A Gathering of Dead Stories

Continuing on from the series I started last year – offering number three of pickings from my Slush Pile Bonanza.

This particular story has been knocking around, getting re-written and mucked about with for nearly three years. I have entered it for numerous flash fiction competitions and it doesn’t even get shortlisted. So, now I am reduced to offering it up as part of my Slush Pile Bonanza – Bella Basura stories that never got published…

Gray Road, April 2015, found artefacts on the slabs on the foundations of the ruined shed. Various pieces of ironwork, including 200 rusted three inch nails and model railway track.

Gray Road, April 2015, found artefacts on the slabs on the foundations of the ruined shed. Various pieces of ironwork, including 200 rusted three inch nails and model railway track.

Play Time in the Sunken Nature Garden

My favourite friend one year at Junior school was a boy called Lindsay. Lindsay’s mum must have been young and groovy, because Lindsay always had the latest paisley-print corduroy waistcoat or fruit-of-the-loom scoop-neck tee or jumbo-cord loon-pants. He had long bright orange hair and I remember we became friends over his extensive collection of used ink-pen cartridges, which he had sellotaped in rows to the inside of his desk. He showed them to me and Riz one rainy lunchtime when we weren’t allowed out on the playground.
This was the 1970s, and just like any normal eight year olds we listened to pop-music all the time, we knew all David Bowie’s songs by heart and watched Top of The Pops religiously. One favourite that wasn’t David Bowie was The Monster Mash – “It was a graveyard smash”. We liked it because it reminded us of our favourite film Carry on Screaming, which had been screened on TV last christmas holiday. We’d spent the rest of the holiday playing The Carry On Screaming Game, which revolved around running around the disused carpark by the river being vampires, or zombies, or frankenstein, or Kenneth Williams, or Fenella Fielding, and screaming a lot out loud. In fact most of the game involved a lot of screaming out loud, after all it was called The Carry On Screaming Game. We also loved Alice Cooper and sang “School’s out for summer, school’s out for ever, school’s been blown to pieces…” every day at home time for the whole of the week before half term.
Also, Lindsay wore black nail varnish, his mum let him because Alice Cooper did. Nobody else ever wore black nail varnish, only Lindsay, Alice Cooper and Lindsay’s mum.

