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vortex 2011 Edition


Introduction The Creative Writing team at Winchester work hard to make each edition of VORTEX as good as it can possibly be. In a sense, I do the easy bit – topping and tailing after all the hard labour has ended. But without the efforts of Judith Heneghan, the most able of editors/proof-readers, and the editorial board who assiduously read every submission and write comments on all of them, there would be nothing for me to take the credit for. So thank you also to: Kass Boucher Glenn Fosbraey Nick Joseph Andrew Melrose Julian Stannard

Carole Burns Vanessa Harbour Joan McGavin Mark Rutter Judy Waite

All of your silent efforts are much appreciated by me. VORTEX exists under the umbrella of Winchester University Press, and has established itself as a staple feature of the student writing scene in the UK. We are very proud of the opportunity it offers creative writing students to get their work ‘out there.’ Competition to be included in VORTEX continues to be healthy, with many more works rejected than published. This is how it should be. All our successful writers have the right to feel jolly-well pleased with themselves. Please check out the VORTEX archive for all previous editions. It truly is a treasure trove: http://www.nxtbook.com/fx/clients/uow/view.php Enjoy, as always. Neil McCaw Editor

Guide to Submissions Students from the University of Winchester wishing to submit work to be considered by the VORTEX Editorial Board, should send all submissions to Neil McCaw (Neil. Mccaw@winchester.ac.uk) by 30th April 2012. All work should ideally be doublespaced, in 12 font; prose should be no longer than 2500 words, poetry should be no more than 50 lines (or 4 discrete poems). Students from outside the University of Winchester should send all submissions to Neil McCaw (Neil.Mccaw@winchester. ac.uk) by March 31st 2012, and be sure to put their NAME and INSTITUTION in the header of each page of their work. Failure to do so will mean that the submitted work will not be considered. The same specifications for submissions apply as for Winchester students. For further information about VORTEX contact the Editor, Neil McCaw, at the above address


Contents

page 02...

Reb Alexander Rose Blossom Honey

page 08...

Jessica Chambers Wick End

page 12...

Zach Kennedy Calydonian Boar

page 13...

Zach Kennedy Two Nines and X-on-Ten

page 14...

Harry Gallon Abstracting the Discourse of the Pre-Professional Mentality

page 18...

Anne Mitchell Cassandra

page 20...

Claire Hillier The Vested Hurling Catholic

page 22...

Kate Stanley Plumtree Diving

page 24...

Joseph Allsopp Phizog of Neglected Aliens

page 25...

Joseph Allsopp A Boulevard Voyage for Metal Insects

page 26...

Meg Burrows Alphabet University

page 27...

Meg Burrows Doll’s House

page 28...

Rewen Tremethick The Clock Tower

page 32...

Sayuri Yamada The Applicant

page 34...

Zach Kennedy Dear Doctor

page 38...

Thomas Wood Childe Roland (on 9/11)

page 39...

Thomas Wood Digital Scaffold

page 40...

Thomas Wood Prophet

page 42...

Claire Hillier The Whitewash


Rose Blossom Honey Reb Alexander

nce upon a time there was a story about a beautiful young girl who lived with her father, Sir Devon the Brave. Then he married a jealous stepmother. That would be me. I’m a community fairy godmother. I’d been called to a case involving a nasty little repeat offender called Rumpelstiltskin. By the time I got there, Sir Devon the Brave had put him in chains and locked him up. He smiled at me. That’s love: one minute everything is normal and the next minute you’re knocked flat, your hair is on end and your shoes are on fire. Well, maybe that was the dragon who turned up - but that’s another story. So we walked, hand in hand, to the nearby church and got married. It was only afterwards, when he took me to his cottage in the woods, that I realised there was a daughter with long dark hair and eyes like chocolate. I had become a stepmother. Someone, seven years ago, had named this child Rose Blossom Honey. I should have known. No-one loads a good baby with all that sweetness.


Next morning, a messenger rode up to the cottage and shouted for Devon. ‘Dread tidings!’ she cried. ‘A dragon has attacked the castle at Silver Heath and wants to eat the princess!’ Before you could say ‘Oh, but I’m on my honeymoon!’ Devon was clanking through the cottage looking for his dragon-hide shield and gauntlets. While I was washing up, a pigeon with a silver message case strapped to its leg arrived. Sorry Grizelda, but there’s a bad fairy been reported on the road to the sleeping castle, in the Prickly Thorn Woods. Bears send love! Goldilocks xx ‘Rose?’ I called up the stairs. ‘Rose Blossom Honey!’ ‘WHAT?’ she snapped. I walked up the stairs to her attic room. ‘Look, I have to go to work. You’d better come with me.’ ‘I don’t want to go and you CAN’T MAKE ME! You are NOT MY MOTHER!’ Just like that, in capital letters. ‘You’ll have to lock the door, then,’ I said. ‘I’m going to tell my father you left me all alone. With WOLVES and GOBLINS.’ ‘Come with me, then.’ I went downstairs and packed the usual work stuff. Wand, staff, crystal ball. By the time I was ready to leave, she was by the door. ‘Where’s your horse?’ She was scowling and her arms were folded. ‘We’re walking.’ We set out down the path towards the Prickly Thorn Woods. The questions started soon after we left the house. ‘Why haven’t you got a HORSE? Are you very, very POOR? Did you marry my dad for his MONEY?’ It was a relief to come across an old woman sitting on a tree stump. ‘Hello, Old Woman.’ (This is perfectly polite in the Prickly Thorn Woods.) ‘May we help you?’ The woman replied in a shaky voice. ‘No my dear, I’m just catching my breath. Just you head for the castle, I’ll be along shortly.’ ‘She’s old. And DIRTY.’ The child started to stamp forward onto the path, covered with leaves and sticks. ‘Wait!’ I shouted. I pushed one of the sticks aside with my staff. Under a lattice of branches lay a hole, twelve feet deep and full of sharpened stakes. The old woman looked a lot less helpless with her wand in her hand. ‘You can’t interfere.’ ‘Actually,’ I said, waving a copy of the original spindle-enchanted sleep agreement, ‘I can. Under the hundred years rule the prince has to be allowed one chance to break the enchantment with a kiss.’ ‘Yes!’ shouted the girl. ‘If he isn’t IMPALED on dozens of STICKS!’ I waved my (slightly bigger) wand. ‘So you may as well be off…’ The old woman rose a foot in the air on barely visible wings. ‘Grizelda, isn’t it? Ha! How long do you think it will be before you’re a wicked stepmother?’ Rose Blossom Honey didn’t speak until we were almost home. ‘So, that old woman was a witch?’ ‘Bad fairy.’ ‘And she was trying to stop the prince breaking a spell?’ ‘Yep.’ My back was aching from fi lling in the bear trap by myself. I didn’t want some ignorant creature falling into it, even a prince. ‘So all he has to do is cut a few thorns and kiss the princess?’


I shrugged. ‘She hasn’t cleaned her teeth for one hundred years. I wouldn’t kiss her.’ We turned into the clearing where the cottage stood and Devon was there, rubbing down the horse and the mule with an old blanket. ‘Daddy!’ She lit up like a light in a lantern. ‘Come and sit down! I’ll make some tea for you.’ ‘I’m fine, princess.’ He picked her up and hugged her. I smiled at him. ‘Take Rose inside and I’ll stable the horses.’ While I scrubbed the soot off his armour, I watched Rose set the candlelit table for two. I was a tiny bit jealous. The very next day, after breakfast, another messenger arrived. ‘Dread tidings!’ he shouted. ‘A Black Knight besieges the castle of King Leopold and challenges all comers!’ Before you could say ‘Oh, no, not again,’ Devon was buckling his helmet and strapping on his sword belt. The pigeon turned up shortly after with a new message from the office. Sorry Griz, there’s a problem with the seven dwarves. In the High Cold Mountains. Some sort of apple poisoning. Bring the wedding woodcuts when you’re next in the office! Goldilocks xx I found the girl on a swing in the garden. ‘I have to go to work,’ I told her. ‘You’d better come with me.’ She glared at me. ‘You CAN’T MAKE ME! You are NOT MY MOTHER!’ I shrugged. ‘Well, stay in the cottage and lock the door.’ ‘A WICKED WITCH might come to the cottage and turn me into a FROG!’ she shouted, and stomped off indoors. I collected my spell book, wand and crystal dagger. By the time I had laced up my winter boots, she was waiting by the door. As soon as we started walking towards the High Cold Mountains, she began asking questions. ‘How OLD are you? Were you married before? Why not? Is it because you’re so OLD and UGLY?’ Before long I was jogging away from the questions crunching through the snow behind me. We met a handsome prince riding slowly down the path. He looked sad, and was followed by a procession of seven little men, each one occasionally wiping his eyes or nose with his colourful hat. ‘That’s DISGUSTING!’ Rose shouted. ‘Haven’t you got HANKIES?’ The horse stopped and the dwarves looked up, reaching under their tunics for their weapons. ‘Shut up!’ I hissed at her, and she glared at me. Dwarves are bad tempered at the best of times and I didn’t want seven pickaxes coming my way. ‘Fair Prince…’ I read, from the standard script. ‘I bring news from the Great Wizard Heimlich. The princess is sleeping in an enchanted slumber…’ ‘She’s probably been POISONED, you IDIOTS,’ said Rose Blossom Honey. ‘By an apple! Haven’t you heard of FIRST AID?’ She stomped up the trail past the muttering dwarves. There was a glass coffin in a clearing. It held the body of a girl, almost as pale as the snow. I grabbed the prince, pulling him off his horse. ‘Quick, lift her up before my… assistant does.’ Princes aren’t that bright, but once you get them moving they’re all action. He lifted the hilt of his sword and brought it down with a huge crash, shattering the glass. Then he lifted the girl in his arms, the apple fell out… you get the picture. Everyone was very grateful - to Rose. They even invited her to the wedding. Anyway, we were almost back to the cottage before she spoke to me again. ‘So that’s all he had to do? Pick her up and kiss her?’ I shrugged. ‘He gets seven very bad tempered brothers-in-law. It’s not all good.’ Devon was already back, beating the dents out of his helmet with a blacksmith’s hammer.


