Page 1

ISSUE THREE


KEY

ViolenceV Sexual ContentS Explicit Language- E

CREDITS

’Carl Whiteley’

Poetry ‘Hallowe’en’ Catherine Shearer ‘The Hallowe’en Witch’ Lois Carrington ‘Favourite Day’ Jane Fox ‘ “All Hallows” eve at a Chelsea asylum’ Dave Shannon ‘Trophy’ Paris Antony ‘The Slender Man’ Rhea Phillips ‘Amroth Revisited’ Clare Ferguson-Walker ‘She’ Laura Charlton ‘Firewater Blues’ Christopher Moriarty ‘Missing’ Scott Richardson ‘Yum Yum’ V ‘Pandemonium’ V

Serials

Kurt Jarram Rhea Phillips

Interview ‘Noterminus Follow Up’ Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards ‘Standstill’ ‘Spooky’ ‘All Hallows Eve’ ‘The Blacksmith’ Various Photography Various Illustration

Flash Fiction

Art & Photography

Short Stories ‘The Haunted House’ ‘Gwarchod’ ‘Candidate’ ‘The Bakku-Shan’ V ‘Polyhymnia’s Sonata’ V,S

Keri-Ann Edwards Anna Broadbent Catherine Shearer Matt Evans Jane Fox Kat Wilson Gareth Barsby Dave Shannon Scott Richardson Penny Montague Christopher Moriarty

‘Water’ ‘Once Occupied’

Interview Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Life Writing Review

Poetry ‘Flesh’ ‘I am Part of all that I have Met’ ’Halloween Graveyard Précis’ ‘The Black Puppet’ ’Love’ ‘Warning’ ’Between Life and Death Row’

Margaret Moriarty Joe Batsford Sam Scobie Clare Ferguson-Walker Dave Shannon Paris Anthony Jane Fox Laura Charlton Jacqueline Sheppard

Co-Creators: Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Content Editors: Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Layout editor: Matt Evans Graphics and Layout: Matt Evans, Joe Batsford Logo: Matt Evans Cover photo: ‘Evil Clown 2’ Kat Wilson Inside Front cover: ‘Where Now (An Eye for an Eye and We’re all Blind)’ Jane Fox Inside Back cover: Disembodied Voices and NOTHING ELSE! All work printed in the magazine remains the copyright of the author/photographer/artist. All we ask is a period of two months between issues where we have exclusive rights for the piece(s) after which you are more than welcome to try and have it published elsewhere. For more information on submission guidelines, please visit: http://bunburymagazine.tumblr.com/post/55509308166/submissionguidelines If you have any queries, please email us at: bunburymagazine@gmail.com Bunbury Magazine © for the internet, 2013.


CONTENTS

MAIN ARTICLE: Meet Chris Whiteley

EDITORS LETTER - page 44

The skies darken as ominous clouds gather overhead. Storms play out over land, sea and shore, like a child unenthusiastically pawing at a younger sibling’s toys…or something. What we’re trying to say is a hearty ‘Welcome!’ to this special Hallowe’en edition of Bunbury Magazine. This time, we have pieces from an incredible cross-section of people with an astounding result, as we think you’ll agree by the end of this issue. A massive thank you to all those who submitted for this issue and a massive, chocolatey thank you to you, dear Bunburyists. We have some big things on the horizon for our little publication in the very near future and we’re planning on taking you all along for the no matter how much chloroform and duct tape we need. As we’re relocating the Bunbury HQ to Manchester, there will be more opportunity for us to lay on regular Bunbury Presents… evenings for you to feast your lovey eyes upon. This will open up so many avenues for us to showcase the talents of our wonderful contributors. While we think about it, we should also say that we’ve introduced a guidance system in this issue. From now on, you will see next to some (but not all) works in the credits either ‘S’, ‘V’ or ‘E’, or some combination of the three. Nothing to worry about, we are just letting you, dear readers, know that there are some stories which contain sexual or violent imagery or explicit language, so it might be best not to eat your tea while reading those pieces! We thought it was for the best just in case ant delicate flowers ploughed in head first and became upset. We’re sure the battle-hardened regulars will be absolutely fine! So not much more to say really. Oh! Apart from…don’t sit too comfortably and enjoy this issue’s macabre offerings. Happy Hallowe’en, Love always (If we can’t have you, no-one will)

Poetry Serials

Christopher and Keri.

- page 04

- page 11 Noterminus Recap - page 21 Flash Fiction - page 28 Art & Photography - page 31 Short Stories - page 37 Featured Artist - page 44 Life Writing - page 47 Review: Once Occupied - page 49 Poetry - page 50

Christopher Moriarty

- co-editor

Keri-Ann Edwards

- co-editor


POETRY

Halloween

The Hallow e’en Witch

Spirits rise from silent graves,

Now where are you wicked queen? Where the spiked claws Of your cursing hand, The hook of your haggard chin Did we think you gone? Or are you still amongst us Working your potions at pumpkin time When flame torches ward off cold night air Folk reluctant to go abroad Clinging to their hearths Fearing manifestations of secret sorcery As benevolence clings to holy folk So malevolence abides in you Your finger on the dagger of death Your face set in wrinkled distortion Croaking crone of catastrophe You are with us yet.

Bats emerge from darkening caves. Broomsticks fly and witches cackle, Black cats prowl and skeletons rattle. Ghouls and ghosties, goblins and ghastlies, Cobwebs and spiders, festering nasties. Pumpkins glow as daylight wanes, Halloween for one night reigns.


Favourite Day There is no third bar Favourite day/ wake up when I wake up walk write a poem cook dinner drink wine go to sleep A cat can’t fetch the post/ I can fetch the post When I left London you thought I’d left the world Cats and children still love me Condensed concentration of emotional Sun comes out neck leans forward committed for desirable experiences Celeb fix your hair iron your face gypsy dark eyed nodding widely animated juice Recognise anxiety grew ill eyes of orgasm Rustling fresh wet shadow hoofs siren glad to be out thumping head forest dog shit in bags Sick prospect of returning sun-blistering berries sharp Retreat reclusive Not argumentative/ fiery/ outspoken/ honest/ White foam in blue transverse hill Rolling leaf golden glistening millennium strip two bridges diving swallows earthy beyond words Crumpled crinkled march-mallow cottonwood pillows greys on whites/ whites perspective upon perspective town upon town grey diffusing into cloudhead puffing south Sleep sickles comes through watchtower top of hill Last straw tin hat camel’s back coffin lid Spiky orange craters right-angled rays Singe pecked asymmetrical yellow stalk flattened pan-like Relate to blackface rain through sun Cracked full aspect dying greens reconciling earth crocodile dinosaur/ Storm parasitic ivy white waxy undersides birds best taste mushroom swimming pool/ chandelle stinging skin sheep’s’ bone Forelock rumpling flies horse-nipping pony Soft crushed left blue-eyed beauty close inspection boil on nose Tangerine heading resting over another licking fingers Sepia sun through sand water/ gone/ Crossroads Funny how I hardly think of you now/ No altar King of the Nettle Easy dismissal sterile desire connections make themselves Quiet wind in trees leaves birds water quiet Pace quickens hungry The way I said, I love you was wrong complete enormous too big too late Splashing puddles buddleia ferns rushing like torrent skeleton trees touching blue It almost doesn’t matter anymore/ Blackened sodden nettle heads Mass rejection rejoice fuchsia buds white stars parachuting hanging sacs The lay of the land child widest eyes prettiest face


“All Hallows” eve at a Chelsea asylum They sat motionless In the self induced darkness. They watched every movement, But observed nothing. They shook the bars; In Frustration? In Anger? In Bewilderment. Empty eyes gaze, filling empty minds. Do they die happier than us? Are they are content? As my tears kissed it, The ice-cream melted. They did not; They thought I was mad... Trophy You slink silent from the room, Cast, blackened, in shadow, Into the winter-bit air that claws at your face Even as the trophy, Slipped secret beside your leg, Leaves a burning brand on your hidden flesh. The sun is barely risen Yet you shy your face away, Sure that the shadowy, dawn-lit Strangers can read the molten mixture Of shame and pride, As you make your way to your unmade bed To finally, Finally, Devour, inhale,  Touch the body-softened Cotton trophy.


The Slender Man Mummy, can you see that man standing over there? No, Honey, come along, it's just a shadow, no need to fear. But Mummy I can see the form of a man, he's really tall. I can't see anything, Honey, the bus is here, get on. All the way home, that man stood under every streetlight, I hate when it gets dark, and it gets darker now every night. Mummy says that the darkness will soon pass away, And the Sun will come and shake my blues away. But nothing is shaking off this horrible, weird man. He's too tall for me to hug, and I shiver at the sight, He's wearing a tatty suit and standing there, Hovering like a ghost on Tele might. Mummy, please don't leave me sleep alone tonight. Honey, don't be silly, I'll turn on your nightlight. But Mummy, that man is outside the window. Nonsense, here now, I've closed the curtains. Mummy, please stay and read me another book. Honey, it's getting on, give me kiss, good night. When Mummy left, I closed my eyes and imagined her there. My light begun to flicker, I stilled, please let it be a nightmare, Oh, what was that, so cold when it touched my arm? I open my eyes, they adjust slowly to the gloom. My light is still flickering, casting a red glow around the room. I want my Mummy, before I can scream a sound, I see, That slender man who has been following me, Standing in the corner of my room, arms outstretched, He smiles at me, and I open my mouth to scream, I watch as his arms wrap around my mouth and waist, Grip hold tight and drag me away and into the night.


Amroth Revisited I remember you taking me to Amroth beach with Gran and Grandad swaddled like ancient toddlers. Me and Emily in the back aware of the tension like a physical thing, an icy finger poking the belly, we weren’t little psychiatrists then. The sun would pacify it a little on impact, and I remember the gaudy plastic enticing purchases for extra fun, the promise of fish and chips wafting in air borne vinegar and our hearts racing for starfish rock pools and decomposing jellyfish, milky and slashed. Who would have thought that tension, like a bungee would catapult me like a pebble outward, resentment like a hot coal driving a steam engine forward. Am I to be grateful? You’ll never acknowledge. As I drive back now with you the ancient toddler, unable to walk properly, The past seems to join the present for a second, two transparencies slipping over each other. I remember how Grandad smelt, musty and strange, and Gran’s skin, translucent with a shock of veins, networking. Their genes have journeyed into me via you and a frothy sea, salty and rich. The ebb and flow of the waves coming and going, erasing old footprints as they do. As we look out at our beach, tension buried for the now, like we used to bury you, You ask if I remember coming here as a kid, I answer just “yes” as if the memory weren’t a castle built up in my being, crafted from the sands of my life’s hourglass.


Firewater Blues She She feels herself sinking Weight of hands pushing down Sewage seeping slowly in She’s about to drown. She feels herself slipping Breath no longer there But only calm replaces Where there once was air. She feels herself shaking Woken from this dream Back to her reality with An excruciating scream. She feels herself sobbing Wishing it were real A dream of death where She could no longer feel. She herself is sectioned Burdened by her mind Longing for escape Only death could help her find. She feels herself sinking Two bottles down She feels herself slipping As true release found.

I got fire water blues, Them ol’ fire water blues, Once again. Hell hounds at my door, Got them hell hounds at my door, Try’na get in. An’ they gonna drag me out Into the burnin’ evenin’ light. I went to dance at the cross roads. It’s the only place I know, Only place I know. They played them good ol’ blues (Whooo) ‘Til the moon was beatin’ down to the tune. Only song I know. An’ my feet they begged for mercy But I was good as lost. I saw the devil Brown eyes burnin’ through right to my soul. She was the one. She came an’ walked up to me Bathed in red and chained in finest Links o’ gold. An’ I fell down to my knees But she just wouldn’t let me be. She asked me to dance An’ I knew that there was only one reply. I’m just a man. Well she asked me to dance (Oooh) To the blues an’ to the fire in her eyes. I was damned. An’ I knew that I was dancin’ to the tune That she’d used on some other guy. Oh the wind did howl that night When that joker stole her back again. She left me with a burnin’ inside an’ A whiskey bottle to sooth my mind. That fire water spread awful fast as I drained it dry, An’ again I was on my knees As my evil ol’ spirit let them hellhounds in at last.


