The Truth About Narcissus.

People write what they like you know? Truth hardly comes into it. I suppose to some degree I should be grateful, I have a flower and a personality disorder named after me. You all know the story, Narcissus (me), lured to the edge of a pool whereupon he fell in love with his reflection, found he couldn’t look away and you know… just died.

What a fool he (I) must have been. A self-loving, arrogant man so vain that he died looking at himself. Now, any prick who likes the sound of their own voice, likes to hear their name mentioned or anyone inflated with their own sense of self-importance you say: “how very narcissistic”.

Well, let me tell you the truth. Not that it matters in this day and age, not that it ever mattered. The truth is often less entertaining, less likely to teach life lessons in easy to digest little packets.  Very few mirrors in ancient Greek myths. People had said I looked good, sure, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Occasionally, in an overly polished dish, I might catch a distorted glimpse of myself. My face would be stretched and warped, but I wouldn’t pay much attention to it.

I had a good life I suppose. I was a good hunter and people seemed to like me, or at the very least pretended to, which is all you need really. Everyone puts on an act, mine was that of pride. Perhaps I over did it. I don’t know, perhaps I mistreated people. I got to the point where I just didn’t have the patience for them. I don’t think I was intentionally horrible to anyone. Not that Nemesis would care either way.

I spent more and more time hunting, out in the woods. I say hunting, I just liked the solitude. Away from the eyes, the wittering and the constant noise. So, I went out hunting and I was drawn to that pool, a nice tranquil little place. The water was clear and cool, a lot of greenery grew from it. The ground was soft, perhaps a little damp around its edges. The air was cool. So I sat.

I peered over the water and saw my reflection. The water was still and the image clear. It was my face, mostly as I expected it to look. Strong chin, high cheekbones, good bronze complexion, thick lengths of brown hair. I would have had every right to admire it for a little while, but I didn’t.  What caught my attention was the eyes. They looked sad. They looked incredibly sad. Slight shadows underneath them, an almost glassy hollow look. They looked tired. So very tired.

Why were they so sad? Why was I so very very sad?

I couldn’t look away for this was a question I could not answer. I couldn’t abandon the man in the water, that sad lonely figure. The alternative was to return to the people who did not like me and who in return I despised. The alternative to staring at that sad watery figure would be to return to town and be amongst all those people and all their problems. This is the world of Greek myths too, constant popularity contests, bickering, backstabbing and betrayals. On and on it goes, no one ever genuine, no one ever caring about anyone beyond themselves… and yet I’m the narcissistic one.

I reached out and touched the face of the man in the water, stroked his cheek.

“Don’t be sad. Let me know what I can do?” I said.

“Stay here with me,” he replied.

And so I did.

And so I died.

And so I was forever remembered as a vain twat. Well, you are whatever they say you are I suppose.

Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness: Sales Report

3 copies this month. 3.

That is the worst number there is. 1 has a brooding loner quality. 2 can be as bad as one, since it’s the loneliest number since the number one, but 3… that’s boring.

Since I have no real marketing going on, I suppose I should be proud of that 3, but I’m not. You people need to hurry up and realise my genius so I can get a proper publishing deal and live a life of luxury. All I want to do is never work again, is that so much to ask?

Look, just go and download my Amazon book. It’s like 99p in the UK and some amount of dollars, euros and other silly money.  It’s less than a coffee, and you all drink excessive amounts of coffee, so you can afford it damn it.

‘Yes, but we enjoy coffee.’ I hear you say, ‘reading your contrived collection of ‘comedic’ short stories isn’t enjoyable.’

In which case I say buy it, and then don’t read it. I don’t care. Give it a terrible rating, let it be known as the worst book ever, then people will buy it out of sheer curiosity. And I’ll get a publishing deal, much like the 50 Shades of Grey woman. It’s the way the world of literature is going. We’re taking the written word away from the pretentious, intellectual elite and revealing it for what it really is, a pointless collection of ultimately meaningless words. Which was the original tagline for the dictionary.

Buy it.

 Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiny-Compendium-Ridiculousness-Hubert-Watergipridget-ebook/dp/B00NX63R1W

This New World

Below is a thing I started writing this morning. Maybe one day it will become an actual thing, but I have other things I need to make into actual things, I also have work in an hour.

***

In many ways she was deeply unhappy, but she didn’t mind that so much as she guessed most people were pretty unhappy, those that weren’t were probably in denial. It had been fifteen years since the Rift, as people had taken to call it. Scientists referred to it as, a flux in the temporal membrane, but Rift just sounded better.

