Sunday, 21 September 2014


Soft tendrils of amethyst smoke twist lazy spirals behind my bullets as they shriek through the skies, tearing tunnels through the clouds, and punching holes in the bodies of the angels bearing down upon us.  As feathers fly, my pilot throws the plane into a downward spiral, diving through shafts of searing white light bursting from the hands of the enraged, winged monsters whose eyes burn with holy fire.

Magazine empty, I rip it from the side of the gun, and throw it overboard, grabbing another and punching it into the slot.  I pull back the lever to cock it, loading the first shell of cursed ammunition into the chamber, and resume my fusillade, the skies darkening around me with demonic smoke.  I watch the enemy drop in swathes as even more descend from on high, diving after us.

“Angels on our six!” I scream through the intercom, and brace myself against the back of my seat as the wings rock to the side and the plane pulls out of the nose dive and soars behind the four-winged beasts we called cherubim, scattering them amid roars of anger and shouts like thunder.  I swing the gun around, and see ahead of us the rest of our squadron, engaged in the same conflict.  Grabbing the twin barrels of the gun, I twist the second into place, and flick up the sight, calling to my pilot to hold us steady.  Ahead I see the six-winged seraphim who leads this particular flight of angels, and fix him in my sights.  Leaning into the gun I brace myself against the recoil I know is coming, and begin to squeeze the trigger, energising the weapon to ready it for firing.  As tendrils of dark electrical discharge flow down the barrel and towards the pins at the end I try to relax, while my heart pounds and my muscles instinctively tense.  I watch the growing darkness around the tip of the barrel, and just before it eclipses my sight I pull the trigger in hard.  A single bolt of blackness, like a lance of negative energy spears through the skies and collides with his head, a needle sized hole appearing to face me as the other side bursts outward in a shower of sparks and blood.

The power of the gun pounds me back into the seat, and I go temporarily numb, dizziness in my head, and a ringing in my ears.  Somewhere far away my pilot shouts in triumph as I fight to maintain consciousness.  I come back to reality to see the cherubs howling in despair, many simply dropping out of the skies, suicidal in defeat, others simply hanging motionless for my fellows to pick off at leisure.

Over the radio I hear cheers and cries of glory from the other pilots and gunners, and congratulatory remarks I can’t really make out in the commotion.  Exhausted, I lean back to try to regain my composure, and tug the wires from my chest which lead to the gun.  I look down at my now noticeably emaciated body, wheezing softly into my oxygen mask.  Through gaps in my rather loose shirt, I see the glow of my tattoos starting to fade, and the burning sensation begins to recede.  I look up to find us flying in formation, the other gunners waving at me and punching the air.

Leaning back into my seat again I relax a little, gazing skyward at the raging vortex miles above.  The thing which the angels call God seethes, but over the radio I hear the voice of the one angel to stand behind us whispering words of encouragement, a smooth, lilting voice seemingly heard with the mind, not the ears.  I plug myself in again, and glory in the fiery pain that rips through my chest and over my body while my vision sharpens and my reflexes tighten.  Feeling more alive than ever, I hear the roar of jet engines and grin with satisfaction as we lift our noses to the sky.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


“Keep looking, you’ll see it any second now.  There!”

I see a point of light flare briefly, and settle into the form of a new star in the area of sky I know to be the Orion nebula.  I am aware, however, it is more sinister than that.

“So, what did they do to deserve the birth of a new star in the immediate neighbourhood of their home planet?” I ask my companion, as he gazes lovingly at the site of the catastrophic impact of gas and dust that wiped out an entire species of only-recently space-capable aliens.

He smiles, just a little.  It’s barely noticeable, but I can see the mirth, or perhaps something else, tugging at the corners of his mouth.  “Defy.” he says, quietly, almost to himself.  “They believed in an all-knowing, benevolent god, and steadfastly refused to submit to the rule of the Enlightened.”

Enlightened.  That’s what we call ourselves.  Enlightened to the point where we can decide an entire races fate, and with our enlightened technology shift so much nebulous mass into a space so small that it ignites to form a new star, engulfing the tiny home planet of our savage neighbours.

“What were they?” I ask, curious about our fated foes.

“Some sort of gaseous clouds.  They were large, and slow, but intelligent enough to pose a potential future threat.  They had nukes, and space warping engines, as well as religious fervour.  They were convinced that the stars were what happened when too many of them got together.  Well, I guess they were kind of right.”

He chuckles to himself.  I roll my eyes and turn away, heading back to the house.

“Well, look,” he says, “if you think it’s so terrible, why do you still do it?”

