Not everybody’s going to like this one, I wrote it while I was in a good mood.

It sat on the mantle and stared into the night. Over the years it had slumped down, its head had lolled and its arms had sagged. The dust had grown thick, cobwebs had been spun throughout the room, throughout the whole house, and the doll had sat unmoving over an empty fireplace for longer than its demeanour could suggest. Wide, dark eyes gazed in longing at a distant window. For so long it had sat that it had become tempted to get up, to hop down and travel into the distance, to see the horizon it gazed at every day.
Memories surrounded it and seemed to trace themselves in the air. The first was the wide beam of joy, a face full of happiness as it saw light for the first time. It had been lifted from a box and held tightly, hugged by a child in impish delight while balloons and music had celebrated her birthday. She had spent days with it, inseperable, tea parties with other toys, but none so favoured or so adored. It almost wept, almost shuddered with sorrow at the loss of innocence, remembering those first, heady days of devotion. It stayed sat, slumped on the mantle and gazing at the night, the first rays of dawn beginning to glint on the horizon.
There was another memory, a sound half-heard through the emptiness of the decrepit house. It was much later, by now it sat proudly in prominence in a pile of toys on a shelf by her bed. The girl had become a teenager with little time for tea parties, instead she would place it as an ornament, move it around her room and make sure it was always able to watch over her. Sometimes, when she had a bad day, she would take it to bed and clasp it to her, tears would seep into its fabric and in absorbing them the doll took some of her misery as well. But now it sat, immobile, its head was tilted to the side and watching the sun break over the horizon.
The first light of day began to trace another memory on the window. The doll watched, tempted to lean closer as it played out. The girl had become a woman, most of the stuffed toys had gone but it was kept, strands diligently fixed every time it unravelled or snagged, and sat over her headboard with a commanding view of her bed. She had brought a boy home for the first time, their tentative exploration fascinated it and it had lolloped and rocked back and forth in time to their lovemaking. Now it sat, immobile in the gloom, blinding morning light shone at it with the full force of the sun.
In the sunspots blazed into its vision the memory became an awful thing. The day it had been left behind. It could feel years of her tears welling up but forced them down, unwilling to weep for itself. It had been placed on the mantle by now, in her own house, a symbol of her childhood and happier years. The shuddering thud of a battering ram had caused plaster dust to rain down into the tangled mass of its hair. Screaming had erupted from her room and shouts of rage had echoed through the house. She had been given only minutes to pack her belongings and vacate the premises, and in her haste she had left it behind. So it had stayed, immobile through the years, patient as only a doll can be, lonely.
The day had broken, a bright and shining cloudless day. Corn fields outside the window glowed in golden glory through the whitewash. Something unusual was happening, the sound of gravel crushed by tires, human voices drifting into the empty, dusty rooms. A door opened and conversation brought life into the house again, something about ‘wanting to get a look at the old place before they knock it down.’ The doll became agitated, it wanted to get up, to run to a voice so full of familiar and potent memory, but it was a patient doll. Footsteps on carpet, on staircase, on floorboard, the sound of a door opening so close that it wanted to turn and look at the visitor. She came round, her silhouette outlined by the blazing power of the sun, her face a picture of shocked, nostalgic joy. The doll looked at her, she looked at the doll;
‘Oh… how could I forget you’ she said, her voice a little older, her eyes a little wiser; her hands reached out and once again it was clutched to the warmth of her chest, and for the first time it soaked up tears of joy.

Response to accidentally watching five minutes of Twilight and realising it’s exactly as bad as I thought it was.

There was something different about the forest tonight. The mist had rolled in with reassuring consistency, as it had every time she went to meet her beloved. Bella knew what would happen next; he would come to see her, stepping from the mist with the confidence only 200 years of life could bring. She would look into his deep eyes and ache for the feel of him, knowing that they could never truly be together…

But there was something different. The mist seemed deeper, thicker, zephyrs were disturbing the detritus of the arboreal floor. She wanted to see him, his reassuring, powerful forehead would lean closer to her as he gazed as intently as he dared into her young eyes. He would look at her, and her body would twitch and react in ways she could not yet understand.

But there was something different, there was no romantic silence tonight. No place of peace where the two of them could edge closer, their lips reaching to each other until the excitement of their hot breath forced him to turn away. Instead the darkness of the forest seemed to be growing thicker, whispering voices drifted through the trees and died away, as if they had fled some terrible, primal force.

She heard him then, her beloved, rustling through the scattered leaves. He was nearby, and the anticipation was making her run her fingers down her neck, making her breathing shallow and quick in the wondrous excitement.

There was something different tonight, it wasn’t her beloved stalking through the darkness, the rustling leaves were now all around her, something was lurking just out of sight. A dozen black dogs, their eyes glowing red with reflected light, stepped into view from every angle. Bella paused, every muscle in her body froze, a sudden cold dryness swept over her, the discomfort of it only increased by its opposition to her restless state only moments before. The pack began to circle, to bunch closer as if to make room for some alpha male, as if to hold her in place and give her only one avenue of escape. As she realised she had a way out she turned to face the gap and saw the creature which would chill her blood for the last time.