The world thought it was in a sorry state of affairs before. Right wing politics on the rise, regular terrorist atrocities perpetrated by confused, fascist fanatics, rising sea levels and climbing global temperatures, a flimsy economy and severe over population. Now, well… it’s mostly the same issues just taken up a notch or two.

Emma put on her jacket, an army camouflage affair, dull green and occasional brown. She bought it because it was cheap, not because it helped her blend into the background of the city, which was mostly grey, occasionally beige. Marketing departments would have you believe London was the epicentre of culture, a point from which all modern history was made. A diverse hub celebrating art, science and industry. In reality it was just a tangled mess of apartment complexes and the occasional bridge.

Ortha House was about as cheap as you could get within the city limits. That was probably because it was built as part of an initiative to allow the Others to integrate themselves amongst the human populace, granting them a place to live at low cost whilst they find themselves in this strange new world. Of course, the fact that they were referred to as the Others rendered the whole exercise pointless.

Emma left her flat and strolled down the cluttered corridor. Half full bin bags lay strewn all over the place, strange stains marked the walls and all sorts of noises drifted through the various doors.  Baldus was leaving his flat to start his day too. A dwarf many called them, though those who suffered from dwarfism complained that that was offensive. The dwarves referred to themselves as the Blendring, which to a human was just a noise, especially for the average English human, who thought any other language sounded ridiculous.

‘No axes Baldus,” said Emma, noticing herself how bored she sounded. Baldus clenched a fist and shook his head, his rigid Mohican wobbling a little. A shimmering, double edged battle axe was slung across his muscular back.

‘A blandring without an axe or hammer is no blandring at all!’ he lamented, hiding his face in his meaty hands. His black skin had been marked with red dye, criss-crossing his face in an elaborate and quite frankly ridiculous pattern.

‘No axes, thems the rules,’ said Emma.

‘Rules!’ Baldus spat, ‘what about the rules set down by the Great Sculptor? It is the duty of every Blandring to carry an axe or hammer, ready for war at all times!’

‘You’ll be arrested as soon as you leave the building. Just take a pendant.’

 

Following the Fifteen Minute war, the more reasonable of the

Blandring decided that the Laws of the Great Sculptor were

Very much open to interpretation. Whilst it cannot be denied

That all Blandering are expected to carry an axe or hammer

The scriptures never state how large said axe or hammer

Need be. Therefore, a blandring can still keep to the scriptures

By wearing a pendant sporting a tiny axe or hammer, which

Conveniently relieves it of its status as an offensive weapon. As

for being ready for war, it is said that it is a state of mind all blandring

Should be permanently in, rather than a physical readiness.

–          Blandring and Belief – pg 75 2nd edition.

 

Emma had thought a degree in Rift Cultures and journalism would be a good idea in the current environment. The world was changing, the Others were here to stay and the only way to live with such extreme difference of culture (and in many cases physicality) was to understand said cultures.

As it turned out, it had rendered her almost unemployable. Her ten thousand word thesis on the Fifteen Minute War and its effects had been a waste of time. How she managed to get ten thousand words out of such a brief period was beyond her. Like most conflicts, it could be summed up in a handful bullet points.

–          The Rift happened.

–          The blandring dutifully carried their axes and hammers and were ready for war at all times.

–          The blandring were told by the human government that they could not carry axes and hammers and should probably only be ready for war a few times a year.

–          The blandring decided they would not stand for such oppression and will not be ruled by a blasphemous government and gathered their forces and marched on parliament.

–          In the classic game of rock paper scissors, it is well known that assault rifles always beat axes and hammers.

–          The Blandring uprising was quelled in 14 minutes and 52 seconds. 58 were killed, 34 injured and many arrests were made.

Baldus went inside his flat grumbling audibly. Emma waited for him to return, when he did, a crude stone hammer hung from his neck. In her opinion it was still large enough to be considered a weapon, but decided to let that be decided by the police. There was always a police presence outside Ortha House, just to make sure the locals were integrating properly, and to arrest all those that weren’t.

Emma couldn’t blame them really. The pair exited the lift and passed through the cluttered and half destroyed foyer. She could see the unmarked police cars on the perimeter of the grounds already. Whilst the majority of those that lived in Ortha House were law abiding citizens just trying to make an honest living, some were level three shadow demons from the Realm of Darkness that occasionally consumed human souls, so precautions had to be taken. That and a Blandring who lived on the third floor had taken to selling drugs. It only took one idiot to ruin everything for everyone else.

They made it past the police cars without incident. Baldus lingered longer than necessary, in the hope of provoking a bored looking officer, but thankfully the officer in question didn’t look up from his phone.

