Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Friday, 29 January 2010

UCF #2: A Midnight Meeting

It was just after midnight when Twinkle slipped out of the kitchen’s postern door, down the steps and into the courtyard. The sounds of drunken revelry from her UCF induction party drifted down through the castle’s open windows, but Twinkle knew she needed to keep a clear head and so had drunk only one glass of Marigold nectar.

It was a clear night, stars saluted her name and the echo of a new crescent moon hung like quicksilver against black velvet as Twinkle crept along under the courtyard wall.

The dark hours were Twinkle's favourite time, alive with a celestial splendour she would often stare at for hours, lost in her own thoughts. She felt a deep sadness for the Big Folk who saw only a fraction of that beauty, and for whom the moon was but a fleeting visitor for much of the time. Her race, like all magical creatures were, she thought, truly blessed as they were able to see the full majesty of the stars and the silvery visual echos of the moon which trailed across the night sky long after She had passed on her nightly journey.

No sense in flying such a short distance she thought, especially with the noise her wing beats would make, easily detectable by the sensitive hearing of the guards. She’d never quite understood why the Big Folk apparently couldn’t hear fairies in flight when to her, Fairy Flight made much the same noise as the buzzing of a bumblebee on the wing.

Gripping tightly the small, hessian-wrapped package in her hand, Twinkle skirted round the margins of the courtyard, dodging from one patch of shadow to the next until she reached a small, arched door on the far side.

The storeroom door swung open easily on oiled hinges, though the Creak Charm made Twinkle start, it sounded awfully loud against the silence at this hour. Slipping quickly inside, Twinkle carefully eased the door closed, then waited a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.

‘Pssst!’ she whispered, ‘Where are you?’


‘Oh, great,’ Twinkle muttered under her breath, ‘Now where the…’

‘Here,’ hissed a voice, ‘Over here.’

Twinkle picked her way round piles of sacks and boxes towards the back of the storeroom. Rounding a particularly precarious stack of barrels she came face to face with the object, or more accurately objects, of her search.

‘We thought you weren’t coming,’ whispered Swazzle, while Pogmorton shot a filthy look in Twinkle’s direction.

Twinkle, judging her timing to perfection, swatted the filthy look out of the way, sending it spinning off into the darkness where it connected with something immoveable, and expired with a soft squeak accompanied by a faint smell of farts.

‘That’s quite enough of your Pixie magic,’ said Twinkle angrily, ‘I came as soon as I could.’

‘Don’t mind him,’ soothed Swazzle, ‘he’s still got a touch of heartburn from those candy cane bullets of yours.’

‘You’re a fine one to talk,’ interrupted Pogmorton, ‘you were saying only a minute ago how you still had a blinding headache.’

‘I know, I know,’ said Swazzle raising a hand, ‘It’s only because I’m a bit out of practice.’

He turned towards Twinkle’s puzzled expression, ‘That Glamour we had to use takes a bit out of you, and having to part the two hemispheres of my brain at that speed is enough to give anyone a headache.’

‘Never mind the explanations,’ insisted Pogmorton, rounding on Twinkle, ‘Have you brought it?’

‘Yes, it’s here,’ replied Twinkle, handing the small package to the Pixie.

‘Everything go alright on your end?’ said Swazzle, fishing around in his pocket.

‘Yes, thanks,’ Twinkle grinned, ‘I’m in!’

‘Here,’ said Swazzle, shoving something into Twinkle’s still outstretched hand.

‘What are these?’ she said, looking curiously at the two small spheres resting in her palm.

Pogmorton sighed, ‘You really do have a lot to learn. Shove ‘em in the furnace instead of our bodies, they’ll leave enough Essence of Pixie behind, just in case anyone wants to check if we really have been disposed of.’ He looked pointedly at Swazzle, ‘We really ought to be going.’

‘Oh, yes. Right,’ said Swazzle and, accompanied by two faint popping sounds, Swazzle and Pogmorton disappeared before Twinkle’s eyes.

‘Thank you,’ she called softly after them before slipping out of the storeroom and creeping purposefully in the direction of the furnace room. As she stole towards it, Twinkle couldn’t help but wonder what the Pixies could possibly have wanted with the contents of that package.

