I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

"Machination" (a.k.a. Party Snacks and Metal Men)

I won't say much about this short story; I'd almost definitely ruin it if I did.
I realise that there is one potentially offensive way to interpret this and, yes, that's what I was going for.
Enjoy the breaded meat.


It's been a while since my last chicken drumstick. I miss the breaded texture, how hard it can feel to the teeth when overcooked. I miss the cheap simplicity of frozen 'nibbles'. I take such opportunities wherever I can.

            As for the convention room? Well, why not? I like little hotels: they’re much less crowded than city centres or sport stadiums. Today’s schedule looked particularly encouraging too.

            These artists and writers. I've never sculpted cast iron into vibrant depictions of the beast within man, never written lengthy tomes on one particularly beauteous instance of sunlight streaming through a veil. I must admit that I feel a little out of my depth. Well, proverbially speaking. I feel tempted to explain this to them; I'm not proud. But, of course, they are. I have a face now and I really shouldn't lose it so quickly.

            I wonder if that girl, that waitress there realises just how rare the colour of her natural hair is. I see it on the verge of sprouting out of her roots; fiery gold scorching through the common black. And fifteen freckles on each cheek. Marvellous.

            Right now I'm standing and listening to a somewhat bloated gentleman in a green pin-stripe suit as he explains to me his personal views on surrealism and just how it factors into his latest novel. I listen to his inner-monologue as it loops self-congratulation. Which isn't to say that he's not a humble man; he just hasn't connected with that particular side of himself for a while now. I'd say it came about shortly after his first novel reached the national press. They all say it's good. I don't get much time to read these days.

            "...and yet, as you'd imagine, the poor dear struggles on with her psyche. Do you have an opinion on it?"

            "On what?" I turn my focus back on him.

            "The possibility of the existence of the soul. Which side are you on?"

            "Well, it's an interesting question." He looks at me expectantly. I carry on. "I'd say the soul exists for those who want it to exist. Those who believe it exists."

            "So the 'I-believe-in-fairies' standpoint, is it? I suppose it has its values." He chuckles and sips at his sparkling white wine. I wonder if he realises it came from a plastic bottle?

            "Fairies?" I pause. "They might have existed at some point. I can't say I've always been watching."

            The man guffaws, spilling some wine on his bearded chin. A van dyke I believe it's called. Very neat. He pats me on my shoulder and leaves. It's nice to feel such pressure again; a physical touch.

            I glance around the room. It really is quite large and yet the people within it continue to bounce off of one another. If enough people were to fill this room up to maximum capacity and then if one were to remove each of the walls individually, how long would they retain the shapes made by those walls? Humanity as a liquid, individuals its semi-mobile atoms. I can see that.

            Of course, I'm no scientist. Most of the time I can't even recognise scientific development. I leave science to the thinkers, art to the dreamers. My last contribution to this world left me rather exhausted. I've been sleeping it off mostly. It does wonders for the temperament.

            My little 'experiment' might just happen yet; another man has entered the room. A rather tall, particularly broad man. A grey man. I hear his first footstep. This is no man.

            The sounds he makes are metallic, too resonant. I've seen heavy men and prosthetic men; I have met men with dark skin, wrinkled skin and flesh weathered by the world and all have been familiar to me. This figure is familiar too.

            I'm no scientist, I am no artist and yet I know the grotesque. I've made things that have hurt my own eyes and made me bitter at the whole of my handiwork. This wasn't made by me. This was not made by my fellows.

            I can hear him travel through the crowds slowly, unnerving them with slight variations of the same question.

            "Are you he?"

            "Are you him?"

            It is a good thing that he doesn't know me from the rest. I’m going to leave.

            I try to find a corner where all backs are turned to me. The further he approaches, the easier this becomes. He? It.

            It's voice grinds and sparks. I hear a new hammer dragging across an old anvil. There is clockwork to his step, rusting clockwork. It grates at my ear, my soul.

            “Where is He?”

            “Do you know He?”

            “Are you He?”
            Yes! I am he! I am He! I shall stand this no longer! I shall stand no longer.

