Wednesday, 11 November 2009

That Quiet Time

That quiet time.
Before dawn, barefooted, viewing as far as my eyes can reach,
A silver grey moon silently watches my every step,

Half-buried homes of sea creatures, mixing silently with a carpet of blue and grey, moving endlessly,
Or so it seemed.

Scores of seagulls on the shore flapped their wings,
Starch white,
Some picking morsels from the sand.
I move, exploring, sodden sand oozing between my toes.
Overhead, a moan from an earlier storm that caused the Earth to cry out in relief.
I sigh. A pleasant one for no dust clogs up my throat.
Behind me, my wandering trail is blurred and indistinct,
Slowly eradicating the telltale signs of visitation.

By Rebecca Showell

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


Flats much cheaper than mine leer, mocking
As ninety four cameras watch over me
To keep me safe
To keep tabs
It’s not for me to know

And the wooden butterflies
That nest upon the art building
Taking flight in the night
Giving potentials award winning ideas
None for the average
Fuck the average
Doesn’t seem right to me
I suppose
It’s not for me to know

I just drew on my face
Chewing gum is everywhere
We never miss an inch
Do we?

By Matt Waterhouse

The walk

...The blinding light.
Waking up and walking to a lesson
After a night of fun and frolics
Just isn’t fun and laughter.
Everything is everywhere.
The sun and the ground merge in my
Head causing a vortex of colours, meshing
With Blues, blacks, indigos and greys.
The dull colours of England shine through
The Immense headache which I’m trying to walk
Past as it corners me on the road.
The chewing gum constellations on the floor seem
More interesting then they have ever appeared before.
The cars whizz past me, as workers last minute teas and
Coffees are ordered...I should have joined them.
The headlights of passing cars stay in my focus even
After they have left. I stop for a second.
Staring at me on the floor was the aftermath of the night
I ponder on what drink THAT must have been...time was ticking...
Tick tick tick...late late late.
The graffiti monsters have been at it again
Tick Tick Tick.
Razor fences catch my eye subsequently causing me
To pause.
Tick Tick Tick.
The door of my lecture stares me down, and beckons me inside.
Im late.

Ameena Iqbal, DMU

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Walking to the past

Eyes everywhere. They’re always watching me. Wherever I go I can see them, and they can see me. I am never alone anymore. Not like it used to be. A man used to be able to walk where he wanted without fear of being constantly watched. But now, there is no privacy. Why do they need to watch me? What am I to them? I’m just an old man. I don’t mean any harm to anyone. Yet I’m being followed around as if I shot a man last week.
Everything moves so fast now. The world has grown up quicker than I can keep up with. But there is one place in this modern city that I can keep up with. I walk down to my piece of tranquillity and memories everyday. It gives me something to do. It takes me back to a better time, a time without as many cares. Just the sound makes me smile. Makes me remember what life used to be like.
As I walk down those nine sacred steps to tranquillity, out of sight of the eyes in the sky. I feel alive once again. I feel rejuvenated. Like the man I was before all this technology came along to rule and govern how we live our lives. I walk to this spot everyday, through the glaring eyes, past all the death machines and down to the past. The past that brought me so much happiness and joy.
When I arrive, I sit down on the same bench I always sit on. I think I’m the only one who uses this bench for what it was designed for. Everybody else uses it as a canvas for their graffiti. It looks like an eyesore to me. They call it “art”. Art used to be wanted, art used to be something people would pay hundreds and thousands of pounds to get their hands on. To my mind art is not something that is thrown into everybody’s face without their permission. Maybe that’s just another sign that the world is moving on without me.
Perhaps I’m too old for the new modern world of today. Even the place I call my own is not mine anymore. At least it is quiet down here and at least I’m not being watched. Soon this will change and change forever. I don’t think I could stand seeing my little piece of the past being modernised like the rest of my once beloved city. Once the noise and the eyes move down to where I love, I will end it all. Or maybe I should end it all before all that happens. Maybe I should end my life with a little bit of joy left in my heart.

