The Pink Salamander has landed!

What I threatened a few months ago has finally come to pass (probably before Christmas but I’m not too sure!), The Pink Salamander is here, yay!  You can read it here The Pink Salamander or you can navigate via the menu on the right.

So what was the inspiration behind it?  Well its a strange one really, I recall the title popping into my head not long after I had woken up one morning.  A Pink Salamander was so unusual that, at first, I dismissed it.  I then decided otherwise and went with it.

I took me a while to write it but far longer to edit.  I’m glad I did as the first draft was mainly dialogue.  Dialogue works well in your head but does not make for great reading.

I hope you like it.

 

 

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Updates

So here we are at the end of the first week of January (look, Sunday is always the end of the week, not Monday.  Don’t get me started, okay) and I have a couple of updates.  First, I have uploaded a new story called ‘A New Look For Clover Street’.

Second, I have finished writing my novel, woohoo!  Now onto the mammoth task of editing this beast until it makes some sense.  At the moment it looks like  a random collection of words that are behaving suspiciously like sheep without a shepherd and dog.

Not only that, they need a damn good clean.  Have you seen how muddy sheep get when they’ve come off the hills?  Maybe, just maybe, they will get a shearing as well, who knows.

 

What Have I Been Working On Over Christmas?

Starting with the monthly theme for the writers’ group, ‘Renewal’, I came up with a piece called ‘A New Look For Clover Street’.  First off I’ll let you into a secret, this was not my first attempt.  ‘Driving licence’ was already written pending editing before it got pulled to pieces.

Deciding I could not be bothered to fix the problems, I started afresh.  Within minutes I had a new idea and I was soon writing.  By the end of the day the new piece, provisionally called ‘Clover Street’, was ready for editing.  Having got to that stage, I took the time to reflect and came to the conclusion that I was much happier with the new story.  I left it for a week then edited the piece before submission.

Other than that, I have another story in what appears to be long term editing (in other words, there are issues but I can’t be bothered to sort them out yet!).  Sooner or later I’ll get around to it and release ‘The Pink Salamander’ onto my dear, unsuspecting readership.

Those who have followed my blog for a while will have noticed a significant increase in output over the last week.  A few days before Christmas (which feels such a long time ago now), I set myself the challenge of blogging every day for the Christmas period.  The first day I sat down to blog, I found I had plenty of ideas but nothing to write about.

It sounds odd, I know, but you have to experience it to understand it.  To make a long story short (this from a guy who can never tell short anecdotes!), I decided on a film review.  Like all things, I found it was a matter of discipline and of giving myself the time to do it.

Now that I’m at the end of the week, I can look back and say I’ve really enjoyed it.  So much so that I want to increase my regular output beyond the *ahem* once a week blog I normally do.  We shall see what the future holds.

Clothing

What shall I wear today?” asked Katherine.

Every morning Katherine would ask the same question of her husband. Getting drawn into a discussion on clothing was anathema to Marius, yet unavoidable. Ignoring his wife was the only option yet it could not last forever, Katherine would always win this ritual. Marius’ strict up-bringing meant he was dressed before breakfast. The first he knew of Katherine’s attitude was when they married, that was ten years ago.

I think I’ll try something different.” said Katherine, trying to draw Marius out.

He was reading the news as she pushed ahead. Outside the sun was busy waking up the world.

Yes, I think I’ll go for black today.” said Katherine, looking wistfully out the window. She could hear the neighbours talking.

Jealousy had crept into her world when Maryanne had unveiled her new garden sculpture. A fifteen metre long replica of the first interstellar ship dominated the greenery. The light dancing across the structure told Katherine of the money that went into making it.

Black is such a lovely colour, don’t you think?” she added when her husband failed to respond.

Black?” said Marius, shaking his head and looking puzzled.

Yes, black.”

You can’t do that, you don’t have the skin, you’ll look ridiculous. Have you ever seen a white head on a black body?”

There’s this new procedure, they can change your skin tone. You can do it as many times as you like. It only increases the cancer risk by twenty seven per cent. With our medical technology being what it is, we don’t need to worry about that, do we?”

What’s the name of the company?” said Marius.

Active Harmony.”

Give me time to think it over.” he answered, standing.

You’ll say no. You always say no when you give me that line.”

I’m late for work.” he said, pointing to his watch.

You own the company, dear.”

