Posted in Comics n Stuff, From the Ashes of Another Blog, Miscellaneous, Shared Stuff

New Website

As you know internet people, am a lazy man. So have avoided doing anything with my blogs to make them easier to read or find. This year has started as the year I get shit done. So have created the blog’s new domain.

So instead of marvelmunky76.wordpress.com it’s now at mymarvellifepresents.com and there will be links to all my blogs all in one place.

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Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous, The MIGHTY Rosie

For Me, 2017 was Actually Pretty Good

2017 Was not the smoothest of years. There’s been upset, sadness, more than a few tears and the odd unpleasant truth here and there. But I don’t want to say that 2017 was a bad year, it wasn’t, at least personally. There are many reasons why:-

Getting my shit together

When I started this year, I weighed 18.5 st (259lbs in old money), was on anti-depressants and was completely devoid of anything resembling motivation. Of those three statuses, none are currently true.

18.5 st

At the suggestion of the MIGHTY Rosie, I joined Slimming World and started going to group on a Saturday morning. (For much of the year I blogged this journey under the banner of Slimming World Saturday) some days I found soul crushingly boring, but more often than not, I found it inspirational and it helped changed the way I looked at food. I am not more than 3st lighter than that now and in this new year am once again committed to it.

Anti-Depressants

In early 2013 I suffered a depression related breakdown. It’s hard to write that down sometimes. The events that followed that day revealed that I had suffered depression much of my life and changed the way I looked at both my past and my present. I am not going to tell you that it’s been easy internet people, nor that I’ve dealt with it in the best way. Through the support of work, some friends and relatives and mostly the love and care of the Awesome Sammy and the MIGHTY Rosie, I have been on the road to better mental health. But I have needed help from others getting there too. One was a therapist and the other was the pharmacological arm of the NHS. From January 2016 I have been on Sertraline to treat my depression. Once I needed it, afterwards, it helped still, but somewhere along the way it stopped either being helpful, or being necessary and I was not really experiencing the full range of human experience and emotion, so after seeking medical advice on the safest way to do it (telling the Drs what I wanted, not asking them what to do) I reduced and them came off my tablets. Finally free of them, I realise that they were not really doing too much this last year and as of early October, I am medicine free. I am more engaged with the world, more emotional and I hope to think a better version of myself than I had been for the 3 previous years. I also decided to take a break from therapy for the Christmas period. Been not having sessions for 4 or 5 weeks now and to be honest, I don’t think I will be going back. Like the tablets, I needed it, then it helped me, but I don’t think over analysing my moods and my past is going to help me do the things I really want to do, I want to move forward, be a better me and that is not what I was getting from therapy towards the end.

A lack of Motivation

I am almost pathologically lazy. I am like a rug on valium. I have reasons, explanations, but not really excuses, so that I have had to change that. The tablets and the weight loss things are signs that I do possess a small amount of drive and my writing does hint at it too, I have posted daily since December 1st and with the exception Sunday, feel no reason to stop. So it exists within me to better my particular lot in life and so have started to do that. As part of my overall wellness kick of 2017 I followed my excellent trainer Ali to a new company https://instagram.com/absolutebodysolutions and enjoy weekly sessions to increase fitness, strength and reduce stress ( a better option than a tablet I think we can all agree) and they have started a sort of life coaching/planning company called ABS Life and it’s done what therapy hasn’t, it’s helped me with tools to be a person. I am planning for the future and am setting goals and challenges and things are looking brighter. I am still lazy, but I have motivation and for the first time in years am investing in what I want.

Adventures

It’s been a bit of year here at the munky house, log cabin days away, walks in the woods and more than a few zoo trips and we have got away here and there several times. It’s been quite a year. For years, I have avoided conventions and things like that, suffering anxiety kind of puts a dampener on that experience, but this year after mix up and stupid mistakes the Munky family went to For the Love of Sci-Fi in Manchester. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you can see some of the pictures of the Cosplayers who were amazing and so friendly to my 7 year old boy, including a scottish medieval Batman and the Dutch Daywalker (a Blade lookalike) as well as people from Dredd, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and I will be glad of all that.

But, it was badly organised, badly signposted and the reputed shitty behaviour of one William Shatner was very much confirmed when I posed for a picture I paid for. It would have been a complete waste except that we got a fantastic present for my mad sister in law and I met the Hoff. I posed for a pic with David Hasselhoff and the Knight Rider Trans-am and he was a delight, friendly and approachable and he even serenaded the MIGHTY Rosie. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to have my photo taken with.

I want to do another convention, but I will be more selective, more organised and more prepared, but that’s another story.

Happiness

My goal when I started this year, in a broad term was a better version of me. I am closer to that than I once was and am moving forward every single day. So I will take much of this year as a success, a qualified success, but a success nonetheless. But happiness isn’t a goal, it may be a direction, but it’s also moments, moments like walking in the park on New Years Day, enjoying all of it and being sad not about going back to work, but not being with your loved ones for another day like this. Like making your wife laugh, for no other reason that she needs it and seeing her smile is one of life’s great joys. It’s singing along to Queen on a car ride, all three of us and enjoying each second, I had moments like that in 2017 and it’s made me greedy, I want more. And that’s what I’m going to do.

2017 is one, bring it on 2018, I will not back down.

That’s enough looking backwards, time to turn my view to the horizon and all the steps in front of me towards it.

 

 

 

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

For the Geek in Me, 2017 Was Awesome: TV

This year was in many respects rough.

I know that no one is giving me points for neatness here, but the news is drab or it’s genuinely frightening. The world seems a darker place and for me that leaves a bit of escapism to find my joy. When it came to TV, it was an embarrassment of riches.

As I have been doing this year, I found my 5, but this time with a difference, for every new thing, have added a less-than-new thing that has been a positive this year:

Midnight Texas:

The hero of this story is a medium who fleeces people, but he is an actual medium and he’s on the run and finds himself in a very small town in the midst of Texas and learns that it’s the one place that he fits in. This is the story of the town on the border of Earth and what we call hell and it’s a border that’s losing integrity. Living in that town are a fallen angel, his demonic boyfriend, a pawnbroker with a secret, a preacher who is like a werewolf, but so much cooler than that, a witch, a vampire, and Olivia, who is scarier than any of them. The door to hell is starting to open and it’s about to get a lot worse.

There are succubi, neo-Nazis, a chain-smoking dead grandmother, a serial killer, another renegade angel, a talking cat and a demon. How was I not going to love this show? The show was adapted from books written by the same writer as True Blood, but this doesn’t have that show’s obsession with the sex life of its protagonist. One of the few shows that it doesn’t like such a chore to wait a week to watch, which is becoming something of a rarity.

