At the beginning of 2012, I received an SMS from one of my friends , suggesting a new year's resolution we could both try. 'We shou...

At the beginning of 2012, I received an SMS from one of my friends, suggesting a new year's resolution we could both try. 'We should start a blog,' he said, 'where we set a theme once a fortnight, and before that fortnight is over, we have to write a short story on that theme.'

I'm sure you can understand the apprehension I felt. I didn't sleep for days, tossing and turning, wondering if this new year's resolution was the right one for me. Would I have time? Would it make me hate writing forever more, being forced to write a story on a specific theme 26 times in one year? There were so many things to consider, I almost went insane. But then I made my decision.

I jumped at the idea, and that day, was born. 

In the year that has passed since that fateful day, I am the only contributor to the site who has taken part in every theme. I have written 26 short stories for in 2012, and it's the first new year's resolution that I've made and kept to in my whole life. If that doesn't prove I'm a real grown up, I don't know what does. Granted, some of them are rushed and ill thought out, and the Christmas one is just a load of shit written down, but some others, like The Writing Club, are among my favourite short stories that I've written. 

So why not set yourself the same challenge? will still be running throughout 2013, even though I will no longer be regularly contributing. Everyone can join in, and if you want to get into writing, or if you already write and want a new challenge, maybe this is just what you need!

Whether you'll be joining in or not, I hope everyone has had a fantastic year, and I wish you all the best for 2013.

Other significant numbers from 2012

  • I received one lovely rejection from a publisher this year, in a year of very limited query letter sending. I'll be sending them out with more vigour this year, so we'll see how that goes. 
  • I wrote exactly twice as many posts this year as I did last year. Either because I had more to say, or because I was more desperate for attention. You decide.
  • I published 3 apps onto the Windows Phone marketplace, which have been downloaded a total of 705 times. Not bad, considering they're just apps for small blogs on the least common smartphone OS available. Android versions will be coming in 2013, and we can see how they perform in comparison.
  • As of 23/12/12, the official destroyedordamaged Twitter account has 339 followers. That could rise or fall dramatically before the end of the year, and often does at very short notice. But if you're a loyal follower, thanks for your support. I'll be rewarding you with more bullshit spilling from my brain all through 2013.
  • This site broke the 10,000 visits mark in October. It's now at 12,143, so I'm getting a lot more visitors these days than I used to. Again, thanks everyone.

    ‘It says here that the world’s first ninety inch television has just gone on general sale, Geoffrey. Have we ordered one of those yet?’...

   ‘It says here that the world’s first ninety inch television has just gone on general sale, Geoffrey. Have we ordered one of those yet?’

   Geoffrey sighed inaudibly, twiddling his fingers behind his back as he eyed the bald spot on his employer’s head. In all the years he had been serving Humphrey Beauregard, he had never known his master’s memory to be as bad as it had been since that little dog Scuffer had died following a mouse into the open fire.

   ‘Yes, sir; it was delivered last Tuesday, and now takes pride of place in its box in the Technology Room.’

   ‘Excellent, Geoffrey. Most excellent. Did we pay a good price?’

   Geoffrey juggled the consequences of lying and being honest in his head for a few seconds before realising that whatever he said, he would receive the same response. The old man didn’t care how he obtained any of the things he owned, or how much he paid for them; he just cared that he owned them. Without that, his life was worthless.

   ‘No, sir; we paid much more than we should have, because supply was limited and you wanted to receive it before the royal baby was born. You said you wanted to watch it live, sir,’ the butler replied, honestly.

   ‘Excellent, Geoffrey. Most excellent.’

   The aging billionaire was riffling through a catalogue of shiny new things that any fool with too much money and not enough sense would desire within seconds of seeing; only, it was a mystery to the patient butler how the old man was seeing these things at all – the eye that hadn’t been irreparably damaged in that hunting accident two decades ago was so myopic that it was basically a decorative marble. The butler had to do everything for his master these days, from clipping his curling yellow toenails to changing his outfit every morning and evening. But that was all part of serving the Beauregards.

   ‘Oh, look, Geoffrey! A new Jaguar!’ A chubby, wrinkly finger poked the page of the magazine resting in the old man’s lap, and the butler didn’t even look down before he replied.

   ‘It looks just splendid, sir.’

   ‘I must have it. Do we have space in the garage?’

   ‘We do not, sir. We bought a Fiat 500 in every colour and pattern, because you saw the advert for them on the television and thought that it would be nice if the two of us could drive around with such flair.’

   ‘Have we done so yet, Geoffrey?’

   ‘Not yet, sir.’

   ‘I see. Well, if you could, please arrange for another garage to be built, and order one of these Jags. There’s a good chap.’

   The butler sighed again. He knew that to order the Jaguar and to build the garage would not be in his master’s best interests, but he knew also that it wouldn’t hurt an old man to get exactly what he wanted, whenever he wanted it, in the final years of his life. If Humphrey Beauregard had the means and the will to waste money on extravagances time after time, who had the right to deny him that privilege? With that in mind, the butler turned on his heel and made to leave the drawing room and make preparations. As he reached the huge double doors of the room, he was halted by his master’s call.

   ‘Oh, and Geoffrey?’

   ‘Yes, sir?’

   ‘What of love?’

   ‘Love, sir?’

   ‘Yes, love. Can one buy that, yet?’

   ‘No, sir. Not much has changed since we last enquired. Love still cannot be bought.’

   ‘I see,’ replied the old man, his disappointed voice barely audible above the cracking and popping of the fire.

   ‘Would we like to order a prostitute until the situation changes, sir?’ Asked the butler, knowing the answer he would receive, since the two men had had the same conversation every other night since the passing of Mrs Beauregard in the early 80s.

   ‘Excellent idea, Geoffrey. Most excellent.’

    They told me that there was a cliff just off the motorway past Staples Point where you could travel back in time, if you drove off of i...

   They told me that there was a cliff just off the motorway past Staples Point where you could travel back in time, if you drove off of it at exactly midnight. I laughed at them at the time. I laughed and I told them to stop being so ridiculous. That’s not even possible, I said. But that night, there was nothing in the world that could have kept me from finding that cliff, and driving straight off of it at top speed. 

   That’s where I was going when I was weaving in and out of traffic on the M46, blasting my horn at the slugs crawling along in the fast lane, and the speed cameras just after the Fairbrook Interchange caught me travelling at 116 miles per hour. That’s where I was headed, when the lights down the centre of the road stopped and I was driving into blind blackness with just the three metres ahead of me visible, lit by my headlights, and the fox’s eyes appeared off to the left and I was travelling so fast that I had no time to react so I ploughed through it but I heard no impact so I don’t know if the fox was a hallucination or it just turned to mush in my grill. That was my destination, when that first police car caught wind of my kamikaze journey and slotted itself into my slipstream, sirens shrieking and lights blazing, and called its two friends to join the chase.

   The speed I was going by then, they had no chance of catching me. Even the helicopter bathing me in a heavenly spotlight as I ripped my beeline in the chilling night air was struggling to keep up. Without regard for my safety, on a mission to put my life and body in jeopardy just to see Jenny again, I pushed the car past 150 miles per hour on that pitch dark road, searching for Gatsby Services, where the metal barrier that I had to smash my way through sat waiting for me.

