Sunday, September 27, 2020


Every morning I would see her through parted curtains.  I’d watch with dilated pupils as she left the house for work.  An office job, judging by her attire.  She was, quite literally, the girl next door, my bedroom window serendipitously gifting me with a gloriously unobstructed view of her front yard and driveway.  Every day, I admired my good fortune and watched her.    


I knew that if the opportunity arose, I’d be too afraid to speak to her.  No matter, just a daily glimpse was enough to inhale her beauty.  And she was beautiful, gorgeous in fact, her graceful movements exuding confidence.  Often, my voyeuristic pleasure would be interrupted by my own self-awareness.  A wave of shame would overcome me as I regarded my un-showered body and the feculent dressing gown that adorned it. 

Sometimes, as a means of self-torture I suppose, I would imagine what would happen if she were to see me.  If I tried, I could convincingly conjure the revulsion on her face as she looked back at a grown man – her next-door neighbour – leering at her.  If our eyes ever met, I would recoil and command the Earth to open up and swallow me before my heart stopped from sheer embarrassment.  I’m certain she’d regard me as no more than a common pervert, and in truth, she would be right.  I desired her, but girls like her always seemed unattainable.

As perversions go, this one was harmless.  There were worse things I could do while ogling the pretty girl next door.  But alas, that’s all I was doing – staring – hands by my side - lost in a fantasy where I possessed the courage to actually speak to her.  But what would a girl like that ever have to say to me?  By comparison, I was sputum – nothing more than a lecherous hobgoblin with a hard on.

Then, one morning, as I stared at her, I heard a voice – a voice that was not mine.

I want to be inside of her.

Its tone was clear and masculine, and as I lived alone, came as quite a surprise.  I waved the strange occurrence away, invoking Occam’s razor and dismissing it as a biproduct of a poor night’s sleep.  Taking inventory of the takeaway food I’d eaten the previous night, I half-heartedly resolved to treat my body with greater care, and went about my day as usual.

The next morning, as I watched my mystery girl, the voice came again:

I want to be inside her.

“That’s enough!”, I shouted, at once alarmed by the fact that not only was I responding to an imaginary voice, but had the audacity to become irritated with it. 

After work, I dug out some old university textbooks and thumbed through their pages.  I was fearful of the black fact that had been looming large in my mind ever since the voice had started speaking: Schizophrenia.  My family carried no history of it, but auditory and visual hallucinations were a common symptom of the disorder.

I know what you’re thinking, came the voice, but I’m not inside your head.  I’m out here.  We want the same thing.  I can help you.

Determined to ignore it, I went to bed, eventually finding sleep.  A few hours later, I awoke to a sticky sensation against my body.  Realising it wasn’t due to the usual reasons, I reached for the lamp on my bedside table.  The tiny light flooded the bedroom revealing bedsheets soaked in blood.  Startled, I cast the sheets aside to reveal twenty or thirty small cuts about my arms and legs, as if I had been slashed by some unseen blade.  Each laceration was painful and bleeding to some degree.

If I can’t be inside her, then I’ll be inside you, came the voice.

The next day I remained home from work and bandaged my limbs.  Resolving to clean up my diet, I took to the kitchen to cook myself some healthy food for once.  As I carefully chopped a carrot, apprehensive holding the sharp instrument, the voice came again:

Typical.  I might have known I’d end up in a house occupied by a vegetarian, it sneered.

Unwilling to be goaded into a confrontation, I focused on my chopping.

Don’t you ever have the urge to eat some meat?  All of life’s pleasures involve flesh, you know.

“I’m not listening to you!”

But why not?  We both want to be inside her.  I could be a friend to you

“A friend!?  How?  I don’t even know where you are!”

I’m nearby.  You’ve seen me every day - used me many times.  I’ve felt the warmth of your hand around my body.

As the voice continued, I stopped what I was doing and madly searched the kitchen.  I’m not sure what I expected to find.  A hidden speaker?  Perhaps put there as a prank by a friend? 

Not likely.  I thought, dismissively, knowing full well that I had no friends.

That girl you like - I can help you talk to her.


The next time you see her, take me with you.  My presence will give you the confidence you need.  Just think of me as your wingman.  All you have to do, is hold me in your hand.

And that’s exactly how the police found me, the next day, outside her car.  My mystery girl had locked herself inside it after I’d approached her.  She seemed so scared, I’m not sure why.  I only wanted to talk to her, to ask her name and introduce her to my shiny wingman. 

The wingman that I griped in my hand.  The wingman that had been speaking to me for days.  The wingman that was a utensil from my house, somehow sentient and now speaking to me, stoking my animalistic desires.  He was right.  We both wanted the same thing: flesh – to be inside it.  My wingman had given me confidence.

My wingman was a knife.

Friday, September 11, 2020

REVIEW: Star Trek Nemesis: An 18th Birthday Retrospective

Nemesis.  In the eighteen years since its release, its very name has become an epitaph to a bygone era of Star Trek.  

Hammering the final nail into the “Prime” universe’s coffin, its critical and commercial failure signaled the end of the Berman/Braga paradigm and the start of a long period of hibernation for the franchise.

