Love is The Best


Love is the best
Of the Four Letter words.
Better than Luck,
Stronger than Hate;
More tender than Fuck,
More certain than Fate.

Cardioid Cauterisation


A wick’d being
Left ablaze
Conflagrant Youth
In unchecked craze
Did set a fire
With malicious spite
By unrequited desire
With Conscience alight.
Heart full of ire
And burning flame
Youth lit the pyre
To consume the pain;
In charring flames
Could eyes discern
The Lovers’ remains
Yet Heart still burns.



With Power you get Possession,
And that leads to Greed;
You become ruthless with Aggression,
As the Power you need to feed.
From Power you get Respect,
Mainly from Hatred and Fear;
But, what did you expect?
The evidence is all there.
And Power makes you Corrupt,
You’ll do anything to get some more;
Finally, the Revolution will erupt,
Everything ends in War.

The Tanner


In a border town, high in the mountain passes under cold white peaks, the laughter and jeers of the market crowd can be heard halfway across the valley.

Men gather to trade their wares and skills for profit - herdsmen trading animals; farmers sell pots of grain; woven baskets and cloths, spices, tools and many other items are traded, and bartered for. And, in these climes, fur is an essential commodity for all. Despite the Western countries falling demand for such plush, soft textures, business is good - there will always be those who demand such luxury. And for the right price, such luxury can still be easily obtained.

A small breed of dog is bred by some, as its fur is the softest, and thick and warm, and fetches a good price from the travelers that come to visit the town every few months. The secret, the locals say, is to skin the dog alive, so that the blood remaining in the skin is still warm and fluid such that it drains more easily allowing for a softer leather to be obtained from the flesh, during the tanning process. The crowd laughs as the animals struggle weakly against their captors strong arms holding them down, whilst another skillfully cuts and slices neatly under the skin, detaching it in one piece expertly, without so much as a drop of blood getting on the fur. The freshly skinned dog, all twitching muscle and blood, is tossed on a pile of other corpses, frozen by the cold. Food for the poor, who cannot afford a sheep or a goat.

A Western man, in a long coat of leather observes the process and admires, with a smile, the skill of the man with the blade - it was after all a performance for his benefit, put on so that this man might buy some skins. He approaches the group of three men who own the dogs, and speaks their tongue, though with a slight foreign lilt to his accent, which impresses them a great deal, immediately greeting him with smiles and laughter. He wishes to talk business with them, and invites them to join him for a drink at the lodging he has hired for the duration of his trip; the men, eager to do business, and knowing that selling their stock to this Westerner could set them all up nicely for the remainder of the year accept his invitation. And so with much laughter and back-slapping, they agree to visit him that evening for drinks and to talk.
The three arrive in high spirits, having already had more than a few drinks at one of the towns few taverns, and with the prospect of money on their minds they talk animatedly amongst themselves, while they wait for the door of the lodging to open.

The Western man greets them warmly, inviting them inside, out of the cold, and sits them around a table near a stone fire place, which has a
large three-legged pot sitting over the flaming coals; aromas of spices, and stewing vegetables and lamb meat floods their senses and minds. He offers them a drink and dishes out the meal for all of them around the table, before sitting down and talking amiably with them: discussion of the local industry, how they grew up, a few comments and some praise for the skilled knife work used; questions about technique.
After about an hour, the meal is finished, and the three men are all very comfortable, with full bellies, light spirits and high hopes. They are eager to lean how much their host will offer for the furs; the Western man, having cleared the table, goes to a cupboard to fetch another bottle of the local distilled brew, and returning to the table, sits down and pours each mans mug half-full.

Settling the bottle down he begins by making an offer, lower than what the men had hoped, and they jovially say so, stating that since these furs are impeccable and very much sought after they are worth more than what he offers. He raises the amount some only to have the men improve their argument, reiterating that the furs are very rare and of such high quality, trying to push for as much as possible without risking offending their Host and losing out. But, much to their delight, he agrees and improves on his offer, quite substantially, to which they strike a deal and shake many hands, slap backs, and make several toasts, finishing off the bottle so that another is brought to the table.

In good spirits, they relax and talk amongst themselves, whilst the Host leaves the room, having “drunk too much” he explains. One of the three, the Smallest, of slight build suddenly falls off his chair, much to the amusement of the other two, stone drunk as he appears to have passed out and lies without bothering to get up on the dusty floor. The other two laugh hard at this, until another, the Skinner rocks back, and falls too, from his chair also passed out from the drink, resulting in an eruption of laughter from the third man, who laughs at his friends inability to hold their drink.

