Friday, 14 June 2013


The aliens are better than us: faster, stronger, and more athletic. They climb with great agility and can outrun us over most terrain and rain death on us from afar. They see further into the electro-magnetic spectrum than we do and over a greater range than our eyes can. Their weapons strike us down at distance or they can close in and decapitate us with all sorts of blades. And that’s when hunting us solo. When they fight in groups it’s like the end of the world, but when we do isolate a rare individual, the brains taste so sweet.

Friday, 5 April 2013

On your marks. Get set. Go.

   “Put the gun down. On the rock there. Good. Now let’s see those irises.”
   “I have a flashlight. Shall I?”
   “The moonlight’s fine. You’re human. Leave the gun there. Drink? Water’s clean.”
   “Thanks. You come from the mountains?”
   “Desert. Xenos in the mountains sweeping up refugees and survivalists. Squinty bastards poisoning the well.”
   “We culture realistic corneal implants, too. Useful intel about the desert that. How’ve you managed to remain yourself?”
   “I never sleep. Not for centuries. Go home. Don’t phone ahead – just go. We have biology labs too.”
   “This flashlight has ultraviolet.”
   “Before I can reach the gun? Seriously?” 

Friday, 22 March 2013

The first step

   “Do not be afraid. Come and see.”

   And I wanted to: I truly did.
   I wanted to follow that voice and observe those remarkable eyes wherever they looked. I was certain - then as now - that they would lead me to a life wholly unlike my own; to a future as different from my expectations as could be and perhaps to a world remade. One without my present pain, darkness and despair.
    It might be that they’d lead instead to chains and cutting and even to darkness redefined. Perhaps it would be both.
   I trod onto the first step.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Posse comitatus

   “You can have my gun, Sheriff.
   Terms and conditions apply.”

   After three or four minutes of fruitless finger-prizing, my skin temperature must have registered and soon she was searching - also in vain - for a pulse.

   “Please hurry up your horrified realization of a dark new reality shtick because the children have no time left. I’m not your enemy; but the thing inside the basement with those kids is and if you don’t persuade their parents to invite me in, then your little town will soon be overrun with munchkins such as you’ve never imagined. Emphasis on the ‘munch.’ ”

Friday, 22 February 2013

The detail

   Foodies are fanatics.
   Like techs and musicians they care about their work and that it’s done properly (ie, exactly their way) and they believe that results count. Fanatics, see? Unlike the rest of humanity, fanatics do their stuff not to pay the bills and put a bit of cash aside but because it matters.
   Take marinades. Sure; you can flavour meat with sauces and tenderize it with hammers but that overnight soak is the difference between a motel and you own home. Fanatic? Perhaps. But I’m also a people person and marinating simply works; especially with vocal chords and thumbs. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Night watchmen

  ‘This is the BBC Breakfast News. Good evening.’

   ‘The House of Commons passed the third reading of The Hate Crimes Mental Health Bill yesterday, which will now pass to the Senate for its final Upper House reading. Commentators agree that there is little likelihood of the Upper House making any serious amendments and it is likely to go online for the People’s Assent just before the midwinter recess.
  The BBC’s Social Affairs correspondent Sylvia Kennedy has this report’:
  ‘In an almost unanimous vote, MPs passed the historic bill at a little after 4 AM yesterday. In an increasingly common pattern of crossbench unity, the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Appointed Members backbench Public Health Alliance all spoke in favour of a measure praised by experts as ‘the beginning of the end for hate’ in Anglia.
   ‘Crossbench spokesperson for science and ethics and leader of the Appointed MPs, Victor Jarvis, thanked the House for supporting the popular bill: “No longer will the mentally ill peddle hate and create division and strife by lawless media access and spread the poisons of bigotry and pseudoscience. While committed to preserving the sacred British tradition of free speech, this House has just taken an historic step towards bringing our law in line not only with our European partners but also with the American government’s bipartisan Health and Security Administration. We now expect our own health professionals, in conjunction with the civil police, to move swiftly after the expected Assent to stamp out the terrorist cells that have been ruthlessly abusing the media to spread their message of intolerance and murder. This is a gentle dusk for the peoples of our islands and we look forward to the peace and health that ending hate speech will bring.”
   ‘The Bill was draughted on the recommendation of the all-party Plenipotentiary Commission into Violence after the so-called ‘Survival Riots’ of last summer when over thirty public servants, leadership cadre and diurnal support staff were murdered in terrorist dawn raids against private homes and health facilities throughout Anglia, Scotland and the Shared Sovereignty Counties of Ireland. Right-wing militia and religious fundamentalist terror cells were universally blamed for the violence and though the civil police and Health Service Security responded effectively and promptly, both pulsed and unpulsed lives were tragically lost.
   Then-Prime Minister, Douglas Hart, made legislative reform the centerpiece of his Resignation Speech before he went to the country to ask for a new electoral mandate. Although he was defeated after a hotly contested count amid widespread accusations of server tampering and poster intimidation, his successor had offered a more flexible proposal - for a Plenipotentiary Commission - which he mooted immediately after Hart’s funeral. Assent was granted by an unprecedented landslide. The final draught of the Commission’s findings was introduced to Parliament barely a month ago. The swift passage of the Bill through committee and two reading stages by members of both parties: elected and appointed; backbenchers and Ministers, pulsed and unpulsed in each House has been praised by observers as an epochal show of unity in the face of unforgivable violence by anti-health, anti-reform extremists determined to return to the days of division, disease, hatred and daylight timekeeping.’

