New novel, actually two combined

I have decided that having two novels, both at 7000 words, sitting in the cupboard, is a bad idea. I am currently doing a masters degree in novel writing and have been going towards a dystopian angle. I have been unable to write much since the first lockdown, as writing about the "old normal" is impossible. So both the novels were dystopian but very unformed. Now it's probably a good idea to combine them and then have a subject for my degree.

The Recovery Centre

From the short story book: What did you put in my coffee?

 

FADE IN:

 

The scene opens in a typical addiction recovery centre. This one is in Woolwich, London. There are several people in the room waiting. There is a reception woman at a desk and a nurse who walks about. The two key characters are sitting together. They talk very animatedly like long lost friends.

 

DAVE: So how have you been old chap!

SID: Brilliant mate, brilliant!

DAVE: How’s the family?

SID: Sweet as a nut as it happens, sweet as a nut. How’s yours?

DAVE: Not too pleasant mate, it is what it is.

SID: Crap.

DAVE: Yeah.

SID: What’s the problem?

DAVE: Drink mate.

SID: Ah, the demon drink.

DAVE: Too right, too fucking right.

NURSE: Is one of you Dave “The Rave” Gorman?

DAVE: Yes darlin’ that’s me.

NURSE: (stiffly) It would be better if you were to stick to your given names.

DAVE: It was given to me, properly by the lads. Serious.

NURSE: Humph (walks away)

SID: Bloody cheek, I blame the government.

DAVE: Yeah, mind, I can’t complain.

SID: How so?

DAVE: Well, you know, I got a Lamborghini parked outside.

SID: Get away!

DAVE: Serious.

SID: Brilliant. How’d you swing that?

DAVE: I got… a sugar daddy.

SID: Haha! Well done old boy. How does that work?

DAVE: He buys me things. Takes me shopping, fur coats, the whole bit.

SID: Smart. And that’s it? No bumming?

DAVE: Well, only a bit, but why not? Actually, not much though, he’s very gentle.

SID: Blimey, you’re a lucky one. I wish I had one.

DAVE: Well, why not? You’re a good looking one, pleasant to talk to.

SID: Oh, I’m a bitch.

DAVE: But they like that.

SID: Really?

DAVE: Oh yes, have a paddy about the Lambo being the wrong shade of purple, they love it. Makes them feel all needed.

SID: Smart. Sounds good.

DAVE: It is mate, it is, and he knows I don’t love him.

SID: Brilliant mate, brilliant! So why are you in here today?

DAVE: Ah, well, the old coke addiction. Comes with the whole thing really.

SID: Ah, crap.

DAVE: Not too pleasant mate, it is what it is.

SID: Still, you can always go for a drive down the docks.

DAVE: Definitely.

SID: How does he feel about that?

DAVE: Well, he likes a bit of a hard time, keeps him going like.

SID: That’s good, gets his money’s worth then.

DAVE: Certainly, can’t let him down.

SID: Brilliant mate, brilliant!

NURSE: Are you Sid “The Sharp” Siddington?

SID: That’s me.

NURSE: We would appreciate if you kept to given names.

SID: Fair enough darlin’.

NURSE: Humph.

DAVE: The cheek of it.

SID: Yeah, well, can’t complain.

DAVE: No?

SID: Yeah, got a luxury yacht down the docks.

DAVE: Splendid old chap.

SID: Yeah, won the lottery, bought myself a 120 footer. Swimming pool, helicopter, the whole bit.

DAVE: That’s superb.

SID: Yeah, was in Monaco the other day for the Grand Prix.

DAVE: Did you have a party?

SID: For sure, that Jensen Button was there and Claudia Winkelman. Even Tom Jones. Asked him to do a spot on the PA. “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone, dadadada da da.”

NURSE: No singing please!

SID: Ok darlin’

DAVE: The cheek of it.

SID:Yes mate.

DAVE: I’ve heard Tom Jones is a nice chap.

SID: Definitely mate, salt of the earth.

DAVE: Where are you off to after here?

SID: Thinking of New Zealand. The girlfriend wants to go and get married there. Probably cruise down via Dubai and stuff. She’s used to the best is Zara. (Takes a can of Special Brew from his bag. Has a quick secret swig and offers it to Dave who does the same secret swig. They look around at the staff and hide the can. They continue swigging during the rest of the conversation.)

DAVE: Nice one mate.

