How Dark Souls helped me deal with depression

Despite writing about video games for a living – and spending most of my life playing them – I’ve never really believed in their healing power.

I read books like Jane McGonigal’s simply fantastic ‘Reality Is Broken’ with an air of cynicism – not because I doubted that games *could* help people, but because it was something I had never personally encountered.

So imagine my surprise when I realised a game series I have been playing loads in the last few years was helping me deal with the mental health problems I suffer from better than counselling, medication and CBT. Perhaps mostly surprising of all was the fact that the games that were helping me were From Software’s Soulsbourne series.

On their surface, the Souls games are not ones you’d peg as having an uplifting message. These are, after all, deeply bleak games that exclusively take place at the end of an era – maybe even the end of the world. They are set precisely when shit is getting *really* real.

Not only do they appear depressing, they’re not exactly approachable titles either. These are titles that don’t really explain anything. You often wander around the world entirely lost, initially not sure what any of the mechanics really do or indeed how much of the game actually works.

But – upon reflection – these games train you to think in some very specific ways that I feel have had positive effects on my mental health.

Lesson One: You can do it 

Depression often tells us that we are unable to do things. It creates mental blocks that make it impossible for us to even contemplate doing some things – getting out of bed in the morning, going to work, leaving the house to see friends… But what Dark Souls has taught me to do is break down a problem before trying to tackle it, or try an understand and overcome a negative thought process.

This is largely due to the fact that the games don’t really explain anything. The player needs to figure out what to do, how to defeat a boss or particular enemy.

In Souls releases, the player – a measly human – is facing ridiculous odds. Not only have you normally charged with saving the world, there are often enormous barriers in your way. The bosses in the Souls games are terrifying and the player has the fate of the world in their controller caloused hands.

When you first see one of the games’ grotesque bosses, the gut reaction of any sane person is sheer panic. Show me someone who tells you they didn’t shit themselves the first time they came up against the Gaping Dragon and I’ll show you a damn liar.

The odds are when you first try your hand at one of the boss fights, you will be dead within seconds. You’ll probably break the controller in two then complain for a bit about how utterly broken and unfair the game is. But you’ll be back – the second time you may get it down to half health, at which point some super-powered second phase will take effect.

You’ll probably die (more on that later), but now you’ve got the knowledge to effectively get through the first half, know some of the bosses attacks and be able to dodge and eventually kill them.

The Souls games effectively teach you that anything is possible. Any time you go through a fog door and see some monstrosity for you to put down, you know that it won’t be easy, but that it is possible. And, for me, that was incredibly empowering given that I have to put up with voices in my head telling me that I’m incapable of doing something 99 per cent of the time.

Lesson Two: Asking for help is okay 

Mental health problems do have a tendency to isolate you and make you feel worthless. In the middle of a bad episode, the thought of leaving the house or even having contact with another human being is bad enough, let alone me going to someone to ask for help. But this is an essential part of handling problems like these.

The Souls games – while famed for their challenge – have also fostered one of the most amazing communities I have ever come across in video games.

The games are difficult, sure, but there is always help at hand if you know where to look and are willing to ask.

Within the games themselves are the multiplayer mechanics, whereby players can summon other gamers into their world for help. Or you can be summoned to someone else’s world to give them a hand. This is a system I didn’t really explore much in the original Dark Souls – not until Ornstein and Smough I don’t think. But I started to enjoy the game more once I admitted to myself that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but realising that you need support from someone going forwards.

There’s also Dark Souls’ basic communication system, which lets players leave and read messages on the ground. A lot of the time, players will be trying to trick others into doing dumb things. The messaging system in the game is primitive and simple, but lets you know that you’re not alone in this, and someone else is suffering through the exact same situation. It’s a nice reminder that no matter how bad things are, other people are going through the same thing and are succeeding.

Lesson Three: It’s okay to fuck up

With my day to day life, any single failure or moment where I don’t achieve what I set out to feels like I have entirely fucked up as a person. I catastrophise and imagine the worst possible outcome from a single, ultimately insignificant, event. But Dark Souls helped teach me that failure is a lesson

The Souls series is almost entirely about death and those playing the game are going to die. A lot. Their bloody demise is waiting around every single corner. It will probably be very unpleasant, but quick. The now infamous ‘You Died’ screen will appear. Back to the bonfire.

