The Morning After – Short Story

Timothy McCulloch woke up to the worst pain he had ever experienced. His head felt like it had been cleaved in two. He didn’t recognise the ceiling he was staring at, or the walls he could see by shifting his vision a little. If he moved any further othe pain was too much to bear. He couldn’t remember much of the night before, he left home and went to the pub to meet a few people from work, that led to a few drinks and then nothing. Maybe a walk home. Maybe he hooked up and this is someone else’s bedroom. Not that the ceiling looked very bedroomy. There was something sterile about it. The lights were too bright for it to be a bedroom. It almost looked like a hospital room. What else happened? Was he in some kind of accident? That must have been it, to explain the excruciating pain he felt whenever he moved his head, even slightly. A moment later Timothy drifted back off to sleep.

He awoke again and tried to move around again, finding his head could stand a little more movement. There was a new pain when he moved to much though, it wasn’t as intense as the pain in his head, it almost felt like he was pulling his hair out. He twisted his head, trying to test how far he could move without bowing to the pain. It wasn’t very far. Slowly he peeled his head off the floor, instantly cradling it in his hands as he sat up. His hair was matted with a slight dampness, turning and ignoring the pain shift he saw that his head had been lying in a puddle of dried blood, which still had strands of his hair sticking out.

“Jesus,” he said, while a white chill shot through his body. “What the hell happened?”

His heart was beating fast and the pain faded as his eyes dart back and forth trying to take in his new surroundings. The room was not very large. The walls were all white, with no marks at all. There were no windows at all, but a door one side. There was little else on the floor in the room, other than his puddle of blood and another man, unconscious on the other side of the room. There was also a row of sealed bottles of water near the door. Timothy got up, his head protesting in everyway that it could. Ignoring the other man, he went over to the door, twisted the handle with no success. Banging on the door.

“Hey,” he said. Even speaking caused pain. He lent against the door and breathed heavily, trying to recount the steps that led to the room.

“Hey,” he repeated a little louder.

There was no response. He pulled his hand back and knocked on the door. Pain pulsed through him and he winced, not that it helped.

“Hello?” he said, nearly shouting. “Let us out. It’s not funny. Let us the fuck out you fucking fucks. You’re going to regret this, if you don’t let me out right now.”

Timothy stopped once his voice started to crack and his throat had become painfully dry. His head echoed with a thudding pain and he turned around and looked at the rest of the room, his head pounding in rhythm with his heart.

“What the fuck,” he said to himself. “Why did this happen to me?”

He scooped up one of the bottles of water and walked over to the far wall. He slumped down and sat on the floor. His head was pounding, eyesight pulsing. His lips were cracked and dry. Lifting up the bottle, he made sure there was a factory seal on the bottle. Just checking to make sure it wasn’t laced with something, not that he could be picky at the moment. He twisted off the lid, the little indents digging into his palms. Not something he would normally notice, but his body was in overdrive and at that moment every sense working harder than it ever had. Adrenaline racing through his body with each beat of his heart. He took a large gulp of the water, swirled it around his mouth, swallowed and then downed the rest of the bottle. He looked towards the other person, wondering if he was dead. What the hell happened last night?

He was out, it was after work. That’s right, he thought. Emma and Chris invited him out for a quick drink. It was Friday, why not, he thought. They weren’t out long were they. No, they had a couple and then started to head home. Tim left his car at work, knowing he would need to pick it up in the morning. It was the only way to be sure that he wouldn’t get behind the wheel after drinking. What happened after leaving The Old Bear? That was the key, but Tim just couldn’t remember. He said goodbye to Chris and Emma, and then started walking, didn’t he? Or did he go back in and call a taxi? It was so unclear and he couldn’t remember, probably something to do with the pounding headache. What the hell happened. No, he didn’t go back in, he remembers walking down the street. It was oddly cold for August, but that was probably down to how hot it had been the week before. So bloody hot, he hadn’t slept properly all week. He had a sore throat for most of it, thought he was coming down with a cold in the middle of a heatwave. None of that matters though, Tim thought. Someone called his name, didn’t they? Yes, they did and then he turned. They were asking for a fag, but Tim didn’t smoke, hadn’t in a few years. So how did they know his name? Who were they? He must have known them, but who doesn’t know he didn’t smoke anymore? Not anyone close then, maybe someone he worked with a few years back. Who knows? It was probably nothing.

Before Tim could get a grip on the previous night, the other person in the room shifted slightly, groaning. He was laying on his front, his head turned away towards the door. For a split-second Tim felt a pang of guilt over not checking he was alright straight away, but that quickly dissipated when he realised the other guy would have done the same, if the situation was reversed. This was the first moment that the other guy had shown signs of life, so as far as Tim was concern, this was his first chance to actually help him.

