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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

Some time ago I wrote a piece about “Who Am I with Psoriasis” which was inspired by a certain Hugh Jackman as both Jean Valjean and Wolverine. Now I find myself going back to this as I fantasise about psoriasis a little more rather than deal with the real life side of it. I am sort of coping with keeping my psoriasis at a certain level, an ongoing battle to ensure it doesn’t worsen and at the same time reminding myself I must book up to see the doctor again.

I do like to remove psoriasis from the real world though and some would say that means I’m not facing up to it and ignoring it won’t make it go away. To me it is a coping mechanism. To not take it so seriously and to even laugh at psoriasis helps me get through the tougher days. I have written a couple of short stories in the past and as I sit here waiting to go into town and see the new X-Men film, Logan, my mind imagines what it would be like as one of the X-Men. Some do say that psoriasis is caused by a mutated gene after all so Psoriasis is my special power……..

 

Professor X, Storm, Jean and Cyclops are in the Professor’s study. They are talking to a man hunched up in a char, his clothes, loose fitting, a baseball cap and hooded top attempting to cover his face. Storm eyes him over noticing every time someone looks at him he covers pulls the sleeves of his top over his hands, like he is trying to hide, trying not to be seen. The large wooden door to the study opens, all but the stranger look up as Logan walks in.

“Ah Logan, come in” says Charles Xavier and waves his hand ushering him in “And please shut the door”.

Logan walks in, looks round and immediately focuses on the man huddled in one of the leather chairs. “I’d like you to meet Simon, he’s just joined us he at the school.” Logan walks over and stands in front of the man.

“Hey, how you doing? I’m Logan.” He holds out his hand but the man only barley looks up, trying again to hide his hands and face. Logan huffs and steps back “So what’s his problem?” he asks turning to the Professor.

“He’s rather shy” replies Charles. “It’s okay you’re among friends here, we are all different, you can relax” he continues trying to coax the new arrival to look up. Slowly his hands rise, red scaled hands reach up to his cap and pull it off along with the hood. Drawn sunken eyes look at the team of X-Men stood in front of him. Each one stands there staring at the man trying not to react but the man can see it in there eyes. Not a look of horror but of pity as they see the blotches on his face, skin falling off.

“So what’s your power?” Logan asks breaking the silence. Simon looks up at him, eyeing Logan cautiously.

“I grow skin too quick” he says. Simon’s hand moves to his neck, scratching it and a flurry of silver scales drop to the floor. “I’m sorry, damn, I’ll clean that up” he says and goes to get up.

“Don’t worry about it, we’ve cleared up bigger messes here” Storm smiles and reaches out holding Simon’s shoulder. He looks at her hand and sees how smooth and healthy her skin is, the firs time he can remember someone has touched him without hesitation or recoiling. He relaxes, maybe he has finally found somewhere he can feel at home.

Logan goes to light a cigar, the professor coughs. Logan rises an eyebrow at the professor and puts the cigar back in his pocket. “So bud, let’s see what you can do.”

Simon looks up, “I….. I don’t know if I should, people don’t like it.” He turns away again, the Professor looks into Simon’s mind and can see the constant turmoil, changing from confident to shy in seconds.

“Let’s go to the training room” says the Professor and the team show Simon the way. Simon looks at the suits displayed along the corridor, wondering what it would be like to be an X-Man.

“Show us what you can do and we’ll give you one of those fancy suits” says Logan walking beside him. “I used to think I was alone, never wanted to talk to anyone or be part of anything. Don’t tell the others but they are the best thing that ever happened to me, you’re in a good place.” Hearing Logan say how he has changed since meeting Charles Xavier and his X-Men starts to sink in, his back straightens and his head seems to be held a little higher.

Once in the training room Jean assures Simon he can do anything here, to let loose and reveal his powers. Simon stands in the centre of the room as the others watch on. He lowers his head, takes a deep breath and then looks up. His arms stretch out and silver scales shoot from his hands, swirling around the room almost like a dust storm. The others step back, they can barely see, it is as if the flakes have caused a wall. “That will certainly be good for cover and diversion” Cyclops exclaims.

