After the Surface

Tunnels bored deep through the Earth,

With their scarred edges,

And their crumbling domes.

Remnants from a time long since passed;

From a war-torn, ravaged, blood-soaked land.

The Tunnels… where else could one stand?

 

Exiled from what was inherently known.

Adjudicated to those lengths of darkness,

Eternally winding, waning, wailing…

Bringing tears to the strongest,

Cries of forgiveness from those who sinned.

For the Tunnels make all men mortal again.

 

In the towns that were made,

Steel latched to the stone, girders afloat.

Women glance from the windows, down towards the pits.

Where the men work, sweat and steam – ingrained.

Bones aching – the simple desire to live.

 

All whilst the ground above remains unseen;

People tell stories of the sky and the sea,

Slipping over into sleep, dreaming of colour vividly.

Where once there was red and blue,

Replaced by replications of grey and brown.

 

Complex in the way the mind works,

Trapped down there, formicary in the making.

No names – why should one be named?

In such darkness, individuality is cast aside.

Little distinction between the living, the dying, and the dead.

 

People driven to insanity by what might have been.

Life in the Tunnels, an all-consuming conviction.

Freedom a pipe-dream – jumbled dreams, blinding reality.

 

Some believe in what the Tellers tell;

A kingdom beyond the tunnels, beyond the boundary.

Lands of colour, love, and elated living.

But they are fables only, preached and sold,

To the weakest, the riddled, and the old…

 

The damned know that this is their world now;

Life lived in sullen, contemptuous, foreboding darkness.

Bitterness rushing through every beating heart.

Skin translucent after countless ages.

 

Most, they lay in wait for their yearned after Saviour.

An image, a spectre – hallucinatory at best.

Inaction in the hands of all those that mindlessly wander.

The Tunnels – they boast only two clear directions.

Tiny Stories – Revelations From the Depths

*A little later than promised, but hey, it’s here….

Revelations From the Depths


Across the lake, the sun was beginning to set. Slowly, the sky changed from a pale yellow to a deepening orange. It glinted from the very points of the ripples, casting rays in all directions, illuminating the water in exotic colours.

Across, towards the other bank, the land rose sharply, covered in a thick layer of deep-green fir trees. As I bobbed up and down in the tiny rowing boat, the distance between there and here seemed immense, unfathomable. It was as though the water stretched outwards almost indefinitely, as if its end – the sandy banks, were nothing more than an illusion that one could never dream of reaching.

The resistance of the water pushed back against my palms, as my hands did well-practiced semi-circles, grasping the oars, pushing the tiny craft onwards. I cut my way through the orange water, headed towards the far Eastern point of the lake where it thinned and morphed into the outgoing river. There, the waters became shallow. Reeds and numerous other aquatic plants burst through the surface. Above the faint sound of running of water, the beating of dragonflies’ wings could be heard – darting gracefully from one perch to the next.

I stopped rowing, and brought the oars to rest on the damp bottom of the boat. I let my mind wander, from the farthest bank, to the nearest water lily, all the way to the sun, and back to the rippling water. The boat slowly drifted towards the mouth of the river, though, the motion was almost imperceptible – like a slow rocking, cradling me, ushering me into relaxing pastures. I let it happen, as my body forgave its rigidity, as my breaths slowed, as all my worries seemed to evaporate and become caught in the gentle Autumn breeze; carried away to distant lands, to be noticed by nobody.

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Silence in the Barren Land

Guide me around the corner of this land;

With voices sounding, fickle and conniving.

In a world that is so dark and dreary,

Let loose in the waterof senseless raging.

 

Attempts to tame the wild hounds;

Boundless in their guttural howls,

Which rumble and tear across the scattered ground.

 

One believes in only what is seen,

Light cascading from the blinding snow,

And the gaping glacial seems.

Following in the footsteps of ages,

Yelling, screaming, ranting

Against the wailing Northern Wind.

 

Crossing tangles of rivers, ruthless in force.

Possessions bearing down – feet deep in silt.

All in the attempts to resist the relentless current.

 

Night on the plateau – moon glow.

Grass billowing in the tormentous gale.

Sat wondering of all the cultures to proceed,

All that might be, and all that won’t.

Whispering, begging,

Driving away the Specters of Regret;

Demons of remembrance – torture in memory.

 

Regency down the drain, washed away,

Diluted until nothing remains.

But still, we sit, and we wait.

For the next day,

And the next,

And the next….

Hoping and praying, that

We won’t be washed away.

Tiny Stories – Across The Dust

Across The Dust


It’s been a very long time. My beard is long, my hair touches my shoulders in a tangled mess, and my body itches and stinks with retched uncleanliness.

But I do not care. I am beyond caring. That passed many months ago, as I realised what a shit-pit I now exist within.

