The Caged Type

A home for Craig Thomas Boyle's writing and life.

Category: Writing (page 1 of 3)

The Cost of Greatness


The blacksmith worked in the searing, familiar, heat of his forge. Sweat trickled from his brow, rolling down through his thick beard before dripping onto his bare chest as he worked, furious yet methodical. Each hammer blow was a thing of precision, each movement carefully calculated. He folded the glowing hot metal, shaping it. Each strike was accompanied by the slightest draining sensation, and he felt The Stranger’s hand guiding him. 

After all, he thought, it would be a shame to waste this Gift. 

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Dropping By

The scream of pulsing engines made it hard to read the notes on the digiscreen. The flickering text warned me that this planet’s native species had destroyed the first human colony that landed, long ago, and had repurposed our weapons to fight more ferociously than ever. But it’s hard to take in that kind of information when you’re hurtling through the sky at 200 miles per hour. Instead, I just stared at the dim reflection of my eyes in the screen. They were wide with fear.

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Tyneside Poem

This is a love story

Not of a face, but a place

A feeling, an echo, a collection of space

It’s filled by all sorts of bodies,

That move in their own ways

Whether that’s students partying,

Or people drinking away days.

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A Land of Tooth and Claw [Chapter 1]

Vincent had killed thousands of men in his long life. This next one would be no different.

The night had brought peace to the wasteland, disturbed only by the clumsy movements of his prey. Vincent kept his eyes on his target as he followed him, his own steps deathly silent on old concrete. Ahead, a man with a backpack slung over his shoulder and a flashlight clutched in his shaking hand was heading towards a building long forgotten by the new world. Its crumbling walls promised ancient scrap and with it, potential reward.

This man that wandered alone through the wastes, however, would find nothing but death inside.

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Paul’s Fall (Poetry)


I’m not much of a toilet brawler

Don’t like a taxi rank skirmish

I do like a drink

But I don’t get churlish

Don’t like aggro

Prefer to walk away from it all

Because nobody wants to end up like Paul.


Not me

Not you

Not what Paul’s been through

Knocked clean out

In a dirty nightclub loo


Sound funny?

It isn’t.

Paul’s head hit the cistern.

Coma for weeks

If only his friends had of listened

If they’d left it where it started

Way back at the bar

If they’d walked away and laughed

Joking about it from afar


But Paul’s mates liked a rumble

When the drink was inside

Everyone’s Mike Tyson

When the night comes alive

Spilled drinks

Crossed words

Things mistakenly overhead

Eye contact

The contest

Who backs down first?

Was never Paul’s mates

All alive with the thirst


Paul wasn’t like that.

A considerate young lad

Didn’t see the point in it

People acting mad

He was there for a laugh

Not for a scrap

Only fight he’d had

At 5 his sister gave him a slap

But boys will be boys

And mates are your group

So Paul was stood there

When it got thrown out of loop

When the testosterone boiled

And the aggravation bubbled

And suddenly

There it was

A whole lot of trouble


Bystander calmed it

Just a spilled drink they’d said

But Paul’s mates kept on shouting

And their opponents turned their heads

Walking away

For now, at least.

