The Gin Trap

Think of a story. Don’t write about how you’re feeling right now. Think of an event in your life that made you ponder, fret or worry. No, not this event; sitting in front of a computer is not an event. Think of something unsettled and unsettling that you can bring to a resolution right now. It’s not like writing a to-do list, it’s gotta be more about ta-daa-done.


Got something?

Ah …

Good. Then write.

I was thinking about …

No, stop, not like that. Make it more like the start of a movie where you are the star. Think of the opening scene.

A library.

Good. Now let me just check: you don’t mean this library you’re sitting in right now, do you?

Another library.

Okay, off you go then.

I was sitting in the library …

No, no, no. Stop, already! You need to hook your reader. You must tie pretty thread, jewels and tiny, coloured feathers around a razor-sharp piece of barbed steel. Your bait must smell delicious and be attached to a claw that snatches and holds on against all force. You must tempt, tease, tantalise and then SNAP!

Go ahead. No time to dilly-dally.

The library was …

Yes …

The library had Jerimiah by his balls!

Oh, yes!

Think of the gin traps your great-great-gramps use to set on the spoor paths back in the day for thinning down the wolf pack that’d be taking down his sheep and leaving them, best parts taken and the rest strewn about the field, in clots and bloody strings that were only good for the birds that’d already taken their worm-worth long before dawn and way before the shepherd blinked and yawned having heard nothing but muffled rustlings in the night.

Nice image. I’m licking my lips; tell me more!

Well, imagine one of those razor-barbed traps set and sat, quiet as a coffin on a chair.

Which chair?

A library chair.

No, no, don’t make me read this! But tell me more!!

The chair that Jerimiah was about to slide out from under the desk, mind elsewhere, eyes on that pretty girl across the way, head in his daydreams. And then …


Then …


“The library is now closed. Please make your way to the nearest exit immediately!”

Photo by Pixabay on

Meditating for Earth Day

“You don’t have to hum as you meditate,” she said and absently scratched her left ear with her right toenail.

“Ah, what do you know? You’re just a chimp.”

“I object to the word ‘just'”.”

“Well, you would. That’s what chimps do!”

“Says the person making derogatory comments about another life form as if humans were the only and best way to be in the whole wide world!”

“Well, we do own the world, you know.” I considered what I’d just said; tested it for veracity; sought flaws in my logic. Nope, it was sound. I was sound. The earth was mine and all was well.

“You know the world’s falling apart, right?” It was as if she had read my mind!

“You’re looking at it all wrong if you’re thinking like that,” I said as I swapped my legs from one half-lotus to another; it’s a bugger meditating for the planet sometimes; makes your legs go numb. I considered putting my feet on the ground for a moment to let the blood flow catch up then dismissed the idea as ridiculous; what self-respecting meditator sits like that!

“There’s lots of man-generated pollution around that’s doing bad things to life. Sometimes it even stops life. Permanently.”

“Yeah, but doesn’t it make interesting photographs? I saw a snap the other day of shredded plastic bags caught in a tree and the way they were blowing in the wind was very pretty. There’s beauty where you find it and ugly where you find it. You just have to find the right thing.”

“You’re messed up.”

“Yeah, but I’m a beautiful mess, right?” I laughed a little self-consciously. But only a little.

“Your conscience is a rotting corpse dripping worms and yellow pus into the eye of the world.”

“See! That’s what I mean. That’s beautiful!”

“For a chimp?”

“There’s no denying you’re a chimp now is there? Look at you: it’s like watching a hairball with eyes. A stupid hairball.”

“You wanna arm-wrestle?”

“Erm, no! I know you’re stronger than me.”

“Wanna fight?”

“Pssh; you stupid? I know you’d pound me into mush and then go off for a burger bun to decorate my bloody head with.”

“Wanna shut the heck up, then?”

“Yeah. Good point.”

I return to my meditation to save the planet and sigh contentedly as I hear the central heating whoosh into life. It might be eight outside but it’s a very comfortable twenty-two indoors.

“Look, the sun’s coming up!” I say; a delighted smile dawning on my face.

You grunt, shift on the bed and let out a thunderclap of a fart; and yet somehow, as the tiny amounts of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane combined with hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from your large intestine roll across the bedroom like a noxious cloud, that’s okay too.

