Archive for July, 2010

July 26, 2010

>Letting Go

>As parents, we all must steal ourselves for the day when our offspring decide to flee the nest. I can well remember how upset my mum was when I left home (I am the youngest of four), but I know her sadness was also tinged with pride that we were all ready and able to make our way into the world, and that the cutting of the apron strings was just another step on life’s ladder.

And so it is with the latest novel. Admittedly, I haven’t spend 18+ years nurturing this, but nor have I had to deal with teenage tantrums and cries of “I hate you!” (that I might be dealing with those in real life is, of course, an entirely different matter), but it has been an interesting six months: good times and bad times; doubt and uncertainty and, finally, that warm glow that comes with typing the final words.

The editing process on this one has been painful. The timing of the World Cup didn’t help as my beta-readers had their attentions drawn elsewhere. In addition, I can hardly demand to be their top priority, no matter how important their views and feedback are. Perhaps, one day, I’ll be able to pay them for their time and then I can be as unreasonable as I want, though that might have an affect on how they view my work, so there’s a bit of a flaw to that plan…

But, it’s done. Finished. I’ve even written the synopsis (which I very nearly forgot, and only some suitably timed tweets – not aimed specifically at me – reminded me of the need to do it). And it is now on its way across the sea to our agent.

And so the waiting begins, again. This time, though, I’m ready. I don’t expect to hear for a few weeks – probably not until early September (even though that seems like a lifetime away).

So, as we bid farewell to LAST MAN STANDING and wish it well, our thoughts turn to the next project. I’m pretty sure I know which one it’s going to be; I’ve already written about 300 words of it, but I know they need to change as the character I’ve introduced is much more likeable than intended. As with every book so far, there’s only the scantest outline of what this story is about, and it’s very possible (as with NUM63R5 earlier this year) that this will barely get off the starting blocks before being returned to the ideas tank, and another candidate selected.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, though. All I need is a suitable abbreviation for it. Y’a is probably accurate, though that shouldn’t be confused with YA (Young Adult fiction) because, if this turns out as expected, it’s very definitely not for a younger readership…

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July 9, 2010

Friday Flash (1)

I tend to stay away from short stories or flash fiction, but here is something that I thought was going to form a complete book, but which, I think, works better as a short story. (Though, who knows, maybe in the future…)

Its timing may be a little off, given some recent events in the UK, but as it’s not based on them, nor inspired by them, I make no apologies. Any similarities to any person are entirely coincidental.

So, without further ado:

A Very Ordinary Killer

The trouble with most killers is that they want to get caught. They’d never admit it, but it’s their vanity which leads to their capture. That desire for infamy, to be acknowledged, to see their crimes featured on TV all linked together, perhaps even to acquire a snappy nickname such as The Romney Ripper or The Cambridge Cannibal, all these things are the weaknesses of your common serial killer. On top of those failures, most serial killers stick to the same tried and trusted methods of finishing with their victims – their modus operandi – and their victims often fall into the same categories, be that just by gender or by some other selection criteria – prostitutes seem to have been the most fashionable victims recently.

Some killers even take delight in leaving clues to their existence, little taunts to the examining officers, perhaps obvious enough for the casual plod to pick up, or more subtle, the sort of thing that’s only going to be detected by the forensic team after detailed examination of the scene. Some even revisit the scene of the crime – perhaps while the investigation is in its earliest stages, when the place is crawling with police – getting some kind of thrill by being so close to those who are doing their best to catch them.

Finally, it has to be said, most serial killers are psychopaths. That might be stating the obvious, but it’s an important fact.

Because none of the above apply to me.

I kill because I enjoy it. And I’ll never get caught because I don’t let my vanity get in the way: I don’t leave clues that taunt the police; I don’t have a modus operandi; I don’t discriminate when selecting my prey (male, female, young, old: they’re all the same to me); I never return to the scene of a crime and there’s never anything to link me to it in the first place.

And, of course, I’m not a psychopath.

