Friday, 28 October 2011


There’s few things in this world that make me bounce up and down in my seat and squeal like a deflating balloon without the prior intake of sugar or alcohol. One of the very few exceptions to this rule is discovering the release of the third instalment of a series of books that are so awesome that you can spend the best part of a weekend hammering through them and feel as though you’ve been all the way to Narnia and back. And ORCS: Bad Blood is similar to Narnia in many ways, except grittier, much more fighty, challenging stereotypes rather than building on them, and…ok, belay that comparison, but you get the idea.

I purchased the first omnibus back in 2008 (because that’s what you do on a school trip to France), and I can honestly say: MIND=BLOWN. Stan Nicholls has done the simplest thing an author could do, and made a fairly typical fantasy epic about a band of heroes on a quest to find these magical items just that little bit more amazing. Making orcs the protagonists.


This move would be considered a risky one by many, because let’s face it, how do you write a story that puts orcs in a positive light? In the traditions of Tolkien and the Warhammer universe, orcs are big, brutish, and the only thing that drives them is the prospect of the next fight. Making them into protagonists will obviously have an effect on the ‘orcishness’ of the main characters, in this case an outfit of renegade soldiers who are the fantasy equivalent of the SAS known as The Wolverines. However, Nicholls is able to maintain a distinct feeling of savagery about these guys, by making them the best bloody warriors humanely possible. Think Spartans multiplied by Vikings with a hint of Sean Bean. As well as keeping them brutal warriors, Nicholls presents the orcs as proud warriors with a strict martial code and strong feelings of comradeship. In short, utterly bad-ass.

Anywho, the third part of the second series comes out in December, just after Christmas. Methinks I might leave the reading of it until after New Years Day, since I’d rather like to remember what happens. And essentially from now until then, I will proceed to shake with excitement and spontaneously utter random squeals of delight. Because I’m just that damn dedicated.

Here’s looking with great expectation to the concluding volume of this outstanding, unique series.

*Oh, and here's an image of the front cover. Bow before it's glory...BOW BEFORE IT'S GLORY!*

Regards, Laurence

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Squirrely Goodness (VIDEO HEAVY)

Anyone who spends as much time on the internet as I do will undoubtedly be aware of the web-show Neurotically Yours, also known as Foamy the Squirrel. It’s been around for a while now, and follows the daily happenings of Foamy and his fellow squirrels Pilz-E (a bespectacled young lad of Jewish descent who is severely overmedicated), The Hatta (An Afro-American squirrel who sees racism in everything), Begley (an English punk squirrel with a purple Mohawk and an interest in internet porn sites), and finally Germaine, a young punk/goth woman who is struggling to found an artistic career without the need to show her jiggly butt to the masses. It is the latter reason that I find this show so great, because it offers an insight into the alternative lifestyle of these people as well as providing detailed and a thought-provoking analysis of the subculture as it more or less stands today.
The show itself is absolutely outstanding. The gritty style of animation is a good reflection of the struggles the characters go through, as well as being an appropriate means of showing the stupidity of their surroundings. Foamy offers a hilarious view on life, with frequent rants of things that piss him off (i.e. essentially everything in existence except for bagels and cream cheese) are particularly awesome. It is also goes into some quite delicate and yet thought provoking areas, covering topics from politics and media to personal beliefs and lifestyles. The array of characters help to deliver the storylines, often with quite amazing hilarity and helping to push the story further in effect of sheer randomness. Now, you may be thinking this is a bit much for a webshow. And yes, the episodes are generally 2-3 minutes in length. But nevertheless recurring themes are seen throughout the episodes, most recently Germaine’s journey of self-discovery as she attempts to correct her life from overweight prostitute to enlightened individual.

Here’s a list of my favourite episodes of the series, for funsies and for those who’ve not seen it yet. So go take a look, I’ll wait…

…Done? Good.

Well recently there’s been a massive update of squirrelly awesomeness. The creator, John Ian Mathers, has introduced a massive reboot to the series, with a brand new style of animation and a regression back to the early days of the series, before any real plot was assumed or thought out. Germaine, having become utterly sick of her life and haunted by her past, is given a mysterious reboot button by Foamy in an effort to cure her constant bitching. She goes from former prostitute, sick of the world, back to her teenage self, back to her scribbling and Foamy’s threats of maiming in pursuit of peace.

My thoughts…Well, I’ve been into Foamy for the best part of two years now and as a result I’ve become fairly accustomed to the style. Personally I thought the former gritty style was more befitting to the general nature and purpose of the cartoon. Having the graphics style remade to a more…anime style, for want of a better description, is one that’ll take some getting used to. It does however look much more cleaner than the previous form, so Mather’s art form has definitely improved. More than anything it’s a nice change to see Germaine return to something resembling her early goth form (although there’s nothing untoward about blue hair on any female). In any case the new storyline and the combination of the characters from Mather’s other webtoons in the series will no doubt provide the same hilarity that we have come to expect from this show, and I look forward to see how the characters react to their new surroundings.

Foamy be with you.

The Beard.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The last few days

Ok, anyone who lives in the UK, and has been taking notice of the news lately, will surely be aware of the riots that have been going on in London of late. But now it’s no longer in London. Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham have also been affected, with scores of thugs and looters coming out to riot like it’s the 1980’s. The low-down is that a chap was shot in a drugs bust, and there was a peaceful protest by members of his family against the shooting. That kicked off, and now present-day London greatly resembles that of the 1940’s. In other words, shit has gone down, hitting the fan, and getting royally fucked in the process. What started as a spat between police and a handful of protestors has turned into an excuse for every anarchist to get together and fuck shit up like there’s no tomorrow. But when I say anarchist, I don’t mean someone defying government to support a common cause. Well, in a way I do, since every ‘oppressed’ teen has taken the shooting of a drugs-dealer as an excuse to rampage through most major cities in Britain and take whatever the damn well want. And these people have been saying repeatedly ‘The police don’t respect us’, ‘They don’t like us because we’re poor’, ‘We wnt 2 b treeted gd, u no?, (Yes, actually talking in text-speak here). Well guys, you’re doing the right thing towards getting that respect. No seriously, well done.

And what do the media blame for this? Do they blame the government spending cuts? Do they blame the lack of a decent system that encourages these people to get off the job-seekers and actually make something for themselves? Do they blame three decades of pussy-footed policing and no intention to tell these people ‘You can’t do these things, you WILL go to jail’? No. No, the media has decided that, in keeping with the tradition of using video games as a scapegoat to blame adolescent violence on, that the games industry is the villain in this. Apparently the Grand Theft Auto series is responsible for the amount of violence going on up and down our country. How the deuce can you come to that conclusion? Do they think that all the rioters were playing away on their Xboxes the previous night and all thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if this was in real life? Let’s all go out and cause a riot just like in the game, because there’s nothing else that could prompt such an outburst’.
The offending article is here:. Reading through it you can really get an idea of how the media is simply clutching at straws here. The notion that video games corrupt minds is one that has been used so many times in the past, and frankly guys, it’s getting old. Either make a valid argument, with evidence to back it up, or GTFO n00b.

Regards, The Beard.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Life Updates

Hey you guuuuuuuuuys =D

Well lots of shit has been going down lately. I got fired from my supermarket job, BUT managed to get a job in a clothes shop in the same town. It’s less hours, but I’ve been guaranteed overtime in the next few weeks. Also I managed to finish my Black Library novel submission: Three chapters, a synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of the entire novel. Writing it was a bitch, I won’t lie. I suffered really bad writer’s block halfway into the project, and given the nature of the novel I had to do a lot more research than on many of my other stories to date. But most importantly, it gave me an insight into the life of a fulltime writer. It was hard, frustrating, I was unmotivated, dealing with a lot of shit whilst trying to come up with the energy to write. And I loved every minute of it. No seriously, it was a realisation that this is how true writers live, how they work. And the satisfaction of seeing my work finished. Of proof-reading, making the final preparations and then clicking ‘send’. Even if I don’t succeed this time, I know what I can do, where I need to improve, and the importance of a regular supply of tea, coke and sugar at all times.

In other news I also passed my first year at Uni. I didn’t do so well with the English side, but Creative Writing went so much better. The feedback I received was honest and fair, and now I feel more prepped for next year. Now I need to find the monies for the books…shit :c.

Anyway now that that’s done I’ll finally be able to divert some attention to this place. Expect articles, rants and shizzle in due course.

Cheers, Laurence

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Farewell and Adieu...NOT!

I thought I’d make a post, since not only has it been a disgraceful amount of time since I actually made one, but I actually got asked to do one by a certain Kitty (and the last time I pissed off a cat…let’s just say, I nearly got mistaken for marmite at the hospital…yeah).

