Day Three Hundred and Four: Happy Halloween!

A wee break from the short story today in order to pimp out some cool shit Liam arranged over at Daily Dischord to celebrate Halloween.

Usually we run our Monday Mixtape feature on Mondays, with each team member taking it in turns to sling five tracks together based on a theme of their choosing, but since it’s Halloween Liam got a few bands to pick their five favourite Halloween tunes (I say Halloween but I mean it in the very loosest way, some of the tunes aren’t Halloween themed) so without further ado I present to you our Halloween Monday Mixtape.

First up we have Aussie mad men Dangerous! give us their fave five.

One of the UK’s biggest and brightest independent labels, Visible Noise, had their head honcho chuck us a quintet of Halloween tunes.

Reading’s up and coming metal titans Malefice gave us their top picks.

Deaf Havana took some time out from their rather busy schedule to give is their five.

ACODA also lent a hand too, capping of a brilliant year for them with this nice wee feature.

Have you heard of djent? Well if you haven’t, Basick Records big boys Circles show off their Halloween goodness.

And finally, Rise to Remain get freaky with their top five.

Day Three Hundred and Three: Crack Part II

Yesterday I posted the first part of this story. What follows is part two. The formatting on WordPress is utterly rubbish, so I apologise for any formatting faux pas.

I looked at the bedside clock but failed to take note of the time. Another cigarette was in order to so I made my way downstairs. In the wee-est, smallest hours all the lights seem brighter, casting their shadows further and deeper than when night first falls. A single desk lamp in the corner of the room caused the shadow of the crack to extend across the ceiling. I stared at it. I stared and I smoked then I finished smoking and just stared, thinking about nothing in particular until the thoughts sent me to sleep in the chair.

I woke up in a haze, like I wasn’t quite real. It was unusually warm, and when my eyes adjusted to the light I noticed that a blanket of smoke covered the room, smothering me. There was a loud popping noise as the bulb in the desk lamp exploded, the fire acting as the sole beacon in the night. The flames spread; first to sofa and then to the bookcase behind me and finally to the television, followed by a bang and a blue flash before the TV emitted an acrid, plasticy smoke of its own. My chair continued to smoulder away yet the blaze failed to engulf me and I couldn’t move. I knew I should be panicking at this point but all I could feel was a massive sense of guilt at the loss our possessions. Everything we’d worked hard for, that we’d purchased, all of our memories stored in inanimate objects, each of them going up in flames. Finally the carpet caught fire and the door swung shut of its own volition. The entire room was ablaze and yet here I sat, calmer than I’ve ever felt in my whole life with nothing but guilt burning a hole in me. In the distance I heard Iris coughing in her sleep but I remained rooted to my seat, the crack above me growing wider and wider until my lungs could take no more and I passed out.

I awoke to the sound of the bin men outside, daylight overlapping with the artificial light of the desk lamp. The living room was still intact, everything in its right place. Even the crack. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly; it felt like I hadn’t breathed properly in a long time. It appeared Iris had opened the windows and had taken my cigarettes with her, leaving a note next to the ashtray: ‘Robert, You’re going to have a sore back after falling asleep here but never mind. I’ll be home around three. Love, Eye xx”. She always signed off with ‘Eye’ in notes like this. I liked to think that it was because the Iris was part of the eyeball, but the truth was that she was a bit of a Prince fan, and in his early days he’d replace “I” with “Eye”. With a stiff back I unplugged myself from the chair and made a breakfast of coffee and fresh packet cigarettes, enjoyed over the literary delights of the Yellow Pages. The plasterer said he would arrive around 1pm. It was now 11:15am so I killed some time by showering, cleaning and listening to dead rock stars. The plasterer arrived at 1:07pm – late, but I didn’t mind.
“Some size of crack you have there, mate.”
“Yeah, it’s been there for a while. I hope it’s not serious.”
“Nah, not at all mate. Shouldn’t take too long to fill it.” said the plasterer.
I didn’t ask the plasterer his name and he didn’t offer it, each of us aware of how temporary this exchange would be. I required his services and needed his skills, and he performed his skills routinely for an agreed price. It was as easy as that. I retired to the kitchen to make some tea and minutes later I heard a blood curdling scream so shocking that it made me jump, causing me to spill milk on the floor. I ran into the living room and the plasterer was gone, if he had never been there.