SID: No problem.

DAVE: Of course, you know I have a production company now?

SID: Get away.

DAVE: No, straight up. The daddy bought it for me. Make documentaries.

SID: Smart.

DAVE: Yeah, sell ‘em on Amazon.

SID: Really?

DAVE: David Attenborough was in the other day.

SID: Nice one mate. I’ve heard he’s a top chap.

DAVE: Yeah, salt of the earth.

SID: Nice.

DAVE: Yeah, can’t complain.

SID: Of course, you know, I have a theatre up Dury Lane.

DAVE: Yeah?

SID: Yeah, always a new show on, big names, love it.

DAVE: Nice.

SID: Yep. Michael Fast Bender, Fate Twinset, Beonceie, Jay Zed, you name it.

DAVE: Yeah, you can’t beat a bit of show biz mate, for sure.

SID: Of course I have my finger in many pies these days, bit of this, bit of that, you know what I mean?

DAVE: I do mate, I do.

SID: Going to do a programme with Jeremy Clarkson soon.

DAVE: Not the Hamster and Captain Slow too?

SID: Narr mate, just Jezza.

DAVE: Nice one mate. I heard Jezza is a really nice chap.

SID: Yep, salt of the earth mate, salt of the earth.

DAVE: Oh, need to get out of here soon, got to pickup the ex.

SID: Yeah?

DAVE: Yeah, going to Ascot later in the Lambo. She likes all the hats.

SID: Haha! Yeah they do, mine loves a good hat. Your sugar daddy doesn’t get jealous then?

DAVE: Oh yes mate, but it does him a bit of good, takes his mind off his high powered job like.

SID: Lovely.

DAVE: Yeah, doesn’t mind if I knock her up across the racing seats either.

SID: Haha, good stuff.

DAVE: Yeah, bit of a problem though, very tight quarters.

SID: What? Her or the Lambo?

DAVE: Haha. Nice one mate.

SID: I jest mate, I jest.

DAVE: I know. So, anyway, I’m thinking of buying an airline, like that Richard Branswarn.

SID: Yeah that’s a smart move, he’s a good chap I’ve heard that Ricard, Branswearing.

DAVE: Yeah, salt of the earth mate.

SID: Corr, time’s knocking on here, don’t they realize how important we are?

DAVE: No mate, they have no idea here, bloody NHS.

SID: Yeah, disgraceful isn’t it?

DAVE: It is that, it is that.

SID: Oh, this can is empty, I’ll open another one.

DAVE: That’s very good of you indeed mate.

SID: Least I can do for a fellow businessman.

DAVE: Lovely, we need to stick together us aunt-ray-peneers.

SID: Yeah, no one else will eh?

DAVE: For sure, for sure.

SID: Nice one mate.

DAVE: Blimey, time is a wasting, and I left me mobiles at home.

SID: Me too. Forgot to put the Rolex on too.

DAVE: Yeah. I came out in these rags. Forgot to dress up in the Armani today. The tie alone is worth a few k.

SID: For sure. I came out in my decorating rags, bloody forgetful, all the high-pressure business transactions going through my head.

DAVE: Always the way isn’t it with business. All that money to keep track of and buying and selling.

SID: For sure mate.

DAVE: Better than prostituting your self for the man eh?

SID: Definitely, working for the man is shit.

DAVE: Yep.

SID: Yep.

DAVE: Blimey, this is boring this place, the old Lambo keys are burning a hole in my pocket.

SID: Definitely mate. I can’t wait to be off and out, back to the ship.

DAVE: I bet.

SID: Still, can’t be long now.

DAVE: Hopefully, mate, hopefully.

SID: Fuck me this place is the worst.

DAVE: It is, about as bad as Coldhits ain’t it?

SID: Yes mate, worse, no escape plane in the attic here.

DAVE: Haha, for sure.

SID: Still, could be worse.

DAVE: Yeah, one could have Altsymers.

SID: Fucking Altsymers, fuck yeah, nasty.

DAVE: Actually, nuts for this as a game of soldiers. I’m off.

SID: Yes mate, me too, had enough.

DAVE: Nice bumping into you.

SID: What was your name again?

DAVE: Jean Luke Picard mate.

SID: Cool. I’m Lewtenant Wharf.

DAVE: Nice to meet you Mr Wharf.

 

They walk to the door and leave. In the street, they each turn in opposite directions and walk slowly into the distance.

