Category Archives: short story

Passing the Bar

No sooner had I…freshened up, did they have me before “The Crown”.

So there I was, in a city within a city. I had passed the bar, literally not metaphorically, changed my underpants, and now stood, flanked by smartly dressed policemen, before a table of middle-aged businessmen that had globally taken to calling themselves The Crown.

The head of the table was the first to speak. ‘Lord Game, I believe?’

‘Do you?’ I retorted then eyed them all, individually. Thirteen of them in total, excluding my chaperones.

The speaker looked just a smidgen uncomfortable. ‘Congratulations on a job well done.’ He appeared to be both the youngest of them, and the leader.

A smattering of affirmations croaked around the table. The speaker continued, ‘however, the realm faces greater peril from this side of the Atlantic and…well, your country needs you.’

I smiled, wider than usual, which is why I think there was such a long pause. It was all I could do not to laugh at them and their professional seriousness.

‘The war with America had to stop!’

I wasn’t sure if he was pleading with me or the rest of the table.

I cleared my throat. I think they were expecting me to say something. I looked at each face and made up a nickname for each one; the process must have taken me at east fifteen seconds and yet they waited, baited. ‘Carry on.’

All eyes redirected back to the speaker, who began to colour a little in his pasty cheeks. ‘The embargo on our Atlantic trade was just too great.’ He searched his acquaintances like a man soaked in gasoline might look at an arsonist. ‘Napoleon is the real enemy.’ His words dropped flatly against my heavy sighs.

He looked to his compadres desperately, pink faced, sweating. He stood, all formal like. ‘Did you really need to hurt our officers? Given all that we have done for you, I would expect a little grat-‘

‘Dr Kratzenstien. It, that was you…lot?’

Silence was their confirmation. Sometimes the body speaks a language that words cannot quench. And it was subtle but noticable, the gentlemen at the table all seemed to grow an inch or so at my mention of the tongue-less surgeon.

‘How, where was I?’

‘Many places. It took a long time Lord-‘

‘Don’t call me Lord.’ I was just about sick and tired of this charade now. ‘Just tell me why.’

‘Why we exhumed you?’ Chortled the speaker, sweating profusely at this point.

I must have taken a step forward because the clicking of holster poppers behind me resonated. I didn’t fancy getting shot in the back. I needed to sit down. Fuck I was tired.

‘Yeah, and, also what took so fucking long?’ I pulled out a chair and plonked my arse. ‘And please, sit down, you’re making me fucking nervous.’

‘Well, Mr, Mr, Game,’ he sat down smartly. ‘Truth is we uncovered your, ahhh, location from the French. I mean, of course we knew the legends, but…’

‘Well, none ov us believed zem,’ said the stick of a man with a distinctive beard on my left. His accent sounded Germanic. His breath smelt of sausage.

‘Not until that Claric fellow showed up,’ clarified the main speaker. ‘Spoke in riddles did that joker!’

I brought my fist down on the table and gripped my dagger ready beneath. ‘Claric died fighting your war you fucking trumped up twats!’

The speakers eyes widened over my shoulder, his brows furrowed.

A boot struck the polished stone floor behind me.

The speaker shook his head as discreetly as possible, beads of sweat flicking this way and that.

Another step. I stood, sending my chair skating back and into the officer advancing.

I turned just in time to see him fold over the heavy block of chair, my dagger stuck him just beneath his ear. Cartilage and bone clicked as my blade unlocked his jaw permanently and unzipped the flesh of his cheek down one side.

I withdrew my weapon as the other officer took aim on me and I crouched to leap forward-

‘Stop!!’ echoed around the chamber. ‘For Christ’s sake, Henry we need you. We’re allies, our interests are aligned…’

I straightened up, dagger-tip dripping.

The officer with half his jaw cut off, choked and twitched, then dramatically toppled back from the chair and all over the expensive floor with a squelch.

‘Edvards, gets him out ov here!’ Ordered the bearded stick.

The officer hesitated for a moment before re-holstering his pistol and hurrying over to his fallen comrade.

I turned my attention back to table. ‘The French? You want me to stop this Napoleon bastard?’

‘Help us do zis and ve are square.’ The stick man sure did have a deep voice for such a wisp.

‘Square? We’re already square for what I did in America, for Claric. No, I do this and you fucking owe me. Agreed?’

I wiped the blade clean on the table cloth as they conferred, then I re-sheathed, all civilised like. My seat was soiled with that officer’s blood. I remained stood up.

The speaker stood up and nodded then started toward me, hand offered before him. ‘Welcome to The Crown, Henry Game, welcome. You have an agreement. Destroy Napoleon and we will owe you!’

