Creative Writing, Poetry, Work, Writing

Catapults and Boiled Sweets

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Catapults and boiled sweets
Sailing boats and jam jars
Watching tadpoles
Playing in the woods
Hunting newts
Swings and roundabouts
Wistful thinking
For the days
That never were

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Work, Writing

Always Descending

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Always descending, never ascending.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I can’t get used to this feeling
Moving downwards, moving down.
Is it really like this? What are we doing?
Do we really want this?
Is this the thing to be?
The chains that pull the valves and the levers,
That drive the steam through pipes of dreams.

Dream worlds falling, morning calling,
Pull the chains on, shoulder the yoke.
Down to business. Down to labour.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I don’t like this, what am I doing?
I don’t really want this, what is to be?
Enter the shaft that takes us downwards.
The light is dimming as our dreams descend

Photo by Anjeliica on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Work, Writing

Qualm

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Calm your qualms
It’s all change
It’s all good
Still
The trembling
Still

Photo by Gugulethu Ndlalani on Pexels.com
Sir Richard Francis Burton Biography Cover
Daily Prompt, Fiction, General, Review, Science Fiction

Sir Richard Francis Burton

By Scott Bailey

If ever you are looking for a good and somewhat different biography to read them try Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton by Byron Farwell.

I am not one for biographies myself – I only read this one due to the fact that he was featured in one of my favourite old time Science Fiction series – the Riverworld books by Philip Jose Farmer. A series where every single person who ever lived is resurrected on one world all at once – just a fantastic premise in itself.

Farmer uses Burton as the main character of the first book (and others later on.)  He writes him with such passion and paints him in such an interesting way that you can’t help but find out more about him.

So I delved into this biography. Farmer had only painted a small part of his life!

Sir Richard Francis Burton, in reality, was  – complicated.

He was a man of extremes. In many ways, he was extremely admirable. On other extremely reprehensible! Unforgivably so.

He achieved more in his lifetime than many of us could on six, seven, eight lifetimes! But is beliefs were bigoted and selfish, to say the least.

For example:

He was an avid supporter of slavery! He believed women’s places were in the home or the bed! He was vehemently anti-semitic and wrote several books that still cause controversy today!

You could argue he was a product of his time but he was an intelligent man and there were plenty of contemporaries who were seeing past the constraints of their society and challenging the established views.

He was a womaniser – had affairs, frequented brothels. He was a brawler – fought at the drop of a hat earning him the nickname Ruffian Dick. He disregarded authority of all kinds and went his own way, expelled from University and often AWOL from his army career.

However:

On the flip side.

He was one of the foremost fencers of the time inventing some new moves.

He was a masterful linguist  – he was fluent in 24 languages – and in many of the different dialects of them. So much so he could pass himself off as a local in many places. He learnt much of it from prostitutes!

He was a master of disguise – not just in the fact he could dress up, makeup and talk like the locals. But that he understood them, he took the time to know their customs and etiquette, the foibles without which he would have been betrayed as an outsider. He immersed himself in their culture.

He made seven pilgrimages in his life.  Studying and being accepted into various religions – understanding their teachings while not believing any of them.

He was the epitome of an explorer, making dangerous journey in strange lands, suffering illness and injury, going back for more and pressing on.

He explored and brought to light the many sexual practices from around the world. He brought much middle eastern and eastern culture to our consciousness. He brought us translations of the Thousand and One Nights, the Karma Sutra and the Perfumed Garden.

So as I said, complicated.

It brings up a problem we often have with heroes. We want them to be perfect. We want all those good qualities without the bad. But life is not like that – people are not like that.

We kind of know that – we try and accommodate it. Modern day fictional heroes have their flaws, they are dark and brooding and have emotional baggage. But nothing we can’t handle – nothing really reprehensible.

So it got me thinking. I have a real problem with Sir Richard Francis Burton. I admire what he achieved. I dislike what he was as a person. I certainly would not like not have known him personally. 

And I see a reflection of modern men in this dilemma. I have written here about how men (and everyone in fact) are demonised in modern media. On the other side, we are brought up with a set of ideals about what a man should be what we should strive to be.

We end up with conflicting views – an ideal – heroic man to strive for, and the wretch the world tells us we are.

The conflict I feel when thinking about Richard Francis Burton is the conflict we feel about modern men – he is a kind of reflection of us.

We should, I think – start to accept our flaws more, try to improve and eliminate them, yes, but give ourselves a break. They are a part of us, a part of our nature. Nobody is perfect – natures abhors perfection as much as a vacuum.  Perfection does not exist so let’s stop trying to achieve it.

Anyway, ramble over.

Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, General, Poetry, Writing

The Siege of the Stupid

By Scott Bailey © 2017

We have handed over our passport
Battered down the hatches
In a siege of our own designing
Some feeling smug justification
Others wondering if they should have done more
All responsible
All of us
Remember this
Huddled behind our walls
When the hunger strikes

Photo by Anthony Beck on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, General, Poetry, Writing

Fortune

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Fortune favours the bold
Risk equals success
People stop seeing risk
And hand over their cash
Their time
Their labour
Their lives
The minority shine
The majority are mesmerised
While they fall

Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, General, Poetry, Writing

Territory

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Territory shrinks
As the walls rise again
And the drawbridge is raised
The world is smaller

The worst of times
From long ago
Are opium
Entertainment
Sleight of mind

Meanwhile
Terry the Tory
Sniggers behind
Fake pride
And cheap beer

Protest
Is the latest sport
Avarice
The virtue of power

Photo by Aaditya Arora on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, General, Poetry, Writing

The Elixir

By Scott Bailey © 2017

The Elixir
Swept through the void
Hunting
Stars glinting off the
Silver skin
The peak of human invention
Empty and silent

Photo by SpaceX on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Writing

The Lord of the Trees

By Scott Bailey © 2006

I am Herne the Hunter, Lord of the Trees,
and you are a leaf blown on the breeze.
Echoes and whispers inside your head,
set you on the path you were destined to tread.

Head of a wolf, eye of a hawk,
in the forest, the hooded man shall walk.
A man of balance not of gold,
Is it demon or god to whom you are sold ?

So string the bow and take up the sword,
Do my bidding and carry my word.
For you are my son Robin in the Hood.
You are the king of all Sherwood.

Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Self Publishing, Short Stories, Writing

Anticipate

By Scott Bailey ⓒ 2017

I anticipate
The dissipation
Of the all
The scattering
Of goals
The rise of dreams
To ride
Upon the mists
To be blown
Upon the winds
To reside
In clouds
And hide
In trees
To sleep
In earth
Drink water
Sup sunlight
Weep rain
And sigh

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Poetry, Work, Writing

Lust

By Scott Bailey © 2017

In all the bluster and noise
There is lust
Hidden

Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Music, Poetry, Science Fiction, Work, Writing

Carrier

By Scott Bailey © 2017

The secret passenger
Scampers around
Just looking for a snack
Innocent, unaware
Of the death that he carries

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Music, Poetry, Science Fiction, Work, Writing

Rested Wheel

By Scott Bailey © 2013

Why aren’t we railing?
Why aren’t we mad?
Why do we sit in silence?
In apathy so sad.

Is the sickle blunted?
The hammer dropped and cracked?
Has the guillotine lost its edge?
Has liberty backtracked?​

The peasants have moved on
From field to factory to desk.
Is it beautiful progress
Or captivity grotesque

So day after day
after day after day.
We struggle and toil
No time to play.

We hand over our freedom
We hand over our cash.
While the fat cats sleep
on their growing stash.

Where is the spirit of liberty?
The hero in the square?
The lone horse trodden woman.
Defanged are those who care.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Poetry, Work, Writing

Catapults and Boiled Sweets

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Catapults and boiled sweets
Sailing boats and jam jars
Watching tadpoles
Playing in the woods
Hunting newts
Swings and roundabouts
Wistful thinking
For the days
That never were

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Work, Writing

Always Descending

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Always descending, never ascending.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I can’t get used to this feeling
Moving downwards, moving down.
Is it really like this? What are we doing?
Do we really want this?
Is this the thing to be?
The chains that pull the valves and the levers,
That drive the steam through pipes of dreams.

Dream worlds falling, morning calling,
Pull the chains on, shoulder the yoke.
Down to business. Down to labour.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I don’t like this, what am I doing?
I don’t really want this, what is to be?
Enter the shaft that takes us downwards.
The light is dimming as our dreams descend

Photo by Anjeliica on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Work, Writing

Qualm

By Scott Bailey © 2017

Calm your qualms
It’s all change
It’s all good
Still
The trembling
Still

Photo by Gugulethu Ndlalani on Pexels.com
Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Giants

By Scott Bailey © 2014

I have seen giants
Striding over the land
Power on their shoulders
Stern and strong their hand

Never do they falter
Never seen one stumble or fall
Always do their duty
Always answer the call

Through storm and wind and rain
The carry their burden true
Though other links may burn out
The giants stride on through

So remember this and tremble
Even the giants will pass
Fall into dust and rusty ruin
Scattered in untamed grass

One day their burden will dissipate
Their purpose will disappear
And the duty they discharged so well
A memory dimmed with time

Image from Pixabay
Sir Richard Francis Burton Biography Cover
Daily Prompt, Fiction, General, Review, Science Fiction

Sir Richard Francis Burton

By Scott Bailey

If ever you are looking for a good and somewhat different biography to read them try Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton by Byron Farwell.

I am not one for biographies myself – I only read this one due to the fact that he was featured in one of my favourite old time Science Fiction series – the Riverworld books by Philip Jose Farmer. A series where every single person who ever lived is resurrected on one world all at once – just a fantastic premise in itself.