Missing The wood exploded into noise, As searchers crashed through undergrowth With flailing sticks and raucous calls. Clattering birds burst forth in clouds Of cawing consternation while Chased up trees by mad-tailed squirrels, Put to flight in flowing runnels. Deep within the silent wood, Accusing limbs of tortured trees Bent to graze her blue white skin, Sprinkled with autumnal rags That moved with teeming, feeding things. Leaf wreaths hissed in disbelief And thistles bristled as they grieved. The stamping boots that veered so near The brightness of her lifelessness, Were waylaid by the waving grass And lured away from where she lay. Again the silence held its breath As breathing nature breathed the death Of flesh and blood back into earth.


SERIALS

KURT ETHEN JARRAM Kurt Ethen Jarram is from a Hell hole called Loughborough where he still lives with his mother in a house with no carpets. His work has been published by The Horrorzine on both their website and 2nd printed anthology Twice the terror. He has also had poetry published in the Chester based magazine Pandora's box, and has been invited to read at public events such as Hotch-Potch Manchester. All words of encouragement, words of discouragement, proclamations of love, death threats and other squigglies can be sent to wrikter@hotmail.co.uk (No more E-Mail bombs, thank you.)


YUM YUM For Grand-dad. “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.� Thomas Malthus, An essay on the principle of population, 1798, Chapter 7, p.61.

You saw it everywhere you went. That slogan. Engrained so firmly into the collective mind of the world. Billboards and vid-screens shone it down upon the cities of the Earth, simple black letters upon a white background. Audio-cast announcements sang it out as though it might be some spell or incantation. It was whispered upon the lips of almost every man,woman and child at least once a day, like some half muttered prayer. 'At last, an answer!' An answer to our prayers perhaps? Yes, perhaps. I suppose before I can even begin to explain this idea of an answer I should at least give some outline as to what the question was. By 2029 I don't think anyone really knew where the population of the Earth stood. Someone must have been keeping count, but I certain-

ly wouldn't want their job, and if they were keeping count they didn't make the numbers public that's for sure. I think that I remember, sometime in 2018, hearing something about 'Passing the two digit mark, with no signs of slowing'. The growth of population is, I suppose, a sort of natural disaster, but one that you don't really see coming. A hurricane or an earthquake can ruin an entire city in minutes. Over-population crept up on us. As hard as it may be to believe, we were in the grip of a famine without even noticing it. A famine is something you see on television, right? Something you only ever witness from a distance. Those poor buggers in the third world that we do appeal work for every now and then in order to ease our privileged, guilty conscience. Never could anyone in Britain, or anywhere else in the Western world, imagine not being able to obtain food in some way. Even if it had to be via the means of theft. Yet of course there were places in sub-Saharan Africa where there wasn't even any food to steal. Unthinkable right? I can't help but reiterate the fact that at first we didn't even realise that there was a problem. Even when there were whispers with regards to food shortage the old boys down the pub would simply huff and proclaim that at no point during what was called the 'Mad cow disease' scare, were they ever deprived of a nice steak or burger. Bird and swine flu had no impact upon trade in chicken dinners or bacon rolls. Back in the day Britain had the most obese population in Europe. We ate a lot and we ate badly. Yet, as the population continued to grow there were more mouths to be fed. Lots more. Of course, with more mouths comes


more people needing places to live. Urban expansion therefore went into overdrive. To put it simply, urbanisation first went skyward, with the building of thousands of new, multi story tenement housing units, and then eventually outward, with regular towns slowly becoming small cities, and larger cities expanding until they literally collided with one-another and merged into combined, super-cities. Scotland expanded the fastest. Within a mere decade Edinburgh, Perth, Stirling, Dundee and so on had pretty much become one whole Urban area of hastily erected complexes and what can only be described as neo-shanty towns. London then exploded. Liverpool and Manchester swiftly approached each-other like advancing armies. Ready to merge and then consume one-another. The whole joint nations of the British isles growing and undulating like a ravenous cancer. Eating through the body of the land and scarring it with mechanised efficiency. But yeah, the food shortage. As I say we didn't even know that there was one until it was already getting too late. Britain has always been a big importer of goods. All throughout history really. But now, with the benefits of our imperial, global stranglehold on production long, long gone, the costs started adding up. The vast and swift onset of mass urbanisation had robbed our nation of its ability to produce its own goods. It's very difficult to grow successful crops, or raise livestock in a country that is so vastly dominated by concrete, glass and steel. Tarmac and iron. The first thing we started to notice, well, I did anyway, was that businesses started closing. Dozens of them, more almost every day. The local ones went first, quashed by their inability to compete with the larger,

corporate run supermarkets that provided easy to obtain produce at relatively, and of course competitively, cheap prices. Everyone gave into it, of course we did. There was no other way. Anyone with a brain in their heads knew that what they were buying was total shit, but people needed to be fed cheaply. Families, mothers with children, lots of children, needed to eat. We need a roof over our heads, electricity for our many comforts, hot and cold running water, and, again, we need to eat. By 2020 Britain's food importation had reached almost 95%. Prices first went down. Foreign exporters were initially captivated with the idea of monopolising the British food industry, but when trouble began to arise within these investor's own countries, the tables quickly turned. New government sanctions were instigated, new laws, trade limitations, the initiation of a trade embargo between the UK and the US. Rumours of a possible 'Food war'. America had grain supplies. The Houses of parliament knew that they did, but apparently they were demanding ridiculous amounts of money for it. To the point where the price of grain surpassed Stirling, Euro, Dollar, gold, oil, everything. The few remaining supermarkets became inundated. With people having to travel many miles in order to reach them, only to find their shelves bare. I personally was reminded of the idea of the lone African woman having to travel a full day on-foot to collect a bucket of dirty water. A year later it was officially announced. 'Britain is starving.' Rationing was the first logical step. At first we all confessed that it was actually pretty novel. Everyone getting the same amounts of everything, but trading with


friends and family with things they didn't need for things that they did. Kind of a throwback to the rationing system of the old wars. A great sense of community and people helping each-other. This didn't last very long. It soon became evident that corruption was widespread and the gap between the have and the have not was still as vast as ever. As is always the case, the very old, the very young and the sick died first. It is a terrible thing to see someone die of malnutrition. As I've said before, we all knew what it looked like. We'd seen it on television. African children slumped in their mother's arms. Their bodies like tiny, shrink wrapped skeletons, unable to even lift the weight of their own heads. Their eyes sunken into their jagged, bony faces, glassy like those of pond fish but somehow screaming in silent desperation. Evidence of the mind behind them driven almost to insanity by hunger. The creeping flies upon their cheeks and around their mouths, as if the insects had skipped out the middle man and decided that the child on-which they swarm is already dead. But still, this happened far away, right? Yet when it started showing up in our own country, our own supposedly superior, civilized, Western pinnacles of societal brilliance, those starving children on the appeal adverts didn't seem so far away after all. I didn't notice the animals missing until someone pointed it out to me. Animals of course need to eat just as much as we do and the famine affected them as badly as it did the human population. With nowhere left to keep them, the husbandry of cattle and pigs soon collapsed. There was the brief influx of huge, industrial chicken houses. Enormous, corrugated iron warehouses covering thousands of

square meters, into which tens of thousands of birds were crammed, both horizontally and vertically in vast battery cages in order to get the greatest amount of birds from the egg to the plate as quickly as possible. But before long the animals coming out of them were so deformed and diseased through the introduction of artificial growth hormones and being forced to feed upon their own dead, ground up into their suet, that there was no point in even having them. There were countless reports of people becoming sick or even dying after eating the birds or their eggs. You're lucky to see animals these days. I saw a dead pigeon the other month, it's scrawny corpse teeming with fat, blue-bottles. At least they seem to be doing okay. The word was on the tip of everyone's tongue, but we all seemed afraid to say it aloud. 'Extinction'. Then 'Viscu-Pac' came. No-one saw it coming, we'd never heard of it before, but almost over-night we were being provided with this new and literally life-saving product. It only cost you ninety eight pence a time and every supermarket that was still open was almost instantly jam packed with the stuff. At first no-one could quite put their finger on exactly what it was. It was kind of like meat only not. It sort of looked and tasted like meat, you cooked it like meat, but there was just something strange about it. Not like anyone complained or anything, of course not. This was what we had all been praying for, as their advertising slogan said 'At last, an answer!' From then on the entire British population lived on a diet made up of almost solely 'Viscu-Pac'. It went perfectly on its own but what few vegetables or cereals you were able to get hold of went just fine with it too. It came in purple,


tetra-foil packs that you opened with scissors. Inside you'd find a rectangular chunk of the stuff with a volume of around sixteen cubic inches. It was a colour that can only be described as a kind of beige, lacking the pinkness, be it natural or artificially dyed, of regular meat. Needless to say that this amazing new product swiftly became the country's chief export and rescued the British economy from the brink of collapse. I suppose I should really take a moment to explain just who I am and what part I play in all of this, seeing as I've spoken so much about my own personal opinions towards everything. My name is Trace Ayres. I'm a reporter, but I'm afraid to say, not a very good one. After receiving a not too great degree in journalism I landed myself a job at Liverchester's third most popular text based news cast 'The Detector'. To put it plainly, I cover all of the stories that the other, more qualified reporters didn't want to. Or as was usually the case, to be even plainer, flat out right refused to cover. The way that news works these days is based mainly around stuff going wrong. People don't like good news, as good things happen to other people, right? What the public want is disasters, tragic deaths, things like that. The old slogan of 'Miraculously, no-one was injured.' lost in the popularity contest to 'Unfortunately, there were no survivors.' The more well-known reporters all constantly clamour for the biggest tragedy. The best new horror to occur. Excellent photo opportunities as dozens of charred bodies are dragged from the carbonised ruins of yet another over-crowded, shoddily built housing unit that's gone up in flames. Penning overly dramatic reports on the latest mass shooting at a secondary school or

where-ever. All the time remembering to put in just enough sad words of condolence despite their faces being slashed with ear to ear grins at how many copies this fresh blood-shed was going to sell. There was a saying among the more seasoned reporters: 'Get it on the stands before the bodies are even cold.' A throwback to the days when people still purchased hard copy newspapers from street-side vendors. I on the other hand get, well, everything else. All the cheery rubbish, the god-awful 'Feel good' trash. Sporting victories, the opening new hospital wings, stuff like that. If I'm lucky there will be a busy news day about once a month and I'll get given a sort of interesting traffic collision to cover. I'm never allowed a photographer, so I have to be careful with my word-count. Making sure I get in every detail of how (For example) the victims innards were spread for a quarter of a mile down the dual-carriageway due to them getting caught under the vehicle's front wheels, and how I'm sure that the blood stains will be around until the next rain at least if any readers wish to come and have a look for themselves. It helps to be as creative as possible when it comes to description. Yet, most of the time it's 'Trace, cover this story on increased refuse collection.' or 'Trace, this logistics company have raised over a million pounds for a children's hospice. You can get that one for me can't you, mate?' For a while there wasn't a day that went by where I didn't wish I could just drop the stupid charade, but of course I was never going to really go through with it. Despite how unhappy I was, I counted my lucky stars that I even had a job in the first place. But I guess none of this really matters


in the long run. You of course already know about everything I have already said apart from the details about myself, and I understand that much of that is also inconsequential. I just want to make sure that you remember that it is me that is writing this and bringing you this new revelation, which I believe will change the way we view our society. Most of you will be familiar with 'The Detector' cast's chief editor Bo Roman. Despite his somewhat notorious reputation for being overly tacky when it comes to his

RHEA SEREN PHILLIPS Rhea Seren Phillips graduated from Bath Spa University in 2010, going on to write (and publish) a small selection of short stories and poems in various Welsh publications. She enjoys the horror and fantasy genre, particularly children's fiction. Who doesn't want to be a child again?

publication, including being the only cast in the country that still publishes a personals column, I kind of owe my livelihood to him though. Any other editor would have given me the boot a long time ago to cut costs, but he has always stuck by me and keeps a steady flow of boring as hell stories headed my way in order to keep my meagre career afloat. Perhaps his love of tackiness is all I have going for me. For now at least.


