Friday, 28 December 2012

The Best Year of my Life (so far)

The title says it all really. Though this may be slightly premature, I feel like I should share this stuff, because this year has changed me in ways I can never fathom. I've grown as a person and learned a lot. My comprehension of the world has blurred and focused, drifting from sense to madness, which is how the world works I guess. I've done my fair amount of crying and swearing and screaming, but the good will always outweigh the bad. Always.

So, let the beautifully unorganised (can a list be unorganised? It sounds like an oxymoron...) lists begin.

The Glittering Highlights of this Year

Immersing myself in Nerdfighteria and discovering what it is like to be surrounded with people just like you.

Reading all the John Green books

Meeting up with Rose more times than I can count

Finishing Wolfbane

Starting Arwyn, and consequently finishing Arwyn (I do have proper plans for Arwyn, which I will divulge with you at a later date)

Learning Classical Greek/two poems/a very long, complicated song

Discovering Figment and its amazing community of writers

Watching BBC Sherlock and reading all the canon books and stories, teaching me that knowledge is useless when you have no friends or loved ones

Going to see Elbow (the band, not the joint)

Discovering Tumblr, which is a biggie

The world not ending

Talking to new people (both internet and real life) and making new friends, which I needed... desperately needed

Doing work experience in Voltaire and Rousseau

Spending time with my sister/cats

Realising my dreams of becoming a author

Getting good marks in my exams

And above all, discovering myself. It sounds pointlessly cliché, but this is year where I stopped and thought about the world and where I stood in it. This was year that has made me read everything and watch fireworks in wonder, wondering how they work, the year that has made me discard fashion on the basis that I don't care about other people's opinions any more. I know I'm selfish sometimes and that I can be patronising but now I know, and now I can change. I've learned more and read more and done more in this one year than the rest of my life, and finally, I have seen a tiny glimpse of myself in the mist, just enough to give me closure. I'm still lost and confused and scared of the world around me, but the beauty is shining brighter than ever before, and for that, I am grateful.  


Of course, there are more, but those will do just now. I won't post the list of bad things just now - it is considerably shorter, but it will no doubt make me depressed/make you depressed.

It's been another year and I want to thank you. The bad things have made me neglect this blog a bit - I've been so drained and stressed the creative side of me simply gave up and died for a while - but I promise 2013 will be better. Thank you for staying with me. The support has made everything I written and done possible, and without you, I never would have the confidence I do now.

Thank you.


Friday, 14 December 2012

I'm Officially Published!

Hi! This is big news, for me at least. I am published! Properly published, in a e-book, that you can buy and hold and read and read again. Aasdfghjkl. Scuse the excitement, but this is BIG (for me)

Let me explain. A few months ago, I found a short story competition organised by a nerdfighter, for nerdfighter (If that means nothing to you, I suggest you click this and do some research!) The theme was "An Act of Charity" and so, like any sane writer would do, I decided to enter, writing a short story called Blind Hope.

A few weeks ago, the results of the comp came out. I didn't win, but I was one of the fifteen writers chosen to be published in an anthology! Needless to say, I was bouncing around the place like a rabbit on drugs. Twas fun ^-^ And, as of Wednesday, the book was published for you to buy online/on your kindle. Yey!


The anthology costs $2.99 and it's filled with awesome, creative, funny, beautiful (I'm running out of adjectives to describe the amazingness) stories. And the best part is, every cent raised goes to charity!

If you want to buy it click here or here! I'll be posting my story up here later, but I doubt the other authors will do that ^-^


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Oh.

Long time no see! I apologise for the absence, but I've had exams and various personal problems that needed taking care of, and as a result I've no time to write. But still, here's a new story for you! I wrote this as part of a timed writing practice for my English exam, so it's not very long/very good. It made my Dad chuckle though, so hopefully you'll enjoy it too.

It's called, quite simply, 'Oh'.



The plane journey was always the most relaxing part of the holiday, Nicola thought. You could kick your feet up, read a book, watch a movie, and, if you were in first class, be fed peanuts  and pretzels by grovelling staff with plastic smiles - much nicer than biting mosquitoes and scorching sun. However, today, Nicola was finding it hard to get comfortable. She fluffed up her pillow, leaned back in her chair and snapped down an eyemask, only to pull it back up a few seconds later to rearrange her bed socks. The in-flight movie - an angry hum in the background - made her strangely uneasy and not even her iPod could calm her jittery nerves. She guessed it was natural under the circumstances.

It’s not very often a homicidal maniac sits next to you on a plane.

The man was tall with hollow eyes and beautiful brown hair that shone slightly in the artificial light.  To any ordinary person, he looked like a respectable businessman, but Nicola knew better. She recognised him from the Russian newspapers. Alexi Ivanovatch was his name and he had murdered three people a few years ago. He had grown his hair out, acquired a tight goatee and swapped his blood stained machete for a thick of wad of papers and a black leather briefcase, but there was no mistaking him. Nicola would recognise that smile anywhere. It had first hit her when she was reading the newspaper, and now, sitting beside him, Nicola could feel her heart racing in her chest and her stomach folding in on itself.

The man’s head tilted towards her and Nicola glanced away, crimson flowers blossoming on her cheeks. She really shouldn’t have been attracted to a mass murderer but she had always had a thing for people with power, for people who were dangerous. It made her eyes twinkle like stars and the tips of her fingers drum nervously off her thigh.

With an almost feline grace, the man stood up from his seat and sauntered down the aisle, slipping past a hostess with a well placed pivot and a leap to the side. He bent down beside another man and smiling, started talking, his silky voice reverberating down the plane and into Nicola’s ears. The man, who was beefy and thick, a tree trunk with slightly more belly than was aesthetically pleasing, whispered back, his face straight and calm. The conversation passed back and forth for a few more minutes, dull of quiet murmurs and silent nods, and then, touching his thigh, Alexi stared walking back to his seat. His eyes locked onto Nicola’s for a moment before glancing away and leaving Nicola to stutter.

There was no doubt in her mind as to what had just happened. The beefy guy, whose convex stomach could seen sticking out into the aisle, was obviously a henchman, being given instructions. There was a gun concealed on Alexi’s thigh - she knew this because bad guys always had a gun strapped to their legs in films - and he had touched it subconsciously. Was it a warning? A signal? Was he going to kill her? Nicola stifled a strangled squeak and pushed her small body backwards into the chair, trying to make her body crumple, to fold in on itself until nothing existed, just an empty seat and an open book. Alexi seemed much less attractive now that he was planning to kill her, and she shrunk back as he approached.

Hours of terrified, awkward silence seemed to pass before anyone spoke.

“Would you like a peanut?”

Nicola shook her head and slowly, carefully, picked up the pair of headphones by her chair and slipped them over her ears. She tried to remember the nature programme she had watched few weeks ago. No sudden movements. Remain still. She had the vague notion that the animal following these guidelines had been mauled by a grizzly bear.

There was a tap on her shoulder and Nicola jumped, every muscle in her body tensing and relaxing at the same time. Alexi’s deep eyes, the colour of the sea, and flecked with the crests of white waves, looked imploringly into hers. “You forgot to turn the television on.”

Nicola froze. Was it some sort of Russian code for “You die now?” He didn’t sound very Russian - in fact, he had a Manchester accent - but Nicola knew better than to be fooled. They had teachers for that sort of thing.

Opening her mouth to ask for a quick, painless death, Alexi reached over and clicked a button on the seat in front of her. The television screen lit up and gunshots ricocheted through Nicola’s brain, the guns being fired in time with the beating of her panicked heart.

“There you are.” There was a moment of silence, a gap in the air and, glancing at a gleaming watch, Alexi said, “The film ends in half an hour.”

Now that had to be code. But for what? A thought struck Nicola and she let out a terrified whimper. He was going to hijack the plane.  Why else would he need a henchman and a gun?

She had to do something.

In retrospect, she should have thought about the other possibilities. Like the fact he wasn’t actually Russian. Or the fact that the beefy guy was not his partner in crime, but his partner in life. Or the fact that the ordinary statement was not code, but was, in fact, an ordinary statement.

In retrospect, he shouldn’t have punched him.

It was al over in a second. The sickening crunch of bone against bone and the dull thud as his shocked, limp body, hit the floor. There was blood coming from his nose and his head slipped to his thigh. Nicola stamped on it with her heels, the sharp stiletto point slicing through flesh and snapping bone. He screamed and Nicola was suddenly aware of two large hands forcing her backwards into the seat. The beefy man was running towards his partner’s crumpled, moaning body, which was now being hoisted onto two empty seats. It was then Nicola noticed the flat line of his trousers.

“Oh.”

Two metal claws snapped round her wrists.

 “Oh.”

Two hands lifted her upwards and leading her to small, dark room.

