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Danny Lowlife



Do you ever remember what I said on the day?

Where I said I would take us to Gairlochy Bay.

In an old boat house away from the world

We’d lose ourselves; the boy and the girl.

Did you forget the stillness of the trees?

Or the lakes, the grass, the woods, the reeds?


We would’ve have been there for days or an eternity

But in the end you chose the cold and severity

Of harsh, coarse buildings built like towers

You forgot the world of dreams and flowers.

Can you even picture a boat like a zephyr?  

On which we would float on the heavens for a day, and forever.


Your earthy brown eyes once warm and inviting;

Hold now nothing but a room which I once spent a night in.

We did nought but talk and occasionally touch;

But with just a smile you did my heart so, so much.


An hour and forever if forever was a second;

To your heel I would come if you did nought but beckon.

The Boathouse is real I did not spin a tale;

Of a quiet hidden paradise between the lake and the vale

The fire remains lit and yet yours still needs igniting

But its light remains soft, warm and inviting.


An hour and forever and forever for me

For you just an hour between you and me.

The days are like starlight: cold and unfeeling

And like the paint on the walls your memory of me is peeling

For me it is perfect and like the lake unmoving

Its voice is like yours soft and soothing

The reeds gently play in the wind and the rain

Their thoughts of joy not of sadness and disdain


An hour and forever but what’s left is a few hours

I sit here on the porch with a vase and some flowers

They are wild flowers with colour so bold

Betony, bird’s foot and marigold

On this chair I have waited through the frost and the freeze

The lake has become hard now and won’t budge for the breeze


My fire is still lit but its embers are fleeting

It burns through the snow, the thaw and the sleeting

An hour and forever and once I was told

That love is much simpler as you grow old

The world says it’s spring but in your autumnal self

Without you have seeing it I’ve sacrificed my health

Lost beneath the lake and no rope to pull onto

I gladly float to the bottom with no world to look back to


An hour I had but it would take more than a day

To write in these pages what I feel

And those things I want to say

Give me forever at Gairlochy Bay

What I wish is to be with you forever;

Forever and a day.

Danny Lowlife


It was a new day.  Was it?  Had a day actually passed?  It could be a new day.  Suddenly I find myself in the kitchen staring at the coffee pot slowly sweating as it got hotter.  I stare further into one small droplet and I’m transported into a memory of the swimming pool I used to go to as a kid.  I used to love swimming, most of the time I would go alone but not always; other times I would go with my sister or some of our friends.  But I loved to go alone.  I always believed that if I could breathe underwater I’d always be so much more at peace; an empty swimming pool is sometimes better than an empty book store, like staring at your ceiling in the dead of the night, it opened up the walls of my mind and let my imagination loose.  I hovered in the chlorine water, miles from the surface, and suddenly it wasn’t chlorine at all but salt water.  I was in the sea and amidst the dark shone the beautiful bright bioluminescence of the Jelly and Angler fish that swam as still as corpses.  Then the darkness disappeared and my eyes were greeted with hues of violet, turquoise and saffron.  

I didn’t need to breathe.

A pod of Orcas made their way calmly passed me, with the two smaller ones coming close to inspect this not-fish floating in the ocean before the clicks and higher pitched calls of their mother called them back to the pod ahead.  I stare at them and felt a small amount of happiness before a very large feeling of dread.  The sea became furious and red.  The pod of Orcas fought with all their might to fight the battering rams of wave after wave.  They’re separated and the male is flung up above the surface of the thrashing, frothing waves and tossed against each new hand that formed.  It cries for help but the others are being pushed against the current.  The last thing I hear of them are their shrill, mournful cries before being taken away by the current.

I don’t need to breathe.

The storm settles and the vehement reds become olive and chartreuse, algae surrounds me and clumsily tumbles over my skin and through my fingers and toes.  It is gentle and kind.  A thousand million hands gently guide me forward through the green haze and stillness of the ocean.  As I do the sun shines its coruscating light and falls softly on the citron water and I can see all the way to the bottom.  Small figures approach.  Their backs are cylindrical and their fins barely visible, except for when the curtain parts from the small ripples made from the kicking of my feet.  The turtles are two and they approach languidly, one, the larger, with a stick held in its mouth and the other, who was considerably smaller but wider, carried a doily on its back.  Both become level with my eye line and blink slowly.  I looked at their eyes and see a ghostly blue that is both calming and familiar.  They look to be smiling in a both pleased and – once again – familiar way.  The male, who was the larger, let go of the stick in his mouth and let it drop lazily into my right hand, I see now it is not a stick but a walking cane.  The smaller female picks the doily on her back and watches as it tidily finds itself around my neck.  They both blink in a slow nod, give a weak smile before flying through the green mist, upwards and towards the surface world.