   When I reached it, I lost the two most cowardly police cars along with my front bumper and headlamps as I demolished the aluminium fencing with my jet black BMW. The third panda car continued its pursuit, following me onto the rocky path to the cliff, through the shrubs and the wildlife I murdered on the way, until its driver worked out where I was going and skidded to a halt. Left alone to meet my fate, I ploughed on through the debris to my glorious destination.

   Haloed by the light from the police helicopter, my front wheels left the cliff edge at exactly 23:59, and I went into freefall.

   For the first few seconds, time stopped and started like I was living inside of a strobe light, as the rocky beach below and the waves that broke against it drew themselves closer to my windscreen by the millisecond. I experienced a soul-crushing disappointment, as I realised that I had gone on nothing but a suicide mission, believing a rumour that was never designed to be truth. I was falling to my death at terminal velocity, and there was nothing I could do now to atone.

   But then it happened. At first, too quickly to control, the images flashing past my eyes with such disorganisation and confusion that I wasn’t sure whether I was experiencing some kind of pre-mortem highlights reel or just fitting in panic; then, as my brain tuned in to the blurry images more accurately, bringing it all into focus, more slowly and easier to affect. I soon realised that I was being transported to all of the moments in my life where I had done something that I regretted. All of the times I felt guilty or wronged or like my life had taken a wrong turn, they were rushing before my eyes, begging to be tweaked.

   Wetting myself at primary school. Cheating on tests and being caught. Cheating on schoolyard girlfriends with meaningless kisses. Arguments where the smartest, most biting retort had only dawned on me the morning after, over breakfast with my parents. Jokes I had tried to make in front of rooms full of new people, only to watch the joke fall flat and those strangers give each other pitying looks. It all zoomed past, as I disregarded the chaff to get to the crux, so that I could change my past, and in doing so, change my future too.

   I saw her face before I realised I had progressed that far through my life, and the stream slowed right down as I took her in. Here she was: Jenny, my beautiful ex fiancée, grinning at me with her thin nose and large eyes and full lips revealing paper white teeth. The face I hadn’t seen in two years had appeared in my eyes again and took my breath away with its beauty, almost making me forget what I was even doing here, physically falling through the air at a million miles an hour, but spiritually reliving a past I yearned to correct.

   I lived in that past for the entire duration of the relationship we once had, changing everything. The way I treated her, the way I thought of her, it was all renovated by the knowledge of what I had, which was only informed by the fact that in my previous future, she was gone. Every morning, I told her she was beautiful. I hugged her and I kissed her and I slept next to her with complete and utter contentment, worshipping her for being the most beautiful human being I had ever chanced upon.

   Where before I had criticised her taste in music or literature purely for the sake of contradicting her views, which I thought of as overconfident and ill thought out, this time I agreed wholeheartedly. I grabbed her hands and danced with her around her bedroom to Paramore songs and kissed her neck while she read cheap crime books, because I realised then that life was too short to disagree over such trivial matters; and also because if I was honest with myself, we shared so many of those tacky tastes anyway.

   I took back all the times I had been snappy and uptight. When the urge overcame me to shout at her or cut her down nastily in the middle of one of her uninformed rants, I chose this time to resist it. I heard her out, I let her finish, and then I grabbed her shoulders and kissed her mouth and told her that I loved her because that’s all that matters and heated debates are made for ponces in suits, not young lovers. I never told her she was wrong even when she was, I never took her for granted, and I never let her think she was anything other than perfect.

   And most importantly of all, I stripped away all that jealousy. All the insecurity I’d felt at the time, weighing me down like the world’s heaviest gelatine chainmail, I deemed to be completely useless, and left it locked in a time capsule in the past. I let her talk to whoever she wanted to talk to and flirt with whatever she felt like flirting with, because I knew that deep down, she was devoted to me, and everything she did was for me all along. Having the gift of hindsight made it infinitely easier to watch her throw herself around the dancefloors I could never navigate, and our relationship blossomed under the sunshine I allowed it to bathe in, as I blew away the clouds I had manufactured the first time.

   After we made love on her birthday, Jenny dressed in one of the kinky costumes she always loved to wear for my benefit in the bedroom and I burning with desire and love for her stronger than I had ever felt, after that, I felt that my work in the past was done, and decided to fastfoward to the present day, to my new future that awaited me like a light at the end of the tunnel. I relinquished my hold on the past, and let the images zoom past once again.

   But they went too fast. The memories that I couldn’t remember because I hadn’t lived them yet, they sprang past my eyes like an elastic band pulled too tight and suddenly released. I lost a grip on the past, and it all passed me by, until I woke up in a car, falling off of a cliff.

   I had changed nothing. Or at least, what I had changed hadn’t mattered. It had all ended up exactly the same. At some point, it had all gone wrong again, despite all that I had edited out in the footage of my lifetime; and I had ended up right back where I started: falling through the air, headed toward a cold, hard death on a pebbled beach. But this time, I felt a warm satisfaction as I drifted through the beam of the police helicopter’s spotlight toward the rocks and the waves, because I had seen Jenny again, and fixed it all. The fact that our love had eaten itself alive sometime since and left me just as distraught as before was a shock that was easily assuaged by the knowledge that this time, I wasn’t completely to blame. I had loved and been loved, and to feel that again was all I had needed.

   With my soul still swimming in this feeling, my body disintegrated against the beach, along with the scarlet Audi it had arrived in, leaving only ashes and smoke in that helicopter’s beam.

    Scud Presley has a tooth missing where it just never came through in the top right hand corner of his smile, and he tongues the hole wh...

   Scud Presley has a tooth missing where it just never came through in the top right hand corner of his smile, and he tongues the hole where it should be as he struts from his black imported Mustang to the door of the greasy spoon café just off the M1. His car bleeps twice as he presses the button on his key fob without looking back, and he grins as he strides through the door into the humidity of the café because today has been a good day. Every day is a good day for Scud Presley, and when you look at his pockmarked face with its smug grin and its frame of slicked back hair, you know it without having to be told.

   The door closes itself slowly behind Scud, jingling for a second time on its journey back towards its frame, and Scud takes a seat at a table by the window. He doesn’t realise that this isn’t the kind of place that does table service, or he just doesn’t care, as he slouches in the seat and engrosses himself in a newspaper that lies on the table. With his eyes glued to the page, he lifts his left hand above his head and clicks his fingers loudly.

   The young girl behind the counter, Sandra Batten, chewing gum, remains behind the counter. She raises an eyebrow at Scud Presley that is not heeded.

   At least a minute passes, and Sandra begins to inspect her nails once more, as she stands with her hip leaning against the counter in the café that is empty but for one man reading a newspaper in a lumberjack’s shirt open to the belly button and jeans so tight that the outline of his penis would be visible a hundred metres away. Noticing that he has no tea, coffee or food in front of him, the man clicks his fingers again, this time lifting his eyes from the page to meet Sandra Batten’s, grinning his holey grin.

   ‘Any chance of some service, love?’ He asks, ‘Or are you too… busy?’ He gestures sarcastically toward the other empty tables in the restaurant.

