Don’t leave an ankle dangling over. Not even a toe. That was the rule. If you did, the monster under the bed would seize you as you slept. Ragged, blackened fingernails would trace their way up your calf before digging cruelly into your flesh. Veins would pop out from the unforgiving muscles of the creature’s forearm as his hand crushed ligament and bone. You would be dragged underneath your bed and down into the depths. Continue reading “Over the Edge”
Delighted to have my nasty little short story ‘Face to Face with Death’ featured in the inaugural issue of New York-based literary journal ‘Whatever Keeps the Lights On‘. If you’re looking for somewhere new to submit your writing, you could do a lot worse than have a look here; the editors were quick to respond, passionate about promoting their journal, and very friendly.
A short story…
God almighty I hate cancer.
That’s not strictly true. I hate the gravitas that cancer assumes, the sombre expression it wears at consultations and support groups. I can’t bring myself to treat it that seriously. Anything that I dress up for in a hospital gown that opens at my arse can’t be a proper antagonist. Any enemy that I take my clothes off to face isn’t worthy of the name. My keys, wallet, and phone all go in the locker. I can see a smile looking back at me in the dull steel. Continue reading “The Big C”
The rumours seemed to start in the wind as such things often do. There was no flickering light in the top of the phone box, no broken glass in the door. Neither was there any noticeable smell in the cubicle save for the sour, metallic odour present in every phone box in every town in Britain. No-one could remember anything having happened inside the booth – no gruesome murder or grisly stabbing. Nevertheless, it stood on the corner of the road outside my flat like a solitary red warning finger in the gloom. Continue reading “The Phone Box”
‘Could you turn your head please? A little more, perhaps? Perfect. And you – I’m not getting enough from you at the moment. I want rage. I want impotent indignation. Imagine that you’ve just received a parking ticket you didn’t deserve. You can see the car park attendant walking away, smirking. That’s more like it. I want to see spittle flecking from your snarling lips. I want to see veins popping in your neck, capillaries bursting in your eyes. Excellent. Continue reading “Courting Drama”
Was that a tremor of a curtain in a darkened window? No matter. A pivot, a leap, and I’m over the garden fence. A shimmy and a jump take me on top of the shed. I listen for the sound of pursuers, for the creak of a back door opening as someone checks that all is well. There is nothing but the warm night air pressing in on my eardrums.
My objective is still above me, but for a moment I look not up, but out. I feel like Dick Van Dyke taking in Victorian London, but instead of soot-stained chimneys and greasy roof tiles I have row upon row of bristling satellite dishes and TV aerials, their angles cocked at the skies to hear the better.
How has it come to this?
I wipe my hands on my trousers and take a firm grip of the satellite dish. One, two, three heaves brings it away from the wall. Brick dust sprinkles over the driveway below me, followed by the clatter of the dish as it cartwheels into the road. It stops in front of a police car. Torchlight swivels from the patrol car window, fumbling over the rooftops before finding me. They know who they’re looking for – the same man they’ve caught tearing satellite equipment from houses every night this week. No matter. My work here is done.
In a few hours that family will wake. They’ll reach for their mobiles, their television remotes. They’ll ask for Alexa. They’ll tap away at their laptops. Eventually they will conclude that they have no choice but to converse, at least in the short term. Perhaps teenagers will scuttle down from their bedrooms. Maybe parents will concern themselves with what their children have planned for the upcoming day instead of what some politician did in London yesterday. If I’m lucky, they’ll remember what it is to construct sentences, to be curious about each other.
Of course, they will need something to be curious about. Fear not nomophobics, for I have provided once again. What could be more conversation-provoking, after all, than a night prowler loose on the rooftops. My crimes will provide a spark, a fire to set those tongues wagging.
Chim Chim Cheroo.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order
It’s only when Ma and Pa wake me that I realise that the cries weren’t in my dreams. I’m told to get dressed quickly. Truth be told there’s not much to put on – a shirt and the only pair of breeches that I own. I dress and sit on my bed, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and watching the cruisie lamp throwing its flickering light against the stone walls. Continue reading “Foundering”