Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Interviewed by Julie Morrigan

Julie Morrigan, author of Convictions and Heartbreaker, has kindly had me over at her gaff for an interview.

I spill the beans about where the loot is stashed and who the body is in the boot. Or not. You'll have to click here and read to find out how much information she dragged from me...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Off The Record now released

Luca has finished compiling the charity anthology and it is now up for sale.

38 new writers have been involved in this and I'm proud to have been a part. Thanks to Luca for all his hard work and the many hours he put into formatting.

Off The Record is available on Amazon, Smashwords and will soon be available in print. All profits go to children's charities, both here and in the US.

At £2.29 or $2.99 for 38 stories, it really is a bargain.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Off The Record

37 Writers, 37 Records, 37 Stories.

Luca Veste, who is now permanently cross-eyed from formatting, has put together a collection of short stories. All profits go to Children's charities.

Off The Record will be available in the next week as an ebook.

More details here at Guilty Conscience Publishing

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Normal service resumed soon...

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. It's all got a bit busy. Normal service will be resumed soon with a few pie receipes, old-man rants about modern life and the odd story or two.

For now though, here's a picture. The forthcoming release from Trestle Press in my Bites of Grime series.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Route A66 Diner at Shotgun Honey

I've got a story up today at the fabulous Shotgun Honey.

Route A66 Diner

Please take a gander and leave a comment. Thanks.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Few things

Got a few stories up in the last week.

Neighbourhood Watch at Pulp Metal Magazine

And

Community Policing at Elementary V Watson


As you may have guessed, Nanowrimo has hit a brick wall. I'm in a daze over it. Specifically Seven Daze. I've decided that, instead of writing another book that will clutter up the hard drive, I'll instead concentrate on Seven Daze. This means re-reading and even trying to get a few other people to read it. So, hopefully I'll be in a state to submit it late December.

I'm going to go back to Off The Rails in the middle of January next year. I'll do my own Nano on my own. That'll learn them, as we say in Derbyshire.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Starship Brakwine's Log

No nanowrimo today. I've done a story for Flash Fiction Friday instead. Haven't written space / scifi before, but I quite enjoyed it.





Starship Brakwine’s Log


Day 1065

Coffee machine ran out of ‘milk no sugar’ today. According to HESS, a pallet of concentrate is in the Sector 7G storage pod. That’s another job for a rainy day. Still orbiting the planet Starburst 67H. The distress signal I received seems to be coming from a crater. Test results still inconclusive on signs of life.

Day 1066

The Lovebot’s playing up again. She's now decided she's into women. HESS was laughing too much to be of any use. Sent a remote explorer down to Starburst 67H. Distress signal is increasing in power. Looking good for intelligent life.

Day 1067

Cleared another ten dead bodies out of the living quarters today. Shit it’s depressing. I knew them all. They were close friends until the virus hit. I’m still wondering why I’m immune. HESS says even viruses have standards and that’s why it won’t touch me. Tomorrow I’m going to reprogram his sarcasm filter.

Day 1068

Lovebot’s now straight again but doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. I proposed to her and she’s currently planning the wedding. HESS assures me he’ll be the vicar if I forget about reprogramming him. Remote explorer has found traces of Oxygen and Hydrogen on Starburst 67H. HESS says it’s capable of supporting intelligent life. He tried to make some wise crack about it not supporting me until I reminded him who controls the on off switch.

Day 1069

Engagement’s off. Caught her in the kitchen in a clinch with the toaster. She’s off sulking in one of the storage bays. HESS says to give her a day or two and she’ll come round. Remote ship has found an underground base on Starburst 67H. I’m trying to keep my hopes down after what happened on the planet Firewind, but this might be the one. So far, no traces of the virus in the planet’s atmosphere.

Day 1070

Lovebot took off in an escape POD last night. She left a message saying she wanted to travel the universe and discover herself. HESS said good riddance. Am starting to wonder if he’s had a hand in her malfunctions. Scanners have found traces of life in the seas of Starburst 67H. I’m getting the Surface Explorer ready, but it’s a ten man job and there’s only one of me. Should be ready the day after tomorrow.

Day 1071

Finally deciphered the message Starburst 67H is transmitting. It says there’s over 500 of them in an underground base. They warn the virus is still present on parts of the planet but their plan to kill it using modified atom blasts is succeeding. HESS warned it may be a trick, but I think he’s just nervous of losing me.