While painfully aware of its terrible reputation among fandom, I am firmly in the minority who appreciate this flawed Trek installment.  Released at a time when interest in the franchise was at an all-time low, Nemesis exists as a curious beast when compared with the rest of the film franchise.

Produced four years after the previous film, Nemesis gathers all the familiar faces for what Paramount’s marketing department was quick to bill as a ‘generation’s final journey’.  But right away, things don’t look right.  After such a lengthy break, the characters look noticeably older, and sadly, appear to be operating on autopilot.  Having Stewart and Spiner involved in the production ensures the movie rapidly degenerates into the Picard and Data Show perhaps giving only Frakes as Riker an opportunity to spread his action wings.  Much like Insurrection before it, the growing influence of its stars during production only served to dilute the original story and satisfy ego.  Its an unfortunate aspect to the film’s production, one which no doubt accelerated the unraveling of the once lucrative Star Trek franchise as it hobbled into the twenty-first century.

Indeed, it is in the film’s story that the most significant problems can be found.  An ardent Trekkie, John Logan (an otherwise superlative writer) proves that fanboys aren’t always the right people for the job.  Culling elements from The Wrath of Khan, Logan’s theme of mirror images is an intriguing one, rife with storytelling potential.  Tom Hardy delivers an able performance as Shinzon, but alas, never really feels like Picard.  Much like Nero after him, his motivations remain unclear, robbing the film of its narrative spine. For Data, the discovery of yet another Soong-type android in the form of B-4 feels contrived and tired. Almost as bad is the egregious dune buggy sequence in which he’s discovered (supplanting the gimmicky ‘manual steering column’ of the previous film).

It has often been said that Star Trek’s main draw-card is its characters.  Nemesis is a film that finds these characters out of focus, lost to action sequences and scenes of tedious exposition.  The film’s deleted scenes reveal the mindset of the film-makers in the kinds of edits that were made.  For those who own the Blu-ray or special edition DVD, you can see a proper scene with Wesley, a final farewell for Beverly, the arrival of Riker’s replacement and a poignant reflection on the passage of time between Picard and Data. But the cuts also reveal an even darker edge to the film which would have seen Troi encounter Shinzon a second time in a terrifying turbolift assault.

The blame for these unkind cuts is often laid at the feet of director Stuart Baird.  While clearly able to put together a cracking action sequence, Baird shows little regard for the beloved The Next Generation crew, excising the more character driven scenes in favour of action, action, action!  While he has never commented on the film in the years since, numerous cast members have publicly criticised his direction, citing on set conflicts (referring to LeVar Burton as “Laverne”) and a fundamental misunderstanding of what Star Trek was about.  The end result is a story that feels emotionally bankrupt.  Compared to Spock’s funeral service, Data’s wake (and Sirtis’ crocodile tears) lacks emotional punch.

Lacking any sort of legitimate narrative payoff, the film simply sputters to an end. Tragically the closing moments have Picard and B-4 engaging in little more than a sing-along which, while it reveals Data is still around - somewhere – its trite nature belies the significance of the moment and the supreme sacrifice made by the once lovable android. 

For a film that makes so many mistakes, it does get quite a few things right.  Tonally, the film is refreshingly dark – enhanced by a foreboding score from Star Trek stalwart Jerry Goldsmith who deftly weaves electronic elements into an otherwise traditional orchestral film score. 

The climactic battle in the Bassen Rift is undoubtedly one of the most exciting sequences in all of Star Trek.  Featuring the final on-screen appearance of the Enterprise-E, Nemesis makes good use of much improved CGI technology, delivering a battle unlike anything seen in Star Trek before.  For the first time, viewers saw redshirts dispatched into the vacuum of space as the main bridge was blown apart, not to mention the Enterprise ramming the Scimitar in a sequence that is both kinetic and terrifying.

It is in this way that Nemesis points the way forward, offering Trekkies a sign of things to come; more action, faster pacing and huge set pieces (and ships).  After examining these high octane elements, one might speculate that at this point Berman had become aware of the shifting tastes of modern cinema audiences.  Was it too little, too late? Potentially but by the time he might have realised it was time to move on the final nail was in the coffin and the drastically diminished box office takings revealed how bad things actually were.

Alas, all speculation is moot. Upon release the film was a critical and commercial failure (though made it to #1 in Australia!).  Nemesis now stands as the final installment in the “Prime” movie franchise, replaced in 2009 by JJ Abrams Nu-Trek.  Though the three films released thus far have been resounding financial successes, they continue to polarise the fan base in a way Nemesis never did.

Set in the year 2379, Nemesis represents the farthest point in future history depicted on screen.  With series Star Trek Enterprise scrapped in 2005, and the Nu-Trek films continuing, Star Trek has effectively been trapped in prequel-land ever since.

I’ve always felt that The Next Generation crew deserved better - a fonder, more definitive farewell. Before the film’s 2002 release, Patrick Stewart claimed that there were plans for a sequel; however those appear to have been consigned to the dustbin. With the third rebooted Star Trek film being released next year, and a number of dormant media properties being reborn (The X-Files, Heroes, Full House) there may still a slim chance that Picard and co will be seen on screen one final time.

(An edited version of this piece was originally published on the website "Some Kind Of Star Trek".  You can see the original article at:

SHORT STORY: The House Always Wins