Where Do You Want To Go Today?

Raccoon City. Dunwall. Rapture. The Master League. Los Santos. The Ishimura. Aperture Science Laboratories. The Animus. Rivet City. Windhelm. Kyrat. Liberty City. Black Mesa. Lytton. Malden. City 17. Ragnarok. Memorens. Shadow Moses. Jacinto City. Steelport. Nuevo Paraiso. Greenvale. Wellspring. The Sprawl. Tau Volantis. Aspari.  Union City. Helios. Mushroom Kingdom.

The places we go to escape.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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An hour to go

Precious seconds ebbed away, like the lifeblood from a mortally wounded rifleman. The tension was unbearable; my stomach was beginning to rebel. Corporal Stevenson turned and gave me a sickly grin.

“Nice day for it.”

Taking no notice of his droll remark, the deluge continued unabated. Some of the more raw recruits tittered, more out of nervousness and a strange sense of duty than from any real amusement. I merely kept an eye on my wristwatch, while trying desperately to avoid throwing up all over my boots. It’s setting little targets like that which help you get through the really tough times, I find.

Little targets. Hundreds of thousands of them, cut down at Cambrai back in November. What’s another thousand, give or take, here or there? If that’s what it takes, you’d be mad not to.

Wresting my attention away from the ticking timepiece, I cast my gaze over the men under my command. What possible difference could this few dozen soldiers make? What possible calamity could befall us, should we decide not to follow orders? What possible retribution could be meted out to us…that would be worse than the carnage awaiting us over the trench’s lip?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…


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Kicked to Death

The middle-aged punk beside me was talking to nobody in particular, but served to explain what was going on for the benefit of all the rest of us baffled onlookers. “Johnny ‘The Horse’, that is”. Nobody had actually asked the guy to describe the scene, but clearly he was determined to offer a running commentary. “Might seem unlikely now, but back in school the teachers are thought he a great mind… Bright, he was. ‘Inquiring’, that was the word the Principal used.”

The man he was giving biographical information for looked like his mind was pretty far from great. For one thing, he was standing on the corner of a busy intersection yelling out absolute nonsense – as far as anybody could make out, that is – at everyone within earshot. Well…’Yelling’ is perhaps exaggerating somewhat. More like ‘talking out loud’…but too loud.

“I knew his family pretty well; they thought – well, they knew – that he’d go far…if he applied his time. That’s the rub, innit?” At this he turned his head to give a wry look and make knowing eye contact with another rubbernecker, but everybody studiously avoided his gaze. Apparently the mere admission of association with the unwell man in the street brought its own social ostracism.

Finding no individual of similar outlook, he ran a hand through his bedraggled, purple mohawk and continued. “But then he started out…well, doing this. Standing on corners. We asked him – everyone asked him, ya know – what the hell he was playin’ at. He said he couldn’t believe in himself…or the world…or anything he heard. Daft.”

“How long ago was that, then?” An elderly lady, octogenarian maybe, proffered this query. The punk’s face visibly lifted at the transformation of his monologue into a proper dialogue.

“Oooh…Seems a million years ago… He left his life behind; wife and child an’ everything. He said goodbye to them, didn’t just leave ’em in the lurch or nothin’. It was like Forrest Gump – ya know that scene where he just starts running for no reason?” At this he intensely stared, obviously expecting some kind of affirmative response, at the now hopelessly-embroiled woman.

“Oh, erm, I recognise the name…but er, not really-”

“-Well basically this bloke Gump starts running, he’s Tom Hanks ya see, I can’t remember why, but… Anyway, the Horse was a bit like that. Just started walking. Between Glasgow and London. Back and forth, back and forth…” Sighing, the purple-haired punk shook his head sadly. While he was deep in reverie, the lady made good her escape. Her absence was not noticed, as he rambled on.

“Then, one hot summer, he forgot his name. Completely! ‘Just like tha’, as Tommy Cooper used to say. Uh…” Suddenly, like a spell had been cast, the punk looked confused. He blinked a few times, and looked intently at his own feet.

“Can you remember his name?”

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Kept the faith.
Kept indoors.
Kept my head up.
Kept an eye on it.
Kept making mistakes.
Kept my arms inside the window at all times.

