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  1. I'm writing absurdly short chapters of 800 words or so - this takes a few minutes to read and I'd love it if you could take a look. If you like it, force your friends to read it too, and comment back to me!

    Chapter 2. Clockwork

    A wooden smile greets Mia from a wooden face, the head on which it sits being tipped slightly to one side, as though thinking. Bland wooden eyes blink once, and the jaw drops down in surprise, revealing strings inside. On the things head is red hair, and it looks as if it is slicked back but Mia knows it isn’t real – it’s painted on. And just above the two-part mouth is a thick ginger moustache, but this is painted on too. It’s red eyebrows are made of separate pieces from the rest of the face, rather like the eyes and mouth, and they wiggle in surprise at her while the mouth now moves up and down.
    The conductor is sitting down, but it is obvious that beneath his uniform (a smart suit with unnecessary lapels) he is not real – both his legs and his arms are jointed pieces of wood, centred around a block torso from which Mia can hear a ticking. She wonders if he is clockwork powered, and if so, who winds him up to make him go?
    The thing grins at her again – but it isn’t capable of looking sad.
    “Will you be joining us on our voyage?”
    The voice is tinny and comes from the conductor’s chest, but its mouth moves in unison with the words so that it appears to be speaking for itself.
    “Yes,” Mia replied, because she couldn’t think what else to do. She contemplated the weird clockwork man for a moment. “Do you have a name?”
    The man nodded jerkily. “I have many. Call me Davy, it’s what my mother called me.”
    How could this thing have a mother? Mia shrugged to herself. If she was dead now, then anything was possible. After all, it was odd that she was still thinking, and breathing, and having odd conversations on trains.
    “Davy.”
    “That’s the one.” He had produced a clipboard as wooden as himself, and was scanning it in a robotic fashion. “Mia Turner?”
    She nods, perplexed. “How did you know my name?”
    “It’s all on the register. Now please take a seat, someone will be round shortly with refreshments.”
    Mia didn’t have much choice but to obey the tinny voice emanating from Davy’s ticking chest, so she turned to her right and opened the old fashioned, creaking, wooden door and stepped into the carriage.
    It looks like any train carriage would do – the seats are in pairs and fours, facing each other with tables in between, but everything is that little bit older. The seats are like pews in an old chapel – wooden, straight backed and padded with something a little like carpet, and the tables too are wooden, and not even fixed onto the floor, so when the engine restarts again Mia can see them teetering here and there, which worries her. She takes a seat by the table that seems the most stable, but a disconcerting ticking noise startles her, and she sees at once that the table across the aisle from her has a small item on top of it.
    It’s a clock – an old-fashioned wind-up type, and the time reads half past twelve, but Mia is sure that’s wrong so she gets up to change it. She picks it up and tries to wind the hands back, but they won’t shift and she’s not strong enough. The train begins to pick up speed and she returns to her seat, but not before noticing another clock, hanging on the wall nearby. The time on this one is five to one… Mia shrugs and decides to ignore it, gazing out of the window as the train speeds away from the treetop.
    She glances down again, unable to resist staring at her own dead body as the paramedics produce two metal plates, rubbing them slowly together. The further away from the scene the train gets, the slower the image becomes, as though time itself is dragging itself to a standstill.
    The train chugs its way onwards for what feels like hours, but the clocks have barely moved ten minutes on when the train begins to slow. A tiny voice squeaks through the carriage, emanating from invisible speakers perhaps.
    “Now approaching Snuff. This is not your final destination.”
    Mia stares out of the windows as the descend towards ground level, and is surprised to see the wreckage of what looks like an old bi-plane, the kind first flown by those two brothers… she wished she could remember their names. Beside the wreckage sits a strangely dressed man, looking oddly impatient, and as soon as the train stops he jumps on and Mia distantly hears him speaking to the conductor.
    “I was hoping for something that flies, you know,” a human voice complains, and the clockwork man is replying as briefly as he can. Then the door to the carriage slides open, and there he is.
  2. So, I've never done blogs before. I kinda hope someone reads this, it'd put a cheeky grin on my face if they did. *Grins!*

