The Entry Word (2018) – Flash Fiction

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Not you too, Paul Hewson, I said to myself.  The images were grainy. The glasses gave him away. It was snowing in the footage. The garage forecourt was empty.

Bono was talking on what looked like a Mobira Cityman 900. 183 x 43 x 79 mm. Those things have a total weight of 760g. They were nicknamed ‘Gorba’ in Finland because Mikhail Gorbachev used one during a press conference in 1987.

Who would be on the other end of a phone like that? And what would be said? I could only imagine.

‘The Eleventh Film’ – Netflix Pitch #1

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What does the silver screen screen? It screens me from the world it holds – that is, makes me invisible. And it screens that world from me – that is, screens its existence from me.

Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed

 

The Eleventh Film

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The first public film screening organised by Auguste and Louis Lumière took place on December 28th 1895 at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. Eleven short films were on the bill that night. Each film was 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, ran approximately 50 seconds. Only ten films are listed for posterity.

  1. La Sortie de L’Usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory ) (46 seconds)
  2. Le Jardinier (L’Arroseur Arrosé) (The Gardener, or The Sprinkler Sprinkled) (49 seconds)
  3. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon (The Disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon) (48 seconds)
  4. La Voltige (Horse Trick Riders) (46 seconds)
  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges (Fishing for Goldfish) (42 seconds)
  6. Les Forgerons (Blacksmiths) (49 seconds)
  7. Repas de bébé (Baby’s Breakfast) (41 seconds)
  8. Le Saut à la couverture (Jumping onto the Blanket) (41 seconds)
  9. La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon (Cordeliers Square in Lyon) (44 seconds)
  10. La Mer (Baignade en mer) (The Sea/Bathing in the Sea) (38 seconds)

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The eleventh film was called The View of Pazuzu returning to the World – a desert scene, with a half-buried broken statue and the wind blowing. It ran for only one second and was not noticed by the audience.

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At the very moment that cinema was born the world’s fate was sealed and so the birth of one thing brought about the death of another.

With a new portal open, the passage from Beyond becomes possible once more.

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VIRO Book Three available NOW – ‘an apocalyptic Famous Five’

VIRO – The Trilogy now available

A virus has destroyed the world.
Families are torn apart.
Will Jake find his missing mum?
Or will he just become another VIRO?

REVIEWS FOR THE VIRO SERIES

‘Powerful and poignant, VIRO packs a punch.’
‘Sad and haunting, VIRO is a new take on the zombie genre.’
‘Absolutely thrilling. I loved every page more than the previous, to the point that I couldn’t stop reading.’
‘Highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys zombie stories.’
‘I was left on the edge of my seat when I finished the book with a thirst for more adventure!’

Having Read Falcon Boy and VIRO, it was with eager anticipation that I started to read VIRO II. Barnaby Taylor has a daring and rich imagination that transports you to new adventures in a re-imagined world, that are vividly written with a fresh and vibrant use of language. The heroes of Barnaby’s books are children on the cusp of their teenage years. I would like to think that this isn’t a coincidence. There appears to be a deliberate opting out in relation to the current generation with Barnaby instead looking to a new, untainted generation to right the world’s wrongs in the guise of the courageous and idealistic young children that inhabit VIRO I and II. Barnaby literally and metaphorically backs the right horse. The purity of the children in VIRO II is evident throughout the book. Jake says ‘I hated violence. I hated violent people.’

In VIRO II, we pick up with the viros (zombies) who are overrunning the world and the small band of children who are trying to survive in this world. The children’s separation from their parents also serves (as it did in VIRO I) as a powerful dramatic device, providing the next generation with the stage and platform to figure out a way forward. Barnaby really understands the mind set of young children and evocatively and beautifully captures their innocence but also their determination and guts to persevere against the odds and you as the reader wants to be with them every step of the way, willing them forward. Barnaby also excels at capturing the petty jealousies and competitiveness that can pervade the group dynamic of young children but equally the intensity and tenderness of their relationships.