But I also enjoyed: Killjoys

One of the surprise hits for me of the last year or so, this year’s third season hit the ground running and didn’t stop. The war between the RAC and the Hullen spread across the whole season and in between great character work showcased great action that Star Trek would have been proud to have.

Speaking of which

Star Trek Discovery:

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I liked 2 of the 3 J J Abrams era Star Trek movies. I did, but let’s be honest for a quick second, Star Trek is and always should be a TV property. The people at CBS are launching a streaming service and one of its first offerings is the return of Star Trek to its television roots. Set in the few years before the original 5-year mission, this is the story of a woman called Michael Burnham who was instrumental in the start of the war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. The star of this show is not the captain (because we get two of them), nor is the main thrust of the show about the ship (we again get two of them) but it is about Michael, who is thrown into a situation that she was never prepared for. The plot is political in nature, with the Klingons all vying for control of the many noble houses and Starfleet are scrambling to take any advantage in a war that they don’t know that they can win. The captains aren’t square-jawed heroes and the choices made aren’t heroic at times, but this story is interesting and it stands alongside Deep Space 9 as a series I would recommend for not as Star Trek fans, but would like to give something a try.

Something else that was enjoyed (however not by me) Star Trek Voyager:

I am not going to tell you that it’s my favourite series (because it isn’t) or that it’s the most consistently good (because it isn’t) or that I’ve really enjoyed re-watching it (I haven’t) this gets to this list, because of my son. In an attempt to avoid watching such televisual delights as Pokémon and Paw Patrol, I put on the pilot of Deep Space Nine on, then the season 4 opener. He enjoyed them, I threw the dice and put the pilot of Voyager on. He LOVED it, loved it and wanted more. He’s watched several episodes and is now at the start of the 4th season, with the introduction of Jeri Ryan’s 7of9. I am glad he is enjoying Star Trek, maybe 7 is the target audience because he’s been fascinated and asking questions and it’s been a lovely thing I have been able to share with him, re-watching Voyager is a price to pay, but not too high a price.

The Defenders:

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When Marvel announced their Netflix series, I was skeptical. After the lukewarm success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the announcement that the first of the proposed series was Daredevil, I think I wasn’t alone there. But Daredevil was a hit, then came Jessica Jones which was well written and had outstanding performances, Luke Cage which fleshed out and modernized a great character while accepting the previous look. Even the lamented Iron Fist was enjoyable even with a far from likeably written Danny Rand, so by the time The Defenders came along, I was convinced enough to give it a go. I liked it, there was a lot of threads and characters pulled from the previous stories and did a decent enough job of tying it all together and I got to see Power Man and Iron Fist on screen together and left me wanting a little bit more.

I also have enjoyed Arrow:

DC won’t do a live-action Batman show, he’s A-List, but DC had another character that is essentially ‘what if Batman was Robin Hood?’ Oliver ‘the Green Arrow’ Queen. This series was a Batman Begins take on Ollie, building him from the ground up, introducing more DCU elements as it came along. The MIGHTY Rosie and I have been re-watching and it is even more enjoyable on Blu-Ray, where you can watch 3 or 4 at a time and Arrow’s success led to Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. I have a lot of good telly coming in 2018 too since we are at the point where this CW DC Universe starts to expand, starting with the Flash.

Night Shift:

Every now and again, the MIGHTY Rosie pulls a little gem out of nowhere. This was one of those. Night Shift is the story of a memorial hospital in San Antonio in Texas. This hospital’s night shift is staffed with military vets and adrenaline junkies. The story begins by centering on Doctor TC Callahan, a former Ranger suffering PTSD, his ex-girlfriend Jordan and his best friend Topher. Rounding out the team are a couple of doctors, some nurses and some new residents and this series hooked me with its fast-paced action, complex characterization and medical drama that often took me by surprise. There were only four seasons, so less than 40 episodes in total and each one is worth watching, we found this on Netflix and was an excellent pallette-cleanse from the many police procedurals and sci-fi programs that we’ve enjoyed recently.

I have also enjoyed, Grey’s Anatomy:

I found Chicago Hope boring, didn’t particularly take to ER and the less said about the British hospital procedurals Casualty and Holby City the better. So I have avoided Grey’s Anatomy quite effectively for the best part of a decade and was put onto it once more by the MIGHTY Rosie and got hooked.  This is the story of a group put into a surgical program at a prestigious hospital. They are all broken in one respect or another, suffering their own issue, their poor judgment and yet keep trying. There’s soapy crap, but also some touching scenes, comedy and more than a little whimsy. I’m 5 series in now, I do intend to catch up and it’s nice to get out of your own little niche and find something a little bit different.

Finally we get to Rick and Morty:

I am an avid fan of podcasts, most of them are American comic related ones, but there have been a couple of more local quality shows, one of them is Stacey’s Pop Culture Parlour. The Parlour is a series by the hilarious Stacey Taylor ( @StaceysParlour ) and she talks ‘at length’ on a number of pop culture topics, the reason that she is mentioned is that it’s from her I first learned the words Rick and Morty,, this was mentioned a good number of times and eventually I found it on Netflix and checked it out. It’s primarily a Back to the Future parody/homage (‘Rick and Morty/Doc and Marty) it’s a whole lot darker than that. Rick Sanchez is genius/super-scientist villain/alcoholic, who has reconnected with his estranged daughter Beth, her husband Jerry and their kids Summer and the perpetually anxious Morty. Morty keeps getting pulled into the bizarre misadventures of his grandfather and his portal gun shenanigans. It’s dark, it’s bleak and there’s very rarely a happy ending, but it’s also smart, hilarious and always fun. I currently have a Rick Keyring and am patiently waiting for news of series 4, the reason? Season 3 brought us “Pickle Rick!”

Can’t wait to see what we get next.

I also enjoyed Bojack Horseman:

 Everyone loves Bojack Horseman, but nobody likes Bojack Horseman.  In a world of people and animal people, which is both relevant to the story and not, he’s a former sit-com star with a harassed agent/ex-girlfriend, unemployed houseguest, annoying affable friend and a ghost writer pushing him to open up about a past that he is doing his best to get away from. There are misadventures, commentary on modern celebrity culture and a number of funny lines. None of that is why I am so fond of this series. The reason I enjoy it, is that it’s not a happy show. The most cheerful character is Todd, a unemployed misfit, struggling with his identity as an asexual man. But every character has that melancholy tinge of unhappiness, or confusion about them. It also highlights the self destructive impulses of depression and addiction in a way I have never seen on TV, let alone an animated series. There’s an episode in the 4th season where you hear the internal monologue of Bojack and it’s horrifyingly familiar. It’s not a story with happy endings, nor a likeable lead, but it is compelling and I am hoping a 5th season arrives.