“Tough times, man, and work is work.  Besides,” I wink at him, “who else do you know who goes hunting with suns?”

Sunday, 10 August 2014


A narrow hallway stretches out in front of me.  Recessed halogen tubes hum softly and cast a gentle, gloomy light over the doorways to either side.  In the distance I can see movement, a figure, but I can’t make out a face or much in the way of details.  I see suggestions of movement and a hint of shape, a woman.  Is she moving toward me, or is that, too, in my imagination?

In the distance I hear the plaintive cries of my compatriots, gently calling out for release; freedom, or perhaps just death.  I don’t know how I managed to get this far without anyone seeing me, and every step I take unmolested further suggests the idea that this is all part of some game.  

Rigid with fear, I try to discern if the woman has seen me.  Do I run?  There is nothing behind me save the hope of oblivion, but if it is her, the way forward could only be worse.

I see a defective light, and I crouch in the shadows its inadequacy casts.  My body, broken, scarred, quiets its incessant complaining as I lean against the wall in a moment of tense solace.  In the distance I see her open a door and walk inside.  The door closes with a gentle click, and I seize the moment, push myself up, walk.  I force myself to relax, to walk and not run, for the noise would surely alert her to my flight.  As I pass her door I hear a gentle sobbing from inside, and I bite back my own tears.

I see streetlights ahead.  I must not flee, but walk confidently out of the door.  I hunker down into my coat, hunch my shoulders in an attempt to hide my face.  As I step over the threshold, rain batters my face and the sounds of distant thunder roll past me.  A breeze washes over me, and I shiver in the cold darkness of the city.    

One of them walks towards me, past me.  I feel certain that my bruised face and bare feet must give me away, but my presence is ignored.  Shaking, I trudge softly through the rain, to the gatehouse in the fence.  The guard seems uninterested, flicking through a dog eared magazine with one hand, a flashlight pointed at its pages with the other.

Head down, I push onwards and out into the city streets.  They are deserted, but for a few late night drunks and drifters.  I feel at once exhausted and more alert than ever, adrenaline pushing me further than I think my body can go.  I turn down an alley, reeking with rubbish and animal waste, in an effort to cover my tracks.

Then it happens, in a moment that seems to take forever but could only have lasted an instant.  From the gloom a body appears, large, imposing, and bears down on me.  The blue lights appear in my vision again, and the face of a man twice my size is briefly illuminated as one hand grasps the blade of a knife he wields and the other reaches for his throat, tearing out his windpipe and I watch with fascination as his eyes grow wide and the life fades from them.

Before his body has hit the ground I am away, past him and back into the illuminated safety of the streets, wiping blood on my coat and now running, running far, running hard, running fast.  I somehow find my way home and creep around the back to break a window.  I climb through the shards, cutting my hands and feet and slink to the bedroom, upstairs.  My heart slowing now, I lock the door and wedge a chair against the handle.  On the bed, I sink into a fitful but gratefully received sleep.

In the morning, it all seems like a nightmare.  My hands are clean, and I lie in my bedclothes.  I begin to question the reality of what happened, when I see the picture on my dresser.  The bloodied, wide-eyed face of the man I killed stares at me, and I turn over the picture, somehow knowing how the message will read.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Carefully, with gloves on, I place the cheap, disposable phone into a clear plastic bag.  I take the knife from the hob, it's blade glowing dully in the half light of the evening, and use it's heat to seal the bag shut around the phone.  It's important that there is no way to trace it to me, no DNA evidence left behind.

Back to the hob, I gently stir the liquid in the large stock pot, being careful not to displace any onto the hob itself.  Despite using the largest pot I could find, it's still dangerously full.  With the greatest of care, the liquid is spooned laboriously into small bottles about 10 centimetres high, each capped with a small immersion heater.  Strapped to the side of each of the bottles are the bare bones of another disposable phone, wired into the heater.  At the moment, the phones are off; after all, safety first.

At my laptop, I peruse the map I have already committed to memory, running through the route in my mind for the thousandth time.  Lobby (bin); hallway (plant); bathroom (cistern); office (ventilation); elevator (up one floor); second hallway (bin); break room (cupboard); stairwell (up three floors); balcony (don't jump).  Carefully, I close all the open files, delete them from the memory stick, remove it, and smash it under foot.


Time for bed.


"Mornin'!" the guard at the office.  He always was too cheery for my tastes.  I smile politely, and throw what appears to be an old sandwich packet into the bin. 


The wind is in my face.  I take a long draw on my cigarette, and toss the butt over the balcony.  I make the call, tear open the plastic bag, and let the phone fall to the alleyway below.  Unsurprisingly, it smashes.