Farmer uses Burton as the main character of the first book (and others later on.)  He writes him with such passion and paints him in such an interesting way that you can’t help but find out more about him.

So I delved into this biography. Farmer had only painted a small part of his life!

Sir Richard Francis Burton, in reality, was  – complicated.

He was a man of extremes. In many ways, he was extremely admirable. On other extremely reprehensible! Unforgivably so.

He achieved more in his lifetime than many of us could on six, seven, eight lifetimes! But is beliefs were bigoted and selfish, to say the least.

For example:

He was an avid supporter of slavery! He believed women’s places were in the home or the bed! He was vehemently anti-semitic and wrote several books that still cause controversy today!

You could argue he was a product of his time but he was an intelligent man and there were plenty of contemporaries who were seeing past the constraints of their society and challenging the established views.

He was a womaniser – had affairs, frequented brothels. He was a brawler – fought at the drop of a hat earning him the nickname Ruffian Dick. He disregarded authority of all kinds and went his own way, expelled from University and often AWOL from his army career.

However:

On the flip side.

He was one of the foremost fencers of the time inventing some new moves.

He was a masterful linguist  – he was fluent in 24 languages – and in many of the different dialects of them. So much so he could pass himself off as a local in many places. He learnt much of it from prostitutes!

He was a master of disguise – not just in the fact he could dress up, makeup and talk like the locals. But that he understood them, he took the time to know their customs and etiquette, the foibles without which he would have been betrayed as an outsider. He immersed himself in their culture.

He made seven pilgrimages in his life.  Studying and being accepted into various religions – understanding their teachings while not believing any of them.

He was the epitome of an explorer, making dangerous journey in strange lands, suffering illness and injury, going back for more and pressing on.

He explored and brought to light the many sexual practices from around the world. He brought much middle eastern and eastern culture to our consciousness. He brought us translations of the Thousand and One Nights, the Karma Sutra and the Perfumed Garden.

So as I said, complicated.

It brings up a problem we often have with heroes. We want them to be perfect. We want all those good qualities without the bad. But life is not like that – people are not like that.

We kind of know that – we try and accommodate it. Modern day fictional heroes have their flaws, they are dark and brooding and have emotional baggage. But nothing we can’t handle – nothing really reprehensible.

So it got me thinking. I have a real problem with Sir Richard Francis Burton. I admire what he achieved. I dislike what he was as a person. I certainly would not like not have known him personally. 

And I see a reflection of modern men in this dilemma. I have written here about how men (and everyone in fact) are demonised in modern media. On the other side, we are brought up with a set of ideals about what a man should be what we should strive to be.

We end up with conflicting views – an ideal – heroic man to strive for, and the wretch the world tells us we are.

The conflict I feel when thinking about Richard Francis Burton is the conflict we feel about modern men – he is a kind of reflection of us.

We should, I think – start to accept our flaws more, try to improve and eliminate them, yes, but give ourselves a break. They are a part of us, a part of our nature. Nobody is perfect – natures abhors perfection as much as a vacuum.  Perfection does not exist so let’s stop trying to achieve it.

Anyway, ramble over.

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Aubade Two

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Dawn sneaks over the hills
Light spills through the vales
And the veils of the window

I see beauty at last
Complicated, unfathomable, mystery
But right and true

Most the world walks by
Seeing a different way
This morning gives me hope

But the light washes out
Shadows darken veils
Traditions bear down

The beauty and the mystery
The reason and the truth
Are left behind again

The door is closed again
As ancient lore and law
Return us to the night

Image from Pixabay
Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Broken Eggs

By Scott Bailey © 2017

A new clutch of chicks
Awaken to a cold dawn
The fox scents a chance

Image from Pixabay
Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Life and Death

By Scott Bailey © 2016

Potential new life
Excitement when waters break
New life brings us cheer

Six forever hours
Caressing a fading pulse
All cheer drains away

Image from Pixabay
Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Poetry, Writing

The Lord of the Trees

By Scott Bailey © 2006

I am Herne the Hunter, Lord of the Trees,
and you are a leaf blown on the breeze.
Echoes and whispers inside your head,
set you on the path you were destined to tread.

Head of a wolf, eye of a hawk,
in the forest, the hooded man shall walk.
A man of balance not of gold,
Is it demon or god to whom you are sold ?

So string the bow and take up the sword,
Do my bidding and carry my word.
For you are my son Robin in the Hood.
You are the king of all Sherwood.