 

 

 

 

FADE OUT:

THE END

I thought I was Greta

I’m a pretty disturbed bunny right now. Since July 2020 I’ve had to throw away a lot of ideas I had and embrace a lot of new ones. I used to think environmental collapse was imminent, in truth, we all do/did. The difference was, I did something about it, I was a conservationist and activist. For a bit there I might have been on the same bandwagon that Greta Thunberg in pedalling the “man-made global warming will kill us all” propaganda.

But I was wrong. And let me tell you, that was a pill to swallow. In 2011 I left a very well paid job to go off and “save the planet”. I had put my money where my mouth was to go off and do something about it. Consequently I got to know more about it all than most people do.

Ok, nothing is quite a simple as that, is it? For a start, a lot of my conservation was directed at rainforest destruction and species extinction. We are chopping down rainforests, I have been to several and seen that with my own eyes. I have not seen the slaughter of animals but I have seen men selling them on the roadside. I have also seen the complete replacement of rainforests with palm oil plantations. African palm plantations are monocultures, nothing much lives in them. I had this quaint idea before I went to those countries that there would be several miles of rainforest in patches followed by palm. No. There are just miles and miles and miles of palm. You need to travel for hours by car and then walk for hours to reach primary rainforest. Primary rainforest means, unmolested, never chopped down by mankind. Secondary rainforest means, chopped down, but grown back. In Ecuador I was driven for hours to the edge of a forest, followed by a five/six hour walk through secondary forest to the primary rainforest. Even then it is not clear cut. Back in the 70’s a US president made it a law that if you went into the rainforest and chopped down 50 hectares, you could own 200. So, as a result, there is very little in the way of continuous primary rainforest.

Since I was a kid I was interested in nature. I had a nature book as a child and I would look at the animals with great interest. I adored the Gerald Durrell books. Though I wonder now about his angle. He used to go on zoo collecting expeditions and pinch animals from the wild for zoos. Admittedly, later he made his own zoo for conservation. However, I am no dubious about our impact on other species, how much is made up to promote the “humans are killing the world” agenda?

In these days of propaganda and lies, who can really know anymore? The main thing I have to go on is the palm oil plantations. The plantations that bring a lot of money into 3rd world countries. However, you must realise, those plantations don’t belong to the locals. The locals may get jobs on them, and get money, but the plantations are usually owned by big UK companies. The locals said to me, “but these plantations are not ours, they do not belong to this country.” Palm oil is added to food to “puff” it out. Before they used to add animal fat, then vegetable fat and now, to cut costs, palm oil. Palm oil is not good for you. Palm oil has no nutritional value, all it does is make the product “bigger” so they can make a food product with less ingredients but the consumer thinks they are getting more for their money. Not only are the food companies selling us out, the palm oil companies are selling it to the food companies, and they are all big wealthy UK companies. Our food has declined for years in the name of profit.

Previous to the Ecuador and Asia missions I volunteered for the RSPB and Greenpeace. I don’t have much of an axe to grind with the RSPB, at least the place I worked at near Norwich: Strumpshaw Fen. The main focus of the RSPB though it not to save birds, their main desire is to sell memberships. That was the push all the time for us unpaid volunteers: sell more memberships.

I was also a Greenpeace activist. Better not to dwell on that.

I have always liked the renewables idea. For an off grid house, a solar panel or four and a wind turbine, great idea. For the world running on windfarms and solar? Bad idea. Windfarms take a huge amount of fossil fuel to be made, this negates them right from the start. Not to mention limited life of wind turbines and the fact they are pretty un-recyclable. Solar is also flawed. The panels use very specialised crystals, very intensive in production, very unfriendly to the environment. And… batteries. Don’t get me started on how nasty those boxes of chemicals can be. Renewables are just a symbol to look like we are doing something to use less fossil fuel, the reverse is the case. What we actually need to do is use less energy, rather than come up with a way to make more of it with what in effect are more products: turbines, panels and batteries. Behind the scenes the oil, gas and coal power stations are still ramped up, as it they could not meet peak demand quickly for spikes in power demand. They are still running all the time and in truth, wind and solar really add very little, despite what the propaganda would have you believe. “Power brown outs due to less wind.” Rubbish. This is designed to make you think there is a real crisis, there isn’t.

Why do they do this then? Greed and profit, look no further. Al Gore is a very rich man. Big oil invest in the green lies because there is big money in it.

