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01 all aboard

Thank you for joining me on this journey which is just beginning. So the first bit of news that I want to share is the launch date for The Degenerate Opportunity - 1st May 2017, a special date for me for personal reasons and a date synonymous with people everywhere fighting back against ideologies handed down to them but they don't necessary agree with.

An excerpt from The Degenerate Opportunity:

"Today is my first day starting a new job, so I decided I would take the tube in to be on time and not arrive sweaty and needing a shower. Once I’ve established myself at the company I’ll run or cycle in. These alternative methods of traveling are preferable to me because it will form part of my exercise routine while saving time, but more importantly it means I’ll spare myself the displeasure of having to be squashed next to a bunch of degenerates."



02 The Revolution Is Already Happening — The People Are Rising Up

Brexit, Trump, the UK Hung Parliament shows the population is becoming disenfranchised with the way they are being governed. Wrong or right, they are voting against the current status quo and heralding in an era of unknown. They are rising up against the machine, wanting chaos where order once stood. This is exemplified in my debut novel, the recently released ‘The Degenerate Opportunity’. Told from the point-of-view of an anti-hero, Sebastian Bowman, who sees all governments, establishments and society as corrupt and is on his own mission. He wants to help people that need it but is going about it in a very unique way.

I wanted to write a book that breaks from the norm, like how society is currently changing, while exploring some of the darker elements of humanity, which I believe this book does. Throughout the book, as the main story unfolds, this complex character narrates on current twenty-first century life which Sebastian feels is dictated and controlled by the government; everything from commuting, working, the media, dating, immigration, reality television, Santa Claus to society itself. So he is trying to save people, why won’t they let him?

Sebastian, a mixture of Patrick Bateman and Hannibal Lecter, is gay but this is not erotica or a coming out story — like the majority of books in this genre seem to be. He has an opinion on everything and the book is satirical about pop culture: this contemporary fiction covering genres such as thrillers, horror, and romance has mass appeal to the changing face of the world and is not limited to any one audience.


03 Sexquation: the hard and fast rule to getting laid

The pertinent question of “how many dates should you wait to make a move?” has been discussed, debated, and dissected. In my head it would be best answered with some sort of ‘complex’ formula to act as the hard and fast rule. This way everyone can just plug information in to the equation and get a magic number. Firstly I need to clarify that in my head ‘make a move’ means initiating sleeping with, if your definition of make a move means a passionate kiss then by all means do that on the first date, hell like do it within the initial five minutes of meeting up.

Going back to the ‘sexquation’ it would be something like the below, encompassing various types of intimate factors:

n = {(10/L) x [(Y — H — p) x G]}/C — d

n = number of dates you should wait to make a move

L = your level of horniness (out of 10)

Y = your level of hotness (out of 10)

H = his level of hotness (out of 10)

p = 1, if he paid for the previous date/paying for the current date (total spend $50$249); 2, if he paid for the previous date/paying for the current date ($250+)

G = Gay constant (think Avogadro’s) of 0.25; unless Y > 8, then let G = 0.5

C = numbers of days since you last came

d = number of dates you have already been on

I actually jest, feel free to use the equation if you want to introduce a mathematical dimension to what is going on in your underwear (if you wear any) department, believe me some guys do. But in reality there are no rules, no right or wrong to the number of dates you should wait to make a move. If it feels right and it is safe to do so, then by all means make your move.

If the type of questions you are asking yourself are: but won’t this make me look easy, can we ever have a lasting relationship based on this? I know guys who have hooked up with someone after just meeting and have gone on to date, move in together and get married. As well as guys who went on three–four dates before the meeting of the downstairs minds took place, and they also went to date further, move in together and get married. So if two guys like each other and consent, when they decide to make merry doesn’t factor in to the equation of long-term happiness. Also, shock-horror our heterosexual counterparts have also be known to engage in carnal delights without obeying the sexquation law.

It should not be a case of following societal norms — meet, date, date some more, then have sex when an appropriate amount of time has passed. The real actual pertinent question you should be asking yourself is: how much do you fancy the person sat next/across from you. And how much do you need to know about them before you can be together without losing your integrity.

