All posts by Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things.

Jellyfish Woman

Not everyone believes in jellyfish woman.

So thin and pale her skin that

You do not see her until she

Is upon you. Too late then.

Her soft body, her tendrils touching

Skin and mind and because

She is poison you will believe

That she is beauty.

Because she is poison

You will believe her a friend.

All the while, jellyfish woman

Cuts you with a hundred barbs

And takes blood from a hundred cuts.

Leaves you floating and confused.

Later, you will recall the beauty,

And how kind she seemed.

So lovely, jellyfish woman, that you

Go back freely to her cove.

Into her waters.

Telling yourself the barbs do not cut

That poison is kindness

That you do not mind the drops

Of blood she needs to survive.

She is so beautiful, after all.

And the water in her cove is deep enough

To hide all the bones from you.

And all of your bones

From everyone else.

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Horrorscopes for denizens of Hopeless Maine

The Hopeless Vendetta apologises for the recent hiatus in horoscopes, which was caused by unforeseen circumstances. Due to the aforementioned unforeseen circumstances, I have fired the previous astrologer, and replaced her with someone who, hopefully, has some idea of what’s going on! I take no responsibility for the consequences of your acting, or not acting upon anything said, implied, or absent from your horrorscope.

Frampton Jones

Aries: You’ve had a tough winter. Now, the first signs of spring are here, it’s obvious that nothing is going to get better for you any time soon.

Taurus: Expect to find a pot of gold this month – literally or metaphorically. Expect to find out next month exactly how the curse on it works.

Gemini: Shutting your eyes and pretending it isn’t there doesn’t solve anything. But on the other hand, opening your eyes and facing it could well drive you mad.

Cancer: You may lose your heart this month, one way or another. Best to sat away from inventors, devices and pointy farm implements.

Leo: Don’t tell anyone. No matter how guilty that makes you feel, if you want to survive beyond the next full moon, keep those secrets really secret.

Virgo: Given where Neptune is, this could be a really difficult month for you. By Neptune, I don’t mean the planet, I mean Neptune Chevin. And it’s not just you, we’re all going to have problems with him.

Libra: There has never been a better time to give away everything you own and live in a barrel. You should reflect on what this says about your life.

Scorpio: Expect some exciting and significant losses this month. It will be memorable, and you’re really going to feel it.

Capricorn: If you follow your dreams, you’ll set off a chain of events leading to unimaginable horrors. I know you won’t take good advice, but that’s my conscience eased.

Aquarius: stay away from dogs, ephemeral, insubstantial women who beckon you towards cliffs, and anything living in the bottom of your stew pot. You can survive this!

Pisces: Wrap up warm this month because there’s a nasty bite in the air and you will be especially vulnerable to it. Try not to leave any skin exposed.

Horroscopes for the coming year

What do the heavens have in store for you next year? With strange alignments in the skies over Hopeless Maine, you can set yourself whatever goals you like, but don’t expect anything to turn out the way you hoped or intended. This will be a particularly bad year for hurricanes, whirlpools, collapsing buildings, and goats.

Capricorn: There has never been a better time to invest in protective gear or to try and figure out who of your so-called friends are plotting against you. Avoid anything that claims to be cheering, and never leave a drink unattended.

Aquarius: Give up on those romantic ideas and aspirations, you’re just setting yourself up for a bucket full of extra pain and social embarrassment. Avoid romantic gestures and gift giving unless you’re comfortable with horrific outcomes and being blamed for everything.

Pisces: Let no one over your threshold until spring and you’ll survive. Stay well away from pies, crab pots and community art ventures and you’ll have a reassuringly mediocre year. Be warned though, the smallest mistake could spell disaster or at the very least, terrible indigestion.

Aries: Full moons will be dangerous for you, with little going to plan. It seems like everyone wants to find fault, or pick a fight and you’ll feel sorry for yourself. If only you could see how it’s all your fault, you might be able to change things. You bring this stuff upon yourself.

Taurus: New business ventures will fail miserably, especially after the spring tides. You have no idea what anyone else wants of how to get them onside, and you’d be far better off if you stopped deluding yourself about your social skills. The thing you do that you think is charming and endearing really, really isn’t.

Gemini: Oh dear.

Cancer: You’ll feel like everyone is trying to take advantage of you. Expect exploitation, manipulation, unreturned loans, debts of all sorts unpaid, and unreasonable demands upon your time, and on your chickens. It won’t get better no matter what you do.

