For David, the game was 100 per cent real: He made laser noises, leapt over the sofa and rolled across the carpet when there was an imaginary explosion. One time, Karen hurt her knee on an upturned chair leg, and there was blood. David insisted on going to the kitchen for a plaster. “What about the aliens?” she asked. She was safe as long as she stayed behind the barricade. “We’ll come back and beat them tomorrow”, he said. This was Plan B in essence. Plan A was something David had gleaned from their parents – turn up and do your best. ‘There’s still plenty of time to win the war’, he said with a kind smile.
Karen Tickell was a thirty five year old photographic model and by her own admission, an international hedonist. Her work had enabled her to socialize in some of the world’s most beautiful places but each location merged with the next. Karen couldn’t recall the cultural sights or the landscapes, though memories of the dancefloors and bedrooms she had visited were preserved like a collection of Amber frozen Polaroids. She had been too hungover to see Bermuda’s Crystal Caves, the Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, or the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin; opportunities to go jet skiing in Mustique or a dune buggy safari in Dubai had been lost. Travel came second to getting out of her head, sometimes with drugs, occasionally with sex, mostly with alcohol. It was the glorious rush of the moment – of utterly losing oneself – that she prized above all else.
Denial had been her default. She always believed that she could moderate her drinking. She had experienced brief periods of abstinence, always invalidated by the binge that followed. It was taking longer to recover; after the last blowout, she had spent three days in bed. It scared her how dreadful she had felt. This was the corollary of a decade of partying, and a problem will power couldn’t fix. Going it alone wasn’t an option anymore.
Karen counted 25 people at the meeting, men and women of different ages. It was her fourth AA meeting. In an attempt to dissolve her unease, she scanned the faces in the room, hoping to secure a kindly glance. Karen made eye contact with a thoughtfully stylish woman she guessed to be in her early sixties. Karen knew vintage fashion, and could not help but admire the woman’s orange Biba dress: she experienced a sense of relief when the woman smiled back.
A man named Joe introduced himself as a recovering alcoholic, and offered to be leader. Meetings always began with a ‘feelings check.’ Karen imagined herself speaking: ‘I feel alone a lot of the time.’ There was fear in her throat, and she stayed silent.
Joe read a passage from the AA Big Book on Step 1: ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.’ There was a pause after each paragraph, giving people an opportunity to share tales of recovery. For some, it had taken borderline catastrophe – the loss of marriage, career, house, savings – to realise they had a problem: These recovering drinkers had drawn on their deepest reserves of courage to embrace change. A young man called Mark confessed he was finding recovery too difficult. “I just want to chuck all this”, he said. “I want to go out and get drunk and do drugs. I don’t want to face my feelings. I’m too sensitive, that’s the problem.”
He jokingly called himself a ‘reality avoidance specialist.’ It was gallows humour and Karen understood exactly where he was coming from. She’d been sober for one month but the craving was still present, a need to make the past fade for a little while. Oblivion was the hardest addiction to surrender.
After the meeting, several people stayed behind to chat. Karen stood aimlessly at the edge of the room, unsure whether to join the conversation or leave. “How are you finding the meetings?” asked the Biba woman.
“Interesting”, said Karen, hesitantly.
The woman introduced herself as Siobhan. She asked if Karen had a sponsor but the semi-retired model wasn’t sure what a sponsor even did. Siobhan began to explain the process of recovery. Karen’s mind wandered; she recalled the night David turned up at her apartment during the most important party of her life. Each time she reviewed the event, another excruciating layer of detail was uncovered.
Siobhan handed Karen a business card, which she accepted. “Call me, if you want to talk.” Siobhan’s voice dropped a notch. “You know, when we were here last week, I had a feeling I’d seen you before.”
“Yes. I was looking at you earlier, and I remembered. You used to be on television. Shampoo. You’re the ‘waterfall girl’, aren’t you?”
Karen sighed. The grip of her old life would not let go easily.
“Yes”, she sighed, “that was me.”
David enjoyed things that Karen did not understand; conspiracy theories, science-fiction films, and hill walking. Karen liked cocktail bars, clothes and house music. She sometimes wondered if her brother had been adopted. Or maybe she was the one who’d been brought home from the orphan shop. Their parents gave nothing away. One summer’s day 4 years before, David had persuaded her to come walking with him, up Kinder Scout; the ascent wasn’t too bad but the descent hurt her ankles, and she complained all the way down, swearing ‘never again.’ There was no escaping the fact they were different people.
