Cover art by Rudy Tiben
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Editor: Sophie Playle Poetry Editor: Annabel Banks Associate Editor: Kristina Heaney Associate Editor: Philippa Moore
Read submissions guidelines at www.inkspillmagazine.com/submissions before sending material. All work is copyright ÂŠ the authors/artists 2012
Contents 04 05 62
Welcome Writing Exercise Write for Us
FEATURE ARTICLES Character: Know Who You’re Writing – Sam Russell Proceeds of Crime: The Explosion of a Genre – Kristina Heaney
07 16 37 44 60
SHORT STORIES Darkling Sleepmud – Stephen McQuiggan Above Our Heads – Kate Chisman The Tower – Antoncia Jones Kidnappers Know No Limits – Chris Doran The Child of St. Claude – Elan Webster
14 15 30 42 43 54
POETRY Life As We Know It – Ash Krafton Diary Entry 4th January – Denis Joe Becoming Patent – Rhonda Lott Jesus Juicer – The Poet Three If iPhones Mean More Than Poetry – Kevin Spenst Others and Their Replicants – George Moore
06 11 28 36
ART Watercolour – Billy Alexander Florence – Natalija Rantasa Fantasy Lights – Rudy Tiben Fantasy Tower – Holly Playle
t has been a busy couple of months! I’ve recently re-located to Norwich, just in time to hear that it has been awarded the status of UNESCO City of Literature, which is a wonderful achievement. I’m so excited to be back in a culturally rich location my hometown doesn’t even have a bookshop. One of the best things about Inkspill Magazine is its international reach. Our readership is mostly split between the UK and the US, but we also have readers in Canada, Australia and Europe. And one of the best things about the creative arts is its diversity, and the diversity of the people involved. This issue, we’re reaching out to the wide scope of genre writing, featuring ghost stories, fantasy, science fiction and comedy, with a special feature on crime writing. Enjoy!
Sophie Playle Editor-in-Chief
Associate Editor Kristina Heaney is a fiction writer from North West London. Having recently completed her Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, she is currently working on her debut novel. She teaches Creative Writing for adult learners across the Capital. Kristina worked as a journalist at a national mens magazine and then moved into media agency work, specializing in copywriting before making the move to full-time fiction writing which, up until that point, had remained a hobby. Kristina will be looking for elegance of phrase and unexpected story-lines from Inkspill submissions. www.kristinaheaney.co.uk. Associate Editor Philippa Moore is an award winning blogger, writer and editor. She is a columnist for Running Fitness magazine, blogs at www.skinnylattestrikesback.com and has just completed her first novel. Poetry Editor Annabel Banks graduated from Cambridge University in 2010, and received her Creative Writing MA with Distinction from RHUL in 2011. She is now in the first year of her practice-based poetry PhD at University College, Falmouth. She has had many poems and stories published. www.annabelbanks.com
Writing Exercise Ten Ideas in Ten Minutes If you’re stuck on a plot point or are just looking for ideas for a new creative piece, grab a notebook and pen and set yourself a ten minute timer. Come up with ten ideas off the top of your head. Don’t censor yourself - anything goes! By thinking instinctively, under pressure, and without scrutiny, you might just come up with a solution... Panic and Reflect Another time-based exercise. Close your eyes and play out the next scene of your novel, or the next part of your short story, in your head. Do this for five minutes. No cheating. Keep focused. Then open your eyes and write furiously for fifteen minutes. Then close your eyes, breathe deeply, and repeat. Don’t go back and edit until your session is complete (as many repetitions as you want.) This hones your focus.
“Inspiration doesn’t descend like a lightning bolt from the gods. Inspiration comes instead from a steady breath, a solid foundation, and a commitment to the process.” - Laraine Herring
By Billy Alexander | Short Story
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DARKLING SLEEPMUD Stephen McQuiggan
his body cannot last for long. And if I ever need a reminder, I need only look at the corpse of the moon, burnt out with greed. But I donâ€™t stare at its ghost light so much anymore; I find myself drawn to the ocean. The carnival rages around me. I push my way through the clamour of the steel bands, the ribbons and streamers clutching at this face. I am surrounded by flesh. I breathe deep of their sweat, listening to the demonic maracas of their bones shaking
| Short Story
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circles my mind searching for a weak spot. What if he is not there? But already I hear his song, a lullaby to calm these nerves. I hear it over the incessant drums that urge this heart to gallop. I fall to these knees, gasping, at the dock; the sea mocks the tiny storm on shore. The water, thick and dark, pulls the night over it as if to warm itself. I see myself rippling on its surface but I quickly look away. I can’t bear it. It’s the eyes; I never get the eyes right. Move. I love this freedom to move, to cut the air, to have a destination instead of being one. I remember how much I used to love this; this fluid rush, this novel haste. I feel dizzy as I move, everything is a blur. To live at this pace is so tempting.
I love this freedom to move, to cut the air, to have a destination instead of being one.
beneath their garish costumes. I wander through the chaotic flashes of a nightmare in a costume of my own. And everywhere the colours; swirls of orange and blue and the red of my dreams. Colours so bright, shouting, slicing into one another, sending up coruscating shards that hang like stars in the night’s black maw. I have to find him soon. The swarm of people itches as it jostles. I could cut a swathe in the blink of an eye if I wished, but I keep these eyes lowered. I don’t let them see these eyes. When the streets are empty I miss them, the echo of their footsteps dripping like patient water. I hear their laughter in the bowels of the rock. It gives me something to think about when I’m awake, and I’ve been awake for such a long time now. I never speak to them, although I’ve often wanted to. My language goes beyond time. They would not understand. I’d like to think when this is over, they will not understand. I run through the procession, pass a dragon float, as paranoia
Somewhere the power lines are down. I hear them snoring on this skin, feel it crackle with conversa-
tion. I can smell their danger and it makes me feel alive, a rush that is part joy, part madness, the way it should be. The way it used to be. ‘I felt it before I ever knew you,’ I tell the water. I know he is out there listening. I feel his presence of absence like a hole in the night. And there, drifting idly on the gentle wave of his song, is his ramshackle boat. I wait a lifetime for it to draw near, but what is another lifetime to me after all. I climb aboard, knock on the cabin door. I know he senses me, is laughing at my politeness even now. ‘Come in.’ His voice as playful as I remember. He is sitting at a table, the light lapping at his ebony skin as vainly as the water laps his crusty boat; his obsidian flesh eats the shadows, permits no light to touch it and live. He regards me awhile, as if he is unsure why I’m here, as if he doesn’t know what I crave. It has become a ritual between us. He smiles at me, as bald as the moon he murdered. ‘You look haggard my friend,’
he says. ‘How long has it been?’ I shrug. ‘Eighty years or so.’ It’s a guess; I’ve lost all track of time since last we met. He laughs at my attempt at accuracy. ‘You swore last time, never again.’ Why must we play this game? ‘You knew I was lying.’ The dark man could always read my thoughts. He rocks his head back and forth, keeping rhythm with the tide. His eyes, sometimes white, sometimes yellow, flicker with the heat of an internal fire. ‘They always come back to me,’ he says. ‘When the blood runs thin and the heart grows cold, I sing to them and they come. They clamber aboard my little boat, wherever I may be docked, for one last time. ‘Always one last time. But still they come back to me and they always look like you. Hungry.’ ‘It’s the best body I could get at short notice.’ I’m wearing a homeless man, near death. I can never bear to house myself within one with a future; it feels like such a waste, and besides, there is more room Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 9
| Short Story in the old; vast derelict mansions, stretched by the knowledge and experience that has blown through them leaving the accumulated dust of memory. Youth is too constricting and too hard to steer. ‘Ah my friend, you forget, I see you as you really are.’ He is holding the bottle. ‘Darkling Sleepmud,’ I whisper. I am almost weeping as I see it undulating, hissing inside its glass prison. ‘Do you think you make it safer by calling it by that childish name?’ he asks, but his voice is kind and soothing, a sonorous rumble that promises rest. I want to strike him, snatch the bottle; but this body is already crumbling. This voice stumbles with emotion, with obscenities that burn. I swallow them; I have to play his game. ‘You never told me its real name.’ ‘You know its name.’ He smiles, his teeth as jagged as the rocks on the harbour wall. He likes to act the enigmatic stranger, as if I do not know him. I have 10 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
known him from the depths of time; it was his song that first awoke me. ‘I’m afraid the price has risen since our last transaction.’ ‘Anything, ‘ I say. ‘I’ll give you anything.’ He laughs, drowning out the roar of the drums on the shore. ‘Four hundred and sixty three.’ I think about the teeming masses dancing on the streets. I can afford this. ‘Soon you’ll be looking more,’ he says. ‘Stronger, longer.’ But I can only think of now. He hands me the bottle; it burns and sparkles in this hand. I feel this skeleton shudder under the force of my desire. But I hang on, just a moment longer. ‘So what is it?’ I ask. He looks at me quizzically, but this time it is no act. ‘Its real name?’ He grins, as if I’ve bought his disdain as well. ‘Peace. It’s an expensive luxury in these dark times.’ I down the bottle’s contents, feel its blessed fire course through me as flesh and bone explode, and I float away amongst the fireworks back to the land, and
By Natalija Rantasa
into the land, to sleep once more and dream. And in my dream I raise great buildings upon myself, sprout forth roads and trees and lakes. All manner of clever diversions for my children; and my children call me CITY. Once I was able to sleep. The cars running through my veins, the bustle of the streetwalkers and traders, would lull me deep into the soil. But now my veins are congested and the traffic
crawls over me like carrion ants. I bathe in the acrid smoke I cough into the chemical sky. Industry pierces my hide, becomes my armour and my downfall. I choke on my own breath. They say the city never sleeps, but sometimes I do; permanent reality can drive you insane. Once, before I was shorn and concreted over, I was happy; happy in my innocence. But the long, long years exact a heavy toll. Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 11
| Short Story It is hard to fight with nothing in your belly, and I am a glutton for what will destroy me. There is only one thing that can smother this pain, that can help me sleep for a while. If you follow the treeless track marks they will lead you to the sea, and there, like a distant siren, you can hear the dark man’s song. I met him when I walked the earth. He told me of my family, grown so large, and of the price they paid for their strength. My brothers in the east, so restless they pay their debts to him in daily instalments; debts they’ve been paying for thousands of years and will never clear. And he showed me my hunger. My hunger infects my children too; drives them to carnage and bloodshed in the name of their gods; howling to the sky for mercy. But my sister Sky is empty, a vacuous beauty borrowed from the sea she gazes on, the sea he crosses, carrying it to me. Peace. His voice follows me down into the earth; four hundred and sixty three. I want to sleep, rest in 12 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
granite reverie, sink into molten slumber. But he will sing to me if I do not pay, sing a song that that will split me asunder, uproot my avenues and buckle my streets. I have heard tremors throughout the world; rumours of bad debts and fault lines. Once I asked him his name. He told me he was born before form sculpted the void, when darkness was mother of the deep. He said his name was conscience. I feel my children dance upon me as the carnival blazes on. It is all just a carnival, this brief mess of noise and pain they call their lives. What do they know of time; what do they know of merciless unforgiving eons. They have no conception of eternity or its cost. Their span is but the lapping of a wave, the dropping of a leaf on my gentle sigh. Their kingdoms rise and fall in the time I take to smooth a stone, raise a hill and cry a river. But still, I love them. If they knew… But I don’t want them to understand. I watch the sky and wait. A steel bird passes high above me catching my attention. I pluck
it down with a thought, send it plummeting onto my concrete chest, onto my dancing children. I take care to kill four hundred and sixty three, and four hundred and sixty three exactly. This proves that even at the zenith of my bliss I am in control. I am not a junkie. I am merely weary. There are prices all cities must pay for piece of mind.
