Sunday, 30 January 2011

Operation Genie Bottle

P   R   E   V   I   O   U   S   L   Y      I    N 
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
When the evening became morning, as the final chords to badly sung lyrics died upon the new dawn, he left Samson to his napping.  He had to meet ‘Object Girl’ for ‘opening night’.  She better have that Play-Doh, he thought taking a glimpse at his snoring friend.
“Success is all about who you know, Sammy, how the poor bastards see you.”

It wasn’t Stephanie’s best story.  She knew that as she faced her class reading Why is Wigloo? She didn’t need her unknowingly existential fairy-tale to be dazzling, not when her classmates were as rapt as Miss Williams.  Children, barely fidgeting, quietly captivated, none of them noticing Stephanie’s facial deformity.  This was heaven for the nine year old storyteller.  Heaven, until:
“Oh, Miss! It’s here!” Margery Tent jumped up waving her phone in the air, “They want me!  They want me!” She leapt up and down causing her chair to fly backward.  Stephanie balked in horror as her whole class span their primary school heads to investigate the commotion at the back of the classroom.  Never mind Stephanie’s story about an errant space monkey; her sister’s text was better than a little girl’s fiction.  Margery Tent: the new face of the Wally Wizard Chocolate Bar.
“They want me!” One of the long beam fluorescent lights flickered.
“Look up there,” shouted Stephanie, “that light’s about to go out.” She pointed at the ceiling like a teenage fan would pick out a passing Justin Bieber, but the light was a common place utility, not an over the shoulder celebrity spotting.  Kids crowded round the table of Stephanie’s twin, abandoning the less popular Tent girl at the front of the class.  Making her feel invisible.  Miss Williams asked Margery to read her text to the class whilst Stephanie held on to her exercise book tightly, the sheets quivering.  I’m not going to cry.  I’m going to cry at home.  I’m going to hold it till I get home.  She pulled the pages to her blushing face reading the words she’d written, her mind drifting elsewhere, or rather, whilst her mind attempted to drift elsewhere.  She heard the fizz and crackle surround her, the other strobe lights now popping.  Poor little Stephanie, she couldn’t help but release copious tears, a flood of droplets rolling down the crooked nose her twin didn’t share.  Into her mouth they rolled, sadness drivelling between her convulsive lips, embarrassment forever correlating with the taste of salt.  The light bulbs burst with gasp inducing bangs, a quick-fire display of dramatic lightening caused all the kids to scream, craning to the ceiling as a rich, savoury flavour ruled her mouth.  The final light bulb blew apart.
A crack of thunder boldly knocked her out of her dream.  The time on her bedside clock was five twenty six and another fork of lightning knifed the gap between the curtains, illuminating her bedside clock, pushing the realisation home.  Steph was an adult; she had stopped being nine for nearly twenty years.
Steph would outfox reality by a cunning retreat to the gloom of her duvet.  There was no morning in that hideaway, her secret land devoid of duty and reason.  No school to work at, no tempestuous weather to battle against on her dark mid-January march to a bus stop.  Work had been outlawed there, that secret jurisdiction under the bed-covers.  Unfortunately, the boom and bang of the weather murdered any fantasies of a ten minute snooze and Steph found herself kicking her snug little valley of denial to death.
Out she hopped, silencing her alarm in the same forceful, fluid movement.  The hibernation of the Christmas season is indeed over, thought Steph as more blazes of nature’s fire spat down, dissolving her slight remembrances of the dream.  Off she stomped – to the bathroom – her swirl of school duties swam into the nooks and crannies vacated by the reverie.  Kids didn’t have mobiles in the eighties, she thought, as her toothbrush aggressively brushed away, plans for her first class creeping in.
“Silly inaccurate dream.”  She paused.  Her nightmare had at least spared her how that day really went.  She gurgled on some mouthwash attempting to blot out the motion sickness feeling she experienced when picturing Mum and Dad.  Did they have to?  Really?  How cold were her parent’s hearts to end her heavenly moment, to turn off her limelight in the one venue where the gulf between herself and Margery wasn’t so vast.  The unexpected arrival of mum and dad.  Two parents beaming through the announcement of the good looking Tent sibling.  Finally, Margery had achieved more than the odd appearance on telly, for she’d begun her ascent into the stratosphere of media.  Margery Tent: the face of everyone’s favourite sugary snack.  Wally Wizard Chocolate!
