Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The flood pt.3: The fallen king

     They left the secure warmth and safety of the cafĂ© and continued on their journey; they walked in relative silence and at great speed not stopping for the weather or when she stumbled and fell to the floor, her knees bruised and bloody. He simply reached down and dragged her back to her feet by her arms casting a deadly glare her way, her feet soon learned to keep up and to keep their balance. Words were not passed between them again until they reached the entrance to the extremely thin lane that lead to the town; he stopped abruptly, sharp so quickly that she had walked a few more feet when she realised he was not beside her.  She stopped and turned to look at him,
“What’s wrong?” She called to him and his eyes which had been cast down the lane over her shoulder, locked instantly onto hers,
“Been a long time” he muttered “and there’s something off...” he began glancing behind him “nobody happens upon this place by accident I don’t care how delirious they are, it’s too hidden, unless you know it you don’t just happen upon it” he added his tone low
“What does that mean?” she asked though she could tell that her questions were beginning to irritate him, he moved to stand beside her,
“Because that means Priest targeted our little town, he sort it out for a reason” he said and continued down the lane. She hurried after him and silence settled around them again.
         As they gained upon the town, black clouds began to roll in as though they knew that the ensuing battle was going to be bloody and ravenous,
“Stop, wait!” she hissed, grabbing at his arm, he turned sharply knocking her slightly “we can’t just walk in Gunner, it’s too dangerous we...” she tried to explain the sudden outburst
“I don’t do gutters and If I'm going to be returning home I’m walking through the front bloody door, do you understand me?” he said, she nodded “now if you want to go crawling back through the shit and sludge of this town then be my guest but I suggest you let go of my arm” he hissed back at her and again he continued upon his journey. She stood for a moment considering what he had said, she was afraid to walk back in, brazen and brash like she owned the town nobody would dare dot that now, even those who had fallen under Priests spell but she had something they didn’t, she had the Gunner. He was not afraid to walk talk and strong, he was not afraid to fight, to kill and he was not afraid of Priest; when she was with him she felt strong and though he scared her he also made her feel safer than she had felt in a long time. She ran after him and smiled timidly when he looked down at her he did not return the gesture,
“I’m guessing no guards just CCTV?” he asked
“Yes” she replied, she wondered what the plan was and so she asked
“What’s the plan?” she asked outright
“We’re going to see the King and Queen” he replied, she was more confused than ever but she trusted him.
     The town could have been abandoned it was so quiet, barely anyone walked down the streets and those who did cast awkward, prying glances there way; the gunner started back, breaking their glanced down but she kept her gaze averted, her eyes examining the pavement. She knew every inch of the town though she could not say that she had explore every building or crevice it held and when they came upon a large perfectly square house, a house with a reputation, her cheeks blushed. For as long as she could remember the house had been home to many a sordid tale, in the 19th century it had been a plantation home, a home to men being forced to fight men to the death; in the 1920s it had been the house of many a wayward young girl, liquor had been brewed there and shipped across the salty seas and it had since then a home to women of the night; a whore house for lack of better words; supposedly it had, since Priest had taken over, fallen into disrepair; Priest ran the only whore houses in the town and the thunder crack rooms was the only one he allowed to remain open. She followed him up the large wooden steps and