PANDEMONIUM ‘Tell that to the daisies, come and shoot!’ Hero shouted above the shouts and screams of battle, her eyes focused on the young girl quivering at her feet. Tammy looked up, her slim frame trembling, a gun gripped loosely in her left hand. Hero snarled, her boots slipping on the mud as she ducked another stray bullet. ‘Just, stay, down,’ Hero huffed, pushing Tammy back into the mud. She lay there, sobbing, hands coated in blood. She hadn’t wanted to do this, hadn’t wanted to pull the trigger. And now she was stuck here, on the losing side. Hero looked across the battlefield, most of her unit were fighting, doing exactly as they’d planned, clearing a path. So why weren’t they winning? She would have stomped her foot, but, sighing, she doubted it would have been notice above the blasts and gunfire. Tammy, one of the children she had been commanded to protect, was still on the floor and it didn’t look as if she was going to move anytime soon. With a sigh, she grabbed the girl’s long brown hair and pulled her body along the ground to more secure cover, ignoring the young girl’s cries and scrabbling hands. ‘Move it.’ She snarled, Tammy’s body bumped along the ground. ‘Find Salem and Dusty, stick with them.’ Hero flung the girl in front of her and ran off into the cloud of wet sand and bullets. The enemy were still a hundred more strong, and they were losing more and more soldiers by the second. She turned around, frantic, her gaze coming to rest on Salem and Dusty, two small figures moving in perfect harmony to each other. They were

fighting…nothing that she could see. She didn’t worry, just because she didn’t see it didn’t mean that nothing was there. She turned and ran towards a fallen comrade, plunging her blade into the enemy’s side before his weapon could hit its target. Stilling as he fell, grieving at the comrade who lay dead underneath the mangled enemy, she heard heavy footsteps approach close by. They skidded down the side of the hill behind her. She turned, ready for a fight. She stopped. I know you. Gun pointed at the target’s heart, trigger ready. But she couldn’t pull it, her finger useless against the cold metal. The woman advanced on her, eyes glazed over in a trance, coming closer and closer, her breath came in rasps. The woman towered over her, her body bare, pieces of flesh hanging off in chunks, revealing the horror beneath. She watched as her lover snarled, bloodied teeth bared, ready for combat. The once warm woman now more like a zombie, working on instinct, aggressive and scared. Please don’t make me kill my partner! Please…she stood there dumb, gun pointed at the woman, she waited for death, accepting the concept of it. Suddenly she heard a crack, and she stared as her lover fell away onto the beach, out of reach. The action was followed by a girlish cry that echoed over the gun fire. ‘Tell that to the daisies, come on and shoot!’ Tammy’s voice cried over the din. Hero’s knees buckled, a recently beheaded body knocked her on all floors. She felt a bullet hit her side. Strange, it didn’t really hurt all that much. Folding up into a small ball, she pretended that she was dying. **** Tammy watched from her place


behind a rock as another group of men were hit after running around like dummies for most of the battle. She dearly wanted to see if they were okay, despite her burning scalp. But with the large amount of stray bullets whizzing past her ear, common sense held her back. The twins, Salem and Dusty, were doing their brave act with another group of Rejects, she didn’t envy them. She much preferred it here, behind this rock; hidden and safe. Unfortunately something was to drive her out of her hole. Her gaze turned back to Hero, her mind clicked to the fact that the usually overly alert woman hadn’t noticed a Reject purposely heading her way. She didn’t have time to think, just do. Help or not. She helped. Launching herself forward, she used her arm as a shield, screaming as two bullets punctured her skin, she gritted her teeth, catching her tongue in the process. She fired a round towards the pair before the gun was knocked out of her hand. She didn’t need it. She jumped the nearby Reject, pulling it backwards, they toppled sideways, and together they rolled down the dunes and onto the beach, sand coating their skin, sticking to the sweat and blood. Struggling, Tammy screamed as the being stabbed her with a blade. Turning her face away, she gripped the girl’s arms harder, contracting her feline nails as she did so. Her claws jutted out from their hibernation, relieved to finally be of some use. The girl threw herself back and yowled. Tammy smirked, and booted her with her reinforced boot, making sure the head made an audible crack. ‘Tell that to the daisies, come on and shoot!’ She screamed, throwing herself away

from the mess. Picking herself up, she yanked the blade out of her thigh, wincing at the sharp pain. Quickly as possible she raced over to Hero, limping pathetically. Hero, still bent over, didn’t appear to be moving. She skidded on her knees, mud spitting and spraying; she thumped into the woman, leaning over for a closer look. Tammy cried when she saw the blood. Hero's black hair partially covered the wound, and Tammy pulled it aside with a shaking hand. It wasn’t deep, and she would survive if she received medical treatment now, although that wasn’t looking terribly likely. The force of a bullet passing slapped her face to the side, and she huddled over her fallen superior, closed her eyes and hoped the noise would stop soon. So much of a hero I’ve become. She whimpered, beginning to cry into the woman’s shirt. I’m pathetic. **** Dusty was trying not to run away. Hero was nowhere in sight and Salem was starting to look worried, and when Salem looked worried, it was bad. Before them stood a demon, the sand and salty water hid the legend from their vision. The earth moved and Dusty felt his foot slip into a crack, sand spilling down into the earth’s core. He grabbed Salem’s forearm and heaved himself up onto more secure ground. Everything was going wrong. His twin was holding up a sword in one hand and a gun in the other. Dusty tightened his hold on his own small hand gun and together they walked forward, each hoping the other was ready. They weren’t. A bony hand snatched Dusty up by the collar, and another hand grabbed hold of Salem, the demon dragged the boy forward


and into the waiting dagger. Dusty felt the agony as it burst through his twin’s smaller, second kidney. Damn. Dangling like a puppet, he watched as his twin’s face came up to meet his own. He turned his head away. The creature was just a vast array of nothing. All he could see was sand, blood, mud and water. He lost half his vision as a pebble hit his eye and carried on churning, caught in the hurricane of violence. Even though he couldn’t see the demon’s face, he was sure that it was smirking. Salem was slowly choking on his own blood as the dagger twisted round, clockwise, than anti-clockwise. Bile rose like blood in Dusty’s throat. Hold on, Salem. Please. The dagger withdrew and, through the corner of his eye, Dusty watched as Salem, blood spilling down his mouth, jolted against the movement. Dusty felt his own body do the same. Through the commotion Dusty listened, he could hear a mumbling in his head, incoherent. Steadily it grew louder until he could make out the words. Just run, Dusty. Go! Just run. Go. Salem? Please stay, please stay! He heard a sigh but received no verbal answer. Still held aloft from the ground, Dusty wrestled furiously, but all he did was kick random objects which just passed in a continual circle. He didn’t bother wasting any more precious energy. He didn’t have much left as it was. The demon lowered him to the ground. This was Chaos at his most terrifying. The hands couldn’t do much harm if they were preoccupied. But now that they were freed, they didn’t have much time. The bony hands elegantly arched

themselves, and with its middle finger, pointed. The hurricane’s wind surged around the finger and, with a dismissal, it arrowed forward. Aiming to rip right through Dusty, claw at his mind until there was nothing left. He covered his face with his arms, waiting for the hit. Salem took it. The force still knocked him but he was away from the demon. He watched as Salem was knocked unconscious, their internal link broken. He ran, the demon’s claws grazing his legs as he sprinted into a cave. He half crawled and half ran his way inside, relieved when the darkness swallowed him, but he didn’t stop. Already two Rejects were following him. He needed to get away, and quickly. He edged his way deeper inside, aware that he was trapping himself. Things were starting to look complicated. He hadn’t expected to die like this. He felt his way through the cave, stumbling when a path opened up. He could hear the Rejects sniffing their way around, but so close to the centre of the energy his scent was getting lost amongst another, stronger power. Heart beating against his chest, he turned a corner and was met with a set of steep steps leading downwards. He tripped over the first one, and fell the rest. His knee jerked out of place and he screamed. A deep graze carved itself into his cheek. Battered and on all fours, he carefully opened his good eye, it wasn’t dark in here but a tall shadow was obscuring most of the light. He really didn’t want to look up. He looked up. To see smiling the face of his mother, her beauty contorted cruelly by whatever Reject had deformed her. His heart stopped for a moment, skipping a few beats. Everything was silent. The footsteps of his


followers had stopped, teetering on the last step. They dared not come any closer. Dusty wished he hadn’t either. He didn’t move, he didn’t think that he could. What could he do against her? She watched him through cold, icy blue eyes. He stared back, restraining himself from looking away. He wasn’t going to cower. He wasn’t going to beg, at least he hoped he wasn't. ‘Child? A man came to me, not a child. Why are you here? Quickly, before I decide you have a use,’ she smirked. ‘Or rather, not.’ Dusty pulled himself to his feet, and tried to ignore the fact that it was three to one, and said the most suicidal thing of his young life. ‘I’m here to defeat you.’ The image cocked her head to the side, listening to the echoes of his voice. Her smile grew wider. ‘How, do tell, do you intend to kill me?’ Dusty gulped, too many scientists’ theories smashing around in his head. He didn’t know. A dawning comprehension crossed the images face, her eyes sparkling. She laughed. His mother’s loud, cawing laugh. He shook his head. Blue eyes stared down blue eyes. Dusty pulled himself straighter. This would be so much easier with Salem. He forced as much strength as possible into his next words. ‘I have my ways.’ Even as he said it, he cringed. Ways, really? Is that all you, my mind, could conjuror up? Her face tried to look compassionate, but settled for condescending. She laughed at him, and reached out a hand to cup his cheek, he pulled back, gasping. ‘Please, mother?’ ‘I am not your mother, child. My

body contorts into a chameleon. I am more powerful than you could ever hope to be.’ She touched his long, rabbit ears, rubbing them. Dusty sighed, missing his mother. ‘I don’t want to be like you.’ He whispered, shaking his head, clearing away the web of memories she had dug up in his mind. ‘No? Then you will never defeat me.’ She smiled and it reminded him of his mother once more, reminded him of all the people who still had their families, still had someone they wanted to protect. He had to defeat her, he just had to. This was what his training had been for. Whatever happened now, he was dead. A calming realisation came over him. He stood straighter, smiling at her, catching her off guard. She stared at him, unsure of his new found confidence. Taking advantage of her lapse, he made to turn left, but dodged right, head bashing into the his mother’s arm as it shot out and grabbed, yanking him and throwing him away like a doll. Dusty’s head cracked into the wall, dead to the world, just violence was once again waking the world up. ****


TOUR WRAP UP QUESTIONS FOR NOTERMINUS We're very pleased to welcome back Scott of Noterminus! You've not long completed your début tour, The Consortium Tour, with Sankara and Ryan James. We joined you on the very first gig on the first leg of the tour in the last edition and we're here now to force those memories to the forefront of your minds, kicking and screaming. So... Remind us a little bit of what your influences are and how they filter into your music. Our influences are quite numerous. There are actually quite a lot that haven’t made it onto the album (Maria won’t let me put any Euro Pop in any of the songs. She’s so mean!). For this album (‘Haselupker’s Ink) my two main influences were Katatonia and Devin Townsend (I don’t think I

can go through an interview without mentioning his name – I might have a problem) as they were two artists I was really, constantly listening to. If you listen and enjoy any music it’s going to affect you in a certain way; whether it’s a type of sound that you hear, a cool riff, a fantastic lyric or just an attitude that comes from the speakers. By its very nature, art will seep into your consciousness and influence you in certain ways; whether you want it to or not. The thing is, Maria and I wrote the majority of the tracks a while back (before we left Swansea in fact) and there has been a certain time frame between writing, recording and releasing. This means the music and lyrics her and I are writing now have a different outlook and style to what we produced back then. The core of the music is still the same – it naturally would be (there are still big choruses, counter-


points and dark themes) but as writers we have, not matured (I hate that term) but developed. To still be writing the exact same thing after three years would be a little bit boring don’t you think? This isn’t to say we’ve done a complete 180, but just that as we grow as musicians and hear new things and see different interpretations we are influenced, and that means we have the potential and impetuous to write different things. So cut a long answer decidedly short (too late?) everything we hear or see influences us. Sometimes it teaches us a new way of looking at the same subject, sometimes it teaches us how not to proceed with things! I wouldn’t say we’re sponges that soak up everything, because that would be cheesy and ridiculous. We’re more like livers after a heavy night drinking; we’ve ingested everything we can get our hands on and are slowly filtering it until the crap and bile has been sieved out of our blood stream, leaving

us with just the good stuff. Fuck, I never was any good at metaphors! How did the tour go from a personal stand point? Personally for me, the tour went very well. It was our first major try at the road as a band (Maria and I toured as solo acts in 2011) and all things considering it was a fairly painless experience. Of course things could have gone better at certain points, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches – it’s an inevitable conclusion in life really, not just touring. Overall, the camaraderie of the acts and the fans that came to see us made everything worthwhile and incredibly enjoyable. fans?