[Author's note: I have re-written a couple of paragraphs towards the beginning of this story as a result of the kind email I received from Tim VanSant, who quite rightly pointed out the inaccuracy relating to the moonphase as I had originally written it. In correcting this, I hit upon an idea which, I hope, adds a little more depth and colour to the way fairies perceive our world. Thanks Tim!]


Friday, 15 January 2010

#FridayFlash: Messrs Swazzle, Pogmorten and the U.C.F.

Twinkle was pissed off. It just wasn’t fair, she thought as she trudged along, hands stuffed deep in her pockets, hood pulled well over her face. Why did she have to be the youngest?

And why did she always get the crap jobs?

Pausing for a moment, Twinkle tightened the laces of her 14-hole Doc Marten boots. Even her Cloak of Humanity was a hand-me-down and didn’t fit properly, her wings were beginning to chafe already. The boots were a nice touch though, no one wanted to mess with a girl in boots like those.

A group of youths sitting on a garden wall on the other side of the street, jeered at her as they drank their late night cans of cheap super-strength lager, though none of them had the courage to abandon the safety of the pack and face Twinkle directly.

‘Fuck off!’ she snapped back at them. One look at Twinkle’s expression silenced them instantly.

That’s right, Twinkle fumed to herself, tonight is not the night to be acting like idiots and picking a fight with me. I have work to be doing.

All Twinkle wanted was to be like her sisters, to be a proper Urban Combat Fairy, instead she was stuck with this crappy job because none of them wanted to do it. Ok, Ok, if she got it done, they’d let her join, but honestly, what a job. Didn’t they realise how difficult it was to track Christmas Pixies at the best of times, but in the middle of January when they ought to be hibernating? It was almost impossible. Everyone knew that. And rogue Pixies could be especially tricky.

Twinkle patted her pocket for reassurance, feeling the comforting bulk of the Banshee pistol under her jacket. Her sisters had given it to her, but the ammunition, that had been down to her to acquire and had taken some finding at this time of year.

Didn’t the Big Folk realise how valuable those things were? What the Little Folk used them for, and what they could fetch on the open market if you had the right contacts? So why, oh why, did they festoon their Christmas trees with them and throw so many away after New Year? Crying bloody shame, thought Twinkle.

It had taken her ages to hand carve each of the candy canes she’d found in a bin behind the shops, but now six bullets nestled in the pistol’s magazine. Twinkle wasn’t even sure what range they’d have on them being past their sell by date, but they were all she could find – six, finely crafted, red and white striped points of death. She’d just have to get close. Real close.

Now, she thought, all I have to do is find those bloody Pixies.

* * *

Nearby, dangerously nearby had they known it, Messrs Pogmorten and Swazzle were settling down for the night in a wheelie bin. Normally they would have been hibernating, but being on the run had a strange way of concentrating the mind towards not falling asleep for too long in the same place, at least according to Mr Pogmorten.

‘What was your worst ever Christmas present?’ Mr Swazzle asked.

‘That bag of used cat litter,’ replied Mr Pogmorten with a yawn.

‘Really? I thought it was quite tasty,’ replied Mr Swazzle, tucking himself into a carrier bag of soiled nappies for the night. Suddenly he froze.

‘You hear that?’ Swazzle hissed.

‘Nope,’ replied Pogmorten dreamily.

‘There’s somebody out there,’ Swazzle insisted, ‘or something. Go and have a look would you, see who it is.’

‘Get stuffed! You look, I’ve just got comfy.’

Swazzle, grumbling, was on the point of crawling out from his bag of nappies when there began a rapid banging on the outside of the bin which sent both him and Pogmorton reeling.

Their ears were still ringing when, a few seconds later, Twinkle whipped open the lid of the bin.

‘Gotcha!’ she exclaimed with grim satisfaction before emptying her full clip into their still stunned bodies.

Swazzle took a round clean through the forehead, killing him instantly. Pogmorten took two in the chest, the second of which pulverised his dark little Pixie heart.

* * *

Twinkle swaggered along the street whistling cheerfully to herself, the bodies of the two dead Pixies swinging from her belt. Contenting herself with the thought that her sisters would have to accept her into the UCF now, she did allow herself a passing thought as to why the Pixies had been declared rogue in the first place.


I hope you enjoyed the story. Don't forget to check out the rest of this week's #fridayflash stories by searching the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter, or by visiting the #fridayflash Facebook page.

