J is for Janice

J is for Janice From the day she was born, Janice was given everything she wanted. She didn’t need to cry for too long before either her doting father or loving mother would be at her side, fussing over her with reassuring words of comfort and kisses on her forehead. From this moment on Janice knew that she was a very special person and because of that she could have Read more

I is for Impossible

I is for impossible. Having blown out her one hundred candles, with a slight relieve that her dentures didn’t come flying out covering the butter icing, Alice was quite exhausted and glad to be back in the solitary of her room, where she lit up a stogie and sat back in her chair. As much as everyone had made a great fuss over her centenary birthday, with just as many making Read more

H is for Hipster

H is for Hipster. The reason the new eatery stood out so much to Donald, was its choice of setting up shop in a part of town where the most exotic experience to be had was a mangey charity shop for a local cat charity. But that’s how these Hipster cafe’s start isn’t it, they move into a place with low rent and once they are established others move in. Read more

G is for Glenn

G is for Glenn. I’ve always loved horror stories. Skeletons have been at the forefront. I had a full size paper, glow in the dark skeleton and then a bit later the poster on the opposite side of my bed was of a skeleton on a motorbike, which I thought was great! I think i got it after seeing th esketon riding a motoabike in the Hammer Horror, Doctor, Terrors, Read more

F is for Fur

F is for Fur. Roger lay in bed, every time he opened his eyes the room span madly making him shut his eyes tight again. Downstairs he could hear the others getting on and knew that he too had to get up. Ever so gradually, Roger held both hands tight round his face as he lifted his head off the pillow. With his eyes still tightly shut he made the familiar Read more

Brighton East Sussex

Writing Every day in October. Filthy Weather, Part 2

Writing everyday in October.
Filthy Weather, Part 2

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The next day despite it being even hotter then the day before, Barry lay feverishly in bed, with the blankets pulled up around him. Genie walked in to the bedroom with a glass of water which only made Barry wretch. He then calmed himself enough to say that he literally could not stomach anything.
To make matters worse, Barry was a hopeless patient; by midday Gina had enough of Barry’s moaning, made all the worse as she was unable to do anything to alleviate his symptoms beyond damping his brow with a damp cloth and wiping a way the gunk that kept building up in the corners of his eyes.
When Barry started to dry heave again, Gina apologised as she rushed out of the bedroom saying she needed to get some air. Gina was pleased to find none of the other neighbours were out on the patch of grass at the back of the flats. As Gina settled into the deckchair she notice the neighbours on the ground floor had the windows shut and curtains pulled tight which suited her just fine. The last thing she wanted was small talk with the strange mother and son combo who lived there.

Sitting back, Gina felt her body relax. High above from one of the flat windows, Gina heard a radio DJ, giving the usual cheesy chat.
“Well, I hope whatever you’re doing you’re making the most of the weather as we have reports that rain is soon on its way, next up is a tune for all you lad-ies. Here are those, Weather Girls and It’s Raining Men.”
Genie had her eyes closed as she sang along to the music, it was then she suddenly became aware of the unaccustomed sound of seagulls. Just as she looked up she saw the sky turn grey as hundreds of seagulls flew high up over the roofs. As the birds passed it looked like they were pulling behind them a glimmering golden carpet. It was in fact an unusual cloud formation; it looked to Genie as if it was chasing the birds out of the sky. As the massive cloud eclipsed the blue heaven, sun rays pierced the cloud causing it to sparkle.

“What is it?”

Genie turned to one of her other neighbours and her two children who had popped out on hearing the increasing row the seagulls were making overhead.
Gina stood open mouthed, unable to give any answer that would have made sense as the sight in the sky was beyond any comprehension she could think off. It was then Genie heard Barry’s dry cough rattling out of the window from above. Normally her instincts would have been to go to his aid, but she found herself transfixed by the gold sheet that was now covering most of the sky above.