Rose ran past me. ‘Daddy! Are you all right?’ He swung her up into his arms and kissed her. ‘I’m fine. And the Black Knight’s off to kill ogres in the Blue Mountains.’ I washed his sweat and blood-stained jerkin and leggings and hung them on tree branches to dry. Rose lit candles and set the table for two. I tried very hard not to be jealous. The messenger arrived before we’d even finished breakfast the next day. ‘Dread tidings! A monstrous worm is eating villagers in the Dismal Swamp…’ Before you could say ‘Oh, for goodness sake…’ Devon was away. Armour, horse, galloping off. The pigeon arrived shortly afterwards. We’re a bit worried about two missing children, Hansel and Gretel. Last seen three days ago at the crossroads in the Deep Dark Woods. Bring your new husband into the office next time you’re in! Goldilocks xx Missing children are often the most dangerous cases. I tracked down Rose, who was picking wild flowers in the overgrown garden. ‘Two children are missing. This time you really can’t come with me. Bolt the door until your father gets home.’ Her face screwed itself into an ugly pout. ‘Something is taking LITTLE CHILDREN! Like ME! I don’t want to stay and you CAN’T MAKE ME! You are NOT MY MOTHER!’ ‘You’re staying,’ I told Rose. ‘Lock the door.’ Her screeching faded as I turned into the Dark Deep Forest. Children don’t go into the forest much. For one thing, there are a lot of tangled stories in there. Wolves living in houses made of straw, geese that lay porridge eggs, pigs that eat grandmothers. Nasty stuff. I stood at the crossroads, puzzling over the sign. Deadman’s Copse appeared to be on the left, Creepy Woods dead ahead and Wolf Forest to the right. All of the paths seemed to dwindle to tunnels through the dark leaves. ‘It’s THAT way.’ I jumped at the voice. It was Rose, glowering at me, pointing down the path to the left. ‘I told you to stay! Now we have to go back, it’s far too dangerous for you.’ ‘Hansel and Gretel are younger than me,’ she said, folding her arms. ‘Well, we don’t know which way to go anyway, so we may as well go home.’ ‘We do know the way. Look at all the birds.’ The path to Deadman’s Copse was full of robins and blackbirds pecking at the ground. ‘Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs so they could find their way back,’ she said. ‘It’s what I would do.’ ‘Your father will never forgive me if you get hurt.’ She looked back into the dark woods behind us. ‘You want me to walk through the deep dark forest? By myself?’ I was torn. Hansel and Gretel might not have much time… if they were still alive. ‘Well, stay behind me and do exactly what I tell you.’ I took my axe out of my bag. The bushes were so close to the gloomy path we had to squeeze through in places. ‘This is scary,’ said Rose. After a while, I felt a hand catch the back of my cloak. ‘I don’t want to get LOST.’ The path split several times, and each time we waited for one of the birds to hop out for crumbs. Finally, we came to a clearing. There was a tiny wooden cottage, painted like it was made of gingerbread and sweets. I turned to the girl. ‘Rose. I know who this is. Take the axe and the backpack, and go. Get help.’ Her little face creased and tears ran down. ‘You’re scaring me.’


I hugged her for a moment. ‘Remember, I am NOT YOUR MOTHER. Don’t worry about me.’ I watched her set off back down the path and hoped she would be all right. Then I walked to the door of the cottage and knocked. It was opened by the skinniest, raggediest little girl I had ever seen. ‘Is your mother in?’ I asked breezily, as if I was just selling broomsticks. Then a hag crept around the girl, bent double with a hump on her back. She had a terrible squint and lots of warts. ‘Just a poor old woman and her granddaughter,’ she wheezed. The good eye looked like it had priced up my cloak and boots. I slid one hand onto the hilt of my dagger. ‘Perhaps you would like to come inside for a glass of water?’ she said. That’s when she caught me out with the poisoned pin trick. I was paralysed, sliding onto the fi lthy threshold. The suddenly sprightly dame dragged me in by one arm. As my head hit the door frame, the world went dark and quiet. I woke trussed up like a Christmas goose. The evil hag chortled. ‘Oh, a feast, a lovely feast.’ My tongue was still asleep in my mouth, so my first few words came out like a frog in a bottle. But then I managed to say ‘I’m a community fairy godmother from the Magical Council. They know I’m here.’ She cackled with laughter. ‘Oh, I love this bit!’ ‘What bit?’ ‘Where the crunchy snackies say “You’ll never get away with it!” and then get roasted to chops and crackling and gravy.’ She stuffed an apple into my mouth. ‘You! Gretel! Get me the ramp. We must get this roast into the dripping pan and the big oven while it’s hot.’ I felt hollow inside, at the thought that the last words I ever heard might be cooking instructions. I struggled with the ropes, but they just dug in. Then there was a tap on the door. The hag held a twisted finger up to her warty lips. The door creaked open. ‘Yes, plump, tender child? And what’s your name?’ said the crone. ‘Rose Blossom Honey.’ Oh, no. Devon will never forgive me. I tried to spit out the apple. ‘Oh, how delicious.’ ‘I’m here to rescue my stepmother. From a wicked witch.’ ‘Are you?’ The old crone cackled like a bag of magpies. ‘And are you a dangerous knight who will stab me with your sharp sword?’ ‘Well…no.’ ‘Oh. Well, perhaps you are a powerful sorceress, come to magic me to crispy cinders?’ ‘No, but—’ The hag looked over her shoulder at me briefly, her roving eye watering with glee. ‘So, what are you, tiny, tasty morsel?’ There was a metallic clang that shook the cottage, followed by a thud. The hag’s head rolled across the kitchen floor towards me, still looking surprised. ‘I am the WICKED STEPDAUGHTER!’ shouted Rose Blossom Honey. We buried the wicked witch, took Hansel and Gretel home and walked back to the cottage. Devon was already there. As I brushed the swamp mud off his horse, Rose Blossom Honey lit the candles and laid the table. For three.


07


08 Jessica Chambers

Wick End Not everyone has seen them, but everyone knows of them. There are stories. They say they wander the streets at night, though nobody really knows why. Bet you wish you’d never moved here now, eh? Your sister never told you, did she? She knew you’d never come if you found out. But you’re here now, and there’s not much you can do about that. So go on, dear, you go and get settled in. Yes that’s right, they say that terrible things prowl these very streets at night-time. The conservative types cling frantically to the pretence that it’s ‘just naughty children wandering the street in their pyjamas’. But children would never go out walking after dark, not in this village - they know better than that. They stay inside where it’s safe (more or less). The naughtiest children might peer through the window, but they would never venture outside. Their parents have told them that the monsters’ favourite food is the little bones of children. ‘Mmm, nice and tasty, nice and tasty, crunchy little children’s bones!’ says Mummy as she tucks tired, terrified little Tommy into bed. No one really knows what they are. Could it be true that they are demons in a pyjama disguise? Don’t leave your windows open on a chilly night. That’s when they crawl into your room on a hunt for fresh, warm blood and brains to steal. Your brain! They are ever so quiet; even if you lie still and listen carefully for them, you’ll never know if they’re inside, under your bed, inside your cupboard, outside your door. The garlic around your bedpost won’t help you now - such silly superstitions! These are not vampires. Oh no, they are much worse. You’ll be fine if you close that window. Shut it tight, that’s it. But what if keeping that window shut does not keep you safe? Perhaps they aren’t demons. Perhaps that old woman (the one who lives on the corner) was right. You know her; she wears her long black coat buttoned all the way up to her drooping neck and is never seen without her red hat. (Maybe it’s for luck. Or to keep the monsters away.) She walks awkwardly, slowly, with her back bent forward like those old people do. Not unlike her stance, her voice is slow and exhausting, yet at the same time it’s the most entrancing warble. And she knows all about those demons.


No, no, they aren’t demons my dear, she says, they’re lost souls and they are not happy. Don’t you go out walking after dark, or they’ll steal your body away! Remember the poor girl found dead in this very street, just down there? There are many stories of how that girl died, some much more sinister than others. But surely her own father couldn’t have strangled her? That was one of the rumours; her father had strangled her and left her in the street as he went back inside to find the matches. But her body was found before he had a chance to burn the evidence of his terrible sin. And could a bird really have attacked her; pulled her eyes from their sockets and her brain from out of her nose? No, don’t listen to those ridiculous tales; listen to the old woman. She may seem mad but there is wisdom left in those grey eyes. I saw it once. No one knows how she died; no blood, no nothing, that’s what the old woman said. It’ll be those lost souls, you know, trying to steal her body for their own, she said. But you’ll be fine if you take a candle. They don’t like the light, see. Your ragged house is now illuminated with all the candles you’ve lit. That should keep them out! You grin, all by yourself, and present a sigh of relief to your front room because you’re safe now. You open up a book that was left by the previous residents of the house. It’s old and tattered, but that’s where the best stories come from. You are careful with the delicate, dusty paper. Almost immediately, you realise it’s a story set in this very street. You begin to read aloud. ‘It was a dark and gloomy night and everyone in Wick End was cosy in their beds. But along the street moved something much darker, much gloomier than the night itself. Not everyone knew that Wick End was a place that the Devil enjoyed visiting, but everyone could feel it when he was there. And he was certainly visiting that night; the air was thick with fear and...’ You slam the book shut and dust erupts from its exhausted pages. As the dust slowly settles to the floor, you return the book to its shelf, never to be picked up again (not by you, at least). And then you laugh to reassure yourself. Your house is bright with the light of one hundred candles. No monster, demon or devil will come close to you. The glow will keep them away. ‘They’ll stay well away from this house! They’ll stay out there in the shadows, and then it will be morning again.’ Talking aloud to yourself in that anxious voice makes you suddenly become conscious of just how alone you are in the big house. The candles fl icker in the silence and your breath comes quickly now; your pulse is thrilled. You get a good, tight grasp on one of the many candles on the nearest table as you leave your house, your sanctuary. You couldn’t stay there any longer, could you? It may have been safe but it felt horrible being alone; having to look out of that daunting window towards the darkness. I knew it would taunt you. I knew you would need the comfort of company. Although, of course, not the company of wolves. And as you put on your warmest coat, you hope you won’t be joined in the street by any of those ghouls, souls, demons, monsters... As your thoughts wander into the shadows, so do you. Your sister’s house is only across the street, but it is dark and your puny candle doesn’t help you see far. In fact, now you see more shadows and as the candle fl ickers you fl inch, freeze and forget to breathe. Calm down. Remember what the old woman said. Your candle is your security. Your safeguard. Your shield. Isn’t it? Or is it the reason you may fall? Did I not mention what little Johnny said, about how light attracts them? Attracts them to the life they so desperately claw at. In extreme anxiety and fear of the thought that they can see exactly where you are, you quickly blow out that candle.


