Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

It lives in the sink…

As I enter the last couple of weeks before my deadline (and even typing that gives me a sinking, weak feeling that reminds me of when I had meningitis and couldn’t walk from one side of my hospital room to the other) I’m basically nocturnal. I catch about 3-5 hours sleep during the day, between driving Katie to work and picking her up, and spend the rest of the time working.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened. In fact, it’s happened three times now. Each time it does, I look at the stuff I’m writing in a mad dash for the finish line as essentially cursed. I tend not to be all that happy with my writing even when I have ages to do it, but I reserve a special loathing for the shit I get done when my back is to the wall. It’s not always the end of a novel, either. It might be a few chapters I skipped in a bad mood “to come back to later or whatever”, and so on. Usually, it’ll be the parts I write very early on and literally can’t stand the sight of come the end. They have to be rewritten. They just have to be.

When it comes to editorial feedback, reading circle opinion, and the reviews that follow, I’m always wrong. The bits people like best are always the parts I struggled with the most, and the ones I’m least happy with. I’ve given up trying to understand why.

Anyway, being nocturnal has its disadvantages. One of those – in a sensory aspect, surely the biggest one – is that night is dark, and when it’s dark, humans can’t see a fucking thing. Add that general rule to the fact I live in the middle of the countryside, miles from civilisation, and you’ll come to realise not only am I excellently situated to survive the zombie apocalypse, I’m also seventeen miles from the closest streetlight.

In short, if the moon and stars are behind the clouds, it’s as dark as the Abyss.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Hey, Aaron, it’s 2012. Houses have electricity, and electricity can be converted to light via glass bulbs and filaments and stuff like that.” Well, dubious phrasing aside, you’re right.

In some cases, that only makes the situation worse. Such as at 2:30am yesterday, when I came downstairs for my 36th coffee only to hit the light and recoil – physically cringe and recoil – from what I saw in the sink.

Allow me to explain.

Me and Katie, see, we’re not exactly loaded. We’re not dirt-eating poor folk any more, but for a couple of years, while I was waiting for royalties, we were pretty fucked. As someone who is so middle-class that I’ve genuinely told beggars asking for change “Sorry, I’ve only got notes”, being poor was an unpleasant surprise, but sadly comes with the whole territory of being a writer. But, as I said, things are looking up a lot. They’ve levelled out the last year or so. Things are good. I thank The First Heretic for that, and by proxy, all of you lot for buying it.

But my point is this. As a kid, I was spoiled by a Mum who gave me pretty much every toy I asked for. Not all of them, but if I rrrrrrrreally wanted something, she’d usually find a way to get it. I was never short on rad toys. Maybe I didn’t have every Star Wars action figure, or every single Autobot ever, but I had a chunk of every money-sucking license I was in love with at the time.

The flip-side of that comes around now, when I have a lot less money coming in than my Mum and Dad back then, so I’m already looking at my bank balance and feeling the first stirrings of sadness at Fuchsia having to miss out on cool toys she really, really wants. I’m aware – obviously I’m aware – that there are more important things in the world than cool toys. I became aware of that on the shallowest level when my Mum would occasionally cry that she couldn’t afford to get me X, Y or Z, and I’d always think “Mum… I have a lot of stuff already, I think I’ll live.” I’m sure Fuchsia will think the same, as I’m sure all sane kids do when they reach that level of awareness.

But anyway, as Currently Poor People, we’re recycling Katie’s old toys. As in, her family have dug them out of basements and attics and barns (HA HA COUNTRYSIDE), and now we’re washing them for Fuchsia to play with when she shows up. I find it even more heartbreaking because Katie’s toys were already Poor Person Toys, whereas I had rad shit like a Millennium Falcon and Powermaster Optimus Prime. I was also the first kid in my school to have Ultra Magnus. True (and awesome) story.

So there we are, washing these old, old dolls and cars and stuff. We wash them in the kitchen sink. Even looking at them brings me out in strangely intense middle-class future-father angst of being a shitty provider for my family, but that’s just background to the real story.

Imagine you’re walking downstairs at 2:30am. You’re tired. You hate what you’re writing. You need coffee.