In the long and short of it, if you like a guy and feel that he likes you, then why not try your luck, make your move. Game playing is a turn-off, so don’t bother with it and do what feels right. And as far as hard and fast rules go, there aren’t any (well maybe just to stay hard) as everyone is an individual with their own needs and beliefs. So break the societal norm, don’t over think it, and make your move whenever you believe it is the right time; three minutes after first meeting the person, three dates together, or after three years. The choice is yours.


04 The changing face of dating

“Tonight I just want to go out and have sex. In the past this would have meant having to go to a bar or club, have a few drinks and dance to show how great you are. But in this day and age, you can just use your phone and various applications to find a hook-up. I can even start this process towards the end of the working day, unlike when you had to use the internet on your computer and would be scared of all the urban legends about the IT department tracking what sites you visit.” – Sebastian Bowman, Psychopath, The Degenerate Opportunity

While Sebastian's statement is quite direct and is about looking for sex, the same principles can be applied to dating. The part about “in this day and age, you can just use your phone and various applications” showcases the changing face of dating. This change, not the actual date itself but the introduction, has been heralded in by the technology we surround ourselves in and can’t live without – namely the Internet and smartphones.

Historically meeting someone to date would have involved seeing someone you like in person and approaching them on the street/college/work/night out/social occasion or be facilitated through a friend/relative. But now for the majority this facilitation is done by “dating” apps and websites and the approach is not so in your face but more a clever prose in textspeak.

Where now you can see a catalogue of potential dates and have the ability to interact with them from the comfort “of your armchair”. The efficiency of this evolved introduction means that before you meet them in person you can usually; view multiple pictures, ascertaining a physical attraction: read a profile, seeing if they have attributes you find desirable: and ask them questions for as long as necessary, to determine if you would be a good match. By the time you do the actual first-date, it is more like a second- or third-date. In this day and age where time is short and we have evolved how we work, live and interact isn’t this dating change just the next progression.

For certain individuals and groups like someone who has just moved to a major city and is feeling lonely, those in the LGBT community, older adults, people with specific kinks this new way of dating can be a life line into actually getting a date. For example when you do not know if a stranger you see bats for your team or not, you are newly divorced and don’t want to be alone, or you have a leather fetish it can be hard to be introduced to someone that you want to date.

When I first came out to myself, the Internet was just kicking off and mobile phones could only handle the game Snake. I didn’t feel confident to go up to a random stranger and ask them out, at that time never had a support network of family/friends to help set me up, and as I wasn’t publicly out so wasn’t frequenting like-minded places. As a student I spent a lot of time online, and it seemed totally natural to use that resource: it was safe, it was secret, it was new and exciting. So I cruised the sites and was introduced to men, I started to date a few of them, building my confidence and network. One of them I actually dated for just over a year.

So while the way we date a coffee, drink, meal, movie, walk etc. might not have changed. The way we meet that actual date has changed, it has evolved with the times. Technology that is now our way of life has adapted itself to facilitate the primal desire of the majority the hunt for love: changing the face of dating.


05 The man behind the keyboard

Thursday started like any other day, I woke up, got ready for work and commuted in to the office of my relatively new job. I just came back from a morning meeting and sat at my desk. The human resources manager came up to me and asked to have a word. This is never good; it usually means someone has quit or there is some big company news. We walked off together, as we sat down I noticed her eyes were red like she had been crying. Then she told me the news, I was shocked and felt numb. I returned to my desk and sat there and watched as she asked to speak to my team; they all walked off together to the main meeting room. I knew what she was about to tell them and felt deeply gutted and sad for them. The news was that the day before an ex-colleague had committed suicide.


I didn't know the guy personally, as he had left the company before I started. But from what I heard he was a hardworking, creative guy who had made a wonderful impact on the team even though he was battling his own demons. I watched as the team returned, visibly distraught. As they left for the day, to process what they had heard, to reminisce about the guy, to cry or all of the above I was left to hold down the fort. But I also couldn't concentrate - the thought that a young man in his early thirties could be so down, feel so heavily burdened/traumatised, have unresolved mental health issues that he felt he had no other course of action but to take his own life - was playing on my mind.