Stephen McQuiggan is a factory worker from Northern Ireland. He features in the latest anthologies from Mirador, Grist and WIP, and in forthcoming ones from Trust and Treachery, and Damnation Books.
Life As We Know It By Ash Krafton Gravity shaped us into these adaptable forms complacent and sedentary and earthbound We forgot our astronomic origins when once we were meteors slicing through vacuums on streams of fire carrying seeds of life toward eager empty planets Our initial crash was splendid, the collision sending up great plumes of galactic proportions banners of triumphant union but dust settles under the influence of gravity, the lack of stirring winds revealing the crater, the chasm, the wounds a longing to soar once more returns We turn our receptors to listen to the stars while life as we know it ends
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Diary Entry 4th January Denis Joe She looks over, neither smiling nor sad, but like Delphine Seyrig in Last Year In Marienbad And I know the horizon of that mouth. And I know the architecture of that hair. But I cannot recall from where.
Denis Joe lives in Liverpool where he is involved in the poetry scene. He facilitates a poetry group for North End Writers and edits their literary magazine, The Accent. He has recently been published in Content, A Different Kind Of Rocking (anthology of Liverpool poets), The Nerve (another Liverpool publication) and 10X3Plus (US publication). Pushcart Prize nominee Ash Kraftonâ€™s work has appeared in Absent Willow Review, Expanded Horizons, Silver Blade, and Bete Noire. Visit http://ash-krafton.blogspot.com for updates on the release of her debut novel, Bleeding Hearts, available March 15, 2012 through Pink Narcissus Press.
Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 15
| Short Story
Above Our Heads
he scratching came from the attic. At night, when Rory turned out the light, I would lie awake and wait for it to skit, skit, skit lightly across the floorboards above our heads and down behind the water pipes. The chandelier was wearing on its rubber support and the crack at the side of the ceiling hold was getting bigger. ‘One day that’s going to fall on us and spear 16 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
you through the heart.’ He said. I turned to kiss him on the shoulder and closed my eyes. Above, what sounded like a rubber ball bounced across and stopped over near the chimney. ‘We should block it. If it’s mice, they might come down.’ He said half asleep, half awake. ‘It isn’t mice.’ I told him. ‘Mice don’t bounce.’
e moved in at the end of winter. The grass verge outside in between the road where we parked and the front door was frozen white on a morning and crawling with wet brown leaves on an afternoon. It was cold and our heating was on permanently. I’d light the stove when I got in from work and sit cross legged on the floor in front of it until Rory got home, when I could get warm in front of the Aga instead while I cooked our tea. We didn’t have any money. We survived on pasta and canned food and wore the same clothes for days at a time. All of our money was going into the house. Rory was tired and more withdrawn. Some evenings he would come home and not speak a word for an hour, maybe more. And when he did it was usually oneword answers that wouldn’t facilitate the question. I would notice him sitting and staring around the rooms that seemed endless and empty. The house was old and the ceilings were high. A lot of things echoed.
e had servants’ bells in the kitchen, and we played with them everyday for around two weeks before we became tired of the game. I’d stand in the bedroom and press the button at the side of the fireplace and run to the doorway and out into the hall to listen to it tinging off the walls with the sound of him moaning and grumbling and tutting ‘Ha, ha.’ As soon as I was downstairs he would do the same. And I’d shout ‘Very funny.’ And he’d say, ‘I know.’
’d always wanted to live on that street. Since I was a child and one of my first friends had invited me over to her house to play after school. The house seemed so large compared to my family’s and we would tear around the rooms and bounce on the sofas and we had all the space and time in the world. As it turned into spring and I started to walk to work, I tried to remember as I passed which one it had been, but they all looked the same from the outside. I often stopped on the curb and Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 17
watched each one individually and wondered about knocking to see if they still lived there.
hen I’d finally unpacked all of the boxes and everything was in its place, I stopped at the bookshop on the corner and bought Rory a book on DIY to try and motivate him to get started. I got home that afternoon and opened all the curtains that had been closed for days because he hadn’t liked the idea of people walking up to the windows and looking inside when we weren’t there. I stood up high on a chair in the dining room and yanked them back and shook them out and dust showered down and was caught by the sunshine. In the front room I turned on the lamps and rolled up the blinds. The house seemed awake and it felt good to finally see the sun. As I walked into the hallway, a draft caught my hair and a door creaked upstairs. I stood still and listened, trying to work out if I had really heard it and moved closer to the foot of the stairs. I looked up them and could see 18 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
I stood still and listened, trying to work out if I had really heard it...
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our bedroom door was swaying back and forth, sucked in and out by a breeze. I climbed up slowly and listened. There wasn’t any other noise. When I got to the door I waited for a moment to open it and when I did it was just our bedroom but different from before. The window was open and pink petals from the cherry blossom tree outside on the verge floated in gently and quietly like snow. They rested on the blackness of the hearth and around it on the floor. They caught themselves up in the tangled gnarl of our unmade bed sheets and fell softly on my dressing table in and amongst my bottles of perfume and tonics and lotions. They gave the lid of my Chanel No. 5 a little pink cap. Rory’s underwear from that morning lay in a ball by the wash basket and petals touched the edges of it and slipped into
my shoes. It was like a snow globe. Although I don’t think many people would have bought this scene and displayed it on their mantle. I crossed the room and closed the window. The petals stopped falling. I stood in silence and listened. But there was nothing. No sound from anywhere, not even the dull hum of life outside on the street. I turned the brass lock on the window and made sure it was secure and went to walk out into the hallway. When I reached the door I turned back and looked at our bed. There was something else not right, something that hadn’t been there that morning when I had left. A dark mark on the sheets on my side. I stood looking at it for a moment, not daring to move any closer. My eyes followed the direction of the mark to the pillows, which were clean, and then the wall behind the bed. I followed upwards onto the ceiling and there was a single dirty grey handprint above exactly where my head would be. I reached my hand to the doorknob and felt around for the
key. I slipped it out of the inside lock and backed out of the room. I closed the door and locked it quickly, barely breathing, my heart a fat beating drum. I didn’t dare turn around so I ran back down the stairs, through the kitchen, down the hallway and out to the front door. I left my keys and my phone. Out in the street I sat down by the blossom tree and ignored anyone who may have been staring. I waited until five thirty and Rory’s car pulled up. He came and sat next to me. We didn’t speak a word to each other and neither of us took our gaze away from our bedroom window.
