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Dominic McGowan

Dominic McGowan

Having spent the last 15 years working in pub management, he wants to become a writer. This may help him achieve wonderful things, while having Christmases off.

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Success! The Ordinary Girl sold 1 pre-order by Dec. 16, 2017, was queried to 24 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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$10 My Thanks! And an ebook

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Want to support a writer, but not so much that you'll spend more than cost of one of the many cocktails you consume this weekend to forget your sorry existence? Well good news! This is the reward for you!

You are a lovely, wonderful, most appreciated skinflint.

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$20 A book and a picture of Clive

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I know the man who I've based Clive on. I'll get a portrait of him and we'll both sign it and send it to you. Plus a book.

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5 books, and I will give a fantasy monster/character (they're not all monstrous) your name.

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10 books, free Clive, all signed. Heck I may even frame Clive's picture.

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$500 A q&a at a venue of your choice if I become famous. Or all the above.

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$2000 A story featuring a friend/relative of your choice

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Get yourself an original story of up to 1,500 words (maybe more maybe less; I'm not a robot) for a friend or relative! You could have me write it about you, but that'd be....well....weird. Like a literary handjob.

I'll also throw in a signed book, and your name on the dedication page at the front! Plus Clive! A photo that is.

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The Ordinary Girl

They arrived by sea. One or two, then tens, then thousands. The elves have returned, and this isn't their world. Unfortunately they think otherwise.

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Manuscript

Fantasy Dystopian
60,000 words
25% complete
Warrington, United Kingdom
3 publishers interested

Synopsis

Stories happen to other people, right? We've all seen that old woman who wobbles to the shops three times a day - she must have some secret, some past, something exciting that spurred her on. Multiple affairs perhaps? A Cold War spy? What does she remember, what thoughts go through her head as she goes to and fro, a couple of onions one hour, a pack of ham the next... It certainly isn't shopping is it or she'd bloody well remember a list.

Alexa thought this. She was a nobody. Everyone else was somebody, but her....nah. Reliable, at best. She was normal. Average. Ordinary. 

But when a strange creature visits her in the middle of the night to tell her that she is humanity's last hope, before humanity even realises they're in such a pickle, Alexa is thrown into a world where the extraordinary becomes ordinary.

The elves are returning, and they think the world still belongs to them. Luckily for us a Halfling, Goblins, Golems, and Giants think differently. Unluckily for us, humans think these are all fairy-tale creatures and a good fairy-tale never hurt anyone, right? Right...?

Outline

Chapter 1

We meet our hero Alexa. She's the ordinary woman! She then meets Clive who, exploding through the soil of her garden does things no one has ever done to her. But as he's a Halfling they're not rude. Well, actually, tripping long dormant switches in ones mind could very well be considered rude.

Chapter 2

Clive lays down the lore. An exposition into how we got to Halflings tunneling into ordinary girls' gardens. Also an exposition of what is right and what is wrong with modern day fantasy and folklore.

Chapter 3

Yeah, Alexa is having none of this. Would you? Some bearded pervert dwarf ruins your lawn and then turns your world upside down? Clive stresses he is not a dwarf, but a Halfling and these are, as he's just explained, very different things. Alexa is convinced once magic occurs.

Chapter 4

The reality of the unreality filters through. Refugees appear on the coast of Ireland. A joyous occasion turns sour. The pair begin their journey.

Chapter 5

The journey continues. Many interesting creatures expose themselves, some good, some ambivalent, some pure evil. Some...well it depends entirely on your point of view. A trial occurs.

Chapter 6

Disaster strikes, disappointment abounds. The menace grows, and the romance dies. Fear becomes dangerously ordinary.

Chapter 7

Ireland is made, but Ireland is no longer the emerald isle. Friend and foe must be dodged as neither would understand, although some may understand too much. A challenge is accepted.

Chapter 8

In Skellig Michael resolution and reconciliation is found. But evil grows beneath.

