After 9 days I let my mind run free

No matter how many times we storm the tower who we are can’t be rescued. Filligan let the thin line of blood run across his fingers before turning up his collar, ‘How long do we have left?’

‘You were out for 5.23 minutes,’ if there was any remorse Bastian didn’t show it, ‘which will reduce our time considerably.’

‘It’s still long enough.’

‘I’m curious,’ Bastian barred Filligan’s way, ‘the marks on your skin?’

‘We need to get moving.’

‘I would call them self harm, but considering the length of your arms and the angles required, it would be impossible to burn yourself with a cigarette like that.’

‘I can do the rest of this without you.’ Filligan pushed Bastian aside and picked up his bag, ‘It only needed two of us to break the lock.’

‘What’s your story I wonder?’

‘I have no story.’

‘Oh, my dear friend, we all have a story,’ Bastian grabbed the flashlight from the top of the cabinet and followed his companion along the corridor, ‘and I can assure you that everyone begs to tell it in the end.’

‘Spare me the serial killer rhetoric.’ Filligan tapped a series of numbers into a keypad and pulled open the iron door. He paused, ‘Once we get down there, you take what you want, I take what I want, there will be no questions asked on either side.’

‘I do believe that is the agreement.’ Bastian watched him disappear into the darkness at the bottom of the stairs. He hadn’t hesitated, he hadn’t acclimatised himself, he hadn’t even used a torch. It was almost like he’d been in the room before.

Bastian stood for a moment, finding the flavour of his reaction. There were whispers here, an everyday of fimilarity. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Lucifer was made in the image of man and even the stairs had something to say about his decent.

He flicked his torch around the concrete grey of the unpleasant room. A row of old filing cabinets. A set of wooden crates. Half a dozen boxes. Books. More books. Bottles. Oil paintings all stacked up against each other. A table. A bed. A set of wax crayons. A clock drawn on the wall.

Filligan had his back to the stairs. Crouched low. A ragged breath in the stolen light. There was a slow way of cooking that infused meat with everything that had gone before. Bastian turned out the torch and took the darkness into his lungs. This partnership wasn’t just about forging out a profitable business. For all his secrecy, this young man was leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs that Bastian found impossible to resist.


©2017 Jac Forsyth


Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free





That first cut is always so damn sweet

Bastian Celeste walked his fingers over the casing of miniature drawers. There had been a time when a studio fitting like this would have been a show of status all by itself, but these relics of mahogany and brass were frowned on as much as ivory now.

He slid the first drawer open,  ‘You know, I often think that the 20th century and I would have got on rather well.’

‘A century that gave us genocide, atomic revenge and Margaret Thatcher.’ Filligan eased himself into the gap between the walls, ‘I think they’d have named a tube station after you and put your face on their banknotes.’

Bastian shook his head, reaching for the button tucked up inside the roof of the drawer, ‘The 20th century was all about humans trying to be gods.’ he flicked a sarcastic glance at his companion, ‘Now we just make them in our own image.’ He closed the drawer and moved onto the next one, pulling it half out and then pushing it back in again, ‘Power was and always will be an addiction, and where there’s an addiction there’s a lucrative living to be made in solutions.’

‘I thought you didn’t care about money?’

‘Who said anything about money?’ Bastian opened and closed a line of drawers, down and across, before stepping away. He began counting backwards from ten.

‘There are other safe zones,’ Filligan pushed himself against the back wall as Bastian snuggled into the alcove next to him.

Bastian slithered closer, ‘Four. I don’t even need to be in here, I had a noise cancelling patch fitted two years ago. Three. I just like how uncomfortable this makes you feel.’

‘You’re a complete arsehole.’

‘Of that there is no doubt.’ he nudged Filliagn, ‘Oh, and zero.’

‘Godamn…’ Filligan made a valiant attempt at throwing his hands over his ears before passing out.