I like setting a good example.”

The door buzzer sounded. An image of the chauffeur appeared on the screen by the door.

Ready when you are, Mr. Walton. Your itinerary for the day has been loaded and your sleeping tablets and anti-pressure pills have been re-stocked. Josephine needs to talk to you about last night’s progress so I’ve scheduled her first.”

Thank you Vernon, I’ll be right down.”

Do I have an answer for my question?” pressed Katherine as the screen clicked off.

It doesn’t matter what answer I give, you’ll go ahead and do whatever you want anyway.”

Not true.” answered Katherine, trying to sound hurt.

Fine, go with the black.”

I’ve changed my mind, I’ll go with Indian.”

Marius threw his hands up in despair.

Fine, fine, go with that then! I really must get going.”

Marius headed to the door, looked back and said

Love you.” before slipping out.

Jane, fetch me the Indian and call Active Harmony for me.”

Yes, Mrs. Walton.” said the in-house AI.

Five minutes later, a slim Indian woman stood shivering and blinking before Katherine. Breakfast had been cleaned away, leaving Katherine to occupy centre stage. After taking in her surroundings, the woman looked at the disconnected head.

She seems malnourished to me. I hope you’ve been remembering to feed the animals, Jane.” said Katherine.

Jane remained obstinately quiet.

Turn around.” said Katherine, addressing the woman.

A small electric shock by Jane reminded the woman of her obligation. Katherine eyed her up.

Hello Mrs. Walton, what can Active Harmony do for you today?”

A well groomed male had appeared on the main screen.

I want to look like this woman.”

Certainly madam, I’ll take her measurements and you’ll have a new skin ready for you tomorrow.”

I want it today.”

No problem, we have a six hour service-”

I’m going out in an hour, have it ready by then.”

Yes, ma’am.” he answered obsequiously. His face told a different story.

All right Jane, take the body from the base of the neck and I want a good job this time. Maryanne spotted the join from two metres away when I tried it before. I’ll not have that happen again.”

I understand, Mrs. Walton.”

While they had been talking, the Indian woman rubbed her neck.

Don’t worry, you won’t miss it.” said Katherine.

Maryanne looked out of her front window and saw a strange woman in her garden. It was the colour of her skin which made her stand out. All her neighbours were white, this woman was chestnut.

Get off my property this instant!” screamed Maryanne, on opening her door.

When it garnered no reaction, she marched across to the woman.

I said-”

I know what you said dear, I was busy admiring your new toy.”

Maryanne looked at the woman, her mouth wide open.

Surprised?” said Katherine, turning to her.

Katherine?”

Why surely you must recognise your own neighbour? Don’t tell me you were drawn in by this?” said Katherine, waving at her new body.

That AI of yours is good, I’ll admit.”

True.” said Katherine. “But Active Harmony completed the picture. Did you know they can take a skin tone, match it and deliver it all in under an hour?”

They claim twenty four hours on their advert.”

If you don’t believe me, just ask for Blair Aldrich, he’ll confirm everything I’ve said.”

As an aside Katherine said

I have a feeling I’m going to be their favourite client. I might try Chinese tomorrow, see how it feels.”

Or Mexican.” replied Maryanne.

That’s so common. Everyone wants to be Mexican, I want to be different. Frankly I wanted to be black but my darling husband explained to me that the light wouldn’t be favourable to a black body. He’s such a dear.”

Growing up, Mexican had seemed so exotic to Maryanne. She had tried and failed many times to achieve her dream of looking like one. Abandoning her dream had made her feel a failure. Katherine’s comment cut deeply. Maryanne turned on her heel to hide her tears and walked away.

Smiling to herself, Katherine headed to the shops. She had a feeling she would turn heads there too. Being the wife of the richest man on the planet had some advantages, she mused.

The End

Tourist Town

Fighting through the crowds of wannabe photographers is a tall, lean man.  He walks with a slow, purposeful air but his eyes tell a different story, he is searching.  The grey spots move back and forth, flitting from one to the next.  A new target is found and discarded in less than a second.  The seething mass of people move and change before his eyes making his job more difficult.

He is smelling the air too, looking for a special fragrance.  He does not know what it is yet but he has convinced himself he will know it when he finds it.  To intensify the odour, he keeps his mouth closed.  It is a pity the only smells to reach him so far would make a sewer proud.  Sweat mixed with copious amounts of hairspray assault his senses.