Chapter 9

Refugees become a horde. The reconcilliations are short lived. Alexa faces a choice, and the tide cannot be stopped.

Chapter 10

The prisoners return, and the world is changed. But it is also unchanged. The world is still ordinary.

Audience

My story is fantasy, dystopian, and hopefully humorous. I intend to occupy a sliver of that niche alongside Pratchett, Rankin and Gaiman, weaving humour and social commentary together, with a healthy dose of the fantastical to make things a little less real, and therefore acceptable. I believe that covers a whole range of demographics, from the nether-people born in the early 80's, through to millenials and their disdain for, but attraction to, the nerdy.

Most of all though, this is a book about how anyone can achieve something magical and wonderful. With a lot of hard work, effort, and disaster. I think that is a story that will resonate with most, although I accept that a book about Elves, Halflings, Giants, Goblins and Dragons may well put some off, but they may be drawn in by the subtext about how we treat 'refugees'.

Author

Dominic is an experienced marketeer, promoter, SEO optimiser, manager, stocktaker, human resources administrator, doorman, psychiatrist, cleaner, diplomat, conflict manager, and more. This means that for the last 15 years he's been working in pub management, but now wants to become a writer. This may help him achieve great things in the wider world, while having at least some Christmases off.

Being unpublished, the list of achievements for this biography is very short. But the good thing about that is that you chose to read this because of its fancy cover, and it means we don't have to waste more time with self promotion.

He intends to be survived by his two children, hopefully not his dog, and is in a race to the finish with his partner for a murder suicide.

Promotion

This I would love to engage with. But I would look to do it in such a way that we would market this specifically. I'm not looking to get friends and family to pity buy my book. I find people I know reading my work quite embarrassing so I'd kind of rather they didn't.

I would set up a marketing campaign based on full social media coverage, but it would be structured to tap into popular culture in a very exploitative way. As the main social commentary in this book will be about refugees and our treatment of them, a targeted Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and SEO done in a coordinated manner could easily push this novel viral. With a bit of well produced video and some good writing, we could launch this novel in such a way to make Orson Welles believe the hype.

Competition

All books by:

Terry Pratchett

J.R.R. Tolkien

Neil Gaiman

Robert Rankin

We have the fantasy of Pratchett, who also deals with the 'bad elf' in his book Lords and Ladies, the return of the elves from the west, a nod to Tolkien, Gaimen's treatment of things that are supposed to be magical and wonderful but often turn out otherwise, and Rankin's use of humour to slightly distance the reader from some often very tragic and difficult moments.

These are all writers who have influenced my way of thinking, not just of writing but in my day to day life, and clearly they will influence my thought process. What will put this work apart from them, though, is that they aren't writing it. We have elements of collaboration - Good Omens standing out, between Gaimen and Pratchett - and all these writers, and many others, borrow from Tolkien's universe. But it's about that twisted viewpoint, the changing of perspectives, and most importantly how we would deal with magical beings and creatures in the world of today, not removed to a fantasy land, or a satirical version of our world, or existing on a different plane of reality. How we, as a global society, would deal with a 'return', and what it would mean for us.

Sample

Chapter 1

‘Get your tits out!’ Alexa flicked the ash off the tip of her fag that’d built up as she fumed. Fumee as I fume, she thought wryly. Wry seemed to be how her life was going at the minute. Small jokes made to herself, under her breath, in her head, as life started to become less about the promise of her early twenties and more about ‘settling’. Although – once again wryly thought into the blackness of her back garden – settling usually involves settling with someone and not falling softly to the ground like the tiny piles of ash accumulating around the legs of the greening garden chairs. Two chairs too. Is that wry? Possibly just a sad relic of how she should have settled. Greening and rotting as a pair. The shitty habit of the midnight cigarette was also a relic with mouldy-chair-pair similarities: inherited and now kind of unwanted but ever so slightly too much like hard work to do something about.

