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.


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.

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.

The Visit

“I feel fine, thank you.”

He began to kowtow to me but I was having nothing of his manipulation. I vowed to myself that I would say nothing further on the matter.

We were sitting in a room with a glass wall overlooking a garden in the midst of a forest. I knew that if I cared to look I would see animals watching me from between the densely packed trees. The taller animals would be flaring their nostrils from the patches of darkness above the shrubbery and the smaller animals, who would be no less fierce in their demeanour, would be glaring from between the leaves down below. I didn’t look.

I had come to the house of my own volition. I sat there now with no restraints on my limbs or body. My mind was clear except to take moderate exception to the quadrasonic rendition of Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool being emitted from a hidden speaker system. Typical of him to employ such subterfuge. I would leave after the final track. I’d have gone before but one must, after all, show some small respect for such things.

His head rose from the deep bow he had directed towards me. I straightened my spine a touch and pulled in my stomach. Must show strength. I marvelled again at the extent and artistry of his self-mutilation. He had attempted to improve the natural ageing of his features twice: first by evincing an expression of apparent jollity and then by virtue of the knife. I’m not going to describe the result. I wouldn’t want to give you nightmares. I shall be the only one to bear that particular weight.

He spoke; but only to rephrase his previous outrageous demand: “tea?”

I hardened my stare and allowed myself a small nod to propriety by shaking my head. I’d see the garden. The Wholemeal Digestives scattered across the grass gave no illusion as to the state of his biscuit barrel. I wanted no part of his Rich Tea Finger fetish.

Identikit started from the speakers. Thom Yorke commenced his customary wailing. Five more tracks to go including this one. Glitch, glitch, glitch, glitch, glitch. I wasn’t a fan and nor am I now. Let’s let the future speak for itself. After all, it may well transpire that I lose my mind and find it in Radiohead. Who knows?

“Well,” he said.

It was at that point I decided that I could and would take no more part in his provocations and I rose from the chair; propriety be damned!

“Lovely to see you, Dad but I rather feel that I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

I left as The Numbers introduced itself with a prolonged high-pitched cry of painfully rendered cacophonousity.

Explaining Myself at the Pearly Gates

I came to as she was dragging me over the pavement. That’s not going to do my new car much good, I thought.

I opened my eyes just in time to catch the flash of the camera on her smartphone. Taking a picture of me? What for?

She jumped as I opened my mouth to speak and hid her face with her hands. I could who see she was, though. I knew her by reputation. She was the…

But I’m going to one fast. Let me start from the beginning.

Five minutes earlier I’d been walking in the dark on the way home from the shops. There’s a split path and I was walking on the pedestrian side. You don’t want to walk on the other side because that’s for bikes. Everyone knows that. And everyone stays in their lane. Mostly.

She was one of those people who break rules. She came around the corner fast, without lights on and never gave so much of a tinkle of her bell to let me know that she was going to hit me smack in the middle of my pedestrian lane.

It didn’t hurt much, but that’s only because her bike whacked me into the wall and the whiplash of that smacked my head into a particularly hard brick. I went down like a sack of secondhand paperbacks.

And that was that.

After she’d done taking a photo of me lying in the middle of the cycle lane, a good two feet to the right of where I’d actually been walking, she got on her bike and cycled off. She had the audacity to ring her bell at that point.

‘I know where you live’ was what I tried to call after her but it came out as ‘Ur uhr uh uhh uurve.’

And that’s when the front tyre of the next cyclist hit me.

This, That and The Other

There’s normal stuff, which we’ll call this.

Then there’s extra-normal stuff, which we’ll call that.

After that comes supra-normal stuff which we’ll call the other.

Which do you want to hear about?

This is where I’m at. I’m Robert and I live in a house in York from which I make forays into the real world which consists of trees, flowers, chirping birds and the occasional basket-weaver who sits and smiles and twiddles his (or her) thumbs and toes. Actually, the latter is not this at all, it’s that. You should recognise it from the seminal They’re coming to take me away by Napoleon XIV. Okay, I forgive you for not knowing that. This is what I do.

This is me walking through a boggy field, with a hole in my boot that’s letting in water, because I want to find a shorter way home. A voice tells me to stop then tells me that I’m wearing a beige top so that I can tell that I’m being watched. I wave to let the owner of the voice know that he is heard. I’m told to go back the way that I came and so I stick up a thumb. I go back and then, when I’m out of sight of the camera I turn to the left and explore another field and don’t find a way out and so I go back to the place I came in and go out. I’m not deterred. I’m admittedly slightly damp in the toe region but I’ll try again from another direction on another day. This is this.

That is not this. That is as far from this as the written word is away from the spoken speech. That there is me with my eyes scrunched up in sympathy to the music as I bob my head and feel my way inside the noise until it becomes in harmony with a part of me that loves to find thats (plural of that) that accord with this. That that is music but it can be dance and movement on a screen (silvery or otherwise). Words are plain things that can have no meaning if you don’t know the code but they can also be portals into another dimension in which that is a character playing the part of a part of this, or that can be a scape of land that stretches to infinity (and sometimes (but not always) beyond. This is me moving my mind to the wall at the end of the universe and peering over. That, for you now, is me being that imaginary character. Do you feel the difference?