‘Little boxes have stolen your souls!’ He grumbled as they moved on. The street lamps were beginning to flick out of life as the sun rose beyond the grey blanket of cloud. The factory wasn’t too far away. After months of unemployment Emma had secured an admin role at a meat packing company that prided itself in providing opportunities to ‘the Others’, almost 80% of their staff was made up of Rifters.

‘With your degree, you’ll be able to keep the rabble in line,’ the overseer had told her at her interview.

‘As long as you pay them, they’ll keep themselves in line. Most aren’t that different from us you know?’ she replied. The overseer nodded, grinning a broad and self-satisfied smile.

‘Oh yes, except none of them are unionised and have no concept of minimum wage. The ogres… they only need to sleep every four days and the little tasks we give them keep their simple minds occupied.’

‘So, you’re treating them like slaves?’

‘You could say that, but…’

‘But what?’

‘Oh nothing, just a figure of speech.’

 

Recreating Success.

My collection of short stories The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness has sold around 50-60 copies. This means I only need to sell about 700-800 more for it to be considered a catastrophic failure.  It is perhaps very niche in its appeal and marketed entirely on this blog and my Instagram account, so 50-60 copies is surprising. Whilst I attempt to find an publisher for my actual hard work and full serious novel (three rejections so far), I keep myself sane by writing more short stories. Therefore, it is a joy and a privilege to announce that there will indeed be a follow up to The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness called The Minute Collection of Absurdity.

This is a work in progress at this moment and I can only confirm a handful of the short stories that will be appearing in it. They are as follows:

The Man who Believed he was an Octopus:

This has appeared in an early draft on this very blog if you were paying attention, which of course you were not. It got 8 likes, 8!  It follows the story of a young boy growing up and struggling to accept himself for who he truly is, which is an octopus.

The Establishment’s Eating Habits.

Frank works in the Houses of Parliament. He regularly sees, and sometimes interacts with, members of the governing elite. Had this been published sooner I’d be hailed as the genius who correctly predicted the EU referendum result and the American Presidential Election.

Anyway, Frank works in the Houses of Parliament. It is a cold winter, a now independent Scotland is clamouring for war. They finally got what they wanted, only to find that reality is always a bitch. Frank begins to grow suspicious of the elected officials he works for. He always sees them with food, but never eating. Against the advise of friends and colleagues he investigates to find that it’s not just their own heads that they constantly shove up their arses.

The Woman Who Has Everything and is Incredibly Happy.

Money cannot buy you happiness, but it can buy you things and that’s pretty much the same.

The Life Lesson.

Various people from various backgrounds all do shit and learn something.

The Snake Summoning Tennis Racket.

Jamie Kendall wants nothing more than to win Wimbledon. She asks her local demon to grant her this one wish. The demon gives her the greatest tennis racket that ever did exist, forged from the spine of an angel and the guts of … I dunno… Jesus? she cannot lose if she uses that racket. However, every time she hits something with it, it summons snakes.

 

and maybe some more, who knows the last two were just made up on the spot.

Download the Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness.

 

 

 

The Start of Something Mediocre

Two choices exist for someone with greater knowledge than most. One: use such knowledge for the betterment of mankind, or two: use such knowledge for the betterment of a man[1]. Samantha Gardner knew of other worlds, she had visited some and read brochures on others. Due to a drunk driving incident, a Darubian pilot crashed his spacecraft into her bedroom. Fortunately, Darubian’s are four inches tall and the only damage done was a broken window and a wireless radio. However, that one event opened Samantha’s eyes to the real world, or rather universe. In exchange for not going to the police the drunk Darubian offered Samantha knowledge and technological wonders that other humans could only dream of.

Considering Samantha was working as an estate agent at the time, she decided it was in her best interest not to go to the police to report an interplanetary incident of drunk driving. Three days later, as promised a ship arrived in her driveway complete with camouflage. To the casual observer it resembled a car[2]. From that point on, she dedicated her life to the acquiring of knowledge and the study of the known universe. This swiftly became boring so she instead set up her own detective agency.

Of course she had tried. She visited great powerful civilisations to find the secret to a lasting global peace. Unfortunately, the answer went against every pacifistic notion ever conceived. As it turned out the only way to achieve a lasting peace was to flock to likeminded people and instigate a long and bloody war with other groups of likeminded people, until there was only one group left. Once everyone else was dead, peace and harmony could reign. As it was some of Samantha’s best friends were earthlings so the idea of dealing out death and destruction was unappealing to her.