And Paul felt relief

As he slid into a seat


Two drinks later

A bit of dancing

Bit of flirting

And Paul’s last worry

Was of any more trouble occurring


Into the toilet

To empty the bladder

As he unzipped

He heard the chatter

The lads from before

Not his friends, but the foes

Planning an attack

When the club came to close


Paul should have stayed quiet

But peacemaker kicked in

Lads came out the toilet

The story gets grim

Quick recognition

A grin of realisation

Four versus one

In toilet isolation


Paul, innocent paul,

No idea of the trouble he was in

Kept talking them down

Should be saving his skin


The punch came from nowhere

Broke his jaw with the force

But Paul didn’t feel anything

Just the darkness of the fall

Head, the back of, colliding with ceramic

Paul’s consciousness, leaving the planet


Paul’s mother and father

Getting the call

Tears and terror

All because of a bathroom stall

The tendrils of influence

Stretched out that night

Lives changed forever

Because of meaningless fights


The guy who punched Paul

A promising grad

Lost control that night

And lost everything he had

Five years in jail

Guilt every day

All just because

Couldn’t keep anger at bay


And Paul’s friends got worse

Didn’t learn their lesson

Righting your wrongs

Beyond their comprehension

Even angrier nowadays

Don’t cross them on a night

But all of them cried

When they saw Paul after the fight


His head cracked open

Blood on the floor

Moaning aloud

But not here anymore

Eyes glazed over

Memory deleted

Verbal communication

Broken and fleeting

Confined to a wheelchair

A husk of what was

And all for nothing

A drunken encounter, just because


Just because some men

Justify their lives by their actions

And don’t feel like real men

If they’re not fighting or attracting

Females for fucking

Men to be battled

And bystanders like Paul

Just doe-eyed cattle


Paul’s story has a bright side

He’s not even real

But the stuff I’ve seen in my life

Tarnishes the grand reveal

Because what happened to Paul

I’ve seen more than once

I’ve watched punches thrown

Without slight remorse

All over nothing

Just beers and masculinity

Uncaring for reality

Human fragility


Let’s hope you’re not like Paul

And you’re aware of danger

Keep an eye out, for the anger of strangers

Distance yourself

When fists start to fly

Or it’ll be your mother

Who’ll weep, when she hears that you’ve died.


Last but not least,

Don’t keep the company of beasts.

Make sure your friends

Don’t have anger to unleash.

Enjoy your drinks

But beware of past midnight.

One punch can end it

Stay away from the fights.

The Strangest Weekend (Long Read)

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If you’d told the man sitting in a Newcastle pub that he’d save the life of one of the rarest creatures in England on an otherwise dingy weekend, he’d have laughed in your face. Then, he’d probably have had another pint. Maybe he’d have had a shot too, for good measure.


This pint, his third, went down as willingly as their predecessors. He sat in the corner of the bar, underneath the picture of the fat lady with her breasts out. This had been their favourite spot, but now Thomas sat alone – and he drank.


But the bar itself wasn’t empty. Far from it. His phone buzzed constantly, GPS and NFC notifications lighting up to let him know that there were non-humans nearby. But Tom didn’t need a phone to notice that. In the Town Wall, people looking to dull the pain of a recent breakup weren’t the only beings around.

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The Visitor (Sci-fi short)

Yilrah’s cocoon broke through the atmosphere of Earth in a blaze of red flame that lit up the night sky. Inside the vessel, the traveller was awoken by the force of the entry. Minutes later, the whole structure shook violently as it thudded into the ground.

The news crews and scientists were already waiting. Inside, wrapped in the warmth and comfort of her planet’s birthing liquid, Yilrah breathed a deep sigh of trepidation. Here was her destiny, the same each of her species faced. Launched out into the universe asleep, forever immortal until they found planets that showed signs of life.

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Amnesia (Sci-fi Short)

The first question is where?

The second is why?

The third, and perhaps the hardest of all, is how?

The where is a maximum security prison called San Quentin. I’ve been put in here with some of the meanest, toughest human beings I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Tattoos on their throats, scars on their faces. Men who have killed and enjoyed it.

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The Stranger

A stranger came from a forgotten land

He wore golden hair, carried gold in hand.

With a sweet and lashing tongue that spoke aloud

The stranger he stood there tall and proud.


The stranger he tells us right from wrong

He masks untruth with his golden song.

And the stranger he carries gold in hand

Promises it freely to each and every man.


The stranger he removes the weak from the strong

Protects us from those who mean us wrong

Cut them off from the sea, off from the shore!

The stranger he guards us more and more.


And then the gold pours, thick like blood.

The stranger he slowly removes his hood.

