to be fair he got the idea from an old Twilight zone.

His number one reason for loving aircraft flights, though, was the baggage claim. He would instruct Devious to steal one or two expensive looking suitcases and marvel at how red-faced some people could become. Redder than the fires of... well, not Hell but a good wood-burning stove.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Stitch in Time

Jasfoup went to the passenger door, catching the sleeve of his jacket on the brambles in the hedge. He took a moment to extricate himself, tutting at the snagged thread of the Egyptian cotton. He climbed into the van.

"Did you put did you put did you put did you put..>" Harold screwed up his eyes and concentrated. "Did you put..."

"Ah!" Jasfoup faded partially out of focus, like a background in Windows 7. He reached past Harold's ear and pulled something from his hair. "Sorry, Harold. You were caught on a spur of the moment. What were you saying?"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Half-Sucked

Jasfoup peered out of the window. He hadn't meant to drop Amanda's eyeball but could see it in the grass below, by lucky coincidence an inch away from a large pile of droppings left by the Doberman at number 11.

"Where's my eye?" said Amanda, shuffling into the kitchen. "I want it back."

"Er..." Jasfoup pulled the piece of butterscotch from his mouth. Here you go," he said. "It might be a bit sticky.

"That's all right, so long as I can see everything." She slid it into the empty socket. "That's odd. Everything's green and blurry."

Jasfoup nodded. "Gangrene."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gone Fishing 2

Sam put down his fishing-rod and kicked over a couple of stones looking for bait. "Here's a worm, look," he said, biting it in two and passing half to Dillard. "Stick it on the end of your hook."

"Ew." Dill screwed his nose up. "Isn't that a bit cruel?"

"Nah. They don't feel nuffin." Sam hooked the worm over the hook where wit wriggled like a creature impaled. Which it was. He pulled the rod back until it was perpendicular to his body and with a flick of the wrist sent it spinning out into the river.

Dill followed suit, though he tried not to imagine the worm's pain. He copied Sam's cast perfectly, but the hook plopped into the water without the worm. Sam?" he said. "The worm's fell off and a frog's eaten it. What do I do now?"

Sam glanced over. "Find another worm." He looked down. "Or any other bit of useless bait."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Single Woman

"May I buy a beautiful woman a drink?" The man was in his fifties, at a guess; grey hair in a short back and sides, comb moustache. Ex military or prison service by the look of it.

Ada had to check the mirror over the bar to make sure she had her glamour running. Yes, she still looked the part of a glamorous granny. "Me?" She smiled. "Why, flattery will get you everywhere."

"Ooh! That's good to hear." He sat, the whisky in his glass casting motes of amber light "You are single?"

Ada pushed her empty glass forward. "Technically..."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gone Fishing

Sam turned around and stared at the bank of the river below. "Are those fishing rods?" he said, pointing.

Dilbo followed the line of him arm. "Looks like it. Who's left them there?"

"Dunno, but I'm having a go. " Sam led the way from the bridge to the river below. "They're good rods, these. My dad had rods like these."

"Do you know how to do it?" Dilbo spent a moment trying to catch the end of the line, succeeded, then spent a further minute disentangling the hook from his hand. "Fishing, I mean."

"'Course I do." Sam beamed. It was rare he had a skill Dilbo hadn't. "Just do what I do." He slapped Dilbo's arm.

"Okay." Dilbo slapped his arm. "The only fishing in Birmingham was on the canals and you were as likely catching leptospirosis as a stickleback there."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why Now?

Jasfoup opened the book, the yellowed pages so brittle with age that the edges crumbles as his white cotton gloves touched them. Pages of Aramaic text flew past under his fingertips until he came to the text relating to possessions.

"Under exceptional circumstances, the corpse can be reanimated by the spirit of the deceased, though this is not recommended as it generally leads to increased suffering as the deceased experiences the dissolution of their own body."

"Yes. I get that." Jasfoup flicked through several pages. "But why has it happened at all and why now?" He flicked through several more pages looking for a reference to 'exceptional circumstances' but found nothing.

"You know this tome is almost priceless," said Harold, pulling up a chair on the opposite side of the reading table. "What are you looking for?"