Because the Souls games don’t really tell you how they are played, death is used as a tutorial. Basic lessons like how players shouldn’t just weigh on in with their sword, instead using a shield and playing more defensively – aren’t taught by a conventional tutorial, but learnt from experience. Players learn form being brutally murdered by enemies. Thus, death goes from being something to avoid to being a learning experience.

This is far from a unique premise – death *is* arguably a learning experience in any video game. But because of Dark Souls’ unique opaqueness, I feel that is more a means to educate the player than most others.

And after taking on a certain enemy way too many times, suddenly you can defeat them.

Ultimately, like any treatment for depression, anxiety and all the rest, your milage may vary with this. CBT and anti-depressants never helped me, but the Souls games have made my life better in some small way. It’s entirely possible that this entire article is mad conjecture, and that the reason I feel better is that the worlds of the Soulsborne games are so irreversibly fucked that my life and problems don’t seem quite so bad.

I just hope that Miyazaki’s masterpiece has helped other people from going Hollow.

Prozac – A Love Story

The first thing I remember about being on prozac was being able to dream again.

I don’t mean having dreams or being optimistic about the future, but closing my eyes at night, falling away and having refreshing REM sleep and waking up with half-baked memories of the messed up stuff in my head. To someone who thinks of himself as creative, this was a dream come true.

That my atrophied brain (great name for a band) was thinking, sparking off and coming up with interesting ideas was a great milestone. As a person who spent most of his waking hours writing or thinking of cool ideas for doodles, this was a dream come true.

After years of going to sleep and waking up a total zombie, it was refreshing to… be refreshed in the morning.

It made the headaches, the random aches and pain, the appetite loss and weight gain, and my uneven moods almost seem worth it. Despite all of those horrible side effects, I was in some small way becoming a better, more healthy person.

And people noticed that I was chipper. The counsellor I was seeing could see a marked improvement in me.

Then one day I sat down to write. This would have been about a month into my course of medication. At the time, I was studying English Lit and took several creative writing modules. While I was never the best writer in the world, it was something that came easily to me, and I was learning to edit my work to make the splurges of text as good as possible. I could come up with interesting scenes, create characters that were believable. Was it mostly pretentious as hell? Sure, but it was something I enjoyed – and it was something I was good at, and only getting better.

I remember staring at the page, pen in hand, but nothing came. The mind fog that had hindered me in the past was back with a vengeance. I could not focus, or make clear decisions. I could not decide the first word on the page, what the scene was to be able, who the characters were or what their motivations were. I figured I was having a bad day, so left it and decided to come back to the piece the next day.

The following day; the same problem.

And the day after.

Before long, it was time to hand in the piece. I edited and handed in some of my work from the year before in place of some original work.

It was a moment of true panic – that what had been my sole outlet for how I felt was being taken away from me.

But then the side effects became worse. The aches and pains that before were barely noticeable became unbearable, the gains in weight unhelpful to my self esteem, and the crippling mood swings unmanageable. And when you are ultimately taking a drug to give your mind some relief, so that you can get your shit together, being unable to concentrate or focus is something of a hinderance.

So, six months into my course, I stopped taking the drug. Overnight. Rip off the plaster. One fell swoop.

And I felt better. My moods were more level – a pretty consistent and even low – and the aches stopped. I even began to lose some of the weight I had gained.

But the writing never came back. This is a problem that has continued on to today – eighteen months since I stopped taking the drug. 

In her book Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel – after much internal torment and suffering – finds relief in prozac. Sadly for me, I found no salvation in a pill. I’m sure for the millions of people out there – the members of the prozac nation – it brings them some kind of relief, and I’m happy for them.

Maybe my ability to write came from my deep-seated unhappiness with life. It’s well documented that mental health and artistic ability go hand in hand. Or perhaps prozac is a chemical lobotomy. If anyone knows, get in touch. Would I give it another shot? If it was going to help me, definitely.