onto the equally large porch just as the rain began to fall, The Gunner pulled open the screen door, he did not knock but simply walked right on in and she followed suit. Inside the house was rotting, it was damp and dust filled, cobwebs hung from the chandeliers and spiders made perfect homes between the mahogany stair railings. She shivered deeply at the sight of the once grand home, the wall paper moulding and the paint peeling, the stairs were begging to fall away and the carpet was brown with dirt. She tried to ignore the dank smell that had wrapped itself around the house and followed the Gunner toward the sound of music, music in the form of an old Texan funeral march, for some reason it felt fitting. When they turned the corner of a broken doorway she gasped at the sight that met her eyes and a tear rolled down over her cheeks; the room that lay before them looked brand new, like it had been untouched by time; the chandelier still shone and glinted in the light, the carpet was soft and thick in a deep ruby red, the walls were decorated with murals of biblical sin and angelic downfall, the gold leaf upon the picture frames and statues was crisp and fresh and the carved mahogany was polished and smooth. She could not believe her eyes and when she looked beyond the room to the far end she saw a throne, a golden throne set with a blood red seat and beside it a second throne of equal decadence though this one had fallen and it lay upon its side. Upon the still upright throne sat a woman, a queen, they stood in silence for a few minutes, it was as though she could not see them where they stood like her sight did not reach that far,
“Who..?” she began but he cut her off
“That’s the Queen of pain and her King of sorrow” he answered and again she felt that they were a great and important part of his history. They moved further into the room her eyes constantly watching; the queen sat on her throne with her king at her feet his eyes sorrow filled, his will broken, he did not acknowledge their presence even when the Queen of pain stood as if to greet them though a greeting was not what she had in mind. As the gunner moved toward her, her hand moved toward her hip, toward the whip that sat coiled there, like a python ready to attack and she did. She pulled the whip free and released it with such force and precision that it cracked at the air before it wrapped around the Gunners throat in a death grip                       
“Luther King what are you doing back here?” she hissed, it was the first time she had heard his true name and instead of panicking about the whip choking the life from The Gunner she found herself wondering when the nickname had come from.      
     Though the Queen of Pain was sneaky and sadistic she did not possess the gift of hindsight for if she did, in hindsight she might have considered where The Gunner had been, what he had survived; he had grown lithe and fast and with a flick of his own wrist he had wrapped the whip around his hand and yanked it free from her grip.  This caused her to lose her balance and sent her toppling to the floor with a loud thud and a crack as her nose connected with the bottom of a statue, the Gunner looked up and caught a twinkle in the eyes of the King of Sorrow, followed by a smile, a smile the Gunner returned as he unwound the whip from his neck,
“Get up” he spat down at her and she quickly obeyed, standing with a wobble, “where is he?” he asked her silence fell, in response to her disobedience he took the whip and lashed at her feet, “where is he?” he asked again when still no answer came he began to walk away,
“you won’t get her back Luther, she’s fallen too far down the rabbit hole, he’s dragged her to the darkest place with-in herself and she loves it, you won’t get her back Gunner” she screamed. He did not respond to this, he did not turn back but only yelled over his shoulder,
“William, you want to join me you know where I’ll be” he walked from the house then and she followed, she presumed that the final words were directed toward the King of Sorrow though she did not know why.     

