:: Fiction archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

Gig published 01/12/2012

He squinted his eyes at the stage in the glare of the lights, as if he were searching for something. For some reason it made Dan think of The Clash’s Rude Boy, the moment where Ray Gange seems to have an epiphany while the Clash plays ‘Police and Thieves’. Dan used to try and collect gig epiphanies as if piecing them together could form some sort of grand idea and would guide him through life. When he first watched the film he felt an affinity with the wannabe roadie. Now if he were to watch Rude Boy, he’d want to smack Ray and tell him to get up, get a job, get a life, do something. That’s when Dan had the sad realisation that not everyone can grow up to be an astronaut or rockstar.

By Allie Moh.

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The Plane Riot published 15/11/2012

There was a riot on the plane. The passengers simply could not take orders anymore. From the steward, stewardesses, or that fucking captain who they couldn’t even see, but occasionally crackled in over the tiny speakers wired overhead, first with his bullshit about why they were still taxiing around the runway semi-aimlessly after hours grounded, how they still needed to remain strapped into their seats, and remain so during take-off, during whatever that so-called turbulence supposedly was, please, remain seated, remain seated, observe the lighted seatbelt sign, and continue not smoking, continue keeping off all electronic devices, continue to obey, wait, and obey, seated, strapped, trapped, etc.

By Zack Wentz.

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Burying the Dead published 08/11/2012

Three consecutive works confirmed Rick Rank as a dog whose day had come: Sniff, Groundswell, and Blockage. Akin to syllable-points of an imploding pentagram, it was Blockage, the last and some say most revealing disyllabic that was the breakthrough, a compacted tour-de-force diatribe of dissonance, choc-a-bloc with malcontent and mal au coeur, a shot in the forehead for a generation unplugged from the literary forefront, unable to clear their throats in either jest or earnest. But now that his untimely death (at the tender age of ninety-two) has put paid to any semblance of a unified counterculture, it seems apposite that we return to the enduring conflict that divided and defined its protagonists, laying waste to their careers, consigning the best parts of their lives to profligacy.

By Benjamin Robinson.

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Shoulder Blades published 07/11/2012

His heart feels as fragile as winter daybreak.

He struggles to finish his weekend plans and the girl starts talking about something else, perhaps her parent’s Sunday dinners – the boy cannot remember – and the girl says goodbye outside her apartment building without a kiss on the cheek, or a hug, and the boy slowly heads for home, his shirt damp against his shoulder-blades, though he is not sure whether it is from sweat or the rain.

When the boy gets home, he writes a letter to the girl.

He does not edit it once.

The boy puts it in an envelope but will not send it until he is three weeks into his university degree.

By Rhys Leyshon Evans.

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Extract: England’s Darkness published 22/10/2012

At that meeting, the rebels attempted to evoke the infinite myths of previous uprisings of the North, from the Dark Ages to the Jarrow March and the Thatcher-crushed Miners’ Strike, along with the moments in England’s history when all power had been held in the North, so that those events could be recorded in some way, to serve as an inspiration for the current uprising. But with the erasure of all history and knowledge, in its transferral from annulled paper-based media to digital data and that data’s obliteration during England’s economic, infrastructural and technological collapses, nothing remained, and all memory had gone. All of the tongues that could have seized the memory of past Northern uprisings had been cut out, and stamped into dirt.

Extracts from Stephen Barber‘s new novel, England’s Darkness.

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Amanda’s published 17/10/2012

The man sitting next to me has just sneezed. He is old and smells of urinals. I don’t like to sneeze, it scares me. I’m afraid I’ll lose something vital about myself. Pulling a handkerchief out of my pocket, I wipe my arm and down the front of my pencil skirt. The guy in the t-shirt is watching me. His face and shoulders are laughing. I don’t know why. In the window opposite, a girl with a blonde bob in a red beret, holding a white hankie. I take the top off my green pen and write the words sneeze, handkerchief, snot, brains, arm and skirt in my notebook. Then I turn to the back and with the black pen, put a tick in the column headed RIGHT – t-shirt guy is a right.

By Melissa Mann.

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Albunia published 11/10/2012

Card Number Seventeen, with its multi-coloured stars; seven small ones, plus the bigger one placed dead centre–is the card that brings it back most vividly–the moment of Nea’s first sighting of the tarot trumps. Not because it was the first card she saw, but on account of its brilliance which reflects the overall impact of the trumps as collective object. The colours scintillating amongst the workaday rubble of the father’s desk. Immediately she’d appropriated it; expecting he’d indulge her in this, as in most things. It contained a glimpse of something: the peacock’s tail, that flash of iridescence that offers a preview of the coming transformation.

By Karen Whiteson.

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Distraction published 10/10/2012

One night he came home from the Slow Man drunk, and hit me. He had to do this, to get it over with, and I was glad he was drunk when it happened because his blows were less sharp than they should have been, he was going through the motions. But I did hit back. Otherwise we’d have had to do this thing again and again. I caught him on the forehead and broke my finger. It sobered him up, and on me it had the opposite effect. This was in the kitchen, a place with so many knives and sharp edges it’s a wonder we didn’t kill each other, and at one point when we were on the floor, kicking against the baseboards, trying to both stay out of the reach of hurt and get closer, which came to the same thing, I started to feel happy, enjoyment, relief, because I knew this wasn’t about the money at all, it was about the girl he’d left behind in Portugal, and there was nothing I could do about that, nothing I could be held responsible for.

By Charles Boyle.

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The Revelation at the Rampart published 29/09/2012


Bronson, leaning over and striking Barnes in the face. “Your metaphysics don’t matter anymore. Your disappearing acts. There’s no place for theory now.” He strikes him again; blood oozes from the swollen eye. “There’s no longer much presence left, Barnes, it’s all absence now.”

“That’s what the instructions . . . I remember. The part about absence.” The blood from Barnes’s neck now pooling in the palm of his upturned hand, as if he could collect it and put it back in. “The rupture . . . the exchanging of center for center . . . the passage of one structure to another . . . and always anticipating the next event when in fact the event is the anticipation itself. The instructions . . . the diagram . . . said to correct the wall . . . to reshape it into a double helix, like we thought.”

The final instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

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The Revelation at the Rampart published 10/09/2012


A dead world. Of course they had both fantasized about it, though not in a post-apocalyptic way. Their thoughts, when they ran together as in this moment with the shared cigarettes on the roof of Evelyn’s flat, conjured a world devoid of the objects that gave rise to artifacts and then to meaning. How to think without thinking, and would a dead planet make such a thing possible? Back then the Empire had just deployed the first generation of drones-as-birds, and they hadn’t figured out how to land them in trees yet, and the whole thing was comical, really, to watch them try to perch on a branch only to end up tangled and dying there, depowered, until one of the freelance retrieval units came to bag them and return them at the depot. It was Evelyn who first spoke about how the drones might very well be the first step in the direction of lifelessness.

The fifth instalment of a six part story by Nicholas Rombes.

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