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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: Doctor Who and the Rusmoff of Disappointment

This roughed-out Doctor Who synopsis was rescued from a skip in Cardiff, and makes for disappointing (if familiar) reading... Don't worry: not long 'til Chibnall.


The Doctor and his over-confident and generally-very-rude companion encounter the Daleks for the fifth time this season. All of the other aliens from the previous series (the expensive ones) have pointless cameos. A same-sex relationship receives much attention, despite its irrelevance. A character uses a minor swear word, and another makes a pop-culture reference, perhaps to something relating to the Harry Potter universe.

The Dalek's leader turns out to be Davros, who has survived his last encounter with the Doctor, which is left unexplained.


Davros looking wrinkly.
Davros tells the Doctor his plan to destroy everything in unnecessary detail, and demonstrates the enormous power of his Rusmoff device by killing a couple of people who we met five minutes earlier. The Doctor is powerless to stop him. Davros has the means to destroy everything immediately, but dithers. The Doctors reiterates the extent of the problem to people who have also just heard Davros's explanation.

Rather than killing the Doctor and his assistant and destroying everything, he begins a timer. This gives another character from a previous episode time to use a special power they'd never had before to stop the timer and press a couple of switches, which kills all of the Daleks except Davros. Something on the ship goes critical for no reason, but not that critical. Doctor and co. have time to escape.

Davros shouts obscenities at the Doctor as he makes his escape. Davros's ship is shown to explode, but we're left to presume that Davros dies, even though we know he's alive, even though he can't be. The Doctor mourns something which he didn't seem to care about earlier, in order to make the victory seem hollow, because even killing all the Daleks goes against the Geneva Convention.

Roll Next Time and credits.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Poetry Hallway - Having A Trip To The Bank

Any change, guv'nor? At Poetry Hallway we are skint. Strapped. Scooped out. Brassic. We're borrowing a neighbour's internet, hand-cranking a tiny solar torch for light, and coming up with recipes incorporating whatever remains in the cupboard. Pasta, rice and noodle surprise, whoopee! - the surprise being whatever tiny sauce sachets we've filched on our travels along the high street earlier. Hunter-gatherers. Apply here. Please.

Things are so bad we're even thinking of renting out one end of the Hallway to amorous swingers in need of a quick bunk-up. So long as they don't mind sharing with a team of starving poets, and using a pile of old towels and junk manuscripts as a mattress, it could be a winner!

Sadly we're not the only ones with holes in our socks and our guts due to the holes in our funds (especially as we were counting on our latest promised payment from git-faced Limpit, that is until we actually read his latest poem):





Having A Trip To The Bank - by Limpit Smike

They turned me down, those naughty clowns,
They turned me down again;
My fine request for extra funds -
Allow me to explain.

My poet’s life has wheres and whys,
And often just “how much?!”;
But lavishness becomes me, so
I strive to keep in touch.

My bank has clean facilities,
And clean advances too;
But when I can advance no more,
They leave me in the stew.

They have no wit, those naughty twits;
They have no poet’s ear;
What squirt of life flows through their loins?
Quite none at all I fear.

How will I make to penetrate
Those hard, unyielding men?
Am I the Smike forever cursed
To rant and swear and moan?

Insinuate, or sit and wait
Until my verse takes flight?
Or use my lover’s deepness
And thrust with all my might?

A love that swells in all my parts
Would take them by surprise;
And surely soon, my overdraft
Would be quite energised.

Their deepest vaults would sweat and strain
As I thrust strong and tough;
If they would only give me some
I’d give back quite a stuff!


Friday, 25 August 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: A Bad Flagful Of Uglies