Granted, there are a bunch of issues with human kind on this planet but global warming as influenced by humans is not one of them. So why doesn’t it snow much now? I’m not saying there is no global warming, but it’s a cycle as influenced by the sun. We are actually heading to a new ice age, the planet was warm like this before the first world war, but the actual long term is that the planet is cooling. These big companies have an agenda and it is always profit and greed, oh, and power, don’t forget that one, not power for your mobile phone, power over you.

 

PLEASE NOTE: these facts are not opinion, I didn’t pluck them out of thin air. Ok, opinion constructed with facts. All the facts are researched and available in references. I can’t be bothered to find the sources again, but if you want to disagree, go to the sources and disagree with them, it’s doesn’t take much research to find. Oh, I forgot, no-one researches anymore do they? Or maybe a quick Wikipedia? Warning, don’t trust Wikipedia.

Ead’s Invisible Bin Spaceship

From the short story book: What did you put in my coffee?

 

Ead pressed the buttons of his spaceship and brought it into land at Trafalgar Square. It was 1pm in the afternoon on a Saturday.

No one saw the spaceship land as he had cloaked it. All that happened was that a bin appeared in Trafalgar Square. However, Ead had been even more careful and decided to make the spaceship invisible. Therefore, an invisible bin arrived in Trafalgar Square but did not appear, as much as, failed to add to the number of bins.

 

Jade was standing near the landing site of the invisible bin/spaceship. She certainly felt something but with the lack of actual – bin, she put it down to having had one too many coffees. Then when a man appeared from nowhere, she could only assume this was perfectly normal for someone as wired as her.

The man looked at her with, well, complete lust. She just knew that the dress was too skimpy but it had been so hot that morning.

“Hello earth woman,” said Ead. “My name is Ead. Error 451…”

Jade never talked to funny men, especially with funny accents. She tugged the dress around the bust in order to hide them a bit but she felt the hem rise up her leg. Her plan had backfired and she now felt quite creeped out. She decided to walk away but found that she was unable to.

 

Ead congratulated himself on having packed his mobile tractor beam. It worked as well on this human as it had worked on the giant Bastardaril warship he had encountered on the way to earth. Now it would hold the human until he could get his translator back online. The human was struggling.

 

Scot was prowling around the square when he saw a pretty girl with great legs struggling to get away from a weird guy. Scot was never one to pass a damsel in distress. He ran over to them and called to the girl.

“He troublin’ you babe?”

“I want him to go away,” she shrieked.

Scot landed his best right hook on the funny man. The funny man went over backwards. The girl virtually leaped into Scot’s arms. Scot took this as a good sign and made away from the man holding her hand.

They ran for a few blocks out towards St James’s Park. Scot felt very manly that day.

 

Jade had felt the tractor beam loosen its grip, and as she had been struggling to free herself, was flung towards the muscly man wearing shorts. She collided with his sweaty torso. Next thing she knew, he had grabbed her hand and tugged her off to St James’s Park. After the effects of the tractor beam she felt helplessly pulled along.

When they got to the park, the man stopped tugging her but failed to let go of her hand. He turned to her.

“Lucky I was there darlin’”

He leered towards her, his other hand came up and touched her leg, pulling at the hem. She could feel fresh air where it should not have been. The muscle man bought his face close to hers and his tongue lolled out, then he pitched forward and placed his face in her cleavage. For some reason he then slumped to the floor and passed out.

She looked up and standing before her was the other weird man. She wondered if the day could get any worse.

 

When Ead was punched, he went over backwards and the tractor beam generator flew out of his hand. However, it did put the translator unit online. When the stars stopped floating around his head, he saw the woman being tugged away. He got unsteadily up and followed. When they got to the park, the man started to do things to the woman that were unacceptable by Ead’s standards. Ead fired a stun bolt into the man and he slumped forward and then to the floor.

“Sorry,” he said to the woman, “English not good, that not a nice man.” He pointed at Scot. “Please, can you tell me the way to Tesco? I’m starving.”

Post apocalypse movie from the 70s or 80s

For years I was trying to track down a film that I saw a clip of on an old BBC show called Screen Test.

They introduced the film as "having used the most scrap from scrap yards than any other film."

It was either Australian or a New Zealand film. Post apocalyptic like Mad Max 1. In-fact for years I thought Mad Mad would be the film, but it wasn't.