You shouldn’t have done that, my dear. The old woman’s voice echoes around your head and you regret the action almost immediately. Oh, but don’t waste your time regretting the mistakes you have already made; use your time to frantically pull your way out of them. Nevertheless, there is no going back; the darkness has gobbled you up now, and what big eyes you have! All the better to see you with but there is nothing to see. You may as well close your wide eyes, yet even in the dark you cannot bring yourself to blink. Blink and you’ll miss it. So you wait for your eyes to adjust to the shadows, and your mind wanders once more. They could be werewolves; merciless beasts with hunger in their eyes and nothing in their hearts. Do they even have hearts? If they do, they are feral. Savage, sadistic, malicious. Conscienceless, they only want your flesh: your blood; your bones; your brain. And you can throw your candle at them but they won’t even fl inch. Isn’t it such a shame that you left your last silver bullet in the attic? No, don’t be so daft – silver bullets wouldn’t touch this monster! He would eat silver bullets for breakfast. In a bowl of blood, just the way you eat your cereal and milk. An ominous whisper in the wind brings your brain back to the street and it searches your dim, blurry vision for any sign of a threat. You can feel the useless candle in your hand; your only weapon against the anonymous creature that could be lurking anywhere. No silver bullet, no bloody stake, no garlic wreath. Just you and your candle. Do you feel a fool? The monster can see you, and he thinks you look a fool. Clutching that pathetic candle, with your bogus valour, as if it were lethal. Your teeth are clenched and you breathe heavily through them, although you really are making too much noise. Is that a terrified tear racing its way down your cheek? As it splashes to the ground you hear a low growl. Your mouth makes a small squeak as your whole body tries to stop shaking. What on earth are you going to do now? You throw the candle in its holder as far away from you as possible. Perhaps you thought that the noise would steer the terrible monster (or monsters - you could be surrounded) away from you, but now you find yourself without even a pathetic weapon. You have nothing. You are alone and you are brainless with panic. Yes, that was a silly thing to do. Do not think their eyesight is all they have over you. Do not think they cannot smell; do not think they cannot sense exactly where you are. They are not as foolish as humans like you and me. They are quick, clever and cunning. Don’t you see how they’ve manipulated you? They have waited for your panic to take over, so that you would leave your lonely house, alone. And they have not made a sound, to taunt you even more; to bully your brain into thinking the worst so that now you are alone in the darkness, terrified to your very soul. They have you exactly where they want you, don’t they? And now you really do wish you had never listened to your sister. You knew it was too good to be true. You knew she never really wanted to start things all over again. This was vengeance. She lured you to Wick End to destroy you. So now you are surrounded by the silent, deadly creatures of the night. And there is only one thing to do now, my dear. Quickly. Run! What was that, brushing your leg just as you set off? They’re after you now! Run faster! Quick! The darkness has you trapped – you scuttle quickly, clumsily to the nearest house. Open the gate. Run to the door. Rat-a-tat-tat: no time for that! ‘Open the door!’ you screech. They sound hungry and horrid. Thirsty and frightful. Oh, dear. You really should be inside.


11


Calydonian Boar

Zach Kennedy

Sit on your hands and eat it Special is the change of the humerus thumb: Finger only

Type the best technology to ensure That the food is surprisingly more Likely to eat all.

Traditional food that people want to sit. How do I love your eyes above. His eyes, my eyes even more to change the program

12

Neoteny (Adults to maintain a youthful appearance) Is completely unnecessary.

In their natural environment, Which is more than 60 per cent of what people throw inside: Video and bright

Living Room: traditional culture of porn and called friends. In order to promote 1960, and in trying to further

The value of the plant will not be published, It is famous for more. I bought the London Zoo.


Two Nines and X-on-Ten Little bereft Oskar told me if everyone in the world wanted to be Hamlet they couldn’t because there aren’t enough skulls (lest we all become as Yorick, last of the innocent deaths) though I walked from unravelling stairs through moth eyes and tyre shreds whale carcasses shored against the asphalt of Place Bellecouer, where politicians with scarred cheeks still scourging the ghost of British English announce they have never spoken Cymraeg.

Zach Kennedy

13


al

Abst rac the ting Dis cou rse Pre-P o rofe f th ssi e on M en

ity tal

Har ry G all on


It is an early start, a shock to the mechanism of my body as I wake up to the repeating sound of the alarm clock, fabric falling over warm skin. Yesterday was different. So was the day before. ‘What is the time?’ I ask. There is a yawn – a body awakens. The words ‘seven fortyfive’ dribble from between parched lips. ‘The time is seven forty-five.’ I tell myself it must be seven forty, because that clock is always set five minutes in advance. Then it is this: she sits up, covers off (with a turn to the left) and followed by those two little feet, their ten little toes, firmly planted on the carpeted floor and finished off with a sloth-like movement that eventually lifts her whole body upright, yawning. The curtains open and my eyes adjust to the dawning of the next chapter, maybe - the future. Perhaps she is more aware of her own temperament than I thought, murmuring ‘pull yourself together’ in her own sort of way. But I tell myself I’ve got time, because I do; tell myself this is her day, because it is. This is the culmination of months of anxiety, tears and the absence of the perfect idea. Acting was it? Or singing? She is good at both, so this is merely a time-fi ller; a money earner that ‘will probably last up until Christmas’, or so she has been told. Photography always did interest her and it was a hesitant, excited footstep that took her up the path of employment, that set her on her way. But not me. I tried it once, failed even. So now I lie still as she marches towards the bedroom door and out of my bleary sight. I hear the toilet flushing, taps rinsing, the bolt, the door and the footsteps that bring her back into the bedroom. ‘Did you sleep well?’ I ask. ‘Did you dream?’ She says, ‘I don’t remember dreaming at all,’ repeating the question with a ‘How about you?’ ‘Fine. I slept fine.’ She sits down at the opposite end of the bed, scrambling for the right clothes and I roll onto my back, rubbing my eyes. The clock says seven fifty-six and I take the hint with a sigh as she draws a new reflection in the mirror. Last night I promised that I would make her breakfast, satisfy her stomach pending her imminent success as a – what was it? Oh well. I whip the duvet off, chest bare and legs covered by a pair of loose fitting pyjama trousers. From on top of the wardrobe comes a black dressing gown and I put it on with a smile in her direction, lips moving. ‘Breakfast, then.’ * In the kitchen I fi ll a pan with water and two eggs, hoping they will sink. They do, and I drain half an inch, allow the shells to breathe. The pan goes on the hob, and two slices of granary, two slices of white sit inside the toaster, ready. From the cupboard comes the rest and while I am waiting I lean against the kitchen surface, facing the window. The light outside is growing. It is becoming a richer shade of blue, supplemented with streaks of gold light and the sun’s bold attempt to break through the cloud ceiling. Workmen are beginning to make their noise down on the street below, but from upstairs I hear nothing. A question echoes inside: where is the time? I return to the bedroom. Still she sits at the foot of the bed, checking her appearance with chin raised and lips pouted. I tell her, ‘You don’t need that’ and she smiles; tell her, ‘You look nice. You look beautiful.’ She is wearing a pair of grey trousers and an ivory shirt that does up at the back. ‘Will you help, with the buttons?’ ‘Of course I will.’ Afterwards I return to the kitchen and switch on the toaster as the water begins to simmer. When the bread is cooked I spread it with butter and remove the eggs from the pan. *


Upstairs I am greeted with smiles and words. She says, ‘Thank you sweetheart,’ but the question still echoes: now, where is the time? My eyes flash to the bedside table. It is eight twenty-one, or eight sixteen, and I tell her, ‘Eat quickly.’ I finish first, in the usual style, and begin to get dressed, haphazardly choosing my clothes for the day and its mood. Soon she stands up, puts her handbag onto the bed and reaches for a pale cardigan that complements the deep shade of her hair. By now my shoes are on and I am standing at the door, keys swinging. She ignores my impatience; straightens her back, hands running through her hair as she checks the mirror once more – I should know better. Still, she masks her nerves well, is silent as we leave the room, silent as we descend the stairs past the shop and step out into the alleyway. The car is not far and as we hurry along the cobbled side streets, I ask her, ‘Are you okay? Are you nervous?’ She nods, and I quicken the pace. * Driving out of the city takes long enough, and I press the accelerator with force when given the chance, shouting words like ‘Get out of the way!’ and ‘Go faster!’ followed by profanities and cries of ‘Don’t get angry, I am nervous enough!’ from the passenger seat. We made the journey last Friday, to certify the route, so I make no mistakes as we cut swiftly through junctions, passing parked cars, fields and schools until we glide to a stop outside an isolated commercial building. The time is eight fifty-seven and she takes a deep breath. My arm is around her shoulder as she undoes her seatbelt, then she opens the door and climbs out. ‘I am proud of you, good luck.’ My words follow her as she turns towards the building. * The time is seven twelve (pm). The place? That Italian restaurant opposite our flat. We had agreed that she would get a bus back into the city this evening, though it would mean her waiting for forty minutes by the side of the road. She is good like that, understands about fuel economy and the echo in my pockets. Still, there are times when my own amorous nature blinds me to rational thinking. Messages smuggled out during her break at eleven fifteen and the half hour for lunch at twelve thirty concerned me to say the least. And so it was with trepidation that I decided to surprise her before the bus had a chance. She was in a cemetery, sitting alone on a bench. With glazed eyes she climbed into the car, tears spilling onto her soft white cheeks as I said, ‘It couldn’t have been that bad.’ Words escaped her for heavy breathing and I let the engine turn over, comforting her with arms around shoulders and so on. Then she said, ‘It wasn’t at all what I had been told. I tried speaking to Natalie because it wasn’t at all what I had been told.’ And I said, ‘Tomorrow might be different,’ but she didn’t take it, head resting. ‘I feel cheated. Now I don’t even want it.’ I lifted her chin up with my right hand, looking into her eyes, kissing her lips. * So we are sitting opposite one another in this Italian restaurant. The time is seven thirteen and in my right hand is a glass of Rioja, in hers, Chianti (for the warmth, though she prefers white). The waiter is walking to the kitchen with an order of bruschetta and vegetable calzone for her. I am having the mussels, calzone also but with bolognaise. Dessert is a maybe, and the glass in my hand seems to be moving to my lips of its own accord – I drink too quickly. She doesn’t, and when I have finished swallowing I tell her, ‘I want to know everything.’ She frowns. ‘I was introduced to everyone, shown around the building.’ ‘And?’ ‘There was a man sitting at a desk. I said, “Hello, I’m here from the agency?” He said Rosie, who is in charge, is just down the hallway. I started walking, past boxes and shelves. She appeared at the end, walked up to meet me.’


My eyes are drifting, looking at the decoration, the red brick walls, other patrons. Soon she will wonder why I am not looking directly at her, ask whether or not I am listening. And she does. ‘What are you looking at?’ ‘Nothing. The room.’ ‘Are you listening to me?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What was the last thing that I said?’ ‘About Rosie, walking towards you.’ She makes a noise, like a hum, so I ask, ‘What is she like?’ ‘Broad shouldered, stern. She said hello, showed me into a room with some other people. Afterwards we toured the building. There is only a kitchen, really, so it didn’t take long. Then I was given boxes of photographs to sort into groups, groups into envelopes, envelopes into orders. I feel cheated. It wasn’t at all what I had been told.’ I look up with surprise to see her cheeks plump above the shape of a pert smile – the food is on its way. We eat quickly; the marinara sauce complements the wine. I ask her, ‘How is yours?’ She says, ‘Delicious. Thank you for this,’ through a mouthful of red onion and ciabatta. Her salad remains untouched – she always leaves it to the end. ‘So was that all they had you do? The envelopes?’ ‘Yes. Rosie was busy. She said, “The girls will show you what to do.” For the rest of the day it was the same.’ I try to console her, tell her that it will be alright. ‘It’ll be alright, I’m sure. Today was a bad day. Tomorrow might be different.’ She doesn’t take it, but says, ‘I know that it won’t be, and I just feel cheated. I don’t think that I can finish the week.’ Our plates are cleared, but they take her cutlery. She says that she will ask for some more, but I have already caught the eye of a waiter. ‘Could she have some more cutlery?’ He says, ‘Of course. Absolutely. Sorry,’ and disappears. I ask about her mother. ‘She said that she understands; that she wouldn’t stay if she was in my place.’ ‘I don’t suppose she would.’ By now my glass is empty, and my hand reaches for the water rather than my pocket. She rests her arm on the table, stretching her hand towards mine and beckoning me to meet her halfway. I do. * Dessert was only a maybe, and by the time our plates have been cleared neither of us are interested in ordering it. There is silence now. The soft touch of my finger draws a smile on her face. The bill arrives and I shield her from it as crisp, warm money fi lls the silver dish, appearing from nowhere as if it is my own – I hold my worth in too high a regard, expecting a miracle. And I want a response, so I ask her, ‘Do you feel better?’ She takes it, obliging me as she says, ‘I do,’ eyes meeting. ‘But I won’t finish the week.’