To say that this book is a page turner is an understatement. Barnaby can really write an action packed scene with fear inspiring characters such as the Tall Man. Baxter the dog who accompanies the children gives the story the delightful twist of feeling like an apocalyptic Famous Five. Genius. The story is essentially an allegory set in a far more perilous and shaky world and is therefore not only for children but also for adults. Potent messages are present throughout the book. Jake incisively says ‘The world was wrong now. It was bad and broken. I didn’t understand.’ That a new value system is required to fix today’s broken world is also indicated with even the Reverend stating that ‘in order to believe in the Bible, you have to stop asking so many questions and just accept what you are told. And I have always found that hard to do. The world created in seven days? Immaculate conception?’ By the end of the book it’s apparent that the new value systems lies with the children and their unselfish spirit of caring and cooperation, the perfect building blocks of a new world order which the author may reveal in further detail in future iterations of the book as possibly hinted at by the cliff hanger of the book’s ending.

The book is a must read. Barnaby is an exciting and passionate writer. There’s real depth of meaning behind his books. You emotionally engage with and care about the book’s characters. Barnaby’s books also have a strong visual sensibility. His stories particularly VIRO I and II would translate superbly to television and cinema.

I am a huge fan of all things zombie orientated and to see the zombie genre reinterpreted from the perspective of children is thrilling. I look forward to more books from Barnaby. He’s one to watch out for. Children, adults and I suspect the film and TV industry people will love this book. I highly recommend it.’

 

Amazon links are here

http://bit.ly/VIRO1

http://bit.ly/VIROBOOK1

http://bit.ly/VIRO2UK

http://bit.ly/VIRO2US

http://bit.ly/VIRO3UK

http://bit.ly/VIRO3US

 

 

 

Barrow Girl – Tomb Raider meets the Book of Kells – Chapter Three

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Barrow Girl, Chapter 3

Inteachán lives alone in a small flat that overlooks Front Square in Trinity College, Dublin. Fourth window. Fifth floor. Sixth door. A secret gate on Pearse Street. The flat has been in Inteachán’s family since 1804. A drunken game of Faro. A lost bet honoured the next morning. Sealed deeds and ornate key.

Inteachán’s flat does not feature as part of the official tour of Trinity. No gown-wearing students halt crowds of tourists in front of the building and tell them that ‘the world’s one and only hope for salvation lives here.’ A plaque does not sit on the wall. The gift shop does not sell tea towels with her face on them. No key rings. No bookmarks. No feedback on TripAdvisor.

When the rest of her family were lost to the NotBeSpeak it was the obvious place for Inteachán to hide. The only place. There was nowhere else. That was two years ago. Inteachán has been living there ever since. You grow up quickly when you lose everyone you know. You become self-dependent straightaway. You rely upon yourself before you rely upon others. You become quite quite fearless. Inteachán is quite quite fearless.

Barnaby Taylor 2018 – All rights Reserved

Opening Lines No. 1 – Cursor (Barnaby Taylor, 2018)

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Cursor (Barnaby Taylor, 2018)

In this age of fear, famine and fundamentalism who could ever have known that the world would end because too many people were not careful enough when typing into search engines.

Terminal Transit, Book IV ‘The Million’

Hi Everyone

Here’s another excerpt from Terminal Transit. An elderly academic uncovers a cosmic plot engineered by the NotBeSpeak, a race of intergalactic entities who wish to destroy the world. With only a young child to help him, the two race against time to save the planet from oblivion.

In this chapter, the dread influence of the NotBeSpeak causes havoc on the streets of Dublin.

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Terminal Transit, Book IV ‘The Million’

The repercussions of the liberation of the zoo shook the city for days afterwards but before anyone was able to properly settle a further cosmic tragedy took place when the now-doubled presence of the NotBeSpeak caused Glasnevin Cemetery to give back all those who had ever been buried there since its opening in 1832 and a million dead people suddenly found themselves reanimated and as the television cameras cast their digital eye on this new phenomenon so this army of shuffling, staggering, crawling, limping, ambling corpses started to make their baleful way back to find those who had buried them in the first place, flowing, as they did so, like the rot-crested froth of some awful cadaverous stream.

