Friday, 15 December 2017

Book Review: The Dead Silence by Jane B

The Dead SilenceThe Dead Silence by Jane B.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a weird one; extra stars given here for the subject matter itself and not the story or characters or way it is told. This is a book about the various psychoses surrounding motherhood, and in particular, the negative ones; it does a great job of detailing these and opening your eyes to postpartum depression, and a whole host of other disorders, but it does so at the expense of everything else. The exploration is sometimes essay-like, and always through conversation, the problem being that you could interchange who was speaking and it wouldn't matter. There's even one moment where Anna, suffering from a disorder and in a counselling session with Dr Sam Haley, who up until now has spoken in barely legible broken sentences, suddenly opens up and has a deep, philosophical revelation, all to get a point across it seems.

The information in the book is important, but as a novel, could have been handled better. We follow Sam Haley around as he talks to mothers, holds counselling sessions and explores what he wants to do with his life. But he, like many of the characters, are often vessels for the message being told. He's a good man, but he's one-dimensional. The most interesting moments, and the most depressing, are when we are seeing through the eyes of Anna, or her mother, Maria, in a plot that explores more directly this interaction. There's also a plot involving Sam's secretary, but I'm not entirely sure what this adds to the story. Perhaps a sense of foreboding, which if true is actually displayed with a good sense of understatement, sometimes missing in indie work I have read recently.

One question that always arises with indie work is the writing and editing: here, while it does need another edit to clear up some grammar issues which are just errors, an edit couldn't really help the writing style which is perfectly readable, but does sometimes read as though English was a second language for the writer. This works well for the Anna sequences, but not so well for the doctor sequences. One more slight quibble is that if there is more than one character in a scene, the POV will move freely between them, which is slightly jarring.

Overall, worth reading for the message it has to tell.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Neon Sands nearly complete

I've had a lot of fun writing this book and I can't wait for people to be able to read it. It's the first in the Neon trilogy of trilogies and sets the series up perfectly. I'm also conscious of not having it end with a massive cliffhanger - it may be an opening book but it's also important for it to have a beginning, middle and an end. I know how I'd feel if there wasn't at least some resolution to some arcs.

The cover will need a bit of tweaking, the manuscript editing, and then proofs ordered. I may also try this on Kindle Scout, so watch this space.

Sand like powder smothers the decimated planet; those that eke an existence scavenge and utilise old technologies they barely understand, wanderers drifting from outpost to outpost. But the sand hides secrets, and when it shifts, questions unasked and allegiances long forged are challenged. What else is the sand hiding? A sci-fi/punk adventure in an inhospitable landscape, Neon Sands is the opening book in an epic series that will explore Man’s technological and innate potential, and the search for hope when all looks bleak.

Add to your Goodreads shelf here:

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Horror Book Review: My Dead World by Jacqueline Druga

My Dead WorldMy Dead World by Jacqueline Druga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just finished and jumping straight into the review with my thoughts still fresh - just like the many wounds that are gashed or slashed or mutilated in My Dead World.

It gets an extra star for the gore and its brazen attitude towards a world taken over by a zombie virus (the Z-word that must not be mentioned. It's interesting to me who choose to call the walking dead 'zombies', and who make up other words for them. Guilty of it myself. In the real world, for sake of ease of description when chatting to other people you'd end up just calling them zombies, right?)

While I did enjoy the read for the horror and gore, it also had me shaking my head in disbelief over some choices the characters made, and it became apparent that there were outside forces at play who didn't want everyone to live til the end of the book, despite having prepared so well and having so much info about the virus beforehand. Ergo complacency.

Nila and her family are forewarned by her CDC brother to start preparing an apocalypse shelter, using the cabin they own in the mountains. This thing is stocked, fenced, and everything. Yet shit still continued to hit the fan. Complacent little things that the characters, or, more prominently Nila, kept doing to endanger them kept pulling me out of the story whenever it was hotting up.

