The Nameless Horror

A Kids Story: Billy McPugh & The Monsters' Ball

It’s book season in reception and I wrote a story to read to Aidan’s class last week. Some of the rhythm is iffy and the rhyme pattern shifts all over the place, but thirty 4-5 year olds loved it. They played the part of the Squeaks (there’s a line naming three of them and their teacher; amend to suit) and got to roar all together at every RARGH! in the text. And no small child doesn’t find a poo monster hilarious (or, it seems, a clockwork old woman piloted by a goblin), and I got to do a bunch of silly voices.

How I’d love to be/to know an illustrator and try for publication, but I’m not/I don’t, and so here it is for your own reading pleasure.


There once was a boy called Billy McPugh.
He wasn’t an ogre, wasn’t big, wasn’t blue.

He didn’t have fur, or spikes down his back,
or a beak like an eagle, or teeth coloured black.

But Billy’s best friend was a beast just like that.
She had feathers, and horns, and claws like a cat.

Her voice was an earsplitting, terrible yell,
but she was loving and kind and her name it was Nell.

Now every year the monsters
hold a great big monsters’ ball.
There’s lots of food and lots of drink
and dancing in the hall.

But when his best friend Nell went off
to join the monster crowd,
she said to Billy, “I’m so sorry!
Normal people aren’t allowed.”

When Billy tried to follow her,
a massive giant blocked the door.
“What’s this?” he said. “Not scary,
not a monster, I am sure.

You can’t come in,
Get out, we’re through.
No people at the monsters’ ball,
no party time for you.”

But Billy wouldn’t listen
and he made a clever plan
to make himself appear to be
a monster, not a man.

He made himself a wooden club,
His skin he painted green.
He gave himself a warty nose
Like a witch from Halloween.

Billy walked back to the giant,
and said, “Get out of my way,
for I am a troll, ferocious and fierce,
and I’ve had a very bad day!”

"A troll?" said the giant. "Now don’t make me laugh.
I’ve been more scared of the soap when taking a bath.

That’s not your nose,
and your eyes are too blue.
No people at the monsters’ ball
and no party time for you!”

Next Billy tried a pair of wings,
and covered his body in scales.
He made a big snout to cover his mouth,
and claws to go over his nails.

"I am a dragon, you must let me through, else I’ll burn you all up,” said Billy.
“A dragon? Not so, you’re more like a boy. Don’t think that I’m stupid or silly.”

"Those wings are just made from paper,
Your snout it’s been stuck on with glue.
No people at the monsters’ ball
and no party time for you!”

So Billy took a bedroom sheet,
and cut two holes for eyes.
Some spooky moans and eerie groans
would make a ghostly surprise.

"Wooooooh! I’m a ghost, let me pass, I insist!
I’ll give you a fright if you shan’t.”
“Oh no I won’t,” said the giant. “Stop kidding, desist.
And give me a fright? You just can’t.

Get out, go home, I’ve said before,
You’re never getting through.
No people at the monsters’ ball
and no party time for you!”

Poor Billy trudged away so sad,
he’d miss Nell’s party, all the fun.
But what he didn’t know was that
some things had seen him feeling glum.

In trees and bushes lurked the Squeaks,
tiny creatures all cheeky and dirty.
Squeak-Aidan, Squeak-Eden, Squeak-Oliver too,
Squeak-Pickersgill the worst of all thirty.

The first of the Squeaks jumped out of the bush,
said, “Wait, we can help you tonight.
That giant is nothing to get past, we know,
so long as you tackle him right.

No need to be monstrous to frighten that bully,
all you need is to trust in your friends.
With us on your side you’ll go to the ball,
and believe us the fun never ends.”

"But I’m not scary," said Billy.
“The trick is your roar.”
“My roar’s just too weak
to get through the door.”

"What we do," said the Squeak,
“is we all roar in song.
Our voices are meek,
but together we’re strong.

One Squeak joins another Squeak,
then those Squeaks join one more.
Before you know it, thirty Squeaks
are walking through that door.

So give us once more your warbling roar,
but this time we’ll all join in.
And I think what you’ll find,
when we all roar as one,
is the most incredible din.”

1… 2… 3… RARGH!

"That’s brilliant!" said Billy. "That’s a roar and a half!
It’s totally horribly frightening!
We’ll make that giant jump up so high
you’d think he was just struck by lightning!”

Once more to the door of the monsters he went,
ran with the speed of a rocket.
Squeaks in his hair and Squeaks in his shoes,
and most of them hid in his pocket.

The giant shook his head. “What’s this?
I’ve told you once before,
no people at the monster’s ball…”
Then Billy roared his roar!


The giant jumped. “Aaaargh no! Help! Run!
Won’t someone please save me?
I’m so scared I think I might, just might,
have done a little wee.

Go through, go through, go on, go through,”
the giant showed them after.
The Squeaks and Billy passed the door
into monster songs and laughter.

The other monsters gathered there
saw Billy searching round for Nell
but how this boy had gotten in
they really couldn’t tell.

"Excuse me," he asked a shambling mound,
“I’m trying to find my best friend.
She’s here at the party, I’ve looked all around,
but the crowd seems to be without end.”

"A friend? Have I seen?" said the mound, turning round.
“If I have then what’s it to you?”
The glistening blob loomed above, smelling bad,
for this monster was made out of poo!

Before it could cover young Bill and the Squeaks,
(They wouldn’t have liked it; the stink lasts for weeks!)
Once more,
like before
Billy roared!


The poo monster fled,
squealing loudly in fear,
for the roar, like before,
was most scary to hear.

After him was a witch,
then a zombie, a spider,
a clockwork old woman
with a goblin inside her.