But anyway I thought now would be a good time to pay my respects to the Harry Potter franchise. Yes, that hyperactive little emo Harry Potter is hanging up his wand for the last time as the conclusion to the film series hits our screens in the next few days. And it’s a good opportunity to reflect back on the last few years to see how this franchise has become one of the most successful movie franchises of all time (Take that Star Wars!)

I have to admit, the films have never really done it for me. The innacuracies have been a major put-off, and let’s face it, they range from the simple oversight to simply ignoring the book in some cases. And the final book was also a bit of a let-down, since Rowling seemed to go on a bit of a killing spree and took out half of the cast during the story. They also became darker in tone as they progressed, and I don’t know whether Rowling was doing this to keep up with the age of her original readers (In which case, nice move), or if they simply stopped becoming children’s books and became more targeted at adults, which goes against their original intention (Which for me says ‘selling out’). And then there’s the fangirls. I’ll be blunt, I’m wary of most fan fiction relating to this franchise, especially since brining myself to read the infamous ‘My Immortal’ (well, I started, but had to stop after my eyes sort of imploded and I began to eat my own face). There are plenty of good ones however, and it’s impressive to see the amounts of dedication and creativity that go into these stories. So well done to those fans, and the rest of you…well, you know where to go.

So you’re probably thinking I’m very anti-Potter by this point (assuming you’ve made it this far). Well in truth I am and I’m not. As I got older I started to become weary of the books, and recently have noticed several plot-holes and other nit-picks which kill the illusion of the original stories. But looking back, I realise how much of an impact the books had on me growing up. I almost certainly wouldn’t be a writer if not for them. Rowling’s books taught me that fantasy didn’t always have to be about men in armour fighting with unrealistically huge swords. That it could be far more subtle, realistic even, and didn’t have to take place in ‘ancient’ times. It taught me how to create a range of characters with different backstories, and how to bring them together for an exciting read. Most of all, it taught me how to create a world. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only one to grow up waiting for my Hogwarts letter. The world of Harry Potter was one of danger, adventure, friendship, heroism, it was to all intents of purposes, magical. I praise J.K. Rowling for being able to create such a world, with such a variety of great characters and a truly timeless story. Not only that, but also being able to create one of the best known series of books of all time. Anyone who writes has tried, but Rowling managed to do it, and for that I salute her.
To have the final film released is in many ways a shame, but at the same time a huge tribute to Rowling and her works.

Right, nerdgasm over. Time for bed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

On The Subject of Prejudice

I’ve noticed a lot of posts from the blogs I watch regarding abuse and bullying suffered as a result of being an individual. After reading these posts, I can only offer my deepest sympathies to those who’ve suffered and continue to suffer for being yourselves. But listen guys, you’ve come through more than most people should and indeed can suffer. And yet you’re standing proud, still holding onto your beliefs and ideologies, and have got amazing and successful lives ahead of you. Those who’ve shown themselves to be close-minded cowards will remain so forever, and lead lives dictated to them by society. Boring, mundane, and ultimately joyless. My hat goes off to those who have decided ‘No, I don’t want to do things the way ‘normal’ people do. Now fuck off and let me live the life I want to plzkthxbai’.

Reading these posts I also feel mightily humbled, and likewise relieved that the most I’ve ever got for my style have been pleadings from my family (I will continue to wear a hoodie and trilby together until I decide otherwise dammit!), and being compared to The Batman by some charming shitfaced gentleman when making my way home in Lancaster one night (comparing me to a billionaire crime fighting super-dude with a butler and a car with more firepower than the average battle tank is SUCH an insult…B[).

In any case, here’s my way of paying tribute to everyone and anyone who’s suffered as a result of the way they choose to dress, their tastes in music, or just for being different. Dedicated to Amy, Kitty, Vicky, and anyone else who’s ever suffered for being part of a subculture such as ours:

It was night when they came
Where from, we could not say
Nor could we say why
But they were there, and so where we

First came the words, the harsh volleys of hate
The names
The jeers
We ignored them

Then came the stones
The bottles
The bricks
We moved on, away
But they followed
Soon the fists were flying
The blades were dancing
And the blood was pouring
They said it was to teach us a lesson
A punishment for being us

Why can’t we as a society move on from our insecurities and embrace those who are different as people, rather than cast them asunder like scum?

Regards, Laurence

Friday, 20 May 2011

Getting One's Steam On

Sorry for the lack of updates people, been so busy lately with course deadlines, job interviews and moving my gear from one end of the country to another. Seriously, it's been a bugger. All paid off however, since I'm not back home for the summer with a job, coming with a guarantee of overtime and my holidays booked off. So whilst I'm doing that I'm using this time to gather together the parts for a steampunk military outfit I intend to wear to Whitby this coming August. It will be awesome, to put it bluntly.

I have in mind something military. I've always been fascinated with Victorian military outfits, as well as the obsession with sticking a peaked cap on anything. So I'll be dressed as an officer of the Imperial Steam Corps circa 1872, during the height of the Undead Wars (will write more about this later to cure the mindfuck).

Elements of the costume will consist of:

A British engine driver's greasetop leather cap, for that peaked cap look as well as putting a bit more emphasis on the 'steam aspect'

A military gothic jacket from Criminal Damage (might also invest in a Sam Browne sword belt)

Will also require some trousers such as these to complete the military look.

I will also require the obligatory set of goggles that one hears so much about these days. Now, a lot of places sell goggles for rather cheap prices, but personally I'd rather like to make my own. So, to the internet to find a decent tutorial that won't potentially bankrupt me. Huzzah.

In other news writing has been going splendidly so far. I've been writing a lot more emotional pieces lately, mainly writing down things I want to say to people to their face but am unable to. I've also been writing up a novel for the Black Library, alpha-nerd that I am. I basically have to have three chapters completed by the end of the next month before emailing them and then waiting for about 8 weeks for a response. Will be fun to do, and the sooner I get published the better. I just want to get my career underway as soon as possible.

Oh, and it's my birthday tomorrow. I shall be leaving my teenage years behind, and moving onwards towards full adulthood. I won't lie, I've many regrets. My life as a teenager was depressingly unfulfilling, with so many chances missed and experiences untried. In many ways though I'm glad to put those behind me, and now can use the fact that I am entering my twenties as drive to make up for it. Making every day count as much as I can. Life starts at 20, so bring it the fuck on.

Regards, Laurence

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A Chance Meeting

It was quiet in the tavern, even as the night drew on. Small huddles of people were grouped around the tables, drinking from mugs and tankards flowing with ale. A fire was blazing in the fireplace, beneath a wall of snarling bestial icons. On the other side of the inn, a young man in a flamboyant outfit was attempting to hold an audience to hear his tales in exchange for coin. Aside from that, it was a quiet evening.

Towards the back of the crowd, in one corner of the inn, a man sat alone, looking into his tankard. He cared not for the chatter of would-be bards, nor for the conversation of others. He kept his eyes on his drink, lost in thought. His faded red cloak was draped over the back of his seat, revealing a studded leather jerkin and short-sleeved mailshirt. He had the build of a warrior, an image enforced by the broadsword hanging from his belt, the number of tattoos and scars that lined his thick arms, and the look in his dark eyes. His eyes told tales of a hundred battles, of dances with death, of lost comrades and fighting far from home. All these thoughts could have been betrayed, had the warrior made eye contact. But he simply stared fixedly at the table, oblivious to all but his own memories as he gulped down the remnants of his tankard. With what seemed an effort, he rose to his feet, and strode to the bar.

The barman waddled over to him.
"Same again?", he asked. The warrior nodded.
"That'll be three shillings then mate".
"Does my service to this village mean nothing?".
"Service alone won't keep this place alive, nor will it put food on my family's table", replied the barman, with a shrug.
"Apparently not", muttered the warrior, glancing at the man's swollen gut.
"Allow me". Both men looked. A woman stood next to the warrior, and spoke in an energetic, shrill voice that seemed alive with ethereal energy.
"Very well", said the barman, reaching for a fresh mug.
"And one for myself", she said quickly, lowering her hood.
"Very well love". With that, the stranger turned to the warrior.
"To what do I owe the favour?", he asked. There was a hunt of suspicion in his voice, that did nothing to phase his new benefactor.
"Well, did you not say yourself, that your service to this village should render all…expenses, free?", she replied.
"You seem to know much of my service", he returned, "How is this?".
"You ask me this question?", she replied, almost incredulously, "You are Gaheris, Son of Gareth. You are a knight of legend, and not undeservedly if half of the stories surrounding you are true". The barman slammed the two foaming mugs on the bar.
"Thank you, good sir", replied the woman, passing the barman a gold piece.
"It's only six shillings love", he began.
"Oh, that's for the rest of the evening sir", she said brightly, "I'm assuming that'll cover us?". The barman nodded shakily, staring at the gold piece with hungry eyes, until he was called over by several more patrons.

