Pentagramatical Put Down

The incantations were read. The chicken slaughtered.  

And Deborah waited, trembling. For a thunderous crash, the stench of brimstone and then-she hastily touched up her lipstick, she would be his. To do with as he pleased. Whenever he pleased. 

And in exchange: power. Beauty. So no man would dare spurn her again. Never. Oh how she’d make them grovel. Squirm. Beg to be her slave.

Starting with Dominic in accounts. That prick-

It was begun.  

Inside the pentagram a small grey cloud had appeared. Every second it grew larger, fizzling and crackling as it coalesced and took shape.

Finally, after months of painstaking preparation her moment had come and shit, she hoped he wouldn’t be too rough.

Too late now. The cloud had disappeared. There he stood. Her master. Lover-

Yawning, a can of lager in one hand, fag in the other. In jogging bottoms and a faded t-shirt.

Frowning, Deborah said, ‘You’re the…?

A belch. A nod.

Deborah threw open her robe, ‘Then take me,’ she gasped, ‘Body and soul I am yours.’

The Devil sighed, said, ‘No thank’s love,’ and vanished.

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Forgive and Forget

Tim knew kids could be bastards, but Christ- the way the little shit kept turning up, like a fucking jack in the box. Sometimes Tim’d be watching the match and the cunt would pop out from behind the telly, nearly giving him a heart attack and making him spill his Chinese all over the sofa.

Or he’d be desperate for a shit, but couldn’t go because the kid would be sat in the bathroom sink. The other day Tim found him hiding in some rubbish-pale face grinning out of a slit in a black bin bag with coffee grains in his hair and half a chip squashed on his head.

The little fucker.

Honestly, it was too much.

No wonder he drank. And now he’d read in the paper that the kids mum had done herself in.  Jumped off a motorway bridge. Caused an almighty pile up. Bit selfish that really. 

‘Course she’d probably try to blame that on him too. And it’d be just his luck if she starting turning up too. Then there’d be the pair of them giving him evils.

Not his fault. The kid should have been looking where he was going.  Everyone said so.

Try telling that to him though. Little bastard just stares- head all fucked up and at the wrong angle. And he wouldn’t accept an apology. You could scream sorry till you were blue in the face and nothing.

Well enough. He had  a plan. A moments pain and he’d never have to see that little face again. And speak of the devil. There he was, sat across the table. Full of spite.

So do it.

And Christ it hurts. It hurts like fuck but it’s done. And let the tears come. Not ’cause of the pain but the relief, God that relief. Like nothing on earth. And see, the dark isn’t so bad.

It’s a fresh start that’s what it is. Everyone deserves that don’t they? No matter what terrible things they’ve done. Forgive and forget. Wipe the slate clean.

He’ll have to get one of those canes. Learn to see by touch: there, it’s not too bad. Wooden table top-the surface greasy, grains of dirt caught in the grooves. Empty bottle, glass still warm in places. Ash tray. Cup-

A hand. Tiny cold fingers locking onto his. Tight. Like they’re never going to let go.

 

 

 

Return to Nature

Let’s get back to nature, said city boy in his suit.

Smash up our phones,

Burn down our homes.

We’ll live in the wild: no clothes. Just mud.

Make spears out of branches- fight to fuck.

The chicks will do the breeding,

We’ll supply the meat.

Imagine: no bills. No shite-

Just survival of the fittest.

He said, You with me? His eyes burned bright.

I said,

Mate. We wouldn’t last two minutes,

I’m not wiping my arse on moss.

And our feet would get all blistered. Besides, X Factor’s on.

Cool Ass Kitsch

As a recovering HOARDER with a tendency to fill my living space with ten tonnes of CRAP, I generally try to stay away from buying ornaments.

But then the other day I saw this a charity shop:

rsz_1bill

 

And well, yeah…

Now, clearly, this priceless piece of bric a brac is a Bill Clinton nesting doll.

Well, who do you think is inside?

rsz_monica

Ta da! Monica Lewinski. At least I think it is. Although it does look a bit like Geena Davies.