‘You a lezza or summink?!’ The leers. They’re the worst. Like it’s her fault for not liking the shouts. As if she should be bending over, dropping jeans and asking them to form an orderly queue. Or would that not be enough for them? Would she have to suddenly develop multiple vaginas to quench their thirst all at once? Who the fuck knows what goes through their minds. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll do it one day; better than evens they’d shrivel up like maggots if she did, their desire and cocky cocks burning up like the fag between her fingers. But she’d not do that. Society would call that sort of behaviour slutty. Being shouted at to be a slut one minute, being shouted at for being a slut the next. Is that wry or a catch 22….?

‘Bet she’s a right fuck up’. Now that was possibly true, but at least she’s not fucked up enough to be shouting this clichéd crap to some stranger in the street. Or maybe that’s why she’s fucked up and they get to go home to their French-polished-mahogany-chair relationships with plastic wife and plastic kids and plastic dog in a white and gold new build. What annoyed her most of all was that this – THIS – was keeping her up. Oh, it’d be something else if not this, but……THIS. It just felt like they’d…..won. She hadn’t been scared; she hadn’t been terribly worried; she’d walked on, not slowing or speeding up, but she couldn’t help feeling like she’d lost. They toss this off – wry smile – then go back and probably be good dads and good to adequate husbands who struggle to get it up now and again. Whereas she…comes back to this. THIS. T.H.I.S.

The cigarette was down to the branding. ‘Letters!’ the mad cry at school when your mate had fags and was too tight for twos. Yet here she is as an adult with her own letters, all for herself. This is what having responsibility and a disposable income with more money than 14 year old her could imagine what to do with: half a centimetre more of death. 14 year old her would be well jealous. And wonder why the fuck she wasn’t out getting pissed. She dragged it down, enjoying the thrill of the extra nicotine and possibility of burnt lips, looked guiltily at the fading nubbin swearing she’d definitely think about giving up or cutting down or something, rolled it between thumb and forefinger, took aim at her neighbours’ end bush which must now have a yellowing heap of her saliva and cigarette leavings, and flicked.

Now if we slow this down, as the embers flew through the air, in only the way that a perfectly flicked cigarette can -end over end, a magnificent arc that says ‘I smoked this and I have no fear of hastening my end you non-smoking wimps. And look how confidently I litter!’ – let us pull back and survey the scene. It’s important you understand that, with what’s to come, this was ordinary. Ordinary end terrace. Brick, 1930’s. Back garden with garage used for storage. Couple of bedrooms, kitchen, living room, downstairs bathroom (the least ordinary thing in this exact moment, soon to become insignificantly unordinary), poorly tended yet functional and as clean as one person can be arsed to make it. Alexa, 20-something, ordinary: not ugly, obviously not a model, not fat, unhappy with her body, but no one other than her would bat an eyelid, pyjamas, outside shoes trodden down on the heel of course, left arm across her body as if the night might be judging, right arm extended to get the perfect flick. Totally ordinary, and you’ve probably been in a similar situation.

Much like the Indiana Jones films, everything that is to come would’ve happened one way or t’other. Sorry to remove the romance of the novel, but it’s true. If she’d fluffed the flick it wouldn’t have been her, but it definitely would have been someone else. A man. An old woman. If Susan-next-door’s dog had wanted to go for a shit 5 minutes earlier and had happened to been nosing around in the fag-end graveyard it would’ve been her. She has her story too: settled in the same way Alexa imagines she should be, but unhappy and unfulfilled in ways only the long settled know. In fact her story might have been more interesting. Had more pathos, more sentiment, more love and loss, fear, worry, drama. But the fact is that’s not how the world works. With all you’ll know by the end of this, make sure you keep that in mind: chance is all that ever matters and controls all that you strive to make happen. And chance means that this 20-something, single, employed, frustrated female, flicking fags over the fence, and dwelling on the dirt and jealousy that some perfectly ordinary workmen injected into her day, keeping her up at midnight, giving her an excuse to feed her late night smoking habit, became the person around whom the world changes.