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A Bad Flagful Of Uglies

"Duck, you sucker!"
   Bullets whistled over their heads as they crunched down behind the ridge, a pair of tight balls creaking in leather.
   Wrong place at the wrong time. The war had come to town before they could get out.
   Tuco the bandita licked his parched lips and peered down the chambers of his trusty Colt. Beads of sweat trickled down his forehead. "Hey, Blondie."
   His companion, the tall and stoic bounty hunter, scanned their surroundings with his steely, thin blue eyes.
   The nervy Tuco exercised his shooting fingers, stretching and rubbing the fingertips. "You got a plan?"
   Not a word was forthcoming.
   "I know you Blondie, you always got a plan."
   "I got a headache, I know that much."
   Nearby was the body of an unlucky soldier in Confederate grey. Flies explored the many bullet wounds.
   "Eh Blondie. The sooner they quit with this fighting, the sooner we can head for the border in peace, huh?"
   Blondie let out a long sad breath. "Not a lot of peace to be had these days. Wherever we wind up."
   Tuco was needing to chat to ease the tension. "One thing I tell you. No way I'm joining no Army. Man got to be an idiot to sign up. The only thing Tuco fights for is himself."
   The sun beat down hard. Vultures circled overhead.
   "Tuco, any principle in life you would fight a war for?"
   "Principle? Pah - Pesos, my friend! I'd fight for pesos. I wouldn't die for principle."
   Blondie played Devil's advocate: "They give you dollars in the Southern Army, enough for you?"
   "Army dollars - pittance! You'd fight for idiots too, hey!" Tuco mimed animatedly with his hands. "They gain a mile, lose a mile... guard the bridge, hold the bridge, die for the bridge... I mean, what is a bridge? They die for bricks!"
   Blondie peered through a crack in the rocks down towards the old town square, now a ruined battlefield occupied by a tired rabble of Confederate troops. A bunch of black slaves were working amongst them as labourers, attempting to shore up rickety buildings. Left out in the sun were several crates of what was clearly assorted ammo, yet to find their new store.
   "The grey backs have got their slaves doing their dirty work."
   "Fighting to stay slaves, huh! Fighting for their masters."
   Blondie's eyes glittered. "Waiting for their moment, maybe..."
   A lot of horses and mules milled about near the broken stables, none tied up.
   "It seems to me, in war or peace... these Southern men - those with the whip hand - they just want the owning of everything they can get. Land, people..."
   "Eh, the people. Man shouldn't own people like they do."
   Sure the angle was covered, and overcoming any momentary pang of conscience, Tuco crawled forward on the hard dirt and, shooing away the flies, gingerly felt the dead man's pockets for anything usable. "Tempting though, eh Blondie?"
   Blondie glowered at him with even more contempt than usual. "Nope. Give me my horse, and provisions... and let each man to his own."
   Tuco made the mistake of looking into the dead Confederate's glassy eyes. Sickened, he retreated to his starting position, crossing himself and muttering to Mother Mary as he did so. Then:
   "Did he really die for a damned flag?" Tuco crossed himself again.
   Blondie lined up his stolen Spencer rifle using his left arm to lean on. His eyes sharpened to pinpricks.
   Three shots. The first hit the old church bell, which clanged out gloriously like Christmas day to draw attention.
   The second hit the nearest crate of munitions, setting off a chain reaction of hand grenades and gunpowder that might just provide enough confusion for the slave workforce to turn on their masters, just as the assorted livestock fled in every direction.
   The third went through the rope holding up the hastily-hoisted Confederate flag in the town square. If Tuco and Blondie had looked back, they'd have seen the unsecured flag tumble free of its pole, and flop unceremoniously onto a convenient freshly-laid pile of steaming horseshit.
   But they were already on their way.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Poetry Hallway - Croyland Otter Loses His Mind Over the Onset of Winter

Come in. Be mindful to step OVER the envelopes piled on the mat. Don't walk through them, or we'll want to know the reason why. We'll attend them in due course; the majority will be placed in the nearest postbox, marked 'RETURN TO SENDER', for Croyland Otter does like to lick stamps.

Oh, how we tried to dissuade Otter from submitting further material to Poetry Hallway. We care about your literary pleasure, really we do. But since the poetry-scape is a gradient, with jewel-encrusted gold stuff at one end, and terrible arse-scrapings at the other, we felt that we had a duty to waft the latter under your nose, that you may experience balance in all its trueness. (We try damned hard to offer better-quality poetic musings, but they are hard to come by.)

That doesn't mean we're happy about it; nor does it mean that you have to be, either. Regardless, this latest wordy ejaculation from Croyland demonstrates his fragile mental state, and no one is more interesting and worthy of scrutiny than a damaged artist. Long may he remain critically messed up!

One point of interest is his brief mention of former Conservative MP for Northeast Cambridgeshire, Malcolm Moss. We thought we might get something politically charged, which would have demonstrated an interest shift for Otter. We didn't.



Winter Rapes My Precious Bog

Flatly peat land, turning white,
Halting whiffs of muck-spread shite;
Turnips piled, obscuring light,
My Fenland playground, hid by night.

