I can’t do this any more. I know this means everything to you, but I am living a lie.

It’s over, my love.

I’m moving my fiction ramblings to Blogger. I’m fed up of fighting with WordPress, and I prefer Blogger’s immediacy and its rough and ready look.

Do not stand at my WordPress grave and weep. Join me at Italic Eyeball, the blog. Join me at Italic Eyeball, the twitting.

Bionic Matthew is dead. See you on the other side.

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A list of occurrences on the occasion of the first married day of Mr Robert Furniss and Mrs Susan Furniss. Written by Mr Robert Furniss.

1. Informed Susan of homosexuality.
2. Long silence over cooling toast at hotel breakfast. She ate fruit, I had full English.
3. Lost glasses case in hotel room. Susan unconvinced about importance of loss. Reminded her of hassle to replace case. She reminded me of cost of wedding.
4. Drove back to Ipswich. Plane tickets in unopened suitcase….

…read the full story in Word Gumbo, an online anthology of prose, poetry and plays.

Am I winning the writing competition?

I want to grab your metaphor and mash it into something indefinable, knead the content into a glutenous blob of neither word nor image, squeeze the

This writing competition. I’m winning it, right?

indistinguishable sentence mulch through the icing tube of postmodernism and lay it in a long turd of sugary nothingness on the cake of my writing ego because I

Am I winning in the writing competition?

am like your metaphor, I am similar to your metaphor, there are parallels between your metaphor and me, there is a noticeable

I think I am winning this writing competition. I must be winning the writing competition.

similarity between your metaphor and me that can be expressed in word and image, I am your metaphor, I’m actually your actual metaphor and I am being your metaphor right now.

I didn’t win the writing competition.

This was an advertisement for the Flash Mob Literary Salon: Thursday May 26th 2011 for Chorlton Arts Festival.

There’s a link at the top of the page that says ‘best bits’.

It’s not a list of attractive body parts (Brad Pitt’s knee, Gloria Hunniford’s elbow). It is a list of what are probably the five best pieces on the site. Speaking unscientifically, of course.

Matthew Bionic’s Pen Of Doom* is a site in progress. I’ve only been taking this seriously for six months. I am not a mature fiction writer: I am a child with a crayon rammed up his nose, colouring the sun on his brain. You may still worship me.

If you want me to bring my words to your event and my sentences to your event and my complete lack of shame to your event, get me via the booking page.

The websit has undergon anoth redes. I hope it meets wi your approv. Some lett may go miss during the transiti.

Jeff Noon

Writer’s note: To be performed either (a) as if you are channelling the spirit of a female relative of Jeff Noon who is channelling the spirit of Jeff Noon or (b) normally.

I am Jeff Noon. I have asked my first-born son for lunch. He is eight foot six. He stoops when there is a roof and he stoops when there is no roof. He does this all the time.

I own no chairs. I am Jeff Noon: I do not need chairs. My son stands in a pit I have dug in the floor of my lounge. He comes up from the ground like a tree, yet he is a man and not a tree.

My nose bleeds half way through lunch. My son tries to hide his wince as he does not like blood. He feels shame: he turns from me so I may not look at his shame. He spends the rest of the meal turned from me. He eats the food from the plate in his hand. He holds his plate as though I will steal his plate or look at his plate too much.

Jeff Noon’s next book, which is by me, Jeff Noon, may be a tale of twelve sons and twelve dads who eat lunch in a house where there are no holes in the floor. They will talk of the earth and all that is on it. They will talk of the sea and how they hate the sea as the sea is so big. They will not wince.

In the real world, there is just me with no chairs and my first-born son in a pit. We look at our feet and we do not talk of things. I am Jeff Noon. My son is tall. I will ask him back: we do this all the time.

Thanks for coming. The seat by the door will be fine. It’s okay, you’re allowed on the furniture here. Sit.

