The Harmonious Adventure

Gaargh, wrapped in the octopus’ coils I blundered around the deck as if blinded and lost in a convent with a taste for penguin. The suckery bugger foisted its beaky smooches on me despite me fervent protestations. Aye, “say hello to Polly” indeed. As ye might have gathered, the noble crew of the Grim Bastard was suffering once more under a siege of maddened sea beasties.

The cause were nearly none of our making, or at least the cause of but one of us – so the average fault per crewman was less even than that. However, sticky and suspicious footprints lead to the door and the piggy reek of Spam-Faced Franco.

Now, tis rare that I’ll permit a Spaniard aboard but Franco had been the victim of Captain Aaarsbeard’s grab for power on the island of Por Bombardo. The spamminess of his face was attributed to the burns caused when two ships full of porcine cargo were detonated in the harbour. Gaargh, twas tragic but stank of breakfast marvels. Me tongue moistens at the memory. In misguided charity we took his flame-grilled face on to do shiply things.

Franco had a saucy nature that even the bacon burns’d not diminished. Perhaps the mask with which he clothed the uglier half of his face bolstered his confidence, else it was the inhuman volumes of gin he imbibed before commencing his crude courting. Tis of note that donning a pair of gin-monocles may impair ye judgement. And so it did for Spam-Faced Franco.

We’d moored a good way off from the shallow isle of Webbyre, a habit we’d adopted after the were-bears incident. So me first inkling of Franco’s misbehaviour came with the thunking of a rowboat to larboard. Twas just a portly gentleman staring nine pistols in the eye. He protested that he was the town’s mayor, though he heard none of our threats till he tugged the waxen lodes from his ears. With much indignation he relayed to us a tale of musical malady, from which I pieced together me own truths.

Last night Franco had skipped ship to soil himself with gin. Once tipsy he’d fallen out of a tavern and followed the curious strains that pierced Webbyre’s night air. They led him to an abandoned house on a hill where he discovered a wench fingering a demon-stoked instrument of magic and fear. Clearly the wench had hopes he was there to strum her twattling-strings, but twas the Wurlitzer Organ of Painful Jollity that seized him by his ginny throat. The poor lass he bound and stuffed beneath the instrument.

All night he tormented the town with lascivious lullabies and forced cheer till the locals grew maddened and battered down the door. By then he was far gone and had shrouded himself in a cape and he cackled wildly at the intruders. With neither thought nor wit he hurled himself out of the window. Twas but a single storey drop and most of his bones were undamaged. He swam back to the ship and curled in his bunk. Now all this would have been well save for the poor wench who’d suffered the vile hammer blows of the organ. The music had possessed her and she took up where Franco left off.

I knew none of this save that his bacon-scent had been absent for from our distant anchorage twas merely a faint tinkling of fairground noise. But the mayor was sweatily desperate for our aid, he wept tellin’ how his wife had been driven mad by three hours of “Bugger Me For A Farthing” without respite and the townsfolk were bleeding from their wisdom bags.

We woke Franco with a bucket of crabs and a good booting of the spammy Spaniard for as we drew nearer shore the relentlessly upbeat tones of “Me Other Horn’s A Rhino” did indeed grate upon us. Glad I was that we’d not been nearer for the locals ran frothily mad in the street, capering idiotically and howling the words to the hurdy-gurdy’s haphazard harmonies of humpery. Even the animals were jigging as best as their anatomy would allow.

Well done Franco indeed. I thought him chastened by me boot, but he sprang up the mast in his damned cape and crouched on a spar hissing like an oedipal snake. He was quite crazed. The bewitching music was beginning to tear at our sense-strings: the mayor was loudly humming “A Finger Of Fudge” and me own peg leg tapped a frantic beat. I summoned forth the mast smashers – a fearsome pair of cannonballs chained together with which I hoped to eliminate the source of the festering jingles.

The lads’ aim was precise, despite ’em having to stuff a finger in other’s ear to soften the madness. The chain shot ripped through the house’s ground floor. The next storey crashed down and yet the demon’s fandango played on. Worse, the house began to slip down the hillside, the music comically accompanying the bumps and people-crushing as she picked up speed.

Our rate of fire could not match the sliding chateau and we merely wrecked the town. The house skipped twice off the end of the pier and sank. We cheered, but briefly for with a low giggle Franco tossed himself from the mast into the sea where he swam just like the lunatic he was. On reaching the site of the sinking show tunes he leered at us beneath his mask and dove underwater.

Soon enough what we hoped was the last of the breathable air escaping the wreck popped, releasing their bubbly devil tones of “Frig Me With A Basket Of Chicken”. The sea began to foam in distress. First a school of porpoises humped themselves up the beach to attack the fishermen with their blowholes flaring. Starfish crawled from the harbour, their twitching nobular arms seeking faces to smother. Whelks and lobsters pelted The Grim Bastard. I knew we had to end this and soon, before the whole ocean grew too mental to swim.

