Friday 23 September 2011

Pulp Ink Promo - SURF RIDER by Ian Ayris

When the TKnC editors were asked to lend a hand in promoting PULP INK, the ass-whipping new crime fiction collection edited by Chris Rhatigan and Nigel Bird, our answer was simple. Hell yes!

PULP INK features 24 manic and blisteringly bizarre tales from some of the best crime writers around, many of whom have featured on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers over the years. 

The content of this pulp fiction e-book is being compared to "the gleeful insanity of a Tarantino flick" and the collection has already stacked up a pile of 5* reviews. Everyone should own a copy - and you can! Download it from Amazon UK or US. If you don't have a Kindle or e-reader then download the free Apps for PC, iPad, iPhone and Android from Amazon. 

In the meantime, here's Ian Ayris with a taster of what to expect from this outstanding gathering of talent:

Surf Rider

by Ian Ayris

The Surf Rider’s mind blew in April ’73. The Surf Rider, he didn’t feel a thing – five Strawberry Fields and a staple diet of Mandrax and Lebanese Gold does that to a man.

The doctors called it a “drug-induced psychosis.”

Nearly forty years on, the Surf Rider stands at a bar in Huntington Beach, what remains of his dignity covered by an Afghan coat and knee-length Bermuda shorts. His voluminous gut pushes out a faded Grateful Dead t-shirt, his sun-brown hands clutch a bright yellow Lightning Bolt surfboard closer to him than the dreams of a shattered childhood. His silver-grey hair hangs past his shoulders, and his eyes stare wide, wide to a world beyond words. 

Two men stagger into the bar. Strangers in this town. Foreigners. London boys on the holiday of a lifetime.

“Look at that cunt,” one of them says, pointing at the man in the Afghan coat and the Bermuda shorts. “Thinks he’s on Hawaii fuckin’ Five-O.”

The other man, the man with him, laughs. Laughs too loud. And the vibrations cut through the smoke and the chatter and land at the edge of the Surf Rider’s perception. Two shadows, that’s all they are. Two shadows. Melting.

“What you havin’, Steve? Some of that Yankee piss lager?”

“Look at his eyes,” Steve says, “it’s like they’re gonna fuckin’ explode. Geezer’s gotta be fuckin’ on a fuckin’ world of shit.”

The other one nods, one shattered soul to another.

“But look at that fuckin’ surfboard,” Steve says. “That’s a fuckin’ original Lightnin’ Bolt, that is.”

“What the fuck’s a Lightnin’ Bolt?”

“It’s an old surfboard. Collector’s item, you know. Me dad had one when we used to live down the coast. Probably worth a fuckin’ fortune nowadays.”

“Best we take a closer look then.”

And the two Londoners move along the bar, punters at a Victorian Freak Show. Businessmen of the New Millenium.

The colors change, the beat slows. The edges become sharp and the shadows become fiery demons, eyes aflame.

The bartender steps in, slows time. He asks the boys if he can get them something to drink.

“What? Yeah. Couple of lagers, mate.”

“Are you boys from England?” the bartender says.

“That’s right, fella. London.”

Two bottles of Yankee piss lager land on the bar.

The bartender says his wife is from England, and says the beers are on the house.

“That geezer with the surfboard, what’s his story?”

The bartender’s jaw tightens. The friendly smile sets in concrete, eyes fixed on the two strangers. He leans on the bar. Lowers his voice. Confidential. And tells them he’s always been here, the Surf Rider. Stands in the corner, holding his board, he says. That’s all he does. Just stares off into nowhere with them big round eyes. He never buys more than a couple of drinks. The Boss says he’s good for business. A local attraction. 

Steve fumbles in the front of his jeans for his camera, wanting to get a closer look at the surfboard. He scythes through the crowd till he’s within a couple of feet of the Surf Rider.

Blood and brains and walls too thin. The flowers are shouting and the blue devil eats the elephant’s ears.

“Gi’s a smile, mate.”  


The Surf Rider, he don’t even blink.

Steve returns to the bar and his Yankee piss lager. The bartender glares at him, grave and disapproving, and casts a wary eye along the bar to where the Surf Rider stands.

“What’s up with this cunt?” Steve says. “I only took a fuckin’ picture.”