“Oh.”

The door closed and everything was silent.

“Oh.”

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Fledglings - Part 3

Hi! Sorry for the gap in posting, but I've been very busy :O

Fledglings - Part 3

The crowd went wild, screams rupturing the air. Dirty hands heaved the barriers out of the way and everyone ran forward. It was hard to tell if they were angry, or surprised or upset. Probably all three. 

Humans acted rashly.

The mass of bodies thundered forward and Asa jumped into the air, heaving Simon with him. His wings flapped erratically and he searched for Elsie’s face in the crowd. She was staring at him. “I’m sorry,” he shouted, but words were not enough. “I’m so sorry.” She looked at him for a second and then with a look of terror streaking across her features, she hurled a rock into the air. It grazed Asa’s shoulder.

Simon regained control of his wings within seconds and began flying upwards, away from the beast below him. He felt a hand curl round his leg and yank him down towards the ground. Fingers latched onto his waist, tugging and tearing at the flesh. No. Simon felt rage build inside him, and with a roar, he pulled away from the riot and kicked someone in the face. There was swearing and a gunshot. The bullet missed him by an inch.

“FLY! GODDAMMIT, ASA, FLY!”

Simon pushed upwards and grabbed Asa by the shoulder, yanking him upwards and away from the crowd. His face was still pained with shock and his shoulder was bleeding. Simon couldn’t be sympathetic. He knew Elsie was a bad choice. He knew.

Simon and Asa streaked across the sky, blood dripping as they went. The crowd was following, getting into cars and racing after them. Simon didn’t see why they were so angry. They hadn’t done anything wrong. They were Angels - surely they would do better to be polite? Especially considering Angels were seen to be God’s messengers. It was a silly human thing, but if it helped them get out of this alive, Simon would milk it for all he was worth.

The town shrunk beneath him as Simon flew up into the air. They were above the road now and the cars were gaining on them . More gunshots; more shouting. Simon heard the words “Kill the bastards!” echoing through the air and a shiver erupted down his spine. He had to keep flying.

“Simon...Simon...I don’t feel too good...”

Simon stopped and looked at his brother. He hovered in the air, dropping a few centimetres with every breath. He was clutching his shoulder. His hand was stained red.

“I feel a bit faint.”

Simon raced over to him and held him up. “Asa...are you ok? Was it just the rock? Was it just the rock that hit you?”

Asa nodded. His face was turning paler. “Yes. Just the...just the rock.” He sucked in air through his teeth and gingerly pulled his empty hand away from the wound. Simon swallowed back vomit.  It was deep and red and gungy, and buried inside a flash of white glinted. Bone. A stone couldn’t have cut that deep. It couldn’t have.

“Did you see where she picked the stone from?”

Asa shook his head. “No...it was near the car though...”

Simon swore under his breath and hurriedly pulled off his t-shirt. “That wasn’t a rock she threw. The little...she hurled metal at you. Actual, honest to God, metal. That’s why you’re bleeding so much. Hold on...stay still...”

Simon wrapped his t-shirt around the wound, pulling it as tightly as he could. Crimson blood seeped through the fabric, drip, drip, dripping onto the ground below. Simon bit his lip. The t-shirt would stop the flow for five minutes, ten if they were lucky, but it wouldn’t be enough. Asa was bleeding out. Simon glanced back towards the road and saw a line of red going all the way back to the town. He had lost a lot already. And in the distance, the cars were massing, howling and scrabbling at the dirt as they raced forward.

Asa groaned and Simon carefully hoisted him into a baby lift. His wings folded into his back and he gave a weak smile. “Thanks, Simon.”

“It’s ok.” The roar of cars was getting louder, and dirt particles were flying into the air. Simon could hear shouting, yelling. Another gunshot. Another threat of death. “Can you fly?”

Asa paused and shook his head. “I don’t think so...can you get us to the house?”

“Bad choice - we’d just be followed. It’s too far away just now anyway. We wouldn’t get there in time. You still have Mrs Diller’s soul, don’t you?”

“Yeah.” Asa unfurled his fist and showed Simon the crumpled feather. The soul was a whisper on its tip, so light and watery, it was barely there. Asa curled his fist again and breathed through his teeth. “This hurts like a bullet.”

“I know...” The cars were a few yards away - Simon could see the paintwork, scratched and muddy with 
soil and grease, glinting dully in the light. There were people sitting on top of them, their eyes full of anger. Simon tried to tilt his wings away, but he couldn’t. The added weight meant he could do nothing but hover a few feet above the air, just out of reach from human hands. Bullets were another story.

Simon beat his wings against the cool air and propelled himself upwards. It was only a few inches. Fear gripped his heart. He couldn’t fly away. They were stuck in this patch of air, left to the mercy of the townsfolk. And they were superstitious, righteous idiots. They had knives and fire and murderous guns. They had rope to tie them with, phones to hand them in with.  They screamed and shouted and yelled and swore. They had no minds, no rational ones anyway. They were mad.

The roar of the cars stopped and Simon closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see the anger on their faces. He didn’t want to see the red gleam in their eyes. And he didn’t want to see the bullets shooting towards him.

For a second, nothing happened. There was muttering and the sound of footsteps and then someone said, 
“What the bloody hell are you?”

The voice didn’t sound angry, more curious. Simon opened his eyes and saw eyes staring up at him. Faces were red and guns were pointed, but no one was shooting or screaming. The town mechanic - Simon recognised him from the garage - was standing at the front, his dark eyes darting over the brothers. Simon swallowed and concentrated on Asa’s heartbeat. “We’re Angels.”

There was a muttering, the hurried whisper of conversations. The mechanic held up his hand and the crowd fell silent. “Actual proper angels?”

Simon paused and, looking at his brother, nodded. Asa winked at him, his wings twitching under Simon’s hands. “Yes, we’re actual Angels.”

Again, the whispers, louder this time. Someone shouted, “Kill the bastards already,” but he was ignored. A few guns had been lowered. “Have you been sent from the Lord?”

“Eh....” Simon was tempted to say ‘no’, but telling the truth would probably get him killed. “Yes,” he finally replied. Asa looked at him for a second, before giving a small shrug and wincing. Blood was still dripping onto the ground and Simon could feel his heartbeat slow and wane.  “We came to take Mrs Diller’s soul...but the magic...you weren’t meant to...”

There was the sound of a grunt and running footsteps. A blonde head pushed its way into the open and 
Simon felt his blood boil under his skin. Elsie. “What?” he asked. “What do you want?” His voice was scathing and hard, but hidden inside was a plea. Simon could hear it, but apparently, no one else could.

Elsie swallowed and straightened her back. Her petit frame was steady and strong, but Simon could see the quiver of fear in her eyes. “H-Have you always been...” She closed her mouth, unable to finish her sentence. She bowed her head and shuffled her feet.

 “Yes, yes. That doesn’t matter. Look is anyone here a doctor? Anyone?” He could feel damp soaking into his shirt and Asa’s eyelids were flickering, his large brown eyes strangely dull against his ghostly face. “Anyone?”

There was a glassy silence, thick enough to cut with a knife. No one spoke. No one made a noise. Their eyes were glued on Asa, limp and quiet in Simon’s arms.

“Anyone? Please? Please?”

No answer, just the silence.

Simon swallowed, a boulder lodged in his dry throat. He didn’t want to look at Asa. He didn’t want to see his brother, but he couldn’t help himself. The eyes were closed, and the chest was still. No, not still, but slowing. The heartbeat was calm and steady but waning, weeping. Time was running out. No. His brother. Asa. Asa couldn’t...not...not him...

“Is anyone a doctor? Please!”

The mechanic cleared his throat. “Sonny, I think he’s going. There’s not much we can do for him.”

Simon shook his heads, tears sparking in his eyes. Glue suddenly jumped into his head. Asa had wanted to eat him when he had first arrived. That’s who he was - the boy with the confidence, the power, not the boy bleeding to death over a dirt road, surrounded by people who simply watched. He had to be ok. He had to. They were a pair, a matching set. One heaven, one hell. He couldn’t do it by himself. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do...he couldn’t...

Simon felt his wings curl inwards and he dropped like a stone onto the grass. His head was bowed over Asa, his ear pressed to his chest.  A heartbeat. Slow. Slowing. Waning. Vanishing.  A flutter of life in his wings - a twitch, a quiver. A ragged breath. A loosening of muscles. A pumping of blood onto the soil, onto his hand. Another ragged breath. A flicker of light as he opened his eyes, only for a second. A single glance. That was all. Then closed again, the golden light extinguished. The butterfly chest slowing and stopping. The heartbeat coming to a close. The wings lying still against Simon’s knees.

No.

No.  