Kept my scars.
Kept lucky.
Kept unemployed.
Kept demons at bay.
Kept procrastinating.
Kept feeling like a failure.

Kept cool…mostly.
Kept left.
Kept putting a positive spin on things.
Kept dwelling on the past.
Kept avoiding what needs to be done.
Kept outta trouble, as much as possible.

Kept moving.
Kept away from fire.
Kept in love with football.
Kept looking to the future.
Kept buggering on.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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By 2038, the world no longer used razor blades.

At least, not for the removal of bodily hair.

This was not because humanity had – finally – relinquished its socially constructed obsession with beauty standards and polished appearance. Alas, the cosmetics industry and the business of all associated paraphernalia was still going strong. Rather, in the preceding two decades had been developed a wondrous new substitute for shaving.

Hair removal gel.

The great societal switch did not occur overnight. However, gradually, shaving kits became seen as comparatively cumbersome, unwieldy, even barbaric things. Why bother with something that can actually draw blood when the first step – rubbing cream or foam onto your face, legs or pits – is all that is now required?

The application of the substance was simplicity itself. Essentially boiling down to a chemical reaction, once applied the process took between 15 and 20 minutes. This admittedly-arduous time was required to, in effect, uproot the follicles from the skin beneath. Thus, while shaving would still be a lot quicker, the results from the new method were considerably longer lasting.

Say goodbye to cuts, razor burn and the like.

Say hello to FolliCull™

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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An irritating, and painful, habit of mine is the chewing away at the inside of my own mouth. Biting so hard that blood is regularly drawn. Chomping the flesh as if it were a legitimate snack.

Disappointingly, I have absolutely no rational explanation for this peculiar oral fixation. Even though I am aware of it, and try my best not to indulge it, I invariably find myself – while reading a good book, say, or surfing the internet – gnawing the interior cheek tissue with gay abandon. For what possible purpose did I begin this weird addiction?

God knows, it cannot be good for me. Hopefully it isn’t weakening my immune system or slowing my metabolism. I have no idea, though perhaps it might explain why my body is so thin. Just imagine, there is a possibility – however faint – that I’m some sort of repressed cannibal!

Kooky notions aside, there is one plausible basis for what’s happening. Life, in general, makes me pretty anxious, and unlike a lot of anxious folk I don’t tend to chew my fingernails, so… Might that account for my odd nibbling? Now that I think about it, I do occasionally chew at the area immediately around my nails… Oh sweet Moses, I am some hideous variant of flesh-reaper!

Pity’s sake, get a hold of yourself man. Quit the hysterical hand-wringing, for once. Really though, why do I find it so impossible to stop? Scarring my own mouth, that’s all I’m achieving.

There’s got to be somebody out there – a doctor, or psychologist perhaps – who can tell me what caused this bizarre habit. Until I find that perspicacious person however, all I can do it attempt to distract my teeth with other nibbly bits. Very tasty nibbly bits.

What do you think I ought to do, dear reader? X-ray myself, at a dentist or hospital? You would think, if that was any solution, that they would have spotted the root of the matter when I had my wisdom teeth removed… Zapping myself with radiation doesn’t hold any particular enthusiasm for me, I must admit.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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The Devil Reincarnate

I can’t remember my first death. It was at least a thousand years ago though – of that I can be sure; vague recollections of Hastings occasionally come to mind, as well as the knowledge that as I took to the field that day, it was not the first lifetime in which I had waged war. However, the memory of my passing at some point during that battle also escapes me. As do the memories of many of my subsequent fatalities… Perhaps, as the final flourish of our life story is signed, we fall prey to a kind of amnesia. Is it a version of the amnesia that causes almost all mortals to believe that their current existence is the only one they will have?

It was not until the 16th Century that I would suffer a termination I could later recall in detail. A mightily stupid wound it was too; chasing my childhood friend Jean through the bocage of Normandy, I became tangled up in a particularly dense hedgerow and, in my enthusiasm to break free, subsequently tripped, cracking my head open on the edge of an unfortunately-placed rock. By the time Jean had so much as turned around to see what had become of my pursuit, I was dead. That occurred on my eighth birthday. The year was 1527 C.E. Fifteen lifetimes ago.

When will my torment end?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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