I guess it highlights the reality of the layman, that whenever I wanted Nila to turn it around and step up, she couldn't, letting emotion lead the way, leaving space for mistakes. Maybe that's what the majority of people would be like, but you'd like to think they'd catch on quicker. (Just a little too much indecision and second-guessing going on perhaps.)

And then all the death made for a bit of a sombre read in the end.

Fast-paced, lots of action, could do with another round of editing as a few errors, but a pretty accurate portrayal of a world falling apart from a ravaging virus.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Indie Book Review: The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel

The Mask of SanityThe Mask of Sanity by Jacob M. Appel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeremy Balint:; hospital division chief, husband, father, would-be serial killer.

After one of those freakish sort of life coincidences that sends you tumbling down an alternate path, Jeremy sets his heart on the perfect murder. Only, to murder one person, he should really murder some others too so it looks random.

This is the kind of cold calculation you can expect from Jeremy's narrative, told from his POV. The story is solid, though (view spoiler) It was an entertaining read but felt restricted by (view spoiler) It's certainly fascinating to try and unravel the thought processes going on.

The cold moments in the narrative are lifted every now and then by Jeremy's wit - often in the form of mickey-taking, especially when he is in discussions with the rabbi who co-opts him into running some free clinics, which is a nice change of pace, while also revealing Jeremy's sociopathy. And as I said, the writing is solid and mostly unflourished, giving us an accurate insight into the working mind of a serial killer.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

DailyFlash: Anubis

When the death throes scuttled through his murmuring lungs and chuckled down his carotid, it was finally over. A restless night was day; the dewlight of dawn blued the thin curtains, lighting the empty eyes. The jackal's head distended over the corpse's mouth, jaw unlocking and teeth glistening. Its human stomach rippled and something within it gurgled until a clear amniotic expelled from within, cascading into the dead man. As his body filled, his body emptied; blood dripping up from bulging eyeballs into the nostrils at the end of Anubis' snout. When the embalming was complete it howled a morning howl.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Zombie Madness Instafreebie Collection - next 10 days

And so begins 10 days of zombie horror ebooks being given away over on Instafreebie! 

Get scared this halloween.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Horror collection promo

From the 16-18 October David Neth Books is hosting a promo for horror fans - head over to:

And find yourself a deal. Looks like a good collection, but then I would say that with The Risen included!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Rarity from the Hollow review & reading update

Straight from Goodreads:

Rarity from the Hollow 3/5
by Robert Eggleton

This was an odd read that fluctuated throughout trying to find its own identity but never settling. It gets an extra star from me because it was interestingly written, often witty and dry and punchy, riding quite heavily on dialogue, but there was a lot that didn't really work.

Lacy Dawn is a preteen in an abusive family; physical from the father and neglect from the mother. They live in a rundown home in the hollow, a mildly undefined space at the edge of town. She chants roundabend, roundabend, roundabend and floats into the woods (where the trees talk to her) to see her alien-android friend, DotCom. At first you're not sure what's real and what's made up, and though a lot of things are made concrete there's so many elements in this book it's a feeling that never quite goes away.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Neon Sands Trilogy - Goodreads

Feeling oddly satisfied after working out the arc for my characters in the Neon Sands trilogy - and with that, the titles! We have:

Book 1: Neon Sands: A Trilogy
Book 2: Valley of Ion: The Neon Sands Trilogy
Book 3: Subterranean Wasteland: The Neon Sands Trilogy

This is the first trilogy in the Neon Series, with 4-6 and 7-9 also loosely planned in my head. As we go through the series we'll be touching on a variety of genres: we begin with scifi and punk, with a dash of dystopia and a mysterious post-apoc vibe, perhaps crossing into serious cyberpunk and... I don't want to give too much away. The story will be epic and well worth the books I have planned. The first one is on Goodreads now if you want to hop on board. Check out the blurb and cover below and then head over to Goodreads to add it to your shelf...