You were his sidekick for how long? That’s a long time. And you definitely mean a sidekick and not just a pet?

I see how wearing a video camera on your collar to warn you of impending attacks from MAD agents would set you above the level of simple pet. I’m not trying to belittle you. No, I wasn’t being sarcastic.

He does sound thick, but don’t you think he was resourceful too?  Not every inspector can be as inventive. I’m sensing a frustration, though. What was the root of your problem with him?

So he succeeded despite himself? And it was you that saved the day every time, you say? That must have been a burden. What have you done with that negative energy? I see. I think we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Good boy.

You were a sidekick to a detective inspector. We’ve got that. But the way I see it is, the relationship was not reciprocal, and he even failed to recognise you when you wore pretty obvious disguises. Do you feel undervalued? Underappreciated? It’s okay. Let it all out. There’s no shame in crying here.

I know it annoyed you when he pressed the wrong button and a hammer popped out of his hat and hit you. You must have felt like a bad dog. But I think there’s something deeper going on.

He treated you badly and you’re still hurting. It’s okay to feel that way. You’re okay.

Your subsequent actions were understandable, but we still need to sort out where the body is. Penny? She’s in another interrogation room. She’s cutting a deal. You can do that too, Brain. Save yourself a lot of jail time.

Now, where is Gadget buried?

Writer’s note: to be read entirely by the audience, involving as much of the audience as possible.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

“Are you going to pay for those?” said the greengrocer.

“I don’t even like pickled peppers,” said Peter, padding his pockets with the peppers. “I have to pick them. It’s an impulse.”

“If you don’t put that produce down, I’m going to whup your mo-fo ass,” said the grocer.

Peter was perturbed by the perfunctory parlance. So he popped out of the shop, down the passage that lead to the promenade.

Peter plodded along the beach and searched the stretch of sand for Sally.

Sally stood among the seaweed and the streams of sewage, semi-slumped and sagging in her usual sad way.

Peter had never seen a more sorry sight. “Sally, I need your protection,” he said. “The grocer is profoundly peevish because I keep plundering his peppers.”

“Do you want to buy some sea shells?” said Sally.

“I’m not providing you with payment: you’ve just picked those off the floor,” said Peter. “Sally, I need a partner in my pepper problem.”

Sally replied, “Has the grocer slipped into south-side slang again? That sprout-seller always goes seriously Snoop Dogg when he’s sore.”

“He thinks it’s a perversion that I poached his peppers. But I’m Peter Piper: it’s my preoccupation to pilfer these pickled peppers. You have to point this out to him.”

“Silly Piper,” said Sally. “Your struggle has stumped me, however. Something has gone astray in your story.”

“I’m puzzled,” said Peter.

She replied, “You have a scarcity of peppers. Did they slip onto the street as you skedaddled to the seaside?”

She was right. Peter peered into his palms and the peppers were indeed misplaced.

Along the sea shore, they saw a groundhog whizzing among the seaweeds with the peppers in its mouth. It wandered around the Mr Whippy van then wedged itself underneath a whopping big pile of logs.

Peter and Sally walked up to where the wily wild animal was hiding. “That woodchuck! It purloined my precious peppers!” protested Peter.

They warily wormed their way around the woodpile listening for the wicked woodchuck’s whimpering.

Without warning, the woodchuck appeared. It wobbled a log in the air then walloped Sally with it. The seaside seller was slaughtered instantly.. Shards of shattered seashells spilled onto the sand.

Picturing his pressing peril, Peter retreated from his pepper pursuit in a panic.

Whole pieces of wood winged past Peter’s head as he pitched post-haste back down the promenade. Amid the pandemonium, Peter Piper decided his pepper-picking days has perished.

Yet the wood kept coming.

For weeks, the woodchuck kept chucking the logs, unwithered by the weight of the wood. It waged a wood war, wreaking wreckage on anything that got in his way.