Gray Road, April 2015 nails and model railway track

Due to some sort of building work on the main school that year, our classroom was out in one of the temporary missen huts, out beyond the playing field. There had once been two missen huts , but one had been taken away over the summer. The brick foundations had been left intact and our class had been given the project of turning it into a sunken Italian garden. One of the teachers must have been an avid Blue Peter viewer.
In the winter, the Huts (they were still plural even though they’d taken one of them away) was freezing, and we’d have to huddle around a huge oil burner in the corner of the room for heat, sometimes kids took their wet socks off to dry them on it. It was a strange place to have your classroom, separated off from the rest of the school by the playing field. I felt I lived in some idealised rural nineteenth century village school where the teachers looked like hippies, except it was slap-bang in the middle of grid-pattern pre-fabricated London-overspill dormitory new-town.
As the year rolled on into summer, we spent more and more time out of the classroom, we spent our time in the sunken garden, which was now called The Sunken Nature Garden on account of it being so overgrown and neglected, or we lounged on the playing field, out of sight from the rest of the school. We had lessons outdoors, sitting cross legged making daisy-chains in the long grass, listening to the teacher telling stories. Lindsay drew Draculas in my story book, he preferred to call them Alucards, so that the teacher didn’t understand.
In the summer term we did a class project on the founding of our town. First of all we got the history, long tracts about this were pinned around the walls. They told how thirty years ago Lord Dashingforth, a dead local landowner, had personally given permission for his ancient sacred ancestral lands to be used to build our town on, he was almost an uncle to us all. He gave personal permission for the inventor of breakfast cereals to build his first UK factory in our town, likewise a pharmaceutical birth pill manufacturer and the controversial war plane foundry by the river, and he gave permission for our Junior school to be built. HOORAY (sarcasm). This was very boring. Until one day our class was visited by a very old woman, with a walking stick and skin like old leprosy. We were told that this very old lady was the mortal remains of the sister of Lord Dashingforth, the very founder of our town. “Alucard!” whispered Lindsay to me while the old, old lady rambled on. And immediately I could see what he meant, my eyes had been opened, I now knew that the so-called generous Lord Dashingforth that they were talking about so reverently was none other than a seething vampire in reality.
At break-time, me, Lindsay, and Riz sat in the Sunken Nature Garden deciding what our contribution to the class project on the founding of our town would be. We already knew that it was going to be a play, because at half term we did the play Riz had written and directed about a favourite fluffy rabbit, which was loosely based on last term’s class project about Beatrix Potter. And, I can tell you, it went down a storm, especially at the end when we sang School’s Out and all the rest of the class, who were the audience, jumped up and down and joined in till home-time. We knew that the performance would have to be in the Sunken Nature Garden. And we also knew that our play had to expose the terrible information we had discovered that afternoon. We owed it to our public to tell them that kindly Uncle Lord Dashingforth was in fact a filthy writhing Alucard, the very founder of our town was none other than a vile vampire, with no more morals than Kenneth Williams in Carry on Screaming when he says “frying tonight”. Then Lindsay introduced a new element into the play that added all the sophistication we could dream of. “We need to dress up for it” said Lindsay, pulling a sheer lilac negligee and black nail varnish from his duffle bag. “I’ll be Lord Dashingforth, and wear this when I’m dying”. I was Lord Dashingforth’s sister, and Riz directed and played a ghost.
From that day on we rehearsed mercilessly, we painted a poster to advertise the play to our class. We attempted making costumes when the teacher taught us tie-dying, but in the end we used them as flags. Washing lines of damp psychedelic rags, strung between the Rowan and Wild Cherry saplings, fluttering colour in the summer blanched meadow of the Sunken Almost-Wild Garden.

Herne in the tree stumps

And very soon it was the end of term and the big afternoon arrived. The play, as we performed it, went like this:

Uncle Lord Dashingforth and his sister are having dinner. Lord Dashingforth is not wearing his negligee. The sister says “There is a letter from some poor people asking you to find their town, please to let them have some of your ancient ancestral sacred land so that they don’t have to live in stinking London slums anymore and can build a bloody decent school instead”. Uncle Lord Dashingforth is not listening, he says “There is a full moon, I must go and drink someone’s blood”. The sister says “No, no, no, you mustn’t keep drinking people’s blood, you must help the poor people to fund their town. One night you’ll encounter a ghost and that’ll change your miserly ways”. But Uncle is off “Cavorting in the Sunken Nature Garden under a bloody full moon” I wail, and we play The Carry On Screaming Game until Riz, the Ghost, rises up from behind some poppies, hiding under Lindsay’s see-thru lilac negligee, whoooo-ing like a howling hurricane. Uncle Lord Dash tries to drink blood, but Riz is a ghost and doesn’t have any. Instead the ghost says “I am a ghost of your ancestors, you must give your land to the poor people. You mustn’t drink any more blood. You are going to die”. Then Riz throws the lilac negligee over Uncle Lord Dashingforth, like a net. He falls to the floor, he is dying. Me, the sister, talks to Lord Dash, who mumbles, then gives his permission to founder our town. Lindsay then jumps up from the ground and we all do School’s Out and then 17 choruses of Starman until our mums came to take us home. “There’s a Starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us but he think he’d blow our minds. There’s a Starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us but he think he’d blow our minds…”

(Bella Basura
Revised December 2019
January 2017)

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A Gathering of Dead Stories Begins…

A short while ago, during a particularly dark patch, I watched The Great Hack documentary and Charlie Brooker’s Bandersnatch in rapid succession.

