Neil Sharpson

Deathmatch 2017: This aggression will not stand, man.

During the 2016 election there was considerable debate as to whether Donald Trump was simply a con man using nativist rhetoric to win the nomination and who would then swiftly abandon populism and ram through a hard-right platform designed to enrich the one percent, or whether he was actually the racist authoritarian that he played on TV. The answer turned out to be: “Yes.”

Things have gotten real bad, real fast and I think it’s clear that we are living in times that will have large, detailed chapters in future history books. I awoke this morning to learn that a close friend of mine is now banned from entering the United States purely because of her place of birth. The wall is being built. A white nationalist is now sitting on the National Security Council. The nation built by the poor, the tired and the huddled masses is refusing to admit refugees. The most powerful office in the world is less trusted and respected after eight days of Trump than after eight years of George W. Bush. I confess that I am deeply afraid.

As well as being afraid, I am angry, frustrated, appalled and sickened. But one thing I am not is despondent. I am not pessimistic. I am not disheartened.

not-today

Because the last week has reaffirmed what I already knew. The American people did not elect Trump. Trump was elected by a combination of fluke, a rotting and archaic electoral system, voter suppression and intervention by a hostile foreign power. The American people are the ones who voted for Hillary Clinton by a massive margin, who staged the largest demonstration in the nation’s history against Trump’s nascent kakistocracy and who are now fighting against the illegal detention of refugees at American airports.

The good outnumber the wicked and they always will.

This is a time when all people of good will must put whatever skills they have towards resisting Trump. For me, that means writing snarky reviews of movies which I will be the first to admit is not the most obviously useful skill in an anti-fascist resistance movement.

But that is why this year’s Unshaved Mouse Charity Movie Deathmatch is in aid of the American Civil Liberties Union.

So, how does the Deathmatch work?

  1. Make a donation of $5 or $10 to the ACLU.
  2. Email your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com letting me know which movie or series gets your vote (a 5 dollar donation counts as one vote, 10 counts for two)
  3. Deathmatch runs all through February. Every two weeks, the lowest scoring three movies/series will be eliminated in ways not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
  4. Highest scoring three movies/series at the end of the month get reviewed and get to go home to their loved ones.

Mouse, I’m wealthy, I’m charitable and I want you to review something NOW.

A $35 dollar donation gets you any movie or episode of a TV show reviewed that you like. $60 gets you two. $100 gets you four and quite possibly a statue somewhere when this all blows over.

What if I buy a review for a movie or series that’s competing in the death match?

In the case of movies, if you give a $35 donation and request a movie that loses the deathmatch, you get the review anyway. If your movie wins the deathmatch then I will contact you and ask you for your second choice and you get two movies that you wanted reviewed instead of one. Fair enough?

In the case of a TV series  that wins the deathmatch, I’ll review an extra episode for every person that gave a $35 donation for that series.

Boring stuff done, so let’s MEET OUR FIGHTERS!

(more…)

The Devil’s Heir-Chapter 17

CHAPTER 17: THE MIRROR ROOM

The kitchen was cramped as the nine temporals and one half-angel gathered around the table to plan their next move.

What do we know about this man Darrach?” Carlos asked.

From what Donal’s told us he’s a Sí.” said Kathy.

Fine, what do we know about this woman, Darrach?” Carlos asked.

No. He’s a . The Sí are a race of angels who were expelled to earth because they refused to take sides in the war between heaven and hell. They live amongst humans now. This Darrach is apparently a genius at combining divine power with human technology. So if, for example, you wanted a bomb that could destroy the human soul…”

He’d be the guy to talk to.” Eamonn nodded.

Right.” said Kathy “So we’re going to go and have a talk with him.”

Just a talk.” Donal growled “The Sí are under my protection and from what I see you don’t have any proof against him yet. You’ll need to convince me before I’ll hand him over to you.”

Fair enough.” said Kathy, pointedly ignoring the growl that emanated from the direction of Junko Imai.

Magnus gently shouldered his way through Eloi and Carlos and set a tea-tray on the table and began to quietly pour cups for everyone.

Is this going to be dangerous?” Baako asked, and instantly felt like a coward for saying it.