We speed up. She watches the perfect arc with the first twinge of satisfaction for something she’s felt all night. Up the fag end goes, looking like it might land her side of the fence but no! it kisses the fence ever so slightly and drops to its brethren like some kind of avenging angel, come to deliver them! Of course it’s going to settle, but only she knows that and she feels good; God-like, giving that smelly yellow sponge a bit of what she thinks she’s missing…

‘You fucking cunt!’

Alexa froze. Given the internal monologue and that the exclamation was whispered, for a split second she thought it was another comment from the workmen flashing through her head, but no, she didn’t remember being called a cunt by them at all.

‘Errr….hello?’ she quavered, realising ‘errr hello’ as it left her mouth was perhaps not adequate considering she’d apparently just flicked a burning cigarette onto her neighbour.

‘You fucking CUNT!’ a hissed whisper of the truly pissed off now. Alexa crossed her arms and started down the garden.

‘Oh my god I’m so sorry! It’s just that it’s like midnight and I didn’t know anyone was out here and I wasn’t thinking and….’ She slowed seeing that the bush was now trembling angrily. She heard a scrabbling and grunting, not dissimilar to a pig rooting about. More muffled curses reached her ears. Well, she assumed they were curses in the way the spitting whispering continued, but the actual words were impossible to make out as it sounded like the source of the voice had its head buried in something now.

‘Errr….hello?’ she said again, inwardly putting her head in her hands at now starting to sound like a bit of a cunt. Man up Alexa, she thought. The bush had stopped shaking now as she made it to the other side of the fence.

‘Look,’ nothing polite ever begins with ‘look’, especially when whispered, ‘you shouldn’t be fucking about in bushes at midnight, and I’m really sorry but it’s late and it’s no time for gardening. It was only a fag butt and it can’t be that bad, and cunt is a horrible word so I think you should apologise.’ That’s better, she thought. Now I sound like a pompous cunt too.

All had gone silent now. I’m clearly losing my shit she thought, and with the tremulous confidence of the never-standing-up-for-oneself-whos-just-stood-up-for-herself she started to back away hoping that that was very much that. Maybe she’d imagined it….she definitely wasn’t feeling herself and all the abuse had maybe just

PFFFFFFFFT!

See, here I’d like to write ‘BANG!’ or ‘CRACK!’ or even ‘KABOOM!’ but then we might be a bit 1960’s Batman, and Alexa didn’t do spandex. No, PFFFFFFFFT is what happened as the ground where Alexa had been standing erupted in a mess of mud and roots and stones and…..an angry bearded black face spitting and hacking up mud and roots and stones and what looked like old cigarette butts.

‘Baaaaaaaagh plap blap fnerrr garrrrgh hagh’ said the face, spitting the detritus of god knows what exists from under any garden. Of course Alexa missed all this. All she saw was night of the living dead shit and, being absolutely normal in every way, she froze to the spot, a bit of wee squeezing out. The face as it emerged she saw was not black, just mud coated. It had a black beard, not too long but certainly not well groomed, not now anyway, and was wearing a dirty (obviously) black knitted cap. What she also noticed, and partly what really freaked her out too, was that this head was small, and as the creature struggled ungainly to release his arms and shoulders from this burrow, so was the body. Now, it wasn’t like those humans who are generally small (definitely not dwarves; you’ll see why) but with normal sized heads or hands, (or willies: it’s true, look it up), no. This thing was of normal human proportions, just waist high.

‘What the fuck is going on?’ she squeaked, voicing her own internal scream as a vocalised whisper.

‘You are a fucking cunt that’s what. Fucking flicking fire about like some fucking old one she does and she’s the one who’s got the fucking problem. Well excuse me your royal bitchness, but you’ve just shown why we’re all in the shit and you my fucking dear are the shit that’s smothering the tip of the spear!’