Dawn breaks through the window. The early sun gleams and glints from the dust particles in the air, turning everything a deep shade of red. It is like this every morning – how long has it been now? Ten months? A year? More? It’s impossible to tell.

At the beginning I scratched the passing days onto the bare metal of the unit I live within, but soon, the days became lost, mingling with one another, until all I could measure time by, was the rising and the setting of the sun. Even that seems so inconsistent. A week seems like a day, and a day like a week. I have no point of reference, nothing to grasp hold of, nothing to direct me towards any type of goal.

I am a man, stuck in a metal box, on the surface of Mars – alone…

I pick up the radio transmitter on the desk in front of the window. I press it, and it beeps. “This is Nigel Warren of expedition Alpha 16. To anyone receiving, contact the European Space Agency, advising them that I am still alive within prototype habitat unit B3… Over and out…”

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Tiny Stories – Triple Shot Latte with Chocolate Sprinkles

Triple Shot Latte with Chocolate Sprinkles


Every morning I went to Brent’s Coffee Shop. It was a small affair, only a few tables, and a tiny bar with an old-looking espresso machine. It was quiet too. One of the many reasons it was my favourite place in the world. Not to mention that over the years, Brent himself had become a close friends. Unlike most, he was a good guy. Thoughtful, and candid. If it was in his mind, he said it. That’s what I loved about him. And I think everyone who wasn’t easily offended did too.

On this particular day in mid-January, the sun had forgone in showing its face, and despite being nine in the morning, the sky and street were still shrouded in a cloak of dull darkness. I wasn’t the type of person to dislike days like this. In their melancholy resided a subtle beauty, a true showing of how things actually were. Like Brent, I disliked false pretences. And I’d thought sunny days were exactly that.

Brent was always early to open, long before I got there. I had always wondered what he saw in his early mornings, in the still dark winter sky. I wondered if it was something specific, or a more general approach like my own. I never asked him. It seemed too personal a question. Some things are meant to be kept to their owners, no matter how mundane they might appear at first glance. I’ve always had a curiosity in why certain things mean so much to certain people. What’s hidden beneath never fails to amaze, to sadden, even. And as I walked to Brent’s on that chilly, dark morning, I thought about all the people on the street – the things they held within their minds that had never been allowed the time to be free, that had never been heard by outside ears.

As I walked through the door to his tiny cafe, the bell rang in the same timbre it did on most mornings. Brent, without turning, said, “hey man!”

“Hey yourself,” I replied as enthusiastically as my morning-mind would allow.

“The usual?”

“Of course, what else?” The ‘usual’ consisted of a special, discounted, triple shot latte with chocolate sprinkles on top. As far as I understood it, coffee couldn’t be consumed in any other manner.

As with any other morning, I took my corner seat behind the small windowed partition at the back of the shop. It was cosy there, under the dim lights, beside the bookshelves full of old hardback books and trailing plants. It was my safe haven, my away-from-home alone place.

Moments later when I was settled, Brent delivered my tall, frothy latte. He took a seat across from me. “So, how are you on this fine morning?” He asked.

“As fine as any other morning… you know how it goes.”

He nodded, though I got a feeling he in fact didn’t. His mornings were my afternoons. Despite all else, we didn’t see eye to eye on that particular beast. “Can I ask you something,” he said, after staring into space for some time.

“Sure,” I said, taking a sip of my coffee and picking the book I’d been reading of the shelf.

“Why do you come here?” He asked.

I watched his eyes, and found it was an honest question. Coming from him I shouldn’t have thought any different, Brent lived off honesyt. And so, I thought about his question. I had been coming here for well over two years. Most days I was the only customer inside Brent’s at that time in the morning. Maybe I was the only one who talked to Brent in such a manner. Through my eyes that wasn’t something overly special. Just something… pleasant on all the not so pleasant days the world has to offer. “I… because I like it,” I said.

He studied me, “surely there’s more to it than that?”

“I… it’s quiet, I like the atmosphere, the coffee’s great, I have nowhere else to be. Does there have to be a definitive reason?”

“No… I ‘ve just always thought you were looking for something.” Brent said, cocking hs head to check the bar for customers.

“What, like a girl. Love?” I laughed.

“Maybe, I don’t know. You’re the only regular… regular person that comes in here. I thought there must be a deeper meaning. An ex-girlfriend, a wife maybe. Some connection that I couldn’t possibly make.”

I sat for a moment, thinking. “No… I just like it here.”

“You’re always alone?” Brent prodded.

“I suppose so. I like my own space. I don’t have very many friends. In fact, you’re the only person I could call that…”

“Just me?” He said, smiling, before retracting it instantly. “That’s a little sad.”

“I don’t think it’s sad… just different from the norm. People generally don’t like difference. That’s the problem.”

“You could be right.”

The bell rang, and the door closed. Brent looked over, before glancing back. “I’m invited to a party tonight, you wanna come?” He smiled.

