Sucker! | Short Story

Kids on seesaw illustration - "Sucker!" short story

Her chest heaves as she looks at the photograph of days long gone. Her and her big brother, eight and ten years old, throwing sand at each other on Brighton beach. A snapshot of childhood, back when summers seemed to stretch out for years rather than months, giving them hours upon hours of play and playfights to indulge in.

“Alright, love?”

She jumps at the sound of her husband’s voice and the photo frame slips from her hands and lands with a crack on the edge of the hearth.

“Fuck!”

“It’s alright, I’m sure it’s fine.”

She retrieves the frame, leaving chunks of smashed glass behind on the floor. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” The tears fall fast.

“Hey, it’s okay. We can replace the frame easy enough, can’t we?” He takes the frame from her, swiftly removes the backing and hands her the photograph. “There’s something written on the back of that.”

The world seems to slow down around her. It’s like a spider has wandered across the page, its legs covered in ink. Her brother’s unmistakable scruffy handwriting.

Alright, knobhead! I KNEW you’d drop this frame. You’re so predictable. And stupidly clumsy.

Don’t feel too bad, the glass was already cracked. And it was 99p from Asda — you know me, I love a bargain.

Now, it’s time for a good old-fashioned TREASURE HUNT!

Continue reading on Medium >

Stress Relief | Short Story

Octopus illustration - "Stress Relief" short story

She coloured in a final patch of deep blue sea, capped her pen, and gave herself a satisfied nod. She had to admit she felt calmer. The worries that had plagued her all day long were now distant thoughts buzzing around softly at the back of her mind. Maybe there was something in this stress-relief colouring book, after all.

She admired her work. It was an underwater scene filled with colourful coral, snazzy-looking tropical fish, a long-tentacled octopus and a treasure chest spilling over with gold coins and ruby jewels. She was proud of how she’d coloured in the ocean water; she’d layered a variety of blues and greens to create a sense of dimension. It looked impressively real. She could almost see the undercurrents of water move before her very eyes.

No. Not almost. They were moving. The water was ebbing and flowing, she was sure of it. She screwed up her eyes for a few seconds and then opened them again. The fish were swimming, flitting back and forth across the page. The fine tendrils of the coral quivered against the movement of the ocean. The octopus waved its tentacles at her.

Continue reading on Medium >

She’s Nine, She’s Not an Idiot | Short Story

Crying girl comforted by mother illustration - "She's Nine, She's Not an Idiot" short story

“There’ll be hell to pay.”

“Looks like it.”

“She had it last when we were at the supermarket. You’ll have to go out and look for it.”

Dad groans. “Have you seen the time?”

“She won’t sleep without it. Which means we won’t sleep without it.”

“She’s far too old for a blankie, anyway. Maybe it’s an opportunity for her to give it up. We could tell her that now she’s nine years old, her blankie knows she’s far too grown up to need it anymore. And that it’s gone out into the world to find a new little baby to comfort instead.”

Mum snorts. “She’s nine, she’s not an idiot. Look, she can give up the blanket in her own time, but I will not be having a tantrum on a Saturday night just because you were too lazy to go out and find it.”

“Why can’t you go out and find it?”

“Because there’s a bottle of wine in the fridge with my name on it.”

“Have you got blankie yet?” comes a forlorn call from the bedroom upstairs.

Dad sighs. “I think it’s in the car, sweetie,” he shouts back. “I’ll go out and get it. Hold tight.”

CONTINUE READING ON MEDIUM >

Wild Things My Grandma Told Me | Short Story

Woman sitting illustration - "Wild Things My Grandma Told Me" short story

Grandparents have secrets. And trust me — you don’t want to know what they are.

My Grandma was 87 years old when she revealed her secrets, but nobody would have pegged her anything beyond 75. She had a few lines and wrinkles here and there, sure, but you’d never guess she was pushing 90. And if you spoke to her without seeing her, you’d think her in her 30s. She could talk a mile a minute and she swore like a trooper. She knew her stuff when it came to modern music and the latest blockbusters. She had an iPhone and a Snapchat account and thousands of followers on Instagram.

So when pneumonia took her down we were all surprised. None more than her, mind.

“I’m too young for pneumonia.”

“You’re 87,” my Mum told her.

“People like me shouldn’t get pneumonia. Haven’t had so much as a cold in decades. Only time I get sick is when I overdo the whiskey sours and that doesn’t count — that’s self-inflicted. Are they sure it’s pneumonia? I don’t believe it.”

“It’s true. So you’ve to keep quiet, be on your best behaviour and cooperate with the doctors.”

“Yes, dear. I will. Best behaviour.” And then she saw me clock her crossed fingers and threw me a sly smirk.

I visited her as often as I could. I got the bus from the hospital straight after college every weekday, and I went in the morning and again in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. She’d always have a tale to tell about the time that passed during my absence. How she initiated a group singalong of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic throughout the ward. How she invited the charming 28-year-old hospital porter out for drinks. How she’d given one of the specialist doctors a lesson on achieving the ultimate orgasm. How she’d sneaked into the hospital kitchen to add chilli powder to the meatloaf mixture. On and on it went — miniature adventures which transformed a drab old stay in the hospital into a thriving chapter of her life.

