Deep in the recesses of my old hard drives and notebooks some strange files lurk and all carry my name as the author. I’ve dusted them down and present them here for your reading pleasure (or not). Yet reading these causes me to celebrate the wonder of human development when I look back and try to remember what my writing felt like then, compared to today.
As much as I live for today, the past serves as an informant, it is what I have become today. Aside from the philosophising, some of the dusty files I have rediscovered have potential as stand-alone works while others may well be swallowed into something greater.
As with every feature here at Beyond The Pyre, you are very welcome to add some of your own dusty files with a link back to you. Go on, dust them down, it’s a great experience.
I am not going to date the first dusty file in this list, except to say that it is well over twenty years since I wrote it and moving to France was only a dream 🙂
The evening was warm and a tender breeze caressed our faces as we sat enjoying our wine overlooking the vineyard from where it came. The fragrance of lavender and sunflowers provoked our senses. This tiny corner of south-west France was at peace and we revelled in the simple luxury seldom taken by us in our own part of the world.
The Milky Way swirled overhead, the view interrupted only once by a soaring owl screeching its way across the cobalt sky. Surrounded by constellations we had never seen before and new angles on those familiar. We felt small and unnoticed by the occupants of the silent object cruising across the sky to the west moments after the owl had landed on a branch to watch.
A symphony of crickets singing out across the fields since dusk fell silent. The fish rose to the surface of the river in front of us swishing their tails with thanks for the morsels providing their supper stopped feeding. Everything seemed to hold its breath, waiting to see what the object might do. We held hands and stared at the sky expecting something out of the ordinary. A moment later when it disappeared, the sounds of the night returned. The owl took flight after he spotted a scurrying rodent dashing for cover among the sunflowers.
‘Have we finished the bottle?’ I asked Martha, hoping she’d say yes.
‘No, we’ve only had half a glass each.’
‘Mmm, thought so, I hoped we had too much to drink and that thing was only a figment of intoxicated minds.’
The 4001st Hole
‘They said there were four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire in the 1960’s. Well, I can tell you that there were never four thousand holes in Blackburn; I know that because I was responsible for counting them and I don’t make mistakes. There was four thousand and one to be precise and would you believe it, they missed the most important hole that made its’ way from the street to the subterraway ever.
OK, you might argue that they didn’t actually miss the hole in question and that in fact they had included it in their total and had missed another one. Not true; I know that too because I followed them as they counted because I needed to employ an assistant and wondered if one of six applicants might be up to the job. They didn’t get the job because they proved to me that they could only see what everybody else sees and they had no capacity for spotting the special.’
‘What are you talking about, Bron? There are holes all over the place. The council or the utility people are always digging them. And, and, what’s a subterraway?’
‘It’s just a word to describe the underground routes around the globe and yes, they are always digging holes my friend but there’s a lot less now than there was in the 60’s. Anyway, I am not talking about any old hole. These are special. Imagine them as doors to other places that help you to travel almost at the speed of light to just about anywhere you want to go on the planet. Come on, I’ll show you what I mean.’
‘Have you been drinking, Bron? No, no, I know what it is. You been taking those two for one offers on ecstasy that they were on about on the news. You’ve frazzled your brain. I keep telling you to stay away from that stuff.’
‘I’ve not had any stuff and I’m offering you a rare chance to see something very unique. Now are you coming or not?’
With a resigned tut and thoughts of here we go again, Eric followed Bron through the shopping centre to the site of the old fire station where he suddenly grabbed Eric’s arm roughly and before he had a chance to say ouch, he found himself spitting sand from his mouth on a starlit beach in Goa.
Two hippies sitting nearby giggled and marvelled at the strength of the joint they had been enjoying while Bron encouraged the astounded Eric to keep his raincoat on and lead him away from the hippies after filling in the hole they had left. As they walked up the beach, Bron explained how they had come to be in Goa and how a network of subterraways connected the entire planet.
Eric felt sick. The skin on his face felt too tight and it hurt, as did every muscle in his body. He looked for familiar signs listened for familiar voices, looked for familiar shops, nothing was familiar and the sickly feeling turned to reality that Bron said would be washed away when the tide came in.
‘Here, eat this friend.’ Bron gave Eric an apple that he had picked up from Thompson’s on the way to the fire station. ‘It will get rid of that taste in your mouth and will put some of the sugar back that you lost on the journey. You see travelling at the speed we just did takes it out of you when you are not used to it.’
Eric still looked sick. ‘Why can’t I take my mac off?’
‘Trust me, you will need it in a minute,’ Bron said matter of factly and before Eric could utter another word he caught a glimpse of Bron’s arm and hand which held his before he felt himself being violently jerked through the sand. Several whooshing sounds and one very loud pop later, they appeared on a ledge beneath an ear-shattering waterfall near Ingleton, North Yorkshire.
‘I want to go home now. Please take me home,’ Eric simpered.
‘I have just given you the trip of a lifetime.’
‘If you carry on putting me through this I will have no life. I don’t know which part of me belongs where, I feel sick, I don’t know whether this is a dream, am I going insane or what!’
‘Most people would be thrilled.’
‘Yeah right.’ Eric was getting some of his usual confidence back. He walked forward, away from Bron who stood with his back to the wall in an attempt to keep dry. The force of the waterfall caught Eric squarely on the shoulders and forced him off the ledge into the pool some twenty feet below. Bron leaped off the ledge and joined him in the water, much to the amusement of several walkers who were enjoying a quiet picnic on a rare sunny day in the dales.
‘Take my hand and hold your breath,’ Bron yelled above the roar of the water.
‘No. I won’t, you are not going to get me again. I just want to go home.’
Before Eric could protest any further, Bron grabbed him and with unusual strength for a man with the appearance of Mr Punyverse, he pulled Eric to a dark shape at the bottom of the pool. Needless to say, the shape was a actually a hole and following another instant of body punishment, they appeared at the site of the old fire station in Blackburn where Eric stormed off, squelching his way through bemused shoppers. Bron was nowhere to be seen and when he got home, Eric felt sick again when he heard the newsreader say that the emergency services in Ingleton were baffled when two men disappeared.
Somebody asked me how I deal with writers block recently and I answered honestly; I don’t.
Come on Steve, everybody suffers from writers block occasionally!
Not me, I don’t allow minor blocks and irritations to slow me down. So how do I deal with these? Simple really, I keep writing and if necessary, I move from one section to another until I can go back and finish.
Allowing the idea of writers block is a negative and I find the best way to write is to keep positive thoughts and feelings close at hand. To every problem there is a Positive, Dynamic Solution (PDS) and that is one of my life mantras.
Let me know what you think and I will publish some reader thoughts in a near-future issue of this blog.