‘My….my lawn…what have you done?’ Again, inner facepalm, or there would’ve been if she wasn’t internally screaming.

‘Fucking lawn she says. Fucking fallow meadow at best you twat.’ The creature was now clear of his hole and stamping down the damage, doing nothing to repair it. ‘How’s that for you yermajester?!’ with the vicious whisper this whole conversation had been carried on in accompanied with the most middle fingered bow you could possibly imagine. Kings and queens would’ve lopped his head off there and then, but Alexa couldn’t take her eyes away from his: all black and gleaming like…well…something black and gleaming. She had literally no point of reference for this, but his eyes were completely black. Black iris, black cornea, black whites. But….gleaming.

Alexa vomited.

‘Oh for fucks sake’ his bow turning into a scamper as vomit splashed over her slippers and where he had been not a second earlier. ‘Look. Bitch! Look at me!’

Wiping strands of drool from her mouth with a quivering hand Alexa looked and suddenly there were just his eyes. The world became just those black holes and she felt as if she were falling. Her mind scrabbled to escape but the eyes drew her in deeper and deeper, the night turning brighter and brighter as the eyes swelled and sucked her through her own vision, screaming and crying and begging. She could feel something dragging her, pulling her and she was no longer in control, there were just the eyes, the deep oil spreading across her soul removing all sense all feeling all

‘….merfn gluph schmeden hergn arme listnog ast nerjloody thing come on wake up! Oi!’ Slap. ‘Oi. Wake up yermajester! That was a fucking close thing that and no regard. Phew doesn’t even cover it. Oi! Come on girl. Let’s try doing this in a way where neither of us feels like we’re gonna die.’

The room swam in to focus and Alexa was lying on her back on her kitchen floor. Mostly what she saw was the thing now sat on her chest, but she at least knew where she was, which was comforting. She couldn’t be totally crazy if she was in her kitchen right? Her brain felt like it had been turned inside out and chewed up, and there was a strange dull thrumming that most certainly wasn’t there before the cigarette. I must give up smoking she thought. It’ll be the end of me…and she started to laugh.

‘What are you fucking laughing at?’ Slap. ‘It’s best for both of us if you stop fucking jiggling like this cos my stomach isn’t too fucking shiny thanks to your garden antics you lanky piss stain!’ Slap.

Through her tears Alexa managed to gasp ‘Stop…fucking….hitting….me! What sort of hallucination are you? A piece of cheese! Haaaaaaa….’

‘Oh my days. Look. Lets start again. I’m getting the fuck up, we need to talk.’

‘Ooooo maybe you’re an undigested bit of beef! That’s it isn’t it?’ Alexa gasped, ‘I fucking hate beef….’

The thing slid off her chest and Alexa sat up, slumping against her kitchen cupboard below the sink. The room was full of mud, and part of her thought thank god it was a dry night. She couldn’t be dealing with wet mud at all….she could also smell sick. That wasn’t nice. Her stomach churned once more. Looking up through tear and mud-streaked eyes she regarded the man sat opposite her. He was small, yet he’d dragged her into her kitchen. It looked like he’d even managed to give himself a bit of a wash, which kind of grated, but what sort of hallucination washed itself? Get another grip, Alexa…Ok.

‘What…the fuck….are you?’

The creature drew himself up off the floor and stood to his full 3ft (3ft 6 actually, but no one was really counting at that moment). For the very first time he smiled, and at that moment the terror and hysteria Alexa felt overwhelming her started to subside. It didn’t leave; not for days, but that smile made her think of….well, good things. Sunshine, meadows, simple lives, the wind through a willow on a summers day. Later Alexa would think that was a load of pretentious horseshit, but it was also the only way she could ever describe that moment. This thing that had dug up through her garden, that she’d been sick at and had made her wee, that had caused her terror that blackened her very soul, that had called her things far worse than a few sexist builders had, dispelled it all with one smile. And the thrumming at the back of her skull settled down to a dull throb.

