Each new door opening was a fuck-off heroin hit of excitement. It never got old, but the first was the best. He’ll never beat the first time. Each lift of the key to the keyhole was a fresh needle to skin. The metal on metal slide into the door. A soft, dull click and an exhale of breath as the opening widens. It’s such a magical fucking thing to have a KEY THAT OPENS ANY DOOR TO AN APARTMENT YOU OWN. WELL APPOINTED AND FURNISHED IN THE STYLE OF THE LOCAL AREA BUT YOURS AT THE SAME TIME. AN APARTMENT YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN IN BEFORE, BUT IS YOURS. LIKE A HARRY POTTER ROOM OF REQUIREMENT THING BUT NOT FICTION. Any door he saw instantly was his to open, and inside an space filled with comfort and each necessity taken care of. What a magical macguffin this guy had in his hand.
You could be walking in Camden and see some kind of electrical unit cupboardy thing under a railway arch. The stoop merely pissed-in for the last few weeks… but with this bloody key, slip it in and BOOM. A wonderful Camdenesque hovel hole to call his own. Winehouse on the walls. Goth shit on the floor, but in a nice way. You would want to be here, the bed as comfy as in a Premiere Inn.
In Morocco a door in a high wall, Moorish and tall. Ornate. A door you ain’t seen before could hold a luxury home inside, with a slip of the key in you go my son. LCD TV and DVD mounted on the wall. A photo of your Mam on the side. That’s what this key holder guy had. A superpower but not attached to his body. Just a magical key. That’s all.
Scummily blag your way through the lobby in a New York tower, up in the lift and at the top some random’s front door – a slip of the key, and it opens to your very own palatial suite, in art deco no less. Oh so fancy. And the wardrobe filled with your favourite clothes. THIS IS A FUCKING MAGIC KEY, BITCH. DO YOU FUKCING GET THIS NOW?!? HUHh?! IT’S A MAGCIC FUCKING KEY AND IM FRDRUNK.
Comes around to the pavement. Looking at slab. Cold and hard and the rain sideways like bricks to the face.
Can’t feel feet. Or anything else. Pissy sleeping bag. Wind off the Thames hitting hard. The night shifts into view. The blur fades and sharp focus comes once more. Going to hunt for the next high soon as this wears off.
Just a homeless dude dreaming. For one fucking minute. Of a magic key to get rid of this painful reality.
I’M FUCKING HOMELESS STILL. WHERE IS MY MAGIC KEY I FUCKING HATE THIS BIT BUT THE LAST HOUR OF WISHING WAS WORKING GOOD.
MAGIC FUCKING KEY
THERE IS NO MAGIC
HOMELESS SHITTY FUCKING LIFE FUCKING FUCKING FUCK
V.P. Poom is from the North but currently lives in London, in a grade II listed bin. You’ve seen him trying to kill a squirrel with a pencil sharpener on your way to work. He used to stalk you, but you weren’t interesting enough.
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.
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