The tune was barely identifiable as we sailed in nearer, but as our shadow fell over the house of nightmare notes it became a dirge-like “Two Sheep And A Duck With A Bag Of Keys, That’s What My Lover’s Like For Me”. That was when the octopus struck. Gaargh, I clawed at my mollusc-mask while I strove to loosen the anchor chain. This I accomplished by headbutting the lever through the octopus’ face.

The chain rattled as the anchor plummeted into the deeps. We felt it crunch through the house, and Mick spun the wheel. The wind lifted our sails and the squid clinging to them. Our anchor ripped and hauled the submarine house across the sea floor until the melodious bubbles rose no more and the sea creatures grew confused and limped off the ship, or were popped in a pot.

When we wound in the anchor it brought up a tangle of strings and hammers and a burp of Franco’s gammony musk. A moment later his mask floated up to bob on the waves. Without thinking I shot it till it sank again. Gaargh, I’d miss his breakfast bouquet.

Tumbling from Space

My world spun and shook, the horizon flipping over endlessly. Everything had gone wrong: we’d hit the atmosphere alright, but had immediately detected a huge shape beneath us. The impact was hard. It must have been one of those vast sky animals that graze at the edge of space. No more. We tore through it and began this hideous tumble.
My hands shook as I tried to hold onto the controls, somehow pull us out of the spin. The ship screamed at me to let go and relax back into the cushioning gel that encased the rest of my body. I felt like a bottle half full of water, its contents dashing from one end to the next. Eventually I couldn’t hold on any longer and let go, but not before one more shake of the vessel smashed the controls into my hands sending a juddery agony through them. I let the gel seal my trembling limbs and I closed my eyes.
A painful whine resonated through my skull. The ship was no longer shaking but my head was thick with condensed inertia. I fell forwards into the crust of orange gel that had been protecting me but was now lumped across the buckled floor before me. It hurt. As I struggled to my knees I was aware of a voice whispering to me. I shook my head to clear it; another mistake. Dimly I remembered the voice and its endless imperation from the fall. Now it said only “getout”. I realised why the floor looked strange- it was the ceiling.
I crawled towards the door, over the recessed lamps which threw gouts of nauseating light into my eyes. The whine in my head and the ship’s voice were not helping. I found the exit and stroked it feebly with my less painful hand. It tried to be obliging and creaked, shuddered, cracked and swung open from its ruined casing.
I fell out of the ship, curling to land on something that wasn’t already bruised, to no avail. The sunlight was a faint green. The ground was sticky. We’d come down with the creature wrapped around us and now I was lying on its shattered remains. Its was smeared over everything I could see. I pulled myself to my feet, vomited, sat down again. This was going to take a while.

Slightly Broken: Sleeping Better

So – a week out of therapeutic support now. And how am I doing? Pretty well I think. I’ve had quite a lot on, several shows and opportunities for showing off and distraction – those are always good things. I’m a busy-minded person and need to keep myself fairly busy too. The routine I imposed on myself through the sleep disorder therapy is working well. I’m not sure if I’ve explained how it works, so here goes.

My routine:

get up at 7.30 (I know, that ain’t exactly early, but I don’t need to be at work until 9.30 and I am very far from being a morning person)
breakfast till 8.00. This is reading and staring blankly at things time

8-8.30 Writing time. Initially I was alternating half an hour of exercise or half an hour of writing each day, but I found the exercise frustrating and tedious. I need to enjoy something to actually do it.

8.30-9.00 Shower, get my act together and leave the house.

Work takes over for the rest of the day.

Once home I’m trying to focus on activities I know that I enjoy and that I get the sense of satisfaction from.

10.00 Electronic media curfew. TV, laptop, phone, tablet – all off. Sad face.

10-11.00 Time for reading, editing a story, having a whiskey and some peace and quiet. I seem to be incapable of doing nothing at all. I get very irritable and it’s also when negative introspection seems to kick in.

11.30 bed time

And that’s my routine. It’s very simple. Depressingly so, since I needed someone else to help make it happen. My other half, The Lady M is very supportive of it although her evening work cycle doesn’t necessarily fit that well with it. She gets up later than I do, so we’re somewhat out of sync. For her, there’s no point going to bed at 11.30 if she’s not tired. I completely understand that.

In general that reliance on getting up at the same time during the week seems to have improved my sleep and wakefulness habits – even though I don’t always get to bed on time, especially because of some evening social activities just rising at the same hour really helps.

I struggle at weekends, but I don’t think that matters as much, as long as I do impose the evening routine on Sundays. I definitely need to kill the TV away before going to bed though – but then I have to do that without interfering with the plans of my other half. People make life tricky.

The hardest time to maintain it is proving to be time off work. While I could just lie in all day and go to bed at 3 like I usually would, it doesn’t feel like a good idea. So I’ve bumped my schedule back by an hour. I get the feeling of staying up later (which even at my age still feels like a treat!) and a tiny lie in.
So that’s the sleep thing. I feel better and more alert. I’ve been pleasingly prolific in my writing too which makes me feel great.

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The Booty Adventure

This is the tale of how I came to meet a man so ill-starred that the very Fates giggle when he steps out of doors – tis the finding of Luckless Larry.