They showed one scene from the film which the contestants answered questions on.

The scene: A six wheel truck drives up to the camera. It looks like a Mad Max truck. There are at least two people in the truck, a man sits close to us with a woman next to him. He looks through binoculars (sci-fi bins). He sees a long trailer thing on rails and it has sails. Then this land ship is attacked by bandits on motorbikes or something. The sails fall and people run about panicking. Then we cut back to the truck and it drives away.

The film is not Battletruck or Damnation Alley. The truck I think had six wheels, but I could be wrong. Not evenly spaced wheels, with the second wheels set back. A gun slung at the back, like a chain gun. It was futuristic like and pointy like a Lambo, not a square truck. In black or dark grey.

Like this but with another set of wheels at the back and painted dark:

pic from here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/272116002459516661/

It probably wasn't a very good film and has dropped below the radar of obscurity. Anyone who could help ID this film for me would be greatly appreciated.

You can see how obsessed I am as still making models of it in lego:

Bad drawing of what I remember:

Discussion on this very topic:
http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/113440/post-apocalypse-movie-from-the-70s-or-80s-with-a-truck-in-it

I've watched some awful movies on youtube to try and find it, and I can say it was not:

The New Barbarians

Warriors Of The Wasteland

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn

Galaxy of Terror

Raiders of the Sun

Wheels of Fire

From my question on stack exchange I was given the answer as to what film it is:

"Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" wikipedia

It took 32 years to find the answer to the question. I asked the question on:
http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/113440/post-apocalypse-movie-from-the-70s-or-80s-with-a-truck-in-it/

And the truck didn't have six wheels after-all, guess my child mind embellished it somewhat!

Actually looked like this:

Picture from here:
https://mossfilm.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/spacehunter-adventures-in-the-forbidden-zone-film-review/
This link is a great review of the film too.

My Novel:

I am working on a novel, sci-fi. It has been bubbling under for a long time. It very specifically was inspired by the truck I thought it was from the film. One day I may finish the novel!

My Favourite Films

Nostalgia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Betty Blue (the directors cut)
Sheltering Sky
Where Eagles Dare
Girl on a Motorcycle
When Eight Bells Toll
The Riddle of the Sands
Quigley Down Under

I like 60's movies, strangely especially almost anything made in 1968

Though not a film I have to add Blakes 7, as the 4 series add to more than a film.

I would say the first 3 films are my absolute tops, but they are all super. Where Eagles Dare is my most watched film for sure. Some are for easy watches and others are massive tear jurkers.

Nostalgia, I love everything by Tarkovsky, but Nostalgia was the first I saw and I regard it as my favourite film. It is visual poetry: pretty, hard, happy, sad. And, amazing. I have only watched it about 3 times.

Betty Blue I have only watched twice, and the first time I was flicking between stations. The directors cut is about 3 hours long and I watched it in full but nearly died crying after. Never had the courage to watch it again. Though I read the book after. Based on a book by Philippe Djian. Originally called: 37.2°C in the morning.

Sheltering Sky is another emotional rollercoaster. I love the photography. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and staring my favourite actor John Malkovich. The book is great too by Paul Bowles.

Where Eagles Dare, I don't care, it is a great film. Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood acting together, say no more. And the best Gestapo officer ever, played by Derren Nesbitt. This film is as much 1968 as it is WW2. Written by a favourite author: Alistar Mclean.

Girl on a Motorcycle directed by Jack Cardiff who was a great cinematographer. Based on: La Motocyclette (novella) by André Pieyre de Mandiargues, the only time I wished I could read French. I first saw this film in India when I stopped on my travels in a swanky hotel in Indore. Until then I had be roughing it and it was sooo good to splurge for once. The film had been significant for me ever since. I love the title music by Les Reed. I tend to have a little cry at the end. She is hopelessly lost, I myself have been there for sure.

When Eight Bells Toll. I never liked Anthony Hopkins until I saw him in this. The ending of the film isn't that good but the rest is a ripping yarn. Penned by my buddy Alistar Mclean. I love the film and the score by Walter Stott, the title music is epic.

The Riddle of the Sands. I never cared for Michael York until I saw him in this. It is just such an atmospheric film, love it. The book is super too. And Jenny Agutter, well, you know.

Quigley Down Under. Tom Selleck's best movie. I also love Alan Rickman in this. Laura San Giacomo is lovely. Such a good film and a great message.