            Before I go, I grab another drumstick, savour its grease. Savour the tongue and the dirt of the earth. Earth.

            He has broken through the crowd. He is not my creature. He is my son’s son and he is a void. I have my own to go to.

            I am gone. The taste of discount meat resides in my mouth. My soul. It is good.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

"Spider, Worm and the Butterfly" (a.k.a. The Story of an Up-turned Plant Pot in the Rain)


So I have something. It's a short story, one of the few short stories that I've written recently that I am sufficiently happy with. Which isn't to say that I have a clue what it's about.

Well, I do for the most part. "Spider, Worm and the Butterfly" is just one of those things that you feel compelled to write down even though you're not quite sure what the moral or purpose of it is. It originated from a story that I wrote when I was only yea high (I'll leave you to decide the precise measurement of 'yea') and then, one particularly rainy afternoon in Devon, I decided to revisit it. Butterfly is a new character who I implemented after realising that Fly, the original third companion, would probably be lying dismembered on Spider's web. It is his house after all.

I'll let you decide whether this is still a children's story or if it's something else entirely. I'd be tempted to say 'Young Adult', if the thought of the two words paired together didn't conjure up horrible images of misunderstood vampires and other superhuman teens. Let's just call it 'Grown Up' for the time being...


That up-turned plant pot by the fence in the garden. You know, the one that’s over there. That’s Spider’s plant pot, that is. Occasionally he has visitors; usually when it rains.

            Most of the time Spider eats his visitors. Worm, on the other hand, is an old acquaintance. A regular fixture, you might even say.

            “Evening.” Worm said, crawling in through the usual crack one day.

            Spider shuffled in his web, barely looking down at his guest. “Wet again, is it?”

            “Tipping it down.”

            Spider sighed. “Make yourself comfortable.”

            Worm curled up in the opposite corner as Spider lowered himself to the ground. Worm scrutinised the web, freshly adorned with mangled flies.

            “I’m not interrupting dinner or anything, am I?”

            Spider glanced back. “That? Just bluebottles. My dessert, really.”

            He scuttled to a space beside Worm and prodded at a piece of leaf with one of his front legs. “Mess, mess. Always mess.”

            Worm stared outside. “It’s actually getting worse out there, I’d say.”

            Spider stepped back towards the crack. “Possibly. It must be particularly bad if you’ve actually found the energy to squirm your way out of that cushy little daisy patch of yours.”

            “Worst this month.” Worm grumbled. “I like my drizzle, don’t get me wrong. I love a good bit of drizzle. That’s just something else.”

            “Hmm.” Spider’s jaws twitched. He had known Worm for roughly two months now. All he ever did was talk about rain. And yet Spider just didn't have the stomach for wriggling things. It was a shame really.

            Worm watched Spider quietly from behind. Spider was generally a good sport when it came to hospitality but he had so many legs. Worm tended to keep away from the legged ones. They moved far too easily for his liking.

            “Rain.” Spider said.

            “Yes.” Worm said.


            Spider stepped forward.

            “Seen something?” Worm slid ahead of him. “Not lightning?”

            A curious shape was falling through the rain. Tumbling, hovering, descending.

            “Wings.” Spider muttered, captivated by the rapid folding and unfolding of bright colours, “One of those winged beasts.”

            “It’s no bird.” Worm insisted, “Too small.”

            The colours slowed and dithered an inch above the ground before finally touching down. The wings folded back to reveal six long spindly limbs.

            “Excuse me.” The winged thing said. She spoke the words as if something else was to follow them. Instead she looked at Spider expectantly. He arched his legs only to stumble backwards.

            “I am Butterfly.” Continued the beast that wasn’t a bird, as she strode in.

            “Worm.” Worm replied, reclining against his usual spot.

            “I’m Spider.” Spider spoke, raising his voice, “Fine way to go about it, forcing the rightful homeowner aside. Most of the time people ask permission to enter.”

            Butterfly fluttered around the interior of the up-turned plant pot.

            “Just what are you doing?” Spider asked, baffled by such an incredible lack of manners.

            “Did you make it or find it?” Butterfly asked, completely ignoring his question.

