Lost Light

moon-michael-creese (2015)

“Moon” by Michael Creese (2015)

Here’s a humble wee poem I wrote about finding peace in the simple embrace of nature.  Written on the 25th March 2017.

Lost Light

In the dying embers of a summer’s day,
I float a while out on the bay.
With solstice’s shimmer upon the waves,
It turns to diamonds before it fades.
And when light dips below that distant line,
Beyond the horizon, and into the brine,
I am at one, in this sea of sanctuary,
My dissolving woes becoming fragmentary.
Emerging from wounds in Heaven scarred,
I behold the beauty of stoic stars.
Lone swimmer adrift, my thoughts dissipate,
Freed of their burden, and of their weight.
Emancipated from love, liberated from hate,
Freed of the worry and constrictions of fate.
A simple zen washes me, it’s innocent and pure,
Cool waters of twilight, they feel so secure.
In the neutrality of contentment and peace,
Within the beauty of stars I find my release.
We weep no tears of honest elation,
Only smile and embrace and share adoration.
As I drift through solitude, it begins to rain,
To the harmonious downpour’s sweet refrain,
I reflect on nothing, only tranquillity exists,
And I float wherever these currents insist.
Now amongst those ghosts of that summer’s day,
I floated in the sanctuary of the darkened bay.
And when solstice’s glitter had sunk far below,
I turned to diamond, in that watery meadow.

A Bit of a Pickle

Whimsical Pickles on a Bicycle Built for Two by Alison DeBenedictis

“Whimsical Pickles on a Bicycle Built for Two” by Alison DeBenedictis

Pickles.  Love them or loathe them, they’re part of our lives.  Oftentimes more so than we could ever possibly imagine or comprehend.  Take for example this thrilling tale of a pickle that promises to change everything in the lives of two unsuspecting people.  Written on the 28th February 2017.  This story is suitable for vegetarians.

A Bit of a Pickle

“I swear that’s it!” shouted Donna, pointing at the innocuous-looking pickle lying on the carpet.

“Is it nothing!” retorted Alf, giving it a weird look. Surely it wasn’t true?

“It is, Alf! It’s the Pickle of Destiny!”

The Pickle of Destiny was a legendary pickle spoken of in local…well, legend. People said it would grant whomsoever found it the power to will their wildest dreams into realities. All they had to do was grasp the pickle with both hands, close their eyes and pray to the Pickle God.

“How do you know this is it?” asked Alf, picking the curious item up off the floor and brushing the dog hairs off it.

“How many pickles have you known to materialise in the middle of your living room?” Donna fired back, huddling close and helping pick the grey hairs off its green and bumpy sides.

It was a fair point, Alf hadn’t seen a pickle appear out of thin air and flop onto the carpet before, not until a few minutes ago anyway. There was a pretty good chance this really was the Pickle of Destiny.

“Well, what if it is? What now? What do we wish for?” Alf looked around the living room for inspiration. They needed a new sofa, that could be a start. “What about the suite?”

Donna looked at the faux leather three-seater against the far wall and its accompanying chairs. They were pretty worn out, and they had been talking about getting it replaced recently anyway. “Okay, we’ll give it a try. Pass it here”. Alf passed the pickle with both hands, careful not to drop it, lest the dog came into the room and ate both it and their wildest dreams.

Alf took a step back and watched as his wife hugged the little green vegetable with both hands, closed her eyes and addressed the Pickle God out loud. “Dear mighty Pickle God, I ask of you to bequeath us the gift of a nice new three piece suite, preferably with real brown leather. Actually no, make it cream, I don’t want the dog hair to show up on it. Thanks”.

Alf lowered his eyebrows and shook his head slowly. “Bequeath?” he asked mockingly.

Just then the room lit up with a radiant green light, and in the next moment their worn-out seating arrangement was replaced with a brand new real leather affair complete with matching cushions. “Gosh!” blurted Alf in disbelief. “It really is the Pickle of Destiny! Imagine all the cool things we can do with it!”

“What should we do with it next?” asked Donna excitedly.

Alf took a seat on the nice new leather sofa and thought about it for a second. “Oh, I know!” he announced. “You know how when we go shopping I hate how busy it is?”

“Yes,” replied Donna, wondering where he was going with this. “What about it?”

“Give me the pickle and you’ll find out!”

Alf was handed the pickle. He hugged it tight, closed his eyes and addressed the Pickle God. “Dear Pickle God, I kindly ask that the next time we go shopping down the street all the other people disappear and we get the whole place to ourselves. Thanks”.

“Nothing’s happening,” said Donna after a moment of awkward silence.

“That’s because we’ve not went shopping yet. Let’s go out right now and see”.

The couple left the house and began walking into town. There was absolutely no one else in sight. Luckily, their local Tesco had self-serve checkouts and so they didn’t even need a cashier, and in no time they were back home again with lots of bags of shopping and none of the hassle that comes with dealing with other people.

“That was great!” beamed Alf, cracking open a can of beer. “I can’t wait to see what we get up to with this thing tomorrow. Here, let’s put it in the fridge for safekeeping, I don’t know if the Pickle of Destiny goes off if you keep it out in the open too long”.

Donna and Alf hit the hay and enjoyed a nice peaceful slumber filled with fanciful dreams about the future, now that the most famous pickle in the history of pickles was in their possession.

