Smoke and Dust

There it stands. My cathedral. Quite literally the pinnacle of my career. It was once a spectacle. A reference point for others to navigate by. It is there, they would say, so I must be here. Now my chimney is doomed.

Standing above the crematorium at Hopewells Hospital, the stack was a landmark, but also so much more. It was a portal into another world. People would start their journey at its base, lumpen masses waiting for transcendence. They would end it ethereal, curling around its blackened rim before being tugged away by the breeze. Used by thousands, beloved only by its creator, it stood to serve, not only pointing the way to heaven but giving its users primary ignition on their ascent.

The locals gather around it now, baying for its demise on their plastic garden chairs. There were no crowds when it was completed, but tearing something down? Why not make a day of it, and bring the kids too?

A crass countdown begins. I planned every brick in that tower and yet I, and it, are denied the dignity we provided for so many. The loudspeaker echoes off its façade – a noble final defence against the inevitable.

A button pushed. A guttural rumble. A rush of rubble and dust mushrooming towards the earth.


***As always, I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts/feedback!***

Surveillance State

‘About bloody time,’ muttered Brian, getting up from his chair and stretching, his fists pressing into the small of his back. ‘My shift ended fifteen minutes ago.’

‘All right, all right. Not like you’ve got a hot date, is it?’ Cassie put her coffee on the table and glanced up at the screens. ‘Anything for the handover?’

‘No movement for a while. Temperature normal. Camera four is partially obscured by a book he’s put up there, but not so much as to compromise line of sight. Still no indication that he’s onto us.’ Continue reading “Surveillance State”

Fly and I

You’re bloody irritating, d’you know that?

Today is my lie-in – the only morning of the week that I can call my own. I didn’t even get a good kip; I had to sleep with the window open you see? The sound of traffic and drunken reveling was the price I paid in exchange for tempting a breath of warm, moist warm air into my bedroom.

And now my lazy morning is being disrupted thanks to you. Yeah, you – clever enough to find the crack in the slider window yet seemingly too senseless to find your way back out again. So here we are – you buzzing and thunking against the window pane, not one of your six legs able to gain purchase, and me hunkering beneath the covers, trying to ignore your increasingly frantic attempts.

What are the chances that, of all of the windows in all of the houses in all of the streets in Dundee, you’d choose mine?

And then I think, what are the chances of us being in the same room?

Let’s take it right back. I can remember learning about the reproductive system in Biology. I was one of three-million sperm trying to get to that egg. I faced down some serious numbers. I’ve subsequently avoided meningitis, rickets, polio, bird flu, and any number of scrapes, bumps, and road traffic near misses to take my place under the duvet here.

All of this pales in comparison to what you’ve experienced, of course. Literally born into crap, you had to worm your way around decomposing matter as a maggot. Once you were flying, the fun had just begun. You were fair game for spiders, frogs, birds and wasps, not to mention the cavalcade of pesticides, flytraps and swatters arrayed against you. And the half-opened window, of course.

Which kind of brings me to my point. If my parents, upon seeing me writhing in the maternity ward, were to place a bet on my meeting you they would face infinitesimally large odds. They’d get laughed out of the bookies. I’m not usually one for fate or destiny, but you must admit the maths are pretty compelling. It feels like a benevolent force has nudged you through my window, eager to prompt a meeting that will change the course of both our lives.

Should I usher you outside again? It doesn’t feel a memorable enough finale to such a journey. An owner/pet scenario then? The girl and her fly? That doesn’t seem likely. Perhaps you have entered my room as a muse; maybe you should prompt me into some profound reverie, some sudden…




***As always I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments on this!***

Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart

Matthew Richardson

It’s one of those slow awakenings, moving inexorably but imperceptibly through the stages of consciousness as a sunrise does bars of colour. I can still feel sleep tugging at me, urging me to come back under. A long, luxurious stretch under the covers only serves to remind me how comfortable I am. My eyes remain closed.

It is the smell of her perfume that pulls me towards consciousness. I can feel her watching me. I let my hand trace down under the duvet, searching for skin that does not belong to me. She is watching, anticipating where my fingers might touch first, nervous. My knuckles creak from lack of use as I travel further below.

There. What elegance. What beauty. Lazy a second ago, my fingers are suddenly deviant, exploring at will. Bound under bandages, I can still feel the eight inches of scar tissue running down the centre of my chest. My ribcage rises and falls under its own volition. I’m still here.

It seems like an insurmountable effort to open my eyelids, but I manage. Even through the tubes and the breathing apparatus, I knew I could smell her perfume. My eyes close again, but it’s all right. She’ll still be there when I wake again.


As always, any feedback or comments are most welcome!