She didn’t want to give up on diplomacy, alas a sympathetic Nyoiman of the Selabon system told her.

“All civilisations develop diplomatic institutions as a means to delay. As they talk about peace and trade deals they’re really just waiting until they’re sure their arsenal is up to the task of annihilating their enemies. In diplomacy, people can lie, they can twist words to mean whatever they want them to mean, some people are adept at using hundreds of words to say nothing. They can hide their weaknesses with their words, shield themselves from the strong with treaties and agreements. When your enemies are burnt to ashes, nothing needs to be said.”

So humanity had that to look forward to.

In the meantime, Samantha had to earn a living somehow.

***

 

 

[1] Or Woman as it is in this case.

[2] A blue one, 2016 plate.

The Man Who Believed Himself an Octopus

Below is potentially the stupidest thing I’ve ever committed to paper… digital paper, but I hope you read it, enjoy it, and send me lots of money, or at the very least some food.

The Man Who Believed Himself To Be An Octopus.

The first thing you ought to know about me, is that I am an octopus. To your untrained, human eye, you may think I am one of you, but you would be wrong. I first realised I was an octopus at the age of eight, an oddly convenient year to come to that astonishing realisation I know, but that is when it happened. Octopus are you? You might be asking – where are your eight legs? The answer to that would be, octopusses (most would say octopi, but it is a contentious issue, octopi has no entomological basis) do not have 8 legs. What they do have, are six arms, and two tentacles that are utilsed as legs. See, that is proof that I am in fact an octopus, as who else would have such knowledge?

As I was saying, when I was eight, I started to realise that my arms were covered in these little rings… suckers if you will. I remember running to my mother and asking in my childish, high pitched whine – what are these mummy? Coaxing her out of her Valium induced trance. She looked at me, bleary eyed as though I were a stranger, her greasy, unwashed mouse coloured hair falling across her slanted face.

Those – she said – are tiny portraits of Burt Reynolds. You’re absolutely covered in them baby.

I had no idea who Burt Reynolds was, but I was young, the age when adults – particularly parents, knew all, so I did not question.

I went to school, my coked up mother driving erratically and swearing at the other drivers on the road and almost killing the lollipop lady. In class the teacher, Mrs. Borridge, who I would later learn earned money on the side as a PVC clad dominatrix, glanced at the many portraits of an aged actor, who at the time meant nothing to me.

What unusual markings – she said. You must remember this was a different time. Teachers often pointed out flaws and insecurities and made spectacles of them. I remember Jonathan McLaren had a problem with his arm. It was much smaller and bent at a funny shape, his hand was deformed and only had three stubby little fingers. When he first joined the class, upon answering his name when the register was taken, Mrs. Borridge look up and fixed him a cold little stare.

What is wrong with your arm? – she asked.

I don’t know miss I were born this way – he replied.

So you’re a freak then are you? – she snapped back – a disgusting little freak! Look at the freak children, look at his disgusting little nub of an arm. It’s enough to make you sick. People like that ought to be drowned at birth. It’s the kindest thing to do, for us that is. Save us looking at such monstrosity.

I heard Jonathan McLaren got the last laugh, bullied and alienated as he was. Ten years later at the the age of eighteen he stumbled upon a website, Mrs. Dolores’ school for naughty boys who needed strict punishment. This aged, saggy skinned woman, spread in to a PVC corset like cream cheese on a poor quality bagel stared back at him. He’d recognise those judgmental eyes anywhere. He phoned the number, booked her services, and killed her with a hammer.

They’re tiny portraits of Burt Reynold’s miss – I responded to her question. Her sharp little eyes, almost black in hue, narrowed. She pinched and prodded at my skin.

They most certainly are not – she said – they are suckers my boy.

Now, there is one type of person who is more likely to speak right than your parents when you are eight years old, we all know these people to be teachers.

Suckers? – I asked dumbly.

Yes! Now shut up and continue with your maths, and don’t forget to throw disgusted looks in Jonathan’s direction!

I made sure to scowl at the boy with the mangled arm, feeling a pang of guilt as I did. Other than the arm, which I’m sure was not a boon in his life, he was a nice boy, still is – prostitute murdering aside.

I told my mother what MRs. Borridge said that night, just as she was readying her heroine. She released the belt she had clenched in her teeth, leaving little pockmarks on the leather. She studied me very closely as she laid down her needle. – like an octopus? She asked.

HAving had very little interest in my sea dwelling brethren at that point I didn’t really know how to respond to this. I suppose yes, it was very likely to be like an octopus, but it was only over the following weeks that I began to notice other similarities: My big, swollen bulbous head and large eyes, my multiple limbs and a natural inclination to eat small crustaceans.