"I've got a dead woman possessing her own corpse," said Jasfoup. "She's in denial but it's going to get messy."

"Possessing her own corpse? Doesn't that make her a—"

"Zombie. Yes. I need to know why, and why it's happened now. Corpses walking isn't supposed to happen until the apocalypse."

"The End of Days? Already?"

"Don't be ridiculous. It's not the End of Days."

"How can you be sure?"

"I'd have seen it in Google Calendar."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Butty

Jasfoup opened the fridge. There was a packet of sausages well within the sell-by. Whether Amanda was a vegetarian zombie or not, it was unlikely she'd eat them. He added a packet of bacon (four rashers left) and placed a six-pack of eggs ready on the counter along with a packet of butter. He opened several cupboards before shouting through to the bedroom. "Where's your frying pan?"

Amanda's voice trilled with stress. "You'll have to use the grill. I don't fry."

"Okay." He returned to the kitchen, unable to resist adding, under his breath, "You will if you people see you like that, dear." The gill pan was big enough to stretch over two of the hob burners so he lit both, lopping off a third of the pound of butter to melt in the tray and adding the sausages and bacon as soon as it began to hiss. Being a demon meant you never had to worry about heart disease. With the bacon crispy and the sausages turning a shade of burnt sienna, he dropped in four of the eggs and moments later, while the yolks were still runny, turned off the heat and dumped the whole lot between two slices of bread.

Amanda reappeared just as he was licking the egg yolk off his tie. "How do I look?" she said.

"Hideous," he replied, picking up one of the remaining eggs. "Here. Catch."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Zombie Killing

The impact left a crater a foot deep with a ten-foot circumference, filled with a gelatinous gloop of blood, flesh, bone fragments and half-digested pizza. St Jude's Church tower was not the highest building in Laverstone but it was the easiest to access. A small crowd gathered, including a reporter for the Laverstone Times, who was suddenly glad the paper only printed in black and white. No-one looked up to see the demon at the top looking down. "A job well done, I think," he said to the imp doing an excellent impression of a gargoyle. " Jalfreezi for dinner?"

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Nightmares


"This is an absolute nightmare," said Amanda, her hands awkwardly placed on hips that jutted too fat, too angular for any normal girl.

"Hold on." Jasfoup tapped the last of the numbers into his Bloodberry. "There! That should keep the accounts department off your back for a while. They won't even discover you're dead until they've finished dealing with all the e-mails from Nicaraguan millionaire refugees" He dropped the phone into his pocket. "What's a nightmare? The whole dying-and-coming-back-to-possess-your-own-body thing? It could be worse, you know. You could be possessing some old tart who thinks she can write."

"That too," she conceded. "But I meant the stains on the settee."

Friday, May 07, 2010

Blue Blood

"The Lord of the Manor." A bony finger tapped the picture of Harold Waterman in the Laverstone Times as Hyddrach, deep in thought, picked the bits of flesh from between his teeth. "Toffs have blue blood, they say. I wonder what it tastes like."

"Just like any other mortal I shouldn't wonder." Merlot limped around the table to look over his master's shoulder. "It's just an expression for aristos. Besides, Waterman's a commoner. Used to run the tat shop on High Street. He's got no more blue blood in him than I have."

"Still... Lord of the Manor. That's got to be a better place than this shithole, no?"

Merlot looked around at their home. He'd put a lot of work into it over the years to make it comfortable. "I suppose so, my lord," he said.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

School Report

Lucy's school report was more than disappointing. It wasn't that the eight year old struggled with her studies so much as she couldn't be bothered with them. her homework and examination results were fine – 100% in every subject except religion and critical observation. The former had the note: "accepts all religions as equally valid as refuses to criticise any" and the latter: "ascribes fanciful notions to everything – believes fairies are responsible for the flowers".

It was her classroom behaviour that elicited the unfavourable remarks: "Does not pay attention", "easily distracted", "des not make friends easily" and so on, though no teacher faulted her work.

Lucy could see the frown darken her father's face. "Tea, Daddy?" she said. "I learned how to make it today."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Brief Hijacking


to mention this is the 1000th post!
HurrAH!

(and I've just signed the contract for Harold and Jasfoup book two 'Sons of Angels' **)

I wonder if they'll let me design the cover?