This has been a trying year, but the TV has been above average.

Next Time: No comics, no films, no TV, just life.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

For the Geek in Me, 2017 Was Awesome: Movies

This year was in many respects rough.

I know that no one is giving me points for neatness here, but the news is drab or it’s genuinely frightening. The world seems a darker place and for me that leaves a bit of escapism to find my joy. When it came to films, well they didn’t disappoint. Though I didn’t make a many trips to the cinema as I would like, managed a good half dozen, so had enough to choose from.

As I have been doing this year, I found my 5:

Logan:

 

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To describe Fox’s X-Related movies as mixed in quality is lets be honest generous, but the one consistent thing about them has been the portrayal of James ‘Logan’ Howlett, the Wolverine. He’s been at this for 18 years now and while the movies have been up and down, he has always made the best of whatever script he had been given, from the dismal X-Men Origins, to the great X-Men 2, the flawed but entertaining The Wolverine, to his excellent cameos in X-Men: First Class and X-Men Apocalypse. But he’s not going to do it forever and he needed a last film as Wolverine and this is the one he deserved.

It’s a western, the ageing gunslinger is ready to get out of dodge and is dragged back into the fight against his will, it’s a tired western trope, but works well as a setting for this film. It’s 2025, Wolverine is nearly 200 and it’s starting to show, his eyesight is faded, he’s tired and his healing factor isn’t doing the job, not a good thing, considering how much metal is inside his body. He’s spending his time trying to forget about the X-Men and taking care of the reason the X-Men aren’t there any more, the ailing Charles Xavier. He’s pulled back in to take a young girl, with his senses, his healing and his claws to safety from the scientists who created her from Wolverine’s own blood. It has a road trip element as this old man, his invalid friend and this young daughter try to get to the border and to her freedom. This is not a MCU shiny movie with glibness and action figures, this is a brutal tale with violence to match as a man who’s seen too much killing tries to do one more good thing before the end. The performances are good, the action is well paced and it’s beautifully shot and a fitting swan song to this character who needed to have as good a solo film as this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

 

I have met one of the actors in this (well someone who made a cameo), just get that out of the way.

Some Spoilers

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The film has an on Earth scene in the past as did the first one, this was a man with Meredith Quill being young and in love, but planning for a future with galactic consequences. We then jump to the Guardians of the Galaxy (including a baby Groot) ready to battle an interdimensional monster for the golden Sovereign people. This is done to the tune of “Mr Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra (Because you can’t beat a little ELO) and that’s really the tone of this movie, there’s action, pathos and a whopping handful of fun. Everyone is on their A-game here and when the younger man at the start is revealed to be the human personification of Ego, the living planet, we know this film stepped up from the last one. We get more of a look at Yondu Udonta and his relationship with Peter ‘Star Lord’ Quill and everyone gets their time to shine and we even get bastardised versions of Star Hawk, Aleta, Martinex, Charlie-27 and Krugarr of the proper Guardians of the Galaxy. (I like this version, but doesn’t change who I always think of when I hear the words Guardians of the Galaxy, I mean look here Standing Guard)

But the movie Guardians are fun, funny and I will never look at Mary Poppins the same way again. I was expecting this to be at best as good as the first, it was in fact better.

 

Wonder Woman:

 

The lowest selling and least successful of DC’s trinity of heroes, but by far the best single movie of the recent DCEU releases. This film had epic action, a romantic plot that seemed to fit the story, comedy with a touch of pathos and above all a story that celebrated Wonder Woman, without being embarrassed about itself. In her few scenes in Batman Vs Superman, Gal Gadot’s Diana owned the film. Here she was given her own movie and did exactly what we all expected and nailed it. She was naive in some ways and wise in others, peaceful and poised, but brutal in a fight and during the no man’s land scene, she added an epic quality to her character. I don’t know what I expected going it, but the bar was raised. I’m not saying more, because I think if you have ever enjoyed any comic related movie, you should watch this one, it stands up alongside any you can think of to be honest. It’s a good sign when you walk out of the pictures thinking “I hope they make another one” rather than the usual “I expect they’ll be a sequel ‘sigh'”.

Thor: Ragnarok

The one place where Marvel Studios has really gone left regarding it’s version of Marvel’s characters is Thor. That is not a criticism, because the Kirby/Lee Thor wouldn’t fit in the MCU and nor should it. The MCU version of Thor is a warrior and a noble being worshipped as a god, but also a little bit of a goof. A well intentioned male bimbo as seen in the YouTube clips about what he was doing during Captain America: Civil War and some lighter moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron. This film saw that tone, the imagery and epic scale of Walt Simonson’s run on the comic and the Planet Hulk storyline, stuck them in a blender and ..wow

Spoilers

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From the opening scene, we get a wisecracking Thor, who’s far from the arrogant youth of his debut film, nor the warrior of myth that the second film seemed to show. This was a Thor, taking himself less seriously, from his one light hearted banter with the fire demon Surtur, to his ‘can’t unsee that’ response to seeing ‘little’ Hulk when Hulk gets out of the hot tub. The entire cast is clearly having a ball from Jeff Goldblum’s bonkers Gamesmaster, to Tom Huddleston’s Loki and the hidden gem of Karl Urban as Skurge the Executioner who goes from comic relief to his epic last stand. There’s Hela, goddess of death as well as a Valkyrie, a confused and terrified Bruce Banner, a sombre Odin, a Heimdall who deserves his own movie and the director voices the star of the show Korg. “Started a revolution, no one came except my mum and her boyfriend, who I hate.” “We’re escaping on that huge spaceship, wanna come?” This was a film that mixed the ridiculous, the comic and the epic and really helped it all hang together. This was Marvel trying to replicate the tone that made Guardians of the Galaxy a success and then accidentally improving in dramatically. If you enjoyed Thor and Thor: The Dark World, you’ll enjoy a lot of this as well, if you didn’t, this is third time’s the charm. Thor: Ragnarok is beyond anything else, fun.

Justice League:

It took me nearly 4 weeks to get to see this film. I want to tell you that it was worth waiting for.

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Well it was.

