FICTION. CURIOUS?

If you like my work, you’ll be interested to know that I’m running a bit of an experiment over at Curious Fictions. Curious Fictions is a website offering readers works by established authors: for a small monthly subscription, you can access works by hundreds of authors including exclusive, subscriber-only stories and newsletters.

So far, I’ve uploaded four stories that you can read for free, plus the first monthly subscriber-only post, including another story. The subscriber-only posts, featuring stories, writing ephemera, and some of the works and snippets that have never seen the light of public ridicule, will be going up on the 1st of every month.

Right now, however, you can read the following just for the price of turning up to have a look:

  • At The End There Was a Man — first published in Anywhere But Earth, Coeur de Lion Press.
  • The Emperor of Moscow — first published in Europa Universalis: What If?, Paradox Books
  • A Suitable Level of Reward — first published in Canary Press, and
  • The Daughters of John Anglicus — first published in Crusader Kings II: Tales of Treachery, Paradox Books

 

So head on over, have a read, and if you’d like to support this experiment, and get a monthly dose of cool stuff as well as access to hundreds of stories by hundreds of excellent and talented authors, consider popping down a buck or two.

 

SOME FREE LEE TO READ WHILE THE ADS ARE ON

On a whim, I entered a competition for 50-word short stories last week. I didn’t win, so I thought you might like a little bonus reading for your day: here are my entries, for your reading pleasure.

 

ASCENSION

The fences were electrified. Designed to keep us from the world. Topped by razors. Patrolled by wolves. Governed by black eyes. Grass stopped at their edges. Water refused to flow. Inside, damnation. Outside, gun barrels. I closed my eyes. I gripped the wires. I burned. I climbed. I flew.

 

MOTHER CALLS

Mother calls. We answer, our voices muffled. We strayed from sight, and it is late. Home promises warmth, and rest, and love. We have strayed, and cannot find our way. Mother calls. We answer. The earth is cold. It fills our mouths and eyes. Mother calls, and calls, and calls.

 

THE ASSASSIN’S BENEDICTION

The bullet changes everything. You hear it before you feel it: a whistle that nature has never produced. Then a punch that turns the world upside down. And she’s gone. Your love. Exorcised. Nothing is ever the same. Your life is a ghost. That is my gift to you. Knowledge.

A CHRISTMAS THING FOR YOU, FROM ME

It’s getting towards the end of the day. The Blu-Ray pile has Snowpiercer and two Quatermass movies, freshly purchased, waiting to be unwrapped and watched. The beer is in the fridge. I’m about to start putting together the special dinner platter for Luscious and I that marks the point where I wish you all a Merry Christmas and book the hell out until the other side of the festivities.

So, before I go, to say thanks for popping in every now and again and reading my bewildering blether, have a short story on me. It’s not even remotely festive.

Enjoy, Merry Christmas, and see you on the other side.