** It used to be called 'Nephilim's Child but I read a tip that said: 'never title a novel with something no-one can pronounce or spell'

(S)mackerel

There was little that could surprise a demon, but when Jasfoup came across a zombie on the path by the river he paused. Somehow it had caught a fish and had torn it open in order to consume the innards. Loops of entrails hung from its fingers as it slurped at the raw flesh. The fish, still alive in the recesses of its soon-to-be-consumed brain, flapped its tail in a futile attempt to escape. What astounded was that upon finishing, the zombie washed its hands in the river, took out a silk handkerchief and dabbed the corners of its mouth.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Collector's Nightmare

"How's my Bestest Girl today?" Harold tweaked the nose of his nine year old daughter.

"Operating within normal parameters," said Lucy, holding up a doll clad in a mustard yellow jumpsuit. Harold's face paled.

"What a lovely articulated figure," he said in a strangled voice. "Where did you get it?"

"Julie gave it me," said Lucy. "It's Data from 'Star Trek'."

"Yes," said Harold through a forced smile. "The limited thirty year anniversary commemorative Data. Where did Julie find it?"

"In the attic." Lucy smiled. "Don't worry though. No-one had even played with it. It was still in its box."

Monday, May 03, 2010

10 Step Program

Sam watched Julie eating chocolate.It was her morning break and she'd made herself a mug of steaming cappuccino and was sitting in the tiny car park at the back of the shop reading a paperback, the mug on the wall next to her and the bar of nut-encrusted

chocolate on her lap. Every minute or two her hand would dip down, break a
piece off, then transfer it to her warm, inviting mouth. Then she'd lick her
lips, wiping away all traces of the dark delight, her tongue darting out to
clear off the traces from her red-painted digits.

Sam scraped his teeth across dry lips. It had been a struggle to give up the one thing he really craved, but human flesh was off the menu.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Life Preserver

Dilbo looked at the demon through sunken eyes. "Are you sure this will work?" he said. "I have to point out that this stings to buggery."

"I told you," said the demon. "I've never tried to extend the life of a zombie before. Usually I'm more likely to stomp up and down on their heads. However, be that as it may, if anything's going to preserve your sight it's this." He picked up the jar of formaldehyde and gave it a shake, dislodging the bubbles from the cloudy eyeballs inside. Dilbo gripped the table with all nine digits.

"Whoa!" he said. "Careful, man. That gave me a dizzy spell."

"It did?" Jasfoup estimated the distance between the zombie and his eyes to be a good ten feet. "That's very interesting. I had no idea you had a psychic connection to your body parts."

"Oh yeah." Dilbo nodded. "While they still exist, I do. I could feel my finger for ages, right up to the point where Mr. Whitlow incinerated it. I could feel it pulling, you know? Wanting me to come and find it. It's the same with my eyes. Even blindfolded I could still find them. They want to be back in my skull."

"Interesting," Jasfoup said again. "Were you Christian in your former... er... life?"

Dilbo shrugged, several pieces of skin dropping from his tatterdemalion face. He really shouldn't have bothered having a bath. He wouldn't have done if his ex-girlfriend hadn't intimated he smelled. Jenny had broken up with him when he became an ex-Dilbo. "My parents were Anglican," he said. "Does that count?"

"Not really." Jasfoup filled a syringe with a viscous brown fluid and advanced. "I wondered for a moment if zombies were God's way of saving people for the Rapture."

Dilbo sucked his lip to think, though not so hard that it might come off. "I dunno," he said, as Jasfoup injected the first decilitre of preservative into his arm. "It would explain a lot about the Jehovah's Witnesses."

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Passing Sentence

"I have to terminate your existence," I said. "Duty, you know. One cannot suffer a zombie to mindlessly slaughter the soulful."

"But I'm not mindless," said Dilbo. "And I haven't killed anybody."

Was that sufficient grounds for a loophole? Maybe I'd allowed zombies to live before. Just not for very long.

"All right," I said. "Here's the deal. I let live until you're unable to form a coherent sentence."

Dilbo nodded, drumming two fingers on the table. He could sew them back on later. "All right," he said. "What's the sentence?"

"What time does the Irish wristwatch strap shop shut?"