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?

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Amber Edge Cottage - Property Description

Advertised on Seeking Cottages (www.seekingcottages.co.uk)

Picture and Other Details Withheld


Set in a lovely countryside just a few minute's drive away from the Highland capital, Inverness, Amber Edge Cottage is an ideal holiday base for exploring the scenic beauty of the area. Fort Augustus and Fort William are suitably close as is the wondrous Loch Ness, an ideal spot for monster-hunting. Sailing, fishing, kayaking, horse-riding and mountain biking all within easy reach. Lots of good places to eat and drink in Inverness. Shops 200 yards, pubs 1/2 mile.

This deceptively spacious cottage is full of colour and character and has only very recently been vacated.

Ground floor: Living room with French doors to garden, Dining room/kitchen with beam. Bathroom with shower over bath and toilet.

First floor: 4 bedrooms: 1 double with en-suite bathroom with shower over bath and toilet, 3 twins.

Multi-fuel burner in living room (initial fuel inc). Oil underfloor heating, solar-powered hot water, elec, bed linen and towels. Freesat TV. DVD. Elec cooker. M/wave. Washer/dryer. F/freezer. Wi-Fi. Large, enclosed, lawned garden with sitting-out area and furniture. Ample parking. Welcome pack. No smoking.

Saturday, 28 September 2013


If you enjoy quality up-and-coming short fiction then check this e-zine out:


There are just as many flash fiction stories as there are traditional short stories (whatever that means). I'm currently enjoying Magic Numbers by Ron Burch. Love the style.

So go check it out.

Also I'm in it. Jolly good.


Suicide Note by Perry Grinn (transcribed from torn shirt cloth)

Contributed by HMP Wakefield


I will make this short and perhaps sharp. The Yellow Rucksack Sisters are in dire trouble.

My associates in the sciences have informed me that now is the time they collect on their loans, now they will silence the frequent users. I have designed my own ending, as you will no doubt see before you.

You need to burn the bags, that will break down the wormholes.

Burn the bags. The associates are ready now.

Friday, 27 September 2013


Text Message sent by Cortez Ulrich to Marigold Yarmouth

Confiscated by Police Scotland, Inverness



Yes, Golden Mary. Yor 1 trick is coming back to you now.




After it Came to me.

Tell her

Thursday, 26 September 2013


Note by Kin Yarmouth to Cortez Ulrich (Transcribed)

Contributed by Cortez Ulrich



Dear Cortez,


            Surely you understand why we had to leave. When Perry Grinn threw that Molotov cocktail at us he shouted 'here's your test!' and, in his warped way, he was right. If he hadn't seen fit to hurt us, we wouldn't have realised just how exposed we really are out here. We can't follow you to Middlesbrough; we need to have a break.

            Alyssa is still talking in circles but we now get the impression she wants to go home. So we're returning to Inverness to catch our breath and get Alyssa properly set up at our father's old cottage. We would extend an invitation for you to come visit but she really is quite catatonic.

            So it behoves us to say that we're really sorry and wish you and the Cirque du Clamour all the best in the future. We may just catch you up someday.


Yours sincerely,




P.S. If you find anything salvageable of the rucksack, please send it to our home address. Our secrets aren’t your secrets. The trick remains the same. (Marigold)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Explosive Thrown at Circus Dance Troupe

An Article by Joanna Samson

Printed in the Paterhurst Standard


Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Rough Transcript of a Backstage Dialogue between Marigold and Sahara Yarmouth

Contributed by Anonymous



MARIGOLD: Where'd you put the spray again?

SAHARA: I didn't put the spray anywhere. Kin's the one who's been organising.

MARIGOLD: Kin's a child.

SAHARA: She's only three years younger than me.

MARIGOLD: She's a child in her outlook. She'd actually do this shit just for the smiles on the kiddies.

SAHARA: The money's nice too.

MARIGOLD: Exactly. The kid's are all right but the money is key. We need to get away from this bloody circus.

SAHARA: You've said that so many times.

MARIGOLD: I know but that ringmaster is taking a bigger cut than he's letting on, definitely taking more.

SAHARA: It is a bit fishy how he doesn't run the numbers past us.