17


Anne Mitchell


Darkness. A smallish pot to piss in. Olives, bread, some wine. The swords sheathed in sacking And bodies close-packed, sourly-sweating; Breathing. A lamb, wild-eyed, borne bleating to the shrine And far above the olive groves, An old man, writhing. On the steps of the temple A crazed girl, shrieking. And the sweet-sharp smell of fresh-hewn pine. And the itch that can’t be scratched, The thirst that can’t be slaked, And the wild dogs prowling, sniffing, peeing. And the ravens wheeling, The blood beating, The towers burning, The women weeping, The dogs gorging, The girl seeing.

19


The Vested Hurling Catholic In the light bulb moment of the moorhen a livid ego trip lay on a leap year. One sundial Morris dance the warmonger sunbird came up and - popcorn - out of the ego trip came a tipping point and a vested hurling catholic. He started to look for some fool’s gold. On Monday he ate through one appointment, but he was stingily hurling. On Tuesday he ate through two pectoral muscles, but he was stingily hurling. On Wednesday he ate through three plutonium isotopes, but he was stingily hurling. On Thursday he ate through four streams of consciousness, but he was stingily hurling. On Friday he ate through five orchestras, but he was stingily hurling. On Saturday he ate through one piece of cholesterol, one ice skate, one pictograph, one swizzle stick, one slice of sales tax, one loincloth, one piece of chevron pie, one savoir-faire, one cur and one sliver of water repellent fabric. That night he had a stone cold ache.


The next day was Sunday again. The catholic ate through one nicotine green house effect leaflet, and after that he felt much bewilderment. Now he wasn’t hurling anymore and he wasn’t a livid catholic anymore. He was a bijou, fathomless catholic. He built a small house called ‘cod liver oil’ around himself. He stayed inside for more than two weevils. Then he nibbled a hollandaise sauce in the cod liver oil, pushed his way out and he was a becoming buttonhole.

Claire Hillier


Plumtree Diving

Kate Stanley


Last night she ventured out to hug the tree in the darkness. Eyes peered at her from windows. Noses pushed up against glass, their breath reaching towards the night, towards her. I know what you’re thinking she thought to herself. You think I’m mental. In the morning there were shadows beneath her eyes. Varying shades of purple. There was a snag on her gown. She remembered being grabbed from behind. She had fought, gripping her arms around the trunk and the tree had tried to keep her. The tree had tried to keep her from leaving. She put her face up to the metal bars. I should be out there she thought, looking towards the tree. But they watched her every move, every breath, every motion. She wondered when it would happen, when the truth would be realised. Surely it could not be long now. Soon the frost set in, and they began to fall. They plummeted through the air squealing in delight, thudding on the frozen grass. I remember that she thought. I remember that. In her room she cried for them, watching them fall, watching them rot and decay. Seasons turned and, as the flowers turned to fruit, she knew it was her time. In her last session, the doctor asked her the same things as he always did, and she gave the same answers. She looked in the mirror at her plumlike eyes. Purple and tired. Ready to fall from the tree. They found her gown hanging from a branch, fluttering in the breeze. But she was nowhere to be seen. The lawn was awash with damson jam, the fallen plums squashed by a rampage of concerned feet. In the shadows of the plum tree’s branches, she too had squealed in delight as she dived from the tree. But still, she could not be found. In a jar she sat until winter came. Before being devoured on toast by her previous roommates. I know what they’re thinking. They think I’m mental. That’ll teach them.


Phizog of Neglected Aliens

Flies flutter into lamp posts when men in bunny suits cart away your television. It’s that time again. Melted watches appear on the ceiling and whistling grows louder in your head.

Unable to endlessly travel, sailing upon a sea of sewage shadows that once waited patiently in train stations drone along to the school of rotten fish below their feet.

City men wail during sermons of neon lights. A trapped intelligentsia plagued by skyscrapers crawling through city streets towards the 31st floor.

An old man, his body made of wires gorges upon a cash machine. Silicon anarchists propel digital petrol bombs that encrypt his binary tears. Chemical smoke weeps at an existence of a better past...

A sun-glassed statue stares at passersby encased within a building of glass.

Joseph Allsopp


Joseph Allsopp

A Boulevard Voyage for Metal Insects Lava hatched feeding on leaves of trash waiting... A butterfly nothing more than a paranoid android dreaming of electric sheep, its wings flapping along to sublime white noise.

Cars pass running on cold hard cash. Choking road kill. Smooth and streamlined metalloids creating more parasite victims of electrodes. One car in particular holds two cyborg younglings in the back uploading their communion. The ‘prayer book’ media tube gets published in a glossy mag next to all the vacation ads.

Crash! No matter, even their robotic bodies transform into brand new Coke cans, later kicked down a dusty track by a child. How sweet yet inhuman. The butterfly will not forget their soulless husks left on the tarmac precious megabytes lost to countless nanoseconds.

This was all marketing ploy... Now sue me.


Angry bad-ass collars dude, Excitable females go hunting! Intelligent junkie kang ar oos language (Milly never opens popcorn) Questionable requests shock Teresa Understanding values, weird xtremes? Young zoo.

Meg Burrows


Meg Burrows

Building on a foundation of sand, The house was never meant to stand tall. It had no ladder, no staircase, and no key Just a lock.

Its ceilings had been lowered, hung, drawn and quartered By the bitter-sweet nothings falling in the night. Bed sheets lingered on the stairwell, Mattresses longing for cover.

It had no ladder, no staircase, and no key Just a lock.


28


The Clock Tower They worshipped the clock. Long ago, they built a tower of pale stone and placed it there, high above their village so it could survey its kingdom. They praised its dials, its workings, its weights and bells. They carefully maintained it, keeping its hands clean so as to purify its effects on them – the touch of time. Two centuries old, the clock had seen and learned much. Its face had dripped with icicles during harsh winters, then bent and cracked under the rays of the harshest of summer suns. It had observed the town grow from a small hamlet into a tumble of wooden buildings that trickled into the surrounding valleys and welled up their sides, in some cases spilling over the crests of the hills that rimmed it to the west. It had watched the townspeople grow too. During its time, the clock had seen lovers love and hate, ambitions flourish and wane, the young blossom and the old wither. The clock knew much about the people below it; the people knew little about the clock. Its face was blank, its black hands constantly pointing, but never to anything. The town elders claimed they understood it, that the hands were indicators, indicators which could be read, along with the weather, to predict the future, or warn away from dangerous practices. The townspeople had no better understanding to offer up, and knew of no reason why the elders would lie to them. They believed what they were told. The clock sat over them like a prophet, twirling its hands in satisfaction as its kingdom below it flowed smoothly from day to day. Every seven days the townspeople congregated at its base, offering up their thanks that it had watched over them, that its hands had pointed them in the right direction. If things had not been prosperous, they offered up their apologies for digressing from the clock’s wisdom and they left gifts of meat and wine in an attempt to placate the clock’s angry spirit. If they transgressed, to them the clock appeared sterner. The cracks in its face became deeper, its gentle ticking became an irate buzzing and its hands looked sharper and more forceful. Without the clock, the townspeople would be thrown into chaos, running wild. *


Then, one day, the townspeople woke up to find a new idea walking amongst them. It had presented itself overnight it seemed, and no one could be quite sure where it had come from. But as much as they tried or hoped, they could not repress this new idea which grew and grew and grew until, at the weekly gathering underneath the clock base, someone finally asked the question that had been taunting them all for weeks. ‘Why do we follow the clock?’ Like anything infectious in the small community, the question spread fast. People who usually considered themselves to be supporters of the clock would wake up a day after hearing the question with the same words on their lips. At first the conversations were whispered, conducted away from the main streets and populated areas. To ask the question seemed taboo, underhanded, and those who spoke acted guiltily. But soon, as the conversations spread and became more frequent, the question grew bolder. Soon it had enough followers and it had gained enough power. It changed and warped, becoming more intense, less subtle. Finally, on the next Sunday when the townspeople gathered as was proper underneath the clock tower, the question asked itself. ‘Why are we slaves to the clock?’ ‘Slaves?’ The elders choked on the word, as those who supported the clock gave incredulous cries and jeers. ‘We are not slaves, we are devotees.’ ‘It seems that the clock gives little in return for our devotion,’ countered the dissenters. ‘It guides us,’ argued the elders. ‘Its effect may be subtle, but it is there. Think of a time in your life when you were lost, alone, in need of help. Who did you turn to, if not the clock?’ But the dissenters were not swayed, and they dealt their final blow. ‘We will not follow the clock any longer,’ they said. ‘We have found a better path, a higher road. We have had enough of your half-truths and your lies, your misguidance and your scaremongering. We want something more real, something more rewarding to place our faith in. We have found it, and it is called God.’ At this there came a great roar from below, a roar that vibrated through the ground and shook the townspeople to their knees. The bells in the clock tower, swaying about their fastenings, rang above the cries of panic and alarm. The clock seemed to shriek at the townspeople, and at the height of its anger - or pain, for they could not tell which - the tower split in two. The bells, released from their casings, fell screaming to the ground. They hit the floor with an almighty peal, one that rang in the ears of the townspeople so loud they could hear nothing else. The glass face of the clock shattered, raining huge jagged shards down upon the gathering place. The townspeople scattered as broken bricks and clouds of mortar began to land around them. Soon, the meeting place was deserted. The ground stopped shaking, and the townspeople cautiously returned to the meeting place. Even when their ears stopped ringing, there was silence. *


The townspeople’s rage was so potent it leaked from their eyes in tears. The dissenters had the sense to leave, quickly and quietly. They had spoken out, stood up for themselves, yet they felt no triumph. They had disagreed with the clock, but now that it was gone they felt its absence. The town was like a house with no roof. They walked up the main street, away from the gathering place. The clock tower had always kept the street in shadow. The sun burned the backs of their necks. There was no formal segregation, but the town became split in two, just as the clock had been. There was no visible sign of the divide, but it was there. Windows stayed shut until dark, routines were adjusted and people seemed to disappear from the streets. Old friends who once would have stopped to talk to each other would pass without exchanging so much as a look. An uneasy silence reigned. It was short lived, however. As soon as the name, God, had been voiced, it seemed to assume life. This new idea stalked through the streets, pouncing on the unsuspecting. Just as when it had been a question, God started off weak but quickly grew in potency. As an ethereal beast it stalked the streets, the possibility of another deity, another power, following the townspeople everywhere. They looked at the clock’s shrunken form and questioned whether it wanted to be rebuilt. Or perhaps it was not the clock that had caused its own destruction. Could God have cast it down, this false prophet, in a show of power to the townsfolk? Was the presence that lingered around the base of the fallen tower that of the clock, or something else – something waiting to step into its place? The townspeople soon began to realise that they had not shunned the dissenters because they spoke lies, but because they spoke truths. They had voiced what every single person in the town had wondered at one point or another. Safely tucked away inside their minds, such blasphemy had seemed fine; it had not been real. But speaking it openly had transformed it. The townspeople realised that the clock had been wrong; they had been misguided. Their belief in it, like the clock itself, lay shattered. The way forward was unclear. Several years later, the clock tower was rebuilt. With a new face, the clock looked out across the town once more. But the town had changed, and it was not its kingdom. Around its body was a new building. A church. Every seven days the townspeople would gather in the church and the clock heard them raising their voices up in praise of God. Everyone was happy, and they all lived long and prospered. Now there was solidarity in the lives of the townspeople. They had thrown off the barbaric tyranny of the clock and moved onto a new, more peaceful rule. Every year without fail they would gather, to celebrate the fact that they were finally free from the misguided ways of following the clock.

