Monday, 28 July 2014

And Baseball Created The Universe - Flash fiction

“Foul Ball”! And with that the black hole at the centre of the solar system was created.

“Big bang, big bang! That changeup ain’t coming back any time soon!” as the galaxy was propelled on its never ending way.

“Backdoor slider eh? I went yard on that” as Venus was launched into its orbit.

“Dial long distance! Curve ball duly deposited into the upper deck as Pluto took its place. The pitching angel was finding it hard to hurl orbs with his wings getting in the way. He spat out his chewing tobacco on the mound and thus was dark matter formed.

“Split two-seam fastball eh? I was sitting dead read on that one. Hit the hide off it!” as Saturn shuffled into position.

“Pop fly!” as the comets were established in their trajectories. 

“Ha moonshot!” as Jupiter’s many satellites were formed from the splitting of the ball crushed by God’s Louisville Slugger timber.

“Come on Cherub, that one is right in my wheelhouse!” as Neptune was crushed into the far reaches of the solar system.

“Line drive blast, that’s back to back to back” as Mars lined it out into the short porch of the solar system. 

“Sinker ball huh?” Tape-measure dinger into the bleachers for Uranus to assume its elliptical path.

“Ooops mind yourself there Cherub, atom-ball nearly got ya!” and thus was Mercury formed with a single feather snagged by the travelling sphere from the Cherub’s wing.

“Oh man broken bat blooped single, think my arm’s getting tired, let’s call it a day- the first day- here” as the Earth apologetically spilled out into the infield.

“Let there be light to see all my smoked balls”. God removed the bubble gum from his mouth and stuck it to the batting cage where it pulsed and radiated light.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Buy One Get One Free!


"28 Far Cries" is my fourth published collection of flash fiction which came out last month.

Together with my other 3 collections, that makes 128 flash fiction stories, of many styles, themes and literary forms.

Perhaps 28 stories is not fully representative of the range of my work, so to remedy that I'm offering the chance to scale that up to 60 of my stories.

If you buy a copy of "28 Far Cries" before August 31st I'll send you a free e-reader version of my third collection "Long Stories Short"


All you have to do is buy "28 Far Cries" from Amazon and use their "I just bought" function at the end of the purchase to tweet it directly to me @21stCscribe

Remember to add the @21stCscribe so I'll see it. I'll tweet you back confirming it and then just email me to sewell(dot)d(at)googlemail(dot)com and I'll send you a copy by return.

If you miss the opportunity, you can still tweet me a photo of you holding the book once it arrives, though this obviously only applies to a print copy.

From reviews of "Long Stories Short"

"His is a truly original voice and Long Stories Short is a master class in writing as a higher art form".
"adept at looking at situations from a different angle, making the mundane into something strange and exciting, or treating the extra-ordinary as an everyday occurrence"

Stories of Royal Street Parties, safe houses, arthritic stand up comics, stolen ancient artefacts, crime scene re-enaction actors, neon cowboy hoardings, marionettes, dump sites, geishas...


. 

Five Sunsets Over The Ramparts - 500 word story


The Sun swatted its interrogatory disc from the face of the earth and gave a clipped nod. As Night stepped forward, the wrinkled penumbral clouds of its rolled up sleeves exposed the warrant of its dark intent.


The Sun had completed its final round and was coming off shift. As it dipped down into the trench of the horizon, it paused to lay a ribboned shaft across the arm of Night arriving in relief. ‘All quiet today, but it’s all going to come down on your watch, it’s palpable in the air’. Night nodded curtly and grimaced as he started his vigil. 


As the Sun sags and droops at the end of the day, it no longer has the power to illuminate the sky with its glow and drags its fading light like a soiled wedding trail through the dust. It feels guilty that the sky is leached of its cerulean and azure, to be but briefly replaced by reds and oranges and bruised purples. A similar purging of certain colours as was happening down on the ground too, as flags of one colour effaced flags of another, until Night descended rapidly to shroud it all unseen beneath its black cloak. 