Sand like powder smothers the decimated planet; those that eke an existence scavenge and utilise old technologies they barely understand, wanderers drifting from outpost to outpost. But the sand hides secrets, and when it shifts, questions unasked and allegiances long forged are challenged. What else is the sand hiding? A sci-fi/punk adventure in an inhospitable landscape, Neon Sands is the opening book in an epic series that will explore Man’s technological and innate potential, and the search for hope when all looks bleak.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Blade Runner & Hereafter New Cover

Hereafter has a new cover, one that looks the part, all in the name of the plan of looking more professional. Readers are enjoying it too!

Saw the new Blade Runner last night and was glad the local, small cinema wasn't showing it, forcing us into a mainstream multiplex with all the dolby goodness going on. It's gloriously cinematic, wide shots of beautiful dystopian cities accompanied by a dark, industrial soundtrack. Good story too. It may have lacked an iconic line or shot compared to the first one, but it was consistently awesome, and bravely paced, throughout.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

New cover, new lease of life - The Risen

You can grab The Risen for free til midnight 3 October - after that, it'll be getting some promos to go along with its new cover, just to keep things ticking nicely over. This is a marked improvement:

So head on over and don't forget to review!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

DailyFlash: Trimmer

My beard trimmer doesn't work. Its juice is gone and when I connect its charger the red light does not come on. It just whirrs for three or four seconds and dies. It sits useless in the basket of toiletries getting slowly buried and relegated to the bottom with the one or two unused earbuds, and that novelty bar of soap. But it was my father's. The last time he used it, well: it was used on him. I opened the bedroom door and he was sitting in the light of the lamp, his friend running the trimmer over his bald head. He silhouette was thin, or maybe him. I don't remember the words that were spoken; perhaps there were none. I just remember the electric buzz of the trimmer as it mowed that head of his. I remember the nonchalance, feigned perhaps, covering an embarrassment. Not of the act, but that it wasn't my hands holding the trimmer. The trimmer that now does not work. Not as intended anyway.

Friday, 29 September 2017

DailyFlash: Terraform

The martian river flowed red. The rising temperatures caused by the nucleonic clouds, and the sub-mantle explosions, were working! Mars shook and cracked, it's semisolid core heated from all sides, waking the titan. Expedition leader Guinan watched from the safety of her shuttle floating in the atmosphere. Below her, molten geysers erupted, and on the feeds in front of her she watched as similar scenes played out across the planet. She took the controls and steered the shuttle down, a flyby of the surface, swerving left and right as red flames licked up - and, she smiled, more importantly: steam. Great, bilious, clouds of unlocked gasses to sweeten the air. It had begun.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

AmReading - Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton - List update

My list is still so long! And now I'm well into writing Neon Sands it may take longer than usual to get through them. But books are friends, always there when you want them. I did finish The Method (4 stars) and Humanity's Hope (2 stars) and now I'm about to begin Rarity from the Hollow. I was a bit mean reviewing Humanity's Hope - as a rule if saying negative things it's good to make a positive-negative-positive sandwich out of it. I'll try harder next time. Thing is whenever I do criticise I'm always sure the same criticisms could be thrown back in my own face. But that's fine. You read, you write, you learn what works and what doesn't, FOR YOU. Screw the rest, right?

Currently reading

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. But she has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first. Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.

Reading list

The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel

On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath--a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Humanity's Hope by Pembroke Sinclair REVIEW 2/5

Even the cover is a bit misleading on this one. I hate to bash on another indie author, but Sinclair has quite a few books out all released in the last year and a bit. That could tell you something. This zombie story follows Caleb and his tryst with the authorities after he discovers a life-changing fact about himself - the clue is in the title - and then does a runner.