Where did he go? I had a look around the house to see if he’d wandered off to the toilet, but I couldn’t find him anywhere and his van, I could see, was still in the driveway so I went outside to take a look at his van, thinking that he might have went to it to get something, but everything it was locked up tight. I then checked the front and back garden in case he was having a cigarette but there was absolutely no sign of him. When I entered the house again I pulled out the yellow pages and rang his mobile once more only to hear it ringing from the living room. Where did he go? I took a seat on the sofa and sat in silence awaiting his return, figuring that if he had went out he was sure to come back at some point given that his van, his tools and his phone were still here. After an hour no one came into the house.

Day Three Hundred and Two: Crack Part I

Here is the first part of a story called ‘Crack’ which born out of an automatic writing exercise in my creative writing class. I posted a rough first draft of the opening paragraph a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy it.

I asked her what she was thinking.
“The crack in the ceiling scares me. I don’t know what it will bring.”
Such an obscure statement demanded an answer but I had nothing. I could only reflect.
“Aren’t you going to say something?”
“I don’t know what to say. It’s a crack. I’ll call a plasterer.”
“It’s sinister.”
“That’s what Ginsberg would say.”
I flashed her a smile, she failed to reciprocate. Crossing the room and reaching high up into the white bookcase, she produced a leather bound version of a book I knew would be familiar.
“If you’re going to quote Ginsberg to me, you better tell me which poem it’s from.”
I sat down in the chair next to her and she handed the book down to me. I took it and, without opening it, placed it on the table.
“It’s from ‘America’. ‘Burroughs is in the Tangiers. I don’t know if he’ll come back. It’s sinister’. The whole poem is sinister. Didn’t you know?”
“I don’t care, that crack is sinister. It’s evil.”
She glanced at the crack in the corner of the ceiling. It extended out toward the centre of the room like a morbid vein, white paint flaking away around the edges, revealing flecks of blue, yellow, gray and green, telling stories from the past, hinting at the lives that were here before us, quietly suggesting that we compare ourselves. Are we better? Worse? More or less dysfunctional? One kid? Two kids, four? None at all.
I agreed with her.
“Alright. It’s sinister. I agree.”
She looked at me and smiled. I had no idea why.
“Are you sure you’re not just saying that to appease me?”
She crossed the room and sat in my lap. I took the cigarettes that were hanging out of her back pocket like always, opened the carton and sparked one.
“No. It’s sinister. Ginsberg would have a field day.”
We sat in silence for a half a cigarette with her looking the other way, analysing the room, doing everything she could to avoid looking at the crack while I stared at her in a haze of smoke. She took the rest of the cigarette off me and helped herself. Like she always does.
“You should call the plasterer tomorrow. Then things might be better.” She said, exhaling a plume of smoke.
“Things are fine. You worry too much.”
Again she was looking at the crack, lost in its crevasse. I kissed her on the cheek and she jumped.
“Mm. What did you say?”
She stubbed the cigarette out and yawned.
“Things are fine. I’ll call a plasterer tomorrow.”
It was time for bed so she led me upstairs.