I don’t need to breathe.

The world of colour disappears.  Black tendrils envelope the surroundings like ink in water and I have returned to the world of the dark and I am worn out and weary.  My heart pounds as strong and as infrequent as thunder.  I am falling now and the water becomes cold, and in the cold I fall further and further and falling still, in an eternity seconds pass and I have found the bottom of the ocean.  It isn’t the coarse sand I feel below my feet but hard and smooth material, like bone.  I can feel the gentle brush of the sea weed and the small crustaceans rush away from the disturbance I have caused.   

I can’t breathe.

Silence.  And nothing but.  The light had all gone and only the sensation of the gentle current of the Dead Sea remained.  I could feel nothing else, and then nothing at all.  Tired.  So tired.

I wasn’t breathing.

Silence is followed by a sound, a resonating beat that thuds through the body and snares my attention.

Light erupts and all the colours cascade into my mind with reds and greens and blues and yellows, each race through every corner of my mind.


I need to…


I feel the waves once again, but this time they are gentle; each like a soft hand waking a child.

My back was laid on sand.  It wasn’t coarse like the kind I knew but soft and inviting.


I wanted to …


I gasp, cough and splutter the sea water.  My lungs burned with the remnants of the brine and I cough some more until they’re clear.


I could breathe.


The Kitchen remerges and I haven’t move a muscle.  My face is damp but it is not from my voyage but from sweat. 

The coffee pot goes on standby.  I hold myself for a second and regard my surroundings.  I can see myself in the reflection of the glass cupboards.  I can see our family photo when from when we all went on our last holiday to Greece. And I can see a photo of my Grandparents next to each other, smiling months before they passed away.

Life’s an adventure Kid, my Grandad used to say.

No, not an adventure.

An Odyssey.

Code name: LIMBO - Main Project Extract

Danny Lowlife

“What is it that draws you to churches”, said a voice from behind me.
I turned slightly and saw in the corner of my eye a scrawny figure.  It was Virgil.  He was stood there, eye brow cocked in mild curiosity and his hands in his jeans.  
I stared at the procession and smiled, “I don’t know if I’m honest.  During the day it’s so quiet you can hear a gnat fart – it’s so peaceful.  During mass, however, it’s a bizarre experience; with this lot they’re so depressing to watch and listen to.  It’s the problem with catholics: they’re mourners, every Sunday is another funeral.  Gospel!  Now there’s a way to celebrate faith, not singing in a laborious manner but in fact cheering and smiling and being bloody happy.  A celebration is what it should be”
Virgil frowned.  I could hear his enormous greying eyebrows scrape against each other,  “You’re searching for a way out aren’t you?  Let me tell you something”, he moved to my side and stared down with me.  “These people have a concept for what is a heaven and what is a hell.  For them heaven is a a glorious gate with an equally glorious light, and hell is a fire pit of eternal torture.  Hell, for you, is to spend the rest of your life chained to a desk job saying, “Yes Sir!” and “No Sir!”’.
“And my heaven?”, I asked resolutely.
“I don’t think anyone can tell you what that is.  Although, I have my suspicions”
“Which are?”
He gave a sad smile, “For another time I think”.
“I chose a way out, Virgil.  It is what got me here in the first place so why couldn’t I do it again?  Find a way out and go find my own Nirvana?  The worst part of the human condition is the certain uncertainty that we know anything.  Look down there.  Do you see that man with the bald head and the hideous green jacket? Scientist.  He’s a bloody scientist.  Go back a good, say, few hundred years or so and that man would have been marked as a heretic.  And there! At the head of the procession, leading this merry band of mourners – a female vicar.  Why it matters what gender a spiritual leader is is beyond me, never mind what one of there representatives is!  Why it took so long for that to happen in this church is beyond me.”
“You’re digressing and beginning to rant, Old Boy.  I trust you have a point?”
“I’m getting there!  Somewhat haphazardly, admittedly, but bare with me”, I took a breath and tried to slow myself and organise my thoughts.  “What do those with faith see when they look up at the stars?  I can’t speak for all – god knows I ain’t going to try – but from my friends who have faith they either see a wonderful creation or the path to heaven.  Is it the same for a cell in a Petri dish?  If the cells were – or are – capable of looking up at the at microscope, looking at it’s complexities and deeming it to be where their little souls go? No.  And until such a day comes where we can communicate with single cells on a verbal level that is where my foot will stay on the subject.  A scientist, for let’s not forget them in this, sees galaxies and tumbling and gorgeous nebulas and impossible, possible balls of gas.  Is that not also beautiful?  I think, with however short a time I have had on this planet, that however much faith both bores and confuses me but instils a sense of peace, and science causes some wonder and makes me feel smaller still, like our friend the single cell, I only ever saw the truth and beauty of the world and the universe through the arts and the books of my favourite writers – through someone else’s eyes.  Through a kind of symbiosis.  Is that what they see?  I’m not so sure and I don’t care to assume”, I took another breath and wiped my forehead before looking into Virgils old blue eyes, “Quiet.  That’s what I like about churches.  Regardless of anything they make my mind quiet, and I enjoy them for it”.
“You have a manic mind, my friend.  You’re too busy trying to see everything, that you fail to see what is in front of you”.
I looked at the people below all dressed in black, I looked at the stained windows all multi-faceted with colours and faded with age, and I looked behind me before meeting Virgils gaze once more.  There was a kind of paternity in his eyes, sad but leading to a point and he finally turned and said,  “This is your funeral”.