  ‘Meanwhile, European aid workers came under intense terrorist attack across North Africa and the Middle East again yesterday; from the Anglo/Spanish area of anti-infection operations in Western Sahara and Morocco to the Turkish/German aid cities in Syria and Egypt. In a joint communiqué the Secretary General of the United Nations, Victor Jent and EU Health Commissioner-General Sigfrid Jaeger tonight announced that voluntary codes of co-operation between local civil and military authorities had served their purpose but must now be replaced by a more robust and flexible regime to overcome the scientific challenges and to defeat anti-health terrorism across the region.
   ‘Herr Jaeger announced a detailed plan to “- eradicate infection and those who harbour it throughout this deeply troubled and strategic part of the world. Air, land and sea elements of the Eastern Mediterranean Joint Health Command will move into Infected and Infested areas of the Northern Galilee Quarantine Zone of the Lebanon Directorate. Operations against Infected holdouts in the Samaria/Al Quds Demilitarized Zone have already begun under authority granted to the UN by the Cape Town Treaty of ’43; starting with an anti-virus bombardment by medium- and long-range missiles from naval assets and Egyptian launch platforms. Disinfection-in-detail is expected to follow shortly once it has been established that it is safe for ground troops to be deployed against any remaining criminal gangs.”

  ‘And finally, it’s good news for cricket fans.
   Panhaemon Pharmaceuticals announced in York tonight that its sponsorship of the Floodlit Championship will be renewed at the end of the season; bringing much-needed security to the finances of the sport in Northern Anglia for a further three years. Newly-appointed Panhaemon Chairman, Seward Jennings, explained: “Panhaemon plc is proud to announce a boost for the region’s favourite game. Starting in May this year, the site of our former filtration plant and regional headquarters near Skipton will be redeveloped as a Cricket Academy and multi-pitch sports village where the cream of Anglia’s cricketing youth will mix with and be tutored by the best players from the Northern Hemisphere, as well as training alongside the best of the Southern Hemisphere’s disinfected veterans. The first clearance work at Skipton has already begun thanks to our architects’ timely completion of the Minster Remodelling Project and our recent relocation to our new corporate headquarters in Constantine House in the heart of the Shambles Redevelopment. On a personal note I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessor - who was also my mentor, friend and sire - Colin Johnson. The Cricketing Academy was his personal passion and it seems only proper that the place of his tragic death in the chemical fire earlier this year should be the location of his dream come true and also bear his name. The loss of the Pacific and Trans-Himalayan Regions to infection and insurrection need not be more than a temporary lull in cricket’s renewed rise to global status, and CJ would no doubt be overjoyed to know that his vision and industry will surely play a large part in the sport’s resurrection after the loss and suffering of the Changes.”

Friday, 8 February 2013

Round and round

   I volunteer as a rear gunner on a school bus.
   Monday to Friday; 8.15 AM and 3.30 PM, I guard the back windows as the City’s elderly armoured Routemaster burns oilseed or, after a bad harvest, sand-filtered Lard along the river road up to the Castle. It’s riskiest when the infants are disembarking or clambering on young, malnourished legs up the too-high step.  Warmed by hours of daylight, Johnny Zeb is at his most active at those times and I get far too much practice firing the Mouth Organ.
   Still, it breaks the monotony of potato farming and halberd drill.

Friday, 1 February 2013


I shot the drug addict upstairs tonight. He’d tormented me with his comings-and-goings: out the back window one day: returning home filthy, smelling of drink and whorehouses the next. And his visitors! A stream of young women and lowlifes clattering up the stairs at all hours keeping me awake; the police were always there. As for the twitchy, pistol-packing war veteran flatmate…
He scrutinized me minutely; as if identifying an insomniac Classics scholar scraping a clerk’s living far from my native Dunbartonshire could expose the homicide in my soul. Baker Street used to be such a peaceful place to live.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


   “I know what you are.”
   I love that because it saves me breaking things and the tree climbing that has become so fashionable lately but inconvenient here in treeless Norfolk. There’s sometimes a hopeful little smile too as though I was offering an invitation to some Regency valetudinarian’s paradise of health, well-being and longevity. Not so, of course; and these silly girls should stick to the Victorian pot-boilers that at least acknowledged the existence of evil. There are many names for what we are and many variations of how we survive, but what we truly, madly, always are is thirsty.

Friday, 4 January 2013

On the train

  “You dropped your phone behind that suitcase.”
  “Thanks. Why not join me? These seats aren’t reserved.

   “Come and meet my family after your business tomorrow. I’ve never met anyone so knowledgeable about the Nineteenth Century, and you so young. Come for dinner; my wife is interested in history.” As interested as a husband so enchanted he never noticed his reflection sitting next to no-one.
  “No thanks. I have an evening meeting.” I patted my throat. “Drink problems.” I liked him.

   His home address was in his phone, but not password protection. If I changed my mind these invitations are irrevocable.