These days I write for a living, and about something I have a genuine passion in. It’s a struggle, true. Whether I will one day find it as effortless as it was before will be something time will tell.

This chemical relationship lasted but six months, and there was some good to be seen – some moments of happiness. But like all failed relationships, over time you just remember the negatives.

Three Sides

This is the only big thing I have written in recent months. It is weird and post modern ish but I like it all the same


Author’s Note.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Novel

In my mind, the landscape was black and white, like a gritty old film noir. The air crackled like super 8 film, but I was sure that was just the blood and adrenaline pounding through my head, rather than my grip on reality slipping. If the cigarette burns and the punched black of the soundtrack reel appear in my vision I should start to worry.

Even if the world was not in noir, the red on my hands stood out clearly enough. I should have worn gloves I think to myself, amidst the swarm of ideas floating around my head.

She was dead, Nicky was dead. As I ran through the dark city, hiding from the streetlights club lights and car lights, tears ran down my eyes blurring my vision as I stumbled through the night. These were not tears of sadness. Running down an alleyway, I tripped and fell on my face, giggling with glee.

She was gone, only girl who ever showed any interest in me. I wanted to push the boundaries. He wanted to show me that we are capable of anything, that we can achieve something amazing. I crossed a boundary, good reader; I killed. I am one of a select few. I am my own godhead, my own champion of morality, accountable to me and me alone. There exists no God, only Man.

Choice was sat at the table when I burst through the door, and was rather surprised when the bloody knife hit the kitchen table. Blood stained the tablecloth and scarlet scabs of congealed blood littered the knife. Never going to get this shit off the table I thought to myself.

Choice grinned at me.

I just stood there, staring at him, then back to the blade, and finally back at Choice, whose eyes were constantly changing colour. In the normal run of things, he chose to wear expensive sunglasses to cover this condition, but in the privacy of friends he tended not to. Fickle man that he was.

“Darling, what the hell is that?” knowing full well what it was, “would you like to explain to me why there is a bloody kitchen knife on my table?”

“YOU gave it to me, Choice” I screamed back.

“No dear, I gave you a kitchen knife. YOU are the one who has returned, with MY knife, which is now covered it in blood”

“I don’t care, I’ll wash it off later. You were right, though. I am capable of anything.”

“How does it feel?” he purrs at me with that voice as smooth as honey.

“How does it feel?” I reply, thinking of a way to convey the crowd of emotions that are flowing through me at that point in time, “I feel alive, Choice. You have shown me something beautiful.”

“Good boy,” he says, staring at me with pride.

Character’s Note.

He wrote a novel about me, his second, released to critical acclaim. Everything that happened in the book was a fraud. For months, years after its release, my actions were the subject of essays and talk. They called me immoral but in fact the burden never lay on me, or any of the other characters of the book. The writer was trying to make a point and in doing so, I was seen and made to do things I hated. He made me do those things. He made me speak in ways I would never speak. Like everybody else in the novel, I was playing a role. I am Character. Ever have the feeling you are not in control of your life? I know it all too well.

This is how I became the man who did nothing as the world around him fell apart. This is how by the end of the novel, I was an emaciated man with no prospects and no morals, save for my own ‘empowerment’. This is how I became the man who murdered the girl who loved him, all set up by a manifestation of choice, a symbol of a belief. This is how I escaped redemption, even in my own crushing guilt.

Somebody needs to know what actually happened during the making of that novel. I am a damned creature, immune from dying, unable to pass on my genes. The only things I can pass on are my ideas, my memes. There are three sides to this story: his side, my side and the truth. Hopefully the latter two are the same.

I remember walking into that audition room, though it looked more like a fitting room. He was at university at the time, and I think he was drunk. He sat there with a notepad, doodling away, seemingly oblivious to my presence. My plain white skin was suddenly Caucasian, my hair blonde. In a mirror I looked and saw that my eyes were blue. I looked at my beauty in a mirror, no longer a plain white mannequin, no longer Character. I was whoever he wanted me to be. I thanked him. It was he who gave me a name. He gave me everything. I reached out to him but he never reached back. I looked at him and just wanted to be loved. Soon those blue eyes he gave me would be tainted by red that made me look like a stoner or somebody who had not slept in several days. He kept me up, placed me in front of a computer screen for days on end without rest. Each time I tried to sleep, I would wake up. He told me this was my role.