Bubbling under:  
The Road to Wellville... love it, saw this in that hotel in Indore too. Anthony Hopkins again, this time as Dr Kellogg!
Memento, great film, the guy has no short term memory, a lot of this is how I felt for months after my car crash

Blakes 7 – the flawed but awesome BBC Sci-fi series from the 1970’s

There was a series back in the 1970's on BBC TV called Blakes 7.

It was horribly under-budget for a Sci-fi series as it inherited its budget from the cop show it replaced. Blakes 7 was a flawed but awesome series.

It should have been so much better than it was, it was always about the potential it had, rather than what it actually achieved.

Recently I sat and watched the four series again with my wife, who is an actress. I've watched it so many times, but this time it was with new eyes.

Series 1 was subject to a lot of bad acting and lack of budget.
Series 2 the actors were getting into their roles, there was clearly more money.
Series 3 unfortunately there was now more money but the actor lineup had changed and shifted the dynamic
Series 4 more money but actors trying to get into roles and a big Star Wars influence, Paul Darrow turned Avon upto 11. Series 4 was quite influenced by Alien.

The best actor was clearly Paul Darrow and he held onto the character very well until series 4 when he suddenly became larger than life and turned it up to 11.

Most of the series involved actors getting into the roles and as they got there, the dynamics changed again. And Travis 2 was just so bad, he never nailed it. It seems that Brian Croucher had not seen the Travis 1 character by Stephen Greif when he took over in season 2. Brian refused to have his face half covered by the eyepatch as it would ruin his looks! Funny how with the full eyepatch Stephen looks more handsome! It is a shame Stephen only played it for the first season, it was at first a tennis injury that took him out, followed by other acting commitments.

It was basically "cowboys and Indians in space", clearly Paul Darrow was delighted to be running about like a cowboy. He had the gun set in his holster for "a quick draw," he said.

Really, the biggest star was the Liberator, which, in the 70's was the sexiest ship ever flown badly in an effects studio. It remained sexy for a long time, until it looked outdated, a bit like the Interceptor Special in Mad Max.

For me it took many years and many re-watchings to fully get over Blakes 7. For me it was much more influential than Star Trek. They lacked money for special effects and concentrated more on characters. As a kid and a young adult the effect was immense. Much like the effect Biggles books had on me. Of course it influenced my writing and Burning Wolfhound is clearly a Biggles/Blakes 7 rip off.

2021 update: I never expected the dystopian nightmare of Blakes 7 to became a reality, but it has, post the Covid nonsense.

All the pictures were stolen from the web:

The crew in season 1/2

Good bad Travis 1

Bad bad Travis 2

Rattle Ghost – a re-telling of Rumpelstiltskin

From the short story book: What did you put in my coffee?

 

Sunday night.

Luci stared at the blank Word document; she had been staring at it for hours it seemed. She went into the kitchen and got the pot from the filter machine. When she got back to her room, she poured some coffee into a mug.

She opened up Firefox and navigated to Amazon Prime. Then she looked for a playlist. Classical for writing, that will do, she thought. The music came on and she sat there for another hour, drinking coffee and staring at the blank document.

With the pot dry and feeling wired with all the caffeine, she pulled up the browser again. She typed F into the address bar; the first entry to show was Facebook.

“Bored, can’t think of anything to write,” she typed into her status update.

With her, near five thousand friends, it wasn’t long before people liked it, but no one said anything.

She sat there for a little longer and looked at her bitten nails. Facebook stayed open. Then came a notification.

“Lol,” someone in Indonesia had written.

Luci liked it for something to do. Chopin rattled away on his piano through the ages at her. She contemplated brewing some more coffee.

“Luci Laverne, a great writer,” she thought, and even considered doing a status update of the same, then decided against it.

Then she checked her Facebook messages just for the hell of it.

Nothing. No wait, there was a message request.

She went into the requests section. The profile picture was blank, but next to that, the message said: “I can help.”

She navigated to the profile. It was locked down to maximum security and she learned nothing but the name: “Rattle Ghost”. She accepted the message. Instantly they started to type.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“Need some help?”

“Who are you?”

“That doesn’t matter. What are you trying to write?”

“A short story for my degree.”

“Ok, want I do that for you?”

Luci wondered who an earth this idiot was.

“Go on then.”

“Ok. Tomorrow morning I’ll send you it.”