Monday, 15 April 2013

A snippet of something I'm working on

     The rain had begun the night before I had noticed it when I let Boo out for her last toilet trip before we went to bed, it was around midnight and the rain began to fall in a light mist, the type that soaks you through to your skin before you’ve even realised and by the time we had returned inside the light mist had evolved into larger more erratic drops and by the time we had curled up in bed the fat heavy drops were hammering against the window panes as though trying to break in. I slept fitfully that night waking constantly to the darkness and the sound of the rhythmic tapping of the rain against the window, the light filling the room gradually began to dilute until finally the day broke though there was no sun to replace the rain which stayed firmly in place and seemed heavier than I had ever seen it before. I poked my toe out from beneath the covers quickly pulling it back as it touched the cool floorboards of my bedroom floor, Boo grumbled as I move and snuggled back in bed she had refused to move and so we both drifted back into alight dreamless sleep.
     When we finally awoke and climbed from the warm hug of the bed the rain still hammered against the ground outside, tiny river ran down the window panes and formed pools on the ledge, the gutters gushed and a lake of a pool of water had formed on the road outside. The council had been trying to fix the problem for years, it was where the small, often undetected hill levelled off and without fail the rain always collected there and when a car, van or Lorry rushed through it, the dormant water rose in a great fan of droplets threatening to soak any person who walked too close. As I dressed I watched the water rear up in a tidal wave as a Hovis Lorry rushed through it at what was obviously a speed higher than 30mph, it rose and cast a warning shadow down over the family of four walking along the road. If the water had not been collecting all night and if the pool had not been spanning nearly the width of the road then at the distance that they were from the road edge ordinarily the family consisting of mum, dad and two young daughters would have been at a safe proximity from the water however mother nature was working against them and a second after the warning had come the cold and grubby water rained down upon their heads. The water proofs they had zipped themselves into did little to protect them for the sudden influx of water nor did their brightly coloured wellington boots protect their warm and dry feet as the water seeped in from above, one of the little girls began to wail and protest, her mother scooped her up and dabbed water from her face though it was hard to tell what was salty tears, what was grubby puddle water and what was fresh rain water; the other child laughed and giggled, kicking the new small puddle that had collected on the pavement. I watched them round the corner before turning away and continuing on my path to fully waking up.          
     After I washed we both made our way down stairs, Boo watched while I fried and flipped bacon in the old beat up frying pan I had inherited from my mother, the mouth watering aroma filled the room, Boos mouth watered as I spread bread, my mouth watered as I laid three sliced of perfect bacon and by perfect I mean crispy edge preventing any fat and soft meat in the centre, perfect. I sliced Boos sandwich into quarters slid them into her dish and place it onto the cool tiled floor. As I sliced mine and placed it onto a plate I watched Boo as she nuzzled the pieces of bread apart, butter stuck to the end of her pale pink nose and she eagerly licked it off before continuing on her mission to part the pieces of bread and once she had done so she quickly but delicately lifted the bacon from the bread and ate it she then proceeded to do the same to the remaining three quarters of sandwich, she then ate the buttery bread before nuzzling around her empty dish for left over crumbs and moving over to where I sat and gazing first longingly at me and then at my bacon sandwich. The staring went on for every minute I took to eat the food, until finally I gave in and passed her the drying crust from my bread,
“That’s all you’re getting” I muttered with a mouthful of food and a smile, she rolled onto the floor with a whine and rubbed at her face, “now that’s not going to work, you just had your own” I added sparing her no sympathy as she tried to look her cutest. I stood and checked the time as I walked over to the sink and slipped our bowls into the warm soapy water. It was just about to turn 10 o’clock, the rain had fall back into a light mist though the clouds still remained black and brooding, “shall we go for a run?” I asked Boo, she glanced up out of the window as if contemplating the rain and whether or not she might feel like getting wet and then she jumped up, ran to the set of draws where her numerous collars and leads were kept, including an embellished black one and a blue one with her name imprinted on it. She snuffled at the handle until I joined her and slid the draw open, “okay which one will it be today?” I asked looking at her endless eyes, “the blue one” I pulled the collar out and slipped it around her neck after the usual fight with her nibbling at it and I clipped on the lead and pulled on my trainers, “ready?” I asked, she responded with a gleeful bark.
     Outside, though the rain fell in a light haze and felt cool on the skin the air around it was warm and muggy and once we had started running the cool rain was welcome on our hot and sweat drenched skin. We ran for nearly an hour, 30 minutes either way and by the time we got home the rain had returned to its former state of heavy fat droplets, we were soaked to the bone from the mixture of sweat and rain water. It was then that it happened, the thing that changed it all.
     We had just crossed the road, the rain pelted down, water ran in rivers down the sides of the road, a car rushed through the ever growing puddle, Boo pulled ahead despite her tired state and shook the rain from her coat; suddenly everything stopped. I don’t mean that the people stopped moving, the cars stood still or the droplets of water stopped immobilised, suspended and floating in mid-air. What I mean is the air stood still, nothing in it moved or made a sound, it fell dead still and deafly silent and the rain stopped in a half second as though it had never been falling, like an umbrella had be put up over England. Both Boo and I froze in place waiting, her hackles stood on end, we both knew something was coming and then it became apparent; the noise hit us first in a sharp screeching blast, then the giants shadow cast over, so large that it could had cast shade over the moon; the force of the beast as it flew over our heads knocked both me and Boo from our feet, the cars screeched to a halt though the sound could not be heard over the noise of the great flying monster; It was a plane.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Immortals: A Lister Kane Noir