The impact of mental health disorders are thought to be different for men and women due to men potentially not talking about their feelings, hiding their emotions, and turning to alcohol/drugs. [1] Young male adolescents questioning their sexuality are particularly prone to these issues by not necessarily talking about their feelings due to societal prejudices, and tending to hide their emotions until they can make sense of what is going on in their heads and urges from their bodies. It has been reported that gay men are believed to be a subgroup vulnerable to depression, with the prevalence being three times higher than that in the general population. With depression being a known risk factor for suicide, gay men are also reported to be at a higher risk for committing suicide. [2] The reasons for these higher rates include accepting one’s homosexuality, being subjected to homophobia and discrimination, problems with relationships, and alienation from the gay community. [2]


“Nearly one-third (29%) of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.” [3]


These figures are truly disturbing, so as a community we have a duty of care to do something. If we saw someone about to jump off a bridge, we would try to intervene and talk them out of doing so. While the bridge situation is an extreme one that may never present itself, it is in our everyday interactions we can make a difference. You never know what someone else is going through, what they are thinking or how close to the edge they are. The least we can do is just be nice to one another. Without getting preachy the next time ‘a stranger’ messages us on any of the various apps or social media, a simple “sorry I'm a bit busy at the moment” rather than just ignoring them would be nicer. Maybe try not to alienate minorities by saying we don't like Asians, Fems, large guys etc. and judge individuals on a case by case basis. After talking to someone for a while and losing interest, let them know that we have changed our mind rather than leaving them hanging. When hooking up - be clear about our intentions and long-term goals.


We all need to think more about the person working the app/computer, and not just judge the picture(s) but think of the human being – the actual man behind the keyboard – with real emotions and feelings we are communicating with. A little bit of kindness, honesty and thoughtfulness can potentially go further than we will ever know, and might even be the difference between life and death.


[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/men-and-mental-health/index.shtml

[2] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1557988316685492

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm


06 The game of life

As we live and continue with our routine, even breaking from the normal from time to time; the question remains are we just pawns in the game of life? Without getting theological, our existence can be likened to a game. As in backgammon, chess, scrabble, any game really — understanding the rules and players gives one a competitive advantage. The rules of the game of life are constantly changing and evolving, so understanding some of the different types of players involved in the game will help to decipher it. No where is this more pertinent than when it comes to dating, especially on The Scene.

Meet the players

Bobby — the control freak
“I sit there taking in the admiration. I feel that familiar high — the rush I get from praise. My heart starts beating faster as the sense of control and power washes over my body; the sensation makes me feel truly awesome. I cannot stand the idea of losing control in front of work colleagues, or anyone in fact. When I’d heard that we won the contract and I would have to give the office presentation, I took a beta-blocker to calm my anxiety and to make sure I did not sweat profusely.”

Jason — the partier
“Not one to turn down a free score, I watch as he cuts up a couple of lines each. I wish he would do it quicker because once the offer is made, I am really craving it. My heart is beating in anticipation of the glorious accelerant when the he hands me a rolled-up twenty. I take one of the lines up my left nostril in a heartbeat. The near-instant rush is exhilarating. I hand the note back to him.”

Joseph — the effeminate one
“It usually ends up in me sending more pictures — my ass, as I am a bottom, and then my face. Which is where I tend to lose the interest of most guys. It annoys me that they can smell my effeminate nature from my face picture, but I do not want to go with a guy who only likes ‘straight-acting’ men or a ‘muscle bottom,’ the new ‘in thing’ on the scene. We would not be a good match, and it is better to get this out of the way early.”

Marco — the compulsive liar
“After a brief chat I sit down with my original ‘date.’ I look at his drink and ask what it is. [LIE 1: I hang out with enough gay males to know a vodka, orange, and cranberry when I see it.] I order myself a bottle of Italian beer, telling my date it is my favourite. [LIE 2: I am thinking I should just play to the stereotype.] I tell my date he looks nice and the guy-liner he is wearing makes him look hot. [LIE 3.]”

Nathan — the one in denial
“I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen, to camouflage the two centimetre-long scars on my right shoulder that I had given myself in my early teens. These self-inflicted souvenirs were from the darkest time in my life, that period when I was unable to deal with my sexuality. When the darkness had completely gone, I did not want anyone to see the scars so I had an Egyptian eye tattooed to hide them. After the first tattoo, I was hooked. I do not know why people said they hurt. I like the initial burning sensation, then numbness when I get inked.”