It was a tough time, coming to terms with my true identity. I felt like an outcast at school. I found myself picking on Jonathan a lot more – looking back I can only assume it was to take the attention off myself. When my mother was forced into rehab by a judge, I stayed with my uncle Vladimir down at the coast. I spent a long time shuffling along the coarse sand staring at the sea. Iron grey waves, crested with bubbling foam hissed onto the shore. I hated it. It was calling to me and I hated it.

I shouldn’t be an octopus. I thought. I am a human. My mother is a human, my uncle Vlad is a human, presumably my absentee father should be a human too. I suppose my father could have been an octopus, using his third arm (the hectocotylus) to inseminate my mother by releasing spermatophores into her. It’s possible, but unlikely I think. Therefore, I shouldn’t be an octopus.

I stayed with Vlad, who earned his money by playing the accordion in the street, for five weeks. I avoided the sea mostly. Until the third week. Every night I would toss and turn, unable to sleep. I could hear the waves. The rush of the sea. I could taste the salt. I… I could feel its wetness. Sweating, in a rush of anxiety I left the house. I meandered down the poorly lit streets of the quaint little seaside town. My hearts, all three of them, were beating like mad. My arms were flailing madly as I broke into the run. I could resist it no longer. The shame of it. What kind of a human was I? I reached the sand. I could see the lights of boats dotting the horizon, a drunk man was lying face down on the beach, mumbling a non-existent tune to himself.

I splashed into the water, up to my ankles – no not my ankles, I don’t have any ankles.

I stood there for some time, feeling the cool water swirl around me. I was scared – I felt guilty – but above all… I felt – I felt free.

I carried on going, deeper and deeper. Eventually, my head was covered. I kept going, water rushing all around me. I could breathe under water, it didn’t matter, I was an octopus. I let water rush into my nose and mouth and filled up my lungs with my true home.

I passed out. It must have been too emotionally overwhelming.

I woke up to a blinding light and the sound of agitated voices.

Can you hear me? – a voice said – if you can hear my blink.

I complied. I tried to sit up but was pressed down again.

Please, stay still – the voice urged me.

The voice, it turned out, belonged to Doctor Saxon, a slightly tubby man with a large mole on his chin and tired looking eyes. For some time I was left alone, Doctor Saxon would wander in occasionally and ask me some simple questions. Apparently testing for some sort of brain damage.

Do you know who you are? Was one such question. A seemingly innocuous question. Do you know who you are? Do you? I’m not sure I do. I could have told Saxon that I knew my name, I knew where I was raised, that I currently lived with my uncle whilst my mother was in rehab. I could have said all of this, but did that answer the question? That was more a response to – What is your history? Who am I? Do I know?

I’m not sure I understand the question – I responded after a time. I was sitting up now, I felt tired and strangely empty. Saxon raised his eyebrows. His gray, world weary eyes took on a momentary sympathetic sort of glean.

Do you know why you are here? – He asked.

I passed out – I replied.

Do you remember what caused you to do this? – he was looking seriously now. I focused on his mole, the harmless proliferation of skin cells, a very human trait. I don’t have any moles as far as I’m aware, though I’ve never seen my back. I can stare in a mirror and spin round really quickly, but my reflection is too swift.

I remember – I began – I remember I was going home.

You washed up on the shore, you almost drowned. – Saxon’s voice had taken on a stern edge – Had you gone for a spot of night swimming?

I was going home.

I’m referring you to a friend of mine – Said Saxon – Doctor O’Shea, she is a psychiatrist, she will just ask you a few questions. In the mean time get some rest.

As it turned out, Saxon had thought I was trying to take my own life. An act I guess doctors of all people would have very little time for. They devote the majority of their adult lives trying to prolong the existence of others, trying to cure, trying to heal. I doubt they have any respect for someone who chooses to end it prematurely.

Do you know who you are?

Odd how little questions like that can leave you reeling.

O’Shea was a skinny woman of middling years. Her black hair was streaked with gray and tied in a little bun on the very top of her head. It made it look as though she had another little head on top her of her main one. Perhaps she did, perhaps the top head had full control.

For all the television shows depicting a consultation with a psychiatrist, they bear very little similarities with reality. There’s no lounging chair, no questions of your childhood, very little delving. It’s all rather clinical. How do you feel? Why did you do what you did? Stress levels? Over worked? History of mental illness in the family.

I’m an octopus – I told her flatly. She looked at me silently for some time, then scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it too me.