“Cool.”

 

Monday morning.

Luci woke early and picked up her tablet. There was a message notification. She opened it up. Rattle Ghost had sent a Word document via messenger. She read the story. It was short, but one of the most amazing she had ever read. She navigated to Rattle Ghost’s profile and clicked: “add as friend”. Instantly it was accepted.

“Morning Luci.”

“Hi. You’re really going to give me this story as mine?”

“Sure.”

“What do you want?”

Luci looked at the profile again. It was still locked down, but now there was a picture. It showed a hideous man.

“Oh, that doesn’t matter, I’ll let you know. Do you want it?”

“Yes.”

Straight away she put her student number on the document, and sent it to her tutor via email.

She got up and went through to the kitchen. Here she made a filter coffee and went through to her room with the cup and pot. The light on her tablet was blinking. She checked the email message it indicated.

Her tutor had emailed back: “Wow! Luci, this is the best story ever! I’m going to send it to an agent friend of mine.”

 

An hour later Luci was sitting at her computer looking at a blank Word document when an email came in.

Tutor: “Luci. You need to write me a novella by tomorrow. You are going to be the biggest writer ever! The agent said they will make you a star!”

 

Monday evening: late

Luci sat looking at a blank Word document. She was going squiffy with so much coffee and was contemplating some more. She opened up the short story and read it over. Surely she could do as well as this? How hard can it be? If that funny man can do it so can I, she thought.

It was nearly midnight when her tablet popped as a message came in.

“Good evening Luci.”

“Hi.”

“How is the novella going?”

“How do you know about that?”

“Nevermind. I can do it for you.”

“Really? By tomorrow?”

“Of course.”

“What am I going to owe you for that?”

“I’ll let you know.”

“Look, I’m not that sort of girl.”

“I’m not that sort of man.”

“Really?”

“Don’t worry, now do want it or not?”

“What do you think?”

“Leave it with me, get some rest.”

 

Tuesday morning.

Luci had a bad night’s sleep. The caffeine kept her awake, and also, the worry about what Rattle Ghost was going to demand of her. At six a.m. she got up, giving up sleep as a bad job. She went and got some more strong coffee. There was nothing from him.

“So, he’s bullshit after all,” she thought.

Right then her tablet popped. There was a message from him. She opened it quickly. Nothing but the Word doc attached. The tablet opened it slowly. Then the novella popped up.

 

An hour later she hurriedly sent it to her tutor. She was excited, as she had just read the best thing of her life. With the coffee, and excitement, she was almost flying and it seemed like minutes when she got a reply.

Her tutor wrote: “Luci, you are a genius!! Stand by, I’m phoning the agent and forwarding this on.”

 

Lucy didn’t know what to do with herself. She fired up some music and poured more coffee down her neck. Finally, all that she was owed was coming her way!

In what seemed like minutes her phone rang.

“Hi Luci,” said her tutor.

“Hey.”

“Wow, I know your style was coming on, but I see all that you have done before has come together here!”

“Yes,” said Luci, realising that Rattle Ghost had indeed made the writing in her style and voice. “It all worked out on Sunday night, it was like a bolt from the blue!”

“Ok Luci, hold on to your desk, but, the agent said yes. They are going to forward you and advance of ten million pounds. All you need to do is have a novel ready by tomorrow and they will make it into a film.”

“Oh my God!” screamed Luci, “seriously?”

“For sure. And, you’ll be guaranteed an advance for the film of fifty million.”

Luci nearly fainted, but came round quickly.

“You need it by tomorrow?” she said, reality taking hold.

“Yes. Now get to work, catch you later.”

 

Tuesday evening: very late.

Luci lay back, slumped in her chair. The Word document burned into her eyes. She felt like she was going to be sick and the sick would be pure coffee. Finally, resigned to giving her body to the horrible man, she turned to Facebook and sent him a message.

He replied instantly: “I wondered when I’d hear from you.”

“Oh my God, what are you going to do to me?”

“Don’t worry. I don’t want your physical body.”

“Thank fuck, you’re old enough to be my grandad.”

“Do you want a novel?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t say no huh?”

“You know you’ve got me.”

 

Wednesday morning.

Despite the coffee and excitement, Luci slept until ten, after the lack of sleep before. She grabbed the tablet and saw the message. From the first words of the novel she was hooked. Without reading more than a page she attached it to an email and sent it to her tutor.

