Issue 9 - Gold Dust magazine

golddustmagazine.co.uk

Issue 9 - Gold Dust magazine

Gold Dust

Gold Dust team

Prose Editor & Cover Designer

David Gardiner

Marketing Co-ordinator

Claire Nixon

Webmaster, DTP & Founder

Omma Velada

Proofreader

Jo Copsey

Omma Velada

Welcome!

Welcome to Issue 9 of Gold

Dust magazine! We are very

proud of this issue, which

includes some truly top-notch

short-story writing, such as An

Anthem for Mary by Eddie

Bruce and On a Quiet Lane that

Morning by Melanie Staines, as

well as poems both humourous

and poignant. These include

work by Barnaby Tidman and

Bex Harris.

We also have two book

reviews and an interview with

four ezine Editors (or former

Editors), a discussion on the

Quarterly Magazine of Literature & the Arts

current state and future of the

small press magazine.

Our feature for aspiring writers

this issue is ‘How to write...a

Comic Novel’, which will give you

plenty of ideas to get started. We

begin a new regular feature - all the

best writing competitions for you

to enter this quarter.

Jon Stone wins our £10 star

poem contest with his poem,

Nightcrawlers. We also have all

our usual regular features, including

Final Word, our jokes page.

Gold Dust continues to work

towards improving its content, layout

and value for money. From this

issue, you’ll be pleased to discover

that our full-colour PDF version

is now completely free. This has

allowed us to increase our page

count, so that those keen for a

print edition will get something

really worthwhile for their pennies.

This issue weighs in at a hefty 68

pages!

From issue 10 we have decided

to introduce a theme! We’re

kicking off with TIME, so all prose

Cover design

David Gardiner

Artwork

Cover photographs

Zion Canyon, Idaho, courtesy of

xRez.com

Internal photographs

stock.xchng

Karen Inskip-Hayward

Issue 9

Winter 2007

should be set either in the past or

the future (with an exception for

time travel/time-themed tales). As

usual, please see our submission

guidelines on our website

(www.golddustmagazine.co.uk) for

full details.

Our Spring issue of Gold

Dust magazine (issue 10) will be

available for sale from April 2007.

Happy reading!

Omma Velada

xRez is a consortium of digital

artists committed to exploring new creative

opportunites made available by

the advent of extremely high-resolution

gigapixel digital photography. We

believe this is clearly the next revolution

in photography, allowing photographic

experiences with a deeper level of fidelity

and impact than previously seen.

Further, by combining powerful 3d tools

and techniques appropriated from the

visual effects field, possibilites arise of

new imagery and animation that are

truly novel and unprecedented.

Applications of these new techniques

can range from experiencing stunningly

large prints in fine art gallery installations,

providing a substitute to liveaction

shooting in feature film backgrounds,

and enriching a national park

visitor's understanding and interpretation,

to name a few. We believe that the

very high resolution displayed greatly

affects a viewer's response to an image.

Gigapixel images convey a heightened

sense of realism rich with unprecedented

nuance. Viewing a gigapixel image is

tremendously engaging and allows a

level of exploration not normally associated

with prior printed images.

Gigapixel resolution will change the

face of photography and how we view

our world through the power of image.

Learn more about xRez by visiting

http://www.xrez.com.


SHORT STORIES

An Anthem for Mary

Eddie Bruce

Drama 10

Religion and Politics

Zack Wilson

Comedy 13

The Anchor House

Dan Kopcow

Paranormal 14

Tainted Touch

J.E. Ash

Paranormal 18

Fenwick’s Endeavor

Jens Rushing

Historical comedy 22

Poem

Howard Waldman

Historical 25

On a Quiet Lane that Morning

Melanie Staines

Historical crime 26

JS Bach in Venice

Howard Waldman

Horror 29

Sand

Jens Rushing

Horror 30

Where Was Woody Guthrie?

Ali Al Saeed

Drama 34

The Meaning of April

Daniel Stephens

Drama 36

The Beauty That’s In Me

Louise Cypher

Science Fiction 40

In this issue...

FEATURES

How to write...a Comic Novel

All you need to know 4

Ready to write that Book

Avoiding writer’s block 8

BOOK REVIEWS

The Book of Hopes & Dreams

edited by Dee Rimbaud

Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on

edited by Todd Swift

Two heart-rending new poetry

anthologies reviewed by Fionna

Doney Simmonds 48

Truckerson

by John Griffiths

Skytrucker

by Allen Murray

A comparison of two aviation tales

reviewed by David Gardiner 50

INTERVIEWS

Zines of the Times

Discover more about your favourite

literary magazines and the people

who edit them 52

The Anchor House - page 14

COMPETITIONS

£10 star poem contest

Our winning entry, Nightcrawler by

Jon Stone 47

Fenwick’s Endeavor - page 22 Religion and Politics - page 13


The Beauty That’s In Me -

page 40

POEMS

I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT

YOU

Barnaby Tidman 44

AUTUMN'S COMING

Bex Harris 44

ONE MORE CRIPPLED RICHARD

Ray Succre 45

BEFORE THE DENTISTS

John Osbourne 45

THE SICK MAN

John Osbourne 45

THE SILVER SURFER

Jon Stone 46

DISORDER

James Al Midgley 46

THE VANISHINGS

James Al Midgley 46

SONNET 17

Andrea Tallarita 46

SONNET 19

Andrea Tallarita 47

REGULARS

Editorial

Omma Velada welcomes you to this

issue of Gold Dust magazine 1

Writing competitions

All you need to enter 51

Final Word

Fun page 67

Contributors

Find out more about our talented

contributors here 64

Next season

Our next issue of Gold Dust, available

for sale from April 2007 68

Contact us

Submit

If you would like to submit work for a future edition of Gold Dust, please refer to

the submission guidelines on our website at www.golddustmagazine.co.uk.

Feedback

Please address reader feedback, suggestions and queries to our Marketing Coordinator,

Claire Nixon, at marketingco-ordinatorgolddust@blueyonder.co.uk or

visit the forums on our website. These comments may be printed in a future issue

of Gold Dust, either online or in print. Please let us know if you wish to remain

anonymous.

Order

Additional copies of the magazine can be ordered from

www.lulu.com/golddustmagazine.

Disclaimer

How to write...a Comic Novel -

page 4

All copyrights for these works belong to the respective contributors. This particular configuration

of works is copyrighted to the Prose Editor, David Gardiner (2007). All works in this publication

are either works of fiction or commentaries that reflect the opinions of the individual contributors.

Any resemblance to actual situations or persons, living or dead, in fictional works is purely coincidental.

Gold Dust magazine is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The information

found in Gold Dust magazine is offered in good faith and is believed to be accurate. Gold

Dust magazine makes no representation or warranty regarding the results obtained from using

this magazine. Gold Dust magazine assumes no liability for damages resulting from the information

found in this magazine. By perusing Gold Dust magazine, you agree to use all information,

materials, products, or services mentioned by or provided by Gold Dust magazine at

your own sole risk, with the knowledge that any information may have potential hazards possible

of causing damage to you or to others. By your use of this magazine and information, you

agree to hold harmless Gold Dust magazine from any liability resulting from your use of this

magazine or any information provided. Under no circumstances shall Gold Dust magazine be

held liable or responsible for any incidental or consequential damages or direct or indirect damages

that result from your use of the information in Gold Dust magazine.


Feature

How to write...a Comic Novel

In this regular feature, we’ll be helping you write that killer piece, with in-depth insights into prose themes and

genres, as well as an exploration of poetry guidelines, forms and approaches. Having covered short stories

and poems, Rupert Haigh takes a closer look at the comic novel.

George and Weedon

Grossmith's The Diary of a

Nobody (1892), is an appallingly

funny, slyly satirical, and piercingly

insightful book, which has

never been out of print since the

date of its publication. It stands

among such varied company as

Three Men in a Boat, Decline

and Fall, Billy Liar, The Secret

Diary of Adrian Mole, and The

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

as an acknowledged classic of

English comic writing. It is also,

without making the slightest pretension

to the literary avant

garde, an astonishingly influential

work. The techniques used in

it, which represented an important

departure in the 1890s, continue

to inspire comic writers to

this day.

The book purports to be the

personal diary of Mr Pooter, a

clerk in a late Victorian London

suumatt funny

Hooww tto wwrrite...

City office, domiciled in middleclass

suburbia at 'Brickfield

Terrace' in Holloway. Mr Pooter

feels that a record of his life will

be of universal interest:

'I fail to see – because I do

not happen to be a 'Somebody' –

why my diary should not be

interesting.'

Sticking doggedly to his

task, he describes the trivial incidents

of his daily life in detail and

records his notably imperceptive

thoughts upon them. The formula,

thus outlined, sounds numbingly

boring. In fact, it is hilarious,

and Mr Pooter himself one

of the most recognisable and

enduring comic characters in

English fiction. What makes him

memorable, paradoxically, is his

very ordinariness - his excruciating

ordinariness. This is made

clear on the first page of the

diary:

'After my work in the City, I

like to be at home…Carrie and I

can manage to pass our

evenings together without

friends. There is always something

to be done: a tin-tack here,

a Venetian blind to put straight, a

fan to nail up, or part of a carpet

to nail down - all of which I can

do with my pipe in my mouth…'

As the book progresses, his

character comes more fully into

view. He cuts a laughable figure:

naïve, petty-minded, banal,

prone to making embarrassing

social gaffes and afflicted by

absurd social pretensions. The

comic potential of these traits is

mined to its maximum. Many of

the book's most amusing passages

play on Mr Pooter's complete

lack of self-awareness,

extracting unusually brilliant

comic effects from the unconscious

banality of his observa-

4 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


tions:

'APRIL 13. An extraordinary

coincidence: Carrie had called in

a woman to make some chintz

covers for our drawing-room

chairs and sofa to prevent the

sun fading the green rep of the

furniture. I saw the woman, and

recognized her as a woman who

used to work years ago for my

old aunt at Clapham. It only

shows how small the world is.'

'Pooterism' has become a

byword for taking oneself too

seriously. It is, perhaps, Mr

Pooter's most marked character

trait:

'Another thing which is disappointing

to me is, that Carrie

and Lupin take no interest whatever

in my diary.

I broached the subject at the

breakfast-table to-day. I said: "I

was in hopes that, if anything

ever happened to me, the diary

would be an endless source of

pleasure to you both; to say

nothing of the chance of the

remuneration which may accrue

from its being published."

Both Carrie and Lupin burst

out laughing.'

As does the reader.

However, our laughter is a little

uneasy. It is tempered by sympathy

for Mr Pooter, because

this passage mercilessly pinpoints

the desire in all of us to

feel that we are important, that

we are appreciated, and that our

lives have meaning - as well as

the sneaking suspicion that they

don't, and that the joke is on us.

Thus, while we laugh at Mr

Pooter, we cannot help feeling

we might be more like him than

we care to admit. He has good

qualities – he is honest, industrious,

scrupulous, well meaning.

But he is irredeemably mediocre

– and does not know it. Thus, for

all his absurdity, there is a subdued

sense of tragic nobility

about him.

On a second or third reading

of the diary, our sympathy for

Mr Pooter tends to increase. In

addition to being stymied by his

own naïvety and self-importance,

he is horribly put upon by

practically everyone he encounters:

insolent tradesmen, disrespectful

work colleagues, infuriating

friends, his incomprehensible

son, Lupin, and by uninvited

dinner guests (such as the

dreadful Mr Padge who refuses

all food in order not to lose his

place in the best armchair by the

fire, and has no conversation

save the expression 'that's

right').

Naturally, Mr Pooter invariably

responds to such irritations

by standing heavily on his own

dignity:

'I was very angry, and I

wrote and said I knew little or

nothing about stage matters,

was not in the least interested in

them and positively declined to

be drawn into a discussion on

the subject…'

And his gaffes – not always

entirely his fault – sometimes

lead him into unenviably embarrassing

social situations.

Admiring a lady's portrait in the

home of Mr Finsworth, the uncle

of an old schoolfriend, Mr Pooter

observes that the face looks

rather pinched. Mr Finsworth

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

How to write...a Comic Novel [cont’d]

replies sorrowfully: 'Yes, the face

was done after death – my wife's

sister.'

The Diary of a Nobody initially

had a cool reception and

was the subject of a number of

damning reviews. However,

towards the end of World War I it

began to take off. Writing in the

Daily Mail in 1930, Evelyn

Waugh claimed:

'I still think that the funniest

book in the world is Grossmith's

Diary of a Nobody. If only people

would really keep journals

like that.'

Waugh's comment, though

not especially penetrating, is significant.

What he, and latterly

other comic writers, began to

realise was that the book was in

some sense prophetic. It ushered

in various techniques that

were entirely new but which

could be reproduced to striking

comic effect, either used separately

or together. These 'Pooter

principles' include:

• The use of an ingenuous

method of self-revelation.

• An utterly ordinary and

rather naïve lead character.

• A balanced presentation of

that character, so that the reader

both laughs at him and comes to

see the world from his perspective.

There may be conflict

between these two positions.

• The diary format (and its

associated confessional tone).

• And it's perhaps worth

pointing out that a truly

Pooterish character – with his

self-importance, chagrined

pride, and general foolishness -

is almost always male. Carrie

5


How to write...a Comic Novel [cont’d]

Pooter herself, though every bit

as limited and suburban as her

husband, is altogether more

sensible, realistic and balanced

(though Sue Townsend's slightly

uneven but often hilarious

Rebuilding Coventry gives a fair

account of the comic potential of

a Carrie Pooter-like character –

the improbably-named Coventry

Dakin – on the loose in late

eighties London).

Evelyn Waugh was perhaps

the first (after the Grossmiths) to

grasp the comic potential of

introducing an ordinary, perfectly

affable but rather naïve character,

and then dropping him into a

thoroughly unpromising situation.

Paul Pennyfeather in

Decline and Fall, and William

Boot (in fact based on W F

Deedes) in Scoop, are the most

memorable of his creations in

this respect.

In the opening pages of

Decline and Fall, it is hard to

miss the innocently Pooterish

shades of Paul's character:

'Little suspecting the incalculable

consequences that the

evening was to have for him, he

bicycled happily back from a

meeting of the League of

Nations Union. There had been

a most interesting paper about

plebiscites in Poland.'

And just in case we do miss

them, Waugh rams the point

home (after Paul has had his

trousers removed by drunken

members of the Bollinger Club,

and been forced to run naked

across the quad): '…it's quite all

right,' a porter remarks, 'it's

Pennyfeather – someone of no

importance.'

In Scoop, obscure nature

reporter William Boot is sent, as

the result of a mix-up, to cover a

war in a fictional African country.

As with Paul Pennyfeather,

William is a figure of fun (his

prose style is legendary:

'Feather-footed through the

plashy fen passes the questing

vole'), but at the same time we

sympathise with his plight.

Waugh uses William's innocence

and bemusement as a

means of satirising British newspapers,

in particular the chaotic

nature of foreign reporting, and

many of the characters in the

The sort of humour produced

by this technique is often

unsettling. The reader laughs

at the character’s naivety...but

at the same time empathises

book are thinly-veiled portraits of

real personalities of the time.

The sort of humour produced

by this technique is often

unsettling. The reader laughs at

the character's naïvety and

mediocrity but at the same time

empathises to some extent with

him, and is drawn into his way of

seeing the world. There is obvious

potential for dramatic conflict

between these two perspectives.

Keith Waterhouse's Billy

Liar explores this potential to

memorable effect. Nineteenyear-old

Billy sees himself as a

comedian, but in fact works as

an undertaker's assistant in the

small (and fictional) Yorkshire

town of Stradhoughton. He is an

entertaining and witty narrator;

so much so that the reader is coopted

into seeing the world from

his perspective, and is initially

prepared to overlook the purposelessness

of his lies, his

equally purposeless thieving,

and his baffling engagements to

three (very) different girls. It is

not until we are about halfway

into the book that we are forced

to realise that Billy is deeply

flawed and extremely immature.

The central irony of the

book is that while Billy believes

that he's smarter than everyone

around him and destined for

great things, this is a pose, as

facile as Mr Pooter's self-importance,

which everyone else

comes to see right through. His

employer, Councillor Duxbury,

whom Billy has satirised as

being practically senile,

unmasks him as Billy is amusing

himself by mimicking his accent:

'"Well, tha's gotten me in a

very difficult position," he said

weightily, at last.

"How does ta mean,

Councillor?"

He studied me keenly, and I

realized for the first time, with a

sinking heart, that he was not as

daft as he looked.

"Is ta taking a rise out o' me,

young man?"'

And Waterhouse made the

Pooter connection plain by publishing,

in 1983, a book called

Mrs Pooter's Diary.

Mr Pooter, of course, is a

thoroughly hapless character.

He would not be funny, nor

poignant, if he weren't. There is

a deep sense that he is helplessly

trapped in the confines of his

6 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


own life, and even a faint residual

suggestion that matters

might perhaps have turned out

better, but that it is now too late.

This feeling of helplessness in

the face of an unenviable fate is

mirrored in Waugh's early novels,

as well as in Billy Liar, and

much of the humour – as well

the pathos – derives from it.

In Douglas Adams'

Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy,

this idea is taken to its logical

conclusion. The first chapter

sees Arthur Dent – a likeable but

thoroughly ordinary hero –

pleading with a local council official

not to demolish his house to

...the real Mrs Wilson allegedly

remarked that she’d like to

strangle Richard Ingrams...if

she ever met him.

make way for a new bypass –

only to discover that the entire

planet is about to be demolished

in order to make way for a new

bypass, thus making his original

problem entirely irrelevant. The

tone of the trilogy (in four parts)

is accordingly set – it's one long

and mostly hopeless struggle on

Arthur's part to make sense of

the bizarre events that follow.

'This must be Thursday,' says

Arthur at the end of chapter two,

'I never could get the hang of

Thursdays.'

The diary format is perhaps

the most obvious innovation of

The Diary of a Nobody.

Interestingly, this was largely

overlooked until the 1960s when

satirical magazine Private Eye

spotted the Pooterish potential

of Harold Wilson's home life, and

created the spoof Mrs Wilson's

Diary. The Diary mercilessly

satirised the gap between

Harold Wilson's humble suburban

lifestyle (which he made a

point of stressing), and his more

grandiose statesmanlike ambitions,

as seen through the eyes

of his wife. So accurate was it

that the real Mrs Wilson allegedly

remarked that she'd like to

strangle Richard Ingrams (then

editor of Private Eye) if she ever

met him.

And Private Eye has revived

and adapted the format of Mrs

Wilson's Diary at intervals over

the years. The current incarnation

satirises Tony Blair in the

guise of the sanctimonious vicar

of 'St Albions', and takes the

form of a spoof parish newsletter.

The diary format found its

fullest expression in Sue

Townsend's Secret Diary of

Adrian Mole (and its various

sequels). Adrian is nothing less

than a teenage 1980s version of

Mr Pooter - pedantic, self-important,

naïve, annoying, yet curiously

endearing. As with Mr

Pooter, we find Adrian exasperating

at times, but are nevertheless

sucked into his way of seeing

the world. Adrian, like Mr

Pooter, is despite his absurdity

an authentic and believable

character. As a teenager in the

1980s, I empathised wholeheartedly

with him, and felt the

book was an uncannily accurate

reflection of my own hopes and

fears. Re-reading the book as an

adult, I am acutely aware of his

absurdity but still find myself

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

How to write...a Comic Novel [cont’d]

seeing the world through his

eyes. Sue Townsend uses the

naivety of Adrian's outlook as a

means of making telling satirical

points on Thatcher's Britain:

'Britain is at war with

Argentina!!! Radio Four has just

announced it. I am overcome

with excitement. Half of me

thinks it is tragic and the other

half of me thinks it is dead exciting!'

Mr Pooter has stood the test

of time, and his influence persists

undiminished into the

2000s. His most recent reincarnation

is as Mr Phillips in John

Lanchester's 2001 novel of the

same name. Mr Phillips is a

pedantic (but sex-obsessed),

50-year old accountant who has

recently been made redundant

and is too scared to tell his wife.

He deals with this problem by

putting on his suit and leaving

the house every morning to

hang around the streets all day

until it is time to come home, filling

in the time by debating – or

where possible, calculating –

with himself the significance of

what he sees.

One feels that Mr Pooter

would have done exactly the

same thing in such circumstances:

there is in such behaviour

exactly the right blend of

comic absurdity and genuine

pathos. And it is precisely this –

the absurdity of ordinary life in

the full horror of its ordinariness

– that has made Mr Pooter and

his descendants such curiously

stimulating company, and which

guarantees him immortality.

Gold Dust

7


Feature

Ready to write that Book

but can’t get started? Why your top ten reasons for being stuck are all wrong. Gail Richards,

Founder of http://AuthorSmart.com, helps you get past writer’s block.

Excuse #1: I don't have a place

to write.

Really? No desk? No

chair? No coffee shop nearby?

Or could it be that not finding

“the spot” is an easy way to

put off or avoid all together

working on your book? You

don’t need a PhD in psychology

to see where this is going.

Publishing a book is a big

deal. It can be exhilarating and

overwhelming at the same time

– especially if you aren’t familiar

with the process. It’s no wonder

you’re a bit hesitant to dive in.

Stop waiting to find the perfect

place to write. Not going to

happen. Now that we’ve gotten

that out of the way, let’s talk

about how to identify where you

can write.

A writing space should provide

you with: minimum poten-

tial for interruption, comfortable

place to sit, writing surface and

adequate lighting. Beyond that,

it’s important that you are

inspired in some way by the

environs. Could be the library, a

park bench, a coffee shop or a

hidden corner of your basement.

Once you’ve found that,

start working. You can enhance

the experience of the space

over with special trinkets, writing

tools etc. You can even

wear your bunny slippers.

Whatever makes the time and

space draw you in.

Excuse #2: I don't feel

inspired.

You’ve been watching way

too many movies. In the beginning,

it’s not about inspiration.

It’s about permission and per-

suasion – persuading yourself

to show up at a designated spot

at a designated time and do

what you can.

In the beginning the

process of creating your book is

more about pushing. You will

need to push yourself to keep at

it. Some days that will be a gentle

nudge, others a full force

shove. Then, as the book

moves from being random

pieces of material to more of a

cohesive whole, you’ll be pulled

to work on it. Once the book

compels you to work on it, you

won’t be able to imagine ever

having been stuck.

Excuse #3: Everyone tells

me I won't get published anyway

Prone to exaggeration are

you? Everyone? Now, for the

8 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


emaining people in your

sphere of influence who actually

have the nerve to say that

to your face…

• What makes them the

experts?

• Did they try and fail to

publish?

• What qualifies them to

be your yardstick?

Excuse #4: I don't have

time.

Like mom used to say,

where there’s a will, there’s a

way.

Renowned turn of the

century author Kate Chopin

wrote very rapidly and without

much revision. She usually

worked in her home surrounded

by her six children.

Whatever obstacles to

time management you’re facing,

Kate’s got you beat. Deal

with it.

Excuse #5: I don't have

anything new to say.

It’s not what you say, it’s

how you say it. Visit a bookstore

and spend some time

looking at sections of books

on one of your favorite subjects.

Take note of the different

approaches authors have

taken. Then, look on the shelf

where your book would be and

do the same thing.

Excuse #6: I'm afraid I will

say everything in a book and

then people won't need me to

provide a service, or my competitors

will take all my ideas.

Either you are comfort-

able putting your ideas out into

the world, or not. That’s something

you need to decide.

However, at the risk of oversimplifying,

may I say: paranoia just

never ends well.

Theft of proprietary ideas is

another thing. However, if

someone uses or adapts your

great ideas, well, you’ve just

raised the bar for everyone.

Your competition may or may

not execute those ideas as well

as you do. They may do it better

and raise the bar for you.

That’s life. Get over it.

As far as making yourself

obsolete? Not likely. A book can

lay out the basics, it can’t connect

the dots. Most of your

clients love you and continue to

pay you because you help them

connect the dots.

Excuse #7: I’m too scared

to start.

What’s the worst thing that

could happen if you start? In my

world view, that would be something

on the order of causing

the earth to fly off its axis of

rotation. So, unless something

of that caliber is likely to be set

in motion by putting your toe in

the water, go for it.

Excuse #8: I have so many

ideas and I don't know which

one is the best. I don't want to

start work on any of them until I

do.

There’s a distinct difference

between creating your book

and writing your manuscript.

The creative endeavor doesn’t

have limitations and how much

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Ready to write that Book [cont’d]

you can explore. Catalog all of

your ideas, then create outlines

and concept maps. You’ll begin

to see which ideas are most

viable and compelling to you.

You’re going to spend a lot of

time on this material; it helps if

there’s chemistry between the

two of you.

Excuse #9: I don't know if I

have enough to say to make a

whole book.

Maybe you really don’t

have enough material for a

book. Maybe what you’ve got is

an essay, an article, or a class.

Until you start writing the manuscript

it’s all intellectual capital

there for you to shape into the

appropriate form and structure.

And once that idea is out of

your head, who knows what will

take its place?

Excuse #10: I want to write

a book but my husband / wife /

mother / father / kids / sister /

brother / friends / co-workers

says it’s a waste of time.

Of course they think it’s a

waste of your time; it’s time that

won’t be spent with them; time

that won’t be spent doing things

they value; and time that won’t

be spent on something they

even have a context for.

Jealous. Jealous. Jealous.

Take it as a (backward)

compliment, not a discouragement,

thank them for their input

and move on.

