Beach Road – Part Three



photo credit: Frog eggs in the marsh via photopin (license) (Altered: darkened, additional contrast)

photo credit: Frog eggs in the marsh via photopin (license)
(Altered: darkened, additional contrast)

This is part three of a four part collaborative story where each part is written by a different author. Links to part one and part two are below – you should read these first (and give their blog some love at the same time):

Just five minutes into entering the marsh, she was second guessing her decision to check out the site. Within ten minutes she definitely regretted leaving the road; the marsh was a slimy, boggy, mess. She jumped from one mound of grass to the next, trying to stay on solid ground, but slipping and falling on her arse more than once. She was only grateful that she had left her pack under a junked car, its weight would have made this exercise even more difficult, and any hope of a rapid escape impossible.

God the water stunk though. A rotting compost smell that when combined to the acrid burning metal fumes from the rockets, made her stomach churn and her throat burn.

Fuck this, she thought, grunting as she dragged her trapped foot out of the mire. Every step came out with a deep sucking ‘slortch’, and she had nearly lost a shoe on numerous occasions.

What the hell am I doing? Helicopter has already bombed the shit out of whatever the hell this is, so what can I possibly gain from hiking in this shithole of a swamp? There wont be anything to scavenge, certainly nothing to eat, and I’m exposed out here from every side… Curiosity killed the cat right? I am a fucking idiot for coming out here.

She looked over her shoulder, back to the relative safety of the road.

I should go back. That’s the clever thing to do. Caution over curiosity keeps you alive little miss kitty-cat.

But… the choking chemical smoke left over from the rockets impact had mostly subsided by this stage and she could see tantalising remnants of the helicopter’s target.

Damn it, I’ve gotta see what this is. OK Ms Kitty, you can be curious. Just be careful too.

She approached the area. Carefully. The remains of the attack formed a large dark flat mound rising out of the murk. Some small patches were still on fire, oddly bubbling away in a black smoking liquid. It looked like it might have originally been about the size of a large tent or caravan, at least before the attack. Now it was blackened from the fire and the explosions had left if opened to the air. The still burning fires had melted much of whatever it was originally, along the way away exposing a series of odd pointed beams, running in parallel facing pairs. She wasn’t far now, and it looked a lot like the upturned frame of a wooden boat.

No way its a boat out here; water isn’t deep enough. Some sort of vehicle? Maybe a hunting cabin?

The gentle ocean breeze shifted again, picking up a strong new smell, straight from the site and wafted it directly over to her. A charnel stink of cooking meat, burning fat. The corrupted odour of a greasy fry-up and rancid milk. Her gut somersaulted, and she barely kept the old orange she had eaten down.

Oh my god, its ribs, those beams sticking up are fucking ribs and this thing was alive.

‘Was’ being the operative word here, the helicopter had been thorough in its destructive work. This thing, whatever it was, was certainly dead now. Digging briefly into her pack, she withdrew a long woollen scarf and tied it around her head to cover her mouth and nose. Slowly she continued forward squelching through blackened water up to her knees until she came within reach of the blackened carcass.

The grotesque corpse lay sunken in the marsh. It’s enormity seemed impossible, and brought to mind ancient great and extinct beasts, dinosaurs and mammoths. It was several meters long, and a  couple of meters wide, and terminated with short stumpy limbs – at each extremity was a fat weirdly jointed fin, vaguely reminiscent of a seals. Few ribs were intact, but those that were complete stood taller than her by half, and as thick as a man’s thigh. The creature’s spine was clearly visible and it became apparent that the ribs curved the wrong way, stretching out over its back in a wide arc instead of circling forward as you would expect a chest to do. Grey rubbery skin had peeled back from the blast exposing carbonised muscles, blistering black and yellow fat wicked the few remaining flames and bubbled away, boiling.

Wait a minute… where… where are its organs?

Indeed, now she looked into the ruined beast’s ribcage, there was a distinct lack of the organs that she expected to see. She scanned the immediate area. Here and there she could recognise a few scraps, something that might have passed for a lung perhaps, a kidney over here, a tiny gut over there, but that was it. With such a massive chest cavity, she should expect to see a veritable abattoir of carnage resulting from the helicopter’s weapons.

If the ribs didn’t protect organs, what was in there? And where the fuck did it go?  She looked around – was someone here? Had they taken something? Or had something left of its own accord? That’s it kitty, we’re done here, back to the road, curiosity is OVER. But even now she knew that was a lie. Even if someone or something was still near, she had one last thing to check.