Seeing through bleary-eyes his host re-enter the room, he points out his associates weaknesses to the Western man as the room slowly tilts over and fades into darkness, but just in time to see a metal glint in the corner of his eye.

Upon awakening, the Third man, last to pass out, head aching, body stiff and sore, finds himself standing upright; held upright rather - strapped to a central wooden post supporting the rafters of the building. Looking around he sees his friends, one still asleep, on top of a table, and the Smaller friend looking at him, eyes wide, with grimy wet cheeks. Ittakes him a moment to realize why nothing is being said to him, as dried blood covers his friends’ mouth and chin, and his shirt is soaked red. His lips are tightly pressed together, so that they appear white. His arms are tied down with leather straps to the arms of the chair in which he is seated; his legs, similarly, are bound to the chairs legs. The dirt below the seat is dark and moist, and he notices that his friend has pissed himself - the smell of urine is suddenly pervasive in the small room.

The Host enters from a door behind the seated man, and approaches the sleeping friend who is strapped down to the table, next to which is another smaller table, an assortment of blades: knives, scalpels and razors, laid out and shining brightly under the light of the lamps glare. The man on the table has tape wrapped around his mouth and the back of his head, and is slowing regaining consciousness.

He slowly looks at the man bound to the post in confusion, and tries to sit up, but cannot. In a sudden wash of panic he struggles feebly in vain against the bonds holding him down; and stops to look at his friend in fear and desperation. But his friend cannot help. The man on the table notices then, their host standing beside him, wearing a leather apron and black silicon gloves, is holding in his hand a small scalpel knife. The Host gives a reassuring smile, and then selects a different scalpel with a hooked edge from the selection neatly laid out before him; he then examines the chest of the man strapped to the table, seeking a starting point, where to begin with the first incision. He begins dabbing, tenderly with the blade making fine cuts to begin with on the side of the lower abdomen by the hips, before selecting another blade with which he make longer cuts. At first the pain makes the man tied down writhe, and he flinches his body, twisting, trying to get away from the sharp cutting point - this initially annoys the Host; however, he diligently continues, making game of it - until the pain overloads the mans’ senses, and he passes out.

The other two watch in terror as their host now makes rapid work of the skinning. Lifting the flesh from the man’s muscles and fat, until his whole chest from the abdomen to the shoulders is removed. The exposed muscles of the chest visibly twitch and jump with each breath the unconscious man makes.

The Small man vomits the contents of his stomach onto the floor and continues to retch uncontrollably, coughing up bile until he is exhausted. The smell saturates the small room while the Host unties the body of the man on the table and deftly using the tarpaulin sheet beneath the body, turns it over.

Strapped to the wooden post, the Large man tries again with renewed strength to break his bonds but only manages to cut himself in his struggles as the Host watches with a smile before rinsing his tools, and continuing to skin the back of the man on the table. With muffled pleas the Larger man tries to beg the Host to stop, the Smaller man now weeps tearlessly and soon falls unconscious with the exhaustion that has overcome his body and senses.

Once the whole of the mans back is finished, the Host peels off his gloves, and drops all the bloodied instruments into a bucket. He undoes his apron and hangs it on a hook by the kitchen door as he disappears to wash his hands of the sweat that filled the gloves, and clean the skin of the mans torso.

The man on the table begins to regain consciousness, feeling the pain all over his chest and back immediately and screams in muted agony inside his sealed mouth as he tries to raise himself from the table. Getting to his elbows he collapses and losing his balance falls onto the dust covered floor, letting out a muffled howl, shedding tears in pain. The commotion is heard by the Host, and he comes walking swiftly in to the room stopping hesitantly as he sees the man lying on the floor, before walking back into the kitchen and returning with a cleaver. He stands over the man on the floor, waiting to deal a swift and clean blow as the man writhes on the ground. For a moment the back of his neck is exposed to a clear strike and with one blow he is dead. The head lies on the corpses shoulder at an unnatural inclination, held on to the body only by a few muscles and the skin of the throat. Blood spills out and pools into a thick and sticky puddle around the body as the dust soaks it up.
The Host tosses the cleaver into the bucket and returns to the kitchen, fetching an old jerry can. He places the can by the body and undoes the lid, hoists the can up and begins to pour diesel over the body. The Host moves across the room to the Small man in the chair and douses him with fuel, before continuing around the room, and then into the other corners of the building, sloshing the liquid over everything, until the fumes saturate the air and make it uncomfortable to breathe.