Chris Thurmott, DMU

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Castle Witch Hedge

Here is a piece inspierd by this photo sent to me by my writing friend Alex. He is from the Netherlands and lives near this castle. I've never seen it in real but I decided to write this story based on the place

Hidden by bramble, ivy growing fast
The last reminder of a time long past
A time when kings ruled the land
And knights did save the maidens grand
A time of witches, goblins and ghouls,
Court jesters, those complete fools
A time of fairies, sprites and the good
Those who spent their time hiding in this wood
The woods at the castle of Witch Hedge
Where people do not far to edge
This time where mythical beasts roam
A land which I do call my home
In a time when the castle did stand tall
Its stone bricks, stronger than them all
One day I know it had die
And with it, a solumn goodbye
Yet I could not leave my one true home
So I do stay in each catacomb,
Each night, frightening away those who
try to take the old and make it new
I stay here and knock on walls,
Tapping out my calls,
The Castle Witch Hedge

Autumn Ghosts

Through the breezy sauntering
Of Autumn, bronze leaves glide gently to earth,
Like tiny misled ghosts,
To greet their guests.
Solemnly descending,
They skim the wind and float
Gracefully to land on the heads
Of the season’s wanderers,
Or, unknown to them,
In their hoods,
To be discovered later,
With smiles.

By Samantha Lewis, DMU

Where I like to go....

Without much thought I find myself wrapped in the ballooning folds of cloth,
Their warmth and protection enveloping me like a small child.
The smell of Surf, Narcisso and a few stale vodkas engulf me and I’m home;
Away from the madness and screened from the wild.

Two pillows; both lumpy and greying from wear and tear-
But nonetheless still the best two pillows I’ve ever had,
Travelled from city to city to be with me because I couldn’t bear to leave them behind
And the springs let me know that I’m away from others and I’m glad.

A dull light streams in through the window and lets me know there’s still day left,
And the cars driving passed so regularly are like a mother’s lullaby.
But there is a still silence in my room . Everything I own stands to attention
Waiting for me to use them... but here I still lie.

The creak of the frame as I turn over to block out the day
Tired and moody I’m met by a furry friend, proclaiming its Love for me
And with the bear’s fur gently stroking my face and tickling my nose
I fall asleep...slowly...and gradually.

Ellis Irwin, DMU


The Griffin promises us,

late nights and broken minds.

“House! House! You’ve got to have a house!”

we ignore the shouting of their wares but,

just past it, just

“Ring for ATTENTION!”

Register at the Campus Center,

it’s only the rest of your life,

is that my life, or just a burnt out building?

The Sydney Opera House of limited knowledge,

“but beauty trumps knowledge... haha Fletcher, you sure are ugly!

your butterfly’s and books,

are the heavy makeup of an aging whore,

stop selling yourself, your out of the game,

Kimberlin’s got your corner... and look how many love me.”


“They love me most! Books or booze?”

Benjamin’s tower looks over the water,

shaken with echoes from Glo’s emptiness,

whilst Stonehenge bows to the Pizza King,

and the neon of Newarke begs for attention.

We walk round and round,

in and out,

for three long years they clamour to be


On the last bridge,

far from Campus warfare,

five heads,


“A city without heritage is a man without memories.”

Alex Bliss.

The Wrong Stop, by Jack O'Sullivan (De Montfort University)

