Bloody Furnishings


She is rocking back and forth in the bus shelter. It is four in the morning.

‘…the shapes,’ she mutters, hair falling over her face. ‘The shapes they were twisted into…’

‘Madam,’ says the paramedic as he puts down his medical bag and rifles for a notepad. ‘My name is Gary. We’ve received a call from a member of the public. Can you tell me your name?’ Continue reading “Bloody Furnishings”


Good morning fellow scribblers,

A wee bit of flash fiction in response to the prompt above: Froth



Matthew J. Richardson

‘What is that?’

Mark looked up from the pint he was pouring.

‘I said, what is that?’

Sharper this time, the woman raised her eyebrow and gestured at the glass in his hand.

‘Your pint, madam,’ Mark answered hopefully, placing the drink in front of her and wiping his hands on his trousers. He had a sinking feeling. The woman had looked like trouble as soon as she had walked in. Dressed up to the nines, platinum hair, lacquered nails, she had sat down at the table furthest from the bar with her rugby-buff boyfriend before striding up to order like she owned the bloody place.

‘It’s an absolute disgrace, that’s what it is.’ Fake eyelashes raked him as she spoke. ‘Look at the head on it. If I’d wanted to spend a fiver on foam I’d have stayed at home with a bath bomb.’

For a moment, Mark thought she was joking. A glance at her ramrod-straight mouth told him otherwise. He felt the heat rising in his face.

‘Sorry. I’ll get you another.’

The woman sighed and took out a lipstick and compact mirror.

‘This is what happens…,’ she began, before pausing to reapply lipstick. ‘This is what happens when someone starts a job straight from school.’

Mark glanced up as he began to pull the pint. He realised that she was speaking to her six-foot-something partner, who had the good grace to give him an apologetic glance from his seat in the shadows.

‘What were you, the only village idiot left at the jobs fair?’ She looked around her at the otherwise empty pub. ‘Not exactly rushed off your feet are you?’

He decided that silence was the best policy. It was only his third shift, and the manager had nipped out to get herself something to eat. He hoped that the woman wasn’t paying by card, otherwise he’d have to wait until Julie returned to authorise the payment.

‘For Christ’s sake!’ shouted the woman, pointing at the glass in his hand. ‘Hold the bloody thing at an angle. I’d be quicker home brewing at this rate. Start again, and this time bloody concentrate.’

Mark could feel sweat on his upper lip as he tipped the half pint down the sink. The glass slipped from his hands, smashing on the porcelain. He kept his head down as he searched for another.

‘Absolute joke,’ said the woman, shaking her head ‘Tomorrow evening, why don’t you join the rest of your friends at soft play? Less chance of you breaking something, that way.’

His fingers found another glass. Past the point of embarrassment, Mark stood and began to pour a pint for the third time, this time staring sullenly into the woman’s eyes. It seemed as if she could no longer even bear to look at him. She was drumming her fingernails on the bar and staring at the ceiling. Probably a prissy city cow, thought Mark. Thinks she’s doing us a favour by gracing our pathetic little establishment. She would have had to brace herself even to speak to country bumpkins like him. The last drops of ale dripped into the foam. Mark pushed the beer pint towards the woman, who looked at it as if the bartender had just offered her a pint of his own piss.

‘I suppose that will have to do. How much do I owe you?’


The woman shook her head as she handed over a ten-pound note. As she did, a receipt fell onto the floor by Mark’s feet. He bent to retrieve it.

‘Hurry up, can’t you,’ urged the woman. ‘Hard as it is to believe, I have no wish to endure a lock in with someone who still has pimples.’

Mark did not answer. He did not respond at all. Written on the back of the receipt in bright, pink lipstick, were six words.


Ex found me. Get help pls.


Slowly, mechanically, he opened the till.

‘Your change.’ For a moment their eyes met, but only for a moment. ‘I think you might be right about the beer, madam. I’ll nip down and see if the barrel needs changed.’

Almost imperceptibly, her shoulders sagged.

‘See if you can’t find someone who knows what they’re doing behind a bar, whilst you’re down there.’ She was snapping again, tones clipped and eyes flashing.

Mark opened the trapdoor and climbed down the ladder. As he descended, scraps of conversation reached him from above.

‘Sorry about the wait, darling…bartender was barely out of nappies…said the barrel needed changed…sorry if it’s not quite right…’

In the cellar, Mark’s face was illuminated by his mobile phone screen as he dialled.



***As always folks, comments welcome. See my published short stories HERE***

24-hour National Domestic Violence
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via Daily Prompt: Froth



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.










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.

Two Doors

Two Doors

Matthew Richardson


The shapes don’t make sense at first. Maybe the yellow streetlights are reflecting perversely off the garage door. Maybe it’s a shadow cast upon the white aluminium. As I walk into the driveway though, I realise that my eyes aren’t playing tricks. There is a huge bulge in the bottom half of the left door; a metallic pustule ready to burst through.

The windows in the house are dark and expressionless.

Key fob pressed, and the mechanism works. Groaning and squealing, the door raises, unpeeling with a shudder from the back end of my Audi. The vehicle is skewed across the darkened room. My eyes strain past shattered tail lights and an open car door to the garage beyond. Serrated saw blades and medieval chisels glint in the dim light, hanging from hooks and providing reference points in the shadow.

Black against grey, a man is seated in the driver’s seat of my car. He isn’t moving. Backing off, I fumble for the mobile phone in my pocket. A half-breath catches in my throat at what I see on the floor. Body parts litter the concrete. Frozen steaks, chicken wings, pork chops and even the remnants of the Christmas turkey, all scattered where the rear of the vehicle has struck the chest freezer.

The strange driver still hasn’t moved, and I shift round to look at him. Cheek bones jut out from his face, jumbled scrabble-tile teeth fill his mouth, and a dirty tracksuit hangs off him. His face rests on the steering wheel, blue powder smeared around his mouth. Cobalt bubbles pop in his spittle as he breathes gently.

He’s out for the count. I should do something; call the police, a neighbour, a family member. For some reason though, I can’t move. I can’t decide what to do first. The only thing stirring in the garage is the air freshener attached to the rear-view mirror. It swings gently, urgently.

My attention is drawn to a flashing red light on the dashboard-door open. It strikes me that it is not the driver’s car door that is open; it is the passenger’s.

The yellow streetlights seem more dirty-orange from the garage. The light doesn’t reach far.