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Aubade Two

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Dawn sneaks over the hills
Light spills through the vales
And the veils of the window

I see beauty at last
Complicated, unfathomable, mystery
But right and true

Most the world walks by
Seeing a different way
This morning gives me hope

But the light washes out
Shadows darken veils
Traditions bear down

The beauty and the mystery
The reason and the truth
Are left behind again

The door is closed again
As ancient lore and law
Return us to the night

Image from Pixabay
Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Giants

By Scott Bailey © 2014

I have seen giants
Striding over the land
Power on their shoulders
Stern and strong their hand

Never do they falter
Never seen one stumble or fall
Always do their duty
Always answer the call

Through storm and wind and rain
The carry their burden true
Though other links may burn out
The giants stride on through

So remember this and tremble
Even the giants will pass
Fall into dust and rusty ruin
Scattered in untamed grass

One day their burden will dissipate
Their purpose will disappear
And the duty they discharged so well
A memory dimmed with time

Image from Pixabay
Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Aubade Two

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Dawn sneaks over the hills
Light spills through the vales
And the veils of the window

I see beauty at last
Complicated, unfathomable, mystery
But right and true

Most the world walks by
Seeing a different way
This morning gives me hope

But the light washes out
Shadows darken veils
Traditions bear down

The beauty and the mystery
The reason and the truth
Are left behind again

The door is closed again
As ancient lore and law
Return us to the night

Image from Pixabay

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Aubade Two

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Dawn sneaks over the hills
Light spills through the vales
And the veils of the window

I see beauty at last
Complicated, unfathomable, mystery
But right and true

Most the world walks by
Seeing a different way
This morning gives me hope

But the light washes out
Shadows darken veils
Traditions bear down

The beauty and the mystery
The reason and the truth
Are left behind again

The door is closed again
As ancient lore and law
Return us to the night

Image from Pixabay

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Carman

By Scott Bailey © 2013

I make cars
I always have
As did my father.

Prestige cars.
The most famous in the world
Made with pride.

Made with precision.
Made to last.
To shine and glide!

Every working day.
All the working hours.
My trusty hands create.

I may be steeped in habit
Tradition and old ways
But I trust in my own fate.

I support my family.
I support the plant.
And I support the land.

I pay my way my dues
while on my shoulders weighs
the burden that I support.

After all these years of toil
All my many dues.
Imagine my surprise, my boss.
I have given more than you!

In response to the daily prompt Famous

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Jealousy

By Scott Bailey © 2016

Jealousy
A deadly sin
So we are taught
Over and over
Again
And when
We dare to question
The questionable ways
Of wealth and power
The smirk and hint
Jealousy
And the lessons rise
Prodding our conscience
Silencing our voices
With guilty pillows
Thus
Why we are taught
What we are taught
Is plain to see

Image from Pixabay

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Giants

By Scott Bailey © 2014

I have seen giants
Striding over the land
Power on their shoulders
Stern and strong their hand

Never do they falter
Never seen one stumble or fall
Always do their duty
Always answer the call

Through storm and wind and rain
The carry their burden true
Though other links may burn out
The giants stride on through

So remember this and tremble
Even the giants will pass
Fall into dust and rusty ruin
Scattered in untamed grass

One day their burden will dissipate
Their purpose will disappear
And the duty they discharged so well
A memory dimmed with time

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Disappear

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

The Deep Cold

By Scott Bailey © 2014

Disappearing into the gloom
Undulating side to side
Alien but of this earth
Slow, cold life
In the deep deep dark
So far from the hearth we know
The strange eel like creature
Eases in the deepest cold
Leaving divers dumb

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Disappear

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Aubade Two

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Dawn sneaks over the hills
Light spills through the vales
And the veils of the window

I see beauty at last
Complicated, unfathomable, mystery
But right and true

Most the world walks by
Seeing a different way
This morning gives me hope

But the light washes out
Shadows darken veils
Traditions bear down

The beauty and the mystery
The reason and the truth
Are left behind again

The door is closed again
As ancient lore and law
Return us to the night

Image from Pixabay

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Haiku, Poetry, Scotts Daily Prompt, Self Publishing, Writing

The Politician, The Voter and the Child

By Scott Bailey © 2015

 

You work hard

I struggle by

In the dark

You’re a hard-working family

To pay my bills

A silent dark

You deserve more

To keep my job

Shattered by

Respect and remuneration

My family safe

A scream so stark

Higher wage

Bills accrue

A sister torn

More tax

No breaks in sight

A mother too

Security

I am undermined

And then my turn

Here they come

By cheaper crews

To be their tool

To take your jobs

And labour pools

Alone I lived

We try to stop them

Let down by those

My family died

But the law demands

For who we fought a war

Alone I ran

Freedoms we ill afford

Belts pulled tight

Alone to hide

So we must let them in

Doors shut tight

Far away

We need your fear

As our land

Where wars don’t rage

So let us pass

Slips away

Across the sea

Stronger laws

Dreams of the past

Into a cage

And take your cash

Of golden days

And forms and forms

For a better way

Seem far away

And questions long

Altogether now

Every man for himself

And looks of scorn

Watch your backs

Seems the only way

And acts of wrong

Strengthen our national pride

So I must take a stand

Drowning in

Defend our ways

Against the tide

A stinking sea

Our traditions

That seems to me

I cry

Like class division

To rise and rise

No one pities me

And stay an island proud

To drown our island’s pride

No one pities me

In response to my daily prompt Vote

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Music, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Work, Writing

The Execution

By Scott Bailey © 2014

 

“My patience is almost spent.”

