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pearl clutching

TOTCB Chapter One ‘A Little Rain’ (edited)

Ok, being a little lazy.

Just rereleasing the first chapter because people kept bitching at me for showing off DDD when it hasn’t been edited but it’s hard not to want to show my latest work to people when I’m the most excited about it but I have to wait until its more polished and in the mean time I have the first three chapters of this book edited and ready to go and will be releasing it for free on my my site for everyone on my mailing list as soon as it’s completed which is looking to be sometime next month.

Otherwise everything is good, still feeling a little uninspired recently but I’m enjoying doing the lovecraft inspired story and relistening to all his stories for inspiration. Despite that it’s still coming along quite slowly and I’ll release some of it on here when I can be bothered to proofread it. So keep your head on a swizel for that.

Anyway, here’s the remastered first chapter of The One That Came Back for your rereading pleasure.
Don’t forget a free e-copy of this and my last novella ‘Ladies Close Your Eyes’ will be winging it’s way to all the nice folks on my mailing lists so stay tuned for that and peace out.

~

Chapter 1 A little rain

 

“Police, go ahead.”

“My wife and I are here as tourists-”

“-We’ve found a kid.”

“He’s about fourteen or fifteen years old-”

“- No ID, no documents on him.”

“He’s very scared.”

It was raining.

The rain beat down, getting in all the cracks on the sidewalk. It dashed cars and made those little muted tapping sounds as it hit people’s coats as they walked by.

Neon lights of a sign, car headlights, streaked in the rain as if they were melting.

The soothing sound of the rain falling muted the sounds of thunder.

A boy tried to make himself as small as possible in the bottom of a phone booth. The rain beat down, tapping on the glass, trying to get in.

He wore a hooded coat with a cap, and a pair of running bottoms with white stripes up the sides. He sat curled up, with his head in his knees, breathing steadily, the receiver hanging by his head.

The phone booth stood alone in the centre of a cobbled town square, lined with caged trees. European-style lampposts, dotted throughout the square, cast sickly yellow pools of light. There was a square-roofed totem, plastered with ageing posters, advertising bands in Spanish; stark bushes behind it, all their leaves long gone, left with only bony finger twigs stretching out in all directions.

Distant sirens.

The boy in the booth peeled back the sleeve of his jacket and looked at a digital watch. The time was ‘9:58pm’.

The bottom of the phone booth was made of some cheap plastic, like a black shower mat, curling at the corners. It was wet with people’s footprints and the rain getting in through the cracks. Dirty cigarette butts were mashed into it, little pink pieces of paper, fliers with girls on them, soaking up muddy water, and a boy.

A police car pulled up in front of the totem with its lights off. The headlights filled up the phone booth. They stopped the car and put the lights on, red and blue flashing. They got out of the car.

Two cops with their hoods down. On the passenger side, the bald cop approached the phone booth speaking Spanish, reaching out his hand as if he was trying to feed a small animal.

The boy lifted his head to look at the light through the crack in the phone booth door. He shivered as the cold damp started to get to him. The man approached, slow and low, and the boy made himself even smaller. He shrank into his big rain coat and tried to get away from himself. But he was in a corner.

The policeman opened the door of the phone booth and asked him if he was alright. The cop was average build, in his forties with a greying beard. The concern lines on his forehead painted a vivid picture of a man with his own problems; he didn’t need to be out here.

The rain poured down on him as he spoke, trying to be heard over the constant beating of water around his head. The boy lifted his head an inch, hiding his eyes behind the lip of a cap pulled down low on his head. He cowered with his hands in front of his face.

The cop lost his patience for a moment and reached out for the boy. The boy pulled back. He was shaking.

“Tranquilo, tranquilo,” the cop said slow, as he put his hands up and backed off just a little. He signalled for the boy to come: “Vamos.”

The boy was ashen, shaking. He looked lost and frightened.

The cop took his arm and gingerly helped him to his feet.

He led the boy, hunched like a refugee, towards the brightly lit police car.

The boy’s legs seemed weak. His knees buckled and the second cop swam through the rain to prop him up on his other side. They carried him, arm in arm, to the waiting police car, the sound of the windshield wipers screeching.

They put him in the back seat and shut the door. He ducked his head and listened to the rain.

“What is your name?” a woman said in a robotic tone. “Tell us your name,” she asked again. They watched the boy’s face, even as he tried to hide, on the monitors. His cap was pulled way down and he had a scarf covering the other half of his face. “Where do you live?” she kept asking.

The pixelated camera zoomed out as he said nothing. He hung his head like a frightened animal. “Do you live with your parents? Did they hurt you?”

It looked more like an office than an interview room. It was wood panelled with a wall of  opaque glass.. The boy looked out the door and saw people at desks, lit by old fashioned lamps, sifting through papers. Phones ringing, people talking, clattering of chairs and hushed breath.

His hands were deep down in the pockets of his coat. He got comfortable in the chair, sinking further and further down into it.

It smelled like cigarettes and heady perfume in the office. Sweet and bitter smells.