A howl split the air and Simon buried his face into his brother’s chest. His wings curved round them, protecting them from the stares and the guns and the faded paintwork of cars. Another howl, another cry of pain.  Not Asa. Never Asa. He wasn’t gone...he was an Angel. Angels couldn’t die. They couldn’t, they couldn’t, they couldn’t...

Simon felt something touch his wings and push them aside. He didn’t care, not anymore. He could feel Asa’s heartbeat against his chest, but it wasn’t there. A memory, an imprint of a soul. And blood. Crimson blood streaked with hidden gold and light and silver, painted across the road in drips and blobs and strokes. A gory masterpiece of a fallen angel. Simon’s hand sought out Asa’s, and his fingers grasped the crumpled feather. A soul. It all seemed so pointless now. He was dead.

He was Heaven. He was an Angel.

He couldn’t go.

“It’s ok, sonny. It’s ok. Just stand up now. Stand up.”

Two firm hands gripped Simon’s shoulders and hauled him to his feet. Fingernails dug into his back. Tears streamed down his face.

No.

“Is Asa...” Elsie’s voice was a murmur, a whisper, but Simon could hear himself saying, “Yes.”

He wanted to shout at her, to accuse her, but he couldn’t. His throat was dry and his mind was numb. He was a ghost.

The strong hands eased him forward into the crowd and onto the other side of the road. Everyone was staring. Some faces were full of pity; others full of malice. One man was holding a pair of handcuffs and a long thin rope. Simon pulled his wings closer into his back. He didn’t want anyone to touch them. He didn’t want anyone to touch him.

“Simon...that is his name right? Look, Simon. Look at me.” Simon focused his eyes and saw the round face of the mechanic staring up at him. “I want you to fly. Just fly ok. None of us will say anything until you are gone from this State, alright. We won’t call the cops, or the FBI now, ok? Do you understand?”

Simon nodded.

“Ok. Good. Now, I want you to fly. We will keep the body, you understand? We keep the body, you fly, and no one gets tied up or shot at. Ok?”

Simon nodded again.

“Ok.” The hands touched Simon’s wings, easing them open. “Now, fly, ok? Fly away.”

Simon rubbed the feather between his fingers. He had a job to do. He had Asa’s job to do.

He spread his wings and jumped.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Fledglings - Part 2

Hey! Part 2 of Fledglings today - I hope you like it!

Fledglings - Part 2

Simon felt shivers erupt over his skin and his wings tilted to the left. He forced them into their normal position and said, “I think it might be.” Fear was clogging his mind. He knew it would come, he knew this day would always come, but so soon? So quickly? They weren’t ready. They weren’t Angels, not yet. They were only kids, fledgling Angels, not yet fully grown. Surely it was a mistake.

The feeling swept over them again and Asa nodded, his Adam’s apple jerking in his throat. “It’s time. We need to go.”

Simon forced a nod. There was a question on his lips, so soft and simple. “Are you scared?”

There was a moment of silence, a second of peace. Asa felt the air for his brother’s hand. “I’m not scared. 
I’m terrified.” And with that, he pulled away and flew.

Simon caught up with his twin in a matter of seconds. His mind was reeling. Their first reaping. Their first chance to find out who was who - who was Heaven, and who was Hell. Angels were supernatural creatures, made to take the souls of the dead and deliver them to their afterlife - Death was too busy to do it, and so he had decided to create a workforce. They had a long life span, and when they died, they were reincarnated as another Angel, so as to continue the work left for them. They always came in pairs, and they were always male. Simon knew all of that, but still, he had never focused on their job. It was all about the wings and the magic and the flying. It was never actually about the souls, but now, he couldn’t ignore his duty.

 Fear cramped in his stomach, and Simon felt himself drop in the air. They were only fifteen...surely they were too young? Simon wished he could say they were, but he didn’t know. They had never met any other Angels - he knew they were out there, but they were always out of reach, dancing at the tips of their fingers. He couldn’t ask them. And as much as Simon tried to deny it, he knew the feeling was the right one. His wings had turned to take him there. He had acted without thinking. He had acted to obey the purpose he was born for. If that wasn’t proof, then...then...

Simon felt the tugging again and he turned left in the cool blue sky. They were flying over the town. People were running through the streets, abandoning their homes. Simon swallowed and craned his neck to see where they were running. A tower of smoke rose into the air on the Main Street, its tendrils wrapping round the school and the church. The smell of petrol and burning rubber was thick and cloying.  Simon wrinkled his nose. A car crash. He prayed it was no one they knew.

Asa suddenly swooped down and, holding his breath against the putrid air, Simon followed. The street unfolded in front of them, a play of sorts - men shouting and pushing the children back into their ranks; women stretching their necks to have a look at the carnage; dogs barking, adding to the noise. Elsie’s blonde hair bounced through the street, but she was swallowed by the mass. They were the ensemble, the chorus. The victim was the hero. And the Angels were the villains.

Simon levelled himself and landed on the pavement a few feet away from the wreckage, barely aware of Asa beside him. The heat was intense and the great black smoke was blinding. Simon pressed a hand to his face and wiped it downwards, clearing his vision. There. He could see now. Folding his wings behind his back, he took a step forward towards the burned out corpse of the car.

It was black and hollowed. Flames licked the inside of the steel and buried in the mess was a body.  Simon ducked his head away. He didn’t want to see. He never wanted to see. A hand pressed on his shoulder. 

“Simon, go.” Simon closed his eyes for a second and then walked. His feet slipped through the flames and petrol slicks on the pavement. He knelt down beside the body and jerked backwards.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

Simon shook his head. “It’s Mrs Diller.”

“What the old hag from the county library?”

Simon nodded and Asa made a retching noise. “Oh God. That’s...that’s...”

“Life.”

No one said anything for a minute, then Asa’s voice broke the silence. It shook and quivered as he spoke. 

“What do we do?”

Simon shrugged. “I don’t know...touch her? We need to weigh her good and bad.”

“Yeah, but we need to know who’s Heaven and Hell for that, don’t we?”

“We can do it together. Then we’ll know, right?”

Asa nodded and crouched down. His breath was hot on Simon’s neck and he could feel his wings tense at his side. It was good to know he wasn’t the only one who was nervous. “OK. Ok. Three, two, one.”

Simon reached out a finger and placed it on Mrs Diller’s chest at the same time as Asa pressed his nail to her forehead. There was a tugging and a sudden cold feeling sparked in the air. It was only there for a second and when it was gone, a globe of dark light sat on Simon’s palm. He glanced at Asa. His globe was shocking white, blinding.

Simon forced a smile to his lips. “So, you’re Heaven?”

Asa nodded, his mouth ajar. “I guess so. And you’re Hell.”

The globe of light was burning Simon’s palm, but he was too far into his stupor to move. Hell. He was Hell. 
He knew one of them had to be, but...but...him? He had to carry the heavy souls for eternity? He had to endure the pleading, the screams, the begging. Why him? Why was it always him that got the short straw, the rough end of the stick? He would say it was fate, but he knew that was false. He would say it was God, but he didn’t exist. He would say it was coincidence, but all the bad things, all the worse things, piled onto him...that wasn’t coincidence. That was a cruel joke.

Simon felt a rush of heat sear his palm and he bounced backwards, slamming into Asa’s shoulder. “Sorry,” he muttered. “So, what now?”

“We...eh...compare them? Yeah, that sounds right. Well, which is bigger? The sins or the charity?”

Asa held his globe up to Simon’s. The bright globe was a fraction larger than the dark one, and Simon nodded at Asa. “She’s yours.”

Asa swallowed and gently placed his ball of light to Mrs Diller’s forehead. It vanished inside and Simon copied, letting his dark sphere fly back into its vessel. Asa was shaking, shivering beside him. “What do I do?” he whispered. Simon had never heard him so scared before. He had always been the strong one, the brave one. Courage was just another thing that made him better. But now...he was shaken. Broken. Smashed. There was sweat beading on his forehead and his wings quivered. “What do I do?” he repeated.

Simon shrugged. “Whatever feels right? Just...be careful.”

Asa nodded. He sat and stared at the corpse for a minute. The roar of the crowd behind them was getting louder. Someone was shouting. Someone was screaming. Everyone was chattering in panicked voices.

“Asa...” Simon said, glancing over his shoulder. Elsie and her father were standing right next to the makeshift barrier. Her face was streaked with tears and she kept on trying to move forward. Her father’s meaty hand held her back, but inside those deep blue eyes, Simon swore he could see flickers of Asa, kneeling and shaking in the flames. He turned back to his brother and leaned into his ear. “Asa, hurry. The spell...it’ll wear off...”