“I apologise Mr. Dickens. The situation is complicated.”

“I have been hearing that for two weeks now! And have been given nothing! No answers! I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what has happened to me. Everyone talks strange and treats me like some kind of alien or freak show. And where are my fucking family!”

For a second the Doctor looked horrified. Then he quickly composed himself.

“Again I can only apologise.  But I will explain now. When I do you will understand our … reticence. ”

“About time..”, muttered Henry.The Doctor gave him a look of pity.

“Brace yourself. ”

Henry suddenly felt cold. The Doctor went on.

“Our records show that you were in a cycling accident.”

He pronounced cycling as if he didn’t know what the word meant.

“You suffered severe brain injuries. You were put into a coma to try to protect your higher brain functions. When the swelling had subsided the medical team tried to revive you. They failed. You remained in a coma.”

Henry shifted in his chair. His voice was broken as he spoke.

“How long?”

“Ten years.”

“I have been out for ten years?”

“It’s more complicated. While you were under the world around you changed. It got worse, a lot worse. Your wife… well it seems she was a sharp woman. She saw things clearer than most. For one thing she left us plenty of notes. That’s why we know so much.”

Henry felt a growing sense of dread. But he kept silent.

“Because she saw things clearly she prepared, took action.  What I am going to tell you will be hard for you to hear. But bear in mind that with the benefit of hindsight we can see that what she did was for her family. For your children. She took steps to protect them.”

“Protect them?” His heart was racing.  “Protect them from what?”

“From war.”

“There was a fucking war?” The Doctor flinched again, but he went on.

“Yes. It was a dark time.”

“World War Three?”

“Not quite. I mean that’s what people expected.  What your wife thought was coming. But it was not and all-encompassing war like that. No one side against the other. No. What transpired was a series of many many, small wars between countries.”

He shuddered and continued.

“You might think that would have been better than a world war, but it was not.  It was far worse. With just about every country in the world caught up in their own conflicts there was nobody to coordinate any kind of peace deal. No one to talk to anyway if there had have been. So the wars dragged on, for years,  decades.”

“Decades? I thought you said ..” the Doctor stilled him with a look.

“Your wife saw the dark times coming. She took steps to protect her family.  The first of which was she remarried. ”

“She… what? She..”

“She married into immense wealth. And she used the money to protect her children and you. We know she did this well as we know they survived the dark times.”

“They are alive! I can see them!”

“No. You cannot.  They are…. let me finish.”

A lump of dread was threatening to strangle him.

“She also tried to protect you. With all the resources of her great wealth she threw everything they had at the time towards reviving you. Nothing worked. Finally, when it looked darkest and there was no guarantee that anyone would survive she threw you one last desperate lifeline. An experimental treatment.”

The Doctor paused, looked him deep in the eye.

“She put you into suspended animation.”

Henry felt chilled to the bone.

“So no, you cannot see your wife and children. They have been dead for over two hundred years. We have only just been able to awaken you.”

“No. No, this can’t be. It’s some sort of sick joke isn’t it? There’s cameras in here. Well it’s not funny! I want to see my family!”

“Please Mr Dickens, please calm down. I know this is a lot to take in and I am sorry. But there is more. There is something else you need to know.”

“Calm down? Calm the fuck down? I want my family in this room! Here and now! Don’t give me any more bullshit.”

The doctor nodded very slightly, subtly, but Henry noticed.

It was too late.hands he didn’t see took a firm hold of his arms. Held him steadfastly. He felt a cold disc of metal against the skin of his neck, there was a hiss, then he fell swirling into darkness.

 


 

“You want me to what!?”

Henry looked at the panel before him, twelve men and women, with utter disbelief.

“Mr Dickens. We understand that you have a lot to take in over the last few weeks.”

“A lot!” Henry stared. How could they possibly understand. He has lost everything. His family, his love, his world. He had seen very little of this world but he had seen enough to know that it was not his. He was an alien here.

And now this.

“We understand that you have lost a lot. You have to understand that the world has lost a lot too.”

“I have heard all about your wars. Lots of people died. Yes.”

“They were not our wars, “ said the chairman of the panel, his voice calm and cold. “And I don’t think you have an appreciation of just how many people died, or what that meant.”

Henry didn’t see what any of it had to do with him. The chairman continued anyway.

“The population of the earth was cut by 75%. You have no idea what that did to us. There were very few people left to run things. Very few who knew how to keep things running. Power stations failed. Oil wells stopped pumping. Machines broke down. Nobody knew how to rule, how to respond to the disasters. All that had been wiped away in war after war.

“The times after the wars were darker than the actual wars. The world came close to slipping into barbarism. In many places it did.”

“And you came along and saved it,” said Henry sourly.

“We survived. We were not involved – because we were overlooked. We had no wealth, no strategic value. Largely we were forgotten up in the mountains.”