The first problem that presented itself regarding the Million, as the media dubbed them, notwithstanding the general existential terror created by the dead coming back to life, was the inevitable chaos that their presence caused on the streets. With the city now changed beyond all recognition and generations of people having lived (and died) in buildings and at addresses that no longer existed, vast numbers of these returned relatives were able to do nothing more than hang around in the approximate areas they knew when they were alive. Great herds of the hideous soon began to congregate as small groups of lost and dislocated corpses flowed into each other, swelling as they did so and accumulating momentum with a tomb-blasted dreadness that became one more thing to sicken this already revolted city.

For some this tide of dead people became an opportunity for fun to be found and it wasn’t long before hundreds of illegal firearms were being fired at the animated corpses from windows and passing cars. Braver people formed small crews and set upon the cadavers with sticks and gold clubs and hurls, beating already broken bodies into a further pulp. Unlike the undead in every film ever made the Million had no desire to consume the living and so made easy targets for their attackers, who stalked the edges of their crowds like cunning lions looking for stray antelopes to kill.

The second problem with the Million was the anger they brought with them from beyond the grave. These particular undead were not driven by a lust for living flesh but were rather animated by the need to confront the people who had buried them and thereby confined them to an eternity in the grave. Though he was now way past being shocked by anything that was happening Mac paled the morning he woke up to find Sibeal standing shrieking in Front Square. Her corpse seemed remarkably well preserved for someone who had been buried for forty-odd years and knowing that he had no choice Mac got dressed and went down to speak to ‘her’.

‘So there you are at last!’ Sibeal shrieked. ‘I’ve waited a long time to have this out with you.’

Mac was stunned.

‘You are dead, Sibeal,’ he said, ‘and were it not for some infernal cosmic will, you and your new kind would have stayed that way forever more.’

Sibeal’s rotten face formed a partial smirk.

‘So now the truth is out,’ she snarled. ‘You couldn’t wait to get rid of me and now I’m back you want me to go again.’

‘But that simply is not true, my dear,’ said the widower. ‘The day you left me I thought that my life would end also.’

Sibeal interrupted.

‘But it didn’t, did it?’ she said. ‘Mine did, and that of our son, but yours didn’t. How fair is that?’

‘Fair?’ asked Mac. ‘What do you mean by fair? What’s fair about losing your wife and child in the same dreadful moment?’

‘You always were a selfish man,’ croaked Sibeal. ‘Always focused on yourself and your silly research. I bet you have never once put yourself in my shoes and wondered what it would be like to be dead, have you?’

Sibeal raised a rotten fist to Mac’s face.

‘The guilt of leaving loved ones behind pales very quickly in the face of an eternity of resentment about a life ended early.’

Sibeal began to shout.

‘All us dead are always angry. All we know is stolen time forever more.’

For every hour since the day she left him Mac had wanted Sibeal to come back to him and help rebuild his broken heart but now she was back the way she was he simply couldn’t bear her being around him and longed for her to return to the grave.

‘After all these years,’ Sibeal continued, ‘I care very little for your loss as it is nothing compared to the things that I was forced to relinquish the day I died. You still had your future even if you chose not to see things that way. Me, I lost my everything.’

Mac didn’t reply. How could he? There simply were no words to counter Sibeal’s undead anger, an anger that had festered in her rotting heart for the last forty years beneath the headstone Mac had lovingly chosen for her. But buried no more, Sibeal’s anger was now the energy that coursed through her broken veins and caused her worm-filled mouth to speak.

‘Enough,’ said Mac at last. ‘Stop your keening and your crying. The simple truth of the matter is that I have spent every lonely minute of my life from the day I lost you wishing you were back here with me; beside me at night, smiling when I come home, walking with me in the city. But now that you are here before me again I wish you had never come back. The dead are not supposed to feel angry about being dead, they are not supposed to feel anything ever again, they are simply supposed to be dead. It is only these cursed cosmic interlopers who have upset the world’s natural rhythm and caused poor lost souls like yourself to experience the very state that supposedly brings an end to all experiences.’

