All stories copyright xoggoth

 

Fresh asylum seeker scandal

From the Times:

A fresh row is brewing today over news that large numbers of Haitian asylum seekers are flooding into the UK.

There is particular outrage over the fact that a large percentage of those coming in the latest wave are the living dead, popularly known as Zombies. The residents of Highgate, where most of these are now living or more accurately, located, have been protesting outside the accommodation centre.

Concerns have been expressed over health risks to the British population, particularly from the less fresh refugees. It is believed that almost 100% of walking corpses in the UK have come from abroad. Indeed, there is only one verifiable indigenous case of the living dead in the UK, the defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

"I'm not a racist," said one local butcher who preferred not be named "but these people are coming into my shop leaving maggots on the counter, it's not wholesome. My son in law found three decayed arms and a leg in his taxi the other night". This was a typical reaction. There is no doubt that local businesses in the area have been affected. As well as the extra cleaning costs incurred in cleaning slime from their premises or vehicles, they have had to purchase large quantities of Airwick Freshener.

Local residents have also complained that the fresher foreign re-animated corpses are consuming a disproportionate amount of the NHS A&E facilities to the detriment of locals. Ambulances have been called many times to attend to someone apparently collapsed in the street and medical staff have expended much effort in fruitless attempts at resuscitation, only to find, after they have pronounced the corpse dead, that it rises stiffly and wanders off.

A spokesman for the British Council For Refugees said he deplored the reactions of locals in this matter. He dismissed stories that Zombies ate people's brains as racist scaremongering. "These people are genuinely fleeing from persecution. It is narrow minded bigotry to discriminate against them simply because they leave green stinking trails of ooze over everything." he said. Adding, before our reporter could get to the door, "Their presence here greatly enriches our society."

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Brave new world

It was just a matter of time and it was either him or me. He was bigger and stronger, so fair fight would have been stupidity. I crouched down in the back of my neighbour's truck and when he got in, introduced the back of his head to my sledgehammer through the rear cab window. I left him there.

Then I snuck up on his ugly wife (she's bigger and stronger than me too) and got her with a smaller hammer. Waste not want not. Had to put a bag over her head first, but at least it kept the mess in when the hammer finished her off.

Didn't bother to move the bodies. Here in 2030 after 35 years of New Labour almost nobody calls the police about anything. Waste of time. In the unlikely event that anyone did, the response would be at least a year away, assuming there was one, and any DNA evidence would be long gone. Most people charged with a serious crime die of old age or other natural causes long before their cases get to court in any case.

Not that there was very much crime according to government statistics. Faced with the enormous rise a couple of decades before and its inability to find the money to tackle the problem due to essential commitments to fighting injustice around the world, the Blair government had shown its usual flair for brilliant solutions. It drastically cut the number of police and criminal justice workers. Since far fewer crimes were investigated or even logged, the official crime rate fell overnight.

This master stroke not only helped the government to retain power, it freed an enormous amount of money for the just wars in support of our US allies to liberate the Sierra Leonians, the Iranians, the Somalis, the Cubans, the Syrians, the Congalese (twice), the Burmese, the Chileans, the Cypriots, the Djiboutis, the Koreans, the Iraqis (again) and the Bulgarians, not to mention countering the threat of the evil Dictator of San Merino.

I was out of a contract again, although as I had embezzled a tidy sum from my last clients, and the wife was blackmailing her headmaster I was not too worried. I volunteered to help out at the local scouts. The scout master asked if I had any history of molesting boys. I was outraged. I told him I had not molested any children for at least a week and anyhow I was not interested in boys. Did he take me for a pervert? It was good enough and an enormous improvement on the Vicar. I think the excellent references I had from the Meals On Wheels people swung it for me, I had pocketed less than half the takings, which by the standards of today makes me pretty honest.

After lunch me and the missus sat upstairs with shotguns. There had been rumours of a gang of Albanian marauders from London coming through our area on one of their rape and pillage outings. In many ways life in parts of Southern England had returned to what it was during the Viking raids of the 8th and 9th centuries. Albanians and Kurds mostly pillaged South of London, Rumanians, Turks and Kosavans raided Northwards, Eastern areas got Jamaicans and Somalians, while the home grown hooligans, formed from various former football gangs, rampaged through the West as far as Slough. Fortunately the raiders went somewhere else on this occasion, we could see the fires over Crawley.

We had our monthly meeting of neighbourhood watch later. Since our previous meeting only one house in the village had not been burgled, most had been done two or three times. We congratulated ourselves on our success in improving on the previous month's figures.

That one unburgled house seemed very suspicious. After a few drinks we all went round there and lynched the owner, turning it into a little impromptu party. All the kids loved it when he peed himself. It was a very pleasant evening and all in all, a good day.

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Dinah and other birds

Nice lying in bed in the early morning of a warm summer's day listening to the bird song. Only jarring note is those pigeons. Blackbirds and thrushes are so melodic, even the squabbling twitters of sparrows are varied, but doves and pigeons! There's a species that goes wooo woooooo wooo woo woo (pause) wooo woooooo wooo woo woo... and another one that just goes woooooo woooooo (pause) woooooo woooooo...

I decided to do something about it. They say you can't teach most birds, but has anyone actually tried it with pigeons? Got a fruit net from the garden centre and within a week had managed to round up most of the local pigeons and doves into my garage, where they variously perched on the shelves, the central heating or my old motorbike.

What to teach them? It had to be something simple, and I decided on rugby songs. Being useless at team sports I have not played rugby since school, but I have been on a few coach trips with the Hash House Harriers when most of the membership at the time were also members of the local rugby club, so knew most of the words to several old favourites.

It seemed the doubters were right. After several days I had got nowhere at all. The pigeons were mostly silent, and when they did open their beaks they just went wooo woooooo etc. It wasn't right to keep them from their natural surroundings for too long and the garage was getting very messy so I admitted defeat and let them go.

But maybe things just took time to penetrate their little brains. Lying in bed this morning listening to the bird song; wooo woooooo wooo woo woo (pause) wooo woooooo wooo woo woo (pause) a yaaard abooove your kneeee.

