The Asylum

They aren’t as heavy-handed as they are in the movies.
They escort me slowly, gently to the doctor,
Like a small child.
They hold my arms near the elbows,
Like handles on a fragile vase.
A vase full of problems.
Problems that swim and slosh and spill like dirty water.
Dirty water kills flowers.
Perhaps in time they can help me to grow flowers,
Like the ones I grow in the gardens.
They sit me down opposite the doctor and he asks me things,
But it’s only when you’re truly alone that things become clear.
Who is this person?
Who inhabits this pile of meat?
Is he asking me this, or am I asking myself?
Slowly rotting, slowly dying, alone from the start.
Searching for meaning,
Fighting the voices.
He asks questions, I nod.
I am but a fragile vase.
He is trying to empty the dirty water.
He is a good man.
I am taken back down the corridor.
They hold my arms near the elbows,
Like handles on a fragile vase.
A vase empty of problems,
Problems that no longer swim and slosh and spill like dirty water.
Now in my room, I fill my vase again with water,
Dirty as it might be.
For without water I cannot grow flowers.



Nobody loves Wasp.
He lives in fear.
His body, painted like a warning sign,
Incites prejudice and hatred.

His mandibles make kissing Mrs. Wasp
A sad impossibility.
His sting makes anything more intimate
A fatality.

It’s no surprise then that he searches out
A little something sweet to comfort-eat,
Or a little tipple
To drown his sorrows, or just drown in.

The Future Boy

Something landed in my kitchen
With a loud and smashy crash
A metallic egg, all bleeps and hisses
In a cloud of cosmic ash.

I munched my munchy crunchy toast
While the room turned white and cold
When the steely egg gave birth somehow
And its shell began to fold.

There came amidst the choky smoke
A cough just like my own
And a space-age version of myself
Stood in my very home.

He was a lonely clone of me
Though his skin was pleasant blue
Until he fiddled with some wristy watch
And turned a peachy hue.

He explained he was a Future Boy
And had surfed the waves of time
In his Hypometric Chronocraft
To trace his family line.

The milky smoke had filled the room
And though I strained to see
I muttered those immortal words
‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

So we sat and slurped our drinky drinks
Sprayed the pod with anti-freeze
Then he spoke about his future-world
And their cure for all disease.

We talked and laughed and slurped and munched
Though he was a troubled soul
He cried for all the long-gone trees
And how we burned the coaly coal.

He yearned to set the present right
And how I longed for something new
So I climbed into that poddy pod
In my skin of pleasant blue.

Short story: Mr Volinov

Mr Volinov is the first of my Tales of the Strange and Grim, my debut collection of dark short stories. It’s available now on Amazon as a Kindle e-book, and is free to borrow from the lending library for members of Amazon Prime.

Tales of the Strange and Grim cover

In the world in a country in a city in the park old Sergei Volinov was drinking juice. Not just any juice in fact but Doctor Waltzfelder Armorgrade’s Patented Day-Glo Vitality Hyperjuice, the elixir for those without a spark in their plug. He’d sold his house to buy it, because Mr Volinov wanted to be liked again. He didn’t want to be lonely. He wanted to be young and hungry, to get away with what was passing for fashion. He wanted veins on fire and eyes wide open to own the waterblue sky in a glance. Body on fire and hands wide open to enrapture a woman and get in her pants.

The world had gone alien. Marriage and family and a hard day’s work, nothing but dusty relics. Seemed now like the young just slept around and danced ‘til they were sore, drinking electric-coloured drinks. He wanted to be young again, and he wanted all that and all that.

His body was alien too: it was once a strong body with arms like iron, with a hardness and a purpose to match. But the world had gone soft around him. The hunt had melted away into mist. There was nothing left to fight or drink or die for. These days, people only did things for the damn sake of it. His life of strength and purpose had aged and withered and flaccidated into an infantile sequence of mind-numbing events: being stared at by the stupefying, unblinking eye of Television; pottering halfway through the park but having to get back for the man with the meals on wheels; sitting down to a kingly feast of clammy-cardboard steak in dogfood gravy, served on a plastic tray. Sometimes he’d catch the bus into town to share a piss-stained tea morning with the elderlies before nap time. But Mr. Volinov wasn’t an elderly, not him. His brain was too fast and formidable for his bones. The mind was willing; it was the flesh that failed him. He was a thunderstorm locked in a coffin.