The Sun gazed upon the shoulders and torso of the blue sky which cradled it. All day the blue had been permeated by smoke trails launched into it, profaning its unbroken blue plane. They looked like trails of tears. But as the sky gyrated and sloughed the Sun off like a robe to step out of its raiment, the Sun no longer cared since it would pass over to become Night’s concern now. Though as the clouds pressed themselves hard up against Night’s bosom so as to become sheer, so the smoke trails too failed to scar his dusky countenance. The pent up perturbations were far worse when they finally fell from his tenebrous countenance and fell to earth, since the whole sky lit up with coruscations. As if in fierce tribute to himself, mocking the radiance he brought during the day with brief fulgurations, before they were enclosed and eclipsed by the darkness once again. 



As the Sun set on another day, it shook its head sadly in the knowledge that when it rose the next morning, there would be nothing left for it to kindle and shine upon to light the way in this place. Night had triumphed over it yet again with its perpetual extinguishing of life. 


*

I wanted to write something to express my disgust with the international just standing by while innocents die in gaze in utterly unjustifiable numbers. I was trying to go for something on a global scale and decided to plump for the sun and the darkness of night, with all the associations of light/dark these bring. Our words Orient and Occident stem from the Latin for sunrise & sunset, while the term 'Levant" comes from the French also referring to the rising sun. Additionally the terms Middle and Far East show represent the vestiges of colonialism that these parts of the realm were only defined by their proximity or otherwise to the powerful empires of Britain & France. These imperial powers caused the long embittered entrenchments of communities in the Middle East and now they sit on their hands unwilling to try and seek both immediate and long term solutions. I blogged on the root cause problems behind the situation in Palestine back in 2012 and nothing has changed only worsened. If they manage to sort out a cease fire, unless they deal with these deep-rooted problems the region will go through all this again in a short while, just as I said it would back in 2012. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

E.T Phoneme Home - Friday Flash

It certainly wasn’t my intention to overhear what the two men at the table next to me were saying. They’d been there for an age jawing away without me picking up on anything. But when I sneezed it hurtled me into their conversation. Or rather it thrust their conversation into me.

I guess my head was propelled towards them by my whole body spasm into the expulsion and that put me within range of clearer articulation. But the crescendo and uneven modulation of the assault of my sneeze upon my own ears, meant that I only grasped the merest snatch of their exchange. Just two words that emerged somewhere between my head jagging forward and the fluctuating percussion of the sneeze, which thereby rendered the words random. Certainly ripped from their context placed within the rest of the sentence.

The two words were “rude” and “ire”. I say words, but I far more credit them to have been syllables. I mean who uses “ire” in everyday speech these days? And by the same logic, I have to hope and trust the same applies to “rude”, otherwise I fear they were discussing me and labelling me thus. Wholly without justification, since despite the ambush of the snout salvo, my reflexes were such that I managed to whip out my handkerchief and safely snaffle the discharge.

Even though I was averse to, my mind involuntarily begun trying to surmise what the full words might had been. It fixed on the “ire”, perhaps because that was indisputably a snapped off longer form, or maybe it didn’t want to dwell on the possibility that “rude” was delivered as it was meant. “Fire”, “hire”, “retire”, “acquire”, “conspire”, it could conceivably have been any of these. It might not even have been a word containing the lexeme “ire”, but as a homophone could very easily have been “liar”, “flier”, "pyre", “briar”, “supplier”, “buyer”, “prior”, “friar”, although I think that last one is likely to be an outlier. Normally one would have the added cue of the speaker’s face, but at that moment of course I had been confronted solely with the tabula rasa of my handkerchief (now imprinted with a mucal Rorschach of greens and yellows no artist’s palette could replicate), while at the moment of eruption my eyes were reflexively lidded and seeing of nothing. 