“Hey,” Tim said, walking over to the other guy and crouching down to inspect his body.
There wasn’t any blood in his hair, although his hair was slimy with grease. The man grunted again and churned on the floor. Tim helped him up to a sitting position and leant over to grab another bottle, leaving four more. Without checking for tampering again, he twisted of the lid and held it out to his captive partner.

“Here,” Tim said. “Have something to drink, it’ll help.”

The other man, who could barely keep his eyes open and was propped up on one arm, took the bottle clumsily. A little water spilt out and fell onto the man’s trousers leaving a little dark spot.

“Thanks,” he said with a hoarse voice. “Where are we?”

“Fuck knows,” Tim said standing up and letting go of the man. “I just woke up here a moment ago. I don’t remember exactly what happened before. I’ll tell you something though, these fucks have the wrong man. I can tell you that for nothing. Whatever it is that they want, it ain’t me. I don’t have money and I haven’t done anything to anyone.”

There was a silence hanging in the air, which was only accompanied by the buzz of the light from the ceiling. The other man interrupted it by swallowing a large gulp of the water. He breathed heavily after he pulled the bottle away from his mouth. Jesus, Tim thought, that man can make a racket while he drinks and to top it off, he barely touched the water. How the fuck did he make so much noise from drinking so little.

“So what about you?” Tim said. “You got any idea where we are, or why?”

“None, I don’t know what happened last night. I was just going out to see my daughter. Coming home I mean. I saw her after work and was coming home. That’s all I remember. Actually, someone asked me if I had a light. I remember that. He didn’t believe me that I didn’t smoke.”

“Something similar happened to me,” Tim said, walking back to his spot and half-finished water. “Some guy called me and asked for a fag. I didn’t have one. Haven’t smoked in years. The little fucker must have smacked me over the head or something. It still hurts. Ripped a bunch of hair out when I woke up as well. I’m Tim by the way. Timothy McCulloch.”

“Nice to meet you Tim, I’m Dave, David Brooks. And to answer your earlier question, I don’t have a clue why we are here. I haven’t done anything to hurt anyone. I don’t think I’m worth kidnapping for money either. It must be something else.”

“Great, something random. It’s a weekend, so no one is going to miss me until Monday morning at the earliest.”

“I just saw my daughter, and she won’t miss me for a little while. I’m on holiday from work too. It’s going to be a while before
someone knows we’re missing.”

“God damn it. Why the hell did this have to happen to me?” Tim shouted, launching his bottle cap at the far wall. It bounced off with a ping.

“Nothing comes to mind? You haven’t done anything at all that someone might hate you for?” Dave asked.

“No. What the hell are you getting at? I haven’t done anything at all, to anyone. What are you trying to say? That I asked for this? That I’m some kind of sicko?”

“No, nothing like that. I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on here.”

Dave stood up, placing his closed bottle on the floor and walked over to the door. There was a little lock underneath the handle.
He pulled at the handle a few times, nothing. It wouldn’t budge.

“Don’t you think I tried that?” Tim asked. “We’re stuck in here.”

“Do you reckon we could break down the door?”

“I doubt it. It looks strong as hell, and I don’t think anyone would bother locking us up if we could break out so easily.”

“Yeah I suppose. We’ve got to do something though.”

“Yeah? Like what? You able to phase through walls?”

Tim didn’t wait for a reply, he jumped up into a squat and started rummaging through his pockets. A crumpled-up receipt, a pen, some coins and his wallet, which had been emptied. No phone though.
“Dave, you got a phone on you?”

Dave checked his pockets, but no luck. Just some lint that fell to the floor as he rubbed his fingers together.

“Nope, nothing on me at all,” Dave said.

“Great. What hell do we do now?”

“Wait, I imagine. Whoever did this doesn’t want us dead. They want us alive for something, so we just wait and eventually they will make their intentions clear.”

“That might be a little too long though. Jesus Christ. Why did this have to happen to me?”

“You don’t have a single enemy or something you did to anyone who would hate you?”

“No, why are you accusing me of something? What about you? What did you do?”

“Come on, let’s not turn on each other. There’s no point doing that. I’m just trying to figure out why we are here. There has to be
a reason. It can’t be random can it?”

“I don’t fucking know. Alright. I don’t remember what happened last night. I just woke up here.”
Tim picked up his empty bottle of water and played with it between his hands.

“You know, I think I did something once,” said Dave.

Tim didn’t say anything and just carried on playing with the bottle. His eyes didn’t look up while Dave carried on speaking.