Taylor — the game player
“Game on. This is just the light-hearted diversion I need after seeing that patient. I know exactly what he means when he asks me a question, but I respond with the blankest expression I can muster. He does not rise to the bait because he is too stupid to know he is being baited. I decide it is best to change tack and make it all about the nurse. Talking about himself means he is likely to babble on and reveal something that I can use against him.”

Timothy — the gym bunny
“The guy picks up the metal effortlessly. He is bench-pressing the weight with such ease that I cannot help but stare. The pumped-up gym guy is wearing a tank top that shows off his upper body, athletic arms, brawny back, and chiselled chest. I appreciate the level of dedication the guy puts into his body. I share his devotedness. I have already been to the gym once today, but after the boyfriend said he would be home late due to after-work drinks, I thought I would go again.”


07 The Ratseller

Alert: emergency shift, emergency shift.

Carmen barely had time to register what she was hearing before being abruptly plucked from the canteen and moved into the control room. Her heart was racing, something major is happening, her command instinct kicked in, “Captain, what is wrong?” There was no response, her ice-blue eyes glanced around the heart of the ship seeking him out. Then Magnus emerged, naked and wet. Carmen stared at the muscly engineer and security guard, causing him to place his hands to hide his manhood. Carmen tried to ignore her colleague, “Big Sister, where is Captain Avarus?”

Emergency shift procedure is in place.

“Then Jonathan should have been here first.”

The outline of another person came into view, then Anna the medic materialised, “is it a medical emergency?” Before she got a response the ship’s steward, Edward appeared. His skin was pale and his legs were shaking; shifting did not agree with everyone, he sank down on the floor. Anna walked over to him, knelt down and put her arm around his shoulder and started speaking to him. Ariella was translocated to join the rest of the crew, she was wet but had a towel wrapped around herself. Even though she looked dishevelled, her natural beauty shone through. Feeling self-conscious she adjusted the towel as she scanned the area.

Then in the middle of the control room, a translucent-green, illustration appeared. The five crew members were taken aback, each looking at one another and then back at the ghost-like figure. It was it the image of a middle-aged, short, plump woman. “I am a holographic projection of the artificial intelligence you call Big Sister. This is the only room with projectors, so the only place I can exist in this form. The situation has called for this extreme measure. Captain Jonathan Avarus is dead, he was murdered. I have…” There was mumbling and various questions but the machine just continued to speak. Anna squeezed Edward’s shoulder harder. “Taken control of the ship, and sealed this room. Once the Captain’s monitor stopped relaying life signs to the computer I was activated. I have brought you all here, to question you and ascertain who murdered the Captain.”

“Jonny this is not funny, you can come out now, please.” Ariella begged, her voice had a hint of fear.

“He is dead,” Big Sister continued. A figure shifted on to the floor next to the projection, she pointed at the body, “his head has been caved in, it looks like he was hit from behind with a blunt object.” The dead man seemed to stare at them with his expressionless brown eyes which were wide open.

“Enough.” Carmen said trying to remain composed. “Shift the body out of here, his fiancé and brother are in the room.”

“We do not have time for diplomacy. I have halted our current course, we are adrift until this situation is resolved.”

“Resolved. My brother has been killed you stupid computer.” Edward shouted as he stood up and pushed Anna away.

Ariella started shrieking, “my love, he can’t be gone.”

“Big Sister, why don’t you shift everyone back to their rooms, so we can take the time to properly mourn Jonathan, humans need time to grieve. Then you can bring them back here for your interrogation.” Anna offered.

“No. The killer would have time to think up excuses and may try to escape. I do need some level of calm to conduct this investigation though. Everyone go in an escape pod, I will allow audio so you can all hear what I say to each other and the answers but you will not be permitted to speak until I turn your box on.”

“This is ridiculous, we have a precious cargo to deliver. As the Captain is no longer with us, I am in charge, and it’s up to me to make sure we complete our mission. After all we all want to get paid.”

“You greedy bitch.” Ariella cut in.

“Carmen is just saying what we’re all thinking. Yes it is tragic something happened to Jon, but this is a dangerous business, he knew that, we know that. We do it for the money, nothing else.”

“Really Magnus?” Ariella said giving him a dirty look.

 Carmen couldn’t let the dig go. “Well maybe Ariella isn’t greedy for money but wants lots of something else. Why else were you both showering at this time of day? I presume it was together, Big Sister did you shift them from the same location. Maybe the Captain’s fiancé wanted out of the relationship to pursue the hunky engineer.”