‘Firstly, may I apologise for all this. I’m out here searching for what it turns out is fucking YOU of all people, so congratufuckinglations, and believe me getting my feet burned is not what I was expecting. We’re very precious about our feet and we don’t like them being fucked with. So my apologies, but don’t be such a careless knob.’

Alexa looked down for the first time and saw his feet: big, hairy on top with long toes, and what must have been a good centimetre or so of thick leathery skin on the bottom. Not enough pumice in the world she thought…

‘Marvellous aren’t they?’ he grinned again, and the feeling washed over her once more…she smiled back, then remembered exactly what was happening.

‘I didn’t ask about your fucking feet you…you…molesterer! I asked you what the fuck you are!’

‘You don’t know?’ he said, and his face fell and it was as if a cloud passed over the sunny day in the willows, making Alexa feel a strange mixture of guilt and sadness. He sighed, ‘Well I suppose it’s a good thing we don’t rely on the royalties. Not that the bastard ever gave us any, fucking gobshite elf loving cunting…’

‘PLEASE! What the hell are you?!’

‘I, my dear, am called Clive. And I am a Halfling.’

‘……Clive….?’ This was perhaps not the most obvious response to seeing a being that we all thought was a figment of a scholar’s imagination (or, for our younger readers, the subject of four films), but right now Alexa was rather off balance to say the least. Obviously the thing stood before her was not normal by anyone’s imagination but the thing that was really jarring was

‘Clive. What about it?’ the halfling asked, his mouth curling defensively. ‘It’s a strong halfling name, passed down from generation to generation, going back to before you cunts made a fuck up of this world. And how is that the thing you’ve got a fucking problem with? I’m a fucking halfling!’

Alexa started to feel a little daft concentrating on this, and clearly ….Clive…. was a touch offended.

‘Oh, well, yes, obviously there’s the whole halfling thing, of course,’ laughing nervously, ‘but…well…isn’t it like meant to be Frodo or….y’know….Dildo….’ she trailed off.

He arched an eyebrow to match the curl of his mouth. It was quite an impressive feat of facial manipulation, Alexa noticed. ‘Dildo? Are you trying to piss me off or something? Mankind hasn’t definitively seen one of us for hundreds of years and not only do you burn me you want to stick me in your fucking foo-foo? Yes: Clive. It means ‘lives near a cliff’ cos guess what?’

‘You live near a cliff?’

‘My parents liked the name you bellend.’ Clive sighed, ‘As we’re doing names, what is yours oh intelligent one?’

‘Alexa,’ said Alexa, and, with what she considered to be great poise, reached to shake the Halfling’s hand.

‘I’ve just seen you wipe vomit off your face with that. Please don’t wave it at me.’

‘Sorry,’ and she pulled back and thought hard. ‘So…Halfling?’

‘Ah, there we go. Correct: a halfling. Well, these days I’m kinda THE Halfling actually. A lone wolf if you will.’

Alexa started to snigger at the thought of this little creature ever having any wolf-like similarities, but quickly stopped as those black eyes flashed. Remembering vaguely the horror of the garden, she thought that maybe he wasn’t exactly safe company either, small or not.

‘So….ummmm….I’m sorry, but this is all rather a lot to take in and I just don’t know what to say and well it’s not often I’ve had a man come up’

‘Halfling’ Clive bristled.

‘Sorry, yes, well, I’ve never had a Halfling come up..well anywhere’

‘Hur hur hur’

‘Yes, quite, and I, well it’s late and maybe you should be getting back to your cli…burro…house?’

Clive sighed heavily. ‘Do you think I’m out at midnight crawling around in mud for fucking fun?’ he sighed.

‘Well…in all honesty, I don’t know. What does a fucking lone wolf halfling do for fun?’