Matthew rapped his knuckles tentatively on the bus window. He could hear Toby panting by his feet, and stretched out a hand to pat him gingerly on the neck.
“Almost there, boy.”
He assumed that they were, anyway. The couple behind definitely said that they were getting off at Spinny Woods. His legs were starting to hurt in any case, from being sat so paralytically still. There was hardly any legroom on buses at the best of times, let alone with a hulking great Alsation snoozing on your feet.
As he expected, the bus started to slow to a stop. He ruffled Toby's ears and felt him pull away as he got to his feet. After a quick probe around with his free hand, Matthew let himself be steered along to the front, and after a quick turn and a sharp step, he felt his shoes touch solid pavement and heard the timid voices of the bus fade away as it squealed off. He jerked his head as a heavy gust hit him, and tugged on Toby's leash. Toby seemed fairly certain that he knew the way, as usual.
As they made their way along, Matthew heard a low rumble overhead, followed by what felt like mild drizzle. He knew it wouldn't stay a drizzle for long, and scowled at the thought. The first few pangs of cold were starting to force their way through his multiple coats as well. Typical winter. He tugged hard on Toby's lead and came to a stop, stretching his back with a melodramatic groan. A sneaking suspicion was spreading in his mind that he may have ended up at the wrong stop. This place certainly didn't seem ... what's the word? Well, it just didn't seem right. It was far too quiet.
For one thing, Matthew hadn't heard a single voice since getting off that bus. It always put him at unease when there wasn't enough to listen to – he thought the term “deafening silence” was a little fanciful, in his opinion, but it seemed appropriate now. He grimaced and fumbled to zip up his coat, seeing as the heavens seemed to be opening up fully now. There was a strong rush of water somewhere beneath him, much stronger than one that would form at the side of a road.
“Is there a river, Toby? Is there a river?”
Toby's ears twitched in response, before he resumed his staring contest with a sour-looking cat sat on a nearby bridge. Matthew sighed and flared his nostrils. What was that smell? Chocolates? This place is absolutely bizarre, he thought.
“Toby? Shall we go back to the bus stop Toby? Back to the bus stop?”
Matthew had come to the conclusion that he was not where he thought he was. If not for the pavement, it wouldn't have seemed like civilisation at all. At least the bus stop would stop him getting soaked, even if the next bus wasn't scheduled this side of Tuesday. He tugged gingerly on Toby's lead, but Toby would not budge.
“Toby? What's the matter? Come on, Toby!”
Toby had got past phase one of staring at the tabby, and had entered phase two: the cut throat ear-twitching session. Matthew gasped in exasperation, and yanked the lead fervently. Finally, Toby got up, rounding off a finishing leer at his smug feline adversary. Relieved, Matthew felt Toby leading him back, retracing their steps back to the bus shelter.
“Good boy, Toby, good boy.”
In fact, Matthew did not think that Toby had been good in the slightest, but it was good to know that they were on the way out of this strange little village, or town, or whatever it was. Away from its peculiar confectionery smell (he sniffed his palms just to double-check it wasn't him), and away from the supposed river. He cocked his head to one side. It would be nice to get out of the rain, too. It's chucking it down.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009



Simmering sun, dipping down out of view,
Allowing the winter moon to debut.
Twelve travellers, each perched on a rain-sodden pew,
Some old and some young, a right motley crew.

Twelve succulent steaks of Kangaroo,
Sputter and sizzle on a barbecue.
A cold beer, ahhhhh!, that’s long overdue,
The haunting call of a didgeridoo.

Waves gentle and glimmering, seducing the sand,
The crisp winter breeze, boats bobbing unmanned.
A barefooted stranger, surveying the land,
Aboriginal art etched onto his hand.

Through silver smoke he enters without hesitation,
The travellers fall silent, not one exhalation.
Eyes out on their stalks, in awed fascination,
Hairs standing on end with tense expectation.

He chants in native tongue, for nature uprooted,
Longing for the past, the lands unpolluted.
Flowers in bloom, waters undiluted.
Weeps for his country, his people persecuted.

By Amy Wilson, DMU

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Statue's Secret Smile

Nobody knows it, but you've got a secret smile,
and you use it only for me
Nobody knows it, but you've got a secret smile,
and you use it only for me

It may seem crazy, that im singing to a statue
The people around here throw dirty looks at you
But she's here all the time, I'm sure that you've seen
She's made out of metal, all lit up and green

She sits at the crossroads and watches the traffic
the brawls in the pub, now I wont get too graphic
The buildings tower over her, casting their shadows
But she's not moving anywhere what else does she know

But she can see, the soul of the city
She's watching me, with a smile with some pity

Nobody knows it, but shes got a secret smile,
and she'll use it only for me
They say the walls have ears but, what if this statue could speak
Oooh no...
But she can see, the soul of the city
She's watching me, with a smile with some pity
Nobody knows it, but shes got a secret smile,
and she'll use it only for me

(Written and performed by Morton Piercewright from DMU)
(Thanks to Semisonic for the "Secret Smile" Chorus)
Peace :)

I walk alone

I don’t really know where I’m going; I don’t really know what I’m doing. All I do know is that if I have to go and do this. It’s so busy round here I feel the stares of peoples’ eyes, flushing colour into my cheeks. Everybody else walks in groups with their friends, not me, I walk alone.

I’m here now. I can’t do this, it’s not right. I run my fingers along the bar; it pierces through, injecting me with a shiver. Peering over, I wonder how many people have stood here, like me, and thought the same thoughts as me.