So much of this plot makes no sense: authorities who can't even use a little subterfuge and subtlety to get what they want (something they already had); a twist for the sake of a twist which leaves massive gaping holes in everything that happened previously; random events to push the plot, or convoluted decisions to push the plot (that even Caleb himself questions his motivations); and a protagonist with narcissistic tendencies (but in his defence, it's not his fault - at no point are we as readers left in any doubt about what he is thinking.) This is on-the-rail-writing, with tell-me back story and tell-me feelings: tell-me feelings that are repeated so often the only purpose is surely filler on the writer's behalf.

There's very little creativity here, phrases repeated, action repeated, tendrils of pain repeated, giving me tendrils of pain too. It's all very rote and by the book. Maybe I'm being harsh as this is aimed at the YA market - but don't they deserve something better? Both in writing, and plot? Honestly, Caleb is supposed to be a badass who has survived out there in 'the wild' among the zombies, but all he does throughout (and this isn't helped by the tell-me nature of the narrative) is whine, second-guess, and doubt himself. Maybe I'm forgetting what being a 17-year-old was really like!

Added to this is that it has no ending to speak of. Previous books of Sinclair are labelled volume if they are in a series, which this is not (yet). If there isn't to be a follow-up then I would definitely think about that ending. Helpfully, it would perhaps not burn plot holes in all that had just gone!

Monday, 25 September 2017

DailyFlash: Bathpod

The space station spun with the living quarters at the outer edges to get the most benefit from the centrifugal force. On downtime occupants could retreat to their cabins for the required daily exercise, then cool off in the viewing pod. With the windows at their feet, the viewing pod was a half bulb and doubled as a bath. You could run water into it, turn off all the lights, or dim them, perhaps have the television on in the background, or the stereo with its pumping sound display flashing; and step down into the window. Recline, legs outstretched, ass pressed against the cool solar glass of the pod, mooning the world as you rotated past.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Stranger Writings Dot Com - Author Resources

In case it helps anyone (really probably only for newbies) I've added some info to my Author Resources page on Go there or be square, or click here:

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Neon Series trilogy of trilogies announcement and cover!

Shout out to Blue Skin Design for my newest cover. It's fair to say I love it! Fellow writers out there, I'm sure you're way more ahead of the game than I have been, but after recently joining the Facebook group 20booksto50k, something you need to do if you have not already; and after reading about the success stories, some achieved in only a few months, my mojo is back. My mojo and enthusiasm. I've read a lot of Indie books lately which has also helped hone what's possible, and opened my eyes to the competition. But, from this, and from others' success stories, a few things are key:

  • A good cover
  • Good editing
  • Serialisation
  • Bookbub
Previously, I was relatively sure you needed a lot of luck to break through with consistent sales in this ebook market, but looking at Bookbub, and reading what others have read, I see now you can buy yourself that luck. Of course, the key is getting yourself a Bookbub deal, but when my trilogy is out, that will become the over-arching goal. The returns look practically guaranteed, with knock on effects continuing into following months. The key there being a reliable writer who has regular new books. So that's why I love my new cover so much: I've had lots of positive feedback and I am so confident that if it appeared in the Bookbub advertising people would snap it up.

Neon Sands will be book one in the Neon Sands trilogy. Following this will be Neon Driver and its trilogy, and then an as-yet-unknown third trilogy, all set within the same universe. I am excited to write this and excited for others to read it. reliably informs me this trilogy of trilogies would be an ennealogy, but I'll have to roll Neon Ennealogy off my tongue a few more times before committing to calling it that!

Book reviews and regular updates and flash fiction may become less frequent as I unpick this story from my brain and get it into semi-readable sentences. However, if you like the look of the cover and would like to know when it's available, and grab a copy of an ARC for review, sign up here:

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

DailyFlash: Behind the Curtain

Faced with the curtain, he froze on the spot. Later he was able to laugh it off, thinking back to the sudden shock of panic that bolted down his legs, setting roots in his feet. He felt suddenly heavy, unable to even bend his knee; and his throat constricted with dry, sandy swallows. He was going to suffocate, drown in his own fear, his heart throttled by a tightening chest and lungs suffering nascent rigor mortis. Already, the fluid of decomposing enzymes dampened his palms, slipped like great sticky slugs down his temple.
     He heard his name, heard "What's keeping your daddy?" Such a sweet, but tired sounding voice.
     Daddy. Just like that, air swelled in his lungs until he was floating, whatever atmosphere his head was in was thin; was moist too, burning where eyes met lids until he blinked with life.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