he policeman wasn’t much older than us and he didn’t seem too concerned. ‘It was probably just kids. They didn’t take anything. Probably bored and skipping school.’ He nodded to himself and shifted his weight. ‘Could have climbed over the back fence and come in the kitchen door. Do you keep it locked?’ ‘Usually,’ Rory said. He looked at me for validation. ‘Normally, yes, but I didn’t Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 19
| Short Story check it this morning,’ I admitted. ‘I can’t remember…’ ‘Well there are no signs of forced entry. Window wasn’t broken. And nothing missing, so…’ He shrugged his shoulders. ‘But someone has been in our house,’ Rory said. ‘There’s nothing you can do?’ ‘Not if there’s no crime.’ I showed him towards the front door and thanked him for coming out. ‘If anything happens again, give us a call. If it was kids, they might have known that the adjoining one is empty and have been trying to get in there for a snoop around. These big old Victorian houses can sometimes attract attention, air of mystery about them… I wouldn’t worry though, sure they’ll have been put off by the van outside.’ ‘Thanks,’ I said, not at all sincere. When I closed the door I double locked it with the deadlock and the chain. ‘Rory,’ I called down the hallway to him. ‘Let’s change the bed.’
e didn’t forget, but it didn’t play too much on our minds either. I scrubbed the 20 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
handprint away with some soapy water and a long handled brush. Rory bought some chains for the back doors and fitted them himself one Sunday afternoon whilst I hung us some new black out curtains in the bedroom, just in case anyone was tempted to watch our shadows like a light show on a wall. The scratching still came, every night, and I would bury my head under my pillow to block it out until I finally fell asleep. He bought traps, but never set them. They sat in boxes in the utility room with cartoon mice on the front screaming and an explosion bubble with the word SNAP! inside. ‘Maybe we should get a cat,’ he said. But even that got lost in the chaos of everything else.
or his birthday we decided to use the dining room for the first time. I set the table with the black slate place matts and the silverware my aunt had bought for me when I turned twenty-one. I lifted down the Edinburgh Crystal champagne flutes that we’d saved ever since we bought them on Rory’s first paycheck. I opened a
bottle of Taittinger and poured two glasses. I lit a single red pillar candle and set it on a circular cut of mirror so the flame reflected in it several times and I placed it in the centre of the table. ‘You can come in now,’ I called through the hallway to the living room and I heard him turn off the television. ‘It looks fantastic,’ he said and he walked over and kissed me on the forehead. He sat down and I went into the kitchen. I lifted the plates out of the Aga with a kitchen cloth so I wouldn’t burn my fingers. The potatoes had sweat so I crunched on some sea salt and pepper. I walked back through into the dining room and set his plate down in front of him before taking my seat. ‘Happy birthday,’ I said and we chinked glasses. He smiled at me and started eating. He had the red serviette tucked into his t-shirt at the neck which made me laugh. He hadn’t done this since our third date when I had told him off for his bad manners. I rubbed his hand and smiled back. He winked at me as he chewed and I had a feeling somewhere in my
tummy like I was full already. I don’t know how much time had passed before I realised Rory had stopped eating. When I did I set my cutlery down quietly at the side of my plate and turned to him. ‘What’s the matter?’ I whispered. He had his head tilted back and his eyes were wide and upturned to the ceiling. I poked his wrist with my fingernail and he mouthed ‘Shh.’ I looked too and listened. My heartbeat got faster and so did my breathing. Rory slowly rose from the table, silently, making sure his chair didn’t scrape back on its feet along the wooden floor. He didn’t once remove his eyes from the ceiling lamp. ‘There,’ he whispered. Quickly pointing at it. ‘It moved.’ Before I had the chance to stand up myself, the shrill tinging sounds of the servants’ bells rang out in the kitchen. Rory jumped and I gasped and knocked over the champagne. We looked at each other and the bells kept ringing. ‘Someone’s upstairs,’ he whispered, but louder this time. And he was gone, out of the room and down the hallway Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 21
| Short Story towards the staircase. ‘Don’t!’ I hissed after him. He was stood a few feet from the first step looking up to the top. He turned to look back at me and I pointed to the front door. ‘Please?’ He shook his head and ran and jumped onto the first step. The carpets had been removed on the stairs and as he ran up them two at a time shouting ‘Who’s there?’ he stubbed his toe on the exposed grip spikes and cut them open at the ends under the nail. I ran to the bottom of the stairs just in time to see his arm disappear into our bedroom. I could hear him slamming things and turning the room over. He was shouting, ‘Who is it! Come on!’ but there was no other noise but his own. I fidgeted waiting at the bottom and kept looking over my shoulder. He slowly became quiet and I heard him close the door to the airing cupboard. ‘It’s empty… There’s no one here,’ I heard him say to himself and although there should have been relief, there wasn’t. I peered into the kitchen and could still see the cord of the bells swaying and 22 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
the noise of them was still ringing in my ears. ‘Cass,’ he called. ‘Come here.’ I slowly climbed the stairs, stepping over the small blob of Rory’s blood that had pooled on the chipboard. He was stood at the end of our bed a few feet from the fireplace and he was staring at the floor. ‘What is it?’ I asked him. ‘What?’ ‘Look.’ He extended his arm and pointed at the floor. ‘It was just lying there.’ I walked to his side and followed the line from his fingertip to the sheepskin rug. In the middle was a blue sapphire and diamond ring, perfectly centred as if it had never been anywhere else at all. I bent down and picked it up. ‘I’ve seen this before,’ I told him. I twirled it around in my fingers and the sapphire no longer looked blue, but black. ‘Where?’ he asked. The diamonds glinted under the glare of the chandelier and looked like a thousand spider eyes. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘But I know I’ve held it before.’ Rory shifted his stance and put
his arm around my waist. I looked to his feet and at the matted hair of the sheepskin rug now red and wet with blood. The ends of his toes on his left foot were purple and raw. He winced and I bent down. I put the ring back where he had found it. ‘Come to the bathroom,’ I said. ‘Let me clean it for you.’ ‘Don’t you want to look at it?’ he said, gesturing to the ring. ‘No,’ I told him. ‘It isn’t going anywhere.’
ran the bath and sat on the toilet seat while Rory got undressed. He got in and turned off the tap. I ran the cold and moved the water around with my hand to make it even. ‘Stupid,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what I was thinking.’ ‘Shh,’ I said and I put my arms under the water up to the elbows and cleaned his foot with a flannel. ‘I’ll bandage it for you.’ I said. ‘It will hurt when you put it into your boots. Maybe you should stay home for a few days.’ ‘Alone?’ He looked at me and from his eyes I could tell this wasn’t going to be an option.
e sat on the stairs together looking up at the entrance to the attic. It was directly above the highest point and would need at least a twelve-foot ladder to get up to it. ‘No one can be up there,’ I whispered. ‘How would they get up and down?’ ‘I don’t know.’ Rory rubbed his temples with his thumb and forefinger and we huddled together. ‘I could call the police back?’ ‘They were no use last time.’ ‘But maybe they’ll go up for us, just to be sure?’ ‘Come on, Cass.’ He half laughed. ‘Even after the other week?’ ‘He’ll probably think we did it all ourselves. There’s no point.’ He hushed himself before he started to get agitated and pulled slowly at the bandage I had put over his toes for him. The blood was still in patches on the stairs. ‘I better clean that up,’ he said. ‘I remembered where I’ve seen the ring before.’ ‘Oh yeah?’ He stopped to listen. ‘It was Julia’s mother’s. When we were younger we used to play in her jewellery box and dress up Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 23
| Short Story in her furs and pearls. I’m sure of it.’ ‘How on earth do you remember that?’ ‘Good things are worth remembering. Everything was simple then.’ ‘So nothing is good now?’ ‘I didn’t say that.’ ‘It still doesn’t explain anything’ ‘This may have been their house… I can’t remember which one it was now, I just know it was on this street. It was twenty years ago.’ I shrugged. ‘May have always been here, in our bedroom, maybe you disturbed something… when you were crashing around, looking…’ ‘A ring…just hidden somewhere?’ ‘I don’t know, Rory. I’m just saying I know I’ve seen it before. It was hers. It’s probably just a coincidence.’
got into bed and Rory locked the bedroom door and put the key underneath his pillow. ‘If something wants that ring, it can come back and get it. I’m not sleeping tonight,’ he said. ‘I’ll stay 24 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
awake and wait.’ ‘For what?’ I asked him. ‘I don’t know. But if anything happens I want to be prepared. Not half asleep and in a daze.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Yes. I’ll watch the television. I’ll just put it on low.’ ‘Okay,’ I said. And he kissed me goodnight. He lay beside me on his back watching the news and I drifted off somewhere between a report about Afghanistan and the weather.
