Page 1

ISSUE SEVEN


KEY

ViolenceV Sexual ContentS Explicit Language- E

‘The Unexplained’

CREDITS Non-Fiction

Amanda Madison

Poetry ‘Glass in Three Parts’ ‘Wonderland’ Caro Bushnell ‘Maths’ David Emmanuel ‘Café Wi-Fi’ ‘Swansea Cats’ Dave Shannon ‘Strange Calling’ ‘Razor Wire’ David Subacchi ‘A Sudden Fit of Glass’ ‘Bump in the Night’ ‘Little Clues’ Karen Little ‘Choose Wisely’ ‘Heroes of Today’ ‘Mind Cocaine’ Mr Grimez Poet Warrior ‘Caryatids at Euston Station’ ‘John Keat’s House’ ‘Gothic’ Paul Murphy V ‘Mortal Terrors’ ‘Seedling’ Rhea Phillips ‘Biblical Proportions’ ‘Hospital Window’ ‘Orchestrated’ Sophie Merlo ‘Meanwhile in Sweden’ Suki Spangles Serials ‘Yum Yum Part Five’ ‘Unnecessary Person Part Two’

Kurt Jarram Isaac Swift

Flash Fiction ‘’The Mermaid Tank’ ‘Vanishing Act’

Lauren Bell

‘For the Best’ ‘Lead and Copper’ ‘Stillness and Motion’ ‘Pluto’ E ‘Beyond the City Lights’ ‘Mule’ ‘Fried’

Short Stories

Co-Creators: Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Content Editors: Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Executive Editors: Maria Owen-Midlane, Scott Owen-Midlane Layout Editor: Matt Evans Graphics and Layout: Matt Evans, Joe Batsford Social Media Correspondant: Richard Hillier Cover photo: ‘Untitled’ George Gkrekas Contents: ‘Oor Bit’ Tracy Ryan 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: https://bunburymagazine.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/submission-guidelines/ If you have any queries, please email us at: bunburymagazine@gmail.com Bunbury Magazine © for the internet, 2013.-2015

Andrew Lee-Hart Billam Morris Luke Labern Marcelo Rosales Briceno Nikki Collins-Mewha Paul O’Sullivan Robbie Cleary


CONTENTS

EDITORS LETTER We’re back! Firstly, belated salutations of the season to you and yours! Secondly, we knew we’d find you here. We’re not being cocky or anything – we have proof. Over there, just to the left. See? All questions and paths and flows lead to Bunbury in the end.

How was your Christmas time?

Not good.

Didn’t really do much.

Excellent, except for the hangover.

What about New Years?

Pants.

Didn’t really do much.

Excellent, except for the hangover.

So, two-thousand-and-fifteen. The year we are supposed to greet Marty McFly to the future. Have you all got your hover-boards polished and strange colander-hat-type things on? That aside, we’re hoping to have a very good year this year, like last year but even better. In two-thousand-and-fourteen, we were absolutely astonished by the quality of the submissions we received and we want (and indeed, have for this issue) more of the same! We do not really believe in new year resolutions here but if you are going to make one, make it to send something over to us – artwork, poems, photographs, you know the drill! We love what we do and we hope you do too. While you are about and reading some fine works, please feel free to visit our WordPress blog where our own esteemed Christopher Moriarty has set himself the challenge of writing one poem a day for the entire year. Any feedback, encouragement, criticism, jeering or loitering is extremely welcome! You can read it all here: bunburymagazine.wordpress.com We have plans this year. Big ones. We are going to be making some very positive moves to make your Bunbury experience more shiny than it ever has been. We hope you all stay on board.

Well never mind all that, here’s Bunbury!

Well, that is probably enough rambling from us. Let’s get to the meat of it. Welcome to the first edition of Bunbury for two-thousand-and-fifteen. We hope you get the cultural fix you need. Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year,

Non-Fiction Poetry Serials

Christopher, Keri, and Matt.

- page 04 - page 06

- page Art & Photography - page Flash Fiction - page Short Stories - page Special Announcement - page

Christopher Moriarty

- co-editor

31 42 55 57 71

Keri-Ann Edwards

- co-editor


The Unexplained - Amanda Madison “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown�

―H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

Searching for answers to life's unexplained questions is a habit that has been instilled into humanities existence for centuries. Asking questions has become a necessary and obligatory element of living - it is a need, a compulsion and obsession to explore the unknown and eliminate the fear of uncertainty. But is knowledge really power? Why do we fear the unknown? What might we be missing during our need to feed our insatiable appetite for answers? The need for knowledge is drilled into us from a young age; the education system, quite rightly, advocates and encourages curiosity, exploration and discovery. But has this unrelenting and continuous tube-fed abundance of information stunted our progress in other area's of our physchological and spiritual development? Humanity's tenacious search for answers is,

undeniably, one of our greatest assets and tools in terms of progression. The forward thinking research and tremendous efforts put into medical advancement is second to none and the scientific and technological breakthrough's within space exploration, the natural planet and historical excavations are awe inspiring. It is our curiosity and drive to piece together the puzzle of our ancestory and explore the world around us that drives us towards these discoveries and creations, a curiosity and drive that should never be lost but perhaps channeled. Perhaps we, as a society, need to learn when to allow a question to go unanswered, allow ourselves to revel in the beauty of the inquisition rather than the logic of the reasoning. Think for a moment of a magician or illusionist; from the victorian escapologist Houdini to the modern day street magician Dynamo, no matter what manipulation or 'cheats' they may use, in order to gain the ultimate 'wow factor' they still both rely on the audiences unquestioning ignorance and will to believe. According to Phil Coppens (2012)... 'Though magic is trickery, it leaves the audience with a sense of otherworldliness, in which the magician has been able to use a divine power, to create a feat that, to the


eye, seems impossible in this dimension. Though it is trickery, it “opens the mind” of the audience, literally opens it to other experiences and a belief that there is more to this world than has previously met their eyes.'

question that creates fear, it is the question that promotes action. If the answer was to be found our search would be over, our curiosity satisfied, our fear diminished, our conveyor belt of ideas shut down.

Sadly, in the last few centuries magic has become less of an artform and more a form of psychological trickery. Diminishing the supernatual element and replacing it with formula, mathematics and 'slight of hand'. Upon seeing a magic trick one of the first questions to enter an audience's mind's is how did they do it? Our pang for logic and reasoning overcomes our desire or want to believe in the mystical or extramundane. We are trapped in the chains and safety of rational thinking, limiting our 'openess' and reducing our ability to think outside the box. As is stated by Marco Torres (2014)...

A lack of knowledge does not necessarily mean a lack of power, sometimes we'll find the answer, sometimes we won't, sometimes with question and doubt the most unlikely discoveries can be made. Rather than relentlessly searching for an answer for fear of not knowing, perhaps we should find wonder in the uncertainty. Perhaps we should use curiosity not to demand answers but to discover an abundance of possibilities and rather than fear, perhaps we should find comfort and bliss in the inexplicable, use ignorance to our advantage and find magic in the universe. Just as a child willingly believes in Father Christmas, take a moment for yourself and believe in the mysterious, consider the impossible and embrace the unexplained.

'We can’t live freely because we can’t stop living in fear. People who are fearful are very hesitant to explore new concepts or embrace other possibilities.' There is an uncountable amount of literature commited to revealing the secrets of saucery and 'tricks of the trade', in turn discouraging any potential belief in the paranormal. Which is more exciting – the logical, calculated explanation of how a magician correctly identified your card or revelling in the excitement, wonder and potential that there were larger forces at play? Are these explanations really revelations or are they crushing the one thing that magic is truly dependent on? The idea that 'knowledge is power' has plauged the minds of many influential people throughout the centuries including the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Aristotle, Helen Keller, Peter Drucker, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. All rightly attribute knowledge to the advancement and success of humanity in our fight for a better world but are we developing an unhealthy obsession with knowledge? Counsellor Articles (2014) state 'We are quick to judge, fear and even hate the unknown. We may not admit it, but we are all plagued with xenophobic tendencies.' Are these tendencies forcing us to live in a never satisfied state? Is our quest for the truth placing denial, cycnicsm and mistrust above wonder, fascination and hope? When did we start questioning our existence? When did we cease to just believe? For centuries existential questions have been at the heart of many philosophical and religious debates and have inspired significant movements in literature, the arts and psychology. However, despite this phenomenal influence and impact within society we are still no closer to finding a unified answer as to what the purpose of life actually is. It is the question, not the answer, that has spurred on these continual ideas, debates, creations and discoveries. It is the question that drives thought, it is the

“...above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

- Roald Dahl

Bibliography Coppens P, (2012), Mayan Magic, www.philipcoppens.com/mayan_magic.html Levi, E, (2007) The History of Magic, CreateSpace Independent, p5-370 Sartre J,(2007), Existentialism is Humanism, Yale University Press, p1-78 Torres M, (2014), Fear of The Unknown, www.themindunleashed.org/2014/08/fear-unknown-creating-hysteria-every-part-lives.html Unknown (2014), Expert Articles, www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/fear-of-the-unknown-and-how-the-mind-works


POETRY POETRY

Orchestrated He moved across her like a virtuoso on the keys of a piano. He progressed effortlessly, playing the scales legato in various modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian Followed by arpeggios. When he hit the Dominant Seventh, She let out an a cappella yelp And the darkness responded One octave lower.


Wonderland Her world was upside down falling up into a hell-hole hit by bricks and shit. Tea cups and drugs that fuck you up make you grow tall and fat and tiny and dim and then knock you back down again chucking in gin. Finding an impossible key. You can chase the rabbit sniffing up crack and your head is playing tricks as a thin played card knocks you for six a pink thing on sticks hits out and you wince while a drugged up whore wants to cut off your head. The only way back is through a door but your cries flood the floor you get in a boat but it won’t float and you sink. Can’t swim. Really got to give it up the bloke in the hat is giving it that. Can’t swim. There’s a sea-swarm of creatures in my head making a din. Can’t switch them off. I’m chasing the rabbit, A walrus and a dore mouse Can’t swim.


Gothic Mary Shelley has fallen into the acid bath. Dr Polidori manacles himself to the sideboard. Shelley is mad, moneyed and red. He can afford to be an anarchist. Keats breathes TB into Byron's face. black Gothic blood drips into time's clockface. Everywhere pale vampires extend one putrid claw. Time to time travel, please my hat and cape. I'll be in Cairo by dawn or ride across the hot sands Into the raw, biting wind aghast at the horrors I've seen.


Clues I spent last night, like many other nights, with a turpentine rag, rubbing out the clues scrawled in enamel paint on the walls of my house. I have done this since they first begun to plot. In the cafÊ, I choose a safe surface, far from the electrified metal they set up to harm me while I slept. I order toast, am given red jam. They think I am a communist; everyone else eats fascist yellow. Giant mobile phones disguised as tower blocks don’t fool me. I want to avoid detection, but can’t camouflage myself when everything surrounding me is peacock blue, and I wear red. The hordes in black uniforms make me realise that, though for days I have carefully selected and cut up the bad, once again, I have managed to dress in the wrong clothes. I am not the only one. I observe a woman walking backwards, her silk kimono folded so tidily around her before she bursts into flames. I don't want to burn like she has, my tattoos melting, and denying their permanence.


Biblical Proportions When Jesus came to Surbiton Sprinklers spurted with rage. Kettles steamed, cars tooted horns Budgerigars swore in the cage. When Jesus came to Surbiton Peroxide sat and fumed. Hair scissors snapped, high heels clacked Teabags sweat and stewed. When Jesus came to Surbiton Lawnmowers gnashed their teeth. Little dogs yipped, garden shears bit Televisions glared in disbelief When Jesus came to Surbiton Coffee shops brewed up hate. Burgers flipped, cans hissed, then spat Clock fists pounded steeple slate. When Jesus died in Surbiton Nail-guns exploded where his arms spread. While sirens wailed, the Branch Line squealed And 747s roared overhead.


Café Wi-Fi Tap: Tap: Tap...Tap. Tap harder. Bang! Hate, hit the keys... Maybe the words will come out harder? Or Maybe: just Maybe, They’re’ frightened? Tap: Tap: Tap...Tap. Pouring out with frustration, Words dance around, Creating their own, Sporadic spelling mistakes. Laughing; They fall mischievously, Floating gently Off the end of the ....


Bump in the Night As fears curl cashew nut pale and subtle, charmless shapes trammel sleep, and make the most of going mad. Memory drops in brackish water, rotten disturbances still burrow and make the most of going mad. Ticks of unruly childhood are plumping in neck-deep and make the most of going mad. In bloodstream’s first betrayal, ankle-dragged, they’re handed over and make the most of going mad. Scars divulge forgotten stories of untold suffering places and make the most of going mad. In the clattering behind the gush, ears shrink in wetness as fears curl cashew nut pale and subtle and make the most of going mad.