“Holá, my name is Jésus, and you are arrived in time for the festival!” Gaargh, the man’s jolly temperament was a vexment I was ill prepared for. Meself and three of me strongest, yet least entertaining seamen had dragged a treasure chest of mysterious content and punishing weight through ten leagues of sweaty, line-dancing-filled jungle and we were in powerful need of drink and intimate massage.
I was about to make me displeasure known by way of punching but me effort was spared by a man who fell from above, squashing Jésus to a moanin’ pancake. The tumbled lad was under me feet so I booted him till he mastered his own. He was profuse in his apologies – he’d been disturbed mid-tup and tipped through the pane by the disgruntled cuckold. Fearful of further retribution he begged for our aid. Some of the jungle mire must have distorted his view of us for tis a small point of pride that even charity muggers give us a wide berth. But I knew well the sharpness of a cuckold’s horns so me pity-gland was full and I allowed him to take my place in the carriage of our chest.
On we went, meself greatly relieved of the burden. The lad’s name was Lawrence Shamespittle. A handsome lad, he’d no particular trade save wooin’ which he pursued with an enthusiasm that belied his success. For twas his ill fortune to always suffer the return of a lady’s husband at indelicate moments which had left him terribly frustrated in the britches. All of this and much more embarrassing detail he panted out to me from his corner of our trunk. I’d relate to ye further squeamly tales of masculine virtue derailed and declined, but me twin swords of rum and disinterest have mown ‘em from me memory.
The man we sought – known as Tooth-Eyed Gill – dwelled in a cabin far from the maddening crowd of carnivalling halfwits. To discover the chest’s contents we’d have to pass through the mass of lollygagging landlubbers. The path we hewed with our cargo was lined with curses, limping and corpses.
Such gashing progress led us at last to the doorway behind which Tooth-Eyed Gill would make us rich men. It had an evil reek which I attributed to the array of gutted sea-fauna adorning the shack. The breeze produced an array of toots and farts reminiscent of the for’ard hold at night; twas oddly reassuring.
Gill himself greeted us at gunpoint. Tis his way and we took no offence, loudly and very clearly reminding him of our affairs. He was not easily convinced and insisted on shooting poor Lawrence in the shoulder. His cry of pain and the bleeding convinced Gill we were real. Gaargh, had I not mentioned his paranoid delusions? Me apologies. A smuggler and hawker o’ misappropriated items, his skills were in great demand but his hair-trigger tendencies had made him even more enemies than he imagined he had.
Friends once more, he ushered us within and let off a few shots in the direction we’d come, one of which raised a justifyin’ scream. The trunk was laid down, as was Lawrence; bandages applied to the latter and a key to the former.
A warm golden glow lit the hovel. Our faces basked in its precious goodness. But before we could conclude our trade burly and roughened men burst through the rotting walls and laid down a volley of fire. Cannon-Fodder Colin was down and Expendable Alex had expended his last breath. Lawrence took the shot meant for me (bless his misfortune) as I sheltered behind him.
Tooth-Eyed Gill was in his element. His terrifying dentrified eyes snapping with rage he fired, tossed and snatched up fresh pistols from secret spots as he crab-walked about the room. He felled a pair of the interlopers but we were still outnumbered.
I locked eyes with Gill and realised we should leave before he lost all sense of friend and foe. He flung up a floorboard and tossed a flame into the shallow pit filled with a snaking nest of fuses. I dived for the door as our assailants pressed their advantage. Lawrence staggered beside me. Sadly me last crewman Beige Keith was trapped by gunfire. Still, tis no matter – I’ve not a thing to relate about him.
The cabin exploded as me face ground into the ground. Planking, arms, decorative octopi and a fine rain of sand and teeth pattered and thumped about us. Gaargh, as the smoke cleared I saw that the rancid hut was but a scorched pit, comically strewn with the bodies of our enemies.
Lawrence lay beside me, stunned by a flying fist to the face. I let him sleep and stumbled towards the blackened hole. Clearly the madman Gill had booby-trapped his hovel in case of such assault, but of the man himself there was no sign save a warning shot that missed me but thumped into Lawrence’s leg, cruelly waking the lad.
Of the treasure chest we’d drawn through the jungle and whose contents we’d so keenly anticipated there was naught, naught but a deep regret in me soul. I balanced its loss with relief for me life and the trading of three cumbersome crew for one luckless lead-soaker. Gaargh, I’ve had worse days.

Slightly Broken: Getting A Little Perspective

With my first experience of cognitive behavioural therapy behind me I do need to think about what I want to do next. My big struggle was to find a way to say something more about myself, to push beyond the outward purpose and need that I had commenced therapy with. It took me a few weeks to make myself say that I had been abused as a teenager, and once I had I experienced that curious relief which confiding in others brings.

My first internal question is – do I believe that sense of relief will persist with the more people I tell? If so, I guess I should just do some painfully honest solo improv show and reveal all in a pleasingly theatrical way. That might be a kind of fun. But it might also be completely humiliating. Which brings round why I don’t tell people about these things – is it shame? I don’t think so. I’m not sure either. I don’t feel that I’m or was the one at fault. I was a young kid – to pretend that I might have been in a position of power where I was the agent of my own choices is clearly false. I was vulnerable, and exploited. Some embarrassment is entirely reasonable, but I suspect it masks a self-hatred, an anger for permitting (or thinking I permitted, again making the naive assumption that I really had any control) someone to use me. We like to believe we’re in control – I certainly do.

