Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"What if I lost My Fingers?" By Shaun Allan

I had a sore on my finger today.

Well not a sore - that gives the impression of a festering boil leaking obnoxious fluid that fizzes as it hits the table, leaving a blackened stain when evaporated.  But there is an area that's causing me pain.  I'm trying to track it down, but it keeps moving when I look.

If I'm not looking, it hurts in about the same place on my finger (the underside near the middle crease).  If I look and try to find it by rubbing, I can't seem to pin-point the actual place that's niggling me.  It's as if the pain is hiding away, waiting for my attention to be diverted so it can prick me again.  There's no mark or cut, so I don't know what's causing it.

But what if?

What if there was something under there, feeding on my subcutaneous flesh?  Eating away at me?  Gnawing at my fingers until there's nothing left?

What if I actually lost my fingers?

How would I write?

You hear that David Beckham's legs are insured for millions.  Jennifer Lopez's buttocks.  Bette Grable's voice.  Egon Ronay's taste buds.  Tom Jones' chest hair.  Dolly Parton's chest.

I've got about ten pounds and some shrapnel in my pocket.  Possibly not quite enough to worry about, but the loss of my fingers would... be devastating.  The words would have no outlet.  The characters would be spinning about in my head, vying for a voice, until I ended up next to Sin - or in place of my anti-hero - in the asylum.

I used to teach adult education.  One of the students couldn't use her left hand so she had this mouse-like thing with five buttons that she could rest her hand on.  Different combinations of button presses meant she could type what she wanted to say.  And she could do it faster than I could with a full keyboard!

There's dictation, of course.  I could sit with someone and let the characters and the ideas leap the gap between them and I, but I feel sure that they would stall.  The characters would look at the leap and back away for fear of falling midway.  The ideas would spin out into the air in the hope that they could reach the other side, but they'd risk falling short, not being fully realised.

Perhaps I could don a microphone and headset and speak to my PC like Kirk to the ship's computer.  Speech recognition is evolving quickly, but I know, from trying to dictate a text to my Android phone, that it's still a long way from Pacino's S1mone.  Apple have brought out their Siri system and, if you believe the adverts, it will tell your partner you love them whilst setting a reminder for you to buy her those anniversary flowers.  Maybe that's advanced enough to understand me and my wafflings and can help me to create worlds and ways and spin the tales.

But still.  It's not PHYSICAL.  There's no actual contact between me and my outlet.  I need that, I think.  As if Sin, Beryl, Puddlebrain and the others all run along my arms to jump about on the keys.  If I had to dictate it, it would be me, myself, that was lost in translation.

So.  I have a non-pustulating soreness on my finger.  Let's hope it goes, eh?


A writer of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into Sin’s point of view and sense of humour although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

Shaun lives with his one partner, two daughters, three cats and four fish!

Blurb: SIN
Dead, dead, dead.  Say it enough times and it becomes just another word.

What would you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appease the deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand?

What if you had no choice?

Meet Sin. No, not that sort of sin, but Sin, crazy as a loon (you ask Sister Moon), and proud of it. Sin locks himself away in an asylum and, every so often, gets violent. That’s only so they’ll give him those nice drugs, though. The ones that help him forget.

It’s a pity they don’t work.

Sin, you see, has a serious problem. Well, it’s not so much his problem, as ours – yours, mine and everyone else’s. People die around Sin.  He doesn't like it and there's nothing he can do about it.  But someone else knows, and Sin has to stop them... and himself...

Flip and catch...

There were no sounds from the kitchen.  There wouldn't be.  Sarah was sitting in her chair, holding her coffee.  She wasn't noticing the heat was burning her hand.  Martin was holding the useless phone in his hand.  He was staring out of the kitchen window, possibly at the spot where the famous hill had once been.

I picked up his keys from the hall table where he'd left them and walked out of the front door.  I didn't hear the flames start to lick the wall behind the cooker, but I knew they were.  I didn't smell the smoke curling along the hallway but yes, I knew it was.

Perhaps it was following me.  Perhaps it was saying goodbye.  Perhaps the smoke was reaching out to grab me back, so I could enjoy the same fate that I'd handed to poor Sarah and her wonderful rapist husband.

He'd engineered their relationship.  Bumping into her so she'd spill her drink on him only days after her discharge.  The old ways were the best.  He knew her history.  He could be sympathetic.  Was he a monster for doing so?  Needing to be so much in control raping her wasn't enough - he had to dominate her entire life?

No.  That wasn't it.  Yes, for the rape he was a beast.  But the rest?  It was his reparation.  His repentance.  To care and to provide for the woman who he'd torn apart.  To help mend the wounds, even though she didn't know he was the one who wounded her.  It was his purgatory to be reminded each moment of each day of the vile act he'd inflicted upon her.