The rippling black treacle looks so enticing. Rusty autumn leaves infuse colour into the river. I feel my eyes widening as I taking in the details of my last surroundings I shall see. The willow trees hang over the river as I do, being drawn in and enticed, but resisting, like they’re trying to pull away. I pull back a bit. I don’t have to do it right now; I should take in my final surroundings a bit more. Hovering down the stairs, a lonely dandelion winks at me amongst the fallen leaves. It’s trying to escape from the shadows that surround it.

As my feet grind along the toe path I realise that I am alone. Not just away from the crowds of people, but I really am alone. A solitary swan floats beside me, as if drawn to my solitude. He’s floated away from his crowd; I can see them in the distance. They’re crowding round, fighting for scraps of bread being tossed in by a woman. It looks to be almost routinely to her. I wonder why he’s chose to come to me, I haven’t got anything.

It’s time. I somewhat slither back up the steps, as my legs tremble like jelly beneath me. Clasping onto the bar, this time I’m injected with heat. My fingers tremble as they tie the weight securely to my waist. I place it on the bar and wedge my feet into the diamond patterned bridge and I heave myself up. Here I squat like a frog; I can feel my knees vibrating near my ears. Eyes wide open, I clasp to the weight as I float into the darkness with the weight by my side.

Sharon, DMU

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Soar Life

There are twelve steps leading down to our bench. Joe would count them often. He would take my arm and gently guide me through crunched leaves and spots of sunshine, then away from unfavourable youths and long since littered gum. He’d get to the final step and pretend to trip to make me laugh. I’d try desperately hard to hold the corners of my mouth shut each time he did so, though never successfully.

I always sat on the left, for Joe always preferred the other side. No, ‘preferred’ isn’t right. He made me sit on the left, for the right had an obscene word scrawled in spray paint or marker or something. I told him it made no difference: the graffiti was dry; there was no danger of it marking my coat. But Joe always insisted. He carried the bread too, as if the stale loaf would somehow weigh me down and be a burden in my hands.

Lily and George (after our own two babies, who, as they often remark, are now far too old to be labelled as such) would swim over immediately from the dense overgrowth on the opposing bank, through the darkness underneath the bridge on Mill Lane towards the smell of yesterdays unwanted wholemeal. Joe would insist on placing the bread straight into their beaks, saying that he didn’t have much faith for the purity of the thick green river. A soft whistle would escape his lips as he fed them, the same nameless tune he would sing to me as we cared for our garden, or hum gently into my neck after making love.

I often try to turn the clock back by the river. Attempt to shut out the student flats, the pubs with flashing signs and the endless stream of engine, horn and siren. I go back to our favourite time – a river not filled with cigarette butts or takeaway wrappings, but busy with the endless flow of barge and boat. A time when Joe and I would walk the cobbled lane through Castle Yard to work, (Joe would walk, I would stumble on the uneven slabs of stone – Joe was no better than me at restraining the corners of his mouth) and tease one another with stories telling of St Mary de Castro’s many lovers or the tiny priest who had the good fortune of his own custom-made entrance at the back of the church.

We’d bickered playfully about maintaining our weekend ritual of walking to our bench that Sunday, for the wind was high and a fierce storm on the horizon, Joe argued. I countered with the presentation of waterproof jackets, his golfing umbrella and a toothy smile – the latter resulting in his surrender, as always.

The rain began to fall as we began to descend twelve familiar steps and was thundering by the time we stepped off the final riser. The droplets hammered into the river causing the Soar to spray upward, passers-by started running for cover underneath the abandoned bus-stop on Western Boulevard as cars crawled by at a cautious speed. I finally admitted defeat when I saw the seat of our bench already immersed.

Turning to leave, my left hand searched for Joe’s right only to find nothing but air. I twisted back to find him still staring at our saturated bench, his head lolled forward, his hand grasping his left arm as if he were embracing himself. He drew a deep breath and then the world came to a stop as he began to fall.

I was suddenly unable to hear the howling wind; the rain seemed to slow down, the drops looking like diamonds, feeling like bricks. A shopping bag descended to the ground, a thin loaf escaped from the plastic and rolled into the Soar. The ripples spreading out into the river like passengers fleeing a sinking ship.

I don’t bring the bread anymore; Lily and George don’t come for it without him. Perhaps they’re aware I would find the memory of them eating painful on reflection. Maybe they don’t trust the old lady without the familiar whistle. Or perhaps they’ve simply forgotten the man who would bring their breakfast on a Sunday morning. I envy those hungry little ducks; sometimes I wish I could sit on our bench by the river and erase all memory – if only for a short while.