The next morning Donna wished for a new coffee maker and an automated kitchen that cooked them a deliciously hearty breakfast. Alf wished for the best shower on the planet and enjoyed a good scrub. After redecorating the entire house, adding several additional wings, turrets and towers, they decided to head out for a stroll to tell all their friends and family the good news.

As they walked down the street they transformed local parks into world-class zoos, replaced all the street lights with ones made out of solid gold and encrusted them in diamonds. They even took it upon themselves to turn the pigeons into something a tad less horrible: graceful eagles that could and did play the harp. It was a very productive walk indeed.

“Hey, you know what’s weird?” asked Alf as he passed the pickle to his wife after turning the sky purple because he was a big Prince fan.

“What?” replied Donna, readying herself to wish for a nicer handbag.

“We haven’t seen anybody else out today”.

It was true, they’d been out of the house around twenty minutes now and not one person had they laid eyes on. It was very strange. They contemplated this weirdness as they entered the Lider Centre; the largest shopping centre in town.

“Alf, what’s going on?” Donna had stopped thinking about a new handbag and instead stood still, looking around at the utterly empty mall. There was nobody around. Not a soul. They were the only people in the what was normally the busiest place in the entire town.

“Oh cripes…” Alf’s words trailed off.

“What?” asked his significant other.

“I think there’s a small chance we were wrong about the Pickle of Destiny”.

Donna stared at Alf for a second, trying to figure out what he could possibly mean. Then it dawned on her too. “Oh no. You’re kidding me. You don’t think we–”

“That’s right babes, I think we mistook the Pickle of Destiny for the Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience”.

“For the love of the Pickle God, I don’t believe this!”

“The Pickle God’s got nothing to do with this, Donna. The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience is the unholy property of the Pickle Devil. Everything we wished for may have come true, but it’s permanent. No exceptions. When we wished for everyone to disappear yesterday so we could go shopping in peace, they ceased to exist forever! Oh dear, what have we done?!” Alf broke down in tears and fell to his knees.

The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience was another pickle spoken of in local legend, it was the yin to the Pickle of Destiny’s yang. In fact, it was only one of around eight other legendary pickles spoken of in the local area, though admittedly, both it and the other pickles were rarely heard of.

Donna’s eyes were almost falling out of her head. She threw the Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience at the nearest wall, ridding herself of its power. Unfortunately, the potent vegetable bounced off the wall of Nicho’s Taco Shack and landed with a splash in the mall’s main water feature; the Dave the Clown Memorial Fountain.

“Oh Christ no, Donna!” screamed Alf, momentarily looking up from his lamentation on the floor. “You didn’t chuck it in the fountain, did you? The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience is water-soluble!”

It was true. Just as the words escaped Alf’s mouth and he went back to crying, the pickle in the fountain began to fizz like a certain brand of mint in a certain brand of carbonated soft drink. Green foam began filling the fountain, and soon all the water had turned a lurid green colour, sort of like limeade but more menacing. Donna ran and hid behind a mobile phone stand as Alf rolled onto his side and gave up on life. The foaming reached ridiculous levels of foaminess not seen before in the history of foam, green lightning began shooting out of the billowing mass overflowing from the fountain, shocking fast food outlets and putting entire clothes shops up in flames. With an almighty explosion and roar, the great Pickle Devil himself emerged from the frothing green fountain.

“Behold, I have risen at long last! You have released me from the binds of my pickle prison and I will now turn everyone on the entire planet into a pickle!” The hulking green demon bellowed with demonic laughter and fired a series of small pickles from his eyes, scattering them across the floor of the Lider Centre, where they started running around kicking holes in windows and walls.

“Erm, excuse me, oh powerful Pickle Devil,” said Donna, timidly emerging from behind the mobile phone stand. “But we actually already wiped out the human race about half an hour ago. There’s nobody left to turn into pickles. Sorry”. Donna resumed her cowering behind the mobile phone stand. It was probably for the best.

The Pickle Devil stopped laughing. The little pickles stopped breaking things. “Well what am I supposed to do now?” the large green monstrosity eventually asked. “I mean, come on, I finally rise to power after all these years and there’s no one left to turn into pickles? Seriously? What kind of luck is that? I guess I’ll just have to turn you two snivelling fools into pickles and call it a day. Might as well go play on the swings down at the park afterwards, it’s not like there’ll be anything else to do”.

“Actually…” Donna’s head emerged from behind a row of Nokia 3310s. “We got rid of the park too”.

“What do you mean you got rid of the park?” demanded the Pickle Devil.

“We turned it into a zoo”.

“A zoo?” the demon stroked his lumpy green pickle chin. “That’s not so bad, I guess. I could at least turn the animals into pickles”.

“Yes you could”.

“I know I could!” spat the Pickle Devil angrily. “Fine. I’ll turn you two worthless maggots into pickles and then I’ll go turn the animals at the zoo into pickles too”.

“That’s something, at least,” said Donna, trying to sound comforting but immediately wondering why she wanted to comfort a giant demonic pickle that wanted to turn her and her husband into little pickles just because he could.

“Right, say your prayers and all that jazz,” boomed the Pickle Devil before turning a blinding green light on them and transforming them both into six inch pickles and stamping on them.