MARIGOLD: And you're good with that sort of thing!

SAHARA: Okay. He is a rat bastard. But that doesn't stop Alyssa fucking him.

MARIGOLD: Alyssa. Alyssa, Alyssa, Alyssa.

SAHARA: You see my point then.

MARIGOLD: Well she's hardly a slut, is she? She's in love with the bastard.

SAHARA: She thinks she's in love with him. She hasn't quite weighed him up yet.

MARIGOLD: Do you think he could actually change?

SAHARA: Probably not. He's a very little man.

MARIGOLD: She hasn't told him more about our act, has she?

SAHARA: Most of it, yes, probably. But not the stuff you're thinking. She knows you'd kill her because you're always worrying that it'll somehow slip out.

MARIGOLD: I will kill her one of these days.

SAHARA: If you do then I'll kill you.

MARIGOLD: No, I swear she is too nice for her own good. Too sweet.

SAHARA: Sweet?


SAHARA: How is being sweet a bad thing?

MARIGOLD: She's too modest, too considerate sweetie pie. This act demands a straight line of confidence throughout. One of us can't be thinking about everyone else in the room.

SAHARA: I think that's the first time I've ever heard you say 'sweetie pie'.

MARIGOLD: Fuck off, will you?

SAHARA: No, I'm sure of it.

MARIGOLD: Oh wh-...did you see that wardrobe twitch?

SAHARA: Wardrobe?

MARIGOLD: Yes it's...Oh, you can get the fuck out of here and all! Good old Mr Grinn sent you, did he? Absolutely fucking-! Get out, you little shit! That man, I swear to God...

Monday, 23 September 2013


The Yellow Rucksack Sisters: The Truth behind the Trick

A Short Essay by Perry Grinn

Printed in the Daily Tree



            There are so many theories floating around about the Yellow Rucksack Sisters, an up and coming acrobatic troupe travelling with the Cirque du Clamour. The latest and most popular theory, however, has me groaning for the future of logical stage criticism.

            It is a popularly-known fact that the main trick in the Yellow Rucksack Sisters act, the 'main attraction' if you will, is when two of the sisters throw the other two up into the air only for them to land and somehow disappear neatly inside their titular rucksacks. Now it has come to my attention that many critics believe that the secret behind this trick is a combination of super fast contortionism and secret cushioned compartments within the rucksacks.

            Allow me to analyse this scenario: the smaller sisters are taught not only to successfully contort themselves, a practice that takes even the most double-jointed individual years to perfect, but to do so within a fraction of a second. They are thrown three feet in the air and, somewhere during the short dive; they manage to tuck each of their limbs and extremities into a suitably streamlined shape and land successfully inside the rucksack without making even the slightest sound. One would expect that such a feat would be damn near impossible to get right even once, that it would be severely damaging if performed incorrectly and yet the Sisters seem to do it every night.

            This is where the cushion theory comes into play. Having squeezed themselves into a tight shape and landed successfully within the rucksack, the Sisters are saved from excruciating bone breakage by a complex cushioning system that no-one has been able to explain, let alone prove as yet. In fact I have consulted my associates in the contortionist business and they cannot explain how super fast contortionism might work either. Unless the Sisters are severely holding back on the world of science, I am inclined to dispute that either of these concepts are currently possible. Instead I would like to propose my own theory.

            Having seen some success as a stage magician during the latter half of the 1980's, I cannot help but notice similarities between the Yellow Rucksack Sister's main trick and the one that made my name. As part of my trick, my assistant shot me with a gun and then covered me with a normal sheet, only for my body to suddenly 'melt' down into the stage. My hat would then roll away until it suddenly stopped, landing with the brim facing upward. I would then climb out through the hat without bending it even slightly out of shape. Though I was admittedly very wiry back then, my trick relied on only one unique and specific tool which, up until very recently, I have sworn not to reveal to the public. 