In Denial

I wasn’t watching out of the window. I don’t do that. I wasn’t watching the neighbour’s white panel van that he doesn’t use for his business. He wasn’t in the driver’s seat. He wasn’t completely still as if he wasn’t asleep. He didn’t look like he was dead until he didn’t slip sideways in his seat and pitch into the passenger’s seat.

I didn’t call an ambulance and so I didn’t hear their sirens wailing from a distance. I didn’t listen to the sound anxiously, still watching the motionless form of my neighbour in his van, the one that didn’t have its motor running with a pipe running from the exhaust to the partly open window. The ambulance tires didn’t screech on the road as they came around the corner and I didn’t jump when the paramedic didn’t slam the ambulance door after he hadn’t jumped out. He didn’t almost sprain his ankle on the uneven kerb as he ran towards the white panel van where my neighbour still wasn’t slumped as still as a rock.

I didn’t see the paramedic recover his footing with a wince and I didn’t smile ironically when he couldn’t open the van door that my neighbour hadn’t obviously locked from the inside because he wanted to be interrupted in this important, last transition point of his life.

I didn’t know that his business was failing and that he hadn’t accumulated debts. I don’t know what those debt are for and I’m not going to speculate because they’re nothing to do with me. In fact, I wasn’t involved in his death at all. Insurance companies don’t pay up if you don’t take your own life. Accidental deaths are not ruled out. Murder is definitely not something that’s insurable and murderers are never the recipients of any money from any policy no matter how convoluted the financial pathways are.

I didn’t duck out of sight when the police arrived so I didn’t see their suspicious eyes scan the open windows in the street. I hadn’t masked my face at all behind something hanging guiltily in the window. It wasn’t a curtain and it didn’t have almost invisible eye-holes cut at eye-level. I wasn’t rubbing my hands together in a way that wouldn’t have appeared either nervous or joyful to a jury of twelve nosy folks dressed up to witness a miscarriage of justice.

I didn’t stand there until everything was still again. I hadn’t seen the van window smash or the door being opened from the inside in that time. I hadn’t seen how small a corpse seems when laying on the ground next to a white panel van. I hadn’t even heard the sound of ribs cracking during the endless minutes of the resuscitation attempt. No curses reached my ears. No failure impacted my mind. No tears were shed for another life wasted and gone. No love lost.

I’m not recording this in any form. The internet doesn’t sleep and internet service providers don’t know what’s been sent from specific browsers and the emergency services don’t record the calls that they never took from me and there’s no trace of a lone police car crawling up my street long after all the fuss and bother has died (no irony intended) down. It’s not dark now, neither in the street nor in this room. There’s no quietly closing car door just outside this house and no one is knocking on the door right now.

I don’t have to go now to answer the knock. It’s nothing to do with me.

Oh It’s Such a Perfect Day

I started wearing my shirts again the other week. All rumours to the effect that my winter belly fat was getting too much for the tight tees I usually wear will be utterly denied. Utterly, I tell you. So last night I was ironing shirts after a (several years) break. I did about eleven, but ran out of coat (shirt) hangers when I got to the eighth so had to put two per hanger several times. ‘I need more hangers,’ I thought to myself. What I didn’t think to myself, as dog is my witness, was that the wife had swiped several of my hangers to accommodate her burgeoning (that’s the first time I’ve ever used that word (so I hope I got it right) wardrobe.

I went for a walk with the aforementioned loved one (no, not the dog (we don’t have one) and as I came out of the house I noticed that the neighbour hadn’t cut his lawn yet and it was becoming a care-home for those lovely flowers we call dandelions.

Photo by on

I walked on without giving the matter much thought (perhaps I was thinking that he was due to cut his grass, but if so. I wasn’t thinking it very hard.

We walked around the corner and down the street to see the blossom trees blossoming. They were very lovely.

Photo by Jan Krnc on

Then we turned around and came back. As we were walking, we were looking at the displays of spring flowers adorning the gardens we passed. You’ll never guess what I saw next! In the recycle bin on someone’s drive was a whole bag full of coat (shirt) hangers just sitting there waiting for me to pick out the ones I wanted!