            “I beg your pardon?”

            “This shelter. Did you make it or find it?”

            Spider stopped to think. “A bit of both. I renovated it.”

            “Do you like it?” Worm chimed in.

            Butterfly landed. “It will do.”

            Spider turned away. “I’m so glad. Such a discerning taste.” before mumbling, “Bloody cheek.”

            “I’m actually quite fond of it, myself.” Worm said, “Wouldn’t do for a permanent residence, of course. I’m an earth-dweller: live for the soil beneath my segments.” Spider glared down at him from atop the web. “But it’s his place, obviously.” He added hastily.

            Butterfly turned to regard Worm fully. “An earth-dweller, you say?”

            “One of many.” Worm said with a wink.

            “I have crossed the surface of the earth before but never thought to go under it.” Butterfly said, as if that would be enough. Worm waited for more nevertheless.

            “He’s an earth-dweller, alright.” Spider announced, “An earth-dweller afraid of getting damp.”

            “Hey!” Worm straightened himself. “I said I like drizzle!”

            “So you should love a good hard downpour even more.” Spider retorted, “And yet you’re always in here. With me.”

            “Explosions!” Worm shouted, “It’s the explosions I can’t stand!”

            “If you say so.” Spider replied curtly.

            Butterfly continued to flutter across the enclosed space. Spider tapped his middle legs impatiently.

            “It’s not going to get any bigger, you know.” He grumbled.

            “I know.” Butterfly replied, “I am taking in all the angles.”

            “It’s a cylinder.” Spider said between clenched jaws.

            “Then why does it slope up the top?” Butterfly inquired, finally landing.

            Spider opened his jaws but had to close them again. Come to think of it, the answer was beyond him.

            “Good question.” Worm spoke, hoping to fill the silence.

            The silence stretched on regardless, disturbed only by the flickering of Butterfly’s wings. They all gazed out through the crack. The rain drops were getting smaller, becoming lighter.

            “Strange bedfellows.” Spider announced, attempting to recite a passage he had heard once.

            “A flower bed.” Butterfly added without any apparent thought.

            Worm did not speak. He always had something to contribute, normally about wet weather. It just didn't seem appropriate now. He curled up again.

            Butterfly’s wings flapped less and less before laying out flat on the ground. Spider returned to his web with quiet careful movements. The night passed along with the rain.


            Spider rose first. He plucked a leftover bluebottle from the web and chewed on its thorax thoughtfully. It took him a short while to remember Butterfly and the fact that she was now missing.

            He climbed off the web and nudged Worm awake.

            “Butterfly’s gone.”

            Worm stretched outward. “That’s a shame. Did you see her leave?”


            Worm squirmed forward. “Nice. Very colourful. Bit...”

            “Aloof?” Spider offered.

            “I suppose.” Worm looked directly at him. “Well, it was jolly decent of you to put me up again.”

            “Heading off already, are you?”

            “Seems sensible.” Worm glanced outside. The sun was rising. The dew on the daisy patch sparkled, even from a yard away. “Long day ahead of me.”

            “If you say so.” Spider nodded.

            “Thanks again.” Worm said, slipping through the hole and out into the cold.

            Spider watched him leave. He wished that he had a long day ahead of him. Days for Spider mostly involved waiting and thinking in order to fill the waiting.

            He thought about Butterfly for a little while. The rain had stopped a while ago so she must have flown off shortly after. He doubted that she'd even slept. She was very confused, that little Butterfly. It occurred to Spider that most little butterflies must be confused: trapping themselves in their own cocoons only to burst out of them suddenly one day, never to even think about looking back.

            Spider wondered if he would ever see Butterfly again. To be honest, he hadn't thought much of her whilst she was around but she seemed interesting. Very colourful, as Worm had put it.

It seemed silly to Spider, to think that she would come visit again. She had explored the plant pot, rested for a while and then broke free. It was just the way with winged creatures. Except flies. Flies made a lot of mistakes.

            Spider crept back up his web and waited. Visitors would come into his up-turned plant pot home. He knew this. And visitors do come. Normally when it rains.