It didn’t much help my mood. And I’ve really gone off social media and computer games a bit since then.

Which is how come I have been reading a lot, and re-reading many of own my failed stories which are filed away in cardboard boxes under my bed. And so that’s how come I am gathering them here, under the title Slush Pile Bonanza

The next piece was written earlier this year. I abandoned it because it felt way too dark, and I couldn’t find a laugh in there.

Scene Beyond The Rape Yard by Bella Basura 2019

Scene Beyond The Rape Yard by Bella Basura 2019

Beyond the Rape Yard

Every night she was tortured by the sounds.
She lay awake, at best half-asleep, hearing the far-off grunts and snarls, the yelps and screams.
Screams, she heard, she was sure…MORE..

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Slush Pile Bonanza

This is the first installment of a collection of my previously unpublished stories, gunk from my personal Slush Pile…

This first story is from 4 or 5 years ago.

What Time? Collage by Bella Basura. Spain 1994.

What Time?
Collage by Bella Basura. Spain 1994.

Time Warp In The ‘dam

“Sooooo” She drew the word out with undisguised relish “What are we going to do with our last night in Amsterdam, eh?” She laughed, poked him in the ribs and stretched our languorously  across the counterpane, sprawled like a self-satisfied cat. “Our last night as twisted British rock-star and unofficial girlfriend, cut adrift in the city of sin?”…MORE..

 

 

 

 

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Drabble Blog

I recently found out that the 100 word flash-fiction/micro-stories I have been working these past three years have an actual name – “Drabble”.

The term is derived from a 1971 Monty Python book. ’nuff said!

There’s even a website to prove it.

So, ever at the rebellious cutting-edge, my newest piece – a seasonally appropriate monologue – is a variant-drabble form I’ve just invented.

It’s called a “Faux-Drabble”.

That is a piece that could pass for a drabble, but is actually 15 or so words out.

And so, I present to you Bella Basura’s First Faux-Drabble.

Cold Edges

My winter consciousness feels bound within cold edges.

I am double-thermal long-johns.

And still my ankles are frozen blue.

They  descend into hypothermic dysfunction, squishing like icy jelly when I stand on them.

 My knees feel chilly. And my elbows.

I can’t leave the house, enraptured in my unnatural attachment to a radiator. “I love You. I want to envelope you. I want to lie all over you”. I say the same to my fur-covered hot water bottle. Hot chocolate and fleecy throws seduce me. Candles and a ‘real’ fire screen-saver on my laptop too. Hygge hygge hygge my arse.

Green and pleasant, England’s winters are mild, but still my consciousness always feels bound within cold edges.

Bella Basura January 2019

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Short Change Short Bread

Okay! So Facebook tells me I have 486 fans who haven’t heard from me for a while…Hey There! I’m going to make it up to you with this dinky little flash fiction I wrote on X-mas Eve…

Muntjac Deer at my Birdfeeder December 2018

Muntjac Deer at my Birdfeeder December 2018

 

Short Change Short Bread

It would be wrong to say that I hate Christmas. It’s Xmas that I hate.
I make this distinction based solely on the evidence of one article on the internet which may or may not have been written by enthusiatic christians, or even xians. They define Christmas as a celebratory festival for the birth of The Christ. They call X-mas – the X-kiss of Mamon.
It’s pitting mercy against greed, Jesus versus Santa, like in the South Park Episode.
So, I say it’s X-mas, the knee-jerk consumerist spending frenzy of kiss-mamon-mas that I hate.
I seen it when I go into town in December, I see people herding the streets in viral catatonias, bleeping out their data, maxing out their plastic, all sightless under the glamour of a single minded compulsion to engage in monetary exchange.
And if I’m honest, I seen it start with Black Friday and now Cyber Monday, and then January Sales throughout December. Elongating the whole sordid orgy into a slow panting panicked climax  lasting several months. I seen people filming themselves in wide-eyed apoplexy as they clasp black boxed electronic trophies to their heaving breast, their mind’s eye fixated on X-mas. Mamon kiss my arse.
Rage. I seen them wander the halls of Grand Arcade Shopping Mall shedding psychic 50 pound notes, like autumn trees shed leaves. I seen it all, worse than the Night of the Living Dead.