Now they are all doing it, not the complete verses I had taught them, in hindsight that was probably expecting too much, but little fragments with some of the tune. There is one in the woods at the back going wooooo siir Jaaasper (pause) wooooo siir Jaaasper.. and a collared dove sitting on the big Leylandii in my religious neighbour's garden singing wooo iiin and ouut went the priiiick of steeeel (pause) wooo iiin and ouut went the priiiick of steeeel..

This is only the beginning. Those starlings are not very melodious and starlings are supposed to be good mimics so should cope with something a bit more sophisticated. Lets see, they look sort of Cockney spivvy, so maybe some old Chas and Dave numbers would be perfick. As for all those Honking geese that gather in the flooded quarry before migrating, something from my Pavarotti Love Songs CD should be ideal and should entertain the French and Italians while they're blasting the poor little sods to bits.

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Another Government IT Success

The penalty notice for non-payment of the congestion charge arrived that morning. She phoned to say she did not have a car, in fact she had never driven and had been nowhere near London for at least ten years. The girl said that DVLC records showed the car to be hers.

A demand for immediate payment of over £10,000 of Corporation Tax addressed to her as director of a company she had never heard of arrived the following day. She had little idea what corporation tax was, being only a sales assistant at a toyshop. She wrote back pointing this out. Another letter arrived from Companies House the next day advising her of a fixed penalty for failing to submit her accounts by the due date.

The next week, she had only just finished reading the new ultimatum for non payment of the congestion charge and a fixed penalty notice from the Inland Revenue for not submitting annual return forms, when a man from a debt collection agency phoned about the massive arrears of parking fines in respect of the car she did not have. She had a letter from the Police Checks bureau saying her application to be a child minder had been turned down in view of the fact that she was on the sex offender's register.

A policewoman called the next day with an investigation officer from the Contributions Agency. She had been observed for several weeks working at the toyshop while claiming benefits. She protested that she had never claimed benefits. She was at the police station for three hours and then released on bail. She had never been in trouble before. The sergeant said that with her record she was likely to receive a custodial sentence.

The date of her first court appearance arrived on the same day as the threat of court action over the corporation tax and the assessments by the Child Support Agency for five children by two different mothers. The debt collector called in person the next day and threatened legal action if the balance was not cleared by Friday week. Two summonses came, one for running a betting shop without a licence, one for breeches of the Health and Safety act by another company she had never heard of.

She got home from work to find all her windows broken and "Die pedofile" written in large black letters on her door. When she reported it at the police station she was arrested for failing to attend court regarding three year's arrears of council tax on a large house in the posh area of town. Her protests that she lived in a small rented flat, paid rent inclusive of rates and had never previously been informed of any arrears fell on deaf ears. She was bailed three hours later.

The illegal immigration snatch squad arrived the next day. They told her there was no record of her anywhere on the government computers. She was put on a plane to Afghanistan the following week.

At question time the Prime Minister announced that despite a few teething problems the rollout of the new unified government database had been a great success.

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My new life as an inventor

Dear Diary

I am trying to stay positive during this long 'resting' period, unlike some of those losers on CUK, and must view this downturn is an opportunity for my real potential to flower.

I am going to make my living as an inventor. As I have a great sense of social responsibility I wanted to come up with something that would benefit mankind rather than just some mundane household gadget. A great idea came to me after seeing a road rage incident on Crime Watch. Here was something worthy of my talents, a device to soothe and calm drivers. In-car Goldfish.

I brought a clear plastic sweet jar from the old fashioned sweet shop in East Grinstead and made up a suitable bracket so it would hook over the driver door window like one of those cup holders. Couldn't catch a goldfish in the pond but it looked great with a frog. Really restful.

As a complete kit it was a winner, just add water and fish. I even included some ant's eggs in the pack but the car accessory companies I have approached just don't seem interested. I know why, the bastards want to steal the idea for themselves. What's the betting there will soon be Chinese or Korean made In-car goldfish kits in Halfords?. I will patent the next good idea before telling anyone.

Household gadgets are a good bet commercially I suppose. I have started to develop a domestic self-flushing lavatory; nobody seems to have thought of that. I did a proper engineering drawing - solenoid operated water valve, bit of circuitry, and of course a pee and pooh detector. After a bit of fiddling with infra red detectors and getting nowhere I decided to simplify it. I would just have a bum detector and then introduce a suitable delay before flush. A knob would allow upward adjustment of delay for constipation sufferers. I would solve the male problem later.

Simple technology is always best. My bum detector was basically a microswitch with a plastic strip projecting over the bowl that was pushed down when someone sat. My prototype was ready and I tested it on the wife. The damn thing just kept flushing over and over. I soon found out why, the plastic strip was weighted down. I was really annoyed "Damn it woman, you've shat on my bum detector!" "Well how am I supposed to avoid it when it sticks right out like that?" she shouted back.

We are not speaking at the moment, and we have only just started speaking again after that episode in 1996, but I am not downcast. The world shall hear from me soon.

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DNA

Woke up on Monday and the bed was empty again. She tries very hard but the wife has great difficulty coping with life on dry land due to her frog DNA; 12 hours or so and her skin starts drying out. I took a cup of tea out to the pond. "Morning dear", I said, "Did you sleep well?" She lazily caught a fly with her long tongue before replying. "Oh not too bad, but them next door were rather noisy again"

"Them next door" is my stinking neighbours on the North side. She, Mrs. Scum, has Howler Monkey DNA and is extremely loud for no obvious reason. Actually, she was extremely loud for no obvious reason before her monkey DNA began to exert itself, never understood why she needed a phone, but now it's even worse. He, Mr. Scum, has both Lion and Antelope DNA. He has a tendency to gallop around the garden alternately roaring and screaming in terror, and when he manages to catch himself, well, you really don't want to see. They have told him if he gnaws his leg like that again he will lose it. Good riddance.