Please – she said – take these for two weeks and come back and see me.

Upon return to my uncle’s house he greeted me with a smile.

Where have you been? – he asked jovially.

I went into the sea and then spent a few nights in hospital? – I replied.

Ah, to be young. – he said.

My mother left rehab having acquired an intense love of Yoga. She was always doing Yoga, even when driving. In some ways I think this was just another addiction, that and her constant urge for sex. Men were zipping in and out of the house, always leaving rather flustered and red in the face. Humans and dolphins are amongst the few creatures on the planet that have sex for fun. I think Dolphins are obnoxious. It would be much easier if humans mated like us octopuses, just stabbing an arm into the woman or something. Or maybe they should mate like the Salmon, traveling up stream for weeks on end, risking a bear related death, reaching the top and finally releasing the eggs and sperm an then dying of exhaustion anyway. It would certainly keep the population in check.

I covered up my arms as often as possible, keeping the suckery things out of view. Out of sight out of mind they say. I tried to get a paper route, but soon gave that up after reading the headline in a copy of the Daily Mail one day.

Foreign Octopuses Invade British Waters To Take Advantage of Benefits System.

I couldn’t seem to escape it. Everywhere I looked there were things reminding me of what I really was. Documentaries on Ocean life, fancy restaurants serving Octopus, and recently, a large billboard had been erected in the center of town with the ominous warning.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT AN OCTOPUS? GET A FREE CHECK NOW.

As time went on I did my best to get on and live a normal life. As I aged I got a job and rented a small flat. I was Ten by this point. With the emergence of online gambling my mother had taken to it like a duck to processed bread. She won big and immediately moved to Hollywood to become a movie producer. She became famous, but ultimately fell back into old habits and was said to have died after drinking a cocaine/heroine/lard and carrot smoothie. She was found bent in the most complex of Yoga positions. She casket – I remember – was unusually shaped.

By the age of eleven I had a steady job in the financial department of a big automobile company. I chose the job because the address of the building was as follows:

22 – Nowhere Near the Sea

Somewhere In England

Wherenoonementions the Coast and sea creatures.

HE10 4NR

It was perfect. For a while I lived a simple life, until at the age of twelve – once I had risen through the ranks Gary Hodgekins, my boss came to me one lunch time.

He was dressed in a fine pressed black suit. His dark brown skin glistened with sweat as it was a hot day, his jutting chin almost poked me in the eye.

I’m going to need you to go to our coastal division to sort out the financial shit they’ve managed to fuck up!- he said to me.

Coastal Division? – I asked worried – Where’s that.

Somewhere along the coast – he replied curtly.

I can’t do that! – I exclaimed.

Listen here, your the best guy we’ve got on this team. All the other bastards in finance are a bunch of useless fuck-ups who’d end up fucking up an unfuckupable job. – he declared, his eyes narrowed. – Get this done, and you’ll get a bonus so huge, I’d make a giant octopus look small.

I was stunned by his sudden mention of such an obscure creature, considering there were creatures much bigger than said giant octopus, though I did fancy having lots of money.

I’m not sure – I said.

Put it this way – said Gary, putting a hand on my shoulder and squeezing firmly – if you don’t go, I’ll murder everyone you hold dear, before murdering you.

Say what you like about the man, Gary had a certain way with words that was very convincing.

I took a train down to The Coast and found our Coastal Office sat on the beach rising high into the air over looking the sea. I gulped, my throat dry and my trio of hearts beating like mad as I plodded along the sandy beach. Children were making sand castles. Men and women were lying pointlessly in the sun trying desperately to make their skin a little darker, but the sea… the sea was what captivated my attention. It was as if my very soul was hurting with longing. The waves hissed onto the shore, the sunlight glistened on top of the water like slowly disolving diamonds. The air was deliciously salty and filled with the irritating din of seagulls.

My office window looked out at the watery expanse. It seemed to go on forever, or at the very least, until it hit France. I drummed nervously on my desk as my assistant put the finances on my desk. It was a great wobbly cube, looking extremely fragile and incredibly fucked up. Finances weren’t supposed to be cubes, as every good finance guy knows, they should be round.

I felt horribly dry, always aware of the great wetness that lurked just behind me. My assistant placed a latte on my desk. It cost £3 and was my third of the day, and paid for out of the petty cash. That was the first thing that had to go, coffee was expensive and largely unnecessary.

I had to call everyone in to a board meeting, to discuss the precarious state of our finances, they were leaning on the edge of the shelf and could fall at any minute. There were lots of people there, all of different shapes and sizes. A wilting pot plant sat next to the water cooler, that every so often would belch with a great bubble.

