In 2017, during a university project, I started digging into the tragic history of a Victorian-era family who lived in my hometown of Woolwich, South East London. This article is a product of that research.
Nearby, a solitary magpie pecked idly at the ground, skirting between graves as if out of respect. It eyed my approach beadily, fluttering into an old, overhanging oak when I raised my camera, its wings flashing cobalt in the April sunshine.
It had taken me over an hour to find Arthur.
My only guide was a vague map purchased online, and the condition of the…
Type the word ‘dinosaur’ into the Kindle e-book store and a plethora of Jurassic-themed literary porn is just a short scroll away.
This is a curious feature of Amazon’s signature tablet; it’s a haven for the most niche erotica imaginable. For some, the combination of self-publishing and reader anonymity has resulted in a format in which LGBT-golden showers-werewolf romances are not only readily available, but purchasable without fear of ridicule. For others, the combination of amateur writing, bizarrely specific fantasy and kindle’s text-to-speech feature will induce more laughter than arousal. …
The town is mostly dead; the drizzle-upon pavements beaten upon only by the faint orange light of street lamps, the occasional unsteady, slapping steps of a bare-footed girl carrying her stiletto shoes in one hand. The blunt faces of shuttered shop fronts shun the night — vintage clothes and retro records and gimmicky coffee bars want no part in its proceedings, and the only life exists in garish, bustling pockets.
The Gate Clock is one such pocket.
Although establishments that thrive on darkness and drink often have little regard for the affluence of an area, the pub, with its hastily…
It greets you with an encompassing, inexplicable hush, perhaps the result of those awful hard-backed chairs that make everyone sit up so straight and formal, and the guests mutter to their companions in whispers and haste to mute their squabbling children or stab at their bleating mobile phones.
Except it’s not a nomal doctor’s surgery and today’s visitors know that. Their heads roll on their shoulders and their eyes are pendulums in their sockets, searching for a clue as to what planes may lay beyond this particular purgatory. Perhaps a few specs of blood on the lurid yellow wallpaper, the…
She lit three candles.
Black, to symbolise death, an ending.
White for purity, rebirth, new beginnings.
And Red, for romance.
She burnt her thumb on the last, blackening the tip of her nail. She sucked at it, surveying the items spread out on the table in front of her; a white ribbon, a tablespoon glistening with honey, a damp leaf, two loose cinnamon sticks, and the candles, arranged in a triangle around it all, flickering.
Helen was improvising. ‘New Year’s Eve Spell’ had yielded 13,400,000 results on Google, and like the recipes in the pristine books stacked on her counter…
She had seen it for the first time that morning.
It was mid-winter, and the streets stubbornly resisted the first blue light of dawn.
The dog, mottled brown and medium-sized, was tied to a bicycle rack and raised its stocky head as she bustled past, face burrowed into her coat.
She had assumed the owner was inside the just-opening supermarket, which spilled cold, artificial light onto the darkened pavement where the dog sat. Late again, she resisted the urge to ruffle the short fur between its ears; she wanted a dog of her own, but her boyfriend, Mark, refused.
Once the empty bottles have been swept from the mahogany tables and dropped into the bin with a satisfying clank, once ring stains have been scrubbed at and velvet chairs pushed in and the deep purple carpet vacuumed by the middle-aged cleaning lady, who also plucks the occasional crumpled tissue from the floor with two fingers of her marigold-gloved hands; once all is still and silent and smelling of lemon polish, then and only then.
There is something satisfying about the proficiency with which the staff restores order and calm to the room, like a family cleaning up after a…
There is a scene in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode ‘Dead Things’ in which Buffy repeatedly punches her lover, Spike, in the face.
Spike is a vampire, Buffy is a vampire slayer. As per the lore of the Buffyverse, this means that he doesn’t have a soul. And yet, she has been pursuing a secret sexual relationship with him, something deeply taboo within the collective morality of her friendship group. The beating is, therefore, a manifestation of her self-hatred, her disgust at a desire to bed the enemy that she cannot fathom but also cannot seem to stop.
After her chores are done for the day, after her two kids are tucked up in bed, she opens her laptop and begins a nightly ritual, one that would baffle her friends, but that has been with her since childhood.
It’s Snot Splatter.
It’s as gross as it sounds — a flash game involving popping bubbles of snot. And it’s just one among hundreds of similar games available on hit-noughties kid’s site, Neopets. Jessica, along with thousands of other adults, is still playing them on the digital pet platform in 2020, twenty-one years after it’s launch.
Started by two university…