While you're at it, you might, if you haven't already, like to read and vote for your favourite story in the #fridayflash 2009 Reader's Choice Award poll over at Mad Utopia. Seven great stories are nominated, including "First Foot" by yours truly. I'm sure all the authors would appreciate your support.


Monday, 11 January 2010

#FridayFlash 2009 Reader's Choice Award

I feel both honoured and humbled to have had my #fridayflash story "First Foot" nominated for the #FridayFlash 2009 Reader's Choice Award over at Mad Utopia. To be honest, it hasn't really sunk in yet!

In November, J. M. Strother, the originator of the #fridayflash project, proposed an Anthology to mark the six month anniversary of the #fridayflash project, part of which would include a Reader's Choice Award for stories nominated and voted for by the #fridayflash readership.

#FridayFlash is a relatively new venture for me, my first story was submitted in November following encouragement (some would say cajolement!) from some very supportive authors and fellow #fridayflash writers I follow on Twitter; you know who you are! The story seemed to be well received so I figured I may as well have another go and, five stories and two poems later I'm hooked!

My nominated story "First Foot" was born out of a desire to write something based around the custom of first-footing to tie in with New Year, though it didn't start out as a vampire story. In fact I'm not entirely sure where it came from at all. I had a few vague ideas, sat down to write and the next thing I knew there was a vampire running around the place. It was as though this character really wanted to have his story told and wrote it for me. Since posting I have had some wonderful feedback for which I am very grateful, and a number of suggestions that I use this story as the basis for a novel. Now then, that's a thought!

Anyway, as my story "First Foot" has been kindly nominated for the 2009 Reader's Choice Award and the polls are now open over at Mad Utopia, I'll not keep you any longer. If you happen to be passing and...ya know...would like to vote for "First Foot"...I would very much appreciate your support.

Please go here to vote and to check out the nominated stories, including "First Foot." Don't forget to read the other great stories which were nominated.

Oh, and take a cup of your favourite hot beverage with you. You’ll want to relax and enjoy the stories.


Friday, 8 January 2010

#FridayFlash: A Rude Awakening

Quite a few of the readers of my last #fridayflash story First Foot said in the post comments that they'd be interested in reading more about the character of that tale (thank you wonderful readers, you know who you are!) and so here, for your reading pleasure (hopefully!) is another story in the same vein. In this tale, which takes place some three years before First Foot, our hero...

No, I won't spoil it. Here we go...

#FridayFlash: A Rude Awakening.

Kat and I had spent the day hanging round the Theatre Royal’s stage door trying to keep out of London’s bitter winter weather. Luckily we got on well with Joe, the stage doorman, and he’d kept up a steady flow of mugs of tea to ward off the cold. A serial tea drinker, our Joe. Now we were looking for somewhere warm to sleep.

So there we were, round the back of the theatre, sheltering from the stinging sleet which had begun lashing down at dusk, and wondering whether we could bed down among the discarded cardboard in one of the theatre’s big industrial bins when that last mug of tea started to make its presence felt to my bladder.

Diving round the other side of the bin, I went to relieve myself while Kat stayed out of the worst of the sleet storm. I was just tugging my zip down when a figure turned the corner into the alley. All I could see in the flickering light of the single, faulty streetlamp was a tall, thin man in full evening dress, complete with cane, opera cape and a top hat. This was the sort of bloke Joe would have called a “proper toff.”

Kat hissed to me from her side of the bin, ‘You seen that knob over there? Bet he’s got a few quid.’

She winked and, as I zipped up thinking the tea would have to hang on a bit longer, I knew exactly what was going through her mind. At least I thought I did.

Did I tell you about Kat? Willowy little Irish thing in her late teens, all pale skin, flaxen hair and delicious curves. Eyes like a spring morning sky that could melt icebergs, if she was in the mood. And as hard as nails. We first met that summer when we were arrested in a police raid after both taking a wrong turn on the way back from separate spots of petty larceny on Oxford Street. I never said I was a saint.

We’d ended up among a crowd of protesters yelling vociferously about something or other - ban the whale, save the bomb, whatever. By the time we were released from custody we’d become friends and had been looking out for each other ever since.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

As the man drew level with my side of the bin, I stepped out of the shadows slowly so as not to frighten him too much, just enough, and did my best to look pathetic and needy, with just a hint of menacing. I wasn’t too good at menacing, dressed as I was like an advert for ‘Man at Salvation Army.’