"You have my thanks", said Gaheris, "But I would prefer you to refrain from using my past name in this place. The villagers know me as Leonidas, and I do not wish to see that change for some time".
"Of course, but might I ask why?". Gaheris took his pint and took a gulp.
"A name such as mine manages to attract unwanted notice, despite my best intentions", he replied, "And on the subject of names, I still do not know yours". She smiled.
"My name is Tintia", she said. Gaheris looked directly at her on hearing it, and fully noticed her appearance for the first time. Short, pale hair, a spiral tattoo that waved around piercing, bright green eyes, on skin that seemed to glow with some mystic energy.
"Indeed", she replied brightly, "And this surprises you?".
"To some degree. There have been very few feykin around here for quite some time". She nodded.
"Indeed, my race likes to distance itself from others as a preference".
"That's something I can relate to", muttered Gaheris, taking another sip from his mug.
"So I have gathered, if you prefer the guise of 'Leonidas' to Sir Gaheris of Logres". Gaheris shot her a dirty look.
"I believe I made myself clear before", he stated, "Need I do so again?". Tintia raised her hand.
"Please sir, I mean no offence. Indeed, I come with honest, good intentions".
"Such as". Tintia paused.
"Perhaps, not here?", she asked, "Shall we return to your table?".

Gaheris resumed his seat, whilst Tintia placed herself graciously on her chair.
"Now, to business", said Gaheris abruptly, "What do you want of me?".
"Before I begin", she said, "I have few questions". Gaheris took another swig.
"Why are you here?".
"It is my duty".
"Duty?". Gaheris placed his mug back on the table.
"In my order, one knight is assigned to a village to protect it. Usually to train the militia, or help in the running of the town".
"And what is it you do?". Gaheris snorted.
"What is there to do? It's my personal law to never become involved in local politics, and as for the militia, I'd be surprised to find a man who knows one end of a spear from the other".
"So you alone manage the town's defence?", asked Tintia. Gaheris nodded.
"Someone of my experience needs little in the way of assistance".
"Indeed. I imagine someone with your reputation requires no comrades", replied Tintia. Gaheris snorted again.
"I've lost too many comrades. Too many men, too many friends. That is one thing you must know about me, pixie. Those around me will die. I am cursed by my profession. At least with my alternative identity, I have no sword-swingers desperate to forge a name for themselves by basking in my shadow".
"Is that so?". Gaheris looked around. Tintia was looking directly at him. Her green eyes sparkled as he stared into them, captivated by her tattoos and pearly white skin. He tried to work out what she was doing, but he could only continue to stare into her shining eyes.
"So, a knight of renown, a warrior unmatched by any, is assigned to keep safe a village in the middle of nowhere, with a yokel army at his command, and living under a false name?".
"What of it?". She gave a small laugh.
"If I might be honest, it hardly seems the life for a warrior of your skill". She leaned closer to him. The scent of a forest caught Gaheris' attention. Of pine-needles and pollen, which increased as they moved closer together.
"It's still a life", he replied, almost breathlessly.
"Surely the great Sir Gaheris would be better suited to a role more…challenging than a nursemaid?". Gaheris suddenly realised what was going on, and rose to his feet, towering over the pixie maiden before him.
"Do not attempt to enchant me, pixie!", he snarled, "I am not some fool with whom you can play your tricks with. Now, get to the bloody point! What do you want of me?".

Tintia blinked, before rising to her feet as well.
"I have come on behalf of my commander", she began.
"If you're looking for a mercenary", replied Gaheris, "I fight for something more than mere coin. I am a man of standards".
"So I see", she sniffed, casting a backwards glance to the patrons behind her, a few of whom had started a fight with the bard, who was using his lute to defend himself from the barrage of mugs and stools that were hurled in his direction.
"In any case", continued Gaheris, gulping from his pint as he sat back down, "I am duty bound to this village. My oath as a knight decrees it". Tintia looked into his eyes again.
"Gaheris. My commander is a powerful man. A man of influence. If I report to him that there is need for a replacement knight in this town, he will have it seen to. You could leave this village forever, and keep your honour and reputation intact. All you have to do is say, and it shall be done".
"But why would I leave? I have found peace here, near enough". Tintia gave another soft chuckle.
"What my commander has in mind is something slightly beyond the role of a hired killer. Indeed, it is something far more superior. What my commander needs is a warrior of experience. Of honour, and skill. You are such a man, Gaheris. To sit here, in this filthy, common inn, to live out your days as a farmer, is not an end worthy of you. You can argue, but you know this to be true". She reached inside her cloak. Gaheris' hand moved instinctively to the hilt of his sword, but Tintia produced no weapon. Only a signet band. She placed it on the table.
"My commander's arms", she said, "He has a role for you. One that he is determined for you to have. I am duty bound to keep his name and the role in question to myself for now. Only if you accept can I reveal more. But I can promise you this, Gaheris. You would never want for anything in your life ever again. You can indulge in luxurious food, drink, and women. To live your days in a palace, rather than a hovel. To live like many would kill for. Dwell upon it Gaheris. I will wait for you, by the riverside, should you decide to take my commander's offer. One day is all I can wait".

Gaheris took the seal. By the light of the candle on the table, he could make out the imprint of a dragon, wrapping its serpentine body between the blades of three swords.
He gave a breath of surprise. He'd seen such symbols before. It was an ancient code, but one of the highest honour. But none such as this. Never a dragon, and never three swords. But it sparked a sense of unfathomable familiarity deep inside him.
He looked up to ask Tintia. But the pixie had gone. Disappeared without a trace.

A smile etched itself on Gaheris' hard, unshaven face. Which gave way to a grin, which in turn became a chuckle as he drained the remnants of his mug.
"Bloody pixies", he said aloud.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

An Apology

Hey guys

I'd like to apologise for my lack of updates here so far. I've been fairly busy, with work, looking for a second job, and my course. Indeed, you may have seen my recent uploads of samples of my work. Mainly because as of present I have little else to post. So with that in mind I'd like to ask people, what would you like to see from me? Since my stories have been getting next to no feedback (aside from the brilliant ladies and gentlemens of Brass Goggles), I'd like to know what you think would make my blog better. I'm open to any suggestions, aside from luring people in with prospects of free cookies/porn.

Also, my heart goes out to the people of the Pacific. People of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Java and all the nations being affected by these tragic disasters, I can only offer my hopes for a recovery, and that the carnage ends soon.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Creative Writing Sample: Somnium, A Steampunk Horror


She sat on the bed, ramrod straight, staring blankly at the wall opposite. The evening sun cast orange rays through the tall windows behind, disturbed only by the shadow of a passing airship. An ornate brass clock, a wedding present from her father-in-law, was ticking above the teak-oak doors, occasionally puffing out little wisps of steam. She ignored this however. Still she stared at the wall, looking but not really seeing as she became oblivious to any sign of life or movement around her as she sat and waited. Waited for word that he had returned. Waiting for an end to her misery.

Even as she thought of him, she turned her head to look at the brass and teak bedside cabinet. A number of objects lay on its shining surface. Each told a story. A red leather-bound notebook with a brass spine and lock had been given to her by Maxlain as he had left. She had used it many times since his departure, mainly as a journal of her depression. A record of her feelings of isolation and abandonment, her undying love for her soldier-husband, and the intense hope she harboured that he would return to her, safe and whole. And it was nearly full now. The book lay next to a small compass that Max had acquired as a souvenir from his first tour of duty. Both of their names were inscribed along the outside. The hand never did quite point north however, but it was in any instance a beautiful piece, covered with intricate markings and patterns which they believed to be of elvish origin. However, between these was a pendant on a slim brass chain, one which Maxlain had made himself. Fashioned from a small brass cog, with a small emerald embedded into the heart, it was closer to her heart than anything else she owned. A simple creation, maybe, but it was a symbol of his devotion to her. Even more so was the fact that he’d made two, one for himself as for Isellen. They were part of a matching set, and the day they would be reunited was the day Maxlain would return to her, for good.
Isellen’s eyes scanned to the dominating feature of the cabinet. A black and white photograph set in a carved ivory and brass frame, showing Maxlain as a slightly younger man, beaming triumphantly as he posed for the camera. A memento from his graduation ceremony, upon his acceptance into the Aether Fleet, where he’d passed with flying colours. He looked so handsome in his blue uniform, shako tucked under his arm, one hand resting on the hilt of his sword. The look of pride and joy at his acceptance seemed to light up the whole picture. There were other pictures too, from sharing a drink with his commanding officer, to pictures of him standing on parade with the ship’s company. In every picture he was wearing his confident, cheerful grin that made him instantly recognizable amongst a sea of faces. But of all the pictures, the graduation was perhaps her most favourite. Not just for the memories of that day, but because it made her remember just why he was gone, why he was fighting, and in some way, that helped to make it worthwhile.