Steph washed her face idly, wondering how high Margery’s child modelling career would have flown if she’d survived the accident at sea.  She wondered so long her wash flannel reddened the skin around her mess of a nose.  She didn’t question her reflection’s gradual translucency; she kept rubbing the purple material against her cheeks and nostrils, convinced that the face in the mirror would only return once all the dirt had gone.  When the droplets of blood kissed the porcelain, she stopped, dried her face, and rolled out the prayer mat.  The only thoughts inside her head were that of Allah and whether she ought to wear the navy blue or black niqab …
… A bolt of lightning and a thunder boom and Steph’s eyes opened.
She was in bed, again.
She shot out from the covering of the sleeping bag, office surroundings confirming she’d had a dream within a dream, for she was far and away from her home in Tufnell Park.  She sat motionless for a minute, acclimatising to yet another reality.  Milo’s office at the heart of London’s Camden Town.  “So, no choice for me then,” Steph said to herself, busying her body into religious clothing, “Woman in black it is.”
On Camden Town’s Pratt Street there stood a bus enclosure, and it was crowded.  Each early morning commuter trained their eyes down the road, faces too close for comfort, anxious expressions all round as they searched the distance for their delayed bus, for the heavy sheets of rain hit so hard, that water sprayed those unlucky enough to be on the outside of the huddle.
The miserable sniffling and shuffling of others had to be blocked out totally.  To achieve this act of self-delusion, some of the would-be passengers stared through the steam of their breath, peering absentmindedly at the kaleidoscopic advertising placards hoisted just beyond consumerism’s windows.  Others glared into newspapers; their attention utterly devout to a political scandal, an American high school massacre, a reality TV upset and yet another senseless murder on the backstreets of the city.  Tabloids depicted scenes of inhumanity, the terrible reportage branding fingers in horrible black ink.  The paper owners remained famished, hands busily leafing through the horror for supplementary hits of awfulness.  Others still, they investigated sights untouched by the ruthlessness of the natural shower, re-watching more secretive, preferable, more colourful visions.  Auld Lang Syne still ringing in their ears as coughs and muttered expletives rode the beat of near distant road works.  To compound Monday’s bad weather start, the ungodly odour of a newcomer descended upon them all. 
“Happy Monday!” sang the tramp’s voice as he strummed his old and battered acoustic, “Have a happy Monday!”  His music battled the aggressive gales, but the Styrofoam cup strung to the neck of his guitar wouldn’t fill to the top today.  For weeks, not long after the New Year, the songster had put on a good show, and from across the street his carefree guitar-playing provided some distraction (surely there had to be a better place to beg?).  But now, this unfortunate street musician, this regular player on the road had broken a non-verbal rule of roadside entertainment.  He performed too close.  Sadly, like the once glorious rouge of his long jacket, the vagabonds charm swiftly flaked away, each surge of unpredictable wind stealing the rusty copper and black material of his overcoat.  Comparable to floating cinders.  The hobo’s rusty brown dreads waved to and fro in the stormy hardship, thick strands complementing his rhythmic recital.  One by one, the commuters began their exodus.  They preferred to forgo the safety of the overhang for the ten minute journey to the next shelter.
“Have a happy Monday!”  His joyous voice betrayed an education so refined that he operated from within an aura of harmlessness.  Only one person remained to hear him sing. “Haaaaaapy Monday!”  Out of the folds of her Muslim blackness, a hand dropped some loose change into his muddied paper cup.  Without missing a beat the man of indeterminate age used his strumming hand to salute the woman in the black Niqab.  “Happy Monday. Happy, happy, happy Monday to you!”  He sat down next to the woman in black, his guitar laid to rest upon the slosh and muck of the pavement.  The grimy nylon of the instruments three remaining strings mere inches away from battered apple red boots.  He could tell she hadn’t judged the state of his poorly kept eye-wear.  He beamed, adjusting his damaged specs, hoping that the pain in his life didn’t communicate too forcefully through his way of being.  Now was not the time to scare altruistic people away.  His latest role demanded the poise and self-assuredness of a Master of Ceremony, much like a young deity, overly comprehensive in his conversation, so as to render the replies of others redundant.  I am a seasoned magician, he thought, my volunteer may as well be a mute:

...Yeah, exactly, I AM NOT my lack of accommodation.  You’re so right.  Do you know how many homeless people can claim they’ve been through higher education?
Oh Miss! You certainly know where flattery will get you.  This street orator thanks you for the decency.  Oh Jesus, Would you look at that? It looks like you’re stuck here.

I know, I know.  You’d catch a cold before you caught a double decker in this rain.  Bloody London transport.

Believe me Miss, there is no way you’d find me walking London through this spill, best to stay put.  It’s like God Himself is crying.

You kneel five times a day and all that?  See, that’s where I’d fail Allah.  And don’t ask me what I believe.  I orate fantasy fiction.   I’d only make something up.  A cantankerous God with fire for hair – whatever comes to mind.  So, I’m storyteller-me and you are?

Steph?  Of course.  It’s a lovely name.  Nice to meet ya Steph.

Yeah, loads.  I wrote a lot of Babushka Doll stuff actually.

Come again? You mean, you’ve never heard of Babushka Doll Lit?  That’s like saying you’ve never heard of Nirvana!  We’d better do something about that then.  Babushka Doll Literature: more of a game than a series of stories.  You ask me the right question at the end of this tale, you unsheathe another story.  That simple really.  Right then, I call this one Bradley the Boy Wonder, and it goes a little something like this:
There was once this kid Steph, a kid who had a ‘gift’.  A pretty unique offering, if you ask me, or anyone, provided you got them drunk enough to admit the, er, certain advantages.  A rather unusual gesture then, from the deities of karmic biology.  This kid could fold himself in half.
Now, in lesser versions of this urban myth, where filthier imaginations have filled in plot holes and whatnot, you’ve probably heard that four of Bradley’s ribs hadn’t developed properly, or that his lower spine lacked two vertebrae.  But that’s all complete bull-crap.  Bradley was raised by his single mum who, apart from being a filthy rich Californian, had a penchant for extreme Venksai -Yoga.  She’d been teaching her boy Lotus Spreads and Frog Stretches ever since age three.  So, for the purposes of our story, we’ve got to switch to present tense, to give the whole thing this illusion of immediacy.  Makes it more exciting, y’know?
Bradley’s mother – poor woman – she skips innocently outta their tidy piece of Californian beach front, hops gaily into the SUV and just sits for a moment, smiling.  She’s heading off to her next book signing, and she couldn’t be more content.  Finally, she pulls out the drive on a full tank of gas.  She’s blissfully unaware of her little wonder running upstairs to his room.  She has no idea that he’s using his ‘gift from Venksai’ in an erotic fashion, bent double and over on the bed, jacking his head up and down.  Like some kind of human oil pump.  What d’ya call em? Geysers?  Or is that the hot pool things in Iceland? Doesn’t matter, you get the picture.  Bradley’s scared of the noise, the hormonal moaning gushing from inside his throat, so full of himself.  He doesn’t wanna alarm old lady Doughty next door, even though next door is a whole house away.  So the kid’s playing a Best of The Doors album, loud.
He’s lighting his own fire, so to speak.  He’s sucking away to Sixties pop.  And then ... He becomes inflamed with a wild idea: he could get much higher.  When he manages to slide himself in-between the gap of old oak wardrobe and the far wall of his room, when he gets to thinking of Jim Morrison taking it from behind, getting concrete hard, thirteen year old Bradley is in his own very private heaven.  Until he gets stuck.
“Could have had it worse,” says the back specialist.  Her brown fingers interlock with Bradley’s in the back of the whirring, blaring ambulance.  Bradley’s looking up at her, and he’s all bunched up ‘coz stretching out?  Well, it hurts him real bad.
His mum? Her back’s against the far end of the swerving racing vehicle.  She’s furthest away from her son.  To see this scene you’d no doubt be thinking “you heartless old troll.”  You’d be wrong though, ‘coz really, Ms Robinson is listening to the old medic driving up front.  He’s describing Bradley’s unfortunate condition down the radio.
“How? My whole life could be completely fucked up,” says Bradley, lying on the stretcher.  All rolled up in agony’s cocoon.
“You could have had it worse,” repeats the specialist.  She looks through her red-rimmed glasses right across at Bradley’s only parent, who has this really fake-everything’s-gonna-be-just-fine-smile on her no-make-up tanned face.  No vegan diet, no rigorous yoga routine, no karma-saturated world view could prepare Theresa for this.  Theresa Robinson, she’s never heard her son swear before, and Bradley, he’s dancing pirouettes over the old cuss-word boundaries his single mum’d laid down so many years ago.
“Shit ... I might have fucking back problems.  How could my situation be any - ow! – motherfucking worse? God.” The hideous waaaahwowowowowowowaaaaa ambulance siren screams on.  Teresa’s lithe, muscular, forty-one-year-old body is bent far forward and her head is in her hands.  For a long moment, her mind flips back thirteen and a bit years to the commune.  She’s visualising that circle of people, the ones who, like her, had run out of options.  All those people choosing spiritual totems to ward off ‘negative thought patterns’.  Sitting there, heavily pregnant and recently and drastically separated from the man who most definitely wasn’t her child’s father, Theresa Robinson decides that she was right to keep the baby.  But that isn’t what they teach her here.  Her spiritual conviction is being tested by ‘the source.’ If Augustus loved her he’d be at the Tibetan retreat, by her side, her shaking hands in his.  A monk will later show her how yoga will stop the shaking.  Much later, but not quite near the now, after her shaking is no longer the engine that drives her, Theresa will keep stretching herself away from the night that changed everything.  Tears stream through the cracks in her palms whilst Bradley watches the specialist unstrap her seat-belt and move out from her chair.  Blocking his eye-line to his weeping mother, the specialist, this short Afro-American with the large red earrings, begins a subtle game of misdirection.
“Lemme tell you a story,” she says, finger to cheek.  The sky-blue fingernail tap-taps against her dark skin.  The hideous wail of the ambulance forces her to lean in close.  Her story is a secret between herself and Bradley.  A narrative rendered invisible to his mother, hidden under the thick and unrelenting slam of siren.  Cherry-bomb lips part and shut.  But then, she’s not really even a woman, and I can tell you for sure, as sure as you can see all the hail pounding the pavement out here Steph, the specialists’ name, her real name? It really, really isn’t Doctor Jane Faye.

Thank you, Steph, but I’m a weak speaker.  I’m only as good as the audience is willing I’m afraid.

Sorry, pardon?

Heh, thanks.  But that would mean I have some kind of future in stand up and believe me I tried that.  I really tried that.

It was run of the mill, observational humour.  I thought I was a genius.  I wore this ol’ Superman T-shirt, red boots, yellow belt and red jacket.  All to say “Look at me.  I’m different.” Even bleached part of my hair yellow for added exclamation.  Here look, some of it’s still visible, see?

But I was young and a lot less stinky then.  I hadn’t hit rock bottom, let alone gathered the focus to relate my loss of dignity to the plights of the Everyman.  So anyway, Steph, tell me about the story, did ya like it?  You got any questions for me?

Now THAT is interesting.  Aside from the idiots who don’t realise it’s a beginning, crying that they don’t get it – that it has no ending – mostly I get your bronze medallists who yelp, ‘Who was Jane Faye? WHO WAS JANE FAYE?’ Now, don’t get me wrong, I respect their politeness, them listening to me and all that.  God knows, me being all smelly and vagabond is a great excuse to walk away; sometimes in mid conversation too.  Hailstorm or not, the next bus stop, it’s only ten minutes’ walk.  But you’re quite the curious one, eh?

No, and thankfully you’re not the kind of audience member that fishes for the distractions, the wild lyrical graffiti I’ve sprayed all over the real story.  Listeners like that get a bronze medal from me, I smile at them.  Like this.  And I move on.  They never see my face again.

Y’know, I had you pegged as a silver.  Someone who asks the right question in the wrong way.  Like: ‘What happened next?’, or ‘I’ve never heard of a Babushka Doll story before.  Why’s it called that?'  And for them, standing on their podium, inches lower than yours, I’d smile.  Like this.  But they’d hear no more stories from me.  Still being silver, I’d give 'em something.  You know what a Matryoshka doll is, right? Y’know, a Babushka doll?  It’s a Russian nesting doll, those sets of painted wooden figures.  And one fits inside the other, until you reach the smallest in the centre. 