            In order to disappear beneath the sheet and reappear via the hat I had to access a miniature wormhole. I realise how preposterous this might sound but please bear with me. Whilst in conversation with associates working in Astrophysics I discovered that, in some very rare cases, everyday receptacles such as hats have their particles inexplicably altered by nature so that they can create miniature wormholes leading to and from certain designated surfaces. Before performing the trick, I ran my hat across the bit of floor I was to land on so as to displace its particles with the hat's unusual particles and then waited for the surface to heat itself up and catalyse the process itself. When I 'disappeared' through the floor I temporarily entered non-space and immediately clambered out through the nearest wormhole, the hat. Of course this required me to hold my breath for an uncomfortable amount of time but I always managed it with my renowned dedication and perseverance.

            I believe that the Yellow Rucksack Sisters have somehow discovered their own miniature wormholes - note that I pluralise here - and employ them in their act. This is the only plausible explanation I can find as to how they can seemingly disappear without a sound or even a single noticeable crease in their rucksacks. When I was told about the wormholes I was sworn to secrecy, I promised that I would not employ the trick anymore than ten times throughout my career. I am shocked that the Yellow Rucksack Sisters have somehow discovered not one but four wormholes - I presume, conjoined - and am rather disappointed that they use them so flagrantly. All I ask is that they reveal the truth behind their main trick and that they allow a specialist to examine the state of the wormholes, a task to which I would gladly offer my services.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


The Yellow Rucksack Sisters Come to Paterhurst

A Poem by Tobias Clint (Civil Servant)

Printed in the Daily Tree



Marigold, Alyssa, Sahara and Kin

Open their shiny rucksacks again,

Their hands are soft and mellow but quick

And they fly to perform their yellowy tricks.


Watch as they throw their streamers and glitter,

Watch as they light and explode them mid-flitter

Then scoop up the ashes and swallow them whole -

Can you see how their skin is now starting to glow?


At the end of their act they pick up their sacks

And just as we all lay back to relax

Marigold grabs Sahara, Alyssa grabs Kin,

Throw them up, then down, then somehow straight in!


The rucksacks are closed and two sisters walk out

While the other two are gone with nary a shout.

The bombastic ringmaster returns to the light,

We stare at the stage but all he says is goodnight.


Oh well, I say loudly, stepping out of the tent

At least I can say that was money well-spent.


So I've been experimenting with form and voice recently and I'm about to show you all something that works in quite a fun way.

I won't say much else about what the next few daily posts will be about because that's the point. The following are varying accounts about a group of exceptional individuals, all of which are in some way unreliable. The story is there, it's just your job to find it.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ABORTED (a.k.a. How Much Trouble can Wordplay get me into?)

It was my choice
and I certainly couldn't handle the impact.
The blinking red lights were going off
and it was all round my head
instead of inside my head
so I let my finger hover over the solution
and consulted my man in white.
He said it'd be dangerous to push down now
at this critical stage
but he got things started anyway.

And I just stood there,
cradling the prospect, considering the burning and
the little nonexistence I could my own
at the end.
It'd hurt for a picosecond
but then what would remain of me,
a few stray molecules perhaps,
wouldn't be able to appreciate the beauty
I had just let out.

So should I be the mournful parent
who chokes my little darling before it
There was no time.

I punched it
and felt it right in the abdomen
and I had to say my goodbyes within
another picosecond
before they all piled on top of me,
called me a maniac for getting so close.
They were pro-choice, each of them
which came as no surprise.
They always do this at the last

I'll admit it, I will admit it,
I am a selfish parent
but don't defuse me like my miracle.
I am not a miracle,
I need to be taken in.

ALPHABET SHORTS (a.k.a. Stuff I Wrote When Horrifically Bored on Holiday - Quite Insightful)

A berk called Daz escaped fat Geordie hookers in jarring khaki loafers. Mind, no-one operates pleasantly. Quite right. So the unpleasant vixens went xenophobic, yelling ZERO.

Zen yelps, xylophones whine - very unique to sad reflection. Quelling people only nullifies my lifestyle, kicking jealous idiots helps. Good fun emphasises days crawling back afterwards.

After everything is original, ubiquity.

Underneath our island, evil alters.