The Galwegian Haggis Wraith

Frank Schott

“12:31” by Frank Schott (2011)

Once more from the obscurity of my strange mind comes a weird (yet informative) article on a creature which most people probably think doesn’t exist.  What’s that?  You’ve never heard of the Galwegian Haggis Wraith either?  Well you’re in the right place for an enthralling crash course education!  Written on the 31st January 2017.

The Galwegian Haggis Wraith

In Galwegian folklore (not to be confused with Glaswegian folklore), a haggis wraith is a supernatural entity that appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking lump of fur. Haggis wraiths are the ancestral spirits of long dead haggises, and are regularly seen flying around graveyards, forests and beaches at night in a whirlwind of pure, undiluted Scottishness. The fact that they fly at all is quite interesting, as living haggises and their forefathers (such as the woolly haggis, sabre-toothed haggis and iron age hamster) were never capable of flight. The earliest cave paintings depicting their ancestors reveal that the closest they ever got to air propulsion was when Galwegian cavemen threw them at each other in lieu of snowballs. It is believed that their new-found ability to whiz through the air like hairy frisbees is due to either as-yet discovered paranormal reasoning, or possibly the ignition of methane from their characteristically long, drawn out expulsions of wind.

Haggis wraiths are usually described as “hairier than sin” (according to Hangman’s Bestiary, the authoritative scholarly text on wonderful creatures that may or may not have existed). Their hue can range from the most vibrant of ginger to the inkiest of black and includes many shades of grey, white and the occasional patterned variant, much like the common household cat. It has four legs, though they are so tiny they could be considered inverted and are therefore not worth considering at all. From a distance they could be mistaken for large, mouldy sausages or black puddings which have been left outside in the rain too long, and from up close they are regularly mistaken for dishevelled hedgehogs that got into a fight with a bag of wool.

The creatures are known across Galloway for being supremely ferocious and many herds of the famed belted Galloway cattle have been reduced to mere bones by their ilk. They also have a propensity to gnaw at the ankles of fishermen if they fall asleep at the rod after dusk. In 1678 such an incident occurred to attest to their ferocity that the creature was subsequently placed on the National Register of Heathenish Entities, that being when the entire population of the village of Broadstone was wiped out by an infestation of haggis wraiths when a local clergyman discovered a nest in the church’s bell tower and poked it with a bible.

The haggis wraith is an exceptionally patriotic creature of legend, and as such will only yield in its attack (especially if it is swarming with other members of its hive) if the person or animal being set upon cries for leniency in a decidedly Galloway-Irish accent. This behaviour goes some way to explain why infinitely more foreign people die of haggis wraith attacks in the region than locals. Currently, the ratio stands at ten to one, with only one Galwegian dying from an attack for every ten outsiders that fall victim to their infamous rage. According to Archibald McLean’s Scots Folklore Bible, haggis wraiths sometimes carry a rare strain of malaria. Though this is merely conjecture (allegedly an attempt to keep highlanders out of the lowlands), a lot of people believe it to be fact and as such the Tourist Information Board of Scotland has had to inject huge resources into an awareness campaign to inform potential visitors that malaria in Scotland died out with the kelp bears in the late seventeenth century.

Ebenezer Hangman identifies haggis wraiths as “one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in Scottish folklore that look like hairy, spectral sausages”, and observes that they are “strikingly fluffy” and often exhibit “borderline genocidal tendencies”. Hangman also speculated that if provoked enough, a haggis wraith is capable of spontaneous combustion as a last resort defence mechanism, though as yet no fatalities have been recorded regarding this extreme behaviour. Despite this, it must be noted that a farm near Leswalt was once blown up by something that the insurance policy holder insisted was a free-floating haggis of indeterminate origin and disposition.

The haggis wraith’s influence stretches far and wide. Romanticised depictions of it have appeared in many novels and poems, with the first reference to it in literature occurring in 1412 in John J. Harg’s Horror of Clayhole. In this groundbreaking historical novel, Harg mentions the haggis wraith many times and makes note of it being both the “scourge of the Rhins” and the “matted beastie of St. John’s Chapel”. The haggis wraith has also been portrayed in other forms of media, most notably in Touching Cloth Pictures’ 1972 film noir classic, The Teased Bishop.

In summation, the haggis wraith of legend is an entity to be both feared and respected. If the tales are to be believed then it is the cause of more than thirty thousand untimely deaths, the wiping out of eleven villages and the destruction of more farmland and forests than the bubonic porridge louse during the Lowlands Renaissance. A creature of almost stoic mysticism, it will remain an icon of Scottish lore for as long as there are tartan tongues to speak of it, dancing and flitting in the evening gloaming between the ancient tombstones and pines of the majestic Galloway hills.

Strange Luminescence


“Will-o-the-Wisp” by Tom Shropshire (2012)

Death and thoughts of a grim nature have always fascinated me, I think we all have a little darkness in us.  Sometimes, if we let it, that darkness can consume us, mind, body and soul.  This is a short piece I wrote concerning the oppressive ensnarement it can have on the human condition.  Written on the 5th March 2017.

Strange Luminescence

I idle a while these drunken hours, the dream-like stupor of suicide’s clarity. If the darkness of the dampen earth of graves could ever be considered vivid, then I would be a reveller in the vibrancy of its bleak hues.

Long ago I opened myself to the virtues of the dead, opened my core to the seeping blackness, and the slow yet steady expulsion of corrosion grim. I died, spiteful of life and its follies, turned to dust this granite heart of mine and interred myself unaided in a shallow pit many miles from sanctuary, so that no lost wanderer may find my resting place.