Maths (Dedicated to Mr Allen) The first step to solving a math equation is admitting you have a problem. the second step is running away, That is if you can't move to another country sick minded folk might try to solve the "interesting little conundrum" Abandon them with all haste! Yes they might be family, Yes they might be friends You might even like these people But forget'em: Flee for your life! No cure exists for their affliction and if you stick around, It bloody well might get you too.


The Cunning Little Vixen Within minutes she'd collapsed and turned blue1; Sharp-Ears2 glazed that voice with sucrose, chyle lilt. Its razorback teeth ground down their sinew. Crevices hid caramel residue, spat into pulsating fissures and rebuilt: within minutes she'd collapsed and turned blue. Those air embolisms aren't good for you. Plasticine arms loll as they pull the quilt, its razorback teeth ground down their sinew. Plump a harrow complexion and eschew the emancipated witch with cheap gilt; within minutes she'd collapsed and turned blue; shouted “crash” but got insulin that slew mottled underarm pricks that'll smear his flue; its razorback teeth ground down their sinew. Saw him “healthy as a dog”; if Nurse knew... “remember it hurting” then the bed tilt. Within minutes she'd collapsed and turned blue; its razorback teeth ground down their sinew.

1

“Within minutes she'd collapsed and turned blue”: quote taken from an article from The Mirror and regards the Ward Four murders and Nurse Beverley Allitt (Edwards, 2012). 2

“Sharp-Ears”: a reference from a the opera The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček, 1924).


A Sudden Fit of Glass On the roof of my vodka bottle conservatory in a sudden fit of glass a trembling man with winter beard is trying to ignore the energetic complaints. In a sudden fit of glass a vodka bottle is trying to ignore the energetic complaints in a cornflake packet. A vodka bottle, a trembling man with winter beard in a cornflake packet on the roof of my vodka bottle conservatory.


Meanwhile In Sweden Human resources She works in human resources. Don't tell anyone. Sometimes I hear those screams from her basement; Screams like giving birth to a fully grown and functioning dentist. Then, after the screams, There's that familiar matryoshka doll silence. The crooked blood leaks from her sleek harbinger mouth, As she carries the sleek heavy-duty plastic refuse bags, One by one, To cast into the swollen river, biblical. Later, The police boats circle, stall, and circle, As the deathbuoys from Hades bob to the surface. And, As she dreams her distilled murmuring slumbers, A shocked Japanese tourist tries to understand the good policeman manning the cordoned-off bridge, And what the mystery of the shiny bags, Thrown by beautiful aitch-ah lady into the seawater, means. When the beautiful aitch-ah lady comes home, Bearing a pizza and some wine, She whispers: Don't ever ask Never ask I'm fine... All right then. She knows my view on the dead-eyed sharks that throb and thrive, in, the liquidiser planet: Human Resources. At night, Sometimes she slips down the stairwell, To banshee-howl with the cats in the alleyway outside. The owls never twi-twoo along to the a capella jazz from hell.. I'm not sure what she sees in me either. You see, People working in human resources have also been disappearing from this city. She never asks why I sometimes have a spaced-out look as I walk through the door,


Entrails swinging wildly around my neck. She just tut-tuts and suggests: Have a shower if you like Your favourite long-life organic lentil soup is defrosting in the new solar-powered microwave You've got time. We watch a Swedish detective.. He's striding towards a caravan in the middle of a field by the motorway. And you can tell even his coffee has a hangover and needs a couple of aspirin.. He opens the door, There's no-one inside. So he takes a look around. Close up: photos and newspaper clippings They're all dead! Dead! except...except for her.. A realisation - boom! His face twitches: she's next! He tears off that photo as tyres screech outside: It's him, the bastard! He stumbles. A Saab Estate careers toward the motorway. Norway! He's going to fucking Norway! It's only twenty minutes..! Now the detective runs, stumbling across the field, Screaming to a colleague down the phone... Cut to.. Woman. Her phone rings. She looks at the phone, But she needs to open this special-delivery parcel. What's in this parcel? She's puzzled. She looks at the phone again. She looks at the parcel. A pulsating bass arises.. The detective screams again, stranded in the field, Wild-eyed, desperate. He closes his eyes. The sounds of the motorway fade Just his heavy breathing now - full volume. Heartbeats. Stop. Cut to black.


Choose Wisely Verse 1 Flow with nature or become a machine. Trust your own decisions. Forget other people's schemes. Try to be wise about every move you make. Don't let a fool misguide you, down a dark road. Sometimes there's a team. Sometimes you got to work alone. Many choices to the final destination. So think wisely. Robot time is wasting. Forgot that, flow with mother nature's greatness. No one can create your truth. Speak for yourself. You got nothing to lose. Never jump before you walk. Choose wisely! Verse 2 Social circle gets smaller. But that's not a problem. Party time is gone. Focus on better way of living. Self-improvement. Reboot the format, from the propaganda crap. Knowledge is your friend. Just respect that! Rupert Murdoch facial expression with the Lex Luther profession! Oooooh it's serious! Is there a twist to the plot. Maybe so maybe not. But you're the director. So you call the shots!


Swansea Cats Miaowing twice I woke up, stretched and set off in search of a... ... a low soft vibrant sound to give me pleasure and contentment. I came across a man repairing a dog. In bits it was; Wires and flashing lights lit up its insides; screws were loose everywhere. The man was most perplexed: Bewildered I padded on. Next I thought, Swansea marina, always something there. A balding man in dressing gown stood on a balcony, loudly shouting obscenities at the seagulls... ... “Terns: You Turds: Glaucous gulls: Go: Get off: Off” He addressed them in state of undress. I moved on quickly. I spotted through the tunnel a hooded, hunched, huffing and harrumphing human. Through the creatures bright red anorak I could plainly see, An abnormally undersized person with a large head and short arms and legs. Dwarfed by the tunnel I scampered through to the bus station, Pausing only briefly to hear the Number 6 bus speaking in a murmuring tone,  indicative of its warm smugness. Maybe it’s just purring?  Glances were everywhere. In the coffee shop, the tense man moved the fat boy’s rucksack: His game was over before it had begun... ...Dashing past the Rangers roaming the High Street rummaging through their thoughts of self-importance... I searched for the comforting cat call that would take me back. Miaow I whispered; Miaow I cried; Miaow I trolled. Miaowing silently, slinking and slithering back. Retreating into the darkness from which I came. Apocryphal feline as I’ll ever be; as I think I ever am. Miaow...Miaow.


Mortal Terrors Pain transcends grasped knuckles begging for an oblivion, ugly luck scatters eight legged brothers as remnants of crushed pecan nostalgia tarnishes the intrepid masks of swollen faces that they once loved; Break bones amongst the splinters of coffins, I must have been in a dream when I shoved you through the door, demanding the boffins explain my actions. Too far gone in slumber that I exist to pull thorns from chaos, they spindled over kinsmen as lumber crafts their bones; hush distress as Amos prophecises gold with a weary heart, neglect reality and let it smart.


Mind Cocaine Mind Cocaine personality distorted. Mind cocaine mentality nauseous. Verse 1 TV fanatic, TV addict. Getting high on the drama. You believe Kat Slater is your mother. Coked up on Eastenders and Hollyoaks. Your Reality is fictional with many anger issues. Restricting your mental power. So numb, so corrupted. With a default belief system. True potential is locked down. In the internet prison. Propaganda kidnaps your senses. Alternative thinking is a crime in your book. You give a blow job to the mainstream. just get your drugs. The quick fix. Big Brother serves you. The mind cocaine that suppresses the brain. Mundane thoughts! Bad attitude creating a world of no respect or gratitude. Mind Cocaine personality distorted. Mind Cocaine mentality nauseous.


Verse 2 TV is not a baby sitter. Think out of that box. Be critical of the mainstream of information. It's easy for a Dark Master to fool the nation. Or fool their own friends. To Hypnotize people with another fashion trend. It's like the cycle that never ends. We gotta break the code. Or otherwise it will crush our creative flow. Energy levels damaged by fluoride and other chemicals. A detox is essential. The body is a temple. The body is a kingdom. Be one with nature. Cleanse the aura from Toxic words. Don't let Facebook kill your spirit. Friendship non-existent. Just another digit in cyberspace. Let yourself breathe. Do not get Hypnotized by the damn TV.


Strange Calling We are often shown bearded and of poor apparel Kneeling wide eyed in the muddy straw Crowded star struck with beasts Around the new born child But though humble of background We were not fools The beasts were not ours No shepherd would allow Such an assortment To follow on his heels And we were dressed In suitable clothing As befits inclement weather But what matters is the force That drew us there The vision we experienced Tearing us from our fields Compelling us to leave Our flocks unattended If only for a short while We had been midwives To numerous births Has seen life created And extinguished In an instant Known both joy And disappointment It was our calling But this was a strange calling Far beyond Our understanding What could we do But stare and tremble And wonder whether We were wanted Only as witnesses Or whether something more Might be required of us.


Caryatids at Euston Station at the British Library caryatids gaze across the station's entrance to unseen gazing sphinx eyes of strangers portrayed within each stone enclave. the eyes still achieve absolution or journey into space across the station edging towards a great confession sullen sentinels of furtive spectacle.


Razor Wire Why put razor wire on top of these walls Next to Albrighton station in Shropshire? It won’t protect them against flood or fire Or even rain, wind and heavy snowfalls. Is it to stop the burglar when he calls? To frighten him off and make him perspire? The threat of cuts forcing him to retire And think of places with easier hauls. This is just unnecessary caution, Nothing like it at the nearby air base That does not boast this type of protection. Where twisted, sharpened steel is out of place Despite the big fighter plane collection. Here where trains arrive and lovers embrace Razor wire is an overreaction To imagined threats of aggravation.


Heroes of Today Fight for justice. Fight for today. Because today is a new day. Cut through crime. It's the vigilante method. Hiding in the shadows. Some use knives, others use arrows. Beat down Knuckleheads from Liverpool to Harrow. Masked crusaders with nothing to lose. Losing doesn't exist. The warrior spirit lives long in the urban mist. Evil forces prepare to be sliced and diced. It's nothing nice. These villains will pay the price. Time to pay the piper. You might get killed from the super hero sniper. Justice wins in the city of sins.


Seedling Argyria flitters silvered dust over readied clouds punctured by nitrate to seal gangrenous wounds that pastiche the clover; expand hopes for lunacy and repeal nightly studies that reduce lunar and steal tenacious sights; let the perished repose under antique engines that scatter a squeal, membrane this metal, seek to juxtapose seeded hope that had just recently froze evangelion and replaced it with evening blooms that will open at the close, draw the bath and pluck that silver spooned myth eastward towards the speckled tide that roils dolphins to Gysglyd Cove; rupture the spoils.


Hospital Window With one swift movement, pale pink clouds on sterile cotton swish against the cold metal bed-frame. “It's a beautiful day today,� twitters the hospital orderly. Doesn't she know the weather ought to do the decent thing and rain? The orderly prattles on about the sun. Such inane, thoughtless talk about the sun! As if expecting I should gallop out into the viridian space the sickly pink clouds overlook in my crimson-stained theatre gown, my flabby bottom flapping against its gaping seams. The orderly straightens a pile of magazines collapsed on the window ledge, her bare lips, nude eyes tutting at their inability to stay upright, while dried-out red and white carnations wilt from the fertile grass's unblinking stare.


John Keats House The sun splits the cyclop’s Eye of a gravitating clock. An upturned sundial is Purpling in fragmentary rain. Men and women are separated From their obligatory pain. Lights are on in the mechanism Of an ordinary soul. Glittering membrane called love That kisses and settles On the vain peacock colours That burn so brightly.


1- The Glass Bone deep jagged earth gutching cried through nails perversely drag razor deep into frosted glass. Nausea creeps into and through me and my pathetic cortex riddled grey matter. Opaqueness obtuse: aggravating me through this virtuous glass - before me, sits; cajoles me to touch, to taste environs within. There is no clearness between us - no innocence to smash, (I want to) see shards destroyed in splinters of fate before me. I have a distrust of frostness that I cannot see around or through; it is a second class of glass in my book. There is no room for hazy lies in my essence. The sound of shred nails menace the surface: it is quite deafening and a solitary ripped up torment. I do not want to be here anymore. I will not drink from that glass. 2 -Glass Bone deep Jagged Guttural Gutching cries Pervesely drag razor

deep

Frosted Nausea creeps, in Aggravating Riddled within an opaque, smash innocence; shards destroyed Cannot see, Opaqueness frost. Shred nails menace Solitary ripped

Torment.