He sat at a wooden table. There were loose pieces of paper in Spanish tacked onto the wall: notices, pictures of people.

The woman across the desk was pretty, in her mid to early thirties, but with a strain of concern on her face that looked like it had always been there. Her sandy hair was tied back in a tight plait littered with split ends. She was in a blue uniform adorned with shiny gold buttons. She continued to talk and he watched her lips move.

He looked behind her. On the wall were more posters. A laminated one, behind her head, had large pictures of people and said “MUY PELIGROSOS” in bold letters. There was a book shelf packed with hastily tidied files, binders and large books that looked like phone books piled on top of each other, in no particular order.

In the outer office people were smoking and tapping away at old computers. The bald policeman who had picked him up was on the phone, looking at him through the crack in the door. He nodded, putting out his cigarette and hanging up the phone.-

The boy sat in a waiting room, on a long leather couch that looked like the backseat of an old car. A hand-painted mural behind his head looked like storm clouds. He sat with his head down. A woman at a desk was speaking Spanish into a telephone.

She put the phone down with a surly click and got up, walked around her desk and sat on the front with her hands in her lap.

“Please tell us who you are. Why don’t you have any ID? Are you from Spain?”

He was in the office of a children’s home. It was a large room filled with desks and computers. On the wall, behind the director’s head, was a large map of the world and pictures, of her family, a holiday, a mossy cave, a beach somewhere, school pictures, children sitting in rows, children’s drawings.

She dipped her head as if to implore him. “If you can’t prove to us who you are, we’ll be left with no choice but to fingerprint and photograph you right now and pass them on to the police. Do you understand?”

He looked up, his eyes searching her face. She looked like she was trying to comfort him but she was also disappointed that he didn’t exist.

“Peggy, it’s your mother, are you sitting down? You’re not going to believe this.” An old woman’s whiskey-soaked voice rattled down the phone line.

“Mom, what is it?” The girl on the other end sounded startled; it was late.

“They found your brother, Johnny. They found Johnny in Linares!”

“Oh my God! What part of Texas is Linares in?”

“No, it’s not in Texas. Linares, Spain!” Peggy’s mother, Angela, coughed.

“Spain? Isn’t that on the other side of the country? When can we see him? When can we get him back?” Peggy was rushing now, almost slurring her words, her heart jumping up and down like it was on a pogo stick.

“They gave me a number of the shelter he’s in. Peggy, can you call? You have to be the one that goes and gets him. You have to go get your brother, do you understand?” Her mother was begging now; there was no one else she could rely on.

“OK.”

Peggy’s mother quickly rattled off the number and Peggy jotted it down on a piece of note paper by the phone.

She hung up the phone without saying goodbye, or even thinking, and let it sit in the dark spot of her mind for a moment. She took a few hurried breaths, feeling a little light-headed. The room felt like it was getting smaller. Finally she took the phone out of the cradle, an old-fashioned grey phone with big buttons. She put it to her ear and dialled the number.

The phone rang for a moment and then a man with a European accent answered.

“Hello, this is Peggy Carson. I was told to phone this number.” She paused with a sudden shortness of breath. “Johnny, Johnathan Bartlett.” She sucked her bottom lip. “Do you have him?” An eternity passed as she waited for a response. “Hello?”

“Yes, we have him, Johnathan Bartlett. He’s sitting right here next to me. I am Joan Dorian. I work at the children’s centre and we are sure it is him. You must understand, he is very scared. He has been through a traumatic experience, do you understand?”

“Please, can I talk to him, just for a moment?” The concern in Peggy’s voice rose. She’d begun twiddling the phone cord between her two fingers.

“I’m sorry, Mrs Carson, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, as of this moment. He’s been through a very hard time. We believe he may have been abused by whomever abducted him and he’s not in the right frame of mind to talk to anyone.”

“I can’t talk to him at all? He’s my little brother!”

“Please, Mrs Carson, understand, this is not the same boy you knew. He’s been through a hell of a lot. He’s going to need a lot of time to come to terms with what happened to him. He’s going to need a lot of love and understanding and patience right now, OK?”

“Alright, please give him my love.” She stopped to take a breath. “Does he remember us? Does he remember his family?” Her voice croaked and shook, as if she was scared to ask.

“He doesn’t remember much. He remembers you, but not a lot else, I believe.”

“Please just let me hear his voice.” She was desperate.

Another eternity passed, before a strained child’s voice came on the line.

“Hello?” it said.

Peggy welled up and burst into tears.

“Hello, Johnny? Johnny, is that you? We missed you, baby. We’re going to get you back soon. Don’t worry, we’re coming. I love you.”

“I love you,” the voice said.

~

Star Wars the force awakens the internet’s feckless crybabies.

Ok I said I would tackle this ‘issue’ just for fun, this might not be what some were expecting when I said I’d rant about the monopoly thing but who cares, this is my opinion, don’t like it write an angry comment I can ignore and go on with your day.
When I first saw this article I wasn’t that surprised. Recently it seems like the current generation are just prone waiting for the next minor injustice to be offended by. And then let everyone on twitter know what amazing progressive wunderkin they are for being offended at said non-issue first and receive the most pats on the back from their like minded drooling idiot followers.