Good question.” said Kathy “We’re hoping (I’ll take coffee, Magnus, thanks) that he won’t be expecting us. It depends how much he knows. Mabus might just have showed up, asked for the bomb, took it and went. But if Darrach knows that his bomb was used to kill Temporals, he might have taken precautions.”

Let him.” said Junko hoaresly.

So, just so we know, what are we expecting? (two sugars, thanks) Booby traps?” Eamonn asked.

Probably not.” Mariana said “I can’t imagine someone booby trapping their own home (yes, a little milk, Magnus, thank you kindly) on the off chance that we showed up. But he might have a safe room. A hidden passge, an escape route. Something like that.”

Maybe it would…thanks…” Aoife took a mug of tea off Magnus and took a swig “Maybe it would be a good idea if I went and scouted around first? Get the lay of the land?”

A silence descended on the table. Aoife realised that everyone was looking at her.

Yes.” said Mariana, very quietly “I think that’s a very good idea.”

Well.” said Aoife, suddenly feeling very nervous “I guess…I’ll go do that. Then.”

Black.

Aoife collapsed on the table with a thud, spilling her tea.

(more…)

The Devil’s Heir-Chapter 16

CHAPTER 16: A DARK SPOT

“So you’ve come to kill me at last? I can’t say much for your punctuality.”

Isabella froze. The chamber behind Nyquist’s altar was pitch black, and she could not even see five inches in front of her. But she knew the voice was Joriel’s and she felt a little sugar rush of joy. We’ve found him. At last.

“No, no. I’ve not come to kill you Joriel.”

Cold fear washed over Isabella. That voice talking with Joriel. She knew it, as anyone in New Gomorrah would have.

“I will not go back to Groethuis and his knives and poisons, Mabus. Nor will I trade one cage for another.” said Joriel.

“My, it’s dark in here.” Mabus mused, as if he hadn’t heard him “Shall we have some light?”

“I can see perfectly.” said Joriel “But by all means, if you wish. There’s a lamp on the table to your left.”

Un-oh, thought Isabella.

She heard Mabus’s hand press a switch and a small lamp flicked on, bathing a corner of the room in muted yellow light and casting shadows over everything.

Isabella looked around and breathed out in relief. The room was divided by a thick black curtain, which she was standing behind. Inside the curtain, invisible to her, Joriel and Mabus continued talking.

“Oh dear.” said Mabus sympathetically “They have not been treating you well, have they?”

“This is not their doing.” said Joriel, and Isabella realised the angel’s voice sounded so much older than when she had last heard it “Apart from keeping me here in chains, they treat me well enough.”

“I assume they found you after the battle outside my chamber?”

“Yes. I retreated to the sewers. I was badly injured.”

“Shot off a helicopter, I believe?”

“Yes.”

“I am sorry. I hope you know that there was never any malice in my imprisoning you. I needed to be sure my New Matter weaponry would work. I needed to test it on someone. I just hope you don’t think it was personal.”

“I don’t see how it could have been.” said Joriel “You stole my wife, after all. Not the other way around.”

“Well. Ancient history.” said Mabus “Quite literally.”

(more…)

The Devil’s Heir-Chapter 15

CHAPTER 15: THE LORD’S PROPHECY

A Deva, a human being who has crossed over body and soul to the afterlife, is a hardy creature. He or she will not age, will not succumb to disease and does not need to eat or drink. They do sleep, but less than when they were alive, and when they do they do not dream.

And yet, they can die. A Deva whose skin is pierced will bleed the white/pink sand that fills them. This is the remains of their bones, organs and bodily fluids that were compacted when the body and the soul fused at the crossing over. And once it has bled from them, the Deva dies. Finally. Totally. There is no after-afterlife. Those who die in Heaven, Hell or Purgatory cross into the final realm, from which even angels cannot return. The final night, that no dawn shall ever pale. They say that those who go there linger for a few brief moments over everything, and can see the whole infinity of creation, the endless lattice of light and dark, the Yoli-awhey and Goli-awhey snaking and curling and cascading over and around and through each other. It is said that from that cold perch, far above all that is, they finally know a true wisdom, one beyond the knowledge of angels and devils, even of Yol and Gol themselves. And with a sad smile, they nod, and turn to face the final night, and pass away to shadow.

  (more…)

Soooo…this happened.

