Grinding Cogs

Peeking, and poking, and prying.

Fingers and eyeballs and pins and needles.

Crying babies and sobbing old ladies,

creeping and slipping their way into the square.

Little white circles, euphoric sensations,

pilling in like a motorway.

Redundant and proclaimed,

bitter faces swimming in a sea of pretentious Gods,

masquerading as good will.

I bend my face towards the sky and take in the clouded mass.

I fuzz and say:

“There’s music in the clatter of the clogs”.

Swallowed Whole

Banner worn. Torn and tormented.

Thrown to the ground like an old dog turning,

churning, yearning for that sensation.

The black face, it calls.

Its wide mouth a crevasse, a gaping hole to hell in a face of shame.

It has eaten me.

I am devoured.

The acid tickles my skin and peels me away ever so gently.

It’s just like falling asleep.

The Silverlight Dome – Chapter 2

“That bitch is around here somewhere. Keep your eyes open, if we don’t have her by sunrise I will personally skin every last one of you sorry motherfuckers.” The big burly ring leader that had held Lilth hostage towered over the small pack of ruffians gathered around him. A little stream of angry spittle swung from his chin to mingle with the blood from his broken nose. They shifted nervously from one foot to the other, every man knew what Bolath was capable of and they didn’t want to push their luck.

Sneaking through the shadows the group of six moved like water, silent and sure footed. Not a sound could be heard as their soft, clothed feet padded across the soft sand street. Like cats they surrounded the first door, jimmied it open with an old, rusting screwdriver and flooded inside. A few seconds sweep of the building gleaned no results. Old, worn out furniture was tipped up, cupboards and closets ransacked; nothing. This process was repeated all the way down the street, the homeless and destitute dragged from their make-shift beds, dazed and confused.

They reached the fourth door. Grappling with the door handle the scrawniest of the group twisted and turned the rusted door knob to no avail. The group behind him began to titter and his cheeks flushed an angry red. Bolath, used one large, furry hand to yank the smaller man out of the way, impatience brewing up inside him, making his agitated. Using a little of his strength he ripped the door from its hole in the wall and threw it some way down the street, no longer concerned with the noise it made.

Forcing his way inside he filled the dark room with his vast body. Stooges poured in around him and searched the place.

“There’s nothing here!” One called from the back room. Bolath’s temple twitched and the men closest to him took a few quick paces backwards. In two strides he was in front of the speaker, grabbing him around the throat and forced him back against the wall.

“Nothing?” He snarled. “Is that what you said?” Before he could go on something fell from above, tapping him lightly on his naked head. A few bits of roof tile rolled down his back and plopped unceremoniously onto the floor. He looked up, still gripping his accomplice in a vice, his face turning a nasty shade of blue-purple; he caught the flash of a heel as it disappeared up into the rafters onto the roof. He dropped the man, now unconscious onto the floor and forced his way outside.

“Lilth!” He bellowed into the night as she leapt from her roof onto the neighbours, crumbling abode. His face become a beautiful shade of purple and blue mottled rage as she turned to blow him a kiss before disappearing off down the street; canvas bag draped over on shoulder.

“Get her back!” Bolath screamed at the men already scrambling after her. Pulling out their light dividers they shone the bright beams across the rooftops, catching a gleam of red hair and shinning brown boots.

Lilth could hardly breathe, the stitch in her side rendering her almost incapacitated. She pranced like a deer over the last few rooftops before she came clattering to the end of her tiled road. Without missing a beat she gripped onto the rusting old drainage pipe that was just clinging to life and swung herself around and down the side of the rickety structure. The pipe crunched and swung, the screws that held it in place flaking away from the old walls. Leaping the last two foot Lilth rolled into the dust, losing her bag in the process.

“There she is!” Someone shouted just behind her, the sound of running feet beginning to gain on her made her heart pound in her chest. Snatching up the bag she cursed as a few precious gems rolled out into the street. She gave them a longing look before pelting off down a side road, leaving little skids from the heels of her boots in the dust; oh how she hated anyone else touching her bounty.

Crashing into the next street she headed for the docks, there was a boat leaving for the Outreaches at sunrise, if she could just make it there before the sun started to peak over the horizon she’d be ok. Picking up the pace she ignored the screaming cramp in her calf muscles and carried on. She could smell the clean atmosphere of the air lock. This was it just a little further.