   Huffing loudly, Sandra pushes herself away from the counter and drags her feet around the work surface and across the linoleum of the restaurant floor to reach the airspace beside Scud Presley’s table. She stands filing her nails and not looking down at the man, who even from this distance reeks of supermarket-bought cologne. Despite being desperate to order ten seconds ago, Scud seems not to be so hungry now, chewing his gum noisily and staring at the page of his newspaper like it holds the answers to all his problems.

   ‘Look, do you want to order anythi–’

   ‘Would you look at this?’ He holds the page up so she can see the picture. ‘This kid is fourteen years old, and he’s broken the hundred metre world record. Do you know what the hundred metre record is? Well, it’s about nine seconds. But this kid does it in eight seconds. Eight seconds. They’ve had Guinness in and everything; he really does it.’

   Sandra just watches his face, popping her gum. He grins up at her.

   ‘I like your lipstick. What is that, Blood Red? Midnight Maroon?’

   Sandra Batten raises an eyebrow.

   Scud’s smile doesn’t drop. 

   ‘Would you like to see a card trick?’ Scud Presley lifts one buttock from the hard seat of the café booth to fish in his back pocket for his pack of cards. ‘Sit down.’

   Rolling her eyes and sighing loudly for just about the millionth time, Sandra takes a seat opposite Scud in the booth. As she sits down, the apron she wears folds unflatteringly so that her chest looks flat and her stomach appears to bulge, but Scud has already seen that even in her standard-issue dinner lady scrubs and paper apron, her body is shapely and has curves in all but some of the right places. Smiling his smile at her and tonguing his gum, he splays the pack of cards between them.

   ‘What’s your name? Do you have a name?’

   Sandra masticates a little more, then pops her gum.


   Scud’s hands open up like a bowl between the two, begging to be filled with more information. ‘Sandra what?’

   Sandra’s eyes narrow, and she chews some more before replying, ‘Sandra Batten.’

   ‘Look at me, I’m Sandra B…’

   Sandra B rolls her eyes and allows them to fall on an indeterminate spot outside of the window.

   ‘My name’s Scud Presley,’ he continues, displacing and replacing the cigarette behind his ear, ‘and I’m very pleased to meet you, Sandra Batten. Pick a card.’

   Sandra takes a card and shields it from Scud’s view. The card is the five of diamonds.

   ‘Do you have a pen?’ Asks Scud, tapping the edges of the rest of the cards in the pack and leaning across the table as if part of him wants to peek at Sandra’s card or look down her top or something. Sandra just stares at him with one eyebrow raised, as she reaches into the pocket of her uniform and pulls out an eyeliner pencil. ‘Right,’ continues Scud, ‘I want you to write something on that card. Your favourite line of poetry, your address, your bra size, something like that. But don’t let me see it.’

   For the first time, Sandra smiles a toothy smile at Scud, and doesn’t take her eyes off him as she jots something down on the face of the playing card.

   ‘Now fold it up, so I have no way of telling what you’ve written. Fold it right up.’

   He rolls up the sleeve of his right arm.

   ‘Like this?’

   ‘Exactly. Hand it back to me.’

   Fishing his lighter from the same pocket as the cards, he lights up his cigarette before taking the folded card back from Sandra and pressing it to the inside of his right wrist.

   ‘You can’t smoke in here,’ Sandra drones, ‘it’s against the law.’

   He holds his finger up at her, and she falls quiet. With the folded playing card still resting on the soft skin of his wrist, he takes the cigarette from his mouth. Grinning at Sandra, he drives the hot end of the cigarette through the playing card and into his wrist, where it hisses and streams grey smoke up in ribbons around their faces. Sandra winces, watching him burn the paper and his wrist skin.

   When the fire on the card and the cigarette has died, he rubs the card with its burnt hole in the centre up and down his wrist, so that his skin is blackened by the ash. Sandra’s face is contorted into a shocked grimace, unsure of whether she wants to spend any more time sat opposite this obvious psychopath.

   After eating the burnt playing card and the cigarette in one gulp, Scud blows the excess ash from his charcoal wrist, revealing words written in deep black across his skin. The words read FUCK YOU, in a womanly scrawl.

   ‘Is that what you wrote on the card?’ Scud asks.

   Sandra nods, her eyes wide but her mouth back to the same old cow-chew rotation.

   ‘And your card,’ says Presley, stroking his chin and tonguing the hole where his tooth should be as if trying to taste the identity of her card, ‘was the nine of clubs.’


   ‘Oh. The six of hearts?’

   ‘No, it was the –’

   ‘Don’t tell me. I’ll get it.’

   While he tongues his hole and feigns deep thought, Sandra’s amazement wanes, along with her interest. 

   ‘Look, mate, do you want any food or what? I’m gonna go and sit back over there now.’

   ‘I’ll have a fry up. The works. Everything you’ve got. Oh, and a tea – strong and dark, like me.’ Scud winks, and then grins. 

   Sandra shakes her head and chuckles to herself as she walks back to the till, and Scud can’t be sure if she’s laughing at him or with his astounding trick, and he doesn’t care either way. All publicity is good publicity.

   ‘Oh, I’ve got it,’ he shouts, clapping his hands together, as she reaches the counter.

   She doesn’t need to hear his guess – she has already spotted the playing card on the work surface. Unfolded but still wearing its creases, intact but still sporting four holes with charred, black edges, it sits there staring at her from the counter.

   ‘It was the five of diamonds, wasn’t it.’

   Sandra nods, not taking her eyes from the burnt up five of diamonds.

   ‘God, you’ve got a nice arse. I mean, even in that ugly outfit. I just want to pound it.’

   ‘What?’ Sandra’s eyes dart from the five of diamonds to the king of sleaze in an instant.



   Sandra B places the all-day breakfast plate in front of Scud with a clink, and sets his tea down next to it. He grins up at her, but she doesn’t pay him even the tiniest morsel of attention. She stares out of the window that he has his back to, watching the cars speed past on the motorway a couple of hundred metres away. After she has delivered his meal, she lights up a cigarette and stands at the window looking out, her left arm across her stomach and her right leaning on her left, holding the cigarette. For a while, the two people coexist in silence, their soundtrack the hiss of the piping hot chip fat in the kitchen behind the counter and the scrape of Scud Presley’s cutlery against his plate.

   ‘I thought you weren’t allowed to smoke in here?’ He finally says, his mouth full of fried food. ‘I thought it was against the law?’

   Sandra’s eyes mope from the window to Scud’s pupils as she sticks the fag into her mouth and sucks on it hard, illuminating the end and sending a stream of grey, sweet-smelling smoke into the air around her head.

   ‘It is.’

   Her gaze returns to middle distance beyond the café’s glass façade.

   ‘Is that your car?’ Sandra asks, blowing smoke through her nose and pointing at the black Mustang parked outside. Scud turns in his seat to look at the car she’s pointing at, knowing fully well that the car park would be empty were it not for his car.

   ‘Yeah. She’s a beauty, isn’t she?’

   ‘It’s a she?’

   ‘Aren’t all cars? Isn’t everything? Who run the world? Girls.’

   Sandra smiles at Scud – a false, empty smile – and crosses the floor to stub out her cigarette on the side of his plate.

   ‘Are you finished?’