Everyone had a coffee, some people had three.

Thanks for coming everyone – I said nervously. All eyes were on me. – as you know, our finances are in disarray, and drastic things need to be done.

There were serious, almost mournful nods of agreement.

Starting with the fact that I will have to fire ninety percent of you, you cost too much and don’t really do anything. – Again there were nods of agreement.

Those… those of you that stay on… will- I paused and licked my lips. The water cooler belched, causing me to flinch – will have a greatly reduced salary. In fact, in many ways you will become slaves.

They were nodding, their heads like those of nodding dogs but thrice as fake looking.

The health plans will be cut, and your houses will become our property and we plan on selling them rendering you homeless – nodding, nodding all nodding.

The water cooler bubbled, I could hear the waves sloshing on the sand behind me. I could taste the salt on my tongue. I could feel my tentacles flexing eagerly.

And of course – I started, I took a deep breath – You’ll no longer be permitted to buy coffees with company money.

Pandemonium broke loose. Outrage, outrage all around me. Men and women alike were red in the face with indignant rage.

How do you expect us to live?- they cried.

This goes against our employees rights! We have contracts – they lamented.

I know this will be a difficult transition –

Difficult, I’d rather die! –

But I’m sure, together we can… we can… Octopus – I felt wobbly, distant almost. I looked at the bemused faces all around me.

Do you know who you are?

Their eyes looked a mix of barely restrained anger, confusion and horror. After a lengthy pause, one bald man mustered the courage to say – What did you just say.

Octopus – I replied feeling defeated, there was a slump in my chest, it had beaten me.

I don’t quite understand? – said a woman.

OCTOPUS! – I roared at the top of my voice, startling them all. – I AM AN OCTOPUS! – I leapt upon the desk and charged for the door, a man was walking by carrying a steaming bowl of soup, fresh from the microwave. I knocked him down, scalding soup splashing over his face. I ignored the screams as I pounded towards the lift, ripping my clothes off as I went. It was rather anti-climactic standing in the little metal box which seemed to stop at every floor. People got in and eyed my naked, octopussy form warily. Eventually, we hit the ground floor, and I shoved past people screaming.

OUT OF MY WAY! I’M AN OCTOPUS GET OUT OF MY WAY! – I ran out of the building, across the sand, not caring for the hundreds of sand castles I was destroying. I dove head first into the shallows, rolling around with glee, laughing and revelling as the cool water slapped against my naked form, lapping it up with my tongue, tentacles flailing.

Do you know who you are?

No… I don’t think anyone does.

Do you know what you are? That’s easier to answer.

I am an octopus.

The end.

 

Behind Closed Doors.

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy trying to keep a job, and move into a flat. A really bohemian flat where I can truly focus on achieving my ambition of being a pretentious douche.

When it comes to writing most seem to think it’s a good idea to plan, write, read and rewrite. I can’t work under these conditions. As someone who is constantly told he seems like he has some form of ADHD, I just don’t have the patience for such nonsense. I much prefer to plant a word seed, and let nature take its course and see what beautiful cherry blossom might grow, or what disgusting foul smelling word weed. Anyway. Here’s something I let evolve from not being able to sleep last night. I hope you find it delightfully melancholy.

Behind Closed Doors.

7B or not to 7B? Or perhaps first we should delve into 7C.

Here we find a man lying on his back, head half submerged in a soft pillow, smelling synthetically sweet from detergent. A cool, damp summer air drifts playfully through his window, gently rattling the wooden slats of his post-modern blinds. He’s not entirely sure what post-modern means, but he was assured that they were, and thought that sounded cool and interesting. He’s lying on his back, in the dark, heaving shuddering sighs of loneliness, much as he had done the previous night and the night before that, much as he no doubt will do all the nights that stretch oppressively before him.

He almost feels envious of the angry and violent noises emanating from 7B. From the sounds alone, he finds it difficult to tell which one is getting a severe beating, the man or the woman. Perhaps both are giving as good as they get. They’re speaking, or rather shrieking in their own native language, so for all he knew it was simply part of their culture, who was he to judge? As he listens to the dull thuds the, hefty slams and the yelling and the screaming, he feels as though he might be dreaming, but all the while he couldn’t help but feeling, that the touch of a fist to the face, was better than no touch at all. That words spat in malice, cruel taunts and aggressive jibes, were all preferable to the endless silence.

