The Last of England


What seems like an age ago now, I lived in England with my parents. From what I remember, it was a hard life; one filled with hunger, thirst, abuse, and sorrow. My father’s main source of income was begging; he would return with scraps of cheese and bread occasionally, sometimes he would bring nothing at all. My parents gave most of what they had to me, and while they wasted away, I survived; I wouldn’t say I was comfortable, but I survived.

Around ten years into my miserable existence, my father somehow arranged for us to travel to America; he told us that he had agreed to work on a fishing vessel, in return for safe passage. The next week we set off to Dover – where we would meet our vessel – on a horse-drawn cart; it’s difficult to recall the journey now, but I remember the cold, the bitter, biting wind gnawing on my skin. Tears stung my cheeks the entire journey.

After days of travelling south from Morecombe we finally reached Dover; I remember feeling horrified by the sheer extravagance expressed by the rich people’s suits and frocks, and the utter desolation of the poor. Some looked worse off than we did; torn clothes, boils on their skin, the smell of death surrounded them.

The boat was already waiting for us when we arrived so we boarded quickly, avoiding the stinking buckets of chum piled near the port side. We were away almost as soon as I had sat on the rotting bench; the white cliffs of Dover faded into the distance as we followed the coast west. Soon we were clear of England and on our way to the new world.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the other sailors, great, beastly men with arms and thighs like small tree trunks; I avoided them as much as I could, as did my mother. However my father, who worked the ship with them, began to befriend them. I saw them play games of chance together; I saw my father lose, a lot. When the last of our money was gone he bet our clothes, my toys, and my mother’s broach. When everything was gone, even our rations for the night, he bet a pocket watch; a pocket watch he said was made of silver, one he said had been in his family for many years, one he didn’t have.

Once he had lost, and the men had found out he had lied, they were very, very angry. They began to shout, and my father begged for another chance. He told them they could have anything, they just had to name their price; one of them pointed at my mother. She was terrified, beginning to whimper, she told me to hide. I was paralyzed by fear and so when I didn’t move, she held me close; it seemed my father had refused and a fight broke out between him and the other men.

My mother took me into her arms and hid the violence from my eyes, I heard scuffles and shouts. Finally there was a noise like the slitting of a lambs throat, a guttural noise which entered my ears like the devil’s laugh; my father was dead. Then they turned on my mother.

Dreams of Flight

Once he had finally fallen asleep, Alex began to float peacefully on a sea of dreams. That is, until the water became land. Inside his own mind Alex ran, he saw flashes, pictures of dreams he had dreamt in the past, and those he had not yet conceived. Finally, one caught his eye, and once again, his dream world shifted.

He was flying. A long, torn, black cape attached to his shoulders was being dragged and twisted behind him. Suddenly he was aware that he was chasing something, a jet. Straining muscles that could never have existed in an ordinary human, Alex sped up, quickly gaining on his target.

Small suckers grew on the palm of his hands before he latched onto the outside of the cockpit. The pilot, a balding man with more hair on his chin than on his head looked up in surprise; he began to descend immediately, trying to shake Alex off. The newly grown suckers strained but stayed in place as Alex watched his biceps grow

When he was ready, Alex pulled the cockpit door off its hinges, and grabbed hold of the man within. He was terrified, but no matter how loud he forced his voice in desperate bargaining, the jet engine’s roar drowned him out. Before flying to the ground, Alex pushed the joystick forward, sending the plane plummeting toward the city.

Alex was fast, he was down in the streets before the jet was halfway to the ground. Once he had handed the man over to the police, he flew back into the air. Again, he began to expand his muscles. He became a huge, hulking mass, floating above even the tallest city skyscraper.

The jet was falling at an alarming rate, and even Alex was worried he wouldn’t catch it for a second, but he did. Slowly he allowed it to push him down to the roof of a nearby tower block, where he extended his arm into the cockpit, and switched off the engine.

That is where the dream ended, Alex’s alarm woke him up; it was 7.30am. He got out of bed and walked to the bathroom to wash his face. Looking in the mirror, he noticed he had changed in in his sleep. Suckers covered his palms, and his muscles were huge.

“Shit” he muttered, “I have to stop doing that.”

The Detective

On the seventh floor of a four star hotel in London, a detective marched down the hallway. He had been called from his bed, from his wife, for a suicide; he was angry to say the least. Inspector Barker met him at the hotel room door; its inscription read 7B. David, the detective, shuddered. It was following him, he was sure of it now. The apartment in the West End had been 7B, and the gun that was used to kill Mary was inscribed with the hellish, mortifying, 7B.

David calmed himself. “Inspector Barker” he said in greeting, “what’s going on? Where’s the rest of the force?”

Barker shook his head, “There have been a few, developments…we need you to take a look at this, I sent the rest home, didn’t want them getting in your way.”

“Then let’s take a look” said David, trying to keep his composure. The room was stale; blood had dried into the carpet beneath a young man’s head. It looked like he had put a gun into his mouth, just as the report suggested.