So, I am writing this on Xmas Eve Morning contemplating my ill-advised quest into the city centre to use some gift vouchers on some new underwear (solid big knickers from M+S). I am standing stuck in an hour long queue in Marks staring at their Definitive Short Bread Collection, incidentally curated by some half-has-been you-tube culinary star. My eyes jerk among the Skottie Dog shaped gift boxes, floribundances of tartan and stags horns, the wobbly Ben-Nevis-picture-postcard topped tins, the basics economy line wrapped in vegetable-derived bio-degradable cellophane. I feel transfixed with confusion. I feel like I am falling forward into an infinite vortex. I am torn by the urge to spend all my money and a fear of debt that tugs at a cellular level. I am experiencing a strange psychic dissonance. I feel high. I feel high, like maybe a compulsive gambler feels during a horse race, like a sex-addict hunting out ever more repulsive porn, like shrodinger’s cat crouched in the gloom waiting for dinner time. The queue for the check out unfurls ahead of me, endless to a far unseen horizon. I haven’t mentioned the seasonal music pumping out. I will not mention the in-store music.
When suddenly a bell-clear voice, my own voice, rings out pristine inside my head. “But I don’t need any Short Bread”. I am swept back to my queuing reality. I feel sucked at and plucked at, unsteady as I realise that – No! I don’t need any fucking Short Bread. There will always be Short Bread, there will always be more Short Bread. Every Aunty in the UK brings Short Bread at X-mas. My mum brings Short Bread, in fact my Mum doesn’t leave the house in December without a tin of Short Bread tucked into the bottom of her Bag-For-Life. There will always be Short Bread. I don’t need to buy Short Bread.

It feels like silence falls around me, mouths move but no sound comes out, the queue to the checkouts, the altars of the mass of Mamon, surges and undulates like a mexican wave of wealth, a John Carpenter film in real-time. Except now I know I don’t need no Short Bread, I am freed from that spell.
Fortified with my newly realised knowledge I leap out from the queue, flinging my packet of over-priced knickers to the floor, witnessing aloud, let the spirit flow through me that I am a just conduit for the voice of his love, I call out loud in my favourite voice-“No! I will not kiss my arse with the Mamon-pants of Yule! No! No! I will not!”.

 

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Edgewords Renewal Anthology Launch

Saturday 8th December sees the launch of the Edgewords Renewal Anthology.

flyer by Lisa Evans 2018

flyer by Lisa Evans 2018

At The Edge Cafe on Mill Rd.

Doors open at 6.30pm, contributors readings start at 7pm. The cafe is open through out the event, selling hot/cold drinks (TIP: Ask Jacob for a Wild Encounterand cake. 

Copies of the chapbook anthology cost £5, proceeds to The Edge Cafe to support their recovery work.

Plus, it’s Simone’s birthday…

Come along and enjoy an evening of creative writing in Cambridge.

 

5th December 2018

 

 


 

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Submissions for Edgewords Renewal Anthology

The deadline for Edgewords Renewal Anthology draws closer, next week in fact, so please do get your finger out and send us your wonderful SHORT fictions and poems. There is a word limit of 300 words or 30 lines – details are on the Edge Cafe website – here.

The new anthology is edited by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke, Lisa Evans and Jean Dark. We have had several very wonderful submissions already, and the 19th September deadline is now looming. We are still waiting for you to send us YOUR contribution.

We recently recorded Munizha’s beautiful piece -Ripe – which appeared in the first Edgewords Anthology, you can listen to our reading of it here.  It was recorded a few week ago at Lisa’s, in the home studio she shares with her partner Colin. So many thanks to Colin for making the recording, we had such a lovely afternoon!