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy on

So I did. I picked out seven or eight of the nicest and carried them home contentedly. They came up lovely and shiny once I’d wet-wiped them to my satisfaction and they are now hanging in my wardrobe having been adorned with my shirts.

I sat on the sofa to type this and guess what I’m hearing as I tap, tap away. Yep, that’s right: the sound of a mower.

Photo by Magic K on

Perfect. 🐸


Narrative type: immersion in a world to the exclusion of all else.

Character set: three? (one to run, one to chase and another to fall by the wayside).

Concluding act: the dream of a better world morphs into the same, provided all goes well.

The story: After passing over and around all the flagstones and byways of downtown Central City, I came, panting and no longer dashingly dishevelled to the start of the road that lead to the last turning. The shoes were pranged and socks tattered rags flapping around my ankles. I’d had to run the last three miles on my bare feet. I felt that nothing could possibly be right ever again because the loss of a child allows no one to move on easily.

Nevertheless, here she was: my nemesis and saviour: the final bend.

I estimated it to be around two hours beyond noon judging by the burn on the back of my neck and the glare searing off the white buildings surrounding me. I glanced behind me to ensure that you were still following. You were. You looked deader than I felt and yet your face was set into a mask of determination that told me you would not stop until you had nipped my heels, sank your teeth into my calves, climbed my back and brought me down so that you could gather my throat into your sharp dental embrace.

There are times that breath does not come easy and the heart bangs fit to brush aside mortality and ask for a time of quiet contemplation on the ground. I didn’t know why I was still moving ten minutes before and I still don’t know why now. Some kind of insanity.

Eighteen more paces I staggered. Nine more breaths I dragged in and out. Twenty-seven more reasons to stop and only one reason to carry on and all of that one reason resting with you.

My son, oh my son. You had dragged me forward with your youthful strength. But experience ran on when your stamina ran out. I wanted us to reach here with you, hand in hand but I wanted to be here much more and so you slowed and maybe fell; who knows. I will remember you for all my days: your smile; your heart: your rousing cry as I pulled away.

I look back again and you are closer now. You who is no friend of mine. Not of my blood. Not mine and yet still, you are mine to run from. Do I hear you? Can I catch the ripe stink of your body, the rank stench of your breath? Have I anything else but despair? Questions reel through my mind and I close my eyes against the sweat. Futile. It will not stop. You will not stop. I cannot help but fear. Can I?

The corner comes as I hear the soft, staccato rhythm of your feet close behind now. Closer than I can bear. I am mortal. You are …

Wait. What? Where are you? All sound stops and despite the end floating into sight in front of my fading eyes like the flags of Elysium I turn again and cannot understand what I see. You are down. A stretched-out strip of flesh and now I see, as if with freshly peeled eyes, who you are. And I wonder what madness I must have been living under to mistake you for an enemy.

You. My son. All these miles and I did not know you and called you a hunter. How?!

I stop. Retrace my hard-won paces and then I’m by your side. You stir as my body gives you shade. Your eyes open and a word falls from your mouth: ‘Dad’.

‘Son’, I say and, with a strength I didn’t know I had, I haul you to your feet and we stumble on, towards the finishing line and, just as the chasing pack pass us without a glance, we count down the steps: five, four, three, two, one and done. London Marathon, 2023, my son and me. We win on our own terms: together.

Barry does Dog Food Ads

It’s all very well having trials to overcome and bad sides to our nature that have to be dragged out by the roots and binned but what about the good people? What about stories that feature people who have never known problems in their life and yet are good enough to be likeable and interesting enough to want to read about? Who’s going to champion the overdog? Who amongst us is going to walk alongside the good guys in our minds and hearts? Let’s hear it for sweetness and light! Let’s wire some goodness into our hearts by reading about love and its virtuous brothers in literature.

Well now, where to begin?

Here’s Barry, walking down the high street of his town in middle England looking for nothing particular other than what he already has in his heart: love, peace and understanding (man). He doesn’t need anything. So why is he here? What has driven him from his perfect house in the pretty suburbs to this concrete mall that all roads eventually lead to?

The normal answer would be conflict. Barry would usually have something wrong in his life and would have gone into town to either escape the conflict (if it is external to himself) or seek a resolution to the conflict (if it is internal). He would move away from the dark or move towards the light. Something is needed and Barry would be on a quest of some sort.