From outside the room, a high-pitched shriek of a steam whistle echoed through the hallway. Isellen was on her feet and through the door in a matter of seconds after the sound had broken her reverie. The hallway was a virtual rainbow of colour, as the evening sun filtered in through the great stained-glass windows that lined one side of the corridor, casting multi-coloured light over the rows of tables supporting ornaments and the portraits of past family members that seemed to cast disapproving looks at Isellen as she dashed to answer the screaming brass telephone. Waving the excess steam away, she grabbed the receiver.

“Yes?”. The ancient voice of the butler wavered through the earpiece.

“Ma’am, Lieutenant Trennan has just arrived, and requests to see you immediately. Shall I call the elevator?”. Isellen fought to hold her composure. Maxlain had returned. After near endless months of waiting, of constant worry and never-ending yearning, Maxlain was finally returning.

“Yes Barnabus, please do”.

“Very good ma’am”.

Isellen brushed her long dark hair backwards as she gazed into the hallway mirror. A pair of anxious green eyes looked back at her, scanning her face for any imperfection. At the same time, her heart hammered a beat like a steam locomotive, and the mirror even began to mist over as a result of her close, rapid breathing.
“Control yourself”, she muttered. She returned to her room, satisfied, and closed the door. As she did so, she could hear a distant rumbling from outside, which grew louder and louder with each second. Maxlain’s elevator was arriving. The tremors might have only been slight, but to Isellen, each beat was as loud and tremulous as an earthquake.

Almost as suddenly as it had begun did the sound of grinding cogs and straining cables cease. There was a loud hiss of steam and the sound of a bell being struck. It sent shivers up her spine, but not so much as the sound of footsteps echoing on the marble floor. The unmistakeable sound of Maxlain’s boots beating softly as they carried him towards her, and even now she could feel her heart beating even louder. She suddenly dashed to the bedside cabinet, grabbed the pendant and, fumbling with the chain, draped it over her neck, just as the footsteps ceased. There was an almost fearful silence, before three knocks sounded on the outside panel. They were soft and gentle, but to Isellen, each was as loud as a cannon blast.
“Enter”, she said, struggling to find anything more to say. The doorknob rattled, and the oak panel swung open on its brass hinges.

Maxlain stood in the doorway, his shako tucked under one arm, his other hand resting on the hilt of his sword. His pale blue uniform was as straight and well pressed as ever, and his face bore that youthful, winning smile that could light up even the darkest of night skies. Indeed, he looked every much the same as he had when he’d had his graduation photograph, except that his uniform now bore several new badges and medals, for service or valour, it was impossible to tell at this distance. But he was here. Alive, safe and well.

“Hello Isellen”, he said.

“Hello”, she replied in a voice barely more than a whisper. Maxlain’s face seemed to shine at hearing her voice as his blue eyes blazed and his grin shone as bright as a star. That same smile that had persisted her dreams for so long, and to see it once more was as gratifying as water to a man in a desert. Holding back her tears, she started towards him. Instinctively, and in the same fashion that had got him into trouble with countless superior officers, Maxlain tossed aside his headgear and spread his arms wide as Isellen leapt at him, flinging her arms around his torso and clinging with all her might. Burying her face in his uniform, she sobbed tears of joy into his tunic, breathing in his scent and gripping as tight as she could. She could smell pipeclay, leather polish, engine oil, and an aroma that could only be described as pure Maxlain.

“I’ve missed you”, she said, in a muffled voice. She felt Max’s strong arms grip around her diminutive form, gently squeezing her affectionately.

“And I you”. He kissed the top of her head tenderly. Her pressed against his chest. She was looking for the pendant. But she could feel no metal beneath the fabrics. Despite her emotions, this troubled her. Isellen looked up to ask Max about this. Her eyes, clouded with tears, took in Maxlain’s skeletal, decaying face, his blazing red eyes, and his fang-like teeth as they leered down at her. Blood was pouring down what remained of his face, as the room around them became engulfed in a firestorm. Petrified, Isellen could only stare into those evil eyes, before she found her voice, and let out a piercing scream that was riddled with sheer terror. But as loud as she cried, all she could hear was the sound of Maxlain’s cruel, malicious laughter as she blacked out.

She awoke with a start. Fumbling for a light, Isellen sprang clumsily from her bed and crashed to the floor. Dazed, her looked around her, blinking. She was in her room. The clock on the wall showed it was past midnight. It was only then that Isellen realised her eyes were moist with tears. Wiping her face on the sleeve of her nightdress, she climbed back into her bed. The nightmares were getting worse. She looked over to her bedside. The book remained there still, as did the compass and the pendant. And Maxlain’s photograph stood proudly and defiantly were it had always stood. The smile might have been a mere replicate, but it was enough to bring a small glimmer of hope in Isellen’s longing heart.

“Goodnight, my love”, she whispered. She then looked towards the latest, and most unwelcome addition to her possesions. A letter bearing the emblem of the Aether Fleet, written by Maxlain’s colonel and addressed to his ‘next of kin’. She had read and re-read it countless times. But whilst it brought no comfort to her, she could not help herself reading it. Even more than she could help being drawn to a particular sentence halfway through the colonel’s condolences. Three letters had been highlighted in red ink. ‘Missing’, ‘In’, and ‘Action’.

A single tear ran down her face as she turned out the lamp and lay down once more, dreading what horrors she must endure once again.

Writer's Comments:

Something I've been working on for a while now, and to see it completed (but by no means finished) is truly a sight to behold. Perhaps horror isn't the best word, I personally described it as a 'steampunk-gothic mindfuck'. Here's hopeing I've achieved that. Also I hope I've acieved the 'gothic' sense of the description. I'll leave that for you to decide.

Regards, Laurence

(As always, all characters, placenames etc, are copyright of me. Respect copyright).

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Inner Demons: A Victorian Horror Story

*Disclaimer*-The contents, characters and concepts of this story, unless otherwise states or blatantly obvious, are the sole property of yours truly.

Inner Demons

By Laurence Williams

When a person sees a city, they see a number of things. A home. A sanctuary. A place of safety. A threat. A prison. This was certainly the case for a lot of people. For James however, London had become a wasteland. A city cast in almost total darkness, helped little by the torches carried by him and his men. And yet, on the outside, everything about the soot-covered streets seemed perfectly intact. No signs of destruction , or violence. Indeed, no sign of a struggle. Nor indeed was there any sign of life, aside from the green-jacketed riflemen who advanced in skirmish order down the deserted streets, fearfully checking over their shoulders at each step. They were on edge, and who could blame them. They had come to the capital of their nation, to find the streets deserted, the people missing, and who knew why? They were men of the 19th Surrey Volunteers, the Rifles. No amount of training could have prepared them for the eerie atmosphere of this dark London, any more than it could have prepared them for the horrors that haunted the streets, always present, yet never seen. James had orders to find out what was going on, but they were no closer to finding out where everyone had gone, and why. And more importantly, why there was no sign of a fight.

They’d had one lead however. On the second night of their mission, they’d woken up to hear the sound of running feet, and frightened yelling. Two men had been sent to find out what had happened. James recalled hearing the sound of gunfire, before the two men returned, dragging between them a young man of around 18. Bone thin, unshaven, in tattered clothes and eyes that bulged with fear, he was talking in gibberish for much of the evening, and the riflemen were about to get little out of him. All he would talk about were monsters, underground, with mentions of torture and fire. But that night had taken a further turn into darkness. As James and his men were restraining the man they’d found, there were the sounds of more screaming from outside. Making sure the man was restrained, James and a section of riflemen went outside to find the corpses of the sentries he’d posted lying on the ground, minus their heads. What was more shocking was there were only two bodies out of three left at the scene. Whatever had killed these men had taken another prisoner. Rifleman Henry Cooper, formerly the platoon’s best shot, had been taken. But whilst these events had unfolded, the man they’d found had been oddly silent. It was only when James returned to question him further that he realised the man was dead. James reasoned it was probably the shock that killed him. But they had a lead. A clue as to what was happening. And now, one of his men had gone missing. Taken into some underground torture chamber, according to what the man had said before. And James was never a man to leave one of his men behind.