Day 1072

Surface Explorer’s ready. I’m leaving in ten minutes. HESS has told me of neutron gun installations all over the island and too much chlorine in the atmosphere but I’m sure he’s making it up. The Lovebot’s sent a message saying she’s made a mistake and is coming back. I told her not to bother, the wedding’s off.

Leaving now. I’ve left the ship in a low orbit and ordered HESS not to assume control unless I order him to. Once I'm there and settled, I'll get him to land - the food and supplies on board will be useful. I keep telling him I'll be back before he knows it but all he talks about is the bad feeling he's got about the planet. I'm gone.

No further messages.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Day 8

500 words.

Not much else to say.


Off the rails, day 8




The boss had said nothing when Rich announced himself. He just pressed the buzzer and hung up. As the gates slipped back, Rich saw the dogs sat on the road in front. Though beasts, they were well trained. They would just follow the car until it halted then sit each side of the car, staring at its passengers.

Rich had made the mistake last time of opening his door before the boss had come outside. Never again, you only made that mistake once. There’d been another dog that time. These two’s mother. Big overprotective brute she was. Literally protected the boss with her life.

The boss walked out and past his own black Range Rover. A better model, the sportier one, he’d apparently bought it for the mystery Suki that so far very few had seen. She was obviously in if the car was in. Rich wondered if he’d get to see her and her million dollar body. He doubted it. The boss like to keep her out of the way.

Nodding through his window, Rich heard the boss say something to the dogs which made them peel off from their positions and walk to an old tree. He wondered who did the Boss’s garden. That’d take a brave soul. It was immaculate: flowers Rich didn’t know the names of laid in beds while the paths and lawn were carefully and neatly trimmed. Work was in progress on some sort of mini-maze. Ferns and bushes planted in neat rows leading out from a central pagoda.

Opening his door, Rich noticed the dogs turn their heads and take a look at him before turning back to each other. He caught the Boss’s eyes, deep set and squinting above his nose and scarred cheeks.

“You’re early,” was all he said as he pointed towards an outbuilding.

“Sorry. I ...”

The boss put up his hand. Apologies weren’t needed. In fact any superfluous words weren’t. Rich’s heart beat a bit faster; meeting him was never easy. The visions of him strangling you for saying the wrong word or smiling the wrong way were ingrained in his mind.

“Need to talk about something,” was all he said as he led the way.

Halfway across, the front door slammed. Rich looked round, instantly wondering who was there. She was beautiful. Smaller than he’d imagined, Rich could see, even across the yard, why the Boss wanted her. Her eastern face combined with western dress and boob job looked out of place. He wondered how beautiful she’d been before the surgery, deciding that stunning would still have sufficed.

“Inside now,” said the Boss. His squint had increased. Rich reckoned he’d told her to wait until Rich was out of the way before coming out. He’d heard the rumours of their arguments and her threats to leave him, but everyone though it was a love-hate relationship. He loved her, she hated him.

Rich dragged his eyes off her too thin, exposed midriff and legs and entered the building.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Days five, six and seven of Off the Rails

Only 1,223 words. Again a poor showing. Just over 5,000 so far with nearly a quarter of the month gone.

Oh well.



Ron Henderson jumped out of bed as the alarm went off. He’d never liked sleeping in: it bred laziness. Suki would spend all day in the pit if he let her. Walking to the shower, he could hear her snoring. Nose job had cost a fortune but snoring was one side effect the surgeon hadn’t mentioned.

He clenched his fists as he got in the shower. Cold water. Clears the body and mind. His face grimacing, he scrubbed himself hard. Not that he was dirty. It was the feeling of dirt. The feeling of yesterday’s grime and skin. It needed washing off. A new day was here, why would he want to wear yesterdays waste?

Shower finished, he walked to the spare room and picked out a clean shirt and trousers. Ironed to a crisp, just how he liked it. That was Mrs Briggins, the cleaner. He wouldn’t let Suki near his silk shirts. Not that she had the time. Always busy. Always busy doing nothing.