How was the tour received by your

Everyone enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to meet the fans that have supported us and continue to do so.


to find out that it was in fact me! Much hilarity ensued. Bastards… Ha ha. What was it like working with Sankara and Ryan James? Fantastic. Not only are they great musicians, but they all know the worth of hard graft. No one jibbed out in any way and all hands were on deck. Jay (Sankara’s guitarist) was especially fantastic as he drove the, ‘tour bus,’ and slept in it to protect the gear as the rest of us luxuriated in a certain well known chain of, erm, ’nomadic chalets.’ You can’t get much more dedicated than that. Plus every night, Sankara and Ryan supported Noterminus as we played. They were kind of like groupies, just without the STD’s!

tour?

What was the best memory of the

Getting out there and playing, being in different unknown cities, the adventure of it all and the camaraderie. And the worst, any horror stories? Well, I think the time I wiped sick on my face was a low point for me! It wasn’t even mine! Some bugger had puked in the toilets and had obviously been wiping his mouth with toilet paper. For some reason I had a korma thrown in my face (I won’t go into it) so went to clean up in said toilets (you know, apply fresh lippy and mascara). When I went to wipe my face I didn’t realise that there was still some stray puke on the toilet paper. Oblivious, I finished up and went back to eating the meal the group had ordered. I thought mine was off because all I could smell was a faint whiff of vomit. I had to get Maria to smell my face

So what's next for Noterminus? Well, we’ve just officially released, ‘Haselupker’s Ink,’ onto an unsuspecting public so we’re busy promoting that to the hilt. We’re also currently looking for a second guitarist and drummer to complete our live line up. Maria and I are desperate to get out there and play again, but seeing as we’re only a two piece at the moment, the electric sound isn’t viable. We are going to be playing some acoustic shows though, so that’ll showcase the album in a different light. We’re also hard at work writing for the next album! Even though we’ve only just released, ‘Haselupker’s Ink,’ because the songs have been around for so long we’ve just written and written. We’re not going to even think about releasing anything else at the moment though, as we’re so proud of this disc, we’re going to spend some quality time promoting it and getting out there. Hopefully for the next album though,


we’ll be able to work with Joe Gibb (Mighty Atom Studios) again. He mixed, mastered and produced this album and to say he’s captured an incredible sound is an understatement. Everything on this album sounds huge and to work with someone else at the moment, for me, would be like taking a step back. Into a dog shit. ‘Haselupker’s Ink,’ is an odd title. What’s that about? Originally, we were going to write a song based around The Odyssey. At the same time our friend, Martin Haselupker Thomas, was getting a tattoo that was based on the same concept. As a working title, I called the potential song, ‘Haselupker’s Ink,’ just to name it and give it a foothold in reality as we built it. In the end though, we decided not to write about The Odyssey as we felt it was a little overdone, so we just made up a little (albeit similar) story/scenario ourselves. Thing is, I loved the title (and still do) so it kind of stuck. It’s quite ambiguous and like the band name makes people question it. How did the band originally form? It was a side project really. I was in a band called Judge Tuxedo and Maria was in The Reasoning (and also doing her solo acoustic stuff). I wrote a few riffs and Maria and I developed them into the songs that are on the album. We both left our respective bands and decided to concentrate on Noterminus (or as it was called back then – Abraxas Scorn (grrr, metal, raaaa, etc. etc.) full time. Originally we were a live acoustic duo looking to make a metal album and form into a band, which happened over a period of time. Now though, it would seem we’ve come full circle and are back to the

acoustic duo. That’s not a bad thing though as it’ll give us a period to reflect on the music, write our next album and give us the ability to control the next moves we make. What did you all do before that? Musically, as I’ve just said, I was in Judge Tuxedo and Maria was in The Reasoning and doing solo acoustic stuff. Job wise, we were both working at Swansea Metropolitan University. Which is also where we met and fell in love. Awwww. Soppy bollocks. How do you come up with your lyrics? Talk us through the process. It depends really. I can’t speak for Maria, but for myself it can be numerous things. I generally tend to take life situations (whether real or imaginary) or qualms and put them into verse. Generally it would seem that I write about things that I see as a


problem or am unhappy with and try to figure them out with terrible poetry. How successful it is, I don’t know. I’m still bitching about things, so maybe not very! It can be very cathartic though and does help me organise my thoughts into some kind of order. Do you write the lyrics for the music or compose the music for the lyrics? 90% of the time the riffs will come first, which we form into a basic song; then the melody and then the lyrics. Sometimes I’ll have some lyrics and fit them over the arranged riffs bringing the melody at the same time. Though for one song we’ve just composed, I got Maria to do it the other way round. I got her to write the lyrics, get a melody line and then we put the riffs over it. It was definitely something that was out of our comfort zone, but it was ultimately fulfilling and worth it as we’ve got a great new song out of it. How do you go about putting the music to the lyrics? As I said, the riffs usually come first, but we generally wouldn’t select lyrics for a song basis that didn’t suit it. For example, lyrics about happy sheep and playful pussy cats wouldn’t go onto a death metal style riff and grindcore middle-eight. Although having said that, it has given me an idea… In your opinion, which would you say is more important, the music or the lyrics? I find that question impossible to answer. Depending on my mood, the music could move me more. Give it a couple of hours and then maybe I’ve shifted to the lyrics. Give it a few more minutes and then I may hate or love both. It all depends on

time, place and what kind of tantrum I’m having really. What would you say to the popular held belief that lyrics are poems with a musical accompaniment? To a certain extent yes, but lyrics are an entity of their own for me. A poem and a set of lyrics can (and sometime should) be completely different. I feel that a poem should be more rigidly structured and should be able to stand up on its own merits without accompaniment. Lyrics however, are joined to the music and have less rigidity surrounding them. They’re more free and fluid but can actually lose impact if the music is taken away. But that’s my opinion and I’m sure many people would disagree with me! Any advice for new bands just starting out? Work hard. Develop as musicians. Don’t expect an easy route. Don’t give up the day job just yet. Never take any shit. Be fair. Join the community. Have fun. Work harder. Where can people buy your music? Our album is available to purchase from the fantastic MAMstore either as a physical copy or digital. The link is http:/noterminus.mamstore.co.uk Other than eating, name 5 things you would use peanut butter for and why. -Spackle -An inventive, if slightly more viscous form of water torture. -An easy way to get dogs to, ‘like,’ you. -Inspiration for an album of love songs. -Some kind of, ‘Home Alone,’ style weapon (especially if the burglars are prone to go into anaphylactic shock).


FLASH FICTION

Standstill He waits. The chain of a pocket watch glitters across his waistcoat and the fabric of his suit rustles gently as he unfolds the time. Without taking much notice of what the hands tell him, he tucks the time piece away in its proper place. No one comes anymore, though he suspects that this is what happens when one is dead. Spooky Onward Christian soldiers. When the going gets tough the tough get going. An army, it is said, marches on its stomach. Humans have bigger bellies than centipedes. Centipedes have more feet and they must surely be all the same shape and size to create that fluidity of movement. Left. Right. March! Left – sizes 4, 7, and 11. Right – sizes 3, 6, and 9. Chaos? A pirouetting miniature one hundred footed dragon with some sort of neurological disorder. Lift plant pot or patio tub and there they will be, cavorting, a macabre dance combining fearful hunger .School proms. Will she , won’t she? Daisy petals fall. Care to dance ? he asks, dismounting. The huge white horse disappears noisily into dry ice. Minus the suit of armor his approach is less cumbersome almost smooth considering the skin tight jeans, thickly creped soles and heavily glued quiff . At this level he is the same height, his face acne ravaged, eyebrows crossed. You dancing? You asking? Accepting the proffered hand


she giggles a pretend curtsy. He nods a bow and draws her into the music. Blonde ponytail bounces – net underskirts flounce, flashing frilly knickers she wouldn’t dare wear to school. He pushes, pulls – she responds easily – fast feet in bobby socks stepping from unconscious into reality. On waking I’m talking to a small cat we don’t have. Looking into the eyes of a tiny fluffy kitten, stretching luxuriously, tiny muscles quivering under strain, tiny tail erect. Grey flecked eyes look into brown, noses almost touching. He has found me in his world as he appeared in mine. No fear. Acceptance. Some small pleasure that the moment is being shared. The day brightens, blue, green and yellow, warmed and comforted by his lingering presence.

All Hallows Eve It was a dark and squally night, skeletal branches scratched against the bedroom windows, bony fingers scratching on the glass. The rumble of thunder punctuated the gloom, lit only by a flash of lightening while the wind howled. It sounded like a crazy, chaotic orchestra jangling with its own peculiar rhythm. The shallow scream of a sparring fox sounded amongst the trees, echoing through the forest. Inside, the meat was roasting slowly, an open magazine featuring exotic destinations lay discarded on the chair next to the cooker. There was an expectant silence in this house, as if it were waiting for someone, or something to arrive. The door was still open. The story was not over. The girl was laughing at the elephant clock and the tape was torn as the fool played with the telescope. The skeleton held court, waiting. The house was coming alive. The clock chimed softly next to a photograph of magic lemons in a green frame. Floorboards creaked, the skirting settled, and throughout the house radiators ticked slowly on. Beds were turned down, towels placed neatly in the adjoining bathrooms. In the dining room a table laden with yellowing crockery and wreathed in dusty cobwebs waited expectantly for the feast to come. Outside, the jubilant storm continued to batter the night. A lonely owl swooped upon a screeching mouse, silencing its cries forever. Soft footsteps crept up the rain-sodden path and the scrape of a hook sounded on the wall as the first visitor arrived…