Danny Lowlife

I blinked and she disappeared, as did the room, and the surrounding area was nothing but inky darkness, that flowed slowly as if made of water or very thick mist.  I blinked again and the door to the kitchen had reappeared.  Inside the walls and the tiles of the floor were cracked and often, and the only light source was that of a street lamp that had surreptitiously placed itself in the space between the door and the kitchen table.  It, like its environment, was in a state of disrepair and the egg shaped bulb that was tucked away behind the fractured glass waxed and waned.  
I’d be safe there, I told myself.  Walking however was not as easy as it once was.  Every step was as heavy as the next as if my shoes were filled with cement and my muscles had given in to atrophy.  Each time i couldn’t be sure if the shadows for which my feet scraped against would be solid floor or, like the shows would have me perceive, be like water and with my heavy, useless limbs I would fall into the abyss that had surrounded me.  It was the light,  I told myself.  The light would keep me safe.  But with each arduous shift of my body the bulb of the derelict street lamp shrunk and the kitchen itself peeled more and more away.  If I didn’t get there soon I would be lost.  I cried and shouted to the room ahead of me, each time my voice was become more hoarse and monstrous.  Fire burned through my veins and pressure filled my head causing blood to pour from my nose and ears.  I was steps away one moment then was a league away the next, each time I would drag and drag my feet towards the ever fading light, often pulling my legs by the knees with my arms.  I was closer now and my hand could just about touch the door frame.  A small amount of hope filled my body enough to push myself harder and make that last step through the threshold.  As my right foot was about to land, like the last step of an absurd marathon, the door frame spasmed and collapsed on itself leaving me on my knees in the black smoke of the place that was once her living room.  
Hot tears filled my eyes and poured from my face as I gave into a sob.  My throat was too dry for me to cry out leaving me making sounds that were more akin to that of a croak.
“I can’t do it”, I muttered through snot and the bullet-like tears, “I simply can’t”.
A hand placed itself upon my shoulder, “Dee”, said a soft voice.
I spun around, faster than I could have, and found my self on my knees in a brightly lit room with her in front of me.  She smile a soft smile, the kind that never made you feel alone nor ever showed any indifference and, whilst crouching in front of me said quite simply, “You never have to do this alone”. 
The world returned.  The tar that had enveloped me had evaporated and colour returned to the world.  She helped me to my feet and kissed me softly.  I didn’t let go.


Danny Lowlife

It began as it always did: with the sky as black as anthracite and the rain falling like mortar shells against the thin window pane. A memory passes as if it was a year and then silence followed by a white noise.  Then I hear it.  It announces itself with a bone snapping crack causing my body to reel and tense before I realise that I am incapable of moving, as if cement had set into my veins.  Sometimes you’d feel a prickle at the base of your spine or a tickle on one of your feet.  That’s how he gets into your head; gently, tentatively, allowing you to believe that it is just your imagination. That it is all just a dream.  

On the second week everything changes.  The thing has your attention now and after seven days you’ve grown so used to it’s presence that that it has to step it up a notch; it begins to leech off of the shock and fear like a tonic, which is it’s lifeblood, a substance which is more addictive to it and necessary in a way more than any human mind could ever comprehend.  After a while though you begin to ignore it so it pulls at your legs as you doze off, forcing you to turn around and see nothing but the dark tv static of your room.  But there’s nothing there.  There’s never anything there.  That’s what it wants you to think.  For let me tell you that should you fall asleep face upwards during its machinations you will be greeted with a dark figure, darker that the blackest night, so much so that it stands out in a pitch black room so badly you could have sworn your surroundings were grey.  It does not talk. It does not move.  The very air around you becomes as ice, frost forms on the windows and curtains. Then, and only then, you are met with the lidless stare of the creature.  The shadow of one of M.Night Shayamalan's aliens, tall with thin arms and legs, haunched over and primed to pounce at you the entire time; breathing deeply and slowly whilst making absolutely no sound.  Then you try to scream, and you realise that those first symptoms that you had were not symptoms but it’s very own brand of a paralytic. A kind that only reacts when the body is in shock.  It turns your bedroom into the Spiders Cobweb Hotel.  Your bed becomes the dinner table.  And the rest of you is lapped away slowly.