That’s the ones, yeah.  They have themes; the Russian royal family; superheroes; Pokemon; the Spice Girls.  Anything.  Doesn’t take a genius to figure out how a Russian Doll story might go, and that each layer is held together by a common theme.  Though you can be forgiven for not knowing the golden rule: if the listener asks a single and particular question correctly, the narrator is obliged to tell the story within the story, oh yes.

Yup, that’s right Steph, unlike your common riddle, I seek questions, not answers.  Let’s answer your question, shall we, Steph?  Ahhh ... Steph.  Wonderful golden-question-asking Steph ...
“What story did Jane Faye tell Bradley?”

A gold medal for you.  Been years since I’ve handed one out.  Your question Steph, it grants you a narrative unsheathing.  Look!  Inside!  Why, it’s Jane Faye’s story of course, all gleaming and in need of a narrator.  Which would be me, Spiderfingers.  But wait, look!  It’s your bus.  I suppose this is ‘To Be Continued’, eh?

Spi-der-fin-gers.  But I fancy a change.  Next time you see me, call me Rumple
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
Behind you, Bradley, passers-by shout for the police.  The wheel of an upturned wheelchair spins slowly and silence descends.  What happens now, after all that chaos? 

       Click here to return to the contents page
(N.B The comments posted below pertain to an extended version of this story, truncated due to issues of pace). 


  1. I loved it. Genuinely. I didn't understand it completely, but the prose was excellent. I really enjoyed the point of view, it's a really effective way to draw the reader into the main story. The sense of the narrator's character is incredibly strong, and I really like the way we only see one side of the conversation, which makes the piece feel almost voyeuristic, like a conversation eaves-dropped at a bus stop. The story within a story is a really interesting idea too.

  2. Thank you kindly! I hope this story becomes a very guilty read for those who give it a try as we'll be getting up close and personal with some of the strangest urban myths via a guy who claims to have written the best. Wouldn't trust him though. it's all about finding out just what Steph is saying.

    But not just yet.

    Now, this is a writers circle. Tell me how one could improve SPIDERFINGERS

  3. Well....

    That was a jaunty misdirected step..

    I really like the concept of an odd sided convo. Nice tactic. Is this the nonversation i saw mentioned once, but forgot to look up?? Th idea of SFs relating these urban myths, little moments of choas that break the order so much they become legendary is quite interesting. Mmmm now to work out the common thread...

    Lonliness, self fascination, neglect. Struggle with life....these are underlyig themes n the boys life..

    Im liking the ambulance duo, very typical but well done, they should pop up every now and then (or mebe we could overhear them havin a convo over viscous black coffee, of that mangled actress they found?).

    Something i found odd was that SFs is not consistant with what we have seen already. is this following the last? The kurt one? Understandably he would need some down time, or a litlle sojourn of a milder nature, but it comes across that he is suddenly a lot older, the way he tells the storys and speaks to steph as if she is a child, makes him seem like an old man. He rambles. His disquiet, angst, self loathing (whilst being self loving) seems to have been completely forgotten.

    I think there are also pacing issues. It all follows one steady rythm, with a little bump when the boy gets stuck, a slight lift with Star/Ruth in the bathroom, and a glimmer of the sinister when the specialist becomes evermore SFs. I suppose this is a lil ironic, as i have said befre that your pacing has a abrupt, staccato thing going on before. A happy medium perhaps.

    Admitadly i do enjoy how diverse your installments are, having such a larger than life protagonist as your story, instead of you charcter, then putting him through his paces.

  4. Thanks for appreciating my madness yet again.
    A few questions I'll answer for you. The rest will be revealed over time...

    First, I consider this story to come after Hero-Worship and you'll find out more about what he's been doing with the obvious 'gap' between story arcs.

    He does seem mighty chipper doesn't he? Fancy that. No, I won't tell you but my god i was very, very afraid that older readers wouldn't quite catch that as his charm offensive on Steph takes up a lot of the view of him so to speak.

    Yes the pacing is very much more considerate of your past comments. Anymore snappier and I think the reader will be asked too much. Tons to take in, tons to re-read as we delve a little deeper into this doll over the year.

    I could point out the common thread, but I'm betting the next issue might give it away, not to say that the common threads in the Babushka tales will ruin the overall narrative that Spiderfingers appears to be pupeteering.

    For every race a winner.
    For ever winner, a medal.

  5. Intriguing. so...doll? Thoughts of creating a woman? Time gap. Puppeteering? What i thought was lacking in SFs, could take a diff meaning from another perspective. Sfs rather self assured knowledge that he would meet Steph again to continue the tale...

    Maybe these thoughts of Lillith are influencing me, but has he created a possible mate, and is testing her he the gold medal?!

  6. Interesting theory, and yes the idea that Adam had a first wife, unwilling to subjugate herself to the will of Adam and thereby god might even influence the grand finale next Jan (Won't be posting in December...too busy that time of year). She'd be an intriguing minor character to replace one I'd thought up to move the plot.

    She'd be more interesting anyway.

    Am I answering anything here? You're catergorically wrong regarding a good 90% of what you just said. Love to see your creativity in action though ;)
    What can I tell you? Put it this way, Twin Peaks starts off posing the question, who killed Laura Palmer.

    It ends somewhere even darker.

    But as we address what it actually means to be a god, he'll have some questions that'll be the making of him. From a certain point of view anyway.

    You can't possibly second guess chaos. He doesn't quite understand his own motives.
    Maybe in about 3 months time however...

  7. As far as improvements go, I found the line breaks quite arbitrary at times, I'm not sure that they add anything to the meaning of the piece. But then I wondered if this was where illustrations might come in? If you were planning to stick to prose only, then I think the line breaks could be lost, which might improve the pacing of the piece a little bit.