“It’s beautiful” shouted the little girl standing next to her mother. Genie could only stand and nod in agreement; the intolerable hot weather had all been worth it.
Genie suddenly became aware that all the neighbours, except Barry had come outside, standing in their small back yards as they marvelled at nature’s gift to them. The birds had all but been chased away and the skies had turned truly heavenly.
Not a sound could be heard as people got out of their cars and marvelled at the magnificent sky that continued to sparkle a deeper hue of gold.
From down the street someone started to clap, which was followed by someone else then an another and then another until it seemed that everyone standing in their backyards where applauding the magical gift in the sky.
What happened took everybody by complete surprise, it was as if the sound of the had reached high up and touched the gold cloud which in turn broke up and showered everyone below with its gold. At first everyone threw their arms and faces up, welcoming the refreshing downpour, relived to be soaked after the amazing heat wave. However, the pleasure soon turned to horror, the rain slid down the skin leaving an oily film; but worse, so much worse was its unexpected reaction. Within seconds of making contact with its worshippers, what was gold upon the touch quickly dissolved into a brown acid burning sludge. Where only moments ago a sense of joy had filled the street was replaced with the sounds of agonising screams.
Genie ran into the bathroom, stripped off her clothes and jumped in the shower frantically scrubbing herself. At first the relief of having the clean water rush over her gave Genie much relief but she suddenly became aware that the waters consistence had changed and the same gold/brown globs of liquid where now chugging out of the shower head. Distraught, Genie jumped out of the shower, ran into the kitchen and emptied what water was left in the kettle and water jug in the fridge over her. Hearing the commotion, Barry had pulled himself out of bed and started at Genie as she grabbed at the tae-towels, pulling the mess from her skin. Although exhausted himself, Barry grabbed another tea-towel and helped Genie get clean while the filthy weather continued to hammer against the side of the flat.

*

After a fitful night sleep, Barry turned to the alarm clock, the time said seven a.m. and yet it was still dark outside as the rain continued to pour down.
“Genie, you awake?” Croaked Barry. Genie groaned an unconvincing “yes” before turning her back and pulling the covers with her. Barry got out of bed and cupped his hands against the windowpane but could not see beyond the greasy sheen on the other side. Although Barry had swallowed the sea water, he had managed to get rid of most of it over the last twenty-four hours and felt a little better, but Genie had been really effected by the downpour, although she had managed to get the slime of her skin pretty quickly, Barry knew she was still feeling the phycological effects that were much harder to wash off.
Without thinking, Barry said, “Genie do you want a drink of wate…?”

Genie’s hand shot up before Barry had a chance to finish saying anything more which in turn made Barry feel just as bad.
As he made his way down the stairs, Barry became aware of a strong smell, as he reached the bottom of the stairs he gingerly opened the door onto the communal hallway then quickly slammed his hand over mouth and gasped. During the night the rain had seeped into the entrance hall, covering the floor with an oily brown shimmer that stank of nothing on this earth, but within the slime was movement. Barry didn’t want to look too closely, but the creatures looked a like large silverfish thrashing around across what had once been the hall carpet.
Barry ran back into the flat, unable to control his tears, to Barry it really felt like it was the end of the world. As he stood outside the bedroom, he managed to compose himself enough to walk back into the bedroom and was surprised to see Genie sitting up in bed. Genie looked terrible, but Barry pulled on his best smile and said, feeling a bit better love, you look a bit better”.
Of course, Genie and barry both knew the lie that hung between them, but to admit the truth was to much to bare and so Genie nodded and said that she did feel a little bit better.

Barry, continued to lie and said, once it stops raining we can all get the neighbours together and give the whole place a clear up.
Again, Genie nodded knowing full well that that was not going to happen. in the last five years of living here the only neighbours they had any contact with was that vile neighbour Ronny on the top floor and a brief conversation with that woman and her kids yesterday in the backyard before the sky had fallen in.
Genie managed to pull herself out of bed and went over to the window and cupped her hands against the pane. In truth, Genie could not see anything, but the cool glass against her head gave her some relief. As she stared into the nothing a bolt of lightning lit up the outside world, making Genie scream.
Turning to Barry, Genie looked ghostly white. Barry tried to askj her if she was okay and ran over to the window to see what had spooked Genie so much, it couldn’t have been just the lightning but when he cupped his hands over the window all he could see was the same brown/gold sludge pulling itself down the window.