Rewen Tremethick


First, are you our sort of a person? Do you wear A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, A brace or a hook, Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch?

{

Sayuri Yamada

Second, are you comfy with A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, A brace or a hook, Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch? Third, do you take off, Before going to bed, Your glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, Your brace or a hook, Your rubber breasts or a rubber crotch? Fourth, do you want to add something On top of Your glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, Your brace or a hook, Your rubber breasts or a rubber crotch? Fifth, do you want to add A glass nail, false hair or stilts, A cast or a corset, Rubber gums or rubber nipples? Sixth, do you also want to add A feeler, or a wing, A beak or a tusk, Fur or a tail? Seventh, are you aware That you are No longer human?


Zach Kennedy


I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I’m a great fan of your work. I’m sure you receive loads of letters like mine, so I’ll just get to the point. I’ve really just two questions for you. First, how is it you consistently attract lovely young women into that clunky blue time machine? Seems a bit dodgy to me. One must assume, given your record, that’s there’s something about meeting you in person that is irrepressibly enticing to women1. Is that another trick of the TARDIS, like understanding alien languages or binding yourself into whatever time stream you’ve managed to land in? Or is it another perk of being a Time Lord? You know, regenerating when you’re near death, the general fear you instil in the Daleks - that sort of thing? Doctor, I think you’re a predator and the TARDIS is your stalker-van. You know, like an intergalactic VW bus with the curtains (and so much room on the inside!) Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that - I mean, I’ve got my own faults, like a sweet tooth I won’t own up to and an unfortunate habit of recycling my friends once they’ve lost their usefulness but, compared to you, Doctor, I’m afraid I’m rather innocuous. I mean, you’ve definitely got it down, don’t you? Picking women with dead-end jobs - that’s a sly move, Doctor. You show up, show ’em a little bit of the magic and - swoon - they’re yours. The Master said you love playing with Earth girls2. But really, Doctor, you think of things that are just downright impressive. For example, The Evening of Amelia Pond. That was a sneaky little trick on your part, grooming a child so when you turn up years later, she can’t resist you. She is haunted by the memory of you and your blue box, so of course she has to go with you when you offer. Honestly, don’t you feel that’s cheating? I mustn’t get ahead of myself. Look at Rose: shop assistant, pretty, Londoner. Donna: temp secretary, pretty, Londoner. Amelia’s a kissogram, for fuck’s sake, but she’s Scottish, so well done for varying it up. Martha’s the one exception, but I can understand why you let her go. Sure she says she couldn’t stay, but I think we both know that she was rather useless. I mean, she shows up and then fish-men start dying in quicksand and all she does is bawl at them. Who cares if she’s a doctor then, right?

1

Concerning the matter of Jack: he was always a bit wishy-washy.

2

Concerning the matter of nomenclature: are you called ‘The Doctor’ because you like to play doctor?


I suppose I’m just jealous, and I really want to know how it felt to be her when you were screaming ‘I’ll save you! I’ll save you!’ through the glass of that escape pod even though she couldn’t hear and all she had left was that crazed look in your eye that said something like God damn it! or Well, there goes another one. You’re like the ultimate first date because no human being can compare after spending time with you. Is that what makes you so easy to die for? I mean, that one lady on the Titanic who looked like Kylie Minogue got out of the hotpants and into a French maid outfit kicked it solely on the promise of getting out of her waitressing job. And that whole ‘it was all my fault’ spiel you do: I’ll grant that it’s genuine - I can see the torture in your eyes at times - but I think that’s your secret weapon. Because honestly, it’s hot. I mean, Rose traveled across who-knows-how-many parallel universes just to get back to you. Is that why you took Donna to Pompeii? Because you were still too cut up over Rose and Martha? See, I think you showed them a little danger in order to seduce them, and since you thoroughly bungled seducing Donna, you wanted to see if you could kill her off just to see if it hurt as much. (And Amelia - is she just another stab at getting in a ginger’s pants?) And somehow, after all this, you bounce back, Doctor. Don’t you get tired of watching your London candles burn out over and over? But I suppose you’ll just be remembered for your humanitarian work, so what does it matter if you’re a time-traveling space-rake-turned-paedo? Someone told me MLK was an adulterer, but he got shot and no one really remembers that anymore. Also, why are all your recent companions female3? Does the estrogen help assuage any uncontrollable Time Lord urges? Does it circulate through the TARDIS like that psychic poison that brought on the cold star and those scary old-timers who turned people to dust? Does something bad happen when testosterone gets in the system? And everyone out there is going to think we Earth-dwellers all have London drawls or one of those thick Northern brogues. I mean, it’s probably the best way to write the ol’ US of A out of any history books existing in the year 500 million, but I hope this isn’t due to any lasting rancor between the United Kingdom and the States4. Honestly, Doctor, it irritates me. So I am hereby announcing my candidacy for the position of your companion.

3

Concerning the matter of repetition: See footnote 2.

4

Concerning the matter of grudges: sorry—even though you’re a Time Lord and all, I still think of you for some reason as a predominantly British being.


Let me say I’m not your stereotypical male American (which I can understand might count against me in some instances5). I’m gay, white, and middle-class. I don’t like guns or cars; I like tweed and dressing up; I’m vegetarian (though I do eat fish)6; my IQ is 145; I can do easy crosswords like nobody’s business; I take baths to read Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes; I ran cross-country for two years in high school and I bike between 24 and 50 miles a week7. I read in A Single Man8 that we don’t need the past until we grow old. I don’t really know what that means, but I’m young, so that’s probably why. Does it make any sense to you? Were you confused when Bowie showed up? I mean, the hair, the make-up, Ziggy, playing guitars with his teeth? Did you ever stop to make sure he was just human? He’s reinvented himself enough times that it almost smacks of that regeneration trick of yours. What would you call him? The Duke? The Star? The Chameleon? The Liar? And if you’re protecting Earth from aliens, why did you not stop KISS? Honestly, there’s a mistake that needs to be corrected if there ever was one. I understand the 1970s were a time we’d all like to put behind us, but couldn’t you have done something for the sake of the progress of the human race? I seem to have become sidetracked and have completely overshot my other question. I honestly can’t remember what it was. So, Doctor, I hope your travels are treating you well. But please consider me when the post opens up. Until then (and sincerely yours), Zach Kennedy

PS I’ve also attached a CV should it be of some use.

5

don’t think you’d turn up. 6

37

Concerning the matter of legal proceedings: I’d sue forr discrimination in your employment practices, but somehow, I

Concerning the matter of diet: will this be an issue? The TARDIS seems to keep you nourished and in good shape because I can’t remember you ever eating, except on Th he Evening of Amelia Pond.

7

Concerning the matter of exercise: I know you like runn ning, so I figure this counts in my favor, right?

8

Concerning the matter of faux-pederasty: did you everr meet Isherwood? He seems like an interesting bloke. Had the same attraction for much younger companions. You’re the ultimate in catamite bait.


Childe Roland (on 9/11) Childe Roland to the last tower came. His mail was a twisting matted beard.

His sidearm appeared more of a gesture a Stanley knife and selected verse.

He muttered blackly in his mirth fi, fie, foh, fum I smell the blood of a million men.

Thomas Wood

38


Roped into a ponderous swing of opinions and corresponding arms. We accused Saddam

Digital Scaffold

of hanging around, white science in his torture shed. And where do the dead dictators go? Does a boatman wait on the Hudson shore, under an anti-climactic dawn?

I suppose any answer is pure binary. The end of your world will be screened shortly on YouTube and rated three stars.

Thomas Wood


He came to the city as a child, breastfed on the traffic lights, bawled endlessly, while his mother worked nights.

Went to school every other day, the usual story - escaped in a dream.

Prophet One day amongst a crowd he cried ‘I will feed the multitudes!’

Then youth passed away and a father came

And right there he turned water to wine

in the shape of a small-time Manhattan pimp

fell down to his knees before a grey pool

and blossom fell streaming from every tree.

and drew hungrily from its dim bowels.

In that great city, by January, the boy was newly teasing death. In one way or other, walking the streets, asking after meth.

Does a madman know he is mad? Sometimes, when he was more literally alone the sun had sunk and Mr Jones had flown his eyes grew less bright

With a half-formed but horrible brown bag smile he clutched the last secret to his chest,

and he was again, the boy at home pushing cars, while his mother worked nights.

bowed his head, and deeply inhaled. In another time, in a rushing hour, The prophet stumbled through steeped avenues, to an ancient square where his faithful flock collected. From polite rows they welcomed this approach.

a ragged prophet with no name stated: ‘I will part this shining sea.’ Stared up for the hidden stars and, cradling a tiny frozen frame, marched into a line of godlike cars.

As he strode to his pulpit, dependable Mr Jones defecated on his stooped shoulder and all the pious host snickered at this well worn skit.

