Friday Flash Fiction: Turn

29 08 2008

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By Neil Beynon

The tavern is almost empty.

He sits on a wooden chair near the back, eyes where he can see the exits. He draws the occasional stare from the scattering of customers. He does not look like he used to: he has grown pale and clammy, his skin run with sores and his shaking hand raises a dirt encrusted pipe to his lips. I am unsure what he has done to himself. There are no bite marks and so my hand drops from my sword hilt. I am appalled.

Appalled at what has happened to this person I once knew, or thought I did.

The barman eyes the weapons on my belt: the flintlocks and the sword. His hands drop below sight, it’s probably just a piece of wood he’s fingering under there but I reassure him with a nod and a wave. No one much likes outlanders these days. It’s understandable.

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29 08 2008

I’m back in Wales now.

Looking forward to seeing my niece in a few hours and currently hanging out with my youngest sister. If my shoulders drop any lower they’ll be on the floor: it’s good to be back.

Not much to report this week but there will be some flash shortly. I anticipate a return to something like normal in the next week or so.

In the meantime: does anyone find it a little strange how little coverage the whole “are we set for a new cold war?” question is getting on UK broadcast media?

Not much

24 08 2008

Not much going on at the moment.

It’s been a bit of a nightmare few weeks to be honest, for reasons to dull and not currently funny to go into here. Hence no Flash this week.

Still, some good things to look forward to. Currently we have a house guest, one of G’s friends from university, and so I’ve had a nice quiet weekend chilling out with them both. Monday sees an old friend getting hitched and then it’s short week because Thursday night I’m dragging my bruised carcass back to the right side of the border. The Taffro is in serious need of a recharge and I’d really like to see my niece whom I have only seen once since she was born.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see my oldest friend again in a couple of weeks. Very cool.

And of course there’s the writing. I’ve been taking it quite easy since finishing The Scarred God (still with test readers) and just focusing on revising short stories that were put on the back burner. I have written a couple of new short stories that I’ll be finishing this week. Basically I’m gearing up for the second draft of my other novel, Forever, that I anticipate starting in September.

Empty forests

19 08 2008

If a forest is empty and a tree falls does it make a sound?

I’m sure most people are familiar with that old trope but what if you have no memory of something that happened to you. Would it still have been you?

What am I withering on about?

Today I had what I’m fast coming to think of as Facebook-vu. An old friend posted a picture of a bunch of us from – as near as I can make out – twelve years ago. Now the thing is, it’s clearly me in the picture: my face, my hair, etc but: I have no recollection of either the photo being taken or when. I mean zip not just a little faded or I don’t really remember it but stuff around it. I mean gone: no context whatsoever

It’s not the first time it’s happened either. A friend from way back when I was tiddler once related a completely believable story about me and again I had no actual memory of the event at all. In fact I seem to forget a lot of things around the ten year mark. Anyone else get this? I don’t mean something you remember on prompting I mean full blown lack of recall.

And more importantly does that mean it actually happened to me? After all our perception of reality is almost entirely defined by our senses and our memory. Am I still that Neil? Why am I drinking lager from a cup? Why am I trying to perform some kind of demon gurn?

These are important questions.

Now, for anyone wondering why I write – that’s why. Because I am cursed blessed with a mind that will not shut off and so I have to give it stories to chew on or it starts gnawing on me. That concludes today’s insanity

They call it the wall for a reason

18 08 2008

I haven’t been around much at all because I basically hit the wall last week.

No I haven’t gone back to cycling and hit anything, I’m just exhausted. Consequently it was about all I could muster to get up, go to work and get home again. I slept for around fifteen hours on Saturday.

So I haven’t done much else.

In between bouts of sleeping I did manage to finish the line edit of The Scarred God (AKA The Woodsman) and that is now with my two first readers. I also dragged my carcass to see Batman. It’s a little late for the review but I too was impressed with not just Ledge’s performance but the entire cast, although I remain unsure why Bale is using Clive Barker’s voice when wearing the batsuit. I mean do you think he knows? Surely he needs it back?

Sorry, bad joke. Did I mention I’m tired?

Anyway, next week we have the bank holiday and the week after that I’m probably going to head back to the folks and hopefully see my niece as well. I’m sure this will afford much chance for slapstick hilarity. Or at least something interesting.

Going to sleep again now.

Friday Flash Fiction: Ground Cover

15 08 2008

This post has moved. You can read the full story here:

Not much time to chew the fat right now. No idea if it’s any good. Hope you like:

Ground Cover
By Neil Beynon

I had the dream again last night.