I’m just an ordinary guy with a slightly unusual hobby. It’s not really that far removed from those who enjoy fishing, or fox-hunting, or pheasant shooting, or like to conceal themselves in hides in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting deer to wander into their sights. Sure, some of those are frowned upon by certain members of society, the goody-goodies who refuse to allow anyone to indulge in a sport that doesn’t fit their narrow criteria of acceptable. Those who enjoy hunting often claim that they are performing a service, keeping populations down, taking out the weakest of any pack, subscribing to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection: if that fish was stupid enough to take the maggot off my hook then it doesn’t deserve to live. I could claim the same thing, I suppose, but then that would sound like I’m trying to justify my actions, and that might lead you to think that I’m a psychopath after all, because surely only a psychopath would attempt to put murder in the same league as fishing. So I won’t. I won’t attempt to justify myself to you, because I don’t have to. I’ve already told you: I kill because I enjoy it. No further justification necessary. Case closed.

Besides, who among us can claim to have no so-called vices? We all have skeletons in our closet, sneaky little thrills that we enjoy when we think nobody is looking: the wife who hides chocolate out of sight of the children and her husband; the husband with his pornography addiction; the man with a penchant for prostitutes; the vegetarian who can’t get enough bacon. Small, perhaps, but secret thrills nonetheless, things that they’d be ashamed to admit, that they are terrified of having exposed because of what others will think of them. And why? Why should the opinion of anybody else matter? So you like bacon? Go ahead and eat it! You like porn? Go, get yourself off. It’s nobody’s business but your own.

I just happen to like killing people. It’s my thing, my dirty little secret. I like the moment where they take their last breath and I see the light go out in their eyes – assuming I get to see it, because that depends on what method I use. I like the thrill of the hunt, stalking my prey – but only when I plan it like that, because other times I just love choosing a victim at random, someone who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (for them, that is – right place, right time for me). I like the blood, when I spill it; I like the feel of the knife on flesh, or the sound of the gunshot, or the silence as they slip away, starved of oxygen, with the rope tight around their neck.

There’s so much to enjoy, really, I’m quite amazed it’s never really taken off as an acceptable past-time. There are so many different personalities out there: you get those who resign themselves to their fate and die with dignity (I’m very fair like that, if that’s how they are then I’ll accept it and finish them off quickly and cleanly); then you get those who will plead and beg and offer you anything, absolutely anything, if you’ll let them go. It’s shocking what depths they’ll plumb in their desperate attempts to survive. The most surprising are those that seemed, on the surface, to be so normal, so straight-laced, so respectable. The things they offer would certainly not be repeatable in front of your grandmother. Money and possessions are the favourites, but a surprising number will offer sexual favours – and that goes for the men as well as the women. And, of course, every single one will promise faithfully that they’ll keep the secret, they’ll never reveal my crime to anybody, will never speak to the police, will forget it every happened and carry on with their lives as before. Utter rubbish, of course, but it’s moot anyway: I never let anybody go. Never. Once I have them, their fate is sealed, they are as good as dead.

The only variables are how and when. There is no if.

Not that I’m averse to taking up their offers. I’ve amassed a good few quid over the years, mainly in small sums as anything too big would arouse suspicion. I’ve been offered houses and cars too, but I never take those for the same reason. And as for the sexual favours? Yeah, I’ve taken a few of those too, mainly from the women though there have been a couple of men. You have to be careful, though: always use a condom, can’t afford to leave any evidence behind; never take oral sex – though that’s a very common offer, but is fraught with danger, an open-invitation for them to inflict serious damage, probably give them time to escape too. There have been plenty who I’m pretty sure would have gone through with it, perhaps even enjoyed it, and I know I would have too, but it’s too risky. So, straight-forward sex, or maybe a bit of hand relief, is all I allow. Sometimes they even seem to enjoy it, too; maybe they think there’s a better chance of being spared if they do. I don’t make unreasonable demands – they don’t have to look at me, don’t have to try to enjoy it, don’t have to kiss me – but if they offer it, I’ll probably take it; I am a man, after all. Don’t try to tell me you wouldn’t, if you were in the same position.

So, I suppose you’re wondering how I got into it? When did I start killing, why, how, where? Those are the questions I’m going to answer. I’m going to let you get inside my head, to see what I see and feel what I feel. Then you’ll understand.

And then you’re going to die.