Rich Styles, DMU

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Summer House

I spiral through the washing,

up the path towards the summit.

It hides behind the gazebo, caged by

the trellises and the wall of rockery.

Mrs Taylor’s Conifer creeps over too,

golden on our side

like a lighthouse.

I leave Mum’s beds at peace these days,

letting them prosper to flaming reds and purples.

The begonias I crushed as a kid

with the array flicks of the football.

I was Cantona then.

I’m into Kesey now.

It’s never silent, the persistent wasps

and issuing from next door fidgeting my thoughts.

Sometimes I can read eighty plus. Then it rains,

and I’m stolen.

The slow increasing patter on the roof,

and rattles of the plastic windows.

I rise from my cushioned seat

that would suit winter so well, and step outside

onto the deck. This is a nice place to stop, as I

narrate the scents of dampening wood and flowers.

Darren, DMU

Friday, 30 October 2009

Last Walk

I turn the key in the lock for the last time. Birthed from the womb of inside to the harsh reality of outdoors once more, I decide to make one last effort to connect with this place. Maybe it will finally feel real if I know for sure that it won’t last. The insistent drizzle splatters my face, but I don’t feel cold. I feel the hardness of the paving slabs pushing at my feet, daring me to go on.

I turn a corner and try to blend into the crowd. Just another in a haphazard collage of hot, pressing bodies. I kick through yellow leaves, but they cling fast. Dead, brittle fingers massage my ankles: the teasing touch of a whore for necrophiliacs. I know I’m being watched. The empty eyes are everywhere, looking down from on high. It briefly strikes me that I should put on a show (dance!) for them. The ultimate in reality TV for some faceless man in front of his bank of screens.

Crossing the bridge, I dart down the steps to the river. The crowd carries on above me, marching its way to nowhere in particular. They’ve sent their scouts to keep an eye on me though. Cyclists buzz around me, herding and harrying. You can walk, but you can’t meander. Railing turns to no railing and the murky green seems to beckon me into its depths. I shun a lone swan and hurry along the bank.

Up steps again and I walk completely out of reality. As the soundtrack of blaring sirens and squealing tyres fades, I walk straight into a nightmare. Silence. Is it my nightmare? Razor wire gives way to rubble. Chunks of debris strewn (spewed?) across a bleak wasteland. The city is just behind me, but already it has gone. Is this where cities come to die? I walk on. The peace of this place is at odds with its stark ugliness. Perhaps that’s what death is.

Round another corner and dust catches in my throat. Construction. Rebirth? This isn’t a graveyard, it’s a reproductive cycle. An organic thing. Cities come here to be rejuvenated. Will I be reborn too? Right. Everybody’s spiritual nowadays. Past cars that will remain parked forever and graffiti nobody will ever read, I sense that my journey is coming to an end. I’m not tired. I’ve reached no destination. I feel satisfied though. I’m part of the city, part of its ebb and flow.

An old sofa sits in a railway arch: a park bench for the Ikea generation. I sit down and wait for the cycle to begin again.

Nick Jones (DMU)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Campaign: Save the Bowstring Bridge (a portable campaign poster)

SAVE the Bowstring Bridge!
Save the Bowstring Bridge!
Ketterick and Willmott show us the plans,
you said Leicester’s heritage
would be safe in your hands.
Flat pack bastards
you’re only in it for the money
and you ignore your public well,
I’m not being funny but you’re wanton vandals,
members of a council riddled with scandals.
Yes it’s clear that you lied
and forced THE city into cultural suicide,
you made the wrong diagnosis.
Its purely cosmetic a touch of paint and a polish,
it would cost the same to restore as it would to demolish.
Together we must stop these absurdities,
a city without heritage
is like a man without memories.
To save the BOWSTRING BRIDGE from demolition
go to the Leicester Civic Society website and sign the petition.

The Bowstring Bridge viaduct at the junction of Western Boulevard and Braunstone Gate has been a Leicester landmark since the 1890s and is now under imminent threat of demolition.
By Liam Day (DMU)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Inside Our Heads: Collages (IUSB)

Thanks for all the recent updates on the blog! Here are some images from class today. This is a class on Narrative Collage and Surrealism, so we used magazines to practice some Surrealist techniques of transforming place, shapes, proportions, and images. After our midterm next week, we'll post some "Exquisite Corpse" writings about South Bend, Indiana.