The swirls subside and Simon stands there shaking a little, never having revealed his true power to anyone before. The Professor smiles “I think we have a new team member”. The others walk over to Simon and shake his hand, pat him on the back and welcome him. “So what are we going to call you, everyone has to have a nickname.” Wolverine says as he gives Simon a hearty slap on the back. “How about the flaker or scaleman?”

Simon is handed a new uniform by Storm and goes off to change as the other discuss what he should be called. The doors slide open and Simon walks in, standing tall and proud, a different man to the one who entered the school earlier. “No more hiding” he says. “No longer will I deny who I am. I am Psoriasis”.

And so PsiRiasis became one of the X-Men, no more a menacing shadow controlling Simon. He now had control and PsiRiasis became a superhero.

 

 

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It was Christmas Eve and the house was silent.

“SCRATCHITT.” Ebenezer Psoriasis’ voice boomed out in the darkness as Tom Scratchitt tried to sleep. He awoke with a start, his hand automatically drawn to his leg, nails digging in to his skin and drawing blood.

“Why make me do this now?” He asked Ebenezer Psoriasis.

“Because it’s fun to see you suffer” Ebenezer sneered. He chuckled to himself and promptly went back to sleep leaving a tired Tom Scratchitt to clean up the mess of flakes and blood now caked on his hand.

Tom went to the bathroom, ran his hands under some cool water and gently dabbed his bleeding leg with damp flannel. It offered some relief and Tom closed his eyes, thinking he could sleep right there. “Why won’t he leave me alone, why does he keep tormenting me?” he asked himself. He opened his eyes, looked in the mirror and saw a face looking back that he barely recognised. A once confident face looking drawn and haggard and a noticeable lack of life in his eyes.

It wasn’t the best of night’s sleep for Ebenezer either though. He felt a presence, something else was in the room. “Ebenezer Psoriasis” a ghostly voice called. He looked around, saw nothing and closed his eyes again. “Ebenezer Psoriasis” the voice said louder “You are a wicked man Ebenezer”. This time he sat up and turned on the bedside light. A shape appeared in front of him.

“Who are you, what do you want?” He asked squinting as he tried to focus on the hazy floating vision.

“Who I am is no important, my reason for being here is” it said with a strange whispering voice. “You are being watched Ebenezer, your evil acts cannot continue”.

“Bah, Humbug” said Ebenezer. “I like being bad, it’s fun” he sniggered.

“Be warned Ebenezer, you will be visited by three ghosts to show you the error of your ways”.

“I’d rather not thanks” replied Ebenezer, “Unless they like scratching too?” He chuckled to himself.

The ghost eyed Ebenezer closely, well if it had eyes it would have done. It was more of just a mist than a person. “This is going to be a toughie” I thought to itself, “Oh well the others can deal with that bit”.

The ghost flew around the room “Three ghosts Ebenezer, the first will come at….”

“Midnight, the second at one and the third at two, yeah yeah I’ve read Christmas Carol” Ebenezer interrupted and then told the ghost to shove off. With that the ghost huffed, shrugged his shoulders and as he went to speak, thought better of it and with a small puff of smoke it disappeared.

Midnight arrived. No chiming of the clock, I mean this is the digital age after all. Ebenezer Psoriasis slept soundly, unlike Tom Scratchitt who tossed and turned, subconsciously scratching his skin. Tom’s smartphone suddenly lit up and then stood on the bedside table. Tom couldn’t see this but Ebenezer raised one eyebrow and looked at the phone curiously.

“Ebenezerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Psoriasissssssssssssssssssss” the phone whispered.

“What is it with you ghosts, can’t you just talk normally, I was expecting you so you don’t have to act all mysterious?” he snarled.

