Traitors’ Gate | Short Story

Oars ease through the tan water. There is the occasional dull thunk as one of the wooden blades clips the side of the barge, but little else disturbs the foetid heat. The boat is not moving fast and the crowds on either side of the river are keeping pace. If one were unaccustomed to this ritual, an observer might mistake their shouts for cheers.

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Panning Out | Short Story

There is a fight on the pavement outside. Shouting, swearing, pushing, polo shirts stretched tight over beer guts, the full show. The confrontation is fuelled by alcohol, the participants’ attention on each other rather than the overlooking windows. The fisticuffs, however, are not where your attention should be. Take a step back from the window. What do you see? Frost creeping up in between the double glazing where the seal has blown. The dried husks of a few flies littering the windowsill.

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Seeing it Through | Short Story

*Scenes of violence*

My clients’ time is limited, as for that matter is mine in this role. Putting people to death was never exactly a career path – witness the hoods and cowls my predecessors wore to protect their identity – but public opinion has very much turned against capital punishment. The world war has been over for fifteen years and the public have decided that they’ve had enough slaughter for now. Add the executions of people like Ruth Ellis, pretty blonde cupcake that she was, and the mood around the noose really soured.

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The Lure | Short Story

And cast…

Wind it in, wind it in, wind it in…

The line lands noiselessly between the waves. Arthur hasn’t got long – a great grandfather’s absence at a christening for any length of time is bound to cause concern. He has not gone far – the music is still faintly audible down here on the darkling pier.

And cast…

Wind, wind…

Arthur’s fingers never used to hurt when he spun for mackerel. His hands didn’t used to look like this, either – thick-knuckled and eel-veined.

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Method in the Madness | Short Story

Leaps forward in science necessitate risk. Whether the leap justifies the risk is a judgement for the scientist. All of which self-satisfied claptrap didn’t help Greg much as he lay in his hospital bed, waiting for doctors’ rounds to alleviate his boredom.

Above the beeping of IV bags requiring attention and the intermittent ringing of a telephone at reception, Greg could hear a pair of doctors discussing the x-ray of a fellow patient. Consumed by a minor argument over whether a fracture was greenstick or oblique, the medics had no perception of what it was they held in their hands, and more importantly the cost by which it was obtained. Marie Curie had died in acquiring the knowledge that allowed their petty argument to commence. The ability to look inside someone’s body was so valuable, so undreamt of, that Curie had deemed it worthy of her life and health. Such knowledge carried with it a value entirely because it was so dearly bought. So much was taken for granted.

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A Kind of Magic | Short Story

[Warning: content includes infant death]

It is more difficult to look up at the sky than it is down at the floor. This is why, when we are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed, we look at our toes. It is why those at the top of their field can comprehend those below them whilst the less well-informed can only fumble and grasp at the musings of their betters. So it is with my endeavour.

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The Ragged Frenchman | Short Story


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.

Bar Creep | Short Story

The girl had been pleasant enough, but only just enough. She had returned Stewie’s attempts at conversation with disinterest, doubtless cataloguing his harmless chatter as just another sleazy old man’s attempt to chat up a student.

Stewie had patter; he had stories that would make the girl and her friends’ university pranks seem small time, but the teenager’s body language spoke louder than her clipped words. Stewie returned to the warm dregs of his pint as the girl took a call on her mobile. Jackie, the barmaid, was in the back, slapping the top of the CCTV monitor in an attempt to force it into showing a picture before the night’s rush began. As he watched her increasingly violent efforts, it occurred to Stewie to wonder what the pictures would show.

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The Poltergeist of Penicuik | Short Story

You’d be fair surprised at how cold the Edinburgh afterlife can be.

I’ve tried to fit in, I really have. I’ve attempted to carve out a wee niche for masel’ in the black basalt towering above Princes Street. Somewhere I can begin to build a reputation. Somewhere I can gee the wee wans a jump and make the old yins proper frit. It’s not been easy, though. As a recent arrival to the other side, I’m not carrying the same gravitas that some of the more established ghosts cling tae. Continue reading “The Poltergeist of Penicuik | Short Story”