My latest short story, At Goodge Street, is published today in STORGY Magazine; an online literary short story magazine which aims to ‘challenge literary conventions and experiment with genre, style, form and content’.
What I like about STORGY is that it is an exploration of story across genres and media that at its heart examines what it means to be us… to be human. You’ll find art, culture, books, TV and film, competitions, interviews and more. But before you explore the other delights STORGY has to offer, take a quick trip to Goodge Street, where you’ll find a weird adventure awaiting you.
At Goodge Street follows the story of a couple who cross the boundary between fantasy and reality, playing a hidden game of love and betrayal against the backdrop of the myth and legend of ancient Hindu demons and gods.
Thank you to the staff at STORGY for publishing my story and I hope you enjoy it!
When I was a girl, my granda used to take me and my siblings for long walks in Ashridge Forest. We explored acres of glorious beech and oak woodlands, crunching through the bracken and collecting beechnuts and acorns to use as projectile weapons in the eternal sibling rivalry war. Trees have always fascinated me. The garden of my childhood was filled with hardy tree-climbing inspiration; Pines tall enough to see over the town and across the downs, Horse Chestnuts with perfect nooks and crannies for makeshift tree houses and stashing secret conker supplies. So, I guess it’s not surprising for me to link my love of trees and forests with my love of fantastic fiction.
The Gone Gods is one in a series of stories that feature dryads, nymphs, wood elves and other magical creatures. Writers have handled dryads in different forms for many years. Such stories are as old as the gods themselves. We find dryads represented throughout literature; Paradise Lost by John Milton, The Virginians by William Thackeray, and particularly as symbols of nature in; On the Difficulty of Conjuring up a Dryad and On the Plethora of Dryads by Sylvia Plath.
This short novelette, The Gone Gods, is three chapters, which explore the juxtaposition between modern urban life and ancient myth; how these wonderful and alien creatures rub up against the modern Londoner. Hope you enjoy it.
The road to nowhere;
a road of indistinct nature
that baffles and bemuses.
A creature of comfort,
a black hole in the middle
of a City of Bones.
The clouds open up
beneath my dogged stride
sheets of purple rain.
The ground beneath me rumbles
and a great crack sunders the earth.
I ride through the darkened skies
on the creature’s black-winged back.
Ruby eyes illuminate the space,
burning leaves, baking the tarmac.
And oh, how the city groans.
I met him on the tube in the tunnel between Kentish Town and Archway.
The lights dimmed with their flawless flickering,
illuminating the ghost of his smile, in yellow lamplight.
A figure in the window, the dreamer wanders.
The smell of fetid fruit hung ripe in the air as the other passengers sat,
slack-backed with telescopic hearts, dull eyes of slithering killers.
A snorkel splutter splintered the silence, and my heart slammed into my ribcage.
Was it fearlessness or foolishness that made me say,
‘What the fuck are you doing here?’
He smiled all the while, eyes boring a hole through my soul.
The train jerked into motion, lights exploded into being and the passengers stared at me;
the eccentric lone woman, talking to an empty space outside the window.
Welcome to the Bloodletter’s Arms for our annual seasonal celebrations. Tonight I’d like to introduce you to our speciality house tipple, which has been fermented in oak coffins for the discerning taste of our gothic clientele. It’s red, bubbly and bursting with the taste of iron girders. We call this one, ‘Vlad to be here’. I propose a toast to you all, to an eternity of indifference and alternate reality. Here is my secret recipe.
(WARNING: This is not for the faint-hearted; children should not try this at home without adult supervision.)
- Take partially germinated human blood and mix with eggs to make a frothy mush. This process converts the human form into dust, which is used to re-group into a new species.
- The new species is drawn off once the dust is spent and boiled in a vat over an open fire.
- Separate new life form from the fire and cool in a blood bag labelled, ‘handle with care’.
- Water is then added to convert the life form into something you might not want to take home to meet the parents.
- It smells like a chundering traction gurney and spews heat like hell’s fire from the underground that fuels London.
- Suck it up quick before you gag and preferably not within sight of anyone in their right mind.
- Twelve hours later, your skull splits open and peels you from the inside out.
Some people feel slightly nauseous, but once this process is complete you’ll feel perfectly normal.
Edgware Road is long like a leverleech
and has chilly feet and jelly wellies.
They do this thing called shopping where
they barter for exchangeables like trappings.
My food is a short stubby cyber plug
which tastes of smorgbord.
They have exploding drinks here, so you
have to be quick lest you end up wet and thirsty.
My bed has air-conditioning and foldaway
flaps that don’t cover my strattlebean.
Sometimes we eat in the big yellow ‘M’,
but not before sundown.
They scrape the dirt from their eaters with mint,
but when I tried, my human ran away.
I followed, but a big red ship tried to run me down.
Good thing I had my warblers on.
Available this week in the WiFiles, my story ‘Nothing at Camden Town’, explores the idea of ‘nothing’ and paradoxically, how the absence of something creates a space in our lives. We all have a very human response to empty spaces; we want to fill them. Whether it is a space in the conversation, an urban space or the empty spaces in our hearts. This particular story was in fact inspired by a joke told by Eddie Izzard in one of his stand up routines. I’m not going to tell you what the joke was or where the story refers to it. If you are fans of Izzard, you can tell me. That’s your challenge, my curious reader. Oh… and if you like your stories a little bit weird and surreal, then you might like this one.