Tag Archives: writing

Black Dog Checks In

“It’s been a while.” He says.

Black Dog’s eyes are smudges, he leaks lipstick

I heard him before he arrived, muttering under floorboards,

beating like a moth behind curtains.

“Are you coming for a walk?” He asks in my voice

and I’ve not heard that one for a long time.

Black Dog grins

Teeth out, white wave crests gnawing at the shore

 

Arm in arm we walk across nightblasted sand

Me in my funeral suit, black dog in his fur.

We kick up blunt glass beneath sprawls of bladder-wrack.

 

“It’s been a long time since we came here.” One of us says

We stare at a squid-ink sea

Unbroken by birds or wind

“I’ve missed you.” Black Dog says.

I hear his smile.

We scream, wolf-howls until I cough black

Up and out, great stains on my shroud

All that black from the deep

All hacked out

 

We go quiet

We have nothing left

In the still air, lows the endless call

Of some floating bell.

 

Calling us home.

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Nightmare du Jour

I am proud to announce that my 100 word prose poem ‘Victim’ will be included in The Daily Nightmare‘s second anthology. (Tentatively named More Quick Shivers) You can get hold of their first volume here

 

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The Daily Nightmare is a place where you can go and share your nightmares to their archive. Like a sort of bad dream amnesty.

The forthcoming anthology will be a number of prose poems that are exactly 100 words and each one of them is inspired by one of the 350 or so nightmares on the site.   For the nightmare that inspired me….well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

 

I will update with more details about the anthology when I have them.

 

This marks a milestone as it is the first piece of fiction I have sold, but in an unpleasant twist of irony, I have been plagued by nightmares for the last two nights….has anyone got Alanis Morissette’s number?


Black Dog part I

Black dog i

Black dog sleeps beneath the sofa. Some days he is only a shadow. Some days he unfurls; extends a paw, an ear. Some days he is solid; his coat curls like claws.  

When they go out, black dog licks my hand. His tongue is cold and feels like memories.

               “Tell me when we met.” Black dog says.

               “I don’t want to.”

But black dog doesn’t hear; he runs his head beneath my hand.

               Black dog spreads across the wall. When I called mum, he was a shadow. Black dog came to playgroup. Black dog came to school. The children played loud games and black dog called from the corners of the yard where the shadows pooled.

Black dog came on holiday and hid inside when the day came out.

               Black dog curls before the empty fireplace and puts his head on his paws. He looks at me with his ghost eyes.

               “Tell me when we met.” Black dog says.

Black dog arrives when the others are gone; crashing through undergrowth, panting, teeth white and whiskers wire. Black dog runs behind me up the stairs when the lights are out.

Black dog lies beneath the bed.

               “I’ll be company enough.” Black dog says when it rains.

Black dog is quiet. We play board games. The sun comes out and we read.

               “Go outside.” Mum says. “Play with the other children.”

               “I want to play here.” Black dog licks my hand. “I want quiet.”

Sometimes black dog is cross. He plants his tail. Black dog unfurls in dreams, all teeth and tongue. Black dog barks until I wake.

               “Sorry…sorry…” Black dog licks tears from my cheeks.

               “I forgive you black dog.” I think.

The house sleeps.

               “You’d forgotten.” Black dog says.

He puts his head on his paws as wind dances in the empty grate.

               “I’m sorry.” I say.

Black dog climbs into bed.

The cat sleeps downstairs.  

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The Goblin Road

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Local history , these days, is mostly relegated to the enthusiasts, the elderly group that meet  at the back of the library; the place where the silent sun peeks in through the windows, in yellow slats of dancing dust. The good old days.

There are things about where we live that have been buried by the heavy and unrelenting march of time; there are rich sweetmeats banished between the pages of forgotten books or dimmed by the fading light of memory.

There are things that have been buried in these places for a reason.