Gold Dust

9


Short story

An Anthem for Mary By Eddie Bruce

1,800 words

Drama

Mary is an alcoholic who fixes everyone’s problems, but has trouble dealing with her own...

Long before the 'care in the community'

concept, I delivered bulk

tea to mental homes all over the

south of England. These imposing

structures were invariably located

off the beaten track in immaculately

tended grounds. Sometimes, as

outwardly cheerful patients helped

me unload the plywood chests, I

found myself comparing their quality

of life with that of a single parent

long distance lorry driver struggling

to keep the day job. On one occasion,

when night-stopping in the

area, I was invited to a New Year’s

dance, but declined because it

was nearly April. When I did get to

experience life on the inside, I was

no longer curious about the inhabitants,

the ambience or the architecture.

In fact I didn't care much

about anything.

Having undergone my second

detox and stayed dry for the

longest month of my life, I was

accepted for a place on a month-

long rehabilitation programme at

the alcohol addiction unit. Two

days early and bored, I tried to

motivate my valium-numbed brain

to show interest in fellow group

members as they trickled apprehensively

into the lounge.

Bartholomew arrived in the

early evening on his mother's jewellery-clad

arm, carrying a halfopen

Gladstone bag with a purple

dressing gown sash trailing on the

floor. Vaguely curious, I raised my

head from the William Blake biography

I wasn't reading, deafened

by the clattering of heavy shoes on

the polished wood floor. God,

those shoes! I swear the soles

were an inch thick – heirlooms, I

speculated, regularly re-soled by

successive generations. My gaze

wandered upwards from scuffed

grey corduroys to leather-patched

tweed jacket, to soiled violent red

mohair waistcoat, to yellow drinkstained

silk cravat. But his face

was more little-boy-lost than

debonair playboy, pasty white from

the small pointed chin to the

unkempt quiff of streaky fair hair. I

thought of my late teenage years

and an opinionated teacher who

would reprimand me with "The

brain of a child in the body of a

man – the perfect fool!". That this

Beau Brummell look-alike would

be a member of our group was a

sobering thought, especially since

he reminded me so much of a former

patronising employer, tied

accommodation, a losing battle

against feudal injustice… and a

broken marriage.

Our meetings were held in the

Brocklethwaite Manor drawing

room, a chamber that could

accommodate two bedsits stacked

one on top of the other. Still thinking

about my half bottle hidden in

the rhododendron bush, I positioned

myself between the Adam

fireplace and the fire exit. By

10 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


means of a cushion-throwing

game, we discovered, then

instantly forgot, each other's

names, listened to a lecture,

watched a drama-documentary

video in Welsh with subtitles, then

sat amidst the embarrassing

silence of our first group meeting.

At twenty-five, Mary was our

youngest member and it was she

who disturbed our nervous lethargy

with the horrendous tale of her

desperate, addictive life. Such a

confession, commonplace at AA

meetings, seemed particularly

poignant when told by one so

young and attractive. As the baby

of seven girls she had been the

favoured one, but now she carried

on her fragile shoulders the guilt of

having been on a week-long bender

while her mother had died of

cancer, calling her name. How the

hell, she asked, could she learn to

live with that?

Individual horror stories were

dredged up as in a game of brag,

until Bartholomew reneged, folding

his hand without showing. "I'm

sorry," he said, "but I just don't

have the same problems as most

of you. I came here under protest

to learn how to control my drinking,

that's all." His brogues were

parked beneath his chair and his

red socks clashed horribly with the

plush orange carpet.

"Control it?" asked Mary

incredulously. "You're something

else, you know that? Your mother's

probably mortgaging her mansion

to pay for your bloody treatment

and all you want to do is sulk!"

"How dare you! Do you really

imagine I could ever sink as low as

you?"

Mary looked at the ceiling.

"God, this is all we need - an alcoholic

who thinks he's different."

Although the pupils were dilated

from recent drug treatment, Mary's

eyes were wild and accusing. "The

only way you're different, Bart, is

that you've never had to share

anything in your life! Trust me,

there's no soft option here. Tell him,

Allan!" She turned on our resident

mentor who shrugged but said

nothing, an attitude he was to

maintain throughout.

Inspired by our historic and

grandiose environment, when the

others had gone to lunch I dallied a

while for a closer look at the décor,

including Bartholomew's forsaken

shoes with their clog-like upturned

toes. By my side stood the pole

used to open and close the high

When I did get to experience

life on the inside, I was no

longer curious about the

inhabitants, the ambience or

the architecture. In fact, I didn’t

much care about anything.

sash windows, while above the

fireplace an inviting ornate picture

hook supported an impressive

engraving by Blake with descriptive

text.

The afternoon started with

another lecture, followed by roleplay

made more interesting by the

hostility between Mary and Bart.

Later, in a relaxation class, we

were invited to lie with our backs

on the floor and imagine we were

looking down upon ourselves sitting

by a cool stream on a sunny

day.

As the session came to a

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

An Anthem for Mary [cont’d]

close, giggles became uncontrolled

laughter as all eyes focused

on Bart's shoes, laced together

and hanging over my hand-printed

card which read "And did those

feet in ancient time, Walk upon

England's mountains green?"

The course, in and out of the

classroom, was emotionally tiring.

Bart had to be badgered into

assisting with the washing up and

would rather go without than help

prepare a light early evening snack

for the group. Mary gave up complaining

about his disruptive influence

and tried to convince him that

alcoholics can't control their intake.

Her youthful enthusiasm persuaded

me to drastically rethink my

future and I began to get my confidence

back. On the last day it was

she who compiled a list of members'

contact details, which she

copied and handed round as we

said our mainly tearful goodbyes.

Initially, because of our vulnerability,

many of us stayed in constant

touch by phone, but when

Mary's money problems led to her

line being disconnected, she

would write to me almost daily,

thoughtful, almost poetic letters to

which I would promptly respond.

Six months on, her letters became

less frequent before drying up altogether.

When she phoned me from

her sister's flat just before

Christmas, I feared the worst.

"I'd ditched that lazy bastard I

lived with, redecorated the flat,

sorted out my money troubles,

then who do you think shows up?"

"Mary, you sound…"

"Pissed? Bladdered? Well

say it for God's sake - it's what

you're thinking."

11


An Anthem for Mary [cont’d]

"I… I'm sorry, Mary, really I

am."

"Just goes to show, doesn't it?

Me, little miss know-it-all with

answers to everyone's problems…

but my own."

"Tell me somebody who hasn't

had a slip, Mary. We're all just

one drink away from being back on

the treadmill. Can you get someone

round? Have you phoned

Doug? Maybe he could take you to

a meeting tonight."

"No, I'm too far gone for that, I

need a detox - like now, today! I

asked to get back into

Brockatate… Brocklith… you

know where I mean. Guess what

they said? I can detox at home! At

home! What bloody planet are

they on, eh? Valium delivered to

your door. Fine, I've got some

vodka left to wash it down. They're

pathetic!"

She became maudlin and

incoherent after that and I could

hear her sister saying all the wrong

things to her before slamming the

phone down. I thought of visiting

her but, to my shame, didn't feel

mentally strong enough to handle

it.

Mary's body was found in her

flat in mid-January. At the inquest,

because of elapsed time, the coroner

was unable to establish a definite

cause of death. Police

described the traditional debris of

medication, empty bottles and

cans. Her sisters testified that

experience had taught them to

give their feisty sibling a wide berth

when she was 'back on the sauce'.

Since Brocklethwaite, and especially

after she got rid of her

boyfriend, Mary had been coping

well, attending regular AA meetings

and training for a career away

from the bar trade.

I knew how she'd died, low

self-esteem, depression… we'd all

been there. That and the uphill

struggle just to get back to square

one. And the guilt, of course, especially

the guilt. Yet her will to make

a success of it, that infectious optimism

that had inspired us all, convinced

me that she didn't make the

decision to start drinking again all

by herself.

Confirmation came when

Mary's next door neighbour took

the stand. "Sometimes we didn't

see each other for weeks. You see

I couldn't stand her layabout partner,

but we got friendly again once

she got rid of him. One night I

came home late and saw a pair of

men's shoes lying by her door.

Thick brogues they were, as if

they'd been left there for somebody

to clean. You know, like they

used to do in hotels? I thought it

funny at the time but I took it as a

hint and kept my distance."

In my anger I thought of

Blake's poem set to music by

Charles Parry, the patriotic anthem

with lyrics that no one at

Brocklethwaite could explain to

me.

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;

Bring me my Arrows of desire;

Bring me my Spear; O clouds

unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of fire!

By the time the train reached

Guildford I felt calm enough to

phone Bart for directions. His

mother answered in a familiar controlled

voice, the voice of one used

to being in charge. "I'm afraid

you're too late," she said. Did I

detect a trace of distaste? "dear

Bartholomew passed away two

weeks ago..."

After a while I stopped hating

Bart. We had, after all, agreed we

could call on one another for support.

Mary wouldn't have wanted

his shoes in her flat and with hindsight

I doubt any one of us in

Mary's position would have been

strong enough to insist he left the

vodka outside too.

Jerusalem still haunts much of

my waking moments and when life

deals me a bad hand a glass of old

malt whisky can still appear at the

top of my wish list. I've read up a little

on William Blake, but it seems I

lack the perception of even the

British National Party who made

the piece their official anthem.

Watching Last Night of the Proms,

I see hundreds of Bartholomews in

Union Jack hats mouthing the

words in front of a highly motivated

conductor. Are they better

informed? "And was Jerusalem

builded here among those dark

satanic mills." I don't know and I

don't care any more.

Uplifted by the stirring music, I

close my eyes and think of Mary's

infectious, carefree laughter, a

scarce commodity at

Brocklethwaite, on that isolated

occasion, the moment she

realised what was hanging above

Blake's immortal words.

That's meaning enough for

me.

Gold Dust

12 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Short story

Religion and Politics

A second sighting of Jehovah’s Witnesses...

There were two of them at the

door. My only day off this week

too. Looked like a mother and

son team. She small, dumpy,

sexless, lank hair and big, white

plastic-framed glasses, cotton

dress and sandals. He taller,

overweight, cheap suit and

brogues, stupid eyes.

They proffer a card that

promises me good news.

There's a big white crucifix on

the front surrounded by pink,

blue and green flowers, looks

like Stupid Appearance in the

cheap suit was busy on his

computer last night.

I'm bleary, hungover. "No

thanks," I explain, "I'm Jewish."

I don't know if she

believes me. She looks like she

wants to say something but

can't quite formulate the sentence

needed to express the

bitterness and disappointment

in her head. "Well," she begins.

"I said I'm Jewish," I say

and shut the door, silently apologising.

I go back to bed and

The queue moves quickly,

served by a cheery blonde

lady with middle-aged, livedin

sexiness, long legs and a

protruding rear that she

knows about and once shook

at me, leather trousered...with

a wink.

sleep the hangover off. It's not

like it's the first time.

Later on I'm waiting in Bere's.

It's lunchtime and the queue's

long, snaking past the counter

and outside the shop. Smells of

meat and pastry mix with dry

cold autumn air scents of

Hillsborough streets. The queue

moves quickly, served by a

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

By Zack Wilson

300 words

Comedy

cheery blonde lady with middleaged,

lived-in sexiness, long

legs and a protruding rear that

she knows about and once

shook at me, leather trousered,

in The Shakey on a Saturday

with a wink. I take my turn and

she serves me a 'Famous

Roast Pork Sandwich'. Saliva

floods my mouth as I unwrap it

on the street, anticipating its

heavy satisfaction in my stomach,

easing away last hangover

traces.

I take the first bite and

see Stupid Appearance and his

mum. They walk right past me.

She stares, hard, angry, really

angry.

Fuck knows why. It's not

her god I'm trying to piss off.

Gold Dust

13


The Anchor House

A man awakens in an unfamiliar room...

Where is Thumbkin?

Where is Thumbkin?

A child singing. Outside somewhere.

The child running, playing joyfully.

Surrounded by a vacuous

silence.

Joshua Stone awoke in an unfamiliar

bed. The room was serenely

white, everything sunny and quiet.

He wore the same clothes from

last night. The child's voice lilted

through the room. Stone pulled back

the curtain revealing a small boy playing

on a beautifully-manicured lawn.

Stone scoped the grounds. Where the

hell was he? It wasn't a hospital. It

looked like a Bed-and-Breakfast in the

middle of nowhere.

There was nothing to suggest

anything personal in the room except

the notion that someone unceremoniously

dumped Stone's body here.

Stumbling, he managed to open the

door. His head felt like a pillowcase

filled with rusty doorknobs.

"Hello?" he said to no one in particular,

sounding slightly pained. His

voice echoed up and down the empty

hallway. As he investigated, Stone's

bones creaked. He was too young to

feel this old and too old to be this hungover.

As he proceeded in a wobbly

fashion down the white hallway, he

noticed that most of the bedroom

doors were slightly open. Peeking in,

he saw the same sobering thing in

each of the twelve rooms he passed.

Hundreds of brown, corrugated boxes

and beige metal filing cabinets. Each

bore a label from the same packaging

company: GH Moving.

His mind tried to focus on this

odd circumstance. He walked downstairs

and reached the intimate dining

room. It was empty save for a table

with one setting, one chair, and one

burning candle. He approached the

table, not realizing how hungry he was

until that moment. He removed the

cover from the dish. It was still warm.

Eggs Benedict. His favourite.

He ate voraciously, forgetting

about the boxes, not caring where he

was.

When he was done, he examined

the rest of the first floor. There

appeared to be a tiny office behind the

registration counter but it was locked.

There were no other guests and no

sign of anyone working. After a while,

he tired of having his ‘hellos’ go unanswered.

He reached into his coat

pocket, hoping to find a small bottle of

scotch. Instead, he heard jangling and

discovered a set of unfamiliar keys.

He went upstairs to his room but his

door had no lock.

By Dan Kopcow

3,000 words

Paranormal

He became aware of a faint

beeping. He knew it wasn't his cell

phone. They had taken his cell phone

away. He picked up the phone receiver

on his nightstand.

"Dr. Stone. This is a reminder for

your 10:00 a.m. appointment."

Stone looked at his watch. It was

9:30 a.m.

He put on a fresh set of clothes,

trying to sublimate his growing confusion

that all his clothes had suddenly

appeared, neatly arranged, in the closet.

He made his way downstairs,

knowing he wouldn't run into anyone.

Stone took out his found keys.

The office door unlocked with a

gentle click and opened easily, revealing

an unusually long hallway. The

architecture of this place didn't make

sense, the space seemed fluid. As he

proceeded slowly to the door at the

end of the dark corridor, Stone heard

the sound of distant ocean waves. He

checked the door. It was unlocked.

Stone adjusted his eyes to the

glorious streams of light coming into

the room. In the corner, the old man

quietly rocked in his chair, his back to

Stone, facing the ocean view through

the floor-to-ceiling window that made

up one entire wall. The other walls

were filled with hundreds of photos of

children.

14 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


For a moment, Stone just stared

at the old man, regarding him with a

distant curiosity. Stone wanted to tell

the old man what a strange morning

he was having but was too relieved to

see another human being.

"That's a lot of grandkids," said

Stone.

"Dr. Stone, you're a paediatrician,"

the old man said tranquilly, his

back still to Stone. "Do they look familiar?"

Stone walked further into the

room. The old man spun around in his

chair, startling Stone. The old man had

an incongruously lively face which didn't

match his thinning gray hair or dwindled

body. He invited Stone to sit

down.

"Everyone has ointment and

everyone has flies," said the old man,

staring with bright blue eyes at Stone.

"We can help each other with our

problems."

"Problems?" Stone asked.

"Where is everybody?"

"Must be a holiday in our little

town," said the old man, piercing

Stone with his gaze.

"Where am I?" asked Stone

impatiently.

"The Anchor House."

"Look, I don't remember how I

got here," said Stone, trying to control

his intolerance. "Who the hell are

you?"

"I'm always confused for others."

"My marriage counsellor. Years

ago," said Stone. "You look like my old

marriage counsellor."

The old man just smiled.

Stone looked anxiously at the pictures

of the children. "Do you have a

sick child? Is that why I'm here?"

"Dr. Stone, you are the last person

I would be seeing about a sick

child," said the old man, shifting in his

seat, crossing his legs languidly. "This

appointment was booked a long time

ago."

"You got a drink?" asked Stone.

"Of course. Whenever things

become too intimate…" whispered the

old man.

Stone's head cocked to one side,

startled. "What did you say? What the

hell's this about?"

"But I'm being rude. My wife and

I would like to talk to you about our

child," said the old man. "Dr. Stone,

you've been married?"

"Once."

"Children?" asked the old man.

Stone paused and then

answered painfully, "Once."

"Then you can understand…"

"What's wrong with your kid?"

asked Stone.

"Can't stop blaming himself for

his father's failures."

"Look, whoever you are…"

shouted Stone, bolting up from his

chair.

"GH," interrupted the old man.

"Excuse me?"

"You can call me GH."

"This is horseshit," yelled Stone.

"I'm not that kind of doctor." Stone

made his way to the door.

"Dr. Stone," said GH calmly, "perhaps

we'll meet again to discuss the

matter of our child further. Maybe by

then you'll be that kind of doctor."

Stone's ex-wife, who still blamed

him for the death of their only child,

was a sculptor. If she had made a statue

of Stone, frozen in his position and

countenance at this moment, it would

be called, "Man, Mouth Agape,

Incredulous of His Circumstance".

"In the meantime," said GH, "stay

on the grounds. The road to town can

be very dangerous."

Stone slammed the door.

Moments later he found himself walking

angrily down the two-lane road

toward town, beheading dandelions

with his boot. The cell phone in his

jacket pocket started ringing.

"Hello," said Stone into the for-

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Anchor House [cont’d]

eign phone.

"Daddy?" said the child's voice.

Stone had never fainted before.

At least not while he was sober.

Certainly not in public. And never in

the middle of a two-lane road.

***

Here I am.

Here I am.

The child singing outside again.

So familiar. The tune of Frère

Jacques. The song he sang to Dory.

The silence. Oppressive. Smothering.

Dory. Jesus.

Stone awoke in his room at the

Anchor House covered in sweat. Had

he fainted yesterday? Last week? It

seemed like seconds ago.

Stone called out from his bed. No

one answered. Maybe Dory hadn't

heard him. He got up and looked out

the window. No one was there, least of

all his son. How could Dory be here?

Dory had died three years ago of complications

from the car accident.

Stone walked past the open, boxfilled

rooms and down to the empty

dining room. After breakfast, Stone

decided to take a walk around the

grounds. There was a slight breeze

and all the trees and flowers were in

bloom. At the edge of the lawn, where

the shrubs grew to a dense and tall

stature, he discovered an old posted

sign. It was a wooden map of the

grounds that showed a trail beginning

exactly where Stone stood.

As he walked through the thick

woods, Stone thought about Dory.

Maybe if he apologized to someone,

he wouldn't feel so guilty. But apologize

for what? On the other side of the

woods, the path ended in a large field

covered with tablets.

An enormous cemetery.

Stone approached the cemetery

cautiously. He read the gravestones

and noted that it was a children's

15


The Anchor House [cont’d]

cemetery. All the dates were recent.

"Jesus. How could a place this

barren have this many kids?" Stone

wondered how he could get out of

here. Maybe if he promised to be a

better doctor. Or patch things up with

his ex-wife. Or quit drinking.

"Is this a rehab clinic?" he asked

out loud.

"But you didn't hear it from me,"

came the response.

Stone spun around to see a small

boy emerging from behind a gravestone.

"Jesus, you scared me," said

Stone.

The boy, who looked to be about

eight years old, wore a big smile.

"You're not Dory."

"Who?"

"You're the one I hear singing.

Do you live around here?" asked

Stone. He was delighted to have

someone to talk to.

"I'm just visiting," said the boy.

They considered each other for a

long time.

"I'm Dr. Stone. What's your

name?" Stone finally asked.

"I'm here to see you," said the

boy simply.

"You're the second person here

who's told me that," said Stone. Could

the boy have known Dory? "Where

are we?" asked Stone.

"Right here," the boy said without

a note of condescension.

Stone knew he wasn't going to

get anywhere with straight questions.

It was as if they had passed an ordinance

here that banned logic.

"Beautiful, huh?" said the boy.

The boy looked straight ahead,

dreamy-eyed. His whole life stretched

out ahead of him. Stone had seen it

hundreds of times but it never failed to

move him. Maybe because Stone's

life had taken so many detours.

Maybe it was the look of all those parents

dressed in black.

Stone finally asked, "So, where is

everyone?"

"That, I'll have to show you."

The boy led Stone back into the

Anchor House and up the stairs. As

they passed the open guest rooms

with the moving boxes, the boy said,

"They're all getting their pasts in order."

"Who is?" asked Stone.

They arrived at Stone's room.

The boy opened the door, motioning

Stone to follow. Stone couldn't believe

it. His room was filled with the same

moving boxes and filing cabinets.

"Have fun," said the boy, handing

Stone a metal tool. "You have your

work cut out for you." The boy closed

the door behind him.

The statue this time: Man,

Flabbergasted, Holding Box Cutter.

Stone's room had been purged of

loneliness. Maybe he would see the

boy later. But right now, he had these

boxes.

Stone called the front desk but

there was only a dial tone. He spoke

into the phone anyway. "Room service,

could you send up a case of

whiskey, stat?"

The boxes and file cabinets all

stared impatiently at Stone.

He opened the box closest to

him. It was filled with dozens of bottles

of Stone's favourite whiskey. "Well, I

guess it's not a rehab," he said. He

opened the first bottle unsentimentally

and killed it.

When his nerves steadied, he

opened the second box.

It contained every report card he

had ever received and every homework

assignment he ever worked on.

The next box held every yearbook and

various other school memorabilia.

One box contained all the t-shirts that

he had ever loved as a kid. Another

was filled with photographs of every

girlfriend and fraternity brother he had

known. Another, impossibly, contained

every blueberry pie he had ever

eaten. They were still warm. The

room seemed to have grown exponentially

in size. There were hundreds

of boxes. He took his time and went

through each blessed one. One box

was filled entirely with every sand castle

that Stone had built as a child on

vacation in Jamaica. Each box

revealed some sacred memory or tactile

experience long forgotten. Other

boxes contained medical files, photos,

and court documents of his former

patients.

Days went by. Maybe weeks.

Then he got to the filing cabinets.

The Master Index alone was hundreds

of pages long. The Index had millions

of entries like, The Number of Pairs of

Socks You've Ever Worn (with accompanying

pictures), Children You've

Inadvertently Harmed and/or Killed,

The Collective Number of Minutes

You've Spent in Traffic (with accompanying

video), Kisses You've Given and

Forgotten, The Complete

Compendium of Your Broken

Promises and Their Outcome, and

Coffee Consumed (in Mugs and

Gallons). It went on and on. He

noticed that everything in his life was

catalogued, ledgered, accounted for,

and cross-referenced to the boxes.

Stone couldn't get enough. He fell into

his past with the obsessive hunger of a

homeless tapeworm.

Months went by. Maybe years.

Eventually, he came across a file

of newspaper clippings. They were

arranged in chronological order. One

was Stone's wedding announcement.

The next was Dory's birth announcement,

two years later. The next clipping

was eight years later: "Dr. Joshua

Stone, Paediatrician, and his eightyear

old son, Dory Stone, were

involved in a car accident when they

struck a bridge abutment. Dr. Stone

and his son were admitted to Mid-

County Hospital. Several weeks later,

Dory Stone died from complications of

16 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


infection associated with the accident.

Dr. Stone remains in a coma."

Stone took a deep breath and

composed himself as best he could.

The next clipping was dated six weeks

later. "Dr. Stone, who awoke from his

coma two days ago, had his medical

license revoked amidst allegations…"

Stone skipped ahead to the last

clipping. The headline, dated three

years later, read, "Dr. Joshua Stone

Dies from Fall of Bridge."

It was the second time at the

Anchor House that Stone fainted.

***

How are you today, sir?

Very fine, I thank you.

Stone awoke at 7:00 a.m. All the

boxes and files were gone. In their

place was a note reminding him of his

appointment with GH at 10:00 a.m.

Stone held his head tightly to

avoid cranium spillage. He was too

depressed to think about an appointment.

Where were the boxes?

Where was the boy singing outside his

window?

9:30 a.m. His phone rang.

"Hello," Stone answered in his

foggy, morning grumble.

"Just a reminder for your appointment,"

said the voice he connected to

GH.

Stone dragged himself to GH's

office.

"Dr. Stone, delighted you're

here," said GH. GH looked the same

although years must have passed

since Stone last saw him.

"Could I get a straight answer to

one simple question?"

"You were a healer," said GH,

"sworn to help others. Namely, children.

Especially your son. Shame,

really. Now, we need your help."

"My question…" said Stone.

"GH?" asked GH.

"Yes."

"God's Husband."

"What?" said Stone.

"God's Husband," said GH, slowly,

as if Stone was suddenly dense. Or

Guardian of Hell, if you prefer. Two

sides of a coin," said GH.

Stone stared out the window and

swore he could see the seasons

changing.

"I don't know what you want,"

said Stone finally.

"Sure you do." GH walked to the

wall of children's pictures. "My wife, as

you can imagine, works full-time. Very

busy schedule. Especially around the

holidays. I stay home and take care of

the children. I see the world through

their eyes. Sometimes, it does lead to

a distorted view. Makes me think that

everything's fine with the world. Most

people act adoringly to children. So,

when that view is damaged, well, it's

most disturbing."

