All posts filed under: Long Reads

No Light By This Moon #FlashFiction #MarchSpeculativeFiction

The settee springs had burst through the cushion and what little stuffing there had been was gone. The remaining fabric sagged or clung to the rusted springs, much like the building around it, and the skeletons beyond it. Eddie gripped one of the springs near the base and tested it. He sneezed as the cloth attached crumbled to dust. The coil snapped free of its anchor, surprising him and opening a line of crimson across his other hand. He cursed and pressed the cut to his mouth. The taste made him gag, as if the pollution in the atmosphere had changed even his blood. He tore a strip from his sleeve and used his teeth to tighten a knot in the bandage. It would have to do, much like everything else he had done for the past six days. Desperation was a great provider of inspiration he had discovered, but he didn’t hold much hope that it would see him through. Asides from the settee there was no other furniture in the room he’d settled …

Lost: One Bench #Throwback Thursday

‘How can you forget where you left it?’ Samantha demanded, shooting Michael a withering look before closing her eyes and counting to ten. In a moment she would let out a deep sighing breath and give Michael her best, why do you insist on embarrassing me stare before ordering another drink from the bar and forgetting the subject altogether. 1,2,3,4- ‘I mean really Michael!’ Michael blinked, confused as to where the last 6 seconds had gone and why she hadn’t ordered a large glass of red wine. She wasn’t following the natural order. ‘It’s a bench!’ Samantha spluttered. ‘You cannot misplace a bench! Especially not one of yours! They’re massive and made of wood. WOOD MICHAEL! WOOD!’ Everyone else in the pub had fallen silent now, the hum of conversation dying as all eyes turned to stare at the couple having the argument. Or rather, Samantha yelling at her bemused husband since Michael rarely said two words to anyone about anything. ‘I could understand a nail or two, perhaps even your level metre, but misplacing …

Fallen From The Beaten Track #FlashFiction

No matter how he wrapped the blankets around himself, the wind found a way through the fabric. When he’d been here before it was summer. Bright and green, the pass lined cherry blossom and blackberry brambles. The other men on the pilgrimage had ignored the fruit, chosen instead to set up camp on a rocky outcrop and dine on the tough heels of bread they’d brought with them. James had spent an afternoon with purple juice staining his hands and mouth. When he was done, he’d cleaned himself in the stream than ran close by, marvelling at how cool and crisp the water felt across his tongue. Now the stream was little more than a strip of ice, the brambles only thorns. Perhaps, James thought, he was seeing the truth of it at last. The beauty of before was only a trick designed to lure him in, distract him from the death that was waiting for him, now he could see it all he could see what this place truly meant. The wind screamed through …

A Girl Called Spider #ThrowbackThursday

She sat smoking three seats away from the door, cigarette pinched between black talons as she waited for the boy in a green apron to bring her coffee. ‘There is something of the devil about that one,’ whispered an old woman standing in line. She leant in so her companion could hear. ‘Something unnatural.’ The pair twisted to stare; peering over round spectacles to examine the girl in black leather and brass buckles. ‘Very unnatural,’ hissed the old woman’s companion. “Not the right sort at all!” The girl sighed, pouring the smoke from her lips. She smiled at the old women and stabbed out the cigarette on the table-top. ‘Problem ladies?’ she asked. ‘This is a no smoking zone!’ squawked the first, pointing a shrivelling, stumpy finger at the no smoking sign just beside the door. ‘You are no supposed to smoke that,’ she pointed at the crushed cigarette, ‘in here.’ The girl smiled again, teeth bone white against ebony gloss. ‘I must have missed the sign,’ she said, curling her lips back further. The …

This Terrible Thing Called Hope – #ShortStory #FlashFiction

‘There be giants in these parts,’ Gavin muttered, hiking the pack higher onto his shoulder as they trudged through the snow drifts at the bottom of the monument. In front of him Eddie huffed, his breath turning to ice and smoke. As the sun sunk towards the frozen horizon the temperature would continue to fall, and in the fading light Gavin had to squint to see the humped silhouettes of the outpost. There would be traders there they hoped. A chance to refill their supplies before moving deeper into the wastelands. ‘You believe all that, really?’ asked Eddie. ‘Damn Gav, you’re worse than those priests back at the temple, always trying to tell us that we’re only here by the mercy of the gods.’ He scratched his chin and tipped his head back. They were right beneath the right hand of the statue, the lines of its palm a shadowy black web in the dust. In full light it would seem almost human. The same shape to its face, its arms, its legs. The only …

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 …