She moved towards the front of the beast.

She needed to look at its head.

Ah, again, such a hard exercise writing someone else’s story. I’m a bit worried that this is part three and perhaps I should have progressed things further towards the resolution than I have… oh well, we may have to see whether someone picks it up and runs with it!

All good.

Let me know what you think in the comments.





The defiance of humour

PHOTO PROMPT -© Dawn Q. Landau

<Where is it? You! WHERE IS IT?>

Screaming in Japanese, the guard did a foxtrot of fury in front of the Australian prisoners. Half-starved and three-quarters worked to death, each still managed a smirk, an expression of amused and insolent cheek that only intensified the ridiculous little tyrant’s rage-dance.


Stretch finally spoke up in his broad Queensland drawl, “Well we didn’t bloody take it did we? We’ve been building your bloody railway bridges all bloody day haven’t we?”

Behind the laughing Aussies, hidden deep in the foundations of the bridge, mortar hardened around the entombed bike.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Complete Maus – Art Spielgelman (Graphic Novel)

The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman

 “Why do you cry Artie? Hold better on the wood.”

“I-I fell, and my friends skated away without me.”

He stopped sawing.

“Friends? Your friends?… If you lock them in together in a room with no food for a week…. then you could see what it is, friends!”

This book is another selection to satisfy my BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge: a graphic novel or graphic memoir or collection of comics. Originally I read Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis, but lets be honest – I’m not fifteen any more, and I needed something with a bit more substance to it. So I picked Maus.

I’m really glad I did.

 The Complete Maus – 5 out of 5 stars

Something I need to get out of the way before we start this review – for this graphic novel, I have changed my rating system. Normally a 5 out of 5 star rating means:

5 stars – Brilliant. I would recommend this to everyone, and it is very likely I will re-read it in the future (possibly many times).

But for Maus, 5 stars means something different:

5 stars – Moving. This book will make you uncomfortable and should be read by everyone. This is a story that needs to be told and re-told. Continue reading

Book review: Wool (Omnibus #1-#5) – Hugh Howey

“People were like machines. They broke down. They rattled. They could burn you or maim you if you weren’t careful. Her job was not only to figure out why this happened and who was to blame, but also to listen for the signs of it coming. Being sheriff, like being a mechanic, was as much the fine art of preventive maintenance as it was the cleaning up after a breakdown.” Hugh Howey, Wool Omnibus

Wool Omnibus (#1-#5): 5 out of 5 stars

There are apparently already over two thousand reviews of this book already, so I will be brief. I. Loved. This. Book. Thanks, see you next week. KT … What? You want more? Grumble. Fine. Continue reading

On a poet did the Baron ride to Xanadu: Part two (working title)


(This is part two of the story. Part one can be found here)

The Khan’s warriors were nearly home, Byron was nearly home. He had been riding for weeks with, riding alongside his leader, his lover, his Khan.  During the days he was the rider, at night he was the ridden. Under the sun he fought, losing himself in the slaughter, fulfilling his bloody duty in the Khan’s Host. Under the moon he fucked, losing himself in the passion, fulfilling his sweaty duty in his Khan’s tent. The warring and riding and fucking had taken its toll; his body ached, his heart ached, his balls ached.

Oh, how his balls ached. Every shift in weight, every movement in the saddle was like a punch to the nuts. Continue reading

1000 likes – a meaningful meaningless milestone


Just a quick thanks to everyone who has read my posts and liked them enough to hit the like button in the seven months I have been blogging here. Whilst other more talented, more popular individuals may get thousands of likes every day (I’m looking at you Scalzi, Wheaton), I do not, so each one is an exciting little buzz of feedback that I genuinely appreciate.

So thanks. 🙂

Postscript: 27/2/2015

200 followers! Yeah.

Thanks again 🙂

Desperate measures

PHOTO PROMPT – © Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

“Of course you’ll want the rose quartz too, amazing for emotional fortitude in difficult times.”

Simon sat, swinging his feet, kicking a stand with stinking candles as his mother struggled to lift the small plastic bag filled with rocks.

“Simon! Stop it! I’m sorry sir, of course I’ll take it. What’s this one?”

“You have a good eye ma’am. This is a citrine or yellow quartz…”

Simon rolled his eyes and resumed kicking. He hated this place and its empty promises.

He hated the stink of ‘chemical-free’ candles.

He hated the stink of his sick mother’s desperation. Continue reading