‘Pah. Not as much as I’d like. And yes ok,’ he held his hands up, ‘I do quite like burrowing. Something primal and argh! Just makes me feel really Halflingy, y’know!’

Alexa nodded, while inner Alexa wondered about what other things he’d like to do.

‘But, that is not why I am here,’ he continued. ‘Burrowing I can do at any time and I’ll have you know it’s much more comfortable naked.’ Her eyes widened at this, and for the first time he looked a touch embarrassed and looked down, ‘it makes a right mess of your clothes don’t it. And well there’s something about the feel of naked skin against’

‘Enough!’ Alexa didn’t really want to hear any of that, making a mental note that if this is a hallucination to get a much better imagination. Chasing dragons is what’s expected, not grubby grubbing halflings.

‘Nah, the problem is that dragons turn around and chase you back’ he intruded. And they stared, both looking more than a little shocked.

Can you read my mind? she thought.

‘What’re you staring at…?’ Clive ground a toe into the lino uncomfortably.

‘Can you read minds?’ she asked, covering herself with her hands as if to ward of his thoughts.

‘Hm. Well, that’s complicated. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been around humans, and I’ve never talked to one of you lanky buggers. Plus there was all that shit in the garden…’

‘Have you done something to me?’ she exclaimed

‘Well excuse me!’ he drew himself up to his full 3’6. ‘It wasn’t me vomiting and weeing and crying and dribbling like a loon in the garden at midnight! If your fucking neighbour had looked out we’d both be fucked! I’d probably be in some lab getting my feet shaved or something disgusting!’

‘You dug up THROUGH MY GARDEN! How the fuck am I supposed to react. I’m seeing a fucking mythical beast’

‘Oi!’

‘For the first time in god knows how long so excuse me if I’m a little fucking perturbed. I don’t even know why you’re fucking here, CLIVE!’

They stared at each other, her still sat against the cupboard, him stood up, eye level with her. Both covered in mud (and the rest), both breathing hard, not moving. She once again couldn’t tear her eyes from his, and the thrumming began to return, stronger, more powerful, flowing from the back to the front of her head, landing behind her eyes with each beat, flowing with her heart.

Thrrrum, thrrrum, thrrrrum

Clive leaned in for a kiss.

‘The FUCK!’ and she pushed him hard in his chest. He was surprisingly heavy, but it was enough to knock him to his arse, never looking more like a weird beardy child, a flush spreading across his face.

‘Sorry, sorry….just thought there was a moment there y’know….’

She tried to form words but sat there open mouthed, struggling to process the last few minutes. Hell the last…what was the time? She glanced at the kitchen clock: 1.15. The last hour.

She stood, the thrumming now seemingly a constant companion, holding her head, her legs protesting at the movement, and looked down at Clive.

‘Get out.’

‘Look, I’m sorry, but’

‘Get. Out.’

Clive stood, and her left leg buckled, a look of concern passing over his face. ‘I can’t leave. Believe me, you’re not a fucking pleasure to be around, but I can’t. Can we please just talk?’

‘And then you’ll leave?’

‘If you want me to’

‘Oh I really do’

‘Then I will. But you have to hear me out.’

‘No more kissing’ she shuddered, thinking of the tiny beardy lips approaching hers.

‘Harsh. But I promise: not a pass shall be made. Ha! None shall…’

‘And no more of that…eye shit right?’

‘I’ve already apologised about that haven’t I?’

‘Right. Ok. Let’s go and…’ both legs now buckled and she fell to her knees.

‘Oh shit,’ said Clive and he went over to her and helped her up. Just imagine if you will someone waist high trying to help you to your feet. It involved a lot of pushing and poking that, later, Alexa wasn’t too happy about, but instead there it was again:

Thrrrrrum thrrrrum thrrrrum

‘Look,’ as he helped her to her feet, Alexa using his head as a furry walking stick, ‘Why don’t you go get a shower, clean yourself up, and I’ll see about cleaning up a bit down here and making a bit of a snack. Hot sugary tea and shit?’