The elderly couple on the other side is very pleasant and keen gardeners. It is unfortunate that he has slug DNA and she has greenfly DNA. No sooner do they manage to grow themselves a prize lettuce or Dahlia and one or the other of them has chewed the roots or sucked at the leaves and ruined it. The poor chap also has a tendency to leave little deposits of slime over things, which is very embarrassing for him. He was arrested last year after someone reported a little patch of slime on the chair after he gave the Girl Guides a talk on local history.

The chap over the road is not speaking to me at the moment. He had something in one of his eight eyes the other day during a pleasant chat about his new web and kept blinking. This apparent threat behaviour triggered my baboon DNA and I rushed at him baring my teeth. Then I made a sexual display of my huge red and blue bottom to his missus. Doesn't seem to impress human women or not ones with vampire bat DNA anyhow. Hope we can patch it up soon.

Took a cup of tea to number one son, but there is only a big brown cocoon in one corner of the room. Guess I will have to phone up his work again and tell them he won't be in until next Spring.

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Alien abductions

Many had been convinced when Nelson Mandela, the world's most respected man *1, had revealed the story of his own abduction by aliens at the 2007 World Aids Conference. The abductions had since become so commonplace that nobody now doubted them.

The aliens had moved on from physical tests, their main thrust now was to investigate the social behaviour of mankind and to that end many of the abductees were fitted with devices to continually record and analyse their movements and physical reactions.

But forget all that X-files nonsense of tiny implants in the base of the brain. The aliens had the technology of course, but the research necessary to adapt the implants to the human brain would have been very expensive *2. Anyway, they had no facilities on their ships in the solar system, and could hardly keep sending human guinea pigs back to the Omega cluster. Sending a 50,000 tonne supply ship on a 90 light year round trip through hyperspace is a bit more expensive than a coach trip to Bognor you know. None of the Earth devices made for studying the simple life styles of animals really fitted the bill either.

The solution was obvious; they made the devices from available Earth technology and based it around bog standard computers. Most of the more specialised transmitter and sensor stuff came from the Maplin catalogue, but PC World and Dixon's had the major share of the alien's trade. 10% off days were especially popular. For the most part the alien devices ran on Windows XP *3 and the subject's activities were logged and classified in MS Access.

The obvious problem with this solution was that, unlike the X-files implants, it was not exactly unobtrusive. People suffered the humiliation of having to go to posh dinner parties wearing large boxes bearing the legend "Dell Dimension 4300", "Toshiba Satellite 1670CDS" or similar attached to their shoulders or midriffs *4. It was difficult to find clothes that would fit over them, and even worse, the boxes never came in anything but cream or black. At least if the aliens had chosen Apple technology there would have been a little more choice to suit the fashion conscious.

The aliens had little concern for human dignity.

Liz Hurley attempted suicide after being forced to attend the premier of her latest film wearing a second hand 386SX from Age Concern. The aliens did not feel she merited much computer power as they, like the rest of us, already knew far more about her than they really wanted to know.

One poor bloke had to go around with a monitor on his forehead based on one of those £99 Amstrad phone devices. He had no privacy due to a software glitch, which would play ZX Spectrum games related to his activities. Every time he had a w@nk and for an hour afterwards it would play "Donkey Kong" in single player mode at full volume. Whenever he farted it played "Thunderceptor".

It was a bad decade for mankind. It was to get much worse when they finished unit testing and started integration tests. That is another story.

*Notes

1 The most respected man in the world was later to be the 'Shoe Bomber' Richard Reed. See a forthcoming episode of the true Xoggoth history of mankind. Xoggoth history is unique in that all events in it are entirely unrelated to any previous events.

2 They did do a few preliminary experiments but there were too many glitches. In one of the first cases a man's brain was accidentally subjected to the alien equivalent of Defrag and his memories were sorted in chronological order. When his wife asked if he wanted chips with his fried chicken he stood immobile for three days of sequential access, starting at his earliest memories, to remember if he liked chips. Then she asked if he wanted brown sauce with them. In another case an addressing error mixed up a man's motor functions. He picked up a copy of Razzle and ran 100m in 9.7s straight over a cliff.

3 They tried LINUX but decided it was shite.

4 You may be wondering why they did not take them off, but sensors would signal to the alien craft and one would be liquidated. You cannot have an alien story with no sinister bits in it and I like my stories to be traditional.

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Dracula and vampire myths

According to popular belief, Bram Stoker based Dracula on the warlord Vlad the Impaler, known as the 'The Dragon', or Dracul in his native Slovak. When you look at it closely, this association of Dracula with a man notorious for impaling people on stakes makes no sense at all.

Think about it. If you went out with a clipboard and asked a thousand people to suggest ten methods of murder, most would probably come up with obvious ones like shooting, stabbing or poisoning. I bet you hardly anyone would suggest impaling with a wooden stake, I doubt that would even figure in the top 100.

So is it likely that a monster who could only be killed by a stake through the heart would deliberately raise public awareness of stake killings by doing it to others? Preposterous!

On the contrary a vampire would do everything possibly to stop people thinking about stakes. If he saw one at a garden centre say, he would probably do his best to distract people by crying 'Oh look, Dahlia seeds, only £1.50 a pack, what a bargain!" He would never go to a Berni Inn or similar for fear that another customer might go "I'll have a steak, well done please, oh, that reminds me..."

My research reveals that Stoker's real inspiration was a tall cadaverous man, Dr. A Culpepper, who he met in a boarding house in Clacton while there for an illicit weekend with Mary Shelley*. The whole blood drinking thing was inspired by his 'down there' experiences with Shelley who was on the blob at the time. One of Stoker's early manuscripts in fact refers to Draculpepper, but he shortened it because it was a bit too Harry Potter and did not sound sinister enough.

Another myth is that vampires avoid animals, which have an instinctive awareness of evil. Complete nonsense, there is as much awareness of evil in your smoke detector and animals do not really care if their owners are monsters as long as they can open a can of Kennomeat. Proof of this may be found in the fact that Blunket's two guide dogs have sat quietly on the New Labour front benches for several years with not a hint of howling, trembling or raised hackles, not even during Brown's budget speeches.