Bastian patted his companion’s shoulder, allowing him to slide gently to the floor. Then pulling a delicately carved pill box from his top pocket, he raked through the contents with his little finger and shut the box again, this time opening it along a concealed hinge and exposing a lower compartment which was empty except for a plastic lining and a miniature knife. Bastian picked the blade out carefully, twisting it and rolling it along his fingers as he crouched down and pulled Filligan’s hair away from his neck, inhaling the sweetness of it, ‘Oh, Filligan Platt, now you’re just playing with me.’

He flipped the blade between his thumb and forefinger, savouring a final breath before cutting a neat set of parallel lines at the base of the young mans neck. Then he slid the blade along the length of the cuts and pulled the thin strip of skin free.

Bastian held it up to the light and smiled, winding it around his little finger several times before placing it into the pill box along with the knife, ‘I’m a bad man, my friend, but then you knew that before you signed up.’


I meant to post this on Friday but ended up in hospital instead. My whole week has been shot to pieces, but Bastian Celeste remains. I’m gonna have a drive around over the next few days, see what all you peeps have been up to without me.

Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free

It’s not like we stood in line for this

Sterility and stale leaves. September always tasted the damn same.

Bastian pulled the cuff of his glove tight and turned away from the door, slipping low under the first of the windows. The humiliated drone would be searching for him, calculating which side street, which building he’d ducked into, how fast, how far he could have gone. The old library sliced a piece of history through heat recognition easy enough, but any visual movement, any contrast, and he was screwed.

As he reached the next window, Bastian flicked a deliberate glance towards the faded colours at the far end of the building. This time of year the rising sun and dawn collided. A double light that went scattering in embers across the pale, marble floor. Despite everything, the uncomfortable ache of belonging always clutched at his chest when he was here. Looking back, it was hard to figure how the complexities of love had kept him chained for so long.

He slid down against the wall and divided the shuttered space by 5.3. It would be easy enough for the world to judge his parents as responsible, they’d continued to push books on him long after the psychological damage they caused had been discovered. And for sure, his parents had taught him more about contrition and cruelty than any book ever could. But to give either of them credit? He smiled softly, that was like crediting a lamb for the meal you’d just cooked with its flesh.

As HIVE sounded out 6.30am, the first of the information drones arrived in the street outside, it was already streaming his cut-out image into 4 million waking minds, including his own. This was the bit that the breakers always forgot, and the bit that interested him most of all. He closed his eyes and rode back with the surf. It was like looking through the window of a sweet shop.

He felt the sigh before he heard it, ‘Seriously, Bastian?’

‘Hey, you can take the kid from the fun, but you can’t take the fun from the kid.’

‘The kid?’ Filligan Platt shot a sarcastic glance at his business partner, ‘From what I heard, that face came with the stone you were skulking under when your parents found you.’

‘I was born and I will die,’ Bastian tilted his head to catch the fragrance of amber rays, ‘just like every other bastard thing on this planet.’

‘Spare me the mission statement. Did you kick the drone again?’

Bastian shrugged, ‘It’s about time they upgraded their defence net. Any fool knows rubber and electricity never did get on.’ He turned to Filligan, ‘Did the shipment come in okay?’

‘Not as much as we’d hoped, we lost most of the A grade to distraction deals.’

‘Is there enough left?’

‘Maybe,’ Filligan flicked his thumb over his fingers, ‘it’s hard to tell until we unpack the rest.’

‘And my, personal order?’

‘Safe inside the C grade, it’s the first thing I checked.’

Bastian rumbled through a sigh, patting Filligan’s knee, ‘You’re the closest thing I have ever had to a friend.’

‘Does that mean you’ll stop fantasising about how you’re going to kill me?’

Bastian patted his knee again, ‘I told you, you’re the closest thing I have to a friend, I’m saving something really special for you.’


©2017 Jac Forsyth


Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line for this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free

Just depends what sort of mood I’m in

Bastian Celeste detested heroes. All that perverted selfishness and hidden agenda, where was the honesty in that? Sure, moral corruptions followed him around like a pack of rabid dogs, but lying had never been one of them.

He picked up a coffee at the station and ducked past the security checks, stone-skimming his phone ID across the surface of a dozen underground relays.