But after the second week on the ward, the adventures became less frequent, less exciting. Her retelling of the few escapades she did manage — having a cheeky squeeze of a handsome nurse’s bum, for example — became less animated. Her cheeks grew paler. Her voice grew weaker. The wheezing and rattling in her chest grew stronger. Her skin was almost translucent.

“Not long for this mortal coil,” she croaked at me one day.

“Don’t say that, Grandma. You’ll be alright. Keep your chin up.”

“It is up, it is. But we’ve all got to go someday. My time’s coming up and that’s alright. Just promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“Invite Michael Bublé to my funeral. His number’s saved in my phone. He might not come, but I’d like for him to have the opportunity to say his goodbyes. He only knew me briefly but… well, he knew me rather intimately.”

I didn’t ask for details. “I’ll invite him,” I said, though at that stage I didn’t mean it. I didn’t believe she’d ever even met him.

“Thank you, dear.” She sighed, shook her head slightly. “There’s a lot you don’t know, young lady. A lot that nobody knows.”

“What do you mean?”

“My life. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but it was bloody colourful.”

“So tell me about it.” That was my first big mistake.

CONTINUE READING ON MEDIUM >

Cockerels Are From The Fiery Pits of Hell | Short Story

Cockerel illustration - "Cockerels Are From The Fiery Pits of Hell" short story

It’s a sure sign that your owner is having problems when they bring home a cockerel.

“Look at this handsome guy, Bruno,” he said to me, all smiles and with just a flicker of madness behind his eyes as he stroked at the cockerel’s rubbery head. “He’s gonna get me up. He’s gonna change my life.”

I wagged my tail at him because that’s my job, but I wanted to do was give him a slap round the back of the head and tell him to pull himself together.

He already has three alarm clocks, all of them set at staggered times in an attempt to rouse him from sleep. But they don’t do the job. They go off, alright. They sure as hell wake me up from my beauty sleep. They just don’t manage to sift through into the murky, sleeping subconscious of my incompetent owner.

It’s not like I let him sleep, either. I’m desperate for him to wake up so that he can take me out for my morning ablutions and give me the almighty meal known as Breakfast. I nuzzle him. I lick his face. I paw at his head. I scrabble at his chest. Once I trampled all over the area he’s most precious about, and even that didn’t wake him. When that man falls asleep, he’s dead to the world. Only his own body clock can wake him, and that seems to be set to permanent snooze mode.

His life is falling apart. He’s had a million warnings from work about his tardiness. He lost his girlfriend when she got sick of waiting for him to wake every day. His family think he’s a lazy oaf and will have nothing to do with him. And even though I’m obligated to provide him with unconditional love, he’s really starting to go down in my estimation. The only reason he’s remained in my good books for so long is because he buys the fancy treats with the bacon wrapped around them.

So he brought in this cockerel and I’m all freaked out because, let’s be real, those things look like something out of the Jurassic Park animatronic reject bin. Its face was too small for its body, its feet were too big for its legs, and it had what looked to be the off-cuts of a ballsack attached to its head.

But I’m a dog. So I played nice…

CONTINUE READING ON MEDIUM >

Green Pen | Short Story

Biro pen illustration - "Green Pen" flash fiction

It was the same grizzly scene he’d seen eight times before. A pale corpse, its face stricken with fear and its neck punctured with a green ballpoint pen. Blood sprayed about the room and pooled around the body. And a note, written in green ink on yellow paper, which read:

You won’t catch me. If you do, you’ll come to regret it.

Never any prints. Never any clues. Never a single thing to go on.

Investigations on the pen and paper had drawn a blank. Both were popular brands which had been sold in supermarkets and stationary stores up and down the country for years. Tracing potential suspects was impossible; too many people bought the damn things to isolate any decent leads.

There were never any witnesses. Neighbours never heard signs of break-in or struggle or even the murders themselves. There was never any nearby CCTV to hint as to who had been in the area before and after the crime took place.

The victims weren’t linked. They didn’t know each other or share mutual friends or acquaintances. There was no evidence of them having enemies. They weren’t even alike in appearance or nature. All of them were from completely different walks of life, killed for the sake of killing, it seemed.

And it all left the detective completely and utterly stumped. Victim number nine gave him no more clues as to the murderer than victim number one.

He nurses a glass of brandy while staring at the four walls of his living room.

CONTINUE READING ON MEDIUM >

An Incarceration | Short Story

Cat in Santa hat illustration - "An Incarceration" short story

The cretins have locked me in again. I can only assume it is down to the cold, white fluff which is falling from the sky. It may be chilly, but it’s awfully pretty to look at and rather fun to frolic in. I suppose it will have to suffice that I watch it through the window, since I have been unjustifiably incarcerated.

The worst thing about the locked door? Having to shit in sawdust, like a damn rodent. I don’t think the humans quite understand the importance of feeling grass beneath my paws when I relieve myself. Imagine if I took their strange, porcelain throne away from them; they’d feel degraded. Perhaps one day, if I ever manage to sprout opposable thumbs, I’ll do exactly that and present them with a plastic box instead. I think they’d soon realise that it pays to let a cat keep to his normal toileting habits. Continue reading “An Incarceration | Short Story”