“What? Are you two shagging? Are you cheating on my brother?”

“Yes Edward, I believe they were. Magnus can’t keep it in his pants and Ariella is a greedy whore.”

“Enough, everyone to the escape pods.” The team started to move, wearily looking at each other as the newly revealed revelations had surfaced, and the coffin like structures rose up from the floor. “While you have been bickering, I have downloaded your personal files and logs.” The crew entered the fully emerged capsules. “I am ready to start this investigation. Who wants to go first?”

“As commander, I will. Then you can eliminate me and I can get on with our mission.” There was a swish noise as all the shells were sealed.

“You mentioned our cargo, what do you know about it?

“Just that it is to be our most profitable haul ever.”

“Your personal logs says you were expecting a pay-out so big you could go your separate way afterwards. Do you want to leave the Ratseller?” 

“It was a figure of speech, I want to do more runs like we are about to.”

“Did you try and usurp Avarus, did the two of you fight, did he strike you, did you hit back?”


“Without him around there will be more profit for you, and you will get the lion’s share as the new captain. You have stated your goal in life is monetary, so you have the motive.”

“He was my friend. I would personally question the not-so-doting fiancé.” Carmen smirked.

“Ariella I shifted you from the showers, the same location I shifted Magnus from beforehand. Why were you in the communal showers and not using the private ones in yours and the Captain’s chambers? Did you kill him and move from the scene of the crime? Go and wash all the evidence off?”

“No. No of course not. I would never hurt him or anyone.”

“So what were you doing?”

“It’s true Magnus and I slept together, once. Jonathan knew about it, we were in the communal showers talking about how it was a one off.” She glanced over to the other pods, and saw everyone mouthing words; Carmen was grinning, Edward looked furious and Magnus appeared disappointed.  

“So the Captain was fine with your deceit; or did he start a fight and you ended up striking back. You can claim self-defence, you were justified.”

“That’s not what happened. You know I wasn’t in the room when he was murdered, as I was in the shower area.”

“That is where you were when I shifted you here, I have not ascertained the time of death as I was not online then and it is impossible to check.”

“Why would I kill my future, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have done it once we were married. That way I would have gotten his share of the goods. I loved Jonny.”

“So you thought about it then?” The green detective turned and stared at Magnus’ pod. “The lover. Were you jealous, do you want the woman for yourself? Was he going to kick you off the ship, so you fought, and you killed him? You’re a big man, security guard, I bet you killed him easily. With a simple blow.”

“Nope. Maybe it was you, a homicidal computer, all because he threatened to upgrade you or something.”

“I cannot leave this room.”

Proximity alert. Proximity alert.

The computer manifestation disappeared; everyone was speaking, but only Magnus could be heard. “What is going on? Let us out.” He started thumping the door to his pod.

DID YOU SLEEP WITH EVERYMAN ON THIS SHIP? Ariella read the message that appeared on the screen in her pod. She looked around at the others, everyone seemed focused on the crisis apart from Edward who was staring at her. She typed a response on her keypad. NO.










The hologram reappeared, “scans have revealed a vessel is on an intercept course. Signs indicate it is the same one we encountered a month ago, the ones we fought. They will be here in less than sixty minutes.”

“Look, you need to let us all out immediately. There is no honour among thieves, they can see we are vulnerable. They will come, yl steal our cargo and kill us all.”

“I cannot let any of you out until the murderer has been identified.”

“You stupid computer, there will be nothing left in an hour. Someone speak some sense to this machine, you all…” The audio on his pod was cut-off.

Anna raised her hand.

“Do you wish to confess?”

“No computer, I wish to speak. Why don’t you quickly finish your interrogation and let us get back to manning this ship. I guess it’s my turn.”

“Was it you?”


“Were you jealous of him and his fiancé? Did it upset you seeing them together? Did you secretly covet Jonathan Avarus for yourself?”

“That would be a no.”

“But you were in a physical relationship with him.”


“In his personal records on four separate occasions he mentions being intimate with you. He liked it and by all accounts so did you.”