woke up with a start at around 3am. My head hurt and I reached for the glass of water on the bedside table. The TV was still on but it had cut to nothing and there wasn’t any sound except from the scratchy broadcast, the white noise. I lay back down and adjusted my eyes. In the dark behind the glare of the television, like a mannequin behind it, I could see a silhouette and it wasn’t moving. It was maybe six foot high with its shoulders hunched and I blinked to make sure it was real. The TV fuzzed grey and white and black and I had a
In the dark behind the glare of the television, like a mannequin behind it, I could see a silhouette and it wasn’t moving
lump in my throat that I couldn’t swallow away. ‘Rory,’ I whispered. Clawing out gently beneath the duvet cover, reaching for his hand. But I couldn’t find it. And he didn’t answer. I sunk down in the bed, pulled the blanket up to under my nose. My arm outstretched digging out to the side. The figure was definitely there. It was real and I could see it slowly breathing. I felt tears and I knew I was making noise. The figure started to rock. ‘Rory!’ I screamed and I scrambled over to his side of the bed and fell out onto the floor. I threw myself at the door and pulled at the doorknob. It was locked. I was trapped inside. ‘Rory!’ I screamed. Right from
the back of my throat, so harsh it felt like it was ripping into pieces. I hammered my fists on the door and I could hear the television being upturned. I looked to the right and could see in the half light the figure moving across the room. It didn’t come close to me but stayed against the wall, opposite the bed, like it thought maybe I couldn’t see it. I was screaming so loud I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. On the other side of the door I could hear Rory thumping up the stairs. I screamed his name over and over and the key went in the lock. There was a man’s voice behind me muttering and when I turned again he was gone. The airing cupboard door was wide open and a wave of old cushions and bed sheets came tumbling out. Rory pushed open the door and flicked on the light. I pointed at the cupboard and he ran over. Just in time to see a dirty hand trying to pull back an old suitcase and towels on the very top shelf. ‘Get the phone,’ he panted. And as I picked up my mobile, Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 25
| Short Story shaking and desperately trying to key in the numbers, right above our heads we could hear him laughing, the scratching dragging up and down.
he second entrance to the attic had been completely hidden. No one would have known it was there unless they had been up there before. It was above and at the back of the eighth shelf in the airing cupboard, which neither of us had even been able to reach. When we shoved the suitcases and linen up there in our first week in the house, Rory had used a small set of steps and hadn’t even climbed up to look. The police said he had used the shelves as a ladder, and we had hidden his doorway without even realising it. When they brought him out in handcuffs and I caught a glimpse of him, he was taller than he’d seemed in the dark and his hands looked big and rough. I remembered the print on the ceiling and the open window and all the nights we must have lay beneath him and didn’t even know… 26 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
he man had been up there the whole time. Since before we’d moved in, maybe even before we’d gone for the first viewing. He’d lived a life in the dark upstairs in-between the two houses, creeping along the floorboards at night. Like a mouse, only bigger. The police found papers and food and items that couldn’t possibly have belonged to him. He had a picture of Rory and I up there, one taken from our album one day when we were no doubt out of the house. The ring from Julia’s mother, a jewellery box left next door when she had died and none of her family wanted to be reminded. He had a locket of mine that my sister had given to me for being her bridesmaid and an old belt buckle of Rory’s with a silver eagle on it. These were the things we would never notice were missing. The ones you know are always around somewhere and don’t fret too much when you can’t place them right away. He had one of my t-shirts and some of my underwear. Rory choked back and I had to pull him
away from hitting the wall. We didn’t know what he had watched or seen and I wouldn’t go upstairs to know what his viewpoint was. What moments in our life he’d come to learn and we had no idea someone else was sharing in. I wondered what he’d heard us talk about. Whether he knew about the miscarriage the previous year which had never allowed us to move on and enjoy the present. Whether he knew how much Rory wanted children and how scared I’d been. I sat on the floor against the wall and cried for all of those things that should have just been for us and I cursed him for ruining it all. The house, our memories we had tried to build. Nothing was ever going to feel right again. ‘We need to go.’ Rory said. And so we did. We left and checked into a hotel out of town. As far away as he could drive that night without falling asleep behind the wheel.
onths later, after the fear subsided and the attic had been cleared and boarded up
inside and out, we went back. A family had bought the adjoining house and were in the first stages of renovating. We spoke to them on the verge and discussed dividing the attic spaces up properly. From the outside the windows looked dark except from our bedroom, as the sun was setting it caught the glass and glinted off it, making it look gold. Rory held the keys and we both stood looking at the door, with its brass knocker and the curly rolls of the peeling paint. I turned to him and he reached for my hand. It would have been easier to walk away. But the wind still blew around us and the house still stood. Kate Chisman was born in 1984 in the North East of England. She moved to Liverpool in 2002 to study her degree in English Literature, Cultural History and Creative Writing. In 2006 she returned to the North East and in September 2011 completed her Masters Degree in Creative Writing for which she was awarded a Distinction. She is the creator of writing website ‘Literature Bitch’ which is dedicated to reviews, recommendations and promoting interesting and unique voices. Her stage play Two Minutes was showcased at The Arc Theatre in February 2012 and she has previously been published in Volume Magazine. For more information visit www. katechisman.com
Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 27
Others and Their Replicants Across the dusty stretches of slick space, the android of some future human imitation drifts off to sleep and dreams of nothing in the profoundest sense but the click of tiny wheels rubbing up against the galaxies. I considered suicide once, then thought where would it get me? Sunk back into the immense darkness from which we all emerged only to emerge again perhaps this time as a Republican. So I spared my life, insignificant as it was, in an act of saving the world from the repetition of a disaster on the outer rim of the furthest spiral from the center of things impossible to make out from here.
â€˜Fantasy Lightsâ€™ by Rudy Tiben
Becoming Patent Rhonda Lott
She wore her red shoes for so long, they grew to her feet. They hustled her through graveyards until blood flowed, into a museum of full-size dolls who wore theirs three inches long, toes curled to fit. The shoes shimmied her into a strip club, right onto the stage next to a girl named Cindy with clear stilettos, who said they make her feel strong even if she can’t run. Then they ambled her into a church, where bare feet blistered in coals, and finally through a New Orleans library. She began to believe that the shoes were not dancing her. She had taught herself how. As she passed a farm, the hog butcher offered to chop off her feet so they would dance without her. ‘You’ll swing yourself into bones,’ he warned. She nodded. And she did.
Rhonda Lott received her master’s degree from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and is currently a doctoral candidate at Texas Tech University. Her previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Los Angeles Review, Cream City Review, The Southern Humanities Review, and more. She also serves as an associate editor and artist-in-residence for Stirring: A Literary Collection.
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e. W in s to meti n wa s t evel. H cs. I an ne is ja pra ctice incer ity hen he . ww s cr u c a s sm empa th Too cau b, fo ou ld im d and f l y aw ll a g sel fi sh ey owed by g ine his less - a ooth , ca on any co re n s us p e m a e ctin s were a rejuven or n in g obv ious fu l ly sh av ro a g do u sh a r e. p blu tin g wa s u tine: a ser of m e h n e, an a d the and cle a apr icot f y sp n e a re ser. Yet a d me th like o an
Character: Know Who You’re Writing
Sam Russell explains why character building is so important, and takes us through the different methods of developing fictitious characters
ithout a plot, you don’t have a story. But without characters, you have no one to drive that plot. Ignoring your characters means ignoring your story. You can dream up a character in minutes and imagine them in different situations, like driving home in their battered 1999 Vauxhall with a mood as foul as the rain crashing onto their chipped windscreen, their phone still humming with emails despite their day job having been over for
an hour; all they want is a soak in the tub and silence. But characters are more than the sum of their desires. Establishing what they want is essential to plot but establishing who they are is essential to authentic character portrayal. Do you have a character? Tell me now what their job is. Tell me their favourite colour , what memories it invokes. Tell me how long they brew their tea for. If you can’t answer those questions, it’s time to give them an overhaul.
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Character profiles This is the traditional and perhaps most common way of figuring out who’s who. It’s a forensic break-down of every possible element of your character from their name to hair colour, their job to their pet hates. Everything you can dream up gets listed. What’s great about this method is that it leaves no stone unturned, but you have to take the good with the bad. Character profiles can mire you in detail and waste a lot of your time if you become obsessed with constructing an elaborate précis for each of your characters. Not only that, they can restrict a character and make them rigid, flat; lifeless.
I find profiles a good place to start but not the best place to stay once you’ve got the shell of a character defined
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I find profiles a good place to start but not the best place to stay once you’ve got the shell of a character defined. Something more is required to transform them from a collection of facts to a richer person.
Characters from life Drawing your characters from real life comes with personal risk, but this approach, done correctly, offers a wealth of authentic sensory information. Think of this one as fictional mixed media, with heavy emphasis on the fictional; you take snippets of people you meet, know, observe whilst on the bus, and then you use those elements to deepen your character, give them a soul. Say for example you have a character that needs a cane to be able to walk; keep your eyes open for people around you who have that exact need. Observe the way they move, how they hold their cane, whether they use it to make gestures whilst talking. There are hurdles with this method, the most obvious being
Character conversations Having your characters talk to one another is a great way to open them up, explore their thoughts, but an even better technique is to talk to them yourself. And have them talk back. This is my personal favourite and one that I use regularly. It involves making yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sitting down with your notebook and opening a dialogue with your character, literally.
After a few attempts, talking becomes easier and the flavour of your character, their voice, arrives in fluid exchanges
that if you take a real-life person, slap them on the page and then put them in a ‘difficult’ light, you could get your underwear sued off if you’re found out. The other, less obvious problem is that people in real life don’t translate onto the page that well, i.e. they’re boring. Your characters have to be beyond normal but believable; drawing from life can help with the believable part but remember: fictionalise it. And don’t use similar sounding names.