Follow this link to send your submissions to us – Edgewords Renewal Anthology

The Edgeworders. by Victor Manuel-Ibanez for Oblique Arts. 2017.

The Edgeworders. by Victor Manuel-Ibanez for Oblique Arts. 2017.

The first Edgewords Anthology was published last year, and came about through a series of Creative Writing workshops during September and October 2017. We were lucky to have the support of Oblique Arts, The Edge Cafe and Cambridge City Council who made the project possible.

Here is a photograph of the writing group by Victor. I think we look like a rock band! In fact, we are pausing during a workshop, at The Mayan Pyramid near Snakey Path on a writing expedition to Cherry Hinton Hall.

 

Edgewords Renewal Anthology Submission Form

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Clutches of Love Online

A few weeks ago I posted up the Clutches of Love chapbook, including the wonderful introduction written for me by the inspiring psychedelic poet – Katya Lubarr. A few days later Katya emailed me asking me where the pieces were, the links didn’t work, she couldn’t find the pieces…I had a look and she was right.By Dave Challis March 2017

But  I was in the middle of National Poetry Writing Month, I was overwhelmed with rhyme and rhythm and iambic pentameters and dactylic feet, and worrying whether my sonnet was Shakespearean or Petarchan…the rigours of re-editing the blog-posting seemed beyond my grasp.

But that’s all over now, so finally, I have managed to make all the links work, so that the whole chapbook can be read online – here Clutches of Love

ENJOY!

 

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Clutches of Love

Day 10 of NaPoWriMo

Darling, When I think Of You

Salome
by Pierre et Gilles
Augmented photograph. 1991

Darling, when I think of you…
My skin tingles, hairs rise.
In my dry gummy mouth
I taste a metallic
Taint of terror.
In my mind
I see a red-flare distress beacon
Bloom glaring
In the empty dark sea night sky.
I hear klaxons ringing out
Harmonics of horror.
I smell the sweat of my own fear.
Darling, in truth,
I try not to think of you…
Too often.

 

 

Today I am posting up a poem from my new chapbook – Clutches of Love. I was lucky enough to have Katya Lubarr of the Cat Basket write the introduction, which I was very pleased with. We are hoping to collaborate on a similar chapbook anthology in time for Valetines Day 2019 and we’ll soon be putting a call out for contributions.

But, finally this chapbook of Clutches of Love is finished, and is available to buy print-on-demand from my Esoterranean Books store on Etsy, the chapbook is priced at £5.

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New Bella Basura posting

Maxine and Bella Merged - Bella Basura 2018

Maxine and Bella Merged – Bella Basura 2018

TOGETHER

Once long ago we were connected, all together, gathering in a circle, outward facing, covering each others backs. We were solid and safe in three hundred and sixty directions. We were whole wholesome together connected. But I don’t remember, do you remember?

And yet again eyes connect across canyons of misunderstandings. That must have been some other time.

We were our own human barricade, strong in limb, Amazonians, muscled women of plunder, not war, just necessity. Swooping in the dark, together, finger-wings tip-to-tip, touching. The storm comes around again flashing jolt and thunder-crack. Eyes meet and connect in metallic shadows, forked in lightening. But I don’t remember, do you remember?

I search your face for explanations, but your eyes don’t speak to me. Your facial expression caught in the frozen photographic moment, is remarkably composed, held peaceful and distant in placid compassion. Your eyes are numb they do not speak to me. Aloof in life, that’s me.

And yet again eyes connect across canyons of misunderstandings. That must have been some other time.

It must have been some other time, another place, it doesn’t look the same, it’s so different. Only your silent eyes are the same. I catch a glance into them and everything shifts, somehow slightly bigger. Your empty eyes are the constant axis through which consciousnesses turn through gyrations of immensity and I know we were connected, once long ago. But I don’t remember, do you remember?

Clutches of Love

The Skull Collection

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