Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Falling in snow

It’s like falling in snow. A foot that slips without volition. The only moment in time that exists is the now, the tipping of the mind away from anything apart from the impact. Being hit by a car. The flying across the bonnet and there is no room for any thought at all except a knowledge, a thought unbound by words stretching back through the core of the being until the impact and the pain return and there is nothing else. Already gone we are left only with meat, bruised and bloodied.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Driving on the M62 Towards Leeds

THE quiet drone of the car along motorway. Heading into darkness, falling sun in the mirror. My head hurts. Overhead a group of gulls caught in the last of the light, fluorescence of white over indigo. A singer's voice over the radio, fractured, broken.

I drive without purpose. THe lanes are quiet. Someone overtakes me. The cold eats in from the outside. The heater doesn't seem capable of taking it away.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


It washed up on the beach already dead, rotting gashes in its flesh widened by gulls. The wind on the beach was cold, slick through the grey dawn with fine rain torn from white-capped waves.
The scientists that followed the dog walkers and unhappy tourists passed under the ropes tied by local police and circled around it. The consensus quickly became known. Some kind of mutation, an anomaly. A whale that had somehow grown beyond its normal size. Despite it not conforming to any known physiological description of a whale.
Within a day its bones started to appear, yellowing and slightly translucent. Plastic sheeting was stitched together, patchwork protection that could not hold back the crabs or birds. Staked into the soft, damp sand the ropes and sheets prevented the carcass from being sucked away with the tide but not from decay. The scientists worked faster in the winter cold, the skyline a leaden grey of ocean on one side, yellowed, dead grass on the other.
The media arrived in vans. The noise of helicopters increased the misery. Photos were taken. Video. People attempted to steal things. It proved impossible to chip the bones. Flesh was cut, preserved in alcohol. Jars started appearing for sale on the internet. Much of it fake.
Snow fell.
Until nothing but the skeleton remained. An arcing structure of pale bronze terminated with a bulbous, fierce skull. Dead-eyed, looking back at the ocean. Once the flesh had gone the bones were pulled apart and taken by truck. Forgotten by all except children who found parts of them scattered through museums.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


The haze hides the distant hills. All she can see is brown dust flecked with spindly green. No shade. No running water. The temperature is getting higher. Soon be midday. The horse is wheezing, collapsed, not yet dead. It won't be long. It gave out from under her not thirty minutes ago and she has spent the time since wondering if she can revive it somehow. She should put it out of its misery but she cannot face being alone. She unrolls the blanket and uses her rifle and a couple of twisted branches to create a shade. It does not feel like it helps unless a part of her strays from its protection. The sun is becoming hotter. She had three canteens of water and a promise from the old man that there was more to be found. Now there is only a trickle of water left. The creek bed was where he said but bone dry. No way back. Forwards, the same. Dry, dead. No one would follow, no one was waiting for her, except those she means to kill. No wind, no whisper of a breeze. Nothing except the buzz of hidden chitinous life and a dying horse pleading with her for death. She stands up, frowning at the heat and light, pulls her knife and cuts the horse's throat. She curses, scrabbling through her pack for her pots, pulling them out to catch the blood as it trickles. It is sticky, viscous. From nowhere flies starts to appear. More cursing. She retreats back to the shade. Waiting until nightfall. Until it cools and she can think about moving on. No other choice.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


The dawn sky is shredded with brilliant-edged cloud. The bare, skinny branches of winter trees circle us, almost attentive to the sounds of digging as the spades claw the frozen soil. The work is hard. Grim. I frown.

The bone was human. Old but human. Yellowed, stone-like, wrapped in pale cloth. I sat across from the young policeman in a pub of all places. The village is too small for its own station, it has a pub. The few old farmers sat about were good enough to look disinterested. I drove out when I received the call. It was already dark when I arrived. Now we dig again.

Careful. I say. We want to find it, not destroy it.

THe diggers calm down. One of them makes a joke. I continue stabbing with a trowel at the spot where the bone was found, surfaced by a dog's scratching, but there is still nothing.


I turn to see who has spoken. The others stop to look. The hole is small, almost a foot deep. A fragment of pale yellow seeps through the ground. I crouch to inspect it. The same smooth polish of age, the same, pale tone made more brighter in the morning sun.

OK. We need to be careful.

Should you call for CSI, Bob? Cordon it off?

The young policeman looks frightened at the suggestion. It is hard to judge the age of a body when there is only bone but I know that it is too old for modern police to be bothered.

No. It's too deep. Look.

I explain the layers of the soil, the age of the body defined by the stratified pattern of dirt. The fragment has not been disturbed for hundreds of years.

The other bone was found by the dog, though.

Pushed up by a root or something.

They seem doubtful, unsure of my authority against the possibility of a more recent crime. I goad them into action, the careful continued excavation of the rest of the body.