My mind would not rest however, resolved to determine whether I had been castigated and insulted by the other table for “intruding” in their chit chat. For being somehow crude when dabbing prudently to snag any snot extruding from my nostril. How else could the word “rude” be construed? They were unlikely to be pontificating on the morals of any woman called “Gertrude”, since who these days is bestowed with such a name? Whether such a woman was a “prude”, with or without a “brood”. Hang on a tick, it is just possible that it wasn’t the prefix which was overlain and sawn off by my nasal detonation. It could have been a suffix, as in “rudimentary”, or a bloke called “Rudolph”. Gertrude and Rudolph, who would have thought it? “Desire” that’s another “ire” word. How could I have possibly missed that one? I bet they had been parleying nothing more than a good bit of lewd prurience. A rudimentary desire to… 

There was only one way to determine this definitively, well one way apart from asking them directly which would be intrusive and rude. I would see if I could pick up any clues by observing the rest of their conversation. I stared at them surreptitiously, but they were no longer engaged in colloquy. Instead each was cutting their meat, stabbing it on the end of their fork, hoisting it into their mouths and silently chewing. That augured to a certain level of etiquette, which naturally could have proved the case either way. That these two were relatively effete and therefore quick to take offence at the perceived rudeness of others. Or that they hadn’t registered anything of my unfortunate sonic interposition earlier and remained oblivious to my very existence next to them. 

There was only a single action remaining to settle this for good. I removed my handkerchief from my pocket, opened it and began to counterfeit inspecting it, all the time peeking just above its edge for their reaction. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Disenchanted Forest - Friday Flash


A faerie ring of discarded cigarette ends.

A henge of jagged bottles sawn off by practise bullets. Witches’ thimbles picked out in empty shell casings.

Wreaths woven not from acorns and oak leaves, but from silver foil and torn up aluminium can crack pipes.

A cromlech constructed from three abandoned shopping trollies.

Corn dollies festooned the bare ground, fabricated from condoms and tampons.

Hag stones cultivated from car tyres, corn circles of six-pack beer plastic.

A spineless scarecrow featurelessly fashioned from a mound of clothes and rags.

A small maypole erected from a medical crutch planted in the soil while strips of bandages billowed from it.

Devil’s footprints forged from pillboxes, twisted glue tubes and lighter fluid tins. 

Where rubbish had been burned, scorched into the grass was a black chalk outline of a prone man shorn of a wicker husk.

The giant ash tree stretching to the heavens had played host as gallows, suspending the lowliest man on earth from its branches.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

60s Music - A barren decade

Until the dawn of the 21st century, the 1960s was my least favourite decade for music. I wasn't sure if I could even scrape together ten tunes to form one of my customary themed charts. And yet it was a highly political decade with youth at its head, so could have been more crucial musically than it turned out to be, although to be fair at least by the decade's end we no longer had to watch our beat combo groups performing on TV still wearing suits. Anyway, here are my top 10 tunes from the 60s.

1) The Doors - "Light My Fire"
To me Doors were the quintessential sound of the 60s. A bit political, a bit rebel, a bit hippy, a touch literary and a lot druggy. Having said that they along with Hendrix are perhaps the only two artists who would have more than a handful of songs in my collection. And Coppola's use of "The End" to bookend his movie "Apocalypse Now" is a perfect artistic synthesis.



2) MC5 -  "Kick Out The Jams"
Now here were a political group who brought a whole heap of trouble down on their heads because of their incendiary music. I met Fred Sonic Smith once, and he looked very burned out. that's what oppositional politics can do for you I guess.



3) Shangri-Las - "Leader Of The Pack"
Girl groups were a staple of the pop charts, but the Shangri-Las turned up to inject a touch of edge, cynicism and put the 'bad' into the bad boy they always seemed to yearn for.



4) Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child"
Never been bettered, nuff said. In my contemporary record collection there are bands with maybe two top guitar riffs at best. Hendrix had albums chockfull of them.



5) Creedance Clearwater Revival" - "Have You Ever Sen The Rain"
This is one of those bands I wouldn't have come across were they not referenced and covered heavily by bands I like such as Sonic Youth and Minutemen. But and this is a big but, as great as the songs they wrote were, there is the question, as with Neil Young, of whether you can stand John Fogerty's reedy and frankly weedy vocals. That is the limiting factor for me.



6) Julie London - "Cry Me A River"
There will always be a place for female crooners and this stands the test of time. Will Adele? We will have to wait and see.



7) The Guess Who - "American Woman"
Don't know any other of their songs and again I came to this via a modern cover version, but this is great.



8) Jefferson Starship - "White Rabbit"
Those of you who know me will recall that I am very anti-drug use. And yet in a demonstration of cognitive dissonance, I acknowledge there has been some great music (but probably not great literature) made while under the influence. This is the grand-daddy of them all, or maybe the grand-mommy since Grace Slick's vocal style takes this song beyond the stratosphere.



