Friday, 30 October 2009

Writing Prompt / Story Starter 34

At first, Jack had been convinced the thing was some twisted little urchin’s idea of a toy. But then he'd cut open its belly and something like semi-liquified worms had glistened through the skewed slit of his inexpert incision.

Some small part of him was relieved. If it had proved to be a toy, what little faith he'd had in today's baffling youth would have evaporated in a moment. What kind of child would take pleasure in such a thing? Other than the fact that it was only eight inches long, from lank-haired head to what toes remained, it looked like something exhumed from a mass grave: emaciated, almost skeletal, flesh like filthy wet linen, drawn tight over disproportionate bone. The thought of a child playing with the thing, dressing it, positioning its limbs just so, turning its head this way and that...

(From my short story Nails Without Pictures published in Nocturne)

Writing Prompt / Story Starter 33

At first, I thought it was a dead chick: one of those barely feathered near-foetuses you stumble across every now and then while out walking in the woods. I wondered how it had got there: in the attic, on top of a pile of newspaper clippings, themselves stacked upon a small tower of battered suitcases containing my wife’s favourite clothes.

Scrutinising the thing (squinting, as if this would somehow make up for the naked 60-watt bulb’s lack of generosity), I was proved wrong. It wasn’t a chick at all. And it wasn’t dead. It was a foetus of sorts, however; I’d got that much right. It was vaguely simian, with the consistency and colouring of regurgitated liquorice. It pulsed and twitched, its tiny, gluey mouth opening and closing, its grimy eyes rolling.

(From my short story Undressed Wounds published in Fusing Horizons.)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Writing Prompt / Story Starter 32

Nobody knew his real name. Everyone just called him the Tattooed Man. It seemed like something of a misnomer to Stephen, though. He wasn’t so much tattooed as vandalised, defaced. The images scrawled onto his body looked like the work of a demented child. Only the demented child was the Tattooed Man himself, or so the story went.

Each of the images etched into his flesh was a portrait of one of his victims. He was no draftsman, so the faces staring out from his hide were variously bloated, palsied, cross-eyed or otherwise deformed. Lack of artistic merit was exacerbated by the fact that the Tattooed Man didn’t employ the tools of the professional tattoo artist; instead, he used broken glass, razor blades and ink bought from a stationery shop. His portraits were raw, swollen and angry with the threat of infection.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Writing Prompt / Story Starter 31

So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.

Numbers chapter 13, verses 32–33