Friday, 19 December 2014

The Other List

“You do this one.
Screams and tears don’t bother you, right?
Good, you’ll see plenty tonight.
Quiet! Don’t wake the others.
The Boss don’t dirty his hands on this, just does the nice stuff, image conscious, see?
Hurt them? Hell, yeah, but that’s kinda the point. 
Now for the fun part.
There – the redheaded kid.
He’s gonna suffer alright.
Of course we have to, don’t wimp out!
He’s the reason we’re here.
An object lesson, the Boss calls it.
Yes, I’ve checked twice, like always.
Let’s show the little bastard what it really means to be on Santa’s naughty list!”

 100 words

This story was written for Loren Eaton's Advent Ghosts 2014 Drabble Event

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Paradise Lost


Paradise Lost

Looking back from the ridge at the newly old, freshly ruined remains of all that I thought I knew, I set my feet to the immortal road, hoping that some new day may reveal, from the fading echoes of my shifting memory, a trail that will reunite me once more with my stolen happiness.


She had appeared, unlooked for, during last night’s walk of the boundaries; fey, flashing eyes, tantalising with fiery dares and forbidden promises.
“Dance with me.”
She whirled away;
I chased her, sprinting across new sown fields by treacherous moonlight.
I caught her, by her design.
She laughed as we fell together, a tumbling, breathless embrace.
“Stay with me.” She whispered “What loss is one night from a life?”
Gripping my hand, she drew me toward her. I spiralled down, deep, drowning in the billowing scent of her.
I soared aloft on the wings of mystery and imagination.  
My blood caught fire, kindled merely by the light of her presence.
But, at once, capricious as a cat, she tired of me, discarding me to wander, lost among the inexplicable wonders of her domain.
Heedless I dallied.
Timeless I tarried.
A hint of a memory stirred me from indolent ruin and I set my sails for the safe harbours of home.
Careering in and out of light, pursued by phantasms, blinded by colours undreamed of, I wandered. Exits rushed up and then playfully receded from my questing view. Disconsolate, bereft without her, finally I subdued the maze.
Cast out, stumbling, staggering; mole-like I was re-born into the dark of the moon.


Rumours of dawn harry away the lingering shadows of the night sky as I rise, exhausted, from frost kissed grass.
Gossamer images of her recede from me, dreamy recollections shredded by the chill morning breeze replaced, in timidly returning daylight, by the stark reality of a derelict home and weed-strewn, cropless fields.
With a heedless hand I unpocket a coin.
A glint of gold shimmers in my hand. I gaze on her face, impressed into the metal, and raise it to refix her in my mind once more.
Caught in the first, watery rays of the winter’s morning sun, it flares, burning bright and cold, leaving only thinning smoke tails drifting from my hand and ripples of regret chilling my heart.
I turn away.
I must seek out the path that will rid me of this blasted place, and there find grace to rebuild a life that can scourge my soul of the illicit wonders of this night.


This story was written as part of Daily Picspiration - a site where a group of writers create stories from photo prompts. Each day features a different writer with his or her own picspiration. Come by each day for a new story.