It’s not Geena Davies though, is it?

Moving on. The next doll is:

rsz_fuckknows

Uh, okay, so I’m not actually sure exactly who this is meant to be. I’m guessing either Anjelica Huston or Hilary Clinton.

rsz_fuckknows2

Or is this Hilary Clinton? But then who’s the other one? Is this even a woman?

Oh God, it’s so confusing. If you know the answer please get in touch (mainly ’cause I’m going to be flogging this on Ebay and it will help with the listing description)

Moving on. One doll left. Drum roll please…

rsz_cigarturd

It’s a turd…

Okay, so we all know it’s not really a turd.

Oh man, did this make me chuckle.

Please, tell me I’m not the only one who finds this amusing.

Anyway here they all are. On parade. A parade of shame baby, yeah.

rsz_allofthemwitches

Love it.

I think they should do a Tony Blair one: Blair, Bush, Saddam Hussein, loads of dead Iraqi’s, until finally, the last doll is an invisible weapon of mass destruction.

I’d buy that.

The Taste of Fear…

ttales

Yeuch!

What’s that pernicious pong? Oh it’s you. Heh. Heh. Heh.

Well, don’t just stand there decomposing, you rancid rotter. Take a pew. Make yourself at bone.

And welcome to chapter one of Alister Grudge’s TERRIBLE TALES– a veritable cornucopia of creepiness.

I like to call the revolting little tale that I’ve dug up for you today, ‘The Taste of Fear…’

You’ll soon see why.

This festering fable begins amidst the brightly coloured lights and noisy hubbub of a fair ground on a chill Autumn night.

What fun.

It’s a whirlwind of excitement-the air scented with the sweet smell of candy floss, of toffee apples, hot dogs and popcorn freshly popped.

Young lovers stroll arm in arm. Children tug on their parents sleeves.

Over there, a hall of mirrors. And there, a rifle range. A fun house. A ghost train.

A fortune teller’s caravan-

And through the laughing crowds stalks a darkly scowling man, with a hat pulled low over his sweat soaked brow. His coat clasped tight at the throat, held fast by fingers tattooed: love and hate.

Recognise him?

You should. For it is YOU, Ivan Wolonski. Fugitive from the law.

Murderer.

And how you glance about-shooting nervous, furtive stares. The kind you make when you believe, no, when you know, that you are followed and your pursuer could emerge at any moment, from anywhere.

The kind you make when your heart smashes against the prison of your ribs. When all you can taste in your dry mouth is iron and rust.

The taste of fear.

And you know it well.

Why, you’ve lived with it for days. Ever since you stuck a knife in that policeman’s throat.

You need a refuge. A safe haven to wait and weather the storm. But what’s this? A fortune teller’s caravan?

The sign above the door says ‘Madame Zorbas’s’.

It will do.

It will have too. Because in the distance, above the din of the fair: the whirl of the rides, the laughter, the gaiety, above the sound of music and merriment, you can hear the baying of dogs and you know they have your scent.

The fortune teller’s caravan is dark, lit only by a single candle that dances wildly as as ill wind ushers you into the gloom.

The woman at the table does not move to greet you. Her wrinkled hands shuffle a pack of cards slowly. So slowly- as if she has been shuffling that same pack since the pack since the day she was born.

A black veil covers her face.

Why should that frighten you? You’re a man of the world. Yet there is something about the women, hunched and ancient, that almost makes you  want to turn and run.

But of course you don’t. That would be foolish.

Instead you sit across from her and clear your throat. And when she does not acknowledge you, you point to the crystal ball before her and, laughing, ask if she can really see the future.

In a voice that creaks like a gibbet rope she whispers, ‘The ball is but an ornament to appease the expectations of my customers. But I have the second sight.’

You laugh and ask why she isn’t rich and famous. Why, you could make a packet with a talent like that.

She sighs and says, ‘The gift is not to be squandered on material riches. I wouldn’t expect a man like you to understand.’