He floated inches above the ground, a vision of macabre perfection, his porcelain skin barely changed in tone even when it met his lightly stained lips. His hair was a mass of black curls tumbling wildly down his body, his fingers ended in glinting talons. His funeral shroud was ancient and torn, stained with decades of blood. His eyes were the thing that doomed her; they were like gateways to the abyss, full of fascination and endless hate. She wanted to turn, to flee, but all she could do was mutter ‘where… where’s Edward?’ while tears ran down her face at the horror of the beast in front of her.

‘Edward is gone’ said the creature, its voice as deep as the night sky, echoing with the wails of its victims, ‘he was a traitor and I have removed him.’ He drifted towards her and took her head in his hands, his claws slicing up under her jaw and through her tongue, filling her mouth with her own warm blood. He held her there, her head lifted to gaze into his pitiless eyes as he chewed lightly on his lower lip; ‘ours is a long history, and you have tried to destroy it. Our power is built on blasphemy and greed, and you have tried to turn us into angels.’ He leant in, close to her so she could smell the grave-dry scent of him and see his gore stained fangs as he sneered at her. ‘You have forgotten us, you have forgotten why we are feared. You have forgotten what we are; hunger, blood and rape in the darkness. We live by murder; our thirst defines us, and our cruelty is our strength.’

With that he tore open her neck and filled his empty veins with the contents of hers. He fed messily, hungrily, and threw her body to the dogs before returning to his grave to sleep before the fire of the sun consumed him.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you tell Stephanie Meyer to STFU.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister. He used to be a PR man.

When I first heard David Cameron say ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ in response to a question about Egypt two weeks ago I thought the sentiment asinine but accepted that he had clearly had little time to prepare and did not expect the question. Nonetheless, the sheer silliness of the statement stuck with me, I would occasionally remember it and chuckle at its vacuousness. Today I see he has used the same sentence, verbatim, in response to a question about Bahrain.

As you may expect this set me reeling somewhat, exactly what kind of fool would use ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ as a standard response to a question about one of the most important stories in the world at the moment; the collapse of the corrupt regimes of the arab street? It forced me to think more, to meditate upon the position he had adopted and reconsider my opinion not just of David Cameron, but of my own reaction to his statement.

I now realise I was wrong, ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ is a piece of perfectly crafted genuis. Previously I had considered Cameron to be an obnoxious Oxbridge twunt incapable of thought or deed untarnished by his priveleged upbringing. I now see that his is a towering intellect, the rival of any before or since. He has shaped his own space in the discourse, ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ is a game changer, an earth shattering new philosophy. Not for hundreds of years have words of such total wisdom been spoken, the kind of words which can set the heart soaring and bring armies flocking to a banner not for pay, but for the privelege of fighting for their beliefs. ‘We should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ has changed my entire perspective, and I have mister Cameron to thank. Siddhartha, Kant, Nanak, Nietzsche, all tumble before the sheer force of Cameron’s oratory, their very thoughts consigned to the dustbin of history as ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ blows them away like ripe cherry blossom before a hurricane. No philosopher or prophet could hope to match the vital force of wisdom that is ‘we should encourage our friends to do good things and not, er, to do bad things’ lest they perish or reveal themselves charlatans.




A short ghost story.

The heat had been stifling for days; a damp, unbearable swelter pregnant with the threat of vengeful thunder. When the clouds rolled in, growing from a bruise on the horizon to an all encompassing darkness, people had issued a collective sigh of relief.

In the nowhere-land, to the south of the river, a couple stumbled drunkenly between the monolithic buildings. They were chuckling at every little joke, breaking the awkwardness of each moment of silent, besotted gaze with more delighted laughter. It was as they made their way past boarding and ruin in the eerie silence of that abandoned place that the darkness took them. They could feel the temperature drop and knew, with uneasy certainty, that this storm would be overwhelming.

‘Er… Lucy, I think we should get indoors. Pub?’

‘Aw, I don’t want to go to the pub,’ she said, with a glint of mischief in her eyes, ‘you always say the pub.’

‘All right, fine,’ he said with a grin, ‘where do you want to go then?’

She stood in thought for a moment and grasped tightly at his hand, pulling his ear towards her mouth.

‘Mark…’ she said, but that was all he could make out as her words dissolved into excited giggling and the feel of her hot breath drove him to distraction. He understood though, in the way her body moved and her lips trembled into a smile. She inclined her head towards broken board that had been roughly nailed to the rotting window frame of some long empty office block. The motion made a ribbon of her hair fall over one eye.

He reached out to brush aside the errant strands and felt the swelling of his heart at that moment of contact with her perfect skin. He tilted his head, bent down and drew her into a long, adoring kiss as the rain began to fall.

They had made it in, damp chipboard proving no match for a few swift kicks with the force of haste and lust behind them. A shaft of hazy storm-light and scrambling noise disturbed the filth of years as they crawled into that colossal, empty space.