The woman had asked about his life too many times, her ill concealed hopes locked into the rhythm of his breathing. He’d given her Arthur, a media architect from Chichester. She wanted someone with an exciting credibility, but he’d slung in a subliminal Once and Future King for good measure. It was all about fantasy, even when they pretended it wasn’t.

Her phone had failed to load his QRID, so she’d printed off an inkjet copy and put it on her bedside table. He’d placed a strategic ring of tea over it as he left. Hell, it was fake anyway, but somehow tragedy always tasted of a sweeter and more permanent kind of cruel. He could have killed her a thousand times over, instead he made her cry out without even touching her. The mood for anything else hadn’t been on him. Sometimes it was like that. He’d never taken the time to figure out why.

The billboards flickered through another cascade of neon cubes. HIVE had bundled the IOT into a centralised unit and chopped everything else up into a target driven resource. It had been months since anything more than a punchy little strapline had made it past the public broadcast system. Freedom of choice was a dead sales pitch. And no one seemed to miss it very much.

He flicked a glance at a public safety drone that had circled down the alley ahead of him. He’d overshot his social permit by two hours, but what the hell, even he was in love with Arthur.

He was close enough to his street office to see that the ad-graphics on the door needed changing again, it didn’t pay to let any signs of business inertia creep in. They’d talked about replacing the cluttered panel with a clear, face recognition glass. It would have given them a much higher PS rating and an air tight way to conceal their more covert activities. But even with the incentive of government subsidies, it was still expensive shit to buy. Plus, ditching the ads would mean factoring the loss of tax-deductible revenue into an already sketchy looking end of year return. The business took virtually nothing through the legitimate checkouts now, discrepancies like that flagged up pretty damn quick on the HIVE, and the last thing they needed was another alarm generated inspection.

He could hear the drone buzzing, it must have picked him up as he crossed the street, this wasn’t gonna be easy. Bastian smiled, he hated it when things were easy.


©2017 Jac Forsyth

A return in your honour : drainbrainx

Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free



Rains come rattling after the snakes, and she shines all the more for the venom they left behind. Woke up tied to the railings of a disused town. All the glass broken and just the signs, with only one good screw left in them. She’d check out. But the music just won’t let her go.

Dead leaves bend and break over and over and still look the same. Vinyl shuffled in all the right places, sparking like an AI system. She sighs of famine through the red tablecloth; greed always had all the aces. Makes no matter who deals the hand after that.

Drums on the roof. A song can get closer. Easy enough to get by on remembering how to feel. And most of the time it’s like they come holding up a mirror, looking to find out if they scrub up okay. She keeps the door open. No need to say goodbye when there was never a hello. Just the ghosts of this town, dressed in sheets. And black spots where their eyes should be.

Storm shakes the tumbleweed. She twists the blind shut and asks god to refasten the chains when he’s done.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

I’ll slip into something more comfortable…

The first thing that impressed people about Bastian Celeste was that he could speak two dozen languages. What they didn’t notice in all their admiring was that language was about control, and Bastian had an intent so complicated even he was unsure of how far down he’d crawled.

He flicked a glance at the pinnacle of youth sprawled out across his sofa. He was one of those kids who saw being under 25 as permission to rule the world. Every damn thing about him screamed – This is how you were once. Before you wasted your way through the magic lantern of frustrations. Bastian couldn’t be doing with it. He picked up his phone, scrolling through a series of imaginary texts, ‘If you’re going to waste my time, you should leave now.’

The young man didn’t even bother to look up.

‘Did you hear me?’

‘Yeah, I heard.’

The words came at him in slow motion artillery. What a fucking joke, like there had ever been anything to hear or not hear. Bastian smiled sweetly, but along the horizon the sun ripped up all the colours that weren’t red.

It was never really his fault, not when it came to it. It was more the familiarity of their arrogance that let them down. They always thought he was checking for texts because that’s what they did. Like the world was made in their image.

