Not For You by Tim Goldstone

Along the long-abandoned harbour’s deserted warehouses each dilapidated red-brick building had once had a numeral whitewashed roughly on its wall, up to 13. They believed the unluckiness of 13 was eliminated by painting it as ‘One3’. “Superstitious nonsense,” the big boss had said, but he let it go. He was dead now – drowned. Today there isn’t much left of any of the weathered numbers and it was years ago that ‘One3’ had turned into a mottled ‘One’. The spray from salt water during storms will do that. But Cullen, drawn to dereliction, the enticing undertow of the ‘Not For You’, enters. Rotting plaster, oily fungus, bowing ceilings, cracked bulging walls, spongy windows framing thick sour air, empty fireplace desolate and cold with things that will never completely burn, floors littered with wax, cast off sleeping bags, broken glass, syringes, party-poppers, the skull of a rat with its teeth removed, a stain climbing up a wall in the shape of a man, rat’s teeth strung on a frayed piece of wool hanging from a nail, a home-made flag with symbols and shapes he’d never seen before, sloughed off human skins. Wriggling in the cross-currents of drafts, a sudden glove marooned askew on the rotting floorboards flexes and unflexes empty woollen fingers. Emerging from everywhere until it surrounds him the wet ghost of the brackish stink of desperate last chance unanswered prayers. Something like a voice whispers by his ear – “You’ve seen us, now go.” But outside, piles of massive rusty chains have gathered, coiled, ready to strike.


Tim Goldstone lives in Wales and has been published in various journals and anthologies including The New Welsh Review, Stand, Anti-Heroin Chic, Crannóg, The Speculative Book, Altered States. Prose sequence read on stage at The Hay Festival. Also contributor to TV, radio, theatre. Twitter @muddygold

Image: Katie Chase