Over the weekend UCD Dramsoc, the drama society where I spent some of my happiest days and avoided some of my must important college lectures, published an anthology of plays that were originally written and performed there. The plays are A Certain Romance by Stephen Jones, Sluts by Caitriona Daly, Stoop by Gillian Greer and The Hole by…

"Yo."

“Yo.”

Yeah. So. Published writer. How are you? And if you’re interested in checking out some early work by the absolute cream of young Irish playwriting talent right now (and me), the book is available on Amazon and is actually kinda gorgeous.

The Devil’s Heir-Chapter 14

CHAPTER 14: THE PROMISE

“I…” he paused for dramatic effect “have a theory.”

“What is your theory, Virgil?” she asked.

He was sitting on a rocky outcrop a few hundred feet outside the city limits, staring at the glinting black

mountains in the distance that erupted from the earth like solid night.

She had her back to him, and stood bent over with a black, charred stick in her hand, writing words in the

fine grey sand.

“You may not like this theory.” he warned her.

“Oh really?” she noted, not looking up “Is it controversial?”

“All the best theories are.”

“Go on then. Shock me.”

“My theory…” he said turning and walking towards her over the outcrop, and nearly tripping over a jutting

rock “…is that you are absolutely insane.”

He stood and looked at what she had written. Words stretched off in a good thirty foot radius, variations of a

single sentence repeated over and over again.

STRANGE DAY TO GREET ANOTHER

STRANGE WAY TO SEE ONE OTHER

STRANGE GREY TO MEET OLD LOVER

STRANGE WAY TO SEAT A PLUMBER (This one had been crossed out with repeated angry strokes.)

“Really?” she said, looking up with genuine puzzlement “Why’s that?”

Virgil decided that if she had to ask the question, she was beyond help.

“You do realise.” he said “That the more you try, the less sense it makes.”

Marie gave an angry grunt and threw the stick down. She reached for the bottle of Red Marie that she had

left half buried in the sand and was about to raise it to her lips when Virgil grabbed her wrist.

“Hey.” he said “Enough for one day, day don’t you think?”

She looked at him for a second, and the nodded.

He nodded in return and let go of her wrist.

Quick as a flash, she had raised the bottle to her lips and drunk.

(more…)

The Devil’s Heir-Chapter 13

CHAPTER 13: THE TRAITOR WAITS

Eamonn closed his eyes and breathed in, letting the night air tell him it’s story.

He could smell car exhaust, sweat and fast food, all grace notes against the crescendo of alcohol and gunpowder smoke. He opened his eyes.

Dublin on Halloween night, halfway between a party and a warzone. Same as it ever was.

He smiled.

Good to be home.

  (more…)

The Devil’s Heir- Chapter 12

CHAPTER 12:  HOOK-HANDED COYBOY

A new recruit to Mabus’ army, fresh from some howling battlefield and now standing shivering and quaking in the presence of the king of New Gomorrah, being given the old “You stand in the belly of the beast…” speech would naturally have a great many questions.

What is this place?

Why am I here?

What should I do now?

Once the reality of his situation had sunk in, our new recruit would find himself beset by slightly more mundane questions;

Where can I find food?

Where shall I live?

Are there others like me in this city I can join for my own safety?

Can I survive here?

In time, all these questions would be answered, some more suddenly and brutally than others.

But perhaps the one question that would never be answered for most of the men and women conscripted into Mabus’ crusade was this:

What the hell is up with all the scorpions?

Why are there scorpion banners hanging from archways and nailed to walls? Why is there a scorpion on the back of every Gomorran talon? Why the Red, Blue, Black and Green Scorpions?   

The answer to this, Cole knew, was no great secret. It was simply not widely known.

The reason was that when Mabus’ father, Gedi, had needed to choose a totem to represent his house, he had chosen the scorpion. The House of Gedi had been one of the smaller houses in Babilu, but still wielded a considerable amount of wealth and influence. By choosing the scorpion as his symbol Gedi was displaying to his enemies an animal that was small, but could still be lethal to much larger creatures should they be foolish enough to anger it.  

To be the Golden Scorpion, Mabus had once explained to Cole, was to be the physical manifestation of the will of the House of Gedi. A shining, invincible, seemingly godlike avatar.

To be a Black Scorpion, on the other hand, meant something different entirely.