‘You know, most people are afraid of madness, because it has a fire in it they think they can’t predict. They forget that sanity comes in many …flavours.’ Bastian inhaled the word, gathering up the sickness in measured and treasured, ‘Have you ever put a jar over a wasp and watched it die trying to get out?’

The locking mechanisms were virtually silent. Bastian synced a satisfying clicking sound through the internal speakers. Fear was in the details.

He smiled again. Frankly, this was the best part. The bit when they realised who he was. And there was always enough victory in that moment to light a bonfire.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

9462347557_47b112e5fd_nImage courtesy of


Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line fore this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free

Missing the Maelstrom

You know I’m dying, right? And you. Waiting patiently for the adverts to end. Eating the popcorn rituals of your indifference. To see what happens next. While I politely asked for help. Because I was already holding on by my fingertips.

I only saw the storm once. A distant silver light. Unbridged. Untamed. Unwanted. Turned back on me in all the shades of an unfamiliar sky. I knew then that I was breathing recycled air. And the oxygen I’d brought with me had to last a lifetime.

Perhaps the care you felt was always in the watching? Hell, I’m not sure which words are even mine anymore. Just that this is series end. My final subplot demise. Seen from the couch of your living. Changing channels for the sympathy credits. Adorable in your smiles and nods. And then you’ll move on. Like a swan. But no frantic paddling underneath. Just the river carrying you softly. Tenderly. To the next box set.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

800px-Blake_Dante_Hell_VFeatured image: The Lovers’ Whirlwind by William Blake.
Courtesy of: Wikipedia

A plague on both your houses (3/3)

Having grown up with 12 sisters, Spontaneous Bucket was no stranger to unexpected phenomena. Still, the sheer magnitude of the beast took even him by surprise, ‘Wow. I mean. Wow.’

The dragon sighed, ‘I see that human is still synonymous with dung beetle.’

It was always difficult to seem sensible once someone had established that you were an idiot. Spontaneous gathered up all the pieces of his face into something that resembled an apology, ‘Forgive me, oh glorious one, I was just a little surprised, given the size of the mound and the size of… Surprised. Yep.’

The dragon rolled its eyes and burped out a flame, ‘Let’s just get it over with shall we? Fortune, women, turnips.’

‘I beg your pardon, oh mighty lord of confusables?’

‘It’s always the same. Fortune, women, turnips.’

Now you didn’t have to be a knight on a quest to get that it didn’t pay to be sarcastic with giant, mythical beasts, ‘I am but a stupid human, I beg your indulgence.’

‘Three wishes.’


‘Would you like me to stamp out how many is three on your fetid companion?’

‘Three? Wishes?’

‘Look,’ the dragon sat back and picked at a nostril roughly the size and texture of the bonfire they had built the last time a Witch Finder had come to town, ‘This whole process is about natural selection. Whoever cuts open a dragon egg and releases a dragon before the expulsion, also releases three wishes as a reward. Is that clear enough for you?’

‘A reward?’

A rumbling, furnacy sort of noise emendated from the creature’s throat suggesting a whole different kind of expulsion wasn’t off the cards, ‘If you ask me one more stupid question I shall have no choice but to raise this whole continent to the ground.’

Spontaneous Bucket may have been a medieval man, but it paid to know about continents. Soup was a pretty bland thing when cabbage was the main ingredient, ‘And if we don’t take these three wishes?’

‘WHAT!?’ Lucian scrabbled from behind the tree.

Spontaneous smiled apologetically at the dragon and backed away, dragging a drooling Lucian with him, ‘I know it sounds great, but you can’t trust dragons, even the village idiot of Nosoothsayershere town knows that and he’s only had half a head since the great, balance a scythe on any body part, fayre.’

‘But three wishes!’ Lucian’s eyes glittered, ‘Fortune, women AND turnips!’

‘So it is agreed?’ The dragon wound itself around the tree and obliterated the sun.

‘Wait!’ Spontaneous grabbed at his friend’s arm, ‘We want to hear all the details first.’

‘The details are, that you say Yes or you say No.’