   He grins at her while still chewing the last of his food, relishing the game they’re playing with each other. Once again for Scud Presley, this has been a cinch – at the click of his fingers, they’d be doing the no pants dance. ‘Yeah,’ he replies, wiping his hands with the one-ply napkins that the box on his table provides, ‘thanks.’

   As she walks back toward the counter, Sandra speaks to Scud at a barely audible mumble, as if he were a voice in her head. ‘So how could you afford a car like that?’

   ‘I have rich parents. They gave me money for university, so I spent it on the car. Then they gave me money for university again, and I spent it on insurance for my new car, and clothes. Next time they give me money for university, I might go to university.’ Scud has rolled up the napkins he used to wipe his hands into a tight ball, and he bounces it on the table in front of him as he leans forward to project his voice across the café.

   ‘Hm,’ Sandra chuckles, short and sharp, as she emerges from the kitchen where she has dumped the dirty plate into the dishwasher. She returns to her stool and continues to file her nails. ‘So you’re university age, are you? Like, eighteen, nineteen?’

   ‘I’m twenty-five.’

   ‘Wow.’ Sandra’s intonation says wow like this news has impressed or surprised her, but her eyes widening and rolling around in their sockets before returning to her nails tell a very different story.

   Silence descends upon the room.

   ‘Oi, Sandra?’


   ‘Do you want to fuck?’

   Sandra’s jaw drops, and her eyes fix on Scud’s. ‘Excuse me?’

   ‘I said: do… you want… to fuck?’



   ‘Okay, let’s do it here,’ Sandra says, still chewing her stale old chewing gum and pointing at the edge of the deep fat fryer.

   ‘Won’t you get burned?’ Asks Scud, undoing his belt and still grinning his brainless grin.

   ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine. I have the shelves to lean on, anyway.’

   The deep fat fryer is basically a big metal sink with a thick rim and scalding hot contents, incessantly fizzing and crackling like how one would imagine one’s face cooking in a forest fire. There are three shelves above it, bare but for a few metal mugs, a colander, three ladles and a box of rat poison pellets. Standing in front of it, Sandra drops her panties to the ground without revealing even a square inch of buttock below her skirt, and spreads her legs a little as she bends forwards slightly to lean on a shelf. 

   ‘Yeah, this’ll work,’ she says, without turning her head back to Scud.

   A television on the counter that Scud hadn’t even noticed before this precise moment begins to play a song about frigidity from the musical Grease. He grins at the box and grabs his member with his tattooed hand, feeling its weight and thickness and remaining very impressed with himself, as he steps forward and lines himself up with the gap between Sandra Batten’s legs. 

   ‘Oh, wait a second,’ Sandra sighs, as if ruing her forgetfulness, just as Scud’s tip makes first contact with her soft, warm flesh.

   Scud grins, assuming Sandra wants to remove her clothes or hitch up her skirt further or open herself up wider for his girth. Women.

   Sandra, however, takes a metal cup from the shelf that her fingers have been gripping, and dips it into the molten chip fat. Her cup full of hissing, popping heat, she turns to Scud, and grins back at him. She winks, kisses the air between them, and pours the searing fat all over his erection.

   As Scud screams in pain and writhes on the floor of the kitchen, unable even to climb back onto his knees, Sandra pulls on her knickers, returns to her position behind the counter, tosses a new chewing gum into her mouth, and continues to file her nails.

    As you may or may not be aware, I sometimes write stories that are so long that I have to split them up into smaller, more manageable s...

   As you may or may not be aware, I sometimes write stories that are so long that I have to split them up into smaller, more manageable sections called "chapters". I call these long stories "novels". Anyway, once I've written these really long stories, if I think they're good enough then I submit them to literary agents to be rejected. 
   Often, literary agents send back a photocopied letter that they send to everyone in their slush pile that day, saying:
Dear loser,
I didn't read your submission, I barely even read the synopsis you enclosed with it; but what I got from thinking about it is that it's shit and should never be published. So, thanks for submitting, but never do it again, kay? Know your place (it's on Twitter and Blogspot, with the rest of those self-published fools).
Agent X.
   And understandably so. Literary agents receive on average two thousand submissions a year, most of which are unreadable bullshit; so if they read every one, took interest in it, and wrote back suggesting the improvements necessary to make it publishable, they'd never actually have any time left to represent the authors already on their books.
   So imagine my surprise when I received the following rather kind rejection letter from a publisher to whom I submitted my work a few months ago. It seems that not only did they read the synopsis, but they read a few pages as well; and then they wrote a thoughtful response just for me. How lovely. Obviously, it could still be a form letter that they've photocopied, but if you're an author who's received a similar reply, I'd appreciate it if you kept it to yourself, thankyouverymuch.
   I've censored the publisher's name because some people are funny about having their words put on the Internet without being asked aren't they. Again, understandably so.
   So, let this be encouragement to any authors seeking representation and getting nothing but photocopied rejection letters. Your work is read, and some people will like it, even if everyone else hates it...

Click image for full size.

    People are always banging on about superheroes, or sporting heroes, or heroes of the arts, or the heroes that keep our streets safe and...