For months I stayed there on my own, and nobody joined me. I passed the time by talking to myself. What started as an inner monologue turned into a soliloquy and each night I delivered my thoughts to the empty audience. When you are alone, words can be warming friends. Eventually he remembered me, opened the page and gave me somebody else to talk to, as Adam had been given Eve. You remember her as Nicky, but originally her name was Hazel. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. For hours we talked and did little else. I stared into her eyes, back when they were a shade of brown. But one day, everything changed. We fell asleep in each other’s arms, and in the morning she had no idea who I was. It was then that she became Nicky. She had no idea who I was, he had rewritten her. She was now a different person, but she loved me unconditionally. That was her role.

Nicky was the girlfriend I had to pretend not to care about, the girl I could show neither kindness nor warmth to. She was the girl who would hopelessly vie for my affections, who I could not turn to. God knows I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to tell her I loved her but the words never came. My mouth opened, but nothing ever came out. The only words that came out where not mine. The way I am written in the book is not the way I talk. The style was too fancy. Nobody speaks in the clichés that I was made to speak in. I spoke with a voice thick and gravelly from cigarettes and whiskey. He wrote a first person narrative voice and attributed it to me, but these are words I never would have said, some I did not even understand.

From time to time he would sit down with me, ask me what I would do in a situation. It felt like an awkward first date, with sparse conversation. I told him I wanted to love her, that I wanted to be with her, but he told me I could not. Our lack of affection was key to the message of the novel. I returned to my home, powerless. On my kitchen table was a box covered in wrapping paper. He had given me the knife, and with it was a note. It told me I knew what to do. In the novel, this was attributed to Choice, the allegorical figure who spoke in riddles, who wanted me to show me the boundaries of what I was capable of. In reality, it was the writer that gave me the knife. And it was he that really killed her, not I.

I tried to wash her blood off my hands, but it never came off. I tried to convince myself that it was not my fault, that I was coerced and forced into it, but at the end of the day, it was me who drove the knife into her chest over and over again. He said I cried tears of joy, that I revelled in the moment, but those tears were not of joy. Afterwards, I tried to hang myself, but the rope never held. I would throw myself off a building, but the ground turned to rubber beneath me and I gently sunk in, safe. This was a maze I was trapped in.

Eventually they made a film about us. Suddenly I was not the character. The studio ignored the writer’s description of me, and suddenly people envisioned me the way the goodlooking young actor who played me looked. Full of despair, as he looked at the camera with a thousand yard stare, and spoke his lines with such melodrama. They changed the ending; he did not kill Nicky. Before the credits rolled, they drove off together into the sunset with the promise of a life together, one that I would never know, one I have dreamt of.

By Your Own Blade.

This is a short story I have been working on for a while. The full thing is going to have three narrative strands, woven into one another, but for the time being this is the only complete one. Enjoy!

EDIT: This is the amended version now. Muchos better. Hopefully.


Only a small percentage of people know what it is like to be truly hated. This is a privilege kept only for those special few people who are completely despicable and outwardly immoral. From the government to oil companies, bankers, drunk celebrities falling out of clubs, we do like a good witch-hunt.

For Max Req it was a day much like any other. The only difference was he had woken up this morning with a conscience. It was a shocking development in his life, and one he was not entirely ready for. Of course, it was an awkward scene: waking up in his Chelsea flat next to a prostitute he had hired for a large sum of money. After twenty years of marriage and three kids, the sex became less and less existent. A man has needs, and the night before they had been fulfilled the way only a high price call girl knows how. Dinner at a fancy restaurant, then ferried in a swish looking BMW limo back to his flat where she called him King as he fucked her. It was the sensation of power that got him off, not the sensation of a beautiful girl all over him.

You see: Mr Req held a high position at a leading bank, which cannot be named for legal reasons, of course. You have probably used their services though, just saying. And like most bankers, he was universally hated right now, and rightly so this humble narrator thinks. So it goes without saying that his ‘servicing’ required a fair degree of hush-hush.

