Emerging Writer Member Profile
Once upon a time I was an academic; now I travel a lot as an academic research writing trainer to pay the bills. Northern Ireland is where I rest my bones for convoluted yet simple reasons. But I was born in England and raised in Byron’s home town, which he hated but I do not. They named every other road after him. As yet, no roads are named after me but several children are.
I write short stories for grown-ups and novels for their little people. Many of my short stories are published (see website). As yet, the novels aren't. I write the kind of stories I want to read, knowing that I'm not that special and someone else out there will like them too. This is everything from literary fiction to horror and science fiction.
As a child, I was very dyslexic. What does that mean? The universe is not without irony.
TO KILL A QUISQUILIA
It was going to be a rough morning. Hallie started to stir with that familiar funk in her mouth, the furry, congealed saliva coating her tongue and teeth. Then there was the smell of stale cigarettes and the mix of alcoholic drinks on her clothes, which not unusually she hadn’t managed to take off before she’d passed out. And topping it all off, there was a pounding in her head as she began to come around.
It was all too familiar. Hallie liked to party hard. What was wrong with that? She was young. Well, youngish. Twenty-seven is no spring chicken in the clubs nowadays, but neither is she some desperate, washed up MILF. She and her friends always ridiculed them with withering looks and bitchy comments under the thump of the club’s music. There was, however, a small part of them, hidden out of sight, never to be spoken of, that pitied them in their faded glory, because they knew it was a fate that awaited them. Or rather it was a fate that awaited Hallie’s friends. It did not await her.
The night had been a good one though. They swallowed drink after sweet alcohol-pop drink, of electric blues, reds and oranges. They’d started in one bar, walked to the next, swayed to another, staggered to a fourth. All the while they played the-something-for-nothing game for drinks, paid for with a hint of cleavage, a little too much leg and a laugh at the first joke and a turn your back on the second. After the bars they swayed to Gomorrah’s, the club where the girls go free, to wiggle the night away through the small hours. Somewhere along the way Mary-Jane had got a bug up her ass and ran off home crying.
Hallie, in these early moments of consciousness, had a vague recollection of a toilet cubical rendezvous with Mary-Jane’s boyfriend, Jeb. Their dalliance had all the romance of two half-rabid baboons bucking in front of the middle-school fieldtrip to the zoo - all pink asses, slobbering toothed mouths and guttural grunting. Served Mary-Jane right: if you wanna keep a man, well, you gotta keep a man. Which reminded her: she’d better get herself down to the doc’s for the morning-after-pill.
At this point Hallie became increasingly aware of just how uncomfortable she was. It was pretty dark, wherever she was, and cramped, really cramped. In fact, she had somehow managed to fall asleep with her knees folded up to her nose, one arm behind her hips and the other folded around the back of her head, so that her left hand almost touched her right shoulder. It was damned uncomfortable. ‘Jesus,’ she thought, ‘I must have been really out of it to sleep like this.’ She tried to move but couldn’t. Her knees were pinned to her face and her arms were stuck in their awkward positions as well. Initially just frustrated, Hallie struggled. Then the lack of meaningful context became apparent to her still slightly inebriated mind and that was quickly accompanied by the smell.
An involuntary retch left her mouth. The stench was overpowering. Opening her eyes Hallie could see her knees, red raw, smudged with dirt and covered in? She didn’t know what, only it was yellowish-brown, looked thick, slimy even in the dim. Her body was beset by an assault of alien sensations. They weren’t alien in that she’d never felt them before. They were alien in that in this context she had no way to understand sharp metal poking her side, hard glass sticking into her back and touching her hand, nor the soft humidity of damp paper, wet cardboard, festering chicken carcasses and the rotting fruit that surrounded her.
Hallie retched again, panic growing with each unyielding wriggle. She puked, hot and acidic and yellow, spraying her knees and soaking her top.
“What the…” Hallie began to complain but her next expletive was cut short by the sound of the mechanical click of a heavy industrial button, followed by the hiss of hydraulics releasing. She screamed, a kind of savage guttural scream, perhaps resembling a baboon. The scream was drowned out by the action of the great crushing compression, tumbling trash and a whining of heavy machinery.
Her arms popped first, right at the shoulders. The one behind her head slackened sickeningly to be pushed down between her scapulars. The other was forced up to complete the world’s worst playground bully’s chicken wing. Her hand rose up the middle of her back and appeared from behind her head. Knees passed her ears, before the crush began to pop everything. Tibias and fibulas of both legs, shot out through her knee caps like a pair of jack-in-the-boxes, Hallie’s feet were now behind her knees. Those bones then snapped and bent back to puncture through her shoulders, lungs and mercifully her heart. The remaining monstrous crunching was done in silence but for the mastication of the great demonic machine.
Would Hallie be missed? Not by Mary-Jane, at least.
My current big project is a Cinderella/superhero novel for middle grade readers with a mix of toilet humour and pathos, and its sequel or number two if you will (Oops! Sorry)... Also numerous short-stories for big people.
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