Danny Lowlife

It was the evening of The Danby’s dinner party; the weather outside awful with rain hitting the ground like bullets and the thunder and lightning fighting above and through the barricade of clouds.  To those in attendance, however, none of that mattered.  The dining room was warm and filled with the rich smells of marinated meat and roasted vegetables; the wine poured as easily as the conversation and all were prosing about their daily lives.  All except two.  The first one was a woman in her early twenties, pale, perfectly pleasant and sipping on her wine instead of making small talk and smiling when the need called for it.  The other was a man of a similar age.  This man, on the other hand, was sitting straight with his hands on his lap and was doing nothing but staring at the procession of diners and, occasionally, into space.  It was then that Dolly chimed in, this time trying to get her dear friend Nathan to join in on the conversation.

”Well Nathan has an unconventional talent”, she says putting an arm on her friend.

Ms Danby tilts her glasses on the edge of her nose and tried to appraise him with an eyebrow cocked playfully, “Oh! Is that so?  Now I see why you brought him here Dolly.  Is it true Nathan?  Do you have a unusual talent?”.

Nathan remained static but his head and his eyes briefly locked on the overly familiar Ms Danby, “Apparently.  Although I don’t believe it’s any kind of talent that you currently need right now”.  A small smile crawled on his face as if he had seen something he wasn’t supposed to.  

“Yes”, Dolly continued, it appeared she had noticed it too, “He sees things.  Isn’t that right?  He can look into a persons eyes and know everything about them”

Mr Danby, who was apparently the brother to Ms Danby and not her husband, spoke, “Oh like that Derren Brown fella?  He’s amazing!  Never get tired of watching that man, apart from that casino episode - bit of a let down.  Go on the Nathan show us your trick”.  Nathan rolled his eyes, the man had clearly more wine in him than food.

”It is not a trick and it is nothing that has been put there to amuse people.  Some of the things you see can be harrowing and disturbing; I once met a man who had fantasies about his sister, there was another who was obsessed on turning everything into ember and another that wore his mother’s dress as he slaughtered his family.  There is nothing entertaining about that”, Nathan returned to his untouched red wine.  He wasn’t going to drink it but he did enjoy the smell.

”So you can’t do it then?”, Ms Danby chimed in.

Nathan’s eyes rolled again, “Of course I can”.

”Well go on then! We’re all on the edge of our seats”, said Mr Danby.

”Go on Nathan”, Dolly said.  Her voice with all the persuasiveness of an annoying little sister.

”You want me to show you what I can do?”

”Yes!”, the three of them said in unison.

There was one voice that hadn’t said a word during this and that was of the silent guest opposite Nathan.

He appraised her, “You there what’s you name?”.

She jumped slightly and some coloured returned to her otherwise pale cheeks, “R...Rose“

”Hello Rose.  I don’t want you to do anything but stay still and look at me”

Her eyes became glass and the glass became windows.

“There’s a girl on a swing…”

“No Nathan stop, not her!” Dolly begged but the process had already begun.

“…the girls is along, her hair is in a neat plait and she swings”, Nathan’s head jolts from right to left, “There’s a man there now, standing behind her with a hand on her pale shoulder, the hand is coarse and the girl’s face is scared…”

“Nathan I said no!”, but Nathan could not hear her, his eyes has become as pale as marbles and he was lost within the memory.

“Years drag by and the girl is a young woman, the swing remains but has become worn as nature slowly attempts to take it back.  The man is there again and he pushes the young woman against the tall oak tree”, the scene disappears with the summer breeze and the green of the garden disappears and is replaced by the opulent glow of the moon.

“Years and years now”, Nathan continues.  “The swing is in a state of disrepair, hanging on only by a singular rotting rope.  The clouds part and we see in the veil of the moonlight the man once again; he is hanging by a rope from the tall oak tree, the rope is the sister to the one that holds the swing.  His face is in a permanent state of shock and contortion and below him stands the woman; her hair is plaited and she is wearing a white muslin gown”.

Nathan’s eye once again became clear and sharply looked towards Rose, “That was you.  And the man?”

Thick angry tears fell from Rose’s eyes, “My father.”

The evening came to an end and no one said a word.

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