You’re not sure you like her tone of voice. But before you can say something she’s off again:

‘Besides people do not want to know their fate. Not really, so I tell them instead, what they want to hear. Oh yes, you will be rich, you will marry a handsome man.’

Grinning, you tell her that you want to know your future. And you hold out your palm like you’ve seen in the movies.

She stops shuffling.

Is that a smile you see under her veil, slowly spreading across her face, like blood from a wound?

It is. She’s grinning at you and as a ghastly chuckle rattles from out her throat she says, ‘Your destiny is plain to see.’

What does she mean by that?

Now she holds out her palm and tells you to cross it with silver.

You fold your arms across your chest and tell her you’re not dumb enough to fall for her carny hokum.

‘Then leave my caravan,’ she says, throwing her arms wide, bellowing so loud the shock of it nearly throws you out of the chair, ‘Leave my caravan Ivan Wolonski and pray that you do not hang for murder.’

How did she-? It’s impossible.

And then it hits you. Your picture in the papers. Of course. She’s playing you like a violin. The crazy old bird.

She starts to laugh, as though she can read you thoughts.

Her hands reach for the veil and when you see her face you can’t help but gasp and leap back like you’ve been bitten by a snake.

Her eyes are white and empty.

And grinning, her toothless mouth gaping wide, she says, ‘Heed my words Ivan Wolonski: before the moon shines bright, your hands will steal a life. You will speak in a borrowed tongue and in the morning, your corpse will be found beneath the branches of a willow tree.’

What is this? What nonsense. Probably straight out of a fortune cookie.

Yet her strange words turn your cheeks pale.

Cackling, her hands reach out to touch your face and she says,

‘I knew you would come this black night. It was foretold when I was but a child. I may be blind but I know your face. I have lived with it all my life. You see it is a gift but also a curse to see the future, to know the hour of your death. For it is my life that you will take Ivan Wolonski. Even now your fingers twitch for my throat.’

She’s right. They are.

And in a sudden burst of violence you are wringing her skinny neck. Squeezing so hard you can feel the bones grind and snap.

But somehow she’s still alive. So you squeeze for all you’re worth, fingers biting into her throat

At last, she retches her final, stinking, breath into your face and gasps, ‘Before the sun sets you will know such terror.’

It’s done. Her lifeless body collapses into the chair.

And you, Ivan, criminal that you are, even you shudder in the shadow of your terrible crime.

Murderous hands trembling, you lick your parched lips and you sit, all alone in the darkening caravan.

Outside, the sounds of the fair are beginning to die down. The merry makers are off to their warm beds.

And you are all alone.

Except, that is, for the body of Madame Zorba.

With her black and twisted face. And those eyes. Staring wide and open. As unseeing in death as they were in life.

Staring.

And no matter how much you try to ignore them, no matter where you turn, you can feel them fixed on you, piercing you with an accusing glare.

Oh dear, Ivan. What’s that suspicion sneaking up on you?

That dreadful, unsettling, feeling that maybe, just maybe, they are not sightless at all.

And as the hairs rise on the back of your neck, a little voice in the back of your mind whispers, ‘She’s looking at you. She’s looking right at you’.

Silly isn’t it? But this whisper starts to get louder. Soon it isn’t a whisper at all.

You begin to squirm, to wriggle, there’s that taste in your mouth again, your heart thuds quick as a  galloping race horse, thud, thud-thud, thud, thud- thud. It’s beating so fast and so hard you’re scared it might burst out of your chest, to flop about on the table like a pulsing red fish. And
the whisper has become a scream, ‘SHE’S LOOKING AT YOU!’ and you jump up fast.

You have to close those eyes, you must.

So you reach out a trembling hand-

And someone raps on the door. Loud, Insistent rapping.

Yelping, you leap back, fist in your mouth.

And a man’s voice, a cop’s voice, says, ‘Madame Zorba, are you in there?’

Damn.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

Caught like a rat in a trap.