*  *  *

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

The grocer looked proudly upon his specially-built shop extension, made from all the extra wood the woodchuck had chucked. Inside were hundreds of peppers from a dozen different countries and, in the far corner, a happy Peter Piper stuffed his pockets with as many peppers as he could find.

“This shizzle turned out alright,” said the greengrocer to himself. “Shame that seaside girl got iced by the little guy…

“For real, mo-fo.”

Writer’s note: Audience to be whipped up into a frenzy and made to call for A or B as enthusiastically as possible, with each choice being entirely ignored.

You are a 45-year-old man. You work in the administration department of a company that makes paperclips. Your desk is cluttered like your mind but unlike your love life. The joints that swivel your chair are rusted. The Camel Lights cigarette packet you use as a makeshift pen holder keeps falling over, spilling biros and highlighters and paperclips onto your desk. You have a spreadsheet to finish. The spreadsheet is a list of paperclips ordered by product code and then by date. You take a 15 minute break because the numbers keep blurring. You boil the kettle unnecessarily. On the way back from your break, you notice a door next to your desk, free-standing and new. It is plain wood with little ornamentation save for two beveled panels you’ve seen on a million doors. You place your head against the wood because you like it being there. A voice whispers from the other side. It explains that the door next to your desk is a portal into another dimension which contains all of your dreams manifested as a flank of beefy Roman soldiers, each with a different riddle. The voice beckons you through the door.

Do you:

A: go through the door into the other dimension to explore your dreams in a super-reality world of fairytale centurions, entertaining riddles and hope of a mysterious elixir, or

B: finish the spreadsheet?

You insert an extra column between rows G and H, creating another 92 cells. In each cell you individually write the word Paperclip, oblivious to the auto-complete function. Your lunch break passes with Linda from sales telling you about her holiday in Wales in which she stayed in an adequately provisioned caravan, in which she found a cheap coastal bus ride from Nefyn, and in which she couldn’t find a bucket and spade anywhere, for love nor for money. Sefton sits in the corner reading the Book of Mormon. He is a nervous man and he folds over the edges of the pages even as he’s reading. When Linda starts practising her cod Welsh and complains that os gwelwch yn dda is too long a phrase for ‘please’, Sefton puts the Book of Mormon next to the kettle and leaves the staffroom. You open the book. Instead of text, the book contains swirling mathematical symbols that swell and bounce off the margins of the page. You begin to understand the annotations as a code to solve the mysteries of the universe, the last key to unlock eternal life. You quickly become cold from your sweat and the chill excites you.

Do you:

A: take the Book of Mormon and set out on a quest to find an eccentric professor who can unlock its secrets with you in a series of bewildering challenges that involve advanced weaponry, nudity and unfamiliar flying machines, or

B: pour some coffee?

You swill the bitter, lukewarm mulch in the bottom of the cup and wonder how the first tea leaf fortune teller discovered their skill for tea leaf fortune telling. You wish your coffee was tea. You switch off your computer without using the Shut Down menu then replace the spilled paperclips back into the empty cigarette packet. You think, and then forget, about going to the loo before you go home. As you leave the office, you pass the photocopier. On the floor, there is a single paperclip. It looks odd on its own as you are used to paperclips being scattered on your desk or in bundles of 500 navy blue boxes, each one with the product code printed in dramatic Impact lettering. You wonder which box the lonely paper clip is from. It appears to be looking at you: a lonely paperclip looking up at you. You kick-slide it under the photocopier then walk to the exit. On the pavement outside, a buffalo with an old man’s face greets you with a polite blink. It is a large buffalo, although you don’t know how large buffalos are, and there is a meadow on its back with bright green grass and daffodils and streams. Bunnies frolic through the meadow and cascade merrily down the sides of the buffalo. The buffalo shakes you by the hand and says in a tenor growl: “Apocalypse.”
“A paperclip?” you reply.
“Apocalypse coming.”
“A paperclip’s coming?”
“No, Apoc—never mind.”