‘But what about the bloody bastard baby?’ shrieked Sibeal wildly. ‘The rotten fruit of your reeking loins.’

Mac reeled as he remembered how excited they both were the day Sibeal came home to tell him that she was expecting. They had been trying for ages and they were just resigning themselves to the fact that maybe one or both of them were infertile when Sibeal made her announcement.

‘This will complete us,’ said Mac as he drew Sibeal close to him. ‘This will make us whole.’

Her hair smelled amazing and the scent was something that had always stayed with him, even long after she had gone. But there was to be no completeness for either of them, nothing whole, only everything broken and empty, only nothing.

‘You had me buried with the baby, you bastard!’ Sibeal’s shrieking grew shriller. ‘A forever reminder of my life now ended as I was forced to cradle the cause of my death until it rotted to nothing in my angry arms.’

‘But that’s what I thought you would have wanted,’ said the tearful Mac. ‘It seemed …’

Mac’s voice trailed away as he realised that his justifying would simply serve to enrage the corpses of his dead wife even more. He knew that there simply be nothing he could say.

‘You thought! You thought! You thought of no one but yourself that day. I can picture you now, standing by the grave, selfish tears falling down your foolish face as the earth is dropped on my coffin. Then a hug and a handshake, a kind word here and a small drink there.’

As her anger boiled and boiled so small parts of the remaining flesh began to fall from Sibeal’s skull.

‘And all the while I just lay there, cradling my murderer for the rest of time. I bet not even one thought of how I was feeling crossed your mind.’

‘But how could it have?’ sobbed Mac. ‘You were dead and therefore not meant to feel anything any more.’

The hateful logic of Sibeal’s argument began to make him dizzy.

‘There is no sense to any of this,’ he said pitifully. ‘There is simply no sense at all.’

Sibeal began to beat her broken hands on his chest.

‘For you, maybe, but not for me,’ she shrieked. ‘I only knew the crawl of time as it pressed upon me and held me in place forever until that moment when I climbed free from the grave.’

She hit him harder.

‘I only knew the crawl of worms as my flesh fell away and I watched myself disintegrate until my eyes themselves were gone away and I could see no more only feel.’

Eventually the Million became too much even for this put-upon city and so the cull began. Like rabbits or badgers or kangaroos or any other vermin that threaten to overrun their environment, it became necessary to trap and snare and corner the corpses in order to start disposing of them. For small groups it was a simple affair for Army units with flamethrowers to set the corpses on fire and cremate them where they gathered. However, for the rest, something more drastic was required.

The city’s fire appliances were mobilised and drove slowly through the city looking for large groups of corpses to gather together. Slowly, and as if they were herding sheep, the fire engines drove these groups before them using their water cannons. Any stragglers were simply incinerated or crushed beneath the tracks of a unit of Scorpion tanks deployed to support the round up.

North of the river the corpses were herded onto the motorway and then forced towards the airport. Three of the runways had been commandeered for the cull and as the corpses were pushed onto the runways they were sprayed with aviation fuel from a line of tankers and then incinerated from a safe distance. The fires burned for a day and a half and the plumes of smoke were visible in all directions, hanging heavy in the air like mournful clouds.

South of the river the remaining parts of the Million were driven down to the quays and then along towards the docks. Helicopters hovered above the streets and the images on the television showed thousands and thousands of angry corpses shouting and berating as they headed towards their second doom like some perverted public parade. Once at the docks, the corpses were forced down a funnel made from containers, sprayed with fuel and then ignited and driven into the water.

Terminal Transit, Chapter II ‘A New Signal,’ Verse 1 [Work in Progress]

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Terminal Transit, Chapter II ‘A New Signal,’ Verse 1 [Work in Progress]

Priory Hall.