"God's Husband," said Stone

softly.

"Do you believe in heaven and

hell, Dr. Stone?" asked GH, sitting

down behind the large desk.

"I used to."

"Exactly. Because there is no

heaven and hell. There's only your

room in the Anchor House and what

you make of it. Most people never

leave their room, so obsessed are

they with their boxes. For some, the

boxes are heaven and for others they

are hell. But ultimately, it's just their

room."

"I want to see Dory," said Stone.

"He's our son now," said GH

coldly. "You were supposed to take

care of him." He pointed to the wall of

pictures. "You were supposed to take

care of them."

"But I was in a coma when he

died. I couldn't do anything," said

Stone, closing his eyes to push back

the tears.

Stone heard a voice.

"Why, Daddy?"

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Anchor House [cont’d]

Stone opened his eyes. "Wait. It

wasn't my fault."

"I've seen the parents' faces

when they got the news that their children

were dead. I've seen your exwife's

face," said GH.

"Fuck you," screamed Stone to

the black void of GH's eyes. Weren't

his eyes blue a moment ago?

Everything in this house was fluid.

"I'm curious," said GH, "was that

your general attitude when you fell off

that bridge?"

"What?" asked Stone.

"Just three seconds ago. That's

been the length of your stay at the

Anchor House. We were looking forward

to your stay when Dory died but

you weren't ready then. You weren't

finished damaging everything. You

kept on drinking and kept misdiagnosing

your patients. Well, your bill's

come due."

"I don't know anything about the

others. It wasn't my fault."

"Dory needs to know it was you.

He can't move on."

"He blames himself?" asked

Stone.

"Set him straight."

"But, I didn't…"

"Suit yourself," said GH, "You

were right before. This is a sort of

rehab centre. You think time matters

here? Your liver is hanging off a

branch twenty feet away from your

mangled body. Take all the time you

want."

Stone sulked back to his room.

His boxes were there to greet him.

There was just him and his boxes. His

past. His untainted past. Anything but

the loneliness. Anything but the truth.

The last statue: Man in Denial.

He opened the first box and

smiled.

Run away.

Run away.

Gold Dust

17


Short story

Tainted Touch

Damon is afraid to remove his gloves, while Sarah simply wants to solve a mystery...

'Damon, when are you going to

remove those ridiculous gloves?'

Sarah gazes at me with an expectant

tilt of her head. The smoky

taste of the fish catches in my

throat as I swallow and set down

my fork with a vulgar clang against

the porcelain.

Indeed, what about my ridiculous

gloves? They hardly complement

my suit, but rather I go without

trousers than gloves, even

among all these quality ladies and

gents. I reach for the bottle of

Chardonnay warming on the table

between us and slosh the remainder

into my glass. Sarah sighs at

my silence. 'In the six dates we've

‘In the six dates we’ve had,

I’ve never seen your hands...’

had, I've never seen your hands. I

think that's weird, don't you?'

I take a sip of wine. It's dry,

rancid. I can barely get the stuff

down. 'I could say the same about

your boobs,' I remark, and inward-

ly wince at the tasteless decline of

my repartee.

'You want me to remove my

dress?' Her luscious lips curve into

a smile as she seductively slides a

finger around the rim of her glass.

'Here? I scan the restaurant.

'People may talk.'

'I'll do it later if you take off

your gloves now.' She flutters her

lashes, and my blood fizzes like

champagne through my veins. I

want her to know why they are

such a necessary part of my clothing.

And intimacy can't be postponed

forever. I push away my

plate.

'The thing is…' I meet her

inquisitive gaze as it flickers from

my gloves to my face. 'My hands

are…special.'

'Special?' Sarah lifts an

amused eyebrow. 'You mean,

underneath that revolting brown

leather you're Edward

Scissorhands?' She jokes at the

prospect of such a ludicrous defor-

By J.E. Ash

3,000 words

Paranormal

mity, but undeterred, I begin to

peel from my skin the leather than

I have not removed in public for

years.

I flex my exposed fingers,

prickly pink with the heat and hold

them up for visual examination,

front and back. Sarah fires out a

gasp.

'Oh my god they're like…really

pale.' She laughs at her own

faux dismay. 'You idiot. I suppose

I should be relieved they're not

green and hairy.'

Or indeed sharp and scissory.

'Didn't I tell you when me met it

was just a matter of style?' I force

a laugh. 'Now, would you do me a

favour?'

'What?' she shakes her head,

exasperated. The time has come

for a demonstration. I can use just

about anything, but jewellery

works best, it tends to absorb the

soul.

'That.' I nod to the thin chain

around her neck. I gather it means

18 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


a lot, as I've never seen Sarah

without it. Her fingers move to conceal,

perhaps to protect it. 'You

want to know why I wear gloves?

Pass it to me, and I'll show you.'

Her features relax as she

clears the request with her conscience,

then reaches to unclasp

the chain. 'Is this a party trick?'

'Something like. Put it here,' I

indicate a clear space on the table

in front of me, and she does so,

reaching over as though at any

moment I might spontaneously

combust. I gaze at the intricate

links, but my question is not about

the chain. 'You ever heard of psychometry?'

When I look up, she frowns. 'I

was never any good at maths in

school.'

I smile at her naïvety. 'It's

nothing to do with maths. It's…' I

shake my head. Explanations

always provoke further questions.

'Just make like you're the audience.

And don't…don't be afraid

of what I'm about to do, of what's

about to happen, okay?'

Her eyes widen and she leans

closer. 'Okay,' she says, more seriously

than I'd expected. I assume

she's intrigued. I only hope it's the

intrigue, not the fear, or worse,

revulsion that prevails once I'm

done.

The dank taste of it bleeds

into my mouth, continues to

haunt me, even after I’ve broken

contact.

I brush a finger against the

chain, and the beautiful Sarah, the

stylish restaurant, its satin walls

and polished floors disintegrate,

images tumble together in a confusing

mass, a pile of disordered

photographs, of a life in abstract.

I'm in a church. The echo of an

occasion, the air thick with adrenaline.

I shiver in a cold aisle. A baby

gurgles nearby and a male voice

hums a lullaby out of tune. I

glimpse gold hair, lipgloss applied

in a bathroom mirror. Snatches of

conversation on a phone, future

plans for a weekend that never

comes. Waking in a moving vehicle

that stinks of refuse. Hands

raw and chapped. Dirty nails.

Blood. A blurred face. Ugly words.

Overwhelming that smell. The

dank taste of it bleeds into my

mouth, continues to haunt me,

even after I've broken contact.

And I'm in the restaurant.

Sarah is all eyes and curiosity, but

I am unable to speak. The stench

of rotting flesh coats my nostrils, its

putrescence seeps into my lungs.

My heart skitters around in my

chest and I fear my partly digested

meal may resurface on the white

linen tablecloth. I swallow.

Vaguely, I hear Sarah's question

from across the table. 'What did

you see, Damon? Please?'

What did I see? Old memories,

a wedding, empty rooms in a

house longing for children. Death.

I wasn't supposed to see death.

I hurry to cover my hands.

She's still talking as I stumble from

the table, from the restaurant, and

in the street it's dark and cold. I

lean forward and retch onto the

pavement, my breath expels in

thick, cloudy plumes. A few

moments later Sarah joins me. I

must have left her to pick up the

bill.

'Damon...'

'You set me up,' I say, and,

yes, when I choose to look, the

evidence is there, thinly veiled

behind the glacial lenses of her

eyes. She lowers her face, too

late to conceal her guilt.

'Why?' I ask, although I can

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Tainted Touch [cont’d]

barely get the words out. 'Why did

you lead me to think there was

something between us?'

When she finally manages to

meet my gaze, there are tears, I

believe, manufactured for me.

'Because…I know that you're

retired, that you don't do this anymore,

I have read the newspapers.'

Perhaps she had. I'm twentyeight

years old. Who retires at

twenty-eight? I quit because my

job was literally killing me. But perhaps

Sarah hadn't got that far.

Perhaps she never read past the

sensationalised headlines.

'I gave my sister this chain the

day she got married,' she continues,

as though I'm interested. As

though I'm supposed to care. 'I

wear it because I knew sooner or

later you'd have to show me, that

your hands are special. And I...

wanted…needed it to be tonight.

The anniversary of her disappearance.

Most probably the night she

died.' I waited for her to go on,

although I know what's coming.

'She was murdered two years ago.

The police have all but given up

looking for her killer. But I

can't…I…can't rest until I know

who did this. And you're the only

person who can help me find out.'

I sigh, pull off my gloves for

the second time that night, and

discard them on the pavement. I

step towards her and rather than

take the chain dangling from her

outstretched hand, I wrap my fingers

around her warm bare arms.

She doesn't flinch, even when I

look directly into her eyes and I

see her as she was then, poring

over newspapers, memorising my

face, the specific details of my life.

We meet in a bookstore; I

relive it all again. My gloves cause

clumsiness and I drop a book,

19


Tainted Touch [cont’d]

which she retrieves from the floor

and hands to me with a smile. I'd

seen her before vaguely, in a café,

on the street, her footsteps echoing

behind, tracking me.

'You used me,' I tell her, and

wasn't it always the same? My

hands fall away, tainted by the

residue of her betrayal.

'I'm sorry,' she says, but doesn't

mean it. They never do, not the

police when they

hammer on my

door and drag

me to the station

to paw through a

plastic bag of

evidence, or

Sarah now, as

she begs for

answers.

'Who murdered

my sister,

Damon? She

was wearing the

chain when she

died. You must

have seen

something. A

face, or a name.

Did she know

him? The man

who attacked

her?'

Too many questions. My brain

reels. 'I thought it was going to be

nice things,' I said though my voice

is faint, my mouth dry. 'I thought

you'd be able to understand about

me…'

'Damon,' she sighs as though

I'm a tedious child. 'There's someone

out there, some

maniac…who's literally getting

away with murder...and…there's

every chance he might do it again,

perhaps he already has... And you

can make him stop, you're the only

one… You have to help. And I

know you will, won't you?'

'Was any of it real?' I ask,

ignoring her question in favour of

my own, 'between you and me?'

'It can be.' She steps close,

lifts her lips, plump and glossy, but

not with lust, with need most certainly,

but not for me. Just for

answers.

I swallow, longing for the feel

of those lips, and it's a desire so

intense I can barely breathe….'All I

have to do…'

'Is give me a name,' she finishes.

And I see my imagined

future, the one where I get to share

my life with a gorgeous woman

who is as much in love with me as

I am with her, dribbling away into

the gutter, and with a surreal clarity

that is painful to behold.

'Damon,' she says, and her

voice is softer, alluringly so. 'I know

you care about me. I didn't enjoy

deceiving you, but you're all I

have.' And then her voice is not so

soft, or alluring. 'My sister was

lying in a shallow grave six months

before they found her. She was

raped. And beaten. I have to know

who did that to her. I can't move

on with my life until I know. ' I feel

an irrational desire to comfort her,

but I won't touch her again, and I

don't have the answer she

requires.

'I didn't get enough,' I tell her,

and close my eyes. The sister's

grave lies beneath my lids. She

knew her killer, not well, but there

is a name. It's

too far away,

his face distorts

through

her fear.

'Then,

take her chain

again.' I feel

Sarah's fingers

grip my

arm and lift it.

I open my

eyes, and

close my

palm. The

chain falls to

the pavement,

and I back

away. My

gloves are two

dark patches

on the ground.

Sarah is there too, and I watch her

for a moment, scrabbling around

on her knees, sobbing, cursing

me. And I turn away. I begin to

run. I feel if I run fast enough I can

breach time, travel back, further

than the restaurant, the bookshop…the

small spark of hope at

the prospect of a life…

'…Damon…' her hysteria

accompanies me along the street.

'We need to talk about this…. This

isn't the end, you know. When you

get home, I'll be waiting. And I'll be

there every day until you agree to

help me, Damon. Every day.'

I already know this. It's how

20 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


they operate. People who want

things from me. The police, the scientists,

the media, the grieving relatives.

Sarah's not the first.

Contrary to what she and practically

everyone may believe of me, it's

not that I won't help. It's that I

can't. She wants final memories,

detailed sensations. She wants

her sister's mouldering flesh to rise

once again from the earth and with

flat opaque eyes stare into the face

of her killer and politely request

some sort of ID. And that is somewhere

I cannot go. Not anymore.

And home. My sanctuary is

off limits too. Sarah had made that

perfectly clear. So what am I to

do? There seems to be nowhere

left for me to go.

I round a corner and barrel

into a hulking wall of flesh and cotton.

Instinctively, I raise my hands

to cushion the blow, as I do so, the

cold dark street fragments and

reforms. I'm in a child's bedroom,

pink walls littered with posters of

young male faces. The heat here

envelops me, the crude stink of

male flesh. A teddy sits in a chair,

its eyes blank staring. A checked

shirt is removed, draped over it,

my vision focuses on the bed, its

occupant huddled there, the duvet

around her chin, blinking eyes as

wide, as empty as the bear's. Lust

for the creature in the bed, the

mind of the man I occupy believes

he's doing nothing wrong. It's not

his fault. When the wife insists on

working nights instead of warming

the marital bed, what else can he

be expected to do?

'Watch where you're going,

moron.' I have time enough to

register that the wall is in fact a

large man in an open leather jacket.

He's wearing a checked shirt

beneath, red and black. As he

shoves me away, the back of my

skull connects with hard brick.

Breathless for a moment,

waiting for the pain in my head to

fade, I gaze at my hands, where

his poison throbs beneath the

maps of my palms. I'd forgotten,

how intense it could be, these

images. Especially the ones that

aren't merely reflections of the

past, those made up of current

lives, and right now, somewhere

nearby, a little girl is home alone,

and dreading the return of her new

daddy.

I find myself walking a familiar

country lane. I often take a stroll

here while contemplating an imagined

future free of my past. I've

stood at this very spot before, at

night, with the alarm ringing in my

ears, half grimly decided on my

fate, half desperately optimistic

I’ve stood at this very spot

before, at night, with the

alarm ringing in my ears, half

grimly decided on my fate,

half desperately optimistic

that there will be another

way.

that there will be another way. I

just had to wait for the alternative

to present itself. Always I allowed

cowardice to triumph over reason.

This evening, I need no time for

rationalisation, and I'm quick to

duck beneath the descending barrier.

A sudden vibration in my trouser

pocket alerts me to my phone. A

present from Sarah. She's the only

one who has my number. As the

phone is new, I can use it without

gloves, there are no rogue visions

to plague me as I hold it.

'Damon,' her voice is as clear

as if she's next to me. 'I want to

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Tainted Touch [cont’d]

apologise. I know what you must

think, but I…'

'I need you to do something

for me,' I interrupt with an 'I' of my

own. 'It's a bit of an imposition really,

but there's no one else.'

'Where are you? What's that

ringing noise?'

'I'm at Braddon Crossing.'

'What are you doing there?

Never mind, I'll come and get you.'

'Not necessary,' I tell her,

although I know she'll come anyway.

'I don't think I'm going to be

of much use to you anymore. I was

just wondering if you might call an

ambulance. There isn't time to do

it myself.'

'Ambulance? What for?

Damon, what's happened? Are

you hurt?'

'I'm sorry Sarah, I can't talk

now. I don't want to miss my train.'

'What do you need a train for?

Where are you going?'

'The ambulance, Sarah.

Please don't forget.' I ring off

before she can begin a fresh batch

of questions, slip the phone back

into my pocket and continue on my

walk. Further along I find a suitable

place, not too far from the road,

somewhere I can be easily found

by those who may choose to look.

I kneel on the gravel path and

place my wrists, palms up against

smooth bare metal. It shivers the

length of my bones, but there are

no memories here, the curse lies

solely in my hands.

In the far distance, I hear the

thunder build, it vibrates through

my eardrums on the approach,

and a moment later, light beams

pierce the night so I have to avert

my eyes. Otherwise, I do not

move, and there, I wait for the last

train of the evening.

Gold Dust

21


Short story

Fenwick’s Endeavor

These pirates of the Caribbean are running low on food...

Two specks on the glittering

sea. One, in the background, is

the receding form of a ship, well

built, of three masts. But by the

black pennant snapping in the

wind, by the devil-may-care

handling of the sails, by its general

air of depravity and viciousness,

we know it for a pirate

ship. There, in the foreground,

contrasting with the savage

majesty of the buccaneer's vessel,

we have a dinghy, a ridiculous

and comical little boat,

holding two figures, one with a

foot on the prow, the other rowing

furiously, and – what's this?

Not without a healthy amount of

resentment!

"You could row," Barnaby

says. "I been a-rowin' since

sunup." Fenwick doesn't hear

him. He's got his foot on the

prow, and he's scanning the

horizon.

"Barnaby, my lad," Fenwick

says, then stops, overcome by

emotion. He smites his chest,

which hurts, because Fenwick

is a big, strapping gent with fists

like hams – well, perhaps not so

big. Fists like Cornish hens, still

respectable. But he makes no

grimace, for he is Our Hero,

and he cannot show pain, or

laziness, or the urge to urinate.

He is allowed a certain amount

of epic anguish, the sort that

one could paint and hang next

to The Fury of Clytemnestra or

The Anger of Achilles or The

Quiet Irritation of My Usually

Amiable Friend Tom. "Barnaby,

my lad, it shrivels my soul to

know that my Lady Loverly

quails in the grip of that great big

jerk Gregory Two-Legs. What

vile ruffianry! What black treachery!

To think–" and he smites his

forehead, then makes a mental

note not to do that anymore "–to

think that she was in my own

tender yet honorable embrace

not two days ago. She of the

By Jens Rushing

1,700 words

Historical comedy

golden tresses, she of the

azurest eyes – ye gads, man!

This sylvan beauty!"

"She's a piece, all right,"

Barnaby agrees.

"Now, ripped from my side

untimely – her sweet yet chaste

caresses! Our interminable

tongueless kisses! Gone, gone!

And to retrieve her, we have

only this vessel – hardly worthy

of the word – this hull to carry

us across the waves!"

"It'd go faster if you rowed,"

Barnaby says. Fenwick

responds with a gesticulation of

grief that almost capsizes the

boat.

"Oh!" he says. Barnaby

rows.

Night falls over the Caribbean,

and the sea glitters still, the

green-blue of the water darkening

to a deep sapphire hue. The

stars hang in the enormous sky,

cosmic jewels winking merrily at

22 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


their misery.

"Bastards," Barnaby

says, neck bent to the heavens.

"Hmm?" Fenwick says. He

rows furiously, in smooth

Olympic motions, muscles like

cantaloupes or perhaps grapefruits

rolling under his skin.

Barnaby can't look for too long.

"Nothin'. We got a problem,

though," Barnaby says. "We

don't have much food left. We

only had the few fish you managed

to lure aboard by singing

'Ave Maria', and they're almost

gone." Here Fenwick lifts his

head and notes roll forth - a surprisingly

angelic falsetto.

"Ave Mariiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiia…"

Barnaby waves his hands.

"Stop! Stop!"

"Gratia Plena Mariiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiia

- " Fenwick stops, because Barnaby

has clubbed him with a paddle.

"And I was going to say, 'if

you sing that one more time, I'll

be forced to hit you with a paddle!'"

Fenwick rubs his head. "I

know 'Danny Boy'…" Barnaby

raises the paddle. "All right! But

– what ho!" Fenwick leaps to

the prow and points to the horizon.

"The scoundrels' vessel! It

nears!"

"It's stopped," Barnaby

says.

And indeed it has. Gregory

Two-Legs, seeing that they are

not pursued in any measure

worth considering, has halted

the vessel for the evening so

his gentlemen may count their

gold coins, or step out for a

smoke or a quick quadrille on

the quarterdeck, or retire to the

stern and attempt to render the

rich blues and purples of a

Caribbean night in watercolor.

All this so that he, the rakehell,

the rascal, may have half a

moment to have a go at Lady

Loverly without some damned

fool sticking his head in every

two minutes with a question or

complaint: "Captain! One-leg

Jim's got 'is 'ead stuck in the riggin'

again! Cor!" or "Captain!

'ow can we eat these oranges

an' limes to ward off the scurvy,

when we ain't got teeth

because of the scurvy?" or "But

captain, I don't want to sack

Cartagena, I want to sack

Havana!" Christ. He can't be

arsed! There are bosoms to

heave!

Barrel-Bones Bill, né

William Erschwite-

Grabbensport, dips his brush in

the violet, regards his canvas,

and finally makes a short horizontal

stroke. He instantly

regrets it.

"She's a devil, this

Caribbean night. I coulda done

a Baltic sunset, or midday o'er

Gibraltar anyday," he says to

Bloods McMangle, who was

once known as Martin Lansford.

"She don't give much," he

agrees. "Fr'instance – how you

choose to represent the moon?

I can't get the tone right – I see

you went with yellow, more of

an eggshell tone than I did."

"Arr!" says Barrel-bones.

"But it changes all the time –

another fr'instance for ye. What

about that little boat in the middle

distance? It catches the light

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Fenwick’s Endeavor [cont’d]

in a curious way."

"What little boat?"

"That little dinghy, there,

with the two figures plungin' into

the water an' swimmin' furiously.

You can see 'em by the glints

of cold, murderous steel. See?"

He points.

"Ya-har! I see 'em, all right!"

Bloods says. "Hard to paint,

indeed, bugger me for a barnacle

else!"

"Especially as they won't

hold still. See – a second ago,

in the water, an' now they're aclamberin'

up the stern, like a

coupla moon-faced monkeys."

"Yup! An'," Bloods frowns,

"the play o' moonlight on their

rapiers is most difficult to a

novice like meself. Yaarrrgh!"

he says, because Fenwick has

skewered him like a shrimp on

a toothpick.

"Hardly sporting!" Barrelbones

says as Barnaby slashes

his throat and kicks his carcass

into the sea.

"We claim this ship for His

Majesty the King!" Fenwick

shouts as they climb onto the

quarterdeck. The quadrille

breaks up amid a flurry of

protests and lavender taffeta.

The pirates face the interlopers

and weapons sprout like blossoms

from a many-tentacled

hellplant captured in time-lapse

photography.

"Yar! We have successfully

founded and maintained a

socialist brotherhood on the

sea, free of sovereigns, where

each gives according to his ability

and takes according to his

need!" a buccaneer cries, bran-

23


Fenwick’s Endeavor [cont’d]

dishing a cutlass.

"True socialism has never

been tried!" Fenwick bellows,

and by way of reply stabs the

buccaneer in the gut.

And then, gentle reader, we

have a melee in the grand old

fashion. Fenwick fights heroically,

carving a swath with

gleaming steel through the

unwashed ranks; bodies fall at

his feet, blood stains the deck,

men jump overboard to escape

his wrath. Barnaby does battle

in a trickier but no less effective

way, improvising with bits of

scenery, swinging from things,

slashing ropes to bring weights

and suchlike crashing down on

enemies' heads, jumping on

things. Curses and oaths fly like

flaming arrows tipped with

exploding poison: "Jove smite

ye!" "Me groat, by gum!"

"Scupper me with a marlinspike!"

Then, "Stop!" – a clear,

beautiful voice cuts through the

din of battle. Pirate and nonpirate

alike cease their struggles

and regard the interlocutor.

She is blonde. She is beautiful.

She is wearing something

diaphanous. Barnaby takes

advantage of the lull to gut a

combatant.

"Lady Loverly!" Fenwick

gasps. "This scene o' bloodshed

is not for your eyes!" He

collapses at her feet and begins

kissing her hand. Does she roll

her eyes just a little?

"Fenny," she says, and he

blushes.

"Please, my sweet, don't

call me that in front of the, you

know, the pirates –"

"Fenny, I am very annoyed

with you."

"But, my treasure, my

canary, I have rowed night and

day, never resting, in pursuit of

you and your cinnamonsmelling

hands, mmm, mmm. I

came as soon as I could to rescue

you, my crumblebun."

"Fenny – if I had wanted

rescue, I would've let you know.

I would've dropped a note in a

bottle or something. Did you get

a note in a bottle, Fenny?"

"No – no, I didn't, my savory

crabcake… I assumed…"

"You assumed too much!"

Gregory Two-legs bellows. He

looms over the kneeling

Fenwick, swarthy, hairy, and

huge, a tooth or two missing,

but bursting with virility.

Ruggedly handsome, you could

call him, if you are feeling generous.

But there's no denying

his raw sexuality. He has an

earring.

"You!" Fenwick snarls,

leaping to his feet and whipping

out his rapier. Loverly yawns.

"Fenny, darling. The fact is

I'm quite…satisfied here. You're

very sweet, Fenny, but sweet

can't compete with…" She

regards Gregory hungrily. "Mm.

Well, just look at him, Fenny. He

is a sexual totem." She

embraces him and nestles her

head in his chest hair. Barnaby

winces; there's quite a lot of

chest hair, enough to house

actual crabs, not just the venereal

breed. "He's my Greek

God."

"I'm your Greek God,"

Gregory coos.

"So," she says, "you can

see that I don't need rescue.

You're sweet, an' all, Fenny, but

- Greggy drops my anchor. He

pumps my bilge. He primes my

cannon. He licks my metaphor."

She tosses her pretty head with

just a touch of haughtiness, and

adds, sniffing, "So piss off."