We see his horns and we see his claws,

But it matters not, because he aids our cause.


The river runs deep, red and dark.

The stranger’s teeth, sharp like a shark.

He consumed them all, and we were glad.

But his eyes turn on us, hungry and mad.


The stranger he feasts on the fervor we fed him,

The lies and the fear and the hate that we let in.

Once he’s done with the others, none left to challenge his rule,

His jaws close on his loyal followers, the blind land of fools.

The Life of Derek Doyle (Sci-fi short)

There wasn’t much chance for Derek Doyle. He’d never had much of one, anyway. Born a bit of a natural loser, his own mother had known he had a face only she’d love. Growing up, he’d been distinctly average at everything – but the kids had still picked on him for his awkwardness. In adulthood, this ended with poor Derek working in a car garage, doing manual labour for the more qualified engineers.

What it didn’t do was stop Derek Doyle from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the car fell off the jacks and came crashing down to the garage floor, distinctly average Derek was crushed.

His mother cried for a week.

But Derek didn’t. He was too busy being dead.

Or so he thought. Funny, but death wasn’t what he’d imagined it being. For all the talk of pearly gates and singing angels, Derek found the sterile whiteness of death to be a bit of a let-down. He’d woken in a new place – clothed in nothing but his own nakedness. This had surprised him too, as he wasn’t what you’d call body confident. If anything, he’d been body shy to the point of wearing coats to bed at night.

But here he was: dead, or what was supposed to be dead, but stark naked. And the body in front of him was nothing like poor Derek Doyle’s. No pockmarks on the belly, no stretch marks on the thighs. A far bigger appendage than he remembered.

Odd, this.

But Derek Doyle wasn’t much of a thinker. Or so he thought. He wandered awhile through the infinite whiteness, wondering why heaven was so dull and what he was going to do here for eternity. Not that little Derek Doyle comprehended eternity.

“You have passed.” Came a voice.

“Passed?” Derek responded, swinging his head around to try and find the voice.

“Yes. Passed.”

There was no visible source from the voice that called through the sky – so Derek stopped looking. He was practical, at least.

“What have I passed?”

“Simulation number 98,788,223,132.”

“Oh.” Said Derek. He’d never had a head for numbers.

“You are not Derek Doyle.” Said the voice. This confused Derek, so he scratched his head and shrugged.

“Pretty sure I am. Always have been.”

“No. You’re not. You are Alpha. You are Omega. You are my test subject. And when I sent you into simulation 1, millenia ago, you were just as reluctant. You didn’t want to be the first man on Earth. When I sent you into simulation 94,788,123,424 you didn’t want to become Adolf Hitler and enact those terrible crimes. When I sent you into the last one, you’d complained that you’d learned too much to live out the life of a simpleton.”

Derek Doyle scratched his head again. A bright light flashed. Suddenly, he was not Derek Doyle. He was Alpha – and Alpha remembered it all. Trillion of lives, lived throughout history and the future of the human race. A simulation ran by his creator and tested by himself. Each and every conciousness created in that world had to be trialled. A full life each time.

Alpha had been Atilla the Hun. He’d been Jesus of Nazereth. He’d been Julius Caesar. And just now, he’d been Derek Doyle.

“You lived his life well. You were shy, kind and loving despite your flaws. Derek Doyle’s mother – who you will one day play, cared for you with a love that burned brighter than the hate you had to deal out when you lived as Benito Mussolini. That means you passed.”

“And, if I remember correctly,” Alpha said to his creator, “I get to choose the next life because I passed?”


Alpha thought of the many great men he had lived as. Of the despots and the kings, of the thinkers and the poets. He thought of them all – and he felt the weight of millenia’s worth of work weigh heavy on him. He was tired. He thought long and hard – then he smiled.

“Can I be Derek Doyle one more time?” He asked.

A white light flashed in reply.

A simple boy was born once again.

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