Did that forgive him?  Did that make amends for his actions?  Did that make him a good guy?  A saviour?  Beast become Beauty?  Was I defending him in an attempt to defend myself?  WAS there a defence, or did one's actions taint one's soul for the rest of one's sorry life?

Ask me another.  Anyway it wasn't Martin's past conduct that had damned him, it was his current.  I wasn't going to let him hand me over.  I wasn't going to let the good doctor get his greasy hands on me again.  The drugs don't work, the Verve once said.  Doctor Connors didn't give a flying flip about that.  How Sarah had managed to escape his clutches I don't know.  Perhaps that was down to Martin too.  History, and my inner voices, didn't relate.  All hail the laydee.

I had to stop them.  I had to.  But by killing them?  Could I not have talked to them?  Reasoned maybe?  Look guys.  I'm not that bad.  I'm not crazy.  True, I can teleport and kill people with my mind, but I'm not insane.  Honest!

What would I have said?  Hardly the truth.  They would have been on the phone quicker than a rabbit out of a fox hole, with Connors as the fox and me as the gory remains of the cute little bunny.

I have a tattoo of a fox on my upper right arm.  It's a symbol, to me, of freedom.  But the doctor is the dark side of the fox.  Vulpine instincts drive him.  Why kill the chicken for lunch when you can slaughter the whole coup?

I'd taken three steps towards the dirt-washed van when I heard it.  I might have missed the sound at any other time.  Would have in fact. But around me all had become suddenly hushed.  Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, or at least the crows in the fields and the light buzz of insects had been muted as if by a great remote control.  In space only Sigourney Weaver can hear you scream.  Her Majesty the alien queen could have been standing behind me and I wouldn't have heard her.  The sound had been sucked from the world like lemonade through a straw till not a drop remained.  Were the fauna in the flora biting their collective tongues in protest at what I'd done?  Did it resent me causing the fire that would soon consume this house and all who sailed in her?  Perhaps.  The silence echoed around me, non-existent whispers crawling up my spine.  Not a whistle or a rustle or a caw.  Not even the crackle of a flame.


A baby.


From inside the house.

The spell was broken - the hex halted.  The sound rushed back into the air like the seal on a vacuum suddenly fractured.  Crows yelled from the trees at me.  A bee had given up on bumbling and was spinning around my head in a crazed dervish.  A buzzing had erupted from around me as if the ground itself was vibrating.

Everything was screaming at me.  THE BABY.

I could tell myself - fool myself if that's what you want to call it - that Martin and the boy deserved their fates.  In fact I may well have been Fate's own personal gopher, doing the job's he, or she, hated.  Why would Fate get his hands dirty when I had a perfectly good pair to sully?

Actually, I always thought of Fate as a woman.  Definite female tendencies there, don't you think?

The baby.

I turned and I ran.  The front door had been drifting shut, a feeble attempt to bar my way.  I crashed it open and took the stairs three at a time.  I didn't need to think about which door to open, my hand took the handle, turned and pushed.

The nursery was decorated in yellow and Pooh was dancing across the walls with Piglet and Eeyore.  And in a wooden cot (all the better to go up in flames for you, my dear) just inside the door was the baby.  She had her mother's eyes and had stopped crying as soon as I entered.  I took her up in my arms and was back out the front door before I'd taken another breath.

I stood trembling for the longest time, still not breathing.  I didn't deserve a breath.  The girl, doe eyed and pink romper-suited, looked up at me and...

Cooed.  Then smiled.

Her name was Morgan.  Morgan Alexandria to be precise.  And she had just forgiven me.

A silver mercedes was parked to one side.  A car seat was in position behind the driver's.  The car unlocked as I approached and I gently fastened Morgan into her chair.

I walked as calmly as I could back to Martin's van and climbed in.  As I drove away the couple in the kitchen slowly stood and left the house, collecting the keys to the mercedes on the way.  The flames in the kitchen died as they smiled at Morgan Alexandria and started the engine.  I turned left out of the gate, knowing they'd turn right, and knowing that they were just going into town to buy a few essentials.  Disposable nappies.  Toilet roll.  You know the sort of thing.

It would be three days before they noticed the van missing.  Probably a week or two before they decided to redecorate the kitchen.  It was looking tired.  Needed a face lift.

"A bit like me," Sarah would joke.

They wouldn't see the scorch marks or the smoke damage.  And they wouldn't remember me.

Two miles?  Three?  No more than that.  No more than three miles before I had to stop, open the door and vomit my bacon breakfast onto the side of the road.

Shame, that.  I'd enjoyed it.

 You can find Shaun at:

Shaun's Books are Available:

Amazon UK kindle:
AmazonUK paperback:
Amazon US kindle:
Amazon US paperback:

Thank you so much Shaun for coming. I look forward to hearing more from you!