Not that anybody would be surprised should this little truth come out. Public opinion of bankers was so low that eight out of ten people would not piss on them if they were on fire.

Like so many mornings, he lets the lady out, and tells her something like “I have an early business meeting, I hope to see you soon” (one of these things is true). A wave of guilt comes over him and he thinks of this wife. But today, tears come, then the spasms that accompany them and he sobs into Egyptian cotton bed sheets soiled by adultery. The feeling is strange, cathartic. With the feeling of unimaginable guilt, comes a moment of clarity.

He showers, dresses, has breakfast, leaves and says good morning to the doorman, who lets him out onto the street where a car is already waiting for him, his regular driver sat at the wheel. The driver knows the route, taking back alleys and shortcuts to avoid traffic. Better than getting a taxi or pubic transport like those plebs, Max normally thinks to himself, normally sipping on an Old Fashioned to help him start his day.

Today, however, he sits there in stony, sobering silence, reflecting on his life of late. He flicks through the paper. More wars, more murders, England still has not won anything worthwhile in international football championships and politicians are still lying.

“Stop here, please,” Max instructs the driver through the glass in between servant and businessman.

The black Mercedes stops outside a branch of his bank. Mr Req leaves the car and walks through the doors, moments after they have opened and strides with pride across the marble floor to the cashier.

“My dear, I would like to make a withdrawal,” he instructs the young lady behind the desk, with what he thinks is a nice balance of charm and authority. In reality, he sounds a little perverted and a little top heavy (if you know what I mean).

“Of course, sir. How much?”

“I would to withdraw £1 million if you would be so kind.”

The cashier is stunned by this request, as any body would be. She says she needs to check with her supervisor, but Mr Req insists it is okay. He more or less runs this company.

“One more request. I would like to have this partially in coins, partially in notes.

Mr Req left the building with three quarter of a million pounds in bank notes and the remaining quarter of a million in pound coins. As one can imagine, this is a large sum and took two large duffel bags full of £50 notes. His car then took him over to Trafalgar Square, where he stood there handing out the £50 notes to passers by. Anybody who would care to approach him was showered with money. Pigeons stood nervously around him, approaching him and he would shoo them away, making way for more Regular Joes like you and I.

Several phone calls asking why he was not in the office. Several reporters approaching through the crowd like sharks at the smell of blood. He runs to his car to escape them, but the London traffic stops them. The driver bolts the door as the flash of cameras surrounds the car. “MR REQ, WHY YOUR RECENT DISPLAY OF GENEROSITY MR REQ, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS OF YOUR BANK INVESTING WITH OIL BARONS AND THE ARMS INDUSTRY” still ringing in his ears, in spite of the thick, dark glass.

“Going for some publicity, are we sir?” the driver sarcastically asks.

“Just keep on driving,” Max instructs, sweating heavily and biting his lip, “to London Bridge, please.”

This was all that remained of Mr Req’s bonus from the fiscal year 2010-2011 was this half million in pound coins. London Bridge approached and Mr Req started to cry. He stuffed the money into his pockets, His jacket pockets, his suit pockets, his trouser pockets. The car pulled to a stop at the start of the bridge, pulling to the side of the road amidst a symphony of car horns.

“Some help here, please.” The driver comes round and sees what Mr Req is doing. “Here,” Max says, holding a wodge of £20 notes. Twenty of them, in total, “do me this one favour.”

Next to him sits a roll of black gaffer tape, which he straps around his ankles, closing up the ends of the trousers. Then, he fills the legs of his (ridiculously expensive) trousers with more pound coins. By the time he has filled his trousers, the stitching is straining against the sheer volume of metal. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of a million pound in coins is quite bulky it turns out.

What coins he could not fit into his trousers remain in the duffel bag, now slung over his back as he struggles down the bridge. His trousers bulge out from his calves to his ankles like Aladdin’s trousers. Under the weight of the metal, he is struggling to move. His driver helps him along, one of Mr Req’s arms wrapped around the driver’s shoulder as the driver tries not to wretch from the smell of body odour coming from Max’s armpit. Exertion is something Mr Req is not exactly used to.

