Jessica Zschorn is visual artist based in Hull, UK. Whilst she is perhaps best known for her distinctive illustration style, her vibrant photography and graphic design work, she is also an entrepreneur and one-third of Meek, a quirky, feel-good band who recently headlined at Scunthorpe’s Café INDIE on International Women’s Day. With numerous projects on the go and a CV longer than everybody else’s put together, it would be easy to feel intimidated by Jessica’s success. Thankfully, her sunny demeanour is enough to put anybody at ease.

‘How do you say your name, sir?’ asked Brian.

‘Afamu.’

‘AHH-farrrrrrHH-MOO? OK, sir, I’ll do my best with that.’

‘And what about you, my dear?’ He looked at her encouragingly.

‘Jill,’ she said.

‘Thank you, Jill!’ he said, with a satisfied smile to the rest of the group. He seemed to be saying: Why can’t everyone else have a nice straightforward name like that?

It began with a fire.

‘Paranormal activity’, he said. ‘That’s what started it – ghosts, demons’.

The phone line crackled and I held my breath.

I heard him tut, and sigh, then say, ‘Or maybe you think he died of Spontaneous Human Combustion?’.

There was a pause.

‘I’m not trying to scare you’, he said.

Zingpow

Zingpow is a resort town, a seaside splash of glass towers, whitewashed villas, and thatched huts on a sparkling beach, with a harbor for yachts, an indoor shopping mall for luxury brands, and exclusive clubs in which to dine and dally. Zingpow is a playground for the elite, a getaway for the one percent. Zingpow is a jolt for the idle and a balm for the weary, a place to rev up and a place to relax. Zingpow accepts major credit cards, wire transfers, and pure gold.

A single teardrop draws a bright line down the old man’s dust-smeared cheek. Its slow passage further marks a face weathered by time and toil. This dystopia, this burning Earth, has claimed his kin. It seems that now, finally, it is his turn to die.

Baker coughs, his raw throat screaming for relief. He’s on his knees, this once proud man, and the tear he sheds is not born of the pain or the humiliation that he’s being subjected to. It is for his friends, the two young travellers who not so long ago accompanied him, the two who were killed instantly by the band of raiders who’d ambushed them.