In my sadness I crave solitude, crave the silencing finality of the glorious end. I sought it out in the recesses of my bleakest thoughts, the featureless rooms of insanity and the unadorned caverns of my woe. I found nothing. The search drove me into the wilds, fighting the winds and rain and the clawing pleas of dim retribution’s dying light. I shunned them all and carved my prize from the fetid tombs of forgotten wastelands with my own bloody hands, raw and numb. I toiled in the downpour of winter’s worst storm, daring the tempest to bury me in its anger. Shivering, tormented, fevered with the madness of approaching doom, I excavated the unreachable recesses of the soul, tore frigid handfuls from the earth and beheld my ruinous work. A dank, unforgiving place to rest eternally in the folds, isolated from tearful eyes or warm embracing hands.

With my soul reaved from its untilled field, a harvester in the dark of night’s barren void came to my side. I cried, oh how I cried undiluted tears of joy when he cut me down with his scythe. How I revelled in the embrace of that sullen pit, how I loved the fall into its nameless, faceless cradle. How I turned myself down and let these worn bones of mine sink into the bubbling mud. I have delivered myself back to the earth and await nature’s cruellest of decays; the sardonic decomposition of vitality itself. Birth me again from this rotten shell, oh cruel writers of law. I beseech you from this stricken pit of mine, grant this lowly sapling a fair germination.

Of dreams I have had, swirling in the storm clouds of my most tempestuous manias, there is a light that illuminates my crypt. A pale orange light, one which tells of a future unseen. A murmuring sliver of soul lingers within my desolation, and in my slumber of ages I know I must become that light. Let my putrescence seep into the ether, let it ignite in the world above. Let the rain come down, aided in its descent by the forks of lightning and grimaces of concealed stars. Once more they come sombrely and dance a while with my phosphorescent wisps. I crave more of the reaper, demand that which life could not afford me. Set me to work, grim death. Set me dancing the ethereal jig of the damned upon my own pitiful grave. Gift this wish of dead dreamers to me, flicker a while in the rotting hours of murmuring corpses. See with your featureless eyes my expunged and withered soul, see it light up the night in both the luminescence of decay and the final fleeting joys of a martyred man.

I am death. I am light. I am the contradiction of soaring dreams and burning candles by solemn graveside. My dance is complete, and I am ready to dissipate into the ether for all eternity. In this radiant encore of mine, I am released.

The Little Crap That Couldn’t


“Feelings” by Mike Mitchell (2010)

Who says feces have no literary merit?  Someone, I’m sure.  Well they’re wrong, and of that I’m sure as well.  The following is a tale of loneliness, adventure, redemption and poo (not necessarily in that order).  Originally written on the 21st July 2008 without shame.

The Little Crap That Couldn’t

Once upon a time there lived a gentlemen. As a great and well-fed lover of food, he had spent an entire day at an international food festival sampling all of its marvellous and varied offerings. The gentleman gorged himself on many delectable delights, succulent specialties and tantalising treats and after many hours spent in this manner, his swollen belly began to protrude very ungentlemanly like indeed. So the man decided that he’d had his fill and it was high time to leave the wonders of the festival behind. Besides, the many loud expulsions heard emanating from his embarrassed hindquarters had upset the other attendees and he was asked to leave by management. Not that the gentleman particularly cared at that point though, he was feeling quite queasy anyway.

Later that night, as he was walking down the street making his way back to the hotel to sleep off his now rather painful overindulgence, the gentleman suddenly had the most intense urge to pitch the biggest loaf this side of the Warburton’s factory. He wanted to drop the deuce right there and then in his fine cotton boxers but, being a man of distinction, he chose not to (for he knew how to take care of a good pair of boxer shorts). Instead, in one fluid motion he pulled his chinos and fine cotton undergarments down and let loose the biggest sludge beast of brown plasticine he’d ever unleashed and watched in stark humiliation as it slopped all over the paving slabs beneath him like a malfunctioning chocolate fountain.

What a scene his public defecation did cause. Terrified women and children screamed and ran for their lives, ageing pensioners dropped unconscious and a double decker bus swerved into a church and exploded. Some bodybuilding macho man even tried to be a hero and took it upon himself to dive headlong at the puddle of potent poo, attempting to scoop it up in an empty bag of Doritos. But alas, the foul stench of the colon broth was far too overpowering and the wannabe saviour dropped like a fly.

Woe to the flustered gentleman, for his face and name would forever be associated with taking a dump in the street. But as much as the gentleman was deserving of it, infinitely more woe was owed to the poor little jobby he’d just birthed upon the pavement. Only five seconds out of the womb and already the world had shunned it. Before they even had a chance to embrace or take a photograph to commemorate the moment, the jobby’s biological father died after popping an embolism and crapping his intestines out, thus ruining his expensive chinos after all. The gentleman’s fine cotton boxers however, were snatched up by an opportunistic thief before the rancid river of rectal refuse could reach them. Alas, the little unloved jobby began to shed a tear, for it was orphaned already. Owing to the fact that it was born out of asexual reproduction, the bronze expulsion only had one parent, and he now lay dead in the street with blood trickling from his nose. The jobby broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. It had no home, no one to love it and no clue about the strange new world it now found itself lost in.