Two specks on the glittering

sea; one, unmistakably piratey,

receding in the distance, vanishing

over the horizon, seems

to have a lively samba on the

quarterdeck. The other bobs in

the foreground. The very bobbing

is disconsolate. Fenwick

rests his chin on his hand.

"Cheer up, lad," Barnaby

says. "Other fish in the sea an'

all that." Fenwick only sighs.

"We got more immediate problems

to worry about." Barnaby,

foot on the prow, scans the horizon.

"Two thousand islands in

the Caribbean, an' not a one in

sight. You better get rowin'."

Fenwick sighs. "Or I'll row.

Someone's gotta get us out of

this mess. If we're out here

much longer, we'll have to

resort to cannibalism. Or

sodomy."

"Sodomy? Cannibalism?

You can't be serious!"

"One or the other!" Barnaby

protests. "I can't be hungry and

bored!"

Gold Dust

24 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Short story

Poem

A Squadron Leader who is also a poet...

After the bombers landed (no

losses sustained, heavy losses

inflicted), the Squadron Leader,

a poet as well, staggered out,

still dazed by the giant flowers

he'd contemplated 2,000 feet

below. He scribbled a poem

about it at white heat at the bar

of the Officers' Relaxation

Compound in the occupied capital

and declaimed it to his comrades.

In the opening stanzas, the

rebel tribesmen hurled their

medieval spears at the

Twentieth Century overhead.

The bombs blossomed in their

midst like exquisite fast-motion

red roses, disposing of them

and bringing transient beauty to

the landscape of stony fields,

spiky vegetation and surviving

mud hovels.

In the following prophetic

stanzas, the ardent roses had

blazed the trail for schools, hospitals,

cinemas, soccer stadi-

ums, correct places of worship

and administrative buildings

bearing effigies of the Supreme

Guide.

In the final stanza, an allegorical

female form of surpassing

beauty, draped in gauzy

national colors, filled the sky

between Venus and

Andromeda, a diadem of stars

In the final stanza, an allegorical

female form of surpassing

beauty...filled the sky

caught in her flowing blonde

hair. She praised their labors

and pointed the way back.

When the Squadron

Leader finished his poem the

long moment of stunned silence

that ensued was even more

gratifying than the storm of

applause, the cheers, the

stamping. They stood him to

drinks repeatedly and begged

him to recite his poem again. As

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

By Howard Waldman

350 words

Historical

he did he noted certain flaws in

it.

After a fourth round of

drinks they all visited the other

part of the Compound. The

Squadron Leader, whose rank

entitled him to first choice,

picked a new reasonably lightskinned

one. She wore, very

briefly, a ragged dress with a

faded floral pattern. She had a

sullen child's face but the

important parts of her were well

past childhood.

After, back in his room, the

Squadron Leader spent hours

over his poem, tightening it

here, expanding it there,

improving the scansion, polishing

the imagery. When he felt

his creation was worthy of the

cause it celebrated and possibly

of publication, he set it

aside, next to the framed photograph

of his wife and children,

turned off the light and fell

promptly asleep.

Gold Dust

25


Short story

On a Quiet Lane that Morning

A murderer with a fondness for cyclists...

The escapades of yesterday

find me still breathless this

morning and delighted, upon

reading this morning's edition of

The Times, to find that my identity

has yet to be uncovered. It

appears that I may be free to

continue my little hobby, at least

in the short or medium term,

without facing an awkward early

morning inquisition in the hallway

of my lodgings, or, horror of

horrors, the iniquity of being

hauled to the nearest station for

questioning.

What a terrible thrill it was

yesterday morning, when, out

driving in the vicinity of Devizes,

the idea first came to me. It was

the dim-witted servant girl who

inadvertently suggested it,

swerving clumsily, as that sort

tend to do, on that ridiculous

bicycle of hers, looking ready to

plummet, head-first and skirts

flying every which way, into the

ditch. Her incompetence with

the machine irritated me and

so, as I drew closer behind her,

loath to decrease my speed for

her benefit, I blew my horn as

forcefully as I could and was

most gratified to note that the

surprise caused her to lose her

scarcely held balance and plant

her stout feet abruptly on the

ground, derailing her basket in

the process. Down it crashed,

contents spilling out merrily

onto the roadway. I was busy

avoiding the steep ditch opposite

and therefore was not witness

to its exact contents, but I

fondly imagine she carried with

her a dozen eggs for the household

and perhaps a fragile jar or

two of preserves.

One does not need to be

particularly familiar with the

roads these days to believe that

it was not long at all before I

found myself approaching a

second cyclist, undoubtedly

another servant girl, and this

By Melanie Staines

1,800 words

Historical crime

time slightly more proficient with

her vehicle. So as to allow

myself the pleasure of being

witness to her discomfort, I

sounded my horn from a distance

but was dismayed to see

that she neither fell nor faltered.

I raced closer, not reducing my

speed one jot, and was very

quickly upon her, keeping very

close on the left side so as to

frighten her as much as possible.

Indeed, she found my sudden

presence intolerable and,

with a swift jerk of her handlebars,

found herself tumbling

into the ditch. This time I took

no precautions, stopping to

enjoy the moment fully, and,

upon exiting my vehicle, sweating

and trembling profusely with

excitement, quickly ascertained

that the young woman, who lay

with her bicycle in perhaps six

inches of muddy ditch water,

was as still and silent as a

stone. Glancing around, I made

26 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


certain that I was not witnessed,

and, careful to protect my

trouser cuffs, climbed down to

take inventory. In her basket,

miraculously intact, I found a

shabby purse, which I pocketed

as a souvenir. There was no

clue as to her identity among

her belongings, so, having

taken her pulse, which was

existent but very weak, I hurried

back to my automobile and

sped, in a state of high excitation,

from the scene.

Two miles further on, I

came upon a large country pub,

the exact name of which I have

made every effort to erase from

my memory, and resolved to

dismount and enjoy their heartening

rural hospitality before

continuing. The interior proved

cosy and well-appointed, and

although the place was moderately

busy I was able immediately

to commandeer a small

table near the fire, where I busied

myself with a cigar and

newspaper. The landlord was a

cheerful fellow, stout and redfaced,

who lost no time in pouring

me a strong drink while his

wife fetched a hot meat pie.

While I ate, the fresh air

and excitement having given

edge to my appetite, I listened

idly to the chatter at the bar,

noticing, as I came to the closing

stages of my meal, the noisy

entrance of a thickset, roughly

dressed man of about thirty

years, apparently well-acquainted

with my host. With hastilyconcealed

astonishment, I

heard him announce that there

had been a terrible accident,

that his sister-in-law had been

found unconscious and barely

clinging to life in a ditch not two

miles away. A doctor was

already attending to her, he

said, but the prognosis was not

heartening. It seemed likely she

would not survive her injuries.

This announcement

caused not insignificant chaos

in the room, many voices

raised, querying how the young

woman, known to be a very fit

and competent cyclist and

familiar with the roads in those

parts, could have met with such

a terrible and unlikely accident.

Rashly, I joined my voices

with theirs, and announced that

...I found myself with the

opportunity to claim a third

victim.

I, a doctor from Exeter and in

the area on business, had not

long ago been passed by a rapidly

speeding vehicle, the driver

perhaps crazed or intoxicated,

and had myself almost been

forced into a hedge. This news

appeared to enrage most of

those present, who were clearly

not habitual drivers themselves,

and they began to rant most

vociferously against the use of

automobiles. The heavyset

man, brother-in-law of the

injured woman, soon

approached me and I furnished

him with further details, including

the name of my illusory doctor's

practice, my own name,

which I gave as Doctor

Reginald Cleverly, and a

detailed description of the imaginary

car and its entirely fiction-

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

On a Quiet Lane that Morning [cont’d]

al occupant. This I did with the

utmost seriousness, shaking

his hand and gravely wishing

his relative the swiftest recovery.

Finally, chastising myself

silently for my stupidity, I abandoned

the last vestiges of my

meal and left, concerned only to

depart the area as quickly as

possible.

One might be forgiven for

thinking that this experience

would have taught me a salutary

lesson, but one would,

unfortunately, be entirely mistaken.

For not thirty minutes

after I had so solemnly taken

my leave, I found myself with

the opportunity to claim a third

victim. Once again the rider in

question was a woman, and

once again she appeared to be

from the lower orders, and making

her way home from the local

markets. On seeing her in the

distance it was as if a mania

took hold of me, and this time I

did not sound my horn to alert

her, nor did I simply hug the

roadside so closely that she

was forced to leave it. I struck

her, quite savagely and with no

warning, buckling the rear

wheel of the bicycle beyond

repair, and sending the rider

over the handlebars and into a

hedge. I stopped as quickly as I

was able, and, checking to see

that no one was labouring in a

nearby field, a potential witness

to my crimes, made a hurried

search of my quarry. She had

on her person some coins,

which I pocketed, and a letter,

which I kept with me to read

later, should I be in need of

27


On a Quiet Lane that Morning [cont’d]

amusement.

A quick survey of my own

vehicle showed it to be surprisingly

resilient, for nowhere

could I see evidence of the collision

which had rendered the

bicycle, clearly the inferior

machine of the two, absolutely

irreparable. Thanking my lucky

stars, I took a last look at the

stricken woman, who had, it

appeared, struck her head upon

a fence post and was completely

insensible, and was once

more on my way.

It was by this time well past

two in the afternoon, and, reason

dictated, time I turned my

vehicle around and made my

return to Taunton, where I had

recently taken employment as

an accounting clerk. Although I

had made several impetuous

decisions that day, I was sensible

enough to do this, as I am

not partial to night driving, and

did not wish to arouse the suspicions

of my neighbours by

arriving home late. Thus I found

myself, some short time later,

speeding down another country

lane towards home, not far from

the outskirts of Taunton.

Here the more delicate

among you may wish to break

off and take up a more restful

pursuit, for it was on the outskirts

of that fine town that I

became involved in my fourth,

and most exhilarating altercation.

Until now I had met only

women cyclists on the lanes,

household servants laden down

with baskets of produce, but

now I saw in the distance a

young man, perhaps fourteen

or fifteen years of age, who was

approaching on a bicycle, riding

with an enviable ease, onehanded,

and accompanied by a

large sheepdog. Once again I

found myself entering a manic

state and, as if consumed by

madness, I sounded my horn

and sped toward the boy with

excessive haste, leaning forward

in my seat with eager

anticipation.

This particular stretch of

lane was remarkably narrow,

and bordered closely on each

There was, it seemed to me,

little chance of escape for

either boy or hound.

side by a stone fence draped in

blackberry. There was, it

seemed to me, little chance of

escape for either boy or hound.

As I drew closer, driving at high

speed and showing no signs of

slowing or moving to avoid him,

the young rider waved, presumably

to alert me to his presence.

When this failed, and I was by

now close enough to see his

face clearly, his puzzled expression

turned to one of panic, and

in the instant that he caught my

eye, I smiled. The moment of

impact was delicious, the bicycle

crushed between automobile

and wall, the terrible, glorious

sound of metal against

metal. Slamming my foot down

on the brake pedal, I came to a

skidding halt, and leapt out to

investigate. The bicycle was

ruined, but of its owner there

was no sign. Incredibly, implausibly,

he was gone.

For a long brainless

moment I stood in the lane,

bereft, robbed of my moment of

pleasure. Finally I gathered my

wits enough to check under the

chassis for the lad or what

might remain of him, but he was

not there. Perhaps I would have

never found him had I not heard

the barking of his confounded

dog, and looked over the fence

to see the boy's rapidly receding

form, a small figure now

amid all that long grass, running

at full tilt from the scene. He

must have leapt high and well in

that last instant, recognising

perhaps the madness in my

grinning eyes, knowing that his

only chance lay in the fields

beyond. For a moment I

admired him, but the feeling

swiftly passed. He had seen my

face, had known I meant to

strike him, and would no doubt

report me at the first opportunity.

It was a simple matter to

find the gate and follow him into

the field. Fortune was apparently

on my side, for it had not

rained in weeks and the ground

was firm. Had it been inclement

weather, my tires might have

churned up mud, leaving me

stranded, but I was able, easily

as it turned out, to make up the

distance. I will never forget the

way he turned his head, in

those final moments, or the terror

in his eyes. Nor will I forget

the sight of that faithful dog,

bending to sniff his master's

broken body, looking into that

young face for the last time.

Gold Dust

28 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Short story

JS BACH IN VENICE

A concert is disrupted in an unusual manner...

Contemplating bones in a

bejeweled reliquary, they heard

faint Bach, greatly improved, it

turned out, by the distance.

They'd thought Protestant

music, like bare shoulders, was

banned from Saint Mark's

Basilica but no: in an obscure

corner of the edifice a handwringing

contralto, a portable

organ, an oboe and a cello

were earnestly rendering, in no

good sense of the term, a Bach

cantata to fifty listeners, now

fifty-two.

"Come unto Me, fear not,"

the contralto urged, off-key but

moving.

But soon beginning to

move the listeners the wrong

way. Not coming, as ornately

urged, but going. Going noisily,

upsetting their chairs, some

jumping up and down like madmen,

arms flailing. His wife

tisked at the inconceivable

rudeness. The musicians meant

well.

Then he saw the first of the

pinkie-size roaches twiddling

their feelers as though beating

ironic time to the aria.

Recounting the incident

much later, he evacuated his

original panic in favor of humor.

Roaches in a church! Scarabs

Then he saw the first of the

pinkie-size roaches twiddling

their feelers as though

beating ironic time to the

aria.

in an Egyptian temple, fine. In a

Catholic place of worship praying

mantises maybe or ladybugs

(originally Our Lady's Bird

and "bête à bon Dieu" in

French, he would add pedantically)

but not kitchen-sink

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

roaches!

Of course it wasn't piety but

sandwich remnants littering the

ancient flagstones that

explained their presence. Mass

presence, for now - the moment

of pure panic, nothing to joke

about - he saw them everywhere,

by the hundreds, on

those flagstones on the pillars,

on the laps and shoulders of the

listeners.

Feeling one on his cheek

he shot up, stamping and waving.

His wife too.

They fled with the other

tourists past a black-clad old

woman, still seated. She was

covered with roaches but

ignored them as she ignored

the false notes, her withered

face wet with tears at the reiterated

urgent invitation: Come

unto Me, fear not.

Gold Dust

29


Short story

Sand

Two girls go playing, but find unsuspected danger...

The mouse scratched at the

carpet, and the girl watched.

The trap had sprung imperfectly,

and rather than killing the

poor beast instantly, had caught

it awkwardly on the lower back,

only maiming it.

Its scratches were feeble

little pulls at the carpet,

attempts to drag its useless

lower half free of the trap; its

tiny eyes twitched, and its paws

grasped a tuft of carpet, pulled it

loose, grasped another tuft of

carpet, pulled it loose. It let out

short squeaking gasps. Ashley

bent over it, fascinated.

"Mom," she said.

"What?"

"Mom!"

"What?"

"There's a mouse in

here. In the trap."

"Is it dead?"

"No. Almost."

"Don't touch it, honey. I'll

come in and take care of it

when I get off the phone."

In the next room, the

long-distance conversation

resumed. Ashley listened

absently to her mother's half,

staring out the window at the

apartment building opposite

theirs. The midday sun breaking

through the clouds here and

there dappled it irregularly.

"…extra hours at the

DMV. Well, I'm lucky to get 'em,

but that doesn't make 'em any

more fun, ya know? Hardly see

Ashley anymore. Good thing

she's old enough to take care of

herself after school now. What?

Fine, I guess. Holding it together.

Well, yeah, it's all you can

do, I suppose. I gotta run - have

to play the exterminator now.

Bye. Love you."

The receiver clicked and

Shelley walked into the living

room.

"Where is it? Oh.

Disgusting." She frowned at the

By Jens Rushing

2,300 words

Horror

dying mouse. "Honey, you

wanna go outside for a little

while? I'll take care of this. Go

play with Jess."

She tromped three floors down

and knocked on her friend's

door. A large hairy man

answered.

"Oh. Jess!" he yelled

over his shoulder. "Jess!" He

left the door open and receded

into the apartment. Ashley

stood in the doorway. Jess

emerged, blinking and yawning

from her bedroom.

"Hi, Ashley. You wanna

do something?"

Ashley nodded.

"Okay. Let's go outside."

Jess strapped on her sandals

and they headed out.

The front doors of their building

opened on a street roaring with

trucks. The girls walked around

the side of the building and

30 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


made for the back, where Jess

lifted up a bit of loose chain link

fence while Ashley crawled

through. Ashley reached

through the fence from the

other side and held it for Jess.

"I want to show you

something I found yesterday,"

Jess said. She led Ashley down

the dank alley, ignoring the

homeless man parked beside a

dumpster. He had a bottle

wrapped in a brown paper bag

and a short wiry beard flecked

with grey. A faded red baseball

cap was pulled down over his

eyes. Ashley peered at his face

in the half-light as she passed;

he seemed oblivious of her. His

teeth were spotted shades of

grey and brown, and a

scabrous growth crawled along

his jaw. He gurgled something

as she passed, and she

skipped a few steps to catch up

with her friend. Jess climbed

over a short stack of rotting

cardboard boxes at the end.

"Come on."

They emerged, glad to

be out of the sour stench of the

alley. A shallow concrete ditch

ran through the space behind

their building, a thin green

rivulet coursing through it. Jess

climbed down into the ditch.

"It's right down here."

She pointed down the ditch to a

culvert that ran under the road.

"We go through there, and it's

just on the other side. It's weird!

I never knew about it before."

Ashley descended into

the ditch and followed Jess to

the culvert. She hesitated at the

entrance, peering into the drip-

ping tube. She saw a faint circle

of grey light at the end.

"It's okay," Jess said. "It

looks pretty gross, but it's not

bad. It's not far. Come on." She

stooped and entered the culvert.

"Come on!" She took

Ashley's hand and led her in.

"Hold your breath."

Ashley followed, slipping

occasionally. She put her hand

out for stability and shuddered

at the brief contact with the slick

wall. "I actually think this is pretty

cool," Jess said. "It's like

we're exploring a cave."

After an interminable

period, they climbed out of the

pipe. Ashley blinked in surprise.

"Isn't it cool?" Jess said

with a widening grin. "Can you

believe we never knew about

this?"

On the alien side of the

culvert, for unknown reasons,

the beginnings of a playground

had been erected. In a small

open space, a fragment of free

territory between the backs of

crowding towers, someone had

once installed a set of swings,

some monkey bars, and a

sandbox. Two of the four

swings were broken and hanging,

and broken glass littered

the cement. Weeds pushed out

of the concrete and entwined

the monkey bars. Cigarette

butts and fast-food wrappers

dotted the sandbox. Ashley

turned and looked behind her.

She couldn't see her own building

from here. Another blocked

it out.

Jess gave a little squeal

of glee and dashed for the

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Sand [cont’d]

swings. She climbed on one of

the two unbroken ones and

started swinging ferociously,

pumping back and forth, picking

up speed and height. Ashley

watched her.

"Come on! 's fun!" Ashley

stood at the mouth of the culvert

and watched her. "Come

on!" She repeated her entreaty.

Ashley stepped gingerly over

some broken glass and climbed

on a swing and pumped back

and forth. Jess squealed again

and jumped off, skipping across

the ground. Ashley dragged her

feet and stepped off the swing.

Jess climbed into the sandbox.

She picked up an old piece of

pipe that had been leaning

against the wall and started

flicking trash out of the box.

Ashley watched her, then joined

in. They cleared the sandbox to

their satisfaction. Jess poked at

the old and crusted sand, stirring

it with the pipe. "Come on!"

Ashley put a foot in the box.

Jess took off her sandals and

dug her toes in the sand. " 's

cool. Feels good." Ashley followed

suit. She dug her feet in,

picking up handfuls of sand and

building piles of it around her

ankles, enjoying the coolness

and softness of it. She wriggled

her toes.

"Let's see who can build

the biggest castle," Jess said.

She started scooping up sand

and heaping it into a mound,

with a few smaller mounds

around it. Ashley watched her.

"Come on, let's see who can

build the biggest castle." Ashley

made her own small mound.

31


Sand [cont’d]

Jess's castle was a masterpiece.

She pressed bits of glass

in the surface to serve as glittering

windows. The entire green

bottom of what had probably

been a Rolling Rock bottle

served as a veranda, and an

intact neck sufficed to represent

a tower.

"This is where the

princess lives," she

said, indicating the

tower. "And this is

where she waits for her

love, every day." She

indicated the veranda.

"But he never comes."

Ashley looked at her

own little pile of sand.

"Oh, no, monster!" Jess

screamed, and

smashed her castle

with the pipe, sending

the veranda, the tower,

and the princess flying.

"Monster!" she yelled,

and smashed Ashley's mound.

She laughed. Ashley turned

around again and tried to see

her building, but couldn't. She

wriggled her toes. Jess dropped

the piece of pipe, bored with

monsters. She leaned back in

the sand. "What do you want to

do?" Ashley shrugged. "You

never know what you want to

do." Jess looked around at her

discovery, her little piece of private

wonder. "We could swing

some more. Come on, let's

swing some more."

She ran over to the

swings, dusting sand off herself

as she went. She jumped on,

pumping back and forth. "Let's

swing, Ashley. Come on!"

Ashley sat in the sandbox. "You

coming?" Ashley sat. Jess

dragged her feet and slowed to

a halt. "You coming?" She got

off the swing and went over to

the sandbox. "Something

wrong?" Ashley shook her

head. "Well, come on, then."

Ashley shook her head.

"I can't. I'm stuck."

"What do you mean?"

"My feet are stuck."

Jess stared at Ashley's legs

where they disappeared into

the sand. "Stuck on what?"

"I dunno. But I can't move

'em." Ashley tried to wriggle her

toes. The sand around them

seemed suddenly heavier,

somehow, like it was hardening

mud instead of sand. "I can

move 'em a little bit." She wriggled

her toes and tried to lift her

feet. She slipped from the edge

of the box. She gasped. When

she moved her feet, she only

seemed to sink a little lower in

the sand.

"Um… weird." Jess said.

"Here, I'll help you." She leaned

over and grabbed Ashley's leg

just below the knee. "Okay,

ready? We'll pull you out." She

tugged on the leg, exhaled

sharply, readjusted her grip,

and tugged some more. She let

go, surprised at the resistance

of the sand. "Weird!" Ashley's

legs were now submerged

to the shins. "What is

there under this?

Concrete?"

Ashley didn't say

anything; her lip was

beginning to quiver.

"Jess," she said, her

voice tremulous, "go get

my mom."

"No," Jess said. "I

can help you. I'll get you

out of this."

"Jess!" Her voice

rose sharply into shrillness.

"Help me!" She

grabbed at Jess as she

jolted, somehow, a bit further

into the sand, as if suddenly

yanked from below. She was in

it to her knees.

"I'll dig you out!" Jess said.

She grabbed the pipe and started

digging frantically at the

sound around Ashley's knees.

Ashley watched, wide-eyed.

Jess's breath rose in ragged

gasps as she worked. She

jammed the pipe into the

ground, flung sand away,

jammed the pipe into the

ground–

She stopped in her

motions, and tugged at the

pipe. "It's stuck! I can't get it

out!" She grunted and leaned

on the pipe, then jumped away

32 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


- Jess heard a rumble, like a

truck passing on the highway,

and the pipe shuddered where

it stuck out of the sand, then it

plunged into the sand, sucked

under in half an instant. Ashley

started crying. The sand was

almost at her waist. Jess

backed away, stiff with shock.

"Go… get my mom, Jess."

"Yeah." Jess turned and

ran, bolting into the culvert.

"Hang on." Shelley fumbled for

her robe. "Hang on!" She yelled

to the agitated caller pounding

on the door. She found it and

padded across to the door.

"Oh, Jess - isn't Ashley with

you?" she said to the pale girl.

"What's wrong?"

"She's stuck."

"Stuck? Whaddaya mean,

stuck?"

"She's stuck, in a sandbox."

"She's stuck in a sandbox?"

"Yeah." Jess's voice broke,

and she blurted. "You gotta

come!"

The girl's sudden terror

rang clearly to Shelley. "Okay.

Where is she? Show me."

Shelley threw on her shoes and

headed out after Jess.

Ashley dug at the sand, but it

didn't seem to do anything.

What was tugging her was

down at her feet, and she

couldn't reach that far. It was a

great blankness, an empty spot

tugging her downward - she

had no doubt that she should

be terrified of it.

"Mom!" She shouted with

relief as Shelley, dank and con-

fused, came out of the culvert.

"Mom!" Shelley stumbled over

to the box and stared at her.

"Baby, what's happening?

What did you do?"

"Mom," Ashley said, and

her voice fell into sobs – Shelley

felt her own remnants of composure

evaporate.

"No, baby, don't cry – we'll

get you out – don't cry, baby,

don't," she said as hot tears

pushed at her eyes and something

sharp swelled in her heart.

Ashley was up to her stomach

in the sand. Shelley wrapped

her arms around her daughter

and pulled, yanked ferociously.

She adjusted her grip, grabbing

Ashley below the shoulders,

and braced her legs against the

edge of the box and pushed

and pushed. Ashley yelped.

"What is it, baby, what is it?"

Shelley quavered.

"Mom… that hurts… that

really hurts!" Shelley looked at

the sand around her child, and

the realization coursed through

her like electricity – blood, her

baby's blood, was seeping up

through the sand that now

reached her sternum. She

released her grip and fell to the

ground, digging at the sand furiously,

flinging handfuls of it into

the air behind her.

