You dragged me from the water for the third time that day with a look of determination on your face. A look which seemed to be new, even to you. This whole charade was driving you into uncharted territories; testing your endurance. I slumped myself down next to a rock, feeling nothing but raw. My senses were protesting at the stimulation they were expected to process. Not this again. The world was an inconvenience. I was sick from the things I once loved. We were way beyond reassurances by then, and there were no more words you could say to me. So instead you paced back and forth with your hands in your hair and your eyes to the sky.

What happens when things have fallen apart about as far as they ever could? Entropy take me.

Then you gathered a bunch of sticks, much faster than I could comprehend, and right there in front of me you started a fire. My tired eyes were some way comforted by the sight of colour, my worn and crumbled body warmed by the flame. In the crackle of the wood I heard you promise that you would find me a desert in which to dwell if that is what it would take to keep me from the waters edge.

We sat there for some hours in silence: I as a pile of stones and you as a boat. I fell asleep, and you took me home.

Fragments of Heart: Alien Dust

Orchid's Lantern C R Dudley

Black skies lit by the whole moon reminded me of you. They reminded me of your warrior stance, and the soft dark hair you had no right to boast. They reminded me of the time I danced around my pole to Marilyn Manson’s Sweet Dreams, and you watched through the bottom of a whisky glass. I told you that night that I wanted to climb inside you and live there, and you agreed. But I must arrive on foot by the ordeal path, you stressed, because no one ever touched a star by wishing alone. I was inclined to agree.

So after you were gone I listened out for you in the thunder, and savoured the rain on my face as though it were the tears you made me cry. I felt your presence when wandering the forest at night, when the eyes of shadow creatures were upon me; when I was hurt, lost and alone. In the night at least, you were real.

One such night, on an aimless stumble among the trees, I found a house in a small clearing. I could swear it hadn’t been there before, and the overgrown flora remained on all sides undisturbed. And yet, someone clearly lived there. In fact they were up and about, because I could hear a shuffle and a sigh that only man could make. I turned on my flashlight but could see nothing, so I edged towards the sound, untangling my ankles from the grip of branches as I went. There was no fear in my heart, which meant I was likely getting further away from you, but still my curiosity forced me to persist.

At last I saw him: a slip of a man moving along his flat rooftop on his hands and knees.

“Well don’t just stand there,” he said impatiently without looking up.

I didn’t move. The shadow creatures had averted their eyes as if declaring me sacrificed, and I felt unusually free.

“There’s a ladder round the back.”

The rungs were illuminated by moonlight, so I didn’t even need my flashlight to see where I was going. I crawled to his side on my hands and knees in case it was a custom I was expected to observe. In one hand he held a transparent plastic sample bag, and in the other he used a brush to sweep tiny pieces of grit into it. Perhaps I’d have asked at that moment what on earth he was doing, had I not been overwhelmed by the sense we had met before. Despite his wiry frame, spectacles and sunken eyes, I was as drawn to him as I had been to you all those years ago. It was almost as though…

“Can you see any more?” He asked.

“Any more? What am I looking for?”

“Alien dust. Rocks. Fragments of stars. They’ll be shining tonight if they’re here.”

I took a cursory glance around the rooftop. “I can’t see any.”

“Then we’re done.”

I followed him back down the ladder and into the house, noticing for the first time he had bare feet and that made me smile. His carpet was red and heavily patterned, just like my grandmother’s used to be. His walls were almost entirely covered by shelves holding jars of stones and powders, and his furniture looked as though it hadn’t been moved or cleaned in decades. I watched as he painstakingly trawled through his findings from the roof, discarding anything that his magnet took for its own, and setting the rest onto a piece of clear plastic. He didn’t utter a word for an hour or more, but I waited patiently until he excitedly ushered me over to his microscope.

Peering through the lens, I saw the most beautiful, intricate formation of pinks and blues and charcoal blacks. This tiny particle had a whole world of its own contained within it, made from smooth edged mountains and deceptive whirlpools. It felt like home.

“Anyone can find them. They’re falling from the sky all the time, right onto our heads! So few take the time to understand.”

“So many wish, but so few seek.” I added. A single tear was running down my face; the first to fall in years without pain. He wiped it away with his little finger, and took me into his arms so tightly it took my breath away. My suffering was done, and finally I was allowed to lay beneath a star.

Fragments of Future: A Glitch in the System

Dystopian future fiction

“We shouldn’t be so concerned with what it would take for AI to develop self-awareness: the more immediate problem is what it would take for us to lose it.’

That’s what the patient had said just moments before she disappeared, and it made Liana shudder to recall it. Something else, too. Had there been something else? The patient had been her charge. It had been her decision to allow her to use the bathroom unmonitored for the first time in weeks, it was her who was last to speak with her, and it was her who would be blamed for losing her.

There were no windows in the toilet cubicle, and even if there had been they wouldn’t have offered an escape route on account of being some 60ft above ground. The ceiling was solid, so was the floor. There was simply no way this was possible by any rational means.