The Blacksmith "You want to know about The Blacksmith? Well if you got the beer, I got the story... It was 5 years ago that he came here. Nothing but the shirt on his back and a few trinkets in his pockets. He had a stern look about him, one that makes ya think of them statues of the old kings, before the legates had 'em turned to rubble and paving. A quiet one from the start; I still ain't never heard him breathe a word. But he must of said something to ol' Copson, cause within a week he was workin' the bellows as his new apprentice. Most folks didn't take too kindly to him at first. Ya never know who to trust these days. Ol' Copson never said what the big fella called himself, so most folk stuck to calling him whatever they felt like; everythin' from sinner to saint. He just kept workin' away, lettin' it roll off his back like a ducks ass in water. At first, Copson kept him hid from the legates. Wasn't easy, but he did well for the first year. By then, we'd grown to accept him and his quiet ways. Part of the furniture, ya keen? And the stuff he made was fine work, even with the shite metal they leave us as scraps. He took any job for whatever pay, and he did it well. And if he felt you'd offered too much, he'd just take what was owed and leave you the rest. Honest man who did honest work for honest pay, and never a smile or word pass his lips. Problem with honesty these days is the smell: in this foul world, them what smells sweetest stands out the most. Wasn't too long before the legates found him. Don't know if it was the work he did here or coins between palms in some far away city, but they came for him. And when they did, well, that's the day I won't forget for two reasons: That was the day I seen a man's skin stripped right from his bones by them legate's magic; And that was the first time I ever seen a man stand tall and stare them in the eye without a hint of fear in his face. That man stood over the body of poor Copson as soldiers circled with swords, and he fixed 'em with a gaze so full of the forge’s fire, not a single one of 'em dared step forward. I swear, that day the dogs was more ‘fraid o’ the wolf than their masters. 'Course, nothin’ in this world can stand to the legates. They wrapped chains of lightnin' 'round his neck, dragged him down and beat seven kinds of death into him. He never screamed. Never flinched. I swear bastard didn't even bleed. And when they was done, they gave him a choice; his arms for the army, or the village's blood for the soil. Every man, woman and child here saw it and feared for the choice he would make, but he said nothing. Just stood tall, took Copson in his arms, and walked back to the forge. Within the hour he was hard at work, making swords and weapons for the shadows. The legates had worn him down. They had won. That was more 'an 3 years ago. The steel comes in, and his work goes out: fuel for death. Sure some folks here resent it, but they know the score. And he keeps the scraps for our tools and things, so we can't hold it against him. But it's been 3 years since anyone called him anything but The Blacksmith, and he's still as quiet as ol' Copson's grave."


ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

JANE FOX PHOTOGRAPHY Jane Fox was born in Tredegar and grew up in The Rhymney Valley, South Wales. She has studied at University College Cardiff, The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and The Royal College of Art, AND has been awarded ARBS by The Royal British Society of Sculptors. A published poet, writer and theatre maker, she is currently developing 'Natasha', a libretto for opera exploring aspects of human trafficking. Her interests include spending as much time in the natural world as possible.


Valentine - Sculpture WIP


Getting Ready, Never Ready, Ever Ready


KAT WILSON: KAT IN THE ATTIC I am NOT a real Cat, but I do have an Attic full of creative paintings and contraptions, so not an entirely untrue statement :) Since I was young I have loved art, reading, writing and collecting new things to be fascinated and inspired by. Heavily influenced by a teenage love for a certain vampire slayer, along with many trips to Whitby Goth Weekend, my work has taken a certain leaning towards the Gothic :) This, coupled with a love of Terry Pratchett books, Monty Python plus a variety of cartoons (including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney) has given my style a more comedic and softer element. In all I like to think I have a slightly creepy yet overall fun style with a sense of humour :) At least I find it funny :) I mainly create comics and Illustrations for books but on the side I also create special effects ( specialising in gore-not surprisingly), puppets and the occasional portrait, stopping now and again to climb out of the Attic to have a cup of tea and maybe some cake :) Extra note: Truthfully though there is only one artist who will always be my favourite (not because he is a genius who designed flying contraptions way before time and a portrait of a woman we are unsure on whether she is smiling or not) but because he has a mutant Turtle named after him.


Headless 2

Headless 3


Witch 2

Trick or Treat


SHORT STORIES

The Haunted House It’s strange really. For years and years, decades even, I’ve been the home of a miserable old couple. I’ve spent so much time with them, and I can’t even remember their names. I think the woman’s name began with “M”, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they lived in me, with only each other for company. They never had kids, and they didn’t have that many visitors. There I stood on the street, with no-one except them most of the time. All they really did was argue; sometimes when the man got mad, he would pound on my walls so hard I almost thought they’d fall off. They soon died; the man was the first to go, with the woman following not too long after. Man was in a car crash, the woman had a heart attack. I had been waiting so long for them to die, yet I didn’t know what to do with myself after it happened. No-one wanted to buy me, most people passed me by, so I pretty much had nothing to do. It’s strange really. Then one day, a kid, a young boy, came to me, and stood outside for a while. Another little boy joined him, and the first boy said to the second, ‘I think that house is haunted.’ They didn’t hear me vocally, but I still replied to their question. ‘Yes, yes I am haunted.’ I have no mouth,

so they didn’t hear me the same way you’d hear human speech, but they heard me nonetheless, and they ran off. So that’s how I spent the remainder of my days. Kids would come by me, I would say, ‘I’m haunted’, and they’d watch me in curiosity, as I told them the tales of the many ghosts and ghouls that inhabited me. At first I just told them that it was haunted by the ghosts of my former owners, then that sprouted into a whole menagerie of creatures and spooks. A whole army of skeletons hid in my cellar. I had a secret laboratory where a Frankenstein monster was made. Vampires rested in my attic. I’d put these stories in the kids’ heads, and upon hearing anything – the trees rustling, me settling – they’d run away and I’d laugh. It was my equivalent of TV, I suppose. Recently, though, I’ve had this man walk by me every weekday. Every time I see him, he’s wearing a business suit and carrying a suitcase. He must not like taking the bus, I suppose. Wanting a new challenge, I screamed to him loud in his head, ‘I’m haunted!’ and he just carried on. Next day, I did the same, and though he gave me a quick glance, he just carried on to his destination. It’s strange really. He came by, and I told him of the ghosts of the old couple. I told him of the skeletons and Frankenstein and vampires. He just carried on. He just went to his job.


Day after day, week after week. The kids seemed to get less frequent, but he seemed to pop up more and more. I welcomed that. Surely the more he appeared, the more chances I had to scare him, right? I put into his mind stories of werewolves and mummies and shrieking phantoms, but they all seemed to dissipate the moment they reached his head. I’d think up a really good horror story, but I’d forget it as soon as I tried to tell him. Then I ask him, not out loud, ‘Why aren’t you scared of me?’ He replies, not out loud either, ‘I have other things to be afraid of.’ ‘What things?’ He describes them to me just as he leaves, things that make the ghosts and Frankensteins seem rather tacky. It’s strange really.

Gwarchod: A Halloween tale & Poem In Wales, Halloween was celebrated by mumming and guising, This involved people going from house to house in costume (or in disguise) reciting songs in exchange for food. It has an ancient Celtic origin, with the costumes being a means of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the spirits/fairies. In Wales, men went about dressed as fearsome beings called “Gwrachod “When I moved to Swansea I think I saw these fearsome creatures for the first time... Gwarchod I’ve seen them! Yes I have, I have; I’ve seen them: Giant men trolling along Oxford Street, Slowly sweeping to and fro; Bellies tumbling tremoursly over tiny tracksuits; Lurching: Lugubriously Searching... Foraging... For the tiniest of morsels. They sing songs of the rugby fields Reciting Welsh they do not understand. Or perhaps, they proffer Chants of the sacred footie stands, Echoing meaninglessly words that meander along Middleton Street, Till they come to rest silently in Castle Square. Strange numbers or names are artfully Tattooed on their backs; sometimes spilling onto skin. Modern Gwarchods I have seen them Yes I’ve seen them... ...And yes; they’re bloody scary!

Candidate The wind knifed through Broome’s brown suit as he waited on the quay for the foot ferry. It chugged towards him on the choppy water, the boatman’s face white and pinched through his cabin window. Interviews were always tricky, and while Broome had faced many down the centuries he never seemed to get the hang of them. Maybe this would be different. Broome clambered awkwardly over the gunwale as the boat bumped against the concrete. He was the only passenger. The boatman tossed him a long overcoat and he gratefully bundled himself in it. He held on to the rail as the ferry bobbed across the windy strait for the island. A sick-faced Broome was relieved to set foot on the landing stage. An old white minibus idled on the quayside. He turned to hand the overcoat back to the boatman. But he was already off, leaving a trail of froth through the lead-coloured water. He took his seat on the minibus. There were five passengers and a hoodie-wearing driver, the backs of their silent heads above the seats. Gears clashed and diesel fumes seeped into the bus as they moved off. A window was open and Broome pushed his nose to the gap. A featureless plain stretched out to a flat horizon. The air was tinged with sea salt. He shivered within the rough coat and pulled up the deep collar. The bus squealed to a stop. Everyone threaded reluctantly down the aisle as the doors clattered open. Their faces were grey and stolid. Broome stood back and allowed a corpulent middle-aged man to climb out first. He was wearing an ankle-length beige overcoat over a dark suit. He barely acknowledged Broome as he waddled down the steps. They were on a wide, empty square like a car park, its perimeter marked with bent, stunted trees. At one end stood a modern two-storey office block with smoked glass windows. Everyone headed for its double glass doors. They entered and fanned out towards a bank of three lifts. Broome glanced at his lift companion as the steel door sighed closed. She was at least seventy. Fashionably cropped grey hair, pince-nez, black skirt and jacket. She stared at the lift door and didn’t look at him. Broome’s stomach went weightless as the lift ascended. The door whispered open to a large waiting area. Six comfortable armchairs were arranged in the middle. In the corner were two more lifts. Everyone took their seats. Double frosted glass doors hinted at a large office beyond. Above them was a long rectangular electronic board: Please take a seat... it scrolled. Broome pulled at his shirt collar. Tight, like the suit. The shiny brown fabric felt restrictive, as though he was encased. He shrugged as if trying to make room inside his clothes. A tuneful bell sounded. Broome glanced up at the board: David Broome, please...


The automatic frosted glass doors swung open to a bright rectangular room. Light flooded through a single large window. Below it sat three silhouettes behind a long desk. ‘Please take a seat, Mr Broome.’ The light was uncomfortably bright. Someone pulled a blind and slats of shadow fell over the ceiling and walls. Broome studied the panel. Three men in suits with several thick folders before them. Broome knew the contents were all about him. The middle man glanced left and right as his companions riffled through them. They nodded back at him. He folded his hands on his open folder and regarded Broome. His eyes were kindly, his face waxy bright. A smile played on the corners of his mouth. ‘Tell us why you think you would be an ideal candidate for promotion, Mr Broome.’ ‘I’ve been here for a long time now. Gained a lot of respect from my peers. Taken on greater responsibility. Learned from my mistakes and benefited from the training.’ He nodded to the stacks of folders. ‘My record speaks for itself.’ The words came easily. A little too easily. Disquietude nagged at him. He’d been here too many times before, had been passed over so often that he wondered if it was showing in his attitude. But it was not about words. It was all about deeds. Always had been. Always would be. The man with the kindly face nodded. The trace of a smile widened. But it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He looked at his companions. Brief nods were exchanged. Hope surged in Broome’s chest. Was this it? Had he achieved promotion? After all these years? All these centuries? The man with the kindly face closed his folder. ‘You are a work in progress, Mr Broome. You always have been and you always will be.’ Broome stood. The interview was over. The frosted glass doors beckoned him out. In the corner of the waiting area the other five candidates stood before the two lifts. A bell tolled and a vivid red arrow pointed downwards. The Up arrow was on the other door. The door growled back and everyone entered. A cold grey light washed its icy interior. Broome was philosophical. He’d just be glad to get this damn suit off.