Downstairs, he put the kettle on and pushed two slices of bread in the toaster. Wholemeal bread? What the fuck was that about. That was Suki too, forever buying that healthy muck. He’d eat it quickly before the lad arrived. Brown bread would take some explaining.

He headed outside, the dogs needed feeding. They bounded over at his approach, tails wagging. Opening the lean-to shed., he scooped out a pile of dog food and threw half in each bowl. They had their own kennels, luxury things, but he noticed they slept under the willow tree in the summer. They were still young. He imagined it was like a couple of teenagers, camping out. He reckoned they got up to all sorts of scrapes at night. Like a couple of kids, that’s what they were.

Watching them snaffle the food, he looked at Ronnie. Her coat was off colour again, not shining like it should be, nowhere near as glossy as Reggie’s. Maybe the vet needed calling again? She’d always been the poorly one. Anything flying round, she’d catch it. Sometimes he let her sleep inside in winter, but Reggie missed her too much and howled all night.

Back inside he buttered the toast. Fucking half fat margarine. No butter anywhere in the fridge that was full of tofu and skimmed milk and some kind of salad leaf he didn’t know how to pronounce. Fucking Suki again. She’d have him eating bird food before the summer was out.

At the breakfast bar he ate the toast, drank his black coffee and listened to the radio. Markets down again. He reckoned those city folks needed a shot up the arse. They needed something. His shares had taken a hit recently and that twat of a broker was all snivelling and too apologetic whenever he rang. He needed to grow a backbone. Before it was too late.

The noise upstairs told him she was awake. He checked his watch. Seven thirty. Early start. She walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Towelling white dressing gown, cost over two hundred looked a waste on her. The bags under her eyes led an advance party into the room, squinting at the morning sun. Ron noticed her hair, sticking out at awkward angles like a Mohican.

“I fucky gotta stop drinking,” she said, her words croaked through a dehydrated mouth.

Ron shook his head and poured her a coffee. “You look a state.”

“Don’t fucky start on me, Ron. I’ve had it up to here with you. You slept in spare room again. You no like me anymore?”

He tried to hide his shudder as he handed her the mug. “Drink it. Then get in the shower.”

“While ago you’d have joined me. Remember those days. You remember them?”

Ron remembered those days but they seemed so long ago. Like another life. Suki with her sixty thousand dollar body had been all he wanted a few years ago. He remembered when he’d only have to look at her and he’d feel things he’d never felt before. His eyes would fully open, his stomach would rattle like he’d eaten three vindaloos and his legs would got to jelly. All that money he’d spent to keep her looking young. Now thirty five she still looked twenty when she put her make up on. Drink didn’t suit her. It doubled her age. It ruined the expensive illusion. He couldn’t remember exactly when she’d started, maybe five years ago, but he didn’t understand it. She had everything money could buy. She had the face and body of a supermodel. Yet she drunk. And drunk and drunk and drunk.

He nodded his head. Her eyes bored into him, waiting for an explanation of why those days were over. “Maybe we should go on holiday?” He broke her stare and looked at the clock. Seven thirty five. He wanted her out before the boy arrived. Didn’t do to mix business with pleasure.

“Holiday? Where? Both of us, together?”

“Wherever you want to go.”

“I’ll need new clothes.”

He caught her eyes again. The thought of a holiday had sobered her up almost instantly. His stomach churned slightly as he remembered their last holiday. A cottage for a fortnight in the Lake District. They only ventured out once, and that was for cigarettes.

“I’ll have a shower then go shopping. This better not be a joke, Ron. Are we really going away?”

She let the dressing gown half slip revealing where half the sixty thousand dollars had been spent. He felt nothing as he nodded. Four, maybe even two years ago he’d have run across the room. Now though, nothing. She turned and walked away, the dressing gown falling lower with each step. “I’ll have that shower now.” She turned her head and winked.

Ron washed down the last piece of toast with his coffee, counted to fifty then went outside to his dogs.


**


The Muesli wasn’t going down well. Rich knew why and it had nothing to do with food. The boss had only seem him alone once. Just once in ten years. He’d risen through the ranks, most of it lucky breaks during the turf wars after the millennium. He shook his head as he remembered those years. So many lives lost so easily. The last time he’d seen the boss was for his promotion. Now his man on the street, Rich visited the customers as the boss liked to call them.

