HMS Cleopatra | Short Story | Part One

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1801, Bantry Bay, Ireland

Thirty.

A ship was comparable to a small town. There were glaziers and glassblowers, farmers and fishermen, shoe cleaners and snuff makers. Shoehorning such a population into a seventy-four gun ship like HMS Cleopatra however, meant that the intrigues and undercurrents that ran through any town were multiplied many times over.

Thirty-six.

Added to this already potent brew was the fact that the majority of seamen on board were not there by choice. After being pressganged into service, torn away from loved ones, and kept at sea for months on end, there was an unspoken contract between captain and crew stating that a seaman’s welfare was the responsibility of his commanding officer. This was an agreement that had just been trodden into the oaken planks by a pair of immaculately polished hessian boots.

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The Rectory | 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.

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The Stretch | Short Story

Clink of bottle upon rock and cackle of teen laughter lie light upon the damp river air. It is cold. When hands are not cradling cheap cider they are thrust inside puffer jackets or, in the case of the boys, down jogging bottoms. Breath billows into the night along with swearing so thick it has become a tic rather than a conversational trait.

The boy pauses, crouched above the water. Six feet of rushing, peat-stained froth separate him from the drunken cheers of his classmates and glory. Six feet between him, the southern softie new to the area, and acceptance. The goading is loud in his ears, but both he and his fellow students know that the Stretch is no laughing matter.

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Zenith | Short Story

The app notification took the edge off the vista, but it was nothing really. Tim shifted the vibration in his pocket to the back of his mind. It was important to stay in the moment, and what a moment it had been.

Tim had felt the seawater slapping against the wooden pier underneath his feet. He had smelled drying seaweed and salt and gritty sunscreen. The low-throttled thrum of a water-ski in the distance had mingled with the babble of his children playing in the sand, arguing softly about who was in charge of building the sandcastle. A wisp of cloud trailed across the sky, its presence only serving to illustrate the expanse of blue above it.

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A Storm-Topped Sky | Short Story

Eternal rest, my father told me when I was a bairn. The long sleep, he had soothed. It hasn’t proved that way for me – there is little rest for those lost at sea. It isn’t the spring tides or the curling undertow that trouble me – vagaries of current are no longer my concern. It is the yearning that keeps me from my rest.

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Flashback Fiction | Interview

I had a piece of flash fiction called ‘Foundering‘ published in Flashback Fiction this week. They ask all of their authors to answer a few questions on their inspirations, influences, and favourite historical fiction writers. If you’ve got a piece of historical fiction sitting in your drafts folder I really can’t recommend them enough. The editors were approachable and went to great efforts to promote and advertise my work.

Read my interview here.

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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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