And this was the reason why James’ men were making their way to King’s Cross Station, towards the entrance to the newly built Metropolitan Railway, and underground railway network many Londoners claimed was the engineering feat of the century. Unfortunately, there were no Londoners around to confirm this.
Their descent into darkness was unnerving, even with the aid of the light of two lamps Sergeant Walker had taken from a stationary locomotive. Their glow in the dank, soot-ridden tunnels was barely enough to allow the riflemen to see ahead as they walked cautiously through the tunnels, avoiding rails and tools that appeared to have been simply abandoned where they were. The darkness was unnerving, but not so much because of the lack of light. Indeed, it was more because this, James was sure, was where Cooper, and the population of London, had been taken.

“What do you reckon sir?”. Sergeant Walker walked alongside James, his rifle barrel glinting from the light of his railway lamp, his hard face cast partly in shadow.
“If Cooper’s down here”, replied James, “We’ll find him. And hopefully put an end to this. Until then, we must be cautious. Keep an eye out lads”, he said to his men, “If anything moves, take aim but hold your fire”. Walker grimaced. A veteran of the Crimean War, he’d been in every kind of battle, but nothing like this. And as sergeant, it was his role to keep the platoon together, and to support his officer. Which was increasingly difficult to do when he himself was fearful of what they might find down here in these filthy tunnels. He gripped his rifle stock tighter, glad that he’d had the foresight to load powder and shot before they ascended.

Rifleman Stevens walked behind Lance-Corporal Temple. The platoon’s youngest soldier, he was slightly more on edge than some of the older men, and looked nervously around him at the slightest provocation. And something in particular was unnerving him.
“Corp?”, he whispered nervously. Temple ignored him.
“Corp?”, persisted Stevens.
“What is it?”.
“There’s no rats, Corp”. Temple glanced back.
“What’re you banging on about?”.
“No rats Corp. There should be thousands of them down here. But there’s none”.
“Your point?”.
“Well, there were no people up there”, replied Stevens, “And there’s no rats down here. Everything’s…dead, Corp”.
“Shut up in the ranks!”, hissed Sergeant Walker from the front. Stevens said no more, there was little he feared more than a lashing from a man who’d reputedly beaten a Russian officer to death with a rifle barrel at Balaclava. But all the same, the lack of any life in this forsaken city was just as frightening.

All of a sudden, a distant noise split the fearful silence. A sort of whispered moan, which stopped as soon as it had been heard, but it was close, and haunting. As one, James’ platoon raised their guns, staring wildly around them as they looked for the source of the noise. James’ grip on his revolver tightened as he shone his lamp around the tunnel.
“Sir”. Walker’s lamp shone down a side-tunnel. They could hear the sound of trickling water as they turned to look into the black abyss of the tunnel before them.
“Plan sir?”. James mulled it over.
“Right…Sergeant Walker, you stay here with half the platoon. The rest of you will come with me down there to see what’s happening down there. And stay alert”.

The second tunnel seemed darker than the last one, and James could definitely feel the level drop as they descended. Lance-Corporal Temple held the lamp, as James, with sword and revolver drawn, took the lead. James despised it down here. It wasn’t just the darkness. The tunnel here was narrower than the last one. The air was more stale, and whilst James didn’t suffer claustrophobia, he wanted nothing more than to get out. The stench of soot and decay was overpowering, and the sound of someone retching behind James made him jump.
“Shut it Allan!”, hissed Temple threateningly, fear giving his voice a sharper edge.

As the men continued their descent, James felt the ground levelling underneath them. Suddenly the air felt cooler, and by the echo of the riflemen’s boots on the ground, could tell they were somewhere more open than before.
“Where are we sir?”.
“No idea”, replied James, glancing around at the expanse of the apparent cavern before them. From the light of Temple’s lamp, he could make out a tall ceiling formed of black girders, with tens of thousands of bricks lining the walls. The place was unfinished however, the glow of the lamp revealing roof supports and large sections of timber at the other end of the tunnel. Apparently, it was a dead end.
James took the lamp from Temple and scanned the industrial architecture. If this section of tunnels was empty (perhaps ‘deserted’ was a better term), then Cooper wasn’t to be found. Meaning they still had a near impossible amount of other places to search.
“Sir!”. James nearly jumped at the Lance-Corporal’s sudden outburst, but he soon realised why. Something was glinting in the light offered by the railway lamp.
“Rifles”, whispered James, “Advance with caution”. They soon found out what it was. It was the badge of the 19th’s crest, on a shako, being worn at an angle by the corpse of the late Rifleman Henry Cooper. His uniform was in tatters, and he appeared to be missing an arm. What was left of his body was covered in bloody scars that appeared to spell words, but James was too appalled to make sense of them.
“Fuck”, a soldier whispered behind James, in a voice that managed to echo around the tunnel. It was not the only noise either. The sound of scurrying, slithering and scraping could be heard all around them, the sound intensifying tenfold by the echoes of the unfinished tunnel. It was with this that James realised something that made his insides freeze. It was a trap.
“We’re dead”, Stevens was saying hysterically, “We’re dead, we’re dead, we’re dea…”.
“RUN! EVERYONE GET OUT OF HERE! NOW”. Thrusting the lamp back at Temple, James grabbed a hold of two of his men and shoved them backwards, whipping out his revolver and firing two shots randomly. The sound echoed around the tunnel, but no sooner had the smoke cleared than one of the soldiers started screaming in pain, followed by another, and another. Some fired their rifles, but in the darkness it was impossible to tell if anything hit. In the black abyss of the darkness surrounding them, the flash of gunpowder blinded James, and he flung his arm to shield his eyes. Blinking, dazed through the noise and sheer panic, he looked around to see where he was, in time to see Lance-Corporal Temple’s head fall beside him. As he jumped to his feet, his heart racing, he took a last desperate lance around him. The lamp had shattered, and the flame extinguished. He was in total darkness, and the sounds of screaming and gunfire seemed oddly faint. As he looked, all James was only able to make out one, terrifying feature of this underground tomb. A pair of red eyes, staring, unblinking, blazing like fire, from the other side of the tunnel. Eyes alight with malice, hate and what could only be described as pure evil.

James forgot his training. He forgot his oath to never leave a soldier behind, to never run from an enemy. He forgot everything as he fled, finding the exit by pure chance as he ran. At least three riflemen were left behind, and their screams followed James and tore into his very soul as he hurried out of the tunnel, desperate for light, for air, for safety. Fear gave speed to his legs and to the sound of his voice as he called out in panic.
“WALKER! SERGEANT WALKER, WHERE ARE YOU? SERGEANT!”. A faint glow appeared at the end of the sloping tunnel. It must have been the sergeant’s lamp. This gave James heart as he sped along, and finally burst into the main tunnel, panting, and looking wildly around for the remainder of his platoon.

He soon found them, bodies mangled and scarlet from blood. Weapons lying at their side, most of them missing limbs or heads. But that wasn’t what scared James. It wasn’t the sight of his own men lying in a lake of blood that made his mouth open in a terrified scream. It wasn’t the impact of the realisation that he was a dead man standing that made him reach for his revolver. And it wasn’t the sight of Sergeant Walker’s head being crushed like a rotten vegetable that made him press the trigger until the chambers were empty and the barrel smoking as though on fire. No, it was the thing standing over the corpses, turning its ugly, fanged head in James direction, and leaping forwards to pin him against the wall and slash through his body with claws like sabres. James' scream echoed around the walls of the tunnel, even after his head was ripped from his shoulders and devoured, his body being left to rot forever in the stinking, cursed tunnels of dead London.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Obligatory Valentine's Day Post

I normally feel pretty angsty around this time of year, but I’ve had the joy of writing and spending unadvised amounts of hours on internet minigames to keep my attention occupied. So I would like to take this as an opportunity to say I wish all my watchers a stonking great Valentine’s Day. It's a day to remind ourselves of how lucky we are to have someone in our lives to call a partner, or alternatively to remind ourselves of the amount of people out there who have the love, but few to share it with (depending on whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or Singles Awareness Day). To all those couples out there, I wish you another year of happiness together, and to all the singles out there, I hope you find that special someone soon. There’s someone out there for everyone , and when you find them, it’ll have made the searching all the more worthwhile.

Right, single cheesiest thing I’ve ever written on this blog. Where’s Iron Maiden when I need them?

Regards, the Beard.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Creative Writing Sample: The Return

I felt horrible writing this. Truly, questioning-my-sanity-whilst-looking-at-myself-in-the-mirror disgust. And reading on you'll see why.