Leo: Looking fabulous has never seemed more important to you. However, those fashion choices may have things living in them already – mice, crabs, diseases, hideous demonic beings…  Sooner or later there will be horrible bite marks and seeping pus.

Virgo: things you thought you had got away with will resurface and people around you will get suspicious. If your dreadful secrets are only about having eaten all the biscuits, it will merely be a depressing year. Otherwise, you can expect any skeletons in the family closet to come out, some of them bearing grudges.

Libra: Keep a close eye on your obsessions, compulsions and urges. If they become more unnatural than usual, seek help. Just because you think you’re being reasonable doesn’t mean sinister forces aren’t controlling your every move.

Scorpio: Give away any old clothes you don’t need. Call in favours. Now is a good time to make demands and to remind people of whatever hold it is you have over them. Repay old insults. This is not the year for being nice to people and you can be sure they won’t be nice to you.

Sagittarius: You may feel that it’s down to you to save the day and put everything right. You’re only fooling yourself. You can’t fix anything and you’ll probably just make things worse. Better not to bother, really.

Daphne’s first Dustcat

By Robin Collins

Hopeless Maine has one morgue. It is an old and musty edifice those walls are often scoured by winds from the sea or home to glowing colonies of wandering moss crabs. The morgue stands a lonely and depressing sight on its cold hill. Whoever built it had ugly little dwarves carved into the guttering like gargoyles, vomiting cold rainwater out of their slimy mouths whilst increasing anyone’s likelihood of cheering up to an inevitable low.

Interestingly or sinisterly depending on your view there is a little girl called Daphne, who lives in the morgue. She spends her days among the dead bodies laid on the stone shelves talking to them, and going up to the roof where she can look out to sea and dream of being a vampire mermaid sucking blood out of sailors.

Daphne had always been the only living human in the morgue. She was proud of being the only living human in the morgue. Those who brought the cadavers up never seemed to think perhaps this little girl needed a proper home. Her love of the colour black and her intense stare anyway made them glad that she didn’t live with them.

Daphne though had never been brought presents for her birthday. She didn’t know about birthdays, but would she have noticed when she was staring out to sea dreaming of being a vampire mermaid?

The present was left in a wooden crate just outside the morgue doors. Daphne sniffed it and then saw somebody had handwritten a little note for her with much thought and kindness evident in the writing. But Daphne did not read. She ate the note because it looked like it could be eaten. Then she opened the crate because there might be food in it. I have not mentioned this but Daphne was often delivered food by the caring people from Hopeless Maine because they were afraid of what she might do if she did not have her fish pie.

Out of the container suddenly emerged all covered in fur and with claws and green eye… a dustcat. The dustcat’s mouth opened and out wriggled its grey fleshy dust sucking tube. It stuck to Daphne’s face with a wet sucking noise. She was initially surprised and about to pull her little axe out she carried wherever she went to kill the dustcat, but she began to laugh. This was fun and she was smiling. The dustcat finding no dust on her face then flew up above her head resembling a ragged clot of fur and meow. It sat on her hair. Daphne was laughing now so much she was starting to hurt her ribs. When she’d finished laughing the dustcat had already gone inside the morgue and found a lot of high quality dust. Daphne watched as the creature went about the gloomy, morbidly introspective interior, its green eyes glittering and its dust sucking tube making dust sucking sounds.

‘I will name you…’ she stopped and thought for a moment. ‘…Darkness,’ she said happily.

This was her first present and her first dustcat.

Art by Tom Brown

Blue Funk

By Jim Snee

 

Wardel Prism walked away from the Squid and Teapot in what can only be described as a blue funk. That is to say that the usual clammy Hopeless fog had, in these small hours of the morning, thickened into a proper clinging wet funk, and Wardel was busily and loudly cursing the air blue.

In truth, he was not usually a happy individual, his sullen moods seemingly well fitted to the twisted frame that had earned him the name “Wonky Popeye” amongst his peers. But at that particular moment he was as far from happy as he had ever felt. At seventeen he was used to a rollercoaster of hormones, but now they were overflowing into disappointment, frustration, anger and self-loathing.

It had been going so well. Bumpa Sallow was everything Wardel had ever dreamed of in a woman; three foot tall, beautiful and old enough to be his mother. And she had been enjoying the evening. They had smiled and laughed over their drinks. They had gone back to her hovel and kissed in the doorway. They had even got on the bed and Wardel had started trying to unlock the mystery of dress fastenings.

And then it had changed.

What had he done wrong?

