Thankyou

Dear sir,

Now that I’m able to sit up they have given me a pen. This is so that I can write what I am feeling, or rather what their psychological textbooks suggest that I should be feeling. After the doctors have finished shining their torches into the backs of my eyes they search my face, their foreheads furrowed. I know what they are looking for – a flicker of madness, some trace of the rage bubbling up inside of me.

Continue reading “Thankyou”

Nomophobia

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

https://twitter.com/mjrichardso0

 

The Decent Thing

Good morning readers,

my latest short story has been picked up by the fine folks at Penny Shorts – quite the honour! Unlike most short story websites, Penny Shorts pay authors for their work whilst keeping content free for readers – a trait worth encouraging, don’t you agree?

Read it here

https://www.pennyshorts.com/stories/sci-fi/the-decent-thing/

and please let me know what you think of it.

Also of note is the fact that Penny Shorts are offering £50 for the best review of a short story submitted by the end of May. Find out more at https://www.pennyshorts.com/news/

Tide

via Daily Prompt: Tide

Evening folks,

a bit of flash fiction on the theme of ‘Tide’…

 

It creeps away from you, the tide. You can watch it for hours, a serene lead grey, but turn for a minute to look at the darkling room behind you and it has cringed away, eager to avoid watching eyes.

Bore tides, neap tides, rip tides, brown tides, semidiurnal tides. I can watch them all from my boathouse, glass of red in my hand and the gas heater humming away at my side. The cold is starting to edge in from across the bay.

It was a spring tide that brought about my undoing. Out beyond the pier the tide went, out beyond the rockpools, out past the moored sailboats. It had been a dog walker who found her; it’s always the dog walkers, isn’t it? There had been phone calls, more dog walkers, fishermen, and finally the police with their bright jackets and crime scene tape. There had also been the first knock on the door. No, I didn’t know who it might be. No, I hadn’t seen anything suspicious.

They’ll be back of course, once the DNA tests results are in, once the facial reconstruction posters are pinned upon lampposts in the village. For now, though, it is just police tape guttering in the sea breeze and men in white masks digging before the tide turns again. I sit back in the rattan chair before pouring myself another glass.

 

***As always, delighted to hear any feedback! The featured image is a beautiful boathouse on Loch Tay, Scotland***

Sweat and Tears

Sweat and Tears

Matthew Richardson

(Adult content)

People can’t help but describe blood. ‘Shockingly red,’ they’ll say, as though the default colour is salmon pink or forget-me-not blue. ‘A fine mist of blood,’ they’ll gush, as if the killer had his thumb over an artery as he might a hosepipe in a garden. Also worthy of comment appears to be the fact that blood pools. It’s a liquid, folks. Can’t we take it as red (sic) that it won’t distribute itself evenly over pockmarked warehouse floors and torn linoleum?

Anyone who’s ever killed will tell you that it’s the smell of blood that you notice. It reaches up your nostrils with red, ragged fingernails and tugs right at the bridge of your nose, making your sinuses contract and your eyes water.

A scent brings a thousand connotations. When I smell blood I see ragged head wounds edged with shocking white bone. I see haemorrhaged scleras; a thousand, thousand burst capillaries surrounding a still-staring pupil with livid magenta. I see rust-red plasma slipping down floorboard cracks, congealing and hardening like cement between bricks. I…

There, now! Do you see how you’ve gone and made me do precisely what I said I wouldn’t?

That is exactly how I lost my temper just a moment ago.

Taken for a Spin

Taken for a Spin

Matthew Richardson

Taken for a Spin

Accusatory fingers pointed at him from all over the screen. Finger marks to be precise – the smudged signs of hope and despair and salt-and-vinegar grease. The marks drew a map for whoever came to the terminal after him; the leavings of a cartographer desperate to show his bad luck. There were sweaty streaks over red, black, odds, evens, bet, double bet, and add credit. Precious few over cash out though. Not yet anyway.

Spin again.

Oliver tapped and watched as the roulette wheel began spinning, the silvery ball spiralling its way towards black and red stripes. A stream of cold air and a phlegmy sniff told him that someone else had entered the bookies. He could see in the reflection on the screen that it was Gary, in for the horses at four-ten. Oliver pulled his thick jacket around him, hoping that Gary wouldn’t clock him yet. Not that he didn’t like the guy, but he did bloody talk and Oliver needed to at least break even for today.

Spin again.

Thank God. The wet weather outside had resulted in Gary going for a sneaky smoke in the gents before the race started. With any luck Oliver would get a break and be out in ten. He would have to power-walk home; at least he would be warm. He had been sat in front of the machine so long that he felt frozen to the metal stool. His hands were like blocks of ice –the touchscreens didn’t work with gloves. In went the debit card. One last go before heading home.

Spin again.

Oliver hadn’t looked at his watch for a while, nervous at what he might see. Evens, reds. They hadn’t come up for eight spins now. Surely by the law of averages they were due. Surely. If he could just go in a hundred of so down, he could explain it to the wife. The phone went off in his pocket. It was Sheila.

“Hi darlin’…yeah just dropped by the bookies to put a line on…yep, I’ve literally just walked in…”

Spin again.

It was saving the best for last.

Damn. Gary had just come out of the bogs and spied him. Over he came, skipping like a scratched record. This time for sure, though. There was no way, simply no way, that this could not land. Not if the God-forsaken thing wasn’t rigged anyway. Sheila was still wittering away in his ear. He put the mobile down at the side of the terminal.

“Olly!” came the raucous greeting from Gary, bringing with it a slap to the back for Oliver. “Long time no see mate! Got a lighter? Mine’s gubbed. You still stuck on these, mate? It’s a mugs game, ain’t it?”

“Just give me a moment, Gary,” he answered tightly, eyes still fixed on the screen. “Last spin”.

His fingers reached for the screen again. Keep the faith. Evens, red. Sheila’s voice still issued from the phone on the machine, whiny and insistent. One more spin, money back, home, see the kids. That was the plan.

“Horses mate, that’s the way you wanna go. Head home with some dough to feed the weans,” laughed Gary, giving Oliver one more slap on the back and knocking his fingers across the screen where they struck black. Gary gave a sheepish grin. “Oops, sorry mate! Hope I brought you a bit of luck!”

Oliver half-turned to swear at the man, his face beetroot and swollen with rage. He turned back, though. The wheel was spinning, the ball circling, picking out its victim. It hopped onto the wheel like a child onto a merry-go-round, full of carefree abandon.

Red

Black

Red

Black

Red

Black

Red

Black

Red

He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. From beside him came, insistent, the tinny voice of his wife.

“Olly? Oliver? You still there? Oliver?”

He opened his eyes once more and looked at the balance at the bottom of the screen. A big fat zero, round and pulsing.

Swinging off the seat and grabbing the mobile, he flung it as hard as he could towards Gary, who was now engrossed in the racing. Sheila’s voice whined through the air as she spun, falling silent as she hit the bank of televisions.

“Oi! What was that for?” came the reply.

Oliver’s fingers were still like chilled bars of steel as he curled them into fists, but the boiling heat of righteous indignation rose in his stomach as he strode over to his friend.