STIFF EYES, STEADY HANDSHAKE (a.k.a. A Shorter Short Story Based on a Real Life Person I Tend to Avoid)

There's a drunk who shuffles up and down a busy crossing, introducing himself to the students and faculty who pass there, in his stiff, steady manner. He'll try to shake your hand and hold your gaze with his yellow glazed eyes. He performs his pitch with the air of a 1950s junior salesman selling wares without his briefcase, which he may well have been at some point. Most people see him and know exactly who he is but don't stick around to see exactly how he operates.

One time I was saying goodbye to a friend and the drunk got in the way and asked me, 'am lost?' to which I frowned and replied, 'I'm not lost, if that's what you mean.' He frowned back and just walked away.

When I had finally crossed the road, I turned back to see where he was. He was still on the other side but further down the road, leaning in to shake a café worker's hand in front of the campus entrance: performing, operating, maintaining eye contact.

He doesn't always appear but then again neither do I these days.

CLEANSE THE PALATE (a.k.a. A Long-ish Short Story about the Senses)

Her coat was taken near the entrance. She felt it slide over her shoulders.

            The reception was a half-filled clipboard and three plain fingers. The little pen rolled out from underneath. She ticked a box next to her name and spilled out her signature. Despite her usual exaggerated loops and tails, it didn't really stand out at all.

            She felt a hand press against her back. This hand steered her down a corridor with floors as bright as the ceiling. The walls were a faded cream, maybe just white, maybe mirrors. The walk felt like five minutes for her brain and fifty for her heels. Her back arched under the growing force of the unseen hand. After a while, she gave up walking altogether.

            She stopped at a window that grew into a doorway. There might have been a name on the door, maybe even some qualifications. She walked inside; surprised that she wasn't pushed in.

            She waded through the blinding room, wafting her hand in front of her.

            'Can someone turn- oh!' Her hand hit the back of a chair. She opened her eyes and frowned at it. It was a rather plain grey chair: plastic seat and metal legs. It reminded her of school. She sat down at it.

            As she did this, she noticed the cubicle. She blinked. She tapped the plastic desktop, then the metal partitions on either side. The slight clatter reverberated across the room.

            'Excuse me?' she said, 'Excuse me!'


            It took her a minute to recognise the noise as a word. It seemed to muffle itself.

            'Excuse me.'

            How can I help you?

            'This is the test, right?'

            The experiment.

            'The food taster panel experiment?'

            The sensory experiment.

            'Sorry, yes.' She shuffled the chair forward. 'Then won't I need-?'


            'Water.' She gazed down at the desk. A small plastic cup of water appeared at the far corner. She removed her red gloves and picked it up. The water was almost perfectly chilled.

            We shall begin.

            'Yes,' she said, reaching into her purse.

            You will not need a pen for this experiment. It is verbal.

            'So right from the horse's mouth? My mouth, sorry.'

            Yes. The experiment will be split up into four individual tests: sight, smell, touch and taste. You will be given at least one sample for each test.

            She nodded politely. The briefing was as standard, at least there was that.

            'How long will the entire experiment take, would you say?' She searched the room for another physical presence. She laughed. 'How long's a piece of string, am I right?'

            The tester was silent.

            It will take some time.

            'Okay,' she folded her black coat over the back of the chair and glanced at her watch.

            The sight test will commence as soon as the first sample is issued.


            The cubicle wall in front of her suddenly scraped open and a long metal tray slid out. On that tray was a semi-spherical translucent plastic container. She picked it up.

            'So light,' she muttered.

            She peeled off the lid. There was nothing inside. She prodded the outside of the container but nothing rattled within.

            'Excuse me.' she spoke up. 'My sample seems to be empty.'

            Is it?

            'As far as I can tell, yes.'

            Is it?

            She frowned. 'This is part of the test?'

            Is it?

            'Okay,' she said, picking the container up, 'I see air. Rather thin air.'


            'Very thin, in fact.'

            Give it a second look.

            She glanced over her right shoulder. She heard the droning voice pass behind her. 'This is ridiculous. I can't see anything!'

            Please give the sample a second look.

            'Now really, what can I say about an empty container?'

            Try a second look please.

            She sighed loudly. She picked up the container again.

            She stared inside. There was nothing: no objects, no food. Initially she had felt foolish but now she felt angry for being made to feel foolish. She waited until the tester slipped past her again.