How I feel starting and finishing a new book

Indie Book Review: The Method by Duncan Ralston - 4/5

Duncan Ralston's The Method is a brutal exploration of a relationship falling apart; Linda and Frank's last gasp effort to save their marriage; a weekend getaway at Lone Loon Lodge to undergo The Method — whatever that is. Recommended to them by mutual friends who were experiencing similar issues, but who are now closer than ever, it seemed like a good idea. What could go wrong?

Monday, 18 September 2017

DailyFlash: Mushrooms

Once upon time ago, an eon far gone, pre-Mesozoic and further still, the vertebrates unlinked and the tetrapods unlimbed; pre the branching colours of coral undersea, grew fungi: in an alienscape, all shapes at sizes small as thought or large as time, hooded umbrellas spreading wide canopies in burning yellow light as saturated as the skies back then. Spores barely spores in the great shadowcast, clinging to whatever. Altogether, nuclear clouds, not the meteroric first or atomic last, but a blast offing of the future.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Website launch -

A few hours ago I launched Stranger Writings as a website.

As well as using this space to develop my own work, I'll also be quite prominent about highlighting the work of fellow Indie authors. At the moment I post my reviews on Cultured Vultures, which means I can't post them in full elsewhere. However, when I link to them from here, this blog actually gets a lot more views then the post on Cultured Vultures! Therefore, if the trend continues and the new site also picks up its fair share of views, the reviews will be posted exclusively here and on the new site. Better content and more views!

I'll also help promote other books by having a recommended section, as well as the best of a year, and anything else I can think of, like useful links and groups that have helped me.

There's always my flash fiction too; my odd forays into weirdness - and the great art that comes as a result! I need to figure out how to showcase this too!

Instafreebie - Hereafter (Virgin Suicides novella) & Short Stories free for a week

You can grab Hereafter as a free download from Instafreebie for a week - download here:

Hereafter is a collection of stories written over the last decade. Featuring the leading title novella: Hereafter tells the story of how the boys from The Virgin Suicides grew into men unable to shake the suicides of the Lisbon girls from their subconscious, and their subsequent failings. 

The other short stories feature a family dealing with life on the Frontier, a man who can't resist the urge to strip to his birthday suit any longer, a Big Brother who is no longer in control, a scientist who ties himself up in time, and a couple who allow possessions to own them. 

Cyberpunk fans will also be treated to the first 6,000 words of my forthcoming novel, Neon Driver.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Instafreebie - The Risen - Apocalyptic Horror Thriller

For the next week, head over to this link to grab a free download of The Risen from Instafreebie.

As always, would love your reviews and stars on Goodreads and Amazon, long and many may they be!

DailyFlash: The Boss

I wonder how much longer he can keep up the pretense. How much longer before everyone heeds my words of warning about him. He's not on the level I tell them: Pat in Accounts, who just nods and types away with fingers that never stop moving; the warehouse operatives going about their heavy lifting, grunting dismissively and lumbering around in their steel-toe-capped boots; the Sales team jabbering with one ear on the customer and the other on the gossip. You're in danger, I try to tell them. The Boss has flipped and you need to get out. But they can't hear me. My old office in the basement is locked. I messed up sure, and received my final notice. But I messed up again and got my marching orders; a pair of hands around my throat. We can merge your department with Marketing, the Boss said, to himself more than me. Yes, moving with the times, he said. He has cold hands, I shriek now, but no one comes down here any more.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Dystopian Indie book review - Indigo By DL Young 4/5

"I grind my teeth, try not to react. He wants me to break down, to beg him to stop. He wants me to know this is only a taste of what he’ll do to me if I don’t play along."
Texas has finally seceded from the United States, and while it was prosperous for a while, it wasn’t long before it disintegrated into self-interested factions willing to do whatever it took to hold on to power, or push for more.

