This story was based on a writing prompt image of a large statue of a horse head, somewhere in the UK.

Doug spent most of his time with a rubber horse mask trying to scare me.

He turned his considerable intellect to find the most disturbing ways for me to encounter the mask. He actually hired a dog – apparently you can rent dogs now – and attached the mask to the poor animal’s head so that it charged around, flopping grotesquely and smashing into all the delicate electronics that was my contribution to our project. He bought a store dummy that he could position with the mask in unexpected locations. And of course the inevitable time he broke silently into my house and put it on my pillow while I slept, Godfather style. Each time I wanted to quit, find another sub-quantum physicist with a better sense of humour, and each time he’d finish laughing, wander to the blackboard and create the most beautiful mathematics I’ve ever seen.

The final prank he pulled was the simplest of them all. He just put the damn thing on and stood directly behind me, very quietly, until I turned around.

I don’t know how long he stood there for. I do know that it took me completely by surprise. I pushed him, hard, right into my fragile device, where his body connected two electrodes that were not meant to circuit. Even as electricity burned across him he crushed through the device and vanished, while I looked stupidly at the wreckage of our time machine.

I was still staring stupidly when he returned, seconds later. He was scarred, carrying a version of our machine made from copper and diamonds. Still wearing the horse head mask.

Doug waved my apologies away and sat, looking smug. He refused to talk about what had happened.

As I left I saw that damned thousand year old horse statue.


The Archive of Unusual Events

Having finished writing the Archive I wanted to put some time to think about it, a fiction autopsy perhaps. Writing the Archive was a lot of fun, I originally started it because I wanted to create bizarre and fantastical situations, creatures and events. I was inspired by Ursula Vernon’s Hidden Almanac, which is a wacky, hilarious and gardening obsessed podcast. I wanted to try something a little closer to our own world, but with just as much potential for the imagination to run wild. Over 80+ posts from June 2016 I did just that. In that time the Archive had 8828 views from 1137 visitors, which was more than I had ever hoped for.

I realised fairly early on though that it wasn’t enough. I needed more than just fun ideas. I could make them slightly more sympathetic with the character of the Archivist and his commentary, but he was still very reserved and distant from most events. While I had a great time coming up with wacky ideas… ideas are kind of easy. If I want to grow as a writer I need to become better at plotting and characters, and having to invent new situations twice a week was taking up a lot of my writing time, just as a baby meant that I had less time than ever before. I also feel as though the academic language I was using/parodying for the Archive was a crutch. After 8 years or so of studying science writing that way is familiar and easy, but it’s also a terrible way to write a story. I constantly find myself adding modifiers and weasel-words, passave language and so on… “it is believed that…” I don’t have to do that any more, this is fiction, and I need to free myself to say whatever I want bravely and directly.

The deadlines were invaluable. They meant that I had targets (I didn’t always hit them, but I didn’t let them get far away from me) and a reason to keep writing. The secondary reason for writing this – to prove that I could write and keep writing – was successful.

So where do I go from here? I have a couple of longer stories that I am already writing. Whether I’ll try to complete them as novellas or release them serially I don’t know yet. I do know that I have plenty of aspects of writing that I need to improve in, so I’ll be working on that. If I want to get these finished though I’ll need to increase my word output – many of the Archive’s posts were under 300 words, which is OKish, but below-average for an hour’s work. Completing a short 60,000 word story would take 200 writing days at that rate though, and if I want to improve at a reasonable speed I need to do more than that so I can make the mistakes, learn from them and move on.

I’ve started some writing challenges at the site. These are short 75 and 300 word flash fiction challenges and I’ll post my entries here for fun. They’ve already made my brain muscles work, so I’ll keep doing that, as well as any other short stories that happen to pop into my head and require writing.

So for anyone who’s followed me here from the Archive – thankyou so much for your support and I hope you enjoyed it. Getting comments, and even just views, really made my day and made the writing feel worthwhile. Thankyou.

Welcome to my shiny new blog!

I’ll be polishing this up in my spare time over the next few weeks, but let’s get this blog started! This place will be for collecting my fiction writing, mostly short and flash fiction pieces from the forum challenges. In the long run I’d love to publish something, but I know I need to improve my writing a fair way before that’s likely.