Pedestrians recognise him, one way or another. From either news headlines damning him and his profession for the cuts they took, from the companies they work for who were supported by the taxes of the people, or from the hour old headlines of him handing out £50 notes at a central London tourist hot spot.

He finally reaches the middle of the bridge, looking over to the deep of the Thames. With great ardour, he clambers up onto the railing, sweating, jangling and straining as he does so. And in a moment he is gone.

It was not as elegant as he planned. With one leg stepped off the edge, weighed down with metal, and he quickly plummeted downwards. It was 12:02 when he hit the grey-sky water. It was around 12:05 when he died.

He passed out from a lack of oxygen to the brain after about twenty seconds and died after a minute or two of struggle, as the money anchored him to the bottom of the river and water filling his lungs. A crowd gathered to see if he came back up.

A passerby claims to have heard his last words, but he refuses to tell the press for anything less than £100, 000. There have been reports of people planning to dive down to retrieve his fortune.

No Place

So this is a piece I have written for Cardiff Act One’s ‘Staging a Coup’ competition. Those taking part have to write a maximum fifteen minute long play, with fifteen seconds either side to clear and set up the stage. This is the second draft of said play, and feedback is greatly required. Once I have it in its final form, I am planning on turning it into a short play-novel type thing. Think A Streetcar Named Desire style, where a lot of information is given in the stage directions and such. In the mean time, enjoy!


No Place is set in a world after an event colloquially known as ‘The Revelation’ or’The Last Day’ roughly a year before the events of the play. This is when scientists unravel the last secret in the universe. While this is not an entirely realistic concept, it is left open to interpretation what they actually discover. In other words, it doesn’t matter. All I wanted to explore was the dichotomy between faith and science. Like a story such as The Road, I want to at least give a hint as to what happened without explaining it fully. Through the Radio broadcast at the start and Helen’s dialogue, we are treated to a hint of what has happened to the world. At the end of the day, it does not matter. The concept of the play is a simple philosophical debate between faith and science.

In terms of set, all I would need is a block for a bed side table, a radio (not hooked up to anything, just for dressing) and two chairs. All these can be brought on by the actors themselves.


He is a hopeless romantic, someone who was truly happy living in blissful ignorance. The Revelation didn’t really affect him: only when Helen left him. Since then he has been searching for her, all across the country. He still lives in a world where concepts like love mean something. He is a man of faith, someone who is self reliant. He trusts his feelings and intuitions over empirical facts.

She is a bit of a mess, but all the same is a deep thinker. Is spontaneous, passionate but since the Last Day she has been troubled by what it meant for humanity. After leaving Sheridan, she wandered around the country for a while, taking in this new world in which she find herself. Always a free spirit who acts before thinking usually, she is unusually troubled by the Last Day.

This will just be a CD player hooked up to a set of speakers. One track will play the intro monologue which helps to set the scene of the play, while another will play “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix briefly at the end.

The Play

Stage is black. In the fifteen seconds while preparation of the stage is underway, the RADIO plays.


And now the news. Riots broke out again today across the nation as the remaining police forces went round houses across the UK rounding up eligible workers to man the abandoned factories that dot the country. This strike is not the first in the year since what we have come to know as ‘The Revelation’, when scientists in [STATIC] discovered the secrets to [STATIC]. There has been much talk about the effects of this on mankind, now that human science has mastery over nature. Since, apathy has swept the world. So, the Revelation…Call in with your thoughts. Where were you?

Lights fade on after fifteen seconds are up. The stage is a bare hotel room. One matress at the stage left, a chair at the foot of it, and a bedside table next to it, to the right, with a radio on. A chair sits next to the table. A girl, Helen lies on the floor (bed) staring at the ceiling and reading. Once the radio stops, she leans over to turn it down. There is a knock at the door, then another. She gets up and walks to stage right.


Who is it?

She looks through the lens and seems shocked, opening the door. Enter SHERIDAN.

Sheridan…how the….how did you find me?

He leans in to hug her, but she backs away.


You know. Ways and means. Took me long enough though, Helen. Can I come in?


