The run up the Welsh hills had made jelly of my legs and as I peered over a crevice I could see myself stumbling all the way back down to the enticing little pub at the bottom. I’d need to get there soon, the flash of lightning said I didn’t have much time before a storm swept me off the mountain.
The next flash revealed a figure on a hillock, flick knife straight. I’m not sure what startled me more, the fact he wore sunglasses beneath those rolling black clouds, or the chainsaw he held aloft. I back-pedaled a step or two, put my foot through a ram’s skull, and danced to shake it off.
“Jason? Jason Michel?”
He ripped the cord and the chainsaw tore the night apart, more so than the roll of thunder which dipped and shot off the hill-ramps. He marched my way and I could already feel the chainsaw’s teeth grind through my flesh and bones.
“I got your answers,” I said. “I got them.”
His smile was all mouth, with no connection to his eyes – I could tell though I couldn’t see them behind the sunglasses. “I want them back. They’re not for you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding?”
I stumbled down the hill and hit my shoulder against a rock. A flash silhouetted Michel as he stood above me. He thrust the chainsaw at my chest. I managed to scurry to the side and tumble down a gully. I glanced back and swiveled to dodge the next thrust.
He lifted the chainsaw high and made it roar. “Throbbing head-bone, Storms electric hurt, inside, As the world shakes with rage.” *
Red rimmed the black clouds and skulls of ancient Welsh warriors lined the walls of this gulley. Michel swung the chainsaw. It growled for my blood and I almost broke my back when I arced low to avoid his next swing. He funneled me into an alcove where I fell over rubble and the ancient footsteps of Glendower.
He had me. But I didn’t understand. “Jason. It’s me. What is this all about?”
He leaned over me and frowned. I’d sowed some doubt in his intentions. He lifted his sunglasses and pierced me with his granite eyes. He razzed the chainsaw to trigger my final flinch, and smiled. This smile shot through his eyes.
“Beech? What the hell? You got my answers?”
“Yes. Yes I did.”
“I thought I’d sent them to someone else. I thought you were that someone else. Well … I feel a whole lot better now.”
He pulled me to my feet. Shook my hand until I thought my arm would disconnect from my shoulder, and whistled his way back up the gulley, pausing only to fashion a little skull from a rock with his chainsaw.
* From Jason Michel’s brilliant Instagram posts.
Jason Michel is the man behind the fantastic Pulp Metal Magazine which has showcased an army of authors, including a few of my own. It is, sadly, winding down as a going concern, and it will be missed. Jason’s work includes The Death of Three Colours, The Black-Hearted Beat, and The Blood Red Experiment, and his poems and artwork on Instagram are intense. You should check him out.
A friend of mine doesn’t read fiction, paraphrasing Frank Skinner about it all being made-up and he has no time for any of that. What words do you have for such a philistine?
Spot on, read about currency wars and the corrupt financial system, then some Zizek and Fisher and sharpen the guillotines, Comrades!
What must a protagonist have to make you read on?
Flaws, lots of flaws. Oozing humourously from every pore and orifice.
Do you need a likeable protagonist?
That would entirely depend on your definition of “likeable”. Character and the quality of amiability do not, in my humble experience, necessarily go hand in hand (or knuckle to knee as the case may be).
Name a great antagonist, in a novel or movie, and what they do for you.
Satan in anything. The greatest literary creation from Milton to Black Phillip. Shows man up to be the rotten and irrational evolved ape that we are.
What makes you throw a book out the window?
If it was found to be infested by fleas; literally and metaphorically.
Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?
Hell no! Do you shit your pants rather than run to the toilet in need of a desperate evacuation?
What gets you writing? A great novel, maybe? Something you saw on the street or on the TV? Something else?
It’s cheaper than therapy.
What did you learn about writing from the last book you wrote?
It’s all about the climax. Woof. Woof.
What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?
FERAL – A semi-autobiographical piece in the style of John Milton dancing with George Carlin while Henry Miller steals their wallets. Another book no-one will read.
Where can readers connect with you?
I put my poems up most days on Instagram. “Poetry?!” I hear you say!
Yep, bite me.