“Oh, erm, sorry” the phone said rather taken aback “We are told to speak like that in spirit school.” It continued. “Well, erm….” The spirit paused, finding it difficult to get back on track. It switched on it’s notes app. “Ah yes, shall we go back in time then to a Christmas past”.

“Whatever” Ebenezr said with a shrug of his shoulders and with that the room filled with light so bright Ebenezer couldn’t see anything but whiteness. As the light faded he found himself in a lounge of a house and there on the floor playing with his new Christmas toys was a young Tom Scratchitt. The boy made car sounds as he raced a toy car round the carpet by the Christmas tree.

“Who’s this then?” Ebenezer asked.

“What that is young Tom Scratchitt, long before you came into his life. See how happy and carefree he is. See how lovely his skin looks.”

“Hmmmmm, yes I do see, oh if only he knew the misery that is to come.” Ebenezer let out an evil laugh and rubbed his hands with glee. “Yes boy, you just wait, I’ll stop that smile on your face.” He chortled.

“Yes, look” the spirit said “See how happy, does it not fill you with remorse to know how unhappy you have made this once happy child?” It asked pleadingly.

“No not really…. Well apart from thinking I could have given him a few more years misery.” Ebenezer sneered. “Yes, maybe I should have found him in his late teens. Oh well, nothing I can do about that now.”

The spirit went silent, there is nothing in his online guide app about this. “Cortana, what do I do with an unrepentant soul?” It asked. Cortana’s ring span for what seemed like an age before answering.

“Sorry, I do not understand the question.” Cortana said.

“Right, I’ve seen enough, this is making me feel sick seeing all this happiness, I’m off back to bed.” Ebenezer turned and picked up the phone and licked the off switch. The screen faded to black and Ebenezer found himself back in bed with the still restless Tom Scratchitt.

1 a.m. arrived and in the next room a light glowed. “Oh joy, the ghost of Christmas present has arrived, let’s see what this one can do.” Ebenezer chuckled to himself. He ran into the room “I’m in to know you better man.” He boomed.

“C…… Oh, you know that bit” said a large tub of emollient.

“Really? Emollient?” Queried Ebnezer. “Could you not think of anything else, it’s not like that stuff even bothers me.”

“Well it had to be something you’d relate to and this is the UK so I can’t appear as a prescription product, you know we have laws about that kind of thing.” The tub replied.

“You should try living by your own rules, that’s what I do” Smiled Ebenezer. “One day I’ll be all nice and calm, even start to fade and for no reason I’ll come running back and jumping all over my victim the next day. Oh they’ll try to find a pattern, try to figure out what caused it. That’s part of the fun, they’ll never get it.”

“Really, you have no rules?” the Tub asked. “I get so bored of rules, I mean look at this paperwork the put in every carton and that’s just in this form. Don’t get me started on the spirit guide book… You shall Boom every word, makes bells jangle and lights flicker to get attention. I mean, what ever happened to just talking to someone to make them understand?”

Ebenezer walked over to the tub and put an arm round it “I hear you man, you need to pull away from the rulebook, be your own… erm… Spirit, as it were. You go tell them you are a free spirit and not to boss you around anymore.” Ebenezer said comfortingly and wondered how many more spirit puns he could find.

The tub lifted it’s head, well what resembled it’s head in its current form and proclaimed “Yes, thank you, I shall do just that, I’ll show ‘em.” And with that he was gone. Ebenezer chuckled to himself and wandered back to bed giving Tom Scratchitt a nudge just to make sure he wasn’t sleeping.

2 a.m. and the bed covers flew from atop the bed in a gush of wind and a blaze of lightning flashes. “Well that’s a bit more like it” said Ebenezer looking up at a dark apparition. “And I see you’ve gone for the classic look, I do like a bit of retro.”

The dark hooded figure raised one hand and pointed a finger at Ebenezer Psoriasis then curled it, beckoning him closer. Ebenezer got onto his knees and knelt in front of the sprit. “Dear Spirit, I know what you have come for. You have come to show me how bad life will be for Tom Scratchitt if I do not mend my ways. Dear spirit, I understand, I can see what misery I cause and I will make amends.”

