D.P. Wilson is a Scottish author and broadcaster who has been, at various times in his life, a food bum, a medical consultant, a lecturer and a well-known chef and restaurateur. He has written for many years, primarily for psychiatric self-defense. His short stories have been long-listed as well as short-listed for the Crowvus Scottish Horror Prize and are broadcast regularly on radio.
He lives on the mystical Isle of Skye with his wife, Ann and son Finn. Send wine.

by D.P. Wilson


The weird looking sheep moved towards him slowly but steadily, one step at a time. Its red eyes glinted in the moonlight. The animal clacked its pointed jaws which, jarringly, displayed carnivore-like teeth. The noise the teeth made when they came together was slightly hollow; almost echoing, like they were rattling in a skull without much flesh. Besides, sheep weren’t supposed to come towards you; they were supposed to run away.

Jimmy Chisholm was in the grip of a profound and primitive fear but he also felt dismay. He was deeply dismayed that such a thing as this could exist.

He looked around for an avenue of escape. He could see an open field to the right, but it was on the far side of the creature. Right here, he was in among semi-open deciduous woodland with high underbrush, just like behind his cottage in what used to be part of The Roslin Institute Research Station, out between Easter Howgate and what was now the Pentland Science Park.

He was headed home, taking a familiar path when that sheep-thing slowly and deliberately stepped out of the bushes, onto the path, facing him and clacking its jaws. Jimmy stopped and began backing up.

The thing stopped the clacking of its teeth and suddenly bleated, “Baaaah. Baaaah-aa-aa-ah.”

It sounded like a person imitating a sheep. Or maybe a sheep imitating a person; whatever, it was shivery and unnatural.

Jimmy took another step back and fell heavily over a large, dead branch and, in that second, it was on him, snapping those blasphemous jaws into his throat. He couldn’t make any sounds now, except a kind of wet whistling from his severed trachea. But the sheep could; it went;
“Baaaah-aa-aa-hah.” It had so much blood in its mouth that gave it a gurgling quality that sounded almost like it was laughing.


The lights flickered as Jimmy exited the programme and whistled, excitedly. This was the best game he had ever written. That stalking function was sick!

A few more days and it would be ready for the Beta-gamers to test out and he just knew they’d love it. It would terrify them! And it was tough; tough and complex with a ton of secret information and hidden levels. Enough to keep them going for days. Hell; this might even get him back on top, where he belonged!

He stretched, switched off the lights and locked the secure outbuilding. Far easier to secure a new-build, industrial unit than the rambling old cottage in whose grounds it stood. Design-in security from scratch; from the ground up. There were plenty of people who would love to get their hands on his latest ideas and, in Jimmy’s game, plagiarism, industrial espionage and hacking came with the ground-rules.

Jimmy Chisholm was a computer-game designer. At twenty-seven, he had already scaled the dizzy heights of stardom with Bitch-Slappers, and Bitch-Slappers 2, which were smash-hits and no more subtle than their tittles.

But then he created Bitch-Slashers, which was instantly banned and therefore became a cult classic as well as a financial disaster. Dog-Slashers fared no better and Jimmy had badly needed something to get him back on top in his fiercely competitive profession. It’s not just Silicon Glen anymore; these days, Scotland and Ireland are pretty much the center of the world when it comes to game-design and the pressure from Jimmy’s peers was ferocious.

He had purchased the cottage outright with his earnings from Bitch-Slappers and had the secure, custom work-space built after demolishing the lovely old barn that had previously stood there. After that, his earnings had dwindled but, at least, he was mortgage-free and able to work whenever he wanted.

Up until then, Jimmy had always lived in town and he had found there was a lot to get used to out here. The noise of wood-pigeons in the morning, for instance; he had never been a morning-person and he hated them for waking him at sunrise.

And then there was the sheep which seemed to roam wherever they liked without restraint. First, they destroyed his garden, then his vegetable patch. Their bleating seemed to cut through everything, disturbing Jimmy at all hours of the day and night. He had no idea how the sheep got into the garden until he saw them jumping the fence. He had had no clue that sheep could jump but there they were, doing just that.

He idly started in on a bloody and vengeful sheep-killing scenario while working on a more serious project for Bloodsport Ltd., the agents for most of his games and got hooked on the landscape around the cottage. Jimmy found it relaxed him to work on the semi-pastoral environment that surrounded his home; the woodland setting that looked like a perfect backdrop for Bambi.

Then, late one night, he animated a sheep simulacrum and started shooting it with simulated large-calibre rounds from a virtual machine-gun. He wished it would mean something if he held it up to the window and showed it to the sheep.