   People are always banging on about superheroes, or sporting heroes, or heroes of the arts, or the heroes that keep our streets safe and treat us when we’re sick. Except for the fictional among that list, I think we’d all agree that all of those people are heroes. Of course they are. But they’re not my heroes. I have a whole different set of heroes. I’d like to tell you my friend’s story, so that you’ll see who I mean.
   Two years ago, my friend was a completely normal, confident, carefree young man. He had issues with commitment because he took a break-up disproportionately badly a year before that, and probably various other small issues too; but as I’ve often discussed, too often all that makes each of us unique is the different emotional baggage we carry around, and how we choose to deal with it. What I’m trying to say is that I felt like my friend was a fairly well-rounded individual, albeit damaged to the same degree as anyone you’d give a polite smile to as you passed them in the street.
   But then, something snapped. Up in his head, something short-circuited, and everything started to grow gradually darker. At first, it just felt like a niggling worry about driving. Was I caught speeding on that journey? He’d start to wonder as he parked up. Did I tap the wing mirror of one of those parked cars I passed? Small worries with small consequences, I’m sure you’ll agree. But as the weeks went on, he noticed that these worries were starting to mingle with his lively imagination, creating new concerns that any ordinary driver never even considers. I passed a motorcyclist on the way here – is there a chance that I could have hit him, and not realised?
   I remember a woman crossing the road with a buggy as I passed. I hope I didn’t hit that buggy. I don’t want to be responsible for killing a baby.
   These thoughts would play on my friend’s mind until he managed to fall asleep, or he revisited the scene of the imagined crime to check that there was no blood on the road. This happened on numerous occasions; he even sometimes had to take strange, convoluted routes when driving me and others places, just so that he could pass a particular location that had played host to one of these events. It ended up that most of the time when he was not driving his car, he spent fearing the next time he had to drive his car or fearing the imaginary consequences of the last time he drove it. Something was starting to take hold of him, but it was only just beginning.
   He thought he could control it alone then. He Googled it, and found terms like OCD and Anxiety Disorder and Intrusive Thoughts so widespread that it seemed to him that half the world felt the same way, although simultaneously he felt like he knew that he was completely alone. He felt like by knowing what it was, he had it under control. He knew what his mind was up to, so it couldn’t get past him anymore.
   But soon enough, this gradual darkening spread from his driving to other areas of his life. He started to fear strangers who looked at him in peculiar ways. Why, if they were complete strangers, were they looking at him as if they knew him? Or as if he had done something wrong? Were they following him? Had they been following him for a while? How on earth could he escape their pursuit of him? These all sound like ridiculous questions, but my friend would have conversations exactly like this one with himself in his head on an almost daily basis. He would even regularly change the routes he took when walking to destinations regularly visited, for the sake of throwing off those who were out to spy on him. He refused to keep a steady routine, out of fear that it would be learned and mimicked by those conspiring against him.
   Then he started to question why he thought people would be after him, and his only answer was that he was somehow evil, and deserved to be punished. His paranoia was so intense, so real to him, that the only logical conclusion was that he deserved it. He knew that it was all in his head, this conspiracy of the world’s against his mental state, but it had wormed its way so deep that he thought it must be based on some mistakes he had made in his past that he can never take back. So he began to turn on himself.
   It must have been something he did on the Internet, he concluded. So he forbade himself from visiting the Web. When he couldn’t use social media, it must have been something he said via text message, or something he said in a phone call. So suddenly, he wasn’t allowed to use those either. In fact, messages received from either of these media would arouse suspicion in my friend almost immediately. Who just sent him a text? Why would they want him? Are they out to get him? Why can’t they just leave him alone?
   His friends couldn’t be trusted. At some point in his years of knowing them, he had wronged each one to some degree, just as we all have; and in his head, they had coordinated their revenge so that they would all strike at once. As for contact from people who weren’t even his friends anymore because of some disagreement long ago, contact from them would cause him to lock himself in his bedroom with a turned-off phone and covers over his head for a whole day.
   He wasn’t safe anywhere, was his warped conclusion; and the most punishing part for him was that he knew just how warped it was. The old him still existed, trapped inside of his mind, whispering to him that this was all ridiculous, and that these fears that had grown out of nowhere were without basis and shouldn’t be taking so much of his time. There was a battle raging in his mind every minute of the day, a crippling battle that his rational side would never win alone. At the point when he couldn’t confidently leave his house without feeling scared of being murdered, just after the stage where he began to fear that people he made eye contact with could read his thoughts and would see the darkness in his soul and hate him for it… that’s when he decided to take action.
   And now, just twenty months after all this started, my friend is very nearly back to his old self. He can drive long distances, and leave the car with only a niggling worry nibbling at his mind. An hour later, it’s out of his mind. He can make eye contact with strangers, even smile at them, without even giving it a second thought. He is changed in subtle, irreversible ways; but he is stronger than he has been in over a year, and the only way is up. He still can’t keep a girlfriend (they become too close for comfort), and he still has to check seats or patches of floor where has recently been sitting or standing before he leaves them, to ensure that he hasn’t dropped anything with his address on for his future murderers to pick up; but these things will bow to him once more. He has a long way to go, but the way he has already come was much longer, so he knows now that he can make the journey.
   So who are my friend’s heroes? Who are my heroes? They’re the people who were there for my friend. They’re my friend’s family. My friend’s network of nearest and dearest (even those that he feared to be working with the enemy, in those darkest days). His counsellor, that impartial ear that was just there to listen, to provide perspective, to help whenever it was needed; to her, he owes a great deal. But most of all, my biggest hero is my friend himself. He found the strength to face that demon, and although he still has some way to go to beat it, he knows he can do it, and I know he will.
   If you ever needed proof that these things can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, then my friend is that proof. But he’s also proof that with support, love and strength, it can be overcome.

   World Mental Health Day is every October 10; but that doesn’t mean we should forget mental health issues the rest of the year. It’s time for all of us to educate ourselves and support those who are suffering.

This is a continuation of my online serialisation of Fifty Dicks: All Over My Face , the first book in my erotic trilogy, the Fifty Dicks s...

This is a continuation of my online serialisation of Fifty Dicks: All Over My Face, the first book in my erotic trilogy, the Fifty Dicks series. If you have not yet read Chapter 1, you can do so by clicking here

   I run from the building screaming and flailing my arms like a whacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man. Considering I’ve only met this man once and will probably never meet him again, and he has no influence over my life or fortunes, you might think that having a full-on panic attack after leaving his office is a bit unbelievable, a bit of an overreaction from an underdeveloped character with no third dimension to speak of... But that’s exactly what I do. I sit in the driver’s seat of my best friend’s car, and hyperventilate, crying and ripping up pictures of myself while thinking holy crap you’re a pathetic idiot pull yourself together holy crap. 

   Holy crap.

   Once I’ve managed to compose myself, I clean as much of the shit off of the seat as I can from where I just soiled myself and do some breathing exercises in the car. To help me come to my senses just a little bit, I put on some thumping indie music: George Formby, the most modern indie artist this writer seems to have listened to. Er, I mean character.


   When I get home, I feel so tired I want to sleep through the next three weeks, and I still have to deal with my gal pal pressing me for details about what happened today. I just know she’ll be desperate to hear every little detail. I drop my bag down with a thud, spilling my collection of Twilight books, DVDs and posters all over the floor, and start to change into my work clothes for this evening’s shift at work. And that’s when Jilly Plumage walks into my room.

   ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ She asks, rifling through my drawers to permanently borrow another of my frumpy tops. She’s so quirky, I love her. But I also hate her for making me meet that man. Everything is just such a big deal to me that I can’t decide whether I hate or love her. I just know I’m a misunderstood twelve year old trapped inside a twenty year old character’s body trapped inside a frustrated middle aged woman’s imagination.

   ‘Erm...’ I hesitate, pathetically.

   ‘What’s that smell? It stinks in here, Cinderella. Haven’t you heard of hygiene? Jesus.’

   Here it is. The Jilly Plumage Inquisition. With all these questions, it’s pretty clear that she wants to know everything about my meeting with the terrifying Mr Rainbow. 

   ‘Oh, it went horribly,’ I say, blushing as usual. ‘He’s so imposing, overpowering, violent, dark and attractive. But why didn’t you give me a bio?!’

   Jilly just stares at me. ‘What on earth are you blabbing about? Shut your mouth, you stupid bint.’

   I huff. ‘He was also mesmerising, knee-weakening and he smelt of strawberries.’

   ‘Where is that peephole bra you bought, thinking the holes were for letting your boobs see if your nipples ever grew eyes?’ Jilly asks as she stares deeply into my underwear drawer, clearly wanting to know if I’ve fallen in love with this man.

   ‘Of course it’s not love! I only just met him!’ I yelp, emotional and delicate.

   ‘Never mind, you mental case. I’ve found it. I’m leaving now. Open a window or something, you stinky cow.’

   ‘Yeah, I hope he’s a vampire too,’ I reply dreamily, ‘Oh! But I have to rush off to my shift at Crayfish’s now.’ 


   I’ve been working at Crayfish’s for about three years now. It’s a family-run pet store, and I work here because animals understand me more than humans ever could, and the smell of pet shops reminds me of my room. One day, I’ll own a house full of cats.