I liked Man of Steel, but felt that while it featured a guy called Superman, Superman wasn’t in it. The same could easily be said of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (although the extended Blu-Ray cut I saw made it a better film) and I started to hear the fan theory that it was a 3-act thing and that it’d make sense in Justice League. To be honest, was less than optimistic, but I did enjoy Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, so how bad could it be? It even had Jason Momoa as the most 90’s of 90’s Aquaman and I love me some 90’s era Aquaman. So the only bad side to me was an unnecessarily new Flash and Cyborg, who is a fantastic character, still feels like he was slotted in last minute leaving J’Onn J’Onnz out of the League post Nu52, but that is a rant for another day. But here’s the thing, I liked this film. Was it perfect? No, but it was trying a more light-hearted take on this world. From the 7 year old on sweets Flash, to the body horror of Cyborg, to a Wonder Woman trying not to lead and a Batman forced into doing it, it was a frankenstein’s monster of a film about a bit of a rag-tag team and for me it worked. A lot of people questioned the use of c-list 4th Worlder Steppenwolf as the main bad guy, but that at least gives you somewhere to go, rather than open with Darkseid. The plot made little sense, but there characters interacted well, the tone was light, but the stakes very high and yes, they brought back Superman, surprising no one. But they actually brought back Superman. From the opening flashback, where he takes time to answer some childrens’ question, to not getting into the fight without making sure the civilians were safe. That’s the guy, right there! He was even joking right at the end, after claiming that he liked being alive, there was an explosion, he came to, in so much pain, though chuckling, “I changed my mind, I want to die.” joking with Cyborg and then later racing the Flash. There’s so many places you could nit-pick, but for me I got to see Aquaman on the big screen, with no talking to fish jokes (well maybe one) and so many bright spots in this film. For the first time in nearly 12 years, an identifiable Superman was on the big screen and for the first time in over 30 years, he was in an entertaining movie too. I enjoyed this movie, both for what it was and for the fact I got to share with the MIGHTY Rosie, on a reclining sofa seat in the cinema. Some things are worth waiting for, Superman alongside the Justice League, great seats and great company and the last film of this year for me being one of the best, are all some of those things.

Next Time: I turn my attention to the TV of this year

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

For the Geek in Me 2017 Was Awesome: Comics

This year was in many respects rough.

I know that no one is giving me points for neatness here, but the news is drab or it’s genuinely frightening. The world seems a darker place and for me that leaves a bit of escapism to find my joy. When it came to comics, that was fairly easy to do.

As I have been doing this year, I found my 5:

Go Go Power Rangers:

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Last year one of my most pleasant surprises last year was Boom Studio’s use of the Saban   Power Ranger franchise. This is the second effort from that license. GGPR is set shortly after the episode Day of the Dumpster which introduced the Rangers, Zordon, Alpha 5 and Rita Repulsa. This is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers day 2. They have no idea what they are doing and still feeling their way through this fantastic adventure they are on. It’s a very Marvel comics way of looking at it, but it works so well and adds a dimension to this property that makes it a joy to read each month.

Youngblood Vol 5

I was a comic fan at the time of the launch of Image,  I missed Spawn and Savage Dragon at first glance, but I remember reading Youngblood vol 1 on the week it was released in the halcyon days of 1992. Now, this isn’t me slagging off the artistic capability of one Rob Liefeld, he is a fantastic ambassador for comics, whose enthusiasm and energy were all over his work then and his career later now, but I do feel that Youngblood was a bit of a missed opportunity. There were interesting characters, a concept of superhero as celebrity and so much energy, but it was mishandled in many ways. There were a few attempts at reboots that haven’t panned out, but this was different. This was the story of the post celebrity view. With the age of apps and Wikileaks and the more cynical view of heroes, this is what happens after Youngblood falls from grace. Now heroes are part of an app called Help! which sources local superheroes, when one of them goes missing, a teenage hero takes the name of a former member of Youngblood and investigates this missing person, who no one knows the real name of and this gets tied up in the vestiges of Youngblood and it’s legacy. It was a lot of fun and breathed new life into an underused property and this reboot has legs.

The Wildstorm:

Back in the late 90’s I worked in Liverpool Comic Co on Saturdays. I genuinely think of that time as my favourite job. I was paid in comics and as I result read more in that year or than in the five before. This was the time when an English comic writer called Warren Ellis took over a mid-level Wildstorm comic called Stormwatch. I loved that series as it added a military edge to a super hero team. This wasn’t square-jawed heroes and moustache-twirling villains, this was morally grey cold war-esque super combat between intelligence agencies and black-ops divisions and it was nothing like I had ever seen. Stormwatch gave way to the Authority, times changed and Ellis moved away from these series in favour of the attempted reboot of the New Universe and some of his own creator owned work. But in the last year DC, the owner of the Wildstorm properties gave Ellis another shot at these characters, but as another reboot. Now this plays up more of the spy stuff and conspiracy story and less of the brightly coloured costumes and it works a lot better as a single coherent title and not a bunch of separate ones. The characters are familiar in some ways, but there’s so many differences that I have no idea what is going to come next.

Marvel Legacy:

This year after avoiding them for a couple of years, I read one of Marvel’s big summer event comics. This year was Secret Empire. Now I am not going to wade into the Nazi’s running America themes of the story, nor critique the story and it’s many many problems myself, but it led me to read a few more Marvel titles than I have in recent years. You know what? Some of it is pretty good. There’s a Scarlet Spider series written by Peter David, there’s a Secret Warriors series that has Devil F***ing Dinosaur, a Black Bolt series that is underappreciated and a heist comic that starred Rocket Racoon that was noir-tastic, let alone the big three of Bendis’s Invincible Iron Man, Aaron’s Mighty Thor and Mark Waid on Captain America, there’s a lot of good stuff that has got me reading ongoing Marvel Comics on a weekly basis again really enjoying it.

But finally we have the resurgence of my first four colour addiction

X-Men: Resurrexxion

My first comic series, my first comic as a serious collector and the main characters of the first comic I own that was signed, the X-Men.

After pitting them against their own extinction, the Avengers, the Inhumans, the writing of Brian Michael Bendis and the Inhumans again, Marvel have decided to try and position the X-Men as headliners again. It started with the surprisingly interesting X-Men Prime and moved on with new titles X-Men Blue, X-Men Gold, Weapon-X, Cable, Jean Grey, Generation-X, Iceman and the recent Astonishing X-Men. The quality of them varies, with Weapon-X being quite poor and Iceman being a bit of a hidden gem. There’s a variety of themes and genres as well, Jean Grey is very much about the power that the legacy of Jean Grey the older has and how it affects the teenage version currently leading the time-lost X-Men Blue team. Iceman is about how the older Bobby Drake is coping coming out as gay in this late 20’s, early 30’s and also how that alters his life as a mutant. This has been the most consistently good run of X-Men comics in at least 1o years.