     Dahlia had a craving for something that most women craved daily; she was unfortunately living up to a worldwide stereotype, she was craving chocolate. Cravings were nothing new to Dahlia, she had had to overcome many craving during her life, chocolate being one of the lesser ones, one she didn’t really mind and was happy to indulge and so as she tidied the files sat in front of her, stood and neatened out her crinkled dress she considered those other cravings and how they had impacted her life. When she was a child she had craved the bitter taste of the coffee beans that grew metres above her head, as she had grown coconut milk became popular and then the two mixed together. She would scramble to the top of trees as a child and pluck them or knock them free from their branches, her mother would often yell at her when she arrived home with her arms full and her knees bleeding but Dahlia was a slave to her cravings. While sat back at her desk the chocolate melting on her tongue, Dahlia though of her most destructive craving, the one that had been so strong it had ruled her life. Dahlia had grown up in a tribe, one that had remained free from western culture from many decades, even centuries; as a child she would bask in the heat of the burning sun, her dark coffee bean coloured skin felt safe from the perils of the sun’s rays and when she over heated she would swim in the sea so blue it glittered with life or she would take refuge in the shade of the rubbery deep green leaves that thrived beneath the sky reaching trees of the un touched jungle. Her life was perfect and then change came though it were not in the form of westerners, touting technology and modernity it came in the form of death and destruction in its purest form; nature.
     Dahlia finished her chocolate, she absently opened one of the earlier tidied files and stared blankly at the writing as it blurred before her eyes. She had been 16 years old when it had started, things began to dye, it originated with the plants and spread to the smaller insects that fed upon them, then to the larger animals the insects bit or came into contact with and then it spread to the people who ate the animal meat because the crops they had grown had already perished, soon there was nothing we felt safe eating and then people began to turn on one another, those who were believed to carry the disease were targeted and slaughtered. Dahlias family had run, taken refuge wit- in the hollowed trunk of one of the many giant trunks that had fallen in the jungle and they hid and they began to starve. It was dahlias father who had died first, not from the disease but from the starvation and then her little sister had followed; it was her mother who had fought for her and her twin brothers, her mother who had introduced Dahlia to the most controlling, most delicious of her cravings. They had not eaten in weeks and other than the murky water that they collected when the rain fell hot and thick in sheets of tropical nourishment there was nothing else for them to consume and then her mother left them, she stood up one day and walked into the jungle in a direction that they had never before taken. Dahlia had not shouted after her for fear that someone might hear her and locate them, she just stood and watched, listening to the sound of her mother’s feet as they crushed the foliage beneath them until she could no longer be heard over the sound of the laboured breathing of her twin brothers; they were dying.
     Three days later her mother still had not returned, Dahlia could think of only two reasons for this, either her mother could no longer watch the people she loved writhe in agony as they were dragged screaming from the world or she had died herself. Dahlia tried to stay strong as she watched her brothers weaken and she herself was ready to leave and then something appeared through the sheeting rain, Dahlia huddled close to her brothers afraid of the ‘monster’ that she had convinced herself was coming for them, she scolded herself for being a coward and quickly righted herself, pulling the thick fallen tree arm from its resting place and gripping it tightly she stood, poised ready to attack. She dropped the weapon, it landed just shy of her right foot but she didn’t notice the near miss as her eyes were trained intently on something else, someone else; it was her mother and she carried something upon her back, a second person or rather their body for even from her standing point, Dahlia could tell that the second person was dead. The day her mother had returned was the day that Dahlias life had changed forever, she had staggered over to them and dropped the body she had been carrying and then she had collapsed. As she had lain shivering and feverish her mother had muttered only one word,
“Eat” she had choked out the word over dried lips and swollen tongue and then she had pointed toward the dead body. At first Dahlia had been shocked and horrified but when she looked back down at her mother she knew what she had to do. Dahlia moved on her knees over to where the body had fallen, as she touched the skin it felt warm still; this person had died not long ago. Dahlia found the sharpest thing she could which was a splintered piece of rock and she used it to carve pieces of flesh from the cooling body and that was when she realised something else, as she piled the flesh in a bloody mass Dahlia realised that she had no way of cooking the raw meat. She could not build a fire for fear that it might be seen and so the only option she had was to eat the meat raw; it was a possibility that the person had contracted the disease that had ravaged their island though she held none of the signs and since Dahlia had no other choice she collect a thick piece of the meat and began to carve it into thin strips before she crawled back over to her mother and gingerly began to feed her the raw meat. Her mother ate hungrily, quickly despite her fragile state and then she drifted in a sleep like none Dahlia had ever witnessed; she moaned and shook with a cold sweat soaking her skin, Dahlia didn’t know what to do for the best but she chose to feed her brothers in a hope that they would gain their health and she would not lose them.
     Her mother had not woken again nor had her brothers, they had, all three of them, passed away. Dahlia had spent hours upon hours digging graves for them, burying them, grieving for them and laying stones upon their final resting places. Though she had not been able to grieve fully for the loss of her family; men came with spears and knives and Dahlia had had to run, carrying with her the remaining meat that she had picked clean from the bones, she had also buried the dean, unknown woman feeling that she deserved the respect. Dahlia had not been able to find out how her mother had come across the dead woman but she had a sickening feeling that she had in fact been the one who had killed her. As she ran from the men and their weapons Dahlia felt something with-in her change, she felt herself speed up running like she had never run before and soon she was miles from the men on a part of the island that she had never before come across. She had feasted on the meat before she had left the camp and now she felt more alive than she had ever felt before; her tribe had had a belief, one that she had, herself, never before believed in, they believed that if one were to consume the flesh of another then they also consumed their soul, their life force; Dahlia believed that this had happened that she had, by eating the flesh of the dead woman, taken into her body the life of the woman and by doing so she had added to herself the strength of the woman, the health and the spirit.                 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The flood pt 2: The story of Johnny 99