Behind my house lies the old waggonway, it snakes, unseen and largely forgotten in a thick, green artery that pulses with undisturbed invertebrate and insect life. Nearly completely overgrown, its paths are just visible between the coils of thorns, birds nest in the ruins that poke like jagged teeth and intervals along its course. As kids, we called it the ‘tram track’; made dens beneath its looming trees and its wild, earth-smell stayed on our clothes and in our hair until bath time.

As the local history group in the library would tell you, the waggonway round here carried coal and fireclay from the Colliery pit  to the staiths on the banks of the river. The photographs from back then show a well kept rail route; the buildings beside it, proud homes.

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The 1800s saw the end of the pit. It closed only a year or so after its official opening in 1864; yet unlike the other collieries in the area, this one is only touched on briefly in museum archives and online; ‘all seams abandoned’ is the only available explanation to be found for the desertion and swift desolation of the once proud mine, before it disappeared below the earth.

So what went wrong here all that time ago and what are the origins of the rhyme hat echoed from my own childhood as we played on the silent,  tangled paths of that ancient place?

“Don’t cut short me lad, no don’t cut short me bonny boy,

For if ye run that goblins road, my son, thou’ll leave no mark

They’ll mak’ you into leaves and bark.”

The trees that line the waggonway are thick and unkempt; they lean over the path, closing out the daylight in a gambrel of interlocked leaves. They have watched the slow march of time, seen the horse carts go back and forth as the years went by, the rails rust and vanish and the way fall silent.

The council have erected fences; tight and tipped with rolls of silver thorns where the old colliery once stood. Faded signs proclaim the road is unstable and warn of hidden shafts; Ivy and weeds reach like trailing fingers from the sink-hole, 9 fathoms deep. We used to hurl stones beyond the fence and run; never waiting to hear an answering echo as our missiles disappeared into that dark place.

Digging a little deeper, in those old dusty books and the smudged print of archives; there are few passages concerning the old mine. Certain pages have been deleted, nothing left but torn edges and only the mystified stare of the librarian to answer of their whereabouts. What is left makes for perplexing reading.

The paths through the trees was there long before the mine, it seems and it was referred to by the locals as the ‘Gobba’way’.  What remains of local monographs on the subject (that are not missing or despoiled) are whimsical in the extreme and fresh with an idiosyncrasy that can only be explained as the ravings of madmen or an elaborate joke.

One such transcription speaks of ‘I shalle not forget as long as I live, the hand that grasped my shoulder from the trees of the Gobbaway. Its skin the dead brown of brittle leaves…’  and later, a different  ‘…the eyes of the fyends [SP] that gazed at the lads from the trees send their steeds into a frenzy and the marras mad with rage and godly terrors.’

London’s early 1900s publication ‘Mining Magazine’ reported on the trouble that dogged the digging of the pit itself.

…escaped beasts from a travelling menagerie have troubled the steeds along the Gobbaway; ‘the nags rolled their eyes in fear and their mouths frothed as the trees above head rustle with the unnatural rush of feet over hands’….   

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According to this same publication, a troupe of Dowsers reported ‘…strange and ungodly motions of the sticks above the pit‘ and draws its speculation to a halt at ‘the unwelcome rhythm below the earth

A sinkhole swallowed the colliery a year or so after its abandonment and there are little traces of anything left in its place, save for the sound of the wind that wails up from that derelict chasm and the ruins of the houses where people watched the wagons winding their way to the river.

To walk along that old path today is far from a peaceful or comforting experience. Even in the extremes of summer, the shade of the old branches casts a foreboding shadow over the place. The green tunnel seems to expel a foul and cloying air – something leftover from the fathoms of the old pit? There are rustlings in those trees which do attune to the disturbance of avian life, but that one is trespassing on the territory of something that does not wish to for company here.

Sometimes one is sure that there are shadows moving from all sides; shadows that can be explained away by the movement of sun through dappled leaves and foliage. The gnarled and spiny hands that brush against and clutch the exposed patches of your own flesh, the back of the neck and the soft temples of your skull are not hands but trailing branches. Overgrown thorn bushes, thistles or curious flies. You tell yourself this as you run home, the old rhyme beating a maddening tattoo between your ears and remaining long after you have caught your breath behind the thick walls of home.