‘Then I say n…’

‘Hey nonny nonny!’ Lucian squealed, pushing Spontaneous aside, ‘Yes. He says yes. Yes. Absolutely, yes. Not a No to be seen. Just yesses. We all love yesses here.’

‘Good choice pungent human.’

‘Right, okay then, well probably best to start with the fortune,’ he nudged Spontaneous chummily, ‘because those turnips ain’t gonna care for themselves, eh?’ Then he laughed nervously because the dragon was grinning at him like he’d just ticked the terms and conditions of a cess pit cleaners contract without reading them first.

‘Just one small question,’ the dragon tapped out a thoughtful tune, ‘Did I at any point stipulate exactly who was getting the wishes?’


The might beast scrolled open its wings and yawned, ‘I shall take my fortune in gold if you please, the turnips, feel free use your imagination, for I and not a monster.’ It grinned again because it actually was, ‘Oh, and you have until nightfall to bring me my first woman.’

Lucian was breathing through the top of his head, he bowed and scraped and curtseyed his way back around the other side of his companion, ‘By all that’s holy, we’ve been tricked by a dragon, what are we going to do?’

Spontaneous was deep in thought, ‘Does that sun look purple to you?’


‘And it is a Sunday.’

Lucian was horrified, ‘You can’t seriously be thinking about deploying Collateral Colin? He’s only had the witch part of his training. He’s not learning how to be a virgin until next year.’

‘I think being a virgin is pretty straightforward, he can wing it.’

‘You’re crazy.’

‘Me crazy? No,’ Spontaneous looked over at the row of pus mound, he was already calculating their number and dividing by the amount of nearby villages, ‘but mad has a nice ring to it.’

‘No, no, no, no, not again,’ Lucian backed away from his companion, ‘not after last time, you promised.’

‘Come on, promises aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.’ Spontaneous Bucket reached down for the knife stick, ‘Besides, we’re talking about mutual assured destruction here, those ground to air marrows we sold to everyone are gonna be so last century.’



Should you have inexplicably missed them, you can read parts one and two here.

©2017 Jac Forsyth


A plague on both your houses (2/3)

In times of plague it was always best to err on the side of caution where pustules were concerned. Even without the secret soothsayer’s custard based predictions, cutting one of the strange mounds open suggested an up close, all round, surround sound, pus experience. Spontaneous Bucket took a deep breath, whatever happened this would be a shot to remember. He glanced over at Lucian, ‘Here goes nothing.’

Which actually was what happened. Nothing.

Sure there was a small amount of seepage and what might be described as a modest, brimstony kind of smoke. But that was it. There were certainly no pitchforks, frogs or indeed custard skins to be seen.

‘Pass me the stick with a spoon on it,’ Spontaneous whispered.

Lucian groaned, experience had taught him that it was unwise to poke your spoon stick into anything that smelled worse than you did.

‘Hurry up, I think I can see something.’

‘Fine,’ Lucian threw the implement at his companion, ‘but don’t blame me when your pottage tastes of rhubarb.’

Spontaneous lay down on his side and gently slipped the edge of the spoon into the cut, the flesh wobbled threateningly, but so far so good. ‘There IS something in here,’ he called over to Lucian, ‘I can almost touch it.’

‘Poke it with a stick.’

More than anything Spontaneous wanted to poke it with a stick. But he was shrewder than his name suggested and instead he twisted the spoon inside the gap and opened up a small, gore dripping oval which looked alarmingly like the empty eye socket his uncle had once showed him for a laugh.

‘Is it a frog?’

‘No!’ Spontaneous sounded more confident than he was. Truth be told frogs came in many shapes and sizes and this could quite possibly be the hopping vanguard of a large I-told-you-so army. He swallowed back a mouthful of bile and hooked his finger into the hole. The pus mound squealed.

Spontaneous had never moved so fast in all his life. His heart was still somewhere in the clearing and both of his legs thought they were arms, but at least his mouth was still working, ‘What’s it doing now?’

‘Why do I have to look?’

‘Because It think my eyes have looked at more than enough already.’

