Short Story: ‘Slow Night’…

Nice night for knocking out a short-story on-the-fly, off-the-cuff and in-the-moment, don’t you think?

I was feeling flash fiction. I was reading a Ray Bradbury interview. Altogether I was inspired to turn aside from other trivial pursuits for 10 minutes to blast out a very short story as an enjoyable writing exercise. No overthinking or processing out or heavy editing or procrastinating or anything else: just typing out a spontaneous tale, simple as.

Here is that very short spontaneous story: a blast of flash fiction called ‘Slow Night’ for your consideration as bedtime reading…

Slow Night

Slow night, he said.

Yes, he agreed.

And it was a slow night. He listened to the electric hum, barely alive but just about there holding up the emptiness. An ocean of ennui that just went on and on through which he would swim without moving a muscle.

To be in waves and feel the currents but yet the waves do not roll or move for the moons aren’t in orbit and the sea is so still. Those were his sensations on the slow night.

Up above the stars seemed to be sleeping. Blanketed by blackness, oh-so-forlorn up beyond the breathless air.

Would they twinkle or glimmer? They did not on the slow night.

Life in slow motion on this slow night.

He was on the watch, but what to watch? Lethargic, he just felt lost and futile on the slow night, uninspired and with nothing to do but maintain a watch where there was nothing to watch. He was listless, but yet no anxiety accompanied his languor. A strange peace flowed through tired joints, nerves, his biological machinery. The resigned malaise of being a man in slow motion on a slow night on the watch over the fields.

No crackles. No charges, surges or sparks. The fields rested lightless, the infinite coils comatose. The plant seemed abandoned but he knew that what it was not as it seemed on the slow night. Life was sleeping beneath the distant dome, dimmed to post-twilight setting. Energy-saving. Everything energy-saving and in hibernation state on the slow night.

All life around was sleeping. He was sure it was sleeping. He was sure all was asleep except himself.

Nothing except himself alive and awake and aware and holding on in spite of the slowness of the slow, slow night.

No transit tubes travelling. No discharges or flares crackling out of the generator fields. Just the soft electric hum, a prolonged pause. Just the languid slumbering stars. Just the distant dome of low lustre.

Just him. Slow night, he said.

Yes, he agreed in reply. A reply to himself, the slow night finally slowing him to a stop. His watch ended with a soft fading drift scored to the paused electric hum. Eyes closing, function halting and everything ceasing to be awash in the emptiness and entropy of the slow night.

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Search Engine Adventures and Kit Harrington Fan Fiction…

Sometimes, search engines can take you strange places. One example: while researching ‘best Sean Bean deaths‘ recently I somehow ended up being directed to an excellent recipe for falafel. That’s not actually true but in the weird world of tags, SEO, promoted links, algorithmic sorcery and other things I don’t fully understand, it could happen.

Regardless, sometimes people put queries into search engines and end up on my site. Phrases that have led people here include “infinite golden sea“, “squiggly squid“, “things to do in clayton, nc” (sorry, I’m not a small town in North Carolina) and “german expressionism get from the faves“. There’s also “van dam robocop” (something relevant here) and “thinggs that will be big in 2014” (I got this) so it appears that I attract readers who can’t spell or are lazy when it comes to typing things into Google. I know I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to these things but really, it’s disrespectful to misspell ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme’. Tssk…

Anyway, the only ‘search engine terms that have sent people here’ on my WordPress dashboard at the moment is an interesting, intriguing one. Someone (Hey you, whoever you are!) arrived on my site after Googling “kit harington fan fiction tumblr“. This isn’t a Tumblr site, nor is Kit Harrington spelled with only one ‘R’. There is also no Kit Harrington fan fiction on this website so I fear that somewhere out there there’s a very disappointed individual.

I feel bad about this – both because of my contribution to someone’s disappointment and the dearth of Kit Harrington fan fiction around here. I need to rectify this. Thus, I decided to write some Kit Harrington fan-fiction so that my main website has some and so that the people get exactly what they want from the internet. Ask and you shall receive, because I’m generous like that and just want to make people happy. Here is the Kit Harrington fan fiction, especially for you…

Search Engine Adventures with Kit Harrington

It was a cold day on the Game of Thrones set. It was a cold day every day on the Game of Thrones set. Kit Harrington – the young actor who plays Jon Snow the Northern bastard – was holed up in his trailer, keeping himself warm. He was also trying to keep himself entertained.

Kit Harrington was bored. Bad lighting had meant a delay in that day’s shooting. He’d been sat there for hours, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the call. Iceland’s weather wasn’t being supportive today. The wait to start shooting again went on and on and on and on.