The Bakku-Shan I licked the salty stain of blood off my teeth and swallowed. No matter how many I killed, I was never sated. Hunger sustained me. I kicked the spent body into the shadows of the alley and admired my evening’s work. Man is so fragile. The human form can be crushed, torn apart, scorched,

suffocated; or simply atrophies with age. Life is as ephemeral as beauty. This man, however, was far from attractive. His bulbous eyes stared sightless at the sky. His shirt gaped open to reveal his freckled chest, sprinkled with matted greying hairs. The skin on his stomach was stretched tight over his girth. His flaccid penis protruded from his trouser opening like a purple slug. Gravel adhered to the blood leaking from his slit throat; the only pleasing aspect of him. I had created beauty from a flawed canvas, and I was pleased for a moment. Then I turned away and walked towards Asakusa Temple. As usual, the resident spirits thwarted me before I could pass the torii gate; I could not see their forms, but each time I approached I would be guided away by gentle hands. Sometimes I feel a sudden compulsion to enter a temple or church, as if my endless hunger would cease if only I could find a way inside, but since my death I have never been permitted to cross a holy threshold. My birth name was Shigemi, and I grew up to become a true embodiment of its meaning – luxuriant beauty. I was the pretty one, the prettiest girl in Satomi town. As opposed to those Bakku-shan women, who only looked attractive from a distance, I could elicit proposals of marriage with a careless glance. When I was sixteen years old, I thought I was in love. His name was Keigo, and his father worked with mine in the Satomi branch of Mizuko Bank. Keigo had a quick temper; he had even been excluded from school for bullying once, but he remained gentle with me. I needed only to smile at him for his fist to uncurl like a rosebud in the light. He called me his beautiful girl. We were married when I was nineteen and he was twenty-one. It was a traditional wedding. My grandma plucked on her shamisen while Keigo and I danced to the intricate melodies seduced from its strings. I felt like a tiny dove in my white dress, which pinched my waist but covered my feet in a trail of silk. I nearly stumbled on the train of the dress when my mischievous grandma switched to a witty Kouta melody, like those favoured by the geishas, but Keigo's hands on my hips kept me upright. His gaze never seemed to leave my face. I felt loved, safe and protected. After the ceremony we left our guests to continue the celebrations and escaped to our hotel room. After the public nature of our large wedding, finally being alone with him as his wife felt unreal. The anonymity of our surroundings added to my nervousness. Magnolia walls. Cream sheets on the bed. White robes hanging over the back of the chair. We were the only unclean things in the room. He unhooked the first button on his shirt. "Come here, baby," he said. I backed away, excited but nervous. "I need a shower first." "Maybe I should join you there, my wife."


"Give me ten minutes, please." I retreated to the bathroom and locked the door behind me. In the shower cubicle, I let the water cascade over my body and relaxed. I reassured myself: it was my wedding night, my husband loved me, and everything would be fine. "Ayumi-chan" he called out through the bathroom door. "It's been twenty minutes now, what's the matter?" "I'll be out in a minute." I turned off the shower and dried myself. I wrapped myself in a bathrobe and returned to the bedroom. He was lying on the bed, naked. I averted my eyes, shocked at the sight of his arousal. "Don't be shy," he said. "We're married now, so you're completely mine. Come here now." I approached him with a slow step. His crooked smile did not shine from his eyes. I shivered. He untied my robe and yanked it off me. I closed my eyes as the cold air glided down my body. I felt his gaze on me, but kept my eyes closed with embarrassment. He laughed softly then clutched my waist with his hands and pulled me into his embrace, rolling me beneath him on the bed. I struggled to breathe as his body crushed mine and I choked on the raw odour of his sweat. "Don't you want a shower before we go to bed?" "No." He entered me without warning or gentleness. "Please, stop." I tried to move from under him, but he pinned me down and continued his assault. I focused on the ceiling, on a dark spot in the paint surrounding the twinkling chandelier. My mother had warned me that my first time might hurt at first, but this pain was unrelenting. An eternity later he collapsed on top of me. "So good," he whispered. He fell asleep still holding me captive. I twisted out of his embrace and returned to the bathroom. I was still bleeding, so I took a towel from the rack and tried to stem the flow of blood. My face mocked me in the mirror opposite, pale in the florescent light of the bathroom. I felt my blood still flowing out of me and I cursed my beauty. I recalled the look in his eyes as he had violated me. All kindness was gone, only a demonic hunger remained. He was not my husband – he was a beast. I could not face a lifetime of torture as his wife. I took a razor in my hand and slid the blade out from its head. My index finger was cut by the edge as I did so, and I sucked the tip dry in contemplation. I returned to the bed and straddled the body of my sleeping husband. I watched him sleep for a moment, and noticed that I was still bleeding. I needed more blood. Now. I held the blade at Keigo's throat and ran it across in one firm motion. His eyes flew open and he clutched at his throat. Blood trickled through his fingers. His legs thrashed for a long moment. I watched, fascinated. I remained silent as his dying eyes questioned me. Once he

had succumbed to my vengeance I leant forward and drank the spilled blood. Ever since that night I have tempted men who are susceptible to the sight of a beautiful woman. I sleep by day, and emerge at night to taste their blood and rid the world of their twisted desire. There have been so many that I have ceased counting. I cannot count the years that have passed since my wedding night; in my mind it feels like it just happened, I cannot escape that night. Fashions have changed and everyone carries tiny phones in their pockets, but men are forever unchanged. Their desire to conquer beauty never abates. I walk through city streets until I feel that hungry gaze upon me, and then I lead the man into a dark alley nearby. He approaches me, and I feel his desire building. I feed on it; it sustains me. When he believes that I might allow him access to my body, I slit his throat with my fingernails, which have begun to resemble claws. He falls to the ground. If he resembles my late husband in some aspect, I might feed on his blood to relive the agony and glory of my wedding night. Otherwise I watch the blood seep from his neck and offer the sacrifice of one more weak man to my mysterious power source. I avoid my reflection now. The last time I looked into a lake at the Hamamatsu Gardens I saw that my face had become grotesque: large veins running across my cheeks, bulging with the blood of my victims. I cover my face with my still luxuriant hair so that my prey do not realise my true nature until it is too late. The blood gives me hidden gifts; I am much stronger than I appear so I always overpower my prey. I will probably live forever. I have heard the talk about me; I have become 'The Bakku-shan'. I am an urban legend, a myth to scare children and wild young men. I live in the shadows, amongst the other figments of the dark. Most sensible Japanese men know better than to follow an enticing figure into a dark alley, whether she is the Bakku-shan of legend or simply bait for some other sinister purpose, but many have succumbed to my trap over the years. I have tasted numerous salarymen, drunk from a night out with the boss, wandering down the wrong road on the way home. Yakuza gangsters are also delicious morsels; exquisitely tattooed, souls burning with rage and lust. I have slain these man-beasts throughout Tokyo, but tonight I chose to wander the red-light district of Roppongi. In this decadent district I was just one of many options for the hundreds of gaijin tourists who roamed the streets each night, looking for excitement and sexual deviance. Their blood tasted no different from that of my own countrymen and their lust was just as unclean. I could be just another prostitute roaming the streets of this district; my skirt skimming the tops of my thighs, that glossy hair twisted into a pair of schoolgirl bunches. At last, I felt a man’s stare resting on me. I licked my dry lips in anticipation. I did not dare to look back in case he saw my face, and began to walk away from the


main thoroughfare, into the quiet maze of side roads behind the raucous brothels and nightclubs. He followed me quietly, maintaining a wary distance as I led him into a dark alley. As I walked past the sole streetlight, it flickered and died, leaving the crescent moon as our only source of light. I halted, as did he. “Hello,” he called in a foreign accent. British or maybe Australian. I stood still until he approached, until I could hear the beautiful contractions of his blood vessels as his vital fluid raced around his stocky frame. “Do you speak English?” I nodded. I knew enough from years of listening to Gaijin tourists in between kills. “Shigemi, I am here to help you.” He enunciated each syllable with care. I hadn’t heard that name in years. How dare this mortal man address me as an equal? My lengthening fingernails itched to slice his throat open, so I spun towards him and struck him with a downward slash. As he dropped to the floor, I noticed a small gold cross that must have fallen from his neck. It glowed in the moonlight, despite the puddle of blood that was pooling around it. I knelt over the body and drank in his essence. This blood was different from the rest. It tasted cool on my tongue and spread a clean icy coldness around my body. I stopped drinking and looked down at the cross. It reflected back an image of my unblemished sixteen-year-old self. I stroked my forehead and felt the swollen veins smoothed away like magic. Who was this man, whose blood tasted like sweet spring water? How did he know my name? Before I could ponder these issues, I felt that pull again towards the sacred, but stronger than ever before. I materialised outside the Meiji Shrine and moved towards the gateway, waiting for my profane form to be rejected by the guardian spirits yet again. This time, however, I was permitted to enter.

Polyhymnia’s Sonata Tonight is the night. The start of an endless number of middles. A joyously incessant string of cavatine, each performance pristine as the others, perfectly conducted. I sit in wait, melodious darkness battering at my every follicle, each fibre of my skin bristling as I invite the saccharin blackness to become part of what I am. It centres me. And him. The Conductor. He closes his eyes and breathes deep, ready to manipulate and co-ordinate so many different aspects at once. As he begins, so does the music and they fold into each other, beginning becoming end and vice versa. It happens so swiftly and symbiotically it is difficult to see anymore whether he dictates the music or merely dances to the tune. He nods a slow, sanguine nod towards me, his star, and my brain burns with anticipation, distorting thoughts but never the

honesty of the experience. He knows I need the release and he keeps me on the cusp for as long as possible. It has all built up to this exact moment. It is always this moment I cling to, I long for. Exquisite composition leading to a crescendo which will keep me awake for days. He finally motions. My red-satin right hand grasps her neck, fingers pressing with precision as I lift the razor-sharp flex to her taut, quivering tendons. A private ray, the spotlight for my show, engulfs me as I pull across, eliciting guttural tones. Afterwards, skinned thunder lacerates my bubble and I take my place before judgement. I have pleased those who clothe me and feed me. The storm rumbles louder as I take my bow with the rest of the performers. The conductor of our orchestra beckons me forwards, lauding me, drowning me in waves of exultation as I stand upon a podium of roses. My eyes flit towards the audience and there I see it. Without fail, to rescue me, a platinum flare in the sea of sycophantic formality. When all my body wants is to sink , floundering, to the depths, back to the ink, her glow drags me back. A reminder that tonight may be the night I become her conductor. Laws of the physical seem to bastardise themselves when my gaze lingers over her, light bending around the edges, reciprocating my own spotlight. Sandwiched between two cut-cloth black bows, the diamond upon her chest winks seductively at me. The usual journey downwards, over subtle curves presented in green then back to her eyes, flashing as her metronomic hips begin to sway, slowing my heart down. The roaring storm comes back into focus. I take my final bow and the curtains close. Her personal composition comes to an interval as she runs her indice across the top of her almost-modestly cut dress. Will I be the dictator or the dancer? I should have hailed a taxi. From a pandering storm to an actual one. If I believed in any form of deity, I would not be sure whether to take comfort as my clothes become saturated. Is this a shower of praise from that which could guide me, or am I being punished? The reason I cannot find sanctuary in religion is the uncertainty. We are told that we must be beholden to an arbitrary list of hubristic morals and even then that may not be enough for that which we are praising. The parameters are constantly in flux. Music, on the other hand, is pure. Music is honest. It does not pretend to be something it is not. Styles change. Time signatures can be manipulated to suit a specific agenda but the passion in the source material never wanes. Music is versatile. It can make us laugh, make us cry. It can be used to celebrate moments of exemplary achievements, to mark in stone to passing of establishments. It can help us celebrate and grieve. Despite any meteorological uncertainties, what I am fixedly sure of right now is that I am being followed. I have passed into a part of the city that has fallen into disrepair. Where once was lush, bathed in the neon verdant glow of late night supermarts and buffets of


