Short fiction and serialised novellas of GJ Fairlamb

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Savage Writing: Mind the Rocks

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Task this week was to write a horror script. This was a little experimental for me – not sure I would get the points across – and upon questioning at the end I feel I explained too much. I won’t make that mistake here.



(Characters: Bob is an old-aged Yorkshireman. Ellison is a nervous-looking young man)



Bob, are you there?


I’m right here, Mister Ellison.


Good. I was worried I may be imagining things.


Isn’t good for your health to be up so early, Mister Ellison.


I haven’t been able to sleep. Every night I dream that I wake, eat and dress, then walk out of the cottage, down this path, and right off the edge of this cliff. I never hesitate or stop to consider otherwise. I fall into darkness and then there’s nothing.


Now, now, Mister Ellison. Calm yourself. You came out here to rest your mind after all – to let that fresh sea breeze soothe you. Don’t it feel good, Master?


I don’t know, Bob. The longer I’m here the more I doubt myself. It’s been three weeks, hasn’t it? Three weeks, and already I feel I can’t remember my wife. My dear Emily.


She was a wonderful lady, master.


Yes. You know, here in this light, I feel as if I can see things which aren’t there. Right now, if I look closely, I can see a girl standing at the edge of the cliff, a child. She’s looking at me with eyes like Emily’s. Large brown eyes.


Emily had blue eyes, Mister Ellison.


She always wanted a boy. She wanted me to continue the Ellison name. But I was always partial to a girl, a demure child, an obedient child. Perhaps I worried that if I had a boy, I would become like my father. God rest his soul. But this girl now, she has eyes full of rebellion like Emily. If you forbid a person from action, they only strive to do it more, don’t they? She was that kind of person. I told her not to swim, so she swam. And she sank my child with her.


Hey, hey, Master, calm yourself. You’re here to keep your mind away from painful thoughts aren’t you? Don’t dwell on such horrors. I can’t imagine the grief you must be in now, but do not sink under it, do not fall into it. You must be strong.


I’m not strong, Bob. I’ve never been. That’s why father always sends me away to lonely country holes by myself –


God rest his soul. We don’t speak ill of the dead, Master Blake.


Yes. Yes. I don’t speak ill of him. But I see that girl over there, and I want to walk to her, and speak to her. And even if she was not there, I would want to walk to that cliff anyway, for these dreams I’ve been having. To see the water, and the rocks.


Careful, now. You might lean too far over the side.


I wouldn’t. I would not. But then I’d at least be with my dear Emily again. That girl over there, Bob – can you not see her? I swear she looks as real as you.


There’s nowt over there, my lad.


She is there. I see her. She’s the spirit of the child that Emily drowned, I know it, she looks so reproachful and her eyes are large and blue and filled with tears. What did I do wrong, Bob?


Nothing, Master. She went for a swim, and the tide took her down. Don’t think on it – it’s too awful.


It is too awful. I can’t bear to think of it. My father would be so saddened to see me now, wouldn’t he? He thought I would do well for him, but I’m weak. I couldn’t marry as he wanted and give him an heir. Are you sure you cannot see her?


It’s the light playing with your eyes.


I can’t trust myself recently. I can’t trust my memory at all. I think of Emily and I try my hardest but I can’t remember marrying her, or discovering she was with child, or any such memories. I tried to find photographs but was told there’s nothing.


She didn’t like this new technology.


No, no she didn’t. But when I think of her, all I can remember is that awful day she went out swimming.


You asked her where she was going and forbid her from swimming, and she smiled and said she was merely going for a walk by the cliff.


Yes, yes. I must have told you this before. Just for a walk by the cliff. That’s why this child is here now, looking at me. I killed her, Bob, I killed them both with my words.


Don’t think such awful thoughts.


I want to go to her. I want to go and apologise. I feel I must see the edge of this cliff.


Now Master Blake, this is just a passing weakness –


It’s not a weakness! Don’t you understand? I have to atone somehow. And why do you call me Master Blake? My father’s dead, isn’t he? I’m – I’m the head of the Ellison family. You do as I say.


Beg pardon, sir. Force of habit. What I mean is, your father always worried about you. He never thought you were able to stick to your word on owt, and always thought you were too weak to stand horrors. You’re a frail lad, and given to fancy. If you’re seeing visions, clearly you’re not strong enough yet to be out here.


I am strong enough! I am. I am the master of the house, Bob, and I see that girl over there with my two eyes. You’re deceiving me, aren’t you? You’re testing me, like Father always did. You don’t understand, neither of you. I am strong enough for this. I am going to go and touch that girl and bring her to you, and prove she is there.


You can’t do that, master Blake.


I can, and I will. I’ll show you, Bob – I’ll show you I’m not mad!



After so many years, I’m sure your father will be glad to hear that you said that, Master. Mind the rocks on your way down. Mind the rocks.


Written by G.J.

08/08/2012 at 11:15 pm

Savage Writing: Script Night – Babysitting is Magic

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For the Leeds Savage Script Night. This isn’t the proper format for a script but I never intended it to be “proper” anyway. Kind of wish I’d let someone else play Leanne’s part instead of me, but hey ho. Also, everyone though there was going to be a plot twist at the end…nope. Didn’t even consider it. The piece is about the horrors of friendship, people!

