All entries for Sunday 15 May 2011

May 15, 2011

Excerpt From an Unnamed Work in Progress.

Meanwhile, in Hell, the Devil was in a state of genuine displeasure over the events in Sestina. For a being whose entire existence consists of moping around in a frozen lake, generating evil and eating traitors, displeasure may seem an emotion somewhat insignificant in the general miasma of misery; however, like a man who is carrying his obese brother to hospital on foot, and who is then also asked to carry his obese brother’s obese rocking horse, microwave, large pizza and highly visible and painful-looking sex toy, Satan had had enough. He vowed to bring the Sestina embarrassment to a satisfactory conclusion within the week.

The embarrassment originated in the undeniable fact that for two years now, no one in Sestina had gone to Hell. For the entire town was in such terror of the supposedly “possessed” Paulo that they had become three times more devout than any sensible person ever has the time and effort to be. Priests found themselves trapped in the confession box for hours, listening to the most banal and obscurely sinful confessions: “Father I whistled loudly in the presence of an old man, I told my son he needed a hair cut, I brushed my hair twice before leaving the house.” One woman even broke down into tears and admitted to dropping spoons on the floor and not washing them before serving dinner to her husband. Priests began to take sandwiches and small buckets in with them, a sin that they then had to confess to the bishop, who’d taken to hiding out in local crypts.

Beggars received so many donations that they became rich, began lording it over the other townspeople and purchased expensive watches. Blind people found themselves at the mercy of hundreds of would-be Samaritans desperate to help them across the road, often whether they liked it or not. Everyone’s right hands were exhausted from crossing themselves the whole time, and as a consequence of this the entire town became left-handed. In short, the various actual demons knocking about Sestina were so under-employed that they had started doing charitable deeds themselves just to have something to do. The insult was compounded by the fact that since modern society had invented whole new methods of intricate and painful torture, Hell had recently had to update its repertoire to include bureaucracy. And the embarrassment in Sestina was generating enormous quantities of red tape.


Tsuchinoko’s Wife, Part III

Tsuchinoko’s Wife, Part III

And so Tsuchinoko the mythical Japanese hoop snake began the long and arduous task of persuading his wife to fall in love with him. It began with small gifts, those that only a mythical snake can give: hairs from the kitsune, for luck, a breath from the Yuki-onna, for refreshment, and venom-paralyzed rodents, for a snack. All this, along with a fortuitous lie about the number of women he had been with during their separation, brought Tsuchinoko back home, and into June’s affections. Every day he professed a greater and deeper love for her.

Tsuchinoko flopped back on to the teal sofa, and June got him a beer. He slid on a pair of sunglasses. Tsuchinoko was fond of lies, and liked a drink.

Tsuchinoko’s Wife, Part III: Director’s Cut.

And so Tsuchinoko the mythical Japanese hoop snake began the long and arduous task of persuading his wife to fall in love with him. It began with small gifts, those that only a mythical snake can give: hairs from the kitsune, for luck, a breath from the Yuki-onna, for refreshment, and venom-paralyzed rodents, for a snack. All this, combined with a fortuitous lie about the number of women he had been with during their separation, brought Tsuchinoko back home, and into June’s affections. Every day he professed a greater and deeper love for her.

Tsuchinoko flops back on to the teal sofa, and June gets him a beer. He slid on a pair of sunglasses. Years pass. The slither of tiny scales. Rolling home at dusk. June eating the bulbous mulberries in the garden, her mouth stained crimson as the summer tosses freckles onto her skin. Small hands clutching at a summer dress. Hospital light, a bloodied nightdress. Silence. Voices in the dark, called home by the heady scent and crackle of roasting pork. The gleam of bottles, a living room eerily cast in shades of green and golden brown. June asleep, her dark hair coiled about the pillow as if for comfort. A woman’s voice on the phone, hushed and urgent. Tsuchinoko is fond of lies and likes a drink.

And one day, when the children are at school and Tsuchinoko is at work (liars make excellent estate agents) June sneaks into the attic. Light streams through a broken window, transforming the raised dust into a halo of fireflies. June searches, brutally, systematically, until she finds what she has been looking for. A selkie coat. Her selkie coat. Quickly, urgently, caressing the reeking hide in fit of passionate longing, June luxuriates in an ecstasy of fur. In the crystalline salt beads of her pelt she feels the siren call of the ocean. She throws it on. Sprightly whiskers snuffle for the doorknob, flippers lollop across the dusty attic, and June leaves for her selkie home.