I watched from a window as the planes came in over the city, crow like shadows on the dusk sky.

In the dream I know what they’re here to do even before the bombs drop like snails towards the ground. I’m looking frantically for enough ground cover. All I need is six feet and an oxygen supply. That’s the theory. I’m not sure how I’m doing that and seeing the coming fire at the same time but I guess in dreams your omniscient.

You’re talking to me again and I haven’t been listening.

Outside the dusk is falling and my hand is still clutching the PDA casting a neon glow on my leg. The weight of the room seems to be pressing against me with the force of a thousand stars. I can see the road from the window, its rolling asphalt promising to wipe over the lost days.

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Beer and Tabs

11 08 2008

Not much from me over the weekend other than tweets.

The reason of course was I went and did actual sociable things, for this weekend saw the launch of fellow F3er Gareth L Powell’s short story collection: The Last Reef and other stories. In addition to Gareth’s book the event also saw the launch of Chris Beckett’s collection The Turing Test. You can read about the event on GLP’s blog here.

It was great to have so many of the fictioneers together in one place again. Beer was drunk and many laughs were had. We really must do it again, soon.

If you’re a fan of character driven SF or just bloody good writing you should check out The Last Reef, you won’t be sorry. You can buy it here.

Some tabs of stuff I keep meaning to blog about:


I saw this article from The Guardian on the use of genetics to trace at what point Neanderthals broke off from our ancestors and thought it was interesting.


Most people who read this blog probably caught this already on Neil G’s blog but for those few (family and the odd colleague) here’s Amanda Palmer (the singer not the person I went to school with) performing Neil’s song I Google You. SEO by song: it’s clearly the way forward.


The hugo results are in and you can check out the results over at Futurismic, congratulations to the winners. While you’re over there check out Alex Wilson’s short story Dry Frugal with Death Ray – ’tis very good and very dark. As you may have noticed I like dark.


That’s it for now. I must return to line editing and making tea for the strange men who are performing the miracle of the Laying of The Carpet overhead. Laters.

Friday Flash Fiction: Dick and Jane

8 08 2008

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The British Fantasy Society recently sent me a copy of A Dick and Jane Primer For Adults. As the title suggests, the thread that links the stories together is that they all use the style of the American reading primers, Dick and Jane, but with stories designed for adults rather than children.

There were some really good stories in there and I wanted to have a go. The idea seemed custom built for flash.

By which I mean to convince you I haven’t gone mad by posting the story below…here goes:

Dick and Jane go to the woods
By Neil Beynon

See Dick run. See Jane run. See Dick run after Jane. See Jane cry. See Jane run and cry. See Dick chase Jane across the field.

Spot does not run. Spot does not understand. Spot watches them from the long grass. Spot sniffs. See Spot sniff. See Spot drop low in the grass. See Spot’s fur stand on end. Spot can smell something bad. There is someone else coming from the woods. See Spot bare his teeth.

See Dick and Jane run. See Dick run. See Dick’s face. See the past, gone forever and etched in eternity in young Dick’s mind:

See Dick crawling through the forest undergrowth. See Dick behind the tree. Hear the whispering. Hear the strange sounds. Hear the voice you recognise and the words you do not.

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5 08 2008

This is proving to be a strange week. I think I may have slipped a universe again.

So I’m walking to the station having put in some unpaid overtime because I have MUG etched on my forehead and really quite tired. However, I am damn sure – from the other looks he got – that I didn’t imagine the man sauntering up St. Martins Lane with a gold wireframe pyramid on top of his head.

Naturally he stopped in front of the comic shop. I mean why?

Then again I’m the one with words etched on my forehead.


4 08 2008

For all my moaning I do rather like my house. It has history (it’s a 104 years old) and we have bags of room allowing me a decent space to write in.

However, I’ve realised my house does not like me.

From busted drains to leaky showers and collapsing ceilings the house has rarely missed the opportunity to put the boot in. I must admit that when we decided to do the back bedroom next I rashly thought “pefect, what could go wrong there”.

I never learn.

So we’re taking the vent off the wall and I notice a couple of feathers. Doesn’t bother me. I mention it to G, she’s less keen on anything bird related in the house and so decides to excavate the feathers. Only when she pulls on the feathers they don’t come out. They’re still attached. Yuk.

The bird had been there a while hence no smell but it was a fairly large magpie that had somehow contrived to fall head first down the chimney, a level of targeting that beggars belief given the size of the chimney. I’m not good with animals at the best of times – I jump at chiwawas. The vent hole was not very big. I had to remove it. You get the idea.

I skipped dinner.

So that was my Sunday night. How was yours?