Yes..yes..of course. (In shock)

Helen goes and sits on one chair. Sheridan pulls out another chair from next to the bed side table and sits opposite her.


So how have you been?


Worried. How the hell do you think I have been?


Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked


You could have called. Something. We thought you were dead. Thrown yourself into the river or something. Was by chance someone I knew saw you around here. I’ve looked in every hotel and here I find you, holed up in this shit hole.


I can explain…


Go on then. Enlighten me.


You remember the day I left?


Like it was yesterday. Like it was so long ago.


It was a week after the Last Day.


So? The world has gone to shit, but some of us stuck together. Was only the religious types that couldn’t handle the news and moved away. And they’re a minority now anyways. So very few true believers about now it would seem. (He says this offhandedly)


(interrupting him) Will you just shut up for a second? I left you because I knew truly what the Last Day meant. I knew we live in a world of science now. Of statistics, of chemicals of hormones. People aren’t people now, they are collections of data. Nature is dead, we killed it. We weren’t happy with not knowing, so we destroyed it.


I don’t follow….


Don’t you see? The world we were born in has gone. Now there is only science. There is no place of art, no place for imagination. And most importantly, no place for love. Love. What even is that?


What? What do you mean?


It bugged me for the longest time. But what we felt. What we both felt..it’s nothing more than hormones and chemicals, Sheridan. Delusions given to us by stories and advertising.


No, no, no…it is more than that.


How then? How is love any different to God or any of the other things that we have disproved? Love and God are words from a world that is dead, and is never coming back.


Then why am I here?


Delusion. Because you still think there is such a thing as love. You do not want to be alone, so you cling to those old world values for support.


I know what I feel. You used to feel it too.



Sheridan pulls out his wallet and produces a very scuffed up envelope. From it slips out a folded up letter.
Sheridan, why are you doing this?


He reads

“Dear Sheridan, I cannot wait to see you next. I can’t believe it’s been three months already! I’ll be waiting for you at the airport. Hopefully I’ll be able to take your mind off that jet lag. I miss you. I love you. (He pauses) When you’re gone, it’s like a pain in my chest. I close my eyes and see you. You’re always there, somehow. Let me know what you’ve been up to. Yours with love, Helen.

Helen is crying, her head in her hands. There is a moment of silence as Sheridan moves towards her and hugs her, kneeling beside her.






Those words don’t mean anything now. That letter is a fossil from a time long gone.


It’s only been a few years…

She stands up, walking away from him to stage right.


And everything has changed. I can’t…(she sobs) I can’t go back.

He follows her across the stage


Sure you can

She pushes him away.


No, I can’t. Sheridan, when I left I had just found out I…I was late. I was pregnant.


(Shocked) What did you mean ‘was’ pregnant?


(sobbing) I couldn’t bring a child into this world, Sheridan, I couldn’t.


How could you? This is not the end!


Easily. I’ve wandered, Sheridan. After I left you I drifted across the land and you know what I saw?

A pause

The worst. I saw a nation covered by the skeletons of buildings burnt to the ground. Abandoned houses, factories. I saw men and women drunk in the street in reckless abandon. I saw the riots in the streets as people were denied entry to churches, and the blood lust of people, no longer curbed by notions such as love, or compassion.


I know. I saw on the news.


The world has ended, Sheridan, the fuse has finally burnt to its end and we are in the last days. Ever since we unlocked the human genome, or dropped the bomb, we’ve been on a slippery slope. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. But I had to. Can you imagine bringing a new life into this world? Drunks and murderers on the street, ash and fire on the horizon.


For hope. For hope of a better tomorrow. We will rebuild. We’ll adapt to this new era we are in. That isn’t choice, that’s the hand we have.


(She laughs) It’s funny really.


What is?


For so long, this curiosity drove us. We strove so long to get to this point, and for what? Now there is nothing else to be curious about, and we have totally reverted to our primal roots. We now have no grand illusion of enlightenment. There is nothing left to look for, because we have it all. And now we just want something to lose.


If you don’t feel anything, then why did you cry when I read the letter?