The other is a whole other thing entirely. The other isn’t made up. The other is the fact behind this. The other might well also be the fact behind that but you’d have to ask someone else for verification of the truth of that’s the other. You follow?

The other, as an example, would be the … Oh, wait. Technically, the wall at the end of the universe is the other. Sorry to have misled you. God (all of him and her) is also the other. The quantum storm that they say lives beneath this and that is also the other. I’ve never been to any of these places but they must exist, right? Scientists and religious guys wouldn’t just make the other up for the fun it now, would they? Ridiculous to ever think of something similar happening.

We all start off as sincere young people.

Where do we all go?


A Secret

I’m going to tell you what Ben did, but you gotta promise not to tell anyone! It’s a sensitive subject and, even though Ben’s not going to mind, what with him being in a coma and all that, the family’s a whole different kettle of kerosene. That’s down to them being low-down, recidivist, trailer-trash scum what is known more for lashing out than thinking.

Oh, wait, I just thought of something. I can’t tell you on account that you could be Ben’s brother, Pete, reading this. Hmm.

Oh, hold up, Pete can’t read so you’re not going to be him.

But you might be his wife, Mabelline!

Then again, I know you’re not talking to each other since you smacked Pete in the head with a pool cue due to catching him kissing Sandy in the urinals.

You know what: forget about it. There’s at least three in the family what can read and that’s more chances of being hit by a pool cue than I’m comfortable with.

Forget I said anything.

Photo by Cleyton Ewerton on

In the Dog House

Quick story: me and the hubby, Sid went for a walk on the Tottenham Court Road. About half way down we came across a bloke sitting on the pavement. It was a fine, Summer day and the sun was out, even though it was late evening.

At first, I thought that Sid was joking when he said that we should adopt this bloke, but then he crouched down in that flexible way he has and says to him that we was going to take him home and make him part of our small, but perfectly formed family.

Well, by this time I could tell that this bloke on the pavement, who was by now looking up at Sid with an astonished tone to his eyes, reeked to buggery. I certainly didn’t didn’t fancy him being in our clean, little house, not for all the patchouli oil in the world.

It was as if Sid’d read my mind. As soon as I’d thought that he turned his head, looked at me with a grin on his face and said that we could put him in the dog kennel.

Now we’d just had a death, so to speak, in the family. Our lovely St. Bernard: Bernie (yeah, I know; not very original, right?) had just passed away from an obstruction in his bowel. We didn’t get it diagnosed until it was too late and by that time he’d… anyway, that a whole ‘nother story. Point is, his kennel was free.

I know what you’re thinking now: what kind of heartless people would house a bloke in a dog kennel! Well, hear me out first and then you can judge. It’s not so much a kennel as a heated, plumbed and padded annex to the house. It’s even got a kitchen and bathroom in there, one part for cooking Bernie’s food and the other for Bernie to use when the weather was cold or when neither of us was otherwise available to take him out, if you know what I mean.

Again, I know what you’re thinking so let me lay your mind to rest: when I say toilet, I mean a tiled, flat area in corner where Bernie did his pee-pee and poo-poo. We even taught him to press his paw down on the tap that released water to sluice his mess away. Heck, that dog was so smart that sometimes he would press the flush twice if there was any residue remaining!

In fact, as a complete aside, I suspect that this is why we didn’t know Bernie had a bowel problem. There was a long spell last winter, just before he passed away, when we just fed him and then let him get on with his business in private. Obviously he just wasn’t doing that and so … you know.

Hey, it was an honest mistake that anyone could make!

So, yeah, back to the homeless guy.

Picture this, we’re both looking at him expectantly after offering him a home in our luxury dog kennel and, you know what? The fool just shook his head and then proceeded to ignore us. What was worse is that he put this weird expression on this face as if he was disgusted with us or somethingI mean, what a cheek! Him there, on the street, smelling like a skunk and acting like he was disgusted with us?!

Anyway, we left him there and strolled on to the Odeon to see Top Gun: Maverick, which was a fabulous movie. I recommend that you go and see it too.


Like something crawling underneath the skin around my eyes,

Never coming to the surface but always there;

Moving me.

To do.

You live in me.

Enliven me.

I had reasons to be with you that went beyond space and time.

I had every intention of setting things right when my feelings went away.


But I didn’t;

I couldn’t.

Why are you always there in my mind,

Even when I don’t want you to be?

What can I do to find your eyes on my face again?


Craving me.

I’d do you now.

Despite myself.

True to my word I never loved another the way I did you.

I never gave up on the way I felt about your arms around me.

Did I say felt?

I feel you.

I don’t want to close these lines and leave you on the outside.

But I’m always closing the door to you so why not lock it?

I’m lost to you anyway.

Ever again.

Time to sleep now.

Wake me up.