David scoured the room for details but saw none. He began to turn back to Barker, “What exactly am I supp-” Stopping mid-sentence David sighed, Barker was pointing his gun at the detective’s head.

“Read this” said Barker as he handed David a note splashed with blood, “they want you to know before you die.” He read the note aloud:

They found me, I thought I was safe. I’m taking the easy way out. I won’t be like them. I won’t turn into one of THEM! 7B started this, and it will end it…

Terrified, David managed to utter three words, “What are, they?”

Barker laughed, “That’s for me to know, and you to find out.”

In his final moments David heard what had been irritating him at home, and at work; a scuttle, like that of a beetle, across the windowpane. Full of fear, he tried to look at the window behind him, but he fell to floor before he saw them, dead.

Why You Should Write On The Internet

Over the past few weeks I’ve gained an insight into the world of creative writing on the internet. It’s been fairly rewarding so far; it has given me the opportunity to write so much more than I ever have before. I used to write once a week at most, but my new blog has encouraged me to write almost every day, and it has allowed me to experiment.

Before joining the blogging community I thought of myself as a prose writer who would write poetry if I had to, but now I think my skills in the two areas are pretty well matched. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I prefer my poetry to my prose in most cases. Now that is a strange feeling; it’s as if my whole world has shifted a little – I know, I know, it sounds dramatic, but really, it’s a massive change.

But enough about me, this post is about you! So here are five reasons you should publish your writing on the internet…

1 – You have to start somewhere

Everyone has to start somewhere; most plumbers start as an apprentice, every teacher starts as a student, and a lot of writers start on the internet. Don’t think that by starting a blog you’ll become a famous writer some day, it’s still going to be hard work, but a blog might just be the push you need to make a start on your first novel; it was for me, I’m hoping to have my first draft done by the end of summer.

2 – It gives you a sense of satisfaction

There’s nothing like posting on the internet, especially if you post frequently. I post every day, and although it can get stressful at times, I love it. But there’s one thing that’s more satisfying than completing and uploading a post. It’s completing a post, uploading it, waiting, checking your blog, and finding tons of notifications. Now that’s satisfaction.

3 – You’ll gain your first readers

They may not number in the millions, but I have developed a (very) slight following which means that whenever I post a new piece of writing, at least fifty people are guaranteed to receive an email about it. Out of those fifty, twenty may take the time to read it, and maybe only two will like it, but those two likes mean a lot. If no one ever liked any of my posts, I would probably shut down my blog, but I think I’ll hang on just a little while longer; it’s great knowing people read and like what I have to say.

4 – It builds your confidence

I know when I first started out writing, I was nervous about showing any of it to my parents. In fact when my Granddad dies a few years ago I wrote a poem about him which I immediately hid and now cannot find because I didn’t want anyone to read it. Today, my confidence has grown massively, I mean just look at me, I’m posting my writing for the whole world to see, and I’m loving every moment of it.

5 – You’ll improve!

Finally, and probably most importantly, you’ll improve. No one wants to post bad writing where hundreds of people can see it, it’s embarrassing, so you’ll end up pushing yourself to do better every time. If you’re like me, working under stress will make your writing ten times better, so try setting yourself a challenge. Gradually you’ll see improvement in your style, grammar, dialogue, diction, and overall, you’ll feel a lot better about your chances of ‘making it’ in the world of writing.

The Beginning – Part 2

I’ve had a lot to deal with today so I haven’t actually been able to write anything new for you all. However I have decided to post another 500 words of the first chapter of my novel, obviously I won’t keep doing this because if I ever finished it and wanted to try and get it published, it would already be on the internet for free and no publisher would print it; there’s no profit in free material. You can find the first part here, I would copy it in but then the post would be quite large so if you’re interested all you have to do is click the link. However this does sort of work as a stand-alone piece as well so feel free to read it that way if you want. Let me know what you think.

Huddled in the corner of the room, two young children and their mother wept. They must have heard the gunshot; they must have known their protector, their father, was dead. It was too much. A tear squeezed its way through the corner of my eye and onto my cheek. Through my blurred vision I could not see in much detail, but I could tell that the family were shocked.  I wasn’t surprised, they probably had expected the ‘no mercy’ method of policing that the new government had encouraged in its officers, not some pathetic, crying assailant.

I sat on the cold stone steps that led down to the basement, they hadn’t told me about the two children. Regardless, they would expect me to kill them, like father like son they would say. In a government hell bent on eradicating the Muslim faith, among many others, there is no room for kindness. Tightening my grip on the gun, I turned to Abdul’s family and took aim.

The mother looked desperate, still holding onto her children, she looked accusingly at me, as if this was my fault.

“Kill me,” she begged “but not the children.” I stared at her, like with Abdul, if I let them go I would be found out. They would come for me and I would be killed, but as I stood above the whimpering family, I realised something. My life wasn’t more valuable than theirs. I have lived twenty seven years on this Earth while these children have combined lifespan of less than a third of mine. I lowered my gun.