“Yeah, it was a few years ago,” Dave continued. “It was after a night out; it was back when my daughter was still living at home. I’d had a few, probably a couple more than I should have and still thought I could drive for some reason, nearly hit someone. Didn’t kill anyone, but nearly did. It’s weighed me down for a while you know. You ever done anything like that?”

Tim carried on playing with his bottle, spinning it between his palms on the floor, between his outstretched legs. Dave couldn’t tell if he had even heard a word of what he had said. Wasn’t sure if that was down to the head injury or he was just ignoring him. Dave sat down, slumped across the room, opposite Tim, near the bottles of water.

“No,” Tim said finally. “I don’t drink and drive. If I did, then they wouldn’t have caught me last night. I walked home. I always do. Not worth the risk.”

Each word stunned Dave, almost as if Tim was blaming him for them both being here. Dave picked up his almost full bottle and squeezed it as hard as he could between his palms. The bottle bulged, but the lid didn’t back down. He breathed heavily, closed his eyes and hung his head low. Timothy didn’t notice.

Instead, Tim pulled one of his knees up to his chest and with a scream he launched his bottle at the far wall, near Dave’s head. He was aiming for the door and missed.

“God damn it,” Tim shouted. “What the fuck is going on?”

“You honestly don’t have a clue?” Dave asked.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“You don’t have a clue or you don’t want to say?”

“What are you getting at?”

Dave slowly got to his feet and stood opposite Tim, who was still sitting on the floor, head hung low and squeezing the bottle.
The little creaks of plastic under pressure the only noise breaking the silence between them.

“I’m going to assume that you just don’t want to admit it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Listen to me, I’m no more in the know here than you are. Whatever sickos did this, choose us both at random, not because of some drink driving thing you did, or whatever the hell you think I’ve done.”

“It isn’t random.”

“Just shut up and stay calm.”

“I am calm. And it isn’t random.”

“What are you accusing me of?”

“You would know if you weren’t so full of yourself. You know, I was going to try and coax it out of you, get you to admit it and see if you felt any guilt. I’m pretty sure you don’t.”

“What are you trying to say?” Tim shouted.

Tim stayed on the floor, head down. He had stopped squeezing the bottle and was instead holding it loosely.

“You killed her. Five years ago. I know it was you.”

“What are you talking about, look you have the wrong guy. Just let me out and we can forget this ever happened.”

“No. I know it was you. You killed her. You were drinking and you hit her and she died. You turned the corner, skipped a light
and drove straight into her. The police couldn’t find you, somehow. I don’t know if that’s your luck or their crappy work. Maybe both. But I know it was you. One of the detectives told me something. They said, they believed it was in a specific pub. The Old
Bear. They told me that there was a blind spot on the cameras that day. Some kid had knocked it down and you could have stumbled out and got in a car without anyone noticing. The cameras didn’t see where the car came from and couldn’t see the corner at all. It’s a lie that people spread around willingly. That we are on camera at all times. We’re not. Not all of the time. Not at that corner. Not the moment you hit. That was luck that you managed to get in the car and not be seen. That there were no witnesses and your car stayed intact so there was nothing left at the scene. Just blind fucking luck.”

“Look, I’m really sorry to hear about your daughter, ok. I had nothing to do with it. I can promise you that. I’ve never hit anyone. I don’t drink drive.”

“No, not anymore. Not for the last five years. That detective told me that it was probably someone who drinks in The Old Bear. That was the lead they were following. They even gave me a list of people that had been in the pub that night. It wasn’t a busy night and the bartender knows his regulars. I have that list upstairs on my desk. For the last half of a decade I have crossed people off one by one. They didn’t drive, they live on the opposite side of town. One by one there was one reason or another that crossed them off the list. You’re the only one who remains. I know it was you. Most times, when you’ve had too much to drink, you actually walk over to your car and put your key in the door. Sometimes you even get in. But you never start the engine. You always get back out and walk. I can see you think about it on your face when you make that decision. I’ve noticed that you’ve started leaving your car at work or home. You even walk down the street she was hit on. Sometimes you stop there as well. I even saw you sit on the curb once and just look at the spot she died on. Why would you do these things if you didn’t hit her?”

“I don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. Now just unlock the door. I appreciate that you’ve had it rough, alright. Let’s just leave it at that and no one needs to take it any further.”

“I don’t think you understand the point of today Timothy McCulloch. I wanted to know whether you actually felt guilty about it. Maybe you always turn away from your car because her death weighs on your mind or maybe you just know you can’t get away with it twice. Maybe you sit at that spot because you can’t believe what happened and you wish you could take it away. Or maybe you blame her for walking in front of you. I’ve never been able to tell. I just wanted you to confess and show some signs of remorse, I would have let you go then. You understand? There is nothing a prison can do to you that a guilty mind wouldn’t do worse. That would have been enough, but you don’t feel guilty do you?”

