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All is Well

photo credit: Michelle Hebert | Art & Fashion 2008. Menacing Garden via photopin (license)

I’m a coffee addict and a guilty pleasure for me is to sit in a coffee shop relaxing. I usually try to justify this downtime by doing some work while I’m there.

Today I was actually meant to be revising for an exam though (which is another story). I could not settle though, perhaps I was too much on tenterhooks waiting for an expected phone call to concentrate but the study juices were not flowing. So I put down my text book and picked up the story that began here as Watchers. I have written before about the combination of caffeine and creativity (Misbehaving) but today for some reason I could not seem to get up and running.

 

When Watchers first started it came over to me at least that the writing was direct and unpretentious driven by the character and the events he found himself in.

As the story has expanded I have come up against different characters. And they all seem to want their own style of writing. What I came up against today was a character whose contributions to the narrative always seem to be made at either dawn or dusk. To add to the gothic overtones he has just entered an abandoned settlement with bats roosting in ruined buildings. There is a large well in the centre of the settlement which ran dry centuries before the events of the story and is symbolic of the abandonment of the land by nature.

Perhaps my struggle today was trying to get all the symbolism in my mind straight, or that this character is so different to my main protagonist. Whatever the reason the only way out I could think of, to prevent myself from sitting staring at a blank page, was to try to get some of the symbolism into a poem and see where that takes me. This is the result

 

The Well

Darkness disturbed by dreams of the dying,

The fearful and thoughtless, the lost songs crying.

The derangement of calm in the rush to despair.

The rearrangement of truth, within a soul laid bare.

 

The barrenness of a womb is like this salt-water tomb,

In which the ghosts of my failure hold my head under water

In violent reaction to distract from my doom.

Hearing in the songs of the sirens your distant laughter.

 

Famine and loss. This drought of my soul.

This endless desert through which I must crawl.

This cacophony of living just a feast for the crows.

This corrosion, ruin and dust is the end I will know.

 

 

I don’t know if it helped but it did at least prevent me sitting there twiddling my thumbs and at the very least I’ve made some connections in my mind. If they are helpful connection I’ll have to wait and see, and at least the coffee was nice.

 

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Leaving No One Alive To Light Them Again

photo credit: The Abbey via photopin (license)
photo credit: The Abbey via photopin (license)

Once we were a dynasty that ruled an empire that stretched from the Crescent Bay to the foothills of the diamond encrusted Mountains of Ahl. We were feted; we were emulated; we were feared.
Whole populations committed unspeakable crimes on their neighbours to amuse us and armies marched on hopeless quests just for the opportunity to die in our service. We prospered, setting ourselves up as rivals to the gods, building palaces in the sky upon the skulls of the vanquished.
Then came the plague, the lower classes died first, the poor and enslaved. We thought they died for our amusement as we continued our laughter and feasting, peering down from out of our high towers at the circling vultures and bloated bodies that were carried away by a river that flowed red with the peoples blood.
But as we slept on in drunken stupor the pestilence crept up the steps and entered our palaces, along silent passages it slithered, blowing out candles as it passed leaving no one alive to light them again. On it crept through guard room, kitchen, throne room and seraglio. It did not favour any one, just brought the democracy of death to all.
The illusion was shattered. Those of the people that survived saw that we were just like them and not the gods we had pretended to be. They were merciless, some of us wished that we had died of the plague it seemed a kinder end than fearing the wrath of the people.
Eventually we managed to flee, became refugees forced to wander the earth memories our only possessions, telling tales of how we used to be a dynasty.

© 2014 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

The Suburbs

photo credit: Sign via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sign via photopin (license)

You have seen them all around, they are everywhere.
They follow you when you are walking down the street; they serve you in the supermarket; they take your order in restaurants, muttering curses and incantations if the tip you leave is not big enough.
Of course, they don’t fly around on broomsticks any more, not when a budget airline can get them to most places for a reasonable fee. Few of them have green skin, and with cosmetic surgery reasonably cheap the hairy wart has even gone out of fashion.
They do have a fondness for cats though, four cats or above in a house is a good indicator that there is a likelihood that the light emanating out from beneath your neighbour’s garage door in the dead of night has a magical origin.
You would be naive to think that it is just black magic; most of them are white witches. Fortunately the dark path is usually only undertaken by those who enjoy a hand of bridge or a game of bowls. And your local golf club is likely to be overrun by practitioners of the black arts.
Yes beware the witches, and warlocks, of suburbia.
© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally published 11 December 2015