Enjoy (steal this and die!)

The Return

The town was set in the middle of a dip, in the middle of a vast green dale, surrounded by hedgerows and woods that seemed to stretch for eternity. Winding roads weaved between hills and under small stone bridges, and between the tall rows of ageing trees that protected much of the town from the winds that ravaged most of the surrounding areas. A silvery river ran through it, slithering under bridges and through pipes, irrigating fields and supplying the town with a good supply of fresh water. Even for a town in the 21st Century, the people were still very dependent on the river for a lot of income, from fishing to boat tours in summer. Small pubs and restaurants lined the riverbanks, providing the populace with work even in these hard times. It was little wonder that the people of Gallingford were well-known for their hospitality.

The town itself was old-fashioned, many of the buildings harking back to architecture at least four-hundred years out of date. A mix of Tudor bricks-and-timber, as well as a heavy Victorian influence on some of the buildings in the centre of Gallingford, made one feel as though they had taken a leap back in time to an age of top-hats and afternoon teas. The disused mill and engineering workshop located at opposite ends of the city did not help this, but there was an undeniable charm about the town that filled many people with the desire to live there their whole lives. And indeed many had.

A Land-Rover peered over the ridge that overlooked Gallingford, passing under the railway bridge, and stopping just before the slope that would carry it into the centre of the town. The driver of the car stepped out of the vehicle. He was a tall man, with dark hair, and the build of a man who’d spent much of his life in the country. He was young too, looking every inch the post-graduate. Or at least that’s what his outside appearance said. However, post-graduate wasn’t entirely accurate as a title. He leant on the side of his car, gazing at the town below. The sun behind him cast beams of light over the fields, through the woods, over streams and settling on the old buildings, the chops, pubs, cottages, church and relics of the industrial revolution. It made him sigh with nostalgia, as he breathed in a lungful of the fresh country air. How he had missed it.

He got back in, and the car carried on, running between stone walls and wire fences, through the seemingly endless sea of green farmland. Men, machines and animals were at work, tilling the land or grazing the tall grass. As he drove, he noticed herds of horses galloping from one end of the field to the other, racing each other, their hooves pounding the earth and their manes flowing like fire as they thundered along. Wildflowers grew at the roadside, and through the windscreen, he could make out the forms of small brown rabbits, dashing into the hedgerows to escape the metal beast that was roaring along the road.

He was soon in the town. He recognised the old buildings instantly, and seemed to welcome him home like old friends. He recognised the old woman who ran the tea-shop, serving customers sitting under shades outside. He saw the retired Army colonel, a devoted vintage car enthusiast, cruising around in a Rolls Royce from the 1930s. The landlord from his former watering-hole, walking his dog beside the church. Plenty of new faces, plenty of old. He passed the school, where the kids were running around screaming, relishing their temporary freedom from the labour of classroom activities. And there was the restaurant he’d worked a during his college years. Well, it had closed down since then, and become a barbers shop instead. Still, he could remember the sweet feeling of gazing at his monthly paycheque and knowing that he’d earned every penny. Such feelings had been left behind since he’d gone, but now he was back, all these emotions returned in a surge of positive feeling.
His journey back had been unannounced. He’d wanted to keep it that way. Let his return be a surprise. That was considering he’d stick around long enough. He had many things to do now. But he’d try.

He turned a corner and headed past the mill on the north side of the town. His destination was not in the town itself, but rather the farm nestled behind the woods closest to the mill. His childhood home. Growing up on a farm, with a busy yet loving family, had taught him many valuable things. The importance of honesty, hard work, and community. A sanctuary of benevolence, isolated from much of society, and yet free of the struggles of the outside world. Everything was self-sufficient and simple. They never had much, but they were never short either. It was here, growing up in the middle of this beautiful land that he’d developed his taste for adventure, longing to see beyond the fences his father and brothers were constantly building and rebuilding. Hence, moving away had seemed like a good idea. But he’d missed it too much. He’d grown up in a place where everyone knew each other, and to leave, he realised, had been something of a mistake. He’d needed more time to prepare. But still he’d gone. And now, as he slipped the car into upper-gear for the climb upwards, he wondered, had it been worth it? No, was the only possible answer. But he was back now. A chance to start again. There were just a few things he had to take care of first.

As he turned a corner he could see the farmhouse, sat between a warehouse and a tall wooden barn. He could make out the slate roof, the stone walls, and the twin chimneys that had gone black with age. Roses grew up the door, and ivy was crawling up the front wall like some form of rash. The farms haulage machines were sat under a corrugated steel shed. He’d learned to drive on these as a teenager, and it had served him well. A few stray chickens were pecking and scratching around the yard, seemingly oblivious to the approaching vehicle, and a gold and black rooster was crowing from on top of an oil barrel. The rest of the animals would all be out, he realised, and perhaps that was best, given the circumstances. But being back here brought memories and an ever increasing sense of familiarity back to him. And as he brought the car to a stop and opened the door, he couldn’t help think, why had he left in the first place? His time outside had been hard, too hard for him to remain. Coming back, walking through the gate and along the stone path that led to the front of the house, made him realise the good he’d left behind. A job, a family, close friends, and a promising if unglamorous future. And now, he was ready to come back. Back to the life he knew deep down, he never should have left.

Reaching the front door, he sighed before knocking. He was instantly greeted with a volley of loud barking from inside, and could hear the sounds of someone inside trying to hush the dogs as they struggled to find the keys. He could feel his heart beating faster and faster now as he heard footsteps, and the rattling of metal as whoever was inside fumbled with the lock. And then the door opened, and he was greeted by the face of his father, a face looking surprised, then overjoyed, then fearful as the man raised a gun to his father’s forehead and fired once, twice, three times, until the bullets ran out and blood soaked the hallway carpet. The young man turned to go, ignoring the barks of the thankfully restrained dogs as he headed back to his car and drove away.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Brief Update...Heh, brief

Just a random little entry I thought I’d do, since I’ve been bored out of my mind and needing something to do. So I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to say a stonking great ‘thank-you’ to those who have decided to watch my blog, and even more to those who took the time to comment on my odd little essays. Your feedback means more to me than you can imagine, and now that I’m in the process of getting my life on track I hope to be updating this blog a whole lot more. So a huge thank you to my watchers, may you shine amongst the rabble and filth that is the internet. Anyway here’s some of the topics I wish to cover throughout the year:

• Writing Guides: As I am currently studying English and Creative Writing, it seems fair that I should impart some of the knowledge and techniques I have gained from my work and pass them on to fellow writers.

• Games: As I don’t have any consoles at the moment and any really quite recent games, this one will be slightly difficult, but there’s still plenty to be said about the games industry and the requirements for a good game.

• Other Subcultures: After ‘Come to the Dark Side’, I have decided to explore other and alternative subcultures, both those that have been produced mainly online to those in real life. Mainly this will see features on steampunks, gamers, furries, therians etc, mainly because these are absolutely fascinating and I know people from lots of them.

In other news I have been doing a feckload more writing than usual, and I hope to share some with you all in due course. I’d also like to make a mention to a very good friend of mine, not only as a way of wishing her a Happy Birthday but also because her writing is so awesome I once had to reboot my entire system because of how awesome it is. Her blog with an absolutely AMAZING series can be found here ( ) and her profile leads to a significant amount more awesome. Vee-Jay, the happiest of Happy Birthdays to you, you deserve nothing more than the best in everything.

And on a side note, I joined Skype. Look up TheMightyLozz for some random conversation, or just for the heck of it.

Rock on, Laurence

LISTENING TO-Iron Maiden: Coming Home

Thursday, 27 January 2011

10 Questions

Another quizz for y'all. Enjoy!


1. Answer the following 10 questions
2. Pass it on to three bloggers

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously so that you could be anonymous now?

I prefer honesty on the internet. My intentions for starting this blog were to try and get my name out as a writer, so I thought it would be better to use my actual name and hairy face to lure in prospective publishers. Because people…like beards?

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

Well I’ve waffled on endlessly about the fight I got into at college with a twat in the lower year who bellowed abuse in my ear, so instead I’m going to use my time spent portraying a 12th Century man-at-arms in my mediaeval combat re-enactment society as an example. Performing such tasks involves taking my place in a shield wall and waving an arming spear around like a tard, and I honestly pride myself on how long I can hold out until our line breaks or theirs does. Because something has to give…Alwaaaaays.

3. What do you really see when you look at yourself in the mirror?

Not a lot, given how every mirror I look at seems to implode whenever I so much as glance at it.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

That would be Magner’s Irish Cider. Damn fine drink in all weathers.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

Mainly writing military steampunk/science fiction, blogging or watching films, all to the sound of some decent metal.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life?