David was a PHD student at the University of Huddersfield, and working on his dissertation, something to do with atomic metaphors in 1950’s science fiction films. The project had been in gestation for longer than Karen could remember, and still with no end in sight.
He hadn’t replied to any of her recent texts. Whenever Karen got his answering machine, it said ‘Memory Full.’ Following three months of silence, she took it upon herself to pay him an impromptu visit. It was late March when she drove over to his flat in one of the student areas of the town. “What are you doing here?” he said.
“I was worried.”
She barged past him because she knew he wouldn’t invite her inside. Instantly, she understood why her brother was reluctant to receive visitors – he lived in a dump. The main light bulb in the lounge was missing, the chief source of illumination coming from a dusty lamp in the corner. Within the gloom, the mess of David’s life was apparent: newspapers, magazines and scribbled A4 sheets were stacked about the floor, fanned into minor chaos. Karen peered into the kitchen area. Dirty plates lay piled up in the sink. On the work surface was a bowl of mouldy fruit; tiny flies buzzed around black bananas.
David flopped heavily onto the sofa. His conversation skills were still non-existent. The boxy television pulsated dully in the corner, and David gazed at it through the dead fingers of his greasy fringe.
“There’s a funny smell”, said Karen. David shifted in his seat. “Are you smoking weed?” David continued to stare at the television. Karen repeated the question.
“Sometimes”, he said.
“It helps me think.”
“Rubbish”, she said, condescendingly. “Cannabis kills brain cells.”
When becoming exasperated, Karen had a tendency to speak like their mother. She walked over to the television and turned it off.
“Not for me!” said David, in a singsong voice.
After several minutes of non-communication, he offered to make tea. It took him ten minutes to complete the task, and Karen wondered if he had ME, or had just grown lazier. She asked him where he kept his spare light bulbs but he told her he didn’t have any. “I took the bulb out. It was too bright.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It hurt my eyes, stop going on.”
Karen’s tea tasted of washing up liquid. She put the mug back on the table with a gesture of irritation. “What is your problem?”
David scooped a handful of greasy hair from his eyes. “Problem?” he said, mock laughing, “you’re the one with the problem!”
“Do you want me to leave, David? You look bored.”
He mumbled something about wanting her to stay.
“At least I try to look interested”, she said. “You never ask about my life.”
“I do!” he said.
“When? When do you ask?”
“I recorded that advert”, said David, shyly. “That shampoo thing. I asked you where you made it.”
“And what did I say?” He said he couldn’t remember. “It was filmed in Bali. That’s where I went.”
“Bali, yes, that was the one.” Had he really recorded it, she asked. “Of course I did. Both versions.”
The sight of her in a bikini must have made him uncomfortable. She glimpsed the boy in him, and instantly recalled happier times.
After 40 minutes, they had run out of conversation. The only sound in the room came from the ‘Omega Man’ clock on the wall, which Karen had bought him three Christmases ago: When the clock struck the hour, Charlton Heston’s rifle lit up. David said it was the best present he’d ever received.
“Well, while I’m here, I might as well make myself useful.” If Karen couldn’t change her brother, then she could at least tidy his flat.
“I’d rather you didn’t”, he said.
“I’m doing it anyway”, she said with stern kindness. Karen moved to the kitchen, and filled the sink with hot water, starting to clean the dirty plates. She then picked up the dried tea bags from around the work surface, put them in the pedal bin, and removed the bin liner, pulling and tying the drawstrings.
David rallied himself, and opened a drawer that had come unmoored from its runners; he took out a roll of white bags, and handed one to his sister. The bag was too short, and didn’t quite reach the bottom of the bin.
“David … you really are …” Her words trailed off. For some reason, she started laughing, and for some reason he laughed with her.
Her brother had no cleaning products to speak of, so Karen improvised with washing up liquid, wiping down the kitchen units. After part cleaning the kitchen, they moved to the lounge. David took out what looked like a 1970’s vacuum cleaner from a store cupboard; it was beige and plastic, with an inflatable tweed bag on the side. Karen took charge whilst her brother sat on the sofa with his hands over his ears.
An hour later, and the work was complete. The toilet would have to wait until next time.
Karen asked David if he was hungry. The only food her brother had in the house was a box of fish fingers, a sliced white loaf, and several tins of cheap spaghetti. “I was going to go shopping tomorrow”, he said defensively.