What happens when we are already completely happy? What do we want to do when we already have the keys to the palace of peace? What motivation can we possibly have if we have everything we ever wanted?

I have an idea: Barry wants to help other people to be as happy as he is. Barry wants to spread his love around like butter and jam on hot crumpets. Barry wants to share.

Let’s see what happens next.

Barry is walking up the road smiling at everyone he meets. He has a beat in his heart that his toes tap to as he lightly moves his limbs alongside the shop windows that reflect his sunny disposition back at him like the rising sun rides across the waves early in the morning. His pockets are open to whoever wants to take from him. His coin is not of this earth but rather is linked directly to an ocean of generosity that wants to give of itself and has had this nature since eternity backwards in time until infinity forwards in time.

You know, you can get all of this from adverts too. So long as you ignore what the ads are trying to sell and just take in the message you will get serenity aplenty from them. Just listen to the nice words that promise something or other (so long as you pay the price) and then take away the something promised (and the payment required) and you’re left with a really nice, warm glow in your underbelly.

Don’t believe me? Well just read this:

He’s the reason I go for long walks, and the reason I take Sunday afternoon naps. He’s the highlight of my mornings before work, and the source of my excitement in the evenings. He loves me unconditionally. For all that and more, I feed my dog Nature’s Special Menu All Natural Dog Food. With no artificial colours or flavours, I know that I’m taking care of him as well as he takes care of me.


That was a random ad for dog food. Now, let’s take the dog food out, make it personal and see how we feel:

You’re the reason I go for long walks, and the reason I take Sunday afternoon naps. You’re the highlight of my mornings before work and the source of my excitement in the evenings. You loves me unconditionally. For all that and more, I’m taking care of you as well as you take care of me.

Brilliant, right? You could almost use that as a basis for a love letter to anyone in the world, right?

Anyway, that’s what Barry does. He takes the things around him and he makes people happy with them. Right, I’m going to have to stop now – these headphones are doing my head in and it’s almost bedtime. Barry will carry on, though.

Photo by Markus Distelrath on

This is a waltz thinking about our bodies

Anyway, October’s no time to be a streetwalker. No time’s a good time to be. I mean, sure, there are warmer months where you can enjoy the feel of heat on your skin but there’s always the knowledge that, sooner or later, you going to get invaded. It’s like trying to read in a room full of mosquitos. Those tiny pricks and the itching afterwards. No matter how long you stay in the shower, you never feel clean.

You can sit on the streets. You don’t have to stand or walk.

I’ve seen some sit with their legs open, displaying. Like a greengrocer setting out a stall with the shiniest fruit to the front. You might say gross and you might crinkle up your nose, but when I tell you these things I’m not coming from a place of fun and happiness. I’m talking stress; the kind of stress that gets you to do things you don’t want to do and be in places you wouldn’t have imagined being in when you were playing with your Barbies.

I can see my breath. I can see that heat escaping from my body in the form of water vapour. Each out breath loses me comfort and each in breath gains me pain. I think I’m too nice for this nasty life.

A car pulls up and a head leans out, eyes looking at me. Then the eyes look at the not me: the parts below my eyes. The head nods and a hand appears. Beckons. Now I don’t normally go for the deadly side of the species, but she had kindly eyes; warm with a hint of cinnamon. I move slowly, almost reluctantly towards the car. Not trying for sexy or suggestive. Heck, she might be asking for directions. It’s unconventional to look someone up as a precursor to that, but stranger things …

“You know where I can get me a pussy?” Her voice is a rich alto. I flick my eyes down, checking for that tell-tale bump in her throat. None.

“Animal Shelter on 92nd,” I say. Deadpanning it but not in an unfriendly way.

“Say, that’s real nice of you,” she says with a smile that showed her teeth. Good teeth. “Get in; you can show me how to get there.”

I got in. Like I say, it was October and her gaze was, strange to say, starting to make me feel like butter on hot toast.

Anyway, I should stop there, right?

The rest is a whole ‘nother story that you might need to ask a grown-up for permission to read.

From Marla then here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here but this one loops us back to the beginning.

Mouse in the House!

On computer. Spreadsheet or something. Hears rustling. Ignores at first then – wait! sounds like something in kitchen. Listens. There it is again!