At first you questions will be stiff and your character will be predictable in their responses. This is fine -- it’s like a settling in period. After a few attempts, you might find that talking becomes easier and the flavour of your character, their voice, arrives in fluid exchanges. They’ll tell you things if you ask them, such as what’s getting under their skin about that new flat-mate. Drawbacks to this process range from it not working for you and thus leaving you frustrated, to your friends and family thinking you’ve lost the plot (when you might be gaining it). It can also be a lengthy process, something which requires commitment if you’re going to see it through. But the up-side of becoming best-friends-forever with your character means that as the story develops, you can work with
Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 33
| Article them directly, talk things through, plan, and get a better sense of who they are. They might also do something remarkable, which leads me to my final point.
Leaving the nest There are two ways of looking at character creation and development: you make them, mould them, control them, or they come to you fully formed and ready to go. I like to sit in the middle, building the foundations for my character and then setting them free to see what they can do.
After creating your character, there will be a point where you’ll have to let them go or you’ll choke them
After creating your character, there will be a point where you’ll have to let them go or you’ll choke them. Let your characters lead you to places you never thought of, let them surprise you with their 34 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
intelligence, and give them the time and space to do it. This might sound like a frivolous waste of time, but I’ve learnt never to underestimate a character’s power to sneak off and do the unexpected, like show you the path through to the ideal ending of the chapter that’s been killing you for weeks.
hatever your chosen method, the best way to create believable, mature and engaging characters is to do what feels right for you and for them. Be a magpie. Use all of the methods here and develop your own. Read and study the people you encounter in those pages. Learn from your favourite authors. Do all of these things so that when you come to write, you won’t be struggling to understand a stranger and their motivations.
Sam Russell (@thequietscribe) is a riverdwelling writer going it alone on her first novel after completing her MA Creative Writing at Kent University with distinction. She likes books. A lot.
Example Character Profile Name: Faith. D.o.B. / Age: October 1985 / 27. Height / Weight: 5’5 / 8st 1lb. Hair / Eye colour: Mid-brown with dark undertones / grey-blue. Attire: Casual, quirky. Much of her clothes come from new age shops or have been up-cycled from charity shops. Defies fashion genres but pulls of her own style with success. Defining features: 7.5inch scar on lower right abdomen from ruptured appendix. Relationship status: Complicated. Long-term involvement with Erika who is in the process of divorcing her husband. Family: Parents (deceased), Polly (sister, aged 37), Sebastian (brother, aged 23), George (Grandfather, aged 81). Education: Intelligent. Completed college but dropped out of University due to ‘differences of opinion on course material’ - free thinker. Job: Classifications Assistant at University Library. Habits: Smoking, obsessive organisation, excessive cleanliness, fidgeting. Interests: Cloud spotting, daydreaming, the Dewey Decimal Classification System, books and their physicality, following stray cats to see where they go, growing herbs, veg and flowers, watching the weather change, listening to the rain, reading Danish crime fiction, World Cinema.
| Short Story
36 | Inkspill By Holly Playle Magazine | Issue 7 www.etsy.com/shop/hollycat86
Tower Antonica Jones
iaru leans forward half a stride, and peers into the spiderâ€™s web of tram-lines and billboards below. The railway knits through the air like thread, stitching towers to towers across the narrow depth of yellow smog, crawling high over the concrete in its perfect, calculated, intertwined blackness. A tram zooms quietly away from the Canterbury platforms, trundling across the carpeted sky. Next stop: Margate. Not that youâ€™d know, from looking. How high is the Roof ? he thinks uneasily, a chill settling in his spine as Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 37
| Short Story
his brothers. They’re down there, now, he thinks, past the fog and the gas and the stone and the earth. Deep down in the mines, slugging along for their dinner; digging up the planet to host its parasites and their greed. In handme-downs and pickaxes, elbow to elbow with brothers, fathers, grandfathers, and sons, united in hunger and desperation. He’s doing this for them, he tells himself. He’s doing this for them. And there she stands before him, and his stomach begins to flutter. The Gold Prize. Anwin Rebecca Cardaisa the Fourth, soon-to-be Mayor of the Seventh Eastern District. Not if I can help it, Siaru thinks. He wants to sneak a look at the battered watch on his wrist, but it would only give him away. No one has watches any more,
They’re down there, now, he thinks, past the fog and the gas and the stone and the earth. Deep down in the mines, slugging along for their dinner; digging up the planet to host its parasites and their greed.
the harsh winds buffet him back and forth. The rich, purple cloak whips around his legs, and he pulls it close, hiding from view the dusty shoes and the shaggy, worn trousers which were once his brother’s, his father’s, his uncle’s; which might one day be his son’s. If he’s lucky. He stumbles back from the edge. The little girl stands a few metres away, hands clasped behind her back, pink smile on her dark, youthful face, and bow in her hair. She giggles. Siaru gulps. ‘Nice view,’ he stammers, voice cracking in the thin, buffering air. Is the wind enough to hide his accent? How long until she finds him out? Long enough? She giggles again, and looks down, bashful, at red doll’s shoes. Bile rises to Siaru’s throat. He swallows it down and thinks of
he knows – at least, no one she’d invite to the Roof. ‘Which family do you hail for, then?’ she asks, taking a bold step forward, nose in the air. ‘Haldinburg,’ he replies quickly, stifling his slummer’s accent in long ‘ah’s and ‘uhr’s. ‘A distant relation; I’m just visiting from Folkestone.’ ‘I did wonder why I shouldn’t recognise such a sweet face as yours,’ she purrs, moving closer again so as not to be dwarfed by the rattling winds. Siaru fights back a grimace – how old is she, ten, eleven? He’s not so much older himself, but even he, hampered into the slums underground, has never known such ignorance. The Angels are right about the aristocracy. Of that much, he’s sure. ‘I should be Mayor in a matter of years, you know,’ she continues pompously, as if defending her right to be insolent, ‘Daddy – that’s Sir Mayor, to you – he says I’m oh-so-clever. He says I shall be a frightfully marvellous Mayor, you know. And I will be.’ Siaru tries to hold his eyebrows level as a choke of laughter
wells in his throat. Passing it off as a cough, he nods, engaging a stern face. ‘I’m quite sure you will, Madam. I only wish the day’d – would – come sooner.’ Anwin scowls, ‘Careful, sir, that’s treason; what gives you cause to doubt my father?’ ‘Ah – nothing, I – I only meant that I wish you all the best, Lady Anwin,’ he gabbles quickly, eyes flickering to the skies in anxious search of the flyover. Any minute now... Seemingly appeased, the girl giggles again and creeps closer still. ‘That’s a fine cloak,’ she compliments, and Siaru tugs the stolen cape tighter. ‘Yes – ah, thank you, ma’am – Madam. A Coliége. Nothing, of course, compared to the, uh, fair beauty of... yourself.’ Hesitant or not, the return is exactly what Anwin anticipates, and she beams now, and skips to the edge of the Roof. He takes a tentative step down from the ledge, so that he might not be so much taller than her. At once, the whirr of helicopter blades is in his ears. He casts around while the Lady is distracted with the view. Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 39
| Short Story The time has come. The Angels child. I know who you are.’ The will be here at any minute, and his helicopter blades are still in his part in the battle will be done. A ears. ‘You can’t hide behind stolen hostage, a ransom, a revolution words and clothes forever.’ sparked by fear. Nothing that ‘I – my Lady,’ he says at length, hasn’t been won before. And him, ‘I’m sure I don’t know what –’ Siaru Weston, in the ‘Do you think heart of it all. The we don’t know of A hostage, a cloak weaves out in the slums, Siaru?’ ransom, a revolution the wind. His mouth runs sparked by fear. ‘A beautiful dry. How does she Nothing that hasn’t place, don’t you know his name? been won before think?’ How can she He turns back possibly – to her, and freezes at the sadness ‘Do you think we don’t know in her smile. ‘Yes, Madam,’ he who you are?’ she asks, voice answers unsurely. ‘Of course. A suddenly tired, jabbing a manigreat District, to be sure.’ cured nail at his wrist, where his She looks across to him, the data-chip is embedded. The datahelicopter’s distant din simply chip which the Angels had wind in her ears. ‘You lie, Sir apparently nulled. Haldinburg,’ she says, still He takes a calculated pause. sporting her hollow smile. ‘The ‘Lady Anwin,’ he implored calmly. world was beautiful, once, I think. ‘The poverty situation does But no more.’ me as much grievance as it does Siaru is silent, not even daring yourself.’ to scope the sky for the Angels. Fury shoots through Siaru’s ‘What – what do you mean, my muscles, and he grabs at her arm Lady?’ in anger, ‘How dare you – you ‘I mean it’s a rotten world, this don’t know what it’s like – you Earth. We made it so, and now we don’t have a clue –’ only hate it.’ She laughs humourShe slaps him, hard. Face lessly, ‘You may stop pretending, stinging, pulse racing, the hum 40 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
of the Angels’ helicopter thick in his ears, he fumes silently as she steps closer, ordering himself not to flinch. Her dark, delicate hand twists around his neck, a hopeless flicker of guilt in her smile, and she slips her arm free of his grasp. She pulls him gently towards her on the ledge. His feet comply. The helicopter whirs closer, and draws into sight from behind the clouds. Just a moment longer, he tells himself, just a second, Siaru, hold on. ‘You are the seventh attempt on my life, Siaru,’ she tells him scathingly, raising her high voice over the racket of the Angels’ blades. ‘The seventh attempt this month.’