As an adult aware of many contexts and the subtext of societal encounters it’s very clear that is mostly an illusion; sometimes it comforts, other times is does not. But it’s really important to grasp the degree of agency we truly have, or at the very least to maintain a healthy scepticism about it. I consider myself to be rational, I am more readily persuaded by a sane argument than a passionate one. It is a challenge to be balanced and rational when bad things happen. It’s also incredibly important. To attribute events to fate or the gods or randomness are all wrong. They either give you a false sense of hope or deceive you about other people and the world around you. There is a reason – it may not be a reason you like.

In my case the reason I was abused is because a sick, fucked up self-interested bastard concluded that his needs were greater than those of a young teen, found a way into the circle of trust within our family, befriended me (a sensitive, thoughtful and quite lonely boy) and ruthlessly exploited me and our family. I did not do anything wrong, this wasn’t my fault. I accepted the friendship of someone who seemed interesting, trusted and interested in my opinion and ideas. What’s not to like?

I’m okay with the idea that I was almost powerless, the fear of discovery and the shame that abuse causes are effective insulators for the perpetrators. You don’t tell because to tell seems worse than it continuing. And that’s a failure of perspective. I was worried about what my parents would think, how it would affect their relationship and how this fucker fit into our family and social events. Because I didn’t grasp the bigger picture of much of a betrayal of my Dad’s trust this was, how predatory this behaviour was. I was just too young and inexperienced in how awful people can be to imagine that this was anything other than my problem. That maybe this is just how friendships work. I can see and understand much of the manipulation now – I get it.

The sharing of interests – simply taking an interest… it works wonders for getting what you want.

Possibly one of the worst things about this kind of abuse of trust is that it involves the use of social tools and norms for these people to get what they want. And that can make life very confusing for the abused. In my case it was the normal social aspects of friendship, physical and emotional intimacy, the sharing of thoughts and ideas. After I’d managed to sever my ties and get at least physical distance I was left in horrible pain. Things had gone further than I’d feared they might, and I had no idea how to react. I didn’t know if what had happened was wrong, was my fault or what should happen next. I went with how it made me feel – horrible. That was enough to know that it should’t ever happen again and that I never wanted to see the guy again.

But I didn’t know how to separate out what had happened to me from what happens in normal friendships. And how could I, at the time? The whole lot was jumbled together. I’m pretty clear on the separation now, I think. I think I know, or am satisfied with my understanding about what behaviours belong in which relationships.

There are still some things I can’t disentangle though – I have an aversion to massage; I don’t like to be touched when I can’t see who’s touching me, otherwise my mind darts off to that dark place and I don’t see or feel the person who is touching me. That’s not great as I do get tense easily, mainly from being over-excitable and involved in activities, and being able to relax into massage would be helpful. I’m getting better though, in the right state of mind I can accept and enjoy a shoulder massage from The Lady M but I do struggle with anything more. The idea of being massaged by a stranger is horrific to me. I’m confused about sexuality too, but I think I’ll consider that more fully another time.

I guess my point, the point I was trying to make to myself is that perspective and the simple passage of the years (plus a decade or so of tears, drinking, drugs, depression and fucked up frustration) has enabled me to better grasp what happened, in a saner, less emotive way. Perspective matters – it’s all about me, but if I don’t understand the context that surrounds me then it’s about a screwed-up incomplete me.

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My Grandfather’s Carpet

Though I was finally free from many of life’s worries I found the shame of feeling so pierced my high spirits. My heart burdened with the weight of an uncommon liberty; this freedom granted me by death. So distracted was I that much of my day was spent mooching from room to room, idly tugging a volume free from a shelf or inverting some curio that had come from who knows where. As I spent more time in my grandfather’s house I found that a hyperactive nausea began to lie thickly upon my soul.
Late in the evening my fingers quavered with inactivity, for I could not bring myself to settle and achieve any one thing. At length my feet took me to the bedroom at the rear of the house. My grandfather had filled the room with dark wooden furniture which hemmed me into a leathered chair in the corner opposite the bed, worn through years of use. A glass sat on a round table at my right; on a bureau sat a silver tray with a decanter of some amber liquid. I found it to be a whiskey. Maybe it would soothe me.
As the drink passed my lips I began to relax. The window gave me a narrow sliver of the night sky, the moon swollen and part-shrouded in mauve clouds. The silvery light cast curious shadows from the figurines which stood guard at the window sill. The house was full of such artifacts and I should make some inventory of them, eventually. My gaze fell to the floor, on which lay a glorious weaving. Something in the pattern intrigued me, drew me into the weave. My earlier restlessness returned and I could no longer sit still.
The twitching unease roused me from my seat and took me on a nervous curlicue of the intricate carpets. The paths I traced were surely unknown to the skilled carpeteer whose only design was that of ornament, and yet- and yet… Were not those patterns which my spirit sought out through the elocution of mine toes as they plunged admirable into the weft those patterns which had been framed in my very mind? Framed and presented to my waywarding soul in the dark resplendence of the waking dreams into which I had been lured by those awful vilified peerless ancients whose dead breath I felt in my mind’s ears. Those very treads marked the stain they had left in me.
And exposed, I saw them – naked in the furrows ploughed by my toes and heel. In a panic of fluttering wrists and palsied eye I took pen to paper to record the daemonic maze I had limberly scribed. Paper was not enough and I tore from the walls such decor as I had looked upon with former affection and littered the bed with them. High-kneed I over-stepped my footed pattern and mirrored it on the four walls of my quarters.
My work completed I fell back amongst the ruin of treasures, broken jags of frame and torn tapestry my mattress. About me I could truly see the messages the ancients had so crudely couriered to our world through the unwilling postiary of my half-woken mentation. It was only as I traced my psychic horrors on the chamber walls with a faltering thumb that I realised my error.
How stupid, how ignorantly rapt in their eldritch influence I had been. Laid bare about me I saw the nightmare gate I had etched in first ink, then, my bleeding wrists attested in the blood of my veins. And wrought a dire magic.
The runic gateway I’d mindlessly daubed were filling with a ghast light, from that place beyond emotion and life where they dwell. And from where they would soon return.