"Go get help!" she snapped

to Jess. The girl stared at her,

uncomprehending. "Go!" Jess

dashed into the culvert. Shelley

resumed her wild digging. The

sand poured in to fill any hole

she made. Hopeless. "Don't

worry, baby. Don't worry."

Ashley was up to her shoulders.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Sand [cont’d]

Shelley took her hands and

braced her legs again and

pulled and pulled. She pulled

until her muscles screamed in

white-hot agony, dull fire raging

through her shoulders and legs

and arms. She sobbed as she

pulled, her chest rising and

falling in spasms, her face

flushed with tears, her vision

blurred. Ashley continued to

sink. The sand was up to her

chin.

"Mom, Mom, help me! I–"

and then she had to stop talking

or the sand would pour into her

mouth. She craned her head

backwards, seeking to keep her

nose above as long as possible.

Her eyes were wide with fear,

unable to comprehend the

absurdity and horror of it. Her

eyes stayed open with fear,

fixed on Shelley, until sand covered

them. Shelley knew her

daughter was alive though,

because Ashley's hand

squeezed hers tightly, broken

nails bloody, until they too disappeared

beneath the surface

and Shelley screamed, wailed,

as they were torn from hers,

receding where she could not

follow.

"My baby, my baby!" She

sobbed, falling on the sand,

tearing at it, flinging handfuls

around. "My baby, my baby!"

she sobbed until her sobs were

harsh and ragged, short absurd

noises not much different from

the squeak of a mouse.

Gold Dust

33


Where was Woody Guthrie?

Where Was Woody Guthrie? is taken from Ali Al Saeed’s short story collection, Moments.

You arrive in a foreign land. A

land of freedom, a promised

land. The air of which radiates

with hope and rakes with drunkenness.

You look around like a

bewildered child, lost, parentless,

in a candy store. Glittering.

Shining. Lights and sounds and

scents. And there you see men

and women like shooting stars

and loose pillars. Is it a circus,

you ask yourself? Ah, but it is

life. A new kind of life. Free,

beautiful, daring. You are in a

daze. A dream you live in. Swim

in. You can't even feel your

heels touch the ground. You

float on these flat, crowded

streets. You hear laughter and

music and drunken musings.

Echoing…

Echoes.

Souls.

Spiritual liberty.

Social sovereignty.

***

You are in a place with a high

ceiling. Chandeliers dangling

from the sky. Throwing lakes of

light onto the wooden tiles.

Those who dance and those

who sing. They mingle into one.

Like a human organ.

Functioning. Independently.

And you drink to their lifestyle.

You toast their glee. And you

find yourself giggling at the man

who sings at the centre of the

room, with a parrot on his wide

shoulders, mimicking his hums.

The cigarette smoke, the coffee

aroma, the beer fume. You

inhale. A small world seething

with things you've never known

before. Things you miss before

you leave, before you realize.

Things you want to be part

of.

***

By Ali Al Saeed

1,000 words

Drama

Someone grabs your hand and

drags you out into the streets

again. Pushing through the

crowds. You catch a glimpse of

a man dressed like a wingless

angel floating on a sea of people.

And all you can see is the

golden hair of the lady that

drags you away, teasing you.

And then you are in a different

room. Music blasting from the

stage. A man with his guitar,

curly hair, tattered jeans. A

woman with her violin, her flowery

dress, her hanging breasts.

A black man. A white man. A

yellow man. A French man. A

generation born between riffs. A

past recreated. History rewritten.

Forgiveness within the

walls of this room full of harlequins

and harebells. And the

lady kisses you. On the cheek.

And you can feel your heart

skipping a beat. Stultifying emo-

34 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


tions. Such as love. Could it

be? Where would that lead

one? To heartache and euphoria.

A chemical reaction to a

series of emotions: passion,

lust, longing, desire, obsession.

Flabbergasted by everlasting

rapture.

Seventh Heaven, some call

it Cloud Nine.

***

But you're not here in search of

this so-called love, the jewel of

emotions. No. Nor are you here

to find a woman. No, you are

here because you are searching

for a man. A man of constant

sorrow. Of demons and

angels. A child born out and into

music. Music not only for lovers.

It was, in fact, barely for lovers.

It was for those that survived

the pain of living. The anguish

of growing. The frustration of

dreaming of hope, and then not

realizing it. A man who was a

ghost and a hero, an angel and

a devil. Once, he was called a

poet.

But this man, this epiphany

of fantasy and apocalypse,

But you’re not here in search

of this so-called love, the

jewel of emotions. No. Nor are

you here to find a woman. No,

you are here because you are

searching for a man.

could never be found. It doesn't

matter if you look for him in a

farmhouse, or in a bar, or a theatre,

no use in trying to find him

under the bed, in the closet, or

in a reflection of a mirror.

Certainly, you couldn't find him

in your heart, nor your mind.

The only place you could

find him, as the folk of Okemah

would tell you, is in the voice of

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Where was Woody Guthrie? [cont’d]

a song.

In the days and nights he

sailed out to sea, consumed by

a passion of rebellion and idealism,

he sang songs that you

hear to this very day, in this new

place you've found yourself in.

'There were seamen three,' he

sang, 'Cisco, Jimmy and

me/shipped out to beat the fascists/across

the land and sea'

There are no fascists here.

No adventures awaiting you in

the deep oceans.

***

You travel along a lonesome

road. Pastures of Plenty,

always be free. The ghosts of

the night before still haunt you.

A mirage of nightmare and

seductive courtship. They come

and they go, waves of milk and

honey and tar. They crash on

the shore of your memories,

wiping them away. Not certain

of reality. Fiction that has purpose.

Ingenuity breeding failure.

Here, a star is born, or falls.

Is it a place? Or a time?

You wiggle your bum to the

beat of the drums of doom. A

festival of death, an orgy of

pain. The future is the past without

meaning, or substance.

Your present is more than what

you had bargained for.

And at a time like this, all

you could think of is…

Where on God's blue earth

was Woody Guthrie?

Gold Dust

35


Short story

The Meaning of April

What happens when race discrimination becomes too much to bear..?

He was murdered around 2am.

After receiving a routine call,

taxi driver Rahul Apatti arrived

at his given destination,

stopped the car to let three men

in, and died moments later

when they beat him around the

head and body. The three men,

one aged nineteen, the others

only sixteen, killed the husband

and father of three because of

the colour of his skin.

The first murderer and the

eldest of the gang was Jason

Liddle. He was born to Janette

and Micheal Liddle. He enjoyed

riding his motorbike, listening to

hip-hop and rap music, and

spending time with his friends.

He was never the most conscientious

student, leaving school

at age sixteen, but he stayed

away from trouble.

The second murderer was

Dave Kindrick, or Casanova

Dave as he was known to his

friends because of his luck with

the ladies. He loved playing

football and enjoyed the occasional

cigarette, and had

recently left high school without

a single qualification to his

name. He was born to Mary and

Iain Kindrick.

The third murderer was

Craig Fossip. He never knew

his mother who died shortly

after he was born. He was

raised by his father and grew up

alongside his two older brothers.

He also enjoyed playing

football, and dearly loved his

girlfriend who had just had their

first daughter six months prior.

***

I could see my wife struggling

with one of our bags, so I threw

the newspaper into the nearest

garbage bin and rushed over to

help.

We'd just arrived back from

Florence, Italy, landing at

By Daniel Stephens

2,000 words

Drama

London's Heathrow two hours

late. It was a beautiful place

and I'd spent every moment

with a beautiful person. Yet as I

packed our luggage on to the

trolley with a bent wheel and

broken brake, my mind was distant.

And Lucy knew it.

'You're thinking about the

murder, aren't you,' she said,

sombrely.

'You can tell…' I asked,

knowing full well she always

knew what I was thinking even

if I tried to hide it. 'It was in our

town, Luce.'

She gave me a smile. It

was one of those 'I love you and

it'll be alright' smiles. The kind

that made me sleep slightly better

at night.

'C'mon, let's get home,' she

said, pushing her strawberry

blonde hair off her face. 'My

back is on fire, she's kicking

again and I really, really, really

want a bath.'

36 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


She was eight months

pregnant with our first child. The

words she's kicking again

seemed to burn a hole straight

through my head. The thought

of my unborn daughter, and the

choice we made to have a family

of our own, cut through me

as if I had just found out we

were pregnant.

I held back my tears.

It was then that I realised I

was staring at the arrivals

screen as returning holidaymakers

scrambled for their luggage.

'Can you get me a trolley,'

said a lady with bleached splitends

protruding from her distinctive

gray roots.

I observed her, wondering

whether I knew this woman.

'Can you get me a trolley…sorry,'

she paused,

perhaps she'd mistaken

me for someone else.

'Do…you…speak…English?'

she said, highlighting each syllable.

Did I work here and just

didn't know it?

'Yes, I speak perfectly good

English, thank you very much.'

She was suddenly taken

aback. She looked shocked,

almost appalled. 'Well then, can

you get me a trolley…please.'

Her final remark sounded less

like a polite pleasantry, more a

'how dare you question my

authority'.

'The trolleys are over

there.' I pointed. 'Get one yourself.'

She scowled. 'How dare

you speak to me like that! Get

me your superior, I want to

speak to your manager right

away.'

Lucy tapped me on the

shoulder. 'What's going on?'

'I wish I knew. This woman

thinks I work here.'

'Excuse me madam, but

what makes you think my husband

works here.'

The woman eyed me up

and down. She appeared

embarrassed by her mistake

but she wasn't going to let that

stop her.

Her expression became a

scowl as she eyed Lucy's pregnant

stomach. 'It's not right that,

The first murderer and the

eldest of the gang was Jason

Liddle...He enjoyed riding his

motorbike, listening to hiphop

and rap music, and

spending time with his

friends.

you know.' She seemed disgusted.

'You and him…'

'What!' Lucy lurched forward

in defence, her expression

that of anger.

I put my arms around her,

gently. 'C'mon, lets go.'

I was embarrassed but I

didn't know why.

'How dare you say that,'

screamed Lucy.

Other people started to

stare. I could feel their glares on

the back of my neck, under my

skin; each of them staring at the

Asian man and his white wife.

'C'mon,' I said again, grabbing

the trolley and pushing

both it and my wife away. 'Let's

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Meaning of April [cont’d]

get home.'

Lucy pushed my hands

away and we began to move

towards the exit.

As we walked it felt like

everyone we passed was looking,

judging. 'They're all wondering

what a guy like me is

doing in an airport…'

She suddenly stopped, her

face turning towards me. 'No,'

she snapped, her voice nearly

breaking from her overuse of it.

'Don't ever think that. You're

always going on about it - how

people look at you, how people

treat you differently, how waiters

in restaurants put us on

tables as far away from everyone

else as possible. It's all in

your imagination.'

Tears streamed down her

face. She never used much

make-up but I could see her

eyeliner had streaked.

'That woman is the minority

- get that through your skull.'

She moved closer to me, placing

her hands on my cheeks. 'I

love you, Adrian.'

I thought she was going to

kiss me but instead I felt a stinging

pain rise up on my face as

she slapped me hard.

'Don't ever talk that way,

and don't think it either. No matter

what people say, that sort of

stuff doesn't come into our family.'

I nodded. It was more out

of shock than anything. I'd

never seen her like this before.

She grabbed the trolley and

pushed it away. I stood there for

a second, then chased after

her, taking hold of the trolley

37


The Meaning of April [cont’d]

and pushing it myself.

'I'm sorry,' I said, not knowing

what else to say.

'Let's just get home, okay.'

As the broken wheel of the

trolley ground under the weight

of our bags, scraping the tarmac

and leaving intermittent

lines of rubber in our wake, I

couldn't help

myself looking

around, checking

to see if an angry

mob had followed

us.

We entered

the multi-storey

car park. Behind

each vehicle was

a good enough

hiding place. We

were alone now,

they could get us

without anyone

knowing.

'I never liked

your father,' she

said, breaking the

silence.

She was

walking beside

me. Her right

hand caressed

the peak of her

pregnant belly as

she imagined our

child within.

'Do you

remember the first time I met

him..?'

'…and you realized I wasn't

the only one who had milky tea.

I think that's an Indian thing, but

my Dad will never acknowledge

that. Just like he won't acknowledge

the place he was born is

now Bangladesh.'

I forced a smile, trying to

ease the tension, but she wasn't

looking anyway.

'When I first met him I

thought I'd give him a chance.

You told me how he'd hit your

Mum a couple of times, how

he'd always appear distant and

never interested in what you

had to say, but I gave him a

chance when we first met.'

'You never said any of this

before, Lucy.'

'That's because I thought it

didn't need to be said…'

She waited, perhaps for me

to say something, but I didn't.

'I spent an hour telling him

how he could market this new

magazine idea he had for the

business. I told him how to do

his research, how to attract

advertising, how to get the

design right. At dinner that

evening, he dismissed everything

I said. I

knew then that I

would never like

him, not

because of the

magazine, that's

just a trivial

thing, but

because it

reminded me of

each time you'd

cried over your

father. It reminded

me each time

you'd questioned

whether

you loved him,

or whether he

loved you. And I

hated him for

that.'

I kept moving,

my eyes

focussed on the

handle bar, my

hands gripping it

tighter and

tighter. I felt the

tears coming

back but I tried to resist them.

'But he's one man. Yes,

he's your Dad, but what I think

about your Dad has nothing to

do with what I feel for you. I

wouldn't dislike your father if I

didn't love you so damn much.'

Her voice was free from

38 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


malice, free from hate. She

spoke softly, sweetly. The

sounds were as beautiful as

she was.

As we rounded a stone pillar,

by which we'd parked our

car, I saw a balding man, his

face dirty, his hair unkempt,

standing next to the driver's

side door with shards of broken

glass by his feet.

I hated confrontation,

always shied away from it, but

for some reason, maybe the

events of the last half hour, I felt

a sudden rage travel from the

pit of my stomach and into my

head. My hands let go of the

handle bar. I ran towards him.

Lucy said something but

her words were muffled.

He was wearing a black

vest top, showing off muscular

arms and far too many tattoos.

His shaven head was dirty.

Probably homeless and desperately

needed the money, I

thought.

He was clearly stronger

than me but I figured the element

of surprise would be on

my side. He saw me coming,

turning quickly, as I threw my

whole body into him.

We both toppled backwards

and he fell down with me

on top. He banged his head on

the tarmac and was immediately

knocked out.

I'd done it. If my Dad was

ever going to be proud of me,

he had to be proud of

this…surely.

Some moments passed, I

couldn't tell how many. Maybe I

banged my head too.

I felt Lucy's arms around

me, as I pushed myself up.

Everything hurt, apart from my

pride.

From behind the pillar

another man appeared. He too

had a black vest top like the

criminal, but he wore a greasy,

blackened cap that read 'Jay's

Auto Repair'.

The man spoke. 'Hi there,

airport mechanic,' he said, lifting

his cap. 'Are you Mr. and

Mrs…erm…Bhaskar?' He

checked the clipboard he was

holding.

I wanted the situation to go

away, but I couldn’t think of a

single thing to say. I just

looked down to the unconscious

body that lay beside

the car.

Lucy quickly answered him.

'Yes, yes, that's us…'

'I'm sorry you've come back

to find this. Our security is pretty

good, but there's always one

who finds their way through. It

was broken in to yesterday,

they messed with the ignition,

I'm afraid you won't be driving it

anywhere today. My boss has

sorted you out with a taxi, free

of charge. It's waiting out front

for you now.'

I wanted the situation to go

away, but I couldn't think of a

single thing to say. I just looked

down to the unconscious body

that lay beside the car.

'You haven't seen my colleague

around here have you.

We're supposed to be fixing

your ignition. I must apologize

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Meaning of April [cont’d]

for running a bit behind today

otherwise it might have been

ready.'

Still no words came to me.

Maybe I could go back to yesterday

when I was on a beach

in thirty-five degree heat

immersed in a Harlan Coben

novel.

The mechanic, who I'd just

knocked out and probably

caused grievous bodily harm to,

slowly sat up. He rubbed the

back of his head. 'What happened?'

After many apologies and

the promise of a drink, which

was turned down, we left in the

taxi and arrived back at our

semi-detached some time

around three in the afternoon.

***

The mechanic I'd scarred for life

was twenty-four year old Marty

Downs. He still lived with his

parents and loved heavy metal

music, extreme sports, and his

girlfriend of six years, Josie. As

far as he was aware, he'd never

committed a crime in his life.

One month later, on 5

October, April, Lucille was born

to Adrian and Lucy Bhaskar.

She was a healthy seven

pounds and four ounces.

Gold Dust

39


Short story

The Beauty That’s In Me

A new skincare product that really can work miracles...

In the sunshine, Lucille sat outside

Café Solitaire, an elegant brasserie

nestled in the corner of a tree-lined

plaza in Cheviot Hills, West LA. A

summer breeze riffled the treetops,

and sparrows darted between the

branches, scattering fresh blossoms

onto the ground.

She picked at the remains of

her salad niçoise, delicately spearing

any remaining morsels of green

bean and lightly seared tuna.

Finished, she pushed her plate

away and sighed. Another unsatisfying

meal, sat in silence. Alone.

As if anyone would want to eat

a meal looking at a haggard old

crow like you!

She shook her head. God, she

couldn't take much more! She

hated that voice. It followed her

every move, taunting her.

She focused on a young man

sitting on a nearby bench, hair

pulled tight into a ponytail, leather

jacket strewn next to him. Good

lord, she thought, just look at that

disgusting mop of hair. Perhaps if

he washed it, or better yet cut the

whole lot off, the grease wouldn't

run over his face and give him

those terrible spots. How can he

hope to meet a nice girl looking like

that?

That's right, force it onto other

people. You really are pathetic. Old,

ugly and path–

She quickly switched her

attention to a young mother wheeling

a pram past the café. Dear oh

dear, she really has let herself go.

Look at her waddling away, all but

dissolved into a shapeless lump!

Well, you make your own bed – if

you dress an elephant in a t-shirt

don't be surprised if it comes back

baggy!

Ha! And lying to yourself now!

You'd give anything to have your

own children.

Lucille flushed and turned

away. Her hand slipped to her own

slim waist. At least she still had her

figure. Anyway, what was the point

in dwelling on such nonsense – this

was her life. What was she going to

do? Find someone now to fill the

void? It hadn't always been this

way. In her day, she'd been the

belle of the ball – cheerleader, prom

queen; men had lined up for a date.

She'd had her pick of the crop and

had chosen only the ripest fruits.

Then, slowly at first, but with alarming

speed once her looks began to

fade, the crop had turned mulch.

And now she was just a middleaged

spinster waiting for sunset.

She checked her watch. Half

an hour to go before her appointment

at the boutique, enough time

for another coffee. After ordering,

By Louise Cypher

3,000 words

Science Fiction

Lucille noticed a man, portly, wearing

a smart beige raincoat, pepper

hair bubbling out from under a fedora

hat, strolling between the tables

of the café towards her, clipboard in

one hand and bucket in the other.

He reached her, paused, flitted his

eyes over her, then moved on.

Lucille stared dumfounded at

him ambling away. "Excuse me!

Excuse me there!" she called after

him.

The man stopped, swivelled

slowly on his heels and worked up

a thin smile. "I'm sorry, can I help

you?"

"Money – wouldn't you like

some money?"

"Sure, but–", he tilted his head

from side to side…

(What a hideous man! Fat red

cheeks, cavernous nostrils - is he

blind? Can't he see those ugly hairs

dangling out of his nose? And that

bulbous boil on his neck, it's quite

revolting!)

…as if making a decision.

"Listen, no offence lady, but you

glossy types," he gesticulated his

pudgy fingers in her direction,

"y'know, I do this everyday, and,

well, sometimes it's not worth asking.

Sorry."

She slumped back in her chair

and bit her lip.

40 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


That's right Lucille, cry your

pathetic little heart out. Let your

makeup run so you end up with

ridiculous panda eyes.

Screwing her eyes shut, she

sucked a deep, quivering breath

through her nose, then threw down

enough money for the bill and a sizable

tip and stormed off to her

beauty session.

***

Back at home, Lucille changed out

of her summer dress and into a Dior

silk kimono. In the living room, she

mixed herself a gin and tonic. After

a moment's hesitation, she topped

up the glass with another generous

measure of gin.

She dimmed the lights and

reclined on the chaise longue,

enjoying the melt of the soft leather

as it touched her skin. When she

flicked the radio on the soothing

strings of Bizet's "L'Arlésienne"

swept over the room. Lucille let the

music flow through her, its sweet

melody massaging the nagging

voice she detested so much into

submission. Within minutes, she

was smiling and swaying her head

in time.

The man in the beige raincoat

flashed in her mind.

Why was she thinking about

that bothersome man? How did his

opinion of her matter? She tried to

let the music carry her away again.

What did he mean by 'you

glossy types'? Her brow furrowed.

Immediately she forced her face to

relax - got to watch those wrinkles!

Wrinkles…wrinkles…

Lucille hurried to the bathroom.

Leaning into the mirror, she

swung her head from side to side,

faced front, pouted, pulled her lips

back, primped her shiny, bobbed

hair. She bent in closer, traced a

nail through the shallow wrinkles

beside her eye, the only ones marring

her otherwise smooth face,

and frowned, deepening them.

They're coming back already.

Heart sinking, she opened her

face wide, eyes shocked, mouth

screaming, then scrunched it slowly,

observing the age lines as they

appeared. The pit of her stomach

soured.

She dragged up an extendible

mirror and positioned it behind her

head. She swished her hair,

searching for glimpses of the millipede

scars nestling behind her

ears. She grabbed at the sink.

Scars and wrinkles. Scars and

wrinkles. Scars and…

"Please stop," she whispered.

Louder, her knuckles whitening

over the edge of the sink, "please

stop. Please stop it Lucille! There's

nothing wrong with you, you're not

ugly. Stop torturing yourself! Ple–"

The doorbell rang.

Who could that be? She wasn't

expecting any guests, and none

of her few remaining friends would

be so rude as to turn up on her

doorstep unannounced. She waited,

tensed.

It rang again.

She padded out to the door

and peered through the spyhole.

On the other side, a lustrous mane

of brunette hair tapered into a sharp

navy blue jacket and skirt. "Who is

it?"

The woman outside faced the

door. "If I could just have a minute

of your time to demonstrate our

miraculous new skincare product-".

"I'm sorry, I have all I need-"

"This is a new product on the

market, guaranteed to make you

see your beauty that's in you!" The

lens stretched her pristine smile

impossibly wide.

Lucille hesitated. Well, she had

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Beauty That’s In Me [cont’d]

nothing better to do. She opened

the door.

"Hi Jolie Wonder, I work for

Clearview Cosmetics. Thanks for

your time, can I come in?"

"Yes, please come through,"

said Lucille, examining Jolie's face.

How old was she? It was hard to

tell. Her manner, the experience in

her eyes, implied a woman in her

early forties, maybe even her own

age, but her skin – amazing, blemish

free. And her makeup, so

immaculately shaded as to be invisible.

Without the faint whiff of

expensive cosmetics Lucille would

have been certain she wasn't wearing

any at all!

Lucille led her through to the

kitchen where the evening sun

bathed the room in an orange haze.

She guided them to the breakfast

bar and switched on the strip light,

the harshest light in the kitchen.

Without breaking stride, Jolie followed

her and plopped a small silver

briefcase down. As she

unpacked her equipment, Lucille

scrutinized her. Even under the

most unflattering of light she found

nothing tainting Jolie's perfect skin.

She leaned in. Not a mark or a

wrinkle. Flawless in every way.

Jolie looked up and Lucille

reared back.

"That's quite all right." Jolie

flourished her manicured hands

beside her cheek. "I only look this

good at my age thanks to our new

product, Vani-Tygo. It's guaranteed

to make you see your beauty. We at

Clearview Cosmetics believe in the

holistic nature of beauty, that beauty

starts on the inside. That is why

we offer this product as a two stage

process." She opened a small jar.

"First we apply the cream – it's a

facemask which must be left on

overnight.

"After applying the cream,"

41


The Beauty That’s In Me [cont’d]

Jolie presented a folded leaflet, "go

to bed and recite this verse in your

head over and over until you fall

asleep."

Jolie opened the leaflet and

read aloud:

"It's finally time to see,

The beauty that's in me,

So take this unhappy face,

And put a smile in its place."

Lucille said stiffly, "I'm not sure

about reciting, well you know, it's a

bit silly isn't it?"

"Try it for one night. After all,

there's no-one else here to feel silly

in front of is there?"

"What? How did you…?"

Jolie had already packed up

and was heading to the door. "We

don't even request payment until

you're completely satisfied. The

details are on the back of the

leaflet."

"But how did you–"

"Please, you've got nothing to

lose, you won't be disappointed.

Call me if you have any questions –

my contact details are there too."

She left the house before Lucille

could respond.

Lucille traipsed back to the

kitchen. How did Jolie know she

lived alone? Also, who were

Clearview Cosmetics? She'd never

heard of them – and makeup was

her specialty subject! She snatched

up the leaflet and scanned the contents

again. That childish poem in

the middle, and – no contact

details? The back of the leaflet was

blank. How was she supposed to

pay?

"Oh, what a load of nonsense!"

She swept the jar and leaflet into

the bin and returned to the living

room.

Evening flowed into night and

after too many gins, a stream of

self-pitying tears, and a laborious

count of the individual hairs on each

eyebrow, Lucille lay sprawled over

the chaise longue, drained.