     Johnny Winslow was a simple man, all he wanted from life was a wife and a family and a job to support his family and that was what he had; he worked selling tyres to rich fat men who didn’t know how to change the tyres on their shiny Cadillac’s, fat women with creaming children at their feet who likely hadn’t walked anywhere in years and gullible elderly women who didn’t really need new tyres. He was happy, his life was simple; he was providing for his family which was about to grow by one, his wife Sally was pregnant and he was over joyed however his joy was short lived when he arrived at work the next day ready to spread his news and instead found out that he was going to be laid off. Johnny didn’t know what to do, job’s were spars even in the biggest cities for a man who had no education and very few qualifications never mind a back alley town like Bishop Danced. He was terrified, lost and he had no idea how he was going to tell his wife. He needed to think of another way and one night as the bright blue summers day gave way to the violet, amber hues of the evening air something popped in to Johnny Winslow’s mind, an idea that would hopefully return his life to the simple, happy living that it had been, Johnny Winslow was going to rob a bank.
     He planned for only a short time, needing to carry them out quickly, he ensured his wife was safe by telling yet another lie and sending her to stay with her parents and then he dug out his father’s old colt, something he had so coveted when he was a young boy, something he had used to shoot innocent tin cans and green bottles when he was a teenager and now that he was a gown man and going to be a father himself he would used it to protect and provide for his family. It felt heavier than he had remembered though it was more likely that this was due to the fact that he hadn’t held it since his father had passed away when he was 16 years old. He twirled it in his hands warming the cool metal becoming familiar with it, reality hit him in the stomach and nausea swept over him when he finally realised what he was about to do, he drank to calm his nerves, drink after drink until his head swam slightly and then he tucked the into the waist of his jeans and set off into the blackest night he had seen in a long time. There were no stars, no moon swam in the midnight lake that rested above the world, to light the streets below and until Johnny had reached the centre of town there was very little light to guide his way and he soon became lost. Johnny ended up outside a busy bar, people swimming around him; he had not, in his inebriated state, considered that banks were not actually open in the dead of night and when he realised he seethed with anger. God had flipped him off again, Johnny’s anger grew as he watched people jostle around as though they had no care in the world, haemorrhaging money on over expensive drinks and outfits that cost more than his month’s rent and bills. He absently reached for the gun in his waist band and before he realised what he was doing he held it high in the air, pointed it toward the empty sky and fired, he wondered where the bullet would go as he moved the gun and pointed it into the hysterical crowd, most of whom were fleeing. He thought of the bullet tearing into the blackness above, ripping jagged holes, allowing the bright white light of the universe to flow through but no light fell upon him as he yelled at the crowd,
“They took my job, they took my life from me!” he swirled around in an uneven circle shooting again into the darkness above him, “My life is filled with 100 problems and you know nothing of them, nothing as you swan around as though the world were your oyster well believe me it will not be forever!” he screamed “98, I have 98 because you know what I still have my wife and my child” he corrected and as he thought about his wife and child his mind cleared slightly, if he didn’t run from this place he was going to lose them. Unfortunately Johnny’s clarity had come too late as a sharp blow struck the back of his neck and his hands were yanked behind his back, the gun dropping to the floor and spinning frantically without a hand to hold it. Johnny Winslow was under arrest.
     During his trial Johnny sat quietly, he waited for his wife to come but she never did and when the judge, who was renowned for being mean with his sentencing, called his name Johnny’s heart sank, he knew his life no longer going to be simple or happy and it would be a long time for it to even consider returning to that.
“Johnny Winslow you have conducted yourself in a selfish and reckless manner, you endangered the lives of others and have more than likely broken your wives heart, 98 problems are no excuse for this behaviour, for the terror you have caused, 100 problems maybe...” a chuckle ran around the small court room causing Johnny’s cheeks to flush bright red, hot and heated, “Quiet. Now we’ll meet in the middle and call it 98 and a year, Johnny, 99” the judge finished banging his gavel. Johnny did not speak, he did not cry or break down, he simply accepted his fate.

From then everyone referred to Johnny Winslow as Johnny 99.