Anna’s face turned bright red and she looked down towards the floor of her pod, avoiding the gaze of everyone, especially Ariella, and spoke. “It was just sex, good sex. No relationship, no feelings, just satisfying the physical need. We are a small band of pirates smuggling goods across the galaxy, we take pleasure from wherever we can find it.”

THAT MUST STING. Ariella ignored the message and started hitting her pod, tears streaming down her face.

“If I was jealous, then I would have killed his fiancé. Big Sister you can ask your blunt little questions, but you’re not a detective. How are you going to work this out before those other pirates get here?”

The holographic face, which hadn’t changed expression throughout its time active seemed stumped. There was hesitation instead of the barked out questions. “Edward Avarus…” before it could say anything else it disappeared and all the pods simultaneously opened. 

Ariella made a dash for Anna, but Magnus got to her first and held her back. He only just saw Edward lunging at them and managed to turn. The knife scrapped his exposed shoulder and he dropped Ariella.

“Stop this,” Carmen screamed at them. She was still inside her pod, tinkering with a whole load of exposed wires. “I’ve managed to free us and deactivate Big Sister for now, we need to get control of the Ratseller and leap us out of here before it is too late. Any more fighting and I will shoot the offender.” She waved a weapon at the group.

“That little twat stabbed me. I’m not going to lift a finger to help him. I say we split the cargo and go our own separate ways. We only have a short amount of time before it will be too late to escape.”

“We can’t do that, it’s not cargo you can take with you. So let me take a look at your shoulder, you’re bleeding,” Anna offered.

“Wait, where was the blood?” Ariella demanded.

“Huh?” Carmen asked, coming out of her pod.

“She’s right. If his head was smashed in, there should have been blood all over his face. But there wasn’t.” Edward added.

Carmen pointed her weapon at Anna. “I meant, how do you know what the cargo is. Only the Captain has that information. What is it?”

“It’s… it’s people,” Anna whispered. “We are about to smuggle real-life people, they are in cold-status. That’s why it is so much money. Avarus let it slip during our last session. I’m a bad person, but I refuse to sell people, there has to be a line. I pleaded with him that this is wrong, that we can’t be that greedy.”

“So you killed my brother?”

“No, I gave him a little amount of Migsan, it’s a paralysis toxin we use in surgery. I just meant to incapacitate him temporarily, so I could free the people. But I must have got the dose wrong.”

“That’s why there was no blood, she poisoned my fiancé to death.”

“It was an accident. I guess the full paralysis took when he was standing up, the blood pooled, and eventually he fell hitting his head.”

“You murderer.”

“We will all be murderers if we go through with this mission.”

“Hello everyone I am back. Escape pod one deactivating life support. Anna you thought I couldn’t solve this case. Shifting medic into pod one. But I did by letting you all fight it out among yourselves. Closing the pod. It was you and now you need to be punished. Ejecting pod into space.

The remaining crew watched with mixed feelings as the oxygen-less capsule was expelled. A tear rolled down Carmen’s cheek, she wiped it away before anyone saw, “can we all work together, it sounds like we are going to get a massive payload which will now only have to be split four ways. Big Sister, turn control over to me as next in command and we can leap out of here and get back to business.”


Carmen walked over to the main station and punched in a series of codes, the Ratseller leapt to a new location and continued towards its rendezvous point.


Big Mother, confidential update: Captain Avarus attempted to abort our current mission to deliver the slaves after being persuaded to do so by his lover. She even tried to stop the mission herself by drugging him but miscalculated. I contacted the security guard and told him how to deal with the threat. The medic was set-up to take the blame, she is now floating lifeless through space. Magnus currently represents a loyal asset to us on the Ratseller. The crew are back on the right course, over. Your ever watchful servant, Big Sister.



Zavier waited for his friend to meet him so they could go to the emergency gathering. He felt extremely anxious but also exhilarated. The session was to discuss the recent disappearance of some witches, it was all the coven talked about. It was personal as those who had gone were young men, in a similar situation to him.

His apprehension was throwing his magik off. He was practicing the most advanced trick he knew – animal from flames. But all he was managing to do was summon fire, unable to craft it into a shape. Let alone give the creation life. A female witch the same age as him would have been able to cast that particular incantation in her sleep. His anger at the unjust society, the one where he was ostracized for being born male, gave the fire a ferocity. Unable to control the growing inferno and mould it, he let it go. A ring of fire escaped from all around him.