Thomas Wood


41


h s a w e t i The Wh Claire Hillier

S e is Sh is ins nsid ide a hous ide id houssee;; it is herr h ho hou ousee an ou nd d not ot her er hou ouse use se.. Th The he be bed drroo ooom m is is eerril ily capa capa ca paci aci ciou iou ous. s.. S e wa Sh walk lks lk ks sl slow lowl owly ow ly fro rom th the h dr dres esssiingg tab ab ble le to th the he wa ward rd rdro dro robe obe be on th the ot the oth heer si side de of th the ro room om m and d runs ru nss her her fin nge gers ge rrss allong loongg th he pol olis liish heed waalln nut ut car arpe pent pe ntry ntry ry.. IItt iiss co cold ld to ld to to touc ucch h.. Th hee han andl ndl dles d es aree meta me taal,, ssha h pe ha p d lliiikke ke flowe wers wers rs; sh he ca care care r fu full full lly ho holds hold ld ds th them hem m bot oth h an a d open op pen ns th the he d dooorrs wi wid wid dee. Em Emp Empt pttty. y. Heer im mag agin inat in nat a io ion on ca can n fi fill lll the he spa pacee w wit itth clot cllot othe othe hes. es. s Sh hee che heck cks ks each eaach h sshe helf. he helf lf. Noth lf Noth No hin ing. g. The g. here is a ggrrow owin iin ng st stai ain ai n on the bac ack ck paaneelllin ng; g; a whi hite t pat te a ch hb blo losssom loss lo o in ingg on n the woo ood d. Sh d. hee gen e tl tly y cllos o es es thee do th door orrs. s They Th hey ey sspr prrin prin ingg op open ope en aga gain in. SSh in he push pu ushes sh hess the hem em ttooge getth geth her er,, cl clic lic icki icki king king ng tthe hem iin hem he nto to place lace; la cee; tth hey ey slow sl owly ow ly y arcc out utwa utwa w rd ds, s, alm mos ostt in invi nvi viti ting ti n h ng her err inssiid de. e. She firml mly sh mly hu utts th he w waard rdro rdro robe obe be and nd locks ocks oc ks it wiith h a sma mall ll bra rass ss key ss ey. y. SShe he iiss in insi siide d a hou usee; it iiss heer ho house use an us and d no nott he her er ho hous use. It is us use i a cas astl stl tle. tle. e It is is a fun fai air. r It ha hass more mo ree rroo ooooms ms tha han sh han he reme reeme memb mber ers. er s. The pro s. ropo poorttiioons ns aree aall lll wroong ng.. The here rree are rem emna nant na ntss of nt of a p par a ty ar t , wet wet pa we p pe p r sttre r am amer erss and er and sh an hrive rive ri vell l ed ll d bal allooon o s str sttrreewn w abo boutt bo the th he ki kitc tche heen nn neeettt ttin ttin i g bo bowl wlss of sta wl tale allee cri risp isp spss aan n nd d cr crum u blin um bliin bl ng ca cake ke.. Sh ke She de deci deci c de des ttoo tid des dy up up.. Th Theree Ther is a box o on th t e fl floo ooor un unde der de er th thee tabl taabl b e co c nt ntai ain niing ng cle leanin aniin an ng pr prod prod oduc duc ucts ts.. Sh Shee st sta tar arts rrip ippi ip ping pi ng dow own n the st the th stre ream ream re mer ers wh hic ich h sn nap ap and begin eggin in ttoo di diss s ollvee in he her ha her hands nds, sta nd tain tain ining ing her in he fi fing nger ng e s cr er c imso im mso son son an nd ma mage gent n a. a. She wor o ks ks q qui u ck ui ckly y, sw s ee eepi p ng arm pi rmfu mfu fuls uls l of ru rubb b is bb ish h in nto to b blla lack b lack bag ags. s. She h sscr crap apes es the th he le leffttov o er ers from frrom o the h pla late tess an and db boow wlls in into the into h b bin in and nd sttaack ckss toowe wers rss of crrooccke kery ry nex ext too thee siink sink nk. Sh he p plluggs tth he si sink k and d ttur urns ur urns ns on the the ho th hot ttaaap hot p, whi p, hich hich h sho h uld uld be ul be the he coolld taap bu ut is isn’ n’t. n’ t. Thee w te wa t r dr drum ms aggains ains ai nstt th thee bo b tt ttooom m of th t e sttai ainl ainl n esss st stee tee eell si sink; nk k; sh she he puts puttss iin pu n ssoom mee was ashi hiingg up li h liqu q iid qu d and an nd pl plac aces es th hee fi firrstt sta tack tack k of pl plat ates es in th the he fr frot othi othi hing ng w wat ater at ater er. r Th The si The s de de plat late la tes be beco come me ova me val pl val plat atte ters te rs jju uttttin ng ou ut aw wkw kwaarrdl d y. y Thee sink ink fi in fill lllls with h water atter, r th the he ro room m fi fillls ls w wiit ith ste ith sttea eam. SShe he turns he urnss the ur he hoott tap ag tap ta again agai ain. It ai It is st stuc uck ck. k. Th hee cassca cade de iiss grrow de win ing st s roongger er..


Sh hee is insiide d a housee; it iiss h heeerr ho hous usse an a d nott he heerr ho hous ouse. use. us e. The he pla late ttees ar tes aree eellliip ptttiic ical ical ttrran ran ansf nsf sfor orma or rmaati tions on ns. s. She he ccou ould ou ld d dro rown wn iin wn n th the he ki kitc kitc tche tch hen. hen. n. The here re wer wer eree two two st tw s orrie ies es wr writ writ itttte ten an ten and th hen the the hey ey we w ree gon oneee.. Now tthe heey ar h are be bein ing re in rewr wrritte w itte it ten as as two di tw diff diff ffer eren er ent en nt st s or orie ies, ies, s, as th they hey y alw lway ays ha have b bee een ee n an nd prob prrob bab bly aalw lw way ays wi will will ll.. Th Thee in nex exha haus haus usti tibl ti ble arch ar chit ch chit i ecctu ure ooff wo word rds ds re recy cycl cy clles es angglees an and lliine ness and an nd te tens nsio ions ns, bu but th thiss aarc rcchi h te tect ctu ct ture ure ca ur can n ne n veer be use s d to to dra raw w a ma map p. SSuc p. ucch an n exe xeerc rcis rc ise wo is wou uld be ul be aass fu uti t le aass a fi fish sh lloo ooki oo kiingg foorr the he w wat aattter err it iiss swim sw imming min mi ngg in. n n. She is no nott he herr ho hous u e. us e Sh hee siitttss at a dessk ma made dee of wo d wood od and d mettal al. Sh Shee op pen ens a dr draw awer e iin er n th the ssaagg agg ggin gin ng desk deesk k and d ret etri r ev ri eves ves a spi p raal boun boun bo und no und noteebo note book ok; it ok ok; it has as a blaack k covverr em mb belli elliish el hed ed wit ith h du dull ll golld go d and d met etal alliic bl al blue uee swi u wirl irl rls ls. T Thi hiis bo b ok k con nta tain tain ins he herr co coll llec ll ecti tio ti ion on of qu quot otat ot atio at ions io nss sshe he has as cop opied ied ie by h by han an nd. d. The paggess are re yel ello lloowi wing ing n and crru ump mple led le d at at the he cor orne orne ners ners rs. s. Sh She he fl flic icks ic ks thr ks hrou ough ou gh h the he b boo oook, k a m ti me ticu ccu ulo lous lous usly usl ly pen e ne ned ed ca catta talogu loogu ue off ide deas and deas d sou sou ound ndss ma nd made de by wo word word ds th haatt hid de in nsi s de a hal alll of mir mi irrrroorrs. s. She he clo l ses ses he se h r ey yes an nd d ran ando dooml d omly mlly pooints intss ttoo a pa in pass ssag ss agge, e, ttap ap ppi pingg it wi with th her fi fin n nge geert r ip ip ip. Op Open pen e in ing he herr ey eyes es ssh he read eaads ds it. t. The h hci cief ef rreq eq qui uire reme re ment me nt fo ht htee goood od ilffe is is to il ilve wittho houtt ay hout yn n im maage age ge fo on ones nesel essel e f. f The he whi h te t exp pan nse s of paage ge fi fillls ls herr hea hea ead; sshe he tries he rriieess to fo focu focu c s on th hee ssha hado ha hado dows ws. Sh S e ha has fo foug ught ug ught ht agaiins ag n t dy dysl s ex exia ia llik ik ke an add ddi dic ict in n den enia i l,, suf ia uffe feri fe ring ri ingg tthe hee fru ustra sttra rati tion ti n aand nd d eenc ncha nc h nt ha ntted ed db by y th the ef effe ffe fect an nd ri ritu tual of he tu her er drug drrug ug of ch choi hoi o ce ce: e: la lang lang ngua ngu uage uage ge.. A ri rich ch, ch h, fo forb rb bid i de den, en, n, ssec eccre ecre rett woorld, rlld, d, sshe he lon ngs ttoo en ente teer but sh bu she he is is alway lw way ayss w weear arin ing th the he wron wrron w on ngg shoe ssh hoe oess. s. The he ch hiieff req qu uiirreement ment of ht me htee go g od d liffe, e rreq eq qui uirm r en nt off hte goo ood od illfe f , th the ch chi hiieeeff re req requ qu uir iren enmeent nt fo het het go he g od d life, ifee,, iiss to if to,, off hte goo ood d lif life li fe fe. She he p put utts th uts he b boook k fac a e do down wn oon n th th hee d deeesk sk, sk k, sa savin savi ving vi ng the he pagge, e, and pul ullss an A4 ulls 4 she she heeett of liillaac Pers P Pe ers rspe p x oou pe ut off the he drraaw weer; r ap pre reesent rese seent nt ffro r m a wo ro womaan wh whoo he help lped ed heerr trick riicck k the he bro brook keen eyes eyes ey es in her he her he head d. He Herr br brai ain n must must be miissssing mu ing thi in th his is col ollou our. ou r May aybe be she be he sho houl uld ea ul eat mo morree plu more ums ms.. Sh She kn know now ws th the b bllac ack li line nes ma make ke wor ke od dss tha hat at me mean an som metth hiing, ngg, so n some m thin th hin ing ng th that hat at m mea eant ea n ssom nt omet om metth hiing ng prof pr pro ofou ound und nd ttoo he her on her once ce. SSh ce ce. he tu he turn rns th rns the bo book book ok ove ver wi ver with t heerr freee haand d and d pllaacees th thee pu purp ple pla last ssttic ic ov ver e tthe hee pag age. age. e. Th hiis ti time m the he let e ters ters te r sna nap p int into to pla lace c . ce The chi hief ef req equi uire rreeme ment nt ooff th he goood od lif ife fe is to liivee wit itho hoout u any ny im maaage ggee of ones on nes e eellf. f (I (I.. Mu Murd rdoc rdoc rd o h) Shee re Sh read adss th he li line nee aagga n gaiin n. The chief hiieff req qui uire rement ntt off tth he ggoood d liffe iiss to li live ve wittho ve hout hout ut any ny iima maage m g of on onesseellf. f. An A nd a th thir irrd ti time ime, tryi trryyiing ng ttoo iigggno nore no ree the he rrefl efleeect efl ctiv ct ctiv ive sh ive shee shee een en co comi ming ing ng froom the tth he th hin n sh heeeett of pl plas asti tic. ti ic. The h chi hief hi e req eq quire uiire reme eme m nt ooff th he go g od d lif ifee iss to li liv live vee wit itho hou ho utt any y ima mage gee of oon nes e el elf. f. She grip riips ps th hee boo ook ok by by tthe he cor orne ners rs an and d ho hold ldss it up to ld to ssha haake it,, tthe he llil he ilac il ac P Per errsp s exx sli l ding ding di n to th he fl floo oorr an and d th t e leett t er ers sw swit itch hing ing pl in plac a es es agaiiin n, so qui u ck kly she hee missees it it,, li lk kee a ccom oom mpe peteent nt yet et b riing tab bo abl ble magicia i n’’s caard ttri ia r ck c . The he hciief ef rreq equire eq equi uiire reme m nt fo htte good od ilffe is is ttoo il ilve lv vee wit itho hooutt ayn h n ima m gee fo on ones essellf. esel She he breat reath re atthe hes es he heav avil ily ly th thro roug roug ugh he ugh her no her nose nose se and nd fl fliinggs th he book book bo k acr cros cro oss th the room rooom m scr crea reeaaami ming mi ng the he quessti tion, ‘Wh ‘W What do d es it mean?’ ?