For if ye run that goblins road, my son, thou’ll leave no mark

They’ll mak’ you into leaves and bark.


Who I am and what I do.

Hello, I’ll introduce myself.

I am Matthew John Wesolowski.

I am a man with a face and a head and I make up stories and I write them down. Sometimes people like them and read them. Sometimes people like them enough to buy them. That’s nice, it makes me happy. Here’s a picture of me looking all grim and moody and author-y. (I don’t really like having my photo taken)

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Writing is everything to me. Writing never got banished to the attic along with the art pencils, the musical instruments and the sports equipment. Writing isn’t a journey, a job or even a hobby; writing is everything to me, writing is the only thing I do well.

I write because I have to, there’s no other explanation.  I have stories that come bubbling out of my brain, all bulging tentacles and teeth. I have to write them down.

I was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the North East of England. As I grew up, reading was my salvation from maths lessons, bullies, other children and jobs I hated.

The childhood soundscapes  of Michael Rosen and Roald Dahl, the fairy tales of Terry Jones and the silhouetted lands of Jan Pienkowski gave way to Tolkien’s Middle Earth during my childhood. Then came the school library and Usbourne’s ‘World of the Unknown’ – monsters, ghosts and UFOs

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and that was me hooked.

They say you don’t find your genre, your genre finds you.

From the World of the Unknown, it was the ‘Point Horror’ series; notably ‘The Cheerleader‘ by Carlone B Cooney which was perhaps the first vampire fiction I ever read. The idea of this ancient Eastern European legend preying on the jocks and cheerleader culture of the early 90s was fascinating. From there, I couldn’t stop, I think I read every single point horror novel the school had.

This could go on for aeons, but I think you know what I’m getting at. What I will leave you with is the few books that gave me a passion for reading and writing horror.

First and perhaps the best is ‘Del-Del‘ by Victor Kelleher, a magnificent story of demon possession that still haunts me to this day. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. I am yet to find a book that has left such a lasting impression on me.

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Second and perhaps very different, ‘The Rats‘ by James Herbert which I read immediately after our school English teacher told us not to read books like that because there was naughty swearing and sex in them (you tell an 11 year old boy not to read something because it has sex and violence in it….what do you think is going to happen?) To this day, I wonder if that teacher was using subtle reverse psychology to expand our reading horizons…I’m guessing not!

My teenage years were filled with Poppy Z Brite (Now Billy Martin) beside the gritty brutality of Niall Griffiths and Patrick McCabe. I read ‘The Dead School‘ once every couple of years, just for the lasting delicious  trauma it leaves me with.

At the minute, I’m particularly enjoying the work of Gillian FlynnYrsa Sigurðardóttir and of course, the master himself, Stephen King.

This could go on and on….but, for your sake, it won’t.

I’ve written fiction ever since I could write. My first book in year 5 ‘Attack of the Killer Flytraps’ (a folded 3 page epic containing my own illustrations) is sadly lost to the ravages of time, but if I unearth it in an old box somewhere, I’ll scan it and put it up here.

I have had short stories published in ‘Ethereal tales’ magazine, now sadly defunct (not my fault… I hope, anyway!), the ‘Midnight Movie Creature Feature‘ and my debut Novella, ‘The Black Land‘ is available for a very reasonable price on Kindle. (Please leave a review, even if you hated every stinking word of it.)

 

Last little bit of admin:  I don’t really do Facebook. For me, Facebook is like looking through the window at the stragglers at the end of a really bad party…a party that you weren’t even invited to. However, you can ‘like’ me on there should you wish. I do update it with news when necessary.

 

Twitter will be coming soon. I just need to change my username and delete all my curmudgeonly bleating about inconsequential things that irritate me. Link coming soon.

 

So there you go. If you made it down to here, congratulations. I promise that the remainder of this blog will be considerably  less narcissistic, but, like hacking a particularly stubborn wart from your finger with nail scissors (it works, but I wouldn’t recommend it!) it has to be done.

Over and out.

MJ