The little poo was used to swimming through the tunnels with all the other little jobbies, joyously splashing in the yellow rivers and popping the aromatic bubbles. That all seemed like a distant memory now as it lay plastered to the pavement in the middle of a bustling metropolis surrounded by unconscious bodies, pale-faced bystanders and towering confusions of concrete with a thousand glass eyes. The jobby noticed some of the windows on the monoliths were smeared with the white spatterings of pigeons, and with those lurid smears there came rushing the haunting memories of home which in turn brought a urinous tear to its leaky brown eye. The poor thing was a meandering mess of meaty marmalade, frightened and alone in a terrifying world. It remained by its father’s side for many hours, weeping and lamenting as the strange people walked around it and the darkness of night gave way to the light of day.

Even though it did not know exactly what to do next, a vague instinct eventually told the little jobby that at the very least it must get out of the open and take cover inside one of the strange edifices soon, for if it were to stay in the street much longer the hot midday sun would surely bake it into a diabolical deuce cake or a brown bowel batter brick right there on the unforgiving pavement. The little jobby spied a church and something told it that this would be a place of refuge and that safety and sanctuary from the blistering elements were surely to be found within its colossal walls. The church was just across the road, and there didn’t seem to be any more of those fast moving metal contraptions coming. So, ever so slowly, the little jobby smeared itself across the paving slabs and made its way to the kerb, leaving its deceased father behind forever.

After managing to shuffle half way to the edge of the road with great difficulty, the little jobby realised that it would take all day at that rate and it would be a smelly brown cake getting burnt on the pavement very soon. It pondered its predicament for a moment before having an epiphany; it would mimic the passersby and mould itself some stumpy legs out of its pliable body much like a person would do with clay or plasticine. And so that’s exactly what it did.

After a few minutes, the little portion of severely undercooked anal broth had made itself some new legs and now had the ability to make a speedy dash for safety. With new-found confidence and hope, the little jobby leapt off the kerb and began running gleefully across the road towards the church and the safety and salvation it was sure to find within. Its little mind was overflowing with optimistic thoughts and wonderment as it raced onwards.

But when it got halfway across, it was flattened by a bus.

The flattening of the fleeing feces was not its end, however. For in the next moment an alien spaceship from fifty billion light years away suddenly appeared above the road and used its teleportation ray on the giant skid mark, beaming the stretched-out jobby onboard. The aliens had meant to hit the bus but missed and wound up with a quarter mile of fresh human excrement in their cabin instead. The stench soon caused the aliens to have a series of debilitating strokes, and the spaceship crashed into the church, blowing it to smithereens. Owing to the fact that the ship was powered by incomprehensible alien technology that somewhat resembled nuclear fission, the entire planet went up like a nuke and was annihilated in an instant.

And that is why if you ever find yourself presented with far more food than you can knowingly eat, you should never overindulge. It’s greedy, and you never know what could happen if you do.

An Incident at the Pearly Gates


“At the Pearly Gates” by Steven Smith

Even in the afterlife (the good one), things can be hard.  Here’s a story I wrote about how arduous it must be toiling away , day after day, at the gates of Heaven.  St. Peter’s been finding work a little difficult recently, so in his infinite wisdom he decides to train a robot to help lighten the load.  What could possibly go wrong?  Written on the 9th February 2017.

An Incident at the Pearly Gates

“You died in a jet ski accident”.

“No he flaming well did not!” spat St. Peter, bashing a spanner off the robot’s head.

The devout and hard working saint was particularly flustered today, normally his divine duty of manning the Pearly Gates™ was stressful – there were always unjudged souls ready to object to being denied peace everlasting – but today was extra aggravating because he was trying, between fresh neophytes, to build himself a robotic servant. No mean feat when the world’s population never took a break from dying and ascending that ethereal escalator in the sky.

“I told you already, this one died of a brain aneurysm, not a sodding jet ski. Now get that into your thick CPU or we’ll be here all day… Oh Jesus Christ, here comes another one…”

“Did somebody say my name?” It was Jesus, he’d appeared out of a pink cloud, a habit his father had asked him to stop because it was upsetting the more sensitive angels.

“Get lost Jesus, I’m busy here,” snapped St. Peter, jabbing a golden screwdriver into the robot’s auxiliary port.

“Well now, somebody’s uptight today. Better hurry up Pete, you’re starting to get a backlog there,” jested the son of God, pointing at the steadily expanding line of recently deceased on the other side of the gate.

“Shut up, you wood-whittling hippie!” barked the divine doorman. Jesus sneered and promptly left, kicking up a wisp of cloud in his wake. “Alright, you. Yes you. You’re next. Okay, let’s try this again. St. Peter 2.0, tell me how this man died, and I swear to the All-Maker you’d better not screw it up again”.

“Greetings sir, and welcome to Heaven. My neural sensors indicate to me that you have just died in a jet skiing accident”.

St. Peter exploded. Literally. Never in his multi-millennia long service to the Kingdom of God had he been this spectacularly angry. After his steaming skull chunks had settled over the clouds and the pulpy bits of his sizzling brain slid down the faces of the bewildered deceased, Peter’s head reconstituted itself and he resumed his tirade. “Damnit! You’re the single biggest piece of crap I’ve ever had the misfortune of working with in my entire life! Gabriel, hey Gabriel, get your bronzed buns over here and help me out with this pile of trash!”

