Friday, 28 February 2014

Flash Fiction: Immune

It must be November by now, maybe December. I should be thankful. And I am.

I'm thankful for the silence.

I'm thankful for the peace.

I'm thankful for the space.

Yes, even after all that has happened, I'm thankful.

For the silence, the silence after the screaming — of the panic, of the dying, of the fleeing, of the caught.

For the peace, the peace after the madness, after the riots, after the street warfare, after the virus that caused it all and, ultimately, ended it all.

For the space, the space to think and breathe now that everyone has gone.

"Immune" was first published in The Were-Traveler's drabble issue. More background here.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Flash Fiction: Fallen Apples

As far as she had ever been. The gate. Breathless, running, eyes wide. Lungs burning, breath like smoke, snow chilling the bruises on her fair skin. Stumbling, fleeing through the trees, the cold touching her only to drive her on.

As far as she had ever been. From the house. Since they had first caught her, taken her, brought her. Against her will. Before her will and the world that lay far beyond the gate had become no more than marks in memory, memories of a stepmother, a father, a sister and a school of friends, memories scrawled over by captivity and things that had become normal and everyday that should never be so. A stepmother whose kindness mirrored her beauty, whose love for her stepdaughters dwarfed the meagre love of a father for his own. A father whose anger and indifference she could now forgive, but had driven her in her innocence to confide in her neighbour. A neighbour whose confidence was false, whose touch was unforgiveable, whose intent had driven her into the woods.

She had fled day and night. Fled until she had been found among the fallen apples, in a bed of autumn leaves.

She had fled day and night. Fled and lost her way, to be found but taken.

So many times. Tried so many times to escape. One of the seven had always seen her, caught her, taken her back, hurt her. She would hide behind her eyelids.

So many times. But last night had given new cause, new opportunity. They had drunk and they had hurt her. Excess had the seven men sleeping into the afternoon, scattered around the broken house like the crooked beer cans they left on the floorboards by her bed. Excess and carelessness had left her hands untied.

Never seen the gate. Never been this far from the house. Never got far enough.

Never seen the gate, never known it was there. She paused before it, looking back through the trees and falling flakes at the smoke and flames rising from the pyre of the house. She turned away, running a new path through the snow.

"Fallen Apples" was first published with The Treacle Well. More background here.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Keeping It Brief

The previous post discussed January's spoken word happenings, but January's publications are also worth a mention. Let's start with "Star Signs", a coffee-fuelled lab-lit tale of astrology, cosmology and romance over at Then there's "Remembrance of Things Past", which has now found its way into The Spec Fiction Hub library. It has previously been podcast with Litro, published with The Fabulist and gone down well at BristolCon Fringe. Last, and in some ways least, three 6-word flashes appeared on MorgEn Bailey's Writing Blog:

Scissors on shirts, "I do" undone.
Only an apple, yet all fell.
Her hand now cold, he'd call.

Speaking of micro-fictions, the National Flash Fiction Day micro-fiction competition is now open. Once again I'm on the judging panel, so I urge you to enter, but please don't send me anything in advance for comment. The word limit is 100 and the closing date for entries is Sunday 9th March.

After mentioning BristolCon Fringe and flash fiction, it seems worth mentioning Flash in a Fringe, 14th April, at The Shakespeare. Just sorting out the final line-up, but it looks like it's going to be a fine cross-section of what Bristol and the South West has to offer in speculative fiction, condensed into a series of flashes.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Halo Again

In what looks to be an annual appearance around the start of the year, I managed to make the open mic night at Halo... almost exactly twelve months after last time. Travel, and the general popularity of Monday nights for OMG-it's-not-the-weekend-any-more refuge activities, have meant that although it's ridiculously close by, it took a new year to align me, Monday and Acoustic Night Bristol.

This time I read out "Buttons" and "Lost Love's Labours", which you can find on my SoundCloud page:

A week later it was time for another reading and recording... but this time for the BBC! The call went out on Twitter just before Christmas that BBC Radio Bristol were interested in showcasing spoken word in the South West. I got in touch with some samples of my writing, but I didn't expect anything to happen as I was away on the proposed recording date. The date was changed, I was contacted and, in an uncommon Monday alignment, I was free on 20th January.

The recording took place with an audience upstairs at The White Bear. There was a mix of poetry, prose, comedy and mixed media, and I ended up going on last (must stop making a habit of that...). I knew only one other person, so it was also a good opportunity to meet people. The programme, "Speech Bubble", is a pilot. It will hopefully make it past the cutting room floor and all the way to being aired. If so, my apparently sexy voice (yes, I was told that during the evening) will be on the airwaves at some point reading a couple of pieces of my flash fiction. Stay tuned.