Karen drove them to a local Chinese take-away: She ordered a Bean Curd dish with noodles whilst David had a Prawn stir-fry with boiled rice. They ate the food back at the flat, and David wolfed his down in a manner reminiscent of a world record attempt. Karen humoured him by agreeing to watch a DVD of ‘This Island Earth’, a science-fiction film of which he was particularly fond; the story of two earth scientists kidnapped by an egg-headed, near-human race on a planet called Metaluna. Karen recalled the ‘Aliens versus Astronauts’ game they had played as children. In the living room, they would build a barricade from upturned dining chairs, and fire imaginary laser guns at the invading Zagons.
The credits rolled.
Karen cleared her throat, and voiced her concern. “Please stop.”
“Did you not enjoy it?”
“No, stop using cannabis.” David went quiet. The clock seemed to tick louder. “It’s dangerous. You’ll damage yourself.”
“How do you know?”
“Because … look, just promise me. Please?”
It was out of character but he seemed to sense her concern. “Okay.”
“Okay I promise.”
Karen put her arms around him. “Let’s not leave it so long, next time, hmmm?”
It would be 6 months before their next encounter.
Before she became the ‘waterfall girl’, Karen Tickell cultivated fleeting notoriety following a cover shoot for discontinued business magazine, Boss Man. With her blouse undone and cleavage on show, she was photographed dragging a terrified male co-worker across her desk by his tie (‘Sex in the office: we road test the best swivel chairs!’) Billboard hoardings had caused several traffic accidents. Who was ‘the Vamp with the Bob?’ asked one newspaper. An ex-boyfriend shamelessly kissed and told, revealing some of the more intimate things they had done together in bed. Is this how fame tasted? It made her feel sick. Mercifully, the media storm died as quickly as it had bloomed, and another victim took her place. Karen grew her hair long, and soon after became the more wholesome face of Jojoba Gold shampoo.
Her last waterfall frolic had been two years ago. Karen had chosen to take an extended break from modelling, informing agency Lang-Deeley-Long she was dealing with ‘personal issues.’ Managing Director Philip Lang told her to take all the time she needed but showed little interest in discovering what her issues might be: She was beginning to realise his charming exterior was sculpted out of ice. Karen had bad dreams about him, a recurring nightmare in which the skin on Lang’s face had come undone; peeling it back, she had discovered his real identity as a humanoid lizard. It reminded her of V, an 80’s sci-fi series with which her brother had been obsessed. On one occasion, she had dreamed Lang was swallowing a large rat. She was relieved their affair had been short-lived.
Karen was due to share her Step 1 answers with her sponsor. Siobhan had given her a sheet of 20 questions, and encouraged her to be honest and detailed in her responses. ‘Have you seriously damaged your relationships with other people because of your addictive behaviours?’ asked the first. Karen worked through the questions in a weekend burst of activity. Some of her answers had triggered familiar feelings: some days, she struggled with self-loathing, its tenacious roots deeply embedded, like an attack of Japanese Knot Weed. ‘Be kind to yourself’ said Siobhan but Karen had no idea how to do this.
It was 1.15pm according to the clock at St Anns’ Church, and Karen was running late. She walked faster. The heel of her left shoe jammed in the crease of a cracked paving stone, and she stumbled.
“Ha ha! Enjoy your trip?!”
Two men were sitting on a bench by the Cotton Bud Fountain. The first was holding a baby, the second a ‘point-and-shoot’ camera. Karen was surprised; it was odd to see someone taking a photograph without a mobile phone. The men were dressed in suits though looked dishevelled, like they’d been drinking all day, and possibly the night before; shirt flaps hung outside their trousers, and their ties had been pulled into button-size knots. Both swigged from cans of Carlsberg. The one with the cheap camera aimed for a photograph. “C’mon Jason – give him a drink.” The one holding the baby – the one who had laughed – lifted the can to the baby’s mouth. The camera clicked. The baby spluttered, and greenish froth dribbled down the front of his cotton jacket. The two men found it hilarious.
Karen was so appalled that she walked over to intervene. “Don’t do that”, she admonished, “it’s cruel.”
Reaction time dulled by alcohol, it took a few seconds for them to register what she had said. “Woooohhh!” said Camera-Man, “Posh frigging Spice, or what?!”
“Nosy bint,” snapped Baby-Man.