I tossed and turned for most of the night, awaking numerous times to find myself bothered by thoughts of the crack in the ceiling, as though giving it thought had caused it to extend into my psyche. The crack questioned our existence as a family. Occasionally we got a hint about the family that lived here before in the form of letters or bills in their name. The landlord had given us no forwarding address for them, explaining that they just stopped paying rent one day. When he came round to check on them they had vanished leaving a great deal of their belongings behind. Interviewing the neighbours yielded little information except that they used to fight a lot, the culmination of which was a large scale screaming match that one day ended in complete silence. They had left the following day. It’s probably coincidence that our marriage had taken a turn into rocky territory once Iris noticed the crack in the ceiling. Don’t get me wrong, I’d noticed it from time to time but I never really questioned it. New build houses settle over time and small cracks in the plaster start to appear. Often when we argued, we argued about children. She wanted children, I didn’t. She would seethe and throw insults, questioning my manhood and her maternal instinct at the same time. She never held a grudge, she said, but things felt different. Occasionally I’d catch her looking at me in a way she had never looked at me before, as if she had a thousand questions, worryingly. Was it the crack or it was just my wife’s preoccupation with the crack that really got to me? My refusal to have kids was purely philosophical; no one asked me to be born, why inflict similar angst on another person without their permission? I wouldn’t want to put another human through that. I wondered about the family that lived here before us. What were they like? Did they have these issues? Did they have kids? Did they also have arguments about children?

Day Three Hundred and One: Untitled Sleep

Sleep tugs at my eyes, pulling the blinds down
to close the day.
A thoughtless warmth rushes over me
when the world is dulled away
into the memory
into the brain
into nothing.
Awake with a start on the couch and a sore neck.
The clock behind me dispenses the time
telling me it’s late and I’ve only myself to blame.
Everything is blurry and abstract
and the small light judges me for falling so hard.

The clock casts its glance over 3am
so I take myself off to bed
lights off
sleeping again.

Day Two Hundred and Ninety Nine: The Stolen Thought Gang

This was written in creative writing earlier on. I post it as a first draft as I plan to work on it and expand it. I’m posting it for three reasons.

1) we were first asked to write an opening sentence then the most striking one was picked by the class. My opening sentence was picked even though it’s a rather long sentence.

2) it is directly inspired by Tibor Fischer’s The Thought Gang which was apparently completely subconscious and I only realised it afterwards

3) it took me 12 minutes to write this. I think it’s a pretty good start for an interesting story.

It’s currently untitled – I’ve not thought that far ahead yet.

Untitled

If I only ever give you one piece of advice, when lying face down on the floor surrounded by police for reasons unknown, it is be jovial about it. I say this because if you are anything less than polite one might find oneself with a knee in their back and a sweaty, frustrated, coffee scented police officer snarling a raft of obscenities into your ear.
This happened to me fairly recently and it put a damper on my day. Things got off to a bad start when I awoke with a blazing hangover and stripped down to my vest, boxers and socks in a flat that did not belong to me. My confusion was compounded when the police barged down the door and seen it fit to reprimand me. Given the fragile state of my health, naturally I was less than civil and an hour later I found myself lying face down in a jail cell with a bruised back and a powerfully nauseating headache which could only be cured by consuming the copious amounts of booze from which I was currently bereft.
I’ve had better mornings.
A couple of fairly decent police officers later told me, by way of ushering me into a questioning room and giving me the third degree, that the flat I was in belonged to someone who had recently gained a reputation for being one of London’s most notorious pornographers. A man, they said, that they had yet to identify. Things didn’t look great, but my pleas of innocence were lent a particularly air of legitimacy by my lack of attire and presumably the striking colour of my finest bright red boxer shorts. I thanked whichever God may or may not be there for giving me the foresight to pick my best underwear the night before. I was released on bail a short time later, and delivered home by a furiously blushing female police officer.
To be honest, the outlook was grim. Although the events of last night still occupied a space in my mind to which my consciousness was not privy at this moment in time, I still felt as though I should leave the country in case they tried to pin this whole thing on me. I’m not known by the police in any major capacity, and bar the odd drunken transgression I didn’t want to graduate onto any list where I might attract considerable attention to myself. I packed a bag, put on some clothes and headed for the Eurostar. Spain seemed a safe bet, but that of course meant travelling through France. The size of my headache made the thought of flight rather unappealing, and I knew a few people in France who owned a couple of vineyards. I don’t care much for the country, but I cared rather a lot of their wine and it would be a nice little stop off en route to Barcelona, where perhaps we could engage in some proper liver crushingly ruckus drinking.