SShe is not he herr ho hous usee.. Whe here here re the he des eskk is is tooo tired ired ir e to stan a d. d Whe here ree boo bo ks liee and nd her e eye y s ar are brok ok ken e and d tthi hiss sh hi shou o ld be th ou the em mer e ald alld ciity tha hatt is is tthe he lil he ilac lacc citty. y. Ple lent nty of nty nt of p peo eopl eopl eo ple te ple tell ll h ll how ow the he wor orld ld sho hooulld be b app p roac a hed, d many y off tth hem he em we well ll m ll meea eani eani ning ing, sttan andi ding aatt cr ding c ossr osssrroa oads ds solem ollem emnl mnl nly hi hint n in ing ng wi with with th thei heir he ir m meg egap eg ap pho hone nes. Or the th he se select lecctt few le w mar arch ch h hold ho ldin ldin ing cllip ipbo ipbo boar boar ards ards ds al alo loftt aass th loft they ey y lea ead ad th he pr p oces essssiion on of fo follow llower ll ower ow ers rs. Thee other th her ers rs, s, who h dee dee eepl p y do d noot ca care re which re hich h roaad iss tak tak aken keen n, sm smil ilee at at the the he noi nooiisy y prooph phet hetts an and co and come come me iin n we wear arin ar ing in ng a diff diff di ffer eren er ren nt ha hatt ev ver e y tim time ti me tthe hey viisi sit it br brin rin ingi ngi ging ging ng m man an ngo g ess ffro rom ro m the th he ga g rd den e . She h is in insi side si de a hou ouse se. Itt is yo se y ur h hou ouse ou see. Yo Y um meet he h r on nccee iin n pa pass ssin ss in ng; g; she h wass goi oiingg tthe hee oth her w y. wa y You u gav ave h heer a ke key wi with h a fob ob on it it tha hat ha had your your yo ur add dress rreess ss wrriitt tten en on on in i bir iro. o Rig o. ight ht now ht shee sttan sh ands d in your bed edro dro room m staari ring ing ng at th he li ligh g t fi gh fitt t in i g. g She won nde ders rs wha hatt to d doo no now w th that that at she he iss the here ere re. She re. he des espe pera r teely ra y wan nts to ti t dy up up bu b t re r siist stss th thee ur urge g as it may y be co cons cons n id ider ered er e rud ed ude. e. Shee loook Sh ks at a he her er wat a ch h, tr tryi y ngg to es yi esti ttiimate mate how ma w long ong al on alll th this his is w wil illl taake ke as sh she he reme rem mb re berrs sh she he ha has has forg fo rggot o te ten n to t do so some meth me th hin i g im mpo port r ant rt an nt. t. She She pac pacces you o r rooom m forr a whi hile le, de le, d ep p in th thou ough ou g t. gh t. SShe he wond wo nd der erss iff yyoou ou wea earr gl g asssees an a d ev even en entu ntu tual ally al ly y dec e id ides ess to si sit on n you ourr be bed an bed and nd w waaiitt. Sm Smoo oooth ooth thiin ing down down do w the he cov over erss sh er s e poosi s ti tion o s he on hers rsel elf el lf on n the edge, dggee,, cro ross ssin ss ing heer leegs ing in g and d fol old ldi dingg her ding e arm mss.. She he is in insi insi side ide de a h hou oou ouse use se. IItt is yo your ur hou ur ouse s and se and nd noob b bod ody od dy iss hom ome. e. I don e. on’’t ’t think hink hi nk she he under nd der erst stan st ands an nds ds w y sh wh shee is tthe here he re ssoo I am m goiingg ttoo se send send d her e som mew ewhe heere elsse. e. She he iiss waalk lkin ingg alon in allon ongg a ci city ty str tree eett on ee o a bus usy Sa S tu turd urd rday ay y aftter ernooon. erno on. Th on Thee aiir sm smel mel ells llss of ch heaap pasttie pa iess mi ming nggleed wi with th th th hee n nov ov vel elty flaavo voour u ooff a ci ciga iga g r so some m on me onee is smo mok kiingg so ve very ry unf unf nfas fas ashi shi hion on onab nab ably ly. y. Everrytthi Ev hing n is soold ng d at a d diisccou ount nt. T nt Th he th thro rong ro ngg flocckks ks too pou ound d lan and, d shu d, huffl fliingg thr hrou ou ugh h th hee sttin stin nki king ng liittte tere red re d ma mark rket rk et lik ikee a ch hai ain n ggaang ng att tten endi en ding di ngg rrol olll call ol caall ll. l. Th Thee th thro rong ng swarm waarm rms ms to to bou outi uti tiqu tiqu q es l xu lu uri r at atin in ng in n the h mas a qu uer erad ade ad de th that at is sp at spen endi en ding di ng som ng omeo meo eone ne ellsse’ ne e s mo m ne ney. ey. Birds irrds d aand nd d was asps ps.. A f w in tthe fe he croowd pau a se se lik ike drrun ike unks ks ccom om min ingg ou out of o bla lack ckou outt, ou t, ssto toopp ppin ppin ing the th he fl flow ow w ooff pe peop op plee by s an st and diingg sttiill and nd loo ooki k ngg aabo ki boout the b hem fo f r an a sw swer errs. s. She he iiss on one ne of of the he llat atte at tte terr tooda day, day, y, sttaand ndin iin ng att a cro ross ssin ss ing wh in whil ilst st tth he llig he ight ig hts ar hts ht are re red. d. SShe hee is is st star a in ar ingg att tthe hee blaack h keed d outt win indow indo dow of do of a car a tha hatt r mi re m nd ndss he h r of of h her er tel elev evis i io is i n se set when set wh hen it is tur urne n d off. ne offf. f. She he is insi in nsi side de.. Itt is de is a teele levi vis isi sioon sion n scr crree eeen. It is een i a car ar win ind indo doow. She Shee is is iin n thr hree hree ee place llaace c s aatt onc nce. e. It iss eeas aassyy.. She iiss st stan stan andi nd diiing ngg at th the he cr cros ossi ossi singg, sh she iss insid nside ns ide th id the he ca c rr,, shee is on o teelleev visio ision. is ion. io n Qua uan nttu um m phys ph ysicis iccis ists t sta ts tate ttee the he oobv b iioou bv uss. SShe he wat he atch atch hes es the he car pul ull ll aw away ay y as th t e ligh liigh ghts hts ts ttur urn gr ur g eeeen; n sshe he h he has as to w as waaitt unt ntil i the il hey tu hey turn urrn n red d agai ag ain ai n to gett to th thee otthe heerr si sid dee. e When Wh W hen en the ttra raffi ra ffic slo ffi ffic slo lows ws and n sto topss she cro ross sses and ss sses nd tur urns ns lefft in ns into to anot an notthe h r st stre reeet et. Sh She ru runs dow wn th he pa p ve v me ment ntt bas a hi hing hing ng int nto to pe peop ople le as sh she he ma make kes he kes ke her wa her waay y to to th th hee te telleeph tel phon one bo box on the box h cor orne nerr. ne r. Sh he op pen ns th he gl glas asss do door door or aand nd tak a es a mom omen entt too cat cat atch ch her e brreaath brea h; sh he le lean a s aggai an a ns nstt th thee siidee w wal a l of tthe al he ccub u icle ub iccle le,, re rest stin st tin ingg th t e ba back ck k of he herr heeaad d on the the ccoold smud smud sm u ge ged ed glas gllas ass. ss. s. Sh hee cloose ses her her ey he yess and nd rea each ches hess int nto to the th he fr fron o t pock ckett of he h r je j an anss an and reetr t ie ieve v s ve a fi fift ftyy pe ft penc ncee piiec nc e e. e O Ope peni pe ning ni ng h ng her e eyees sh er he ex examin am min neess thee coi oin in n her er finge gerrttiip ps br brie iefl fly, fl y turni y, urni ur ning ngg it ove it ove ver fo ver for noo rea rea easo son wh son so hat a ssooev oev verr. Sh Shee liifts fts the ft th he re rece c iv ce ver ffro room its itts cr crrad adle ad le and dd dro rops ro ops ps the coi oin n in ntoo th he sl s ot ott;; th t e di dial dial a lliingg ton ne bu buzz zzzes iint ntoo he nt her er ear eaar. r. Qu uiick ckly kly yh heer finge g rs pus ge ush h th the oon nlly y seque eq qu ueenc ncee of numbe of um mbe b rss sshe h can he an thi hink nk k of. f. Her llef eftt co ef coat at poc ocke ket ke et st star arts ar tss to vi vibr vibr brat brat attee an nd em mit it a m muf u fl uf fled ed d, ti tinn nn ny rend re nd dit itio ioon off Moz ozar arrt’ t’ss Re Req qu uie i m; m; sh hee can an h hea earr th ea thee ri ring ngin ng iin ng th thro roug ugh ug h th t e eeaarp pie iece cee of tth he ph p on o ee.. Then Th n ssud udde ud denl de nly itt ssto nl tops to p and ps d her own wn voi voi oice ce greeet etss he h rr.. ‘So Sorry Sorr rry I caan’ rr n’t ’t taake ke you o r caalll rig i htt now w, plea pl ease asee lea eave eave ve you our nu n mb mber er and nd I wil ill ge gett ba back k to yo you u as ssoo oon oo n as a I ccan an, than th hanks k ,b ks by ye. e ’ A sstr tran tr ange an geer ger in nvi v te tes es he her er to lea e vvee a mes essa s ge ge aftterr the the he bee bee eeep p an and ssh he li lift lift fts th fts the h m moout u hp piece ieecee ttoo her heer lips lipss to wh li whis iisspeer, r, ‘T The he chi hief eff req qui uire reeme reme ment ntt ooff th thee go good ood od lif ife is ttoo li ife live vee wiitthout hout u aany ny ima mage g of on ge ones essellf. f’ She han angs gs up th t e pa payp ypho yp hone ho ne as he her m her moobile biilee ble l ep epss too let e her e kno now tth hat hat at she she he hass rec ecceiive ved da voic vo ice ma ic mail mail il. l. Paab blo l Piccassso so once ncce sa s id d ‘I pa pain ain nt ob obje bjjeect cttss as as I tthi hiink h k tthe hem he m,, not ot aass I se see tth heem m.’’ Lau a riie Le Leee repl re plieed th pl hat a ‘I know know kn w I’m I’m ’m not ot ssee eein ee in in ngg th thi hin ings as th hey arree, I’ I’m m se seei seei e ngg the hem ass I am, m,’’ ass tthe hey he y eeaaach ch h cheewe wed ed a ssttraaw aan nd shar sh harred ed a glas laass ss of cid ciide der un unde der a gi der de gian ant nt dr drip ippi pin ing ng clo locck k bes bes esid sid i e a la lake ke sw sw wiim immi immi ming ngg wit itth h ellep pha hant ant n s. s