Getting published is one major thing. Moving to Australia is another, finding a mate (you know the sort *wink wink*), working for the games industry, and somehow organising an event whereby the majority of the British population is gathered in a field to bellow the Spartan war-cry from 300. I can dream dammit!

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

I was the class spazz for a good number of years, bursting in to claim my results of a ‘Which Young Ones Character Are You?’ test to name but one of the many things I did whilst performing this role.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

I would see the part only a few days ago when I imagined what life you be like if I hadn’t come to university. I had a decent job, I had money, I could have been doing a metalwork apprenticeship, a better social life than ever before, and being able to do writing for pleasure rather than having it become a task. Call it homesickness or pre-interview nerves, but hey, you asked.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

Whilst it is true that I find it easier to write down what I’m feeling in a word document or a piece of paper, that doesn’t mean that I do. I will talk about myself a fair bit, but mostly if it is relevant to something else. In any case, I’m just as comfortable writing about the trials and tribulations of others as I am my own.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Reading. Usually something by Dan Abnett or a similarly steel-meltingly-awesome writer. Besides, I despise the sound of my own voice and using it for a phone conversation is even worse than using it in real life.

I tag:

Come to the Dark Side: Part 3

It was almost a week today when I got my first helping of spontaneous abuse based on my appearance, and two thoughts occurred as a result: Firstly a sense of pride that I had gone for so long without getting insulted, other than what my friends said when I returned from Lancaster in a trenchcoat and an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and secondly the realisation that soon would be a good time to write up the third instalment of my ‘Come to the Dark Side’ series. Alas I have neglected to update for a while, due to the fact that I have moved from my previous accommodation into a student house 3 minutes away from the Uni and friends. So hot piss for that, and my thanks to y’all for being so patient with my lazy arse.

So anyway the above scenario went as thus: I’m waiting by a bus-stop (for a bus, obviously), wearing my trademark leather trenchcoat over a black hoodie patterned with skulls, my fingerless studded gloves and skinny jeans. Now, yes, whilst in this guise I seem to fit the stereotypical image for what a goth looks like by those fucknuggets in mainstream media. Anywho, whilst waiting for my bus, a trio of blue-blazered-bastards from the local secondary school, my guess is Year 9, walk past, taking up as much of the pavement as possible and strutting about with the same kind of arrogance that can only be expected from such twats with shit for brains. And it is whilst I am waiting for my bus that one of them decides to say ‘GOTH!’ under the pretence of a coughing fit. Such wit and humour the like of which I’ve not seen since Oscar Fucking Wilde…Ah sarcasm.

Now naturally I couldn’t do much, because my love of smacking idiots with a golf-club in the dick is slightly overshadowed by my love of not going to prison. Once it is legal for me to carry a BREN gun and use live ammunition on the little fuckers then I will be at peace, but until then I must settle for raising my middle finger whilst adjusting my glasses.

But anyway, this is something all goths will at some point have to deal with. Verbal abuse can come in any number of ways, and from anyone. If it occurs outside of family life, the advice from teachers will always be the same: ‘Ignore them and they’ll get bored’. Now, I was mercilessly picked on frequently during my junior academic career, and I can tell you now that ignoring the bullies DOES NOT work. Instead, it encourages them to keep on trying to get to you, and you will find yourself subject to endless amounts of bullying until something snaps, and that will get you into trouble as well. However, this isn’t to say that violence doesn’t work. Trust me, it does work when the bully, who will nine-times-out-of-ten be a complete pussy, comes to the sudden realisation that the person they have been picking on can fight back (a quick smack to the chops was what did it for me, and it was more satisfying than bacon!).

The only alternative is to persist asking the teachers. Eventually, they will realise that the only way to get this persistent child to stop interrupting their schedule of not doing their job properly is to respond to its needs in the hope that it goes away. This all depends on how good a teacher you have is, you will find that for every ‘don’t-give-a-toss’ teacher, there will always be an equal number of teachers who do care.

Back to the violence. You will have to face this at least once. And it is better to be prepared. My advice, enrol in karate or self-defence classes. Practise at home, on furniture/family/pets if it helps. DO NOT CARRY A WEAPON! Under no circumstances should you leave the house with any kind of weapon that could attract the kind of unwanted attention that people seem to associate this culture with without help. And do no start fights or go looking for trouble. The kind of idiots that get their kicks from bullying others have already decided whether you’re a target or not, they do not need any further provocation. And remember, there’s no shame in running. If it comes down to a fight or flight scenario, flight is ALWAYS more advisable. If you’re scared people will call you a coward over it, remember that the idiots throwing punches are the real cowards.

Now for the family. Family members will generally be more accepting of you for deciding to dress this way. They already think you’re weird enough, this isn’t going to come as much as a shock to them. But then again there will be those who don’t see it that way. There are plenty of parents out there who will be against their children turning goth or emo, but this is because all they know about goths comes from reading newspapers or watching the news about this new trend of violent and suicidal pagans who sacrifice each other in foul rituals and other bleh. So what can you do? Well, the most sensible thing to do is to talk to your parents about it. Simply explain the misconceptions of the goth subculture and with any luck they will come round, given time. It will make everything so much easier if you take this route rather than simply appear in the hallway looking like an extra from a Marylyn Manson video. And that’s another thing, do not go so hardcore the first time round. Start simply with darker clothing, then move on to the band t-shirts, the jewellery, the make-up etc. It will make this easier for them to accept. You’ll have much better luck if your parents were punks or goths themselves in the past (obviously), but alas, not all parents will be willing to listen. My only advice following this would be to do it anyway. Be proud of yourself for being an individual, and if your parents can’t allow for self-expression as a child, then they are horrible parents. Simples.

However, with the amount of rejection you’re bound to face, there’s plenty of acceptance. Not everyone’s views of goths are the same, and you will find some decent, understanding people who will not be put off by your taste of clothing. You’ll make longer lasting friendships with kindred spirits, and there’s plenty to be said for expressing yourself if you intend to go into the creative industry. Many goths go on to become writers, artists, photographers, musicians and so on. So don’t become downtrodden over the idiocy of nameless individuals. Just remember that being goth is about being yourself. If you try putting on an act, people will think you’re a poser, which is the last thing anyone wants. Just remember to stay cool, be respectful of other people’s opinions and just be your charming self.
This is not the last in this series of articles. I will come back to cover current and ongoing issues in the gothic community as and when they occur. And looking at some friend’s recent blog posts, a fourth instalment looks pretty likely…

Regards, the Beard.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

15 Facts

Right, 15 random facts about me, myself and I. Let’s do this!

1. I’ve been thinking what to name my beard. Possibly Leonidas, I’m not sure.
2. I’m currently in the process of moving out of my house in a small Lancashire village to a student house in the Lancaster suburbs, and cannot bloody wait =D.
3. I chugged a can of RELENTLESS before going to see said house.
4. I’m still experiencing after effects of said consumption.
5. I’m currently wearing a hoodie patterned with skulls (clich├ęd I know) under my dressing gown because it’s so fricking cold here.
6. I have a 2500 word essay to be completed by Friday about the book The Great Gatsby.
7. It is a personal ambition to be published in some form by The Black Library.
8. When I was 6 I got my head stuck in a revolving door when shopping with my Mum.
9. I will probably go to bed after this.
10. Right now I am listening to Cut Out the Disease by SAXON.
11. I listen to a fair bit of Australian country music, mainly Lee Kernaghan and Adam Brand.
12. I have been approached by at least four Mormons since being in Lancaster.
13. My favourite series of books as a child was ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ by Lemony Snicket, a series which kicked arse until the ending.
14. After this fact will come number 15
15. I will be going to bed…now!

Oh, and I tag: Vee-Jay, Louis, Jamie, Henry and Andy. Goodnight!

Versatile Blogger Award

Well this I was not expecting. And neither were you I'm guessing :D

Very kindly awarded to me by Amy of The Ultimate Goth Guide fame.

Thank & Link back to the person who gave you the award
Answer 10 questions
Pass it along to 7 blogs you've recently discovered and enjoy
Leave your recipients a note, telling them about the award.

Why did you create this blog?

Well I’ve always been fond of writing, but had nowhere to put it other than on a few forums. Sometime last year I discovered the awesomeness of Zero Punctuation, and decided to do more than just write fiction, and begin reviewing books, films and games. And so came the idea of starting up a blog to share my works, both fiction and reviews, to the weird and wonderful world that is the internet. And now that I’m in Uni and doing a degree in English and Creative Writing, I’m doing a whole lot more writing, and looking to post a whole lot more in the future.