    Like I said before, the characterisation of the narrator is incredibly strong, but his persona seems to overshadow that of his companion. Perhaps this is also intentional - spiderfingers seems like the kind of character who could out-talk anyone on any subject. It's quite a negative quality, but I still find him strangely likeable, which I think is down to the quality of the writing. Anyway, I would like to perhaps see more glimmers of the personality of Steph come shining through in this monologue - perhaps in the nature of her questioning?

  8. Questions, questions, it's all about the questions.
    Yes, he is incredibly overbearing, but then he is a demigod. Right? Whatever he is, he certainly is on a charm offensive.
    Maybe his need (or is it desperation) to be loved is what comes through? It's hard to dislike or hate anyone or thing that needs love that badly.
    Or is it?
    He's had more than a bit of heartache, and as we find out a little later, when we go all 2nd person with 'you did this' and 'you think that', we'll be thankful that he has someone to talk to. If we could hear the thoughts of others as they speak to us, I'm sure the self-loathing and self analysis would be loud. overwhelming. Spiderfingers is reaching out. Fingers crossed it's for all the right reasons and his subconscious...I've said too much. Right?

    Questions, questions and less and less direct answers. Steph having less of a voice is a bit of a narrative device and much less of a character for now.

    You'll find out why in about two months.

    The breaks in the prose were there to make the story easier to read. I think people can be daunted by any amateur who presents so much text. Your comments have made me much more, positive, so expect less breaks next time.

    Seriously, thank you :)

    Just to make it clear, I don't like Spiderfingers, but I find him entertaining. Every month I try to find a way (Cue for Ashley to push down caps lock and say: BULLSHIT!) to kill him off.

    But then he'll go and offer me a way to illustrate one of life's many subjects. No, I won't tell you what the theme is. THAT is for an unsheathing or seven later.

    Stephen Brayton has just uploaded his contribution to The Circle.

    Click here now:

    I'm gonna have a shower and check it out. See your comments there soon people ;)

  9. I do agree with Leanne that Stephs charcter could come through more...even if you plan to do it later, later is not now. SFs must have more of a perception of her, other than that she is blond!

    Kill him off?! REALLY?? (yeah i held that lil bitch 'caps' down) He's your baby, your alter ego. You coulnt kill him off, without coming back, you may put him through his paces but ultimately you love him as much as he loves himself. And do not say he doesnt, becuase he is always striving to survive, to find something t occupy him, or push him, or punish him.

    And 90% mmm?

  10. Steph isn't blonde! Confusing her with the medic muchly? Steph, she wears a burka, and is a white English teacher who seems to share the same dark humor as Spiderfingers. She seems to have more than a modicum of tolerance and has a very good grasp of how to listen/play Spiderfingers' Babushka stories.
    I'm sure our man in rd, yellow and blue can hold the audience for this first number.
    I think we'll save Steph for later. And yes, you'll be thankful that i did. ALRIGHT?

    Oh, and Spiderfingers will die. Horribly.
    The End.
    But let us concern ourselves with all the stories that lead up until then, yes?
    I like killing main characters. No story, no matter how good, can sustain it's main protagonist when that leading role has no where to go.

  11. well i imagined her blonde under the burka....had an ex once, whose white/blonde mother converted and wore a burka...

    She wasnt an english teacher thought. She was a bitch. Before and after the conversion.

    Tell me do we get to see her spank/cane SFS?

    He'll die mmm? And not come back?? Thought that was part of the demi god/super hero kick. And how can choas truely die?

  12. Answers to your questions are as follows

    1) No. He isn't into S & M

    2) Oh yes, and you'll enjoy his death

    3) When I kill a character they stay dead

    4)If this were a mainstraem comic selling bucketloads for one of the 'big two' I'd be under contract to bring him back. But I'm not so yippee for integrity

    5) I never said chaos would die. I said Spiderfingers would. Beware the fool that thinks he knows himself. Don't worry. I've spoilt nothing.

  13. Decaf next time, dude. Lol. This reminds me of some Stephen King stuff I've read. Not that it's supernatural but the rhythm and the shooting off into left field a lot. I think that's how he's filled up most of his books: with a lot rambling and stuff not related to his story. (Lisey's Story, for instance. She kills the bad guy about half way through and I'm thinking, what's the point of the rest of the story, get on with it already.) Anyway, I see a little of it here. Some of it's distracting, some, like you write people will say, doesn't make sense (at least to me). I'm not sure of the setting. Who is Steph? Where are these two to be talking? Anyway, the Bradley story moves along nicely but I don't know why you didn't complete it. Unless you make the continuation into something else to relate to this first. And maybe it's me and I'm just missing the 'could be worse' story.

  14. Well, this is the first part of an ongoing series. This isn't a self contained story. Now I guess it's time for you to read it again with that in mind?
    Rather than me explain and tell you who Steph is, I'll reveal her over time. You'll see. Arguably, their is more than enough going on here to make the reader retrun to see what else Spiderfingers has to to say for himself and indeed what story he has to tell. But yeah, the could be worse story is Steph's 'gold medal' for asking the right question after 'Bradley the Boy Wonder.'

    Decaf? Hell no! I like my narrators troubled and troubling ;)
    I'd be interested on your thoughts on my reply. Write back anytime dude.
    And I remember your comment on Facebook. Give Iggy Pop another chance!

  15. The story WOW. I'm crying here. You have a definite flare for storytelling, my friend. I enjoyed it immensely. My problem is I had to reread the conversation with steph 3 or 4 times just to get the gist of it. You can thoroughly blame this on me being an American. Looking forward to the next installment.