Something whizzed past her, grazing her arm. Yelping her bag slipped down around her elbow; a sudden pain in her upper arm and a warm, flowing sensation apparent to her. Reaching around she touched the hilt of a knife embedded in her flesh, puckering the once taught skin where it pulled and warped it out of shape. She didn’t have to pull it out, she knew if she took even a second longer they would catch her and she’d be dead meat.

She could see it, the great ship filling the dock like a great, flat dinner plate suspended in space. It was gently spinning, getting ready to depart, she was a fraction of a second too late. She was limping now, unable to keep her pace. Skidding to a halt at the end of the dock she cursed her bad luck, the goons were behind her, blocking her in, forcing her towards the edge. A face she recognised peeked out of the crows nest as it began to float down beneath her.

“Jaspen!” She called out, waving with her good arm. “Jaspen, wait!”

“Can’t now lassie! She’s afloat!” Lilth swore at the little old man staring up at her with confusion abound on his face. There was nothing for it, glancing back one last time she knew she had no other options left to her. Her wide eyes took in the sight of the great disk, rotating, floating down towards the hatch in the great glass dome they called home, its shining silver exterior cold and uninviting. It looked like her death. She took a deep breath, shook herself twice and jumped.

Bolath came to the edge of the causeway and looked down as the ship was swallowed up in the cloud that lingered at the bottom of the great glass bowl and howled with anger. He turned and strode away, rummaging in his pocket for his cigarettes and pocket communicator. Lighting a tar black stick of smoke, he kicked the smallest of his bunch of henchmen off the edge to alleviate his rage. Feeling somewhat calmer he raised the little black box to his face and pushed a series of buttons. An electrical crackle emitted itself from the speaker on the bottom of the box. Giving it a swift whack with his palm the static settled down.

“Sir. My most sincere apologies Sir.” Bolath began.

“Did I not make it clear to you how important it was that you recover that gem, Bolath? Perhaps I was not making myself clear?” A whispering, rasping voice echoed out across the musky dock. It sounded distant, far away and muffled.

“No Sir, I understand. It was, just that …”

“Oh Bolath. I am disappointed.” The voice hissed, a little louder now that it had been before. “I’m afraid that I can’t stand for such a thing. I might have to let you go.”

“Sir, please.” He coughed and pulled on his collar.

“I simply cannot afford anymore blunders at this stage, you understand I’m sure.” Bolath heaved, suddenly unable to take in any air. The blood vessels burst in his eyes, filling them with little strings of red. For the last time he flushed his trademark shade of purple before falling unceremoniously to the floor, to the great delight of his crew. As they shied away into the new morning the radio crackled to itself, keeping the cooling body company in the still of the dawn.

Curtains

Clock runs, predator, prey, defying.

The pause in the tick leading fast into the tock.

Keep to the light the Demon whispers,

Death seeping in the ear, crawling, lying, dying in the brain.

Carbon copies rolling one after the other,

the production line full, choking, smoking, filling the gaps.

Black faces in a sea of green.

Nothing stands out, nothing is new.

Crosses and bread and the fingers in the wine.

Pouring and dabbling and giggling in time.

The giant grey face, skin chipping away hanging,

dim and lethargic from the great city gates.

She speaks to me, the high and the mighty.

The night and the day, the light and the dark.

Anything and everything, just roll with it my dear.

For God only knows they’ll crucify you anyway.

The Silverlight Dome – Chapter 1

Lilth spat a mouthful of blood onto the dingy, dirty floor; a little mushroom cloud of dust floating lazily up around her expelled bodily fluid. Her eyes drifted hazily about the room, a little dazed by the force of the fist that had connected with her jaw. She grinned up at the swaying black figures that surrounded her.

“You’re one stubborn bitch Lilth.” Her tormentor leaned over her, both grubby, bloody hands resting on the arms of the chair she was tied to. She tugged again on the ropes that pulled her wrists tightly together behind her back. “Just tell us where the gem is and we’ll let you go. It’s that simple.”

“Like hell, dickhead. I sweated way too hard for that thing, and I broke at least two nails in the process.” She craned her head to wipe the blood from her chin on her shoulder. “I’m not telling you shit.”