When did she become so

unhappy? She let her trembling fingers

fall over her face, seeking out

every imperfection.

It'll only get worse. Soon not

even surgery will keep me young.

The dam broke and she

sobbed uncontrollably. What kind of

life was this? Old, ugly and alone.

I hate myself! I hate my old,

ugly face!

What about that cream?

Maybe it will work? She waved a

hand dramatically. Oh rubbish! I

have all the creams in the world!

Jolie's perfect, flawless face

materialised in her mind, that dazzling

crescent smile beckoning her.

Lucille stumbled to her feet

and into the kitchen, her head a

fuzz of gin and promises. She

fished the jar out of the bin, and

after a moment's hesitation

retrieved the leaflet. Well, what did

she have to lose?

In her en-suite bathroom, jittering

with nerves, she applied the

facemask then went to bed and

took a sleeping pill. While waiting

for the pill to take effect she read

the poem aloud, repeating it until

she knew it by heart. She switched

the bedside lamp off, slipped under

the sheets and continued to recite it

in her head. At first she felt absurd,

but gradually the verse blanked her

mind and she drifted into a dreamless

sleep.

***

As soon as she woke up the next

morning, her fingers flew to her

face. The mask was gone, dissolved

into her skin, which felt as

soft and delicate as a ripe peach.

Heart suddenly pounding, she

raced into the bathroom and stared

at the mirror.

Was that really her? She recognized

herself, but her reflection

was different now.

Beautiful, she was really beautiful.

She scrunched up her face.

No wrinkles, not even beside her

eyes. The faint web of thread veins

on her cheeks had disappeared.

Her skin was clear, fresh, almost

glowing. The black pinpricks hairs

on her top lip. The age spots on her

neck. Every lump, bump and blemish.

She saw none of it.

She went back to the bedroom

and, using a hand for support, lowered

herself onto the edge of the

bed. How can this be real? She

waited for the noxious voice she

knew so well to shout out, to mock

her for this obvious delusion, to jeer

her into submission, but all she

heard was the sound of her own

rapture.

Dreaming, she must be

dreaming! She pinched at the skin

on her arm. The skin reddened but

she didn't wake up, nor did she race

for the moisturiser in a mad panic,

scared she'd damaged the skin.

How can this be? She clasped her

hands together – that facemask,

wonderful facemask! It had truly

been a miracle. Looking up, she

caught her reflection in the threeway

vanity mirror perched on her

antique dressing table. Even with

her puffy eyes, her makeup-less

face, she saw nothing but an elegant

woman in the prime of life. She

palmed her tears away, crossed to

the table and, with a fleeting glance

and smile, shut the mirror.

When she decided to go out

she found getting ready was now a

five-minute joy instead of the normal

three hour ritual. The first outfit

she tried on suited her; she sat

42 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


down to apply her usual comforting

paste of makeup but it felt so heavy

and unnatural on her skin that,

shockingly enough, she decided to

wear none at all.

Strolling through the nearby

park, she drank the world in through

new eyes. The people around her

were somehow more real than

before. They no longer repulsed

her. When a snotty young boy

scooted past, accidentally knocking

her handbag, she smiled at his

hasty apology. A bearded beggar

asked her for change and she

regarded him with pity instead of

disgust, handing him a couple of

dollars. An old man hobbled

towards her and asked for the time.

They exchanged pleasantries

about the weather and the pretty

flowers lining the path. These

weren't conscious decisions, only

her natural reactions, and she revelled

in the difference, questioning

how it could ever have been otherwise.

Later that week, Lucille was

sitting outside Café Solitaire,

savouring her coffee as the sun

warmed her face. An autumn gold

leaf fluttered to her feet from the

branches above her. She watched

as a young couple holding hands at

a nearby table and wondered how

long they'd been together. She was

a very pretty girl, such lovely

straight hair–

"Can you spare a moment of

your time, dear lady?"

Lucille looked up to see a kindly-faced

man standing beside her in

a beige raincoat, clipboard in one

had, bucket in the other, hat politely

lifted off. The same man who had

ignored her before.

"Certainly – don't you remember

me?"

"I don't think so – have we

met?" he asked, gesturing to a

chair. Lucille nodded and he sat

down.

"Yes, you were collecting outside

this café, last week." Now

when she looked at him his cheeks

were ruddy, not red, his round face

full of laughter.

"Now you'd think I'd remember

a lady as lovely as yourself! I'm

Nigel."

"Lucille."

"A pleasure to meet you."

"So what are you collecting

for?"

"It's for the lonely hearts foundation

- it's designed to bring lonely

people together." He gave her a sly

smile.

You're joking, really?"

"And as a special offer if you

sign up today you even get a free

dinner."

"A free dinner? But, but how

can a charity afford such extravagance?"

"You also get a badge." Nigel

twirled the clipboard round. The top

sheet contained lines of badges all

saying 'Cancer Research

Foundation'.

"But that's for…" Lucille's pulse

raced as she realized what was

going on. "Are you asking me on a

date?"

"Only in the name of a good

cause"

Lucille blushed. A date, it had

been a long time since anyone

asked her on a date!

"Sure, I'd love to." The words

spilled out before she'd even

thought them through. A date - how

delightful! They exchanged phone

numbers and planned to meet later

for dinner.

Nigel turned up on time, collecting

her in an old but clean

Mercedes and taking her to a family

run Italian restaurant he knew.

They had a marvellous night and by

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

The Beauty That’s In Me [cont’d]

the end she was quite smitten with

him, from the caring look in his

eyes, to his endearing politeness –

he held every door, pulled out her

seat, stood when she left and

returned to the table. At one point

she tried to examine his face, as

she used to do with people, but she

kept forgetting about it and drifting

back into the conversation. Nigel

was a widower, his wife lost to lung

cancer. Ever since then he spent

his lunch breaks collecting for charity.

After dinner, and one too many

glasses of red wine, they kissed on

the restaurant steps. She hesitated

to respond, but the touch of his lips

fired a passion in her she had long

since abandoned. He drove her

home and she invited him inside.

The next morning Lucille lay in

bed, gazing at the dawn filter

through the curtains, listening to

Nigel's rumbling snore.

Nigel rolled over and blearily

opened his eyes. "Morning beautiful,"

he said, wiping a hand over his

mouth.

Lucille lay on her side facing

him "Sleep well?"

"Mmmm – you?"

"Wonderful. But don't you have

to be at work today?"

Nigel reached out to stroke

Lucille's hair. "Soon, let me just lie

here and look at you for a bit

longer."

As he brushed his fingers over

her leathery, wrinkled cheeks, and

down to the small warty bumps

clustered by her chin, she smiled,

as happy in that moment as she

could ever remember. And even if

she could see how she really

looked now, she wouldn't have

cared.

Gold Dust

43


Poems

I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT YOU

BEEP BEEP wake up, car bombs.

The happiest day in my life

Pirate blood rushes in café doors

and where are we? La la la

*Excuse me, can I*

I'm five years ahead of my time.

A bird call to your armsthe

piers fell into the sea with the punches we never

pulled,

we talked in kites,

then the museum trains broke free Oh run

to this day through Bracken Grass

and the dummies run with the scarecrows on the

Downs

Their cigarettes came undone

robbing houses and caught in the wrong way.

Reading comics on the train down

and fishing between stops.

*Show off*

*For him*

We dodged the dust on the sofa in our underwear

*Boy*

Mean shadows on wall maps.

Comfy accents planning anti-dates.

I WISH

Mining underneath buildings, a phone call to arms

Mapping 3D circuits between pubs

like stadiums full of people.

The clouds were drawn like curtains

hanging over their curly hair.

*Can I have one of them for him please?*

You were mistaken for treasure hunters

weren't you

While we were seen with hands in each other's pockets

lover,

Sparks wet in freedom fighters' fists

Pin ups on answer phone fuzz

The old carpets in the rooms you left wide open

are irreplaceable maps.

THE VANISHINGS

First it's pennies: a last glimpse

of bronze in a cool well

I never visited, whose water is heavy

as mirror glass.

Pens scatter under floorboards

with the accounts they signed. Keys

for the loft or shed clink around every corner,

materialising into windchimes or broken glass

or gravel or nothing.

Tonight I find

a wardrobe bulking the living room.

And inside:

pennies, biros, keys,

ancestors hung up like coats.

Barnaby Tidman

James Al Midgley

44 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


AUTUMN'S COMING

(They whisper,

as if she's a prom queen

entering in state.)

She's too English for that,

crisp accent like

almost-ripe apples

and frost white teeth.

She wears fingerless gloves

(knitted, wine-coloured)

and a ball-gown;

dark blue,

like clear new-moon nights

covered with explosions

of embroidery

fireworking up from the hem.

and her eyes,

conker coloured, gleaming

hard from weeks of tradition

and hand-me-down stories

of niners

and special string.

When she passes,

the frost curls on your clothes,

melts and vanishes.

lips chap,

hands ache,

eyes runshe

glows.

Pulls out a crisp leaf

caught in her sleeve

and hands you an apple

the colour of her hair.

SONNET 17

Bex Harris

The first time that we met your hair was dyed

A silver purple, violets mixed with ash,

And moonlit snow. The lungs of winter sighed

Around the grey concrete, you were a slash

Of flowers underneath the pearly skies.

Next week I saw that you were tainted white,

A blazing streak that turned to moons your eyes,

And then a tender red, like candle-light.

I marked since then that everywhere you went

You gave off flowers like a brush of spring;

Petals dropped along the road, a scent

Of tulips, gingers, orchids; hues that sing.

And I live off, since then, my modest theft,

Picking up the roses that you left.

Andrea Tallarita

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

ONE MORE CRIPPLED RICHARD

Walked with a cane,

lidocaine, sugar cane, hurricane,

balanced on a malformed leg,

hello, hello, hello!

Old bonebreak face of practical salmon

color, rosacia, blush, merlot, snail trails

of red pink rose and other shades in

liverspots.

His slutty rendezvous with hellions

and their repercussed dealings

were the selected poetry, non-pareils,

visions of redemption and other

cruel things, but he led those kids entire.

"If you want money, you take it.

The rules never change for a thief."

He crookedly set them to robberies

and ceased his usual hellos.

He grew miserly, talked about

an era where prepared women

could be located quickly and simply.

Over time his gang of children

dissipated into jails, families,

one to a college, one to his death,

and the old crook slowly returned

to saying hellos on the sidewalk.

One night, a manic flock of cardinals

descended on 5th street, grabbed the

wilted man and stole him away, entire.

He left gagging on a scream and

swinging his impotent cane.

SONNET 19

Poems [cont’d]

Ray Succre

Whenever by the roads of Rome I roam,

My footsteps fall on ruins over ruins.

Embedded in each street are Rome's undoings,

A dust in every arch, inside each stone

A raid, a faded sky in every dome:

The roaring metro and a thousand shoe-strings

Now press them down, in glueings or unglueings

Of equal atoms. Rome is a knobbled crone

That never was possessed. Barbaric hoards

And black-rimmed planes with bombs that alternate

To rays of hope and hearts that lovers close

Like dreams. And in this wheel of dust or fate

Each leaves his broken image, each one flows

Where endless armies march without a weight.

Andrea Tallarita

45


Poems [cont’d]

THE SICK MAN

Some nights there would be so much blood on the

walls

he could write his name

with a fingertip.

All the knocked out teeth he found in urinals

he kept in a drawer in his bedroom,

sometimes, on winter nights

he could hear them chattering.

The other people who worked at the club

would never invite him to join them.

While the management flirted with barmaids

and the bouncers bought drinks for the dancers

he would wipe the bathroom mirror

until it gleamed.

On his 30th birthday

he drank his own bodyweight of tequila

and was sick on the train.

He caught it all in a plastic bag

double knotted it

and carried it all the way home

in his pocket.

THE SILVER SURFER

If he's not doubled up in an asteroid's pocket

- more molten trophy cabinet

than man -

he walks among us, his trenchcoat a thicket,

looking ill, his eyes white stones.

Stopping to read a newspaper,

even though the headlines tie an anchor

to his stomach and heart.

Then something escapes

the grassblade lips that could press coins

and his board comes to him

like a waterfall to its pool.

He's upon it, and flying,

faster than a ghost swift,

fainter than a scarecrow in a blizzard.

John Osbourne

Jon Stone

DISORDER

The idea of food

is eating away at you. Corbies

undo the sky in a black line,

voices like the quick unzipping

of a baggy sheepskin.

You dramatise

being swallowed by lions, tigers, bears, a man

with a bone through his nose who makes

kebab skewers of your humeri.

On a mattress of twigs and brambles

bubbling with blackberries – and still

nothing no-one nothing.

Wait a little longer.

A long way off lightning

opens the sky's mouth.

BEFORE THE DENTISTS

James Al Midgley

The car crash and the robbery are still to come

as are the seven visits to the dentists

in three weeks

and the dead Dalmatian.

They will happen in the new year.

Today is the 28th October

and with the carpets almost dry

and the break up behind him

Ashley has started sleeping better at night

and doesn't get so annoyed

during advert breaks

and at the sound of people whistling.

Last night he sat in the garden

trying to find Saturn

through his telescope

and thought that life couldn't get any better.

John Osbourne

46 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


£10 STAR POEM CONTEST

POETRY COMPETITION

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Poems [cont’d]

Our star poem for this issue is by Jon Stone. His poem, Nightcrawler, was unanimously voted the winner by the Gold

Dust team from a strong set of entries.

NIGHTCRAWLER

Poised as on a spire, a pistol

levelled square at midnight

Swallow-blue, tail like calligraphy

Still; the dark's stray eyelash

Then, as a bulb unexpectedly blows,

from this to moving

Not leap after leap

but leap heaped on leap

leap squared, cubed, leap

to the power of leap then

*bamf!* He teleports.

Smoke blossom.

Jon Stone

47


Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on

Edited by Todd Swift

e-published by nthposition

www.nthposition.com/babylonburning.pdf

Book Review

There is something about poetry

that lends itself to fighting a corner.

It is the very nature of poetry, its

ability to move but not over dramatise

situations, lends itself as a tool

that make us more aware of groups

like Red Cross and Spirit Aid helping

victims of disasters. The Book

of Hopes and Dreams and Babylon

Burning: 9/11 five years on are

anthologies of modern poetry by

some of the world’s best poets who

have come together in support of

The Book of Hopes & Dreams

Edited by Dee Rimbaud

Fionna Doney Simmonds, Poetry Editor for the feminist literary ezine Moondance.org, reviews The

Book of Hopes and Dreams, edited by Dee Rimbaud and Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on, edited

by Todd Swift.

these aid agencies. The Book of

Hopes and Dreams is edited by

Dee Rimbaud and published by

Bluechrome to raise funds for Spirit

Aid, a Glaswegian aid agency that

is providing mobile health clinics,

doctors, nurses and medical supplies

in the Baglan Province of

North East Afghanistan under the

patronage of actor David Hayman.

Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on

is edited by Todd Swift and e-published

by nthposition. Currently it is

ISBN: 1-904781-73-X

Bluechrome

Printed: £9.99

asking for donations for the Red

Cross to support its work worldwide,

and hopes to produce a

paperback version of the anthology

with proceeds going to the Red

Cross.

The first time I read The Book

of Hopes and Dreams I was overwhelmed

with the sense of gentle

melancholy it created in me. Not an

auspicious start for a book whose

objective is ‘to provide hopes and

dreams’ as its poetic contents have

48 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


‘been chosen for its power to lift you

above the clouds, to show you the

brightest of visions’. On my second

reading, I discerned a fulfilment of

these objectives in a number of the

poems, but in some cases it was

hard work. In any case, Rimbaud

and bluechrome have produced an

amazingly beautiful volume.

Polished to within an inch of its life,

it is an anthology to treasure. One

moment it seduces, the next it

caresses like a mother does her

child:

Oh, your welcome voice

which streams – all lilac boughs

of dreams deferred, heavy

curled and whispered

in moist waiting.

Prelude to a Kiss by Lorraine

Sautner

The poetry contained is beautiful, it

is visionary and visual. Poems in

every style touching a variety of

topics. From John Heath-Stubbs

tongue in cheek A Bit Of A Tall

Order to Angela Anderson’s protective

Destiny’s Garden, the poems

create a sense of community and

dream of better days to come.

On the other hand, Babylon

Burning: 9/11 five years on is a

straightforward little production. It

opens with Ros Barber’s powerful

Cantor Fitzgerald. Three moments

taken from the 9/11 tragedy and

humanised, normalised, and

immortalised. Opening with this

poem has made it very clear from

the start what the anthology is

about. There is no gentle easing in

for the reader, you are confronted

with the disaster, with images you

can recognise and remember, that

shocked and horrified you. Taking

place in one of the twin towers, a

temporary receptionist is introduced

to us, then we see her listed

Review of The Book of Hopes & Dreams and Babylon Burning [cont’d]

among the loved ones that are

missing, and finally we relive her

last moments with her. It is brutal, it

is sad, it is amazing.

One senses that the poets are

trying to educate us, and reminding

the reader of images they may

have tried to forget. Maxine

Chernoff educates us in Embedded

in the language when she explains

that ‘To control base instincts /

Greed lust and cruelty / To seek

spiritual purity’ is what ‘Jihad’ truly

means. Like most things associated

with Islam, it has become bastardised

and made negative instead

of being the idea behind Muslim

worship. Looking at her words, one

can also discern the premise

behind Christianity, Judaism,

Hinduism, etc. The we have John

Mole describing the war in

Afghanistan and Iraq with:

And this is of a mother cradling her

son

Not yet too young to die.

She looks up howling at the sky.

The friendly occupation has begun.

Three photographs by John

Mole

The reader becomes buffeted with

poems, but it is with a hungry sense

of anger that they must continue

reading.

Possibly the harder hitting of

the two collections, ‘Babylon

Burning’ possessed an energetic

feel that gives it an edge over other

anthologies I have read. I was

unable to put it down with each

poem reminding me of what has

happened since 9/11. These volumes

will appeal to very different

demographics. With both dedicated

to exemplary causes, it is up to the

individual as to which most

appeals. The Book of Hopes and

Dreams is a finished and commer-

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

cial book, Babylon Burning: 9/11

five years on is more straightforward.

Both collections are excellent

anthologies.

Gold Dust

49


Truckerson

by John Griffiths

ISBN: 190606105X

Bluechrome, 2007

Printed: £7.99

Pages: 138

Skytrucker

by Allen Murray

ISBN: 0595247296

iUniverse, 2002

Printed: £14.49

Pages: 300

Book Review

David Gardiner, Gold Dust’s resident reviewer, compares John Griffiths’ Truckerson with Allen

Murray’s Skytrucker.

Truckerson is a novel that examines in

some depth the cock-up theory of history.

Massively arrogant, totally incompetent,

supremely self-satisfied, irredeemably

vain, as politically incorrect as

it is possible to be and completely

unquestioning in his loyalty to Queen and

country, Flight Lieutenant (later Air Vice

Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air

Force) Barry "Trux" Truckerson blunders

his way through the Second World War

and a NASA mission to save the world,

blissfully unaware of the assistance continually

heaped upon him by blind good

fortune. Everyone who encounters him

mistakes his ineptitude for genius, and

splendid outcomes flow, completely fortuitously,

from his bumbling attempts to Do

the Right Thing. Over and over again his

inept interference in history is the necessary

catalyst to bring about some major

social breakthrough or the "eureka"

moment for some great inventor. Only

when he encounters the American milierent

rearward glance at World War 2:

we have only to think of Catch 22, 'Allo,

'Allo, Dad's Army and that awful early

Spielberg film 1941. The first part of

Truckerson is in this general tradition – a

tradition to which it makes a worthy contribution.

The second half moves on into

the territory of the recent spate of asteroid

collision movies (Armageddon,

Judgement Day, Tycus, Deep Impact,

Asteroid), and the Eric Shapiro novel It's

Only Temporary reviewed in a previous

issue, and manages to extract quite a lot

of fun from a genre that you might have

thought was beyond parody.

There is really only one question

worth asking about a comedy novel: Is it

funny? Yes, I enjoyed it immensely. Not

often "laugh-out-loud" slapstick funny, but

tongue-in-cheek, throw-away line funny,

like the best James Bond moments.

Those familiar with Allen Murray,

the author of the (excellent) autobiographical

account of a flying career

name but very much the same amiable

self-mocking persona that is the public

face of "Trux" Murray, and one scene is

an obvious parody of "The Epilogue" in

Skytrucker, where the ageing airman

hands over the torch to his pilot son on

the flight deck of a modern leviathan of

the sky.

I suggest you read both books,

Truckerson and Skytrucker, which has

been out for a while but is none the worse

for that, particularly if you find yourself at

a loose end on a flight to some far-off

land. Truckerson also contains one of the

best chapter headings I have come

across: "3: The Plot Stays Very Much the

Same", not to mention the unusual generosity

of two epilogues. At present

Truckerson is only available from the

publishers, bluechrome, at

bluechrome.co.uk, but will be generally

available soon.

Gold Dust

tary top brass does he meet people Skytrucker, widely known on writers' sites

whose inability to perceive the obvious by his "Trux" nickname, will see an appar-

exceeds his own.

ent small homage in some passages of

The passage of time has given Truckerson. Mr Griffiths has given his

comic writers permission to cast an irrev- central character not only the same nick-

50 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Writing competitions

Grace Dieu Writers' Circle 'Open' Fiction Short Story Competition

CLOSING DATE: 28 February 2007

WORD COUNT: 2,000 words max.

FEE: £5 ( each subsequent entry £3)

PRIZE: £200 / £100 / £50 / £25 / £15

(One page critique available - £10 per story)

Please make cheques payable to "Grace Dieu writers' Circle"

Winners will be included in an anthology. £1 from each book sold, to "Rainbows Children's Hospice" in

Leicestershire.

HOW TO ENTER: Entry Forms are available from our web site at:

http://beehive.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/default.asp?WCI=SiteHome&ID=10451

Entries should be forwarded to:

GDWC Competition Organiser. 5 Thirlmere. Coalville. Leicestershire. LE67 4SW.

Blinking Eye’s First Short Story Competition

Award-winning writer, Hilary Mantel, is to judge Blinking Eye Publishing’s first short story competition.

Blinking Eye Publishing is funded by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme.

CLOSING DATE: 7 February 2007

WORD COUNT: 5,000

SPECIFICATIONS:

Open to any writer aged 50 or over on 7 February 2007.

Entries to Blinking Eye Publishing’s short-story competition may be on any topic or genre (apart from

children’s stories).

Entrants may submit any number of stories.

PRIZE: The overall winner of the competition will have a collection of his/her short stories published by

Blinking Eye and will receive 100 copies of the book. Quality permitting, an anthology of commended

stories will also be published by Blinking Eye.

HOW TO ENTER: Entry forms are available from Judy Walker, Blinking Eye Publishing, PO Box 175,

Hexham, Northumberland NE46 9AW (please send an SAE). They can also be downloaded from the

Blinking Eye website at www.blinking-eye.co.uk.

For further information please contact on 01434 600345 or email judywalker@btconnect.com

New Micro-fiction Competition

CLOSING DATE: 28 February 2007.

WORD COUNT: Upper word limit 500

SPECIFICATIONS: Short short stories on any topic welcome.

FEE: £3 for 1 story, £10 for 4 stories

Cheques made payable to Leaf Books.

PRIZE: All selected stories will be published in a Leaf Book Anthology. Overall winner receives £200.

Runner-up receives 10 Leaf Books.

HOW TO ENTER: Further details or enter online at www.leafbooks.co.uk/writers/comps.html

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

51


Rachel Kendall Claire Nixon Gary Gray

Interview

Zines of the Times

Alexander James discusses the fate of the modern ezine with four Editors (or former Editors): Rachel

Kendall of Sein Und Werden, Claire Nixon of Twisted Tongue, Gary Gray of Global Inner Visions and

Omma Velada of Gold Dust.

They fell like invading monsters in

a Sci Fi horror and the bodies piled

up higher than in any bloodstained

Raymond Chandler tale.

The death of the popular magazine

was much more than serial

murder. It was genrecide.

As countless beloved publications

bit the dust in the latter half of

the twentieth century, readers and

authors looked to the future of

poetry and short fiction publication

with all the enthusiasm of HP

Lovecraft on a bad day.

Then – in classic dues ex

machine style – came the Literary

Ezine – the zine of our times.

Internet and the magic of

online reading has come to the

rescue with a brave new breed of

publishers willing to put their talent,

energy and money into providing

seemingly limitless exposure

potential for authors and dazzling

genre choice for readers.

The main players are on the

bandwagon – newspaper and

major magazine publishers who

offer online versions of their publi-

cations and high-rolling publishers

who now tout electronic versions

of their blockbusters – but the real

heroes are the independents who

fill vital gaps left by those with an

Omma Velada

eye to lucre before literature.

The web is tangled and things

happen fast in cyberspace, so reliable

statistics are impossible to

gather; but it's safe to say that,

since the first literary ezine

appeared (possibly – but not certainly

– the short fiction and poetry

online mag, Atherene, crudely produced

for a handful of US readers

in 1989 and doomed to death in

infancy), literally thousands have

been launched.

A round-robin survey of a couple

of dozen experts suggests

there may be currently 3,500 literary

ezines published this month in

the USA and UK alone. Something

like 90% will not see a future issue.

Fewer still will see out 2007 as

enthusiastic editors with the best

of intentions come face to face

with the logistics, the costs and the

intimidating workload involved.