He paused, letting Henry take in his words. Henry said nothing so he continued.

“We don’t really know what triggered many of the wars, people say it was largely financial – but those are theories, based on times gone by. What we do know is that as things got more and more desperate the terms of the conflicts changed. They became more ideological. In many cases fiercely religious. This was why many of them could not be stopped, there came a point where reason stopped being any part of the fighting.

“It was another reason we were not drawn into it. As Buddhists we eschewed all the arguments for fighting. But we were also no threat to anyone. Those that were bent on converting the world, well – most had forgotten us, or were just leaving us to last.

“So in the end, we survived just by being the last ones standing. We were the only thing left close to being a coherent nation.

“And we were used to living frugally. We were in a unique position to fill the niche so to speak.

“So people flocked to us. They saw our way of life working. Saw it as a light in the dark, a hope.”

“And you made them all convert!” Henry spat.

“Not at first,” replied the chairman. “That was not our way, never had been. But it was a disaster. Trying to accommodate everyone’s views, conflicting ways of doing things. Trying to keep on top of all the old tensions, historical hatreds and prejudices. Well it almost tore us apart. And we were so fragile then, we still are.”

The chairman leaned forward.

“You have to understand something. The earth is damaged. It’s worn out, and depleted. It will never recover, not in the ways we would want it to. The comforts and luxuries of generations past have gone. If we are to survive we must change our ways. And some of those ways might seem extreme to you. They are – but so is our situation.”

“So I have to convert to Buddhism! No choice!”

“That is correct. and it has to be genuine. You must live by our ways.”

“What do you do check up on me? Monitor me? Give me exams every month or something.”

“We do not need to. The way our society is structured, if you do not follow our ways, it would be obvious. If your thoughts do not flow with those around you  – it will be grossly evident to all around you.”

“So I am not even allowed to think outside of your precious bloody ways.”

“As I said, the ways are extreme, and your manner does not fit – at the moment.”

Henry snorted in derision. Did they really think he was going to take this.

“And if I refuse?”

“We cannot allow the possibility of disruption to the balance. You will be executed.”

Henry stared open-mouthed.

“You are kidding! That doesn’t sound very like the Buddhism that was around in my time.”

“Maybe not – we have had to make our sacrifices too. But we are humane.”

“How can killing someone be humane?”

“You would die happy and fulfilled. We have our ways”

“Well hoo – fucking – ray!”

 


 

“Are you sure that you do not want to change your mind?” said the monk. Henry assumed it was a monk. He looked like the Buddhist monks from his own era but he just didn’t know any more.

He wasn’t sure he cared either.

“Why would I do that?”

“So you can live,” said the monk with surprise.

“What for? My life is gone. Everything I knew is gone. My life would be as a stranger in a cage of rules I don’t want and don’t understand. I can’t live like that.”

“You haven’t given it a chance. You have no idea the peace and joy of our lives. You are judging us by your primitive standards. You…

“Enough!” A voice of authority barked from a hidden source. The monk started and looked guilty and continued preparing the elaborate machine Henry was embedded into.

Joy indeed! Henry snorted to himself. Get on with it, he thought.

The monk appeared to comply. He stepped back, nodded at the back wall and left.

The machine hummed and enclosed further around Henry like some futuristic iron maiden. A needle swung into his vision, poised at his neck and then stopped.

The voice spoke again.

“It saddens us to do this friend. But our society, mankind, must survive.”

“Yes, yes. I can imagine the tears you are shedding.”

“You will not change your mind?”

“You will not let me live among you without converting?” Henry countered.

“No.”

“Not even for a limited time – say a month, to see if you can change my mind?” The sarcasm in his voice told them all he did not expect any reasonable answer to that.

“No.”

“Then get on with it!”

“Very well. Judge! Carry out the execution.”

Henry didn’t even take a breath. He’d had enough, reached his limit. He wanted it ended.

Nothing happened. He looked up, the needle stayed poised, he could almost see the poison dripping from it.

“Judge! What is happening? Carry out the execution.”

“No.” The new voice was quietly defiant.

“What? Judge, carry out your task, execute him.”

“No!” What Henry presumed was the Judge’s voice was louder and firmer this time. “I will not. He is right. We should give him time amongst us.”

“This is not acceptable, Judge, do your job!”

“What does it say about our society if we do not trust it to be good enough to sway him? If we are scared that it so weak that a single man can topple it? We need to start our own healing, and it should start with him. We will give him his time. One month. If he is still not convinced, I will carry out the sentence.”

“This is not acceptable, Judge!”

Something stirred in Henry. Suddenly, out of nowhere he wanted what the Judge was offering him. A chance. A chance to live.

“You will accept it. I am the only one in this world who can carry out this sentence and I will not.”

“Your apprentice…”

“Will not be able to carry it out. I have already locked him out of all the processes. Only I can release the locks. He will have his time.”

