One of the real issues with my day job is just how much of my energy and commitment it sucks up, often leaving me with very little when it comes time to taking care of the career I really care about. A decade ago, I was averaging ten sales a year. Now I’m lucky if I finish writing three stories in a year.

A case in point is the story I’m currently working on: Into the Pit is intended as a submission for SNAFU: Judgement Day, an anthology of post-apocalyptic military stories that closes on 30th April. I started at the turn of the year, full of piss and vinegar and story ideas. As of yesterday, I’d managed 2000 words. In terms of my previous writing efficiency, that’s not even glacial– it’s positively geological.

Thankfully, Luscious has declared today a day of solitary working– she’s got Uni lectures to listen to– and I’ve managed to add 1200 words to the story, taking the running total to 3200. At this rate, I may even get this bugger done before the submission period closes.

Into the Pit is one of those stories that has a long lead-up before everything goes tits-up, and it’s a relief to get through all the careful placing of chess pieces and finally let rip. Here’s the turning point, at 2500 words in….

“A body. I’ve found a body.”

“So?” Burns was behind the Sarge. He turned his back and scanned the room. “There’s bound to be skeletons in a place like this. It was occupied at some stage or another”

“I didn’t say skeleton. I said body.” She backed up until she came up hard against the bar, and turned to face the Sarge, her face white with sudden fear. “Sarge. It’s Burns.”


Sarge vaulted the bar and knelt down next to the body. It was curled up under the shelf, its face turned over its shoulder to stare back at the stunned soldiers. Sarge slowly rolled the body out from its perch, so that it lay on its back in the middle of the confined space. He played his torch over its face, then down the fatigues-clad body and up again, stopping on the name badge above the heart. A single, five-letter word stood out clearly. Slowly, he and Wightman stood and turned to face Burns.

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