  16. Don't think I'm fishing for commwents, but I need ya to kinda expand on the wow. I need to know it aint a fluke. That's why I'm in a circle! So like erm, wanna expand on the wow for me demon guy?

    oh and of course, tell me which parts of the convo lost you? I wanna write so that even an American gets the 'outer stories'.

    I'm a fan of Chuck P. Reading Lullaby after having previously swallowed Haunted, Sunff and the legendary Fight Club. So yeah, my syntax is quite fragmented from time to time. I really think his stuff can be needlessly dense and I've been warned to steer well clear of Pygmy.

    I might also add that your comments for the others were quite sparse too. Expect the others to do as I'm doing here and ask for specifics.

    This is the circle. We are VERY demanding. Turn back now if ye cannot comply.

  17. No, its my first time critiquing and not editing. Technically speaking your story was flawless. I'm very impressed. The narration of spiderfingers is what confused me. Uk english can be as different from american english as portuguese is to spanish. My only experience, and don't you laugh, is watching gordon ramsay's f-word. I'm going to copy and paste your post into a word doc and email it to you with highlighted questions on vernacular. The other thing that kind of threw me off was... Okay. Americans think brits are stuffy, and brits think americans are prudes. I'm going to have to side with the brits. We are prudes. I'm often in awe at how no subject is taboo even for everyday discussion. I am more liberal than a good ninety percent of the US. no ethnic group, race, or anybody's sexual preference bothers me. EVERYBODY is created equal. Most americans have conveniently forgotten that fact. Lately it seems even worse as we have used the terrorist bombings in new york as an excuse to make racism fashionable again. I just don't agree with any of it. Yes, TERRORISTS SUCK, muslims do not. One thing that has been ingrained into us since birth is children do not make their way into sexual stories. I know thirteen in the uk and thirteen here are two different things. Here 13 is YA. YA material may contain kissing, some foul language, never use tbe word FUCK, and never never have any sexual contact. So lo and behold, your story had a thirteen yo boy sucking his own dick. It caught me off guard and forced me to be ambiguous with my comments because i didnt want to offend. Sometimes vague can be better. I shoulda known it wouldnt hqve worked with this group. Tben i read ash story and she has a sixteen yo girl bent over the counter getting fucked from behind. You guys are making great strides in getting me over my hangups. Thanks! Lol. Now that the shock factor has worn off, i promise to be a little more forthright in my comments and criticisms. I'll let everyone know i posted this so they can go make fun of the prudish american. Spiderfingers keep writing. Dont get mad wben i ask "what does that mean?". You do have a gift.

  18. Thanks for commenting again with out the veneer and absolute unrequested vagueness of attitude. You seem like a firebrand man. So burn :) So much cooler to let it all out and have a lil cyber discussions.
    But enough of the obvious.
    I figure in a world gone PC mad, it is so , so important that books, all powerful STILL stand by their function of planting ideas. I hope that Spiderfingers continues to plant the idea that we're dealing with a god.
    His concept of right and wrong isn't quite answerable to something invisible that hovers over him. Though he is half human, so we'll see some of that conflict.

    I am interested in how he chooses to relate to those who don't know who he is. Like Steph. He is SO much more prone to indulge his amoral 'I can do what I like' stance around her. No one has really picked up how easy it was for him to make her laugh about stuff you might not really risk around someone in a burka. Seriously, we led by the media's stereotyping really tend to treat Muslims with kid gloves.

    I know Muslims with blacker humor than mine. Maybe you do too?

    And just why is he telling this story? Is it a cheap laugh? Or is there something else at work in his mind as he tells it?


    Brits can be very prudish but yeah, as Leanne said in our message strand on FB, Skins really won't cause people to storm Ofcom (a U.K complaints institution).
    Glad you want to know more about how we Brits speak. We have so many American shows that it really wasn't too hard to get a feel for 21st centruy dialogue set in your land. I LOVE writing and to be told that I'm gifted is priceless.

    Insert joke about how Bradley wishes he wasn't so gifted here [ ]

  19. And also, it has to be pointed out, that it takes awhile to become accustumed to your work, John! Your writing wrenches the reader into a different perspective, and holds it there...relentlessly. Which is good and shows how very strong your voice as a writer is, and SF as a chara is. But it does take some getting used to.

    Personally i think a lot of the diffs between brits and americans come from age, and size (thisisnt a sex pun). Britain has sooooo much more history than the usa, multi diveristy has changed our society since before jesus was even a glimmer in gods eye. whereas the usa is a relative baby...a baby that as grown u in the centuries that have been rocked by revolution after revolution, but always, to some extent been held back by christianity. When the puritans were settling and burnng witches, newton and his contemporaries where heralding science (as opposed to the dubious alchemy). Not that the usa didnt have a role to play in that! But i think it succintcly shows my point about the perils of american christiany. I digress...

    (though i will point out here that however lacking english history classes are they tell the truth (or commonly accepted truth) whereas the american counter part-social studies is just a crock of shit, they teach out right lies, and i got into much trouble pointing it out)

    Size! america is a very multi cultural place, to a certain extent, whithin the convines of white/christian supremacy, but this is really only evidenced in citys, where the sheer size of population means more diversity...but because the usa is so friggin big once you step outside the city realms that white/christian view dominates, theres no connection between the two. Exept for those that travel, of course.

    Whereas britain also has that to some extent, but becuase we are a small island there is much more commuting, interchange between country and city, or indeed cities. And so the spread of ideas.

    Also brits have a greater demand for truth and knowledge of the outside world...america is strangely insular. which is ironic.