“Ok. Ok.” He took a deep breath and with a trembling hand he pulled a feather from his wings. It was long and soft and white and brown, all patchy and earthy and strong. Asa gripped it between his thumb and forefinger and pressed the tip to Mrs Diller’s heart. There was another flash of ice in the air and a long spindly thread of silver draped itself around the feather. It was transparent, but it had a colour. It was solid, but it was liquid. It was a paradox. It was a soul.

Asa clenched a fist around the feather and stood up. His hand tightened around Simon’s shoulder and he flickered. Simon swallowed. The spell. It couldn’t wear off. It couldn’t. “Asa, you have to move. You’re flickering.”

Asa looked round, and swallowed. “So are you.”

Simon jumped to his feet and looked down at his body. Asa was right - patches of wing, stitches of clothing were flickering in and out of existence. Fear held his mind in its icy grip and he cast his hand down. Nothing. No magic, no shimmer. Crap.

Simon grabbed his brother by the shoulder. “Look, Asa, get out of here. Go, fly! FLY!”

“Simon. Look.”

Asa was pointing at the crowd, his eyes wide and fearful as he stared into the mass of bodies. Simon turned round slowly. He didn’t want to see. He didn’t want to see, because if it was what he thought it was, they were finished, they were done, they might as well be dead. Humans acted rashly, the always did, if they were seen they would be dead, they would be strung up and dead...

Simon looked where Asa was pointing and his heart stopped beating in his chest. Eyes. Every pair of eyes was staring at him, staring at Asa. He stole a glance at his body. No flickering. Just solid material. His wings fluttered behind him, and he heard a gasp. He recognised it - Elsie.

“Simon? A-Asa?”

Her face was round with shock, and her thin arms shook. “A-Asa?”

“ASA, GO!”

All hell broke loose.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Fledglings - Part 1

Hey everyone! How are we all doing? I'm studying like crazy just now, hence the lack of posts. On another note, Friday was Halloween (my town is weird...don't look at me like that...) and so, I present unto you, my lovely followers, readers and random stalkers - my costume/my face.


I was tired, so I wasn't smiling, and I lost my moustache, but still - MARIO! Also, a quick reminder for new followers - if you want to read older stories, the Library tab had all the links, so just go there ^.^

Anyway, on with the story. I wrote this a week or so ago, and I love it to bits. However, the reviews on Figment haven't been that good. Please tell me what you think!

Fledglings - Part 1

Flick.

Simon crumpled his nose into the duvet and turned onto his stomach.

Flick.

Flick.

Rolling over, Simon opened his eyes. They blurred in and out of focus, but he caught a glimpse of Asa towering over him, his wings fluttering in front of his face.

Flick.

“Ugh, Asa, stop it.” Simon pulled himself into an upright position and stretched. His wings unfurled behind him, hitting the wall. “You could just ask me to get up, you know.”

Asa shrugged and moved away from the bed. “Yeah, but that’s not as much fun. What’s the point of having wings if you can’t annoy people with them?” He made to flick the tip into Simon’s nose again, but Simon caught the feather between his fingers and pushed it away.

“Will you put the kettle on?”

“Done already. It stopped whistling a few seconds before I first flicked you.”

Simon pulled the duvet away from his body, his eyes wandering around the dimly lit room. The dark wood walls were stained with mud, and the stove was covered with grease and slime. The duvet rolled onto the floor and covered the small, soft mat that was Asa’s bed. There wasn’t much else there – just a saucepan, two mugs, discarded packet of crisps and a small bird cage perched on top of a bucket. The room was a house, and the house was a shack. It had been built to hold wood from the nearby forest, but, seeing as Asa and Simon needed a house, they had decided to inhabit it. They had had a Dad - Asa said he could remember him - but he had vanished when they were eight. They had come here and made it their home. It wasn’t great, but they didn’t need much. When you’re an Angel, the sky is your playground. The ground is merely an inconvenience.

Simon stood up and stretched again. His crumpled day -old clothes hung off his frame and his hair was ruffled.

“Do you want to go for an early morning fly?”

Glancing at his brother, Simon nodded. He couldn’t be bothered having to stretch and exercise, not this early in the morning, but it was better just to agree with everything Asa said. They were identical twins, but Asa always seemed the older one, the more powerful one. He was confident and strong and wilful. It was better just to nod and say yes, instead of trying to argue with him.

“Right. Spells, yeah?”

Simon nodded, and with a flick of his wrist, cast his hand down his body. He felt a shimmer of heat and a flicker of light and then, nothing. He was invisible. They had discovered how to do it by accident, but it worked extremely well. They lived in the middle of nowhere, but there was a town ten minutes away and a dirt road passing by the hut. They couldn’t chance being seen...not by humans at least.

Reaching over, Simon unlocked the cage door, smiling at the sparrow that jumped onto his palm. It was tiny, its hooked feet smaller than a fingernail. It had been hurt a few months ago, and while Asa was all for cooking it, Simon persuaded him to rescue it instead. It got better in a matter of weeks, but it had refused to leave. Simon called it Glue after that, and it lived up to its name perfectly. Simon held his hand up and the sparrow jumped into the air, zooming around the room. Simon watched it for a moment, before snapping out of his daze and turning back to Asa.

“Are you ready, or are you just going to ogle the bird for the next five hundred years?” Asa had his hand on the door, and his eyebrows were raised to the ceiling.

“I’m ready.”

Asa nodded. “Good.” He opened the door and stepped out into the cool, crisp air. Simon followed and felt a pleasant shiver as the sun lighted upon his feathers. A sea of soft grass spilled out in front of him and with a smile, he bent his knees and jumped.

His wings flapped pathetically for a second, but then a sharp gust of wind carried him upwards into the crisp blue sky. Simon tilted his head back and let his wings float him upwards, further and further away from the patchwork of fields and roads and crops. He never grew tired of this - the exhilarating joy that coated every inch of him as he flew. The wind blurred his eyes and rouged his cheeks, but he didn’t care. Beside him, Glue circled the sun, singing and whistling a happy tune as he followed his master. Simon let him curve round his head, and then, with a grin and a whoop, he dived. He swooped and fell and tilted, angling his wings as he spiralled through the air, playing with the sparrow as it tweeted and skipped.  He grinned and after a few minutes of acrobatics, he stopped beside Asa, who was hovering above the house, a nonchalant whistle on his lips.

 “So...what are you doing today?”

Asa shrugged and tilted to avoid the passing sparrow. “I don’t know. I might go and see Elsie. “
Simon pulled a face. “Her? Again?”

“Well, yeah. She is my girlfriend. You generally have to see each other for the whole relationship to work.”

“I know, I know...I just don’t see what you see in her.”

Asa scoffed. “Just because you’re going to be alone for the rest of your life.”

“Ok, Asa. Whatever you say.”  A smile ghosted on Simon’s face. Asa’s immature comments always made him smile. They were so...insipid. “Hey, did you hear about-”
The sentence died in his throat and Simon froze. Goosebumps coated his skin as a peculiar feeling spread down to his toes and into the air. He turned to face Asa and swallowed. “Did you feel that?”

Asa’s face had gone white. “Yup. Do you think...” He let the sentence trail off and the feeling covered them again. It was a tidal wave, a tugging, a gentle prod in the side. It was a magnet spinning, a compass needle turning, a ragged breath and an uprush of dust. It was everything and nothing.

It was Death.  


Friday, 26 October 2012

My First Rejection!

A few months ago I sent my manuscript of Blue to Take A Break's Fiction Feast magazine. I waited for a reply, and then today, after getting in from school, I found it sitting amongst letters and discarded leaflets.

It said No.

Now, to most people  this would be horrible, terrible, breaking their heart, self-esteem and pride. But I'm sitting here writing this with a grin on my face. For most, a rejection would be a sign of their failure, but to me, its a sign of success.

Most of you are just looking at the screen just now and thinking 'What the hell is she on? Drugs? Tea? Vodka? Seriously, is she alright?' and that's to be expected. The truth is, the rejection letter shows that I tried, something very few writers ever do. I submitted to a magazine, and though I was turned down, someone still picked it up, read it, and deliberated  if only for a second.

Which, although small and insignificant, is a triumph for me.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Voltaire and Rousseau! *Day 5*

Hey! Day 4 has been missed out for the simple fact that it was mainly photos and the stupid camera won't transfer them onto the computer -.- So, I've skipped ahead to Day 5, the last day. Also, I'm actually writing a short story! WOOOOOO!

Voltaire and Rousseau - Day 5

In retrospect, this last entry will be messy and strange and weird, but I guess that can’t be helped. I have to vomit the words on the page, and it’s not my fault where they land.

It’s funny. After one week of working in Voltaire and Rousseau, stacking books and cleaning the wounded paperbacks from the floor, it no longer seems messy.