(posted by Kelcey Parker, IUSB)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Facebook site

Dear All,

Just a quick note to say: remember that there's a related Facebook group for this blog. Please join it if you can at the following address:

Thanks, Jonathan

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Welcome from Jonathan at DMU

Dear All,

I just want to echo Simon Perril's words below, and welcome everyone to this blog from both sides of the Atlantic. This is a great virtual space to publish and share work from and about places distant in geographical space (and even time).

Places are geographical spaces, but they're also memories, histories, moments, relationships, representations, texts - and this is what makes them so powerful as starting-points for poetry, fiction, memoir, scripts.

So I look forward to reading your work, and wish you all the best for the new academic year.

Jonathan Taylor (lecturer, DMU).

P.S. to help 'set the ball rolling' for the year, here is something I wrote on my Summer holiday in Cyprus this year:


... no, you go slow-slow long the road –
the big one that is going to Limassol –
and is few miles,
and then is turn left from roundabout
which does not have Church
of St. Nektarios on it,
and ....

... no, I not knowing number of exeet,
but it certainly no have church
or saint on it,
and you going left,
and some other turns also –
left-right and such –
and when you get to hospeetal,
ring up on thees number,
and ....

... no, I not knowing hospeetal name,
but ees not big one where
cousin Thekla having ankle broken –
it is near there,
but if you see the Orphanides,
or Father Stavro playing the backgammon,
you know you going too far,
and ....

... no, I not knowing street name,
but is right or left where
Uncle Vassou smoked last Cubans
he save from old farm,
when you were five
and when he still have old donkey
from village, and ....

... no, not his wife, donkey,
you remember?
It called Robinou,
and lived its last years looking sad,
tied in Limassol car park,
where people being kind
and feeding it the artichokes,
but Sotiroulla ate one of them,
and she had ache of stomach for two days,
and it was from that other Stavro –
not the backgammon one –
and he was trying to poison Robinou
to get the parking space,
and we so cross
we almost wish he one of the Lost,
and ...
and ...

... and no, endaxi,
I not very kala at maps –
seence I made to come south,
I forgetting the way everywhere –
seence I leave Athankou,
seence that 1974,
I no finding my way anywhere,
I no finding my way back.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lifting Spirits

By Morton Piercewright -

I very much doubt that the designers of this park envisioned this occurring, and I doubt even further that they saw the hundreds of possibilities for human movement its architecture and apparatus offered.

Darkness consumes the scene, observers from the neighbouring tower blocks and houses can only see obscurities – a flash of movement here, a shadow there. From the ground floor figures are barely visible through the thick gloom of the evening. Crisp night air hovers in a deathly silence over the soft tarmac and cool steel frames of the playground. Hooded youths fly gracefully and silently through the air over these obstacles, treating them as means to move, rather than means to guide them, or to slow them down. They have the utmost respect for the structures, but spare none for the values they represent.

Fingers wrap tightly around metal bars, pressing palms against icy contours as the body is forced skyward, pivoting from the wrist. Another hand joins the first, both now labouring to force the body forwards, keeping the incredible amount of momentum going through the night sky. Legs spin inwards, tucking in order to endure the force of the landing as the shock spreads from toe to thigh to shoulders. Coming out of the roll at incredible speed, eyes and teeth dart out from underneath the hood, a defiant grin sneaking out from its darkened face. The hooded creature spares a fleeting look behind him, a signal that is noticed by the others. Seemingly crawling and dropping from the black air itself, five more hoods creep into the light, their eyes the only thing visible in the dim saffron glow of on old streetlight. They are as spirits, gently floating over the structures society has presented before them - not as members of that society, but as outsiders.

The leader feels the grind of the harsh concrete under his feet, against the feeble rubber-soles of his trainers. His laces are frayed, ruined from constant movement and abrasion against every surface imaginable. Frozen wind gnaws through his clothes to feast upon the fragility inside. His muscles ache, they twitch at the adrenaline coursing through them with familiar distain, and they work harder than they should. Gravel grips to the soft flesh beneath his fingernails, and blood leaves a grim trail across sleeves, legs, and obstacles, a sign that he has been here before, and that he is not afraid.