   Throughout this book, you’ll find these puzzling one- or two-sentence paragraphs just planted in the middle of a couple of line breaks. Just warning you now, in case you’re used to flowing, well-structured prose - there’s not much to be found here.


   When I get home, Jilly is frowning at me. ‘Rainbow e-mailed me,’ she says, ‘he reckons that you started asking inappropriate questions and putting off customers by crying over your insecurities in his hallway. I only asked you to deliver a package, Cinderella.’

   I flush. Holy crap. 

   ‘He called here?’ I ask. ‘Do you think he likes me?’

   ‘What? No, I think he thinks you’re a fucking weirdo. He wants me to pay for all the bloodstains you left next to the fireplace as well. What’s all that about?’

   I hide my face with the pieces of bread I was using to make a sandwich. Occasionally, I peek out from between the slices to see if Jilly is still looking at me, and she always is. Eventually, I give up hiding behind bread and continue making the sandwich. ‘Don’t be silly,’ I reply, ‘He can’t like me. I’m hideous.’

   ‘You’re literally the stupidest person I’ve ever met. Do you even hear what people say to you?’

   ‘Would you like a sandwich?’


   ‘What would you like in it?’

   ‘Cheese and ham please. Is this dialogue really necessary?’

   ‘How else are we going to fill three 500-page “novels” with this tripe? By throwing in an actual plot and well-formed characters? Don’t make me laugh.’

   ‘Good point.’ 


   The next few days are all spent at work. Every evening, my mother phones me to check I haven’t killed myself over some inconsequential problem that I made a huge deal out of yet. Then one night, she says, ‘How are you, Cindy?’

   ‘Oh...’ I sigh, drawing it out as long as possible, ‘...I’m okay.’ I sneeze loudly, IMETABOYTHATILIKE, and then try to regain my composure.

   ‘Cindy? Have you met a boy that you like?’ Wow, holy crap... How does she read my mind like that?! 

   ‘No, mum, it’s nothing,’ I reply, ‘just Mr Right, strolling into my life with a delivery of anal beads.’

   ‘You’re the kind of obsessive girl that men fear as stalkers, Cindy. You need to get a grip on your emotions and social skills.’

   ‘You’re right,’ I agree, flushing, ‘I do need to get his address off someone.’

   She sighs.

   ‘Anyway, look behind you!’ I scream. ‘It’s Spider-Man!’ Distraction is the best policy. 

   After that call, I call my stepdad. That’s a totally irrelevant conversation that wastes page space, so I won’t include it here. 


   Then, my gay friend Julio comes over. He’s an artist, he paints paintings with paints for a living. He’s totally gay, but he’s always asking me out on dates because even though I’m ugly and I have painfully low self-esteem and no one could ever love me, I’m still surprisingly desirable and can turn gay men straight.

   And when he’s gone, I go to bed and dream of violent men, war zones and rainbow coloured eyes. That’s right, I dream about eyes. Doesn’t that seem odd to you? That I would dream about one body part, detached from the body it was part of? Most people would think that’s pretty strange. It’s not made up because this is a real story and the fourth wall here is pretty solid, but if it was made up you’d have to be asking questions about the writer’s imagination, right? If they can’t come up with a more imaginative dream than that... Well, anyway, there it is. I dream of Ronald Rainbow’s eyes. 


   The next day, at work, we’re besieged by people wanting pets, besieging us with their requests until we’re all besieged. It’s besieging. That is, until Ronald Rainbow walks in, and I immediately piss myself.

   Once I’ve mopped up the wee, Rainbow looks at me like he’s amused. ‘Hello, Miss Porkchops.’

   ‘Hello, Mr Rainbow,’ I say, flushing. I’m always flushing, never blushing. Flushing seems like an odd word to be using all the time, but that’s what I do, okay? Also, holy crap... What’s this guy doing here?! In my shop?! Today?! With his thick hoodie, jeggings and Dr. Marten’s?! Holy crap!

   ‘I was in the area,’ he says, attempting to explain himself, ‘looking for gerbils to put up my arse. Do you sell gerbils?’ 

   His voice is like macaroni and cheese with melted chocolate over the top... Or some shit like that. 

   ‘We do sell gerbils. Would you like me to show you them?’
   ‘Yes please, Miss Porkchops.’

   I lead him through the store, barely able to keep my legs straight because my knees are juddering so damn much. He smells a bit sweaty, like he’s been lifting weights or vigorously masturbating or something, but the smell just makes me wetter with every inhalation. It’s just so lucky that I decided to wear my ball gown to work today.

   ‘So are you here on business?’ I ask. There’s a weird voice in my head, one that never seems to cease screaming narcissistic things in italics at me, which is saying why is he here? Did he come just to see you? What are we having for dinner tonight? If I fart now, is it safe or might I follow through? But I kick these thoughts out of my head. Don’t be ridiculous, Porkchops. 

   ‘No. I like to commit sex crimes as far away from my own house as possible, so that I’m never a suspect,’ he replies. See? He’s not here to see me at all. 

   ‘Here are our gerbils,’ I say, pointing at a cage of gerbils.

   ‘I’ll take them all,’ he says, looking into my eyes with those rainbow striped irises of his. Holy cow, he’s handsome. 

   While I’m putting the gerbils into a plastic bag and tying it up so that no air gets in, I ask, ‘Can I get you anything else?’

   ‘Yes,’ he breathes, holding up a shopping list in his long-fingered hand, fingers so long that they nearly poke my eyes out as he lifts them even though I’m standing a metre away, ‘I’d like some rope, some gaffer tape, cable ties, a knife and some Rohypnol please.’

   ‘Are you redecorating?’ I ask, naively. Holy poop, Cinderella! Wind your fucking neck in!

   ‘No,’ he sighs, half amused, ‘I’m going to do a rape.’

   ‘I’m sorry?’ I ask, flushing but not blushing. 

   ‘I said I’m going to repair some damage to my car’s bodywork.’

   ‘Oh, because it sounded like you said you were going to rape someone.’

   ‘I did.’

   ‘What?!’ I flush. 

   ‘I didn’t.’

   ‘Oh.’ That's a relief. Holy crap, he's too sexy for his shirt.

   He pays for his car repair goods and his dead gerbils, then turns to leave. Just as he reaches the door, he turns to me and stares into my eyes. I faint, and when I wake again he’s still looking at me, so I faint again. Waking for the second time, I see his delicious lips forming the words, ‘Oh, by the way, those anal beads were terrible. One broke off and it’s stuck up my bum, and I don’t really know how to get it out. I would just leave it up there, but I read a book once where a guy got really ill from exactly the same thing. So, I’m gonna need some compensation.’

   I did notice he was walking funny when he came in, but I just imagined the weight of his humongous penis was affecting his balance. Not that I know what a penis is or anything, I’m a twenty-one year old virgin, don’t you know. ‘Well, I don’t have any money because I spent it all on feeling sorry for myself. How about I get my artist friend to paint a picture of you as compensation?’ I reply, weakly.

   He looks at me, half amused. He’s literally always half amused. The guy has no other emotions. ‘Yeah, alright. See you tomorrow, sugar tits,’ he grunts, before exiting the store. When he’s gone, I finally let out and that trapped wind, and discover that it wasn’t safe after all.