    So I thought I'd share a piece called Destination with you guys. It's episodic, and I'm using shorter chapters than I usually do, so I reckon it's pretty good for blogging.
    It's a sort of experiment - I'm trying to investigate the nature of death entirely through metaphor, but as soon as I thought of that idea I realised it might be quite depressing reading. So, I decided to make it a bit fun. Resembling Alice in Wonderland a little, I decided to incorporate the most eccentric and bizarre characters I could - all very different from each other in their own ways. I asked my friends for help in the creation of several of these characters (as a result some are more mundane than others, because not all my friends are as crazy as I am) and the end result is rather interesting.
    Having ranted on about the eccentric characters involved, I'm afraid to say that none of them appear in the first blog... Yeah, sorry.
    Here goes!

    Chapter 1. The Train

    Mia Turner has just died. She is sure of this fact.
    She is sitting in the upper branches of a tree, gazing out over a road, and on that road are two vehicles. A red mini has veered off the road to the comparative safety of a hedge, narrowly avoiding colliding with a taxi coming the other way. The taxi, whose speed was the cause of the near collision, has thrown his steering wheel to the left, mounting the pavement with some speed and hitting several objects before eventually coming to rest at a lamppost. The driver’s face has been thrown into an airbag, but his neck is twisted strangely and Mia thinks he may be dead.
    A little girl’s body is curled around the bonnet of the taxi. Her legs are broken here and there, so that they stick out at odd angles, and glass from the front window has smashed all over her. There is blood all over her torso and arms, one of which dangles lifelessly over the side mirrors, frozen into immobility by the still cold weather, though it is not long until rigor mortis starts to set in.
    The child’s face is upturned, an expression of shock registered in wide green eyes, with what had been a smile still fading from her dimpled cheeks. She wears a blue dress, decorated with daisies around the bottom – embroidery by a doting grandmother.
    Yes, Mia realises; she is dead. Her body is down below her, where she remembers being hit, though she doesn’t remember how she got here. And why is she here? She has a vague feeling that she is waiting, but if so, what is she waiting for?
    While she waits absent-mindedly for the answer to the question to occur to her, she dangles her translucent legs off the edge of the branch she is resting on and hums a tune. Nobody below looks up, and she wonders if they can hear her for a moment. But in the films, she theorises, dead people are scarcely seen by people like panicky women driving minis and paramedics swarming out of their vans, because those people are so focussed on life… they don’t know that it’s too late. And even if they could see her, it wouldn’t achieve much.
    A distant rushing sound fills Mia’s earlobes, the sound of a train approaching. It’s a sound she recognises because her father has always treated her exactly like her older brother, and this includes watching hour-long documentaries about trains. Mia has always liked trains, but looking at them on a television set has never had much of a thrill to it. What she loves is to ride on one for hours, enjoying the rhythm of the tracks rattling the carriage from side to side and making her teeth chatter if she grits them tight together. She wonders if there is a train coming for a few moments, before considering the fact that there are no railway lines near her house and she has never seen a train go past when staying with her mother. This thought surprises her, but nonetheless she looks around to search for any sort of train.
    On the ground there is no sign of a train or even a railway line, but when she looks to her right she sees an old-fashioned steam train descending from the clouds, which are dense and grey. Impossible though it seems, it is heading straight for her treetop rest stop, chugging slower as it pulls in to the branch she is sitting on.
    The train is painted matt black all over, and choking black steam shoots out of the top of the engine with alarming suddenness. The windows too are dark, and they are tiny things, with sliding wooden frames that look old, but not worn out. The noise of the hydraulic “chugga-chugga” slows down as it approaches, and eventually stops altogether as the brakes are nosily applied and the train screeches to a halt.
    A door opens, and Mia feels an odd tugging within her, a strange desire to get on this train and never look back, but she hesitates a little as she stands and reaches for the doorway. She glances down to the scene below her, which is now being controlled by a ginger moustached man, perhaps the chief paramedic, who is barking out orders with lightning precision.
    She gazes at this for a few seconds, then back at the train. There is something unearthly about it, almost as though it inhabits a separate dimension, but now, so does she. She belongs on the train, and she knows it. One step later, she stands in a tiny compartment – some sort of space between carriages, staring obsessively at the conductor.
    She knows it’s rude to stare, but she can’t help herself.