“I can’t believe the old man’s still going, he must be 89 now; everyone talked about Johnny, we all knew about him even though none of us kids had met him, by the time I was born he had already paid off 25 years of his sentence and when I met him for the first time he was 60 years old, greying and haggard. He had been released after 35 years when the prisons had over-flowed with scum and those who were even close to being upstanding citizens were released. He was sat on his porch, this falling down, rotting, in need of a lick of paint porch, I could swear that with each drink his chain sunk lower into the wood, the first few times I visited Johnny I went only to see his chair fall and him tip backward spilling his beer over his shirt but he never did. He would tell that story to anyone who would listen to him and to me he told his war stories, the stories of his prison term, the things he had to do to survive but one thing he said would always stick with me,

"Gunner, there are things in life that will warp your mind, change the way you see things show you people for who they really are, these things will break your soul, fillet it and shove it back down your throat, they will shred you and then they will build you back up, build you into a man, a man ready to fight”  

As she watched him tell the story of Johnny 99 she saw something in him that she believed had not existed for many years, love, Johnny 99 had been like a father to him, a mentor and he was the reason that the Gunner was returning home. His eyes had softened as he relayed Johnny’s story but they quickly took on their hardened glaze when he noticed her staring at him, she looked away,
“Let’s go, now” he spat standing and throwing down a crumpled handful of dirty money. She stood quickly and ran after him, he terrified her but he had just showed her a softer side of himself, a human side, something that made her trust that he really was their saviour.           


Friday, 5 April 2013

Memories of Sunny days

    When I was a little girl my mum and dad brought me and my sister a typewriter each, by that point I already loved to write but I loved my typewriter; a little like the one below:
Typewriter picture By D.D. Scott

 I would spend ever second I could tapping away on the keys and when I ran out of paper I would hunt around the whole house for more until I found some and then I would continue. I remember that typewriter like it was brought yesterday, I’d never had anything like it before and I remember sitting out in the sun at the old garden table with its dark, matte brown lacquer and rusting stand, its giant sun brolly that never sat straight, always leaning to one side and its old plastic pea green garden chairs, one of which we still own. I would sit there for hours with my mother at my side and one of the dogs seeking shade beneath the table and I would write. I would write all sorts, anything that took my fancy really and one thing that I would always do was write at the very bottom of the page of paper leaving a clear space above and in this space I would draw a corresponding picture, one relevant to the subject I had written about. One reason for this could have been that I wanted to illustrate my work, make it more pleasing to the eye however my true motive was to use as many pieces of paper as I could, so it looked like I had written more of course back then 5 pages looked like a lot to a 10 year old. Obviously my love of writing hasn't diminished though I no longer illustrate my work nor do 5 pages look like a novel to me and I, unfortunately, no longer have the typewriter though I do hope to own another one day, a vintage one from, my favourite era; I love this 1924 blue Corona No.4 typewriter: 

Corona No.4 courtesy of www.mytypewriter.com 

 it would not be used for writing but simply an object of memory, something to remind me of simple days spent in the sunshine, doing what I loved and not worrying about anyone else’s opinion of my stories, something simply for illustration.

  Another memory that popped up brought on by the monochrome fashion of the spring is that of my favourite dress, even to this day. It started life with my sister, a 50’s style dress with a full skirt, a shirt style top, sleeveless and a black waist belt. It was white with black polka dots and every time she wore it I was envious but I was too little and then was she was too big and I was just big enough it was passed down to me. I was ecstatic, I didn't care that it was a ‘hand-me-down’ I just couldn't wait to put it on. It was a special dress for special occasions; I remember wearing it a lot when we went away on holiday, I would be ready extra early just so i could spend longer in the dress. It made me feel so special, so pretty and when I twirled the skirt would flow, full and free, I felt as though I could fly away into the air. When I wore that dress I was the prettiest girl in the room, all eyes were on that dress. Of course I don’t own that any more either, not that I would fit into it anymore but in light of the recent fashion for the black and white I’m considering buying another just like it, a vintage one full of life and memories, one that made someone else feel like the most beautiful girl in the room.   