Two words that stand as a simple testament to an ignorant nation’s stupid, craven greed – that special kind of breathtakingly galling greed reserved for the self-appointed nobility of this ridiculous island; the bankers and builders and business leaders and breakers and burglars and broadsiders and backsliders and bastards and bollox and buffoons and landlords and layabouts and kiters and cutpurses and swindlers and sweat drippers and debt collectors and drubbers and tally men and tossers and sewage hounds and arse lickers and no-gooders and politicians and pie-dippers and chancers and swindlers and shitflickers and not ever once forgetting the plain and simple good old boys from back in the day.

Now, as befits maps and mythologies everywhere, this particular broken beacon of a building forespeaks, speaks for, speaks of, denotes, indicates, screams, ‘this is a broken country.’ At night the wind laps this particular folly like a poisoned tongue on a mouth of broken teeth. Follies used to be architectural indulgences, used for the flashing of wealth and the winning of bets.

Now, the same indulgences related to the winning of a different bet, one that has nothing to do with anything other than avarice. The same bets that forced a government to add a levy to all insurance policies. The same bets that allowed the country to never learn from its mistakes but just kept making them again and again and foolishly again.

But not anymore, the country has run out excuses and these mistakes will be among the last that the country and, indeed, the world will witness. For these same bets have now been collected by a brand-new bailiff.

Priory Hall stood empty now, a monument, a gravestone, a mausoleum, and a warning to the people who passed it by, not that they knew it yet, that this particular gravestone now stood as a marker as well to what was about to commence, indicating in no uncertain terms that the end was truly beginning.

In one of the many badly designed flats on the fourth floor of the building a black, shiny, unknown stone of clearly alien origin sat glowering on the bathroom floor next to a leaking toilet bowl. The flats of Priory Hall had been closed down due to fire safety issues but clearly the inspectors responsible for closing the building had not factored in alien cosmogeology as another reason for declaring the properties unfit for human occupation. A trail of liquid waste flowed out from the cracked toilet pan. All this piss and shit and spittle and drip and bodily issuance wet the shiny stone which, in turn, due to its peculiar porosity, added its own cosmic foulness to the now freely flowing stream of sewage.

Now on the move, the porous flooring and cheap bricks were no match for this unholy water and in very little time the main waste outlet system was breached and as the flow got greater so did the pressure on the already broken system and in very little time the sewage began to puddle and pool on the grass above the pipes.

Inspired, suffused, attuned, the natural world met a new stimulus with the black stone’s outflow and as the sewage seeped into the earth around it so the hated hectares of Priory Hall became the site for a total recalibration of an old burden, Fallopia japonica, more likely known as Japanese Knotweed. As this new flow continued and found other new water systems to infect so the roots and shoots and rhizomes, the small delicate flowers with petals like crystals, the broad oval leaves, and the red stems began to assemble aggressively all over the city with a vigour never experienced before.

Japanese Knotweed has always been one of the most voracious herbaceous perennials known to gardeners, posing a chronic danger to foundations and flood defenses, forming dense and deadly colonies that choke the life out of their riparian rivals for light and space. This new alien stimulus imbued the weed with a renewed compulsion, an urge to begin further accelerating, out-stretching, entwining, redoubling its unsighted efforts to bury this pathetic island beneath a vast sea of its ruby racemes.

Across the history of the planet, cities normally surrender themselves to the natural world long after their final desertion. For example, waves of sand will eventually level even the tallest towers. Other architectural edifices inevitably fall inwards towards their own cancerous centre of gravity, as if opening their own navels and ingesting themselves. All civic buildings of import and significance eventually lose these same values and become the halls of apes and other primates whose behaviour on the whole speaks of a more measured approach to city life than those of the previous occupants. Fountains fall silent, choked, strangled, barren, and unable to sing anymore.

Slowly, troublingly, desperately, inexorably, inspired by the black stone’s issuant, the weeds of Priory Hall began to exert their new cosmic choke on the now barely breathing city.