The Small man no longer reacts, as if he is no longer aware of what is happening around him, and sits still in the chair, his head lolling back and forth, saliva dripping from his lips, mixed with the blood and diesel running down his chest.
Putting the empty can down on the table, the Host walks away into another room. Bound firmly to the post, the Large man struggles once more to free himself; he can feel some of the ties are weakening and resolutely pushes against them, again and again, hoping to free an arm or leg. His host returns to the room, dressed in a long coat and hat, and carrying a leather satchel. He walks to the door and puts down the case, takes a last look at the man tied to the post; the large man continues to struggle, not looking up at the Host - his bonds are loosening and he tries
to free his right leg, jerking his leg as hard as he can; the Host turns away indifferently, and picks up his case, opens the door and looks out at the night sky. The night is quiet, the air is brisk, and the sky is clear; the Host braces himself against the chill, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a strip of matches and a lighter; he lights the strip and tosses it on the man in the chair, closes the door and walks away into the darkness.
Flames spread over his body; suddenly the Small man comes conscious, horrifically aware; he contorts and struggles, falling over in the chair, renewed screams of fear and pain gurgle in his throat, unable to make themselves heard. As he falls over the fire spreads more rapidly across the floor and around the room, in a minute he is dead and his body blisters with the heat of the flames.

The Large man is still struggling. He watches the flames spread and take hold of the wooden furniture and structure of the building, feeding on the surfaces, licking upwards along the walls. Smoke fills the room and chokes him, weakens him; he can no longer fight it, as the smoke fills his lungs and stings his eyes.

The Villagers awaken to the sounds of the blaze and commotion of the roof collapsing. A crowd gathers around the conflagration, unable to do anything but watch and wonder, hoping no one they knew was inside. By morning the ashen ruin will be smoldering in the grey light of the dawn in a puddle of soot and molten snow; and the remains of three unknown charred bodies will be sifted from the debris. By the end of the day, their identities will have been deduced by the local townsfolk, and an assumed tragic accident will have claimed their lives. No one will notice the absence of one of the many traveling strangers that visit the town on their journeys.

The Lighthouse Keeper


The dulled rhythmic roar of the ocean is intermittently accompanied by the shrill screeching shrieks of the wind, as the air is whipped around the lighthouse tower in the darkening evening dusk.

As darkness falls and the storm approaches, the old man ascends the spiraling concrete steps lining the innards of the tower, his boot-steps’ echoes resonant to the muffled sounds raging from outside.

The old man’s breathing becomes heavier as he climbs – his best years have passed, and he is now weak and weary. He pauses on the next step to catch himself, breathing in deeply, and stares up at the steps rising out of sight around the curve. The old man steadies himself, and trudges onwards and upwards to the lantern room.

As the man climbs, he passes small eyelet windows, each in turn allowing glimpses of green waves, grey cliffs, and blackening skies. Every passing view is unique, ever-changing one moment to the next. Over the years, he has learnt that none of these scenes can tell him the future of what the night will bring.

The rusted iron gate of the lantern room groans and clangs as the old man opens and shuts it behind him. The lights from the stairwell do not illuminate the lantern room, and without the reflections on the glass he can see the seascape sprawling out below, distorting tumultuously in the murk.

He stares out at the waves.

A sudden high-pitched wail awakens the old man from his torpor, the draught calling him back to his senses. He switches on his torch, and opens the fuse box, unconsciously checking the fuses as he glances across the board, and begins to activate the lighthouse’s beacon. Motors hum and whir as they warm up; cogs and gears, thunking and clunking, coming to life and beginning to move; the lamp buzzes angrily when turned on, the sound diminishing as the glow increases, and the bulbs steadily brighten.

The growing beams disappear as they reach out into the embracing darkness, flashing like lightening when they hit the glistening cliffs, briefly illuminating the rocks and froth below with each passing. Each flash of light reveals a new and ghastly landscape.

Lights from freight ships, passing on the horizon, glimmer and flick in the rain drenched darkness. He watches those lights for a time, imagining his silhouette casting a great shadow out across the water, looming over the boats with each arching flare of the lighthouse.

After a while, the old man descends and returns to his dwelling at the foot of the tower. The flames of his fire, diminished, rekindle and hiss as he adds more wood, creating obscure shadows that jig and dance on the walls. He keeps his coat on, despite the heat from the fire, and pours himself a drink before settling into a worn chair beside a window over-looking the dark waves. In the window pane, he regards his reflection observing him from the gloom outside, the blinking lights of ships passing through him.