The reason why vampires do not keep pets is due to relative ageing rates. In biological terms, every year of a vampire's life is equivalent to about sixty years of a man's life and every year of a man's life is equivalent to about nine years of a dog's life. Vampires do not keep normal pets simply because, in their perspective, a cat or dog would have died of old age almost before leaving the pet shop. The only suitable pet for a vampire is a Galapagos giant tortoise, but few bother as they tend to be rather unaffectionate and are lousy at chasing sticks.

Vampires do not crumble to dust in sunlight either. This belief arose because they go to great lengths to avoid daylight for the sole reason that are very self-conscious about their skin. Have you any idea how many fine lines you get when you are over 800 years old?. They use gallons of Nivea Visage and L'Oriel anti-ageing cream because they are worth it but these products do not really cope with the crepiness of centuries.

*Note

Most of you will be unaware that assuming this happened just before Shelley's death in her fifties Stoker would have been five. For those that are, I did not say it was that Mary Shelley did I?

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My part in the 2003 Finance Act

Everything in and around the Xoggoth household which is used for disposing of anything nasty has a suitable name.

The upstairs lavatory which sees the most use is called Gordon Brown. Fittingly it is brown. The downstairs cloakroom one is Tony Blair and green. Mad maroon would be more appropriate, but that colour was not fashionable in the 70s. The waste from both flows to the small New Labour sewage works half a mile away. Sometimes I pass there on one of my runs and wonder that I could so insult a very functional little plant.

The peddle bin in the kitchen is called civil servants, the dustbin is politicians and I drain engine oil from my van into an old washing up bowl called Dawn Primarolo. Nothing deserves to be called taxman permanently, although a small part of the compost heap ('asylum seekers') held the title for a few weeks after I buried a dead rat there.

Anyhow, the other month I went for a Gordonís number two. Not an event I would normally remember except that it was PM on budget day. At the very moment crap was going into our brown ceramic Gordon Brown it was coming out of the real one in the House of commons.

I felt that I was responsible somehow. Maybe the shambles of the Finance Act 2003 was down to the Enchiladas I had had the previous day. Who was to blame for the shambles of all his previous finance acts I have no idea.

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Latin names

Pete felt extremely lucky to land the job of Technician 2nd class at the Marine Research Institute less than six weeks after getting his A level results. It was mainly setting up equipment, typing in results, that sort of thing, but there was an opportunity for further education in marine biology and he could have an interesting career ahead of him.

Six weeks after starting he was having a lunchtime drink with Jack, another technician who had been there about a year. Jack leaned forward confidentially. "There's something you should know, Pete, all the technicians are in on it. There's this fish at the labs, the yellow grouper, it's a filter feeder, you know, usually lurks about near the bottom and sucks up worms and minute organisms. Itís got this soft toothless sucking mouth. Well the thing is, this fish, not in looks of course, but in feel, well, it's better than a woman. Stick your tackle in the tank and it will come up and suck and just keep on sucking until you feed it, so to speak. It's just marvellous."

A few weeks later Pete had to stay late to take some readings. As he left Jack winked. "Now's your chance, mate, don't forget, the yellow grouper, Maco Omonus, fantastic!" Pete sat at his desk. It was ridiculous, being sucked off by a fish. On the other hand, it was hot, he was 19 and he did feel pretty horny. He walked into the main labs and up onto the walkway that ran at top height behind the big tanks. The Latin names were all written at the back. Here it was, Maco Omonus. He could see the dark shape of the fish at the bottom. The phone rang in the office, oh sod it!. He unzipped.

Jack could get no answer to his call, come on Pete, come on. Damn it, Latin names had never been his strong point and he had got it wrong.

The yellow grouper was Melo Osiris. Maco Omonus was the manta shark.

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My new life as a criminal

Dear Diary,

I have had enough of this unpaid existence. My retirement fund is about £4.9m less than the £5 million Rodger says I need to retire, so I have to get a job. I don't fancy working in B&Q so have embarked on a new career in crime. I have no doubt that with my brilliant mind I will soon be Mr. Big.

Started small though. I called at an old lady's house and flashed my plastic membership card for the 'Exotique' sex cinema in Burmondsey. 'Gas man love, checking for leaks'. Unfortunately, she was not on gas. Bloody Sussex, vast areas still have to get their crap taken away in tankers, parts of Nigeria do better.

Repeat with gas supplied old lady at another town. She showed me one of those flame effect things so I pretended to check for leaks with my electronic guitar tuner. "This will take some time love, why not make us a nice cup of tea?". When she came back, a promising looking locked box was in my toolbag, life savings, bound to be. I got home to find three spare colostomy bags and a broken set of false teeth. Might come in handy some day.

Tried burglary next at a big bathroom-fitting showroom. I knew how to disable the burglar alarm from TV and films. I pointed my trusty guitar tuner at it and flipped the switch so the LEDs flashed and it made little beeping noises but that did not seem to work. Plan B short any two points together with piece of wire with crocodile clips. I could not reach the alarm box so shorted together the phone and TV aerial cables and broke in. The alarm started flashing so I retreated. Must have had some anti tamper device. The attempt was not entirely fruitless, I got a set of rubber tap washers.

Maybe robbery would be my forte. Went to the Woolwich with my Crossman Medalist .22 air pistol, which looks a bit like a real gun. I pulled a pair of underpants over my head just before I got to the counter and fumbled for the gun in my bag. The teller was staring at my underpants not in fright but disgust. The picture on the overhead TV told the tale and my nose confirmed it. I was wearing pants decorated with an enormous skid mark. I was too embarrassed to go ahead with the robbery and ran out. Did not leave empty handed though, grabbed some leaflets on loans as I left.

Must put my application form for B&Q in tomorrow.

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Naming of parts

The world was empty again today. Sounds a common theme I know, the stuff of car adverts, but it wasn't like that, the world never disappeared at all, reality withdrew and I can't find it again.