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The King of Croak Hill

photo credit: The Crown of the Dead (Intrusion) via photopin (license)
photo credit: The Crown of the Dead (Intrusion) via photopin (license)

He wore a crown on his head and said he was a king but nobody believed him.
His cottage was at the bottom of the hill between the Church and the duck pond, and he’d sit outside of the cottage on a three-legged stool, a stone jar of rum clasped tightly against his fat belly, singing loudly the filthiest sea shanties anyone had ever heard.
The adults, especially the Vicar, were always shouting at him and ordering him to be quiet. But if anything, this just made him sing louder and ever more out of tune.
I never minded him though for he told wonderful tales of the land he was from and all the sea-monsters he had battled during his life.
And every time I saw him he would magick a silver penny out from behind my ear, which he would allow me to keep on condition that I would save them all up in order to fund my first adventure in life.
I never found out if he really was a king, but as he was obviously a wizard I thought it best to remain on friendly terms with him.

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally published December 4, 2015.

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Equinox

 

photo credit: Chrismatos ♥90% OFF, sorry Angelical Forest via photopin (license)

She wakens, silent spirit of the forest, naked as a springtime morn safe within a cocoon of light. Slowly she rises, stretches languidly, aware of the eyes furtively watching her from the trees and luxuriating in the lasciviousness of the satyr’s gaze – as memory reminisces at the sensations. The eager touch, the fervent ministrations of the acolytes – she shivers in pleasurable recollection of the orgy of the previous night.

The old man lies dead in the shadows on the far side of the forest glade, his white robes and grey beard stained a ruddy red but soon to turn a muddy brown as decay consumes his remain to nought.

She knows this, each of them has but a brief season of precious life. So she rises, washes her feet in Winter’s blood and makes her entry into the world.

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

The Man who sold The World

photo credit: Worl via photopin (license)
photo credit: Worl via photopin (license)

I found North America for sale at a car boot sale. In a box together with some old CDs and a one armed tiny-tears doll. The old man selling it said he would chuck in a pair of cowboy boots (size seven and a half) and a moth-eaten kiss-me-quick hat, all for a fiver. But I was not sure, what did I need with a continent. I was tempted though, as the boots were my size, and I told him I would think about it.
‘Don’t be long,’ he shouted after me, ‘I’ve already sold Africa this morning and I’ve got this Russian interested in Antarctica!’
I mulled over my potential purchase as I walked about that field in the spring sunshine, the tinny sound of Showaddywaddy blasted out from a car stereo “Under the moon of love,” they sang, to the accompaniment of an approaching ice-cream van playing Greensleeves.
People had travelled far and wide to be there and the field was packed with fervent bargain hunters who circled the car boots and rickety trestle tables, piled high with goods, like carrion crows. I looked on, just content to watch it all as I walked about licking an ice cream cone, wiping strawberry sauce away from my chin.
As I walked I thought of America, I had always wanted to go but had never got round to it. Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, Disneyworld were as familiar to me as the streets on which I had played as a kid.
But the rest, I was pretty sure there must be a rest of America for all the cowboys and stuff to live in; well I knew nothing about that. And as he had only offered me North America perhaps that meant he was only offering me the icy bits, not the good bits I wanted. So in the end I decided to give it a miss.
I walked past the old man’s stall later in the day; the cowboy boots were still there so I haggled him down to 25p.
‘Aah, go on then,’ he said, ‘I’m feeling generous. Coz these Chinese men just bought most of the world for fifty quid and a whole box full of mint condition Elvis Presley LP’s.’

© 2014 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Postcards from Over There

photo credit: FutUndBeidl Access to Cloud / Ladder to Heaven via photopin (license)
photo credit: FutUndBeidl Access to Cloud / Ladder to Heaven via photopin (license)

The others informed me, ever so politely, that I was in fact dead.

Apparently I’d died unexpectedly in my sleep, this they told me was the worst way to go as you have no time to prepare for the transformation. I have to say I have found it traumatic, the change I mean, well before I had such an active social life, but now well there are group activities and suchlike but they tend to be more sedentary – nothing that would exactly get the heart racing, so to speak.