Gorgeous black and white polka dot dress courtesy of www.poshgirlvintage.com

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Flood

     She walked over to him her hair matted and limp from the recent rain storm, her cheeks were flushed from her climb and from her over cast green eyes he could tell that she was there to offer him bad news, news he wasn’t interested in,
“What are you doing here?” he asked his voice low and gravelly, he did not raise his eyes to meet hers but simply continued on with the task he had set himself; cleaning the barrel of his old Smith and Wesson
“You’re the Gunner, aren’t you?” she asked her eyes were set on him, unflinching
“And?” he asked his patience quickly wearing
“we need you, the town..” she began pausing as a tear rolled down over her cheek, he  looked up at her then and sneered but did not speak a word, “the town has been over ruled, over run, taken over by the priest. He calls himself the ‘American brother’ and he’s like a disease, spreading and killing and nobody can see it, everyone worships him I don’t know what to do. There are only a few of us who can see it and we live in terror, hidden away, it took me weeks to work my way through the sewers to escape to get to you. You’re the only one left who can free us, break him, please” she begged clasping his grubby hand in hers, the greasy oiled cloth crushed between them.  He looked her up and down, a thunderbolt scar had been burned into the flesh of her stomach, he knew exactly who she was, he knew where she was from and he knew the town she was talking of,
“Why should I?” he asked gravely, his eyes finally met hers,
“Oh! She gasped her hand falling from his and touched her bruised lips, his eyes were black like shadows at dawn, shaded grey and violet, they were near empty and hardened, no emotions lurked there,
“cause there are still people in that town who you care for, people who are relying on you like Mary” she said taking a step backward as she spoke the name but the step was not far enough and before she could take another breath the gunners left hand had clasped around her throat, he lifted her from her feet slamming her body down into the hot sand. Sharp stones send circles of pain spiralling through her body; she scratched and pulled at his thick fingers unable to speak to beg,
“you don’t get to say her name, do you understand me, you don’t think I know who you are, where you’re from you’re a whore, a dirty disease filled whore and you do not say her name, do you understand me” he snarled, she nodded as best she could and he finally released her. As she scrambled back away from him, coughing and rubbing her bruised throat she watched the gunner load his pistol, her heart hammered In her chest, he looked up and caught her eye, caught her thoughts and moved toward her though he did not do what she thought he was coming to do instead he knelt down on one knee, dust rose around him,
“you think I’m going to kill you…” he paused for a moment but it was not to let her answer instead he ran the butt of the pistol across her cheek “I wouldn’t waste one of my bullets on you sweetheart, no get up ‘cause you have until we reach the next town to tell me what happened and convince me that that shit hole deserves my time” he hissed the words in her ear before he stood and began to walk toward the setting sun.     
     As they walked into the night which had fallen hotter than the day had felt she recounted a story, a story that made a cold sweat prickle the gunner’s palms, a story of the devil in human disguise tormenting a town much too small to matter...

...When the American brother arrived he was broken and torn and bloody, covered in earth and agony, he was not a man to be afraid of, he was a man to pity, a man housewives accepted into their homes and nursed him in their spare bedrooms, they let him lay upon their best linen and eat from their finest china; they trusted him. Though he did not divulge his story and would not tell his secrets to anyone not even the sheriff; the whole town trusted him. He arrived on a day when the rain fell in light pin prick droplets, the air was warm and the sun shone brightly casting a multi-coloured crown over the town, he limped down the quiet lane passing by two people before anyone took notice of the stranger and that person was a child. The whole town heard how the little girl who had been walking along with her father had stopped just as they had passed the American brother, she had looked up at him with her innocent blue eyes, reached out and taken his hand as though she had known him for a life time. Apparently at the touch of the little girl the American brother had collapsed, he had been unconscious for nearly two weeks before he woke and finally told them his name, until that time they had referred to him as the ‘American Brother’ for wrapped around a festering wound on his torso was an American flag. Of course this was not his name, his real name was Priest, Priest Blakely, though he was in fact American and that had been all they had learned about the American brother. Two months later he was back to full health and the town had begun to fall under his spell.

She had been telling her story for only 30 minutes but already they had been walking for nearly an hour and a half, she had been reluctant to begin at first because of his earlier displayed fiery temper and it had taken her almost 45 minutes to begin then throughout the re-telling of the tale she had stopped and remained silent for seconds which had built into minutes. Now intrigued to know more about the American brother, the Gunner had forced himself to be patient and now that they had stopped to eat she continued on with her story...