It did mean something, however: it relieved his stress and the more he played it, the more stress it relieved. Not thinking too much, he put the sheep-creation into his woodland setting and that was when he came up with the idea for a first-person-shooter, sheep-killing game. Straight on the heels of that, he thought; Vampire Sheep. No; Zombie Sheep! From that moment on, it was as thought he was possessed. He couldn’t think about anything else.

He spent all his time on the new game, ignoring every other project. He left his mail on the mat and his friends on the message-service. He spent about three months on the woodland landscape, then another four on the sheep-creature. Jackie from Bloodsport stopped ringing and called at the cottage. When she got no reply, she hammered on Jimmy’s work-space door, and kept hammering until he opened it.

She was shocked at his appearance; he was white and dishevelled, in a smelly old tee-shirt which proclaimed; God is an Atheist and, when he showed her the game, she burst into laughter;
Zombie Sheep!” She spluttered, but Jimmy made her play the first level wearing the VR headset.

Jackie’s expression slowly changed as she experienced his virtual world, working her way through a gallery of horrors, set in that idyllic landscape and he watched her mouth intently; she was the first person, other than Jimmy, himself, to experience the game or even know it existed.
She said nothing else until she was done, then took off the VR set slowly, reluctantly. She took a deep breath;

“Jesus.” It was a whisper.

His intent expression didn’t change as he watched her face. She said; “You’ve changed your style completely but if we market this right, we’ve got a hit on our hands!” Then she grinned; they both did. “How long did this take you?” Jackie wondered.

“Seven months.”

“What about the driving game?”

“Junked it.” He had never been the world’s greatest conversationalist.

“We’ve got to get moving on this, Jimmy. We need to get it to the Beta Boys.”

His reply was instant. “No. It’s not ready yet. I’m not done.”

Jackie brushed through his prickliness and said, “Jimmy, this is a brilliant game; possibly world-beating, but you know hot properties don’t stay hot very long. We have to move on this now.”

“I’m not done yet! I’m not done!” The vehemence of his shouts shook her.

She tried to calm him down. “Look, you can finish it at the office; you know there’s lots of quiet space there and we’ve got more tools and resources than you have here.”

In the end, Jackie persuaded him to bring the game in for Beta-testing while he worked on finishing it. “But first, let’s get you a shower and a shave,” she told him.

“The office” was the entire third floor of a new-build block on the corner of Semple Street and Fountainbridge; not the kind of location most gaming companies would choose but Bloodsport ran a gaming design and development program in conjunction with Napier University, who subsidised the lease to an almost embarrassing degree. Besides, it was always impressive to have an address in the city-centre’s financial district.

The company dealt with every aspect of representation and production and, whereas most companies farmed out their beta-testing to independent gamers who worked from home, Bloodsport even employed six full-time testers on site. Of course, “employed” was a fairly loose term in this instance as these were usually interns from the University’s degree-program.

Jimmy knew, of course, that the company had far more advanced facilities than he had access to at home but he had always found that his creative process worked far better in isolation.

Reluctantly, he admitted to himself that it was probably the time for technical tweaking, rather than creation and, though it tore at him to hand his world over to someone else, he knew that he needed the company’s tools and expertise. It was just that, for some reason, he felt much more possessive about this game than any other he had created. It was as if it were a part of him; he laughed out loud at the phrase in his head, a part of my soul.


People were looking. He was standing in the middle of the Development Room and he wondered if the kids saw him as some kind of crazy old eccentric. He didn’t care. They all had their copies of the game and he could now get down to finishing the image-quality and functionality; the VR set and headphones helped him shut out everyone else.

When he took the headset off, it was dark outside and there was only one other person in the vast, empty office; a young gamer wearing VR gear, who was talking loudly to himself and making occasional whooping noises.

Jimmy watched the kid quietly for a while, knowing it was his game being played, but it still surprised him to hear the denim-clad geek shout. “Yeah! That’s it for you, Dolly! You’re done!”

The kid was sweating profusely as he hauled off his headset and he gave a start when he saw Jimmy watching him;

“Jings!” he exclaimed, making Jimmy laugh,

“I haven’t been called that in a while,” Jimmy told him. “Who’s Dolly?”

The kid shrugged, “The sheep, of course. An unnatural creation of the Roslin Institute. Isn’t that where you live?”

“It is, but I thought that would be before your time.” He logged out of the program and watched the strip-lights flicker.