Kit Harrington had had a nap. He’d done some crunches. He’d made a cup of peppermint tea. He’d called his agent to check in and have a chat for a couple of hours. He’d re-read George R.R. Martin’s entire bibliography. Still, the call didn’t come. Kit Harrington’s patience was wearing very thin.

Desperate for a new distraction to pass the time, Kit Harrington flipped open his laptop and turned it on. It made a warm welcoming noise as it booted up. He opened the browser and started to enter random search terms into Google for kicks. ‘Joffrey slap‘ got tedious after a while and ‘beautiful horse photos‘, ‘bastard etymology‘, ‘what time is it in Winterfell?‘ and ‘is anybody there?‘ failed to raise him out of his ennui.

Now listless and descending into the lowest of low ebbs, Kit Harrington typed out his name. He was loath to Google himself for that way lies madness and tremendous hurt. Nevertheless, impulsively deciding that he’d exhausted all other options Kit Harrington went ahead and did the unthinkable. As his eyes alighted on his own name appearing on the screen he felt a sublime streak of masochistic curiosity surging in his breast. He figured he might as well do the even more unthinkable. He added the words’ fan fiction‘, a wicked smile flashing across his face. Then Kit Harrington pressed enter.

The search engine responded with a ream of promising hits signposted with hyperlinks. Without hesitating, Kit Harrington clicked the first link. It was the personal website of some hack writer and the top post was a story about Kit Harrington. Kit Harrington started to read it. In the story Kit Harrington was bored and decided to tap ‘Kit Harrington fan fiction’ into a search engine in order to amuse himself.

Kit Harrington felt considerable unease and confusion.

Kit Harrington/Jon Snow: “…”

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon’…

It’s time for an imaginative challenge. (It’s always time for an imaginative challenge. In fact, time is an imaginative challenge.) Every month, crack dance-commando John Steele (he has a war face and makes us dance and, thus, he’s a dance commando) calls us to action and sets up a fresh Pictonaut challenge. The objective: write around a thousand words of fiction inspired by a particular image of his choosing. I get a kick out of this exercise so I always make sure I come up with something. I recommend it. It’s fun and provides an opportunity to creatively experiment and engage with a challenge with built-in limits or requirements to meet (which I kind of ignore, ’cause I dance freestyle, totally to the syncopated beat of my own drum. I’m sorry, Dance Commando. Please school me and bring me back into line…).

The inspiral moodpiece for January 2014’s Pictonaut is this image by German artist Cornelius Dämmrich and it’s titled ‘Mercury‘…

‘Mercury’ by Cornelius Dämmrich…

I see this picture and am several shades of excited because this picture spells sci-fi. I love sci-fi. I get high – nay, stratospheric – on sci-fi. Furthermore, extra cosmic stimulus has come from watching BBC Stargazing LIVE and reading The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester over the past week. I’m in a very science fiction state of mind and have also been in the scriptwriting mood lately so knocked up this month’s Pictonaut piece as a dialogue. The image suggested scenarios and characters soon followed. Relocating to the Mimas moon of Saturn – because Mercury isn’t very hospitable and because Cassini mission leader Carolyn Porco‘s discussions of Saturn’s rings on Stargazing LIVE intrigued me – I came up with ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon‘. You can read my first Pictonaut piece of 2014 here and I hope you enjoy it…

Facing Up to Bleak Films and Historical Atrocities on Screen…

The Den of Geek website took a more-than-well-deserved Christmas holiday and that meant I didn’t offer up a weekly film column for a few weeks. That holiday has passed, however, and the Geek Den is now fully-operational. Thus, I’m back with my first article of 2014: a look ahead to some of the depressing films due in UK cinemas in January and February. We’re in ‘Serious & Sombre Season’ which coincides with Awards Season and that means that a lot of heavy duty, heartbreakingly bleak and weighty movies are appearing on screens. You can read the column for extra thoughts and a look forward to some interesting-albeit-unhappy-looking pictures if you like…

As an extra note, I did get to see 12 Years a Slave (one of the films on the bleak-list) the other night. I’d urge others to seek it out at the cinema if possible because I think it’s important and stands as an artwork that needs to be experienced. That experience is a very unpleasant and distressing one (though there are, erm, some beautiful shots and nice period production design details). I spent a lot of the film squirming and silently pleading “Cut! Cut! Please, no more!” but I’d argue that we need to go through these ‘ordeals’ (relatively speaking, watching upsetting films is not an ordeal) and confront brutality so we not only come to terms with actual reality but also historical fact.