Wake in panic again at a dream half remembered, of blindness and deafness and helplessness and no way back. I put the light on, watch TV at 3 am until a little of what I am trying not to think of has retreated. My head aches from too much vodka the night before.

Today we have naming of parts. Here is daylight. This is the bed. Here is the window, these are curtains. Outside, the view from the window. Here is the sun, shining, this is real.

Wake in panic. Patterns of street lamps in the dark, hum of distant machinery, real and bright and loud as ever and close, but distant and remote. Pace the floor downstairs, all the lights on, the TV loud.

Today we have naming of parts. Daylight. I am here. These are walls, these are stairs. This is the family, here is the sun, shining, this is real.

Panic always. The world surrounds me but I can't get back in. I think this feeling will go, if I only do x it will go, if I just think y it will go. It never goes.

Today we have naming of parts. This is the road. Here is a car. This is the tree in my garden. This is real, this is real, this is real. Please let me back.

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The Shadow over Sussex

A tribute to the late great H.P.Lovecraft.

On the advice of my lawyer I would like to draw the reader's attention to the following statement:

This story is pure fantasy and at no time has the Bluebell Railway or the Geevor Tin Mine or any other heritage site to my knowledge ever been a front for bringing in hellish alien creatures from another dimension. Nor has that fine actress Jenny Agutter or any other person or organisation associated with 'The Railway Childen' ever been a party to any such arrangement.

Probably.

***************************

14th June 1997

I was always against the Bluebell Railway going through our village. Something about it did not add up, but my vague fears counted for nothing. They talked of jobs and benefits to local business from tourism, and in the end of course they had no trouble obtaining the necessary consents.

Those with influence ridiculed me too when I presented the detailed evidence I had collected in the first year of operation. Observations on both ends of that mysterious tunnel showing that the number of trains leaving it were subtly in excess of the number entering.

What rides on these mysterious additions?

2nd August 1997

Many of the inhabitants of our village are altering in as yet subtle ways, there is an odd reptilian cast to their features, a slight slurring of speech and a queer shortening and speeding up of gait.

19th September 1997

The strange evolution continues. A neighbour up the hill, one of the closest to the end of that sinister tunnel and one of the first to show the strange oddity of appearance and demeanour, is becoming frighteningly deformed. His face is elongated and lizard like. He moves in disquieting fits and starts, now frozen, now bewilderingly fast.

Worse are the deviations from any normal human habit. I had thought that a fox had dug up my new turf. Today I came home to find the neighbour tearing at it and scrabbling beneath, finding earthworm and beetles and scooping them into his toothed jaws with flicks of his long tongue.

15th January 1998

I can scarcely write this, scarcely admit what has happened. I saw the initial signs some time ago but tried to pretend it was not happening.

My family is no longer human although they still go through the motions. What was my wife is downstairs pretending to watch TV. What was my son is in his room with the door closed. I can sense his face is pressed against the wall looking at me with hatred while rivulets of drool cascade from his reptilian mandibles.

19th March 1998

I have not been able to before, my grief had been too great, but I must now write this to try and warn others, to persuade them of the hideous truth before it is too late. I will send this to the papers, god willing someone may publish it.

The Bluebell tunnel here in Sussex is the hideous epicentre, but the same thing is happening in heritage centres all over the UK.

I should have realised what was going on two Summers ago when I went with the wife around the Geevor Tin Mine in Cornwall. She was still human then, and still alive. When we came out there were at least two people in our party that I did not remember on the way in and others appeared to be subtly changed. It seemed a minor puzzle at the time and one that I quickly forgot.

Have you never wondered why, no matter what the economic climate, there is always money to build another heritage centre? As long as there is a mine or an old mill or factory with a large dark space to hide the hellish machinery and a stream of strangers passing through in which a few more can easily be hidden, finance can always be found.

I can offer proof. Go to your video store and get out the last remake of The Railway Children, the one with Jenny Agutter as the mother. It was shot on the Bluebell Railway, another cynical act to give an impression of normality. But they made a small mistake. Freeze frame on the tunnel and look closely. You can just make out the hellish alien machinery inside and the deformed monstrosities that tend it.

6th September 1998

Despite all my entreaties, a friend travelled on the Bluebell last week. He will be apparently normal now, but in a few months he will be in the initial larval stage eating earthworms and spiders. A few months from now, in adult form, carrion and human flesh, and I doubt that many could so much as glimpse his true appearance and remain sane.

I can get nowhere trying to tell the world of the unspeakable truth, they laugh at me and call me a madman, just as they have done with David Ike. Ike has not told more than a fraction of it for he knows that most men could not be told more and retain their reason.

Giant lizards? True the larval stage has similar dietary requirements, but of the adults the comparison is a just a ridiculous faint shadow of the truth, for these 'lizards' are not even of our dimension and human language contains nothing that can begin to paint a picture. I have seen, heard, felt, dreamed, hallucinated, I know not, and I will not try to explain, for I cannot.

I will stick with just the prosaic horrors, what happened to the child. The transformation of my neighbour, who as I reported previously had entered the larval stage and had been seeking worms and grubs under my newly laid turf, was rapid. Last week he still had corporeal, though not human, form but it seems that the adult hungers were emerging. I saw him in the narrow strip of woodland by the railway, I saw him snatch her from the garden behind. Like a walnut cracked and shelled, an orange sucked dry, drumsticks sucked and picked clean.

I did nothing. Partly I was numb after what I had to do to my wife and son before they changed too far. I have found a thousand other excuses and justifications in my mind since, but the main reason in plain truth was that I was too afraid.

I am always afraid now.

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Symmetry

He craved symmetry.

Pictures, dining chairs, ornaments, all had to be arranged just so to the nearest centimetre. He worked at home and rarely went out. When he did all that kept him from blind panic was the longed for return to his oasis of symmetry.

He never invited visitors but had no choice with the tax inspectors. They sat irregularly on his sofa, one tall fat women with enormous bosoms, one short skinny one. His mouth went dry, his skin went clammy, panic exploded.