The below screenshot, which I stumbled across earlier when buying Lady Gaga tickets for February next year, gives a whole new, quite distur...

The below screenshot, which I stumbled across earlier when buying Lady Gaga tickets for February next year, gives a whole new, quite disturbing, meaning to the word CAPTCHA. 

    People who know me well (which is probably you, since no one except my mum reads this blog - hi mum!) will tell you that I'm no str...

   People who know me well (which is probably you, since no one except my mum reads this blog - hi mum!) will tell you that I'm no stranger to moments of anxiety or paranoia (or, according to this test, narcissism; it claims that while I'm not a psychopath - phew - there is a "strong indication that [I] have a narcissistic personality disorder... but I reckon it's just jealous of my boombasticity). Most of the time these surface as harmless, barely noticeable blips in concentration, fleeting seconds of worry that any man on the street experiences every now and then. But once in a blue moon, something bubbles up inside me. Something big.
   I want to describe one such situation to you now.
   Waiting for my bus home the other day, I noticed a woman at the bus stop who looked like she was dressed in a jumper that appeared just a couple of sizes too big for her. Not that this seemed too unusual to me - I wear clothes that are too big all the time - but it must have flagged in my mind for whatever reason, and just for a split second, because it was pushed right to the back the very next moment.
   When we got on the bus, I shot her a smile as she passed me to take the seat directly behind mine. Nothing creepy, like; just a smile like you give strangers on the daily. She sat down, the bus started to crawl toward home, and everyone was happy (or at least, as happy as one can be after a long day at work and a slow journey home).
   After less than a minute on the bus, I heard the tinkling of metal on metal. A light swish-swish-clink, as quiet as a kitten. I'd heard the sound a million times before, more than I could ever count; I knew straight away that it was the sound of knitting. The lady behind me was knitting something. Big whoop, right?
   But wait. What if the knitting was just a ploy? Knitting needles, although blunt at the end, are still sharp enough to pierce skin if they make a forceful enough impact. What if she was knitting to bide her time, until the right time came to stab me in the neck?
   Fuck. I'd heard stories about this before. Madmen or madwomen on buses, chopping off the heads of the people in the row in front, and waving them around like an Olympic medal. And now, I was the target of one such madwoman. Waiting until the bus was empty enough to grab her chance and stab me twenty-three times in the neck with a knitting needle.
   I had to protect my neck. I started to hold my hand over it, pretending to scratch it so that I wouldn't look strange, so she had nowhere to poke her weapons. I moved my head around more than usual, hoping that it would be impossible for her to hit a moving target. My heart rate increased, as I desperately tried to devise a plan that would get me out of harm's way before I ended up as this woman's first victim.
   But I couldn't. I couldn't run off at the next stop, because it wasn't my stop, and just going downstairs and standing there instead is the kind of thing crazy people do. I didn't want to appear crazy, even if it meant dying.
   So I stayed there. I stayed in my seat upstairs and protected my neck. It wasn't a perfect plan, but it was the only plan I had. But then, a horrible thought struck me: what if she wasn't after my neck? What if she wanted to poke them into my skull? Or worse, straight into my ears? One of those things prodded directly in my ear, and I was a goner for sure.
   There was no way I could protect myself from that. I could shield my neck or move my head as much as I wanted, but if she wanted to get me, she was going to get me. There was always a way.
   I spent the last few moments of my life trying to keep my head moving and force my body language to show that I wasn't afraid of her. But I was. I consoled myself with the fact that although I was definitely going to die, the other people on the bus would stop her from exiting, and she'd pay for her crimes. The bus wasn't emptying as she'd planned, so she'd have to do it in front of a bus full of people. I would be avenged. But it didn't reassure me.
   The seconds dragged on, as I awaited my fate. Every metre we traveled was a step closer to my death.
   Then she got up. She stood behind me, ready to strike. My heart was pounding in my chest as hard as I've ever felt it. Here it was: my last breath. I was about to be exterminated by a knitting needle in the ear, and I hadn't even told my loved ones what they meant to me. It was all over, and my murderer towering over me wouldn't allow me any mercy before she dealt the blow.
   But she didn't murder me. She got off the bus, and went home. And one stop later, so did I.

You might remember that I advertised a few weeks ago my new erotic novels, the Fifty Dicks trilogy . Unfortunately, at the time of advertis...

You might remember that I advertised a few weeks ago my new erotic novels, the Fifty Dicks trilogy. Unfortunately, at the time of advertising they weren't technically written yet. Even more unfortunately, they still aren't. However, I have a fantastic piece of news: I've written the first chapter of the first book. I'm really proud of this work of literary genius; I think it's unparalleled and unprecedented and unreadable, and I'd love you to be the first to lay your eyes on it. So give it a read below and let me know what you think - it might not be here long, depending on whether I wimp out and remove it or not.

   I growl with exasperated exasperation as I peel myself off the floor next to my bed, where I just fell off the top bunk straight onto my face. Looking in the mirror, I notice without even a jot of surprise that my hair is a state, as usual. Part of it is growing outwards like the branches of a palm tree, and some other parts look like small towns that have just been bombed and flooded and then coated in fluff, but mostly it just looks like my scalp has a horrible venereal disease. I say to myself: you're a stupid bitch for sleeping with a hat on, you're a stupid bitch for sleeping with a hat on. Luckily, after four hours of aggressive and emotional brushing and crying, I manage to comb it back into a ponytail, albeit an unruly one that no man could ever love. In my head, I'm all like, God damn you, Jillian Plumage, for making me do this.

   Jilly is my gal pal, who sleeps on the bottom bunk in my room. She is a stunner in every way imaginable - volumous blonde hair, huge tits, nice round arse, you name it. And she puts out generously. But today, she's ill with a terrifying case of some generic illness, so I'm having to go out and run an errand for her, instead of doing everything I had planned: finishing the book that'll earn me my doctorate; trying to train my feet not to fall over each other when I walk; drawing diagrams of my perfect retirement home living room layout which allows ample room for my doting husband (possibly a vampire), my seventeen cats and Jilly to all cohabit happily; and combing my ugly, ugly hair and crying some more. Damn you, Jilly Plumbago

   What I have to do is deliver a package to some gajillionaire who is always on TV and in the media and is young, attractive and cool, but somehow I've never heard of him. It's just a little box of anal beads, but my flatmate is so ill that she can't fulfil the requirements of her home-run, hand-delivering eBay sex shop today, so I'm having to traipse all the way over to Norwich to deliver it. 

   Walking into the living room in my frumpy dress (in which I still look attractive, but unlovable and ugly at the same time), I notice Jilly Perambulator on the sofa, with a big red nose and stinking of diarrhoea. 'Are you okay?' I ask. 

   'Yeah, I'm fine, I just can't be bothered to deliver that bullshit,' she replies, obviously joking.

   'I've fixed you some soup, it's in the fridge.'

   'I bet it's disgusting.'

   'Would you like a paracetamol?'

   'Get the fuck out.'

   'Can I get you any water or anything?' I ask. 

   'Seriously, Cinderella, leave me the fuck alone. You're hanging round like a bad smell and you look like you've just been dragged through a patch of stinging nettles backwards.'