The Call of the Wildwood


The Call of the Wildwood
The trees hate me.
I have been their implacable enemy, but the depth of their malevolence, honed over centuries of slow growth, cuts more keenly now I am alone.
I drove him to keep us safe from them. For years we controlled them, he and I. In the springtime of our love, we would venture out. He, armed with the tools of their subjugation, the well honed axe, sharp toothed saw and, the thing they feared most – fire; and together, we beat the trees back.
They were kept at a respectful distance. No shoot or sapling was tolerated. For years we maintained our ascendency. Tireless seasonal toil kept them at bay.
In the summer of our love we erected fences, evidence of the range of our proud enclave. The children were even allowed to venture to the margins of the trees. I cautioned them about the dangers that could lie concealed deep within their fey shadows, and sternly enjoined them not to wander too deep, but my concerns proved unfounded. The trees held no power over Jack and John. As soon as they were old enough our offspring sought out the city and soon settled, never returning to help their father maintain our refuge. He never recovered from their desertion, and the first sad small signs of autumn showed in his now wrinkled face.
I suppose I always feared that the trees held an allure for him. He walked among them for days. And nights; and, as our bond slowly withered, the trees began their slow, imperceptible, re-conquest of our refuge.
I feared that he would abandon me for them, that he would linger, trapped, wrapped in some timeless, nameless arboreal glamour. I watched, anxiously fearing that they would ensnare him. But he always returned to me, emerging from their tangling, snagging grasp, stamping his boots to rid them of the trees’ cloying, mulchy earth; flapping his coat to dislodge wicked, clinging leaves and seeds.
But trees possess the power of ages and, in the hard crack winter of our love they bested me.
On a stark moonlit night when winter held a frosty knife to the throat of all creation, he finally heard their summons. He scrambled, heedless of scratching, snagging branches, climbing higher and higher, gave himself up to the siren call. Through my rimed, darkened windows I saw him crawl out onto a limb and watched, helpless as he surrendered to them. His last mad tarantella was danced, not in my sheltering arms, but in the gnarled embrace of the blasted Oak, stage lit by the sere, watery moon.
So I faced the hatred of the trees alone.
Next spring I watched as sly seeds sprouted and, with each verdant awakening, blossomed into saplings replete with green loathing, the approaching vanguard of the trees’ inevitable triumph.
In summer’s arrogant fullness they blocked out the sun, creating dark pools of serotinal spite where their seedling plots could mature.
In equinoctial gales they cast down boughs to beat down our once proud perimeter fences. Autumnal malice dripped from every branch. Brown, treacherous leaves swirled toward the house carpeting the ground; swathes of slimy, rotting matter, their perfume of putrefaction reminding me of the approaching season of my loss.
Bending ever closer in their stark, spare nakedness, the barren trees commune openly now, safe in the knowledge that I no longer have the power or the will to control them. At night, I hear them plotting my destruction, their branches whispering, clashing together, beating a wild woody tattoo, preparing to engulf me. Their whistling voices, borne on the heedless wind, the harbinger of winter’s desolation, call to me.
And, now, by the first pallid light of the solstice sun that no longer provides life giving warmth, the old Oak mocks me with the noose, calling me to abandon my now dilapidated fortress; to let all that we built return to wilderness, and to unite with my love once more, under the dominion of the trees.

This story was written as part of Daily Picspiration - a site where a group of writers create stories from photo prompts. Each day features a different writer with his or her own picspiration. Come by each day for a new story.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Daddy’s Girl

‘Hide, Millie’
Daddy’s voice sounded in my ear, just like he was here with me, not dead outside the shelter.
One of the Others had followed me into the apartment building.
I thought I’d lost him but when I tripped and fell he heard me.
Boots echo in the stairwell.
I can’t outrun him. He is a full grown adult, a big one, faster than me.
And now he knows I’m here he’ll just keep coming.
The Others always do.
Closer now. Footsteps in the hallway. Just outside the rooms I’d ducked into.
I creep out onto the balcony. The handrail is gone in places and the wind whistles an eerie tune through its missing teeth.
I squeeze behind the rusting air conditioner.
The Other shuffles slowly, cautiously, onto the balcony.
I can smell him.
That’s what gives them away, Daddy said, even when they try to be quiet.
He turns, peering over the edge. Yeah, like I’d have hidden there.
I charge him. My shoulder squishes into his back. He teeters briefly on the edge before toppling over.
Turning away I hear a groan. He’s grabbed the railing as he fell and is swinging, one handed, like a leaf deciding whether to fall.
If he falls from thirty floors up, his body won’t be a leaf, like all the others, he’ll be mulch.
What do I do, Daddy?
‘Save him, Millie.
But he wants to kill me.
‘Remember, Cupcake, there’s value in everyone’.
I move, but not too near.
‘Always pay attention, Sweetheart, despite their limitations the Others can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful.’
Daddy said that when the epidemic started. He was a scientist before the chaos. That’s how we survived. Daddy knew how the Others would behave.
I lie down, scraping my belly against the balcony’s concrete floor. I lean out over the edge, reach down.
In the Other’s eyes I can see, deep within in whatever passes for his brain, he’s figuring a way to kill me, even now.
He hates me.
Why do they hate us? I never understood. Daddy never said.
The Other swings an arm up sharply, tries to grab me.
I swat it aside and grab him around the neck.
His eyes bulge and he scrabbles at my fingers with his free hand.
Finally, desperate, frightened, he lets go of the balcony.
Too late. I have a good grip on him now, and, with his falling weight and the twist and claw movement Daddy taught me, I rip his head clean off.
‘Good Girl, Millie. You need brain food if you want to grow up to be big and strong’.
I must get out of here, more Others will come.
The smell is even stronger now, and I’m hungry.
But I must wait until I reach the shelter.
I skip, swinging the head by the hair, splattering fresh blood around the stairwell, like a finger painting.
Daddy was right.
The Others do have value.
Nutritional value.