global cuisine, now streetlamps only highlight half-rotten boards of graffitied MDF. No traffic to dull the sound of heels connecting concrete. Measured half-steps escort me as I head towards my destination, every third or so step not reaching me, instead planting itself in a puddle. Yet detectable courage in the footsteps. More than they had any right to harbour on this street. The one oasis in the grey desert now looms large. One could be forgiven for thinking it is a mirage. The sound of footfall fades out behind me as I pull open a door underneath a sign which simply says ‘LIQUOR’ and head inside. I place my water-laden dinner jacket onto a hook on the hat stand by the entrance, trying in vain to brush droplets off the silk lapels. Impossible to tell if it is having any effect in this lighting. Roughly sanded floorboards support a handful of small, eclectically collected tables and chairs. One booth sits in a small corner of the room. Bare brickwork leads up to a suspended, plain white tile ceiling. There is no barman. Each table has two crystal tumblers, an unmarked bottle of whiskey and a brown envelope upon it. Payment is made in faith by the patrons who leave money in the envelope. This is not the sort of place usually frequented by people looking for a fun night out. People come here to forget the past, mourn the present. Or remember. On a table in the corner stands a gramophone and next to it, a stack of worn vinyls. At Newport by Muddy Waters spins between my fingers before I let the needle into the grooves. As the music fills the space, I choose the booth, my usual residence in this tiny pocket of the world. I wriggle my sodden scarlet glove from my hand and place it on the table. I fill both of the glasses, taking the first purely as a warmer, before refilling and waiting. I hear the door creak and slam. Then there she is, sat in front of me, leaving a lipstick mark on the glass without saying a word. Her emerald dress lights the room and it centres me. How can one man be centred by both light and dark? The perplexing nature of this can but inspire me to find a solution. We sit a while in silence save the music. I am transfixed by her. This is not the first time we have sat in close quarters yet each time I find a new detail and I am lost. This time, the way her throat bulges and returns as she swallows each sip of whiskey. The way her chest heaves gently with each drag of her silk-woven cigarette. Eventually the silence is broken with husk in her voice ‘I finally want an honest answer. Why do you not compose for yourself? You’re wasted in that pit.’ A question she has posed to me before. I have avoided an answer thus far. I lean against the leather back rest and sip. Tonight is the night. ‘I do compose’ is all I proffer. ‘Well the world should hear what you have made, in all its majesty.’ ‘In time, everyone will hear it. It is visceral. The music I write will make the blood drain from your body.’ Body. Perfect marble, Grecian body. I can’t help but

imagine the music I could create with her. ‘I know. You have seen me, haven’t you? Not just here. Not only in the stalls.’ Words rasp out between perfectly pouted, smoking lips. ‘You ask me every night why I don’t compose. You know that I do. Why do you ask so insistently?’ The Conductor, my carnal, rhythm-fed nature, awakens once more with a snap. ‘I have been in your private auditorium. I know that you have had a lot of muses, as you call them’ Hints of envy? ‘And you know how my muses aid me in my creations? ‘I do. I have ached to be your muse. I want you to use me, raw and open, to compose something intense and ferocious.’ So the beat begins, the Conductor waving his wand hypnotically, demanding control of me as these words skipped into my ears. ‘You will know that I need a completely blank, empty sheet on which to mark my signatures.’ She drains her glass, a fresh ruby imprint adorning it and leans forward taking my unencumbered hand and placing it on her thigh, exposed by the slight riding of the hem. My fingers trace lightly without friction or resistance. The Conductor gives me the final cue. ‘Oh, we will create such harmonies.’ Finally she lies before me, naked, honest, illuminated by the bare light bulb above The perfect muse. I stand above her and drink her in. Every inch the Polyhymnia. Scores wash over me, my head swims with possibilities, eventualities. A fresh red-satin-encased finger traces her lips, she looks up in anticipation. I let the finger run past her throat, down the valleys at her collar bones and over pink-peaked hills to her stomach. Her breath escapes as I trace a double-clef around her navel. Always one for juxtaposition, my right hand flashes to her neck, fingers pressing with precision, her fight for air falling into the mix behind the wrangling of her leather bound wrists, straps circulation-inhibiting as the chains rattle out a percussion against the metal frame of the bed. I release my grip and she relaxes, breath deep, metronomic, urging me to play. Her back arches as my hands wander over Stradivarian hips, low moans creating a quiet prelude for the main symphony. Lingering over thighs, my hands eventually grasp an ankle, raising it from its rest. I reach to a small metal table at the side of the stage, carefully planned and laid out instruments for the event. A steel plectrum is my choice. I close my eyes and let the sumptuous A-sharp clash against me as it glides through ligaments and sinew. To make the most of the melody, I quickly unshackle her left wrist and in turn, snap each of the fingers back to create a crunching bass line, middle-C’s thrashing against sound-proofed walls. Sensing the crescendo rising, I grip her face and press the cherub-cheeks together. Lips pursing together for the curtain close, I prise them open with a serrated hunter’s knife, velvet parting for the encore. The tip


presses against the back of her throat and she rocks uncontrollably, moisture evaporating through passion and pleasure. I force the tip deeper and her final, beauty-strewn notes of anguish are played over exquisite burgundy and ivory. The Conductor has laid down his wand. Her metronome is stopped. No longer can she conduct me, nor I play her. This time, no thunder to pop my little world. I stand upon my podium of rose-water and let myself sink into the darkness. Just as it envelops me completely, the winking star around her neck brings me back. The piece is done yet the symphony unfinished. Just another wonderful cavatina.


POETRY

Image Copyright ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser)

I first met Carl Whitely many years ago at a gorgeous little café in the middle of Manchester where a rowdy bunch of film-makers in all their different guises had gathered to spend an intense weekend making short films. Amongst others, Mr Whiteley worked on a film called Doctor Poo which was as gloriously juvenile as it sounds. Since then he has been involved in organisations such as Zombie Aid, which has really kicked up a storm. You may have also seen him on the telly-box last month talking about his cheeky attempt to sell a planet on E-Bay to fund a sci-fi feature film he is working on. We caught up with Carl as he prepares for the next zombie walk and teases us about his very hush-hush upcoming projects. We also find out his best and worst memories working on a film and the inventive ways he would use peanut butter.

How did you first get into film-making? I have always loved film and writing… but it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I thought of putting the two together. After starting the very popular Zombie-Aid zombie walks, I fell in with a crown that enabled me to start work on short films and meet people in the industry. From there on I networked and am now working on my first feature film. What did you do before you became involved in the film-making industry? I worked in hospitality and travelled a great deal. What does your job entail? Too much to mention here. Networking is the biggest part of it all. This is great as it is usually done over drinks.


What genre do you prefer to make? I love horror but have yet to make a horror… in fact I am due to shoot my first horror short in a few weeks. I tend to stick to comedy, making people laugh is always good What genre do you prefer to watch? – Do you think the genres you prefer to watch have an impact on the films you make? I watch anything!!! Apart from action, and never things with Vin Diesel, The Rock or that twat from transformers films (Shea…whatever his face.) At the moment TV shows are better than films.. .Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Game of Thrones… the list is massive

To quote Nike, ‘Just do it’. Almost everyone has access to a camera (phones). Very few people do great films the first time round, but stick at it. Learn from errors. My first few are shite… I admit that, but I like to think that you can see progression with my work. I would say the biggest one are people that try to bring you down… many people in know in the industry come across these people. Don’t let them put you down or stop you

Who are your influences and why? Tough one…. I grew up with the Spielberg classics so look up to him, although I would never aspire to be as big as him. Is there a particular writer/director whose work you admire? Writer, Stephen King. Director, Spielberg or Scorsese. I just love their story telling How do your influences filter through to your work? I don’t think they do. I try and do things my way. If I do a comedy I do stuff I would find funny…. If other people like it… bonus… if not… I still get a laugh! The people I admire live in a different world to me. I tend to make micro budget shorts… it is a far cry from the £100 million + budgets my ‘heroes’ have to play with. Do you have any advice for film-makers trying to get into the industry?

Where do you get your ideas? From my head. What happens when you make a film? How does it all begin? Depends on the type of film… a short is simple… get the idea, write it and cast and crew it. Luckily there are loads of film makers out there willing to help. I have been fortunate to find talented people help me out. A feature film is different.. I have spent years getting to the stage I am at and I am still a way off my goal. So, write it… crew


it , cast it, shoot it, edit. What’s next for you? My feature, I hope! I have an amazing cast with very well known actors and musicians lined up. The production crew have over 30 features under their collective belt. I aim to shoot next Summer Tell us about your upcoming projects. As much as I like talking about it… I can’t. Until we get the ‘green light’ I cant say much about it. However, I am happy to speak to you once I get to that stage. How did Zombie-aid first start? I heard about Zombie walks in the USA and as there was nothing like this in Manchester thought I would give it a shot. It was epic.. thousands turned up. It is now in every major UK city (they have their own versions of ). I am happy that I started this craze… I don’t think a Zombie Apocalypse will ever happen so this is the closest to starting a zombie apocalypse one can ever get to. There is another in Manchester this October… check facebook out for details. What’s the best memory you have from working on a film? I met my ex on a film… that was a great few months. I think getting drunk with Bez while filming a music video was the most interesting. And the worst? I met my ex on a film… that was a great few months. I think getting drunk with Bez while filming a music video was the most interesting.

What do you do when you’re not working on a project? I am always working on something. Even on my nights out I am trying to network. I must piss my mates off as I talk about nothing but my projects. We’ve asked about your film influences. Are there any authors who have influenced you too? I mentioned Stephen King earlier. I love his stuff…. Each book is related to another in some clever way… genius Where can people see your work? I have a few bits on YouTube. Some can’t be shown online yet as they are submitted to festivals which have rules about showing them online. But my youtube channel or facebook is a good idea. Apart from eating, name 3 things you would do with peanut butter. -Use it to kill someone. Many people are allergic to peanut butter….the perfect crime -As a prank – when your girlfriend is asleep place a dollop between her ass cheeks. When she wakes she will be horrified and ashamed. Pretend you understand and expect great treatment from her for a week (can you see why I am single) -Make up- cover your face in it and paint it red… instant zombie goo (I made that up but it may work). If you’d like to get in touch with Carl about zombie movies or interstellar real estate, his facebook page is wide open: https://www.facebook.com/carl.whiteley


LIFE WRITING

Water

Someone’s trying to kill me, please stop them, mam, mam, please stop them thumping my chest and shouting, shouting at me to wake up. I am awake; if only I could breathe and speak I would be able to tell them. At last, that horrible taste has gone, has gone with that green, black stuff that’s just shot out of my mouth. What did mam give us for dinner; it wasn’t that bad to make me so sick. Strong arms lifting me up and a clean, warm, soft sensation engulfing me, alien to me, and now der der der der. Is it a fire engine? I’ve always wanted a ride in one of those. Or maybe a police car or an ambulance. It doesn’t matter which one, won’t all the other kids be jealous when they find out, but now I wish the noise would stop as I really want to go to sleep, go to sleep and forget the horrible things that are coming back to me now. Twenty seven years later and here I am in the galley of the Rainbow Warrior and everything comes flooding back to me. It is the realisation of a dream that had subconsciously began amongst the rats, old bicycles and bedsteads that had trapped me down in the filthy depths of the Irwell. It has taken me a long time to realise that those hard claws that I felt crawling over my body weren’t a terrible parody of Mickey and Minnie’s soft scampering over my arms in some dreadful nightmare, nightmares that continued throughout my childhood and have still not left me.

My eco warrior days began with clearing the Dolly House of the rubbish and rubble which had been part of the local landscape since before I was born. Dolly House, the name never really bothered me, it was one of those things that just was. The half formed walls that sort of had the shape of a building but with no roof and was used as the local tip, full of rubbish and rats, made an adventure playground for us kids from Lower Broughton. You could balance along those jagged, crumbling walls, play hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, anything which fired our imagination and took us for a brief time away from the cobbled streets and poverty which was the norm. Its finest moments were the communal bonfires which took place there every year. For weeks us kids forgot all our squabbles and worked together collecting bonny wood, and neighbours who would ignore each other for the rest of the year discussed who would do the baked potatoes or the treacle toffee. It wasn’t until I took an interest in it that my nan told me that this was the site of the old wash house that had been bombed during the war, and in immediate post war Britain had been left to go to ruin. This made it seem very romantic to me and I determined to clear it up to make a decent playground for the kids. A fitting tribute to the old place. Then followed the bullying of the council, the water board, anybody who would listen to me into cleaning up that stretch of pollution which nearly took my life.