I don’t know if the comics are better this year than last (they probably aren’t) but I am enjoying them more and it’s been a bit of stable enjoyment in at best a tumultuous year.

Next Time: Got to the pictures a few times this year,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Miscellaneous

Exiled part 1

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Post from a blog that I am going to delete through lack of interest.

Before the sky turned red over Seltor.

Before the Empire broke the Freehold’s world.

Before the space between the stars was aflame.

Before I travelled further than any man before.

 

Before all that, there was Whitford.

 

I was broken long before I got to Whitford, a nice little town in the heart of Yorkshire. It’s the kind of place you see in Sunday night dramas. I had a reason to be there that didn’t mean much and stayed there for no reason beyond having nowhere else to be. Fate often decides on a whim to change the course of our lives. My life is full of such moments. Am I getting ahead of myself? Okay, I should start at the beginning.

 

My name is Marc Hayes, a product of the foster care system. I was one of the lucky ones I suppose. I was orphaned at 6 and spent a lot of the next ten or so years with a lovely couple called Clare and Brian. That said I was less than a well behaved boy and much less than an apt student. I was sort of clever, but unfocused and I went a bit off the rails in my teens. Who doesn’t? It came to a head one day and the choice was given. Do something constructive eg join the army or get myself in more trouble and end up inside. We’ve all seen the adverts, all watched the exciting holiday like images. It all looked like so much fun, no one tells you about being sent off to die in some armpit part of the world for no proper reason or being under equipped and terrified watching good friends cut to peaces, so I signed up. I was happy there for a while in the Lancaster regiment. I played 5-a –side, did some boxing, training and maneuvers and it was ok. Then one day, the call came in, Iraq. Before we left some new people joined the regiment, one called Geoffrey Costello sat next to me on the flight out there. He called me Sparky, I called him Gez and by the time we arrived at camp, we were best mates. He was a bit of a sci fi geek and I was a film buff, we talked all the time and I remember at the time thinking, was this what it was like to have a best friend?

Over there was hell, long moments of boredom punctuated by extreme moments of terror is one of the ways I have heard this described, it fits. We spent months on patrols, waiting for IEDs to take us out. On foot it was no better.  We made no decision to be there, that was the politicians and other policy makers, but we were there and could see how much the locals hated us. Some of the lads learned some arabic words, but I don’t think I wanted to know what they were saying. It was hell, but I had a gang of mates around and I had Jez, no substitute for women, but at least I wasn’t going through all this alone.

 

I don’t want to talk more about this part of my life, so will skip to the end. Several months into my stay there, we were checking out a suspicious building. Jez went in before me with the sarge and as I followed behind, I remember hearing the wire being tripped.  I don’t remember the explosion, or being thrown into the rest of the lads, probably the reason they made it. I do remember waking up with pieces of my best friend all over me and the searing pain running through my body. I was told I went into shock very quickly after that.

My next clearish memory was being in an army hospital. I  was on an IV feed and in a great deal of pain. I remember looking down at my left hand and seeing a bandaged stump. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I took that very well. Within a few weeks I was discharged and home. The worst part I thought, was behind me. Then came the nightmares. I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and there was other symptons, they patched me up, gave me pills and then I was sent off to make my way in the world again, a world I no longer had much experience of living in. The next few years didn’t really go well to be honest.

I’ll spare you the clichéd elements of drinking problems, gambling problems, drug issues and that brief period of time when I lost a place to live, but needless to say, by the time I got to Whitford, I was a broken mess of a man, not the unmotivated teenage tearaway I was, nor the soldier I later became, but now I was just broken and lost.

Whitford has a two distinguishing features, the first is that it’s a mecca for british UFO watchers and the other is…. well that’s the thing, there is nothing else. There’s little industry, a few factories and shops, no great areas of oustanding natural beauty, it’s just a town in Yorkshire, where everyday people live. Well lived. I was there because I remember Jez wanting to visit there for the UFO stuff and it felt like unfinished business, one of the plethora of counsellors told me not to hold on to stuff too much, so I felt this was one I could cross off the list. I applied for a job at the local shop, rented a tiny flat and got on with my goal of using my free time to drink myself to death.

I suppose I look fondly at the time as the last time my life made a degree of sense.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Exiled part 2

More from my failed blog
My last days on Earth were not an ending, only the beginning.

 
Whitford:

I liked living in that town for the most part, people were friendly, but kept their distance, got a job in the local shop, found a decent off-license and to be honest, had little use for anything or anyone else. I set up a tv with netflix, got some comics and things that Jez recommended, to keep his memory alive more than anything else and tried to get on with day to day life.

It was hard, constant nightmares, shaking through the day. Interacting with anyone was difficult, I had no real purpose and felt that if I went died tomorrow, it wouldn’t make much difference. Then the nightmares started to change. There had always been lights in the sky and strange noises here and there, this town was a hub for UFO spotters, but I noticed the locals reacted as though this was new and much more frequent. My nightmares had changed to being experimented on, I’d wake up afterwards coated in sweat and strange marks, which I had assumed were caused by me in my sleep. It turns out, these nightmares weren’t that exclusive to me. I overheard a number of times people describing the exact same dream. There were lights in the sky at night and strange power outages in the town and other strange occurrences that only start to form a pattern as I look back in hindsight. Then one night, it all changed forever.

It was an ordinary night, got some booze from the off license, drank my evening meal and watched the 1979 Superman movie. I remember it from my childhood and enjoyed it again, in my booze addled state. It made me want to be that guy. Not the flying and strength and that stuff (though would be nice) but the fact he was a genuinely good person, who helped because he could and saw no problem with helping anyone and everyone. I wanted to be a good guy like that, I went to sleep/passed out, wishing I was a better person, not the broken angry mess I had become. As I was feeling bad about myself the alcohol did it’s job and I enjoyed some blurry oblivion. Sad truth, I don’t even remember what I was drinking.

 

I woke up, the sounds of explosions and the smell of burning flesh. There’s an old wive’s tale about it smelling like pork or bacon. There’s truth to that, the first time you smell it. It wasn’t for me, I knew what that smell was. I ran outside, stopping only to pick up my baseball bat. S’funny thing about England, almost no real interest in baseball as a sport, but sales of baseball bats are surprisingly robust. I ran towards the noise and smell of burning and I have absolutely no idea why. At the centre of the town was a tall man. I say tall, 6ft9 at the very least. He was a huge man in some kind of black armour and in his left hand was what looked like halfway between a large remote control and a microphone. Every time he squeezed it, there was a red flash and burning and screaming. I charged him.