So down to the ‘problem’ at hand, with the release of the new Star Wars movie, the force awakens. The force was awakened to a bunch of new star wars related crap parents are forced to buy their squealing offspring to secure their love for another year. One such piece of crap was a set of star wars the force awakens monopoly.

So far so good, monopoly, harmless capitalism in a box with a star wars theme, not the first time and probably wont be the last time a new set of star wars monopoly is released. But the ‘big deal’ about this new star wars and this new set of monopoly is that the new main character of this current incarnation of star wars happens to be a carrier of a holey vagina. And that said character was not featured in the set of monopoly, oh shit I should have put a trigger warning in there, I’m sure by now people are foaming at the mouth and snapping their problem glasses in half.

Obviously the internet is in an uproar, over monopoly, no seriously.
“It’s sexist” “Holy misogyny batman” “But the force awakens in Rey!” Wah wah wah, it’s just fucking monopoly, who cares? These idiots care, idiots who inject feminism and gender and race into every stupid fucking thing and just can’t let anything go.

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Here are the offensive monopoly pieces in question as you can see, not a vagina between them, what a travesty.
So the characters from left to right are; Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker, Finn, Kylo Ren and Darth Vader.
The theme of the board game was heroes vs villains so you have two heroes vs two villains, now this to me is the first point of contention. Anyone who watched force awakens knows there was only one villain because no one counts Ron Weasley’s older brother, Captain Phasma who has like three lines and Darth Golem. They would never make good pieces to go alongside Kylo, who would want to play as Emperor Snoke? He’s not this hugely fleshed out character and he just spends the entire movie sitting down looking menacing.
The thing I think a lot of the internet’s pearl clutchers overlook is the fact that if Finn was substituted for Rey I think the shitstorm would have been equal if not worse, with Black lives matter taking a shit on Hasbro’s lawn and wiping their asses with Chewbaccas face.
Really you’re between a rock and a hard place in terms of representation, and star wars has always been poked at by race baiters and other idiots for having a white character voiced by a black man because that’s racist… for reasons.
But “hold on” say the shrill masses of the internet, “Why don’t they just have Rey and Finn?” Well yeah that would solve all the problems except the two villains required, you can’t just have Vader next to Kylo when Vader is dead in that movie, so you’d have to replace him with Phasma or Snoke.
Bare in mind this monopoly set would have been mass produced months before the movie was even in cinemas so they have no idea how well the movie will do let alone how well characters like Phasma and Snoke will track. In my opinion this is Hasbro trying to straddle two markets to insure themselves against another possible star wars flop. They decided to include Luke and Vader so as to ensure the set would sell even if the movie didn’t because Vader and Luke will always sell you can always bank on the original trilogy making money.It would have been a total gamble not including those original characters.

The other argument I hear is “Why don’t they just make more pieces?” yeah well why don’t they include a dye cast model of the bar scene in mos eisley or a life size model of the yoda training scene in the dagoba swamps? Because it would cost too much fucking money. Every company has a projection for how much money they want to make and how much they’re willing to spend and obviously four pewter figures was the maximum amount they wanted to mass produce per set because four players is the optimal amount for one game of monopoly.
And again if they included Rey who would be her adversary? There’s still only one villain in the force awakens, you can’t just have two Kylo Rens that’s dumb.
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Another ‘controversy’ from kneejerk morons on the internet was over this Millenium Falcon toy because again it doesn’t have the vagina having wonder aboard.
“SEXISM” MUH-SOGGY-KNEES!!!”

Is it though? Notice anything else missing from this piece, ahem, Han fucking Solo perhaps??
Yeah Rey and Han aren’t included because this was made long before the movies came out and probably released before or at the same time as the film and those character’s aren’t included to prevent spoilers for the movie itself. So it’s not that Finn is more important because he’s male because the fucking robot is included but Han is nowhere to be found.
But the bottom line is toys like this are aimed at boys, no matter how ‘progressive’ you are you have to realise not all toys are aimed at every type of child.
Toy companies make money by appealing to a particular demographic and they do this by product testing and market projections. And despite this wave of progressive feminist thought, little boys still like playing with action figures and space ships more than little girls and probably wouldn’t play with a female action figure.
I mean there’s probably the odd one or two male childrem that will play with a female doll and a girl that might like a space ship over a barbie but toy companies don’t make toys for the minority of kids, they make them for lowest common denominator because that’s how you make money.
In conclusion this is just another example of idiots on the internet with dumb agendas trying to push them by ignoring the all the facts and twisting every non-issue into a way that somehow oppresses them for some contrived reason, nothing to see here people, move along.

Thanks as always go to Florian for doing the art on the strip, if you want to see more strips and more of Florian’s messed up art, head to the Jeffrey Dahmer and Greg comic page for more fucked up un-pc humour.

Cheers!

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