‘Open up,’ says the cop. ‘We need to speak to you.’

Think Ivan. Think. It can’t end like this.

There, on the floor.

Zorba’s veil. You snatch it up and bundling into a ball, hold it in front of your face.

‘Yes?’ you say, ‘what is it?’

The cop tells you all about some murderer they’re hunting. An Ivan Wolonski , a terrible, violent man and won’t you please come and look at his picture?

You tell them it wouldn’t do much good. You’re blind.

And then, just like that, they buy it. They’re telling you to be careful. To lock your door. And they’re off.

You can scarcely believe you ears. It’s all you can do to wait for the sound of their footsteps to disappear before you’re roaring with laughter.

Howling. Sides splitting. Your face is wet with tears.

You’ve quite forgotten your fears now and your chest is puffed up with pride at your cleverness. And just to prove how brave you are feeling, you point at Zorba and, grinning, ask her what the hell she thinks she’s staring at.

Haw. Haw. Haw.

But it’s a hollow sound and the laughter dies on your lips.

Now you shut her eyes. And her dead flesh is cold to the touch, like ham from the fridge.

Never mind that. Tucked away in a drawer you find a wad of notes and something even better: whiskey. And damn if you couldn’t do with a drink.

So what if it’s cheap? You’ve had worse. And as the liquor burns your throat a curious thought flits through your mind.

What was it she said about speaking in a borrowed tongue?

Didn’t you just borrow her voice?

Crazy. Coincidence.

Phooey.

You raise the bottle once more and you’re about to make a toast, to your long and happy future when-

Her eyes are open again. She’s staring. That awful, accusing, stare. Right at you.

And, God no.

It’s not possible. She’ s smiling at you.  A smirk, a definite smirk is starting to twist the thin, blue, lips.

But it’s just rigor mortis isn’t it? The muscles tightening in death. That’s all.

Then why the gleam in her dead eyes? Why does the smile get slowly wider-

Throw the veil over her head. That’s it, that’s what you have to do. But where is it?

There by the door.

You have to turn your back on her to pick it up, and when you do, you hear the snap of her joints as she rises out of the chair-you whirl around.

Just your imagination. What relief.

But that grin. It’s wider than ever. So wide you can see the swollen tongue squatting black in her mouth, like some venomous toad.

So you approach, with the veil held out at arm’s length and you’re almost on her when your foot slips on something-the bottle, and now you’re stumbling, arms flailing and you knock into the sideboard and the candle falls and you’re in darkness.

Now you do hear her rising. You hear the gurgle of fluids trapped in her broken windpipe. The rustling of her dress. The scraping of her long nails as she claws her way towards you across the floor.

And your mind finally snaps.

Sobbing, you dash for the door and fumble for the lock. She’s almost on you when you throw it wide.

The night air is freezing but you don’t care. You run, run screaming through the silent fair ground.

Past the ghost train. Past the hall of mirrors, past the helter skelter, the waltzer and every where you look you can see the dead woman grinning at you from the shadows.

Poor Ivan.

You look like a frightened jack rabbit. Mouth-slack jawed, white foam flecked on your gibbering lips, your eyes-owl wide. You don’t know where you are running too, just that you have to get away.

So you run through the night and you keep running knowing only that you have to get far away. Away from dead fingers reaching for your throat. Anything would be better than that, even the police.

Even swinging on a gallows.

Up ahead, a river. You can make out the tree-lined bank in the half-light of the slowly approaching dawn.

What was it your grandmother used to say? Something about how the dead cannot cross running water.

You make for the river with a desperate burst of energy.

In minutes you are tumbling down the river bank, slipping on the wet mud, then, lungs heaving, you wade waist deep through the icy waters until-half dead, you pull yourself up onto the opposite shore, gasping, spluttering, to rest beneath the branches of an old tree.

Fighting for breath you squeeze your eyes shut, praying for an end to your nightmare. For forgiveness. And you’ll be good from now on. You promise.

You’re about to open your eyes when something cold and wet brushes your neck.