 


 

“Next up, we are talking to the sensation of the age. The man who was frozen in time and has awoken to join us in the future. The man who escaped death twice and who is shaking the world. The man the leaders fear, the man who asks questions.

“Well today, we hope, he will be answering some of our questions.”

The interviewer turned to Henry while the applause of the audience died down. Henry squirmed uncomfortably. Of all the damn things to survive into this century it had to be talk shows! And he was the fucking subject.

He had to remember not to swear too. He had learnt it was considered way more offensive in these times than his own.

“Mr Dickens, thank you for joining us, let us begin with the biggest question.

“OK.” said Henry.

“We have all heard your remarkable story, it has tugged at all our hearts, we all grieve for your losses. The question we have is, why did you refuse conversion when offered at first? Why, as it appears did you choose death?”

Henry was suddenly overwhelmed with emotions that he struggled to keep under wraps. Grieve for my losses? What could they possibly understand about his losses! The very stupidity of the question betrayed how little they could understand.

How could he answer that?

The audience did not let him. A voice shouted out.

“Why didn’t you just convert!? What’s wrong with our way of life?”

Henry couldn’t see the source of the voice. He sounded like a fanatic, a tone not uncommon in this new world he had discovered.

“I knew nothing about it, you expected I would just convert, without questioning what I was getting into.”

“What’s to question? This way of life has saved us, saved humanity.”

People clapped and cheered the questioner.

“Has it? Or has it turned you all into cattle? Sheep that blindly follow ‘the way’.”

The audience booed and jeered at him, he was a little surprised. His opinions were not exactly secret, they had been broadcast around the world for the two weeks since his stay of execution.

He was the biggest news story of the time.

Hardly surprising as very little else seemed to be happening in the world.

They had peace OK. And it was boring.

“Let him speak!” another voice rang out above the protests.

The audience quietened down, shocked that someone, one of their own appeared to be supporting him.

“Let us hear what he has to say. If our society is so perfect then what possible threat could he be?”

Henry was surprised himself to hear a small ripple of applause supporting this new stance.

He spoke.

“Sure, you have peace. Your society is a model of sustainability and balance. I admire it in many ways. But it is frozen, you are so scared to upset the balance you allow no change. You have stopped growing. You might survive for now, but when change comes – when it is thrust upon you, you won’t know how to deal with it, how to adapt.

“You are like a rose, frozen in liquid nitrogen. Beautiful, preserved for all time, but dead. And easily shattered with a single blow.”

“Why didn’t you just pretend? Just convert and be quiet?” said the original voice.

Henry stood angrily now.

“I spent the whole of my old life dreaming of being someone. Of making my mark on the world. Leaving behind a legacy beyond just my genes. But I didn’t, I was nothing. I worked, I existed, I supported my family, I loved. But nothing more than what every other person was doing around me. I always dreamed one day, one day – but that day was never to be.

“And now – you expect me to just shut up and become just another cog in the machine again. With even less freedom and liberty than before? Well fuck you all if that’s what you think.”

“Savage!” a woman screamed.

“No! He is right! Why can’t we question things? Why can’t we change things?”

“Do you want war to return? Do you want our blood?”

“We can question without conflict!”

Suddenly the audience erupted. Everyone was on their feet, trying to shout down each other. Henry thought it looked evenly split but it looked messy.

The aggression was rising.

The flabbergasted host turned to his assistants.

“Get him out of here!”

Hands grabbed in and he was whisked away.

 


 

Two days later he was back in the machine. He was not afraid, or angry any more. He just felt resigned.

He couldn’t resist a dig though.

“What happened to one month?”

“The situation has become critical,” said the hidden voice. “As feared your presence amongst us has caused much disruption.”

So he had heard. It seemed the feeling of that show audience reflected that of society at large. It has sparked great debate. Even some protests he had been told.

Well, maybe that was something.

“So Judge?” Henry asked wryly. “Changed your tune too?”

“The Judge is not present,” said the original voice. “His apprentice will carry out the execution.”

“Oh? Worked out a way past the safeguards and locks then?”

“Unfortunately no. We have been forced to take more drastic measures. This injection is more direct, more painful I am sorry to say.”

“What happened to your humanity then?” smiled Henry. He felt slightly manic now, he could almost laugh at his own imminent death.

There was a sudden bang, and he thought he could hear shouts in the distance. He looked up surprised. It felt suddenly like something unplanned was happening.

“Please continue,” said the voice. It sounded hurried, unsure.

The machine hummed into life, the needle bore down on him.

Well this was it, he had tried, in this his second life, to make a difference. It was a shame he would never know if it had worked.

There was a louder bang and suddenly glass broke. Henry turned his head to see the room being broken into. People were storming the place.

He seemed to suddenly see very clearly what was happening. They were trying to save him, but they were doing more than that.

They were leading a revolution.

Maybe they would bring conflict back to their society, maybe they would tear it down, but he was sure they would build something better.