What kind of blogs do you follow?

Too be honest, I don’t follow all that many blogs, which is going to make the last stage of this post really difficult, but the ones I do follow are ones my friends IRL make. Having discovered the Ultimate Goth Guide had moved to Blogger, I naturally concluded it would be wise to follow. And see how right I was?

Favourite make-up brand?

Hmmm, pretty hard to answer this one…

Favourite clothing brand?

Well I have the ‘guy mentality’ when it comes to clothing. I see something I like, I’ll try it on as an option, and then buy it, regardless of whether it ‘goes’ with anything. Although one clothing company I am mighty intrigued in is Alchemy Gothic. They have some awesome looking t-shirts and their steampunk inspired jewellery is just fantastic.

Indispensible make-up product?

I suppose my razor would count here, not that I use it as much as I should (the mass of hair latched onto my face is evidence of this).

Favourite colour?
Ah, typical internet quiz question. I have no one favourite colour, and those I do like are varying shades of blue, black, red and green.

Favourite perfume?

Does de-odorant/anti-perspirant count? Because if so then I’ll stick with Lynx, whichever type is fine.

Favourite film?

Another very good question. My interest in films mainly consists of anything with a military theme, but I also dig fantasy, science fiction and comedy. I like military films most of all because not only is it a personal interest of mine but for the sheer variety you get. I like my films to be deep, and in the case of war films I like there to be focus on the emotions of soldiers, their longing for their families back home, the feeling of camerarderie which, in my opinion, should be one of the focus points for any war film. Having said this however, what annoys me about war films is that they all seem to be focused on American conflicts, or re-written to include Americans where they don’t belong (i.e. Saving Private Ryan, U-571 to name but a few). It would be nice to see a film with all the high action and sheer budget of an American film, but focusing on a British conflict.

Well, one film I enjoyed very much lately is Kokoda: 39th Battalion, an Australian war film focusing on a platoon of volunteer soldiers fighting the Japanese in the depth of a pacific jungle. It certainly makes a change from all the Yankish ‘let’s shoot everything in our path and then talk about surrender’, and it’s also nice to see the Australians get some decent recognition for their deeds in the war. There’s a few problems with the script in terms of character development, but it is still entertaining to watch, and helps defeat some of the stereotypes associated with Australians, such as ending every sentence with the word ‘mate’.

What country would you like to visit and why?

Well as you can probably guess by my above almost-review of Kokoda: 39th Battalion, I would most like to visit Australia, mainly to get away from this piss-hole country to a country with a significantly better quality of life, as well being that I have awesome friends who I have sworn to get absolutely wankered with upon my arrival (Y’hear me Vee-Jay? First round’s on me!).

Other places of interest would be America, mainly because I’d like to go to a genuine steakhouse and challenge the occupants to a contest of meat-based capacity, Canada, much for the same reason as Australia, Ireland, for the awesome scenery, the rich history, and to drink my weight in Guinness (and any other beers they have over there) and Japan, both for my interest in martial arts and animes respectively.

Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?

Hmmm…I’d rather the mascara in all honesty, because then I could pretend I was punched in the eye, and either look really cool and manly or use it as a means to gain sympathy contact from every girl I know.

And I hereby award:...The first 7 blogs based around writing, steampunk or goths, because I follow a grand spanking number of four blogs, two of which have essentially died >.<

Hmm, might come back to this at a later date...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Come to the Dark Side: Part 2

After an amazing Christmas and blinding New Years (literally!), I’m finally back to blogging, and I thought I’d start the New Year with the second part of my ‘Come to the Dark Side’ series, featuring aspects of the gothic lifestyle that many ‘newbies’ will be concerned/confuzzled with.

So last time I went into the core and most basic elements of goth philosophy, now we come to the material side. Now, the dress codes, music and literature aspect of this subculture has been covered dozens of thousands of billions of times, so instead of listing these, I will instead take this as an opportunity to dive beard-first into the many different kinds of goths there are and highlight their unique sense of dress. As I said last time, being a goth is more a state of mind than something that can be dictated by what you wear or do. There are many subcultures within the gothic subculture, each with its own unique dress sense and philosophies that link back to the main mode of thinking.
Before I start though is that the following guide is by no means 100% accurate, and only covers the basics. But I will say this, no person who goes goth is one of these to begin with. Black or camouflage trousers, band t-shirts, jewellery with skulls and pentangles and black coats are going to be your jumping-off point, but many goths tend to stay with these basic elements and develop them in the styles mentioned below. Goths are creative by nature, so don’t be afraid to mix your style up a bit once you gain confidence.

Remember the old Henry Ford saying, ‘I can be any colour you like, so long as it’s black’? Many newbie goths, as well as parents wanting designer babies, seems to believe this. The stereotypical opinion of a goth is that everything he or she owns has to be some shade of black. NOT NESSECARILY SO! It is possible to wear bright pink and still be called goth, which people do. The most colourful of the latter are known as ‘Perky Goths’. They tend to dress in brighter colours than your average rivethead, but still retain the gothic look through theme. They represent the cute and cheesy side of goth, yes, there IS such as a thing as that, and enforce this with an upbeat attitude that is sure to put may chavs in a coma through sheer mindfuck.
Returning again to the theme of colours, ‘Cyber Goth’ is a breed developed from ‘Cyber Punk’, which combines elements of dystopia with futuristic settings. They are similar in terms of appearance to Perky Goths, only with greater variety of colour, and minus the attitude. They tend to share the same accessories as their punk counterparts. They also prefer to listen to industrial/techno music than the rock and metal bands the majority of the scene swears by. Their appearance, and indeed philosophies, contrast from much that is considered goth, but the core elements remain the same, and they count since a lot of their ideologies sprang from the main gothic movement of the 80s.

Whereas Cyber Goths look to the future, there’s a whole culture of goths that draw inspiration from the past. Gothabilly is a form that derives from the elements of youthful rebellion of the 1950s. Biker jackets and shades, combined with ‘retro’ elements forms this fascinating outfit, as well as tattoos featuring quite heavily. ‘Victorian Goth’ speaks mainly for itself. The Victorian era was a huge influence for the ‘goth’ movement that emerged during the 80s, with development in art, literature and fashion being a mine of inspiration for many fledgling goths, and those who call themselves Victorian Goths will rarely be seen without parasols, top hats, corsets, ball gowns or walking canes of a dark variety.
There are plenty of goths however for whom the rocking 50’s or the soot-ridden 1800s just isn’t far enough. Many goths derive their sense of fashion from later periods in time, such as the medieval era (which makes sense seeing as how the original Goths were a Germanic tribe from the pre-mediaeval ages). These guys will incorporate elements of fantasy into their outfits, as well as heraldic patterns from coats of arms, as well as be fond of poetry of the time, such as the Arthurian legends and similar.

Steampunk goths combine the regal and intricacy of the Victorian era (Or Victorian style technology) with the dystopia and overall conceptual philosophies of the Cybergoth. Many steampunk goths can be seen adorned with self-made goggles, military jackets and other relics of the Victorian era, as well as patterns of cogs wherever possible. The steampunk subculture is fast growing into something quite amazing through clothing, literature and crafts. Many steampunks I know were goths at one point, and like to combine elements of steampunk with their costumes (plus steampunk as a subculture is generally awesome and I hereby swear to include as many mentions of it as I can in each post).

And then of course there the Uber Goths. Those who dress in capes, tall boots, spiked hair, pure white face make-up, shaven heads, elaborate piercings. These are the most dedicated goths you can possibly find, and chances are would remove their fangs for a parent-teacher conference. Not that these guys will wear this stuff all the time. Any sensible goth knows that self-expression is perfectly fine, but there’s a time and a place for bondage trousers and trenchcoats. But when it comes down to it, they are the kings and queens of the subculture through their sheer devotion and creativity.

Anywho this is it for another entry. I’ve gone into the main types that exist within this subculture, but there’s many many more kinds out there, each with their own unique style of awesome. For more information, I’d seriously recommend taking a look at the below website link to help you decide which direction you want to go in:

Next time I will go over the more sensitive issues of becoming a goth, i.e. coming out and acceptance. Any feedback as usual is welcomed, and I look forward to heard what you lovely lot think. But the most important thing for anyone out there is ultimately to dress in what makes you comfortable. Don’t worry about stereotypes, or ‘Is this goth enough?’. That kind of thinking will get you nowhere, take this from someone with personal experience. Experience you will also gain through time and observation ;D

A huge thank you to Vicky for helping me with some of the more difficult parts. Rock on your glittery legend you!

Regards, the Beard