Almost instantly her phone rang.

“Oh my God, Luci!” came her tutors voice, “I’m reading it now; you’re going to be huge!”

 

Wednesday evening.

Luci looked at her online banking again. It was addictive. There it was: sixty million and twenty six pounds two pence.

FUCK!

Her tutor told her this was just the start, once the film rolled out, and the sequels, she would probably be a billionaire.

 

Wednesday evening: late.

“Hi Luci.”

She looked at the message from Rattle Ghost with fear.

“What is it?”

“You’re going to be rich then?”

“Yes.”

“Now, my payment.”

“O.M.G.”

“I want your identity. Facebook, your friends, your life. I will be Luci Laverne to the world and not Rattle Ghost the old man. You will be rich but you won’t be able to be anything else.”

“That is so unfair.”

“Live with it.”

“How can I get out of this?”

“You can’t. You made your bed…”

“And I have to lie in it.”

“Lol.”

“Shit.”

“Ok. I’ll give you one chance.”

“Yeah?”

“You find out my real name and I’ll let you off.”

“But that is impossible, you could be anyone.”

“Yeah, tough isn’t it?”

“Damn you.”

“Laters.”

 

Wednesday evening: very late.

Luci spent the whole evening online trying to search for clues as to the name of the man. She tried Google searches. She looked at every app she could think of. Then she scoured forums and social media. Nothing: Rattle Ghost did not exist.

The Facebook profile gave no clues. There was a picture; she hated to look at it. There was nothing else on there, only the name and a picture.

Then she had an idea. She picked up her tablet and called up Tinder. She set her upper age search requirements to the limit and bought the lower one right up. She started swiping through the old men. After an hour she’d found nothing. Then she widened the search area. Another hour of old men went by and she was getting creeped out. Just as she was deciding to give up she did one more swipe, and then another. There he was.

It was the very same picture. She tapped it and his profile came up.

Septimus 77
30 miles away

            Nice bloke looking for nice lady.

“Yea right,” she thought. “So I have a first name.”

There was another photo. She swiped over to it.

Yes!

Instantly she recognised the backdrop of where he was in the photo and it looked like the foreground was where he lived.

 

Wednesday evening: later still.

Luci managed to get across London before the tube and the Docklands Light Railway stopped. She turned out of the station towards the Royal Docks. At the far end was a small marina. Close by the marina was a small piece of land with a small caravan on it. By the caravan burnt a small fire. Nearby on a deck chair warming his hands was Septimus, so called Rattle Ghost.

She stood some distance away and watched him. Shortly he went to the caravan and rooted around. Through the window she could see his laptop with the screen lip up.

Presently he came out with a few sausages on a skewer and attempted to cook them. After he had them cooked, he gobbled them down and he sat with a four pack of Special Brew. By the look of it, he’d had a couple already, and was mumbling to himself as he ate and drank.

“Got her I have. I’ll be Luci Laverne I will. She’ll never get my name she won’t. No more being Rattle Ghost, that’s what she’ll be. No more Septimus Phrogg!!”

Luci walked forward and stood before him.

“Ah ha!”

“Nooo!” squealed Septimus Phrogg.

“I know your name Septimus Phrogg. Got you!”

Septimus Phrogg jumped up and ran to his caravan. As he ran he knocked over the gas bottle connected to the van. Once inside he slammed the door. The gas bottle was in the fire. Luci ran for her life. Just as she reached the edge of the marina there was on almighty explosion. A great waft of hot air hit her and was gone.

She span round to look. There was nothing left of the caravan and a great black sooty mark covered his pocket of land.

“Well, that’s that then,” she said to herself.

She laughed out loud and rubbed her hands together delightedly as she made her way to the night bus.

 

 

 

Though the kingfishers looked

Though the kingfishers looked
So beautiful; specks of shocking blue
Against the dead green and dark water.
They chased each other like in love --
And you said, "they are us."
But what I saw was food
Clenched in a beak and
The chase was not love
But hunger

Their blue so fleeting,
ordinary but bright
perhaps just birds hungry
finding food and surviving.
love not here but within us
mistaken for passion
and base
instinct.

What they left in me was experience.
never forgotten
unlike the awkward moment of disclosure
when we saw different things
and perhaps it was not food
but material to build on love
the falsehood of feeling to
perpetuate the breed

for without the passion there
would be nothing.

From the book: shatter