The Range Rover struggled as he slipped round the corner. He knew he was driving too slow, the automatic gearbox obviously thought a vicar had borrowed the car for the day. Whatever was going to happen, being late wouldn’t improve the issue. He wondered again what is was. It had to be something to do with Jimmy. He’d asked the boss pleasantly enough if Jimmy could be spared as he was an old friend. The boss hadn’t seemed too bothered on the phone. As long as he learns a lesson and fucks off, that’d been his reply.

Rich wondered if the cold light of day had made him rethink that decision.

Pulling off the main road, he stopped. He could hear the dogs barking in the distance and imagined them bounding towards the electrically controlled gate. Window down, he pressed the buzzer and waited.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Off the Rails - Day four

Day four 730 words. Yeah I'm now about 2,000 behind. After the weekend I'll be about 4,000 behind. I'll keep plodding on though. It's weird the way this is working, the plot's building in my head all the time. I now know roughly what's going to happen and what the subplots are. Again, no apologies made for typos, bad grammar, or for run on sentences. The whole idea of NaNoWriMo is to write as much as possible. Editing comes later.


Day Four


The clock read two am as Rich pulled into the driveway. Bill had been quiet on the drive back. Not that he was ever that talkative, but Rich thought he was definitely quieter than normal. Rich wondered if the usual nature of Jimmy’s near death was to blame. Mouth open, Bill had no doubt been pondering just what it meant. Whether it was a one off, or a new phase to the world of beatings.

Locking the Range Rover, he unlocked the front door. Of course the house wasn’t his. It went came with the job. Three bedroomed houses on the outskirts of Canterbury aren’t cheap. Rich knew a chauffeur could only dream of such a place. Inherited money, that was the story. That’s what Wendy and his neighbours had been told.

Wendy was asleep on the sofa. Legs curled under herself with her head lying on her right shoulder. Freshly showered, blown dried hair and he imagined, some flimsy nightie underneath her thick dressing gown. He stood still, listening to the soft sound of her breathing.

She deserved better than him. He knew it. He thought she knew it too. His mum, and Huey Lewis, would have said love’s a strange thing. Now stuck with that annoying song in his head, Rich turned off the TV – some nighttime quiz program, and put his hand on Wendy’s shoulder.

“Come on, you’ll get a stiff back sleeping down here.”

Her eyes opened. Dewy, pale and confused. She moved her neck at winced at the pain.

“Whassa time.” Her mouth seemed half a minute slower than her brain.

“Two. Come on, up to bed.”

Placing one arm under her legs, he lifted her, supporting her back with his other hand. The first time he’d carried her she’d protested. “You’ll break your back. Or my neck,” she’d said. Now, she just let him. By the time he reached the top of the stairs she was asleep again.

Tucking her under the duvet, he made for the en-suite and brushed his teeth. The boss was still bugging him. What did he want tomorrow? Why didn’t he want Bill there. Of all the options spinning round his head, the obvious, Bill’s done something that needs punishing was right at the top.

He shook his head while looking in the mirror. What could Bill have done wrong? He did have the brains to be on the make. No, it wasn’t Bill.

He spat out toothpaste and rinsed his mouth. Rich knew if it wasn’t Bill, the next obvious candidate was himself. The boss had always treated him right and he’d never let him down in return. Rumours could kill a man in this game, but everyone knew he was loyal.
Returning to the bedroom, he turned off the light and got in bed. With Wendy breathing gently beside him, he stared at the ceiling. This was going to be a long night. The longest for years.


Muesli for breakfast was Wendy’s doing. He wondered if that was what the Boss wanted to see him about. If word got out he was eating rabbit food he’d be a laughing stock. Worse thing of all was, he actually liked it.

“Sorry I was so late.”

She stopped wiping the draining board down and turned around. Hair immaculate and her lips just forming a smile. “It’s okay.” Her lips completed the journey into a smile. “It goes with your job, doesn’t it.”

He nodded and shovelled another spoonful of raisiny bits into his mouth. “Maybe I’ll get a few days off soon. Perhaps we could go away somewhere?”

She nodded and wiped a coffee drip off the sideboard. “Yeah. That’d be good. Anywhere in mind?”

“Weekend in the country somewhere. Hotel or cottage. Just a few days.”

“Long weekend?” she suggested.