Your beloved bride, to whom you’ve been married for just over a half a year now, sleeps the sleep of the innocent upstairs. You’re trying to be quiet, since she’s 8 months pregnant and doesn’t sleep all that well now. The fact she’s pregnant mere seconds after coming off the pill is something you’re secretly proud of, and occasionally you cup your balls in private, saying “Damn, I’m a good shot” to yourself. For the sake of this visualisation, that’s the kind of guy you are. Basically, an idiot.

Imagine all of this. Those of you reading this who lack balls; an easy simulation can be achieved through getting two eggs in some cling film, and hanging them between your legs. Please note, that’s gross. I mention only for accuracy of simulation for those who prefer a practical approach to the imagination.

Anyway, imagine all of that. Now imagine you walk past the sink – your head filled with thoughts of your pregnant wife, your future daughter, and the Grey Knights you’re writing about upstairs.

You hit the light.

You see this:

I’ve never, in all 31 years of my life, thought so many things at once. And they were all bad. All of them.

A snapshot image of my mind would’ve looked like this:


And that’s why you shouldn’t spend an entire month on minimal sleep and 30 cups of coffee a day.

January 21, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Hilarius..cant stop laughing….

    Comment by Marcus | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  2. I almost feel bad for laughing…..almost.

    I did a month of only sleeping an hour or two and I only thought things were living in my bedroom carpet as I was seeing them dance. That told me I had to stop.

    Comment by Xhalax | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  3. rofl great post, when she wakes up u should ask wtf is with the dismembered doll in the sink

    Comment by matt weston | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  4. Holy shit dude! I remember well the sleep deprivation and I’m totally glad I never saw anything like that!

    Sweet zombie Jesus…

    Comment by Alec | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  5. LOL

    Comment by andreas fabricius | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  6. Mate, thank you for this, im broken up with memory and laughing my ass off at the same time. Also-curiously it made me wish that, for a moment, I could take my balls off, just to try if two eggs in clingfilm is vaguely similar.

    Comment by Nazaradine | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  7. And not for the first time I am amazed by the things that unite us (meningitis, insomnia) far outweighing the things that divide us (I never had the Millennium Falcon, but I did have Ultra Magnus.)

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  8. Jesus Christ, that is fucking terrifying… that’s some mafia forehead shit right there.

    Comment by Alex | January 21, 2012 | Reply

    • Forehead?* horsehead. Ugh. Everyday autocorrect doth vex me. One day it’ll make me snap…. I’m one minge-to-mingle away from being featured on Cops.

      Comment by Alex | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  9. I’ll grant you, that is pretty creepy.
    At least you’re not like Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, seeing ceiling-babies after a heady dose of heroin..

    Comment by Joe | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  10. Oh. My. I genuinely got quite scared then. Lol.

    Comment by paulofawesome | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  11. ah the ‘joys’ of insomnia, i found it like having a bit-part in someone else’s nightmare. hacked-up baby dolls are messed-up, tho if you start to see walls bending and melting, you’ve had enough (trust me).
    do you think the all-night/heavy pressure/stressed-out thing is your subconcious process to writing such well-received material? you may hate what you’re producing but i’ve been into 40k and heresy work since reading Rogue Trader and i think you understand that universe better than any other writer (including the holy trinity of Abnett/McNeill/Thorpe)

    Comment by Fuctifeyeno27 | January 21, 2012 | Reply

    • I’ve never heard those three referred to as the Holy Trinity before. I think everyone has a different Three.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  12. Sorry to laugh at your moment of terror but that is ridiiculousky funny. Thanks for starting my morning off well!

    Comment by Jason | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  13. This doll is special. I wasn’t even washing this one for Baby, this one is for me. It was my favourite doll, desite having over 10 newer, better dolls, this is the one I loved becasue this one was my mummies doll. Her only doll. Her name is Elizabeth. My Uncle John broke her legs when they were young I believe. Now you know the Doll History. She is atreasured Heirloom, that I doubt I will let baby have until she is much older. I found her and some other things in a hunt for my old Duplo and Barbie things, which are for baby.

    This blog is filled with so many ‘we’s that really ought to be ‘Katie’s. He is writing Grey Knight, nuight and day and I am disinfecting and scrubbing old toys. Our house is a weird place, only about to get wierder.