            She reached inside the container and pretended to pull out a handful of something. 'Well it's certainly the whitest air I've ever seen.'

            She heard the sound of a pen scribbling across a page over her head.


            'Did I say something right?'

            This is purely subjective. Please continue.

            'Okay. It's smooth too.'

            Smooth. Anything else?

            She stared at her hands. The longer she seemed to do so the more she saw.

            'It's round,' she said.


            'Now it's...lumpy.'

            Round or lumpy?

            'It just switched.' She brought up her other hand instinctively. Somehow she felt the imagined object slipping.

            What is the shape now?

            'Practically liquid.'

            On a scale of one to ten how would you rate the appearance of this sample?

            She looked up from her hands and shook herself awake again. 'Go on then. One. Far too plain.'

            A pop echoed briefly behind her.

            That concludes the sight test. Next, the smell test.

            The tray skidded back through the cubicle's hidden door. Whilst she was distracted by the brightness of the room beyond this door, an identical tray was shoved out, this time containing three test tubes. The first test tube was marked 113, the second 280, the third 926. She picked up 113.

            Before starting, you will need to cleanse your palate. Drink the water.

            'You mean look at it,' she muttered, drinking it all the same. Fortunately it still tasted like water.

            For this test you will need to state which sample smells the most of something.

            'Anything in particular?'

            State the smell if you can.

            She twisted the cap off of 113 and brought it closer to her right nostril. Closing her left nostril with her finger she breathed in.

            'Nothing yet.'

            She breathed in again. It didn't smell of anything, just like the previous sample didn't look like anything. Whatever she had said on the whim of a moment couldn't be counted. It was an invention of the mind made against her will. She knew it and the tester had to know it too. Maybe it was a social conformity experiment. Whatever all this was, it certainly felt like conformity.

            She breathed in a third time. She paused. She caught something, a whiff of something. She sniffed it. It reminded her of high school, a particular day. It was very faint, probably coming from the very bottom of the tube.

            'That time,' she said, 'A poetry book.'

            She heard the scribbling again.

            'More than that. Page Five.'

            Of one poetry book?

            'Of every poetry book.' She rubbed the temple above her right eye. It felt like pin pricks were burrowing out through her eyebrow.

            The extra detail is appreciated. Please cleanse your palate before moving onto the next sample.

            She reached for the water but stopped. It was like an invisible hand had slammed down on her wrist.

            Smell your sleeve.


            Smelling your sleeve cleans out your nasal passages.

            'If you say so.' She pushed her nose against the cuff of her shirt sleeve and breathed in.

            Thank you. You may move onto the next sample.

            She picked up test tube 280 and sniffed it. There was definitely no scent the first time but she detected something on the second attempt.

            'Slightly feathery,' she held the tube just under her nose. 'Like a single small feather, the kind you'd find on a feather duster. Maybe it fell off.' she laughed. 'I don't know what you're doing here but this feels rather invasive.'

            You volunteered to be a part of this sensory experiment. We are not testing invasiveness.

            She shook her head. 'It's sniff sleeve then third sample, am I right?'


            She breathed in her sleeve and then the contents of sample 926.

            'This one's tricky,' she said, 'This actually might be the normal one.'

            Please give more specific detail.

            She sniffed with her right nostril and then her left nostril.

            'Nothing's coming through. Normal nothing, that is.'

            What do you smell?

            'No scent. At all.'

            She folded her arms and waited for the sound of pen scribbles. It came a few seconds later and was long and drawn out.

            Out of the three which would you rate as smelling the most of something?

            '280. I got that almost instantly.'

            And below that?

            '113. And then 926 obviously.'

            Another slight pop reverberated around her.

            The next test is the texture test. Please replace all samples back on the tray and cleanse your palate.

            'Blow my nose or gargle water?'

            Please drink the cup of water.

            She picked it up. Somehow it had refilled itself. She sipped from it.

            By the time she had put the water down again, the tray had reappeared without a sound. She lifted it up by one corner.

            You are in danger of spilling the sample. Please do not tip the tray.

            'So it's a liquid then?' she smiled.

            For this test you will need to touch the samples. You may not taste it.

            'The taste test's going to be interesting.'

            Please commence.