My proudest, although illegal, moment was freeing the white mice from that lab in Hertfordshire, relieving them from a life of pain and suffering. I think Mickey and Minnie would have been proud of me. And now look at me, so privileged to be here, taking part in one of the most important missions that Greenpeace has undertaken. How can man contemplate polluting such a beautiful part of the world, and all for the sake of an instrument of mass destruction? Anyway, must turn in, soon be midnight and must be alert for patrolling duties tomorrow, I’ll take one more turn along the deck and savour the peacefulness and tranquillity of it all. What’s that? There it is again, it must be something serious! How blue it is down here compared to that other place I have been. No cruel claws scratching and gnawing, no alien objects digging into my flesh and dragging me under, rather the delicious tickle of multi coloured fish on my body and the sight of incredible shells and rocks in their amazing natural habitat. No black mud trying to engulf me, rather the pure blue waters of this paradise washing over me and taking me at last to my beloved Mickey and Minnie.


REVIEW:

ONCE OCCUPIED As you may remember from the last issue, we interviewed playwright (amongst other things!) Kelsey Richards about her then upcoming play ‘Once Occupied’. We sent one of team out to The Swansea Grand Theatre last month to feast his eyes on her play and tell us all what he thought.

I arrived at the theatre breathless and flustered, thanks to a shocking lack of basic timekeeping and my inability to remember which car parks are pay and display in Swansea. Needless to say the cashier handed me my ticket and looked baffled as I ran out the door to get a parking ticket. A further run up three flights of steps brought me to the stage door, and into the room where the play was held. I took my seat. So to give a brief synopsis of the play; A residential nursing home has a particularly mischievous resident by the name of Dilys, whose schemes and tricks get various residents and staff into trouble, in particular Cleo, who has to try and keep the place afloat in difficult economic circumstances, and trying to keep Dilys' tricks from reaching the people funding the home. The home comes under treat of closure because of money problems, but assisted by a new member of staff, Jemima, and a former gambling addict resident, their luck gets turned around. This play was thoroughly enjoyable. The casting is excellent, especially the younger actresses, particularly Cleo, as the homes manager, who has to

deal with awkward residents, and money-grabbing owners. I also like the residents, particularly Ruth. Even though it's not mentioned directly, we know she has problems with her memory. The story is touching and made me think of my Grandmother who has been diagnosed with Altzheimers, and regularly struggles to remember things, so I definitely related to Ruth's character. The main character, Dilys, is very much the lead troublemaker, and definitely reminiscent of television series Waiting for God's character Diana, but finds her past merging with her present, and let's her past experience colour her opinions to some extent. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and if you get the chance to see it, I would recommend it. It's a brilliant story, with excellent characters, amazing cast, and reminds me of my childhood, every Sunday after lunch in a nursing home in the valleys, sat on Mam's lap, listening to her sing Sospan Fach.


POETRY

Flesh 2 or How to Keep from Dying I am dark, I am hollow I walk a path where none can follow My eyes are wet, my heart lead Sick from the poison I’ve been fed Under your gaze I shiver and shake These lonely days I quiver and break The pressure, the tension it drives me to tears I live the darkest of all my fears Little more than a husk, a shell I feel trapped in this private hell Of my own making - my design I know now how I crossed that line

From life to death, from light to shade I stand and watch the colours fade From all that was ever good or right And I wonder will I last the night? Here alone in this agony I cannot bow out gracefully So I’ll take the pain while its still fresh And turn to rage or flame made flesh.


I am part of all that I have met The day she passed, like the day before saw condensation form in heavy droplets, begging to roll smooth, tear like down the cheek of cold sleek glass. A garden framed, tiny fluctuating strokes by natures brush, a seasonal palette dictating. The phone rang then, my fathers’ voice, tiny from a box of tissues. Moved back to the boy. 1.05 am it was declared. No fanfare, one nurse, a crowd of photographs bore witness, a room brim full of ghosts welcomed one more into their sepia tinted paradigm. There was talk of genetics and D.N.A, eternal life a breathing thing. Mum made sandwiches. Memory, a cold pool to be dipped in. The breath weight of words enough to tip a domino falling like a shot soldier in WW1, all lined up like we used to do over the melamine table on a Saturday, as you’d hark on about Maggie’s rule as the veg got boiled to death. Another falls, your only child, a beacon burning with tomorrow, smothered, became a hoarder, text books, fossils, all earthly stuff. He still kissed us goodnight with a “God Bless” though. All down now, the illusion of separation broken by gravities suck. A woman of means, like you all were. “Work first then play” a chisel scratched groove to your needle tongue. And what of the girl? A pensive spring, a lark, a happy thief, sweets disappearing into sleeves, a worm down the back of the neck dropper, a stepping stone hopper. All coiled, boiled down to that dusty, fragile as a broken bird skin bag, devoid of teeth, morphine pupils drinking light for the last time. I touched hands, flesh reaching across time. I’m still standing, a monument in flux.


The Black Puppet

Halloween Graveyard Précis Sombre tones; Greying bones; Choking weeds; Marble steeds; Worn graves Grass enslaves. Worms eat Decaying meat; Death’s place, Life’s disgrace; Who’d die? Not I...

You dance for me like a puppet on a string, fawning over me in your desire to be so constant that I must acknowledge you, accept you as my life, and when I whisper no your efforts are redoubled and you leave me no peace to consider that you not being here is easy. Easier. And my life, repressed by your presence, tightens like a noose until I am slowly suffocated, tinged blue by your proximity and I long for a day when I can no longer see your pitch black shadow cast against the wall of my life.


Love Rain sodden blackberries’ leaves hanging like dead crinkled bats The wind heavy spots spiny prickles guarding fruit laden brambles Suddenly sun black blue throbbing reds glistening Bushes heavy dark down there relieved to have pulled out first impression lessons Over-reach stung Fat beefy crinkled undersides holed bitten multi-layered fragile fronged brown stained leaved fingers large as steaks Forever promise won’t poison you/ eat/ to kill you would be painful Today eat black mists idyllic islands tree tipped with the heat/ flush Different field different breed nippled longer limbed stretching above green And the little ones shiny knobbled pin head family Fields of families’ acid yellow orange rust lips curled dancers Come to the fence/ move away/ over the fields drizzle open shirt Here breathing heavier comes Split crocodile fight tendoned mossy jaws bird angled neck fallen meets the earth butterfly buttercup fly crawlie pissed wet arse My life is my life/ your life is your life/ too busy foraging to worry if you’ll call Nettle mushroom garlic soup blackberry crumble/ why would I remember you Juice stained sheets stunted upturned trunks Warning Sapling sprung sniffing whiskers haired groaning necks Monsters or vampires Continue through mud and shit august foxgloves Ghosts or ghouls dead crusted pods Things that are feared Orchids rampant smother stream purple broccoli By mortal fools. Over there/ they watch/ horses/ here boned But it’s not them arched back sea-blue eyes long lashed brown That you should fear white/ white brown curious cautious It’s the living and breathing Alive wet unprotected searching munching conPeople right here. tinue People like me Brave return kicks belly bitten challenge expectaOr people like him tions of adulthood The one at your door Lavender parachutes languid penises purple Trying to get in. seeded sways He has a knife Bright sunshine tiniest fly feeding red stalked He is ready to kill stars grand safe consistent Did you lock that door? In future you will.


Between Life and Death Row Green childhood dreams of things that I would do, Formed pictures of famed places I would go and visions of sweet gals I’d dare pursue, Great truths I’d learn and joys that I might know. By shackled wrists they led me from the dock. No shame, no weakness, eyes fixed, cold, unstirred. My apathetic grin, their sentence mocked. Attacks inside; my steely front deterred. Impenitent for show, I must save face! In private: tears, self hatred and regret. I wish men could re-climb the slope from grace, Dark deeds delete and destinies reset.

On penalty of death I have survived, For twenty years remanded by the state. In hope; the order, never to arrive, And privilege of death controlled by fate. Immure for life, save death; I did appeal. Prolonged my case at least! I played for time. The verdict slays all hope, there’ll be no deal. With life’s forfeit, I will confront my crime! Bound like a beast in Utah’s human pen, Kept alive with fodder, warmth and water. Unchanging, yet uncertain years and then, My futile heart will perish at the slaughter.

Inside my head no comfort can be found, no store of happy memories, or pride. The welcome howls of madness quells the sound, A thoughtless crime committed in my youth, Of undiluted misery of mind. Means all I’ve learned of life comes from the page. Experience of love and joy and truth, My wretched self I know I cannot save; Restricted to the world outside the cage. Past hope, redemption, mercy or defence. I pray that when they come my soul is brave, For date and time now waits my end’s comIn scanty cell, the simple things I mourn; mence. For family celebrations, drinks with friends, A summer walk, the sea, the song of dawn, And gilded, tranquil skies as sun descends.


Thanks and Acknowledgements

!PLEH YLLAER TON MI EV’ YEH T !ENOG A NI EM DEPPAR GNICRO T F DNA X OB DNES !K ROW OT !TFEL R EM EVEN I !PLEH TTAM-

What can we say? Another fantastical issue to smear over your eyeballs! This one, it has to be said, has been a tough one. Christopher and I are relocating from south Wales to Manchester, so our flat is basically boxes as far as the eye can see and our lovely, lovely graphic designer Matt Evans has only gone and moved to America no less! In all seriousness he's waited a long time to get there and we're pleased as oh so tasty punch that he made it. We wish all the best to him and his good lady wife for the future. This! Is not sad news however. Do you really think he could ever truly leave us? And you? No no no! You see, the beauty of Bunbury Magazine online is that we can force slave labour on him anywhere he goes as long as there's WiFi. *Long pause for evil laugh* So everything and nothing has changed dear reader. Well, anyway listen, it's been lovely but I really have to shoot off as I've just stabbed three boxes of cornflakes. That's right, we went there! A cereal killer joke! One last thing before they 'bran' me to rights... sorry, please have a think about the next issue. The theme is Christmas and I'm getting excited just typing the word! As always, we are now open for your festive offerings so get scribbling! Thank you all again for your continued support, Happy Hallowe'en Everyone! Have you got a festive story you’re itching to tell us? Are you a comedian or musician with some Christmas gigs in the pipe-line? Get in touch with us and we will do all we can to get you the coverage and publicity you deserve. @MagazineBunbury

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in/bunburymagazine

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Or by writing your submissions and compliments on real paper and pushing it up the chimney. We do the route one day before Santa so you may have to get an extra mince pie in for us though we prefer gin to sherry. Please note that the last method has a 99% chance of not actually working. Bunbury Magazine takes no responsibility for the inevitable failure of this method of communication and you can’t make us, so there! If I were you, I’d use one of the links we’ve got there. Just click on one whoosh! Like magic, you’re there. Go on. You know you want to.

Are you a writer? Send us your work, a musician, comedian, artisrt, performer or playwright? Let us know, we’ll plug you or write a review for you. Bunbury Magazine, the arts and literature magazine. Get Scribbling.


IN LOVING MEMORY OF

LENORE

Nevermore

‘Now weary traveller, rest your head for just like me, you’re utterly dead.’ ~Taxidermy* *Actual quote by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor


CHRISTMAS ISSUE: DECEMBER

Bunbury Magazine Three  

The skies darken as ominous clouds gather overhead. Storms play out over land, sea and shore, like a child unenthusiastically pawing at a yo...

Bunbury Magazine Three  

The skies darken as ominous clouds gather overhead. Storms play out over land, sea and shore, like a child unenthusiastically pawing at a yo...

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