The Selachian Damsel Adventure

Gaargh, me beloved ship’d more holes in her than a Marseilles whore. Alas, she were sinking, her beautiful length up-tipping in the water under constant fire from ye Dutch vessels under command o’ Captain Hendrijk Shtroken. They’d tracked us through a mighty storm and on findin’ our sails in a tatty state took pleasure in holing her.

I bade me lads take what life craft we’d left intact for as a good captain I’d be going down with me ship. Well, I’d gotten me peg leg trapped when one of ye cannons made a break for the ocean. Twas not till the water came over me head that the ship, as it sailed down to the sea bed began to loosen her innards and ye cannon tore of me peg, leavin’ me free to drown.

It looked like I was about to see Davy Jones’ locker first hand. To me shame I were not drowning gracefully. With me last remain’ breaths I flailed at the doorway which steadfastly denied me exit and did what little bellowin’ ye can deep underwater. Gaargh, and then it all went a mite dark and Jelly McFish was there chidin’ me for me carelessness.

I was roused by a curious nudging in me spine. I twisted me back in a manner unnatural so surprised was I by the touchin’. I’d feared to find meself dead and cold in some dim lightless realm populated with grey faces and a tedious range o’ board games to play. Instead I was presented with the grinning face of a Sharktikal Wench.

Aye these are the devilish cousins of me beloved merladies, for they’ve the faces of the terrifying oceanic predators with whom their forbears managed to mate without too much fatality. Tis no surprise then that I jerked back as far as me twisted back would let me, till I was face and shoulder to the wall, me legs splayed behind me at an awkward angle.

The razor toothed lady snapped hungrily and drew herself alluringly over me. She was as appealing a prospect as any lady with bladed skin and a grin that made a dolphin clear its blowhole could be. So rough was her sparkling tail that it tore me britches to scraps and sanded down me peg leg. Gaspingly I enquired as to whether I owed the oceanic vision of feminity me life. She replied in the incomprehensible growlin’ tones of her kind, for their speech is obstructed by the ranks o’ spiky dentition.

Either way I felt I’d little option, and in truth though her seduction was sharp I acquired no more injuries than in a minor sea battle. In the bloody aftermath of our conjugation she kindly unscrewed me abraded peg leg and replaced it with the pincer of a massive crab she’d dismembered in her courting ritual. Twas a good fit.

Though her sea cave was a fine pad and I were grateful for me rescue and love scrapes it was in me heart to return to the surface and a more enduring air supply. She kept me breathing by way of cuttlefish which she inflated at the surface and brought back to the cave for squeezing. Twas not the tastiest of lung gas and despite the pleasing frequency with which our intimate courting occurred I had to make my escape.

I explained me predicament to Lady Sharp Gills (as I’d named her), and her eyes grew moist in sympathy. Perhaps, in retrospect it was merely the sea in her eyes but at the time I took it for a pleasing sign. She fetched me one more cuttlefish and showed me how to tie it about me face for a breathing bag. Then she drew me outside of her cave, into the middle of circling ring of her kin. She gave me a gentle push, to which I responded by drawin’ closer to her rather than further. She escalated to a snap with her lady maw, which did drive me on.

The sharktikals swarmed above me, and as I kicked off from the bottom they thrashed around me. Me heart was in me throat, which I firmly hoped was the furthest from its proper place it might travel that day. Gingerly I swam for the surface, its glimmering blue an enticement that drew me on. Twas as I attained that gorgeous surface and me fingertips broke its magical meniscus that the sea shark women attacked.

Their writhing piscine tails slapped the water and with their deadly dentures bared they sought ye good captain’s flesh. I tore off me cuttlefish mask and beat one of the wenches about the head with it till she took it from me and rended it in two. I thought me end was upon me – for in hoping for home I’d scorned the selachian maiden. Twas not me intent, for I wished merely to live in a region that was sometimes dry. In addition her coarse caresses had titillated an old pirate’s tickling glands and I’d a desire to keep me memories of her for some time.