And to the tune of a terrible, blood curdling scream, your heart, dear Ivan, beats it’s last.

Serves you right.

But that’s not quite the end of our delightful tale.

You see, dear Ivan, the dogs find your body later that morning-sat against the trunk of an old willow tree, a strand of the willow wrapped around your neck.
Apparently, your face was not good to look upon and a sheet was quickly thrown over your head. A most baffling case. The coroner could find no signs of injury.

It was almost as if you had been scared to death.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

I hope you enjoyed that putrid pile of prose. Come back soon for more ghoulish goings on.

Until then.

Yours in pieces,

A. GRUDGE.

Taxi

He’s hankering for a tip. Going on about how I’m the last pick up of the night and how lucky I am because most taxi drivers would never stop in this neighbourhood, what with all the bag heads and crack whores and-shaking his head, what was I thinking walking around here in a nice suit like that?
Business trip I tell him. Needed a walk after a long flight. Got lost.
Our eyes meet in the rear view mirror. I look away.
That’s when I see her, face down in the middle of the road. I scream stop, but it’s too late. The taxi jolts like we’ve gone over a speed bump. He slams the brakes and we skid to a stop.
His face is white. I guess mine is too. We’re both breathing hard.
I reach for the door handle.
He asks me what I’m doing. He says he has four kids. A mortgage. He can’t afford to lose his licence over some smack head and think about it-she’s probably dead. Maybe she was dead before we hit her.
Then, quietly, he says they’ll be questions. It could make the papers. And they’ll want to know what I was doing in that part of town.
I want to tell him that she’s a human being-that we have a moral obligation to help, that if we do nothing then we’ve as good as murdered her, but my mouth is so dry the words won’t come out and then it’s too late anyway because the taxi is pulling off and the next morning, when my hands won’t stop shaking, I tell my wife I must have caught a cold.

 

Boy Talk- Part Two: Flat earth and Multiple Arseholes

Monday morning.

Dave’s been at work since 6:45 A.M. It’s now 11.oo and he’s sneaked out for a crafty fag and a little bit of me time. He’s barely had two puffs when he hears a loud voice shout ‘Dude.’

Tommy is bounding down the road towards him, waving. His eyes are wide and he looks like he’s been sleeping in the same clothes for a week.

‘Massive paradigm shift.’ he shouts as he runs right into the path of an oncoming car that has to pull of an emergency stop-brakes squealing.

The driver, a woman in her thirties, winds down her window to give Tommy some shit. Tommy hurls back some obscenities of his own and the woman drives off shaking her head.

‘Mate,’ says Dave, ‘Did you just call her a fucking lizard?’

Tommy nods, then, gasping, puts his hands on his knees and sucks air. ‘Whoa, head rush.’

Dave glances at his watch and crushes his fag against the wall: ‘Shit, is that the time? I’d better go.’

‘Wait. This is like, important.’

‘I have to get back to work.’

‘Two secs. I’m about to blow your mind mate. Seriously. This is Like. ‘Fucking. Huuuuuge.’

Dave frowns, ‘Dude, are you, like, pilling?’

‘What? No. I mean yeah I had half a tab. So what?’

‘Mate, it’s not even afternoon.’

‘So? Just fucking listen,’ Tommy leans in close. His pupils are so enormous they have sucked all the colour from his eyes, ‘Dude. The earth is flat.’

There is a pause as his words hang in the air.

‘What?’

‘Right. It’s fucked up isn’t it? Like, at first you’re head just can’t get a hold of it, but then you think about it and it just all makes sense. Like how the fuck can the earth be a ball, we’d all fall off.’

‘Gravity mate.’

‘No such fucking thing. It’s all bollocks. Dude, you have to watch this youtube video-’ Tommy wrenches his phone from his pocket and jabs the screen, ‘Honestly, NASA are fucking evil. Just watch this. Aw, what the fuck? It’s been removed-’

Tommy’s jaw drops. He stares hard at Dave, then says,‘That proves it. You see? They don’t want us to watch it.’