“Yeah. I’ll ask the boss today.” He stirred the muesli round the bowl. He’d suddenly gone off breakfast. If things went badly they could go on a very long break, not just a weekend. Either that, or his break would be spent in hospital.

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” Rich nodded. “Bit tired, didn’t sleep well.”

Wendy put down her cloth, walked over and bent down towards his face. Kissing him, she said, “I hope he appreciates all these hours you do.”

Rich just nodded as he put his hands round her shoulders. He too really hoped he was appreciated.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Off the Rails - Day three

Day three. Only 346 words I'm afraid. That puts me officially well behind. Still enough time to catch up though. I need a couple of really good days.


Day 3



Bill had finished loading Jimmy back into the boot and got in the car. He looked at Rich, his mouth open wide enough to fit a tennis ball in.

“Boss says you’ve got a lie in tomorrow.”

Bill nodded, his mouth still open as his head rocked up and down. Rich decided not to mention he was visiting him alone. Whatever the boss wanted, he didn’t want Bill the Beast involved.

As Rich headed for the lay-by, he wondered again what the hell the boss would want. And would it be good or bad news.



Ron Henderson yawned as he turned off the power packs. Another late night on the tracks. Passing the boards running the length of the converted stables, he looked at the earlier scene of destruction. Temper. That has always been his problem. He knew it too. Anger management issues, that’s what some jumped up university bod would call it.

He leant down over the tracks, his scarred face and receding hairline dipping as it inspected the damage. It could be fixed. It would be fixed. The retaining wall would need rebuilding from scratch, as would the thirties style cottage. He’d hand built the cottage two years ago. Took him more hours than he cared to remember.

Shaking his head, he made for the door. Turning the heating and light off before locking it. Walking across the yard to the house, the two Rottweilers joined his side.

“Good boys, who’s a good boy then.”

He saw the doting look in their eyes. They’d die for him. Their mother had. Two years ago now. Grubby Collins’s men fancied their chances of paying him a home visit. Didn’t count on the dogs or the shotguns.

He sighed as he left the dogs outside and went into the converted barn. Of all the people he’d shot, why was the dog that’d got in the way the thing he remembered the most? Remorse was a funny old thing. Setting the alarm, he walked upstairs. Suki was asleep, already snoring. Maybe he’d sleep in the spare bedroom tonight?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Off The Rails - Day two

Day two. Not as prolific as day one. To be honest, I have no idea where the story is going or how long it'll end up.

Forgot to say but day one produced 1,454 words, a tad under the 1,667 needed each day. I probably won't be writing much at weekends either so really I should be doing over 2,000 a day.

Today I managed 1,269


Day two


“We ready then?” asked Rich.

Bill nodded.“You wanna take the legs?”

It wasn’t really a question. Rich always took the legs. Bill was just made for carrying the heavy parts. Rich had known him just sling someone over his shoulder and carry him as easily as a sack of potatoes.

Rich grabbed the polythene and raised it. Leather gloves and polythene weren’t the best combination. Too slippery. He needed his gloves like a doctor needed a stethoscope. Part of the job. As Bill wrapped his huge hands under Jimmy’s chest the groans from within the bag increased.

Pulling him up towards the cellar trap door, Rich winced as Jimmy was pushed the final few feet up. He’d had a pain in his side for a week or two now. First he thought it just indigestion, but he knew it was something more. Hernia maybe? Or a cracked rib. Either way, he knew the job didn’t help.

With Bill holding the torso up, Rich left the legs poking out of the cellar door and went outside. The Crown had a gated side alley, just wide enough for a van to fit in. With the smoking ban, part of it had been converted to an outside seating area, but The Boss wanted an area kept out of public view. Handy for night time deliveries and collections, whether it be dodgy lager, drugs or bodies.

Standing next to the blacked out windowed Range Rover, Rich grabbed the legs and pulled. With Bill the oaf pushing, Jimmy came sliding out. A street light above the road lit up the polythene round Jimmy’s face. Christ it was a mess. Rich shook his head. He couldn’t remember a job getting so personal before. This really was the hardest to switch off from.

Bubbles of blood left Jimmy’s mouth as he mumbled please over and over again.