Her captor sighed; his breath reeked of bad scotch and bad decisions. Leaning back a little he cracked his violence weary knuckles. The guys behind him chuckled a little to themselves in the shadows, excited by the promise of another beating.

“Wait, wait.” She sighed, leaning back a little further in her chair, shifting her weight off her dead left leg. The man before her grinned, yellowing teeth protruding from a dark, tanned face that was hard lined and scarred. “I’ll tell you something, but you have to come a little closer. I don’t want everyone knowing what I do with my stash.”

He leaned in a little further, too eager for the information he’d been paid to collect. The promise of a large hoard of treasures an eagerly awaited bonus. The smile that crept across her face matched his own, corrupt grin.

“You should really learn to tie a better knot.” She whipped both hands forward, balled into powerful tiny fists that she slammed into both his ears making his head ring with the force. Her stumbled backwards with a roar, clutching his large, meaty head with both swollen hands. Swinging her body up and away from the chair she perfectly distributed her weight through her hands. In one swift motion she delivered an unrelated kick to her interrigator’s solar plexus, bringing him to his knees.

Three others leapt forward from the shadows, their reactions slowed by her unexpected attack. The distance between them disadvantaged her opponents and she used those few seconds to her advantage; grabbing two implements from the torturer’s table. A scalpel and long metal rod gleamed in her hot hands.

A brief moment of hesitation passed over her; her choice of weapons didn’t exactly fill her with confidence, but taking a deep breath she arched her arms into a wide throw. Connecting hard with one beefy bicep the scalpel found its mark, eliciting a high pitched howl of pain from the man attached to it.

Bringing the other arm around from the left she took a two handed grip on the metal rod and swung it around her head as the second man reached her. The metal hit his skull with a dull, but satisfying crunch. A horror filled his eyes as blood started to pave its slow trail down his forehead and into his eyes; he crumpled to the floor as Lilth leapt over him. Ducking under the flailing tree trunk arms of the man she struck with the scalpel she bolted towards the door to her small cell in a bid for freedom.

Shoving her shoulder hard against the tough wooden door she threw it open. For a second the bright light of the sun blinded her and she staggered out into the world dazed as a newborn. Rubbing her face she kept moving, feeling her way until her eyesight came back to her. She ran.

Throwing a look over her shoulder she took in a fleeting glance at the one roomed shack she’d just escaped from. The field it sat in full of bright blue grass that waved in the fake summer breeze. She wasn’t that far from home. She’d never seen her captor before but it was a safe be to place that someone from the slums had called him in. She’d have to be more careful about bringing her loot home in future.

Skidding out onto the road at the edge of the field she looked left and right wildly. She knew exactly where she was, she could run left, straight home, grab the loot and hop on the next ship across the Skylands. Or she could go right, they wouldn’t be expecting that, into the wilds to hide out for a couple of days until the hubbub died down and she could sneak back into to town to claim what was hers. What if they got there first? What if they knew where she lived and they ransacked the place whilst she was still hiding out of town like a nervous cat? Fuck that, no one stole from Lilth.

She raced down the road, feet thumping, bright red blazen hair flying out behind her in a long plait that reached to her waist. Her heeled boots clicked and clacked on the rough tarmac and the waistcoat she’d left undone flapped about, skittishly in the wind.

It wasn’t long before she reached the outskirts of the shanty town. Broken down, beaten up houses leaned jaggedly from side to side, crashing into each other like drunk men. Holes in the old cement walls leaked bricks and dust like fat silent tears into the street below. The whole place stank of despair and poverty. Lilth hated it.

“Hey Lilth!” She groaned as a group of local street kids popped out from under a pile of bricks they’d been playing in at the edge of the street.

“Hey.” She muttered as she wandered past, trying to make herself look casual. Her green eyes darted around, looking for any hint of a jump, giving away her nervous demeanor.

“What happened to your face?” One of the grubby little girls asked, eyes wide.

“Did you get in a fight?” One of the boys piped up, excitement flashing in his tiny eyes.

“I bet she did! I bet there were at least ten of them, all huge and disgusting!”

“Yeah! With big muscles and bulging eyes!” The chattering group began to swell in volume. Two of the oldest boys began a convincing reenactment of the fight, rolling around on the floor taking pot shots at each other.