The helicopter descends, and the children are battered by a whirlwind of sand, and in an infinite moment of disaster, Anwin’s hands grasp his shoulders and tug. They fall, together, out of the dust and the sky, and tumble hopelessly towards the railways below. The smoggy air thickens. The cloak whistles against the wind and tears from Siaru’s body, fluttering above them in jest, like a dark bird soaring to the clouds. An instant before they crash on the rails, Anwin’s eyes catch his, and she smiles. Antonica Jones is18 years old, and is a university student, studying English Literature, Creative Writing, and Japanese.
jesus juicer The Poet Three i peel oranges with uncanny speed & efficiency. check this shit out— before you can fill your mouth with the word ‘colour,’ the peel off & all in one piece. it makes me feel sexy skilled like, ‘how did you just unhinge my bra with only the thumb & forefinger of your left hand?’ yep, did that. & it smells like citrus, baby. i take the spirally peels & hang them from the ceiling like potpourri wind chimes, that synethesia soundsmell of delicious. & in the future after we kill the world & fruits are manufactured in plants, the steel peels will clink together, spiraling xylophone applause for me, the shiny appliance happily carrying out exactly what i was built to do. The Poet Three has been published in Juked, Word Riot, Boston Literary Magazine, Neon, Oak Bend Review, Death Metal Poetry, Word Slaw, Mad Swirl, & others. ‘I have decided to become a villain, as our heroes no longer stand for anything heroic. I eat my fruits & vegetables.’
if iPhones mean more than poetry Kevin Spenst then you are my ringtone, my homescreen, my password. If all high-tech has trumped trochees, I’ll praise you in binary: your moods are my Facebook updates, your jests my Twitter. At night, your acoustic guitar tunes my ZIP files, your unknowns are my Google, my X-box sprawl on our living room floor. A finger deletes any ifs. No, you’re better than the Internet; you never ask me to prove I’m human in letters eyes can barely Captcha. A verse from your lips into Garageband is better than a terabyte of downloaded music and you transcend all trends with a song from your guitar. If high-tech means more than poetry, I’ll grab the smart phone that keeps ringing in the front row of your performance and turn it into hundreds of haikus Kevin Spenst’s poetry has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, Rhubarb Magazine, Dandelion, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Poetry is Dead, The Maynard, Writer’s Digest, and more. In 2011, his manuscript, The Gang’s All Down by the Abecedarium, was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. He also won the Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry for a suite of poems from another manuscript, Ignite.
THE JD CHRONICLES:
Kidnappers Know No Limits By Chris Doran
D shivered. Louise hit him. She hated it when he shivered in his sleep. For her, shivering was worse than snoring. When JD shivered, Louise took it as a personal slight on her warmth as a human being. Unfortunately however, at least in terms of taking the moral high ground, a few moments later, she herself began to shiver. ‘JD, wake up.’ JD groaned in response. ‘Wake up!’ ‘No. I’m having a lie in. It’s Saturday.’ ‘Wake up now!’ She hit him again. 44 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
‘What?’ ‘I’m cold.’ ‘It’s winter. They said it’d be cold tonight.’ ‘No, I mean I’m really cold. Too cold. I think there’s a window open. I think someone might have broken in.’ JD contemplated this for a moment. The ‘contemplation moment’ lasted longer than it should, and Louise began to fear he had gone back to sleep. She prodded him a relief for JD, who was expecting to be hit. ‘I think something’s wrong.’ ‘Everything’s fine. Don’t worry.
You’re just dreaming.’ ‘I’m not dreaming! It’s cold! I think we’ve got burglars! Get up will you! Damn it JD get up!’ The verbal tirade JD could deal with. It was the pummelling to the head that made him respond. ‘Okay okay I’m going. Pass me my dressing gown.’ ‘You’re not going to confront burglars in your dressing gown.’ ‘Well I’m not going to confront them naked.’ Louise did as requested. As JD wrapped it around him he had to confess it did feel colder than normal, and it was quite possible that there could be an open window somewhere downstairs. ‘Something doesn’t fit here,’ he mumbled. ‘I’ve been saying it doesn’t fit for months. You’ve been putting on weight but you refuse to admit it.’ ‘No, I don’t mean the dressing gown. I mean I think you’re right. There’s a window open downstairs.’ JD approached the dressing table and opened a drawer. After a moment or two of fumbling in the dark he pulled out a pair of
sunglasses. ‘What are you doing?’ JD switched on the light, smiling smugly as Louise cowered behind the quilt. He couldn’t see her, but he knew she was making gestures beneath the covers. Once downstairs, JD began to feel very aware that he was naked save for a dressing gown and sunglasses. He tried to reason that there wouldn’t be anyone downstairs. It was probably faulty heating more than anything else, but still, he took off the shades, just in case. He frowned at the inconvenience of having to get up in the middle of the night for nothing. He switched on the living room light and looked around. All seemed quiet. Better to get up in the middle of the night for nothing than get up in the middle of the night to be confronted by burglars, he supposed. Then he saw the window, and sure enough, it was open. He looked around for any sign of disturbance, but couldn’t see anything out of place. The wind maybe? It seemed unlikely, but Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 45
there was certainly no burglar in the room. With nothing else to go on, he closed the window and decided to search the kitchen instead – at least there he could grab a quick drink and a cheeky biscuit before going back to bed. He settled for a bourbon, but just as he was scraping off the cream filling with his teeth he heard a tremendous crash and several bangs coming from the bedroom upstairs. He looked at the ceiling, and various terrible images flashed through his head. ‘You all right love?’ JD shouted, tentatively, still holding the base of the bourbon biscuit. No response. ‘Louise? Love? You there?’ JD feared the worst. There must be an intruder. He put the second part of the bourbon into his mouth, but chewed it very slowly so as to not make a sound when he climbed the stairs and approached the bedroom. He could feel more cold air. It was evident now that someone had opened the bedroom window too, and he knew it wouldn’t be Louise. 46 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
JD feared the worst. There must be an intruder. He put the second part of the bourbon into his mouth, but chewed it very slowly...
| Short Story
He swallowed the last of the biscuit, then burst into the bedroom ready to fight, with arms raised and fists clenched. This sudden rush of movement caused his dressing gown to unexpectedly open, exposing him to the full force of the winter chill, and he shrieked in cold surprise. But the bedroom was empty. Louise wasn’t there. ‘Lou?’ he asked, softly, as he refastened his dressing gown. The empty room, as empty rooms are inclined to be, was silent. JD walked over to the open window, and looked out just in time to see a van speed away into the distance. Then he noticed the ladder, still in place, just below the very window from which he was now looking out.
The scene was self explanatory. … (Louise had been kidnapped) … Later that morning, after he’d had a shower and allowed him self to wake up properly, JD resolved that he must do something about his stolen girlfriend. Over a coffee in the kitchen he flicked through his filofax until he came across the number he was looking for – Bill Thurman, his contact in the police. Bill had been the only man to stick by JD in the months following his dismissal from the police force for stealing a hat stand at the Christmas party. He knew if anyone could help him now, it would be Bill. He dialled the number. Though Bill had never once set foot outside of England, he tended to speak in an American accent. He claimed it came with the job. ‘Who’s this?’ ‘JD.’ ‘Sports or Wetherspoon?’ ‘Neither.’
‘Salinger? I thought you were dead.’ ‘I am dead – I mean, he his dead. No, I’m not Salinger.’ ‘Surely not Rockefeller, that’s impossible!’ ‘No, for the love of – It’s me, JD. The private investigator. Your old friend? I used to work with you. JD. Jay Dee. J.A.Y –’ ‘Oh yes of course. Sorry JD. It’s early morning. Can never place a face on the phone, particularly before lunch. How can I help?’ ‘It’s Louise. She’s been stolen, and I’ve no lead.’ ‘Jesus no...’ Bill leaned back in his office recliner, and lifted his shoeless feet up onto the desk. ‘I was thinking you guys might have heard something. Anything would be a help.’ ‘I’m sorry to say this, JD, but it looks like Louise is the next one on the list.’ ‘What list?’ ‘There’s been a spate of these things. Kidnappings. We’ve had three this week already.’ JD’s heart sank. ‘Any leads?’ ‘Nothing. All we know is Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 47
| Short Story they’re all women and all living in this area.’ ‘I’m coming over. I need to be on this case, Ben.’ ‘Bill.’ ‘Bill. Sorry.’ ‘That’s OK. I deserved that. Listen though, you can’t come down here. You’re still barred. I’ll meet you at the Internet café on East Street.’ With that, Bill put the phone down and his shoes on. … JD was already in the café, waiting for his black coffee go cold enough to drink, when Bill arrived. Bill got himself a drink and joined JD at the table.
‘So what do you have?’ ‘Tea.’ ‘No, I mean on the case.’
‘So what do you have?’ ‘Tea.’ ‘No, I mean on the case.’ ‘Oh. Not a lot I’m afraid. We’ve pretty much only got the
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names to go on so far. The first girl was stolen in the early hours of last Monday morning, her name was Easther. The second was Vernie, we’re not sure when she was taken, but she didn’t show up for work on Wednesday, and the third, well, she was lifted right off the street JD, in broad daylight.’ ‘And her name?’ ‘Kéllé. With accents, apparently. Two of them.’ ‘What the hell?’ ‘I know. But that’s all we’ve got.’ ‘Just the names eh? Well, it’s not much to work with, but it’s more than I had alone.’ JD sipped his coffee while he thought. ‘Easther, Vernie, Kéllé, and now, my Louise… What can it mean?’ ‘I don’t know JD. We’ve had our best men on it, and if we don’t get to the bottom of it soon, there’s no telling how long this will go on for. I mean, this could go on forever.’ ‘Forever? Wait a minute...’ JD’s coffee was still hot but, now, so was he. ‘What is it?’