As the crowd tried to surge past the security trying in vain to hold them back the needle pierced his skin.

They were too late. Even as they broke through he felt the darkness descending.

But he was happy and fulfilled.

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Goodbye Daily Prompt!

UPDATE –  I have now started my own! It can be found here

I only found out about this today!

After all this time the Daily Post is sounding the Last Post and bidding us farewell.

Damn!

I need it! I will miss it! I need a push every day – I may not use it – may not do it every day – but it helps. A lot!

Retrospective? Well, all I will say is that there was a tie, a few years ago I came to the realisation that I had neglected my passion. I stopped writing. Once I realised I tried to start again. It was difficult. Very hard to gain momentum. That is where the Daily Post came to my rescue. It gave me the inspiration I needed.

Now it won’t be there.

I suspect I am not the only one sorry to see it go.

So I may start my own. I might just put up a prompt each day. Can’t provide the fancy screen that shows all the entries – if anyone else does use it but I will give it a go.

In the meantime – here’s a suitable poem.

Old-light-from-the-past

Lantern

By Scott Bailey © 2013

Old light from the past
Is still illumination
Wisdom echoes far

 

In response to the daily prompt Retrospective

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Broken Teeth

By Scott Bailey © 2014

Like broken teeth
Unmaintained
No longer useful
Yet
Somehow
Pleasing to the eye
Leading us
To who knows where

Photo By Scott Bailey
Photo By Scott Bailey

In response to the daily prompt Broken

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www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Broken Shell

By Scott Bailey © 2015

Broken shell
Evidence of new life or life cut short
A new hungry mouth
Or a hunters hunger sated
Either way
Life is given
Evidence found
In our humble garden

Photo by Scott Bailey

In response to the daily prompt Broken

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Broken Eggs

By Scott Bailey © 2017

A new clutch of chicks
Awaken to a cold dawn
The fox scents a chance

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Broken

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www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Life and Death

By Scott Bailey © 2016

Potential new life
Excitement when waters break
New life brings us cheer

Six forever hours
Caressing a fading pulse
All cheer drains away

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Juxtapose

 

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Ceremony

By Scott Bailey © 2018

Change
Ushered in with ceremony
To hide
The cracks and flaws
Assuage the fears
Distract attention
From the directors
In response to the daily prompt Ceremony

 

Image from Pixabay

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Carman

By Scott Bailey © 2013

I make cars
I always have
As did my father.

Prestige cars.
The most famous in the world
Made with pride.

Made with precision.
Made to last.
To shine and glide!

Every working day.
All the working hours.
My trusty hands create.

I may be steeped in habit
Tradition and old ways
But I trust in my own fate.

I support my family.
I support the plant.
And I support the land.

I pay my way my dues
while on my shoulders weighs
the burden that I support.

After all these years of toil
All my many dues.
Imagine my surprise, my boss.
I have given more than you!

In response to the daily prompt Famous

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Old Silver

By Scott Bailey © 2014

The purr of the projector
Warm popcorn scent
Dust motes dancing in the light
Deep, dusty heavy red drapes
Mumbles and fumbles in the shadows
Hand brushing hand by chance
Close, sweet breath and perfume
The excitement of the old silver screen

Samuel Zeller

In response to the daily prompt Archaic

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Cold Cold News

By Scott Bailey © 2016

The news chills today
The child killers found guilty
Will justice suffice?

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Guilty

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Jealousy

By Scott Bailey © 2016

Jealousy
A deadly sin
So we are taught
Over and over
Again
And when
We dare to question
The questionable ways
Of wealth and power
The smirk and hint
Jealousy
And the lessons rise
Prodding our conscience
Silencing our voices
With guilty pillows
Thus
Why we are taught
What we are taught
Is plain to see

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Guilty

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Assumption

By Scott Bailey © 2018

The assumption
Is consumption
Is needed
The beast needs feeding
So we can all be fed
Let’s
Eat the beast
Instead

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Assumption

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

The Deep Cold

By Scott Bailey © 2014

Disappearing into the gloom
Undulating side to side
Alien but of this earth
Slow, cold life
In the deep deep dark
So far from the hearth we know
The strange eel like creature
Eases in the deepest cold
Leaving divers dumb

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Disappear

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Creative Writing, Poetry, Self Publishing, Writing

Giants

By Scott Bailey © 2014

I have seen giants
Striding over the land
Power on their shoulders
Stern and strong their hand

Never do they falter
Never seen one stumble or fall
Always do their duty
Always answer the call

Through storm and wind and rain
The carry their burden true
Though other links may burn out
The giants stride on through

So remember this and tremble
Even the giants will pass
Fall into dust and rusty ruin
Scattered in untamed grass

One day their burden will dissipate
Their purpose will disappear
And the duty they discharged so well
A memory dimmed with time

Image from Pixabay

In response to the daily prompt Disappear

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www.scottandrewbailey.uk