Thing is: I’d happily kill the French fucker, payment or favour aside. The French owed me a debt of blood. And I was cashing it in one way or another.


To Follow Through

We were stopped at least twice before being allowed to continue toward the grand archway and I was still desperate for the lav. It was an oddly busy little spot was this place they called “The Bar”. 

I suppose it made sense, symbolically,  that a deeper meaning resonated behind the superficial chain that spanned, scuffing across the cobbles in the mid-point, between the opposing sentry posts either side of the archway-come-singular-entrance. That chain wouldn’t hold against even the feeblest of resistences. Like, for example, a man desperate for a shit! Something to be said for that. I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed or dissapointed. I crossed my legs. The guard holding back the chain eye balled me as we passed. I saw that he held one hand on a funky looking sidearm.

We entered the soveriegn territory of ‘The City of London’. A mile square of independant state. It made me think of the Vatican. Already I didn’t trust this place. A city within a city. The concept of it boggles the mind, but still, it’s as true as I live and breath. If you don’t believe me just go ahead and bloody google it. 

‘Right you are Lo-, ahhh Henry, if you would just hand over your weapons amd we can be-

I rounded my bemusement on him, snatching his sentence away from his expectant hand, the other hand firmly holding the carriage door closed. 

He saw me look at his hand and swallowed. A miltary man approached the carriage door but stopped short of opening it. That was when I noticed that the carriage was entirely surrounded. The sounds of bated breath and steel sole plate scratching cobble resonated through my caution and grated against my base desire and needs.

‘Not a fucking chance,’ I smiled to the officer through gritted temperment. 

He looked to the shorter officer on his left who had flushed a royal bergundy by this point. I don’t think he had the…ahhh, well, I don’t think he had the balls for dealing with the likes of me.

I looked back at the officer’s gloved hand. ‘If you’re not going to open that door, officer, I suggest you get the fuck out of my way before I end up-

‘D, don’t you know where you are?’ Blurted the purple one. 

‘Look, you two fucking dick jockeys jumped me before I’d even had the chance to take a shit. Now, I didn’t ask to come here. So if you would kindly get out of my way, please, else I might just take a shit down both of your throats.’

The officer didn’t move his hand. I sighed. The purple one stiffened in his seat, making himself larger, it seemed. I produced my fruit knife, the one I use for, well, the one I use for cutting the rough skin off pears. 

I waited until the officer reached for the knife before stabbing him through the hand, sending both blade and the poor fellow’s extremity firmly into the roof of the carriage. Give him his due he didn’t scream, well, not immediately he didn’t.

The purple one’s mouth smacked open as his hands flustered inside his jacket. Clumsily he produced a dull-black, antique looking pistol and cocked the hammer.

Usually I have no taste for the firearms but this one looked interesting enough to make me curious. 

Sadly, it was at this point when officer with hand impailed to ceiling began to wail. 

The handle of the pistol just about fitted in the purple copper’s gob. And I mean just a-fucking-bout. Truth is I had to smash a few teeth out to get it in there properly. I smiled as his eyes flickered upward into his soft-shell brain, just as the door to the carriage was torn open. Abruptly I was met with a larger version of the antique firearm purple copper was currently dining on.

I considered surrendering as the weapon levelled on me. My boots must have had other ideas. Before you could smell a fart the young army man had a UK size eleven depression in his chest, roughly the same shape as my boot if truth be told. Bones and organ reconfigured in an instant and the man literally went flying.

An order was given from somewhere outside. I could hear dozens of solid steps advancing. Perhaps fighting wasn’t the way out of this situation?

The purple one sounded like he could have possibly swallowed his tongue. I considered helping him, but I didn’t. I don’t know why…

I decided to shut the other officer up with a perfectly weighted head-but.

‘Look, I’ll come out…peacefully, on one condition!’ I bellowed through the open carriage door.

The advancement halted. Another moment passed before a deep voice responded. ‘And what is this condition Lord Game?’

I cringed. ‘You take me straight to a fucking toilet, before anything else happens – oh, and my weapons stay with me, yes? Nobody dies as long as nobody does anything stupid, yeah?’

A deep laugh rumbled beyond my view, followed by the laughter of several others. 

I relaxed, a little pip of wind escaping me, threatening to follow through and turtle head right there and then.

‘So Nobody’s fucked either way then! Ha!’ Laughed the deep voice. Again follwed by more laughter. 

I laughed too as I thought about it. A soft mass hatched beneath me. I shouldn’t of laughed. Nobody wasn’t the only one in deep, rich shit.