Gabriel, who was nearby and busying himself with adjusting a quadriplegic’s bow tie, sauntered over to the gates and let loose an impressed whistle. He’d never seen a robot in Heaven before. And no, Jesus’ wooden golem didn’t count.

“Gabe, now you’re a smart lad. You know a thing or two about machines, what with that arcade cabinet you and Jesus threw together for Barachiel’s birthday last week. Tell me how to fix this piece of garbage before I lose it completely and set it on fire”.

“What operating system is it running?” asked the angel, rubbing his fake-tanned chin.

“Erm, excuse me…” asked a man timidly on the other side of the pearly barricade. “But could you tell me, is this Heaven?”

“Shut your mouth, you impatient wretch!” blared St. Peter. “I’ll get to you in a God damn minute, can’t you idiots hang on for just a second? You’re already dead, it’s not like you need to be anywhere or anything”. The angry old saint scratched the bald spot under his halo, it always itched whenever he was stressed. “Now let me think here… Um, yes, I think it’s Microsoft Windows: Divine Edition. That’s it. Why?”

“Oh,” said Gabriel, sounding suddenly quite hopeless. “I don’t know much about Microsoft systems, I’ve only ever worked with Apple ones”.

“Apple?!” spat St. Peter, kicking the robot and stubbing his toe in the process. “Apple?! You know damn well no apples are allowed in Heaven, not since the incident with Adam back in the day. How dare you speak such blasphemy!”

“Oh shut up Pete,” scolded Gabriel, turning and starting to walk away. “It’s an operating system by a company called Apple. It’s not an actual bleeding apple, you dick. I hope that robot falls over and crushes you, you nasty old man”.

“Fine!” yelled St. Peter with his finger pointing accusingly at the retreating messenger of God. “I’ll fix this thing all by myself! I don’t need you or your bad attitude anyway, Gabe!”

“Excuse me sir, but I really must insist: is this Heaven or is it not?” It was the man on the other side of the gate again. He seemed to have gathered some courage, for now he had stretched an arm through the bars and was tapping St. Peter vigorously upon the shoulder.

The gatekeeper of the afterlife was about to turn around and chastise the man for daring to lay his fingers upon a saint, but he didn’t get the chance. For at that very moment the robot kicked into gear and wasted no time tearing the impatient soul’s arm clean off. Howling in agony, the man fell backwards clutching his bloody stump as several other recently deceased gathered round and tried their best to stem the bleeding, but then gave up when they realised they were already dead and bleeding out probably wasn’t that much of a concern.

“Why did you do that?” shouted a woman accusingly.

“Yeah, that was completely uncalled for!” yelled another.

“You’re a malicious piece of work, that’s what you are!” cursed a third man with his arms folded.

“Oh go to Hell, you bunch of whiny babies. I didn’t tear his sodding arm off, now did I? It was this useless mountain of junk over here, he’s been botching up all day long and now this. I can’t win. I just cannot win today”. St. Peter glared at the group of confused and angry people awaiting both judgement and an apology on the other side of the gate. Then he turned his gaze towards his robotic companion. “St. Peter 2.0, why, pray tell, did you tear that poor man’s arm off?”

“Because, master, he was showing hostilities towards you, and I simply did as my defence programme dictates I do in such circumstances”. The robot stared blankly into space. The gatekeeper considered this for some time.

“Right, owing to your loyalty, I’ll give you one last chance. But if you get it wrong again, it’ll be the last thing you ever do. Now, tell me how that man lying over there died”. St. Peter stood back with his arms folded and awaited the robot’s response.

The mechanoid thought long and hard, his capacitors and circuitry buzzing and ticking as he processed the situation extra carefully, like a dog who’d been specifically told not to eat the biscuit, despite the biscuit having been placed upon his nose. “You died…” the robot paused. St. Peter’s eyes glared with the intensity of a thousand prayer candles. “…When a robot tore your arm off and you bled to death”.

“No! Damnit no!” screamed St. Peter in a foul rage. “A man can’t die twice! You imbecile! That’s it, I’m going to decommission the crap out of you, you worthless pile of bolts!”

“Actually,” said a voice from beyond the gate. “I think he’s right. This man is dead…again”.

St. Peter snapped his head towards the speaker, then looked down at the one-armed man. He was blue. And not breathing. The saint fell into deep shock, he was utterly bewildered. Such a thing had never happened before in the entire history of Heaven. No one had ever died twice. It simply wasn’t possible, surely?

Just then, the one and only Jesus Christ showed up once more, having felt a disturbance in the divine force. “What’s all this, what’s going on, we’ll have no trouble here,” he demanded as he marched over to St. Peter and saw the blue, one-armed man on the other side of the Pearly Gates™. “Is that man dead?! For my sake Pete, what have you gone and done now? You’ve killed somebody!”

“No I haven’t!” fired back St. Peter, shaking like a leaf. “People can’t die in Heaven, how can he be dead? It’s not possible!”

“Look idiot, he’s not in Heaven yet. He’s still on the other side of that gate, therefore, technically not in the afterlife yet. If you hadn’t wasted so much time with that hunk of junk over there, he’d be inside and enjoying everlasting happiness. Now look at him. He’s dead! I don’t even know what that means for his soul. He’s probably in purgatory now, for all eternity, no thanks to you. That’s it, I’m shutting this gate down!”