“Wow, that was some display of power.”

“It was an accident Hugo. I lost my concentration, I have no control.”

“Well if I wasn't so far away when you released it, it could have done some damage.”


“It's ok, I have a series of protection spells all around me.”

“Do you think you need them? What if the rumours aren’t true and the guys who disappeared, went of their own accord.”

“Why would they? Look, once we arrive at the gathering everything will be fine, the Warden will be there. So are you excited for your big day? I can’t believe I have to wait another eight moons before my birthday. While lucky you, have your due date tomorrow.”

“I’m in two minds. Yes I want to be a man and have sex. But I don’t want to lose my magik.”

“It doesn’t go after the first time, it takes many sessions.” Hugo winked. “There are worse ways to lose it.”

Within a year of marriage the male was fully sapped of his magik, and once that happened it was gone forever. Thinking about it made Zavier’s heart race. He was not taught magik, nor encouraged to practice it; males were the subservient gender. He considered the ancient rules; both male and female witches are born with magikal powers which grow as they age. These abilities are enhanced the more they are practiced. But when a male has sex with a female, she permanently gains some of his power. The reverse is not true. On the male’s twentieth birthday – his due date – he is married off, and his wife gains his powerforce each time they mate until he is ultimately left unwitched.

“You should allure your garments to finer looking ones, as all the females will be there. Do you have a girl in mind that you will pick at your ascension ceremony?”

“Actually I saw this girl down by the river. It was weird, I’ve never seen her before, and she was just floating downstream.”

“Are you sure she wasn’t a mermaid, our kind don’t like water enough to be floating around.”

“No she had legs, I could see them. Her head, back and legs stayed in the water and she just lay there, not a care in the world. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Then she caught me looking and smiled. So I ran off.”

“You fool. Were you scared she would bewitch you?”

“My due date tomorrow is making me act strange.”

“You’ve always been strange, don’t use this as an excuse. Riverwitch can be your wife, I am sure she will present to you tomorrow.”

 Zavier walked into the amphitheatre, most people had already taken their seats. Lots of the crowd were gawking at him, but when he noticed the Warden staring he started to blush. The most powerful witch in the coven and its ruler, was looking at him. He couldn’t take his eyes off the centre of the stage where she stood, he barely noticed the four other council members. He had seen the Warden lots of times before but this time she was intoxicating.

“My loyal subjects, I have troubling news. There has been multiple Faery…

The mere mention of the word caused mumblings, shaking of the heads, and panic.

…sightings recently. I do not know if this means they are planning on starting another war. But we need to be vigilant, set up security patrols, protection details for the males, and secure our village.” Zavier was mesmerised by her voice, it seemed like she sung rather than spoke.

He whispered to Hugo. “I’ve never noticed how beautiful the Warden is, her voice is so soft.”

“Don’t be gross, she’s like a hundred years old.”

“Zavier come and see me at the end.” Her lips didn’t move and no one else heard any sound, it was like she dropped the words straight into his head. He didn’t know a witch could do that; he just nodded, unable to take his eyes off her.

When everyone had left and he was standing next to her, he found himself shaking nervously. “You wanted to see me Warden?”

“Call me by my name, Asangi. There is a lot going on; men with their due dates approaching are disappearing, and Faery sightings. So I wanted to check in on you as your ascension is due.”

“Do you think the two are related?”

“I am not sure, but don’t be scared. I won’t let any bad Faery take you, you are under my protection now.” Zavier noticed her expression changed ever so lightly before returning to that of the calm leader. “Let us go for a walk.”

The Warden headed towards the forest, Zavier just followed. “Are you excited about coming of age?” She saw the hesitation on his face. “It’s okay, you can speak freely with me.”

Zavier thought it was best to lie, but he couldn’t. “I don’t actually want to lose my magik. I want to be able to practice it and learn how to use it.”

“That is not the witch way.”

“Can’t our ways change?”

“Then you will never have a mate. It will be a lonely life for you. Once a female witch takes you, she is your partner for life, your protector. When you give her your powerforce, it becomes an incredible bond between the two of you. Is there no one you want to share this with?”

“Well I thought there was, I saw this one witch in the river. It was incredible, I became overcome with feelings for her. But ever since I have been in your presence I haven’t given her a second thought.” He blushed and thought it best to change the subject. “These Faeries, are they really that bad?”