‘If what I’m thinking is right, it makes perfect sense. I think Louise could be the last part of the jigsaw.’ JD took a moment before explaining, playing it out in his head once more to make sure he was right. He shook his head slowly from side to side, mumbling quietly to himself. ‘Damn it. God damn it. How can someone be this inhumane?’ ‘What? What do you know?’ JD looked Bill sternly in the eye. The steam from his coffee gave his face a foreboding air and Bill shuddered. ‘The torture of these girls is soon going to get out of hand. We have to act quickly, Bill.’ Bill was looking lost, and his tea leaves couldn’t help. ‘How’s your knowledge of nineties girl bands?’ ‘I don’t follow.’ ‘Then follow this.’ JD stood up, almost spilling his coffee in his haste. ‘And by this, I mean me.’ JD hurried over to the row of computers by the wall. They were all currently occupied, so in
his best ex-policeman manner, JD put his hand firmly on the shoulder of a gentleman presently watching funny animal videos on Youtube. ‘Excuse me, sir, I need this computer for police business.’ ‘What, but I’m –’ ‘The cats’ll wait sir, the cats’ll wait.’ JD immediately logged on to Google. He typed in the names Bill had given him. Easther, Vernie and Kéllé. Then finally, he typed in his own girlfriend’s name, Louise, and pressed enter. In 0.38 seconds, Google had confirmed his theory. Bill still looked confused. ‘I don’t follow.’ ‘Eternal, Bill. Eternal. I think we’ve got a maniac on our hands. And I think he’s trying to recreate the 1990’s girl band Eternal.’ ‘You can’t be serious?’ ‘I’m as serious as cancer.’ The gentleman who’d been watching the animal videos leaned in between them. ‘“Serious as cancer” was actually a line from Rhythm is a Dancer, by Snap, not Eternal. But I see what you were Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 49
| Short Story trying to do.’ ‘I know that, thank you,’ JD mumbled. ‘Here, have your computer back.’ And with that he downed his coffee (burning his mouth a little) and urged Bill to follow him out of the café. Outside, it was still cold but the sunlight was blinding. Bill put his sunglasses on. JD realised he’d left his in his dressing gown pocket. ‘I think I’m right here Bill, I really do. There’s a nineties bar over on West Street, No Limit, run by a guy called Haddaway Hawks, he’s just the type of sorry, good-for-nothing, nostalgia merchant who could do something like this. My bet is that’s where they’ll be.’ ‘It doesn’t make sense. You’re saying your Louise was the Louise?’ ‘No, of course she wasn’t. I’m saying Haddaway Hawks is a madman. He’s not bothered about the real members. He wants his own tribute act. It’s 11.45 and today’s a Saturday right? By now he’s probably already got them rehearsing “Stay” and “Just a Step from Heaven”. No doubt he’ll 50 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
be expecting them to perform a matinee. Now he’s completed the group, there’s no reason for him to delay any longer. Time is of the essence. If we don’t stop it, those girls are in real danger. Taxi!’ JD jumped out from the kerb to hail down the taxi, but the taxi swerved and carried on straight ahead. Its light had been off, but JD hadn’t noticed in the sunlight. ‘Come on, we’ll have to run!’ And run they did. All the way up North Street and down South Street to West Street. Slightly out of breath they arrived at No Limit. JD stopped just as they were about to enter. ‘Wait, Bill, you got a gun?’ ‘No, course not. Maybe I should call for back up.’ ‘There’s no time. Here, hold your fingers like this, then put them in your jacket pocket, like this.’ JD indicated how to do it, and Bill flinched when JD pointed the fake gun at him. ‘It’s ok, it’s just a fake, but if you’re ever in any doubt, make sure you leave the safety on. Now remember, don’t pull the fake gun out of your pocket, otherwise
they’ll know.’ Bill nodded. ‘Got it.’ ‘Ready?’ ‘Ready.’ And in they went, JD first, Bill as cover. ‘This is a raid!’ JD shouted, ‘Everybody down! I said everybody –’ JD froze when he saw - and heard - what was happening on stage at the back of the club. There, under the red, yellow and blue flashing spot lights, were Louise, Easther, Vernie, and Kéllé. They were singing ‘Just a Step from Heaven’, and, (and this part sent a shiver down JD’s spine) they were dancing too. JD immediately forgot about his fake gun and ran over to Louise, and Louise, upon seeing him, jumped desperately from the stage and into his arms. They hugged and kissed, the backing track of ‘Just a Step from Heaven’ still playing over. The other girls stopped dancing. Haddaway Hawks leaped angrily from behind the DJ’s box and onto the dance floor. He had ‘Call me Mr Vain’ emblazoned on his t-shirt.
‘What the hell is going on here!?’ he screamed in accented cockney. Did I say stop dancing? And who the hell are you! Get out of my club, we’ve a show at 2!’ The three girls started dancing again. Louise looked to JD for help, unsure what to do. ‘Not so fast, buddy!’ Luckily for JD, Bill had retained his fake gun, and right now he had it pointed directly at Haddaway Hawks’ most private possessions. ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ shouted Haddaway Hawks, Four None Blonds immediately coming into his head. ‘Who are you?’ ‘I’m the police and the show’s over, get down on the floor. Hands behind your head.’ Haddaway Hawks reluctantly got down on the floor, eyes fixed on the gun in Bill’s jacket pocket. Bill walked over to him and slowly pulled his hand from his coat. ‘What... No... No gun?’ ‘No Padre, no gun, but these cuffs, these are real as hell.’ Bill slapped a set of handcuffs on Haddaway Hawks. Easther, Vernie and Kéllé all climbed down from the stage and ran up to hug Bill in Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 51
| Short Story relief and delight. In the middle of a beautiful girl scrum, Bill saw over Vernie’s shoulders more fake bands emerge from the darkness of the stage. There were 911, Kriss Kross, East 17 and more. ‘It could’ve been a goddamn massacre in here if we’d been any later. Someone go cut that damn backing track!’ shouted Bill. Someone did. JD and Louise walked over to Bill and the girls, and one of the boys from 911, the blond one, asked if they were free to go. ‘You’re free boys. All of you, you’re all free, you don’t have to live in the past anymore.’ As JD spoke there were tears of joy from some of the bands. People began to laugh, to cheer and celebrate. A half emaciated Terrance Trent D’Arby was crying with relief in the corner. ‘I’ve been here since the late eighties – I thought I’d never get out. Thank you, thank you so much, Mr... Mr...?’ ‘Call me JD, and this hero here, this is Bill.’ ‘Thank you JD, thank you Bill.’ Said the blond one from 911. 52 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
JD walked over to Haddaway Hawks, intending to kick him while he was down, when he noticed he was trying to say something. ‘What’s that?’ JD knelt down to listen, it was barely audible, the whispered rantings of a madman. ‘No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no....’ Bill came alongside JD, and put his arm around his shoulder. ‘Someone needs to tell this guy the nineties are over, and they aint never coming back.’ ‘Psyche!’ JD laughed, and he looked around to see who else was laughing. But nobody was, and Bill was looking, if anything, more stern than amused. ‘No, JD. No, I mean it. They’re not coming back. They’re over.’ ‘Yeah, I know, I just… forget it, doesn’t matter.’
Chris Doran lives and works in London, and mainly writes short stories and plays.
Others and Their Replicants George Moore Across the dusty stretches of slick space, the android of some future human imitation drifts off to sleep and dreams of nothing in the profoundest sense but the click of tiny wheels rubbing up against the galaxies. I considered suicide once, then thought where would it get me? Sunk back into the immense darkness from which we all emerged only to emerge again perhaps this time as a Republican. So I spared my life, insignificant as it was, in an act of saving the world from the repetition of a disaster on the outer rim of the furthest spiral from the centre of things impossible to make out from here. George Moore has been published in Zone, Antigonish Review (Canada), Dublin Quarterly, Semaphore (New Zealand), Quarterly Review of Literature (Singapore), and more. He spends part of each year at artist residencies in Europe. Nominated last year for Pushcart Prizes, â€˜Best of the Webâ€™ awards, the Rhysling Poetry Award and the Wolfson Poetry Prize, his collections Inkspill Magazine include All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (Pulpbits 2007) and Headhunting (Mellen, 2002). He teaches literature with the University of Colorado, Boulder.