“Look, Dave. You’ve got the wrong person. You’ve got to believe me, alright. I don’t drink and drive because I don’t want to hit someone. I sometimes think I can just drive, because it’s a short drive but a long walk. I always choose the walk. I sit at some corner, because it’s a long walk. You know what it’s like, being drunk.”

“I’m going to leave you here now. You show no guilt. I’ve written out a confession letter upstairs. There should be enough water here to survive a few days if you don’t waste it someone will eventually find my body and letter. It’s up to the law then to decide what to do next.”

Dave let go of the bottle letting it tumble to its side and stood up. Reaching into his back pocket he pulled out a key and walked over to the door. Tim gets up close to him.

“Come on then, open the door and we can all just go home.”

“You’re not leaving. If you make the water last them someone will find you.”

“You’re not leaving me here.”

Dave curled up his fist, hiding the key and turned around to face Tim straight on.

“No, I don’t think you understand. You don’t have a say in this. Just like my daughter didn’t have a say in it on that night. You left her there dying in the street. She wasn’t dead when the doctors got there, but there wasn’t enough time. If you had just stopped and called for help, she wouldn’t have died. How’s that for justice. So, make your water last, there won’t be anymore. Let’s see how long you can hold out for.”

Tim leaned on the door with one hand, and tried to stretch his height over Dave, looking down on him with wide eyes, breathing heavily. Dave stood in his shadow, making eye contact.

“Open the fucking door, now,” Tim said.

“You aren’t coming out. Not at the moment.”

Tim moved quickly and thumped Dave in the neck with the side of his fist, making him fall slightly, but still he held tightly onto the key. In return, he elbowed Tim straight in the chest, which probably hurt him more than Tim, who didn’t need time to recover. He stepped back and then shoved Dave against the wall. He then wound up a punch, which Dave stepped away from just in time.

“Leave it,” Dave shouted. “You’re not getting out of here.”

They circled each other, Tim ready to pounce at any moment and Dave trying to guess his moves first. Not wanting to give Tim another chance, Dave charged at him shoulder first and rammed Tim against the wall. His body bounced off and he swung at Dave with full force, connecting on the side of his head. Dave fell straight down to the floor as if the blow had been a bullet to the back of the head. He let go of the key. They both saw this and scrambled over to get it. Dave reached it first and brought his closed fist close to his chest, laying on top of it. Tim jumped on him, bouncing off his back and screaming like a wild animal. Dave cried out but held his position. Tim jumped again and when that didn’t work, he climbed on top of Dave and tried to wrestle the key out from underneath him.

“Give it here you freak,” he shouted.

Dave didn’t give up, instead he squirmed underneath Tim’s weight trying to shake him off and be free. Nothing would work. Tim was too determined and wanted the key. He was completely on top of Dave, his arms stretched under Dave’s body, trying to find his curled-up fist with the key inside. They both squirmed around. Dave wasn’t sure how long he could keep it up, his lungs struggling to get any air. When Tim finally decided that Dave wasn’t going to give up, he head-butted the back of his head, which bounced off the floor with a dull thud.

Tim had momentarily forgotten about his head wound from the night before and when their heads connected, the pain moved through him like a wave. He tumbled off Dave and rolled onto his back next to him, dazed and with hazy vision. Dave didn’t waste time, he got to his knees and straddled his captive, still holding the key with a half curled up wrist he strangled Tim as hard as he could. Holding his body down with his weight and driving his neck into the ground with as much force as he could. This brought Tim out of his daze and his vision cleared. The pain in his head was still pounding, but there was something more important pulsing through him. He could feel the pain in his eyes as they strained, trying to escape his skull. He flailed about underneath his captor, feeling the end creeping in. Feebly he smacked at Dave, with no effect. He couldn’t pull the hands away from his neck. All he could do was hold on to Dave’s arms and wait for it to be all over. His body was stronger than that, this wouldn’t be the end he told himself. He reached up and tried to grab Dave’s neck, with no success. His captor moved out of his reach, but his head still hung low. Tim moved his hands as high as he could, and with his little finger in Dave’s mouth, he pushed his forefinger into Dave’s eye, pushing as hard as he could. It worked, the grip around his neck loosened and freedom was in reach.