But they’re a nice crowd all-in-all, the dead, for spending eternity with.

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Same Time Tomorrow

photo credit: drew.morris Alleyways via photopin (license)
photo credit: drew.morris Alleyways via photopin (license)

It was as if the alleyway breathed a sigh of relief. The violence of a knife fight avoided when the police van had appeared at the junction, the members of the two gangs running off in all directions possible, they leapt walls and jumped gates, running through the lawnmower and trampoline strewn gardens of suburbia, dogs barking, pensioners cursing. Past Superdrug, Starbucks and Matalan the warriors scattered from the common enemy.

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Juggling with Crocodiles

photo credit: d_pham Eyes Watching via photopin (license)
photo credit: d_pham Eyes Watching via photopin (license)

I once read a story (Stephen King, On Writing) about the friend of James Joyce who found Joyce slumped at his desk one day weeping. Asking Joyce what was wrong, Joyce replied that he’d only written seven words that day. The friend said ‘Seven words that’s good for you’, to which Joyce replied ‘I know that’s why I’m crying.’

While I’m not quite at that low level of word count with my work-in-progress, it has been incredibly slow going recently. Partly I think because I have two main characters who I’m still learning about and figuring out as I go (the first draft is just for me after all). And while they have great differences as characters they also have points of similarity. Left to their own devices it is these similarities that can win out.

Which means it has been great that someone new has happened across their paths, a new character has livened things up no end it also happens he’s great to write for (being suave and sophisticated like myself) and as my protagonists react to him in such different ways it makes the whole process a little less stuck in the slow lane.

the-first-draft-is-just-you-telling-yourself-the-storyterry-pratchett
https://onthebrokenroadblog.wordpress.com/

Anyway here’s a bit of today’s effort which doesn’t include any of the characters I’ve been talking about but was a bit of a gothic change of pace, and switch in action.

 

The three Helfeund stopped their mounts at the top of the hill. The wall marked with the image of the eagle headed goddess stood in front of them. The carven goddess seemed to flicker and move before their eyes and the solid stone appeared as impermanent to the Helfeund as a curtain of water; a maze of corridors, the ancient temple complex that lay beneath the earth, faintly visible beyond. A ghost light emanated up from the bowels of the earth, creeping about the walls flickering golden, yellows and pitiless blacks throwing phantom shapes onto the walls like the monsters that haunted the recesses of the Helfeunds’ unsleeping minds. 

 

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Writing in the Dark

photo credit: Cedness0 Dans l'attente via photopin (license)
photo credit: Cedness0 Dans l’attente via photopin (license)

Just a quick update on the progress of the project formerly known as Watchers in the Dark; well the main thing is it is still progressing, despite the best efforts of that amorphous enemy known as ‘Real Life’ and my butterfly mind flitting between different projects (back writing in this particular universe again after nearly thirty years).

Then there is a new business idea I am researching, I can’t say much about it – beyond the statement it will happen in 2017.

At times it feels like I’m juggling a lot of man-eating crocodiles, keeping all these different projects up in the air.

The episodic nature of the genesis of ‘Watchers’ has helped in keeping it moving forward, I originally conceived of it as a tale of approximately eight or ten parts, meaning the target has mostly been only to get that episode completed. Torturing my main protagonist in as an inventive manner as possible. More vaguely, having an impression how Act One will play out and a direction of travel for Act Two, which happens to be north in case you are wondering.

Beyond that, I don’t have a plan apart from keeping on writing until the bitter end.

 

In the spirit of #WIPpet Wednesday here is an extract from episode 23 of the draft –

 

“You’re still going to be weak. It was a bad fever.

“To be honest I’m not sure how you survived. If my Da was here he’d have a better idea, but I’m not the healer that he is.”

Gar wondered if she had been ill herself the leather jerkin she wore hung loosely from her slim frame, as she leaned over him placing branches of fern on top of him covering his nakedness. And her eyes which he thought were a sparkling blue, were only dull and grey.

But then so much had happened, from the Lawgiver’s death, his escape from his pursuers, to seeing Kel making a pact with the slavers. That he struggled to remembered it all.

The woman’s cool hand rested on his brow.

He remembered her though, he remembered being alone with her.

“Who was the child?” he asked, “The child I heard singing.”

She turned her head away before speaking, “Fever dreams ignore them, you heard nothing.”

 

© 2016 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.