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Proceeds of Crime:
The explosion of a genre Crime writing: fantastic fast-paced escapism to the masses, inelegant, plot-driven money-spinners to the literati. But is the tide turning? Inkspill Magazine’s associate editor, Kristina Heaney talks to bestselling psychological crime author and CWA Dagger nominee Leigh Russell on changing attitudes towards the genre and what being a crime writer means to her.
hatever your personal take on the genre, it’s impossible to deny the recent surge in popularity crime thrillers are enjoying. Last year, for the first time in history the top ten fictional titles borrowed from UK libraries were all crime novels. Thanks to the runaway success of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, crime drama dominated both film and television in 2011: The Killing, both Norwegian and US, The Bridge, Spiral, Headhunters and the UK adaptation of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to name 54 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
but a few. Scandinavian author Jo Nesbo—previously almost unknown in the UK, despite having penned five books before the turn of the decade— experienced sales up 1,390% from January to June. P.D. James even turned the charming world of Mr and Mrs Darcy into one of fear and foul play in her Christmas 2011 offering, Death Comes to Pemberley. Based in North-West London, Leigh Russell is the author of four crime novels featuring heroine detective
Geraldine Steel, currently Kindle’s number 1 bestselling female sleuth (to put that into perspective, that list includes the likes of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who featured in eighteen separate novels and short stories and countless reprints). Russell also happens to be one of those incredible literary urban legends, landing her first publishing deal after sending her manuscript out only once. Undaunted by deeply entrenched stereotypes, she has a refreshingly down-to-earth take on the literary community’s attitude towards crime fiction: ‘It’s important to respect other people’s views, but the literary community’s opinion of crime fiction doesn’t affect me personally. What does concern me is whether readers enjoy my books. It’s great when critics publish excellent reviews of my books because positive reviews give an author credibility, but I’m equally thrilled by appreciative emails I receive from fans. While genre distinctions can be useful, they are arbitrary. Most books
cross boundaries and I suspect some literary figures, who are disdainful of commercial fiction in public, enjoy reading a good crime story in private. And why not? Crime fiction is immensely popular, with good reason when you consider its impressive heritage. What better description could be given of ‘Hamlet’, or ‘Othello’?’
Russell makes an interesting point. Some of the greatest classic novels in the English language could, if written today, find themselves sitting alongside Lee Child and Karin Slaughter on the crime shelves: Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Faulkner’s Light in August. Mary Shelley would certainly have found herself consigned to the genre fiction cupboard. This poses quite the publishing Catch 22. While pigeonholing fiction makes a great deal of sense from a marketing perspective, the neat justification that such categorizing makes it easy for readers to identify more of what they enjoy has entirely the opposite effect on the literary Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 55
| Article fiction fan. This stems from a lack of understanding as to what crime fiction actually is. Although, on the face of it, that may seem like a ridiculous statement, let me give you two examples. The first you can try for yourself: go into your local bookstore and have a quick sweep of the shelves; this is all that should be needed for you to identify the differences. Literary fiction: sleek matt finish cover, stylish font, title and author’s name are clear but not imposing. Crime fiction: high shine finish cover, title in aggressive block capitals— preferably red—filling at least half of the overall space. Whist the design allows the customer to locate the type of fiction they are interested in quickly, there’s something overtly tabloid-looking about crime novels. Already we, as readers, are being readied to receive something as intellectually nourishing as the Daily Mirror, regardless of the quality of the story inside. It seems almost impossible not to judge the book by its cover. The second example is a story about a journalist friend of mine 56 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
who, a few years ago, told me he was working on a debut novel based around a series of murders in South America. ‘Oh, so it’s crime fiction,’ I said. ‘No, definitely not,’ he replied, astounded. ‘It’s about murders, but it’s not crime fiction.’ Eventually he sacked the idea off altogether, concerned that if he did secure a publishing deal he would never be taken seriously as a writer. Having never read one, to him ‘crime fiction’ stories were entirely lacking in decent prose and only good for accidentally leaving in Greek holiday villas. Some may well argue that publishing behemoth James Patterson’s ‘collaborative’ novels (twelve of which were released back to back in 2011), whilst hugely popular with his wide fan base, are unhelpful to the image of crime, propagating a stereotype and adding weight to the argument that genre writing is mere pulp fiction with more interest in generating sales than creating compelling stories. Which, if we all allow our cynical sides a moment to run riot, probably isn’t far off the
mark in Patterson’s case. Russell’s experience of life as a working crime writer could not be further from the James Patterson production line. A teacher originally, she got the idea for her first novel, Cut Short, after a chilling walk through a North-West London park. As she began to plan out the plot she found herself becoming more and more fascinated with the motivations of her killer, and before long her slasher story had turned into a speculative psychological thriller that is at once both discomforting and addictive. When I asked her how she views her own writing in the context of literature, she said: ‘That question doesn’t concern me because I don’t write for fame or posterity. I write because I want to tell stories. As long as people enjoy reading my books, I’m happy. It’s that simple. I’ll leave it for future readers to consider where my own writing falls within the context of twenty-first century literature.’
The televisation of the top prizes at CWA Dagger Awards’ for crime writing—the New Blood Dagger (for which Russell received a nomination in 2010), the Gold Dagger and the Ian Flemming Steel Dagger—on ITV3 as part of their annual Crime Thriller Awards has doubtless helped to raise interest in the genre as a whole. But beyond this, giving authors a national media platform has increased understanding that stories which fall into the ‘genre’ category have a greater literary value than their two-for-one airport price tag. When asked if she, like many of her contemporaries, finds it frustrating that crime fiction is rarely recognised by the biggest award schemes, Russell maintains a positive outlook: ‘Crime fiction has been gaining popularity amongst the industry in recent years. In 2011 an unprecedented third of titles long listed for the Booker Prize were crime novels.’
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| Article This is particularly telling given that in a 2005 interview with bookslut.com, crime fiction heavyweight Ian Rankin explained his frustration that crime novels were never considered for top literary prizes such as the Whitbread (now the Costa) and the Booker: ‘The Queen, God bless her, gave me an Order of the British Empire a couple of years ago for “Services to literature”. That was important because it wasn’t services to “Genre fiction [that] you read on a train journey and then discard when you get to your destination”. If the Queen is starting to take crime fiction seriously, surely everybody else is going to follow suit.’ Bestselling thriller author and founder of The Writer’s Workshop, Harry Bingham, notes in his tips for budding writers that good crime fiction is about far more than the odd murder: ‘[The] plot almost certainly needs a brain-aching level of 58 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
complexity, and a surprising number of well planned, well executed twists. Because modern crime authors have become really good at developing complex but plausible plots, and because modern thriller writers have become so adept at delivering an endless chain of impossible-tosee-it-coming twists, you can’t afford to be less than devilishly clever yourself.’ Crime fiction is no easy route to big sales, as Russell knows all too well. She is now off on the publicity wagon for the fourth D.I. Geraldine Steel instalment, Death Bed. I ask if she ever has concerns about market saturation, or more worryingly, whether the crime bubble—like witches, wizards and werewolves before—might burst? ‘If I could predict whenbubbles would burst, or where market trends were heading, I would be a lot richer than I am now! That said I see no sign of the crime losing popularity. It’s not a passing trend, like the teenage fad for vampire
As long as people keep reading our books, we’ll keep writing them
books. Interest in detective stories isn’t unprecedented. Sherlock Holmes was so popular with contemporary readers that Arthur Conan Doyle was compelled to bring his hero back to life in ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’ (published 1903) such was the public outcry at his death, over a century ago. With so many brilliant contemporary crime authors around, I see no reason why the genre should fade. Val McDermid,
Tess Gerritsen, Jeff Deaver, I could go on. The list is huge. As long as people keep reading our books, we’ll keep writing them. As for a saturated market – is it possible to have too many first rate books?’ Leigh Russell’s fourth novel Death Bed is available in limited edition signed hardback, paperback and eBook formats from 24th May. Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 59
| Short Story
The Child of St.Claude Elan Webster
he child of St.Claude, wayward, ragged. Always tired, head swaying. A music no one else can hear makes him dance the weaving steps of a knife-wounded drunkard. He laughs and doesnâ€™t know why. The whiteness of his upturned face is dimmed by the shadow of the valley. He walks through plots of unused land littered with rusted metal, dead grass twitching in the gagging air. He holds a stone in his hand, 60 | Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7
for it reminds him of the revenant who sent him down this road, the revenant for whom he is forever falling to his knees. When night falls, he finds ceremony among the drunken congregation, watches the empty feast, watches as they tear kisses from the faces of pallid virgins. Mornings descend like knife points. Each time he wakens, curled up and freezing, he stares long at the ceiling, mouth open. Whatever it is that makes him rise
has no name. He searches for food along streets dusted with snow. The wind courses from the axis of the mountains and he watches, with tired joy, a scintillant blizzard arise from the cracked paving stones. At times his knees give him pain, and he fears missteps, knowing full well his legs are the one thing keeping him alive. This place, then another, then another -- just keep moving. This place, then another, then another -- just keep moving. This is the mantra uttered by those sanctioned by God. Before winter came, before his arrival in St.Claude, he found a doe, head shot, laid beside a forest path. He called out for any claimants that might have been nearby, knowing full well the value of her meat and hide. No call answered his, and he dragged her into the forest, set her down in the posture of life, arranged the legs in a mid-leap. A sigil mounted upon dead leaves, constellations of pine cones surrounding the ruined skull, he left her there.
it reminds him of the revenant who sent him down this road, the revenant for whom he is forever falling to his knees
Elan Webster is an English freelance writer currently living in France. If You wish to contact Mr.Webster regarding a piece he has written he can be reached via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inkspill Magazine | Issue 7 | 61
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| Short Story
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