   I giggle, but Jilly Philanthropy remains deadpan. She always has had the best sense of humour. Only for her would I deliver these anal beads. Only for you, Jilly Paralysis


   I love the drive from our tiny little flat to the swanky offices of Rainbow, Inc. I only have a beaten up old fiesta with a wheel missing, but Jilly has let me borrow her Bugatti Veyron (which she bought with her student loan, spending the change on a three bedroom house in Mayfair), so the trip whizzes by with a whizz whizz zip. And before I know it, I'm standing outside the impressive Rainbow towers. The humongous building takes my breath away, standing there as it does with an incredible three floors. I've never seen a building so big. 

   In the terrifyingly modern reception, all made of chrome and MDF, I speak to a woman who looks like a porn star, in a pencil skirt (made of actual charcoal) and nothing else. She wears a super-futuristic headset so that she doesn't have to use her hands to talk on the phone, golly gosh holy crap, and her hair is a stunning shade of red that nearly makes me vomit with envy. Now that I've seen her ultra-smart pencil skirt, I realise that maybe I haven't dressed as smart as I should have. I mean, I have worn my grey trainers, some socks I took from a sleeping tramp on the way here, shinpads, purple cycling shorts, a lime green t-shirt, a pair of 3D glasses from the cinema, and a plastic policeman's helmet from a fancy dress shop - to me, this is smart. I flatten down my unruly afro as it explodes out of the many pins and bands I've used to hold it down, and try not to look like I'm shitting myself, standing there in front of her. 

   When she looks up at me, she immediately presses a button on a console in front of her and says, 'Security...'

   'No, wait!' I cry, nearly bursting into tears because everything is such a big deal to me, 'I'm here to deliver a package to a Mr...' I have to check the package, because for some reason I don't know anything about this man who is like the biggest billionaire ever and pretty much owns the very university which I attend, '...Rainbow.'

   'Hmmm,' she says, before handing me a pass and pointing at another lobby, 'go through there then.'

   In the lobby she directs me to, two more redheads in nothing but skirts made of charcoal direct me to another lobby, where a couple of redheads in charcoal skirts direct me to another lobby, where I sit for twenty minutes on a chair made of rocks and MDF and marble and money. The girl at the desk in this foyer must be in training, because she's jittery and nervous and her hair isn't even that red. Plus, when the other redhead asks her if she's fetched me a drink yet, she screams NOOOOOOOOO and runs out of the room crying. I don't even want a drink. 

   I'm so nervous about delivering this parcel that I roll my eyes at myself theatrically (pull yourself together, holy crap) and start to wonder what kind of things would make me seem like more of a three-dimensional character. Reading British novels, maybe; or a love of curling up on sofas. Maybe if I hadn't heard of laptops or I was a twenty-one year old, clumsy, ditsy, incredibly thick but accidentally beautiful virgin, I'd be more believable...

   My train of thought is suddenly sledgehammered by the opening of huge glass doors (which I've only just realised I could see through into the CEO's office before they were even open), from which Ronald Rainbow emerges, beckoning me into his office.

   When I stand up to shake his hand, I trip over a pebble that was on the floor and roll three metres into a fireplace which I haven't mentioned before because I thought it was probably more important to mention all the materials things were made of rather than describe my surroundings. My whole body now aflame, I try to gain my balance by grabbing hold of a poker that stands next to the fire, but end up falling onto it and impaling myself. Holy crappy poo, I'm on my hands and knees bleeding from a hole in my stomach on fire in the foyer outside Ronald Rainbow's office. 

   Having put me out with a fire extinguisher and bandaged me up, he extends his hand with all its tremendously long fingers (like, at least a foot long) to help me up. 'I'm Ronald Reliant Rainbow,' he says, 'and who the fuck are you?'

   He stands there with scruffy ginger hair and spots and eyes that are all different colours, striped like a rainbow, and I feel so fucking turned on by him that it takes me a while to speak without it coming out like an orgasmic groan. 'I'm Cinderella Porkchops,' I reply. 

   'Are you like, selling double glazing or something?' he says, warm but obviously damaged, like a bird with a broken wing that any creepy insane woman would love to just take in and fix. Because you can change people. Really, you can. And if this feller is over twenty, I'm an idiom that hasn't been used by anyone under fifty in the last twenty years. 'Why don't you come into my office to do whatever it is you've come to do?'

   In his office, I see the walls are covered in murderous sentiments scrawled in excrement. Impressed by the spelling and grammar, I ask who wrote it. 'Oh, it was a local artist called Picasso, a personal friend of mine from back when I invented time travel. Dead now.'

   I've never heard of this guy since I haven't been out of the house since before I was born, but I mutter, 'These murderous rantings pull the extraordinary out of the arse of the ordinary,' and take a seat.

   'How profound,' he replies, 'a great writer must be typing out this dialogue.'

   I fumble around with the parcel I have to deliver, dropping it several times and cursing under my breath, as my cheeks flush because he makes me so horny. Why does this man have such an effect on me? Maybe it's his rainbow coloured striped irises, or the fact that there's a crucifix fixed to the wall behind him, with handcuffs and whips and all sorts of torturous tools scattered around it. 

   'So Mr. Rainbow,' I say, delicately, 'I wondered if you could sign here.'

   'I am the best businessman in the world.'

   'I'm sorry?' I ask, vulnerably, and blushing because his eyes are burning into my soul. He just sounds so arrogant, so I say, 'You sound like a control freak.'

   'Yes, I am. I want to control you now.'

   You are a control freak

   'You are a control freak!'

   'Yes, I just said that. But I'm also delicate and damaged just like you thought, and I want to change deep down, it's just that I haven't met the right woman to change me yet. Maybe that could be you.'

   'Are you gay?' I ask, still blushing. Always blushing. Sometimes trembling as well. 

   He gasps, before ripping the biro from my hands and signing the slip that says he has received the delivery. He looks like he might be about to punch my face in. Holy moly crapnuggets. I've really done it now. 

   'Maybe a bit,' he replies, 'but why is that relevant?'

   I guess it's not. I'm not sure why I even would have asked it; maybe whoever is writing the dialogue isn't that good after all. 

   We talk for a while more, and it takes up about 12 pages and it's like, 99% irrelevant, so I'll spare you. Just know that he's sexy, I'm weak and we're both flirting in the most awkward way you could ever read in a book. 

   After handing over the delivery, I stand up to leave. 'Thanks for signing for the anal beads,' I say. 

   'The pleasure was all mine. We should do the sex some time.'

   I blush, and go to put on my red leather jacket from Thriller that I haven't mentioned yet, but Mr. Rainbow puts it on me before I can do so. His skin touches my shoulder as he drapes it over me, and I faint from the excitement. When I wake up again, in a puddle, his foot-long fingers are pressing the elevator button, which takes forever to arrive. I'm just standing there thinking, I need to escape from here before I go mad with horniness and vulnerability, holy Moses holy crap.

   Before I board the elevator, I take one last look at Ronald Rainbow. He really is incredibly tasty looking; it makes me feel dizzy. 

   'Cinderella Porkchops,' he nods, as the doors close. 

   'Ronald Rainbow,' I reply, before fainting again and missing my floor.