She glanced at the hands of the man holding the baby: on one set of knuckles was the tattooed word HATE, on the other hand the word LOVE. The scab on his cheek looked like burnt jam. The bags under his eyes were dry and flaky, like miniature filo parcels.
“Are you stupid?” she continued. “He’s a baby.”
“Who’s business is it? Ain’t yours, girl”, said Baby-Man.
She had spoken without thinking, prompted by outrage. It hadn’t occurred to her that they might not be happy being challenged.
“You’ve not even got a good camera”, she said, in a mocking tone.
Baby-Man carefully put the child onto the bench, stood up and took a pace forward. The smell of nicotine hit her like an invisible slap.
“Do I know you?”
“No … I … I don’t …”
“They’re taking him off me”, said Baby-Man, “my own flesh and blood. You know how that feels?!”
Karen had no idea what he was talking about. The baby began to cry. Camera-Man picked up the child, and slowly rocked him. “Silly tart.”
Violence flashed in Baby-Man’s eyes. “I could slash you, y’know.”
Two hours ago, Karen had begun her day with a cycle of yoga postures, and followed it with a visualisation where she imagined vibrant colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, lavender) glowing over each of her chakras. Now she felt herself going out of focus; her chakras were dimming like busted headlamps on a junk yard four by four
“I’ve got a Stanley knife”, continued Baby-Man. “One little slice down your pretty face …” She felt a brief flicker of shock. “I’ve done it before”, he sneered.
Was he serious or joking? Karen felt scared. The aliens had landed, and she was under attack. She glanced left and right, desperately hoping someone would intervene but nobody appeared to notice her predicament. She wanted to scream out – ‘WHY AREN’T YOU PEOPLE HELPING ME?!’
Baby-Man moved closer, inches from her face. “… scarred for life … no bloke would look at you again.”
“This isn’t right”, she said.
“So?” he hissed. “Nothing’s right in this fuckin’ world, luv.”
‘If you don’t feel confident’, her dad had a habit of telling her, ‘then just fake it.’ It was advice that had served her well in her career; after all, she was an actress of sorts. Karen felt a break in the current of fear as her survival instinct took over.
“I don’t … don’t deserve this.” The words were for her benefit rather than Baby-Man’s. Stepping backwards, she kicked off her Tom Ford Court Shoes and picked them up with a swooping arm movement.
Karen started to run as Baby-Man shouted after her: “Where the fuck are you going!?”
Her feet padded against the pavement. At last, she had people’s attention. Who was this ‘Barefoot Vamp’? Gripping the shoes tightly in her hand, she kept going. She was good at running; she’d been doing it for years.
Lang-Deeley-Lang, Manchester’s biggest modelling agency, had just signed Karen as a client, and the occasion demanded celebration. Philip Lang broke the news from Hong Kong: Her heart skipped a beat when Lang told her he would be coming to the party.
Karen was edgy, and took a Milectopam to calm her nerves. By 8:00pm, the guests had started to arrive but her anxiety was still present. Modelling pal Rosalind De Boyes – the body behind Wig Wam Bam Lingerie – proposed the ideal solution.
“White mischief”, she whispered. “This will sort you out.”
They retired to the bathroom. Rosalind was impressed with Karen’s Astonian Rimini roll top bath.
“Wow”, she said, admiring the cast iron feet, “you must be doing well.”
Karen eagerly watched her friend pour a thumb-sized amount of cocaine onto the Dolphin Blue tiles over the sink, take out a Harvey Nichols store card, and then separate the powder into two distinct lines with a well-practised chopping motion. Rosalind loved white mischief, and Karen was starting to love it in the same way. They did one line each.
“Better percentage?” asked Rosalind.
“One hundred per and fifty”, laughed Karen.
By 9.00pm, the party was in full swing, and Karen Tickell stood in her living room luxuriating in collective adoration. The guests were a mix of South Manchester journalists, designers, and models, the latter group all from the books of Lang-Deeley-Long. For the past two years, Danni Laughton had been the face of Haynes’ Jellied Ham Rolls; Candice Noble’s tongue and lips were on global web-verts for Raspberry Radar lollies. Both felt a collective jealousy towards the new girl; it was clear Lang already liked Karen in a less-than-professional manner.
When he finally arrived, the girls privately genuflected. Lang looked like a well-fed Cary Grant. His appearance gifted him an instant level of respect; at the end of the day, he still looked like Cary Grant.