“Give it a rest, Jim.” Rich turned and pulled some nicotine gum from his pocket. He’d gone three weeks without a fag now. Tonight was the real tester. So far, apart from the gum, he was winning.

Bill appeared from the side door, panting and breathing in air. Rich noticed the smell. At first he wasn’t sure if Jimmy hadn’t soiled himself. It wouldn’t have been the first time. But no. Rich knew it was Bill. B.O. Bill, that was one of nicknames. Always had been.

Getting Jimmy in the boot was easy but Rich’s side protested again. Maybe he’d see the doctor tomorrow? Going back in the pub to lock up, he grabbed a few paraceutamols and knocked them down with a bottle of gassy French lager. One for the road. There was so little alcohol in the bottles he knew he could drink ten and still be under the limit. He needed something stronger, but wasn’t going to have it.

Bill opened and closed the gate as Rich drove out of the alley. One in the morning, weekday. Still the odd person walking home from a pub or club but otherwise the streets night on deserted. With Bill back in the car, Rich put his foot down with only the soft growl of the V6 engine and Bill’s heavy breathing to break the silence.


The night-watchman opened the compound gates on their arrival. Rich nodded at him. Ken Clark his name, he was on the payroll too. Night watchmen were both a dying breed and also the body disposers friend. This particular development, block of flats, was taking forever to finish. Rich supposed it was the credit crunch. So little money around these days, who’d want to be a luxury, new build flat now?

The gate locked behind them, Rich drove to the centre of the site. Six massive holes in the ground, part filled with concrete and steel frame. The foundations of a building, no better place to dispose of a body. The weight of the concrete pulverises the body into dust while the harsh concrete eats it away, leaving little trace. As Rich opened his door and then the boot, Bill got in a JCB and started it up.

Rich could see Jimmy’s eyes clearer now. Blinking at first, they soon widened when he realised where he was. Rich held his gaze and shook his head. Above the noise of Jimmy’s moans and protests, Rich said, “You see what you’ve done. Me and Bill have got to live with this, you know. Just so you could cream a bit more off. You’re selfish. Don’t think about anyone but yourself.”

He grabbed a wheelbarrow and pulled Jimmy into it. Arms and legs still moved, protesting as hard as they could. Behind Rich, Bill was filling the JCB bucket with concrete. Rich turned the wheelbarrow round so Jimmy could see what was happening. The moans grew louder as Bill got back in the JCB and drove it forwards, stopping with the bucket just over the hole.

“Sorry Jimmy,” said Rich as he emptied the barrow into the hole. Jimmy fell six foot to the floor with a crunch. His legs and arms moved as he tried hard to fight his way out of the polythene. Bill lowered the bucket, the concrete dripping into the hole and onto Jimmy like cold porridge.

More moans as he realised this was the end. Rich pulled another stick of nicotine gum from his pocket and chomped hard on it. Maybe he’d buy some cigs on the way home? He’d earned them today. God knew he’d earned them.

The bucket empty, Jimmy was covered head down in concrete. His face just visible through the polythene was till pleading. Rich reckoned this was enough. He’d learned his lesson.

“Get him out Bill.”


Rich sat in the passenger seat, listening to a night time play on Radio 4 while Bill dragged Jimmy out, ripped open the polythene and cleaned his face up. Wendy had got him into radio 4. He’d listened to cricket a few times and accidentally caught a few programs but they always seemed too highbrow for him. She’d shown him a whole new side to culture. It could be enjoyed by everyone, not just pompous snobs. He’d even read a few books recently. She was changing him, he knew that. Or, she was helping him to change himself.

Bill opened the door, the heavily bruised, bleeding and broken-boned Jimmy at his feet.

Rich looked at Jimmy. Shook his head. “Normally, the boss don’t give second chances. It’s kind of against his policy. But, as we go back years, he only thought it fair you get a second chance.”

Jimmy nodded. Something fell from his mouth, maybe a tooth.

“We’ll drop you off in a lay-by on the dual carriageway then ring the filth. You don’t say anything, you got that?” He nodded again. “When they’ve fixed you up, you leave town. I’ve heard Spain’s good this time of year.” Rich paused, swallowed his chewing gum. “If we see you around here again.” He shook his head. The sentence didn’t need finishing.

Bill wrapped him up again in plastic sheet, to protect the boot, as Rich rang the boss again.