Some, of course, have

already stood the test of time and

promise to provide an invaluable

resource for those who write,

those who read and, especially, for

those who like to do both.

Few outside the present

small-but-growing circle of shortfiction

and poetry lovers who've

discovered these ezines – gems

on a shoestring – will have heard

of the names behind them. You'll

find no millionaires in the group -

not even wannabe tycoons. They

work at cluttered desks in garrets

and kitchens, many burn the mid-

52 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


night oil after day-jobs or putting

the kids to bed, some skimp on

vacations and other luxuries to foot

the bills their publications run up.

Publishers of the few successful,

quality ezines weather the

sacrifices, the tears and the frustrations

and share talent, energy,

dedication and a refreshing and

empowering faith in the value of

today's writers and readers.

Four are gathered here to talk

over the ezine concept and how it

might compensate for – or even

improve upon – those lamented

paper publications wiped out in the

ruthless dollar derby mainstream

publishing has become.

RACHEL KENDALL. EDITOR.

SEIN UND WERDEN (BEING

AND BECOMING). Rachel shares

a pokey little flat in Manchester,

England, with her partner and their

cat, her books and his guitars,

Owen the stuffed armadillo, Dallas

the mannequin, and countless

other tasteless artifacts. As well as

editing Sein und Werden, she

works part time in an academic

library, writes surreal pieces of fiction,

starts and doesn't finish novels

and is addicted to noir and

expressionist films.

CLAIRE NIXON. EDITOR. TWIST-

ED TONGUE. Claire, from the

North-East of England, is the

mother of five children. She writes

in many different genres and is a

member of three crit groups on the

net. She has had several short stories

published in magazines,

ezines, audio and anthologies. In

December 2004, she published

her children's tale, Tabitha and

Pirate Jim, as a present for her

eldest child, Tabitha. Tabitha and

Pirate Jim is now published as an

audio tale with Audio Stories for

Kids. Inbetween writing, she currently

works as marketing coordinator/interviewer

for Gold Dust

magazine.

GARY GRAY. EDITOR. GLOBAL

INNER VISIONS. Gary is retired

from a twenty-five-year career with

The Wall Street Journal. During his

time at the newspaper, he contributed

in a small way to the winning

of five of the Journal's thirtyone

Pulitzer prizes. He is currently

living in Colorado and passing his

time as a writer and fine-art photographer.

OMMA VELADA. FOUNDER AND

FORMER EDITOR. GOLD DUST.

Omma Velada grew up in Wales

and read languages at Goldsmiths

College (London University). She

has an MA in translation from

Westminster University. She

speaks English, French and

German fluently and has a basic

knowledge of Welsh. Having precociously

completed a (very short!)

novel at age 11, she had two

poems selected for Poems on the

Underground and won a shortstory

competition with Off The Wall

Magazine while at school. She

then edited a student magazine at

university. Having worked as an air

hostess, freelance translator and

editor, she currently lives in

Scotland with her partner, Ed, and

writes full-time. Her short stories

and poems have been published in

numerous literary journals (including

JMWW, Blood & Thunder, The

Eildon Tree and The Beat) and

anthologies (including Voices from

the Web, Whispers of Inspirations

and The New Pleiades Anthology

of Poetry). Her first novel, The

Mackerby Scandal, is published by

UKA Press.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

Rachel, Claire, Gary and Omma

took time out of their hectic schedules

to answer a few basic questions

that give an insight into their

work, their goals … and what they

offer their readers and their

authors. (Not all questions are

answered by all interviewees).

Was your ezine launched with

the author or reader in mind?

SUW: Sein und Werden was definitely

launched with the author in

mind. I just kept coming across

these great pieces of prose and

artwork on blogs and forums and

felt this work needed to be showcased,

or at least given a lift in the

right direction towards further publication.

I chose the web for that

because of its accessibility and my

own financial limitations. Things

started, and then they kind of ran

away with me. There were more

and more unsolicited submissions

(though I do still often trawl the

web for work that I think will appeal

both to my sense of what this zine

is about, and to its readers), so the

thing just escalated.

TT: The ezine was launched with

the reader in mind, mainly for ease

and cheapness and quickness –

the reader is able to download a

copy on the day of release and

read the contents straight away,

whereas with the printed version

they would have to wait a week or

two. It's hard to put an exact percentage

on how many readers are

writers/contributors – I have no

way of checking exactly who has

bought the ezine copy and who

has not; however, from feedback, I

do know that potential contributors

do buy the ezine copy before submitting.

Also, all contributors

receive the ezine copy free.

53


Zines of the Times [cont’d]

GIV: Both. I don't know that Global

Inner Visions has a role. It is simply

a passion of mine that allows

others to explore their passion,

either the reader or the writer. The

idea has morphed into something

beyond what I started.

GD: Both! I wanted to offer readers

the opportunity to discover work

often overlooked from talented,

up-and-coming writers, as well as

providing a showcase for more

experienced writers. Our literary

articles and interviews are of interest

to readers and writers alike.

We particularly aim to promote

exciting and original prose and

poetry, while also featuring a wide

range of articles on writing-related

topics. I would estimate that a

large percentage of our readers

are also contributing writers,

hence our focus on writing-related

articles. We encourage all contributors

to read at least one issue of

the magazine prior to submission.

Will screen-read ezines ever

replace the short story bookstall

magazines and newspaper and

periodical space dedicated to

fiction and poetry?

SUW: I don't think so. There will

always be a love of printed books.

A lot of people love the look of

books and magazines, the feel and

smell of them. They love the fact

they are portable, that they can

snuggle up in bed with them. It's

like vinyl vs CD. For a while vinyl

disappeared from the shops, but

then it started creeping back in.

True music lovers like the non-digital,

raw sound, the cover artwork

etc. Same with ezines – you can

print off the text if you want to read

it away from the screen, but it's not

beautifully designed like a book.

Also, we went on to publish hard

copy issues of Sein und Werden in

the first place because a couple of

contributors did not have access to

a computer, so even printing out a

PDF was not an option for them.

TT: In a way I hope not! I enjoy

browsing through books and magazines

at bookstalls, and there's

nothing better than the feel of a

book. But I do see the advantages;

it would be so much easier and

tidier in my room to have one simple

machine to store several books

and magazines – advantages

would mean less trees being

shredded to make paper, which

would be a great help to the environment.

Being realistic, I do think

there is a very high chance that

paper editions will dwindle out.

Just the way everything else has

over the years, such as the record

– which became the CD, and now

the iPod/MP3 player, all readily

available via the internet – so it's

obvious that one day books/magazines

will follow those steps.

GIV: Yes, but not totally. It is the

internet thing you know. All print

media is suffering a decline. I don't

think print will die, but it will certainly

shrink. The internet is why.

The reason printed material won't

go away completely is portability.

There is still a lot of world out there

that doesn't have the internet.

GD: Only if the new palm book

systems take off. Currently, I think

people like curling up with a book,

so sitting at a PC screen cannot

compete. Dedicated readers may

print out their ezines, but the

expense and time involved will be

prohibitive to most. This is one reason

why we always provide a print

copy of Gold Dust alongside our

PDF version.

Why did you open a literary

ezine and what did you think

qualified you for the job?

SUW: Because of the volume of

truly great (in my opinion) work

online. Also I was coming across

authors and artists who were too

lacking in confidence to send their

stuff off to the few remaining print

magazines, so I kind of stepped in

and said hey, you know? I really

love what you're doing here. Let

me publish it alongside x and x on

the web. What qualified me for the

job was simply a dedication to getting

good quality writing and artwork

out there. If I had the funds,

I'd set up a publishing company. I

really admire such places as

Afterbirth Books, Twisted Spoon

Press, Centennial Press and

Henry Rollins, who set up his company

to publish the kind of writing

he felt inspired by.

TT: My main reason for starting the

magazine was my own experience

trying to find a market for works

that push the boundaries - twisted

stories. (I've lost count how many

times I've received the reply from

an editor saying my own pieces

were too twisted for their magazine).

There's not that many out

there …

I've worked alongside Gold

Dust magazine, so you could say I

had the 'behind the scenes view'

and I fully understood what was

needed and what I had to do to get

the magazine off to a flying start,

and I had a handful of very good

friends who were willing to help me

get going.

GIV: It was part of my grand

scheme to conquer the world.

What qualifies a person to raise a

child? Giving birth! Twenty-five

54 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


years with the world's largest

newspaper didn't hurt.

GD: There are many, many literary

magazines on the market already

(more than 500 in the UK alone!),

so why launch yet another? I

founded Gold Dust because I felt

readers would like to read a magazine

that covered the best of

undiscovered authors, whether

previously unpublished or those

with an already impressive writing

resume.

At university, along with my

then boyfriend, I created an alternative

lifestyle magazine for

Freshers' Week, bluntly entitled

Illegal, which we sold as part of a

clubber's group. It included interviews

with hip hop artists, articles

on topics such as skateboarding

and street drugs, and a fashion

shoot. We printed the simple double-sided

black-and-white format

on a home photocopier and sold

about sixty copies – not bad for a

first attempt!

After finishing my degree, I

looked again at magazine publishing.

As a lifelong magazineaholic

and writer, I felt more than ready to

launch Gold Dust. But this time I

wanted a really professional-looking

magazine, and it was now perfectly

possible with the advent of

POD (Print-on-Demand technology)

publishing. This advance in the

publication industry means that

high-quality books and magazines

can be produced at extremely low

cost.

By searching the Internet

(something I'd only heard whispers

of at university), I came across

Lulu.com, an American POD company,

which produces books and

magazines for free and make their

money by taking a chunk of the

cover price. Once I had put togeth-

er issue 1, I uploaded it to Lulu and

it was instantly available for sale to

the public.

Does your ezine specialize in a

specific genre?

SUW: Yes. I am constantly looking

for work that somehow incorporates

elements of expressionism,

surrealism or existentialism, so

that as a whole the zine is a fusion

of the three, which I like to call

Werdenism. What I want is the

insane chiaroscuro world of

expressionism (in such films as

Metropolis, The Cabinet of Doctor

Caligari, The Golem, etc), the

search for identity and the ideas of

'becoming what you are' behind

existentialism, and the dream

quality of surrealism (such as

Breton's Nadja, Dora Maar's photography

etc). Sein und Werden

translates as Being and Becoming,

a phrase I stole from a book by

Lotte Eisner on German expressionism

(The Haunted Screen)

and from Heidegger's Dasein. I

don't want future contributors to be

put off by the philosophy behind

this though. It's NOT a philosophical

magazine. It's an art/literary

collective with an open invite.

TT: As long as the story is twisted

we are pretty open to any genre,

but we do lean towards sci-fi/fantasy/horror.

The more twisted the

piece is, the better. When I say

'twisted' I don't just mean a tale

with a twist ending - send me a

story that shocks me and there is a

good chance it'll be published. I

know the majority of magazines

refuse to look at a piece if it is

crammed with gore – but, if there

is a good story there it could be a

winner for us.

GIV: No.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

GD: Not at the moment, but from

issue #10 we will be introducing a

theme to bring a strong and unique

identity to Gold Dust. We feel this

will help it carve out its own niche

within the saturated small press

magazine market.

Describe the process of setting

up, gathering material, publicizing,

etc, for launch. What particular

aspects of publishing did

you have to study to prepare

yourself?

SUW: It didn't really happen that way. I

only advertised through my online journal

(www.xanga.com/kissthewitch).

There was no big game plan, it was

just a case of let's do this and see

what happens. I expected it to be a

one-off. It wasn't. I expected it to be

on-line only. It isn't. I expected it to

be mostly friends and online

acquaintances I've made over the

years. But I now receive submissions

from both new and established

writers all over the globe.

TT: Getting started, it wasn't as

bad as I thought. Of course I had a

few people with negative thoughts

who slammed the magazine

before it was even launched; however

a few of those people have

since mentioned that they were

pleasantly surprised with what I did

with the magazine. I suppose we

all have doubts about new things,

so they can be forgiven. Basically

everything for the magazine was

done through the internet - without

which there'd be no TT or any

other ezine. Advertising for submissions

was hard, not many writers'

sites allow you to do a call for

submissions – but thankfully there

are two main sites that I use, which

both have been a great help to TT

- BeWrite.net & UKA.com. To be

55


Zines of the Times [cont’d]

honest, I'm constantly still reading

up aspects of publishing.

Preparing the website took up

many hours - this was my hardest

task, as I have no html knowledge

at all, and at first I had to rely on

friends and family helping me to

sort this out. Obtaining the ISSN

was very easy to do - I remember

thinking that it would be impossible

to get one. Trying to find help at

the beginning was hard, but thankfully

I have some good friends.

GIV: The process is no different

from any other form of publication.

One accepts submissions, sorts

through them, selects the best

available material and then the fun

begins. I didn't really have to study

anything to do this. It was more or

less making a personal commitment

to do it on a schedule and try

to be of the best quality possible.

GD: To set up the magazine, I first

needed to organise a website. I

had to learn FrontPage very quickly

(luckily, my website design skills

have moved on from those early

days and the site is now created in

Dreamweaver). Once the website

was in place with submission

details clearly laid out, I set about

advertising for submissions on all

the various writing websites. I

focused mainly on the UK sites,

such as UK Authors and ABC

Tales, simply because I was familiar

with the quality of writing produced

there.

The submissions came flowing

in, and as I was working completely

alone at this point, it was

sometimes quite hard to keep up

with them. But by holing up in my

study for a few weeks, I managed

to put together a first issue, which

ranged from prose and poetry to

interviews and articles, all with a

literary-based theme.

I ordered a copy from Lulu

almost before I'd sent it to print!

With its high-gloss full-colour cover

and quirky right-aligned formatting,

it didn't disappoint on the aesthetic

factor – but there was room for

improvement. Some of the contributors

complained that the courier

new (typewriter-effect) font I'd chosen

looked unpolished and that

there was too much white space

around the text. By this stage, I

had so many submissions I was

already preparing issues two and

three; but I agreed with their comments,

so I re-issued all three editions

to incorporate the changes.

As time went by, I became

more familiar with the small press

magazine market and realised

Gold Dust needed an even more

professional look to remain competitive.

I decided to begin using a

professional DTP (desk top publishing)

program to create the

magazine and settled on

QuarkXpress, the industry standard.

As with website design, I had

to learn the application from

scratch, but it is reasonably userfriendly

and the results were well

worth the initial effort expended,

as, from a layout perspective, the

magazine is now on a par with

mainstream publications.

In terms of publicising Gold

Dust, I initially advertised on the

same writers’ sites where I placed

the calls for submissions, but as

there are now five of us working on

the magazine, we have a dedicated

Marketing Co-ordinator who

sends out a regular newsletter to

our extensive mailing list of readers,

as well as placing adverts for

each issue as it appears.

How much help did you need

then and how much help do you

have now?

SUW: In the beginning it was just

me fulfilling a personal need to get

stuff out there. Then I found a particular

group of artists and writers

who really understood what I wanted

to do with the zine, how I wanted

to portray it and the direction it

had naturally started to take. So I

invited these people to become

part of a team, people I could ask

for opinions, ideas for themes etc.

And then, when the print version

came into being, Spyros Heniadis

became the print editor and he

puts all that together and I just give

the nod.

TT: I have more help now than I did

back then, so in a way you could

say I'm very lucky. Unfortunately, I

did lose two people who helped

out at the beginning – the work on

the magazine turned out to be too

much for them. Even though their

time was brief they will never be

forgotten.

GIV: Composing and publishing is

mostly a sole proprietorship. I have

a few people that will help me sort

through submissions. Other people

don't have the same level of

commitment to this as I do. They

have real jobs and lives and it's my

vision, not theirs.

GD: For the first three issues, I

was a one-woman band, which

was incredibly hard work, as I am

a bit of a perfectionist and would

carefully proof each copy for errors

as well as sorting all the submissions,

organising the layout,

updating the website, etc.

Then something rather large

happened in my life - I had a baby

girl, Skyla, who suddenly took up

quite a lot of my time. I hastily put

the magazine on hold, thinking I

56 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


would get back to it once I had got

into more of a routine. But as time

went on and I still seemed continually

busy, it occurred to me to find

out whether anyone else would

like to take over the Gold Dust

reins. At this point, I posted a message

on the UK Authors website

forum, asking if anyone had

enough time and enthusiasm to

manage the project. I imagined

one person editing it as I had

done, but various people sensibly

suggested sharing the workload

instead.

Karl Relf became Editor for

issue #4, with invaluable help from

Sub-editors Elle, Roberta and

Rose, who unfortunately did not

wish to carry on after this issue.

There were disputes over the

amount of poetry we were able to

fit into the magazine, which

seemed to arise from the general

chaos of moving from a single editor

to an entire team. However, Jo

Copsey, who had also been a part

of issue #4, agreed to take over as

Editor when Karl had to bow out

(like me, due to time constraints).

Claire Nixon, a fellow UKAuthor,

then offered to help Jo, and is still

working alongside her as

Marketing Co-ordinator,

Interviewer and Illustrator. David

Gardiner then also got involved,

initially as our Cover Designer, but

now as our Prose Editor and Book

Reviewer as well. For a while, I

took a bit of a back seat and only

looked after the website, but have

now taken on the layout design

and general organisation of the

magazine as well. Jo has recently

had to step down as Editor, again,

due to lack of time, but has kindly

agreed to stay on as proof-reader,

while Kirsty Irving has just joined

us to take over as Poetry Editor. All

five of us collaborate on decisions

regarding the magazine and we all

pitch in here and there where

needed, whether writing an article

or providing a photograph.

Describe the editorial and production

work that goes into an

issue.

SUW: Once I have made the initial

choice of what to publish I then

decide what will go online and

what will go in print. That depends

on whether the contributor has

specified one or the other, how

long the piece is and whether the

artwork is colour or black and

white. Some of the grittier black

and white artwork will go in print.

Check for typos etc, sort out the

layout. Pass on all print subs to

Spyros who will sort out layout and

cover. Write editorial, pass on bios

and US addresses and then give

the once over. Spyros will then

send me the final layout in PDF

form and I will print off and send to

the UK, Europe and Asia and

Spyros will send to the US and

Australasia.

TT: Keeping this as short as possible,

as there is a fair bit that goes

into this: every accepted piece is

proofed, then all formatting is

done, slowly the magazine is built

up page by page, blank spaces are

filled in with a picture or advert,

where there is enough space,

flash-fiction or poetry is chosen to

fill in gaps, page numbers are

inserted, contents page is organized,

another proof of the full magazine,

competition entries and the

final page is added. when I'm completely

happy with the magazine, I

write the brief introduction.

Once everything is sorted, a

PDF issue is sent to all contributors,

if any last-minute adjustments

are required these are made, then

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

the magazine is uploaded to Lulu:

and this is where the nightmare

can start … sometimes everything

will load up fine, but I have had the

odd little problem with cover pages

and files stalling. If everything is

going well, I can have the magazine

ready for sale within two

hours on Lulu.

But it doesn't stop there, the

website needs updating, newsletters

need to go out, all contributors

need to be contacted with where

and how to buy a printed issue …

by the time that is sorted I need to

start again with the next issue …

reading, accepting, rejecting …

GIV: Tedious.

GD: Initially, I create the layout

from the previous issue, then let

the team know what we need - ie:

the number of short stories,

poems, articles, etc. David sends

me the short stories and book

reviews, Kirsten the poems and

Claire the interviews. The Editorial

piece and articles are up for grabs,

so we all pitch in to produce them.

I also remind everyone about any

contests we have going on, so that

winning entries can be finalised in

plenty of time.

Once I have the content, I

organise it in the template and

then illustrate it with photographs.

If there are any gaps, I request relevant

illustrations from Claire.

Then I send a copy out to everyone,

who comments in regard to

errors, amendments and improvements,

which I incorporate until

everyone is happy. David then

sends me the covers (front and

back), which I add to the PDF copy

and upload to Lulu with the print

version. Then it's just a matter of

letting everyone know the latest

issue of Gold Dust is available for

57


Zines of the Times [cont’d]

sale!

How do you cover costs?

SUW: At the moment it comes out

of our own pockets. We're still finding

our feet with this but I'm hoping

to apply for a local Arts grant. If this

were to come through, the zine

could get an ISSN, it could be sold

further afield, and it could look better.

Until then, the print issue will

remain a raw, dirty-dawg of a mag,

specialising in matter over aesthetics.

The web, on the other hand,

will continue to be the glossier,

slinkier, sexier version.

TT: Costs? Now that is a nightmare!

There have been many

times I've had to put in the few

quid to cover the bills. We make

very little from each issue that is

sold. Luckily, over the past few

months, we have received enough

to cover costs. None of the TT staff

receive a penny - that includes me

- they all help out because of the

love of the magazine … either that

or I'm getting better at nagging.

GIV: Out of my pocket. I've been

very lucky to have a friend provided

me with hosting for a couple of

years. This isn't a profit making

venture and was never intended to

be one.

GD: Because we use Lulu, which

is free, production cost has never

been an issue. We have considered

producing the magazine ourselves

in order to cut the delivery

price for the reader, but now that

Lulu utilises a UK-based printer,

delivery costs are very reasonable.

Lulu posts me cheques on a quarterly

basis, and as our only outgoings

are competition prizes, to date

we have always had money to

spare in the pot. To increase our

readership (the main purpose of

our magazine is for it to be read by

as many people as possible) we

are considering making all future

PDF copies free, but feel that, as

contributors will still like to see

their names in print, we should

continue to sell enough issues to

cover our very modest bills.

What factors will influence continuance

and development?

SUW: Naturally the main factor is

readership. As long as there are

people willing to buy the magazine

and other publications we bring out

(there are so many things I'd love

to publish - anthologies, collections,

novellas… One day, perhaps),

I can see Sein continually

evolving. I hate the fact that we

have to charge anything at all

because I want this to be about

accessibility, which is why I have

kept the e-zine going as well as

the hard copy, but money makes

money makes money, to quote

Henry Miller, and if people are willing

to fork out a few quid to keep

this thing alive, then it can only get

better and offer more opportunities

to more people. And that goes for

all zines of course, not just Sein.

GIV: The main factors are the writers

and my ability to get to a computer.

When the submissions dry

up, I'll probably stop doing it.

GD: I think that now the magazine

has so many talented people working

on it, we all kind of drive each

other. When it was just me, I would

miss my own deadlines and not be

too worried about it, but these

days, we all try to be very professional

about it and egg each other

on when the going gets tough. I

admit I didn't realise quite how

much work was involved and I can

only assume this is why so many

other small press magazines do

fail; but now that the work on Gold

Dust is shared, I hope we can continue

to produce the magazine for

a long time to come.

Under what circumstances

might you be forced to close?

SUW: The single most problematic

thing would be technological. Not

too long ago the computer freaked

out and the C drive had to be

kicked up the backside and software

reinstalled and I thought I

was going to have to give up.

Thankfully the problem got sorted

and I was able to carry on but seriously,

I would be pretty stuck,

though there would be ways

around it. In that scenario the print

version could perhaps continue via

snail mail, internet cafés etc.

Money is another thing. That will

always dictate how far the magazine

goes.

Lastly, if there were no submissions,

there would be no magazine.

But I think there will always

be people submitting because

there will always be people in need

of a market.

The only other factor that

might affect the continuity of the

zine would be personal issues. For

instance, if I needed more time to

concentrate on my own writing - in

which case, I would try my best to

blackmail someone into taking

over as editor.

TT: There'd be two reasons why

TT would be forced to close. One,

if my health worsens and no one

else is capable of running the magazine

- which I very much doubt

will happen. Two, if the general

public lost interest in the magazine.

Oh, and low quality submissions…

58 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


GIV: I could get squashed by a

truck or go to prison.

GD: If a large number of people

from the team suddenly had to

quit, then it would be difficult to

continue. To date, we have always

managed to replace departing

team members fairly swiftly, or at

least share their workload among

others.

Is there currently or do you foresee

stiff competition in the literary

ezine field?

SUW: Not for Sein, because of the

nature of its content. I don't think

there is another ezine going for

quite the same thing; ie:

Werdenism. Though there is, of

course, plenty of overlap with certain

zines, especially with the likes

of Café Irreal and The Dream

People, who I consider more as

authorities than as competitors.

TT: There is always stiff competition

out there.

GIV: I pay little attention to the literary

ezine field. I'm not competing

with anyone.

GD: I think there is already a vast

amount of competition, but with so

many magazines closing down

after one or two issues, I feel that

after two years and eight issues,

Gold Dust has shown that it's here

to stay. Our name is now familiar in

the writing world and we have a

readership and contributor base

on which to build.

How important is the print

option of your ezine?

SUW: Originally the zine was

online only, because of time and

financial limitations. But when it

was brought to my attention that a)

certain people did not have computer

access and b) no one really

likes to read text off a screen, I

decided to go ahead and start up a

print journal, whose content would

be completely separate to the web.

Admittedly I had to be talked into it

as I didn't feel I would have the

time or the cash to be able to keep

something like this up. But it has

proved to be just as rewarding as

the ezine. As Sein und Werden is

as much an art journal as a literary

one, I wanted to keep the platform

for that, as well as providing something

rough and raw for the longer

pieces of text, alongside some

black and white imagery.

TT: Very important to me - and the

majority of writers prefer to hold a

hard copy with their works included.

