Flash fiction, short stories, poetry …
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Posts from — September 2011


The gods of editing smiled on me this week, so this story qualifies for #FridayFlash.

Less than a 1000 words? It must have been the adjectives I sacrificed. These are harsh gods: passive sentence construction is not to be tolerated; praise their economy of expression; beware their adverbial inquisition. Jihad your ‘darlings’.   

Yah. Now I’m off to break all the rules…


isa got arrested today for cruelty to animals – she said that dog was dead already, and those cats, but nobody believes her.

Then they found all this crazy mumbo-jumbo, Satanist crap in her bedroom, up on the walls. They’re doing tests on the blood right now.

Lisa says that she’s an honest-to-god werewolf. How’s that for an excuse? Woke up on the lawn outside her house – not a stitch on – and had to get her mum to let her in.

That’s crazy, right?

Sure she had a dog bite on her – I saw that frothy, old Alsatian go for her myself – but why make up these stories?

Didn’t that tetanus jab in her ass work?!

Lisa always was strange. Like those photos she stuck online of herself covered in blood –  said she couldn’t remember doing it; said the blood was ketchup or food-colouring, or something. But that ‘ketchup’ looked pretty real to me. She had ‘a look’ in her eyes – you could have checked out those snaps on Flickr if they hadn’t taken them down – that was sort of ‘revelling in it’.

Meanwhile, cherry pie all over her lips, down her neck.

So a bunch of people took exception and decided to picket outside her house; neighbours and such. They said a lot of cats went missing, and it’s Lisa.

I was like, ‘OMG, Lisa, what the hell are you playing at?’

The police found a decapitated dog in her garden, all burned up. She said she woke up with it one morning, in a flower bed – it was right there next to her; no idea where it came from. So she covered it in petrol and torched it.

Neighbours complained about the fatty smoke drifting up over the fence.

Now she’s getting death threats and people have started all these Facebook pages, saying she’s a pet killer. The local authorities think she’s disturbed. The local newspapers have all run stories on her – a bunch of her photos made it on to the front page of the Aklington Examiner, for God’s sake!

A pathetic attempt at attention?

I don’t think I know her anymore. Lisa is a good looking girl – you gotta look – but all that art-house shit with the blood isn’t right. They found jars, too: her old appendix floating in fluids. That’s really not right. How do you even get to take that home with you?

Lisa’s parents are trying to play it down. Her dad got into a punch-up with a cameraman, and her mom has drawn a line across their gravel drive. Cross it, and she calls the cops.

There’s a fricking picket line round her place, right now.

You see what she calls herself, online? I mean, ‘Wolfgrrrl’? She’s been at this some time. Totally batshit. Or is that wolfshit? You should read some of the posts she has on there; some of the fantasies; some of the followers…

827,699 ‘likes’?!


But you know what is really crazy – and there is no way I’m going to ask her why – I found a bunch of Lisa’s clothes out in the garden this morning. I found her cammy top and leggings, soaked in dew, hanging off the old rose bushes. They were totally shredded, and there was red on them. I’m not saying blood, but they were ‘redded up’.

This shit’s Lisa’s because we both went shopping, and that’s the outfit she got last weekend for Embassy Studio.

Her sizes.

Her perfume.

So what the hell was she doing in my garden, shedding clothes? Stalking me outside the patio doors? Sussing me an’ the folks out, while we watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire on widescreen?

Then I start thinking about Mr Pickle.

Do you reckon she did for my cat?

I mean he was old, smelled, yowelled a lot at five a.m. – I had to water-pistol the old git on a regular basis – but I still wouldn’t want some crazy chopping his head off and cremating him!

I’m beginning to think I didn’t know Lisa at all.

And I’ve still got her iPod. So when does that get dropped off?

A lot of kids at school have gone anti-Lisa. It’s the animals: people can forgive a lot – give a serial killer a certain morbid respect – but decapitate one dog…

Ha. That does sound bad.

She was in my house. Do you reckon they can do medical tests to see if she has dog in her? I mean, in her stomach?

That’s so gross; it doesn’t even bear thinking about.

I’ve just been online and the *******madwolf site got pulled. The provider’s saying it’s due to, ‘inappropriate content that contradicts their usage agreement.’

That’s Lisa, right?

I’m really thinking she did for Mr Pickle.

My mum’s friend came round – Janise (wa, wa, wa, what a chatterbox, fringe like a ginger Afgan). She was talking about Lisa (along with the rest of the planet). She saw something – not sure when or where – but a figure, running like a dog, on all fours. This was weeks ago. I was like, sure… I mean, surely you’d mention that at the time, wouldn’t you? But now – guess what – it’s ‘gossip gold’ with Lisa all over the news.

Still, this revelation was enough to make my sister, Lotty, cry. She doesn’t want to get eaten by the ‘four legged’ Lisa, and is now hiding in her room under her duvet. She’s got Take That playing really loud, but I imagine Garry and Robbie would have no hope at protecting her from a were-Lisa.

Which is just bullshit, by the way.

In fact, I’m sorry I brought this up.

September 25, 2011   10 Comments

The Café, One Year on

Happy Anniversary to me, Happy Anniversary to me, Happy…. manamam ma… Happy .. nana to me…

Woo hoo!

It’s a year to the day that I posted my first Café Shorts post: Boris, a story about a very literate dog. Not even sure anyone ever read it, because, at that point, the site had the same profile as a side-on piece of paper. But I’ve been getting a few readers since then.