Brimming with self-belief, the Jojoba Gold girl gave the L-D-L Executive a more than friendly peck on the cheek. “We’re expecting big things Karen”, he said. “Nobody can wear a Conch shaped bikini quite like you.”
Karen took the compliment in her stride. “I was born for Conch”, she said, not really knowing what she meant. Lang pretended to find it funny.
Danni appeared behind them. Recently she’d had Botox injected around her eyes, and was waiting for Lang to tell her how many years she had lost. “Sorry, Philip, I’m afraid I’ve got to borrow Miss Tickell for a moment.”
“I think he’s hot for me!” trilled Karen as her fellow model manoeuvred her out of earshot. Karen glanced backwards: Lang looked like a frustrated lepidopterist who had left home without his killing jar. “There’s some oddball here to see you”, whispered Danni, sucking the wind out from under Karen’s wings. “Says he’s your brother.”
What had the invite said? ‘Ugly people not welcome – Dress to Impress.’ Naturally, she hadn’t invited David, this wasn’t his scene, she had told herself, he would be bored; a party with models and media types would be the last place he’d want to be.
“Hello, Karen.” David stood in the corridor outside her apartment, carrying a heavy back- pack. He was wearing waterproofs, gloves, and a balaclava, and his Berghaus jacket was buttoned-up to the neck; his greasy fringe cascaded out from under his Karrimor hat. David moved to enter; Karen stepped out into the corridor, and pushed him back.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“To see you.”
“Why?” she asked, bluntly.
David looked confused. “I’m your brother.”
He peered past the door; a man with silver hair and a curling lip was staring back.
“Who’s that?” asked David.
“I thought you’d be pleased to see me.”
“You can’t turn up unannounced! I’ve got important guests David, and I have to-”
“It’s okay”, he said softly, “just leave me in a corner.” The thought of him shaking hands with Philip Lang filled her with terror. Again, David stepped forward, and again Karen pushed him back. David stared at the floor, picking at the hem of his jacket. “I finished my PHD”, he said, proudly.
“Congratulations.” Karen made no effort to disguise her disinterest.
“You said I’d never finish it …”
“I was wrong. I sometimes … get it wrong, okay?” She wanted more white mischief; the buzz was fading, and she was hungry. “Look – you can’t be here, David.”
“Where do I go then?”
Frantically, her mind scrolled through possible solutions. She told David to wait, dashed back into her apartment, and into the bedroom.
Rosalind was on the bed, sucking faces with web designer Duane. The music in the lounge had gotten louder, she could hear ‘You’re Not Alone’ by Olive, Karen loved that song; she should have been dancing, not having to deal with her freak-of-a-brother, my God, he was just too weird.
She rummaged through a drawer, found what she was looking for, and went back into the hallway. David was sitting on the corridor floor, in the process of falling asleep. Karen shook him awake, and stuck 10 x twenty pound notes into his hand. “There’s a hotel round the corner, Didsbury Park. Out of here, turn left, then right. You can get a room.”
“I stopped smoking Cannabis”, he told her randomly.
Karen flinched. She didn’t want to address her hypocrisy, not now.
“You made me promise … I thought you’d be pleased.”
“I am!” she said, in irritation. David examined the money in his hand. “That should be more than enough”, she told him.
“Tomorrow, I thought I might jump on a train, go to the Lake District. Do you want to come? We could go up Helvellyn – the easy route.”
“Jesus Christ!” she snapped. “This is my future! Can’t you see? These people are important! And you … you’re an embarrassment. Sometimes … you embarrass me, David.”
The distance between them expanded further. “I don’t even like hill walking!” she spluttered. David asked where the hotel was, and she repeated the directions. Karen needed ‘White Mischief’ and she needed it now. She went back inside her apartment without saying goodbye.
David stared at the closed door, listening to the music and laughter on the other side. Eventually, he began to walk down the stairs to the front of the building; his muddy boots beat a lonely echo on the polished lino steps that lead out into the street.
Karen sat on the steps outside the Friends Meeting House. One of her feet was bleeding. Siobhan hadn’t asked why she was barefoot.
“I need a drink”, said Karen.
“Of course you do”, said Siobhan.
Siobhan kept smiling. Karen wondered if this concern was an act; she was half expecting Siobhan to peel off her skin and show her true colours as an alien lizard. Why was she being so kind? What was she getting out of this thing?
“Why did you offer to help me?” asked Karen.