9) Don Drummond - "The Man In The Street"
At least the 60s brought us Studio One label and the opening up of Jamaican reggae. So it wasn't all bad as a decade then...



10) Pink Floyd - "Lucifer Sam"
The great unsolvable question, what would Pink Floyd have been like if Syd Barett hadn't destroyed his brain cells and been forced to hand the group over to Roger Waters that helped usher in the bloated supergroups of the 1970s like Floyd, Led Zep, Yes, Supertramp, Steeley Dan et al.




Thursday, 10 July 2014

Bye Bye Lingual - Friday Flash

I was the last in my line. The final native speaker of my language. It would die out with me since none would follow. For I had neither progeny nor converts. The concept of converts is a ridiculous one anyway, we ought to be learning our mother tongue at our mother’s knee. Our language doesn’t even have a word for ‘convert’.

Not that I haven’t striven my hardest. I’ve played on the emotional appeal of our tribe in peril without our indigenous tongue. I’ve tried to cajole, seduce, flatter and bully, again all to no avail. My kithmen refuse to have me pour our words into their cloth ears. The ewer holding our vernacular is cracked and the word flow has dribbled away into the dust. 

Our argot is an expressive one. Born of our rural roots, it is all facial articulation and gesture. It is simply impossible to dissimulate and deceive, unlike the measured blankness of the face that lies behind enunciation of the prevailing cant in these parts. There you can conceal anything and all meaning is shrouded and dissipated. So even though those I petition cannot understand my alien vocalisations, likely they can still glean my desperate hectoring of them. I can’t simultaneously smile and talk of my dying lexicon, the shape of our words simply will not permit me to. When I try and beseech them in their own language, they shrug and pronounce themselves happy with the pastel palette provided for by the dominant parlance. Our language has no word for ‘progress’ either. Yet it is the word that keeps being thrown back at me. 

And it is true, my own tongue is diluted and collapsing under the weight of import words to deal with the modern world and its advances. This is why the mothers shunned nourishing their babes with it, for perennially looking backwards in what constructions it could furnish, it failed to equip them for life. And as soon as it ceases being passed down the maternal line, then it takes very few generations for it to become extinct. And time is what I don’t possess as I near my own expiration. Even if I found a willing candidate, time is too short for them to assimilate sufficiently sized a vocabulary to preserve the language as a workable one. 

I’ve even ventured outside of our bloodline, entreating the sense of tragedy, the romantic, the exotic, the academic, the idle indexers, but with no takers. The academics suggested I might at least set it down in a lexicon where it might have a stab at being preserved in a dusty library stack. I pointed out to them that our language was an oral tongue only. It certainly didn’t abide by any written alphabetic characters and it couldn’t ever expect to be contained by a symbolic system. They shrugged and returned to perusing texts behind their half-moon glasses as they eclipsed the feeble embers of my hope.

This was how the sovereign language operated. It didn’t persecute us nor our florid tongue. It let us be and was completely indifferent to whether we existed or not. And that was sufficient to do for us. We had no cause to rally to, no injustices to try and draw on our glossaries from to form slogans to hurl at them. We just drifted over to the monolith that was this language so powerful it didn’t have to broadcast its strengths and virtues (which is just as well since I cannot discern any). We paled by comparison with it. Our words became ghostly, tugging at the sleeve uselessly for address.


I am exhausted in my quest to find a lingual heir, as exhausted now as all the spent leads. I am so weary, the search has hurtled my frail body closer towards death and yet I veer back from the precipice of annulment by the knowledge I cannot extinguish my language by allowing myself to do so.  And in those utterly defeated moments when I can do nothing but lie back in my chair and let the thoughts assail me, I wonder if I have been chosen to be yoked to the burden of being the last keeper of this particular tongue as some sort of punishment. Indeed we do have that concept in our vocabulary. My mother may have been the sole woman among her generation not to betray our race by passing on her language, but I myself may just have now forsaken us all. For as I said I have no progeny. I never took a wife. How was I supposed to know I was the last speaker of our kind when I pursued male lovers? Our language has no word for homosexuality.