The Last Report The last report …Bone deep, are you receiving. Over? …Jagged …Guttural …Gutching cries …Pervesely drag razor deep …Frosted …Nausea creeps, in …Aggravating (indistinguishable) Riddled within an opaque, smash innocence; shards destroyed …Cannot see…(comms. now lost) …Opaqueness frost. …Shred nails menace …Solitary ripped up…

Torment …Over.


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 (Part Five) I took the tram back home still unable to shake the awful feeling that had descended over me. Something just didn't feel right. I went to a shop a few streets away from my apartment unit and picked up three bottles of Syntho-Merlot. The label on the bottle claimed that it was indistinguishable from the real thing. But I knew from experience that the guys who came up with the recipe for this stuff had probably never even seen a glass of real wine in their lives. Not that I could talk, as I haven't either. But I can sort of imagine what it would taste like and this certainly was not it. The biggest problem with all Syntho products is that they taste (For want of a better word) dead. Due to the fact that they are made of entirely man-made ingredients and chemicals they have no life to them. No vibrancy or vigour. The only way that I can describe what I mean is for one to imagine a person being asked to re-create something that they have only ever known a second or even third hand description of, using none of the materials from which the original article is comprised. Imagine describing an elephant to someone who has never seen one before and asking them to draw what you describe. It isn't hard to believe that what they would draw would in no way resemble what an elephant really looked like. That's what Syntho products are like. They are the unknowing interpretations of those who only have the most basic understanding of the things they are trying to recreate. I arrived home a full hour before Ryan was due to get back in from work, so I drained one of the bottles by myself

before I heard his scan-card cause the lock to buzz open. He was a little cross at me for drinking during the week but didn't require much persuasion to join me. “Have you looked at what's on the hard-drive?” he asked after I had explained to him what had happened. “No.” I replied, reaching forward and taking the bottle to refill my glass “And I'm not going to until tomorrow. I can't focus right now.” “Shame about their son.” he said with a frown as he watched me drain the last of the second bottle “Real sad stuff.” I gave a little huff. “I don't think the kid is all there anyway.” I raised the glass to my lips and took a sip, the thin, artificially crimson liquid stinging as it entered my mouth “It's April I feel for.” I said with a hiss “It's weird. She didn't seem to be grieving all that much. I know these things can take time and what not, but you know? It almost felt as though she sees Dean's death as an unfortunate set-back rather than a real family tragedy.” “Well, as you say,” said Ryan “Maybe it just hasn't hit home yet? And also, if he died of starvation? It's not like she couldn't have seen it coming.” “I don't think it's that simple.” I said taking another drink “There's something going on here, I know it. I just can't figure out what.” “There's a solution for your predicament.” Ryan said with a sly smile, drumming his fingers on his chin and looking up to the ceiling “Ah yeah, that's it. Investigative journalism. What is it that you do again?” “Shut up, you smarmy sod.” I chuckled sending an elbow into his side.


“A smarmy sod who's been pulling strings with people at work just for you.” he grinned back at me. “What are you on about?” “Oh, I don't know.” he said returning to his mock contemplation. He had a habit of pulling this one on me “Only that Pan-Cerebral-Audio-Terrorists are playing the LiverChester auditorium in a weeks time and I may or may not know someone who has a pair of tickets going.” “You can get P-C-A-T tickets?” I said, unable to hide my excitement. I knew about the show, but had heard that the tickets had sold out in a record 0.3 seconds due to extensive pre-booking. Ryan gave an affirmative hum. “Nail this story,” he said “And we're there. You need to lighten up, Trace. We both do. This could be just what we need. A big break for your career and an incentive to go after it.” It was talking about a mutual appreciation of Pan-Cerebral-Audio-Terrorists that had first gotten Ryan and myself together and they had since become sort of 'Our band'. They aren't exactly the sort of thing that one hears on the daily Music-casts but they have retained a pretty strong underground following. Due to this they only ever get to do venues that hold around ten thousand people maximum, so tickets are always in high demand whenever they play. I gave a laugh. “Onions, P-C-A-T tickets, what kind of friends do you have at that place of yours?” “It's called being nice, Trace.” said Ryan “You journalists, all you're ever taught to do is take, take, take. That's how your jobs work, but if you give a bit every now and then it's amazing what you can

end up getting in return, so it is.” I couldn't help but give a smile, but a proper one this time. One of those real, big smiles that tug at the sides of your face as you can't properly control it. He is the only person who has ever been able to cause me to do one of those smiles. The clouds that hang over this city don't have silver linings, but if they did, they'd have Irish accents. I don't dream much. Never have really. Ryan has always been more of a dreamer than me. He has those strange ones where you actually wake up even though you're still in the grips of what ever nocturnal wandering you had been taking part in. One time he had sat bolt right up in bed, pointed across the room and proclaimed, “Cats!” This roused me from my own slumber and I sleepily glanced across the darkened room looking for any evidence of what the hell he was on about. “Cats! The cats! Look!” he continued, pointing across the foot of the bed. “What do you mean 'Cats'?” I asked, rather annoyed at being woken up. “Oh, never mind.” he had said, rolling onto his side and falling instantly back into a state of unconsciousness. I doubt he has ever even seen a cat. So I have no idea what sort of phantasm had been troubling him. But that night however, it was me who was visited by a strange Vision. I've never been one to try and interpret dreams. I believe they are just our brain's way of juggling around certain snippets of information and aren't ever really supposed to make any form of sense. Just like


with Ryan's cats there is no way that we are able to divine anything from our dreams, as in to say they can't predict the future or anything like that. Yet, this one dream, giving what has happened since, has been stuck in my mind. I dreamt that I was sitting in our kitchen, just as me and Ryan had been the night before. I was sat at the dining table with a plate set in-front of me, my hands placed flat on either side of it. I didn't try to, but I had the overwhelming feeling that if I were to attempt to stand I would be unable to do so. I felt fixed, as-though paralysed. Any movement of my head or even my eyeballs seeming impossible. I heard the kitchen door slide open and Charlie walked in. He was wearing his shining green Giggle-Gog headset and bore a backwards digit '5' printed on his forehead in black. “Five?” I said, surprised to find that my voice still functioned “What are you doing here? Where's your mum?” “I'm not sad, Mr Ayres.” Charlie replied as he walked across the kitchen and stood on the opposite side of the table. Only visible from chest up, due to his small stature. “But why?” I asked, staring into the glowing, verdant orbs of the headset “Why aren't you sad?” “I'm not sad,” he replied “Because I'm hungry. Aren't you hungry, Mr Ayres?” “I'm always hungry, Five.” I said with a sigh “Everyone is. That's the problem.” “Would you like some 'Viscu-Pac'?” Charlie asked. He reached below the table and, from somewhere, produced a pre-opened tetra. Holding it upon both of

his flattened palms. “Yes.” I said, a slight desperation entering my voice upon the sight of it “Yes, please. Let me have it.” “Daddy!” Charlie called out, the two eye-pieces still fixed upon me “Mr Ayres wants to have some 'Viscu-Pac' with us!” I heard the door slide open again and Dean Brennan stepped in. His body was completely emaciated, so as he looked more like a reanimated corpse than a living person. His eyes dark, and sunken into his face, his lips peeled back revealing ivory white teeth, the angular points of his bones visible even through his loose hanging clothes. “Are you hungry, Trace?” he asked as he made his way cross the room towards his son. His voice hollow and somewhat grating, the words distorted by the fact that his thin, peeled back lips couldn't fully meet. “Yes.” I replied, my voice barely above a whisper. Fear taking the breath from my lungs. Dean patted Charlie on the head and then walked across the kitchen to the counter and removed a knife from the plastic block. Charlie set the tetra down on the table in-between us, but instead of approaching it Dean began towards me. I could see the knife he had selected more clearly now. It was the second from longest with a serrated edge, glinting in the light as he approached me. Still unable to move I began to gasp as Dean slowly trained the knife upon my face. “What are you doing?” I panted “Dean, stop. Stop it!” As he came within a few feet of me he lowered the blade. I felt the very tip prick into my chest. “Stop, stop, stop.”


Was all I was able to muster. “You wanted my story, Trace.” said Dean, no hint of emotion or inflection in his voice “Then have it.” Dream pain, so real at the time. As real as any waking agony. The knife entered my chest at the crux of my collar bone. Though I could still not move I felt every tooth of the blade sink into my flesh, and then begin to move down, down, down, meeting the rigid barrier of my sternum. But then still down, Dean placing his hand upon my static shoulder to gain purchase. The jagged edges of the blade grinding into the connective material of my chest cavity. “No! No! Stop! Please!” I screamed, my entire body engulfed in searing torment. Wailing in tortuous pain, all sense and reason dissolving into animal like, unthinking shrieks as the knife sawed through me with every downward thrust of his hand. As he reached the base of my ribs they then swung open like a bloody Venus fly trap in reverse. The jagged ends of the bones snapping forward and out, sending a spatter of blood across the room. Dean then placed the gore caked knife upon the table. He looked at his own hands as the dripped with blood and then shook them, further coating the table with dark, crimson spots. He then raised his right hand again and moved it towards me. I felt him place a grip around something inside of me. Something alive, something moving. My heart! He had taken hold of my heart! With one, single and sudden yank, he wrenched it from my chest. No dream pain this time. Only shock as he held the thing in-front of me. The bloody mass that he held in his hand pumped and undulated as a heart would usually do, only it was

not a heart. He set it down on the plate between my unmoving hands. The glistening, slowly beating object, its surface, though smeared with blood, was still visible, deep and luscious, though somewhat flaking, like a crepe-paper tetra. A living, pumping, red onion. The yanked and severed arteries still attached to it quivering upon the plate as it gave its last few pulses of life before falling still. Charlie then came to his father and handed him a smaller knife. With this Dean braced his hand against the heart-onion and sliced into it cutting it neatly in two. “Look.” he said, now taking me by the back of the head and forcing me down to look closer at the thing. At first only dark, almost black blood issued out of the sliced organ. But after a few seconds this changed, and a new fluid began to flow. Words. Words spilled from the heart-onion in long, liquid strings. Quickly filling the rest of the plate and then starting to overflow onto the table top. Words like a running river, black letters in red blood, words and words. Dean took hold of my right wrist and lifted my arm up. He placed a fork into my hand and gripped my fingers around it. “Eat.” he said. “I can't” I sobbed. “You wanted my story?” Dean said, anger in his voice now “Then eat!” “I can't eat my own heart.” “Eat!” “Eat!” Charlie now yelled, banging his little fists on the table and squeaking frenziedly “Eat! Eat! Eat!” Dean placed a thumb into my mouth and pulled my lower jaw open. With his other hand he maneuvered my


fork brandishing hand into taking a chunk from the heart-onion. He then twisted my elbow, bringing the fork closer and closer to my mouth. I tried to screw my eyes shut and screamed. up!”

“Trace? Trace! Are you okay? Wake

“Fucking hell!” I cried as I was pulled back into waking life, my arms flailing as I threw myself up “Get off! Get off of me!” I grabbed at hands clutching my shoulders but stopped when I saw Ryan's eyes, now bereft of glasses, shining at me from the dark. “Damn, Trace. What's wrong?” he said a tone of real concern in his voice “Man, I thought you were having a seizure or something.” “I'm sorry.” I said placing both palms over my face, feeling the sweat from my brow as I touched my skin “It was a bad dream is all.” I blew against my lips “A bloody awful dream actually.” “That's not like you.” Ryan puzzled “You've said yourself you don't dream and if you do then you don't remember them.” “I know.” I replied, giving a sort of sarcastic laugh. “Gosh, look at you.” Ryan said shifting himself up alongside me “You're shaking. Are you ill or something?” “No, no. I'm fine.” I said, brushing off his worries with a wave of my hand “Bad sodding Syntho-wine probably. Messing with my brain functions.” Ryan leaned over and flicked on the bedside lamp. The sudden brightness of the halogen bulb causing my to squint my eyes. “You've never had nightmares from drink before.” he said with a twist of his lips “Did you eat yesterday? I know you'd

happily starve yourself to death if I didn't get you to eat regularly.” “Don't joke about that.” I said, running my hands back through my hair. “Seriously, Trace.” her persisted “Did you eat yesterday?” “No.” I said after a moments thought “Actually, no, I didn't.” It must have simply skipped my mind. I've never been one for eating in the morning and after leaving the Brennan household eating was the last thing I was concerned with. I was just more interested in getting a bit pissed up. I swung my legs from under the cover and over the side of the bed. I placed a hand against my forehead and gave a long, low exhale. “Are you sure that you're okay?” Ryan asked again. “I don't think there's any more sleep in me tonight.” I said “What time is it?” “Just gone four.” he replied after looking over at the alarm clock “Are you getting up?” “I want to see what's on that hard-drive.” I said standing up. “Trace.” Ryan piped up as I walked towards the door. I turned back “What was your dream about?” I looked away and bit my bottom lip before returning my eyes to his. “Eating.”