I espied a turtle seekin’ a swift exit from the apparent feeding frenzy (which I kept at bay with deft kicks from me crustaceous prosthetic) and hauled meself aboard its mighty shell. Now tis a sad tale for me turtlin’ pal for with me weight above the sharkly ladies quite harrowed it from below, till I was left afloat on naught but that homely helmet. The turtle appeased the crazed sea folk and I was left to drift on the waves.

Gaargh, though I was held against me will I owed the sharktical lass me life for I’d have drowned without her curious captivity. I’d always remember her for denticle lodged in me arm and the tooth marks on me thighs throb with an unholy heat whenever the rain falls sideways.

Pulp Pirate 10

Flash Cast 62 – Touch & Run

Burstin’ with pride as always to contribute to Flash Pulp ! This week the triadic marvels Jrd, Opopanax and Jessica May have bunged me Polar Adventure into the show.

Listen to it now: 

Listen to The Polar Adventure (one of me favourite tales) and a host of pulp related marvels – ongoing serials, bothersome affairs, intriguing letters and news of the weird and wonderful.

Slightly Broken: Attempting Self-Referral

I’ve been intent on referring myself onto some more specialist therapy for dealing with sexual abuse. It’s a tough thing to talk myself into, and I’ve found it impressively easy to prevaricate about. The prospect of having to tell someone that I want to self-refer is not especially appealing but I did get myself to ring up last week.

That was last Thursday. It took about two hours to get through without just hitting voice mail. That sort of made it worse; I definitely didn’t want to leave a message – I had a weird fear of rambling at this machine… I don’t know. Too public feeling perhaps. I tried another number for the other office within my county only to find that it was strictly for city cases – despite being geographically closer to the city office than the county one. Sigh. I work in the public sector so I do completely understand how the boundaries are drawn up, and why. But as a consumer or service user it was surprisingly disheartening. They were very apologetic and gave me the number I already had again.

I guess that was good practice for saying “hello, I’d like to self-refer” and I got through eventually.

Unfortunately there was no one there to take my referral and the person who answered could only take a message and get them to call me back. Well… It’s been a week and I’ve had no call. So now i’m back in prevaricate mode, combined with a background tension of anticipating a phone call – at any time!

Realistically people are busy, and I’ve no doubt that a third sector organisation like ISAS (Incest and Sex Abuse Survivors) are probably, and depressingly, swamped with work. I still feel somewhat hurt that I haven’t received a return call and am further discouraged from calling them again. But this is just self-defeating nonsense – I can now pretend to justify not calling because they were supposed to ring me. Silly. On the other hand, i’m on a train right now and that’s not a public phone call I want to have.

On the plus side I learned, or at least confirmed something I believed: the person who took my message was male and I felt this awful internal shrinking away – I’m going to want a female counsellor. That’s useful to know.

Maybe I’ll call tomorrow…

The Recreational Entertainment

A night of nonsensical dreams and a persistent headache left me washed up lke a beached whale upon the chaise longue in my night room. The most I could achieve on my road to morning humanity was to loosely tamp my pipe. My drooling lips could scarcely support the trembling pipe stem which spilled smouldering shag down my shirt. The possible  ignition caused me no worry; a-squint through my eyelids I saw that fire would only improve the room in which I had wrought much party.

I bellowed for aid. Mr Tribblings flew into the room (for this was in those pleasant days before his revolt), a lemon tea resting upon a silver tray. It was his own drink and he teased me with it. Despite his preternatural ability to brew tea I had become averse to the beverage, finding it faintly reminiscent of simian urine.

I insisted the goose-ape pull me to my feet and commence grooming. He disliked getting his fur wet but I was in powerful need of water’s erosive touch and had no desire for his fumbling mitts to draw insects from me. At length my bestial manservant supplied me with a towel followed by a vast breakfast spread. When finally my repast ended with a pudding I realised that my only hope for true wakefulness was a stroll in the park. Fully en-spatted and en cravate I departed the house, snug in the embrace of my latest invention – the Ele-Chair.

Part ordinary seat, part elephant it was the ambulatory chaise to end all mobile furniture. The recent fad for steam-powered carriages had quite inspired me but I was more comfortable with vivisection. I had taken a pair of young elephants (Afric for their convenient expanse of ear upholstery). One I’d flattened along the back, the other glued upon it in repose so that I’d legs to motivate the chair, another pair to rest my arms upon and the final pair to drape a roofing over.

The lower walking limbs I’d stripped to the bone and varnished as one would a table, which achieved an aesthetically pleasing grain. Naturally I’d decapitated the beasts for their features are monstrously penile. The trunks I’d re-stitched as simple cranes (for shoppping and such) while their tusks made a rather vicious forward-facing ladder for attaining one’s seat.

By means of gimbals I maintained a gentle ride while the Ele-Chair ploughed through the streets, scattering pedestrians with cries of awe and admiring shrieks. As the chair negotiated a junction (I’d naturally endowed it with the delicate mind of a badger I found in my garden one opiated night, for such matters as navigation are beneath a gentlean’s concern) the other road users gave ground gracefully as we turned into the park.