They both heard the clatter of the key dropping to the floor once more and then there were no hands around Tim’s neck. He shot up, knocking Dave back a little and bit into his cheek, it was a move of desperation that had surprised Tim just as much as his captor. He felt the flesh tear under his teeth and the taste of blood run freely into his mouth. Dave recoiled in agony; a chunk of his face was missing. He pulled back; his vision faded to black. No control over his body. With both fists he pummelled down on Tim’s face, bouncing his head off the ground. Tim’s head wound echoed throughout his body, his nerves in pure overdrive. Everything went pure white in his eyes and he couldn’t control his body anymore. Dave just carried on thumping and punching his captive until the body underneath him was limp.

Dave fell to the side and breathed heavily. Slowly his vision returned and the adrenaline rushing through him started to steady. His legs shook and his arms vibrated with pain from attacking Tim. It took him a few moments to get his breath back, laying on the floor panting. With each breath he was more in control. He pulled himself up and looked over at the body next to him. His face bloody, nose broken. His chest was barely moving, if it was at all and it wasn’t just his desire not to have killed someone. It doesn’t change the plan though. Dave pulled himself to his feet, grabbed the dropped key along the way and walked over to the door. He gave one more look to the body and was satisfied he was still alive for now. He left the room and locked it again. The note was already written, his only question was whether he should call the police before he did it or let fate decide Timothy McCulloch’s fate.

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September 2020

Hi everyone. Back again with a monthly update. Somehow another month has passed and we are near enough already a third of a way through the next one. It’s been a decent month writing wise. I’ve hit my target of 500 words a day on most days. On top of that I’ve also been writing short stories. I find that if I write my main story until I run out of steam, then I have no starting point the next day. I’ve come up with a system this month, where I write 500 words of The Vampire and then switch over to a short story and write until I can’t be bothered anymore. This way the next day I know where I’m starting with The Vampire.

So far, as of this morning, I’m at 29,000 words with The Vampire. The story is growing out of my control, in a good way. I thought I would be finished by now, but I feel I’ve barely started. Back in April, I thought I could get maybe 20,000 words done before October and release it as a Novella in time for Halloween. At the moment I think it’s going to hit aroud 65,000 words before I’m finished with it. I’m really proud of this one and I just hope that my ambitions translate to the page well. It will be early next year before it’s completely finished with editing and everything.

I released a shot story, The Roommate, a few weeks back and I’m pretty happy with the views it got and feedback that I received. If you haven’t already, please have a look and let me know what you think. I’ll leave a link for it here: https://ashleymanning.com/2020/08/19/the-roommate-short-story/ Please give it a go, if you haven’t already. It’s not very long and I don’t want to say anything about it that would give it away. Go and read it if you haven’t already, it won’t take long. I’ll wait.

The story was inspired by a spider that was living in the corner of my bathroom. It was quite small so I just left it, as much as I hate spiders. One night I went to brush my teeth and it was out half way along the wall. I went to bed, thinking there is something there I can write about. The next day I wrote it down. I do have a red mark on my arm that is still healing, not sure where it came from.

I wanted to write more short stories, it’s been a long time. I feel that it’s easier to upload short stories on here. Writing The Roommate led to another one called The Morning After. This one is slightly longer, running at around 4500 words. It was an idea I had a couple of months back. I’m reasonably happy with this one and feedback has been decent from the people who have read it so far. The plan is to publish it tomorrow on here.

That leads me to my next short story that I’m currently working on. This one is going to be ready for halloween, for sure. It’s more horror based than the previous short stories. I don’t have a title for it, but I’m already 800 words into it. I know where it’s going and I’m looking forward to writing it. Once I’ve finished writing this post, I’m going to do the washing up and then carry on with it for a bit. See where it goes. The Morning After changed halfway through, so maybe this one will as well.

When I was younger, back in school, there was always a question of what my back up plan should be, if I couldn’t be a writer. It was something teachers and my dad used to ask me a lot. It was a question I hated being asked simply because I am a writer, always have been and probably always will be. It doesn’t matter about anything else. This is the thing I enjoy doing more than anything else. When people asked I would always try to avoid the question, and would just come up with a rubbish answer off the top of my head.

My actual back up plan was to become a film critic. My first love is books. There is something about a 600 page book where you get under the skin of the characters that can’t be replicated in any other media, films comes a close second. With films, especially in a cinema, you can be taken away from the real world and nothing else matters for those 2 or so hours. It’s rollercoaster of emotion. Books are completely at my own pace. I read as fast or as slow as I feel, go back to double check names or events. I stop and start and the book becomes part of my life for those few days, weeks or longer. With films, it’s a set time carved out for it. I know you can pause films and come back to them at a later date, but that’s not the the way most films are intended to be watched. It’s usually one sitting without any pauses.