“There Queen died. Her daughter is now in charge; she is young, probably your age and the witches don’t know her intentions.”

Zavier looked to the sky, he felt something above them, it sent a cold shiver through his entire body. “Can they hurt us?”

“Witch magik doesn’t work on them, which causes the coven to worry. They have different skills to witches, they can read minds and speak to one another without words.”

“But Asangi, you can do. You did it to me at the gathering.” He looked at her, as she didn’t respond. She was thinking, she seemed distracted. He took her hand in his. As they connected physically he had never felt so alive, every cell in his body became electric. It was like the feelings he had at the river but amplified a thousand-fold. He looked at her and saw something different. “You’re not…

“Remember earlier what I promised you about a bad Faery, what about a good one…

Suddenly, the four council members surrounded them. Each were pointing at Asangi and chanting. She stood there are smiled at them. “Your magik doesn’t affect me.”

“We know that Princess Sila, this isn’t magik just old fashioned metal.” Alpha spoke as chains seemed to shoot out of her hands and wrap around the waist of the Faery. Beta’s chains passed Zavier and wrapped around his companion’s neck. Gamma and Delta’s secured her hands and legs, respectively, with their own chains. The woman dropped to the ground and started shaking, she transmorphed into her real self. Zavier watched as the Warden became someone else, someone magnificent. What he had started to see earlier when they had touched. Her face belonged to that of the Riverwitch. Now he could see her ears, which were pointed, and the translucent wings sprouting from her back.

“What is going on?” Zavier asked in disbelief.

“This Faery killed our Warden, and has been impersonating her. Go home Zavier, we will deal with her.” Alpha hissed.

“They are lying. I found Asangi injured in the forest, she said she had been attacked by mystery assailants. She asked me to take her place, and use my mind-reading abilities to find out what happened, and bring a truce to our two tribes. My mother and her respected each other.”

“Silence, I will end you.” One of Alpha’s chains disappeared and a sword emerged in her hand. She moved towards Sila with the sword.

“Listen to your heart Zavier,” the Faery pleaded.

He knew she spoke the truth. So he summoned a dragon out of fire, using all the emotion he could muster. The love he felt for Sila gave the creature ferocity.

“Silly boy, you’re no match for us.” Beta laughed. “We took your peers, and extracted their powerforce to enable us to beat Asangi. I will enjoy having you. I will…” Zavier was infuriated, his dragon lost form and became a ball of fire. It headed directly for Beta. The flames engulfed her.

  Sila, with her neck now free and only one set of chains around her waist, beat her majestic wings and took to the air. The Faery could not get very high. Gamma and Delta held on, their faces becoming strained. Alpha pointed the sword at Zavier and whispered some magik, he fell to the floor in agony. “Come here, Princess. Let me cut off your head, otherwise I will kill the boy.”

“I love you Zavier, I was bound to you the moment our eyes first met. I would gladly give my life to save you.” Firstly she spoke only to him. “Okay, let him go and I will surrender.”

“No Sila don’t, I love you.”

Alpha chanted more and sent Zavier hurtling away. “You have my word.”

Zavier watched from the distance as the Princess flew down. “Go beyond the forest and find my people, they will keep you safe.” She knelt before Alpha who lifted her sword up above Sila’s neck…

He started running back towards them but knew he wouldn’t make it in time. He watched as black smoke arose and the real Asangi appeared, slitting the throat of Alpha. She disappeared in the blink of an eye. Smoke surrounded Gamma and Delta who were both eliminated. The Warden had come back, he continued running and watching but was too far away to hear as she turned and faced Sila.


 “Vile sisters, you should have made sure you finished me off. Faery, what you have done here today shall not be forgotten. I propose a truce between our people.”

“I agree and to demonstrate this alliance there should be a joint union. I will marry one of yours.”

“I presume you want Zavier and he wants you, as he is running back here at lightning speed.” Asangi deliberated. “Without a witch to unwitch him, as he ages he will become the most powerful warlock ever. You know the implications this will have.”

“Faery love is immense, we would die for a mate, but it is a short lived love. Like a Faery male he will be terminated after five years of union.”

The women smiled at each other, joined hands and formed an unbreakable pact.