A wondrous expanse of baise green beneath the smoggy sky. My mount picked up speed as it relished the grass between its skeletal toes. With my peasant-beating spear I directed my chair towards a certain copse in whose leafy shade I was confident of finding gentlemanly diversion.

Within the trees’ penumbral umbrella stood a trio of hamnsom carriages, two of which bounced jovially upon their wheels. A quintet of well-dressed gentlemen and ladies ringed the cars, their gaze intent and breathing heavy. When I drew up my pachyderm armchair I elicited a gasp of surprise and a satisfying swoon.

Wordlessly I offered my hand to a finely clad maiden (the unconscious lady would be too much effort). A smile of secret sorts passed between us and I helped her up the tusks and into my lap. With the depression of a bony lever the chaise’s hood rose over us, the four ears of the elephants fanning around to enclose us in an amorous and faintly hairy screen. My ill health was vanishing in a lady haze…

Something was awry. I first noted it when the earth gave the impression of greater motion than I had anticipated. Indeed, the quiver of thighs I’d attributed to my sensual ministrations was a disturbance in the outer world. The smooth travel of my elephantine stool had belied our true progress, for as I peered between petticoats and leathery folds I saw we were far from the restful grove in which we had begun our courtship.

My chair’s tusks were slick with gore and from one of them dangled an impaled swan,  the other boasted a child’s pram. This was potentially awkward. My companion’s alarm was irritatingly evident so I applied a calming chloroform to her and activated the chair guns. It would be dreadful if word were to escape the park that yet another of my creations had run murderously amok.

Accordingly I took aim at a gawping bystander and silenced his potentially slanderous tongue. Our bloody route was easy to retrace for it was strewn with flattened pedestrians. As the Ele-Chair bounded and capered, those few which it merely maimed I drew upon and finished off.

With the noisome folk extinguished (for they did bemoan my actions), my mount calmed and contented itself with uprooting daffodils.

It seemed unlikely that I would return to the passionate grove for it was now a blood spattered boneyard. At least I’d rescued this charming lady who drooled unconscious on my waistcoat. In time the chloroform would wear off, and before then we must find ourselves a fresh copse to revive our romance. “Ho chairephant – to the heath!”

Shadows on the Moon (Alphabetic 20)

Atypical shadows on the moon’s surface were the first hints of something unexpected in the second extra-solar system mankind had reached. By the time the images of those anomalies had been analysed and inflated by the media, the first manned mission to its surface was underway. Complications dogged their journey, from equipment failures to broken bones.

Despite all the problems the eight man crew achieved orbit only one day behind schedule. Each man had his face pressed up to a porthole to get the best view of the lunar landscape. For Charlie, captain and leader of the expedition the sight of the moon’s uneven surface gave him an unaccountable tightness in his chest, but as it matched the usual tension in his stomach just before a mission he dismissed the feeling.

Gel sprayed into the gap between man and machine, filling the exotic armoured spacesuits to pressurised perfection. High-fiving and joking, Charlie, Alex and Samuel climbed into the orbital shuttle and prepared for their lunar expedition. In between the release of the docking clamps and the shuttle sliding free something went wrong. Just as the three men began to fall towards the surface their ship exploded – that image of the shuttle falling away to the moon was the last thing mission control saw.

Knowing that they were going to die on the moon was a secondary concern for the three astronauts. Light from the explosion had briefly blinded them and its force sent their shuttle into a dangerous spin. Maintaining their even approach was vital and they had almost regained it when they hit the ground. No one was hurt; their cushioned armour protected them and had drawn out their lives. One hundred days had been the target length of their mission – there, and back: they would surely be dead by the time help arrived.

Petulance gets you nowhere in space and so the trio of stranded astronauts were determined to do something useful for the three days worth of air which they had left. Quickly, but without haste Samuel established their location and found they were only slightly off target. Riding high with each step they strode across the barren landscape. Soon they reached the area of unusual shadows which had inspired their disastrous journey.

The ground sloped sharply upwards and the rock thrust out in strange conical structures. “Unless the termites got here first, someone made these,” commented Charlie. Virtues in space include calmness and reason – both of which were forgotten when Alex started screaming. When Charlie had idly joked about termites he had no idea how accurate he was. Xenobiologists from home would find the creatures fascinating, but as they gnawed their way through the spacemen’s armour they were terrifying. Yellow gel leaked and mingled into the dripping blood as the alien insects dragged the men into their nests.

Zooming in from space, only the abandoned shuttle and the bloody trails gave any indication of how badly the previous expedition had ended.

Erratic Scribbles

All quiet on the Pigheart front eh?

Yes I’m afraid so. I do have a couple of stories of the piratical knave in the works but I have been neglectful this past week. That said we’ve had a pair of de Gashes of late which I’m quite pleased with: The Eldritch Entertainment (in which poor Franklyn takes a sideways slide into some more HP Lovecraftian territory) and The Recreational Entertainment (a tale of dogging, of all things, and a general massacre in the park). I have been adding pirate stories in audio form onto Reverbnation, which assuages my guilt somewhat.