The young man shook his head. “Nah. The first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell? Everyone knows about the first Dolly. She’s long dead but that’s still timeless!”
Jimmy laughed; he was warming to the guy. “So, what do you think?”

“The game? It’s sick! The landscape; it’s real, man. And that sheep-thing! It’s so creepy!”


“How’d you think it up?”

You try living in the country! The sheep there are always hopping my fence. You can’t get rid of them. They are always there.”

“The monster you created is really frightening,” the kid admitted. “The way it moves; it’s like it’s coming for your soul!”

Jimmy laughed and the guy said, “I’m Banny, by the way.”

Jimmy raised an eyebrow and the kid shook his head in what looked to be embarrassment;

“Short for Bannatyne,” he admitted and Jimmy nodded, understanding;

“Parents,” he said.


“Christ, Jimmy! Are you growing weed out there?”

Jackie had brought nearly seven months-worth of mail in from the cottage and, in the three days that Jimmy had been working and sleeping at the office, she’d had a couple of the interns go through it.


“Look!” She insisted, shoving an electric bill under his nose. He looked and laughed.

“You’re havin’ me on!” he said and she bridled.

“Do I look like I’m having a laugh?” He studied her face for a moment, then looked at the letter again. The amount they said was owed for the last month was over a thousand dollars.

“They must’ve screwed up,” he said. “You’d need a whole factory to use that much juice!”

“So you’re not growing weed?”

“Of course not! I need to concentrate.”

“Shit. Then we’d better read the meter,” Jackie said. “I’ll send one of the interns.”
“No, no,” Jimmy told her, “I’ll do it myself. I need to pick up a few things, anyway. I’ll finish this section first and then drive out.”

Jackie nodded but it was well into the evening before Jimmy made the trip out to the Pentlands and Easter Bush. He stumbled out of the Jaguar, wishing he’d brought a flashlight or maybe had the driveway tarmacked.

It was a cloudy, moonless night and, as he threaded his way towards the cottage, he heard movement in the bushes that lined one side of the driveway. It was only about ten feet away and gave him quite a start. As he continued toward the front door, he heard something else;


“Bloody sheep!” Jimmy said out loud as he reached the door and fumbled with his keys. There were more noises as he opened the creaky old door and reached for the switches and, in the light that spilled out, he could see movement in the bushes nearby.

“Shit,” he muttered. Then, before he closed the door, he announced more loudly; “I’m getting new fences and a gun!”

Still talking to himself, he found the meter, jotted down the numbers, then went rummaging for some clothes and a backpack. He paused at the front door, then went back around the house, drawing all the curtains before stepping out and re-locking. He left the outdoor light on but still looked around himself carefully before heading across the lawns and courtyard towards the lockup-workspace.

Jimmy frowned as he approached the double doors and stopped in his tracks because he was sure he could see a faint light shining under the door-sill from inside. He was certain he had switched everything off when he’d left with Jackie; apart from anything else, it was his ingrained habit. Hard to tell, though, because the light was so faint and he still had spots in front of his eyes from the cottage’s outdoor bulb.

He paused to listen but could hear nothing from inside the unit. What he did hear was the rattle of loose stones in the courtyard behind him and, as he spun around, his heart thumping, there was a faint but definite “Baaaah-aa-aa-aah.”

It seemed to come from rear of the work-unit.

Jimmy hurriedly unlocked the doors, thinking no more of who or what might be inside but only wanting to shut out whatever was outside. He stepped quickly over the threshold and switched the lights on, closing the doors in a hurry.

His VR set was glowing; the programme was running and he knew he had logged out and powered down before leaving. Some sneaky little bastard had been trying to steal his ideas! But how did they get in and how come they had locked the doors again on their way out?

Was it Bloodsport? Even they didn’t have keys to this inner sanctum of creativity.

What the hell? He checked his laptop and computers and slipped the VR set on to check out what had been going on. It was running, all right; this was the sequence near the cottage where the sheep-thing came for you.

As the red-eyed creature appeared in his virtual sight and began to move towards him, clacking its jaws in that horrible way, the workspace doors rattled, giving Jimmy a real fright. He took the goggles off and logged out of the programme, powering everything down. The lights flickered as he did this and there was a muffled;

“Baaah.” It came from just outside the doors and filled Jimmy with an unaccountable dread. His heart was pounding and the hair stood up all over his body; a primal response to a profound fear as he backed away from the sound. He thought for a few moments, then hauled out his cell phone and dialed a new number.

“Banny!” His tone was carefully cheerful. The young man was a fan and Jimmy had come up with an idea. “You want to see where I work?”