Within this world is Indigo, the narrator; a successful trader keeping her head low and out of trouble inside her own turf, managing a fleet of other traders and ‘greenies’ (traders-in-training). Until the crap hits the fan and she is taken prisoner by religious fundamentalists for a purpose she slowly begins to piece together.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Movie Review: IT - For the Constant Reader

I'm about 30 hours into the IT audiobook, with another 20 to go. That'll tell you something about the impossibility of translating IT to the big screen with any kind of satisfaction for the Constant Reader. And yet, IT succeeds in the places the Constant Reader would want. Stephen King's novel is as much a coming-of-age parable as it is about horror. When I first read it in my very early teens, it was transformative: here's this seriously scary horror novel, written by an adult, but about kids. I loved it, and I loved the characters. Stephen King's style is informal, sometimes unfocused and often tangential, as you may expect at over 1,000 pages, but it is immersive. There's plenty of major plot points to hit, but the journey between them is just as important, and that's what I took from the movie.

The kids are great, written with an edge and comedy that reflects the novel well. Inevitably they are condensed versions, borderline caricatures of themselves, but they are played with such enthusiasm by the actors that you can be forgiven. There's a couple changes; Haystack is no longer Haystack; when they called him simply the New Kid, it didn't feel honest, simply because it wasn't a proper nickname I think. Ben Hanscom instead becomes the foil that bring the kids together; being new, and being a loner, he researched the town and its history to shoehorn the myth and cyclical nature of past events into the movie. A little backstory.

Richie Tozier is perhaps the most memorable of the kids; as the comedic relief, he gets all the best lines. Some laugh out loud. But not to do a disservice to all the kids, they all get moments to shine and make the viewer smile; subtleties that you might miss the first time round, such as Eddie (or perhaps Stanley) being the only one to hitch their bicycle while the others chuck them down to the ground.

Where the film falls is when it pushes too far with its horror. Bill plays Pennywise just fine, it's just that Pennywise's effectiveness comes to a height about two-thirds in, and thereafter loses all tension. Spoilers follow. Two great horror moments in this are set pieces that don't rely on jump scares or quick movements, or individual stupidity, but instead on visuals. The bloody scene in Beverley's bathroom was executed brilliantly, gushingly. As a recent reader, there was even more blood in the movie than there had been in my head. The other high point was the projector scene in the garage, with slow reveals of the clown being shown on the wall, culminating in the best jump scare, simply because of the size of the his head as he comes at them. The CGI lets it down in the end, with too much of the scene cutting away so you can't get a clear idea of what's going on and then miraculously they get the garage open and all is well.

The trouble with these scenes is they are outlandish and extreme, but with very little time after them for reflection. That none of the kids were harmed in the garage too, when the chance was obviously there (and they were all in 'fear' and could have fed Pennywise) just took the edge away. And later, when the kids truly lose their fear, it stops being a horror while continuing to try and be one, simply because the tension is gone.

There's too much reliance on CG, more practical effects would have been great for authenticity. On top of that, the movie tried too hard to scare us, pushing the kids into one-on-one situations that just made you want to scream at the screen, seconds after saying let's stick together. In other words, it became cliched and formulaic. Which is why it's the kids that hold it all together. There's barely an adult in the whole film who isn't a total asshole, which fits with the lore of the novel well (at least when they're kids). The movie pushes this to the extreme, ensuring we end up rooting for them.

This is why the Constant Reader will like this movie, and this is why I give it 4 out of 5. There's plenty of straight up horror movies out there, cliched and formulaic, whose characters you don't care about, that have no energy and life or humour; that don't even have high points of horror. But IT does have all those things, even romance! Bring on chapter two.