How Scrawleth Thee?

Their development has caused me to muse on my writing process, such as it is. Both of the de Gashe stories above have been hanging around for a while in various stages of development. This is because I tend to write in flurries – scribbling as much as I can on a given topic or storyline until the muse deserts me. And who knows when she will return? Some stories I find I can pick up again easily and add to or write it through to completion.

In The Recreational Entertainment‘s case it was a straight scribe of half the story in one go and then caught it up the next day. The Eldritch Entertainment hovered at three paragraphs for about three months until I stumbled across it in my writing book, chuckled and proceeded. That’s nowhere near a record for me – the most recent Captain Pigheart, The Selachian Damsel Adventure was started two years ago with the opening drowning story. Then… nothing. That’s all I had, so I left it. The Booty Adventure was scribbled over three weeks during one of my favourite writing slots – the half hour I carve out before the weekly climbing session.

Musing Away

I try to write whenever I’m inspired to do so – almost all of the pirate and de Gashe stories start with a phrase or sentence which pops unbidden into my head. If it’s not captured in a writing book, on Twitter or tapped into Evernote I know it will be lost. This butterfly attention span can be beneficial – when I’m stuck on one story I can flutter over to the next, and back again. The best bit is when I finally hammer out a first (hideously handwritten) draft and get to type it up, then print it out and scribble all over it again with pink ink. Not all of them need it though. The Harmonious Adventure did – that was a bastard to hammer into the shape I knew was lurking within. Some just write themselves – it’s great! I’d really like to know what makes the difference.

Discipline (is in the eye of the beholder)

I’m trying something new. Well, something old that I haven’t done for ages. My sleep habits are generally terrible, but I’m fixing my life (sort of) by getting up at a set time and having a half hour after breakfast and before work for writing time. I originally found this practice labelled ‘morning pages’. The idea is that you write something, anything, dear god whatever pours through your pen just to be in the flow of writing and creating.

So you should be seeing more very short stories which will be fairly rough around the edges. I’m aiming to write a 300-800 word story a day (unless I get involved in something like I did today and stretch it across a couple of mornings) which I then need to type up (I cannot deal with keyboards in the morning), tidy a bit or discard. I reckon that’s going to equate to at least two stories on’t site per week. If it’s not – complain. I will listen, fret, and sort it out.

For now I’ll be posting them under Morning Pages – I hope you enjoy them, and that I manage to keep it up! Please let me know.

The Butterfly Day

The cloud of butterflies descended upon the small town in the early afternoon. When the swarm struck its roofs like an exploding rainbow it scattering into delicate shards of colour. They fluttered into windows, perched on rooftops and flowers; they followed cars, bicycles, children. The butterflies were crushed underfoot, sucked under lorries, caught by cats and pulled apart by cruel fingers. Those unlucky ones were just a fraction of the painted horde.

Adults and children rushed into the streets to witness and marvel at the dainty creatures. Hundreds of photographs documented the remarkable phenomenon, newspapers and TV shows raced to include the bright and beautiful images. They gave the day a carnival air and everyone felt obscurely happier with returning to their jobs and schools.

Later in the day people’s interest waned as the sun slowly fell. In the evening they withdrew into their homes and the banality of their lives, the vivid shimmer of gossamer wings already a fading memory. Some few were pinned to boards or trapped in poison jars, awaiting examination and cataloguing on another day.

No one noticed where the butterflies went at night. No one noticed that the birds who had swooped into the cloud during the day to feed their hungry chicks had fallen to the ground, dead: these butterflies were not an easy meal.

Adam Smith was putting his seven year old daughter to bed when he found one of the butterflies roosting on her bedside lamp’s shade. He was a gentle man and blew the insect off it and towards the open window. The butterfly promptly wheeled about and returned to the bedside. Little Helen didn’t like things fluttering around her face at night so he redoubled his efforts. He cupped his hands over the insect and carried it back to the window. As he was about to release it into the night he gave a cry.

“Ow, it bit me.”

“Butterflies don’t have teeth Daddy,”

“Stung me, then.” He sucked at his palm and sat heavily on the edge of his daughter’s bed.

“They don’t have stingers Daddy. That’s bees. Daddy?”

Adam keeled over, trapping Helen in an awkward hug.


The open window flooded with butterflies. They covered Adam and Helen in a thickening patchwork blanket of Lepidoptera until Helen stopped calling for her father. When Maria, Adam’s wife and Helen’s mother came up to check on them she found the bed utterly covered in the gaudy twitching wings. She barely spoke before they leaped into the air and bore her to the carpet.

At nine o’clock precisely the next morning the first of a long convoy  rolled into the centre of town. The streets were silent. No cars raced to work, no children rushed to school. Four men in thick suits and masks climbed out of the van and unloaded basket after basket into the road. They climbed back into the van and waited.

A vast sheet of colour roared into the air and funnelled down into the baskets. Eventually the last stragglers crawled through the hatches and they were sealed in and loaded back into the van. With the butterflies safely stowed, the van drove on to the next town.