All posts filed under: Long Reads

Every Kiss In Buenos Aires

The child was no more than eight years old, he was fair haired, dark eyed, and prone to long bouts of silence that could stretch for months at a time. Amanda knew this because it had said as much in the file she had been given. The file that told her nearly nothing about the boy at all and contained a single pass key to zap her through any security door that got in her way. When she met him he was staring out of the glass doors of the day room at St. Augustine’s Hospital for Children. It wasn’t much of a garden in Amanda’s opinion. A single square of perfectly cut grass and three neat slices of exposed soil, pinpricked with pansies of varying colours. The only interruption to this order was the stone fountain in the centre. Three foot in height,  the round, shallow bowl played host to three starlings. They chirped and splashed and played and eventually they flew away as a nurse opened a window and disturbed them. They boy …

Curious Things, Rotten Places

Janice thumped the wall beneath the flickering light with a black hand and curled her lips into a half smile when it stopped spluttering. She turned her face back to the mirror and probed the new cut down the left side with one finger. It stung. In fact her whole face ached and throbbed hotly as the flesh began to swell. Bloody idiots with their baseball bats, she thought. What were they even doing with baseball bats, didn’t they realise they were in England? Here they had cricket and rounders, not baseball! She hissed as she dug a nail into the wound and flicked a piece of tarmac into the petrol station sink. In the mirror was a backwards image of two toilet stalls, one with its door completely missing, the other still clinging on by one hinge. The whole room stank. A mixture of floral air freshener, sweat, shit and piss. Despite the smell Janice was reluctant to leave and as she picked the last fleck of road hit the cracked ceramic beneath her …

The End Of Days: Solitary Creatures Part Four

Edwin had suffered through twelve hours, thirty-two minutes and sixteen seconds of Marie’s personalised brand of bedside manner and he was about ready to throw himself at another pack of Hell Hounds. ‘Just sit still,’ she chided, tightening her grip on his Elbow.  ‘It’s really not that bad, and anyway, we wouldn’t be doing this if you hadn’t decided to get into a wresting match with one of those bloody monstrosities.’ She frowned and sucked in her bottom lip, focusing on the muscle squirming beneath the hand that wasn’t pinning Edwin in place. ‘Easy for you to say,’ Edwin groaned, as the muscle seized and spasmed. ‘How many times have you had to regrow your own body parts?’ ‘More often than you’d think, now shut up or I’ll leave you like this and we can see how well walking around without skin goes.’ Edwin scowled but shut up. It wasn’t as painful as having the flesh stripped from his bones but it still hurt like a bitch. He closed his eyes and focused on breathing through his nose but …

Monsters Love A Church: Solitary Creatures Part Three

‘Three days, three bloody days. What exactly do you think you’re playing at? How on earth are we supposed to find this thing and kill it in that sort of time frame?’ Sammy thumped the truck’s dashboard with an empty fist and swore as the plastic cracked. He buried his hands in his lap and scowled down at them. It was the first time he’d spoken since they’d left Syms’ hole two hours before and Edwin could see the storm clouds hanging around him. ‘Calm down,’ said Edwin. He checked the rear view mirror and flicked the indicator on before turning off the main road and onto one of the narrower country lanes that wound through the countryside. ‘It’s not like we’ve got to cross the ocean to find this thing and we’ve worked with tighter deadlines in the past. We do the same thing we always do, roll up, find out what’s what, stick the bad thing, move on.’ ‘That only works for things like lone vampires and low key fey gone rouge,’ said Sammy. …

Half Dead And Half Alive: Solitary Creatures Part Two

Edwin hated the smell of incense, it was too potent and the nagging voice in the back of his brain told him that it was only there to hide something from him. Something like the stench of slowly decaying bodies. Or one slowly decaying body to be exact. One slowly decaying body that had been stuck in the basement of a church for the last eight hundred years. ‘So you’re not dead,’ croaked Syms. ‘That’s a surprise and a half. Thought you and your halfwit might have tripped over your own feet into a grave months back, but look at us now, together again, all in the same room.’ Sammy shifted at the halfwit comment but didn’t speak. He wanted to be in the room even less than Edwin and Edwin was about ready to kill to get out. He’d cocked up Edwin decided. Syms had been a bad, bad idea and now he remembered why. The zombie kept looking between them, his one good eye bulging in its socket while what was left of …