“Go” I whispered, “quickly.” The mother stared in disbelief.

“Go!” I said a little more forcefully. “Cover yourselves up; don’t let anybody see your faces, leave the country as fast as you can.”

They needed no more encouragement from me, the mother ushered the children upstairs. Before she got there I caught her by the arm.

“Don’t let them in the kitchen” I said quietly enough so that only she could hear it. She nodded. Nothing more needed to be said, so I released her arm and let her prepare her remaining family. Slouching against the basement wall I waited for them to leave, the room was bare; only the dripping of a leaking water pipe could be heard above the quiet rustlings of the family upstairs. The cracks in the wall fascinated me; with nothing else to do I counted them. Ten minutes passed by and I finally heard the door close above me. There was no going back now.

Steadying myself, I made my way up the stairs. In the kitchen I tied Abdul’s body to a chair and began the process of torturing his corpse. It is impossible to bruise a dead body so I broke bones, pulled out hair, cut off fingers, and sliced his face open; if anyone asked about the absence of bruising I would say that I killed him too quickly for them to form because I was angry that he didn’t renounce his faith. This would be frowned upon, but not severely punished. Finally, I placed the chair over the spreading pool of blood, smeared his clothes and face with the sticky red liquid, and washed my hands. Only then did I call for a removal team to clean up after me, to hide the evidence of my first murder.

Review 4: George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’

To celebrate my (not so) epic 50th follower and 200th like coming in the same week, I thought I would review George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. However, I have only read the first novel, ‘A Game of Thrones’ and will only be covering that this week. I will try my best to finish a new book in the series by Monday each week so that I can post my thoughts and opinions on each novel separately; though due to the looming shadow of an exam in a fortnight, I may be delayed by one week.

‘A Game of Thrones’ tells the interweaving story of many characters, all who have at least some power (be that magical or that which comes with status and ‘good breeding’). These characters all are aiming to achieve something: Robert wants to keep his throne; Eddard wants to protect his honour; Jon wants to earn a better place in the world; Dany and her brother want to regain the throne; etc, etc, etc… It is a dark and bitter tale, one which tells the reader more about the nature of humanity than most fantasy novels I have ever read. At times it discusses how the rulers of the world can live in such affluence while others starve, how diversity can lead to cruel prejudice, how our sexuality affects our judgement and morality, and whether we would rather help ourselves than save others.

Among all these uncertainties and questions however, the most prominent is this: are our rulers fit to rule us? Robert, the king at the beginning of the novel, “drinks and whores” himself while others do his work, he is almost an absentee king. Even worse however, when Robert dies and Joffrey, his son, takes over the throne, he is wicked, cruel, and detestable. It is revealed in the narrative that Joffrey is not the true heir which begs the question, is this why he is a bad ruler? Personally, think the novel is, in part at least, a frank discussion about the disadvantages of dictatorship over democracy. Battles, murder, subterfuge, anger, selfishness, and struggles centred around who rules the kingdom and why pay testament to this theme and though on the outside it may seem glorified and honourable, the blood, grief and strife begs to differ.

So, if you’re a fan of long, interweaving fantasy narratives (believe me there are a lot of them), give ‘A Game of Thrones’ a try. If not, give it a try anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised. If my persuasive argument has failed, and you really don’t want to waste money buying a book you don’t think you’ll like, try the TV series. It’s very close the novel itself, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Next week I will be reviewing ‘A Clash of Kings’, if you’re interested, subscribe and you’ll receive an email when I post next Monday, and one each day for my other segments. Thank you for reading.

Rain

Rain slammed against the roof of my car. Glancing out of the rear window I saw a young girl sprint towards a taxi. She was struggling due to a pair of hefty six inch heels. Unfortunately, the taxi had been booked and an old, decrepit woman stepped out of her house and took the girl’s ride home.

Looking utterly destitute, she stumbled past my car and into the alleyway across the road. I looked at my watch, Dave is supposed to be here by now I thought, where is he?

Suddenly a scream tore across the street. The girl had been pinned against the wall by a hooded man, he had already ripped her dress and was beginning to take off his jeans.

“Help me,” the girl cried, “please!”

At first I froze, not knowing what to do I just stared; first in shock, then horror, and finally anger. I remembered the cricket bat on the back seat that John had forgotten when I picked him up from practice. Grabbing it I jumped out of the car and quickly ran towards the alleyway.

“Get the fuck off” I said as the bat came down on his face. Reeling backwards, he spat out a tooth. Again I started forward, raising the bat as if to strike his chest. He ran.

With the attacker gone I turned my attention to the girl who was slumped against the wall, she was almost completely naked. I gave her my shirt and jacket before checking she was alright.

“I’m OK” she said quietly, “thank you.”

Both of us sodden, I led her back to my car, back to safety.