She said it wasn’t him, but in his mind he knew he’d done something wrong. And so he had apologised and left. All the excitement, joy and (dare he say it) love, had come crashing down in a horrible cold silence.

He swore as he walked out of her weed infested garden.

He swore as he headed down the road in a direction that he could only think of as ‘away’.

He swore at the funk and the twittering, whispering voices within it. To him it seemed like the taunting of the other boys, who already claimed his excessively muscular right arm was proof of a solitary love life. They would tell him he wasn’t a real man and that a real man would have gone through with it, would have ‘persuaded her’. Now Wardel knew what they meant by persuaded, and it made him even more angry.

“Has it ever occurred to anyone that I don’t want to do that?” he shouted to night. “Why does everyone think we men have to force ourselves on women? What kind of lunatic would enjoy that?”

The twittering voices fell silent.

Something formless shambled out of the funk and carefully placed a small silver object in Wardel’s hand.

It was a spoon.

Then, it shambled silently away.

“Oh.” said Wardel. “Thank you… so it’s not just me then…”

Art by Tom Brown

The Second Stroud Vendetta

Further classified ads created during the Strange Soiree – part of 2017’s Stroud Book Festival

Lost

A Myrtle Turdle was mislaid over 100 years ago but sadly missed by nobody. It has been researched (sometimes) and Fossils of its sweat have been documented in the museum!!! If found, well…. Arc-The-Ologist

Wiped tears accompanied by distant guilt. Must be genuine find.

Lindreygood demon child is missing. Has skin of grey, its eyes seem shut for reasons that shall remain unknown for the safety of the island. If found, give it a shiny object and report where it is to Scarlet Mandle in Mandle’s Home for Strange Creatures.

Pot of colours containing a sparkling rainbow that erupts when caught by a smile. Must not be opened after dusk. Otherwise will be leapt up by darkness forever.

All of my dustcats have escaped before I had a chance to sell them. If someone could return them to me, I would be most grateful. Walden Pond Frog.

One Diaphanous Eagle (rare) answers to the name of ‘Shadow’ ironically.

Lost – spleen. Great sentimental (and physiological) value. Greatly missed.

Lost: My purple, four legged baby. Last seen catching flies outside the cafeteria. I was inside, imbibing a fairy. Bebagoozing was wearing a hideous pink jumpsuit, his choice. He was rather wonderful bat-like ears and a tongue of extraordinary retractable length. Contact Flozmiz.

Lost: The end of my knitting.

 

Found

A shrieking armchair with a smell of ghostly camembert cheese.

3 bad jokes, 6 farts in a jar, 10 sneezes and a feather.

Found – a spleen – recently vented. If you have lost yours please enquire at The Squid and Teapot.

One portion of tentacle – slightly singed – prone to twitching on Wednesdays. Musty colour, please re-unite.

A sack of pot holes. Very nearly new, I would guess.

Foundered Hopes. (All is lost)

Found: A small clump of demon weed, each stem contains wispy mouths requesting that it be smoked. Bring paper, glue, thick gloves, scissors and a sense of humour to The Squid and Teapot tomorrow at 8pm.

Found: Part of a shadowcat – still alive, shaped like part of a shadowcat. Please take it from me!!!

 

Wanted

Amalgam fillings: 10yrs old at least please.

Swindling sticks – extendable preferred.

A bozo for the scuttle. Consider it as a gift. JK

A goat, or goatlike creature. Must respond to verbal commands.

People will to join a ‘hive’ and embark on a community capable of collective intelligence. All food and lodgings are supplied. No money is involved, buy you will enjoy the part you will play in the hive mind which will be capable of the most amazing acts of human achievement and selflessness.

Final line to a limerick – must rhyme with Alan.

Lift wanted to The Pebble, 13 past Tuesday. No wheels or slow coaches please. If return trip likely please turn around. Box No J.

A woman/man/being that has: crazy ideas that perplex me. Humour that’s not fudged but has an edge of ice. Eyes that sparkle and glow in the night. Extra toes on both feet. A heat carton of strawberry macaroon. A desire to dress colourfully inside out.

The Stroud Vendetta

Hopeless Maine Classifieds from the Stroud Book Festival….

For Sale!

186 spoons for sale. All conditions, many showing fine traceries of dried slime. $5 the lot. Please collect soon. Bring weapons to allow access to the door. Address as foll…

Old “sale” signs (business gone bust).