“You’re inviting me to a party?”

“Sure, you can be my plus one. You in?” I look at him, a shy smile on my face. Of course, he is being deadly serious. Need I question that at all?

“Alright…I’d like that.” I said, nervously.

Over the past few months I’d  been making it my directive to say YES! to things, and open myself up to the world. This was a opportunity. At the very least, it was that. At the most… something more. Maybe Brent was right. Maybe all that time I had been looking for something other than good coffee and a place to read. Maybe I had been hoping for something to happen.

I didn’t know. I didn’t think it mattered so much.

Though I remember feeling Brent meant more to me than most things in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Stories – A Bewildered Chamber

A Bewildered Chamber


Everything was dark. It seemed as though I had entered a world of pure night. Nothing could be discerned in the blackness. I tried putting my hand in front of my eyes, but I saw nothing. As far as I knew, the hand might not have existed. I felt my heart race. Darkness had always induced a painful fear within me. It wasn’t the darkness itself I found disturbing, but what the darkness might hold. The world which could not been seen. For there was no reason for it to take the same shape at night as it did in the day. Only one thing seemed scarier than the unknown, and that was knowing all.

The first thing I thought was: How do I escape, how do I rid myself of this terrifying world of black? But that’s the thing about being in the dark, it makes the answers a lot harder to find. Impossible to find, even.

Attentively I moved forward, step by step, with both my suspicious hands outstretched in front of me.  I can’t remember how long it took, or haw many steps I made, but my hands came to rest against a hard surface. It was wet, slimy and cold. Knowing there was something there, but not knowing what that something was made me wretch in fear. I backed away, walked the other direction. There, after a little more time I felt the slime, and the cold, and all the unending fear that came with it.

I tried all directions, yet no matter which I took, the wall always seemed to be there. A wall that sapped me of hope, and of life. I was encircled in this chamber of perpetual nothing, of un-regretful dark and pure misery.

There was nothing I could do about it. Not unless I somehow happened upon a light switch, but that seemed painfully unlikely.

Tiny Stories – Always With Me

Always With Me


“Take it!” She yelled, flailing her arms around, and pulling funny faces as I pointed the camera at her.

I hold that photo in my hand now. A reminder. A terrible heartache. That’s what it is to me. A tear drops onto it… not this again, I curse to myself, shoving the photo of her back into the drawer from where it came, from which it always comes. I slam it shut, wanting to forcibly rid it from my past, to erase it from existence altogether. But it’s the one thing I have left of her, and I cannot. No matter how much I try, I know it will always be with me. Always there pinching at little parts, reminding me of my shortcomings, of my utter failures.

Slowly I pull on some jeans and a t-shirt. Heading to the bathroom, I don’t bother to shave, not today. Instead, I stare at myself with contempt in the mirror, wondering how I have become my reflection, pondering how my life has turned into this.

I tell myself it was her, I tell myself everything is because of her. And yet, I know I’m lying, the biggest lie of all time. Because everything was me. Absolutely all of it. This is a realisation that’s all too hard to admit. So, I cast it from my thought and try to push on.

Sipping cheap instant coffee, I stare out of the apartment’s window, and across the city. This place used to be my whole world. I had a good job, a happy life… a great life. I used to be respected. I used to respect myself. Now what am I? Something else entirely… I live in contempt of everything, cynicism filling every orifice of my being. And for what? For her?

I muse, peering into the windows of the coffee shop we used to visit on the cold mornings. The coffee was to die for there, not like the rat piss I drink at the moment. However, the coffee was not the best part, her smile was, her eyes were, her everything… Nothing else ever managed to come close. All those places we used to go, we used to enjoy, are now off-limits. To step through their doors would be more harrowing nostalgia than I could endure. But I can at least look, and I can at least imagine. My mind returning to those moments. Back to the bliss that I felt for every second of every day. I see her sitting there, across from me, sipping a cappuccino, wiping away the froth from her top lip…

I shake my head… No! I can’t go back there. I can’t let it all flood into me. It is a scary thought. Of all that returning, incapacitating me like it has done so many times over the past year. And for what? Nothing changes afterwards… nothing ever changes in this stagnant existence I have passively come to accept, come to bear.

I glance over to the door where my suit hangs, creases spreading across it, in dire need of a wash and iron. Going to work on days like these seems so monumental, so unachievable. It is enough effort to just open my eyes and peer into this world that has left me behind.

So, I don’t. I close the blinds, blocking out the city. Blocking out the images of her on street corners, and in windows of shops I know too well. Her eyes, always staring at me, perpetually demanding to know why things went so wrong. Why things ended as they did.

Sitting in bed, cradling my knees, I look into the next day, and the next, and the next – for something that resembles change, maybe even happiness. Yet, all I see is her face, her beautiful face.

I don’t know… I don’t know anything… How can I change? How can I manage…