The Spirit lifted its head and would have said “Huh?” in a surprised way if was able to speak. “I’ve only just got here and he’s already repenting” it thought to itself. “Yet the other spirits told me this wasn’t going well. Must be the good old hooded look.” The spirit straightened its back and stood proudly in front of Ebenezer, although little unsure what to do.

It held out a skeletal hand to Ebenezer as it thought it should at least go through the motions of showing him the Christmas yet to come. Ebenzer still knelt, looked up. “There is no need to take me on a journey Spirit. To prove to you I have changed I have something for you.”

The spirit was almost doing a jig inside his long dark robe. He thought he would at least give Ebenezer the chance to prove it and waited to see what he was to be given. Ebenezer took hold of the spirit’s bony hand and said “Happy i Christmas” with a smile that looked more evil than sincere but the spirit thought nothing of it as he knew Ebenzer probably hadn’t smiled genuinely for some time and would soon learn how to give a warm smile. The sprit looked down at his hand and saw skin start to form on its skeleton. The skin grew all over his body quickly and he could scarcely believe it. This was indeed a gift to no longer be shunned by his fellow spirits as they often cowered from his menacing look.

He nodded in appreciation towards Ebenezer and saw that Ebenezer was laughing. No, not laughing, he was sniggering and rubbing his hands. The spirit looked at his hands again, then rolled up his sleeves. The skin was still growing, growing so fast it was instantly peeling as more skin grew. The skin became cracked and started to weep. The spirit scratched at it as the itching started. It shook a fist at Ebenezer who just stood there laughing “Yes, a very merry itching Christmas” he sneered.

The spirit spun around the room, the itching was so intense it couldn’t think of anything else. It had thought it was being given the gift of skin and now saw Ebenezer for what he truly was. In despair it curled up and with a loud bang, a flash of light and a huge cloud of smoke it disappeared. “My work here is done” Ebenezer said to himself and got back into bed “Scratchitttttttttttttttttttttttttt.” He shouted one more time. Tom Scratchitt woke with a start, tired eyes looked round the room. His skin sore, his nails red with blood. He once again raised from the bed and headed to the bathroom. Ebenezer Psoriasis smiled as he slept peacefully. The End        

That is my Christmas story. Not a happy ending but I don’t think Psoriasis, if it were a person, would care about people’s welfare. Whether or not we find a cure for this condition or if you find a way to control it. Psoriasis itself remains the same, it will never stop trying to make our lives miserable so no spirits of Christmas can help it change its ways.

This Christmas spare a thought for those who suffer from chronic illnesses, not just psoriasis. There are millions of people around the world who need a little extra care and sometimes just to know you’re there. Give them your support, your understanding and be willing to listen. If you are Father Christmas and reading this though, a cure would be nice.

Happy Christmas one and all and I wish you an itch free New Year.

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On the now forgotten island of Essex, just off the coast of Ancient Greece. Now a pile of rubble at the bottom of the sea it was once a hub of invention and trade. King Simonis ruled over the island with a firm but fair hand. That was until his people were hit with a curse from the god Psoriasis.

Psoriasis was a little known god. There were no shrine or altars in his honour unlike his fellow Gods. “I am the god of skin” he roared atop mount Olympus. The other gods would laugh at his complaints that no one worshipped him.

“I feed them with fish from the sea and give them safe passage to the mainland” Neptune would say “Why should they worship you?”

Psoriasis would slouch and grumble to himself as the other gods mocked him. “I give our people beauty, they are the most beautiful people in the world” he heard Aphrodite boast “They love me and I love them, who would love Psoriasis” she laughed.

“I give them beauty too” Psoriasis thought to himself, “Hmmmmmmmmmm, that gives me an idea, I will show the People of Essex”.