You probably think I’m crazy, but it’s true. The books are all in their proper places - two from the bottom of the stack on the right side of the war section or three from the top in the shelf where the ladder rests. I can close my eyes and take a virtual tour around the shop, and I know where everything is. I recognise the books that shine on my eyelids, and I know exactly where to step so the books don’t come tumbling down. I know where everything is.

Which is why, on the last day of my work experience, my awe vanished.

When I first arrived in the shop, everything was new. The titles were strange and interesting - The Romance of Lace, A Dictionary of Scottish Painters, 365 Reasons to be Cheerful etc. Everywhere you looked there was something new. There was another book, another fact, another story hidden in the mountains of paper and leather.

But now? Well, the magic’s gone. I know where everything is. I’ve catalogued the first layer of the shop (that being the stuff you can actually see) and there’s nothing left for me to notice. The next time I go it’ll be different, and I’ll be amazed again. I know I will.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss the shop and the people that work there. I’ll miss the students, the regulars and the cat. I’ll miss the pigeons outside and the pesky squirrels that scurry around the shop, trying to nibble on some Chaucher or Defoe. I’ll miss the lane and I’ll miss the smell. But I won’t miss the travelling or the mild boredom that settled over me that last day.

I loved working at the shop. Not because it taught me anything valuable about work, or because I learned facts I never would have known, but because I met interesting people, customers and workers.

I wish I could elaborate, but I can’t.

Sorry.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Voltaire and Rousseau! *Day 3*

Voltaire and Rousseau - Day 3

Another day gone, and what a day it was.

The morning went by like usual - me wandering around, nudging the books into position and occasionally reading one of two (or four) or them. Only a few people of interest caught my eye:

A man came in asking if he could get some books on Antarctica, which resulted in an avalanche of 
art books cascading onto the shop floor. It turns out he wanted the books because he had been part of the team that discovered Captain Scott’s ship buried in the ice and he wanted some more information on his life and his passion.

A girl came in asking for cooking books. She was a chef who knew Gordon Ramsay and was now preparing a dinner for a group of prestigious London bankers.

Someone who worked with River City (a Glaswegian ‘soap’) phoned, asking if we could provide them with some old Burns’ poetry books. As it turned out, there weren’t very many there as a man from Edinburgh bought most of them on his weekly visits to the shop. He ran a bookshop himself, and like most of the bibliophiles in Scotland, he sourced his books from Voltaire and Rousseau. However, we managed to get enough to keep the film crew happy.

The most interesting part of the day came after lunch. I had spent my break in Kelvingrove Park, reading a book and eating sandwiches, and when I came back to the shop, I was expecting another hour or so of calm and quiet.

I was wrong.

As soon as I got in Eddie asked me if I wanted to join Ian and Brian on a house call. I said yes, and soon I was bundled into the van and we were driving through the West End. Students were pouring out onto the streets, walking in pairs and trios and quintets, all laughing and smiling and talking. Brian and Ian pointed out buildings as we chugged along, and though I was paying attention, I couldn’t reply with much more than a ‘cool’ or a ‘yeah’. I was too awestruck to give a fuller answer.

Now, I understand completely why some people (eg. my dad) don’t like Glasgow, but I love it. It’s so busy and thriving, so full of knowledge. Whispers of conversations that wafted through the windows were always about something profound or engaging and the landscape was beautiful. Golden leaves spiralled down through the shafts of sunlight and the old sandstone buildings towered like kings over the bustling streets. The place simple sang with wisdom and excitement and learning. I loved it.

Finally, after ten minutes of creeping around the one way system we arrived at the house on 68 Great George Street. It was tall and slim and unassuming. Maybe that was the point. But as soon as Brian produced the key from his pocket and opened the door, my mouth flew open.

The carpet hadn’t been hoovered in about ten years. Letters and pamphlets lay like corpses on the floor, curling up at the edges. Discarded suitcases and binders were strewn along the side of the hallway. It looked as if no one had stepped foot in it in a century, but Brian and Ian had assured me someone lived there. I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. How could someone keep their house - such a beautiful, old house - in such a mess? How?

We stepped into the living room, and my concerns vanished. The shock disappeared and was replaced with respect and amazement.

Books.

Everywhere you looked there were books. More and more of them, stacked onto bookshelves, piled onto the floor, loaded onto a sagging couch. Old paperbacks, new hardbacks, old leather covers and ancient yellow pages. Winston Churchill biographies sat on top of German dictionaries, and old leaflets about Glasgow expenditures were crumpled under huge volumes of classic Polish literature.

What made it even more bizarre was the fact that the room was covered in comic book posters and Doctor Who paraphernalia.  A life size Dalek was stuck to the window, while a collectible Batman figurine stood, arms crossed, atop a book of poetry. There was a Cyberman stuck behind the TV, and a ‘How to Draw Comic Strips’ book hidden amidst piles and piles of Penguin paperback novels.

The house looked like it belonged to a student - someone who was studying to become a graphic designer, a video game creator - but that would have been impossible. No one could collect that amount of books in such a small amount of time. You would need a time lord’s lifespan to gather all those books, and an even longer one to stack them all.

It was amazing and ridiculous and strange and inspiring.

After the initial wave of wonder had gone, Brian, Ian and I got to work. Stacking the books in our arms, we staggered into the sunlight and piled them into the van before turning back and getting some more. We repeated the process over and over, until the van was full to bursting with books.

But in that time of stacking and sorting and waiting for Ian/Brian to finish unloading their bundle, something strange happened.

My heart swelled and joy flooded my heart and my mind. It was so...odd, but invigoration. Just standing outside a dusty house, books in my arms and a smile on my face made me want to sing. Leaves corkscrewed to the ground and the sunlight hit the pavement with a glimmer. Students smiled at me as they walked past, their eyes sliding involuntarily to the van full of books. They smiled at the books too. One or two even waved at me, a grin on their faces.

I have never felt so alive, so full of happiness and light.

Eventually, Ian and I got back into the van and drove back to Otago Lane. Hardbacks fell and crushed my neck, but it was worth it. I would go back to that house a million times, just to see those books again...just to see those leather bound covers merging with Green Lantern comic strips. The old and new.

And that was that.

Tomorrow there will be pictures. I promise.



Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Voltaire and Rousseau! *Day 2*

Hey! I'll just get on with it, I think!

Voltaire and Rousseau- Day 2

Another day at the shop.

Another day amongst Shakespeare and Doyle and Austen, amongst boulder sized Bibles and palm sized novels.

Another day of smiling, and another day of picking up the books that have fallen to the floor.

Like yesterday was punctuated by books, today was punctuated by people. So many people! Eccentrics, students, foreigners, people off the street, all flooding in to have a look at the marvellous place that is Voltaire and Rousseau. No one left without a purchase, and no one left without a smile on their faces. I could document every one of them, pointing out the details that stick in my mind - the woman with flyaway hair and wiry hands; the man with half moon spectacles and white gloves; the babble of students who knocked over most of the history section with one well aimed push to the side; the student who simply stared, open mouthed, before absentmindedly picking up a book and paying for it; the man who talked at length about how he traces illustrations from old books and sells them.  I could tell you about all of them, but instead I’ll narrow it down, starting with Brian.

Brian isn’t a customer. Yesterday, when I got a fleeting glance of him through the window I thought he was, but it turns out, he actually works in the shop. Not that he’s meant to. He was a painter that had been hired to re-decorate the lane, but he was quickly roped in to collecting books and putting them away. He’s nice, cheery. At first glance, he looks as though he’s in his late 50s - all wrinkles and crevasses  - but when he smiles, the years drop off his face. He smiles a lot. And laughs. He has a booming laugh that wakes the cat, causing it to mew and squeal before setting back down on an old copy of The History of Britain and falling asleep.

Brian and I had some good conversations. We talked about school, about music, about books (a subject that he apparently doesn’t care about, despite the fact he helps out in a bookshop). He laughed at my comments and I laughed at his. He told everyone who would listen that I was his new boss, and that if they needed anything, they were to go to me.

And they did.

The second person I want to tell you about was an older student. She came into the shop in the early afternoon, a pink scarf round her neck and fingerless gloves on her hands. She smiled at me and went straight to the theology section.

She was there for over half an hour until she talked to me. “Excuse me,” she asked, “do you work here?” I nodded and she beamed. “Could you get that book down for me?” She pointed to a bookshelf, and my heart jumped into my mouth.

I would be lying if I called it a book. It was a beast.

The book the woman was pointing at was a Bible the size of a small dog. Its leather covers where falling off and the page were frayed and ripped at the edges. It was perched on top of some folios, and its mighty spine was brushing the ceiling. I needed to use the ladder. In fact, I would need to use a jetpack.