‘What, NASA?’

‘Nah. They’re just fucking puppets. The New world order.’

‘Who?’

‘The Illuminati, dude. Come on. They’re controlling everything. It’s like a massive conspiracy. Gravity, space, all that shit, lies. Bull shit. It’s all faked mate. Propaganda so they can control us. They’re sick mate.’

‘Ah huh.’

‘Don’t look at me like that. You just need to watch these videos they explain everything.’

‘You tube videos.’

‘Yes.’

‘Dude. I saw a youtube video once by this plastic surgeon guy who said that Taylor Swift had done so much anal he had to build her a new arsehole.’

Tommy blinks. Scowls. Says, ‘So? What the fuck? Dude, I’ve done months on research on this. Seriously. It’s like the biggest cospiracy ever. Man this shit is so massive it makes 9/11 look like-‘

‘Not a conspiracy?’

‘Right. No. Why are you being a prick?’

‘Mate, the earth is not flat.’

Tommy puts a hand on Dave’s shoulder: ‘Okay. Dude, you’re suffering from cognitive dissonance. That’s understandable. It’s a big paradigm to shift. Just watch these videos.’

‘I have to go mate.’

‘Five minutes.’

‘I have to get back to work.’

‘What in there? Fuck them, they’re part of it. The fucking elite mate.’

‘Dude, I work in Poundland.’

‘Third degree Masons, the lot of them.’

‘I’m going.’

‘Okay. I’ll send you the links on messenger.’

‘Please don’t.’

‘Open you eyes Dave. Get out of the Matrix before it’s too late.’

‘Bye Tommy.’

A Crack in Time

Maureen Selby -til number three, took off her do’ers and put on see’rs. She had thought that the group of rampaging down the grocery aisle were on a stag do, in fancy dress. But now that they were in focus, she could how wrong she had been. Especially since one of them had just looped off the security guards head.

She should have known something wasn’t right when that robot had come in earlier trying to shop lift a can of oil. It had kept going on and on about being sucked through a ‘temporal vortex’. She’d just presumed it had been art students playing a prank.

Maureen wondered if she should run for it. She doubted she’d get very far though. Her arthritis had been playing up all week and the Mongolians who had just materialised by the DVD’s were clutching bows and arrows. Not that she thought they’d be too concerned with her, seeing as how they were busy fending off the cave men who had just that second come tearing round the corner from the Health and Beauty aisle, but you never knew.

The cave men, as far as Maureen could tell from the pile up, had been running from a band of Vikings who, in turn, had been fleeing four men in space suits. One of whom pointed his ray gun at Maureen and said, if her ears were not very much mistaken, that he was looking for a ‘wormy hole’.

The cheeky sod.

She had a good mind to go and give him a right earful, but at that exact moment the shouts of battle were silenced by an almighty popping sound that seemed to come from somewhere high overhead. It was followed by a flash of purple light, a gust of howling wind and when Maureen opened her eyes the supermarket was empty.

Maureen stared at the pools of blood.

Management would probably want her to help clean up the mess. Well they could bugger off.

The Well

Hooves pounded the desert sand. The rider said he’d come to drink the waters, that he’d heard the legends and followed an ancient map. And was it all true and was this the place?
Smiling, blind and toothless, the old man led him to a cave in the hills and showed him the well. The rider drank deep. The old man sighed and crumbled into dust.
Later, the rider stood in the porch of the old man’s tent-his tent and listened to the night wind making the canvas awnings flutter and flap. He sat. And waited.

 

The Fairy Ring

For six cold nights Beth made a bed inside the fairy ring and wept for the return of her lost love.

As the moon rose on the fourth night, whispering voices bade her go and offered her fine things. On the fifth Peter was returned, but he would not leave the circle and when he spoke, his eyes were far away.

On the last night, Beth sang of their home and child and smiling, Peter took her hand. Alas, scarce three steps beyond the stones, he crumpled into leaves which a spiteful wind blew far and wide.