I’ve started uploading a more regular post, called The Watch List, speaking about films that I’ve watched over the previous week or so. I feel that to get better with writing about films, I just need to do it and ignore any pressing feeling that I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. I enjoy talking about films and reading reviews and thoughts on films. It also allows me to publish regular posts on here. This along with The Book Pile, which is a regular post about books I’ve read. I’m no critic, but there’s only one way to learn. I hope you enjoy them and if you have any feedback, please leave a comment.

Speaking of films, I re-watched Tenet yesterday. The first time I was confused, mostly during a long section towards the end where I didn’t know what was going on. The score was so loud I couldn’t hear what was being said during a certain scene. This time, the sound was better. The first time, there was something off with the sound and the already loud soundtrack drowned out a lot of the speech and exposition. At the time I wasn’t sure if this was intentional or just a bad screening. We could have just been sitting in the wrong place for all I knew.

This time, I heard every word of a scene that was previously drowned out by the intimidating and overpowering score. It makes a lot more sense when you can hear people telling you what’s happening. I enjoyed the film even more the second time watching it. Even knowing what was happening it’s exciting and thrilling the whole way through. I actually think it works better the second time round, because you already know the mechanics of the world. It’s an added bonus that the final 20 miuntes work better when I heard the briefing before it. So far I think it’s defninitely one of my favourite films of the year. Top 5, which isn’t saying that much considering how many films have been delayed.

I will be back tomorrow with The Morning After, and then again on Friday with this weeks The Book Pile. Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

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The Watch List – 04/09/2020 – Mulan, Snowpiercer and Bonnie & Clyde.

I’m beginning to think I spend too much time watching films, if that’s possible?

Last week I was working on the weekend so I had a random day of mid-week. My writing was done for the day, and Tabby was working and I haven’t really been playing games lately, so I was just looking through the various streaming sites and saw that Snowpiercer was on Prime video, which had been on my neverending list of films to watch at some point. I thought why not and pressed play. A seriously good watch. A post-appocalyptic future where the whole world is frozen. The only surviving humans are living on a train that circles the entire world, never stopping. The train is split into the front half and the back half. The rich and the poor. Chris Evans and John Hurt lead a revolution from the back half of the train and try to take over the front half.

One of the things I really like about this film is that there is actual risk all the way through it. Early on there is a fight, which pretty much every named character survives, just as in most typical films. It did bother me a little, but then straight away afterwards death and consequence becomes real. This film does not shy away from killing its characters, which is very refreshing. As you watch the film you are drawn into the world lives of those from the back half of the train. Watching them die is heartbreaking and painful. It doesn’t at any point feel like they are killing characters for shock value and each death hits home.

Tilda Swinton is also a highlight in Snowpiercer, but when isn’t she? I haven’t seen many films that she has starred in, but I know I’m going to enjoy a film whenever I see her name pop up at the beginning. Somebody I really should look into watching more from.

The next film that I finally got around to was Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. We watched the first one last year, and seeing that the new film is only a few weeks away from its UK release, we decided to finally get around to the second one. That makes it soud like Tabby and I were putting it off. We weren’t. Keanu Reeves is one of Tabby’s favourite actors and we did both enjoy the first film. The second was actually even better. Laugh out loud funny and the perfect film for a Friday night after work. I think we are both looking forward to the next one in a few weeks time.

Last Saturday I crossed off one of the films from very high on my list. Bonnie and Clyde from 1967 staring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. This is a film that I kept on hearing about. It was mentioned in podcasts, documentaries and books about movies. Each time I heard about it I kept on making a note that I needed to watch it. I love Badlands, True Romance and Thelma and Louise and I kept on hearing that this sub-genre of crime films where the leads are on the run started with Bonnie and Clyde. I could feel the influence that it had over the later films when watching it. It was the worth the wait and I really enjoyed it.

The story of two criminals travelling America with their gang and robbing banks. The film makes you really care for them. While I’m not sure how accurate it was to the true story, I was engrossed and I even though I knew their fate, I really didn’t want them to die by the end and what an ending it was. So brutally bloody. I’m pretty sure it’s not a spoiler to say they are gunned down by the police at the end. It’s the one thing I knew for sure about them before watching. The film takes you on a journey and makes you care about Bonnie and Clyde and even though you know it’s going to happen, it’s not easy to watch. Even by today’s standards it’s a bloodbath.

Funnily enough I spent most of this week watching the 12 part documntary The Movies, which tells the story of the rise of movies from the silent beginnings to the modern superhero blockbuster. It turns out that Bonnie and Clyde isn’t the beginning of this sub-genre. The movie itself was inspired by a french film from 1960 called Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Something else I’ve added to my list.