    Ive mumbled on about this becuase i believe these go some way to explaining the shock of said sex scenes.

  20. 70 percent of Americans don't have a passport. Some one once told me this and i wanted to know if it's a load of shit. Anyone? I figure since my accounting of the coca-cola state is biased on my hatred of media suppressing the urge to investigate, I'd better ask someone else.

    And hey Ash! Mumbling is a grand option. Tangents are insightful lil branches and make the trunk of your story/script/comment more breathable. But then you know that, I just don't want anymore explanations or pussy footing around sexual elements of story. Swearing in a diary being too much? Fucking hell.

    Yeah, we're told not to indulge in profantiy in a story but we're also warned agaisnt not putting ourselves into a story. THEY, whoever they are reckon that we'd be afraid to endanger the protagonist if he/she were based so completely on ourselves. But I'm a maschocist and have given Spiderfingers impotence, the willingness to kill innocents in a rage (move over Incredible Hulk. You just throw people) and a very intense oedipal relationship with his mother. And yeah, if he wants to say fuck a few times BECAUSE that's how he chooses to communicate, then that is great to. As long as he isn't aware of the gallery so to speak. NEVER play to them, the camera or whatever helps you understand that the fourth wall of audience (if dealing with naturalism) Mustn't be brought down.

    I could put a disclaimer here. Liken this comment and in fact blog, or hell why not go for it, this writers circle, it just isn't about our works being the kind of meal you eat after a run. Are we then confined to an unspoken rule or regulation that each of our pieces be wholesome and filling? Can't we make some popcorn?

    Yeah! Good candy floss is still good candy floss, and so I pronounce an end to any notion that your work has to be of a certain sensibility, that sex and swearing would be you taking a risk when you submit. That it must be without fatty products and must have all the lyrical quotient of a health bar after a run. Write your apple pie, pen that sponge cake, because entertainment with a smidgen or two of nutritional thematic substance is just fine.

    Oh and here is a link to Ashley Fox's seemingly controversial piece Diary of Darkness:

  21. Controversial....well another story in this colection will be even more so, im considering writing a short from the perspective of a peodophile (Barry the Cult Goon as he is known via Bea). The challenge appeals to me, and terrafies me as it is a very sensitive subject, and i dont want to, in any way, excuse such urges or portray children as sexualised. I think i will be trying to concentrate on the moral dilema of having such urges, and how they would affect his life, his view of himself. Self loathing and suffering in an urban suburb...

    Think i'll need a disclaimer for this one, and research.

    I believe that literature as always been one of the foremost means of expressing, examining ideas, concepts, social aspects of things that push, or indeed, break boundrys. As a writer you should never confine yourself by what is commonly acceptable, but always push your own boundaries and those of the reader. Whilst still maintaing tact, sympathy, and an educated view. Specially with this subject, i want to avoid masses with pitchforks and burning torches but also avoid ANY sort of glamourisation of peodophiles. But what of those who have such urges, but choose not to act?

  22. They bottle it up, never let it out. They die never having to face pitchforks and the moral majority.
    They also know they'd deserve it. Barry the Goon can be written in two ways:
    a) he knows what he's doing is wrong but does it anyway because he is weak/unstable

    b) he has no good concept of right and wrong (I could have Spiderfingers loaned to you as his invisible counselor he no one else can see) and does what he does regardless.

    Problem with idea a is that you're asking the reader to sympathise with him. Maybe you could, as you suggest, have the atroy from Bea's P.O.V and have her find out something about him that is, dare i say it, wholesome? Or maybe even an explanation as to why he'd be a peado. Maybe he has always had a thing for control? That will be one of the things you'll find in your research.

    And b? Well obviously and without a dobht, you'll have less scope for story with b.
    My advice (Ha, further advice)?

    Write it. Set a deadline and stick to it. Otherwise the nature of the story, I don't care how much Scorpio fearlessness you have, the tale just won't get told. It is deffo the kinda story that you just gotta get out there or you'll always be doing 'research'. U dig?
    Tell me you dig?

    Oh, and good 4 u in choosing to carry on with what oughtta be a collection of say ten stories. VERY much something that could sell.

    Wasn't joking bout our man chaos by the way ;)

  23. I think i already know the story i will tell. The research is just to make sure his perspective is believable, realistic. And it will be from his perspective. Set before Bea's diary.

    think i may have it done for next circle entry..

    Not sure on the format yet, and a and b will not be the driving force. Somewhere in between. What gave me the idea was; how would you react if you were a mother and realized the one you love was a peaodophile. Then wondered what if you were looking at things from his perspective? What if you were fully aware of morals, what would you do? How would you feel?

    I wont be asking the reader to sympathise with him, merely suspend the automatic hatred that would come with such a confession.

    Not sure how many tales there will be, but poss one for each of the charas introduced in the diary. Have some ideas; art in prisons, the origin of the teddybear, violent gangs in drug supply and human trafficing. My brain has been boiling over, it all you guys faults for fining diary so interesting..and john you said collection.

    So i thought why not, why not have a collection of stories examining the darker side of humanity? The ones we hate and fear.

    Admitedly this isnt an easy task. Yet its strange what is already accepted, so many books, gory in detail, from the victems perspective of peodophilia, in detail accounts of serial killers, their rituals and the exact way in which they kill, hunt, rape is all too rife in all genres.

  24. 60 page rape scene in Pygmy by Chuck 'Fight Club' Paluniuk.

    So yeah, I've not read it but 60 pages?
    I doubt that whatever your planning won't be without heart and will justify your necronautical plumbing of humanities darker depths.

    I've been writing some very interesting but disturbing stuff for later in the year. Stuff about something, not a man, though he resembles one.
    The stuff that Rooenn Terrorsmith does...