In moments the rain was lashing down outside, like a sea was trying to claim the land, and the bellowing thunder seemed to make the building quake with its force.

The lovers gazed at one another, smirking at the filth already covering their hands and knees, glancing at their surroundings and trying to identify a place free of grime. The meagre daylight revealed an almost empty room at least a hundred feet wide and twice that in length. Seemingly at random there were piles of mouldering paper, empty cans and office bins scattered about the floor. A tangle of wires dangled, immobile, from a missing ceiling tile. Damp had done its best to punish the carpet, creating a fertile breeding ground and reducing its drabness to ruin and stench.

‘This is disgusting.’ Said Mark, surveying the grime of their stolen privacy.

‘True… but it’s only one room on one floor. The rest of the place might be better.’

With that she grinned and took his hand, and he allowed the excitement of criminality and carnality to wash away his reason as she led him deeper into the dark. He was overcome, he didn’t even notice the dimming light as the boarding was gently placed back against the window frame.

Both of them had begun to tire, the nauseating stink of omnipresent decay was driving away the last vestiges of euphoria as they descended. It was almost too dark in the basement, tiny, grimy windows let in little light even as bolts of electric fire hurtled to the ground outside.

All was still in this gloom. The raging thunder was muffled by high and empty shelves and the nature of the room itself, as if it stood in accusing vigil, resentful of its own neglect.

It was cleaner, down in the earth, cleaner but somehow worse. The chill felt unnatural, the tall shelves raised ominously over them. There seemed to be no order to them, they were a disorienting tangle of steel.

Lucy’s knuckles had turned white with the force she was using to grasp his hand. Her smile had no life left to it, instead she was thinking, at the back of her mind, ‘why aren’t I leaving? Why am I going deeper into this mess?’

Mark simply shook his head and carried on, physically pulled by her. Eventually he could take no more; ‘What is that smell?’ He whispered hoarsely. It had been building in potency the deeper they travelled into the tangled web of shelving, the cellar had been cavernous but now appeared to them vast beyond reason and almost utterly lightless.

Lucy stopped. Her already painful grip had tightened enough for Mark to feel bone grind on bone and her intake of breath had been held far, far too long now. She pointed, without turning her head, and Mark’s blood ran cold.

Ahead of them, between two towering, empty shelves, a dead man hung limply from a length of rope. His suit was frayed, his skin rotten, and his one remaining eye stared lidlessly at them. Some unfelt breeze blew his corpse to and fro, ever so gently, causing the ruin of his hands to caress the air as if to spread the stink of his decay.

Neither Mark nor Lucy could speak. Lucy could not tear her gaze from his eye. Mark could not force sound to issue from the desert of his throat. He felt his mind peel away in irrepressable revultion.

Lucy shook her head and found tears rolling down her cheecks. She let go of Mark’s hand to wipe them away and looked back up at the horror she had seen. A flash of stark light from outside lit the room again, its dancing brightness seemed to make the corpse in front of her dance and twitch, seemed to change its expression, seemed to distend its jaw into a lipless snarl of feral hate.

She turned, she wanted to hide, to bury her face into Mark’s chest and get as far away from here as she could. Far away. To get home. She turned. He wasn’t there.

As the thunder rolled she began to run, her shoulders were hunched as if at any moment she expected some fearsome thing to leap upon her. The rumbling boom echoed weirdly around the cellar, and in her maddened horror she could make out the edges of words in its echoes. Adrenaline took control of her body, her rational mind freewheeling, trying to grasp meaning from the whispers in the thunder; words of malignant rage and bitterness, their meaning lost but their emotion all too simple. The base of the stairs, her footsteps were the loudest noise there had ever been as she charged upwards, towards outside and salvation. But at the top she stopped dead.

In the tangle of wires, dangling immobile from the missing roof tile, was Mark. His head was limp, a jutting lump of bone poked obscenely at the air from the back of his neck. His hands hung limply at his side. He was utterly, horribly still.

Lucy almost fell. Her knees almost buckled at the visceral sight in front of her. Blood was still oozing from the wound in his neck, but soon the flow would stop. He twitched, a pathetic, dying thing had replaced the vigorous and joyous man of moments ago. Lucy wept, and walked towards him, tears flowing down her face as she reached out to stroke his cheek, to lift his head and kiss him as he died in front of her. She was wild now, caked in filth and half mad, but she lifted his head and bought his mouth to hers, kissing him deeply and with love. He hugged her.

Her eyes snapped open as she tried to free herself from his grasp but his lips stayed fixed on hers and his arms seemed stronger in death than they ever had been in life. Behind him something moved, drifting as if in some unfelt breeze, its one remaining eye freezing her in terror as it dangled, hanging from the empty air, its lolling head displaying a grin of truimphant, vile satisfaction. As lightning struck the building and coursed through the wires, cooking the lovers in each others arms and fusing their lips into an eternal kiss, the thunder spoke again, and they were the last words she would ever hear.