He lies awake wondering whether to call the police, or try and force sleep, before attempting the latter. Thinking of the faces of all those he wished he had had the guts to be rejected by. He lies there, as the light, late night, swing music from number eight makes his feet twitch in some absent little dance. He wonders what it would be like to be loved. To be loved unconditionally and endlessly, what would that feel like.

All good things must come to an end, that includes love and life my good friend.

Sleep won’t claim him for some time.

Alas, his brand of melancholy is somewhat cliché, if we spend too long watching him our minds might decay, our sympathies wane.

Now 7B… no let’s go with 8.

What a fine lady she used to be. Now at the ripe old age of seventy three. One might be forgiven – upon first glance – for thinking her trapped in some hypnotic trance. The swing music you see, was a passion of her husband’s, they met at a dance, he played the trumpet. Each night, she puts on her records, surrounded by her outdated wall paper. After dinner, she sits upon her chair, she brushes what remains of her hair and talks to her husband who is no longer there. The records go on, and she exclaims to the air ‘remember how we used to move? Remember how you used to play?’

She sets  the table for him each and every night. If someone should come visiting and enquire she’d say, ‘Why he’s just popped down to the shop. He’s playing at the club. He’s nipped across the way to help Mrs. Henderson with those pesky pipes of hers. You know how they leak away. Nothing’s built to last these days.’

Can’t click along to the music these days, arthritic fingers you see. But she can hum along. In that hum, lurks a spark of youth that you can tell once blazed furiously. Once it was alight with such potency it threatened to blind all that beheld it. In that hum you can hear the youth with a ferocious sexual appetite, a lust for life that now tonight, sits in her chair, talking to her husband, who is no longer there.

Before we get to 7B. It might be worth mentioning 7A.

There’s a man, or rather a woman who lives there. A man in woman’s clothing. A David who likes to be called Davina, or would very much like to if he ever let anyone know. There’s this one draw he has, filled with artistic polaroid pictures of him in an array of dresses and a number of wigs (unfortunately, despite his many efforts, male pattern baldness had ravaged his head of all but the thinnest of hairs).

In many ways, she looks beautiful. It doesn’t necessarily suit his life style as a club bouncer, or rather a doorman – they don’t like to be called bouncers, it has a negative connotation.  Only one person had seen these pictures. An old school friend. She had been very supportive, encouraging him to be – above all else – honest with himself. He shouldn’t have to live in shame, for there was nothing shameful about it, he shouldn’t have to hide away, the world needed to accept him – her for who she was.

She had moved away some time ago, started a family of her own. She was missed.

She stands in front of a full length mirror, admiring her full legged reflection as a purple sequin dress clung to her chunky torso. Clean shaven face made up to perfection. A curled hazel wig comes past her shoulders. A single tear rolls down her face.

7B

Jerzy is an engineer of some sorts, the details of which escape even his loving wife Cecylia – derived from the Latin Cæcilia meaning “blind” – a fitting name then perhaps, as they always said love is blind.

There’s no telling how this argument started. Perhaps it was with some seemingly innocuous comment, or perhaps it had been building for days, like an airtight barrel, being filled with water, eventually it would have to break apart. The first blow wasn’t entirely unexpected. It hit her in the cheekbone. White lights danced before her vision, little, juvenile fairies playing before her sight. It didn’t hurt at first, it was numbed, the pain came moments later as she leant against the kitchen counter. He was still screaming at her, she screamed back. She was shaking with fear and rage and hurt. It hurt her more than words could ever describe, how this man that she loved could do such things… but she did love him.

Why else would she stay with a man that blackened her eyes, split her beautiful lips and treated her with such callous disregard? Love makes people do strange thing. Love is not logical. Love is cruel… Love certainly does hurt.

She screamed at him, slamming her hands down on the counter tops for emphasis. Questioning his manhood. This does not sit well and the second blow comes, a fast open palmed slap to the other cheek. It makes a sort of popping sound.

In these moments she remembers their wedding night. Jerzy was slimmer then, had slicked his hair back, had shaved his face, revealing a sharp featured, strong jawed man with sparkling dark eyes, two spheres of polished jet. He looked genuinely happy. Happy to be starting his life with this woman – her. She had cried happy tears as they were joined in matrimony. Her mother had wept too.

She was running out of excuses. Her mother was beginning to think her exceptionally clumsy.

She was shoved to the floor. An angry grizzled face was snarling at her, foaming at the mouth, some rabid beast. All she could see was that smiling, black eyed man, all suited on their wedding day.

What goes on behind closed doors is no business of anyone’s. The following morning, all these characters might pass upon the stairs. They’ll nod a casual greeting, and start another day.