All posts filed under: Long Reads

Case One: The Missing Boy

Gates called the flat opened planned, Felhorn called it a dump. It occupied the top floor of a condemned building where demolition had ceased halfway through, leaving only front half standing and the rest as rubble. At night Felhorn would dream of the floor suddenly collapsing beneath her bed, the chipboard walls they’d thrown up as protection from the elements tumbling with her for the sixteen floor drop, before waking soaked in sweat in the very sheets she’d just been clinging to, her throat alight and aching. Gates didn’t help much. After six hundred years of not needing to sleep he’d forgotten what it was like to have nightmares and couldn’t understand why she didn’t just change the story if it wasn’t going the way she wanted. Finding him standing above her with that frown on his face when she woke often ended with her sending him sprawling across the flat, magic burning in her veins as it jumped to the surface before she could quench it. It didn’t teach him, he still came whenever …

The Last Of The Embers

Sunrise was not for another hour but already the sky had taken on the grey haze that suggested morning was just around the corner. Elaine let her rucksack slip from her shoulder and hang in the crook of her arm while she fumbled with the knackered zip. The bottle inside was almost half empty, not enough to see her back down the mountain, but enough to see her to the top. She wrestled it free and used her teeth to pry to cap open. ‘Are you coming?’ Damien watched from where he’d stopped further up on the steps, bare legs and arms, tanned and muscled. He was younger, fitter as well but that had little to do with age, at least that was what Elaine told herself. ‘Just give me a minute,’ she called. The water was lukewarm and sour on her tongue but she swallowed it and snapped the cap shut. Her sweat had her clothes sticking, every crease and fold in the fabric welding itself to her limbs. She could swear the last time she’d …

The Curse Of The Ex-Wife

‘You know something, I think life was better on the other side,’ said the mummy currently unwinding the bandaged around her torso. ‘So there is one?’ Dr Williams asked, cheeks colouring as the creature plucked a bullet from between flesh her ribs. She examined it for a moment and then tossed it aside into the sand beside the yellow placard marking one of the entrances to the burial tomb. ‘I’m dead, a revolver is not going to make me any deader,’ she sighed. ‘No, of course not, I do apologise,’ said Dr Williams. ‘You just, well you know, caught me a little off guard.’ ‘You were preforming an ancient revival ritual in the middle of the desert over a corpse. What did you think was likely happen?’ ‘Well honestly, I thought nothing would happen,’ Dr Williams admitted. ‘Then why bother?’ ‘It seemed harmless enough,’ he shrugged. ‘The rest of the team have taken the day off and I was the only one about so I thought why not give it a crack. The least the …

The Leviathan in the Fog

The swamp land on B-12-56-SLT covered the majority of the southern hemisphere, dissipating only where it crept towards the planet’s equator and morphed into a sea of emerald green lakes and salt beaches. When the sun rose Brigant could see the salt crystals shimmering beneath the waters, turning the whole horizon to silver and white. Beautiful and barren it marked a failure in his work, a failure he’d been unable to explain after ten years of studying the planes for any evidence to suggest why the terraforming hadn’t taken on that side of the planet. He’d found nothing, and during that time the southern hemisphere had grown into chaos. With the northern half of the planet a ruin, The Planetary Authority For Planning And Development had refused to grant permission for any building work to take place on-world. They had ignored the small wooden shack that Brigant had cobbled together for himself, but set firm orders that any attempts to create networks for the habitation of life forms would be severely rebuked. In their words, …

Hidden Mountains

From this distance it could have been a limo or a hearse. All that was clear was the length and the colour curving around a bend in the road near the bottom of the mountain, sun glare bouncing off the blacked out windows. Lydia watched it through the scope on her rifle, following it as it crept closer. ‘Visitors?’ Jeremy asked. He sat beside her, body wedged between the jagged boulders on the outcrop, one hand still wrapped around the tether that joined them to the rest of the team above. Despite the cold, his cheeks were grey and Lydia could feel him constantly shifting beside her. ‘I don’t think so,’ she answered. The vehicle had ground to stop and the passenger door popped open. Two figures emerged and swept around to the bonnet, waving at the windscreen for the driver to release the latch so they could lift it. ‘Looks like car trouble,’ she said. ‘Should we help them? It might be something easy and then they can be on their way.’ Lydia shook …

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 deposited the last fleck of road into 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 …