Liana had followed protocol. The patient had been displaying definite signs of improvement, and in such cases it was within the capacity of the warden to grant small periods of unsupervised activity.

Continue reading “Fragments of Future: A Glitch in the System”


Frederick's Writers Block

On occasion, it becomes necessary for Frederick to leave the flat. Of course he gets his groceries delivered along with any other items he may require, which as it happens is very little. However in order to sustain himself and his craft, he once in a while needs to experience human contact.

Frederick gave up seeing his ‘friends’ long ago. He knows what they say about him: ‘Frederick is always working! He could do to take a break one of these days, he doesn’t even post on Facebook! He just needs to get some perspective or a wife or a wi-fi. You never see Frederick smiling anymore.’ There was no sense to be found there.

Instead, he visits other men – and women too – in the private booths near the train station. To ensure the authenticity of the participants, recording devices of any nature must be left at the payment kiosk: it is assumed that if no one is streaming video to gain likes and bait trolls, then they must be in it for the genuine desire to grow brain function and further knowledge. Participants are paired off at random, entering their allocated booth on opposite sides of a plasti-glass panel. They then have the duration they have paid for – usually one hour – to converse, debate and discuss any topic of their choosing without the watchful eyes of their peers and public being upon them.

Continue reading “Frederick”


Abstract Art Painting

My mate Jerry is off on a fast-paced wild goose chase with his mind. Seriously man, he’s really going for it this time, grappling with any scrap of information he comes across like its a key to the holy grail. I’m just sat over here on the hill having a smoke, watching him dig deeper underground and burn out all that crazy energy. It’s quite entertaining to be honest, and it’ll pass the time ‘til Sheila comes round later. I’ll have a bath before then probably, if there’s any hot water, and maybe have a tidy round the flat. I’m gonna cook for her: pasta and cheese. I don’t cook for just anyone mind, but I reckon she’s worth more than a packet of 10p noodles, you know? She’s used to being wined and dined, and her Dad’s in the Air Force, so I’ll have to make a bit of an effort or I don’t fancy my chances of seeing her again.

Continue reading “Noodles”

The Potency of Fantasy

One more appointment for the day, then I could go sink a few drinks and release my stresses. It had been a day fuelled by strong coffee, due to an unfortunate plague of dreams in which giant crows were scratching at my eyes the night before. I had awoken in terror sweats, and was just beginning to think the insomnia that preceded it was preferable. Both were borne, no doubt, from too many party drugs, too many dangerous affairs, too many loopholes I’d slipped through lately. Perhaps I should see a doctor.


“Yes, yes, come in, take a seat.” I waved the patient into the room without looking up from my keyboard. Only when I sensed reluctance did I register an imp of a man standing in the doorway, clutching a bowler hat and an umbrella. “Sir? Please take a seat.”

He shuffled forward, and came to perch on the very edge of the well worn chair beside my desk.

“Now, I don’t seem to have any referral notes, Mr -?”


“Mr Muninn. So perhaps you could tell me a little bit about why you’re here?”

Continue reading “The Potency of Fantasy”

Fragments of Dark: When the Tears are Gone Forever

Tears are gone

My guardian angel has gone to the store to get more vodka: medicine for our brains, he says. That’s perfectly standard practice, only he’s been gone for some time now, and I’m starting to think he’s left me to fall apart in this god forsaken flat.  

I stare at the electric blue teacups lined up on the dresser, every one of them full of storm. I sense the waves pouring over their rims, and for a moment it is as though someone were playing them like singing bowls; circling a mallet slowly around and around. It is almost joyous, almost full of hope, but then it begins to scrape and screech, and before I know it the whole room is shaking with the deathly racket and I have to take cover under the coffee table. 

That’s when, of course, the walls start oozing their 








I can feel the dark substance already: clinging to my skin, desperate to get through my pores and into my blood stream. There’s no coming back if it gets that far, I can tell you that right now. 

I don’t know if lying here in foetal position helps, I suppose it’s more of an automatic reaction to detecting imminent danger. However it does serve to remind me that this particular mass of pain, lumped together beneath the table, is what I am directly in charge of. It reminds me that I am, in physicality if not in principle, separate from the poison out there that would infect me further; from the room that would swallow me whole…

I’m cold now. Cold and clammy and shivering. At least the teacups have shut up though, hey? There are no tears either in case you were wondering; we’re way past that, me and my angel both. Unfortunately what comes when the tears are gone forever is a sort of black hole inside, as though the salt from the flood had burned 








Leaving a window to infinity, ready to implode the remainder of our being at any minute… 

So the struggle we’re left with is really this: what will we allow to consume us, the predatory world out there in the flat and beyond, or the horrifying black hole inside? I don’t know if there’s a difference, but I’m sure as hell hanging back from making that decision, at least until I’ve given the medicine one last shot. But the