Jimmy noted the pause before his idea was accepted, then he gave directions over the phone, finishing with, “Bring a flashlight; you’ll need it!” Then he sat down, facing the doors and just waited.

It was more than half an hour before Banny’s pickup could be heard in the driveway and it seemed to banish the other noises; the ones Jimmy had been listening to for what seemed like forever. Soft rustlings and muffled grunts with an occasional bleat, as the doors to his little room rattled.

The young nerd was suitably impressed and a little overwhelmed by such personal attention from his idol and gave Jimmy a hand with the huge bundle of gear he had got ready during the wait.

“I’m taking everything in to the office, till I’m done,” Jimmy told the kid.

When they had unloaded the pickup, Jimmy said, “I could murder a pint! You got time for a drink?”

Banny seemed honored and offered to pay but Jimmy wouldn’t hear of it, being grateful for the alcohol and some company. They headed to a basement bar in the Cowgate and Jimmy hoped the kid didn’t notice his nervous glances over his shoulder.

In those ancient, cobbled streets, it’s common to hear echoes when no one is in sight. Some put it down to ghosts but Jimmy knew it was a weird and complex acoustic environment in that part of town. Despite that, he couldn’t help thinking that the footsteps sounded like hooves rattling on cobbles and the voices were a bit like the bleating of sheep.



They always kept cots at the office and, for the next three weeks, Jimmy lived in the giant space; working almost twenty hours every day. Everyone could see he was obsessed but he was a star and that’s how they are, right?

The Beta-Boys had finished with the new game and they were wildly impressed; so much so that the company went into production right away, without even disturbing Jimmy to let him know. He could be another few months working out non-existent bugs for all they knew and besides, the royalties would be a nice surprise.

One day, when he was available to reality, Jackie asked him, “What are you going to call it?”

Hello Dolly.” She hadn’t understood and he had just smiled.

He camped out next one of the big pillars and became part of the scenery; hardly moving, always silent, with his VR set on. They were even used to the lights flickering every time he booted up the programme or shut it down.

He only went out occasionally and then only with Banny. No one knew what they talked about but the kid became even paler and more withdrawn.

Jimmy was understood to be locked in his own world and not a part of the office-environment and it was therefore no surprise that he didn’t respond to the furore that kicked off when the power-bill came in.

“We can’t have used that much power!” Jackie shouted. “It’s just not possible.”

The janitor told her, “I checked, an’ they wee wheels were fair birlin’ roon’.”

When his first royalty-check came in, Jackie strode through the office, holding it aloft and grinning fit to bust.

“Where is he?” she called to anyone who would listen. “He’s gonna shit!”

“Who?” someone asked and she scowled.

“Jimmy Chisholm!” she snapped, “He’s a star again and here’s the royalty-check to prove it!”

But no one had seen him. No one could remember when anyone had last seen him. When she asked Banny, all he could say was. “He’s gone.”

She demanded to know what that meant but the kid just shook his head and showed her a small flat-screen with the game playing on it. A figure was stumbling through the trees. It looked disturbingly familiar and then Banny pointed to its tee-shirt. It read: God is an Atheist.


The weird-looking sheep moved towards him slowly but steadily, one step at a time, its mad, red eyes glinting in the moonlight, clacking its pointed jaws which, jarringly, displayed carnivore teeth. The noise the teeth made when they came together was slightly hollow; echoey, like they were rattling in a skull without much flesh. Besides, sheep weren’t supposed to come towards you; they were supposed to run away.

Jimmy Chisholm looked around him for an avenue of escape. He was in the grip of a profound and primitive fear but he also felt dismay. He was deeply dismayed that such a thing as this could exist.

He spotted a faint game-path to his right and, without thinking, began sprinting along it, then that sheep-thing slowly and deliberately stepped out of the bushes, onto the path, facing him and clacking its jaws. Jimmy skidded to a halt, feet from the hideous thing and began backing up. It said, “Baaaah. Baaaah-aa-aa-ah.”

It sounded like a person imitating a sheep. Or maybe a sheep imitating a person; whatever, it was shivery and unnatural. Jimmy took another step back and fell heavily over a large, dead branch and, in that second, it was on him, snapping those blasphemous jaws into his throat.

Jimmy couldn’t make any sounds now, except a kind of wet whistling from his severed trachea. But the sheep could; it went: “Baaaah-aa-aa-hah.” So much blood gave the monster a gurgling quality that sounded almost like it was laughing.

He had made the game to seem real. Now, it was.