The last film I’ve watched this week was the new live-action re-make of Mulan. Tabby’s favourite Disney film. I didn’t watch the animated film as a child so I don’t hold it in a special place. I did enjoy it when I finally got around to seeing it, but I don’t remember much about it and it didn’t leave the new film a massive benchmark to live up to. For the most part I’m not sure how I feel about the live-action Disney remakes. I’ve liked some, mainly Jungle Book and Aladdin, the others just seemed pointless and Dumbo was just awful. We were supposed to see Mulan back in March, the week of Tabby’s birthday and then the whole world stopped for 6 months. Paying for it on Disney plus was a no brainer for us. A late birthday present for Tabby.

I enjoyed it. A fun family friendly action fantasy film. The story is the same and there are some good laughs along the way. Tabby enjoyed it, emotional from the opening scene. The film is absolutely gorgeous and I do wish we could have seen the breathtaking scenery on the big screen. It is probably worth a watch just for that. There are no surprises here, and like most of the re-makes it stay close to the source material. I wouldn’t say go out of your way for it, but I think if you like the original there is nothing to worry about here. It’s fun and enjoyable.

My favourite movie of the bunch is Snowpiercer. Original and thrilling. I wish I had watched it sooner and can’t recommend it enough. There is a TV series as well, which is a retelling of the film’s story. I will give it a go at some point, but I know it won’t live up. Some stories just don’t need more than 2 hours.

There are 3 films we have for the weekend. Official Secrets, Greed and Angel Heart. Not 100% sure what to expect, but I’m excited to find out. I’m also hoping to find time to watch I’m thinking of Ending Things. The trailer looked interesting enough and it does looks like something different.

Let me know if you’ve seen any of the films I’ve mentioned or have any recommendations. What are you watching this week?

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

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The Watch List – Tenet

I ventured out of my home for the first time in months, not including a handful of trips to see my parents. This time, I pushed myself to go to the cinema. The world is very slowly returning to normal and as eager as I am for that to happen, I think being couped up for so long has made the outside world seem alien and uninviting. If I didn’t push myself then I don’t think I would ever get out there again.

Tenet was well worth the trip out to see it. It was good just to be back in the cinema, something I had missed. As soon as the trailers started, it was like a breath of normality. Even seeing the new Bond trailer for the fiftieth time felt fresh and exciting. Tenet itself was a captivating film. Right from the beginning it holds nothing back and carries on running all the way through at a quick pace. There are moments that I wasn’t sure what was happening, I just knew I was enjoying it. It was worth the wait and I think it’s something that will improve on future watches.

The only downside was wearing a mask for the entire film. It wasn’t as uncmofortabe as I thought it was but it is an almost contstant reminder of the world we are living in. It does make me question whether I would rather just wait for the films to come out on Blu Ray and/or streaming. It’s a question for a later date, but something that I will be thinking about over the next few weeks. I love going to the cinema and have used my Cineworld Unlimited card a ton since I got it 4 years back. It may be time to call it a day on that.

Before then, at the weekend, Tabby and I watched our 2 weekly films. This time it was, The Invisible Man and Glass. Both highly anticipated films on my list. Before lockdown, as distant as that seems, we couldn’t fit The Invisible Man in at the cinema, as much as I wanted to. I think the advert giving the whole plot away made it less of a priority. Early on in lockdown, when all of the podcasts I listen to were singing its praises, I just couldn’t justify the price to rent it, as much as I wanted to. It would have been worth it. From the opening scene the film is tense. It grabs you and for two hours doesn’t let you go. I really enjoyed it. I wish I knew how they filmed some of the scenes, considering it’s really low budget. One of the most tense films in recent times, and even got a scream out of Tabby at one point. Highly recommended.

I was a little worried about Glass, the final part of the Unbreakable trilogy. I’d seen the reviews and knew it wasn’t supposed to live up the first 2 parts. I was surprised, I really enjoyed it. It may have been low expectations, but it just clicked for me early on. It was good to see the characters again and the twist at the end worked. I didn’t see it coming. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who hadn’t enjoyed or seen the previous films, but it is worth watching just for James McAvoy. Such a good actor in everything he’s in. I’ve now seen 4 of Shyamalan’s films, and I plan on seeing a lot more. So far I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve seen.

A couple of months back, Tabby and I binged the new series of The Twilight Zone. Well worth a watch. I haven’t seen any of the originals, although I did see the 1980s film with my dad a few years back. Tabby hadn’t seen it, and this led us to watching this. The film is an anthology of stories, most of which are retellings of stories from the original TV show. The film is plagued by the on set death of one of its stars, Vic Morrow and two children. It does make you wonder why they kept that segment of the anthology, which ends abruptly. As good as the premise is, a racist and prejudiced man experiencing the racism and prejudice himself, there is a morbid feeling while watching it. I suppose most people watchign it now wouldn’t know about it, I didn’t when I first watched it and Tabby only knew as I told her at the end of the film. It probably shold have been cut out. The rest of the tales are enjoyable and fun to watch. From Speilberg’s wholesome ‘Kick the Can’ segment to a tetelling of ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’, staring John Lithgow instead of William Shatner, each one offers some enjoyment, even if the film is unremarkable as a whole. It’s definitey not the worst way to spend an evening and Richard Matheson’s writnig still shines throughout the film.