An hour later he was calm again. They sat at exact opposite ends of the sofa. The tall women's neck removed and inserted in the short woman's with the aid of garden stakes to give similar height. Much of the tall woman's flab cut off and bound to the short woman's body with garden twine to give similar girth. Each had one enormous breast in the exact dead centre of the torso.

"What is it you need to know ladies?"

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WS and MS

The time travel program had been colossally late and over budget. When it finally succeeded the government devised a project it hoped would capture the public imagination and deflect the tide of criticism in time for the next election.

They went back and collected William Shakespeare shortly before his death. A burst appendix was swiftly fatal in 1616, but back in 2006 a short operation, a course of antibiotics and a couple of weeks in the hospital saw the Bard fit and well.

He was raring to start work on his latest tragedy and asked for a quill, ink and parchment. They explained that things had moved on, gave him a 2.3GHz Dell Pentium III with Microsoft Office, a quick overview of Word, a priority number for the help desk and left him to it.

He typed: "Belong to the gallows, and be hanged, ye rogue! is this a place to roar in?".

There stole a small and creeping verdant worm beneath the "is". What demonry was this? And if he press'd, what more vile serpents would them show?

He stopped and sat perplexed. Were his words putrefying?. If he wrote more would they in turn decay and crumble into dust?. He phoned.

Three hours later a spotty youth arrived from the help desk. Yer well its yer grammar checker innit? there oughta be a full stop after rogue! and went away muttering about so called literary geniuses.

To calm his nerves he went for a couple of drinks in the bar next door. The variety of alcohol was one of the few things he liked about this strange world. None of them tasted of rat droppings. It took him a while to get going again afterwards.

He typed: "Avaunt! show not thy dishonour monster, nor voice you noise anon."

The worm had crept and multiplied and now 'neath 'show' it flaunted colour of the oak, but worse, preceding, a bleeding rugose line beneath "Avaunt".

He typed "Behold their quarter'd fires, have both their eyes and ears so cloy'd importantly as now".

The 'quarter'd', 'cloy'd' now lit like wav'd fire beneath.

He stopped and sat frozen with doubt again. Was there some fiery demon come to consume his words?. Was the puddle of blood beneath avaunt some fearful omen?. He picked up the phone.

Two hours later the spotty help youth was back. Yeh well the red ones yer spell checker innit what on erfs an avaunt when its atome? look see ere just click up ere where it says grammar an spell check an it gives you the alternatives dunnit? He went away muttering about bald old ignoramuses.

The spell checker dialog bore legends ignore, ignore all, add, cancel, change, change all, autocorrect, options, undo, cancel. He had no idea what to do, but it appeared from the youth's demeanour that there was nothing to fear and he decided to ignore the strange colours.

He went back to the bar for several large whiskeys and a couple of large other things he had forgotten the name of but were very pleasing. It took him even longer to find his muse again.

He decided to write the most moving scene where Lactitia confronts Beruccio, who was posing as a kindly friend, with her knowledge of his betrayal and fatally stabs him.

He typed: "Act 2 scene 3. Lacticia. Enter stage left. To Beruccio. Hail to you my kind friend, my dear sir"

"It looks like you're writing a letter" said the paperclip entering stage right.

He was terrified of saying no to this hideous little goblin and went along with its suggestions. The finished scene thus went as follows:

Act 2 scene 3
Stage Left

14th June 2006

FAO: Beruccio
CC: Duke of Pangamo

Dear Sir,

Re: Your betrayal in the preceding act

(muses) What dream I had of this, of fatal fury?.
etc.

Yours Faithfully,

Lactitia

Enc. Fateful dagger, one.

It was not how he had envisaged the fateful scene. When the goblin appeared to be engrossed in scratching itself, he picked up the phone.

The spotty help youth was back in only an hour this time. Yeh well its yer assistant innit? gives yer elp in completin letters and stuff innit? if yer don wannit yer just press cancel ere. He went away muttering about how bluddy old Tudor geezers shoulda stayed where they wos and stop wasting is bleedin time.

He had totally lost his ideas and his mind was blank.

He typed 'Poxy doxy's cocks'.

It was Shakespeare's final line and therefore one, which in centuries to come would be quoted more than any other.

He came back to the office totally rat arsed and, being frightened of the lifts, fell head first down the service stairs and killed himself.

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Birth of a nation

Bet you only have a vague idea where the Democratic Republic of Dheranda is. It's a very small state (<4000 sq miles) on the West coast of Africa, mostly known for regular military take-overs and requiring lots of aid. As you will have guessed it's a repressive dictatorship, that 'Democratic' is always a dead giveaway.

Most Dherandans are not sure where it is either, which accounts for the disproportionately large number of Dherandan asylum seekers in London, they would like to go home but can't remember how.

Bet you have never heard of the civil war there either, although you will probably not be remotely surprised to learn there was one. Anyhow, the rebels were victorious and a tiny province (1000 square miles) broke away to form the Democratic Republic of Gallija. The 'Democratic' rule was unbroken.

This province included Dheranda, the former capital of Dheranda. This quite spoiled it for club singers since the most requested number had been "Dheranda, Dheranda so naff they named it twice". In retaliation, the Dherandans built a new capital, mainly out of goat dung, and called it Gallija.

To recap, the capital of Dheranda is Gallija and the capital of Gallija is Dheranda. I hope that's clear. It wasn't to the Dherandans or the Gallijans or the Gallijans or the Dherandans and they all had an even greater tendency to be unable to find their way home than before. Worse, the pitched battles between the two sides in Trafalgar Square saw both sides attacking people from their own capital city.

So much for the background. The Gallijans were very proud of their tiny nation and set about giving it all the symbols of nationhood.

The national flag was a small beige central circle with radiating lines on a dusky background supposedly symbolising the sun emerging from the jungle mists but which was generally believed to be the president's mistress's left nipple. At the UN it was very soon dubbed the donkey's bumhole.