Perry hadn’t slept in three days. Not since he’d worked it out. Not since the last piece of the puzzle had presented itself, like a full-colour, 3D blow to the frontal cortex and he’d finally, after twenty years, fit the whole thing together. The World Government was real. He’d found them. The masters of humanity: identified; tagged; nailed down. Incontrovertible proof that, despite all the conspiracy theories, despite all the crazy people and the pop culture mockery and the Hollywood hand-waving, there was a secret cabal that ruled the planet. The faces in his folder. The names on his list. They all checked out. They all left trails. It had taken him twenty years, twenty years of playing the game, being the spy in the network, moving up the corporate and military and Government ladders until he could talk to the right people, stalk the right people, track the right people. And find the right people. All in his folder. All on his list.
Three days. He hadn’t slept, hadn’t stopped moving. Constant movement had become his watchword, his way of avoiding surveillance. He knew too much for safety. Who they were. How they did it. Mind control.  Perry snorted into his coffee. All those theories, all those lunatic fringes, all those message boards. All correct, without the strength of character to prove it. The Government, the real Government, could do control people’s minds. Were already doing it. Had been for years. Perry glanced around the diner. The only question was how. It wasn’t via the air. He had disproved that theory early. But it could be via contact, via subliminal messages in the TV, could even be something they put in the food. Through food. Jesus. He stared down at the coffee, then dropped the cup in sudden panic, watching the brown dregs as they pooled on the tabletop. Jesus. Through the food. He scrambled out of the booth and strode towards the exit. If they were doing it through food then movement was no longer a protection. It was a weakness, perhaps his only one. Anything prepared by a stranger was suspect. He had to get home, had to barricade himself against the world and work out what to do. He would need to source food, as fresh as possible, prepare it himself to be sure. Avoid processed meals, avoid anything tinned. Wash it himself, prepare it himself. That was the only way to be sure.
There was an ATM nearby. Perry steered towards it, peered at himself in the mirrored surface above the slot. Tired, haggard eyes stared back. He took out everything he had, made sure to keep the receipt. Leave no trace behind. That was the key. He turned the collar of his coat up, shrunk inside. A fresh food marketplace. A new kitchen knife. Supplies. Paid in cash. Talked to nobody. Said nothing. The hot weight of his file under his arm, tucked in against his ribs. Hidden. Safe. Took it out as he strode towards his flat. This, this was the evidence that would bring everything down, would expose the secret masters for what they really were, he thought, tearing it into pieces as he walked. Once this got out the world Government, the cabal, would topple. He dropped the folder into a bin, kept walking, his mind made up. Tomorrow, he would find safe avenues for release, people untouched by the global corporate message, and give them the information, see it released to the public in a million ways. He smiled, relieved now he had reached the endgame, and threw his money into an empty lot.
His flat was cold, dark, all his surveillance equipment undisturbed. Perry nodded in satisfaction. They hadn’t found him, not yet. They were still unaware of his pursuit. He put the food away, crumpled up the ATM receipt and flicked it onto the living room floor along with his empty wallet. Then he moved about the flat, making sure everything was in place: pulling out drawers, overturning furniture, slashing cushions with the new knife. Everything was as it should be. Perry released the breath he had been holding. He knew from long experience that this was the most dangerous time. The job was done but not finished. He could not afford complacency. After tomorrow, the world would be changed. There would be danger then. Those whose downfall he caused would be hurt, and would know his name. But for now he was safe, and undetected. Eat only the fresh food, he thought, draining a glass of beer from the fridge. Stay awake one more night. Be alert until the morning. Then, he nodded as he sat down at his computer and deleted the hard drive, then the secret masters will be exposed. Peace could come to the world, and eventually, to William Perry.
There was nothing left to do but wait. Perry put a can of soup on to boil, then returned to the hallway outside his flat. He made sure it was empty, closed and locked his door, then kicked it off its hinges. Twenty years of careful planning would soon be over. The lie at the heart of the world was exposed. Humanity would thank him, in time, when the cabal was thrown down. People could live free, released from their mind-controlled, drone existences. He stepped inside and lay down amongst the wrecked furniture in his living room.

Tomorrow, he thought, as he plunged the knife into his chest, again and again, tomorrow he would change the world. 

PEACE AND GOODWILL TO ALL ME….. GET THAT STITCHED, FUCKER!

It’s Halloween, a time when we pause in our Godless lives to pay tribute to Saint Allens, the patron saint of childhood diabetes.

Have a nasty little piece of fiction from my past to keep you warm. It was originally published in Scary Food, a horror fiction cookbook put out in the dim, distant past by now-defunct Aussie publisher Agog Press.

Here it is, regurgitated for your pleasure. It’s all you’re getting: I’ve eaten all the candy.

