The dead don’t moan.
Dirt-packed and clod-mouthed, they stare silent at earthen skies.
Rain gutters down the slate tiles and the stained-glass windows. It bubbles down into the drain gratings, down through the salt-leached soil. down amongst the dead, where it sits brackish black and silent in the cheapening pine boxes.
Yew roots curl around the sleeping dead, whose wayward ivory pates are held soft in wooden elbow crooks and bark fingers. The shifts and shivers of the topmost branches do not trouble the subterranean silence.
Continue reading “The Dead Don’t Moan | Short Story”
Cheap pitches. Free showers. View of the loch. Save for the omnipresent midge, there seems little reason not to stop at Kinlochleven campsite. Strange then that no-one stays a second night.
Looking west along Loch Leven as the sun dives horizonwards, the summits seem benevolent, cradling the little town in a gnarled embrace. Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean, Am Bodach, Sgùrr a’ Mhàim and more lie in wooded repose lochside, benign under the last sideways-slung rays. This dying of the light is picturesque to be sure, reaching up into the loch. Weary trekkers and wellness bloggers snap pictures for their Instagram accounts, their eyes on their phones whilst locals search the gullies, the craggy overhangs.
It is not the dusk that the townsfolk are wary of. At least, not the dusk alone. It is a stillness in the evening air, a sense of heavy dreichness. The villagers can sense it. They close their doors over softly and stuff dishcloths and rags in the loose window frames. Curtains are drawn, lights dimmed.
Continue reading “Night at Kinlochleven | Short Story”
There was no keening moan of wind through the exposed rafters, no shuddering of plate glass, no banging of a front door long-abandoned. The house was silent, its bay windows looking out onto the overgrown lawns like the bulbous eyes of a toad.
Paint peeled of course. Crows nested. The ragged gaps in the roof tiles grew wider. No sound escaped from the old place, though. Not that the locals went near enough to hear anything. They knew that the faded grey boards lay nailed tight over more that tattered insulation and cold copper piping.
Continue reading “The Rectory | Short Story”
A House of Ghosts
W. C. Ryan
Blackwater Island, off the Devon coast, is the storm-lashed setting for W.C. Ryan’s World War One murder mystery. It is the home of Lord and Lady Highmount, whose sons have been killed in the trenches. They arrange a séance in an attempt to contact their sons, to which the mediums Madame Fader and Count Orlov are invited, along with codebreaker Kate Cartwright and the mysterious Donovan. Kate and Donovan are agents under the watchful supervision of British intelligence, sent to investigate the rather less unworldly theft of military intelligence by the Germans. Kate carries with her a secret – she sees the spirits of the dead as they wander the earth. These apparitions are well-crafted side characters and Ryan manages to write ghosts in an unexpected and interesting fashion.
Continue reading “A House of Ghosts | Book Review”
I’m delighted to have another short story published in Literally Stories. ‘The Ragged Frenchman’ was written last Christmas and involved a little bit of historical research. As such, it really was a labour of love and I was pleased with how it turned out.
One of the most evocative chapters of history is Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812. A few critically misjudged decisions by Bonaparte saw the French army depart Moscow too late in the year and retreating along the same route that they had used to thrust deep into Russia. Consequently, the land had been stripped bare of resources. Harried by marauding Cossacks and dogged by rapidly dropping temperatures, army discipline disintegrated and men became feral with cold and hunger. Horses were set upon for meat after stumbling on the wintry ground, and officers wandered off from their men to end their misery rather than march on.
Hopefully I’ve managed to capture some of the chaos and desperation of the retreat, along with a healthy dollop of the supernatural.
Read ‘The Ragged Frenchman’ here.
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, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order.
Head of Zeus Ltd
‘Like a witch’s lair in a fairytale the ancient manor house crouches in its tangled garden. I can’t take my eyes off the ivy-choked window above the front door. It was from that window in 1913 that 16-year-old Maud Stearne watched her father set off down the steps with an ice-pick, a geological hammer – and murder in his heart. We’ve all heard of Edmund Stearne. We’ve marvelled at his works and shuddered at this crime. Why did he do it? Did he confide his secrets to a notebook? Why won’t his daughter reveal the truth? For more than 50 years Maud Stearne has lived the life of a recluse. I’m the first outsider who’s met her and been inside Wake’s End. What I’ve learned blows her father’s case wide open.’
Continue reading “Wakenhyrst | Book Review”
‘Your first responsibility is here, Charlie.’
Piece of toast in his mouth, Charlie snapped his toolbox shut and reached for his coat. Evelyn stood with their infant son in her arms and a challenge on her face. She waited whilst her husband filled a thermos from the kettle, clingfilmed his sandwiches, and finished chewing.
‘You’re doing just fine with him,’ he answered eventually. ‘Mum’s getting on a bit; she can’t look after herself so well.’
‘She can look after herself a lot better than she makes out.’
Continue reading “The Son I Raised | Short Story”
Good morning folks,
My latest short story has just been published courtesy of Brendan Gisby and McStorytellers. Read it here
It is 1849 on a bleak corner of the Isle of Lewis. A storm is coming, and with it comes the stirrings of the undead…
Light in the Blackhouse
Artwork by Kyla Richardson