In the years to come, the children will ask where their mother is, and Tsuchinoko will tell them she is working with the Rolling Stones. His voice will crack. The carpet is stained with a dark constellation of tears. Tsuchinoko is fond of lies, and likes a drink.


Tsuchinoko’s Wife, Part II

A slight shift in tone here- hopefully it works? Enjoy.


Tsuchinoko’s Wife, Part II

In the days that followed, June scraped the house clean of snakeskin, removed paralyzed mice from the fridge (Tsuchinoko’s favourite snack, after pork scratchings) and turned the heating down to an acceptable level. She wore dresses without fang holes and shattered empty beer bottles with a hammer in the back garden. When she was done she would squat in the long grass, watching the worms and beetles scrape tiny limbs across the broken glass. Their blood was dark like the tears of Tsuchinoko, and she wondered where he was. When a party of minotaurs arrived, asking if Tsuchinoko was going to come out, she swiftly shut the door in their faces, peering through lace curtains as their ringed noses rutted at the letterbox, calling her name. She began to dream in shades of crimson-aubergine.

And then, months later, the growl of a motorbike engine outside.

“I just came for my stuff,” Tsuchinoko said, slipping out of a studded leather cape. “Don’t let me bother you.” As he stepped past her into the house, his scales brushed softly against her skin. Gossamer flakes of skin drifted to the floor, briefly luminous before they hit the frigid carpet. June followed him up to their old room and watched him throw his belongings onto a heap on the bed. His yellow eyes turned to her, the double lids flickering uncertainly. She reached out to him.

“Where did you go? After I…?”

“I, uh, worked in Houssten, for NASSA, you know. Top ssecret.”

“Really?”

“Well, uh, no. I wass cage fighting in Nicaragua.”

“I thought you’d be busy managing the Rolling Stones.” They both laughed.


TO BE CONTINUED (Cue dramatic music, groans as people realise they've spent 7 pounds on a half-finished film and 8 pounds on inferior snack foods)




Tsuchinoko’s Wife Pt I

Hello, kind bloggers of blog land. Here is a short drafted opening to a piece of fiction I am writing for my portfolio. If anyone is willing to tell me if it is worth continuing, I would be extremely grateful for their advice? Pretty please?


Tsuchinoko’s Wife Pt I

June's husband Tsuchinoko was fond of lies and liked a drink. That day, he rolled nonchalantly down the drive, full of Corona, pork scratchings and stories about the time he won the World Cup for Japan (it had to be hushed up to avoid angering the North Koreans).

It was always going to be difficult, being married to a mythical Japanese hoop snake. On days like this June would cast her eyes to the heavens and ask why, even in the smoky glitterball half-light of a Tokyo nightclub, marrying a boozed up fabulist worm had seemed like such a good idea. Perhaps it was the saki, or the way his scales glistened crimson-aubergine under streetlights. Perhaps it was because she liked his flickering kisses, or the nip of fangs on her earlobe, or because he was the manager for the Rolling Stones, or so he said, hissing it hotly into her neck as they slow-danced to Paint It Black: it really had been a heavy drinking session that night. But in the grizzled hoof of Scottish summer, June’s patience was wearing as thin as the pasty skin flakes he left lying around the house. It was time for a change.

It is easier than you might think to flush your mythical Japanese hoop snake husband down the toilet. Rubber gloves are advisable, as is an apron. June ambushed Tsuchinoko as he lay sluggishly on the teal fern-patterned sofa; his crimson scales lit up in the afternoon light like an open wound. Quickly, aided by the kitchen tongs and a sharp stick, and with trembling fingers, she grasped her writhing husband and held him at arm’s length. Briefly she remembered her wedding night. Tsuchinoko wriggled uselessly, his constricted throat producing soft, mewing sounds. A single tear oozed down his scaly face and left a globular stain on the carpet.

“Look,” said June, “This isn’t working for me anymore.”

And she plopped her husband into the toilet.


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