Lucian wriggled and squirmed his way around the countless answers he could have given, ‘Fine, but you owe me two free goes on the ducking stool.’ He peered around the sturdy trunk like he was trying to sneak a look at the exam answers over the headteacher’s shoulder. After a while he pulled back, chewing at his lip, ‘Do you remember that summer when Toothless Fortitude baked a communal casserole?’

Spontaneous shuddered, ‘I still can’t look at a pair of shoes without crying.’

‘Bear that in mind.’

‘Damn, is it that bad?’

‘No,’ Lucian inhaled from his feet up, ‘I just wanted to give you a base for comparison.’

There is a silence that is more terrifying than any amount of noise can ever be. Spontaneous gathered up a small bundle of sticks and crept forward. The clearing was more or less how he’d left it.

Except for the dragon.


to be concluded tomorrow….

Should you have inexplicably missed it, you can read part 1 here

©2017 Jac Forsyth


A plague on both your houses (1/3)

Several of the peculiarities had already a quarter-mile radius in a stinking, slithering gloop that couldn’t be removed even by praying really, really hard. Spontaneous Bucket poked at the pus filled mound with a stick, ‘It’s amazing, they look exactly like a scaled up version of the ones that grow on people.’

‘Personally, I underestimated the level of grossness,’ his companion called from behind a tree.

Sensible people had been avoiding the footpaths since the first of the Great Inundations, but Spontaneous was a man of opportunity. He had taken to charging for a quick blessing rinse on the ducking stool and according to the waiting list, the price of holy head covering rags was just about to hit an all-time high. If he could only work out how to provoke a splattering, then he was pretty much made for life.

He poked at the disgusting mound again. It teased him with an alluring quiver but the probability of explosion remained undetermined.

‘Any ideas?’ he threw the question over his shoulder, not wanting to miss a tell-tale sign that something was about to go down. And up. And obviously sideways.

‘Poke it with a stick?’

‘Any more ideas?’

‘A bigger stick?’ Lucian Scabby was a great believer in poking at things with a stick, ‘Two sticks joined together?’

‘I don’t think that even three sticks would work here.’ Spontaneous crouched down and put his ear as close to the mound as his nose could bear, ‘Besides, I think there’s something moving around inside.’

Lucian wasn’t going to risk a glance, ‘Sounds like witchcraft. We should call a Witch Finder.’

‘They’re a bit of a one trick pony,’ Spontaneous tilted his head and tried to ignore the rising nausea that was threatening to turn up the volume on the repugnant party, ‘plus we ran out of women on Tuesday.’

‘What about Collateral Colin?’

Spontaneous leaned in closer, it was certain now, the abomination was definitely concealing more than an unexpected showering of pus, ‘You should never use your emergency back-up woman, not unless the chickens lay double yolks and the sun turns four times purple on a Sunday.’ He said the words mechanically, all his focus was on the mound.

‘We could always burn the priest?’

‘Father Constantinople died six weeks ago, we’ve just been propping him up by the cess pit until his replacement arrives. He’s getting pretty runny; several people have actually used him to put fires out.’

Lucian frowned, ‘Can I poke him with a stick?’

‘Sure…’ Spontaneous clicked a thought out over his tongue, ‘I wonder what would happen if I cut it open?’

‘According to the secret soothsayer of Nosoothsayershere town: 10,000 frogs with pitchforks will burst forth from the open wound, all cows will walk backwards and birds will instantaneously grow beards.’ Lucian shook his head sadly, ‘Then Lucifer himself will dance naked in every market square for 35 days without any garments on. And then, as the moon splits open, all of hell will join together to form one huge, hairy and assumedly squawking, questing beast. The beast will then vomit up a gargantuan, yellow custard skin and proceed to cover the whole earth in it. And then it will eat our hands and feet and put our eyes round back to front so we have to look at our own brains. For all eternity.’

‘So pretty bad things then?’

‘Did I mention the custard skin?’

Spontaneous cricked his neck, ‘Pass me the stick with a knife on it.’


to be continued……

Yu can read part 2 here

©2017 Jac Forsyth