32 vials of the cure for all known diseases. Each vial will treat approx 10 people. £100 per vial, but for all 31 vials I would be happy to accept $2000 as, if one thinks about it, there are fundamental problems with only treating part of one’s Community. Sven Flowermountain 134 Elderberry Road.

Bloodthirsty socks.

Magnanimous vitriol. Would suit most homes.

Last night’s conversation with my Dad. 3 footprints. My book about dots. Job lot £8.50

Copious amount of luscious hairy coffee strands. Perfect for the balding gentleman, or pre-pubescent boy looking to visit the Squid and Teapot. Self adhesive, pungent and durable. Also could be used to fix minor structural cracks.

Irritating younger sibling.

A fish-headed kitchen wench.

 

 

Lonely Hearts!

Bubbly obesity sucking gob-stoppers 6 at a time until we POP into a lurve bubble to bounce into perennial Happy Ever After sunsets over frothy coffee seas – Antigani will squeeze forever the night potato of your heart.

Will mate with anything creature so the progeny of my horrible species can continue. GSOH optional.

Desperately seeking a Gloopy Maloopy to gimble and gyre with. And share hairy coffee (before we die) if after… Henrietta Gerbil.

Desperately seeking spoons! Spoonwalker would like to meet spoons. Lots of spoons. Must like long walks and… er… just long walks.

Small furry eyeball seeks monosyllabic wisdom tooth for occasional outings.

AH, YES! Looking for landscapes I can write filthy poetry about. Ah YES! Must have voluptuous features and curves made of innuendo and lust.

Parish Notices

The shrunken head craft workshop will begin four days hence at the ungodly hour. You are encouraged to bring along a head to shrink. Makes an ideal Christmas present! (Hang from the mantelpiece).

Fully qualified Spoon-o-mancer offers spoon readings. Unlock the secrets of your future. The answer lies in your cutlery drawer.

I have been observing you creatures for some time now – it’s all about the journey, right? I mean, you have to be careful around here – direction wise. You could run into the caretakers – Ruby Mace with her doggerel. You don’t want that, not for anything. It comes up right being you before you know it’s there…

Wanted – dead body to fill Parish council vacancy.

The community hedge between mucky meadow and the recreation pound has become uncooperative. Volunteers needed on Wednesday for 12 hours (free biscuits).

(The second half of this happy madness will go up next week…)

Horrorscope guidance for Citizens of Hopeless

Scorpio: If you’ve made your peace with what’s haunting you, this month will be only slightly depressing. Things look grim all the way to midwinter. Expect your shoes to let you down repeatedly.

Sagittarius: Your good luck in beachcombing may lead to horror and dismay.

Capricorn: For the next two weeks, you are at great risk of being struck by lightning and/or falling into your own privy.

Aquarius: Those of you who survived last month can expect things to be mercifully quiet until the gibbous moon, after which it’s just going to be one disaster after another.

Pisces: Being generous will only get you taken advantage of. Say not to everything until at least next week, and make sure all the locks on your doors are sound.

Aries: A small injury will fester and you’ll have to decide whether to trust to witchcraft or take your life into your hands with a visit to Doc Willoughby – it will be kill or cure.

Taurus: Nothing has gone well for you recently. The next new moon offers chances to shine, but they could so easily turn into dreadful humiliations.

Gemini: You can’t hide under the bed forever. You will eventually have to face up to your ghastly misjudgements and deal with the consequences.

Cancer:  Watch out for aerial bombardments, ill-considered axe use, and goats falling off roofs.

Leo: You’ve finally hit on a brilliant plan, but no one will believe you, or take it seriously.

Virgo: those aren’t mice making noise in your attic. Get help.

Libra: The stars have aligned to give you excellent prospects this month for any acts of revenge or score settling you have in mind.

Devious Devices

Here’s a fine tale from the Hopeless Maine RPG developer – enjoy!

The Hopeless Traveller

I was sat in my favourite armchair one evening last week, reading the Vendetta and enjoying a brandy – from the last shipwreck, you remember? Lovely stuff. Anyway, there I was, glass in hand, God in his Heaven and all right with the World when I became aware of a soft clicking. Now I don’t own a clock and this noise seemed to be moving around, so I sat as quiet as I could. You know how it is when you are straining to hear something, every sense becomes heightened and damn if didn’t see something move near the top of the curtain, just out of the corner of my eye. 

I softly put the glass down, rolled up the paper and advanced on the curtain with the grace and stealth of a Leopard. Don’t scoff – a Leopard, I tell you. Anyway, the ticking got a little louder and…

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