“What?”

Rich could hear miniature trains in the background, whirring round the track. “All done, just giving him a lift home.”

“Okay.”

“Thanks.” Rich heard his own voice break as he said it. Showing emotion wasn’t good. Not to the boss.

“Forget it. I have. Come round and see me tomorrow morning. On your own. Give the beast a lie in.”

The beast was the boss’s nickname for Bill. Rich wondered what his own nickname was.

“Okay.”

Rich put the phone down.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Off The Rails - A Blovel

I'm having a stab at Nano. If you don't know, it's writing 50,000 words of a novel in the month of november.

I'll also be blovelling it. (i.e. Blogging it as I write) Thanks to Ron Earl Philips for that idea. It may come to nothing. It probably will to be honest, things are busy enough as it is without adding another 50,000 words to the mix.

But here's day one. Please excuse any typos or formatting problems.


Off the rails.



Ron Henderson leant over the chipboard. His sleeves were pinned tight to his broad arms: a wayward sleeve can cause havoc in four millimetre scale. The tree in his hand tiny. Barely two inches tall yet as detailed as a full size oak. Squeezing the trunk into the chipboard, he released his finger gently, raising his arm up before leaning back out of the way.
His mobile rang.
“Shit.”
Turning, he grabbed the phone and looked at the display. Rich. It had to be him, no one else would ring this time of night. His muscles already clenching, he answered it. “What?”
“Rich here.”
“I know. What?”
“Erm, that problem we had? It’s worse than we thought.”
Ron sat on the swivel chair and placed his finger on the power pack, gently moving the dial to the first setting. He winced as a small electric spark came from a wheel as it started to turn.
“How worse?”
He watched the train move out of the station, past the carefully built and painted signal box then turned the speed up a notch as it crossed the branchline junction and headed into the green-felted countryside.
“His hand’s been more than in the till,” said Rich.
His hand clenched as he turned the dial again. Three then four. The train now careering through the tunnel, then out again. Round the circular track, past the second station through more countryside then back into the first station.
“Take him out,” he said.
His hand moved the dial from four to seven. The train now hurtling round, it passed bemused plastic sheep and railway workers destined to forever hold an sledgehammer mid-throw.
“Out where, Boss?”
Seven to ten. The train now too fast. Wobbling on the bend as it struggled to keep grip. Over the wooden lollipop stick bridge with a shudder. Rounding a corner towards the goods yard. First the tender wheels came off the track, then the first class carriage. The momentum carried it forward, towards the village.
“Take him out. Snuff him out.”
The train flew off the board, taking out a retaining wall, a MkI Ford Cortina and an allotment worker with it.