    You're gonna be writing something that is gonna be love or hate methinks. Best place to be. Keeps you thinking ;)

  25. Oooh! Tell us about the teddy bear idea. Will you do for it what Stephen King did for Clowns?

  26. lol,i doubt it. but that would be telling wouldnt it? :P Do you dream of teddy bears?

    60mpages? A friend recommends that read, i havent got round to it yet...60 pages is rather a lot, now i'l have to read it to see how those pages are filled...

    So sf will die, and Rooen will terrorise soon? A link perhaps?

    Love or hate, yes, im not really seeking for my leads to be heroes, if anything ultimate anti heroes. But hopefully, either way, interesting and intriguing. People love to hate, and have a morbid curiousty with the gruesome.

  27. They also need to have someone they can identify with in the story that is normally the lead. Careful how dark you go. Reining Spiderfingers back from the waves of dark he often absconds in is difficult, and i soppose that's part of his appeal. How are you hoping to keep the audience caring for a character that has evil designs on kids? I guess Bea is your steph so to speak ;)

    Oops! Gave something away there. Or is it a red herring?
    Aint gonna lie, the more bull shit I come up with here to throw those of you who sleuth where this is going, the better. Tis for your own good.

    Pygmy is a hard read. What have you read of his before and did you like?

    Your wrong about Rooenn. I can't even second guess him. there are three possible ways Rooenn will affect this story, but it is dependent on what YOU guys think of his exploits. Each tale is a bit like the Big Brother House. Sometimes, you just gotta kill people off.

    Wheels are in motion.

  28. INVISIBLE (Teaser Folder)

  29. Intrigued? Cool. Go here to read Invisible:

  30. (Time to cue the daydreamer)
    The whole time I was sitting in a coffee shop Spiderfingers just in my hearing but the woman not.
    My coffee would be cold by the time I'd snapped myself out of eavesdropping. I'd probably drink it anyway using it as an excuse to put off trying to conjure up the courage to approach him.
    Needless to say this hopeless romantic would have him in her mind for a day or two.

    This was real, it was dirty, disgusting and shining through the guard everyone puts up to pretend that macabre doesn't rhyme with entrancing.

    I loved it. Honestly.
    I'm finding it hard to pick faults.
    Perhaps I'm just in too good a mood today but I liked it.
    Somehow I heard traffic in the background.

    I'm mostly wanting to read more so that I can work out why his behavior is so likable when in most occurrences it'd make my lip curl.

  31. If you think this was dirty and disgusting then I fear for your sensibility regarding the next part. Oh, and just wait till you get to part 4 - Blackest Black...

    Spiderfingers would be very happy to be inside your head for a while - perhaps and though rather hopefully, forever.

    I however am harder to please so pray do tell me, what do you think he wants with Steph? Looking forward to your answer.

    P.S Glad you heard traffic as conveying a sense of place is as (in my opinion) important as communicating character intrigue. Cheers!

  32. Oh dirty and disgusting are good things!
    When things are too clean it creeps me out.
    I think that's true of everybody in a way. Dentists offices etc.

    Well I'll make sure to keep some of my thoughts as a constant tea party in my head in case he ever decides to come around, somewhere with a view of the ID. I think he would like that haha.

    If I knew what he wanted with Steph it would be no fun.
    Besides it doesn't feel like he can foresee what's going to happen. She seems to of tripped him up a little in some of her responses and I think he probably liked that.
    For someone that enjoys chaos I like to think he might want to see what someone wants with him for a change.

    I could be entirely off there.
    But he's a new acquaintance to me :)

    Oh and I completely agree. I think one of the reasons I'm rarely satisfied with my work is that I don't always smells lilies or taste dust while writing it.

  33. Dirty and disgusting = good? Spiderfingers' menu shall suit your tastes then!
    I wouldn't let Spiderfingers into your head - he'd over stay his welcome and before you know it - splat - you're involved in some mad lesson giving crisis. And there must be easier ways to learn, right? Yeah? Hmmmm...

    Spiderfingers can't tell what's gonna happen next eh? Well, either you're in my head as I write, or you've read some of the blurbs in the picture folders on my FB or maybe, just maybe, you buy into his 'chasing cars' persona that owes a lot to your average teenage punk rocker circa 1977 - 78? Thank Heath ledger for unearthing that mindset for today's cinema goers...

    What Steph wants with Spiderfingers comes up later. In a way, he is the fly and she is the spider.

    I look forward to your work and also your opinion of the others work. Post a comment on the writers circle FB page to inform myself and others of you leaving a comment for their work.


  34. I enjoyed reading this. The narrative I found difficult at first, the flow of words, but once you got to the inner story, the prose altered, and was immediately noticeable.
    Yes it is one of those that almost makes one yearn for more, to see if there is a second part to this drama, to see if there is a telling of the inner-inner story.
    Also I did have to wait until the end to find out what is meant by the name Babushka Doll story, but that was well timed and wrapped up. The monologue element was very good, as I read it like someone was reading aloud to me. I even heard the London accent throughout it. No, really, a bit of an East-Londonish to it.

  35. Thanks for checking it out (and quite promptly after you promised)! Any ideas as to how the 'flow of words' can be altered? Some people may not get past the beginning maybe because of this fact so any suggestions WILL be taking into gross consideration. Glad you felt the prose in the inner story was moorish as the enigma behind the concept MUST be belied by the quality of the urban myth/tale.

    Glad you could 'hear' Spiderfingers and hey, if you want to know what happens next Spiderfingers: Invisible is waiting (but hey, wait till next months Circle offering to hurry ;)