, Rabbit, Run

     So they picked him up, the broken-shelled, loose-limbed motherfucker, lying unconscious in a pool of his own piss. Didn’t matter where they found him, was all the same to them and hedidn’t care. He was only one anonymous, ruined face amongst thousands, millions, drunk and stinking in alleyways and shop doorways, every one a fugitive from some demon roaming the corridors of their own minds, lying under bridges and daring the night to come eat them up and see if anybody cares. Besides, he’d long since given up running. Couldn’t even remember why he’d started, memory ruined by knife points and alcohol, bouncer’s boots and junkie product, a hard man gone soft, dedicated to the act of fucking himself up, real hard man, real iron-muscled motherfucker, kill himself down dead long before whomever or whatever reached him and did the job their way. Choose the manner of your own death like a man, even if it’s a death of piss and vomit, gin blossoms and teeth on the tarmac in front of your face. Took time and effort, but he got there, more backs stabbed than a politician, he’d done it, oh boy, done it but good.
     They found him, though, dumped him in the back of a white truck and drove him away towards the lights of redemption. He was so wiped he didn’t even recognise them, couldn’t tell anybody where they came from or where he was going, no fight left in him and if they hadn’t found him it would have been some other monsters and fuck it, he was ready for them, finally, ready to lie between their teeth and play like meat. But they knew better. They smiled and tied him down and pumped his veins full of clear, clear liquid amnesia, called his name and played games with his screams as they drove slowly through the darkened streets, all the better to pass the time until the building drew them all in and he landed face down on a gurney through door after door banging the top of his head until the scalp bled. The scalpels made no sound as they cut him open, the drugs washed his blood and his marrow and his thoughts, and when they came to shave him here, there, and down below he didn’t even flinch at the sight of their faces, white and hairless and smelling of wine turned vinegar. And the sheets were soft, and the saline was tangy against his arteries, and if he couldn’t keep the food down for more than an hour before spewing it splash and splatter into the nearest corner nobody complained, so he puked all the harder just to watch them bend down to clean it.
     He slept when they told him to and ate when they told him to and wanked when they told him to, filling pots and buckets and forms and days, and somewhere deep down where the knives had missed and the scars circled round it like a ribcage, protecting, nurturing, hiding, a spark remembered itself: you can’t tell me what to do. You don’t own me. You’re not my…
     Fuck it. You’re not my anything.
     So he held the pills under his tongue and spat them into pot plants, crept along corridors at night smelling spirits and cleanliness, let his hair grow back and found a comb, cleaned his teeth by himself God Damn You!, ignored the outstretched hands and turned his back on the help and picked up the fork and took the spill-proof top from the cup and when they came for him one morning with the gurney and the bag of clear liquid with the tube hanging off it like a limp-dicked pensioner he said No. No more. I’m gone. I’m checking out. And they smiled and asked him if he was sure and he told them yes, fuck you, let me go. I want to go.
     That’s when they took him down to the offices with the soft carpet underfoot and pastel paintings and soft piped music and smiling lipsticked mouths saying yes, hello, we’re soglad. And a suit, in his size, washed and clean and smelling so good like a thousand fucks in teenager’s beds and a wallet filled with cash in the pocket and one final form with his name in neat black letters and the standard paragraph about release and welcome to the world and just sign here, here and here, please sir, no motherfucker you but a man, a real man, welcome back old friend just sign here.
     They helped him dress and placed the jacket over his shoulders and shook his hand, all in a line saying well done, good luck out there and he strode, not shuffled anymore, damn well strode to the front door and they held it open for him, sir and sir and sir and he turned for one last look and there they were, all lined up and not for a moment did their smiles slip or the love and affection in their gazes die but in each hand a scalpel, in each smile the taste for blood and every one of them a face he remembered, every one of them long teeth enemies fright in the night under the bed terror, every one of them a punch to his heart.
     Good luck, they said, and
     We’re so happy, they said, and
     See you again soon, they said, and
then, at last, to him,
really to him
     as the muscles in his legs spasmed and sent him to the cold concrete outside, ass on the ground and limbs splayed wide, the single street light bright against the gloom showing the first piss stain already damp dark wet against his trousers, one last thing before they started counting:
     Run.