ISAAC SWIFT Isaac Swift is a writer from Tennessee who caters to the writings of human interest. He lives in the middle of nowhere and is on Zoloft. Inquiry - deadpileup89@gmail.com

UNNECESSARY PERSON (Part Two) I got a call from my son, David. He told me that he was flying in to visit for Damon's graduation. I told him that I was excited and that I can't wait to see him and the rest of his family. This is true, but the bittersweet nagging in the back of my head is still there; it says that as soon as I start enjoying their stay they will just as soon be leaving. It's a disheartening feeling. The grandchildren I barely know, yet have which I have watched grow through years of Christmas card after the next will come and go like the punctual snows we receive each later fall here. I guess it's kind of hard to get excited about things when I know disappointment is looming around the corner. Modern men would say that's

depression, but I just see it as viewing the world around you for how it is. I have vehemently insisted that I be the one to go pick David and his family up at the airport. I don't like feeling as if I am limited by age. If I was able to raise three boys, pay off a house with renovations doubling the original worth and leave to fight in a war I wanted nothing to do with and still come back an intact man I feel I should be able to drive to the damn airport without rebuttal. I guess they figure my heart will finally give out and I will die rear ending a stranger and they will not be around when it happens leaving me to die alone and they may have a point. But when the fuck did I sign up to relinquish the decisions I make to a committee? I’m starting to get short of breath. I need to take my medicine in lie down. I can’t be


getting this excited. There I go. I’ve started writing about things that I'd rather not bring up. That damned war. I am somewhat of a pacifist by nature and feel like most things can be solved without raising your fists at somewhere. Yet the United States government has felt otherwise countless times over the course of its history and I guess my name was a dart threw at a phone book in the office they were sending out draft letters in back then. Anyways, I'm not one of those war-torn old men who are bitter about serving their country and talking about the good old days of the service. I did my year of (drafted) duty, was returned home, and continued my life. At least I can use the service as an excuse to go to the doctor for free. Something I was thinking of even back then when I was having my arm twisted behind my back. I keep dazing off my attention to the ceiling of my room. I find myself watching the smoke from my heart problem (cigarettes) furl up into obnoxious curlicues as it finally arrives becoming one with the nicotine-stained yellow streaks which once were white. I hate it when I ramble. I would like it if I could stick to the point when I write. Anyways, besides my slight rant, I insisted when David called me that I go pick up the family. Of course, when recommending this to Lester and Meredith they immediately came up with excuses. Their compromise was going to get them since Lester and Meredith haven't seen them in so long either and to bring me along while they were at it, killing two birds with one stone. I don’t see why I couldn’t have just gone by myself. They would have seen them sooner or later anyways. Not being

one to really enjoy arguments, I figured I’d just agree and go with them. Lester has a big SUV and I guess the rest of the family would like to see David and Heather and the girls, too. I figured I would just let this slide. Every year that passes reminds me how ironic of a position I've let myself fall into. A man works his entire life with the notion he can eventually put his feet up and enjoy what is his, the things he had worked all that time for. I guess I more or less did that? I worked for the postal service for over thirty years. I served three different cities as postmaster and did a damn fine job. My last ten years I received an upgrade to a higher paying administrative position. I guess this was only suiting since the position in question was open because the man in it died of a heart attack at the ripe old age (ha) of fifty-five and my competitor--A co-worker and a friend, rather unfortunately--killed himself with single shot to the head. A funeral which I somberly attended with mixed feelings. Evidently he dealt with his work life a lot worse than Lester does. During that time I further built up an already healthy 40-1k package; supplementing my personal savings and checking account all the while. I figured I would have some use or plan for the money later on, perhaps buying another home in a more tucked away area. Currently I am still sitting on a good portion of that money and usually take to spending it whenever I don't have anything better to do. Money becomes completely different in view once you've gone back to being a single man, and even more when you are a retired one. I have long since paid off my house


along with several renovations shortly before and since my retirement. My son and his then-fiancé Meredith moved in with me some twenty-seven years ago, when Lester was just a file clerk and Meredith was beginning to show with what would come to be Ruth, at the time an illegitimate lump in her stomach. At the time the two weren’t making enough money to stay in their home, so they let the bank foreclose on it and I allowed them to move in with me. Obviously they have since been married (shortly after they moved in, soon after my private talks with Lester) and they’ve lived with me ever since. The credit cards started when Ruth was just four or five, around the same time Lester began to gain promotions with added stress. I should have stepped in then but young couples never listen to anyone. His issues lie in his own choices, not in anything dealing with me. I keep urging Damon that he should start keeping a diary. I told him it would help give him perspective on things. He went on to tell me that he had been thinking about it for a while and would probably be giving it a try. I usually urge him to do things like this, proactive things. I am the only one in his life trying to push him in the right direction. His father lives in my house as if he was a stranger here and his mother does nothing but insist he take medicines for diseases he doesn't have. Oh lord; I’m not this boy’s father, and his father is barely his father. I put in my opinions when I see fit, but what good does it really do? Damon brought up at dinner recently that he is interested in going to school to be a writer. I was ecstatic with this revelation. Even more ecstatic to hear him come

up with a fruitful idea. His mother of course gave her two cents about how he should be pointing his attention into looking at trade schools or working in the local businesses. For a parent she really doesn't have much of a future in mind for her child. Lester of course had little to say about it. I personally feel like he doesn't care one way or the other. He told him if it's what he wanted, and then he guesses it was the thing to do. Could I have raised him any better than this? What have I not done right? I have decided that I am going to help Damon prepare a bit. I worked out a deal with him. I told him if he can get into a college of his choice and make straight A's his first quarter, I would pay for his education in full. I had agreed to pay for his first fiscal term initially (even though Lester and Meredith might have something to say about this) and beyond that it’s up to his work ethic. I think I put him at a loss for words. All he really could do is hug me and say thank you continuously. Other than David coming up to visit, this is one of the first things I can really say I’ve had to look forward to in a while. I got a call from Greg the other day. He informed me that he would be flying in from Seattle to stay a week for Damon's graduation. Both sons are coming now. With this news, I don’t know which one we are supposed to be picking up. Their flights land several hours apart and it’s an hour to two hours to the airport in traffic give or take. Plus flights rarely land on time. I guess I will have to talk this over with Lester. Either way, I am going to have all my boys under the same roof. The details are the least important thing on my mind.


When Greg called the other day he told me that he and Jim (not Tim as I had originally thought) were thinking about going to DC while they were out on the east coast and getting married. I didn't know what to say, only that I was happy for him. I've wrote before that I am not a judgmental man. People should live in pursuit of whatever happiness strikes them in their heart of hearts. I only wish for my sons to be happy. For a man from a time as old fashioned as mine it is a very uncommon state of mind. I’ve never really spoke much about my opinions and I think at the time that was probably for the best. I have never been a free radical or “new age” thinker (do people still use these terms?). I just feel like people should let other people be. People should do whatever they feel makes them happy. I feel like a lot of fathers wouldn't feel the same way as I do. I feel like Marla, on the other hand, would be rolling over in her grave if she knew that Greg was gay. Much less getting married to another man. I guess you could say that I and she had different views on these sorts of things. I never openly talked about my feeling about society or my ethical view with my now deceased wife, but I think she had a feeling that I was a fairly-tolerant man to the ways of the world. Greg went on to tell me that Dana has been spending the past three months in a rehab/halfway house type of program near Spokane. Evidently, my yearning feelings that she was under the influence of drugs wasn't a far stone to throw from the truth. Since she's going to be receiving for the next six to eight months, she will unfortunately not be coming out for the graduation, and evidently the wedding of her father subsequently sometime after. At

least she's getting help. I wonder what Marla would say about this. I actually wonder what Marla would think about a lot of things. I thought I was having a heart attack last night when I went to bed. I had my whole household up in sorts at two in the morning rushing me off to the hospital. It turned out I was having an anxiety attack. Even with my treatment and medication I am only on borrowed time. The doctor told me that I need to find a way to relieve tension in my life and try to find things to relax me. He was rather concerned what with my preexisting condition and all. Of course the doctor went on to ask if I had anything stressing me out, if my medications were being calibrated on a regular basis and whatnot. I told him I was just worried about my family like any old man would be, and that I am sort of worked up over my grandson's upcoming graduation (I left out the part about my son getting, it didn't really seem fitting) and seeing him figure out the next stage of his life. What was to follow was several relieved phone calls exclaiming “Dad's alright, no. It was an anxiety attack. YES, anxiety attack. Yes they’re monitoring his meds. Yes, he’s getting a checkup soon. You too, goodbye.” I was released from the ER later that day with advice to cut out un-needed stress and given the option of possible therapy, which I declined. They wanted to keep my overnight, which the attending physician strongly recommended, but I have my own doctor, plus I know I’m not at risk for keeling over, not just quite yet. What the doctor didn't understand and what I purposely didn't explain is I don't need therapy, and what I am doing now would be


the closest thing to IT if I needed IT to begin with. The doctor (which I would assume was still floating in his father's stones around the time I was hanging up my working boots) left instructions with my family that I shouldn't be around this so called unnecessary stress and few of the other same precautions. Unnecessary, that’s a word that’s been floating around in my head awhile. This whole spectacle had never came about in the first place.


ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

GEORGE GKREKAS George Gkrekas studied printmaking at the Athens School of Fine Arts. His work has been awarded and exhibited in numerous galleries throughout Europe. He currently lives and works in London. His previous work was mainly related to engraving inspired by the caricature forms of Goya, and lately has been engaged with painting and illustrations. His oeuvre, based on surrealistic forms, is an imaginative artefact of still images or active binary elements in bare, impersonal spaces. Movement is implied as a preliminary motive for reconstructing a new life out of memories, more real than real, because it is chosen. In his own words: ‘My art is ambiguous, leading to differing interpretations and these contrasts in vagueness. The images in my work are sym-

bolic but symbols are fluid and the definitions transform throughout time. I am inspired by epic and ‘religious’ ideas, so forms are devotional. Technically the use of soya sauce as a catalyst can cause chemical reactions that could create new forms of existence.’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/ggrekas flickr.com/photos/ggrekas


TRACY RYAN Tracy Ryan is a contemporary artist hailing from Glasgow, Scotland. She graduated in 2011 with a B.A. Hons degree in Visual Art. Her current work draws influence from the streets of Glasgow, aerial views, maps and using CCTV images from around the world. Ryan gains her inspiration from our interactions with memories and nostalgia, and how often this varies from reality. History, time and communication are running themes within her work. Ryan has recently been involved in 'This City' and 'This City 2', both were very successful exhibitions taking place in Glasgow during the buzz of the Commonwealth Games. She currently works from her studio in Glasgow and can be contacted for commissions/other enquiries. tracyryan1988.moonfruit.com http://www.tracyryan1988.moonfruit.com http://www.facebook.com/tracyryanart facebook.com/tracyryanart


‘GROUND ZERO’ This artwork was exhibited in 'This City' Exhibition at Bar Ten , Mitchell Lane, Glasgow. This artwork featured many different mediums, including - a watercolour pigeon (named Alan), playing cards found on the street, numbered strips for cables from a building site in Glasgow, Tea cake wrappers and pens from the

bookmakers. This artwork aims to show my life in Glasgow, it is a portrait of the streets of Glasgow. Many of the found objects were included as they reminded me of fond childhood memories. In making this piece, I wanted other people to join in and interact with their own memories of each item/icon of Glasgow.


‘OOR BIT’ This artwork was exhibited in 'This City 2' Exhibition at Bar Ten, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow. This painting is my take on my childhood memories of living in a tenement house in the middle of a large row of other tenement houses in Drumchapel, Glasgow.


FLASH FICTION

The Mermaid Tank They tell you not to touch it, that you’ll know about it if you do. The tank is a large rectangular box, ordinary to the human eye and yet, it is the single most spectacular feature of the exhibition. The room is strangely dark and your solitary figure seems insignificant. You approach the tank slowly, attracted by its inviting sheen projected on the walls behind. Your hands are warm on the glass. The water starts to bubble and fizz. You remove your sweaty palms leaving a trace of fingerprints behind. As your fingertips meet the water, you feel a gentle tug beneath the surface but see nothing. Amazed, you watch as your wrist, forearm and elbow become immersed in glistening water. You open your mouth but nothing comes out. Now your head is being pulled under. No water is spilt. You splash and kick as you struggle to breathe.