Cities within Cities.

Docked and feet back on familiar ground I was approached by two stout fellows wearing peculiar badges on the left breast pockets of their police uniforms.
‘Lord Game…’ said the taller of the two, both bowing their heads fractionally.

I was immediately taken back. These officers certainly knew who I was, it seemed.

‘Your presence is required by the Crown. If you would please accompany us to the City-

‘Hang on a minute there…mister officer. I’ve been away for almost two years, now I ain’t going nowhere till I’m good and ready, especially not for any fucking King of England!’ 

The men frowned, then shared a look. It seemed that I had missunderstood something here.

‘Forgive me Lord Game, it is not King George who summons you.’

The marines milled passed us and wooped into the arms of their loving families. Most of them avoided looking in our direction. I avoided giving a fuck. 

The oddly dressed police men waited, glances swapping back and forth. I wouldn’t say they were nervous, but, I don’t know, something wasn’t right about this picture. 

I zeroed in on the one who hadn’t said a word yet. ‘Talk then!’ I startled him. ‘Who has the fucking audacity to summon me, right fucking now, the precise moment I land-

‘The Crown!’ he blurted, cheeks flushing red. 

Some of the marines began ushering their families away from our little gathering as quickly as they could. I didn’t blame them.

‘Begging your pardon Lord Game,’ recovered the officer, stumbling over his apologetic mumbling. He stepped forward, fancy paper outstretched.

I noticed the coat of arms, “The City Of London”, in the top left corner. One word across the middle: Kratzenstien

I frowned at that word. Maybe I would finally find out who plucked me from the abyss of eternal unrest? I wasn’t holding my breath, not that that would kill me if I did, but something stirred. I felt hopeful.

Belatedly I felt ashamed that I hadn’t even spared a single thought for the tongeless surgeon who stitched me back together. I wondered what he was doing now. Then I thought of Claric…I turned away from the memory of my old friend. 

I conceded with a nod. The officers deflated in unison. I mused that now they looked even shorter. Dwarf secret policemen. Ha!

I gave the letter back to the gloved hand of the taller officer. 

‘The carriage awaits, Lord-

‘Look, it’s just Henry or Game, if you must, I ain’t putting up with all that Lord and Sir shit, all right?’ I think they smiled as I barged past them and into the waiting carriage, also festooned with the coat of arms of the City of London.

I don’t know what they found so funny.

Course Correction

Image courtesy fo

So there we were, wounded, tails tucked, racing across the atlantic to meet Napoleon head on; minus a General; minus all morale. 
The Americans had rallied at North Point, a little late if you ask me, but still, they weren’t chuffed that we’d burnt down their headquarters…we thought the fighting was over. 

Poor ol’ Bobby Ross had his balls blasted off. That left the troops dismayed. Lack of active reconnaissance had left us a little flat-footed. 

The lads were “sir”-ing Claric. It seemed in my absence he had been elevated from the humble rank of court jester. 

Admiral Claric, they confirmed, ordered us straight through the night and on to Fort M’ Henry, the last and most formidable gateway. A statement true in more ways than one. 

There it seemed the true American resistance awaited. They claimed the battle. The empire was sent scurrying. 

Claric, it seemed, had fallen. I refuse to believe he was slain. I almost refused to board the last Ship before it left the mortar pocked harbour. Almost, but truth is I didn’t have much choice. We were chased off by bullet and mortar fire. 

The topic of immortality never actually came up between us, me and Claric, believe it or not, but I knew that he was at least 300 years to the good. Somehow I suspected he was much, much older. Perversely, I found myself wondering where his hip flask lay. Wondering if it too had fallen to the icy depths of the harbour..perhaps some poor soul would find it one day and drink in the sweet cursed beor. Maybe that someone would be me. I would be so lucky.

The HMS Endymion quickly mutinied into a festering barge of egos. We had practically evolved into pirates! The crew needed a leader, a new general, a king – no, not a king, a President! God knows I hate the crown. Yes, the word President had a good ring to it. After all, they brought me back for one job, did they not? One order of business: to kill. And if anybody was going to be president of the killing business it would be me surely? Henry fucking Game.

I emerged from the thin shadow of my cabin, the wet cutting across the steel of my purpose. 

The chief bully was a marine known as Spike. He had taken the captain’s quarters for his war-room. He had guards by his door. Smart man. They eyed me as I wandered close. 

I nodded to them as I paused to peer out across the waters; not another vessel in sight…Our original orders, as given by Rear Admiral Claric, or whatever they called him, were to return to London, gather fresh supplies and then topple the nuisance of Napoleon. The crew had voiced other ideas shortly after Claric didn’t arrive on board…

I was happy to hold my tongue, keep to the shadows, but nothing stirs a mans stomach like the harsh Atlantic. I was owed a debt, a payment of French blood. 