They all ran from young Billy
and his pockets of Squeaks
till at last they saw Nell
who delightedly shrieked:

"Oh Billy, you made it,
I thought that you couldn’t!”
“Miss a party, like this one
with monsters? I wouldn’t!”

And so they went dancing,
played games, and ate cake.
They raced, and they chased,
until it was late.

And when Billy told her
how he’d come to be there,
of the giant, the Squeaks,
how they’d helped him to scare

Nell laughed and ruffled a claw through his hair.
“Oh Billy, you’re silly, oh Billy McPugh.
Seems we’re all little monsters…
especially YOU!”

Encore, applause, exit, pursued by a bear. Or have two children try to eat your jacket to prove what good monsters they’d be. Whichever, y’know.

If you’re expecting that we’ll replace fossil fuels and do it on the cheap, you might as well learn to bawl on the floor kicking and pounding your fists, tears streaming. This is our predicament. We have to buck up and deal with it, somehow.
The excellent Do the Math reaches the first stage summary. The blog should be required reading for anyone wanting to sound informed on energy issues.

Aar! Take Two

Further thoughts following responses to my previous ‘pirate crew’ writers’ collective notion via all sorts of different channels.

Consensus seems to be that it’d be a fascinating idea, with the potential to descend into a howling shitstorm of hatred, accusations, and rage should such a thing prove successful. (“A good way to lose friends” I think was how my mate James actually put it, but the sentiment’s the same.)

This is good. The “fascinating” part, not the “howling shitstorm” part. Everyone likes eyepatches.

Some practicalities occur with our theoretical band (let’s give them a proper name; ‘the Revenge’s Crew’ for now, or insert your favourite piratical reference of choice).

Chief amongst them is that of sales, reporting, and distribution. Ideally, for maximum transparency, our Crew (or ‘Revengers’ if you wanted to be more literary about it) could have a centralised record-keeping system for sales and income per book - sort of a group KDP account from which data would be extracted at will (I mentioned that the only rights requirement for the Crew would come if somehow an iBooks aggregator account came about and this would be precisely such a thing). Unfortunately, certainly for iBooks, almost certainly for B&N and I’m not sure for Amazon, to have one you’d need to be trading as a company. As a US company for B&N. And at that point the exercise becomes one of paperwork and accounting and becomes a publisher.

This means that all Crew would have to self-report sales income received (received, as opposed to owed, because you can only divvy up shares of what you’ve been given, not what you’re going to be given once Amazon or whoever get round to kicking stuff your way) from all sources. On, let us say, a monthly basis.

You’d need a public by-book income count, and an equally public record of who had what shares from it. People would be on their honour to be honest about their numbers. Maintaining the list is (relatively) simple database work and a spot of maths.

But suppose, you might think, one of the Crew made claims elsewhere suggesting they were selling or earning much more than they were telling the collective. Accusations of lying fly, the truth cannot be known for sure, and argument tears our feisty mob apart.

The only solution would be a requirement in the Articles that the Crew would have to be as professionally honest to others as they are within the group. Breach of that rule would be cause for booting; in a group surviving largely by trust and being good to your word, this’d be key.

Someone - and I forget who - pointed out the difficulty of disputes over what was expected in return for a share. If I say I’ll edit you, and you expect a full line edit and critique, and I expect only to have to do a read-through and critique, how do we avoid a lot of acrimony afterwards?

Requests for help, and stipulations of what’s expected and provided, would need to be publicly made first on the Crew’s board.

"Dave: [EDIT NEEDED]: My 80k word cat mystery needs a line edit and critique on the characters. I want to get it out by April if I can so it can tie in to some other stuff I’m doing, so I’d need it done by the end of March. I was hoping Sarah might like a crack at it."

"Sarah: Sorry, I don’t think I can squeeze a line edit in with such a tight timeframe. I can do a critique, but I’ve got a bunch of work on and I wouldn’t want to commit to something that hefty. Sorry, Dave."

"Dave: No problem. Anyone else want a crack?"

And so on. It’d be the only way to stop anyone moving the goalposts midway through work. Crew would have to be Article-bound to do their utmost to fulfil their commitments. Things can obviously happen to throw things out of whack, but if people rely on you, you’ve got to try to deliver.

Over time, you’d have some idea who you wanted to work with, and who you wouldn’t. How much effort you’d be likely to have to put in. And what others might be able to provide, especially in some of the more technical areas. (I have so far, for example, used Scrivener to output stuff to ebook formats, without AFAIK causing any shoddy errors like not starting chapters on a new pageturn. Others, though, might directly edit the raw code etc.)

Communication would, in most of these things, be key. You’d need a central board system to make sure everyone was up to speed at all times, and to provide a slow-burn social backdrop to keep a sense of community to the Crew. Even in an informal group, the intended aim of having members helping one another out, co-operating for mutual benefit, it’s a damn sight easier to do so if people have a sense of acquaintance with one another.

This isn’t a new thing; when I was starting out all those years ago, I was part of the Mystery Writers’ Forum, several of whom I’m still friends with. Hell, one of them I even wrote the reading for her wedding. Writers’ groups have been around since the year dot, so I don’t imagine this aspect of such a venture would be anything too out of the ordinary.

Also, eyepatches.

I’m probably forgetting a bunch, but I’m tired and the house has been full of vomiting bug and cranky babies for the past few days. If my poor brain comes up with more, I’ll add to it.

Thank You, And Good Night

Seems iBA has been updated with a clearer EULA with this at the top:


If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, you may only sell or distribute such work through Apple, and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple. This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format.

Thank you, and good night. I’ll be over here, radiating smug.