Vanishing Act My brother stopped speaking one day. He just stopped for no reason at all. It was odd because he was the chattiest, interrupting our mundane conversation with quips, anecdotes and jokes, shedding a little light into our lives. The change was so sudden and unexpected that mum and dad spoke to his teachers at school, and finding nothing, they turned to me, as though I was some deity with the divine power to understand my brother’s irrational behaviour. I told them the truth – I had no idea what had got into him and had they considered counselling instead? They left my brother alone after that, accepting his mutism as though nothing had happened. Except I couldn’t stand the way he stared at me now from across the living-room whenever he wanted me to change the TV channel, or how his eyes followed my every movement when he had nothing to do. I tried blotting him out as though he was nothing more than a tiny ink stain but ink is a bastard to remove. And so was he. * A few weeks later I noticed something strange about my mute brother. Where his mouth once was, there was now a blankness, just pure smooth skin; no trace that he had ever had a mouth. In a way I envied him, he had the perfect excuse for not speaking when very distant aunties visited. Although, I wondered what would happen if I drew him a new one come bedtime.


SHORT STORIES

For the Best (For Amanda) Like many of us Michael Bunbury believed in fate; he was certain that everything that happened to him had a purpose. All he had to do was follow his instincts and not to worry and everything would turn out for the best. Even as a young man he believed that there was a benign spirit looking after him. He did not believe in God in any conventional sense; never went to church or any other place of worship, nor did he pray. He did, however, feel that there was someone out there who had a plan for him. The fact that so many other people clearly had unhappy and chaotic lives did not dispel this belief; he assumed that they had somehow gone against the divine plan for their own lives. Mind you he rarely thought of others, being more interested in his own life. Even when his parents divorced, when he was sixteen, he did not think it the end of the world. Michael still lived in the same semi-detached house in an okay part of Leeds with his mother, a social worker, so that his lifestyle hardly changed at all. He still regularly saw his father, a book illustrator, who had moved in with his pregnant lover to a nearby but slightly less okay part of

the city. Michael’s beliefs perhaps did not have an obvious effect on his day to day life. Certainly it gave him an inner calmness when things appeared to be going wrong and on occasion he would make strange decisions, refusing to go on holiday with his mother or even going a longer way home from school. Mostly he just lived his life as many of us do. There was no internal voice telling him what to do just a feeling inside of him that he should or should not do something, he rarely analysed this, just went along with it. He had no idea where this divine plan was leading him; perhaps he would be a famous artist or footballer; he showed an aptitude for both of these activities, or perhaps he would just have a happy life with a beautiful wife who loved him and wanted to have lots of sex. This belief that everything was for the best would have made a lesser person lazy, but Michael worked hard enough at school, well enough to get three ‘A’ Levels so that he could study History at Bangor University. Even though Bangor had not been his first choice or even his second or third, he had at least got somewhere and he was content with life. He assumed that Bangor was where he was supposed to be. His sense that somebody or someone was looking


after him was increased when he met Amy at the beginning of his final year. She was tall, thin chested and with red scraggily hair. She was an English student and had started writing for the University magazine. Michael had been writing reviews for them since he had started at Bangor, mostly because he loved seeing his name in print. Amy and he swiftly became friends and then, after a long night in his room with whiskey and ginger ale, lovers. He had felt drawn to her from when she first walked into the university magazine offices, even though it transpired they did not have that much in common. She loved classical music and was a committed Conservative whereas Michael was not musical and had never listened to a symphony in his life and he was by temperament left wing and liberal in his views, although he rarely bothered to vote or joined any political organisations. Yet despite these differences Amy and Michael got on well enough; they both assumed that the other would come round to their way of thinking, perhaps not realising how important such views were to each other. And to be fair, Michael gave the impression that he rather enjoyed Mozart and felt that Margaret Thatcher was just what the country needed. While Amy was prepared to give Michael’s views on homosexuality and abortion more tolerance than she actually felt. Of course sex had a lot to do with it. Neither was a virgin, but likewise they had not previously had a satisfactory or regular sexual relationship in their young lives. And whatever their differences otherwise, in bed (or on the settee, or late at night in the park), they were as one. When they lay in bed together after making love, the smell of her intimate aroma around him, he felt as if he had never been as close to someone and that nothing mattered more than this. Some of Michael’s friends were appalled at his romance with Amy. “You have nothing in common” complained his friend Jonathan, who knew Michael as well as anyone at university, “you really could do so much better. She isn’t even that pretty. Sex isn’t everything you know.” But for Michael, if not everything, sex was certainly most things, and he also felt that she was the one. He was not sure what it was, but he was certain as he could be that she was the woman for him, and that he should go with his instinct. They met in November; he proposed in February and they were married in August after graduation. At their rather low key wedding, their respective families struggled to communicate and get on. Amy’s parents were from Hertfordshire and shared her political allegiance; her father was a financial advisor doing rather well under Margaret Thatcher’s laissez faire economic policies of the time, whilst her mother was a typical suburban housewife, a member of the Women’s Institute and a Conservative party stalwart. “Noveau riche” as

Michael’s father rather snobbishly called them, rather too loudly. The two families found they had nothing to talk about and rarely kept in touch thereafter. Amy and Michael set up house in Manchester, where Michael had got a job teaching at a local comprehensive school, whilst Amy became a wife and hoped to become a mother. For the time being she got a part-time job in a library and worked hard for the local Conservative Association. Michael did not really consider whether he was happy or not, but he continued to feel that his life was on the right path and that he was being looked after. Amy and he had their differences; foolishly he did not realise how important politics really was to her and objected to the constant meetings of the great and good of the South Manchester Conservative party at their house and the amount of time she spent delivering leaflets. She also gave a rather large amount of their income to the party. She reminded him that he had known about her political allegiance before he married her, and that she was not expecting him to join in, although it was a shame as he had seemed so interested. They often argued about politics; Michael started to define his politics in opposition to her; they had rows about immigration, taxes, trade unions and South Africa. Michael found himself becoming more and more left wing, and began to regularly vote, for Labour. When his union, the NUT, called a strike he joined in and even stood on the picket line. Amy did not speak to him for days. He attended a couple of classical concerts at the Bridgewater Hall but then started making excuses and she went with friends from the Association instead. They still had sex of course but inevitably it became less frequent, and although Michael would hardly admit it even to himself, at times it could be quite boring; almost a duty. He began to wonder where this fate was leading him to. He realised that his marriage was not all it might be and his dreams of playing for Leeds United had of course disappeared several years ago. However he did wonder about his becoming a great artist. He had painted as a teenager and had even toyed with the idea of going to art school but his rather nasty art teacher in the sixth form had put him off that idea so that once he had got his coursework out of the way he never picked up a paint brush for years. But suddenly he started again; well, he had to do something whilst Amy attended all these political meetings. Amy and he had mutually agreed that they would not start a family yet awhile and so Michael turned the spare room into a little studio; bought some paints and canvases and started to paint again. He reasoned that he was older now and anyway what did his art teacher know. He had read about various geniuses and was aware that many had been criticised and yet had stuck to their vision despite the mockery of their peers and presumably


teachers. He allowed himself daydreams of exhibitions, interviews in The Guardian and being able to give up his job as a history teacher as he executed lucrative commissions instead. He enjoyed painting and suspected that he was really rather good. Perhaps this was part of the divine plan; going back to painting slightly older and more mature and becoming a great artist. Amy showed little interest in his paintings; she was not rude about them, even would praise them when asked what she thought but she had to be asked. But he found that he did not care what she thought and persevered. Soon the spare room was filled with his paintings; mostly landscapes and rather incongruous still lifes. He joined an art group, whose members were kind and supportive. Michael had never spoken to Amy about his belief that there was a benign spirit looking out for him. It was a private thing and it did not necessarily involve her. In his scheme of things she was only important in so far as she related to him. He also began to imagine a time when they were not together. He began to act more and more upon impulse; letting his heart rule his head, feeling that he was being guided. Thus when the new English teacher at his school; Wendy Greaves, asked him out for a drink he said yes because he felt it was right. They swiftly became friends and had the occasional kiss when they were both a bit drunk. He did not feel guilty, but then guilt was not an emotion that Michael had ever experienced. Unfortunately, one such kiss was relatively early in the evening, on a bench in a park where Amy was walking home. They rowed for a few days, or to be more exact Amy rowed and Michael listened, and then he decided to leave her. He felt it was right to go and although he had no intention of going to Wendy, who despite a fraught relationship with her boyfriend had made it clear that she was not interested in anything more than friendship, he felt he might meet somebody else. He did feel a pang when clearing his stuff out of their house. Amy had been upset, much more than he had expected and they had been married for five years. And yet deep in his heart he felt that he was doing the right thing and that he was fulfilling his destiny. At least they did not have any children to complicate things he thought. Living in a flat in a less salubrious part of Manchester he did feel sad and lonely, but when he thought of going back to Amy he just felt an overwhelming darkness which confirmed him in his belief that he had done the right thing. He suspected the good thing was just round the corner, it was just a question of having patience and waiting. Michael had hoped that he would do more painting once he was away from Amy. He turned one of

the rooms in the flat into a studio, and the light was better than in the spare room in his former marital home. But apart from the occasional burst of activity he felt a curious lassitude and spent his spare time reading and even more time watching television. Soon he stopped painting altogether. Wendy had come round a couple of times after his split from his wife, but when he tried to get her into bed she refused to have anything more to do with him. He had thought one of the other young female teachers, of whom there were several, would be interested but they all refused his offer of coffee or a drink and the one eligible woman at the art group also proved similarly unobliging. He began to wonder what he had done. Had he made a mistake? Perhaps he should have stayed with Amy, who was after all his wife and who had done nothing wrong. He had given it all away for a kiss and a cuddle. For the first time doubts began to beset him about his belief system, perhaps it was just his imagination or wishful thinking. Can you base your decisions on instinct and feelings? He lived like this for two years, unhappy and unfulfilled, until one day after returning from work he found a package somebody had posted through his door. It was a novel called Happy Ever After? and it was written by Amy, now reverting back to her maiden name of Norton. He sat up all night reading it, gripped by what was clearly the story of his marriage; the heroine Emma was married to a rather vain and stupid husband called Matthew who thought he would be a great painter but clearly had no talent. He left her to pursue his dream and ended up a sad and lonely man in a flat whilst Emma found love with a handsome, up and coming politician and then became a writer. Michael thought it trash; badly written and predictable and yet it had been published by a reputable publishing company. “Oh well,” he thought, “it won’t come to anything; books are published all the time and nobody reads them and they end up forgotten and in charity shops going for fifty pence.” However Amy’s book did not suffer this fate; it became extremely popular and Amy became a media star, interviewed not only in national newspapers but also on various high profile art shows on television. And when she was interviewed she invariably took glee in telling the interviewer about her disastrous first marriage to “Matthew” and how it had inspired her novel. Michael wondered whether he should sue, even consulted a solicitor, but decided that the humiliation would be too great and that whether he won or lost, he would end up looking a fool and would just give Amy more publicity. The solicitor even suggested that he should enjoy his notoriety, pointing out that he had become more famous than many people ever got. His colleagues soon knew about his fame and so


did his pupils, the latter mocking him unmercifully. Even some of his fellow teachers started to call him “Matthew”, sometimes by mistake, sometimes not. Copies of the book were left on his desk with depressing regularity. A couple of journalists rang him up to ask him for his views on his ex-wife’s book, but he always refused to answer their questions. Eventually he left the school and got a new job in Newcastle and returned to the obscurity that he now desperately craved. He never painted again, and whilst he had a couple of serious relationships he never remarried. Curiously, that feeling of fate and there being a benign spirit looking out for him had completely disappeared by the time his wife’s book came out and it never returned. His life felt purposeless and unimportant. It began to occur to him that perhaps his fate was just to be the butt of his ex-wife’s novel. All his life had been leading up to this; he was never to be a great artist nor would he even have a happy life, just be a figure of fun and the inspiration that had led to his Amy’s fame. He was a bit part in her life that was all. Amy’s star continued to shine as she wrote a series of bestsellers and became a well-known figure not only in England but America as well, where she eventually moved. She managed to bridge the gap between literary respectability and popular readability, and she never lost this touch. She was often asked why she had become a writer, particularly, as she admitted, she had only started writing in her late twenties. She talked of a need to express herself and her love of novels from her early days. But in heart she knew that if she had not met and married Michael she would not have written a word, and she therefore remained extremely grateful to him for the rest of her lucrative and enjoyable career.