Barry continued to stare at the window without turning said, what is it babe? What did you see?”
Barry then turned to see that Genie was no longer in the bedroom. Thinking that she must have gone to the bathroom or kitchen, Barry returned to the window, hoping the lightning would strike again. After a couple of minutes of looking at the same nothingness, Barry went to the bathroom to see if Genie was okay but she wasn’t in the bathroom or the kitchen of the lounge.
It was then that Barry saw the front door was ajar. Barry threw the door open and saw the receding footprints of Genie bare feet disappearing in the hall way sludge.

Glenn Stevens’s photo.

Posted on by admin in Brighton East Sussex, Flash Blogs, Flash fiction, Gothic, Gothic horror, Horror, sci-fi, short, short story, urban gothic, Writing everyday in October Leave a comment

Creating Filth. (A Blanche Street Tale)

The making of ‘Filth’.

 

 

http://www.angusstewart.me

Photo by Angus Stewart
http://www.angusstewart.me

In my short story, Filth I wanted to play with the idea of how we can all be prisoners of convention. As a starting point I revisited Charlotte Brontë’s Jayne Eyre and in particular, the character of Bertha Mason, the first wife of wife Edward Rochester, who is confined to the attic as she is deemed insane. (a brilliant reimagining of Bertha’s side of the story was written in the novella, Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys.) I also re-read (The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gillman). The protagonist, Jane is also driven insane by her husband, John, who insists she takes ‘rest cure’ by doing nothing while confined in a room at the top of the house, covered in the aforementioned yellow wallpaper: a motif that I take a literary nod to in my story. “Black spores flowed from the trunk’s keyhole, clustering together. In no time the chair, windows and yellow wallpaper were completely swallowed.

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I was further inspired by Perkin Gillman’s short story. Just as Perkin Gillman made something as innocent as the yellow wallpaper frightening, I wanted the dust in my story to become just as menacing. Equally, I was interested in using this device to trap my main character. Unlike Jane in the Yellow Wallpaper who becomes imprisoned by her husband, I wanted my character to become imprisoned by her own unrealistic desire to keep her home as impossibly pristine as possible, with her constant fear of dust never far from her mind.

fit51391diviantart.com

By Charlotte Perkins Gillman

The idea first came about with thoughts of how back in the day so many homes would have a ‘best room’ that was only used on special occasions, like Christmas or for when an unexpected guest, usually a posh relative would come round and for some reason needed to be impressed.

Just like Bertha, my character was driven insane by her surroundings, but unlike Jane, she would be constantly on the go, mainly cleaning or worrying about dust and more importantly what the neighbours would think, particularly when a mysterious, filthy trunk that appears in her home.

“There was no way she could ask any of her neighbours to help remove it, they would only gossip that her home wasn’t so pristine after all.”

From here on in the main details of the story began to form, but I couldn’t think of a suitable name to fit the character I had in my head. I tried out a few names: Charlotte? Joyce? Chrissy? Judy? Susan? Nope, none of them fitted in with what I thought she looked like and so I turned to my trusty, Wordsworth Dictionary Book of Names. It was then I found the name, Nettie; for me the name conjured up images of something being caught, which fitted in perfectly with my character’s constant need to capturer an dispose of dust.
As I progressed with the story, I realised I had the making of another story about a trunk that I had been struggling to make work; the story would eventually become the Brighton based story, Dead Famous that appears at the end of the Blanche Street collection

Next Saturday 22rd November 2014: Frank and the Faust influence.  

 

You can download my short story, Filth, as a sample page for free and buy the e-book Blanche Street (where all the neighbours are a nightmare) by clicking the link below.

www.amazon.co.uk/Blanche-Street-Where-neighbours-nightmare-ebook/dp/B00OWFK1SA

The Yellow Wallpaper (short story by Charlotte Perkin Gilman

Posted on by admin in Blanche Street, Fiction & Books, Gothic, sci-fi Leave a comment