He began turning towards me, then Kat sprang at him from the other side of the bin. I thought we were only going to rough him up a bit, I didn’t know she had a knife till I caught a flash of the blade in the streetlamp’s orange glow.

I suddenly had the uncanny feeling this wasn’t going to end well and started forward to head her off, but I’d only moved a step before the man’s arm shot out and, in a perfectly timed manoeuvre, grabbed Kat by the throat, swung her up off the ground, and I heard a sickening crack as he broke her neck with nothing more than a flick of his wrist.

‘No style,’ he muttered as Kat’s lifeless body landed at his feet.

I registered the shock on her face, saw the knife slide out of her hand, then turned and ran. I must have made it oh, a whole five yards before I felt, rather than saw, the shadow pass me, then suddenly there was an iron band round my throat and my feet were the ones windmilling as I was hoisted into the air.

My heart was hammering in my chest as I dangled like a rag doll in his vicelike grip. I struggled for breath and began to choke, all the while surveyed by the most piercing green eyes I have ever seen, framed in a pale, angular face.

Then he sniffed my face, not the snuffling sniff of a dog, a single long delicate sniff like a chef examining the heady aroma of a rare ingredient and, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, my fear melted away in that instant, replaced by a burning white hot rage and I swung my fist at his face. My clumsy punch connected with his right jaw and he grunted. I winced as a wave of pain radiated up to my wrist from my newly broken knuckles. I’ve never been a fighter.

“Spirit,” he murmured with just a hint of surprise, “I like that.”

I didn’t, my hand was regretting it already.

As his eyes rolled back in his head and his fangs slid into place, a couple of things happened almost simultaneously – I felt my eyes widen to the size of saucers and, as he pulled me close and sank his fangs into the side of my neck, I pissed myself all over his shoes.

Then everything went black.

Now, let me tell you something. The entertainment industry has a lot to answer for as they have, en masse, got it wrong. Very badly wrong. There is nothing even remotely sexy or exciting about waking up in the muck and filth of a London alley, in clothes that haven’t been off your back for a month, and covered in your own urine. Just sayin’.

As Lucien introduced himself and began to explain what had just happened to me, it crossed my mind that this was not how I’d have imagined a vampire’s awakening to be, had I ever thought about it. I was still ruminating on this when Lucien pulled me to my feet, slung his arm affectionately around my shoulders, and together we headed down the alley toward his car.

Was that a speck of my blood at the corner of his mouth?


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the story. Please take a minute to visit Ad Astra Poetry and read her wonderful poem inspired by this story.

[Sat 09.01.2010. Edited for clarity and POV following kind comments from Sulci Collective, mazzz_in_Leeds, and Carrie Clevenger. Thanks for the constructive comments - there were a few parts of the story I just couldn't get right, so I'm really grateful for the fresh eyes and the advice.]


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

It's Carnival Time!

The Sixth Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is now on over at Journalling Arts blog. You owe it to yourself to drop by and check it really do!


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Review: USUS Pi ballpoint

A while ago, my good friends over at Cult Pens were kind enough to send me a USUS Pi ballpoint to review. The Pi is available on their site here.

Out of the box it certainly is a stylish looking pen, and I really like the bronze-brown barrel colour (tagged as 'Brasil' on the box).

The Pi is a comfortable hand fit and the supplied refill writes well enough for a ballpoint. I have noticed a little skipping here and there, but not enough to put me off using it.

Stylistically, I am impressed with this pen's clean lines, the chromed clip and I really do rather like the toggle switch arrangement for extending the tip. Occasionally I find the switch does retract the tip if I'm being a bit heavy-handed when dotting my i's, other than that it's a great pen.

At a Glance:

Model: Pi by USUS of Germany
Colour: Brasil (brown), Pacific (blue), Polar (grey)
Refill: standard Parker-style ballpoint refill, black supplied.
Available from: CultPens in the UK
Price: £33.62 CultPens price
Overall: 4 out of 5

The paper used for this review is a Whitelines sample. Whitelines notebooks are available in the UK from Papernation.

Related Posts with Thumbnails