Lead and Copper The bullet in my belly is leaving the taste of copper in my mouth. I’ve witnessed people go through this before, I know what to expect. I never bothered finding out why they could taste copper, it’s too late for me to find out now and anyway I have more pressing questions. I’ve been left for dead, the bastard who did this to me didn’t even bother finishing the job. Buzzards are perched nearby. If they had lips they’d be licking them right now. I ain’t giving them the satisfaction of dying just yet. They eat me now they’re only eating half a man. I still need to figure some stuff out. I don’t feel like I’ve settled things on this earth yet and to leave now is wrong of me. There are people who may want to see me make it through this. Fuck it I

am a bastard for leaving them and what does that mean for me? Sand blows into my eyes, I can’t sit up to escape it. Clutching my belly I can feel some of the blood has dried already in the hot sun. I haven’t got long left. Living is the number one cause of death and I’ve lived a few years now. I knew there was a chance of this happening to me, but that didn’t mean I wanted it to. Never gave the prospect of it happening much thought. That was stupid. I spent more time giving lots of thought to the afterlife and none to actually dying. It was explained to me what will happen after death when I was at school, I’ll be judged and my reward will depend on if I fit the right criteria. This was drilled in my head, but the criteria was never fully explained so it’s anyone’s guess whether I’ve made it or not. It doesn’t make sense to me though if I really think about it. Days and nights of anxiety attacks, fearing the reality where I made all the wrong choices. And If I didn’t and I’m destined for heaven will I like it? Eternal bliss, what’s the point? I have always had to make my own meaning in life and that’s kept me going, but there’s no meaning in bliss and then what’s the point? Living eternally just to feel good makes less sense to me than eternal living to feel bad. Maybe I’ll land in hell. At least there I have something to dream about, getting the fuck out of there. I’ve heard people talk about being reincarnated as a cow or beetle or something, or maybe I’ll live inside the soul of my killer until they themselves die. What if I don’t ever die at all and sit here for eternity, maybe death isn’t my destiny. What if I’m stuck in the moment of death for what feels like eternity for me, but in real time is just a split second. Maybe I stay in my body witnessing my own disintegration into the dirt and then when grass grows from my body I live on through that. If that’s what happens is every animal I’ve ever eaten existing inside of me now? The very idea of that makes me laugh, which then makes me wince in pain. I’m going cold, might not have long left so I better make my peace with whatever God there might be. In a way I hope there isn’t a God. I don’t like the idea of there being someone else in charge of my life, who then goes on to punish me for my decisions. An unelected leader writing the rules to others existence. It may be a cliché, but if God loves us why is there suffering? I know the right answer to that is I can never question God’s logic, it’s too advanced for my mortal mind. If that’s the case then why didn’t God make us able to understand them? It always seemed most likely to me that this is the end of me once and for all. It doesn’t feel right to admit this is the end, but it does sound right.


Stillness and Motion The ambition that had swept him along like a great wind suddenly dropped. He realised that he could no longer partake in the society that had reared him. All around him felt exceptionally still. The motions that had brought him to where he now stood became impossible to continue. Within seconds he realised that all motion was contingent. He had been moving, but now he had stopped. As he stood, focusing only on his breath, he became aware of the ceaseless motion of others. He had never stood still before. The closest he had come was when he had fallen; but even then, he had not taken the time to pause, be still and truly reflect. He had crawled, and stumbled, and done his best to get back up. Now he glimpsed what it might mean to be still, even for a moment. At first, this was not simple. Though he no longer felt any desire to move because others were moving, there remained within him an innate prompt: it told him to ‘move or die’. His muscles twitched and convulsed. His heart began to race uncomfortably. He almost obeyed this impulse, which had raised its voice for the first time in a long time, but finally clenched and contracted his muscles and remained still. He would not move; he would not be moved, even by his own impulses. The stillness continued. Though he had simply stopped moving, and was now seemingly doing less than he was before, it felt as though he had entered a new world. For the first time he consciously reflected on what it meant not to be in motion. ‘How can something so simple be so difficult?’ A strange feeling crept up on him, as he remained where he was: it started somewhere around his lower legs and wrapped itself around his body, ascending his torso and settling on his face. He could trace its trail by the hair it raised on his skin. This was excitement: excitement from doing nothing, or at least very little. This brief creeping sensation, a kind of inverted anxiety, brought with it a wave of calm. After only a few seconds, he realised that he had known this calm before. This was the calm he had felt at his most secure. He had known this calm rarely, but remembered it fondly: this was the calm that arose when he was caressed by his parents as a child, when he would stroke the inside of his father’s forearm and marvel at his soft skin; this was the calm he felt when he had received the grade he had been after in the exam; this was the calm he felt in the moment of orgasm. This calm was not of the same intensity; it shifted moment-by-moment. It was the same calm, however; he was sure of it. As he stood still, quite overwhelmed that such a simple act could yield such a profound reaction in him, a revelation occurred to him: he had never felt this calm for

so long. Reflecting on the times in his life when he had felt so at ease, it became clear to him that those moments had only ever been fleeting. His father had eventually left him in his bed, with a house and a life to attend to; the exam he had conquered was quickly forgotten, and replaced by a new exam, an endless stream of exams; the moment of orgasm quickly faded, and left in its place a kind of guilt. This calm was different. It had already lasted longer than any of these other forms had. They had been pizzicato pleasures; this was a long note of sustained peace. Life played legato. Its peak was not as high, perhaps, but it felt sustainable. The calm gave way to excitement as he realised that he might be able to control it. ‘Perhaps’, he thought, ‘the calm comes when I am still.’ This thought gave way onto another, and this new thought sent a shiver down his spine. ‘What if the calm is not something in me… what if the calm is not something that I should seek, but something that is always present? Perhaps I am not experiencing something new; perhaps I am not adding calm, but subtracting all that distracts from it.’ He looked around him once again. Those who he had been moving with had moved out of the horizon; they had been replaced by new people, but it seemed as though there was now a space between the stream of people and himself. He was separate. ‘Could it be that all that motion, all that ambition, all that seeking the future, the success, the recognition… could it be that those things were drowning out the calm?’ It was at this point that all of these thoughts, and this calm, which had hitherto been intuitive and graceful, were interrupted. Whilst the stillness and the calm had come about seemingly of themselves, quite without effort, a new, logical thought jolted him out of his calm. Logic, which had been the great passion and power in his life, accosted him. ‘This can’t be true. My ambition is who I am. The only reason I am alive today, in a world without God, without morality, without meaning, is because of the meaning I have created for myself. Without my ambition I would not exist.’ As the terms and concepts that fuelled his life and consoled him in his darkest moments returned to his consciousness, the calm disappeared like a timid mouse, scared by a giant’s shadow. Logic penetrated the calm. As he considered the influence of ambition in his life, he once again instinctively felt the desire to move. Those all around him, who had become a kind of unified blur, imbued him with an unpleasant thought: they were all ahead of him. ‘It is time to catch up,’ he thought. As this short phrase entered his mind, he once again prepared to move, but stopped at the last moment.


‘No; that isn’t true. It is doing no harm to stand here.’ He remembered the calm, which now seemed a lifetime ago. ‘What is happening to me?’ He became quite confused; there appeared to be a kind of war going on in his mind. This was often the case, but this time it seemed as though the combatants were not of the same species. This was not a conflict between two thoughts, but between thoughts and something else. As far as he could tell, rational thought had apparently curtailed what had been a spontaneous feeling of calm. This calm, this clarity, had come about when he stopped moving. Logic, he knew, gave a kind of clarity: it turned words into weapons. This clarity was different; it was as though this stillness was less about words than existence itself; less about knowledge, and meaning, and accomplishment, and more about awareness. It became clear that whilst logic was focused largely on deciphering the past and curating a better future, this calm was about experiencing the present. It was then that he understood something that stunned him. Though he had understood the thought before, somehow it struck him. ‘If I am not content now, in the present moment, no future accomplishment will ever bring me that contentment.’ His thoughts were beginning to race now; it was difficult to tell which thoughts were contributing to the calm he felt, and which were detracting from it. This was quite different from how he had felt when the wind dropped. It almost felt as if he was moving again, such was the cacophony in his mind. He did not like this feeling, and wanted to understand what was happening to him. ‘How did I get here?’ He had been floating in life for a little while now; he did not feel as though he had any direction. Each day became a burden; the past had begun to haunt him. His own previous achievements began to sting him. Even when he compared himself with himself, which he knew to be more fruitful than comparing himself to others, he felt miserable: how had he been so successful, powerful and strong in the past? How had he become so weak now, so devoid of direction and passion? Standing where he was, still not having moved, he realised that whatever was happening to him might well change his life. The thought occurred to him that rather than striving for a reprise of his past successes, he might forge for himself a new chapter of his life quite unlike anything he had experienced before. He had tried extremely hard to think his way to such a new chapter, but it seemed as though the results he was seeking were contradicted by the methods employed. ‘How could I think myself into a new frame of life,’ he would scold himself, ‘when my thoughts are

constrained by the very logic I am trying to escape?’ A vicious circle had established itself and, despite his intelligence, he could not reason himself out of it. This stillness; this calm: together, they might enable him to transcend that circle and lift him onto an altogether different plane. ‘Does it matter,’ he thought to himself, ‘where I am? Could it be that it does not matter where my body is, or where I am with regards to my life?’ It seemed to him that all places were really the same, because at all places he was there. He opened his eyes and focused on one individual who passed him by. ‘Where is that person going? What will they find there that I do not have here? I do not know if they are running to or running from something, but I cannot help but feel that wherever they end up will not change who or what they are.’ The individual faded into the horizon. ‘What is it that that individual is seeking?’ An expression of wonder glided over his face like a stream of light. ‘Not only is it pointless to seek a goal or ambition if one cannot appreciate the present … if one can appreciate the present moment, which stands independent of all past and future achievement, then one can experience true peace at any moment.’ The profundity of this thought struck him hard; he knew that this was a realisation of the kind that could change the quality of one’s life. He worried that he might forget it, like the last image on one’s mind when one wakes from a beautiful dream, but he found calm even in this. ‘If I forget this thought, it cannot be important. If it is meaningful, and if it has the power I think it does, I will not forget it.’ When thoughts struck him as particularly important, his first impulse was to note them down. In writing them down, he thought, he was preserving what most needed to be stored. Yet he rarely returned to anything he had written. Instead, he felt only a brief sense of relief that he had transcribed what had been, at the time, a vital thought—as if he had somehow captured the present for future appreciation. This note-taking served only to spur him on to other, unrelated thoughts, much like his desire for a better future. Once he stored the note away, he would move on to the next day, the next thought. The appreciation never came, and in this way he lost the thought, and the moment, twice. Now he realised that this approach to life was a form of denial. If he wanted to experience and embody a thought, he must keep it in his mind and study it. This was what the calm enabled to him to do. The process of thinking about one thing, and one thing only, seemed to increase the mild euphoria that accompanied the act of breathing slowly, deliberately and peacefully.


It had grown dark. The sea of motion all around him was now almost imperceptible. He could make out vague black forms only with great effort; he was otherwise alone. This had always been his favourite time: at night, particularly when it was cold. It seemed to him that life was more meaningful in these conditions. He was better able to understand time when his vision was impaired; time became less something to experience, and more something to appreciate in the abstract. The scope and narrative of his life, over and above the present moment, impressed itself on his mind. Huge waves of emotion—enigmatic blends of nostalgia, euphoria and empathy—rolled over him on winter nights. He felt more adult when the night came; more aware of what had already passed, and what was yet to come. He seemed better able to appreciate his life as a whole when it became dark. This was what he loved to do most of all. He was delighted to find that his experience with the calm had increased his awareness of everything around him. It was as though his mind had been cleared, like a city of skyscrapers and neon lights razed to the ground. In place of scorched earth, however, were green fields, blue skies and still lakes. All was clear, tranquil and calm. The night, as it descended upon him, brought with it a wave of nostalgia. Although his thoughts were still centred on the power of simply being still and a growing suspicion that motion was not what he once thought it was—that is, ubiquitous—he could not help but fondly recall a time in his past when he was at his most ambitious. It was not quite déjà vu, but it was a feeling of the same kind. It felt as though his whole life was ahead of him, just as it had been then. Things were very different now, of course: there were fewer people in his life. Bad things had happened between then and now. His life had felt less stable, less rich, less alive. Even though he believed his stillness to be the reason for this now overwhelming sense of optimism, he still had a desire to do, and to live. ‘Being still is all I need: I could live off this alone. Yet I do not have to. I am lucky to have found this, to have stumbled on this silence, this stillness… but I am also lucky to be who I am, where I am, what I am. There is still much that I want to do. There are things I long to create; people I long to meet; things I long to accomplish.’ Only moments earlier, these thoughts might have confused him. Now everything seemed clear: stillness and motion were not at war. They only appeared to be so when they were contrasted against each other; when he felt that he had to pick either the one or the other. As he stood there in the dark—simply standing, simply thinking, simply being—he felt an appreciation for life with a clarity and simplicity he had never felt before.