I’ll restrain myself from a grandstanding soapbox moment (I am not a Master of Soap Boxing and, to be honest, I’m more interested in being a teetotal Master of Drunken Boxing). I’ll leave it at this: I’m happy (for want of a better word) that slavery as an incomprehensible historical taboo is being tackled more on film. We’ve got to face the atrocities of the past and cinema is an ideal medium by virtue of its viscerality and multi-sensory nature. Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is even more affecting than any other movie about institutionalised inhumanity I’ve sat through because of his meditative style. What the audience is presented with is an unflinching and brutally realistic picture made up of long, passive sequences where we have no choice but to just watch and absorb the ugliness before us. We’re forced to feel the pain and endure the torment of the characters (even calling them “characters” feels glib and inappropriate). We need to experience works like this so we remember and so we can learn and develop as human beings.

I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious or soap-boxy. As I say, I recommend it and, in general, I recommend tremendously disturbing, bleak films. They’re good for your soul…

Things That Are Gonna Be Big in 2014…

2014! Happy New Year! WE ARE IN THE FRESH FUTURE AGE! THE FUTURE IS NOW!

It feels good to be in the Future-Now at the beginning of a whole reboot/fresh start/new era. Seizing the spirit of change I will now list my New Year Revolutions and New Year High-Def Resolutions… or not, because it’s actually better to keep them to yourself. Sage advice: internalise your self-improvement schemes and stay pretty quiet about them and you have more chance of actually achieving your idealised goals. You also decrease third-party pressure and are less likely to irritate people with your your pity-parties, your self-loathing and your self-flagellation.(And you’re good, by the way. Best wishes and all power to you as you go about your empowered self-improvement missions.)

Instead I’m going to list the things that are going to be big in 2014. I mean huge. I’ve consulted the Oracles, whispered with the ravens and squeezed my scrying teabags and all of them concur and can confirm that the following things are going to be hot, on trend and oh-so-zeitgeisty over the next year. I suggest you jump on the bandwagon right now and embrace the hip crazes. The things that will be big in 2014 are…

  • Godzilla.
  • Labyrinths and mazes.
  • Artichokes.
  • World War I-era facial hair.
  • Men calling each other “Sister” and women calling each other “Brother” and everyone completely smashing the idea of gender-specific terms of endearment for friends. Believe it, brothers and sisters.
  • Top-knots.
  • Prog rock revival.
  • Amateur astronomy.
  • Amateur astrology.
  • Brutal honesty.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Brown paper bags.
  • Dissonant audio.
  • Séances.
  • Steam.
  • Supermarket sabotage.
  • Overlong shoelaces.
  • Putting vanilla syrup on everything.
  • ‘Adopt-a-Bee’ conservation schemes.
  • Da dance craze dat all demz be callin’ ‘Da Soup-Doop’.
  • Grow-your-own garlic.
  • Big eyes.
  • Minotaurs.
  • Kit Harington.
  • Japanese mythology.
  • The critical re-evaluation of phrenology in academic circles.
  • Wardrobe sharing.
  • Iran at the FIFA World Cup.
  • ‘Reclaim the Comments Section’ activism movements and the consequent prolonged troll battles that follow.
  • Warzone tourism.
  • Corporate assassinations.
  • Sci-fi poetry.
  • Stroking people’s faces (no longer seen as ‘a bit weird’).
  • Diaries as a smarter alternative to stream-of-consciousness venting on social media platforms and on the public spaces of the internet.
  • Presenting Shakespeare monologues in surreal fashion and uploding them on YouTube.
  • Owning a pet sheep.
  • Independent political candidates.
  • Rock Paper Scissors tournaments.
  • Origami.
  • The word “Ishrific!” which means “Whoa! It’s terrifically shit-hot!
  • Elaborate faking of deaths for life insurance scams or for sympathetic tributes on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The flaming unicorn-horned crocodile “ARE YOU FOR REAL?” GIF meme.
  • Storytelling chain-letters.
  • Insomnia.
  • Baristas and other service industry workers adopting kooky pseudonyms and work personas as company policy.
  • Polygamous marriages.
  • Affecting an Eastern European accent.
  • Customised coffins.
  • Coloured cardboard boxes.
  • Tibet.
  • The insult: “You genefreak!“.
  • You, genefreak.
  • Research into gene therapy to modify and perfect your impefect genes, genefreak.
  • Spontaneous unprovoked laughter.

And if the rest of the world fails to turn these things into trending topics and doesn’t catch on to the fact that they’re the cool stuff making 2014 so 2014, I’ll just celebrate them myself until the wider Universe adopts them as well. I’m a futurist and a forward-thinking fashion trendsetter. Mark my word and heed the soothsaying sources: 2014 is going to be an excellent year and it’ll be especially immense for everything in the lengthy laundry list above.

Welcome to 2014, brothers and sisters! It’s gonna be ishrific!” I say in an affected Eastern European accent while pouring vanilla syrup all over an artichoke. Oh my Godzilla, I’m psyched about this future-now. Ha ha, ha ha ha!