King Simonis lay in his bed sleeping. It was not an easy sleep. He tossed and turn while voices spoke to him in his head. “Do you think you’re handsome? Ha, You will not be much longer” the voices said. He jumped out of bed, his skin crawling, itching madly. He scratched at his skin drawing blood.

“What curse is this?” he cried as he saw his reflection in a mirror. The face of the god Psoriasis appeared.

“This is my curse on you and your people, I will make you pay for not worshipping me, for not showing your respect”

His face slowly faded and Simonis was stood peering at his reflection. His wife appeared by his side, also hit by this curse then they heard the cries. The whole palace had woken to find their skin flaking and scarred. “Call for Jason” the Kind commanded and a dove was sent to the mainland for Jason and his Argonauts.

The next morning King Simonis sent Jason and his Argonauts on a mission to find a cure to this curse. Aphrodite had appeared in a vision and told Simonis of a land far away, there was an ancient relic that would cure them. The journey would be dangerous and Jason was known to be the bravest man in all Greece. An old friend of King Simonis, he would undertake this journey.

Their ship set sail as the people of Essex cheered them from the dock wishing good luck and a safe quick return. Jason consulted his map and the stars to find the remote island that Aphrodite had told them of. Psoriasis looked on from the heavens “Ere, Neptune, how about releasing one of your monsters, you know give them a challenge” he asked.

“Get stuffed” replied Neptune, “Big Brother’s on”.

So the journey to the island was pretty unadventurous. In fact the Argonauts got a bit bored and when they finally hit land they had a quick game of footie before making their way to a nearby temple. There they met an old man with grey hair, a long beard which he stroked in deep thought until they realised he had nits in his beard. “Old man, wise sage, can you help our people, they have the curse of Psoriasis” Jason said whilst keeping his distance somewhat.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Psoriasis” he exclaimed, “My cousin had that once, I gave her this cream, it cleared it in a few days.” He handed Jason a small pot. Jason studied it curiously.

“Erm, it’s a bit small isn’t it?” He held up the pot “It’s a whole Island of people we need to cure”.

The man opened a cupboard “I have much more, only £50 a pot, miracle cure it is.” He put on a straw hat and pulled down a sign saying “Honest John’s Psoriasis Cure” only the words “cold sore”  had been crossed through and psoriasis written over them.

“We have no money, we were told of a relic” Jason said and with that the man shut his cupboard and ushered them out.

“No money, no cure” he said slamming the door of the temple in Jason’s face. Jason turned to his men, one of them looking at a map with a sign saying “You are here.”

“Jase mate, it says here there’s pharmacy just over the next ridge but it’s closed on Sundays.” Jason’s face fell for today was Sunday. He checked his wrist sun dial and studied the map again.

“Let’s try this place called the Super Market” he said pointing at a large building shown. “It’s only five minutes away and open late. We should be able to get something there, otherwise why would they call it Super?” he beamed. The men cheered as they set off.

“Hi ho, hi ho” one of the men started to sing.

“Oi, cut it out, wrong story” Jason glared back at him.

They reached the Super Market and it was a wondrous place. There in golden light with a sign above saying “Limited Edition, one of a kind available here only” was what Jason thought must be the relic that Aphrodite had spoken of. “Someone distract the guard” Jason commanded. Two of the lads started to fight and were escorted out. Jason seized the opportunity and grabbed the relic, sliding it inside his tunic, whistling innocently as he walked out.

They ran back to the boat and headed back to the Island of Essex happy that they had succeeded in their quest and would cure Kind Simonis and his people. The journey back was pretty much the same as the one there, nothing much happened despite Psoriasis splashing about a bit in the water while Neptune looked on shaking his head.

Back at the palace trumpets blazed as Jason and his Argonauts entered, carrying the relic on a large tray. “King Simonis, I bring you your cure” Jason shouted proudly, eyeing up one of the King’s concubines thinking he would be getting his reward soon.

King Simonins rose from his throne and looked at the relic. He picked it up and stared at it. “Jason, a golden fleece? Really? Do you know how itchy wool is?”

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