‘It is good to be alive.’ He could still look to the future. He could still engage, and create, and participate. He could still better himself. But that was not necessary; he was not obligated to do any such thing. He had always felt that freedom was the ability to do as much as possible, to do anything. Now he realised that true freedom must include the ability to do nothing. Quite peacefully, he saw that no matter where his life took him, he would always be in the present. He would never escape himself. He would grow, and then decay, but he would always remain who he was. Though each moment would be different, each moment was successive with the last. ‘I will never gain anything more than I already have: I already have all that I will ever need. I already am all that I will ever be. Nothing I do will ever change what it is like to be alive. The present remains the same.’ He understood that what he had learned he could never have predicted. Like many of the finest moments in life, no amount of preparation, searching or effort could otherwise have yielded the wisdom he had gained—not this particular series of events, at this time in his life, with this degree of profundity. The time had been right and he had been ready, though he had known neither of these things. Life had rewarded him. ‘It would be a mistake to think that I cannot stand still, and do nothing. It would also be a mistake to think that I cannot move, and achieve great things. The greatest mistake of all would be to think that I could choose only motion or stillness.’ He smiled to himself, there under the stars, in the dark. ‘It is good to be alive,’ he said again. And with that, he continued his journey—quite aware that he need do no such thing.

Pluto It was dark. Nine p.m. I was sitting on a park bench, smoking a cigarette and watching the stars, trying not to count the seconds that passed along like the smoke from my mouth. I was alone. People passed by me, moms with their sons talking about each other’s day, an old couple talking while walking the dog together, a young couple kissing each other and talking about their personal love, and loners just walking for the sake of it, watching the ground or the deep blue sky while thinking or not thinking at all. I felt isolated, like I had missed something, like there was a part of me that was missing right from the beginning, a crucial part in my body that made me different than


everyone else. The breeze was strong and cold, but I tried not to acknowledge it, thinking that maybe in my mental palace it was hot. As I hugged myself to keep warm, my eyes got fixed in a shadow behind a tree. It looked odd and out of place, like a fork in a business room. The shadow started to form into a physical thing: it was a cat. The shadow had four legs and a long tail. The cat, as acknowledging my existence, stepped out of the shadows and faced me. It didn’t had a left eye, the right one just blinked there, in the dark, in a crystalline green. The cat spoke with a clear and pleasant voice. “Hello,” he said, staring at me without blinking, “my name is Green, how are you?" “Hello, I’m cold,” I said, in a raspy voice, in part from the breeze, and in part for the cigarette. “Well, it is normal that you’re cold. You are alone at night and without a jacket, you should be happy that you are cold, it is a symbol of your humanity." “How do you know anything about humanity?” I asked, a little bit meaner that I had meant it to sound. Green didn’t seem to take it the wrong way, though, as he continued. “Some animals are more human than your kind, you just need to see it from the right pair of eyes, or, in my case, the right eye." Green sat down on his hind legs, and I pulled out another cigarette and lit it up. He followed the first weak string of smoke with his good eye. “I had never met a cat that talked,” I said, being bluntly honest. “Well, that’s because animals aren’t creatures built to be social. It’s a skill that we had to develop in order to help others. You see, animals only talk to your kind when an animal feels that they need to share something important." “Then, you are here to tell me something important?" “Yes. I am here to tell you that you are right. You are not like the other humans, but you are not missing anything, you are a perfectly sane and healthy species” Green said, in his clear voice, looking at me. “Then, I’m not human. Am I an animal like you?" “No. You are an alien, from Pluto, specifically,” said the cat, calm as ever. We were both quiet for a second. I took out the smoke in my mouth, and only one question came to my mind. “Are there others like me?" Green blinked for the first time, and then, with his soft voice he said “I don’t know, there may be. I am positive that you are from Pluto. And if you were born there and then carried to Earth, that means there have to be more like you. But you have to find them yourself, I’m sorry I can’t help you anymore." I was silent, and I felt the familiar feeling of tears

building up in my eyes. I said a weak “thank you” and looked down. Green just nodded, and then he was gone, climbing to the roof of a house, his tail flowing like wind.

Beyond the City Lights Christopher walked through the abandoned streets of Downtown. He knew he should not be there, but since he had found the Door, well some things were there to be explored. The Door was one of those 'things'. It was big and heavy, definitely not a Door to be messed with. Christopher's tutor had always said he did not take hints well. He had found an ancient textbook in another building Downtown and the symbols in it matched those on the Door. Christopher had spent a long time decoding the symbols, but he now knew how to open the Door. He touched a panel on his left and it lit up. After tapping on a series of marked buttons, he twisted a bar through 90° and pushed it home. Nothing happened. Sighing, he sat down with his back against the smooth metal. There came a soft hiss and he fell through the doorway. It was incredibly dark and Christopher felt his way along the wall, tripping over lumps in the unfamiliar walkway. The seventh or eighth time he tripped, he stayed on the metal and, putting his head between his knees, he began to cry. He had never felt so alone. A light blinked on the floor in front of him. It was so sudden that at first he thought it was merely his eyes. It blinked again, like a glo-bug, and he tried to put his hands over it. It skipped away, dancing out from his fingers. He was so intent on it that he did not notice that the floors had become free of menacing objects for him to trip over. The light danced down the hall to a doorway. It was very similar to the Door, but slightly smaller. The light sat still on a panel and he slapped it. "Gotcha!" he said triumphantly, and jumped back in surprise, shielding his eyes as the door lit up. Beyond was a cavernous hall, lined with pipes and other things that he did not understand. His footsteps did not echo, and the dark shadows seemed to swallow them whole. He worried that there might be Things In The Dark, waiting silently to eat a small boy. He supposed that he could always offer 'It' his sandwiches. But he was not sure if the Things In The Dark ate sandwiches. He chewed his lip thoughtfully. Maybe it would eat cookies instead. Christopher knew he certainly preferred cookies to sandwiches, even if they had Grandma Mary's lettuce on them. His stomach rumbled at the thought. "Okay, just one," he said to himself, sitting down on the floor. The tiny light returned, settling itself beside him. His breath steamed like a kettle, and he wondered why. His tutor had explained that there used to be


'seasons' before everything was sealed under the Dome. She had said the cold time was called 'Winter'. Frankly he could not understand why people had ever lived outside of the Domes. Especially if it had been cold like this. The light zipped off once more, and he yelled after it. "Hey come back, you can't leave! You haven't finished eating yet!" he scrambled to his feet and chased it down. It was hovering beside a rack of coats. They looked like they were made from tinfoil, like his mother used to wrap the meat in before putting it in the oven. He took one down from its peg. He supposed it would be alright if he borrowed one for a while. "I must put it back," He said to the glo-bug. "Mother said its okay, but I should really ask. But there's no-one to ask...'cept you, glo-bug." The little light flickered insistently, and he shrugged the coat on. It was soft and warm inside like the soft grass of Garden Park. He walked back to where he left his bag and swung it over his shoulder, humming to himself. He did not see where he had touched one of the tubes. The hand print he left in the frost briefly showed a human face beyond the glass, before the moisture re-crystallised. He walked along the corridor, following the glo-bug. "Hey glo-bug, could you take me home? You know, back to the City?" The glo-bug vanished. "Glo-bug?" he said quietly. It flicked back on, more subdued than it had been and shot off into the darkness. He chased after it. "Hey wait for me!" he shouted, slipping on a smooth patch on the floor. It was cold and wet to his touch, like the tubing. He clambered to his feet, pouting at the glo-bug in the dark. "That was mean!" he said. "It's dark; I could get hurt you know. Or tear my trousers, and then mother would be angry with me. You don't want me to get in trouble do you?" he waved his finger at it severely. It bit him. "Ow! That was... I don't know if I want to be your friend any more. You get me in trouble and then you bite me," he sucked his finger, it was bleeding a little, but it hurt a lot more. The lights came on in the hall, the concussive thumps drawing his eyes upwards. If there had been Things In The Dark, they would have had plenty of space to hide in. But as everyone knows, they evaporate when the lights come on. Retreating to whatever dark they can find. With lights this big it was going to be hard for them and Christopher felt vaguely sorry for them. The hall was full of the curious tubes that he had seen, and he smiled, looking up at glo-bug a touch nervously. "What are they?" he asked. Glo-bug blinked at him and hovered over to the door. Christopher followed almost reluctantly. He turned back to the tubes, but glo-bug flew up to his face, flashing rapidly, making him lean backwards. He held up

both hands. "Okay I'll go. Where are we going?" He followed the light up to pair of doors which swished open at his touch. He stepped into the lift; he'd seen these before at the Council Hall overlooking Garden Park, back when mother had seen them to ask for his sister. It was what made life so hard, being the only boy in the City. All the adults loved him, but the other children seemed to hate him, he had never worked out why. The Council members had called him a 'statistical and biological anomaly', whatever that meant. Not that he now cared. He had something they could not. The lift doors opened onto another anonymous looking dark room. The glo-bug skittered off across the ceiling and dived into a screen, much like the ones at school. A woman's face appeared, she smiled warmly at Christopher. "I'm so very glad you're here." She said brightly. "Where's here? Who are you, and where's glo-bug?" he demanded. "So many questions, just like your father," she replied. "He was as curious as you are. Glo-bug, as you call it, is here, I can give him back if you wish. Or I could simply put the lights on." "You can do that?" his eyes shone wide in the darkness. "Yes." She replied. "One moment." A sudden vibration shuddered through the room, settling almost immediately into a steady hum. Christopher looked around, it was still dark. A couple of strange clicks sounded in a corner, and the lights came on. There was no dawn as they warmed up, they just were. One of them showered sparks and blew up, making Christopher dive for the safety of a table. He watched in fascination as a swarm of little, tiny glo-bugs engulfed the light and, after a few moments it shone as brightly as before. Christopher peeked out from under the table. "Is it safe glo-bug?" "Yes." The woman said. Christopher emerged from his hiding place. "You said you knew my father?" "Yes I did." "What's a father?" He looked up at her with absolute innocence. "Ah, but of course the 'Program', the reason it was necessary for you to be born in the first place. The Domes are not what they appear to be, it will take me too long to explain to you." Christopher jumped as a tube further into the room hissed open with a cloud of what he thought was steam. But when he touched the tube it was cold. "But I can't sit in there! My bum will freeze!" "In that case, I'll warm it up for you. Actually, you must be tired, and it's a long walk back to the city. How about I call your mother and tell her that you won't


be back until later? I can give you dinner and somewhere to sleep." He thought about it for a moment. "Ok." he said brightly and stepped over to the tube. He sat down in it and found that it was indeed warm. He yawned and stretched, wriggling down in the soft padding. Her optical sensors watched him roll over as he sank into a deep sleep. The little glo-bugs that were her hands on board the ship darted out from under his fingers as she closed the pod. They had attached little electrodes to the sides of his head, to allow her to interface with his brain. In seconds it had iced over, and she checked his vital signs to ensure he was stable. She hunted quickly through her files, finding ones that were very old indeed. She uploaded them directly to Christopher's mind. She sifted it gently, filtering some of the more frightening images until he was a little older. The lid slid open and he sat up with a shiver. He looked down at his hands. The skin was still as smooth as it had been when he went to sleep, but the bones were heavier. "Glo-bug? Are you there?" "Yes, we're both here. Do you remember my name?" She asked. He shook his head, "No, I'm sorry. I only just about remember my mother. Can you give me a, what was it? Oh yeah, status report on the Dome." He sighed shakily, and stood up. He fell down, it was not a matter of strength, more a matter motor control. After many years in cryo-stasis with forced training, his brain was not working properly. His muscles had been exercised for him as he grew to prevent his skeleton from developing abnormally. He threw up and passed out. A cluster of glo-bugs gathered around him and when they dissipated he was fully clothed. "How do you feel?" she asked as he got up. "I'm not sure, but I know what we need to do Camille." He said. "I'm glad you have recalled my name Chris, here is the information you requested Captain." When he looked around he could see not only her face but all of her. Projected in three perfect dimensions directly into his eyes, just like the text and numbers he was now receiving. He knew exactly how the effect worked, how the glo-bugs worked, although he still considered it miraculous. He knew that at a thought he could see the inside of the Dome and could check up on his sisters. Camille had explained, very gently, to him that his mother had passed away but that it was in no way his fault. He hadn't cried, but he had felt sad, after all she was not actually his mother. He was a clone of the Captain created because a flaw in the computer's programming that would not allow it to change its course

without permission. The one thing that truly upset him was seeing the other Domes. His teachers had, to a certain extent, lied to him. The City hadn't been put under a dome; it had been built in one. At some distant point in the past of a planet called Earth, the population had exploded beyond its capacity for sustainable life. The Cityships had been seen as the answer. Carrying sealed arcologies to other worlds had been an inspired move. Each ship had seven pods, one containing a fully functional city complex, and the rest carrying agricultural plants, factories, and an atmospheric processor. Christopher had always wondered why the City had been so big for so few people. He sat in his command chair in his new uniform and thought about it. All those lives snuffed out by a lousy asteroid field. How would the city fare without its industrial and agricultural plants? He wondered. Well, as far as he could ascertain, the equipment itself was in operational order, it was just that the domes were smashed. "Camille, can we repair the domes?" he asked suddenly. "The glo-bugs could, given time repair each one. However there are very few materials with which to build them.” “Okay, we have to find the nearest asteroid field and look for silica and carbon there. Give me an update on the rest of the cargo.” “Besides the populations that were lost when the other domes were destroyed, they are in excellent condition.” “I take it the rest of the crew didn’t make it?” “I’m sorry, Captain. Their bodies are gone; they died in the same storm that damaged the bridge and killed you. However I have their memory cores and DNA patterns in storage and the Program will be able to bring them back before we reach our destination.” “Excellent, thank you Camille,” he settled down. It would take more than his lifetime but they would reach their new home. The young boy opened his eyes to a new morning, today was the day that he would take his friends to the Door, it was all they had talked about over the past few weeks, and this was it. Racing through his breakfast he met the others in an abandoned building in a prohibited area of the City. “Come on,” he said. “I worked out what that last one is. We should be able to open it now.” “Are you sure we’re allowed, Christopher?” one of the others asked.