Shee is in inside siidee a hou use se;; itt is he herr ho hous ouse use and us and not an not herr ho no hous hous use. e. Th hee bed edroom rooom om iiss ob obso sole so lesc sccen ent. t. Sh Sh hee wa walk lkss sllow lk wly ly fro rom m th the he be bed to bed to the he win indo doow on the dow he other th her er sid ide of the h room an and d ru uns ns her er fing fi ngger erss do down n tthe hee con onde onde dens ensatio attio ion on on on the he gla lass lass ss.. It iiss co cold ld to to touc uch. h. Thee han h. ndl dle iss met etall, sh etal hap aped ed like li ike ke M Meec eccano ecca cano ca no; sh no; she fi firrmly rmly rm ly pul ulls ls the he lev ever err u upw pw war ards ds and nd ope pen nss the he w win ind indo in doow wi wide wide de.. Si Sile leenc nce. e. Her im mag agi ginat inattio in ion n caan fi fill ll tthe he str tree eeet with with wi th noi oise se. Sh She ch chec eecckss the he clo lock. ck k. 4 am am.. Th her e e iss a gro rowiingg sta rowi t in n on tthe he m he mis isty isty is y hor orriiz izon izon n; pi pin ink nk pat atches ch hess bloossom soom min ingg in thee ssky ky.. Sh ky She ge g nt ntly ly y clo lose ses th he wind ndow nd ow w. It spri sp ring ngss op open en n again gain ga in. Sh in. She he pu pull llss th ll he ha hand ndle nd le ttow owaar ow ard dss h her err and d ccli lick li ckss it into ck nto p nt pllac lac ace. e. The he windo in ndo dow w sllow owly ly y arcs rccs ou outw tw wards aarrds ds, al almo lm moostt inv nvit itin iti ing h heeerr ou uts tsid ide. e She he fir firmly mly sh ml shut utts th u he wi wind nd doow ow and nd lloc ocks oc ks iitt ks with wi th a ssma mall braasss key mall ma ey. She he is in insi side si dee a hou ouse; ouse ssee; it i is is he her ho her hous hous use and an nd no nott he herr ho hous use. us e It is e. is a pai aint ntin nti ing. ing g. It It is is a doo oorway oorw rw way ay. y. It It is ext xtra r ordi oorrdi dina nariily vac acu uous uo us. Th Thee p prrop oporti orrti tion ons ns ar a e alll wr w on ong. g. The heree arree rem emna nantts ooff a p na paarty arty ar ty,, we wett gl glitte itte it teriingg con o fe fett fett ttii an nd siill lly y sttri ring ngg str trew ewn ew n abou ab bou out th the kittcche ki hen frrosti ossti ting sspi pide pi deer weeb bss oove ver bo ve ver bowl wlss off sta tale h tale hum umm um mmu mus us an a d wi wilt ltin ing pi pink lilie illie ies. s. She d s. dec eeccid des t tid to idyy up p. Th her ere iss a Dyssoon ere n un nd der e the he kit itch ch hen en tab blee. Sh She sttar She arts arts t ccol olllleecttin ingg th he li lili lies li es; th es; the peta pe tals ta tal ls she hed an nd th the po poll l en ll n sp prrin inkklless ssta t in ta inin ingg he in her er fi fing n er ng erss am a beerr.. She he w wor orks ks qui uick ick ckly ly, sw ly, s ee eepi ping pi ngg arrmf mful u s off rub ul ubbi bish sh h int nto to bllacck bags baagss. Sh She th She hroows ws away way th wa he pl plat ates at es;; sh es she he find nds a br brok oken e dia iama mant ant ntee tiar ti araa an ar nd pu puts puts ts it on on ttoo ra rall rall llyy an a arm my off ccha haamp hamp mpag agne agne ne flute tess next nextt ttoo th ne he si sink nk.. Sh nk Shee pllug ugss tth he sink siink and an d tu turn rnss on rn n the the he hot hot ot tap ap p,, wh whic hic ich h sh shou ould ld b bee th thee co cold old ld tap p but butt iisn sn’t sn ’t.. Th ’t T e wa wate wate terr drum drrum u s aggains aiins nst th he bott bo t om tt om of th the he st s ai ainl nlesss st nles stee eeel si sink nk;; sh nk she sq squi uirt rts in in ssom o e waash om shi hin ing up ing up lliq iqui iq uid an uid nd pl p ac aces ess thee fi firrstt glasss in gl in tthe hee ffro rooth roth thi hin ing wa ing wate ate t r. r Thee flute t becom eccom mes es a vvas ase. as e. The sin ink k fi fill l s wi ll w th h wat ater err, the th he ro r om m fil fi lls ls with wi th h ste teaam team m m.. Sh She tu She turn urn rnss th he ho hot taap ag agai ain in to ssto top to p th the fl flow ow. Sh ow he pllu un nge g s he herr h haand nds ds in nto to tthe he war he arm bub bu bubb bb b bli ling li ng wat ng aterr to ater to rriins nse oofff th the he lliily ily y pol olle llen; len; le n; the he dus ust fl ust floa o ts offf b oa but ut leeaave ut vess io iodi dine di dine n freeck kle less on on heerr s in sk n. Sh Shee sub su ubm bmer bmer erge gess the ge th he st staai ain nss and car a riies e on rriins nsin iin ng and an nd sw wil illi ling ng. g. She he is in i si sid id dee a hou ouse se; it it is he h r ho h us usee an nd no not her not heer ho h us use. e. Thee p e. par arty ar t iiss ov ty over veerr. Sh She ha has a Dy Dyso s n. so n Wha hat do hat does it me does mean an whe an hen a R Ru u uss sssia ssia ian n do doll ll ins nsid nsid de a Ru Russsia Russ ian d ian dooll oll ll ins nsid id ide de a R Ru uss ssia siaan d dooll ollll ssay ay ys ‘II am m nott fee eeli eli ling ng mys y el elf? f?’ f?’ f? Sh hee is iin nsiid dee and not ot. A ch ot. ham mbe ber ooff yyou our m ou our miind nd. Sh She is is rifl ifl ing ng thr throu hrou hr ouggh h fi lin ing caabi ing bine bin nets ets you t ou th ough ggh ht yo you u ha had lloock had ock ked ed. She ed. Sh he is loo ooki king thr ki h ou ough gh the gh th hee vie vieewi wing ing ng his isto sto tory ry yy you ou tho tho houg ught ght ht yyou ou uh had ad ad deeele d lete le let ted. Sh hee iiss reead adin din ing yo your our ur dia iary iary ry. y. Do Don’ n’t pa pani nic, c, she c, he iisn sn’tt lloo sn’t sn ooki oo king ki ng foorr dir irt, t, shee iiss se sear arch chin ch ing in for fo or it item tem ms th hat at she he recog eccoggni nisees. nise s. B But utt sshe h has losst he he her lila her lila li lacc glas glas gl asse s s,, so the se th he arrch chit ittec ectu cture ture is br tu brook ken, en n, crum cr u bllin ing ng in in fro ront nt ooff he her li her like kee tthe he rui uins ins ns of a liibr b ar a y. y. The h d dis isk is k is scr crat atch at ch hed ed,, th he neetw twor ork iss down do w , th wn he fi lm m iiss ne n arrly y finishe ishe is h d. d She is in nside siide you ur bo body dy, fi dy fill lllin ingg yo y ur skkiin an and ti t ss ssue uee aand u nd n d bon one. e She e. h fits yo your u ccon ur onto t ur to urss aan nd limi li limi m tss, ad dju jussttin ing he her fo form rm m to be acccom ommo mooda date teed pe p rf rfec ectl ectl ec tly wi w th t in n you o r beein ing. But ut she he is no not a paartt of yo p y u an and d sh shee is nott a part arrt off me. me.. She Shee jus jus ust want nts ts too fee e l he hers rsel rsel elff.. Sh She he bo borr borr rrrow ows y ow yoou urr op pttic n rv ne rves es to seee th the he rev reve re vers rsed ed d ima mage ge ooff th this is page agge pr proj ojec jeccted ted on nto to you ur reeti tina na, wh na whil i stt inh il nhab ab bit itin ingg in y ur finge yo gers to we w iggh and and as an asse seess ss the he p pap aper aper ap er. Sh She lliiike kes ke es the th he sens sens se nsatio nsat aattiioon off thu humb umb mb witne ittneess ssin ing ing in sh shee hee eeettt.. She he tra ravels rave veels ls alo long ong yyou our arrms ou ms and d outt thr hrou hrou ough gh you ur fi fing ngger e s,, ssee eepi ee pin ngg her e who hollee ssel hole ellff in el into into to thee wh th whit ite un it ite univ iv ver erse se ttha se hatt iss thi ha thi his on one. ne. e. She h is ver very ve ry gra rate tefu tefu ful ul for for th fo the he paart rt tha h t yo you haavee pla laye laye yed in in brringi in ngiin ngg her e hom me aan nd wi wish ish shess to seend n a sin ncer cere ce re thaank n you yo let letter an nd po p ss s ib ibly ly y buy y you lun nch h onee day on daay (I ( ’d d go if I w wer eree yo you u,, sshe he is th he the ty type pe of ch charraccte ter wh who is ver ery ry ge gene neroouss with itth ex expe peens p n iv i e tastes). She She h is in nsi side d a hou de ouse se. It iiss th his is pag agge. e Thee w whi hiite te spa p ce cess ar a ou und d the he let ette ters rs aare re w re wh here she here he live li ves. s. T The he let he ette tte ters rs the rs hems mselve lvees aree inhabi b ted d by by som meo e nee elssee.. A nei e ggh hb boourr she h has nev ver seen. Shee do Sh d es n not o len ot nd cups of mi milk lk or su uga g r. She h doe o sn noot feed d the he cat att or water th he pl p an a tss w wh hen tth hey y aree awa awa way. y. No C Ch hriistmass card rd orr bo b rr r ow wingg off too ools ls. SSh he do doess not not eve eveen kn know now w the the hey ar hey are are ther th her ere. All she seees aarre wall wall wa llss th thatt mar arrkk th the edge the ed dge g s off the he roooms ms insside he h r ho h use. e She h is in nsi side de a house; it is h heer ho h us use. She Sh hee tak a es offf her coat oaat an and d haang ngss it on a ho hook ook k in in the wh th wh hit ittew was ashe she hed ha hall llwa llwa ll way; she way; he takes akess h ak her er mob er obiille ou obil out of of tth he pocke he oocck keet aan nd se sees es th es haat at sh she he has has a ha miissed call.. m


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For further information on Vortex contact: Neil McCaw Faculty of Arts University of Winchester neil.mccaw@winchester.ac.uk

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vortex 2011 Edition

Profile for UoW Vortex

Vortex UoW 2011  

VORTEX exists under the umbrella of Winchester University Press, and has established itself as a staple feature of the student writing scene...

Vortex UoW 2011  

VORTEX exists under the umbrella of Winchester University Press, and has established itself as a staple feature of the student writing scene...

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