Nine Night

John died last night. A heart attack and complications from surgery had kept him down for months. He grew pale at the end, his dark skin bleaching in the English winter. I wanted to count the gaps in his stained teeth that he always showed with that giant grin. The kind of man who forgot it’s an unforgiving city.

The kids were screaming in the basketball court, dominating the space with the shivering crash of railings and the inestimable joys of half term. It looked like another party to me.

Strangers milled in the corridors of my block, seemingly listless. I found the mood hard to read and the dour face staring at my sweaty shirt, the empty bin in my hands, didn’t fit. But I was tired from the gym, paid it no mind. The night before, our sofa shivered with heavy bass and barely muffled laughter was inescapable. Our space had been disrupted. Just a mid-week party thrown by people on different schedules, that coloured the nine night to come.

I lifted my tired legs up the stairs, once back in my flat set to stretching muscles. Our overhead light cast shadows, darker shades, and I heard my wife gasp. The note said nine night, all welcome.

Why do I think I can recognise death, even now after we became so well acquainted? Its English cousin is more severe than this. Vol-au-vonts and restraint over bammy and celebration. I’ve endured its passing over the course of years. Outside, the children play until long past midnight.

Publication – 100 Worlds

That’s right, again. I know, crazy, right?

I am very pleased to announce that a flash of mine has been published in the Dreamscape Press anthology, 100 Worlds. This anthology collects 100 drabbles from 100 authors presenting you with 100 new and strange worlds. You want page 59.

A Kindle edition is forthcoming for those of you who’ve come to love the digital.

Drabble – The Comedy Store, Alphard 3

It was vast, the distant windows only visible because they were so tall. Every word Silas uttered was swallowed by the immensity. Puffing with bravado like a sparrow singing at an avalanche, he said, ‘What is it?’

Kilikilitak shifted his broad wings and replied, ‘Why, it’s a comedy club. Ambassador Kahkahree suggested we try one. Very amusing he said.

Silas’s furrowed his brows: ‘You have comedians, but no comedy clubs?’

‘Yes.’

‘Fair enough.’

Kilikilitak burst out laughing, sending Silas flying into the air. Silas didn’t know the Keelee race laughed with their wings and he had been standing very close.

Drabble – Standards

Standards dropped after the bombs fell, that was no surprise, but it definitely changed us when Brian died. Where do you bury someone in a bunker? The stench – I can still taste it now – made the decision for us. It was so messy that we boiled him, one piece at a time, tearing off chunks of his flesh so he fit down the toilet. We had to keep the skeleton.

I’d come to terms with what we did, it broke Spike though. He’s been acting out ever since. I guess that’s why he keeps hiding the skull in my bed.

Drabble – The New Book of Revelations 1 i-iii

The gates were immense and swollen with rust. The lieutenant obliterated the locks and Dr Castella quickly retrieved the fragments, cooing in veneration. Something moved in the mist ahead. I nudged Strauss. Weapons raised, We took point as we breached the Gates of Heaven.

The moaning was reverence stitched to agony. I found the first on his knees. He cried, ‘Judgement is upon us! Have mercy, our fathers.’

I stopped too suddenly for Strauss, who knocked me off balance. Hadn’t he heard? On my knees I tried to understand: Heaven had people in it. They thought we were gods.

Drabble – Pogo

In my dream she giggled like a child as she bounced around the room, pogoing recklessly from the drip stand. The mother I knew was severe and restrained. Dad told me years ago how she had changed after I was born. I awoke consumed by grief, which scared Laura immensely.

The next day, in the stroke ward, Mum had the same expression as always. Her eyes were fixed on the ceiling. It was later, when I slumped back in the chair next to her bed, weary and muggy from the hospital’s environment, that I saw the dents in the ceiling.

Drabble – Haircuts

‘You’ve had a haircut,’ I told him, redundantly.

‘No,’ James replied, clearly annoyed. I laughed at his irreverence but he stopped me: ‘My head’s growing faster than my hair, ok?’

He’s alright, James is. I smiled back at his wryness.

It was a couple of weeks later when I noticed his glasses were tight on his face and he was rapidly going bald. He looked pretty depressed so I joked with him, ‘At least you don’t need another haircut!’ He didn’t laugh.

The next week in the canteen I saw hair spilling out from his mouth as he ate lunch.

Drabble – The Invasion Begins

X149 had his instructions, the invasion was to commence immediately. Acting simultaneously with fellow agents worldwide he dropped his copy of The Times, tore off the itchy human suit and drew his photon immobiliser. He screamed to the cafe, ‘Vacillating earthlings! This is your last day as a free planet. You belong to the Klax now!’

No-one moved. Then a hand crept up in the corner booth. ‘Is that a photon immobiliser?’

X149 was confused: ‘How do you know that?’

‘Rogalprax, Delvin Empire.’

‘Oh… Well everyone else is enslaved!’

More hands went up. All of the hands in fact.

Publication

This is officially the start of ‘something’. I have joined to illustrious and impoverished ranks of ‘People who have had a story published’. I am now a published author. I can prove it, just ask Norm.

In fact, don’t ask Norm, he’s very busy. But do listen to Norm read it out here – Drabblecast 292: Hollow as the World

So there we have it. My name has been spoken, associated with the act of creation, and just like that I have taken a bold step into being much more marketable as a product creator (see How to Get a Literary Agent). No more will submissions be accompanied by the distasteful conclusion, ‘I do not have any publication credits to my name as yet, but have various pieces out for consideration across a range of markets.’ Ohhhhh no, Nelly, not any more.

Now they will be joyously closed with ‘My work has been published in the Drabblecast (episodes 292 and 288). Whilst the honour of being my first has passed I can assure you I am much more experienced now. A fact I am sure you will appreciate in a few minutes time. Now put the cava down and come here, you hunk of love, you.’ Or words to that effect.

For those of you who can’t listen to the podcast, here’s the flash in all it’s humble glory:

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