GD: The print option is crucial for

several reasons. Firstly, it provides

a professional look and feel to

Gold Dust. Secondly, contributors

like to see their names in print, so

we are more likely to sell to them

with print editions. Thirdly, on the

whole, readers prefer to read a

magazine they can hold in their

hands, so we are more likely to

attract a wider readership with this

option.

What have been the most important

lessons in ezine publication

you've so far learned on the job

and what changes have these

brought about?

SUW: That long stories don't work

via ezine. People don't want to

read off the screen. For this reason

the longer stories now go in print.

TT: It ain't easy! It takes hard work

and dedication.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

GIV: Keep it simple.

GD: For every team member to

have a clearly defined role, so

there are no disputes over which

pieces make it into the final magazine.

Where issues are less clearcut,

everyone should have an

equal say to avoid conflict.

How will your ezine develop in

the coming months and years?

SUW: I guess that mostly depends

on where both authorship and

readership takes us. I'd like to

think I've always allowed the zine

to wend its own way, right from the

start. There are, however, other

things that will influence its direction

such as finances (applying for

an Arts grant), contacts and links

to other editors and writers etc.

The main development right now

and over the next few months is

ISMS Press, through which we've

just published a haunting new

novella. This is a brand new venture,

our first publication - The

Garden of Doubt on the Island of

Shadows by Mark Howard Jones,

priced at £1.99 and available from

me, the Dylan Thomas Centre

bookshop in Swansea, in bookshops

in Manchester and online at

Shocklines, the major horror publisher.

That's a shameless plug -

but my magazine allows this kind

of gentle horn-tootling.

TT: Hopefully, I'll be able to pay for

all contributions in the near future.

GIV: I have no idea.

GD: Over the past two years, Gold

Dust has gone from strength to

strength, from a very basic onewoman

band to a professional,

slick publication produced in

59


Zines of the Times [cont’d]

QuarkXpress and a team of five.

With so many talented people

working on the magazine, I am

sure it will continue to grow in the

future.

How do you see the future of the

new ezine industry in general?

SUW: I think it will continue to grow

and grow. It's not an easy thing to

do, and often I come back to

another ezine after a few months

to find it's gone or just hasn't been

updated at all. It takes a lot of time

and effort. An editor needs to put in

a hell of a lot of work to keep the

thing going. But for each zine that

dies a death, another two crop up.

In a recent interview Matina

Stamatakis, the editor of Venereal

Kittens, cited Sein und Werden as

one of her fave zines, amongst

others, and that she is glad to have

it available online as she is too

poor to be able to buy copies. For

this reason I think the ezine industry

will continue to grow.

There is also the fact that

internet offers the availability of

multi-media ezines, such as Mad

Hatters' Review with its music and

animations. In the past Sein has

also included audio files and animation

which, of course, is not

possible with hard copy unless you

give out a CD or DVD with each

issue and then you have the cost

factor again.

TT: Worldwide.

GIV: They will come and go.

GD: I believe it will continue to be

popular, as people who write love

to be published and people who

read love to discover fresh talent.

Not to mention all those who love

to edit, create, illustrate, etc.

To what extent is your ezine's

development influenced by the

comments of contributors and

readers?

SUW: I think its development will

always depend on the comments

of readers and contributors, otherwise

it would run the risk of

becoming stagnant. A contributor

suggested going with a print version.

So I did. Another suggested

doing away with the poetry

because of the number of other

poetry outlets available, but I see

Sein as a fusion of different mediums.

I want there to be something

for everyone, within the Werdenist

margins of course.

TT: The comments mean a great

deal to TT - if the readers ain't

happy with the mag, then I ain't!

GIV: 100%

GD: We always try to take contributor

and reader comments into

account. The magazine was initially

redesigned based on contributor/reader

comments and we will

continue to take their points of

view very seriously, as they are the

ones we do all the hard work for.

What do you look for in a submission

to your ezine?

SUW: I look for work that incorporates

one or more of the ISMS,

avoids religion, politics, romance,

chick lit. I like the dark, edgy, erotic,

bizarre, quite horrific, awfully

strange and occasionally downright

vulgar. I look for submissions

that use the theme in some way.

And the theme is always very

open. I do accept non-themed

work but I prefer a contributor to

write something specifically for the

zine. It interests me to see what

original and Sein-specific work

people come up with, how inventively

they translate it. I am also

interested in the creative process,

the before and after, the little accidents

that bring the opus to life.

And I want non-fiction; reviews,

essays about art, writing, creativity,

etc.

TT: Something that shocks me.

But, I do have a reading team and

each person looks for different

things - one looks for quality within

the prose …

GIV: I'm totally subjective. If it

doesn't suit me, I won't print it.

GD: Quality writing, which can

involve many things. Originality,

exciting work, unusual stories, all's

very welcome at Gold Dust. From

issue #10, it will also be important

that all contributions stick to our

issue-designated theme.

What are the most common mistakes

made by contributors?

SUW: Not reading the guidelines,

which usually means sending in

more than three poems at a time.

Not sending a covering letter in an

email. Anyone who doesn't have

the courtesy to at least say

hello/dear editor/I would like to

submit…will have their email deleted

without being read.

Never having looked at the kind of

things I publish, even though anyone

can check out the ezine for

free.

TT: Sending no bios or sending

pieces in bright colours and fonts

that are unreadable.

GIV: Not submitting.

GD: Failure to read the submission

guidelines is pretty widespread,

60 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


ut if work is clearly laid out and

legible (ie, not full of grammar and

spelling errors), then we will still

consider it.

What are the most common

complaints from readers and

contributors?

SUW: Reviews of the first printed

issue made mention of the production

quality. I want to make it clear

that at the moment the zine is a

print, fold-and-staple affair. We

don't have the cash behind us right

now to come up with anything

fancy. But that is what the ezine is

for. What is important is getting the

text in print for those who would

rather have it that way, and if that

means going with the guerillaghetto

style of publishing then so

be it.

TT: Not being able to buy the magazine

from the newsagents – I

wish!

GIV: I didn't publish their material.

GD: Since the introduction of our

new layout, most comments have

been positive. I am not aware of

any particular complaint.

What are the most common

songs of praise from readers

and contributors?

SUW: That I will publish a lot of

'out-there' prose. I like experimental

work and excerpts and very

dark (but not necessarily horror)

writing.

TT: Sheer enjoyment of the pieces

inside – and how surprised they

are to see so much in such few

pages.

GIV: That Global Inner Visions is

clean and professional looking.

GD: That the magazine looks good

and the quality of the content is

high. We also get many positive

comments on the look and ease of

use of the website.

Does the web-reach of ezines

(by definition confined to the

computer-owning writer) unfairly

close the door to pen-andpaper

authors?

SUW: Nah. There are still plenty of

hard copy magazines available,

and there always will be.

TT: Guilty. We don't accept penand-paper

submissions. I feel

many others don't accept these

either as it is so much easier to

receive pieces through email –

and there's no mess, unless you

print copies off to read.

GIV: No. This isn't a business of

fairness. It's a business of

exploitation. If a writer doesn't

exploit the process, it is his/her

problem.

GD: Yes, this is a problem, particularly

for those writing in less developed

countries where computer

use is not yet widespread. Ezines

are one of the advantages of the

internet, which hopefully one day

everyone can enjoy.

Is there a danger of the web

being flooded with poor quality

ezines (with cost-free print

options through the likes of

Lulu) launched by those who

see it as a low-startup-cost

hobby or by unscrupulous operators

with an eye to profit?

TT: Lulu does make it very easy for

anyone to print a magazine or

book. So, yeah, the danger is pretty

high. But I have seen a few poor

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

quality ezines that have been printed

and bound from home…Lulu

can't take all the blame. Profit,

right, those who do set out to start

a mag just thinking of profit, well,

being as polite as I possibly can

(which is very hard for me), they'd

make more profit scanning their

backsides, printing off copies and

selling them!

GIV: No. There's a place for everything

and a time for everything to

fail. The market will decide what

survives.

GD: This is a potential issue for initial

magazine start-ups, but only

those with serious dedication

would have the time and energy to

commit to the ongoing effort

involved in a long-running magazine.

As for unscrupulous operators,

there is so little profit to be

made by small-press magazines

that I doubt they would find much

to gain from the market.

Will the exposure provided by

ezines eventually also become

the lucrative paying market

authors once enjoyed in the

heyday of diverse hard-copy

short fiction and poetry magazines

sold at bookstalls?

SUW: I can't really see that happening.

That is why I feel there will

always be print copies available

too.

GIV: No. Paying authors will

require revenue. Revenue is generated

from advertising. Nobody is

selling advertising to any great

extent.

GD: Some ezines have become

fairly lucrative, but you would have

to be a top-notch writer to make a

profit from selling your work, as the

61


Zines of the Times [cont’d]

highest paying magazines are naturally

also the most selective,

commonly accepting less than 1%

of submissions.

We currently only pay competition

winners (generally one poetry

and one photographic contest

per issue), but if we continue to

have money in the pot and

increase our readership, we will

look at paying contributors in the

future. I believe this would give our

magazine a further professional

edge, as many of the best writers

only submit to paying markets.

Is your ezine likely to form a hard

core of regular writers to which

readers become loyal and, if so,

how will such a trend affect the

potential of new talent?

SUW: This is something I am very

wary of, not least because Sein

und Werden is so specialised in

some ways, whilst being more

general in others. The ideas

behind it are concrete but the

medium is flexible. I do not want

potential contributors thinking

there is some incestuous closeknit

Werdenist community of writers

and artists to the detriment of

'outsiders'. Yeah, we're incestuous

but we welcome fresh blood too. I

started the mag up because of certain

writers and artists I came

across. I won't publish them just

because of who they are though. I

publish them because they write

what I am after. In a way I see Sein

as an ongoing piece of artwork, a

merging of different talents, which

will evolve naturally. In order for

this evolution to take place, there

needs to be new names, new perspectives,

new talent. I have never

been short of wonderful submissions

and I don't think I ever will

be.

TT: Well so far, after a year, I do

know that TT does have a handful

of regular readers, just recently a

few people have only just heard

about TT and after seeing issue #4

they've ordered back issues too.

The more loyal readers, the better

it'll be for TT's authors, their pieces

seen and read by large numbers

… and of course payments will be

available. As for how will it affect

new talent – I presume there'd be

more submissions (this has grown

over each issue), which means

there'd be more pieces to read

making it harder to gain a place in

the mag.

GIV: It already has. New talent is

new talent. My magazine gives

new talent a chance to become old

talent. The core of regular writers

is always changing.

GD: It is possible, but we will continue

to consider each and every

submission on its merits, so work

from new authors is never overlooked.

What will be the long term effect

of literary ezines on writers and

literature itself?

SUW: Because of the accessibility

of the web, it allows for linking to

other writers, writing communities,

forums, the sharing of ideas and

creativity. One of the most rewarding

things for me is when a reader

writes to me in praise of some text

or artwork (s)he's come across in

Sein. What is even better is when

contributors meet via Sein to work

on something together. I've had

other editors soliciting Sein contributors

for work for their own

zines (as I have done myself) and

poets working with photographers

for new poetry collections etc. To

cut a long answer short then, I

think ezines can help pave the way

for writers when it comes to making

contacts, which can only be a

very good thing for writing communities

and literature itself.

GIV: They will provide publishing

credits for aspiring writers and a

place to practice their craft.

GD: Literary ezines have given

many previously unpublished but

talented writers the confidence to

realise that someone liked their

work enough to publish it; and that

feeling is worth its weight in gold in

terms of encouragement and motivation.

The downside is that there

is more poor quality work finding

its way into print. But overall the

standard is high enough that literature

is not being devalued as an

art form via ezines.

Will ezines – like the fiction

mags of old – produce stars like

Asimov, Lovecraft and

Chandler?

SUW: I reckon!

TT: Oh yes!!

GIV: Bet on it!!!

GD: Watch this space!!!!

SEIN UND WERDEN: was

launched in 2004 and publishes its

eleventh issue this month. Each

issue is themed. It accepts fiction,

poetry, artwork, photography. That

includes prose poetry, novellas

(serialised), flash fiction, novel

excerpts. As a rule the max word

count for short stories is 6,000

words, but anything longer can be

split over two or more issues.

Especially in demand is horror,

erotica, literary, magic realism,

62 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


philosophical, surreal. Nothing

political, no romance. Bios are carried.

The online version is all

Sein und Werden

colour, glossy, sleek, and the

newly-launched printzine is a lot

more gritty, folded, stapled, black

and white etc. Online version free.

Cost of the printed zine (average

page count 54) is

£3.50/$6.50/5.10EUR. Annual

subscription (4 copies)

Twisted Tongue

£14.00/$26.00/20.00EUR

TWISTED TONGUE: Is in its second

year and accepts short stories,

flash fiction, poetry and art-

work – especially keen on Fantasy,

Horror and Sci Fi work that could

be described as 'Twisted' in its

content rather than construction.

Bios are carried. Word count for TT

is pretty much open, and can

accommodate several pics and

photos. Average page count is 80.

New editions: Printed £4.50, PDF

£2. Back Issues: range from £3.50

for printed versions and 50p for

Global Inner Visions

PDF (or local currency equivalent).

ISSN: 1749-9941

GLOBAL INNER VISIONS:

Launched in 2004 as a quarterly literary

journal for lesser-known writers,

poets and graphic artists, GIV is

in its tenth edition

So far all genres considered for

publication, though future issues may

be themed. The 20-page ezine – with

colour and black and white art – is

available only in screen-read version

and is free of charge from www.givezine.com.

ISSN 1554-012X.

GOLD DUST: Launched in 2004

and published quarterly. All genres

welcome (theme for issue 10 is

Time). POETRY: Maximum line

count: 50 lines. PROSE: Maximum

word count: 3,000 words (short

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Zines of the Times [cont’d]

stories). PLAYS: Maximum word

count: 2,500 words. ARTICLES:

Maximum word count: 2,000

words. BOOK REVIEWS (Your

Gold Dust

review of someone else's book):

Fiction/Novels or Poetry anthologies:

Maximum word count: 2,000

words. Pictures and illustrations

considered. No novels, novellas or

articles on non writing-related

issues. Print (through Lulu) in

black and white. PDF in full colour.

Great emphasis is placed on originality

of submissions. The magazine

– average page count fifty –

costs $8.23 (about £4.30) for the

printed version and $2.50 (about

£1.30) for PDF. ISSN: 1751-8180.

None of the ezines featured here

take any rights from authors.

Copyright remains intact and stories

may be submitted elsewhere

soon after publication. At all four of

these ezines, a strict editorial

selection process is in place. Most

publications at least proof read

accepted material for publication,

but authors submitting should,

considering the time constraints on

editors, not expect critique every

time a piece of work is declined.

Gold Dust

63


Authors

Contributors

Eddie Bruce

Most of Eddie Bruce's short stories are larger-than-life accounts of real people, places and happenings gathered as

(invariably fuelled by whisky) he drifted aimlessly around the UK from one relationship/job/location to another. Having

found his ideal job, as a mobile librarian in the North of Scotland, his addiction ensured that it wouldn't last. The alcoholic's

perpetual struggle to recover and stay sober is a recurring theme in his tales. Long since dried out, retired and living

with his wife in Essex, England, Ed is a fully domesticated househusband, still drifting but only on the Internet.

Website: www.adrifterslegacy.co.uk

Dan Kopcow

Dan Kopcow is a published author of numerous short stories, novels and screenplays and has always been fascinated with the art and

craft of storytelling. One of his short stories will appear in the October 2006 issue of Wild River Review. His passion for stories is also

reflected in his love for film and theater. He is a founding member of the Ambler Writers Group. He earned his B.S. in Chemical

Engineering at Syracuse University and, by day, is an environmental remediation project manager.

J.E. Ash

This is going to be an incredibly short bio as J E Ash has yet to have anything published. Having just completed a creative

writing course with the Open University, it has given her the confidence to start submitting work for possible publication.

Jens Rushing

Jens Rushing is an aspiring author from Texas. He has sold short stories to Out West and Rage Machine magazines.

His interests include 19th century novelists, stories of the American west, ale, and songs of the sea. He is a satisfactory

guitarist and a lamentable pianist. He is too young to be married, but is married regardless.

Melanie Staines

Born in New Zealand, Melanie Staines is currently living near Bristol and is developing a bizarre Kiwi-West Country

accent. She is aware that brief biographical notes ought to emphasise the mildly quirky, so will quickly mention that she

has been employed as a pizza chef, a university English tutor, a raspberry picker, a publishing assistant, a topless waitress,

an English teacher on the JET scheme, and has ghost written a political romance novel. One of those was a lie.

She also once spent a day trying to sell advertising space in a free calendar over the phone, but finding it a horrible, fruitless

experience she never went back. She likes olives, good-natured animals, and writing about herself in the third person,

and is afraid of death, corpses in general (but particularly in advanced stages of decay), pictures of corpses, TV programmes

featuring graphic real-life autopsies, and dislikes being obsessed with, and obsessively ruminating on, the

inevitability of her own death and decomposition. Perversely, she quite enjoys watching CSI (the Vegas version). She

hates the smell of cat pee in the morning, being more of a coffee person. She is currently working on a novel of her own,

and hopes to make a career for herself soon. melanie.staines@hotmail.com

Ali Al Saeed

Ali Al Saeed is a writer from Bahrain, born in 1978. For almost seven years, starting in 1998, he was a journalist writing

for two of the leading English-speaking newspapers in the country. He then began his writing career, contributing regularly

to a number of publications and magazines in the Gulf region. He wrote (and drew) his very first story - a sci-fi comic

book - at the age of ten. In 2004, Ali published his debut novel, QuixotiQ, which was a national best-seller and winner of

the Bahrain 2004 Outstanding Book of the Year Award. He also writes short fiction with several of his stories appearing

in various e-zines, journals and literary websites - including Gold Dust magazine, RSPublishing, Expose'd, In Posse

Review and Capture Weekly - and recently appeared in the anthology Goodbye, Darwin (Apodis Publishing). Ali is also

a filmmaker, co-producing his first documentary film in 2006. His non-fiction book, Models of Success: The Journey was

published earlier this year. Moments, a collection of short stories, was published in September. Ali aspires to share his

dreams with the rest of the humankind. Fore more information please visit www.alialsaeed.com.

Daniel Stephens

Daniel Stephens has just completed his bachelor's degree in Media Culture. He currently works as a full-time writer and

filmmaker. His fiction can be found most recently in Skive magazine, Secret Attic and Speculative Fiction Centre.

64 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Contributors [cont’d]

Louise Cypher

Louise Cypher is a writer of speculative fiction who lives in England with a cow called Beans, a monkey called Num-

Nums, a dog called Charris, and family of shrews. She's had some publications, but does all this mainly because she

loves to write.

Howard Waldman

Born in New York but long a resident in Paris, Howard Waldman taught European History for a France-based American

university and later American Literature for a French University. He has published two novels, Time Travail (Jacobyte

Books, 2001) and Back There (BeWrite, 2005) as well as a novella, Judge (Hachette). A third novel, The Seventh

Candidate, is due to come out about now.

Zack Wilson

Zack Wilson is an Anglo-Scottish writer, originally from Skegness, who has lived in many places in Yorkshire and the

Midlands. Currently residing in Sheffield, he works as a basic skills tutor for the long-term unemployed, one of whom he

has been. He has worked as a cook, a teacher, a clerk and a labourer and would ideally like to be encouraged by his

boss to sit and think all day. His work has appeared on the web at the-beat.co.uk and winamop.com, and in print in

Unquiet Desperation magazine. One day he'll write a novel and a few people will read it and tell their friends.

Poets

Barnaby Tidman

Barnaby Tidman is a mixtape well-wisher, and the clouds play in a loop from that summer after he left school, when he

was always falling over. He sent this poem to himself ten years from now and every major newspaper. He has been published

in FuseLit, and currently has a piece in the music magazine Transparent. barnabytidman@gmail.com.

Bex Harris

Bex Harris studies English Literature at UEA, and once wrote poetry on pants during Valentine's Day festivities, doing

wonders for the literary underwear scene. She is currently living in Norwich and getting paid to sample chocolate.

Ray Succre

Ray Succre has been writing for some time and has begun publishing his poetry while trying to broaden himself as a

poet, novelist, and parent. He is now beginning to send his work out at a more social level. He currently lives on the

southern Oregon coast with his wife, Maisy, and baby boy, Painter. He has been published in Aesthetica, Fire, and The

Book of Hopes and Dreams, as well as in many others. For further inquiry, publication history, and information, visit

http://raysuccre.blogspot.com, as this site is updated often. I can also be emailed at raysuccre@hotmail.com.

John Osbourne

John Osborne has performed poetry in Norwich, Vienna, London and at the Latitude Festival. He is currently writing his

first book, The Newsagent's Window, which has seen him visit a stranger for a massage, advertise for a co-writer for a

sitcom and pay a Polish girl to do his ironing for him.

James Al Midgley

James Al Midgley: poet, critic, trapeze artist. He enjoys talking about himself in the third person and transmuting base

metals into gold. Poems from his work-in-progress collection The Caterpillar Speaks have been published in various literary

journals both in the UK and the US. He is the Gallery Director for poetry of the website deviantART, the largest arts

community on the internet. He edits the poetry journal Mimesis.

Jon Stone

Jon Stone is the poetry editor of the roundtable review. His work has been published by the Guardian and McSweeney's

on their respective websites, and his debut collection, I'll Show You Tyrants was published by UKAPress in 2005. Further

info, and the odd snatch of music, at www.tyrants.co.uk.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

65


Contributors [cont’d]

Andrea Tallarita

Andrea Tallarita was born in Rome, 4 May 1985. He later lived in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) between 1995 and 2000

due to the movements of his family, and again in Rome for his last three years in high school. He is presently completing

his fourth and final year at the University of East Anglia, where he is studying Comparative Literature.

Book Reviewers

Fionna Doney Simmonds

Fionna Doney Simmonds is the Poetry Editor for the feminist literary ezine Moondance.org. She reviews regularly for

Moondance, Galatea Resurrects, New Hope International and the print journal Readers' Reviews. Passionately committed

to the written word, Fionna hopes to one day see poetry as popular as fiction.

David Gardiner

Ageing hippy, former teacher, now psychiatric care worker, living in London with partner Jean, adopted daughter Cherelle

and Charlotte the Chameleon. Two published works, SIRAT (a science fiction novel) and The Rainbow Man and Other

Stories (short story collection). Interested in science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, alternative lifestyles and communal

living, travel, wildlife, cooking and IT. Large, rambling home page at www.davidgardiner.net.

Features writers

Rupert Haigh

Rupert Haigh, escaped English lawyer, has lived in Helsinki since 2000, and now works as a freelance legal English

teacher, proofreader, and editor. He is the author of several published works on legal English and business, and started

writing fiction in the summer of 2004. His short stories have appeared in Spin and Outercast magazines, as well as in

Gold Dust. He is currently working on a novel, Throwing it all Away.

Gail Richards

Gail Richards is the Founder of http://AuthorSmart.com, a clearinghouse of information, education and resources for

authors seeking navigational assistance on their publishing journey. As a life long writer, she is passionate about helping

authors share their wisdom and intellectual capital with the world by helping them find a path from idea to successfully

published book. For over 20 years she has created marketing messages and visual concepts that demand and capture

attention for hundreds of companies. She now focuses her energy on authors. She is a graduate of Dartmouth

College, mother of two teen-age sons, Red Sox fan and aspiring seamstress.

Interviewers

Alexander James

For more than thirty years, Alexander James was a journalist working internationally for the biggest newspapers and

magazines in the world until turning exclusively to books ten years ago. He has written, ghosted, contributed to and

edited more than 100 titles, 90% of them novels. He lives on the French Riviera. He and his partner share four children

in their thirties (each of whom lives in a different European country) and four grandchildren.

66 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007


Final Word...

"Most writers can write books faster

than publishers can write checks."

Richard Curtis

"There are two kinds of writer: those

that make you think, and those that

make you wonder."

Brian Aldiss

How many screenwriters does it take to

change a light bulb?

Answer: Ten.

It’s winter, so curl up with our Final

Word...

1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.

2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.

3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing

light bulb. Villain falls to death.

4th draft. Lose the light bulb.

5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent

instead of tungsten.

6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to

kill hero's mentor.

7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back

to tungsten.

8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light

bulb.

9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb.

Doesn't change it.

10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Spell Check

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It cam with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My chequer tolled me sew!

67


Issue 10

Spring 2007

(On sale April 2007)

Next issue

Don’t forget to buy Gold Dust’s Issue 10 for your next literary feast of short stories, poems, interviews,

articles and much more.

Submissions

We are currently looking for submissions for Issue 10 on the theme of TIME. Your stories/poems may

be set in the past or in the future, but not in the present (excepting time travel/time-themed pieces).

Please read our submission guidelines on our website at www.golddustmagazine.co.uk, then submit

poetry to:

golddustpoetry@hotmail.co.uk

and prose to:

davidgardiner@worldonline.co.uk

Contests

We are now taking submissions for our next £10 poetry contest!

THEME: Heroes and Villains

MAX ENTRIES: Five poems per person

LINE COUNT: Max 50 per piece

Keep an eye on our website for details of all future poetry and cover art contests.

Contact us

Contact Gold Dust magazine via our Marketing Co-ordinator, Claire Nixon, at:

marketingco-ordinatorgolddust@blueyonder.co.uk.

68 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk - Issue 9 - Winter 2007

Similar magazines