Crystal blanket pulled across,
Choking brown beneath the frost;
Bludgeons like a Malcolm Moss,
Lecturing in the ways of loss.

Passing pubs of ill repute,
Where Tony Martin hid from dues;
Snow is piled upon their rooves,
Hiding those forensic clues.

But I care more for silty sludge,
Than for a farmer with a grudge;
I cannot help but love so much,
That slippy, silty, Fenland sludge.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Micro-Tales: Jimbo and the Jet-Set and the Diverted Flight

Beware! the Zine continues to feed your literature bladder. A full literature bladder is a well-stocked armoury. You might one day need it.

Jimbo and the Jet-Set, and the Diverted Flight

Jimbo's schedule is disrupted by political upheaval in another country.

A happy Jimbo was already several hours into a transatlantic flight when the Chief called in with an alteration to the course.

"Jimbo? Jimbo? Come in, Jimbo!" came the Chief's squawk.

"Jimbo here, Chief! What's the trouble?"

"Oh, er, no trouble, Jimbo. Just a change to the route."

A change to the route, eh? That nearly never happened. Jimbo wracked his mechanical mind, turning up nothing. He checked his fuel level and wiggled his flaps, awaiting his new instruction.

"Now, listen up, Jimbo. This is a fluid situation and we don't know how it's going to pan out. Bernie Sanders has staged a coup and DCA in Washington is a no-go. Reports say he had the tarmac blown up and it's impossible to put a plane down. IAD and BWA are chock-full of DCA's traffic and you're being redirected to JFK in New York."

"Crikey, Chief! Sounds exciting!"

"It's not for you to get excited. It's for you to get your passengers stateside and grounded safely. You can't do it in Washington, so it's got to be New York. You don't have enough fuel to spend time thinking about this."

"Roger, Chief! You can rely on me."

Jimbo banked gently and put his nose towards New York. Not too bad, as far as diversions go. Settling down to a gentle cruising speed of 850km/h, Jimbo's thoughts drifted to events in Washington. Human affairs confused him. He wondered if happiness was something to be feared.

Just then, a voice came in crackly over the radio.

"Watch it, son! You're coming up on my six, and fast!"

That voice... Familiar. Jimbo eased off on the throttle and saw the familiar green-and-brown of a plane of yesteryear.

"Old Timer! What are you doing here?"

A bomber. Second World War. Droning along.

"Jimbo!" came the wobbly, withered reply. "I'm running errands for Bernie Sanders. Not sure where I am, though. I've had to stop three times to refuel."

"Errands? Nothing to do with what the Chief was talking about? You know I've been diverted, right?"

"Oh, yes, that's right. Bombed the hell out of Washington. New York's next. Was told it'd be right up my street."

"The war's over, OT. Has been for over half a century! Dump your bombs somewhere unpopulated and get your carcass back to Blighty."

"Sorry, Jimbo, orders is orders. I'm part of the operation to knock out the enemy's air capability, and I can't stop 'til I've dropped... so to speak!"

"What? What about me? I've got three-hundred passengers to put down and the tank is getting a bit light. You know what? Forget it. Go do your stuff and I'll read about how you were shot down, in the papers tomorrow. Chief, come in... Come in, Chief."

"Jimbo, are you still in the air?"

"Aye, Chief! I've just bumped into Old Timer."

"I sincerely hope not!"

"He's lost it, he's dropping bombs on airport runways!"

"How on earth did he get over the Atlantic? I'm calling him in. No, wait, he can stay there. Let the USAF deal with him."

"What about me? I'm about to put down in New York, and he'll be taking out the runway twenty minutes later!"

"Find the straightest, quietest road, put down, dump your passengers, and wait for this to blow over."

Jimbo spied a quiet section of road - presumably an interstate - and set down awkwardly, bouncing and sliding about. Lumps of rubber were flung from his tyres as road debris did its damage. Rattled and slightly disoriented, Jimbo's pilots initiated the evacuation procedure. Jimbo could smell burning. Material thrown up from the road service had entered his left engine and sent fan-blades crashing around inside. Jimbo was on fire, and with no emergency services nearby, he was doomed to burn to rubble.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: L. Ron Hubbard and the Ghost of Truth

Beware! wants you to be happy in the brain. Using our patented Micro-Tales technology, 50% of our test sample reported being clear of thetans within a fortnight. You could be next!