Amid The Market Place

Hamite Market spread up from the docks like a fungus, ending abruptly along the western edge of the city where the Solemn River cut in between it and the slums of the lower town. Penned in, it heaved at the seams, a clutter of brightly patched canvas and noisy vendors, screeching over the racket of penned livestock and small children. The market brats watch Jermine with careful eyes, their faces coated with muck to make them appear faceless, forgettable. ‘Do you want to sell that?’ The old woman sprang out from the flaps of her soothsayer’s tent before Jermine could leap back, her bony fingers wrapping around his wrist. ‘I-‘ She yanked him closer and pawed towards the amulet hanging around his neck. Her breath was stale and Jermine could feel his stomach turning over as she pressed in, her leathery face cracking into a smile. ‘How much?’ she asked, running a finger over the phoenix engraved on the amulet. ‘Nothing- I meant it’s not for sale,’ Jermine spluttered. He wrenched free and tucked the …

Research Lab X

Gardner kept one eye fixed on the progress screen and the other on the gun pointed at his forehead. ‘Easy now.’ He raised his hands slowly and swallowed the last bit of his sandwich. ‘I don’t want any trouble.’ ‘I wasn’t expecting you would,’ replied Tris. ‘Is it done?’ ‘Not yet. A full recharge takes time.’ Gardner could feel his palms starting to sweat. ‘Look Tris, you could come back, the boss he’d take you back if you just apologise.’ ‘Apologise?’ Tris snorted. ‘After what he put me through?’ She shook her head. ‘How long until it’s ready to leave?’ Gardner checked the screen. ‘Ten minutes.’ ‘Too long,’ scowled Tris, ‘make it quicker.’ ‘I can’t. It doesn’t work like that.’ His hands began to drop towards the desk. ‘Back up.’ Tris gun jerked in her hands. ‘Back up high where I know they won’t be a problem.’ ‘Nine minutes,’ said Gardner. ‘We both know you haven’t got that sort of time.’ Shouts began to echo down the corridor from the other side of the steel …

Saving The City

He couldn’t have left it well alone. Of all the screw ups in his life, Jupp was pretty sure that this one topped them all. Scratch that. He was absolutely positive, that this moment, standing on this hill, staring at what little was left of the city he’d grown up in, was the most screwed up, screw up he’d ever had the misfortune to be part of. He should have know better than to release something that could survive for centuries in a sealed container. He should have know better than to go rooting through the back room of Old Man Iron’s workshop when he should have been anywhere but there. He should have know better than to steal the jar that quite clearly stated it wasn’t to be opened under any circumstances lest great tragedy and doom befall the land. Jupp was an idiot and he realised that fully. ‘Well the temple is still standing at least, perhaps the gods are with us.’ Gamin pointed towards the slightly singed marble structure near the outskirts …

Solitary Creatures

‘Well he was a stubborn one wasn’t he!’ Edwin dragged his hands along his jeans to wipe off the worst of the blood. ‘I swear, it was like he didn’t want to die.’ Sammy mumbled something beneath his breath and continued to throw body part into the pit they’d dug just outside the farm boundary where the boggy peat land crept in and made the ground wet and dangerous. The pair were sweating but Edwin was still grinning. It had been his idea to go after the vampire, his idea, not Sammy’s. ‘You sure you got all the pieces?’ he asked. He left Sammy unloading the truck and opened the passenger door to fish around in the glove box. Between the dead torch and a road map thirty years out of date he found the half smoked pack of cigarettes and tapped one out into his palm. ‘Don’t want to risk someone coming across some stray bit of Mr Baldy here and kicking up trouble.’ The end of the cigarette glowed red and he sucked …

Free Write Friday -Nonsense From The Other Side Of The Table

‘Rules die young.’ Someone had told Mark that once, or perhaps he was remembering it wrong. For some reason the phrase had surfaced at the back of his brain and now it was bobbing around refusing to go anywhere. ‘Rules die young.’ ‘Mr Bennet?’ The female police officer was looking at him from the other side of the table, ignoring the coffee her partner had brought her in favour of tapping the end of her pen against a clipboard. ‘Mr Bennet, can you start from the beginning please? ‘I- well yes, I suppose.’ He paused and stared down at his own cup of watery brown, [according to the other police officer] coffee and tried to remember where the start actually was. ‘You see, it’s like that saying,’ he started. ‘A problem shared comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.’ He licked his lips, wincing at the dried flakes of skin there. He should start using lip balm but he always managed to loose those tiny little sticks within an hour of …