“Why do you ask so many questions?” replied the older woman. Siobhan swept her hair away from her face. Karen saw compassion shining from the older woman’s eyes, and it made her uncomfortable. “Okay”, explained Siobhan, “helping you, helps me. You see?”
“No … I don’t get it.”
Siobhan sighed, briefly recalling her own journey to this point. “We’re quite similar, you and me.”
“I used to do what you do. I was a model once. A long time ago.”
Karen gasped. “Wow. What did you do?”
“That’s not important”, said Siobhan. “Not today, anyway. Maybe I’ll tell you another time.” Siobhan said they had a deeper connection. “Your recovery counts more. Once, I was where you are. Rock bottom. I smoked too much, drank too much, and shut myself away. Every day was the same. I had no real friends … none with who I could be open and honest … I couldn’t see any future for myself.”
Karen felt a cold shiver of recognition. Yes, she had friends, but did they know who Karen Tickell was, deep down? Had she ever had an emotionally truthful conversation with Rosalind, Candice or Danni? She was doubtful her modelling friends would want the party to stop. Maybe those friendships would have to go. Karen could feel a pushing-and-pulling inside of her, and couldn’t decide if to stay present or run.
“This all sounds scary. Recovery is too hard.”
“It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do”, continued Siobhan. “But I’ll help you. Someone helped me when I needed it. One day, when you’re in a better place, then you’ll do the same for someone else. That’s how it works.”
‘In the future, me and your father won’t be here’, Karen’s mother had once said to her, ‘and it will be up to you to look after David.’ Those words were never far from Karen’s mind, and pierced her heart like a gleaming scalpel.
It had been two years since David’s death. ‘LONE HIKER FALLS TO DEATH ON HELVELLYN’ said the headline in the Westmorland Gazette. It was a tragedy – senseless and unnecessary.
“I’m a bitch”, said Karen, pushing against the rising pain. “I’ve done some bad things.”
“Who hasn’t?” said Siobhan.
“I hate myself … I’m a disgusting hypocrite.”
“I know that’s not true.”
“How do you know?”
“You’ll just have to trust my judgment, won’t you?” said Siobhan.
Self-compassion was an abstract concept, and the former shampoo model still had no idea where to start. Her old life was over and the replacement she craved was still boxed up in the back of a warehouse, waiting for a delivery that was currently missing a date; Karen had to learn to live within the place of ‘not-yet’, as Siobhan described it. Recovery was going to be slow; Karen had heard enough AA war stories to know that was just how it was. This was a marathon not a sprint, and there were 11 more steps to go.
Karen picked at the broken skin on her right foot. “David … I … miss …” Her breathing quickened, and the words caught in her throat. “I … I don’t know how … to do it … without him”
“Why not pretend he’s still here?” said Siobhan. “That’s what everybody else does.”
Karen thought about the game. She missed playing. She missed his strange commitment to something that was completely imaginary. Maybe when she got home, she would build a barricade in her living room.
“Am I allowed to do that?” Siobhan nodded. She had a point; it was time to start playing by her own rules. In her imagination, she pictured David hiding behind the chairs, ready to continue the fight against the Zagons.
“I miss you too”, said her brother.
Karen started crying. Siobhan held her hand.
The game wasn’t over yet
Steve Timms studied theatre at the University of Huddersfield. He has written for publications including City Life, The Big Issue, and The Skinny. He is the author of several plays including American Beer (BBC Radio 4), Filthy Lies, Clean Breasts(Edinburgh Fringe), Detox Mansion (24-7 Festival), Temp/Casual (Contact Theatre), and The Distance Between Stars (King’s Arms, Salford). He is a recipient of the Peggy Ramsay award. In 2015, he won a New Fiction Bursary at the Northern Writer’s Awards. He can sometimes be seen performing spoken word pieces at various open-mic nights around Manchester.
If you enjoyed ‘Waterfall Girl’ leave a comment and let Steve know.
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
Visit the STORGY SHOP here…
of EXIT EARTH here…
Unlike many other Arts & Entertainment Magazines, STORGY is not Arts Council funded or subsidised by external grants or contributions. The content we provide takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, and relies on the talented authors we publish and the dedication of a devoted team of staff writers. If you enjoy reading our Magazine, help to secure our future and enable us to continue publishing the words of our writers. Please make a donation or subscribe to STORGY Magazine with a monthly fee of your choice. Your support, as always, continues to inspire.