Hence: in the world in a country in a city in the park old Sergei Volinov was drinking juice. Not just any juice in fact but Doctor Waltzfelder Armorgrade’s Patented Day-Glo Vitality Hyperjuice, the elixir for those without a spark in their plug. And know what? The damn stuff worked.

He felt an oncoming hardness and vitality of fibrous monolithity in his arms and legs and chest and back and dick. His cloudy cataracts clattered to a timely shatter. Some young, euphoric angel threw a secret brick of cosmos through the window in his mind, a shit-smeared windscreen that was no more. His blue eyes stared and burned and glared afresh like pools of flaming gasoline. His crawling cobweb-clouded mind blew clean away on the gust of youth. Life and light flooded in like a torrent on the rainbow-creamy winds of a flower-scented, wild demented technicolour blitzkrieg.

He stood up from the park bench and scattered the crowded cooing pigeons with an athletic kick. He ran to the pond like a giddy child, fell to his knees and stared into the dirty water. Peering back at him in the reflection, a handsome young man, etched in a scummier tint of sepia tone, the same face in the ancient age-bitten photograph in his wallet.

The world wasn’t old any more. No more dusty decrepit grey vagueness of a grim misunderstanding with age. He walked through town, pulled his pension from his pocket and blew it on new clothes. He saw the world like a newborn baby and walked it with a young man’s body. Life was a multi-tonal fizzy meltitude of candy stripes and names and types and pouting women, a bright happening pool for the swimming. Job centre. Bank balance. Crunching fistful of money. Friday night. Fast car, loud bar. Pub, club, electric-coloured drinks. No chat-up lines, just an age-old wealth in charisma. Arm stroked, ego stroked and no more sleep ‘til ten a.m. A young woman’s lips and breasts and hips and ‘you’re not like other men’. Screams of delight. A sea of life in the night.

Hangover, my old friend. Mr Volinov relished it, the sickness and the guiltlessness and the unforgiving battered head. A sprint down to the shops for eggs and fresh-baked bread. Saturday morning: the time to stop, take stock and feel the aftershock. Saturday morning, for peaceful deathly rest in the bachelor nest. To regret and forget, to count the purse. To nourish the body, to nurse and coerce.

Saturday night had never seen a thing like Volinov. Bouncers bowed before him, their breast pockets fat with his cash. He prowled through pillared palatial clubs. Charmed his fast friends and stood amongst them like a suited statue, a Baroque demonic masterpiece. He whispered honeyed oak into ears hung with diamonds, drew wedding-day smiles from angels in black silk. In a cloud-cloaked tower in a penthouse suite, Aphrodite herself shrugged off her dress with a smile. His stone arms took her. Her screams shook the windows. When she sighed and shuddered and her wide green eyes searched his, and she bared her very soul, he devoured it.

Later that night in the booze-stench bars he brawled and bellowed with a bellyful of beer. He drank his new friends under tables. His new enemies, he punched and kicked and gripped and bit and gouged into the dirt. He staggered and stumbled and slammed the bar, a Norse god made of chiselled wood in a torn and bloodied shirt. He sung a thunderous song to his new lady love who slept in her tower, showed everyone her pictures on the new phone he couldn’t use. The laughing faces around him said he’d bedded a movie star. One man came forward and said just what he’d do to her. Volinov stopped smiling. Then the man spoke of another goddess, another evening-star who burned brighter than his. Volinov took him outside, beat him into a heap in a piss-puddled doorway, and pub-crawled his way back home.

Sunday morning. Mr. Volinov woke up, sat up, got up, chucked up, sparked up, sparked out, woke up, cleaned up, went out, spent out and fried up. He pissed out the booze. Shower, coffee, press-ups, coughing. Opened the window. Let a gust of life sweep through this old house, he thought. The house he’d sold for another taste of youth. He’d already…

(Read the full story free on Amazon preview: click here then tap the book cover.)