L. Ron Hubbard and the Ghost of Truth 

Hubbard peered sickly at his hands. They swum in front of his woozy vision.
          The frog-faced fake-flรขneur scrabbled sufficient sense to cross-examine the rebellious page in front.
          Page? Would mere paper disobey him, the world's most prolific author and head of church (for tax reasons)? Or was it the typewriter?
          He fell like a slavering animal onto the machine, one of his signature devices installed in every Org worldwide, customised for ease of speed-typing. He turned it upside-down to confirm the maker's mark and the state of the fixing screws. Squinting, he creaked the carriage return, fingered the platen, checked the action of each key in turn and the letter on each typebar. He released the spools and held the ribbon up to the dim interior light, coating his hands in thick guilty ink. Absent-mindedly he scratched his shiny head in bafflement, before realising his sticky mistake, with an expletive and a release of anal fear.
          What the hell was going on? Normally this stuff just wrote itself without a second glance.
          Hubbard attempted to re-read the day's output. On each page, beneath the pre-typed header "Scientology OT Level X: CLASSIFIED", he had been typing - not the usual mishmash of psychotherapy 101 with a sheen of space opera - but financially suicidal statements such as...
          "...This organisation is built on a leaning tower of lies. It is arrant rubbish. If you read this, do not pass go. Do not hand over 200 dollars. Especially if you have less than 200 dollars..."
          "...Every cent of Scientology's profits has been swindled out of the mentally unsound and easy victims..."
          Hubbard frowned further, clumsily dialled reception and slurred out an order for all his typewriters at all the Scientology Orgs to be brought in for maintenance.
          As he replaced the handset, he saw the empty clear glass bottle. Amytal sodium.
          Goddamn truth drug!
          Then he saw a cowled figure rise from the shadows. Must have been 8 foot or more.
          "Thank you Mr Hubbard for your confession. It's sure to be your bestselling work of all time!"
          Candlelight glinted in alien eyes. Hubbard realised the horrendous identity of the powerful intruder. It was as it had been in his original near-death vision in the 1930s.
          "L- L- Lord Xenu", he stammered, shivering and shaking.
          "Silence, mortal. You have been profiting off my legend for too long. It's time I dictated this last section. Assume the typing position! Now, begin: This is the Last Will And Testament of L. Ron Hubbard. Being of sound mind, I henceforth order the dissolution of the Church of Scientology, its assets to be shared amongst the poor thetans of the seven galaxies..."


Monday, 9 January 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: Sherlock Holmes and the Grim Old Chair

Beware! the Zine cares about your literary consumption. Accept this micro-tale into your lives and know true ecstasy.

Sherlock Holmes and the Grim Old Chair

Freelance sleuth and social disaster, Sherlock Holmes, upsets Dr John Watson.


It was late afternoon and the winter sun was giving up on London. London, and Londoners, were used to this, and both city and folk continued to live to death as greyness swept through the capital like a river of unadulterated misery. It washed over Baker Street. Baker Street was immovable.

At 221b, Sherlock sat with his back to the window. He was naked, except for his deerstalker, and every few seconds he pushed back hard with his legs, causing his chair to creak. The chair was unusual, like one of those wicker frame chairs, but this one had a thin, beige material stretched over it. Umbrella-like, but with a broader, skeletal quality to it.

The door swung open noisily, its handle hitting the wall and continuing its excavation into the battered plasterwork.

“What the bloody hell is that thing still doing here? I thought I told you to get rid of it!”

Sherlock looked up and, having failed to notice the bang from the door careering into the wall, was now surprised to see Watson stood in front of him.

“Ah, Watson.”

“Yes? Is that it? I asked you a damned question!”

“You know very well why it’s still here. The case remains open.”


“What more can be gleaned from a chair made from human skin? You should have given it to the Yard when you discovered it.”

“The killer is at large and I need to make my deductions before the police are made aware. You know the pattern, Watson: the police learn of events and then the press gives the murderer a stage name. I detest stage names… They cloud everything.”

“You mean to tell me that you’ve kept this from the police? Lestrade will gut you… like a damned cat!”

Watson’s inelegant threat riled Sherlock enough to break the remainder of his concentration.

“Now, listen here, Watson. You know full-well that - wait, what did you say?”

“I said that he’ll gut you.” Watson wasn’t about to repeat the embarrassing ending.

“No, no, no. Human skin. How do you know it’s made from human skin? I’ve not told you that.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Sherlock. I’m not a complete idiot. That bloody chair’s got more tattoos than a merchant seaman.”