Monday, 30 July 2012


The fire spread through my mind, faster than it was spreading through the house.  Neurons flared, pathways burned, and I watched the destruction wrought by my own hands.  I talked softly to myself; the plan was proceeding as - well, as planned.

In my hand was the crystal chalice she had given me for our fifteenth anniversary.  A cocktail of barbiturates, methadone, and absinthe glimmered softly, the liquid swirling lazily inside the glass as I rocked from side to side.  I hummed our song gently, and took another sip of my drink.  She looked so serene.

Flames danced in my eyes.  The fire had really taken hold now, floor and furniture ablaze.  I winced slightly as I heard the first crack of supporting beams but watched the ceiling fall in, bringing down the contents of the room above and showering me in sparks.  I took one last look at her face and left.

I took the back door, through the alley between houses, and began meandering along the road.  The night's darkness cradled me like a blanket while I stumbled forward.  At the end of my street I glanced back at the old house.  Flames danced in the windows, a sad ballet performed in tribute to the immolation of my home.  I continued onward, to the church.  Forgiveness awaited, perhaps.

I wandered through the graveyard and sat at the plot where her ashes lay.  From my pocket I pulled the now slightly charred photograph I'd held as I watched the fire, my fire, cremate the ghost of the life we once had.  The same photograph I'd held as her body was consigned to the flames eight years ago.

Before I lost the will, or the ability, I dispatched the contents of the chalice and lay my head on her grave.

[Original image by Davy Kelly]

Thursday, 12 July 2012



Worst password ever.

"Welcome, Qwerty Monkey Jesus."  the security gate intoned.

I hate this place.  That is quite possibly the worst code name ever.

"Love money."  the gate again, testing my knowledge.

"Freedom, ninja writer!"  I replied.

Awful.  Just awful code phrases they use here.  Whatever happened to snow falling only in winter?  This is the worst intelligence agency ever.

As usual, I stepped through the metal detector with half a dozen knives concealed about my person, and as usual nothing happened.  I looked over at the security guard asleep in his chair, snoring through his hat.  As I passed I punched him, hard, in the stomach.  He awoke with a violent jolt, and fell forward to lie crumpled on the floor.  I made a mental note to do the same to the recruitment manager.

The elevator played terrible music as I stood in silence with various suited administration staff.  As the door opened I noticed the recruitment manager waiting to enter, and slugged him as I passed.  The various administrators stared in shock, but knew better than to confront me.  Probably somthing to do with the butterfly knife I was waving around absentmindedly.

I watched disorganised people running about as I strode between desks towards the operations managers office.  Apparently he had a new mission for me.  Great.

I looked him dead in the eye.

"What."  I'm terse.

"Your mission is to run surveilance on my wife.  I'm almost certain she's been cheating on me.  Probably because I fooled around with her sister, but she doesn't know that.  Anyway, I don't know where she is, so find her."

"She's behind you, Bob."

I'll admit, I smiled a little as I watched Mona abseil past the window and shoot him just as he turned around to see her.  Whoops.

[ This story was inspired, in part, by the top ten passwords leaked from Yahoo! Voice today, noted here: ]

Monday, 18 June 2012


Horror.  That seemed an appropriate response.  Not only had Cedric’s youngest daughter slain his best knight, but she was now poised to take him into the arena.  There were a few options on the board in front of him, but he’d lost control.

The queen was a weak piece in meta-chess.  She was kept close to the king as a last resort, not as a hiding place for an electric canon.  This terrifying power now had him in her sights.  Full roam of the board, too.

Jarret thought long and hard about his next moves.  There was no specific time limit, but good manners dictated that you didn’t keep your opponent waiting.

The game that followed was a reactive response to Cedric’s queen.  Jarret moved piece after piece in front of himself as the young witch crushed rooks beneath torrents of water, and split bishops asunder by way of demonic apparitions, all the while casting sidelong glances in his direction.  Short on pieces, Jarret sent a pawn to fight the queen.  He grimaced as Sophia had him cut his own belly open, and strangle himself with his intestine.

“Well now brother, it seems our game is almost over.”  Cedric chuckled, sliding his queen to the opposing king’s square.

Silent, Jarret stood and walked to the arena, grasping the sword hung across the back of his chair.  He slung the scabbard across his shoulder.  Stepping into the arena opposite Sophia, he drew the sword and tapped its tip on the ground.

“I always thought myself your favourite uncle.” he said sadly to Sophia’s smiling face, and watched with just a hint of satisfaction as her eyes widened at the sight of the flames coursing up the blade and across his body.  His eyes narrowed.  “I weep for you.”