Walking Home

I’m sick today. Not life-threateningly sick, just bad enough that I didn’t even want to get out of bed. So here is the story I wrote for the Story Guide podcast. If you want the “behind the scenes” on this one, you’ll just have to listen to the original episode, I’m afraid…

It’s a hot day, the sun’s beating down on me.

Exams are coming and the day has been long. Revision, revision, revision, going over again and again subjects I already feel I know. Either bored at the regurgitated knowledge, or despairing at the lack of knowledge.

And then the bus home.

For five years the bus has been a particular lowlight of the day. The screamers at the back, always play fighting. Remember the glass ornament on the school trip, I ask myself? I nod. After half an hour of throwing my bag around, it was powder.

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“What are these big fishes daddy?”

The man followed the girl’s finger and looked at the board next to the tank.

“They’re a kind of shark, darling, I think.”

“What kind of shark?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “This one only tells us about rays – those big fishes that look like kites.”

“Oh,” the girl pouted.

“Maybe the next one will tell us about the sharks.”

She grumbled and shifted a little on his shoulder.

“What’s that man doing?”

Continue reading “Chum”


The screen door opened before the sheriff’s foot even hit the floor. Somewhere in the house, a dog barked.

“Sheriff Nicholls,” Mrs Trotter nodded. She was thin, sunburned lines etched into her face.

“Good afternoon Mrs Trotter.” He made a small wave with one hand and got out of the car.

“What can I do for you today?” she asked, nervously knotting the tea towel she was holding. “Jethro got himself into trouble at college again?”

The sheriff shook his head. “I’m just checking round all the locality, Mrs Trotter,” he explained. “We’ve got a couple of teenagers didn’t make it home last night.”

Continue reading “Disappeared”

Behind The Scenes: Ginger, Zebra and Our World

I’ve been getting a bit lazy with these of late, so as it was Wednesday, here they are… As always, read the stories first if you want to avoid spoilers – I have linked the stories to the titles.


This one changed a lot between the first and second drafts. For one thing, I moved it from past to present tense, because it seemed to work a lot better with the narrator’s voice. I made the narrator a nurse, which have them a reason to accompany the police to the scene. And I changed the name of the dog from Fritz to Ginger. Not just because the randomly chosen letter of the week was a G, but because after the first reading, Fritz didn’t seem to work as the name of the dog.

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Our World

The nurse at the emergency room reception heard a woman grunt at her and looked up from the keyboard.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Helen Styles,” the woman said. “I believe you brought in my husband, Tom Styles?”

“Let me look,” the nurse replied, and searched on the computer.

Helen tutted, shifting her bag on one shoulder.

“Bed twelve,” the nurse pointed to one corner.

Helen pursed her lips, nodded, and strode off to the cubicle. She opened the curtain and saw Tom lying in the bed, electrodes strapped to his chest.

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“He’s standing there again,” Tilly pointed out the window.

“Oh Tilly,” Brenda sighed. “Another reporter?”

“No,” she said. “He’s not, mother. Come and look.”

Sighing, Brenda got up from the kitchen table, carrying her coffee in one hand.

“Must be some sort of Paparazzi, I expect,” Brenda said.

Tilly turned her head. “I know paps when I see them,” she snapped. “This guy is not.”

He was standing on the other side of the street, dressed entirely in black, looking up at the top of the house with a pair of binoculars.

“Yeah,” Brenda said, sipping her coffee. “He’s watching something all right.”

“He’s been there an hour or so,” Tilly replied. “Giving me the creeps.”

Continue reading “Zebra”


You know how you’re walking down the street one day, and you spot something. Not something big, like a road accident, or a bank robbery, but just something small. Just one of those niggles that, while it doesn’t make things better, it doesn’t really make things that much worse. A broken piece of pavement you nearly trip over, for example, or a dog mess you step in because someone was too lazy to pick it up. It happened to me like this one night when I’m out walking the dog.

We go past this apartment block, near the school, and there’s a piece of grass as you round the corner. Ginger takes a good sniff at the garden and circles trying to find that exact, perfect spot. Eventually he squats down like he’s in training to become a contortionist and makes that “don’t look at me” face. I have to look away, of course, because otherwise, nothing’s going to happen. He’s just going to keep staring at me, realise I’m not going to stop looking, and give up. So I turn away.

The apartment block is a kind of grim grey affair, punctuated by outdoor lights here and there. There’s four in a line between the second and third floors, and the end one is flickering.

Continue reading “Ginger”

Behind The Scenes: September

No I haven’t forgotten about this, it’s just been a busy few weeks… Not only have I been working on these but possible submissions to two other places as well, neither of which have panned out. Still, I suppose the good thing about these pieces is that if anyone ever asks me where I get my ideas from, I can just say “you haven’t read my blog, then?”

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Trust Me

The hypnotist leaned over the table and turned on the recorder.

“Bennett Mason,” he said into the microphone. “Monday, September the 24th, seven twelve P M. Eliot Hunter, past life regression session number fourteen.”

Mason’s mouth twitched into a smile as he sat back down.

“What do you see, Eliot?” he asked.

Hunter moaned.

“Trust me,” Mason reassured him. “Where are you?”

“I’m in a market,” Hunter whispered. “I’m selling meat.”

“Good, good.” Mason nodded. “Can you tell me where you are?”

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Nicola’s Neighbour

Ben parked the van outside the apartment block and looked at his watch.

“Two hours and a half,” he said. “Not too bad for packing your entire life into a van.”

Nicola adjusted her woolly hat and shook her head. “Can’t believe I’ve left that old place though.”

“Well, at least you own this one.”

“Or I will,” she grinned. “In twenty-five years.”

She pulled the handle, turned and jumped out of the van. Opening the front door with her key, she bound up the stairs, two at a time, to the first floor.

In the fading afternoon light, the flat somehow looked a little empty and forlorn. Waiting for someone to give it life, she thought. Trying to find a way to make itself live again. And now, it was home. Her home.

She spent a moment looking round, imagining where the furniture was going to go. The only room that was smaller than her old flat was the windowless kitchen. At least it was newly refitted, and so was the bathroom, although she suspected she’d paid far more than the renovations cost for the privilege.

Continue reading “Nicola’s Neighbour”