 496 words

This story was written for the 2014 zombie apocalypse flash fiction contest, hosted by J Whitworth Hazzard, author of the brilliant post apocalyptic 'Dead Sea Games' series and judged by the most excellent short fiction writer Miranda Kate

Read J Whitworth Hazzard's great stories, but also contribute to their publication by joining the Kickstarter here :-Kickstart the zombie apocalypse by publishing Dead Sea Games.

Want help with your writing? Get it here:-  Personal coaching and critiquing by Miranda Kate.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

By The Light of the Silvery Moon

Damn Grandma, calling for help tonight of all nights.
Well, when I got there she didn’t need help; gobbets of flesh stuck wetly to every surface and blood spattered across the shiny oak floorboards – it was gross. And where the hell was Grandpa?
I was thinking about calling the Feds, when I hear noises. Snuffling, shuffling – a growl that echoes deep in my gut, like a speaker with the bass set too high. The only good thing was that it was outside.
I shoot the door bolts so hard the frame shakes.
I look around the room for something useful. Old ladies’ trinkets fill every inch of the room. You couldn’t ever put a cup down without knocking something over.
I grab the heavy brass candlestick Grandma always whined was so hard to clean and take a practice swing. I couldn’t hit a fading fastball worth shit, but I reckoned a head, being a bigger, slower target, would be easier. And I had way more incentive not to miss.
The door shakes like it’s been rammed by a monster truck, then the scratching starts. Scratching? That’s like calling Katrina a thunderstorm. It sounded like someone was trying to cut through with an industrial band sander.
My mouth’s so dry a six pack won’t wet it. My hands shake like... well like Grandma’s, I go to the window, flatten myself against the wall like in all the best cop shows and twitch the curtain. A dog is trying to scratch and bite through the door.
Damn, calling that thing a dog was like calling King Kong a gorilla, accurate maybe, but way too lame and giving no clue to the sheer size of it.
The full moon clears the clouds and moonbeams light me up. I get that dizzy, sick feeling like always. The pale light paints the dumpsters and wrecked cars with a shimmering silver frosting. Not a neighbourhood where screaming attracts much attention. Cops it is.
Dropping the candlestick I pull out my cell phone. Three tries to get shaking fingers to locate 911 then, just as the ringtone starts, the phone buzzes and shuts down.
No battery.
The growl becomes a weird howl, pitch rising with the hairs on the back of my neck and arms. I let the drapes fall, shutting out the silver light.
Get your shit together, girl.
I scoot for the kitchen, slipping on the slick, pooled blood darkening the floor. I peer inside, checking, before making a dash for it.
A hand grabs my wrist and yanks me back into the living room.
I sprawl across the floor, coming face to face with a strange woman’s head, staring at me from under the couch. The neck has been sliced clean through.
I sense movement behind me. I roll to one side as a blued steel blade chops into the floorboards where my head just was. I scramble away, scrabbling towards the window, stretching out for the candlestick. My ankle is grabbed, pulling me back towards the centre of the room. The hand releases me. I flop like a beached fish, rolling on my back.
A wild eyed man looms over me, samurai sword raised for another strike.
The window crashes in, covering me in shards of glass. The great grey wolf knocks the man to the ground. Yellow teeth lock around the man’s neck and, with a great shake and sickening rip, pulls clear, showering me with fresh, warm blood. The sword clatters to the floor.
The wolf faces me. I feel his hot breath and see scarlet drool matting his fur.
He growls, pale cloudy eyes fix on me. He sniffs the air, panting, long pink tongue flapping from his mouth.
He steps back, rears up, and shakes and shakes, until Grandpa stands in front of me, still breathing heavily, mouth red.
His warm, hairy hand pulls me upright.
“Grandma shouldn’t’ call you tonight. I’ve told you before to beware the full moon. Our kind attract crazies. Now, if your mother had married someone of the old blood, you could’ve looked after yourself. Come on, Girl, help me clear up before your Grandma finishes hunting; I’m starving!”

 695 words

This story was written for Jeff Tsuruoka's Mid-Week Blues Buster contest and was loosely inspired by this week's track 'The Hungry Wolf' by Los Angeles punk band X  
It was awarded second place in the contest. Judge Ruth Long said:-
" Such a fun and suspenseful read – kept me guessing and worried all the way through! So fun to think about grandparents – were or otherwise – running amok!"