Warmth radiating from the fire, coupled with the burning drink in his chest, soothes the old man’s joints and muscles; he drifts off into a gentle and deep sleep.

The old man dreams.

…sand ripples beneath falling waves forms in the surrounding mist ebb and flow into water turning red bleeding down a hole falling wind rising up pulling on clothes torn off in the darkness a shard of light cuts through and focus grows into impending impact

The Lighthouse Keeper is jolted from sleep, perturbed by the trauma of the vision as it fades from his consciousness.

The red light of glowing embers, dying in the darkened room with the strangled sounds of the storm, bring the old man back, replacing his thoughts with a diabolical perception. He lifts himself from the chair and places another log on the fire, stooping with tortured stiffness to blow on the embers, conjuring hungry flames into being, that lick over the sides of the wood and consume it’s jagged splinters. He returns to the window overlooking the sea, and peers into the void. Light surges across the waves in a rhythmic flow.

A scream.

Clear. Distinct. It cuts through the furore of the storm, piercing the old man’s thoughts.

Again. Sounding further, still definite.

And again.

The old man stands up, rigid, twitching eyes scanning the waves. His body trembling, a wave of convulsion passes over him as another cry calls out; at that moment he sees for one brief moment, rising up on a wave’s crest, the arms and head of a figure flailing, lit up like a spectre by the sweeping beams of the lighthouse, before they are gone.

Another shriek of terror.

The Lighthouse Keeper bolts for the door, and falteringly runs out in to the dark. To the boathouse he marches, wrenching open the wooden door, flinging it open against the wind; it slams shut as he enters, catching his leg, the rough edges of the frame tearing at rain-soaked trousers and skin. He stumbles and falls on dusty concrete, kicking the door open and pulling his wounded leg through.

Rain pummels the tin roof of the boathouse, the deafening din blocking out all other sounds of the storm, except for the screams. In the back of his mind, the old man considers that this is all in his head, a demented fantasy… Yet, he still crawls to the dock’s edge, dragging his leg and lowering himself into the rowboat. He unhitches the mooring and casts off.

The tempered waters of the sheltered haven soon give way to churning waves, as the Lighthouse Keeper tightens his grip on the oars and heaves the wooden shafts with all of his strength.

The fearful cries come and go with the rise and fall of the swell around the boat. The old man twists and turns, constantly adjusting his course in his attempts to find the voice. As the screams draw nearer, the shrieks become more definite and he realises it is the voice of a woman. His heart tightens as he forces his arms into action, calling on what strength remains in his tired muscles.

At last he catches sight of her, a glimpse of her pale face and failing arms, before she vanishes into a tough. The Lighthouse Keeper wrestles his coat, wet oilskins clinging to his soaked clothes, and as the boat rises on the waves’ crest he frees himself of his trappings, flinging himself overboard into the water.

The sea lifts the Lighthouse Keeper up, and he sees the woman before him and swims hard and fast towards her; she has seen him and is reaching out, arms feebly reaching out in front of her as if she is climbing to get out of the water. He pushes, and stretches with effort to catch her, and feels her cold hand grasp his forearm, pulling him in towards her, the strength and tight grip seem to tear into his flesh.

Her skin is bone white. Her eyes are black vortices. Her dark languid hair glistens. Her smile is minacious and her teeth are sharp.

The feeling of being drained of all strength and hope, and being filled with cold, heavy fear, overcomes the Lighthouse Keeper as he recognises her face. He had killed her many years ago. She had refused him, and he in a fit of rage had pushed her from the cliff tops. The pattering rain sounds like a thousand demons cackling, and the surge of the waves like a roaring laughter.

She sinks below the waters, her hands slowly stroking down his arms and chest. Beneath the surface her boney grip tightens around his injured leg, and softly tugs him downwards. Overcome by dread and exhaustion, the Lighthouse Keeper’s struggling is futile, as she wrenches his limb, twisting and pulling him into the depths.

The waters above him, glistens with refractions of the moon’s light that fade into oblivion. He can’t hold his breath any longer, his chest bursting, he exhales and breathes in the icy salt water, the pain unbearable, his body convulses, choking on vomit and sea. His tears dissolve with the oceans.


A misdeed had been done,
A deal had been made,
And a debt had now
Been repaid.

[Copyright: Adam G Linder]