I don’t know. A rush of hormones,


No, it’s nostalgia. A pain in your stomach, in your heart. It’s a reminder of a place you can’t go back to. It doesn’t exist anymore. You can’t put that down to any combination of hormones or chemicals.


Why are you saying this? You say you still believe?


I believe there is still mystery to life. Things to discover, things to see. There’s still some magic.


No! What is here isn’t love.


Then what is it? Love? This is a new world now. Let’s make a new word for it.




I reject their notions of fact, I reject it all. I know what I feel and I know that it can’t be explained by science, not wholly. Models of things, numerical values attached to hints of real life, of the real world. Systems that repeat over and over again. You ever heard of the law of large numbers?




It says that a complex mathematical system can repeat itself over and over, thousands of times, but in the long run, something startling, something different might happen. All processes lead towards decay and distortion.


What are you trying to say?


That I don’t care for it all. I know what I feel. Scientific systems fall apart. They aren’t right, they can’t be. Numbers don’t represent humans. Numbers can’t! They can’t see what goes on inside the heart, inside the head.


What do we do then?


Like I said before. We make a new name for it all. We start again.


I’m scared, Sheridan


My dear, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He embraces her, and leans in to kiss her. She hugs him deeply, unsure as to what to do, before she slowly but tenderly kisses him. The radio starts up again.


And now time for an old one. This is ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix.

The song plays as the stage fades to black, before itself fading after after “said the Joker to the Thief”

The End

End of Line

Something about a con-artist. This needs editing I think.


In a town far away from home, you can be anyone you want to be, anyone you please.

I stretch my legs as we queue for immigration. The flight into JFK took six hour, from when it took off. Five hours of bad films and plastic food, another hour of ascent and descent. I am yet to meet anyone that actually likes flying. The usual question-answer dull conversation occurs at immigration, asking mundane questions in the hope I slip up and start to exhibit guilt. All the same, I feel the guiltiest man alive. Stamp stamp and I am in. “Have a good day, sir” in that overly polite, crystal clear American tone.

There is the usual hustle in Arrivals funnelling people through into the outside world. People book cabs, renting cars or shuttles, the lot. On a far end there stands a line of men holding signs with names on in large, clear letters. I choose one at random.

Today, ladies and gentleman, I am Donald Sawyer. Sorry, Mister Donald Sawyer. I throw away my passport, my only tie to my earlier life.

So it turns out I own a nice attic flat on the East Side. How convenient. Better than all of those fake grand hotels with bellhops and porters constantly demanding tips. The driver was kind enough to remind me where my spare keys were kept. Kind man. I top him fifty bucks and tip the doorman of my building the same.

To a lot of people, money never lies.

I pour myself a scotch on the rocks and start to find out whom I am. Even though this apartment is not mine, I cannot help but feel at home. Seems I am a well of advertising director for a pretty reputable firm. Not quite as low key as I had hoped. Pays the bills, and them some. No debt. No enemies. My journal says clients buy me lunch and dinner regularly, that I rarely go into work and I seem to spend most of my time convincing clients that my agency is the one for them. I do not have a wife or fiancé, which means slightly less baggage, though I am seeing a beautiful girl who may or may not be a model. Either way, the pictures on my desktop suggest she has not much dignity.

The phone rings an hour or two after I arrive. “Mr Sawyer, there is a man here claiming to be you. Of course, this is ridiculous. Do you want me to inform the police?” the receptionist speaks down the phone, her phone smooth as sweetener. The police are called. I watch from my window on the fifth floor as he is dragged away. Should buy some more time. I find myself fascinated by the window, caught between staring through the glass to the cold city outside, and trying to catch the half reflection of myself. I do not even know what to look for anymore. Even I cannot see myself clearly.

She drops by, the model, and we fuck. Through out she tells me she loves me, and after she asks me for four hundred dollars for a taxi home. I get the score, hand her the bills and send her on her way. Some taxi fare. I am no fool. I leave the flat in the morning into the monster that is a rainy New York City, into a crowd of black umbrellas, and disappear into the day. Perhaps never to return. At least for a time I am away from all the drama on the far side of the Pond, blood on my hands and a noose of lies around my neck.

I was always told I could be anything I wanted to be.