There are too many films for one post, so there will be another one on Friday. Thank you for reading, and until next time,

Ashley

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The Book Pile – 28/08/2020

Horror at its finest

Last time I wrote about books, I said that I had my next 3 reads picked out. Like always that changed quickly. I did read, as planned, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, which I absolutely loved. It is one of those books that you start and can’t put down. It’s so tense. I didn’t know the story which helps. I was figuring it out along with Rosemary. One of the best horror books I’ve read in a long time. Rosemary and Guy have moved into a nice new apartment, the one they have always dreamed off. Everything is perfect, especially the overly friendly neighbours. Their friend Hutch gave them a warning before they moved in, and depsite ignoring that, Rosemary soon starts to notice that things aren’t what they seem. The tension builds slowly through the story, developing at what at first feels like a snail’s pace and then picks up at the end, just as it’s already too late. The best thing is thinking back over what has happened, every little event is there for a reason and it’s all adding to the reveal. At some point, I plan on re-reading the book and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much knowing what was going to happen and seeing all of the little hints throughout.

After finishing Rosemary’s Baby, I was craving more. Tabby had The Stepford Wives on our shelf, also by Ira Levin. I thought that it might scratch the itch. The Stepford Wives, doesn’t need explaining, even if you’ve never heard of the book, or films, then I’m sure you’ve heard the term before. I didn’t really know the story beyond the obvious and even that’s too much. It’s pretty much what I expected. The tension is there and it’s definitely a page-turner. Not as good as Rosemary’s Baby but at 140ish pages, it’s well worth a read. Again tension builds over the course of the story and similar to Rosemary’s Baby, the perfect neighbourhood is hiding a secret. I read it in one day, pretty much in one sitting. With payday this week, it’s very tempting to buy the rest of Ira Levin’s books, especially Son of Rosemary. I might be a little too tempted. Not that our shelves can hold the weight.

After reading those two books, I wanted more of the same. Horror/thriller. I know I mentioned last time that I had a plan of which books I was going to read, but that was thrown out of the window. I went up to my too read shelf and pulled out The Dead Zone by Stephen King. King is one of my favourite writers. Everything I’ve read by him is seriously good. He has a grasp of character that most writers would envy. I watched the film adaptation of The Dead Zone a while ago, purely because Martin Sheen was in it. I really loved the film and it ranks very highly in my personal favourites and is definitely my favourite King adaptation. The book was no let down. It’s quite a long story, following Johnny Smith a seemingly normal teacher who had an accident as a child and again as an adult. Both accidents seem to bring forth an ability of premonition and Johnny has to choose how he can use that ability for good. The first half of the book is really just a tale of loss and recovery. After a car crash, Johnny loses 5 years of his life and is trying to get his life back on track and deal with the loss of time and his true love who has moved on to someone else. Like most of Stephen King’s books, I could have just read that story and didn’t need the supernatural element to drive the plot. The characters all feel so real that nothing beyond them needs to matter. They are so real that everything that happens in the later half of the book have higher stakes and matter so much more. Overall I really liked this book. I still think that IT is my favourite Stephen King book, but this comes in my top 3.

Finishing The Dead Zone, left me wanting more of Stephen King. I picked up Night Shift, a collection of early short stories by King. A real mixed bag here. The opening story, Jerusalem’s Lot, which is connected to Salem’s lot is disappointing to say the least. God knows why it was chosen to to start the collection. Graveyard shift, the second story, is the highlight so far. Mutant Rats, and a growing sense of claustraphobia. The Boogeyman and trucks are also pretty good. The Lawnmower Man is very strange. I haven’t read many short stories before, even though we were told to, during the first year of uni. I’m enjoying this one so far. Taking a break between each story and doing something else. Letting each story sit with me for a little while. I’ve got a collection of Lovecraft stories upstairs, which may jump up a few places on my too read list.

After I’ve finished with Night Shift, I have Midnight Sun to read. Tabby has finished it, and now it’s my turn. It’s been a decade or more since I read the Twilight books, and I’m interested to go back. I remember enjoying them and I am looking forward to revisiting the story from anoter perspective. After Midnight Sun, I’m going to finish Darren Shan’s latest book and then see what takes my fancy.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

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