I hurried off the find the ladder, bumping it off shins and lights as I moved it towards the Bible. The woman was watching me, the ghost of a smile on her face. I couldn’t tell whether she was amused or sympathetic, but either way, she wasn’t exactly helping. I climbed the ladder and curved my hand around the beast. I edged it out, inch by inch, until it was resting in my hand. It weighed a ton and handing it to the woman below I could almost hear my bones creaking, trying not to drop it on her head. She smiled and said thank you, and then wandered off, the Bible under the arm.

And guess what? An hour later, after she had left, I found the beast sitting among paperback novels, joined by its friends The Family Bible and The Analytical Bible, both of which were just as big and just as heavy. I had to climb the ladder and put the monsters back on their shelves, almost breaking my arms in the process.

Stupid woman.

The third/fourth people I want to tell you about arrived in the morning and, again, headed straight for the theology section. One was a boy, and one was a girl. Both were students and at first I paid no attention to them. It was only when I tuned into their conversation that I began to smile.

The girl was German, still learning English, but they were having a conversation about the effects of the Scottish Reformation on English culture.

I have never wanted to be a student so much in my life. So many interesting conversations! So many books, and words, and friends, and journeys (metaphorical and literal)! So much stimulus! I sounded like heaven, and as I listened I itched to join their conversation, but I couldn’t. So instead, I listened, and I listened well.

And finally, the authors.                                                                                                                                                       

Every so often, a thought would pop into my head. Every one of these books has an author. Every one of them. Who writes books on Romanian politics in the 1990s? WHO?
The thought vanished as soon as it arrived, though it did make frequent visits. I’ll ponder it more tomorrow.

For now though, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Voltaire and Rousseau! *Day 1*

Hello, mes amigos! I'm so happy to see you! Why? Becuase my blogger has been down for a grand total of 7 days. Shocking, isn't it? I expected better of you internet. I really did.

Anyway, now that everything seems to be working, I can show you what I've been writing for the last few days - a journal of my work experience. I was on my work experience last week in an bookshop called Voltaire and Rousseau. It's stowed away in Glasgow's West End, and it is amazing. Like, super super super awesome cool amazing. I really can't explain how much I loved working there.

But I can explain what I did each day, thanks to my journally thing I kept. So, without further ado, here's day 1. I'll post the rest of them throughout the week!

Voltaire and Rousseau - Day 1

As I write this, the books look like corpses.

It’s a sad analogy, but it’s true.  In this small, second hand bookshop in the West End of Glasgow, the books are piled to the ceiling and stacked on the floor. Their covers are dusty and their pages are worn. The titles, once so beautifully embossed in gold leaf, have now faded, and the illustrations on their covers are scribbled and covered with remnants of their owners - chewing gum, hair, grease, sweat. They are all dying. Each and every one of them. Even the new ones are dying, choked by the books piled on top of them.

But even so, I love this place. Its name is Voltaire and Rousseau, and it is here that I’m doing my work experience. The work borders on boring, but I don’t mind. I like the smell of the books and the smiles that students flash at me as they pick their way through the jungle of paper and leather. I like the cat too, even though it ignores me. I like the owners and I like the ambiance of the place, the calm that seeps into the air and into your lungs. It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re in that shop. Which is good, because I’ve been going through a lot lately. I might go into more detail about my problems later, but for now, let’s concentrate on the beauty of dying books and their dying bookshop.

Voltaire and Rousseau opened over 30 years ago, and as much as I hate to admit it, you can tell. The books stacked precariously at the bottom of piles are covered in dust. They haven’t moved since they arrived, and the amount of books that are on top of them, they aren’t likely to move again. They are paralysed - just another victim, just another corpse.

The owners - a set of brothers - amble around the shop, occasionally shifting books or making tea in the back room. Like I said earlier, it’s hard to be stressed in here. Even so, you can see the worry in their faces. They still get customers, but the online book industry has hit them hard. Before, they were taking in boxes of books at a time, but now, they can’t take any more. The stock isn’t shifting, despite the insane amount of students that bustle in and out of the shop every day.

Me, I don’t do much. I sit and read, I shuffle books, restacking them so they don’t tip. I drink the tea that has been handed to me by Ian McGonnigle, one of the brothers. I place books on the top of shelves and I clear up the books that have, through a change in air current or the whisper of the cat’s tail, fallen to the ground and refused to stand up again. I move the wounded. I clean the dirty. I help the students who are looking for the poetry section (so well hidden it took me a moment to find it amongst the plays and novels). I let people walk past me as they saunter round the shop. It’s calming work.

Today, the first day of my work experience, only one incident made me stop in my tracks. It was nearing lunchtime and Ian had pulled a stool outside for me to sit on. I had been searching for inspiration around the long forgotten shelves and rare books, scribbling things down in my notebook when Ian had asked if I wanted to go out. I sat my notebook on a pile of books, and went to pick up my bag.

That was my first mistake.

Any writer knows the feeling of fear in their stomach when someone reads their notes. You’re being violated, probed, examined. Someone you don’t know is reading your innermost thoughts and feelings and characters and plots and ideas. Someone you don’t know is ripping you to shreds.

Which is why I was horrified to find that a group of students had picked up my notebook and were picking through it as I grabbed my jacket from the floor.

I didn’t think.

Perhaps I should have.

I ran over to the students (two girls, one boy) and grabbed the notebook from their hands. Confusion, like a blanket, settled over their faces first, but it was quickly replaced with something that looked like shock. And then realisation.

“Oh God,” the boy said, his brown eyes widening to the size of saucers. “Was that- Is that yours?”

I nodded, hugging the notebook to my chest.

A flurry of apologies whipped the air around me: “I didn’t realise...it was just sitting there...we thought it was a novel...there was a short story...I’m so sorry...”

After a moment of watching the trio blush I forced a smile. “It was my fault,” I said. “I shouldn’t have left it out.”

“No, no, it was us...I’m so sorry...we didn’t mean to...”

I shook my head, and after a few moments of silence, the trio, still red faced,  turned away.

Everyone always complains that I have messy handwriting. They say I should tidy it up, that I should teach myself to write properly.  But why would I want to? Why would I want my writing to be so easily accessible to the public? People called Da Vinci strange and weird for writing left to right, but can you really blame him?

That was my first day at work experience. I’m nervous for tomorrow. But I'll be fine. I know I will. 





Saturday, 6 October 2012

Adverbs

Louise walked quickly across the bumpy ground, breathing heavily. There were voices shouting loudly in the distance and she tried to walk as quietly as she could towards them. The air was eerily calm, not even the annoyingly loud crowing of a raven breaking the ridiculously peaceful air. Louise came to a clearing and carefully stepped over a tree root. There they were. The filthy cannibals, all screaming and chanting, already starting the fire. Louise took another step forward and accidentally snapped a twig, nearly falling into the fire. She glanced up hurriedly and stared into the glinting eyes of the ravenously hungry people around her. The chanting had stopped.

She had been captured by the Adverb Tribe.

Count the number of adverbs in the passage above. Most of you here will say 11, when in fact there are 14. The reason most of you will get this wrong is that, although we are told time and time again that adverbs show how something is done, the definition is wrong. Sorry, English teachers. But adverbs can range from carefully, nowhere, never and later. It's confusing, which is why today, I'm going to a) save you from the Adverb Tribe and b) teach you a bit about adverbs.

Adverbs, as I've already said, come in all shapes and sizes, with different definitions floating around for each type. But the broad description of an adverb is a word that modifies a part of speech. Despite what we are always told, it doesn't have to be a verb. 

Verb Adverbs
We'll start with the one most people now - the verb adverb. You know the type - seedy, hanging around in bars and grabbing onto an verb they can find with their greasy, slimy hands. I hate those adverbs. In my opinion, they make writing seem cheap. If you have to use an adverb to describe how a character acts, then you aren't very good at showing (For showing and telling, see my post HERE) However, there are some times when you can to use them. As a general rule, I use about 1 adverb per 1000 words. 

But anyway - examples:

Bob ran quickly. (Not needed - running implies quickness)
"I want out of here," Jill said angrily. (If you are good at showing, you should be able to suggest that Jill is angry in previous paragraphs. Or you could use dialogue tags)

Place Adverbs
These are the adverbs that describe where something happen - here, there, abroad, downstairs, somewhere. You know the type. They don't look like adverb, but they are. These can be given some slack, becuase if you don't use them, your writing will be more confusing. Most of these adverbs are also prepositions.

'Why' Adverbs
These describe why something happens (they're also called adverbs of purpose). Words like so, in order to, purposefully, incidentally, accidentally and because are all adverbs of purpose. These are harder to spot, and again, it's fine to use them. It's really just verb adverbs I detest.

Frequency Adverbs
Pretty straightforward - these describe how often something happened. So words like sometimes, never, every, seldom and sometimes are adverbs that fit under this incantatory.