Do you:

A: follow the buffalo’s advice and prepare for the apocalypse by climbing onto its back and hiding amongst the bunny rabbits in the magic meadow, or

B: go back into the office?

Back in the office, a nagging pull in your groin reminds you that it’s eight hours since your last wee. Whilst sitting down for your wee, trousers round your ankles and penis safely tucked in for minimal splash-back, solids from your bowels drop into the bowl. You don’t normally have a number two at this time of day. Something feels different: maybe the paperclip next to the photocopier. You reach into the water to inspect a turd. It forms a paperclip spiral in your hand. Trousers still at your feet, you wipe the waste onto your shirt and waddle out of the toilet. You think about the buffalo. You think about the swirling letters in the Book of Mormon and Linda’s caravan in Wales and her strange incantations that may or may not have been Welsh and the mysterious door that was next to your desk and the paperclip, the paperclip, the paperclip looking up at you and leading you to the buffalo and the rabbits and suddenly it all makes sense. All the riddles join in your mind; they attach themselves with paperclips of clarity, and suddenly it all makes sense.

Paperclip salespeople recoil as you stumble-run back to the buffalo shouting, shit-stained and trouser-less: “It’s the apocalypse! it’s the apocalypse!”

In one week from now, the admin office will hand you a letter of dismissal attached to a P45; stapled, not clipped. A while later, you ask for clarification on the reasons for your termination. They will tell you about your last few days with the company, the drawing of a buffalo in faeces on the wall above the photocopier, the dead rabbits you collected in the drawers of your desk, and your continual insistence in not purchasing a desk-tidy for your pens and for your highlighters and for your paperclips.

“But I don’t even use paperclips at my desk,” you say. “Not any more.”

—–

Inspired by Chris Killen’s Choose Your Own Adventure story which was read at the Deaf Institute in October 2010. Sometimes In Life It Seems Like You Have Choices was read at Bad Language, the Castle Hotel, Manchester in March 2011.

Writer’s note: Audience to be given packets of Tesco Value Toothpaste as a visual aid.

The government slashed and burned with such ferocity, no-one listened to the screams of the poor. On November 14th, the economy collapsed with a thunderous roar: every major company went bust.

They tried to riot, the populous in their sackcloth togs, throwing their tin begging bowls with impotent anger. But the powers had ring-fenced the army so batons broke ribs and the hungry puked blood, sodden in warm red defeat.

In the murky autumn evenings, the tooth fairies still plied their trade, silent except for fingernails scrabbling on crumbling roof tiles. They’d scuttle through houses, sniffing for teeth under pillowed heads, trying not to jangle their coin bags.

The people would reach under their pillow on waking, feel the cold coin then weep with bitterness and delight. The pound or two they got for their tooth was extra gruel from a street vendor or a part-traded blow job from a needy neighbour.

Then came desperation. The poor would slaver through bloody mouths, having caved in their teeth with a brick, waiting for a night-time windfall. The white sprites flew in celebratory circles while their fairy dust clogged chimneys and gave thin boys asthma.

Some people revolted at the fairies’ power: “They don’t even give wishes.” The protesters created a black-market supply of cheap supermarket toothpaste. “Brush twice a day,” they said. And they slowly starved the fairies of income.

One by one, the fairies would drop from the sky, toothless and weak, exhausted from carrying an unwanted haul of coins, until there were millions of broken bodies littering the pavements.

A ravenous public tore off wings and feasted on the creatures’ bellies, devouring an endless supply of fairy limbs. The fairy dust poured from split guts into their mouths like champagne: it was sweet to the taste and fizzly on the tongue.

The dust got between teeth, formed tiny wells of sugary bacteria on gums. No-one noticed. They slept deeply, clutching their toothpaste. They dreamed of the future.

(A snippet of this has been previously posted on this blog and you can also read it on 330 Words.)