Stands up and creeps towards kitchen doorway and listens, stock still. Nothing. Listens again. Silence.

Sounded like a mouse in the cupboard. Rustling in the cornflakes. Nesting behind the washing machine. No sound now. Sneaky little thing!

Goes back to computer. Spreadsheet again. Listening intently. There it is again! A faint, weird rustling. That’s funny: it moves when I move my hand!

Close down the lid to the laptop and looks behind the screen. Is the thing on the table? Inside a discarded crisp packet! Then I see it!!

The cord to my pointing device is caught in the pages of the half-open crossword book, riffling the pages when I move my hand.

It’s a mouse alright; but not the one I suspected. 🐭

Busy in a Bando

Once upon a time, there was a small town in the middle of nowhere. The town was surrounded by dense forests and mountains, and the people who lived there were very superstitious. They believed in all kinds of supernatural creatures, including ghosts, goblins, and witches.

One day, a group of teenagers decided to explore the forest that surrounded the town. They had heard stories about a haunted house deep in the forest, and they wanted to see if the stories were true.

As they walked deeper into the forest, they began to feel uneasy. The trees were twisted and gnarled, and the air was thick with mist.

They soon came across the haunted house, which was old and decrepit. The windows were boarded up, and the roof was caved in.

Despite their fear, the teenagers decided to explore the house. As they walked through the dark and dusty rooms, they heard strange noises and saw shadows moving in the corners of their eyes.

Suddenly, they heard a blood-curdling scream coming from upstairs. The teenagers ran up the stairs to investigate, but they found nothing.

Suddenly, the door slammed shut behind them, and they were trapped. They heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and they knew that they were not alone.

The teenagers huddled together in fear as the footsteps grew closer and closer.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and a figure appeared in the doorway. It was a ghostly figure, with long white hair and a tattered dress. The teenagers screamed in terror as the ghostly figure approached them.

The next morning, the townspeople found the bodies of the teenagers in the haunted house. They had been brutally murdered, and their bodies were covered in strange symbols and markings. The townspeople never spoke of the haunted house again, and it remained abandoned for many years.

This story was entirely written by Bing using an AI language model created by Microsoft. What do you think; is this the future of storytelling?


Can you believe that this is the first time I’ve managed to get in front of a computer for a week? Sure, it’s been there the whole time, but either the conditions haven’t been conducive or someone else has been using it. Life on Titan with all these folk squashed together in one small pod-dwelling sure can be a bind at times.

Anyway, today is my turn to have the computer to myself for a spell.

You know those times when you look out the window and nothing looks familiar? You don’t see the trees you grew up with or the familiar quality of the air as the rain sleets through it for hours on end? You kinda miss what you know when all that’s out there is a frozen lake of some chemical that you wouldn’t even get in the most advanced chemistry kit on your local high street, right?

Kinda sucks minty balls.

But hey, it’s not as if the cold is killing me. I mean, it’s pretty pleasant in here compared to the minus stupid degrees that the sensors tell me I can see outside. And it isn’t as if outside is something we’re going to be doing very often. Not without something that’d be at home at the bottom of the Pacific (or is it Atlantic – my old Earth geography is pretty poor) Trench protecting us.

That said, I’m going out after I’ve typed this. I’ve worked out a plan and a route and no ones going to stop me.

Hey, chill, chill! It’s not as if you can do anything!

I know that you think that you know me and you feel concerned for me and that you want to call someone to get them to haul me back to sanity and dry land. But that ain’t gonna happen and so don’t fret at all. Even if you knew which part of Titan I was on then you still couldn’t get anyone to me on time. So sit back and breathe. Your conscience will be clean, clear and easy.

I guess you want to know why, right? Well, so do I.

I want to know why I don’t like being tied down to a fusty dwelling on one of the moons of an outer planet. I want to know what part of me has this unreasonable desire to do the things that make me happy, like spend some quality time on my own instead of playing my part in this exploratory team. I want to plumb the depths of my selfish being and find the parts that make me tick instead of plumbing this frigid rock ball with a boring old boring tool.

But I guess I won’t be able to.

So I’m going for a walk.

A long walk.


The high-pressure ice is surrounded by a layer of salty liquid water, on top of which sits an outer crust of water ice.