 

I’ll be honest with you, in a life full of stupid decisions, that might fit nicely in the top ten as with his free left hand he punched me. I have never been hit so hard in my life. My head was spinning, my balance gone and to be honest, not even sure where he hit me. He advanced towards me, a black helmet covering his face. I swung the bat and watched it connect with the helmet, shattering the front of it and causing him to stagger. The second hit, I knew was at my face, I fell back, but his arm caught me and pulled me closer to his, now uncovered face. The first thing I noticed was three small triangular pieces of metal over his right eye, red and slightly glowing. The second thing was that he was completely without hair. No eyebrows, lashes or anything like that. He spoke to me, a voice thick and gutteral, raspy and growling.

“Sprechen Sie deutsch?” I stared blankly.

“Parlez vous francais?” I shook my head.

“Do you speak english?”

“Yes.”

“Good, quarter cycle on this ridiculous planet, 2o nation-states, 20 languages and thousands of you apes, you’re the only one, who was worth keeping alive. I have what I need now, my partners can have you, while I exterminate the rest.”

“Why?”

“I can.” he hit me again, it went black.

When I woke, it would be far from earth.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Exiled part 3

Part 3.. 
In space, no one can hear you scream, but in a pressurised ship on a metal floor, they can hear you vomit.

images

I awoke to a bad case of the DTs, my stomach emptying everything from the last day or two onto a metal grating. My head ached through the usual mix of dehydration and hangover. I couldn’t move my arms for some reason and there was a piercing pain in the back of my neck.

Wherever I was it was hot, humid and so very noisy. A voice deep inside my brain was yelling to me not to open my eyes, some things you can’t unsee. It sounded like reason, but haven’t listened to reason yet, so I opened my eyes. I was on my knees, my right arm and what was left of the other one, was bound by a blue cord, which seemed to be coming from my neck. I was in my jeans, trainers and a teeshirt, but there was holes and blood on it. I looked around. I immediately regretted it.

I was in what looked like a long corridor, it was split into several cubicles cut into the walls, which were a battle ship grey metal. The only light was a fluorescent tube sort of light in the middle of the ceiling, which was at least ten foot above me. It looked like I was on some kind of cargo ship, I suppose I would’ve been able to deal with that, Somali pirates or something like that. Ordinary world, scary situation. I held on to that fantasy for six or so seconds, until my eyes could focus on the people in the cubicles. Yeah, I said people, shows how much I’ve acclimated to all this.

Straight ahead of me was quite possible the largest person I had ever seen. But also the strangest. His was even sitting down as tall as I was standing, he was almost as wide across, his skin was more like alligator, or gila hide than anything else. His eyes, were yellow, with vertical ellipses as irises. His mouth had thick lip like things and as it opened a row of sharp teeth. It looked like a he, but I was guessing, he was reptilian and I wasn’t expecting boobs or anything, but he worse purple trousers (very MC Hammer looking things) and dark boots. He saw me looking and his head tilted towards the side and he…. was that smiling? Next to him, in another cubicle, was a four armed creature, looking like a big insect, that stood like a human. It’s large compound eyes were red and the rest of it’s body was a muddy brown. No clothes to speak of, but a blue amulet sort of thing around it’s neck. Next to that was what looked like (doing the maths in my head) a 12 foot long millipede, with reddish body, black legs and eyes and one of the same type of blue amulet on it’s head. It was coiled in a ball. Next to that was a spider looking thing, all covered in shadows, it looked like it was munching on a leg. Next to me was a huge sort of mountain of cloth, some creature with thick rust coloured fur underneath, from the part I could see. I looked around more and things only got stranger. There were creatures of all kinds, a sorts of colours and shapes, smells and sounds. The walls seemed to be closing in on me and I started having a panic attack.

I collapsed back into the cubicle, shaking, panic setting in, I was praying to a god I didn’t believe in, wishing on stars I couldn’t see, for all of this to be not real. I wanted nothing more than to wake up in that crappy flat, in my crappy life. There are song lyrics by the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, sometimes you get what you need.

The wall to my right slid open, just enough for a cloaked figure to the be thrown in to the corridor, although I now realised it to be a room, from outside. The cloak was a dirty brown and the person underneath worse some kind of boiler suit sort of thing. From my left, two sort of blue-ish sort of creatures walked towards this new arrival. They were thin, very thin, with skin that looked like powder blue ceramic. Their eyes were like sharks, round and black, their mouths no more than slits and their nostrils seemed to be on the sides of their necks, rather than above their mouths. They wore what looked like silver togas, but had nothing on their feet, which had two long toes at the front and another two at the back. Their arms were as restrained as mine, but I could see their hands had two long fingers and on each side a thumb. They may have been male, but it could just has easily be female. Then I saw what they were doing. They started kicking the person on the floor. I wasn’t sure where I was, who anyone was, or what anyone’s deal was, but I knew hate when I saw it.  I stood up, unsteady at first, but that changed once I heard something I didn’t expect. “Please stop.” I understood it, when heard it, I felt a tickle in the back of my neck, where the pain had been. I strode in front of the two blue men and squared up. Yup that’s  right, one arm, hungover and shackled and I thought two aliens with hard skin was a fair fight. “Back off now.” They stared at me, at least I think they did, hard to tell to be honest. Their heads tilted. “You ‘eard. Back off, we don’t need this to get violent.” And that’s when they hit me. “Not need, want.” a raspy voice, but clearly understandable. There was a warm tickle at the back of my head as it spoke. “You’ll not hurt us… savage!” I heard that and saw red. Their skin looked ceramic, I’ve broken cups before. I charged at them.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Miscellaneous

Nights Kingdom part 1

This is another story from the old blog

He missed the sunshine, that difference between day and night. There was not a sound beyond his footsteps and the occasional harmonica music which he played when the silence became too terrible.

 

If he were to guess, he’d say it had been three weeks since he woke in a world of perpetual evening. The sky was dark, with sparkly clouds. This seemed to go along with no modern technology working. There was the trees, devoid of leaves, reaching out as if in fear of something as yet unseen. The streets of this town were empty and nothing was working, so he picked up some supplies from an abandoned shop and walked towards the next town of village to see what had happened. He’d been doing that since he stumbled onto that first town a fortnight ago. There was no one there, no one at all. He could wind up his watch, but 12am, looked very much like 12pm if you saw the sky.