...By the third month Priest had half of the town mesmerised with his charms, it had begun simply with the children, they sat and listened to him tell stories from the hood of an old mustang, they were completely engrossed as he told his tales and they followed him around like the rats had followed the pied piper, like the children had in the fairytale. Then it spread to their parents no doubt through the tales of their children who would have so enthusiastically talked of the American brother, the adults soon became obsessed with him, he was who they spoke of, who they dreamt of. They gave him the things he wanted though he never asked too much of them and so nobody noticed what was going on. Soon only a few were left, a few who pretended, who wore their masks of compliance so that they could survive, though he had never made any move of violence toward anyone they knew something, they knew that there were people disappearing, people who were on the street one day and were not the next. She knew that girls from the thunder rooms, who had conveniently left town, had not and she knew that the town was changing, discretely morphing...

“Changing how?” he asked the thick black coffee making his voice seem even more rough and haggard
“I don’t know, it’s just a feeling, he had this effect upon everyone” she answered back
“But not you, not your friends” he snarled back his trust faltering
“I don’t know why just listen please” she begged regretting instantly the sharp tone she had taken with him as he glared at her over the rim of the white coffee mug, she knew that neither the table between them nor the people in the diner would stop him from slamming her face into the lemon table top...

...4 months after he had arrived Priest the American brother, who did in fact speak with a southern New Orleans accent, began to buy up the property in the small town and by the 6th month he owned the whole town, people an all. The town and its people had begun to resemble that of a cult though nobody from the outside seemed to notice and those who did either disappeared or quickly became integrated. By the 7th months passing those who didn’t believe; those who hadn’t become integrated had taken to the sewers, they had gone into hiding in fear of their lives. The American brother had somehow convinced everyone that he was going to create the ‘American dream’ right there in their little town and then he had somehow replaced the dreams of the towns people with that of his own, it seemed as though they had become one singular mind. Those hiding in the darkness, stealing food and water gradually began to dwindle, no one knew if they had been killed or if they had turned and some had sworn that they had seen their old friends laughing in the windows of bars.

“They gave up” he said coldly
“that’s what I think, we were all beginning to consider giving up, turning…” she replied though she did not make eye contact with him, his eyes scared her, she didn’t know why but there was something with-in them, something dark lurking just beneath the surface.  
“What stopped you?” he asked
“A rumour, a myth” she replied with a slight smile...

...Just when all hope was near gone a myth began to surface, a rumour of a man, no one knew where it came from or what its origins were or even if it were true but it gave the people left something to live for. It began with a name, The Gunner, and developed into a story of a man, a man who had been born in the town, born into loneliness and nothingness, his mother having died during birth and his father a dead beat who turned up deceased only a week later, his life was thwart with agony and despair but despite this he grew up wiser than his years, strong and determined. Some believed that he was a titan, un-touchable, kind and selfless and then one day everything changed, he loather the town and its people who had amongst them raised him, he became cold and despondent; rumours told of a broken heart of a whipping whirlwind had come along one day a ripped it to shreds, he had be lost in the storm, his love and kindness, his soul lost in the flood.

 “If that’s what the myth held then why believe that I would come back or even give a half a god dam?” the gunner said, he spat the words at her,
“I found where the rumours started, with a small boy, a boy who has never met you, who has never been told heart warming, censored bed time stories about a handsome hero; a boy who found a name carved into a n old oak tree, ‘Gunner Man’, he adopted this name, this person as his hero, his superhero and he began to tell a story, a story of a Gunner Man returned from the pointless bloody battles that rage on only to find his home unrecognisable, preached over by a priest, a town in a hypnotic trance. He watches from the shadows, caked to the ankles in oil and mud mixed with the blood of stolen innocence, he breathes deep, his breath thick and smouldering as he exhales, his eyes fixed and dark, blacker than night turned so by all of the terror he has seen. He waits and watches and at the right time he makes his move raging like a feverish stallion, burning into the night to take back his town” She fought not to make eye contact as she recounted the young boys story, one she had heard him tell many times but she could not help it and as she looked into his nightshade eyes she was sure that she caught a glimpse of the bright, electric blue that they had once been, “he told that story to everyone, child and adult until one day he vanished and when he did they, we started to believe that what he said, the man he spoke of was real. It didn’t take us long to find proof that you were,  though we were warned that you were far from the hero the boy made you out to be” she regretted saying the last few words as she watched him grind hid coffee cup into the table top,
“And which thoughtful citizen told you that?” he asked through gritted teeth,
“An old guy by the name of John though mostly people just call him Johnny 99” she replied and what he did next shocked her; he answered her with a slight grunt and then a smile played at the edges of his lips,
"Old bastards still alive, huh” he said almost to himself, “how about I tell you a story” he said catching her eye” and so unfolded the story of Johnny 99.