And finally,

Time Adverbs
These show you when something took place - after, already, yesterday, soon, tomorrow etc. 

And that's that. Have a look over the passage above again, and you should see more adverbs than you did the last time. It's quite amazing how many times we use adverbs, and we don't even know we're doing it!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and it wasn't too confusing. I only learned this about two weeks ago, and it's taken me that long to wrap my head around it, but perhaps you'll do better. 





Saturday, 29 September 2012

Arwyn - 2.

Hi! Sorry for the extended absence - school is being particularly horrible at the moment (I've been back for just over weeks and I already have three tests, one of which is extremely important) But still...I'm here now, aren't I?
Also, I have exciting news! I got a tumblr! Woooo! If you like Avengers, Sherlock, Doctor Who etc then you should follow me :P Here's a clicky link.
But, yeah. Here's the second chapter of Arwyn :D Enjoy! It's quite long, so brace yourselves!

Arwyn - 2.

“She has two hearts!”

“Yes.”

“Two hearts! TWO!”

Mr. Bowler sighed and tipped his hat over his head. “I know. You’ve said.”

“And one kidney! She only had one kidney! That’s not normal!”

“Please stop talking. My brain is about to implode.”

Jeremy shut his mouth and sat on his hands. His body was jittery with nervous energy, and it had been for the last couple of hours, ever since he had seen that X-Ray. Two hearts! The image was burned into his mind, flashing whenever he blinked. The girl had looked normal on the outside, but on the inside, her body was different. Two hearts, one kidney and a stomach that floated in her back. That girl wasn’t normal. Not in any sense of the word. 

“Well, seeing as we’ve got that out the way, what else do you want to know about it? The girl, I mean.”

Jeremy glanced up at the sound of Mr. Bowler’s deep voice. He was wearing a wide-brimmed black hat that was tipped over his eyes, hiding his forehead. His hair was ruffled by the huge pair of earphones that sat on his head. Jeremy was wearing a pair too. They were meant to block out the noise of the helicopter, but they didn’t. The whirring burned through Jeremy’s skull, pounding his fragile mind, but he didn’t really care. Two hearts! “What is she? If she’s not human then...”

“Alien, we think. She was discovered two years ago buried under a pile of rubble. They fished her out, took an X-Ray and sent her to a facility,” Mr. Bowler answered. He sounded posh, but not overly so. Instead, he sounded dangerous. He had the voice Jeremy would run a mile to avoid.

“Right. Why are we- I mean - MI5 going to her for help?”
Mr. Bowler cocked his hat forward, and slumped down in his seat. “You really didn’t get the briefing, did you?”

“No, Sir.”

“She’s special. Some people have called her a freak of nature and others have taken to calling her the rouge superhero. She’s got powers.”

 “W-what kind of powers?”

“Invincibility, for one. And the other...well, you see when you get there.”

Jeremy’s eyes widened. Invincible? No. He swallowed the retort that was rising in his throat and instead settled on a question. “How is she invincible? That’s impossible.”

“I know. But those two hearts you keep going on about? They can survive independently of each other.  You have to stop both the hearts to kill her, and trust me, it is not easy. Her skin is embedded with tiny carbon structures with the same network arrangement of diamond. It makes it near impossible to pierce her skin. The diamond also acts as...well, it’s her second party trick.” Mr. Bowler leaned backwards again, and pressing a button on his headphones, spoke again. “Hey, Arthur, when are we landing?”

The pilot’s voice crackled through Jeremy’s ears. “About five minutes, Sir. We are approaching the forest now.”

Mr. Bowler took his finger off the headphone and straightened up. He cracked his back and padded a lump on his belt. His gun. Jeremy knew it was for protection, but he couldn’t help but feel his stomach churn and writhe every time he saw it. It reminded him of Leanne draped across the bed, with the blood pouring thick and fast from her mouth. Tears pricked in his eyes and he swallowed a sob.

"Is there anything else you want to know?”

Jeremy glanced up and felt his stomach bounce as they descended. He swallowed some bile and looked up at Mr. Bowler. “Why is she in the forest?”

Mr. Bowler paused. “I lied earlier. She has three party tricks, not two. Let’s just say that she is more at home in the forest than in the city. Again, you’ll understand when you see her.”
The helicopter swooped towards the ground and Jeremy lurched forward. He felt sick. It was like being on a plane but worse - in planes the seatbelts aren’t so tight you can’t breathe. In planes, you could relax. And in planes, you always knew what was at the end of the journey.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Holmhead. You get used to it.”

Jeremy tried to straighten up as the helicopter took another dive. “You were sick too?” he wheezed. His lungs pressed against his heart, and his ribcage burned.

“Yeah. Hold on. That’s us going down.”

The helicopter suddenly stopped in the air, and Jeremy saw the pilot pull a lever from the corner of his eye. The helicopter started lowering itself down. Emerald trees bowed out of the way as the blades pushed them back, and birds erupted into the air, squawking and cheeping as they flew for their lives. Jeremy peered through the door and almost sighed with relief. The ground was blissfully close - he could smell the wet soil, see the white tails of rabbits as they scurried into the distance.  The helicopter touched ground, and after the initial juddering halt, the world stopped rocking and Jeremy felt stable again.

Jeremy pulled the headphones from his ears and stooped low to get out the door. He hopped down from the helicopter, leaving his briefcase in the back, and landed with a dull thud on the wet earth. He breathed in the fresh air. It had been so long since he smelled the world. London was dirty, dusty and the air squeezed the life out of your lungs, building the bricks of death with the black tar that clogged your airways. The air out here was so fresh, so clean. You could smell the grass, the dew drops, the honey, the soft scent of a flower blossoming into life.

Jeremy heard Mr. Bowler step out from the helicopter, his footsteps muffled by the still turning blades. Mr. Bowler clapped Jeremy on the back and he grinned. “You get used to the helicopter. Trust me.” He stepped forward and looked upwards into the trees. His hat had been pushed back, and his eyes scanned the canopy. He was looking for something.

Finally, he turned around and shook his head. “She’s moved further away. Can’t have been far though. From now on, stay as quiet as possible. We don’t want to spook her. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now, follow me.” Mr. Bowler started walking forward, stepping over the small branches and dry leaves that littered the forest floor. Jeremy copied him, and within a minute they were out of sight from the helicopter. Two minutes, and Mr. Bowler stuck his hand up. Jeremy stopped behind him and Mr. Bowler scanned the canopy again. His eyes were focused on the high branches of the mud coloured trees. He smiled and looked at Jeremy. “Look at that tree.” His voice was barely a whisper. “Just above the fourth branch. Do you see it?”

Jeremy looked at the tree in front of him, and his eyes slid up the trunk, settling where Mr. Bowler had told him to look. The green leaves on the branch quivered and Jeremy narrowed his eyes.  Nothing. It was just a branch, an ordinary branch, framed by green leaves and patches of blue sky. It was just a branch.

“Sir, I don’t see anythi-”

The words caught in Jeremy’s throat. The leaves were twitching. Not so unusual, but the sky behind them, the little patches of azure that split the space between them, was also twitching. The whole background was moving, and Jeremy noticed a regular pattern in the movement. Up. Down. Up. Down. His eyes widened. 

“Is that her?”

Mr. Bowler laughed and clapped a hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. “Her second party trick is invisibility. 

Remember those diamonds I was telling you about? They reflect the light back off her skin and, effectively, make her a chameleon. It’s a pretty good survival technique.”

Mr. Bowler took his hand off of Jeremy’s shoulder and stepped forward. He tilted his head towards the tree and cupped his hand around his mouth. “Hello? We can see you.”

No answer. Just the serene silence, broken by the chirping of birds and rustling in the undergrowth.

“Prisoner 3452, may I remind you of a contract you signed one year and a half ago? You have to come with us. Now.”

The branch twitched again and a human shape became more pronounced. It was definitely the girl - Jeremy could see the arch of her thighs, the rounded back of her skull pressing against the bark.

“Come out...”

It was all over in a matter of seconds. The girl swung down from the trees, her hands curving round the branches and her back arched as she leaped towards the ground. She landed in a forward roll and suddenly her hand was round Jeremy’s neck. The sharp point of a crude blade touched his Adam’s apple and sweat started to bead on his forehead. 

The girl jerked Jeremy backwards and growled, “Who are you?”

Mr. Bowler had taken out his gun. It was pointed at the girl’s head, but Jeremy knew he couldn’t shoot. One tug to the side, and it wouldn’t be her brains splashed on the forest floor. It would be his.

“I’m am agent sent by the MI5 to pick you up and remind you of your contract.”

Prisoner 3452 tightened her grip on the blade. “It’s you, isn’t it? Mr. Bowl or something stupid like that? You’ve got some guts coming to see me. Well, you didn’t actually think I’d obey the contract, did you? You freed me! You let me go.”