What is it he is looking for and why must we be looking at him?  Because it is with him that the future of this town rests.  He has the power to hold the bored spellbound.  He is the one who wants to learn, to understand.  This man wants to immerse himself in the culture.

The man in question is not the first of his kind.  There have been many before him and better qualified too.  The only thing they have lacked is timing.  Now, when interest is at its lowest and the fire in the soul of the last resident is almost out, does he appear.  His furtive questioning is a glimmer in the night.

“Excuse me.” he tries in the native language.

The person he is addressing holds his head in his hand with a disinterested air.  Eyes focussed on nothing as the mass changes once more.

“Excuse me.” he tries a second time.

In between, our quiet spark has taken in his surroundings.  Like the man he has addressed, it no longer functions in its former state.  Dust has gathered everywhere, from tables to shelves and bottles to glasses.  A bare patch underneath the resident’s head is all that remains.  Slowly the eyes turn upwards and registers someone is addressing him.

For too long he has been ignored.  Before then he was spoken to in many languages, but never his own.  Has he forgotten his mother tongue?

“I’d like to order some food?”  says the spark.

The words are not perfect, far from it, but it should suffice.

The hand comes down and slaps the table hard.  The mass of people jumps like a flock of disturbed pigeons.  The quiet spark does not move.

“What can I get you, my friend?” the tone is flat, impassive.

“A local speciality, if you please.”

“We have your American burgers, English fish and chips, Japanese-”

The spark holds his hand up, stopping him mid-sentence.

“Local speciality.”

The words hit the resident like a wave crashing on the shore.

“You want local cuisine?”

“Yes.”

“Local to here?”

“That’s what I came here for.  I want to know what it is to eat it.”

“But why don’t you want the other food?”

“I can get that at home.”

“But the others-”

“Are not like me.  Now please, I’d like some local food.”

The resident looks askance at this strange being now.

“I’ll have to cook it.”

“I can wait.” the spark answers.

To reinforce his words he removes his jacket, walks over to a chair and sits down.  For now the resident admits defeat and shuffles off to the kitchen.  Bangs, crashes and curses emanate from the door.  Time limps on like a man with a wooden leg.  An hour passes before the resident returns with a steaming plate of food held in both hands, reverentially.

“There.” he says, placing the food in front of the spark.

The resident’s voice is a mix of triumph and relief.  A confused look passes over his face as the spark leans over.  A moment later it is replaced by one of wonder.

“Smells delightful.”

“Thank you.”

Looking through the window of the restaurant the resident sees the closest of the mass pressing their noses to the glass.  The aroma has performed its magic.  Cautiously the door opens and a head is poked inside.  The owner, on confirming the origin of the smell asks hesitantly

“Are you open?”

The resident is dumb-struck.

“Yes.” he answers, unprepared for the outcome.

First one, then three, then eleven are through the door asking for their share.  It is too much for the resident.

“Please, form an orderly queue. I’m sure our friend here can’t wait to serve you.  But as you can see there is one of him and so many of you.” says the spark.

Without further prompting the eleven form behind one another.  Sheep could not have done a better job of being obedient.  The spark smiles as the resident relaxes.

One by one they are served.  The pace quickens until by the last, the resident has delivery down to ten minutes.  Each one leaves with a smile and a full stomach.  Turning to his new friend the resident says

“A thousand thanks to you.”

“No need.  All I did was to bring a spark to what was already here, you did the rest.”

“How can I repay you for bringing that spark?”

“Keep the fire going.  One day I shall return and we can laugh about the days of old.”

With that the spark rose from his seat and left.  To honour his new found friend the resident renamed his restaurant ‘The Spark of Life.’

 

And so dear friends we come to the end of the story.  If you’d like to see more of my works, why not head over to my writing page and have a look.

 

Current Projects

You may be wondering what it is I do with my own time, well I shall tell you.  I have started on writing a new story.  All I shall say for now, is that it is a spy thriller and is set in Syria in 2012, not long after the Arab Spring.

So far, I have completed three character profiles and am well into the fourth.  A basic layout has already been laid for the first five chapters, but it needs improvement.  Other than that, I’m not willing to say.

What I can also say though, if the thought of a new story is not exciting enough, is that I have a new short story which will be posted in a couple of days.  It is called ‘The Humans Are Coming!’.