They had to decide on a national dish, something traditionally eaten in the area. They decided on 'Pack 132a (UN dist. only)' a popular pack of rice, raisins and baby food that had been the staple diet in and around Dheranda (the capital) for many decades. Theoretically anyhow, most of them had actually been sold on the black market by the Dherandan president to buy Kalashnikovs and hotels in foreign resorts, but the real staple diet of black rats did not have the right image.

Next they needed a national animal and a national flower. These were difficult. The jungle had entirely gone and the land was largely dirt and rubble. In fact Dheranda was runner up to Palestine twice in the coveted ABTA award for Toilet of the World, the foreign destination holidaymakers would least like to visit. There weren't any decent flowers, just grass and a few straggly weeds and the only wildlife left was the black rat.

Black rats were coming up a lot. Someone suggested that maybe they should save time by having the black rat as the national dish, the national beast and the national flower and also put a black rat on the flag as well, at least it would not look like a donkey's bumhole. In the end they decided one could have too much of a good thing.

After a lot of thought they decided on the Blue Seal for the national beast. Though it was not native to Ghalija, some rather ripe dead ones had been washed up on the beaches (and promptly eaten) so it was the nearest they could get.

The government held a contest for suggestions for the national flower. The winner would receive a get out of being beaten and tortured free card. There was little response as the citizens were so used to being beaten and tortured it was part of life. If asked to a black rat barbecue, people would look in their diaries and say things like, "Oh sorry, can't make Tuesday, I'm being beaten and tortured that day, what about Thursday?"

In the absence of flowers they took photos of post beating and torture injuries. A little image retouching on the best of them in the president's computer made it look like a marvellous purple and red flower. They called it the Bruisellus Genitopliersus. Botanists came from around the world in search of this rare and delicate plant, clearly a member of the Orchid family, bringing valuable currency to Dheranda's (the capital's) one good hotel.

The barking mad UK PM stopped there during his tour of Africa as part of his ceaseless mission to promote the 'Tony Blair World Leader' brand with free use of British troops courtesy of the UK taxpayer. The little state took two brigades to quell black rats and help out with beating and torture on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It was a player on the world scene.

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The horrid tale of EVIL WORM

All afternoon the sky had had that strange luminous yellow colour that denotes approaching snow, although none had come. By the evening the Western sky was a fractured pool of bloody red. Hector, the wise and very old woodlouse who lived alone under the rotting log said he had seen nothing like it in all of his four long years and it was an evil omen. Hector was right. The next day the gardener, while planting some spring onions, sliced Nasty Norman the earthworm in two and EVIL WORM was born.

It is not a fact known to human biologists, how could they know?, but there is a difference between the worm that regenerates from the head end and the worm that regenerates from the other end. It is a difference not of the body, but of the soul. Just imagine, if you underwent a painful slicing in two, and then had to re-grow your whole personality from your bumhole end, would you be quite the nice person you were before? The worm that grows from the head end takes most of the good. The worm that grows from the other end is real mean.

But Nasty Norman had not been just any old sliced earthworm. He himself had grown from the arse end of a severed worm, who had grown from the arse end of a severed worm and so on back six severings. The earthworm that grew from his arse end, EVIL WORM, was that mercifully rare thing, the seventh severed worm of a severed worm in unbroken arse end line, a foul abomination; a thing imbued with satanic powers, wholly malignant and utterly evil.

It was said that the sky darkened and flying insects in the vicinity fell shrivelled and blackened from the air when EVIL WORM came into being. The rumours of foul portents spread. All the tiny invertebrate creatures that lived in the far corner of the vegetable patch and the weedy undergrowth next to it met to discuss the threat to their little world. They sent a delegation of woodlice to ask the advice of the old and wise Hector.

The woodlice gathered in Hector's hole trying not to breathe too deeply while not making it obvious. Due to his very advanced age, Hector no longer smelt of wee as woodlice should do. Hector thought hard about their dilemma and finally suggested they should escape by moving further into the woodland behind the garden.

It was his last suggestion. The body of EVIL WORM lay regenerating in the onion patch, but his foul mystic powers had already ensnared several spies and he knew of their plot. He sent his astral projection to crush them. A flickering lambent flame of hellish colours lit up the hole and the grotesque spirit of EVIL WORM materialised in their midst, ten times larger than life. The disgustingly squishy severed end gazed balefully down at them. From the other end he wielded the WORM CAST OF DOOM in the form of blazing fire that roasted Hector and all the other woodlice in an instant.

Evil lay over the North end of the garden containing the vegetable patch and none could escape it. A trio of large garden spiders, three of the toughest and nastiest characters around, had tried. The WORM CAST OF DOOM appeared in the form of clutching human child fingers and they found themselves suspended in mid air, while their legs were plucked one by one from their bodies. Those bodies lay for days like tiny peanuts next to the compost heap, their palps twitching and their twenty four little eyes filled with pain.

I have to pause this story here to compose myself because I find that bit about the poor little spiders really sad. Sniff. Sniff. Ok I'm all right now. To continue.

After that nobody dared to cross EVIL WORM for a long time. The little creatures toiled ceaselessly, building a huge temple come palace out of dead leaves, dirt, silk, spider web, decayed wood and similar building materials that small invertebrates have at their disposal, a temple/palace in which they would be required to serve and worship him/her/it until they died.

And so it might have continued but after he re-grew his head EVIL WORM got lonely. Of course he could force any earthworm he liked to fulfil his carnal needs (or any other small creature for that matter, he was EVIL after all) but what he most wanted was an EVIL soul mate.

However, just in case you are starting to sympathise a little with EVIL WORM let me tell you a bit of biology. Earthworms, even EVIL ones, are hermaphrodite. To put it less politely, they are a bunch of trannies. Earthworms mate by lying in a 69 position with another earthworm of identical gender or lack of it. Yes I know, its just too bloody disgusting to think about isn't it? Degenerate perverts, it just makes me sick to the stomach that sort of thing, and to think there are lots of them at it in my garden even as I write this. Hanging's too good for them. But I digress, where was I? Oh yes, EW's downfall.

