And so the ritual begins. Small humans roam the streets, all hyped up on the kinds of treats that big humans typically ration for the purpose of bribery. Humiliating outfits are abound, comprised of old rags, plastic sacks, enormous white sheets, obnoxiously large, wide-brimmed hats, and an array of peculiar masks which make humans look a smidgeon uglier than they already are. Vegetables are carved to look like ghoulish grinning faces and plonked outside doorways and in windows to give us poor felines a fright as we go about our night-time exploits. (Felines other than myself, of course. Nothing frightens me, I can assure you.) Then there’s all the noise—the yells and screams and cries from humans of all sizes, even the ones large enough and old enough to know better. The entire palaver makes my tail itch.Continue reading “A Lockout | Short Story (Excerpt from ‘All Hallows’ Hell’)”
For years the stained-glass dolphin has hung in the window of Stacey’s grandmother’s house.
It has never felt right to see a creature so spirited hang frozen in a house so subdued. “I’ll set you free,” Stacey would whisper to it. And now, with grandmother out of town, it’s time.Continue reading “Set Free | Microfiction”
Missed Part 1? Read it here
Missed Part 2? Read it here
I remember the first visit to the specialist hospital for treatment. That building, a giant grey block of concrete, was like a great tombstone towering over us. I had visions of it careening over and crushing us as we walked through its doors. And it did, in its way. It snuffed out our spirit.
She grew sick of hospitals, sick of doctors, sick of me telling her to cooperate. And I was sick of her too.
‘I’m not going back again, Sharon. All they do is prod and poke me and then tell me its more doom and gloom.’
‘They’re trying to help.’
‘They all know I’m a dead woman walking.’
‘They’re trying to keep you walking for as long as possible.’
‘What if I don’t want to?’
‘You’re ready to die, are you?’
‘I think I am, yes. You should just shoot me rather than keep dragging me down that hospital.’
‘Alright, Mum. I’ll see if the bloke at Holme Farm’ll lend me his shotgun and we’ll put you out of your misery, eh?’
‘You’d love that, wouldn’t you?’
‘Absolutely. Would give me a great deal of satisfaction to blow your old brains out.’Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 3) | Short Story”
Missed Part 1? Read it here
The wee thing didn’t stay wee for very long. It grew at a rate of knots on a diet of sardines, mackerel, salmon, steak—bloody steak!—and anything my mother left on her plate after each meal. That sodding cat was better fed than Mark and I had ever been as kids.
It wasn’t fat, necessarily, but by heck was it big. Solid. Strong and burly like a furry, whiskered wrestler. It would strut up and down the street like a panther, intimidating anyone who dared to approach it with vicious hisses and snippy flicks of its tail.
Arrogant, it was. It would lay out in the middle of the road on its back, sunning its belly and getting its coat blathered in dust and flecks of gooey tar that had melted in the summer heat. When a car came along it wouldn’t move. Brakes would screech and cars would lurch to a halt, and the damn cat would merely peer up at the vehicle before it and blink at the driver, as though they were doing it an inconvenience. A pip of the horn or rev of the engine was the only thing that got it to shift, and even then it moved at half-speed, luxuriously stretching out each of its limbs as it got to its feet and wandered over to the pavement to find a new sunbathing spot.
And it was this sheer bloody arrogance that killed it. Eventually a driver came along that couldn’t give a cat’s arse for the wee thing and its ego.Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 2) | Short Story”
My mother always said that cats choose their owners. I always said that my mother talked a lot of old shite.
It wasn’t just when she was old that she talked nonsense. It started when I was young. Scratch that; it probably started when she was young. She insisted that eating my crusts would make my hair curl, but I ended up begging for a perm by the time I was fourteen because all the sodding crusts in the world wouldn’t put a single kink in my limp locks. She said apples were as good as toothpaste for brushing our pegs, but that theory was disproved when our Mark insisted on eating two apples a day instead of using a toothbrush and spent more time in the dentist’s office than he did in school. She insisted that leaving shoes on the table brings bad luck, but I don’t think I’m any unluckier than the next poor git despite going against this titbit of motherly advice more times than I can count over the last forty-nine years.
And she said for decades that she’d be dead by eighty. Said she could feel it in her bones. Said it was written into her fate. She got that wrong. No, she stubbornly hung on for as long as she could. Shame, really, because if she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had to put ourselves through the shambles that was her eightieth birthday party.Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 1) | Short Story”
Constellate Literary Journal recently published my short story, All Fixed. Read it here.
The pub smelled of stale lager and pork scratchings, but that’s just the way Dad liked it. One of the last good, proper pubs left, so he used to say. A shithole, in other words. But at least it was friendly. I watched Mum as she wandered across the dingy maroon carpet. Her nose crinkled as she noted the soles of her shoes clinging to the sticky pile with each step. I sipped my large white wine and hoped its effects would wash over me quickly.
Gavin nudged me. ‘One drink and we’ll be off.’
I took in the clusters of mourners which filled the room. ‘I haven’t spoken to anyone yet.’Continue reading “All Fixed | Short Story”
Thunder rumbles ominously in the distance. Polly suppresses a yawn. She glares at the night sky which is blanketed in clouds heavy with storm.
Rain already, she thinks. Get it over with.
Almost as though they are lending an ear, the heavens open. Fat raindrops make their rapid descent down to Earth and Polly quickly pulls up her hood and directs her camera at the Stormy Princess.
For decades the Stormy Princess has guarded this short, barren stretch of Yorkshire coastline. From the day she first appeared in 1959 — crafted from clay by an anonymous artist — the sculpture has been the source of superstition and rumour. She’s bewitched, say the residents of nearby towns and villages. She’s made of magic. Every time a storm passes over her, she moves.
His heart is pounding. He’s lost in her gaze. His lips are a hair’s breadth away from hers.
And then it all disappears.
He’s wide awake, staring up at the white ceiling, cursing himself again. Why does it always have to end there, right before the kiss? Why can’t he keep himself asleep for just long enough to feel her soft, full lips against his mouth? Continue reading “It All Disappears | Short Story”
Three strangers cling together, grubby, weak, and utterly terrified of the knives and guns and nail-ridden planks of wood that surround them.
“You’ll hand over everything you’ve got in exchange for safe passage through the valley.” Cain picks at his fingernails with the tip of his hunting knife. “Two of our own will escort you. They’ll leave you to continue your journey on the other side.”
One of the strangers shakes his head. “You can’t take everything. We need it to survive.” Continue reading “Part of Something | Short Story”