    Poor Lizzie. She just needs her sleep suit to hold her legs in. Then she is much less terrifying 🙂

    Comment by Katie | January 21, 2012 | Reply

    • I will always find dolls terrifying. I blame chucky and an overactive imagination.

      Comment by Alex | January 21, 2012 | Reply

      • I can totally empathasise with this. I was lucky enough not to see any of the Chucky movies until my late teens, at which time I had already seen all those living dead dolls and stuff they have in ‘Alternative’ Stores. So it wasn’t quite as petrifying.

        As a side, my cousins used to find china dolls, with the glass eyes terrifying. So I used to turn them all around to face whatever bed they were sleeping in when they stayed over.

        I, personally, find much stupider things to be terrifed of.

        Comment by Katie | January 21, 2012 | Reply

    • Do you still have that big doll that was in the back bedroom? With all the hair? Creepy. Specifically, ‘uncanny.’

      Also, good call on the recycled Duplo. It costs a fortune new these days. Car boots and charity shops are the best source of Lego/etc.

      Finally, Aaron: Nice Birdman reference, there.

      Comment by G | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  14. Jesus. If I walked past that I would have freaked out, even if I wasn’t under the effects of sleep deprivation…

    Comment by Jonathan McKeown | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  15. I wanted to recycle my toys for my future son or daughter, but Mom throw a good chunk of them out
    they make such shitty toys nowadays too. I can relate to what you guys are doing.

    Comment by neamtzu_rau | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  16. You think you’re sleep-deprived now… Almost can’t wait to see you in 6 months time.

    Comment by Nik Vincent-Abnett | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  17. I realise this may come as a bit insensitive but I nearly-literally wee’d myself with laughter after reading this. I had one of those uncontrollable belly laughs I thought I was going to die…sorry again!

    Comment by Thomas | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  18. Laughed so hard when my friend read this to me I missed a murderous cutscene in The Old Republic, classic.

    Have you not considered the potential children of the corn style possession that may soon affect your firstborn? A common and (probably) undocumented phenomena prevalent in second hand toys. I had to ritualistically behead and then immolate my mint Jurassic Park Dimetrodon after it gnawed through my door.

    Reminded me of this http://www.imagepoop.com/images/baby_doll_centipede.jpg

    Comment by Mark Grudgings | January 21, 2012 | Reply

  19. It is so funny you mention Ultra Magnus,I had to have that one too,but he was a crapload of money.
    One of my first criminal acts was to take the pricetag off of Jazz who was $10 and place it on top of the $40 Ultra Magnus,my first criminal act was when I stole a pack of Lifesavers when my Mom said she wouldn’t buy ot for me when I was four.
    Like I thought what the hell does a old lady cashier know about the value of a transformer.
    I had alot of fun with that one

    Comment by Bigwill | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  20. Just to be clear the old lady cashier and my mother are not one in the same like that last post kind of sounded.
    The Lifesafer incedent was because of the twisted way supermarkets in the US put the good candy right next to the cashier but at a kids eye level.
    The Lifesavers were there calling,what was a young delinqent to do?
    Got away with that one too,but the drummer boy quarter caper put a end to my,young criminal carrier

    Comment by Bigwill | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  21. This is hilarious. The punchline yes, but there’s a place in my heart for “so middle class I only had notes”. Also, we seem to have had disconcertingly similar childhoods, and had that “whoa, shit, this is what having no money feels like” moment.

    I do not, however, openly praise my testicles. The little bastards would only start getting ideas.

    Comment by Von | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  22. I can imagine the shock. one night i stepped on a doll that makes giggling noises, which sound, when the batteries are nearly dead, almost exactly like the sobbing of my 18-month-old daughter when she really hurt herself. Long storys short, I was freaked out, my daughter woke up and started crying and ex-girlfriend started calling me names…

    Comment by Henning | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  23. Brother, I feel your pain. But remember, no matter how much you ern, no matter how much you give, you will always feel like it is never enough. And you’ll always feel like shit because of it. The price of fatherhood is feeling like you suck so hard you could deflate a zeppelin.

    Source: 12 year of being a Dad.

    Comment by Norbus | January 27, 2012 | Reply

  24. This is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time…thank you! If i had seen that I would probly fall over and hit my head on a table or something.

    Comment by Edward K | February 16, 2012 | Reply

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