L:         Hey, you. Short one. Come over here and talk to me.

E:         I’m not short.

L:         Yeah, I’ve got boots taller than you, sunshine – come on, sit down and chat to me. Tell me about yourself.

E:         [Says nothing. Looks down]

L:         Ah, like that, is it? Your auntie Leanne comes to look after you and you haven’t even got a word for her? Not a peep for the auntie you haven’t seen in years?

E:         I don’t know what to say.

L          Well, tell me about boy bands you like – actually, no, don’t, I don’t wanna be sick – or what subjects at school you like, or what TV shows you like.

E:         Um, I like “My Little Pony”.

L:         Honey, I like “My Little Pony”. That shit is awesome. That’s not news.

E:         I don’t think my mum would like it if she knew you were swearing in front of me.

L:         Whatever. You can take it. Little bit of blue air in’t gonna harm you. [lights up fag]

E:         You know, smoking’s really bad for you.

L:         Wow, in the whole decade-and-a-bit I’ve lived more than you, this is honestly the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Good job!

E:         It’s bad for me, as well. And if mum smells it when you come back, you’re gonna get in a lot of trouble.

L:         Whatever. I’ll tell her it was you. Tell her you tricked me into giving you a fag, like it was some wacky American comedy piece of shit. She’ll believe me.

E:         No she won’t.

L:         Sh, sh, don’t contradict the grown-ups, honey. Anyway, you didn’t answer me. What do you like at school?

E:         I like maths.

L:         Maths. Maths? Good God, how did Kelly end up with a kid like you? Maths. Jesus Christ.

E:         What’s wrong with liking maths?

L:         Really, how could she turn out a kid that likes maths of all things? I mean, we spent all of school smoking by the art block–

E:         Mum doesn’t smoke. She’s never smoked.

L:         [barely listening] Well, as far as I remember anyway, fuck knows if I’m right, I can’t remember a thing. I’m not even sure either of us ever learnt to read.

E:         Really?

L:         Yeah honey, it was my dog that signed your birthday and Christmas cards last year. Keep up, sweetie. [pats chin]

E:         Get off, I’m not a little kid! You’re lying anyway – I’ve never gotten a Christmas card from you. And there’s nothing wrong with liking maths!

L:         Nothing wrong with dressing like a chicken and clucking through the egg section at Morrison’s either, but I don’t do it.

E:         And why do you watch “My Little Pony” anyway? It’s for kids!

L:         Just like optimism and outrage, sweetie.

E:         I’m not your sweetie! You’re not even my auntie! And you shouldn’t even be allowed to look after me. Dad told me about you.

L:         Ah, DisQord himself, sowing the seeds of chaos. Go on, what’d he say?

E:         He said a criminal shouldn’t be left alone with a child. He said you’re not trustworthy, and that you’d probably steal something.

L:         Puh-lease, like he keeps anything of worth in this shithole. You and your mum are the only precious things in this house. Sweetie.

E:         Dad said you went to jail. That means you’re a criminal. He didn’t want mum to let you babysit me but she made him. He said he’d rather pay a stranger to look after me than have you, and I wish he had.

[Leanne sighs.]

L:         You know, Evie – look at me, Evie, don’t you go away from me! – you know, Kelly was so happy when she found out she was going to have you. I thought she was way too fucking young to ruin her life, but she was happy, and even if you don’t remember it, I saw you as a baby and you were really cute and everything. Me and your mum were always thick as thieves, and when you were born she said I was your godmother – you know, not a real godmother, an atheist godmother-in-spirit kind of thing. I wanted to be there for you, so I sent you cards even when you couldn’t read them. And I’m sorry you haven’t really seen me before now – if I could’ve visited, I would’ve. Now let’s not talk about your dad. Do you like swimming? Or dancing? Or gymnastics?

E:         You’ve never sent me any cards.

L:         I’m sorry they weren’t very nice, sweetie – I only had paper and pens in prison, I couldn’t buy you one in there, and I’m not the best at drawing – but I tried, I really did.

E:         I never got any.

[Leanne pauses and looks at her]

L:         Did your mum ever talk about me, Evie?

E:         You’re in pictures of when I was a baby. She told me who you were. And then dad told me that you set someone’s car on fire and got put in prison.

L:         You know, out of all the millions of statistics and things in the newspapers, how come Kelly had to be one of the ones to have her baby-daddy stay with her? Why her out of everyone?

E:         I’m going to watch TV.

L:         Evie, Evie, please, don’t – well…you can go watch TV if you like, go watch My Little Pony, just come here first – come here, give me a hug.

E:         I don’t want to.

L:         Just a quick hug, Evie, then I’ll leave you alone forever. Okay? Okay?

[They hug. Evie runs off. Leanne smokes in silence. Evie sings along with the song off-stage:]

E:         “And magic makes it all complete…”

L:         I loved making those cards, Kelly.

[Song fades out – “Do you know you are my very best friend”. Leanne still smoking as lights fade].


‘I thought she was going to turn out the be the mother!’

‘Me too!’


Didn’t even think of it. I’m not a natural 1000 word writer! I don’t know you’re meant to put a twist at the end of everything!

Written by G.J.

14/06/2012 at 7:40 pm