Mule I went around the back of Tony’s parent’s house to the mobile home at the end of their half acre. He was sitting with the knee filled with calcium deposits resting on a pouf. Two men Tony called Steve and Gracie sat on the other side of the table. The residue of misdeeds on their lean freckled faces gave them a brotherly look. We knew of each other. They could have been from travelling families. It was hard to tell. ‘How’s the leg?’ I asked. ‘I won’t box,’ he said. ‘You were never a contender, in fairness,’ Steve said. ‘No difference now.’ ‘You’re in college,’ Gracie said to me, ‘fair play.’ ‘Things must be tight as a student,’ Steve said. ‘How would you like to make some money?’ ‘How?’ ‘We got a load of skunk,’ Tony said. ‘I’d sell some of it, but I’m out action.’ ‘The boy’s in college would lap it up,’ Gracie said. ‘I suppose.’ ‘They would of course,’ Steve said. ‘Will you sell it for us?’ ‘I’d only have to go to the one place, mainly.’ ‘Grand, so,’ Gracie said. ‘We don’t have it yet. Come back this time tomorrow.’ ‘I’ll be back in tomorrow afternoon.’ ‘Hey,’ Stevie said, ‘what did you come for?’ ‘I can’t remember,’ I said, ‘I’ll think of it later on.’ Through the window I heard a bit more. ‘Can we trust him?’ Steve asked. ‘He’s in college.’ ‘That doesn’t mean shit,’ Gracie said. In the front yard Tony’s father was lent over a homemade bench working a hand chisel on a piece of wood, the rain flattening his straight grey black hair. ‘What are they at back there?’ ‘You know. Having the time of it.’ ‘It’s Tuesday morning.’ ‘Sorry.’ ‘Where are you off to?’ ‘College. I have lectures.’ ‘That’s the place for you alright.’ On the way to the campus I stopped at the apartment my buddies lived in. They were watching A Clockwork Orange in stone silence with Beethoven’s Ninth symphony echoing through audio speakers on either side of the television. Drops of rain like unfulfilled dreams chased each other down the balcony window. ‘I might have a bag of skunk next week,’ I said. ‘How much?’ Dave asked. ‘Enough. But I’ll have to get the money up front.

Give me ten each.’ We smoked until all the bongs were full of water the colour of bog and the lumps of resin weren’t worth finding. After they went out I lay across cushions on the ground beneath the coffee table. On the wall Al Pacino as Scarface and Che Guevara began a conversation. I shielded my eyes but inn my mind I saw a filing cabinet the size of a ship’s stern, the doors opening and closing at random as I tried to store my memories in the different compartments. A foot slipping off the side of my shoulder woke me. A girl who lived there went to the balcony door, opened it and came back inside clutching a ball of wet clothes to her chest. ‘You useless wankers couldn’t even bring my clothes in.’ ‘I couldn’t see them from where I was sitting.’ ‘No wonder. It’s a smoke box in here.’ ‘Can I sleep in your room?’ ‘You used to be a nice boy.’ ‘Don’t patronise me. I’ve been through things.’ ‘Haven’t we all,’ she said. ‘Some more than others.’ ‘Who can judge that?’ ‘I just want to sleep.’ The next day I carried her in my head all day until going back to Tony’s in the afternoon. He was scraping a rusty nail through pieces of rotten chipboard beside the window. A pair of crutches rested either side of him and other side of them the other Stevie and Gracie lounged. ‘Down to business,’ Gracie said, unzipping a sports bag holding an Aldi bag more than half full of green buds. ‘Reckon you’ll sell it?’ Tony asked. ‘No sweat.’ ‘Get caught and you got it yourself, from somewhere else.’ ‘Course.’ ‘Tell him, Tony.’ ‘He doesn’t need to hear it from me. He’s the one in college.’ ‘Just as long as we understand one another.’ ‘Yeah, yeah.’ ‘Don’t yeah, yeah me!’ Graice shouted, ‘there’s a couple of hundred quid in here.’ ‘Sorry.’ ‘Make three on it and you can keep sixty,’ Steve said, ‘that’s fair.’ ‘Yeah, yeah,’ Graice said. He opened the straps of my bag, put the plastic bag inside and tied the straps around the bulge. ‘You’re a mule now,’ he said. ‘Alright,’ I said, opening the door. ‘Hey,’ Steve said. ‘What?’ ‘Did you remember what you came for yester-


day?’

‘No,’ I said, ‘it doesn’t matter now.’ ‘Alright. Go get ‘em, tiger,’ Gracie said. All this time Tony barely looked up from the chipboard. Walking across the grass I noticed how my legs were shaking. Tony’s father stood sheltering in the porch doorway. ‘What are they at now?’ ‘Same, I suppose’ ‘Where are you off to?’ ‘Back to college.’ ‘Why did you come here?’ ‘I had some tablets, for his knee.’ ‘Where are they from?’ ‘A buddy of mine has the same condition.’ ‘It’s all in his head. Most of it,’ he said. ‘He’ll never box again.’ ‘Is that meant to be a bad thing?’ Outside his house water flowed from the ditch in sheets across the road. As I walked I saw a lecture hall bathed almost white in sunlight. In a row the men I had just been with sat alongside me in a row as we listened to a man with a flowing beard lecture on the Rights of Man. Hearing it before it arrived, I stepped into the ditch as a jeep rounded the second corner on a chicane bend. Its front passenger wheel sank into a craterous pothole and pushed the water over my cord jeans. At a crossroads I climbed over the lichen covered wall and buried the bag beneath a tree. It would take a while to figure out what to do.

Fried It was late on a Tuesday in mid-April when Stephen Fry first spoke to me. I was sitting up in bed, and had just cracked open my fifth and final Stella of the night. Alan Davies had just said something characteristically crass, accompanied by his signature juvenile miming, and instead of laughing uncomfortably as you would for a naked, dancing child, Stephen turned and stared right down the lens into my face. ‘And what about you, George?’ He said. From then on, it didn’t matter which program he appeared in, or how wrapped up in the scene he became, Stephen always found time to ask me questions. If needs be Atkinson and Robinson would stand awkwardly at the fringes of the screen while he carried out his gentle interrogations. At first my responses were timid, as if I were worried that the illusion would be broken by my voice, but Fry exuded such powerful interest and compassion at each bland recounting of my day that by September I was probing him on the meaning of abstract issues in my past. A toilet seat in my old school bathroom that

would not stay up by itself for him seemed to yield a profound metaphor for all the trifles of modern man. He giggled when I bitched about my old ex-girlfriends, and gave me knowing looks when I exaggerated my sexual prowess. The only thing he seemed to disapprove of was my drinking. He never made a statement outright, because I think he feared as I did that some slight, some prolonged distance, would mean the end of our fragile relationship, but I noticed as the weeks went by how the opening of a can would cause him to wince, and how his eyebrow cocked almost imperceptibly as my chin hinged back to let a gulp of corner-shop piss slide down my gullet. I took it upon myself to cool it for a bit. After all, I thought, Fry knows best. He’s dealt with this kind of thing before. By the first late frosts of January I had cut down to just one Moscow mule before lights out, and if the dreams wouldn’t come, I would ask Hugh Laurie to sing. ‘How’s the new girl, George?’ Stephen asked me one Thursday afters. ‘She’s gone,’ I said, and left a pause, knowing he would wait for an explanation. ‘She was always talking about the “hypocrisy” all the time. “It’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand.” Jesus, it was her bloody catchphrase. We were waiting in the queue last week at the co-op and she was looking at all the Easter eggs, and I thought, “Christ here we go” and I was right. She launched into this, like this prepared speech about how we were sold all these religious icons all the time by the “amoral corporations”.’ There’s a pause. Stephen nods knowingly, and not a little patronisingly. He hasn’t got it. I plough on anyway. ‘And then, thirty seconds later, she picks up a fucking low-fat cheesecake and says, “hey what about this for dessert.”’ Stephen looks perplexed. ‘Low-fat?’ I say. He doesn’t respond. ‘Come on, there’s your religious icon. If there’s one thing everyone worships it’s their own fucking body. I just dropped my shopping and walked straight out. It’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand, it really is.’ ‘George,’ Stephen said after he’d taken a meandering step over towards the piano, ‘we’re all victims of our own hypocrisy. Our self-delusions. Look at me. I’m a million different people from one program to the next. I wouldn’t be able to get by if it weren’t for self-delusion.’ I smiled and nodded and asked him if Rowan would do of one of his long-winded, plosive-peppered comparisons to cheer me up, but I still felt he’d missed the point. I had my quiet revenge that night with a bottle of Glen’s vodka under my pillow. All week after that I refrained from watching TV. I went out, to the spilling-out coastal bars, sat on benches huddled among my friends and co-workers, listening to them dribble on about their thoughts. But their drunken self-disclosure didn’t do it for me. Whole thing felt too god-damned forced. They would bleat with laughter each


time someone cussed, but nobody was listening. They were all just waiting for their line. When I got back, gelled up and numb, I spent ten minutes hunting for the remote controls before I made the conscious choice to walk two feet towards the button on the set. As soon as I’d turned it on and channel-hopped to Jeeves and Wooster I could tell he was upset. He spent a whole two scenes carrying out his lightly comedic man-servant duties before he turned grudgingly away from Laurie’s beaming chops and fixed me with a look of glum reproach. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, and settled down to bear the silent treatment. I thought, I’ll tell Stephen what vapid, self-centred fools my friends are, and he’ll smile ruefully and tell me I’m too quick to judge. I thought, I’ll promise Stephen that I’ll never drink again. Mostly I thought I would just worm my way back in with humility and tears, just like with everybody else. But Fry’s eyes weren’t resting on me, and as I watched in slack horror, Aunt Agatha emerged from behind the camera. And Fry smiled his grim, knowing and self-deprecating smile, at her.


Thanks and Acknowledgements Once again, we must part company dear Bunburyists. As always, I’m sure you can agree that the writing we have presents has been of the absolute highest quality! It makes us genuinely proud to be able to showcase the best writing from around the world. We are also tremendously honoured to be able to publish new writers every issue as well as some Bunbury favourites that have been with us right from the very start. All that and we have not even mentioned the wonderful artwork on display in this latest issue. It has been such hard work but so rewarding to put it all together for you. In the next few months, you will be seeing regular updates from us regarding some big plans we have for two-thousand-and-fifteen. We hope you will all stick with us while we aim to make Bunbury bigger, better and shinier than it has ever been. As always, there are many people to thank. First and foremost are our families who have offered nothing but the kindest support whilst we have had a few issues to deal with over the holiday period. They all know who they are. We really do not know how we would have got through without Mummy Moriarty’s home-made soup! We also want to thank all the readers and contributors and those who follow us on Twitter and Facebook – maybe you fall into all three categories. Without your generous and loving feedback, this project would not be possible. As always, we thank Matt Evans for putting together all our notes, scraps of paper and half-sketched ramblings into something coherent. Send him a message – let him know how good he is. Boost his ego – he deserves. As usual, you can find all our social media blurb below. Get in touch with any submissions thoughts or queries you may have.

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Special Announcement As of 1st January Two-thousand-and-fifteen, our esteemed editor and co-creator, Christopher Moriarty started an epic poetry challenge. He is going to write a poem every single day for the entire year. Why? Maybe because he has gone a little mad. He once wrote a poem that was OK and now he has taken it way too far. Actually, he just really loves to write. You can all come and get involved on our WordPress page. http://bunburymagazine.wordpress.com bunburymagazine.wordpress.com You can help shape the direction this challenge goes in by suggesting styles, structures, prompts, certain words to use, syllable or line counts. And you can write your own too. Let’s make two-thousand-and-fifteen a great year for poetry!

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MARCH ISSUE: POWER

Bunbury issue seven7  

We’re back! Firstly, belated salutations of the season to you and yours! Secondly, we knew we’d find you here. We’re not being cocky or anyt...

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