The ‘Americans’ were not my enemy. I realised this as soon as I set eyes on one. They were no Iroquios, shit, they were basically us! Fucking colonised English, Irish and Europeans! 

That war was a war of merchant captilasm. 

Meanwhile I seeked revenge against those that had stolen the centuries from me. Gold was a soft and relatively useless artifact when weighed against the ledger of vengance.

The only way I could see the slate wiped clean was through this Bonaparte fellow, this little Beehive fucker who’d run amok in Francais, bleeding beneath my cold hard steel. The old way. You know I like to see a man’s light snuffed with my own eyes. Bullets are too efficient, too detached. Bullets are for cowards.

I straightened up from the rail and grebbed deep over the side. Cracking my neck both ways I turned to the marines and smiled. 

Fingers twitched toward holstered weapons. A moment was all the chance they would get. 

All I needed to do was line up the biggest of them, Spike the marine. The others would fall like dominos, they always do. 

Toilet Talk

White wood, when it burns, is a story all into its self…flacid orange-like tongues of flame coat across the glaze… I watched the wood bubble and spit, burning in a fury. Fighting the fire. Yet, burning all the same. 

The bravest of the American’s resistence, the survivors, had been rounded up and stripped to the bone. They had been charged with keeping the bonfire stoked. Their own clothes used as kindling. I laughed, along with the others, while they ran to and fro, between sections of the Whitehouse still not burning, wildly gathering chairs, curtains and, well, whatever they could safely carry! It was refreshing to see that mankind hadn’t yet lost its sense of humour.

General Ross arrived as the flames licked the lawns and we were forced to pull back the artilery. I noticed an egg-shape man juttering beside him on horse back. I noticed his arm slip beneath his rain cloak and produce a hip flask. I noticed that he noticed me, noticing him. 

He tipped his flask; I tipped my hat. 

The men let out a great cheer as a naked prisoner slipped and was covered by his load. Arms full of curtain. He scurried and flapped like a rat in a sock. The men only seemed to find this funnier, that was until General Ross stuck his sword through the struggling mass of draped fabric. The laughter soon died. Only person I could hear still laughing was Claric…

Ross withdrew his blade, inspecting it in the fire light. ‘Did I give ye all instruction to capture a few wee clowns and have a fucking giggle?’ He wiped his blade on the curtains still covering the dead, naked, american prisoner. 

None spoke up. 

‘Nobody? Marines, you were brought here to finish the job quickly. The fighting is not over yet. That pig-fucking Napoleon must be stopped. We set sail at mid-day tomorrow. And put that fucking fire out!’

One or two “yes sir!” Echoed through the killing fields. I scratched my head. This isn’t how I remembered a victorious celebratory. Where was the wine? Where were the whores? 

The remaining prisoners were slain quickly. I approached the fire and reached deep. The most efficient way of killing a fire is at the base. I crinkled my nose as I whiffed my own odour. Piss hissed as it soothed against the burning white-hot wood. 

A marine stepped up beside me and followed my lead, except, I noticed, his piss scattered widly across the fringes. That’s never going to put out a fire!

‘They don’t say much about you,’ said the marine.

I’d finished pissing a while back but I left myself hanging. Truth is, I quite liked feeling the heat on my cock. 

Several seconds of silence passed. He was still in full flow. I think I saw him look toward my man parts.

‘They say that they had to dig you out of a serious undercover operation-‘

I laughed, I had to, it was funny how close to the truth that statement was. ‘You could say that.’

‘I don’t usually lend rumour much credit, but the way you dealt with those Yanks up at that gate…shit, you’ve the devil in you, You know? He finished his piss and tucked up immediately.

I stayed where I was. ‘Again, that’s one way of saying it.’

The marine turned to walk away. 

I stopped him with a non-specific grunt. He turned, eyebrows high, expectantly so. So I asked him, cock still out, still directed toward the fire. ‘That fella, the one Ross just mentioned…that Napoleon chap, I think he said?’

The marine looked like he’d missed a trick or something. ‘Yes…? Napoleon, what about him?’

‘Well,’ I began, voice lowered. ‘Who the fuck is he?’

The marine cracked up laughing.  I frowned, which only made him laugh more. I turned back toward the flame just about to tuck myself back in when another marine pulled up on my other side, eyes darting low toward me. I left it where it was and looked him in the eye. He startled and looked down quickly, piss spurting in short, nervous bursts.