One of the little insects in his retinue sowed the seed. Maybe EVIL WORM should think about Nasty Norman's front end. Of course that was the 'good' end, but on the other hand, after six rear end slicings, Nasty Norman had had very little good left in him anyhow and was thoroughly nasty, almost as nasty as EVIL WORM but without the satanic powers. Maybe there would be his soul mate. Yes I know, mating with the other half of one's 'father' sounds pretty incestuous doesn't it? but as I think I have already shown, the sexual morality of even ordinary earthworms leaves a lot to be desired so EVIL WORM was hardly likely to be bothered about such things.

They persuaded EVIL WORM to go back to the spring onion patch looking for his sister/brother/mate. It was a huge gamble by the plotters who had seen the gardener checking his broccoli seeds. It worked. While searching for his hoped for incestuous love EVIL WORM got his bum end sliced off by the gardener who was turning the soil prior to planting his broccoli.

The bum end wielded the WORM CAST OF DOOM and with it no longer connected to the rest of EVIL WORM he/she/it was powerless. EVIL WORM went into hiding. When he had grown a new bum end he planned to revenge himself against all the invertebrates, he would really make them suffer!

Their deliverance might have been but temporary but when he awoke from his regeneration torpor EVIL WORM found he had a head at each end. He died several days later of the worst case of constipation you could ever imagine.

The little vegetable patch world was once again safe from the horror that had been EVIL WORM. It was to be destroyed less than a year later by the MUTANT SLUGS FROM THE FIFTH DIMENSION but that is another story.

**********************************************************************************************************
Click here for the chilling tale of The MUTANT SLUGS from the fifth dimension

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Burham stores

It was a darn nice day. Much too nice to be working in an ancient corrugated iron shed sticking pitot tubes in cyclones.

As always on really nice days when we were bored we found some excuse to go to the Burham stores for some bit of equipment we urgently needed for our pilot plant work. In this case we decided that we just might possibly, maybe, need a rotary feed valve. Signed out a pool car, they only had Ford Cortina estates.

Burham stores was a big ramshackle collection of concrete and corrugated iron sheds in a waste land in the back of nowhere, well not quite nowhere, it's not too far from Maidstone in Kent, but there was nothing around but fields and grass and warblers. Marvellous place to be on a sunny day.

Interesting inside too. The * * Cement Company was like an old miser, it hoarded things. Any old bit of equipment, no matter how useless, went into the Burham stores. There were conveyors, enormous electric motors, broken riffles, old fork lifts bits, even a few rotary feed valves, all piled high on the floor, on metal benches or ancient wooden shelves. Everything had a marvellous dusty smell, not of oil and industry as you might expect but a natural grassy dusty smell, distilled from the fields outside by the hundreds of birds nesting in the eves of the iron roof.

The only serviceable feed valve we could find was a bit on the large side, about 4-5 cwt of steel, roughly cylindrical. But we had to justify our trip so, with a great deal of effort from the three of us, into the back of the Cortina it went. After a bit more mooching about in the grassy wasteland we headed back. The Cortina's handling felt exceedingly rubbery with 5 cwt stuck right at the back.

Not sure quite where after all these years, but somewhere near Rochester, on a steep down hill, we took a sharp right. At least me and the Cortina and the two other blokes did. The rotary valve decided it wanted to go straight on, smashed open the tailgate and took off down the hill. We chased it down the hill on foot. I would like to say it smashed into the town hall and crushed three aldermen but I would be lying. Disappointingly, it only damaged a bollard and knocked out a kerb stone, and as nobody seemed to have noticed we quickly hefted it back into the Cortina and scarpered.

It was a nice day the next day too, so we had to go to Burham stores for an electric motor to drive the rotary feeder. It was all go.

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Love Hearts

On Mondays it was his tradition to stay in with a good video and a few glasses of wine.

He usually got a pack of wine gums to munch through from the little rack on the video store counter but they were out. On a whim he took a packet of Love Hearts. He had not had those since childhood. He opened them while idly watching the trailers, the first sweet had "HELLO SUCKER" on it. Not very romantic he thought, why did they have to change things?, what happened to stuff like "BE MINE"? Still, they tasted as he remembered them, a schoolboy mixture of sherbert and face powder.

The second had "HOW ARE YOU?", the third had "FEELING FINE?". The 'Gangs of New York' started and he turned off the light. The film was as good as he had heard; he sat absorbed, sipping his chilled wine and occasionally taking another sweet. He hoped white wine with Lovehearts was not a social fuax-pas but actually they went rather well together.

Perhaps the wine was a bit too chilled or he had drunk a bit too much of it, his stomach hurt and his head had started to ache. He put down the wine glass and curled up to ease the pain in his abdomen, reaching for another sweet. By the time the film ended he was feeling pretty ill, must be coming down with something or perhaps it the curry he had had earlier. He turned on the light and sat rocking gently.

Might as well finish the packet anyhow there were only two or three left. The next said "THE END IS NEAR". The end is near? what sort of Love Heart caption was that? Pretty damn right though, he thought, my head aches so much it feels like it. He was starting to feel dizzy. He ate the penultimate sweet before the caption really registered. "YOUVE BEEN POISONED".

The last thing he saw was the very last sweet. "GOODBYE SUCKER".

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Ice cream

The tide caught the middle aged couple unexpectedly. At each end of the rapidly diminishing beach the water had raced up an inlet and was already crashing on the rocks.

She was grossly overweight and had no chance of scaling the cliffs behind. He was still fairly agile and had a chance, if he could only summon help for his wife before it was too late. With great difficulty he climbed to the top and started to run towards the road.

There was an ice cream van in the car park. He brought a cornet and sat in the sun by the roadside. The ice cream reminded him of his wife, soft and round and white but quieter and with a nicer taste.

A while later he wandered back to the cliff top and looked over. Just the sea foaming against the foot of the cliff.

Bummer. She had had his wallet and he did not have enough change left for another ice cream.

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All stories copyright xoggoth