 

As he hit the motorway, full of abandoned and stationary cars, his thoughts were cold and melancholic. What if this was it? What if there’s no one else? What if he was alone in the world? He laughed a morose laugh, wasn’t too long ago that it would be a good thing.

 

He name was Steve, not that many called him by name. He was a commercial pilot, when he needed work at least. He ferried post to more remote areas, some charter flights for photographers over hills and mounts. It was a job that required almost the bare minimum dealing with people. He’d work six months out of the year and the rest of the time he’d hide out in his cabin, far from anyone. He’d been delivering something by air when the sky turned black. There must have been a crash, but he didn’t remember it, he woke next to his plane three weeks ago and the sun hadn’t risen since.

 

On one of his raiding trips, he picked up a wind up touch, a mirror and some shaving stuff. Next to the the motorway was a stream, so Steve stopped to shaved. It had seemed a ridiculous idea at first, but that bit of routine and ritual, reminded him that even in this twilight limbo, he was still a man. He caught his reflection in the torchlight, his hair was more unkempt than usual, a mess of light brown hair with touches of silver, he looked at least ten years older than his 35 years and his grey-blue eyes looked colder than ever. He’d not read a book, listened to music, or even met a single person for three weeks, no sign of any people at all. Steve was a terrible misanthrope, but now even he missed people.

 

Even here along the motorway heading north, the trees were cold and twisted charactures of themselves, like gnarled hands reaching for a sun that no longer shined.

 

He found a bus, turned on its side, windows broken, the doors torn, there even seemed to be blood splattered on the steats. Steve looked at the door, it looked like it was torn, like with an axe, or something clawed. He walked on, unsure of what to do.

 

Hours passed and in the distance was a large building, looked somewhat like a pub. It had been a long time since he’d had any alcohol and it’s not like he didn’t enjoy that. When he got there, he found the door had been forced, more signs of axes or claws and parts of the doors were splintered. Steve walked in, the footsteps of his boots echoed through the place. The whole place had been ransacked quite comprehensively. He looked around to see if there was any booze left. After a fruitless look around, he turned to leave, then he heard a creak. He looked behind what was left of the bar and found a trap door to the cellar. He wound up the torch some more and made his way down. The steps creaked under his feet and when he was at the bottom of the stars, he felt what turned out to be a cricket bat, smashed into the back of his head.

 

He wasn’t out long, certainly not long enough to ease the headache he had. He was sat up, with his hands bound. In the perpetual gloom, he saw the light from his torch and heard the first words from someone else in 22 days. “If I have to kill you, I will.”

“And why would you have to?”
“Are you kidding me? After everything that’s happened?” It was a young woman’s voice, northern accent, a frightened tone.

“I have no idea what has happened, you’re the first living creature I have seen in three weeks, since the sky turned black.”
“Three weeks, what are you talking about? That happened six months ago.

“Six months?” Steve couldn’t believe it, for a second and least. Then it made a degree of sense, the lack of people, the unearthly quiet, the appearance of neglect. “Six months.”

“Sorry, figured you knew.”
Steve’s heart sank, the woman placed the torch on top of something and Steve saw her. She was young, early 20s, blonde hair, bound in a ponytail, he clothes were grubby and worn and her eyes were haunted.

“I’m Steve, from Richmond originally, but live in the Welsh mountains normally. Funny, never expected to introduce myself again. Been walking her from Conwy, you’re the first I’ve seen. What happened?”

 

She took a long breath and began talking, holding back tears repeatedly.

“I was working a shift, just wondering whether to quit or not, when the sky started getting dark. I saw some of it on telly, like black holes appearing in the sky. More and more until the whole sky was black. There was panicking and then looting and all sorts. I were terrified myself and everyone left to be with their loved ones, not really having loved ones, I stayed here. I hid. A day or two later, there was a flash and then everything sort of stopped working, phones telly, lights, even ….. other stuff. Few days or so later the creatures came.”
“Creatures?”
“I call them Darklings, you ever watch Lord of the Rings?”
“Read the books.”

“Kind of like the monsters and that in there. They were riding some other things, I can’t even describe.”

“The army and other locals went after them. I can’t even…… they were all killed. I grabbed whatever I could put my hands on and came back in and hid. Then they went door to door and went after everyone they missed. Men, women, children, dogs, all of them. The sounds, I can still hear all those sounds. They even broke in here, maybe looking for me, but I hid here. I’ve run out of food, but I can’t leave, after what I know is out there, I just can’t do it.”

“No one out there now, I haven’t seen any of this. The only sign that matches what you saw was an overturned bus.” Steve looked at her, shaking, but not just from fear. “I had a bag with me when you wellied me in the head, there’s some cereal bars in there, some drink too, willing to share if you cut me free after.”

“Why not before?”
“Then what’s in it for you? This way, you know I am not lying.”

After she ate and cut him free, Maria just started sobbing, a little at first, then uncontrollably. Steve was uncomfortable, but knew the thing to do was hold her. Though he was no more a fan of people then before, this was the first person he had seen in a long time and he would not abandon her to despair. He held her and the two feel into the sleep of the exhausted. The recent revelations spun Steve’s mind as sleep claimed him. Six months lost, black holes, monsters, where were all the dead bodies. Maybe some thoughts didn’t need to be finished. He thought that waking up in a world without people was harrowing, but worse was knowing why.

 

 

 

Posted in Miscellaneous

Nights Kingdom part 2 of 2

When she awoke, Maria found Steve nearby on the floor, using his torch read a map. “You alright?” he asked.

“What are you doing?”

“Picked up an ordonnance map, just looking at where we could head next.”
“Next?”
“Can’t stay here in this cellar indefinitely, you’re out of food and I’m not sure how safe we are here.”
“We.”

“Sorry.” He smiled, pausing as he couldn’t remember when he last smiled. “I was wondering if you wanted to come with me. If I found you and I am not the only thing out there, you might not be particularly safe.”
“I don’t know. I’m terrified, I don’t know if I can even go outside.”

“There’s a big sodding bump on the back of my head that says you’re braver than you think. I’m going to be outside for a while, if you don’t want to come, I understand. But if you do, I’ll be glad of the company.”

 

An hour or so later, she patted Steve on the shoulder. He smiled, she smiled and they started to walk towards the edge of town. She turned to him. “I swear though, if you start singing ‘we’re off to see the wizard’ I’m going to go back.”

 

It was a couple of hours of awkward and yet terrified silence later, Maria started talking again, about what she was calling the ‘fall of night’. She talked about the screams as the creatures she had taken to calling Darklings, started taking people, the fires that burned nearby fields and the howling sounds that came at random times. She talked about the fear that came from that and above all, the soul crushing loneliness until Steve arrived.