Lilth groaned a little to herself. She loved all the local kids despite that annoying, gnawing anger that they always brought out in her. They always appeared at exactly the wrong moment.

“Look guys, I’m kind of busy right now. Why don’t you come back later and I’ll tell you all about it?” The group groaned aloud, little faces of disappointment swam around her knees like irritating puppies. She felt her eye twitch a little. “If I give you a couple of gold rottles will you go find yourselves some cake or something?” She hated parting with money but needs must, and they looked like they could do with a big cream bun each.

The group burst into bunch of clamouring hands and squeals of delight. She couldn’t contain the smile that crept, unchecked across her bloodied face as she quickly dolled out one gold coin to each eager hand and watched them scamper off down the road towards the bake house, pushing and shoving each other in their excitement.

The street grew quiet. The night watch bell rang out from the city centre, loud, ominous and deep. She braced herself for the artificial, shivering wind that she knew was coming. Looking up she took in the sky and watched as the pixels of colour that once made up the false blue and white fluffy clouds fade. A shimmering ripple of black moulded itself across the great glass dome that they lived under and fizzled out all the light the fake sun gave.

A few seconds passed before the street lights, flickered lazily into action . The half light they made casting long fingers of shadow across the street. She kept to the walls, hiding in the sudden darkness and felt her way, one, two, three, four doors down. Feeling for the round door handle she wriggled it, twice to the right and once to the left and gave two good pushes on the left hand corner before it gave way.

Time was running out, they’d be after her by now, using the cover of night to their advantage. She needed to pack up and go as soon as possible, she cast one last nervous look out into the night and slid the door to her house shut behind her.

The Kindle VS The Book

It has become one of the hottest topics in the literary world; do you prefer to read from a Kindle or a Book? Since the launch of the first Kindle device in November 2007 there has been an ever increasing debate surrounding the pros and cons of such technology.

Perhaps the most obvious of pros is the storage capabilities that the Kindle provides. The first device of its kind boasted a “250MB storage system” (Wikipedia 2015) that would hold approximately “200 non-illustrated text” (Wikipedia 2015). In 2015 we can access “32 and 64GB of storage” (Wikipedia 2015) on the new tablet forms of Kindle.  From an educational perspective the Kindle offers a lightweight, portable solution if your reading list is particularly hefty. One can also change font sizes and styles making texts readily and easily available for readers of all needs and abilities.

With the invention of the tablet Kindle has merged it is already tablet ready format with the popular personal computer. Now, the Kindle is not simply a vessel for the reading and annotation of text it also has internet capabilities, aptitude for music, pictures and document processing. The Kindle is now a vessel for everyday life, not just for reading, whereas the book has one function.

However, it has been suggested that reading from Kindle damages the reading experience for many users and studies have shown that “paper readers … report[ed] higher on … empathy, transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than with iPad readers” (Guardian 2014). The study in question “gave 50 reader the same short story by Elizabeth George to read” (Guardian 2014), the purpose of which was to discover the differences in reader engagement with the material. It was found that there were “differences in … emotional responses. Kindle readers [also] performed significantly worse on … plot reconstruction … when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order” (Guardian 2014). It has been suggested that the reader of a book can feel the progress they are making through the story with their fingers, by turning the pages. This “sensory offload” (Guardian 2014) enables the reader to fixate and solidify the unfolding and progression of the text.

As well as this hard copy books can be a more effective study tool than the Kindle. Bookmarking places in Kindle E-Books is possible but trying to find them again can take a little more time than it would in a hardcopy edition. Being able to book mark a hard copy with postit notes or paper is an easily visible solution that is less time consuming than finding a Kindle book mark. Obtaining the information you ear marked is easy and straightforward. Also, many page references your tutor gives you will not match up to Kindle page numbers. The ability to change font means that page numbers vary dramatically and finding the section your tutor has directed you to can be quite a challenge.

References:

THE GUARDIAN. (2014) Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds. [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/19/readers-absorb-less-kindles-paper-study-plot-ereader-digitisation. [Accessed 30th January 2015]

WIKIPEDIA. (2015) Amazon Kindle [Online] Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle. [Accessed 30th January 2015)