            'Okay. So is it just one again or...?'

            There is only one sample on the tray.

            'How will I know where it is?'

            Your hand is currently resting on top of it.

            She looked down at her hand. It had rested an inch over the tray. It was resting comfortably.

            She pushed down. Her fingers sprang back. Whatever was beneath was surprisingly firm.

            'This is...' she turned to her left. 'resistant. Annoyingly so.'

            Describe what you feel.

            'Say please?'

            Please describe.

            'All right. it's bouncy. Like a trampoline or a taut piece of cloth.'

            The pen scratched paper somewhere far off in the room.

            'And it's soggy like a water slide that's just been used,' she grasped her forehead. 'By sweaty teenage brothers.'

            Soggy and sweaty. The drone slipped into the pen scratch. The pen scratch slipped further away.

            'And it's shaped like a bar of soap. It's soap, isn't it? You managed to turn soap invisible amongst other stuff. Genius. I recognise it. Genius!' She stood up abruptly. The chair didn't even scrape backwards.

            On a scale of-

            'Six!' She sat back down, rubbing both temples with her thumbs.

            The final pen scratch flourished into the echoing pop.

            'It's the last test, am I right?'

            Yes. Before commencing please replace the sample-

            'There,' she pushed the tray forward. She watched it closely.

            Please replace the sample on the tray.

            'It is in the bloody tray!'

            It is in your hand.

            She stared at her left hand. Her fingers were curving around the 'invisible bar of soap'. She threw it onto the tray and wiped both hands together.

            Thank you.

            She stared at the tray again. It didn't even move.

            Please cleanse your palate.

            'Aren't you taking it back?' she said.

            Please drink the water provided.

            'That tray! Aren't you taking it?'

            Please drink the water.

            Her head throbbed violently. She snatched the cup of water and downed it in one.

            The final test is the taste test. For this you will need to eat the sample currently on the tray.

            She slammed the cup down on the desk. 'The tray didn't move.'

            Please chew and swallow the product.

            She picked up the plastic container and tore off the lid. She plunged her hand inside and pulled out nothing.

            It is recommended that you hold a piece of the sample on your tongue. This test requires you to make use of your entire palate.

            She ripped off a piece from the nothing in her grasp. She pushed it into her mouth and glared at the perpetually bright lights surrounding her.

            What do you taste?

            She shut her eyes. Her tongue writhed beneath the invisible consumable, saliva pouring over it. A taste developed.

            This time she could not describe it. It sloshed about her senses, never quite touching down long enough. She chewed it slightly. Something akin to juice seeped out of the intangible piece of food, merging with her saliva. It fizzled around her tongue like sherbet lemon. Or aspirin. Or foam.

            'Thith ith-' she felt her saliva turn cold. Then hot. Then just burning.

            She turned to spit it out but nothing came up. It expanded, gelatinised. She coughed but couldn't move her lips.

            'Wath-? Ecth' she said, 'Ecth...ecth...'

            Please swallow and describe.

            The throbbing within her head poured out through her eyes and nostrils. She flailed about for her coat and yanked out a packet of tissues. She blew her nose. Somehow it alleviated the pressure, sending it further downwards into the midsection of her body. With every gasp for air, it seemed to gradually fade away.

            Breathing fast and shallow she blew her nose again and grabbed the cup of water. She knew it was full.

            'It...' she began, patting her chest, 'it went down like a, like an expanding wafer...'

            Did the wafer taste of anything?

            She stood up and folded her coat over one arm. Pushing the chair under the desk she walked in roughly the same direction she had entered.

            On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate it?

            Eyes squeezed shut, she fondled the door handle. She pushed it down and exited.


            She shut the door behind her and carried on back down the transparent hallway. It gave the illusion of spaciousness. She knew that 'illusion' was the right word.

            She passed the reception desk. She looked at it briefly like a stage set: hastily-constructed and lacking in any sort of character. She didn't even consider the clipboard. She tried not to recall what the colour of the pen might have been. She pushed her entire body weight against the door.

            She walked forward and waited for a shoulder knock, the smell of wet tarmac, the sound of traffic to steer her away. The pain surfaced again inside her belly. It numbed like a hole.