The two lads take their bottles of Yankee piss lager and find a place to hide in the crowd.

“So, what do you reckon? The real deal?”

“Yeah, mate. It’s the real fuckin’ deal all right. A one hundred fuckin’ percent original Lightnin’ Bolt. Gonna be like takin’ candy off a fuckin’ baby.”

Edges sharp as razors now. Sharp as razors.


Closing time. The bartender is waiting for the Surf Rider to exit the building so he can lock up for the night. The Surf Rider. One heavy step after the other. Like he’s walking on the moon. He nears the exit as the doorway gets smaller and smaller, narrowing, shrinking. He squeezes through the rabbit hole and into the Wonderland night, and he paints the darkness with gold and silver and blue broken diamonds.

Just because he can. 

And waiting in the darkness, hiding in shadows, the two strangers watch with dollar-sign eyes, just like in the cartoons.

The Surf Rider rounds the corner. The two strangers emerge from the dark, and waste no time. One jumps the Surf Rider from behind whilst the other tries to wrest the board from his grip. But the board, it is a part of him. Don’t they know that? Can’t they see?

With a twist of might, one assailant is hurled against the wall, and slides down like vomit. The other, the other is having his face caved in with the top edge of the surfboard. 

And deep in the darkness to a Beach Boy rhythm, the Surf Rider rides… the waves of oblivion… pounding… pounding… pounding…


Ian Ayris has had nearly forty stories published online and in print over the last couple of years. His debut novel, Abide With Me, is due to be published by Caffeine Nights Publishing in late 2011, and one of his short stories, “Small Print,” has been accepted for next year's edition of Maxim Jakubowski's Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. Ian lives in London, England, with his wife and three children.


For more PULP INK teasers nip over to The Flash Fiction Offensive where Editor David Barber showcases Padre by AJ Hayes. You can also download a sample of the book from Amazon which provides a full table of contents and a couple of stories.


  1. This piece of writing is shockingly good. I've read it lots trying to get a handle on why it is exactly. I'm still not really sure, but the respect felt for the surfer dude is amazing, a complete contrast to the absolute lack of respect held for the louts. It seems like simplicity in terms of style and power, and maybe Ian's found it easy to write; to me, though, this is full of my favourite ingredients. And the last paragraph...

  2. I just love the surreal quality to Surf Rider; his stance, his faraway stare - and that he and the board are fixed like muscle to bone.

    The writing genuinely excited me and that ending - wow - I'm totally riding the waves with the old dude. Brilliant.

  3. Thanks for your help Col.

    And this story... goddamn that Ayris has the gift.

  4. Every time I read this piece I see a guy in a deerstalker hat, smoking a pipe and shooting the pier at Trestles with a casual abandon bordering on completely crazy and proper British calm. Ralph Steadman could illustrate this one fer sure, dude. Kawabunga.

  5. Another gem. I really, really like your writing style. Congrats on the inclusion in PI!

  6. Good one, Mate. Glad you decided to post it here.

  7. Chris/Nigel/Ian,
    I've been busy with the day job just lately, so the big thanks should go to Lily. (The intro is perfect, Lil, nicely done.)
    I'll comment on the story itself after the weekend when time is on my side.

  8. Thanks all for the very kind words. Most flattered, I am. And cheers to Col for putting this one up and also many thanks to Nigel and Chris for inviting me to take part in such a wonderful project.

    Warmest regards,


  9. Wondrous story, Ian.

    Real intrigue, in a character as uniquely drawn as I can recall. Loved the vivid snippets of his perception. Best story I've read in a long while.

    Top job, fella.


  10. I read this twice in Pulp Ink, and just enjoyed it again here. This story brings pulp to a whole new level. It's a complete and total Ian Ayris creation, and I adore it. You were handed a challenge and knocked it out of this world and through several others. So, so glad to see the Surf Rider in TCnK.

  11. Writing doesn't get much better than that. An absolute corker. I'll remember that for a long time.

  12. If the one thing keeping a person, who has suffered a major psychotic break, from losing his shit is clutched firmly in said person's hand, it is wise to leave that thing alone.

    Phenomenal story Ian - I was there in the bar, smelling sour beer and the beach.