‘Napoleon,’ I hissed. The marine looked up at me. ‘What do you know about him?’

The marine stopped pissing all together. I looked down, he looked down. We both looked up together, eyes met.

‘Tell me everything…’ I threatened.


It was a clear dark night, not a star in sight. 

At the time I remember thinking how odd it was. In hindsight however, I now know it was the Gods at work, disgusted, turning their backs on what we were about to do. What is the antonym for annuit coeptis? 

 Knowing what I know now, I can’t help but think that I should have taken advantage of that moment…as for the night, well, for perhaps the first time since the dawn of mankind, the Earth, our planet was unmonitored. Shame really…

The boarder traipsed miles behind us, along with a steady trail of dead american scouts. Breadcrumbs. We crept through the outter reaches of Washington DC, the dark on our side. The dark-side indeed. A crecent moon provided the only glow in the tarred canvas above, but fuck did that moon glow. Another sign, we assumed… 

General Ross’s men had approached from the east, we took the northern most direct route whilst the rest of the navy oozed in from the west. Resistance was pathetically futile and thin. These fat americans thought themselves too far away to be touched by evil, but they forget…I was there when the Iroquois settled with the French. Evil was born here. Fuck, it had practically mass reproduced and infected the whole sodding country. Now evil had evolved and  flourished into something spectacular…astonishing.

My ankle still plagued me and it was cold. Bad combination. The men, “Royal Marines” Ross had said they were called, were a fucking tough bunch. Not a peep. Every man one of them would have had an oar aboard my vessel if I still had it. 

Claric had dispersed toward New York,an indigenous Irish contingency down there apparently, perhaps one of the Merks had moved that way after Newfoundland? 

It was the year 1814 and Henry Game was about to have him a fire. Then try to put it out by pissing on the flames…

The last bit was a joke…not funny? Well, trust me when I say that you had to be there.


The Warm-up.

‘Is this really necessary? It’s not like anyone gives a sh-‘

    He let the hatch drop with a crack, leaving me be in the rickety bowels of the ship. Or at least I believed myself alone.

   ‘Ye should’n take it to heart, mi lord. Huih.’

   I recognised the slur. ‘You too eh? Though as far as you’re concerned: I can’t say I blame ’em. Pig fuckers. But to stow me away, me! I’m the tip of the fuckin’ spear!’

   He laughed, congestedly, before chugging on something wet. ‘Aye, sometimes, mi ol’ bean, it seems like us mythics are nothin’ but slurried story. Yet here we are: the pissant’s phantoms, shitting and sleeping besides the rest of ’em…huih!’

   I didn’t speak for several minutes, thinking while the vessel lurched to one side. Something heavy bounced across the planks, sliding hard against my arse cheek. Claric’s hip flask. A great thirst seized me. Suddenly all I desired was to taste the contents of the flask that never ran dry…well, if anything, I really wanted to see if it actually held an alcoholic substance within. I never trusted that he was drunk all the time. It seemed like an act; and a damned convenient one played all too often. Nobody expects too much of a drunk.

   Claric’s fumbling in the dark stopped.The silence pressed against the dark.

   I located the stopper and eased it free. The smell that hit me took my mind reeling back to my days at the Monastery…sweet beor. I raised the flask to my mouth then hesitated. Claric’s nectar breath kissed hot on my cheek.

   ‘I wouldn’, not unless ye wanna end up a Claricuan. It’s a damned thirsty honour let me tell yer.’

   I lowered the flask, my arm feeling almost weightless as Claric took the flask from me.

   Noisily he chugged down the sweet smelling liquid.

   I realised that I had been holding my breath as I heard Claric’s muffled crawl back across the cargo deck. The ship steadied as the sails were lowered. Through the walkway above, orders were given to man the oars. 

   I sensed that the air tasted familiar, fresher even? I looked at Claric – who stared into the depth of his flask like a dying man searches for the meaning of life – and smiled; contradictory to my emotions; I wondered if we were all slaves to our past?

   The hatch lifted, showering us in a heavy vapour. If Claric felt it he showed no sign of it. I, on the other hand, cursed and threatened vehemiently, you know, the way I do. 

   ‘You’re best staying down there,’till we at least get past the last check-point anyway. All it’d take is one body count. No, Game, just fucking shut your mouth and wait.’

   And just like that the hatch slammed back shut.

   The soft hissing of Claric’s laughter haunted us into the land of Canada. Well, laughing or crying, I couldn’t quite tell. Soon enough my feet would be back on frozen ground and ready to march south to fuck the Americans in the ass, good ‘n proper.

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