Vaguely wondering how he’d reach the tea in her cupboards, Alexa nodded and staggered to the bathroom. She sat on the edge of the bath and looked down at her hands as the thrumming subsided to a dull throb. Her nails were a mess, and there was mud all up her arms. Putting her hands to her hair she could feel the dust of the dry mud throughout it. Typical: a haircut today…no yesterday now, and now that was gone to shit. And a halfling had just tried to kiss her. And read her mind. And did that…that…THING with his eyes. A shower, clean clothes, and face it that way. That sounded like a plan, and, given the banging and crashing and muffled ‘Shit’s and ‘Fuck’s and apparently ‘How does the bitch live like this?’, clearly this little man wasn’t going anywhere soon. She turned the shower on, undressed and climbed in, quickly filling the bath with all sorts of muck and grime. She noticed a karmic fag butt too: very wry.

Alexa exited the bathroom after 20 minutes feeling less exposed. In no way comfortable, but now in a fresh robe, and mudless, she felt that she would either see something real or the hallucination would have ended without her getting carted away. It would be that greatest thing of all: tomorrows problem. The noises from the kitchen had stopped as she showered, so at least the return to normality was possibly on the cards…. Obviously it wasn’t, dear reader, because if so I’ve just mugged you off for whatever you’ve spent to get this far. And as much as I’m sure I’d love the world to work that way, as Alexa’s about to discover, chance means that sometimes there is the need for rather a lot of hard work.

‘Here she is. Radient as she can be,’ Clive sniffed, ‘or at least clean anyway. I don’t know you, and let’s be honest we’re both probably capable of being a bit more fucking radient.’

He’d tidied up. Not just cleaned up all the mud in the kitchen, but TIDIED UP. Books on her bookshelves were alphabetised, her paperwork had been filed into neat piles, organised into plastic wallets with post-it notes for guidance. On her living room table was a selection of damn crudités and dips. She could’ve sworn he’d vacuumed too, which, as she’d not heard her rickety dust spewing sham of an appliance bellowing away in disgust at its job, was perhaps the oddest thing of all. He could be a super organiser, a master chef, but she doubted anyone’s powers were enough to wrestle silence out of and all the dirt in to that machine.

‘I tidied the best I could,’ as he saw her looking around. ‘Did you know you’ve got a few bills you really should be seeing to? At your age you should be a lot better organised than this I must say. And it doesn’t look like you have a pension and I must say that is…’

‘Stop. Please’ she interrupted, feeling the thrrrrrum begin to return. Definitely she’d hurt her head, but this was most certainly not the actions of an hallucination. ‘My head is fucked, but I’m pretty sure you’re real’

‘Ta’

‘and you promised you’d tell me what this is all about. I don’t need a commentary on my appearance, my lack of financial planning, and I’m grateful for the cleaning and this…this magic food but’

‘Oh it’s not magic! Ooooo no. Magic food is just….bleurh’ and he shivered, ‘you want to keep well away from that you do! Not…to….be…fucked..with….’ He noticed the stony stare she had now fixed him with and his mouth clamped shut.

‘BUT you promised me you’d explain just what the fuck is going on. Now, this is what will happen: I’m going to sit here,’ gesturing to the sofa, ‘you’re going to sit here,’ gesturing to the foot rest currently on the opposite side of the table, ‘and you’re going to tell me exactly why it’s half one in the morning and I am having tea with a mythological creature with a foul mouth. That’s it.’ And finally, briefly, in control of her situation through sheer force of exasperation, she watched Clive mutely climb onto the footstool and sit before she lowered herself with tremulous grace to the edge of the sofa. Both breathed out, reached for their teas, slurped the not quite boiling top up (sugary as promised), and Clive began.


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