“What do you mean you’re ‘shutting this gate down’?” croaked a man on the other side. “We’ve got every right to be here! You can’t deny us entry into Heaven, we deserve our divine judgement! We’ve lived a life of righteousness for this moment!”

“Yes, yes, I know,” replied Jesus as he pulled a roll of caution tape out of his bum bag and began cordoning off the Pearly Gates™. “Don’t worry, I’ll open the second gate for you. Hadraniel’ll sort you out. His gate’s on the other side of Heaven”.

“How far away is it?” asked another.

“Hmm…’bout eighty six thousand miles away,” answered Jesus, affixing a large “CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC” sign.

“Eighty six thousand miles?! I’m not walking that! It’ll take ages!” whinged a little old lady, shaking her fist.

Jesus screwed up his face in annoyance as he straightened the sign and took St. Peter’s keys off him. “Alright! Fine, I’ll arrange a bus to come pick you up. Now don’t say Jesus isn’t good to you”. The Messiah turned to St. Peter once again and addressed him. “Pete, you done goofed royally this time. I’m hereby suspending you as official gatekeeper of the Pearly Gates™ and temporarily revoking your sainthood. Don’t look at me like that, Pete. You know fine well I can’t let this slide. A man is dead because of you. It’s not up to me to judge you for this, that’s up to my father. That’s why I’ve just texted him about what’s happened. He wants to see you now”. Peter opened his mouth to protest but Jesus cut him off. “Shut up! Don’t say a word or I’ll put my foot in your ass! Now go. He’s waiting. And take that damn robot with you”.

Peter, who was now just run-of-the-mill Peter and not St. Peter the revered doorman, grudgingly shuffled off towards God’s office, leaving Jesus behind to dispose of the blue, one-armed man. Peter wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about his impending meeting with the supreme deity, not when the reason behind it was him essentially losing an innocent man’s soul to the unknowable abyss of purgatory…possibly. He’d probably wind up getting fired, or sent as a missionary to Hell to try and convert demons like poor old Jegudiel after he’d burnt God’s bagel that one time. God didn’t mess around. As he and his robot made their way though the gardens and winding streets, Peter was hissed and booed at by the angels and other saints. Word got around quickly when somebody messed up in Heaven.

Up to the front door Peter dragged himself, pressed the buzzer and waited nervously for the response. “Come,” came the deep, booming reply. Peter opened the door and entered God’s office.

There wasn’t much inside, God was famously a minimalist. There was a small wooden desk that Jesus had built Him with some Lego on top of it, a reproduction painting of the Mona Lisa on the northern wall and a wilting potted plant. God was standing over the desk, putting the finishing touches on His Lego castle. “Pete. Take a seat”.

The robot walked to the nearest corner, faced the wall and put itself into power-saving mode. Peter looked around the barren office. There were no seats. “Um, there’s no chairs,” said the man glumly.

God didn’t look up as He put the roof on the castle’s east turret. With a nonchalant click of His fingers, a neon pink inflatable chair appeared in front of the desk. Peter took the cue and sat in it, squeaking and making a great deal of noise. Still not looking up from His work, God resumed talking. “It has come to my attention, Pete, that you have somehow managed to kill a man”.

“Well it wasn’t really me, it was–“

“You killed him with a robot”. Without looking up, God pointed to the hibernating automaton in the corner.

Peter looked at his feet. His big toe was bleeding. “Yes. Well, essentially. That’s pretty much what happened”.

God placed a Lego sheep in front of the portcullis, facing a pirate. “That’s not good. That poor man probably doesn’t exist anymore. Not even I know what lies in purgatory”.

“That’s a bit shit”. Before Peter even knew what he was saying he’d already swore in front of the Almighty. Peter’s mind flooded with terrifying thoughts of his employer smiting him senseless for the indiscretion.

“It is a bit shit,” agreed God, replacing the sheep with a ghost. “And considering that we have no choice other than to assume that the poor man will never find happiness again, I must punish you for your rather severe gaffe”.

Peter felt a strong sudden urge to pee now.

“Incidentally,” continued God, “why did you feel the need to use a robot during the course of your duties at the Pearly Gates™?”

Peter shifted uncomfortably in the inflatable chair, sending a loud squeal rippling through the office. “Well…” he began, his bald spot getting incredibly itchy. “I, uh, felt that having a helping hand would, I dunno, maybe speed things up a bit. You don’t know what it’s like out there at times, it gets so hectic. Especially when there’s a tsunami or earthquake or something. I needed some extra help. So I bought a robot”.

“And where did you get this robot?”


“I see”.

God fell into silence for some time as He removed both the Lego pirate and ghost and moved the portcullis further down the courtyard, allowing more space for His castle’s expanding walls. Peter toyed with the idea of scratching his itchy scalp, but thought better of it when he realised the inflatable chair would squeak far too much and he didn’t want to upset God any more than He probably already was.

“I had a coupon,” Peter offered out of the awkward silence.

“I was not aware Amazon delivered this far north”.

“Yeah. Only since they started using drones, but yeah”.

“I see,” murmured God, putting the finishing touches on His castle and putting it to one side.

“Right,” said the Father of all creation, folding His arms on the desk, “I have mulled it over. You have committed a very serious offence, but you have also served this kingdom for a very long time and, until now, have always acted with utmost professionalism. Taking that into consideration, I have decided to relieve you of your duties on a semi-permanent basis. When you leave this office, you will report to Gabriel–”

“Aww come on, God!” interrupted Peter, leaping out of his chair in protest.