Rich put the phone back in his pocket.
There was a time when he liked his job. It used to be fairly harmless. Ducking and diving, wheeling and dealing. A bit of a game. That’s all it used to be, just a game.
He stared at the man in front of him. Jimmy Cargill. Licensed to serve intoxicating liquor. Not licensed to serve weak French lager that’d never been near customs. Jimmy was only in his twenties, he’d been in the same school year as Rich’s little brother. Rich shook his head, this wasn’t going to be easy.
“What the boss say?” said Bill.
Bill stood beside him with his mouth open, wiping blood off his knuckles on a beer mat. Rich had known Bill since school. Mates of old. Brains and brawn, the classic partnership. Bill was obviously the brawn; if he had a brain he’d nearly be dangerous.
Nearly dangerous, just nearly.
“It ain’t good, Jimmy.”
Jimmy looked up at him, his big nose now squashed flat over his face. Arcs of blood on his white shirt with a few drips nestling on the floor.
“Please?” He squinted his eyes, tried to make them say please.
Rich had seen it all before. What the boss wanted, the boss got. It still wasn’t going to be easy. He looked round, caught Bill’s eyes then nodded. Bill dropped the beer mat and picked up the pick axe handle.
Round two.
Rich turned and walked to the back of the cellar as the blows rained down. He’d never been one for the violent side. Sure it went with the job, but does a hat maker admire every hat he sees?
The damp brick walls were sporting green algae at the back of the cellar. The whole pub had e-coli written all over it. Maybe an easier way of finishing Jimmy would be to force feed him his own cheese rolls? He typed a message into his phone.
‘Working late tonight, be another few hours.’ then pressed send.
‘Okay x’ came the reply.
Wendy was a good one. In the past he’d liked them bad. That kind of went with the job too. Trouble always followed bad and before long, he’d had enough of trouble and bad. Wendy was good. She didn’t know the half of it. She didn’t know any of it. He thought she suspected, after all, he was very well paid for just a chauffeur. Chauffeur’s didn’t occasionally come home with scars, muddy trousers and bloody hands either. Yeah, she knew something wasn’t right. But she’d never asked.
She was a good one.
Jimmy’s screams were getting louder than Bill’s heavy breathing as the hits rained down. Bill had always breathed through his mouth. It seemed using more than one orifice was too much for his brain. He was a good lad though. You’d trust him with your life. With your life.
“Okay Bill.” Rich walked back from the barrels and crates of Le Lager towards the mass of pulp and blood that was once Jimmy. Jesus this job never got easier. Nose broken, eyes bulging, one about to pop from its socket. His elbow the wrong way too and a lump halfway between it and his shoulder. Even his fractures had fractures. Bill put down the stick of wood and gobbled in breaths, his face nearly as red as the blood on the stone floor.
Jimmy moved, he was still alive. Thank god for that. The boss doesn’t like them dead too easily. He likes them to really know the reason why. Not that it’s a lesson. No one else knows, do they? What kind of lesson has no pupils?
“We’re going for a drive, Jimmy,” said Rich. No emotion in his voice. His whole body was on autopilot now. Done this a dozen times before. Probably do it another dozen.
He pulled out his phone, rang a different number.
“Yeah?”Snake. Snake the cleaner to his friends.
“Ferret inn cellar, Snake. Bit of a spillage, needs a good mopping up.”
“On my way.”
Rich pocketed the phone and spread the plastic sheeting on the floor. Ten foot by eight. The cellar was barely big enough to stretch it out.
“Please,” mumbled Jimmy.
That didn’t make it any easier. Rich looked at his face again. Jaw lopsided, head split open and dripping red into his eye. He remembered the time Jimmy had come round for his tea. Would have been twelve, maybe thirteen. Him and Rich’s brother, Ted had nipped into his room, raided his stash of porn mags. He heard them upstairs, sniggering away like a couple of hyenas while he was watching Crackerjack. He went up, caught them red handed and red faced. He had to smile at the time though. He’d have done the same himself.
And now, here he was. Half dead with Bill rolling him up in polythene.
Rich always thought the half dead were curious. They moved so slowly, limbs moving under a sea of blood but everything was slowed down. Just like a zombie film. He thought back to his brother, Ted. Living in Australia now. He’d had the real brains of the family. God knows where he got it from. He thought his dad had always wondered the same thing too. Never had any time for him. Rich and his brother lost contact when he was half way through university. Different crowd of people, different tastes. He’d got out though. Left not just the estate but also the country.
Jimmy mumbled one last please as Bill gaffa taped the polythene together. His bloodshot eyes inside moving around. Rich thought this was the probably the hardest so far. Him and Jimmy had got fairly close this past year while he was running the pub. Of course everyone expected a bit of slicing off the top, but Jimmy’s slice was approaching the ridiculous. He was a crap thief too. If he’d been clever, he could have got away with it for years. Made himself a fortune then buggered off to Spain. But no, just like that magazine twenty years ago, he’d wanted too much too soon.
One last check of the polythene and Bill nodded, his breathing now like he’d run a marathon. Rich knew it wasn’t his fault. Bad sinuses. A small piece of dislodged bone that continually blocked his nose.

Doing it for the kids.

There's two anthologies coming up soon, profits from both of these will go to children's charities.


First up is The Lost Children This collection started as a Flash fiction challenge where Thomas Pluck and Fiona Thompson donated 5 dollars or pounds for every contribution. Now the stories, all 30 of them, have been collected and realeased as an e-book. All profits go to children's charities. Buy your copy from Amazon here.


Second collection, also for charity is the forthcoming Off The Record. It's a collection of short stories inspired by classic songs. Luca Veste has done a fantastic job of organising and compiling this. Great cover too from Steven Miscandlon. I've got a story in there, based on The Smiths classic - Sheila Take A Bow. I think it should be out in a few weeks, I'll let you know when it is.