“On the condition that you came back when we needed you. And trust me - we need you.”

She clenched her fist. “And once this is over, I’ll go back to that place, won’t I? That glass cage.” She glanced down at Jeremy and said, “They had me in Area 51 at the start. Do you know that? It’s a cool place, mister. You should see what they have. It’s not just aliens, it’s mons-”

“Stop talking.”

The girl glowered and looked back at Mr. Bowler. She jerked her elbow into Jeremy’s ribs and he gasped with pain. “And who’s this?”

“The therapist. He was sent to help you re-adjust to civilian life, get you good press and make you feel better.  He has nothing to do with this.”

“On the contrary, he has everything to do with this. You see,” she jerked backwards again, and Jeremy stumbled over his own feet, “he’s keeping me alive. You can’t shoot while I’ve got him, can you?”

Mr. Bowler paused and a frown appeared over his features. “Let Mr. Holmhead go. Leave him be.”

Jeremy could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He had to do something. Now. He threw his eyes upwards and looked at the girl. “He can’t kill you anyway. You’re invincible, remember?”

She growled. “So?”

"Well, he can’t shoot you anyway - the bullet would bounce off. Holding me here is pointless. And besides, if you let me go, I won’t be able to turn you around. I won’t be able to expose your weak spot, would I?”
The girl’s face paled and she shifted. “You’re bluffing,” she said. Her voice was hard and firm, but there were tiny tremors running through it, tiny quivers of fear running through her alien system.

Jeremy shook his head. He was getting into the swing of this. “I’m not. Mr. Bowler told me your weak spot. And trust me, you kill me and you won’t be getting out of here alive. There are ten, twenty guards around the perimeter. Your weak spot will be exposed, no matter which way you turn. Give it up. It’s over.”

The knife slid down from Jeremy’s throat and the girl stepped backwards. Jeremy slumped to the ground and clutched at his throat. There was no blood, not mark of any sort. Just the pain, the electrifying sizzling of his overactive nerve endings. He had never felt so alive in his life.

Jeremy heard the knife drop to the ground. He craned his neck backwards and looked at Prisoner 3452. She was tall, with matted brown hair and dull brown eyes. She was wearing a simple white t-shirt and a pair of muddy green combats. She was barefoot, and there was a long scratch down the right side of her face. Jeremy’s heart panged in his chest. She looked a bit like Leanne - his daughter.

No. What was he kidding? She looked nothing like Leanne - she had blond hair and fair skin. This girl had brown hair and freckled skin. They were miles apart, and yet, when Jeremy looked at her, all he could feel was the pangs of grief hitting his chest.

“It’s the arms. They’re longer than they should be.”

Jeremy blinked. “What?”

“You were staring at me. Most people look at the arms. They’re longer than they should be - my arms outstretched should be my height, but they’re not. They’re longer by about an inch. Happy now?”

Mr. Bowler suddenly spoke. “It’s her third party trick. A little bit of a monkey you are, ain't you?”

The girl glanced at Mr. Bowler, her arms folded across her chest. “So...what’s the deal?”

“We need you in for a mission. It’ll take three days, tops. After that you can leave.”

She growled. “You promise? No cells, no syringes, no captivity?”

“Yeah, sure, I promise. Now, we need to go.”

“Before you take me away, can I get my stuff? My copy of the contract is up there. And my clothes.” Her voice was harsh and hostile, and every word she spoke dripped with hatred.

Mr. Bowler paused and then lowered his gun. “Fine. But be quick. And remember - try and run, and you’ll have twenty bullets aimed straight for your back.”

Prisoner 3452 nodded, and in a second she was off, sprinting for the tree. She pushed up off the ground and wrapped her hands round the bark. And then, with the agility of a lemur, she scrambled upwards. Her long arms brushed the emerald leaves and when she reached the branches, she leapt on one of them, and started swinging. She was leaping through the air, bouncing from branch to branch, her feet curving round the boughs and her fingers sliding over the knobs and niches in the bark.

Jeremy watched her, open mouthed. “She’s a monkey.”

Mr. Bowler smiled as the girl reached her branch. “Pretty much. They reckon her race evolved in the same way we did, except their brains evolved faster. Hence she has a normal mind, but primitive body. It makes her seem wilder than she actually is. Hey, eh, do you actually know her weak spot?”
Jeremy glanced at Mr. Bowler. “No. I was bluffing. And what was the contract she signed?”

“We let her into the wild after one year and a half of studying, on the condition that she came back when we needed her. No ifs, no buts.” He turned back to the girl, who was gathering up things in her arms. She looked at home in the trees. Her feet curved round the branch and every ounce of her being seemed primed to jump and catch her if she fell.  Jeremy half expected her to grow a tail. “Prisoner 3452, you have three seconds...”

The girl looked behind her and snarled. “Give me a minute.” She tied something round her waist - a jumper probably - and then leaped from the tree. She swung down from branch to branch, leaping and catching with grace and elegance. She landed at the base of the tree and handed a small, brown rucksack to Mr.. Bowler, who was fiddling with his gun. “There. My stuff. Don’t touch any of it.” She threw a glance at Jeremy and then walked over the soft mesh of leaves to where she had been holding him. She reached down and picked up the knife. She slid it into her pocket and looking up, said, “Right. Where’s the transport?”

Mr. Bowler looked at her. “It’s over there.” His finger tickled the trigger of his gun and Jeremy widened his eyes. No. NO!

A gunshot ripped through the air, and a smattering of birds flew into the sky. The girl was clutching her stomach with both hands and Mr. Bowler was walking towards her. The tip of his gun was moist, and he was smiling. “Night.”

The girl’s eyes closed and she slumped to the ground. Her arms were draped across her hips and her mouth was parted. A dart was sticking out from her stomach.

“What the heck was that for?!”

Mr. Bowler paused and looked at Jeremy. “What was what for?” He knelt down beside the prisoner and cradled her in his arms. He hauled her upwards and threw her across his back.

Jeremy walked forward, his face red with shock and rage. “She wasn’t attacking! She was coming with us! Voluntarily! Why did you knock her out?!” For a second he forgot who this man was, forgot that this man was technically his superior. He forgot his nervousness and his fear and furrowing his brow, he glared at Mr. Bowler. “What was that for?!”

Mr. Bowler started walking away from him, walking back through the forest. His body sagged with the girl’s weight, but his face was as smooth and calm as ever.  “Firstly, I’m surprised you’re not asking how I shot her. Her skin is meant to be impenetrable, yeah? Well, she has a weak spot. A circle of flesh just to the right of her belly-button is clear of carbon. It’s the only part of her body you can shot.”

“I don’t care,” shouted Jeremy, flicking a branch out of his way with a flick of his wrist. “You had no right to do that! She’s a girl, Sir. You didn’t have to shoot her!”

Mr. Bowler stopped, took a deep breath and then kept walking. “She’s not a girl. She’s an alien - a highly evolved form of monkey at best, and a primitive survival machine at worst. And secondly, I sedated her because she gets travel sick, ok? You were sick on the helicopter ride, weren’t you? She hasn’t even been on a car yet. Now, do me a favour, stop complaining, or I’ll get your whiny, moralistic butt kicked off this case. Understood?”

Jeremy hesitated, and then ducked his head. “Yes, Sir.”

“That’s better. Now, help me get her in helicopter. It should be round the corner.” Mr. Bowler pushed through a scrub, and they were back in the clearing. The helicopter sat, resplendent in black, and the blades started whirring. Mr. Bowler glanced at Jeremy. “Are you going to help me, or not?”

Jeremy sighed and grabbed the girl’s legs. He hauled her into the helicopter and left her on the floor. He hopped in himself and sat down on his seat. His throat was still sizzling form the knife, his head was still frothing from the oddity of it all, and his heart was still thumping because of the argument. He felt alive for the first time in months. Grief had struck his system down, wrecked his nerves, but now - now, he felt better. Rejuvenated. Reborn. Jeremy smiled for the first time in weeks, and reaching above him snapped his headphones onto his ears. He thought for a moment and then grabbed the spare pair, and put them on Prisoner 3452. Mr. Bowler stared at him. “She can’t hear anything. Why the hell would you do that?”

Jeremy shrugged. He enjoyed the annoyed look on Mr. Bowler’s face. He deserved it, the callous little man. 
“I don’t want her to hurt her ears.”

Mr. Bowler narrowed his eyes and sat across from Jeremy in his seat. His put his headphones on and then, as the helicopter took a sickening lurch forward, he said, “Don’t get too attached to her, Mr. Holmhead. She’s an animal, she’s a superhero, and she’s rouge. She won’t care about you when you’re working with her. And trust me when I say - when all this is over, she won’t remember you either.”