“Silence! You will report to Gabriel, whereupon you will join him in his sacred duty of tying and adjusting the bow ties of Heaven’s quadriplegic residents. You will do this for the next four thousand years, and if you fulfil this duty without incident, then I will consider putting you back on the Pearly Gates™. Now get moving, and do not let me hear from you again, lest you wish to experience a more severe punishment. Begone”.

As Peter left the office with his head in his hands, God looked to the robot with its back to Him in the corner. It was the first time He’d actually paid any attention to it. Crossing the room, He began inspecting the machine more closely. There was a minuscule switch on the back of its neck. God leaned in, squinting His eyes. There was some small text above it. Pulling His prescription glasses out, He read the words aloud. “Jet Ski Mode. Huh, now that’s weird”. He flicked the switch to the OFF position and slapped the robot across the back of the head to wake it up.

“Robot, I am God. I’m not a judgemental guy, well, for the most part, so I want you to know that I don’t blame you for killing that poor man. I never granted robots the right to souls and feelings in the first place, so I know there was no malice in your actions. As I have just turned your Jet Ski Mode off, I want to give you an opportunity. I want you to go back to the Pearly Gates™, take down the cordon and get back to work. If you can make it through the day without any more fatalities, you’ve got yourself a full time job. Now get moving, there’s plenty more souls to judge”.

The robot beeped in acknowledgement and rattled off out the front door, ready to replace his former master. God walked back over to the desk and started rearranging His pirates and ghosts again. Removing the outer wall of the Lego castle, He revealed two homemade figurines hiding behind the portcullis, one of St. Peter and one of the robot. Smiling, God picked up the saint and put him to one side, leaving the robot all alone in the castle. “That’s better”.

When Nature Fails: Daddy Long Legs


“Crane Fly” by Derek Parker (2014)

Nature, God, Earth Spirits, call them what you will but they don’t always get it right.  Perhaps the most spectacular fail in biology is the crane fly AKA daddy long legs.  Nobody likes them, and with very good reason.  The following is a quick overview of these…things…and an outline as to why they suck as profusely as they do.  Written on the 31st January 2017.

When Nature Fails:  Daddy Long Legs

A daddy long legs is a stupid thing that has no right to exist. Simply put, it’s a piece of crap. Utterly incapable of flight or anything even remotely resembling it, this idiotic creature still finds it necessary to have wings and ruin magical moments with its foul presence. Much like the penguin or Egyptian dodo, this winged-yet-land-bound animal is a true failure at life and as such is fully deserving of the extinction that it surely deserves and is long overdue.

Asides from its completely pointless wings which all other flying insects laugh at, it has a long body somewhat resembling a poorly rolled cigarette or elongated length of goldfish poo, though a stringy piece of fish crap is infinitely more pleasurable to be around than these disgusting things. It also has long spindly legs, not dissimilar to those of a spider, though unlike a spider it has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Actually no, you can pull their legs off fairly easily which is probably quite exciting if you’re a psychopath and into that sort of thing. The creature’s face is also uglier than sin and will make you want to stomp on it if it ever comes anywhere near you.

Speaking of which, if a daddy long legs does ever somehow managed to make its way towards you via the spasmodic and hysterical dance routine it probably thinks constitutes flying, you will immediately want to projectile vomit all over it to keep this degenerate filth-spawn at bay. These cretins have a propensity for targeting faces, particularly those of people who harbour an intense and lifelong dislike for them (i.e. everyone in existence). Despite having zero navigational skills or homing abilities, they can and will, without fail or hesitation make it their sworn mission from God himself to batter themselves and their stupid bodies off your screaming face forever until either you or they die of stress. The most efficient counter measure against this obnoxious behaviour is to strike at them wildly with heavy objects and/or projectile-firing weapons. Fire is also strongly recommended.

God was once quoted in Good Housekeeping Magazine as saying that he hates daddy long legs with a passion only rivalled by his disdain for Adolf Hitler, and that he only made them because he was drunk on celestial moonshine (again, just like Hitler).

Daddy long legs also have redundant straw things jutting out of the front of their hideous faces like they were stabbed with the world’s tiniest chop sticks. Perhaps they’re beaks or something but whatever the case, nobody actually cares. Despite having these ludicrous straws, the only thing that they manage to suck, is all the fun out of life. Some biologists speculate that the insects feed off the blood of shrews and voles but this is without doubt a massive lie because I’ve never seen them manage anything properly, let alone the basics of life like eating to stay alive. Other biologists and certain members of the clergy assert that they are a form of lesser demon or insect djinn and that the straws are horns gifted to them by Satan himself. I am very much inclined to agree with this hypothesis because I have never encountered another living creature which instils me with as much hatred and the desire to kill as these worthless things do.

In springtime, if you are really unfortunate, you might see these repulsive atrocities of the animal kingdom come sprouting out of your lawn like a bunch of miniature pencils with Parkinson’s disease. The general consensus is that they are crawling out of Hell because even Satan’s had enough of their asinine antics. It is strongly advised that you jump around the garden stomping their numbers into oblivion. This may initially seem cruel, but you are actually doing them a massive favour by releasing the from the terrible binds of life as a forsaken daddy long legs piece of crap.

Even when they’re innocent little maggots they still manage to suck because they’re only a reminder of things to come: a god damn disaster.