The Black Scorpions had, before their dissolution at least, acted as Mabus’ secret police. It had been their unenviable task to keep tabs on the innumerable guilds, secret societies, mobs, gangs and fraternities that had sprung up like weeds in the fertile soil of Mabus’ army. If any particular organisation seemed to be becoming a little too powerful, more often than not the leaders would be paid a visit in the night by a close friend who they had trusted implicitly, and never wake up.

But the Black Scorpions were gone now.

And it was time for something else to replace them.

“Wait here.” said Cole

Isabella looked around nervously, brushing the handle of a dagger with her thumb over and over.

The hallway, dank, dark and stinking, looked deserted. But then, in Gomorrah, it was the people you couldn’t see who were the ones to keep an eye out for. The fact that there didn’t seem to be anyone here did nothing to reassure her. Every step they had taken since leaving Mabus’ throne room to this ten storey tenement building just north of the Combat Tower, Isabella had been unable to shake the feeling that they were being followed. She glanced nervously to where Cole was dragging his finger lazily over a grimy, brown-stained wall.

“What are we doing here?” she asked, and it felt like the hundredth time.

“Ssshhh.” he whispered “Got ya.”

“What?” she turned to look at him, only to see that he had been talking to the wall, not to her.

With a low, dreary moan, the wall was sliding to one side, revealing a dark passageway.

“Let’s go.” said Cole.

They disappeared into the opening, and seconds later the wall slid shut again.

“What is this place?” Isabella whispered, her keen eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness of the room.

“Hang on. I gotta find the light switch.” said Cole, talking over his shoulder as he felt along the wall “Every tenth building in Gomorrah has one of these rooms. They’re safe houses, for any Black Scorpion who’s cover his blown and needs to lie low. He can hide out here, live off rations for weeks if he has to. There’s a weapons locker under the bed. A radio to call into the Blue Room for rescue, or just to listen in to see what’s going on outside. More importantly, only the engineers who built it, and the Scorpion assigned to it knows where his individual safe room is. And only one man in the entire city knows where all of them are.”

“Mabus?”

“If Mabus knew about this place, do you think we’d be hiding out here? Nah, I ordered these to be built, never told Mabus.”

“You knew you might need to hide from him?”

“No, actually. I just never told him. Mostly because I thought he wouldn’t care. He told me to build him a spy network, and I did it. He never really asked how. But we’ll be as safe here as anywhere. We can stay here while we look for Joriel. Then we are getting out of here, and we are not even stopping to shake the dust off our shoes. There you are…”

His hand touched the light switch and the room was thrown into a sickly green haze.

Cole turned and froze.

“Oh you’re smart Joe. Got it all planned out. But let me ask you this: How fast are you?”

Isabella’s eyes stared at him, terrified, over the arm that was wrapped across her face. The silver muzzle of a Colt single action Army was pressed to her neck.

And the eyes that stared at Cole over her shoulder were as pitiless as they were desperate.

Cole almost burst out laughing. Of all the safe houses in the city, he had chosen the one containing New Gomorrah’s most wanted citizen; Ezekiel Holtz, the man who had raised the riot with Thomas, and shot Mabus himself. For a mad second, Cole considered how capturing Holtz might just be enough to put himself back in Mabus’ good graces. But he dismissed the idea almost as soon as it came to him. They were getting out. That was the end of it. At least, they were if could convince Holtz to let Isabella go.

“Hi Holtz.” said Cole as nonchalantly as he could.

(more…)

Catching up on the Devil’s Heir

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Sorry.

Sorry. It’s taken a ridiculously long time for me to do this and I can only apologise. Anyway. Regular updates of new chapters of The Devil’s Heir will resume starting next Thursday and Chapter 11 is up now. In the meantime, here is a master list of all the chapters of the Hangman’s Daughter/Devil’s Heir just in case any one wants to get caught up or has forgotten where we were (and I could hardly blame you if you have).

The Hangman’s Daughter

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

The Devil’s Heir

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Huge thanks to my brother Eamonn for all his help. You’re a legend, dude.

 

Those wacky Sharpson boys.

Happy Father’s Day everybody!

As some of you may know, my brothers John and Donal are both regulars on the Facts series on YouTube. For Father’s day they brought my Dad onto the show (thanks for showing me up guys, I just got him a frickin’ book) and not to brag or anything but my old man just killed it. Here’s the video.