 

The road carried on into the eternal twilight, the trees here also seemed to reach towards the pair as they walked. The cold bit into them, Steve wondered if it was the actual cold, or sense of uneasy dread that permeated the landscape. After more awkward silence, Steve started to open up.

 

“I’ve not really ‘got’ people. Lost my parents quite early on, been on my own quite a lot since. Had friendships and such, the occasional girlfriend, but honestly they always ended up leaving. So I eventually stopped trying. The less I tried, the less I had to try, until eventually I was on my own.”
“That sounds very lonely.” Maria commented.

“Less painful, but I suppose it is.”

“So is that why I’m here? Am I your ‘people patch’? Some time with me and then you remember why you don’t like people?”

“Nothing like that, there’s just a point to it now.”
“What?”
“I kept going because I have no better idea, not much else left to do. But now this seems like what I should do. I can’t just keep going for myself indefinitely, but if I can get you to safety, it feels like I’m being useful. To be honest, was seriously considering ending it all.”
“Oh…” there didn’t seem to be anything you could say after that. As awkward as the silence was, no one wanted to continue that conversation.

 

Hours went by till Steve broke the silence. “There’s a big shopping centre over there.” He pointed to a sign.

“Fancy a shopping trip do we?”

“Was thinking supplies, could find all sort of stuff in there, might even be a place to stay if it’s more defensible than the pub. Worth a try if nothing else.”
Reluctantly, Maria agreed then followed the signs for the shopping complex.

 

The shopping centre itself was a sprawling mass of glass and metal, surrounded by a half-full car park of abandoned cars. The main building was a supermarket with a couple of other stores attached. Some of the cars looked torn into, like the bus and the pub, but only the cars further from the doors. “Ever been here before?” Maria asked.

“Few years ago, did some building work to pay some bills, was an electrician for a while and worked here. This place was originally a hospital before St Mary’s was built nearby. The main buildings were levelled, but someone of the outer buildings were kept to use for utilities.” He stopped, thinking for a second. “I think I know why the cars near the front were left alone.” He walked to a smaller car and using his elbow broke off a wing mirror, he then threw it towards the main entrance. Then something neither expect to happen occurred… The lights at the front of the sore came on.

 

A blinding flash, far beyond the wind up torch the most light he’d seen in three weeks, or she’d seen in six months. “Hospitals have generators, I think the company who built this place, kept the generators in. That way during blackouts, people could keep shopping, no matter what.”

“It’s amazing that they’re still working.”

“It’s more than that, some of the stuff in there will still be working. We can get supplies, changes of clothes.”
“A shower?” she smiled. He looked at her. “Well I can dream.”

 

At the doors, Steve saw the shutters were down, but not locked, so he lifted one of the doors and the two of them slipped inside. It was bright, warm too, for the first time that either could easily remember, they felt some degree of normal.

 

As if struck by some need to be a child again even for one minute Maria ran down the aisles of the supermarket, then leant on a trolley, with her feet up. Steve wanted to tell her to pack it in and get to business, but realised that this girl had suffered more than him, so gave her a few more minutes of silly, this dark land of horrors seemed to have taken so much, and did he really need to add to it? Besides, he had shopping to do himself. A change of clothes, some knives, matches some more food and drink. Most display items didn’t work any better than anything outside of this place. If the generators had been working when everything else stopped, it’d be as dead as his mobile phone. He had just put a list together in his own head, when he heard the scream.

 

It didn’t take long for the trolley thing to stop making her giggle, she was in the cereal aisle and saw porridge, he dad loved porridge and just like that, the horror of everyone else being dead came rushing back. She was grateful to have met Steve, though she felt so uneasy about him, like he was a cat that had gone feral from being alone too long. He barely looked at her, she never thought she’d miss sexual harassment. She was moving along more slowly, when she saw it. It was a shadow, but not the shadow of a man, the shape was wrong. It moved towards her on all fours. It looked more solid as it grew closer, noisier too. Growling and snarling and then red eyes seemed to burn from inside it. It seemed to make the surrounding area gloomier as if it drained the light around it. She screamed. Later she would berate herself for being so ‘damsel in distress’. When it was ten feet from her, she heard the glass breaking, like a bottle being dropped. Then another and a third, this bottle hitting the creature. “Any others?”
Steve asked, walking towards them slowly. “I’m assuming you speak a bit there.”

“Only….me….no…..sharing.” A raspy voice, like something trying to sound like a person. “Well I’ll be honest, that is a relief.” Steve lit a match and dropped it into the puddles caused by the bottles. Maria knew the smell well, vodka, whiskey, she back aware further. The match fell and a ripple of flame raced towards and then engulfed the creature.

 

It screamed, a noise so horrific would stay with them for years to come. The fire consumed it completely, but it live for a few minutes within that alcohol fuelled inferno. When the fire died down, there were even ashes left from it. Steven walked over to Maria, who was pressing herself into the shelves, almost catatonic with hear. “It’s ok.” He whispered. “It’s ok.”

He held her for the second time and for the second time, she fell into a sobbing sleep in his arms.

 

They avoided each other the next day, as far as you can call it a day. That evening, they shared a meal of crackers and jam, drank some wine and for a brief moment, they weren’t last survivors, refugees or broken people trying to work out how to live in a broken world, they were just two friends, stuck somewhere, enjoy each other’s company. Maria was curious about what to do next, but what Steve said was to be frank, unexpected.

“We need people. The world as we know it, is gone, no national grid, no phones, no radio, no signs of life. But I’m alive, you’re alive, isn’t it possible that there’s more?”

“Ok, so what if there are?”

“We bring them here, this place has supplies, resources, fairly defensible.”
“Why us?”

“Because we can, because we need to. In the past, there was infrastructure, systems in place to help people, it’s unlikely any of that still exists. All we have is each other.”

“So where do we go?”

“We pick a direction, load up and go. There’s bikes next door, we could use them. It doesn’t have to be all Mad Max out there, does it?”
“Why do You want to?”
“If we hadn’t met, we might both be dead right now. Maybe there’s a reason for that, maybe there isn’t. We have though, been given a second chance.”
“A second chance to what?”

“To live. Not to survive, but to actually live. We can rebuild, we can go on. It’s dark outside, but we don’t have to be on the inside.”

“Let me sleep on it?”

 

They left the next morning, riding bikes up the motorway. She for the first time, was not afraid, and he for the first time wanted to find something rather than avoid something.

 

They wandered on.