So thanks to all of you who have been popping by, reading and/or putting on comments. You’re obviously the most attractive and intelligent people on t’ internet. Obviously. I love you guys and gals (big, over emotional hug). And the fact that I’ve had some eyes on these stories has helped me a whole lot in getting my ass in gear, keeping me focussed and giving me some writerly confidence. Now when folk ask if I’ve written anything, I can point them here without my mumbling about stealthily writing in cafés, or their having to power up an Xbox.

Until I put this site on line, I was pretty much only writing my own stories for my own amusement. Then, after quite a few years – some of which spent whining in journals, some creatively; most of it over a chocolate muffin and a decaf latte* – I figured I was going to be writing, ‘no matter what’, so better try doing something with it. Then, as bizarre as it sounds, I ‘remembered’ about the Internet. Doh! I should have been on years ago, but I was writing analogue. Inky fingers, etc.

So, hopefully, for more plus years, you’ll bear with my tendency to use ‘five words where one would do’ while I keep wearing my ‘I (heart) Magical Realism’ T-shirt. Meanwhile, I’m loving all those other stories – the epically cool stuff you folks are writing out there on t’ internet – or knowing you’re scratching your way through reams of paper, old style.

To cap it off, it’s also been ten years (to the day) since myself and my girlfriend have been hanging out and flicking cheese at each other. That’s a lot of cheese.

Lovely lady; awesome aim with brie,



* No, not the same chocolate muffin. Man, it would be like… a fossilized tyrannosaurus turd, by now.  And that latte… ew; skin like a buffalo’s behind…

September 22, 2011   15 Comments

Black Door Pt. IV: Softly, Bearing Gifts

Welcome to Part IV of my short serial ‘Black Door’. Previous parts of this story, are here:

I: Softly Does It

II: Rowan

III: Adam

IV: Softly, Bearing Gifts



r Softly splashes into a muddy plashy, and growls at himself. This is not how to sneak. Especially not up through this tall, pine hillside, that is barren and brown and smells of spicy pine oil, each twig a pistol shot.

The next hour is silence. Branches thrust up to his guts in crazy angles, but he squeezes on through the standing dead, as greased as the wind may be.

He chuckles. No clothes catch or drag, like flickering sails.

Instead, he holds the gun.

The gun is wrapped in layers of cloth – a shirt from the old man’s cabin – and the warm checks hold Softly’s delicate claws away from the blistering meteorite of cold iron.

He wonders once again, if such a gift from one of its own will turn the Clutcher to talking, or whether it’ll just eviscerate him where he stands.

Make no mistake, there’s no love lost between Softly and Clutcher, oh no, and what’s more to the bother, it seems – suspiciously – that the Clutcher can see Softly, perhaps as clear as day.

Clear as day: that most disreputable of solar events.

Softly sighs, and continues to drag that heavy old gun up the hill, arms straight, chest wheezing, as if, for all the world, he’s carrying Death itself. Which, he suspects, he may well be. Man, Softly, Clutcher, they all carry their deaths with them – death to share, death to give or take.

And he with a Clutcher to befriend, or at worst, threaten.

Who knows what might happen if this offensive weapon went off? Indeed, he may wonder for some time immemorial, for this gun is not loaded.

More’s the pity.

Still, threats and surprises. General bluffery and skulduggery, invisible claws slipping around the throats of…

A hillside, where the light has gone from the ground; these shaggy-tailed, dogs-of-pine scattering needles on his head and arms. His own, fragrant scent of musky animal, wet cat, gives way to flecks of resin and amber droplets, tacky like honey. Flies fizzing around his invisible crevices. The sun dropping like a splot of fat beyond the ridge, the moon opening up like white cartilage in the bloody sky.

‘Come, Softly,’ its says. ‘Bring your bleedin’ iron and let’s have at ya.’

“Softly, softly,” he mutters. Wouldn’t do to rush it. “Clutcher is as clutcher does.” And my, my what long, long, fingers it has, for whiskings yer eye-bobs out, and sucking a peeper like a popsy.

But softly, softly, for the man called Adam is most necessary.

“Oh, yes,” mutters Softly. Guns and graves and whispered stories needed, if a weavings to capture. A wonderful, wonderful, weavings to make more’n invisible than invisible. A shadow of horrors, without a shadow.


He slips past a branch, and more resin falls to invisible, upon the flesh he’d want as slough. But to do it, tricks and favours; eh, mah boy?And with that, finding the body; soft, and wet, hanging like a bony tent of flesh out here in the wilderness.

And guarding it?

Why, the Clutcher, like as not. Smell its spoor – like treacle, glands ripe – marked a branch right here with urine, oily as lamp oil.

A distance, yes, from cliff and the Black Door? “Complicated,” he hisses. But he wants the weavings, yes?

So does it.


But the Clutcher is unpredictable.

While Softly has lived most of his life on the outskirts of urban brick and cobbled ways – in the damp truckle of cellars and beer-swilled alleys, dragging and eating whatever limb may drop, half-cut between his jaws – not so the Clutcher. Wilderness fills it like a bag.

Ah, the limbs, Softly muses: often sweet-meat tainted by beer, wine or cider, or his favourite, Stout. People like pig? Not so that apple goes. No, Stout to a liking. That’s what’s best. But the malty, treacly treat is rarer these days.

Licks his lips.

And now, the ridge, and into the crator. Birds die. No light. No moon. A reek of death behind pine, like a sewer running foul beneath a shady, dappled street. Gun ridged up in cloth, claw to the useless trigger. Aye, the weight of it dragging on his steely soul; metal on metal.

Softly, softly.

Ask yer question, bugger off. That’s what he says to himself.

Crash of leaves!

… whisked off his feet and pinned six feet up a tree trunk, like a plank to a broadside.

September 22, 2011   15 Comments