Friday, 8 September 2017

DailyFlash: Wailing

1056 Mitton Street. Every day, the same crying, the same high pitched wail followed by sobs sad enough to melt a Republican heart - no offense to Republicans. "Some taken, actually," he says to himself with a smile. A smile that immediately turns back into a look of concern as he looks over his shoulder to the basement grating.
     1056 Mitton Street; a red-brick townhouse, one of many down this block. He walks past every day on his way to work, and every day for the last two weeks, that he has noticed (lost half the time in his phone) a baby has wailed from the basement. Today he stops, and turns back towards it.
     Looking down into the grating, he sees nothing but darkness, but the baby cries on. He stands there a moment, looking around and at his phone, looking for answers, wondering about making a decision that will take him out of his daily routine. The baby cries on.
     He sighs and steps up to the front door of the townhouse. He knocks to no avail, waiting five minutes before really banging on the door. No answer, yet the baby cries on. No answer, so he turns the doorknob. The door opens inwards, so he calls out down an empty hall. No answer, but the crying has stopped.
     He steps inside, listening, but there's nothing to hear. Smells like there'd be nothing to hear: fetid - dusty, damp and musty. No-one's lived here for ages, he thinks. And then he steps quickly to the basement door, and he's just about to open it when the wailing begins again, causing his hand to freeze. That wailing, it ain't no baby, It ain't like nothing I've ever heard before.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

DailyFlash: Intrusion

"I'm ooold, you don't want to hear anything this old man has to say."
     "Oh but I do. Don't hold nothing back now. Ooold man." The intruder hovers all hoody and black scarf, pointing a knife and waving it around in front of the seated pensioner. The tall arms of the armchair seem to wrap themselves around his frail frame as he sinks into it, urging his body away from the tip of that knife. His wrinkled face begins to shake, his lips moist, almost drooling.
     "What say you tell us where the key is?"
     The old man shivers.
     "Hey! I'm speaking to you, want me to cut out your tongue? Then you'll be really mute."
     The old man shrinks, almost, disappearing into the armchair.
     "Hey, Badger! Oi!" shouts the intruder, backing away.
     Badger shows up behind him. "Where'd the old dude go?"
     The door of the safe, set into the wall and revealed by removing a painting, clicks. It swings open.
     "Look, it's open," laughs Badger, bounding, almost gleefully, like a child chasing the ice cream van, towards it. "I wonder what's inside."
     The old man's face shoots from the darkness within the safe. Only it's smirking, eyes yellowed and fangs dripping saliva. "You wanna talk now?" he howls.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

DailyFlash: Bathtime

"No, not yet," said Gemma, flattening her pink body in the bath, submerging herself and sending waves up the sides.
     "You have until the water's gone," said her Auntie Maisie, pulling the plug. "Then out, out, out."
     "Alright," sulked Gemma, sitting back up and grabbing the plastic jugs. She began to pour water from one to the next, the sound like feet shuffling along gravel. Ssccchhhht. Ssccchhhht. "The water's going, Auntie Maisie."
     "That's right," she agreed. "Do you know where?"
     Gemma looked up, a confused expression on her face. "Under, ground?"
     "Almost. The house is thirsty."
     "Oh," smiled Gemma. Picking up the plastic toy duck, she squeezed it under the water and then let it enlarge again, sssucking the water in. "Look. Duck is thirsty too," she laughed.
     "That's right, sweetheart. Just like the duck." Auntie Maisie hovered, and began to twist the towel she was holding between her hands. The water circling the drain began to gurgle like the last dregs of coke at the bottom of a straw.
     "All gone," said Gemma, standing as the last bit of water began pulling, pulling towards the drain. Pulling, almost sucking around her tiny feet. She could feel a tugging sensation, like octopus feelers clamping to her skin.
     "And now the house is hungry," said Auntie Maisie, watching as Gemma's legs were upended by the almost tidal pull towards the now gaping mouth.